Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM) 2018 Race Report
By FatBird Anthony

Before I begin this lengthy post about my SCSM18 race, and experiences learnt from my DNF (Did Not Finish) incident, I would like to give a huge congratulatory shout out to all Team FatBird Runners, especially Operation Sunbird Marathoners for their awesome performances at the SCSM18 10km, Half-Marathon and Marathon races.

The FatBirds & Sunbirds’ commitment and dedication at training with meticulous race preparations have rewarded many of them with Personal Bests (timings and distances conquered) and commendable SCSM18 completions! We can look forward to even better performances when we begin training and preparations for Marathon Races in 2019!

Ops Sunbird (SCSM 2018 training program)
My race marathon calendar for 2018 included Boston Marathon (April), Gold Coast Marathon (July) and New York City Marathon (November). You can click on the links to read the race ports of those key races.

As we started training for SCSM and Q4 marathon races with Ops Sunbird, I decided to sign up for SCSM 2018 as well. Because SCSM would be just 4 weeks from my Marathon Majors NYC Marathon, I planned to treat it as a training run as well as to be on course with the Sunbirds to experience the new routes and organization upgrades promised by the Race Organizer, Ironman Asia.

The Sunbird marathon training went very well and delivered the goods with many of the trainees scoring excellent timings and Personal Bests at GEWR, Osaka Marathon and a few of other races in between.

4 weeks to SCSM18
I ran a good race at NYC Marathon. In the first 2 weeks post-NYC, I scaled down my mileage as recovery as well as tapering for SCSM18.  However, 14 days before SCSM, I caught the year-end flu bug which was on its rounds already for 2 months. I went straight to the doctor for some antibiotics and host of other meds to get a quick recovery.

My 26km run that weekend with the Sunbirds seemed ok, as I was not having any bad symptoms other than the soft throat. By Sunday night, I was coughing again and I went back to the Doctor on Monday (6 days to SCSM18) for additional meds. Again all seemed well and I did the final tapering run of 18km (at Marathon Pace). A few days before race day, I was still having coughs at night (including Beverly who also caught the flu) and feeling lethargic. I decided to just take it easy on race day to enjoy the run.

Race Morning

I slept for an hour (I had a good sleeps on Thur and Fri nights, with a nap on Sat afternoon) and went down to the race site in Eddie’s car. The traffic blockages and confusion were to cause Eddie to park far away. Before he detoured, he kindly let me and Beverly drop off first to get to the race site to meetup with the Sunbirds at 3am. In our haste, I forgot to bring my fuel belt (of gels and electrolytes). Thanks to Jen and Beverly who graciously offered their gels and electrolytes to me just before race start.

The First 21km
After some light jogging, stretches and photo taking, we proceeded into our respective start corrals/pens. This year’s race was well  organized with nary a confusion at the baggage and start pen management. Throughout the race, I observed a number of nice changes that were more reminiscent of best practices at World Marathon Majors (WMM) and International Races – Well done SCSM and Race Organizer (Ironman Asia).

Our race (Pens B, C, D) started promptly at 4.35am. The first segment along Nichol Highway and through Shenton Way area was nice (although GPS signals get interrupted a lot through the CBD segment). I acknowledged familiar faces who were running around my 5:00min/km pace.

As we entered the new segment of West Coast Highway from about 6-7 km, I was feeling comfortable at the 5min pace. I decided to go along with that and not push faster as I would have been happy with anything around my SCSM 2017 3:35h finish time. The West Coast Highway stretch was very spacious and hydration points were ample and well managed. Received 2 gels from the 11km aid station and tucked them in my tights. With the earlier 2 gels that I got from Jen, things started to get heavy. For the next 15km or so, I was fumbling with the gels slipping into my tights, causing uncomfortable and embarrassing moments haha.

Exited WCH around 20km or so, and ran through Shenton Way and into Gardens By The Bay. At around the 23km mark, it all just came suddenly. I vomited some stuff (I did take breakfast, and a gel at 15km mark) on the side of the road. I didn’t think too much about it then although it was the first time something like that happened to me. I took some water at the 23km aid station and continued with by slightly slower pace of 5:10.

