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My First and Seventh Marathons
By K.P. Tan

I recently completed my seventh marathon December 8th, 2002. The first marathon I ever ran was back in 1987 with my previous in 1997. In between, I completed four others. Due to work commitments or illness, I ran races of various distances (three ¼-marathons, a 1/2-marathon, and a 3/4-marathon. One of the main reasons I chose to run the 2002 Singapore Marathon was that it had been five years since I last ran that race.

Singapore, a beautiful island in the tropics, hosts a marathon annually (alternating yearly between the Singapore Marathon and the Mobil Marathon). This year, the Singapore Marathon was held, an event in which elite marathoners from all over the world are invited to participate. The Mobil Marathon, dedicated to the local running community, will be held next year. The Singapore Marathon is always held on the first Sunday in December. The race normally starts at 6.00 a.m., when the sky is still dark. Every year more than 6,000 people take part in the event although only about a quarter of the field actually completes the full 26.2-mile distance. For more details on the 2002 Singapore Marathon 2002, check out: http://www.singaporemarathon.com

Ignorance is bliss. I will always remember the first marathon I ran back in 1987, as it was my fastest and most exciting. At the age of 38, I ran a 3:30:56. At the time, I knew nothing about marathon running until I started reading training information in books and newspaper articles. Nevertheless, the preparation I made for that first race was the most complete. At that time, Americans wrote a majority of marathon training books. From my reading, I learned about building weekly mileage, how to avoid hitting the wall, nutrition, dehydration, endurance running, speed training, and a host of fundamentals on marathon running. In fact, I was so well prepared for that first race that I did the scheduled training