I felt slight weakened in my legs as I chugged along. By the 25km mark through the ECP stretch and into Marina Gardens, my pace was dropping fast. Fatigue in my legs and upper body began to gnaw at me. I could hardly acknowledge the running friends and support stations who were encouraging me. Although I did not feel that bad at the time (other than from effects of my fatiguing body), I was told I looked pale and with a look of disarray (post-race) by those who called out to me.

By the 30km mark, I could no longer keep running…my legs just would not want to go on. I felt light-headed as I ran through the mist station.  I decided there and then I will just slow jog to finish. I waved on those who came to encourage me that I had already ‘Hit The Wall’ and was in no condition to run further.  About 1km of walking later, I spotted a medical team with 2 Kenyan ladies who had dropped out of the race. I told them I wanted to DNF (Not Complete) and asked for help with transport to the finish line. However, they replied that I would have to wait for the sweeper bus (which would pick up finishers after 7 hours). I definitely could not be waiting there for 4 hours for the sweeper bus to arrive.

The medics also mentioned there were no short cuts/exits at that point. I then tried to walk and slow jog (the sun was beating down furiously by that time). I waved on to many of my running friends to run ahead as I continued my long march. After what seemed like eternity, I finally found the Gardens Visitor Centre. By then, my tummy ached real bad and I had to go – it was a massive case of diarrhoea.

With wobbly legs and feeling faint, I managed to struggle to exit the course to the Helix Bridge (36km+ point) crossing over for another 1km walk to enter the finish area. There was no shade.  Under the sweltering heat of the sun, I walked slowly to the Family meet up area where I saw some SAFRA friends sitting about. I laid down to elevate my legs (although I couldn’t find any support then, and I was too weak to bother). As the Sunbirds, FatBirds and fellow runners came, a lot of help was rendered to make me feel better.

I and grateful and appreciative of all of them checking up me and showing words of concern (although they were already tired from just finishing their marathons). When Eddie and Beverly came, I was able to get arrangements to walk (very light-headed) to be ferried back in Eddie’s car back home.  I had a warm bath once home.

After another bout of diarrhoea, I ate some food and went for a short nap.  I woke up feeling better, although still a tad weak. I had no fever nor aches in any parts of the body, especially the legs (which probably were not overworked at all). Went for a recovery walk in the evening. I woke up on Monday morning with no aches on the legs but still feeling a tad tired. The sore throat and cough, although diminishing, was still there. I will be resting and taking more recovery walks this week.

This is the first ever marathon race that I DNF (Did Not Finish). I am convinced it was the right decision in the interest of my health and future running.

Thanks to the rousing support and encouragement of my DNF decision from the running friends and community. On a positive note, this incident made me see the strong support and care from the running community and friends, as well as important lessons of knowing when to quit when the going is hazardous. It has also allowed me to rethink my future entries into races with non-fully recovered ailments and injuries.

It is also my first experience (after running more than 35 marathons) of feeling a progressive loss of energy and the mind just wanting to ‘go to sleep’. I decided by the 30km mark that this time something is not right and that I will have to call my first DNF. It was being responsible and my best decision under such circumstances. This will serve as a good learning experience for me and my running trainees and friends in our marathon journeys ahead.

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As we move into the Q1 2019 Marathon season (Jan-April 2019), Team FatBird is happy to announce Program PowerFLIGHT 2019 – our highly popular and effective 15-week structured strength and speed training program to up the ante on your training preparations for your upcoming 10km-marathon races (2XU Compression Run, Income Eco Run) and overseas marathons (Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Boston, Paris, London Marathon) in 2019.

Team FatBird’s Program PowerFLIGHT Speed & Strength training will commence operations on 21 December 2019. Runners and marathoners looking to up the ante on their speed and strength with enhanced performance are encouraged to sign up for PowerFLIGHT to benefit from structured group hills, track, intervals, high tempo training led by qualified and experienced Team FatBird marathon trainers.


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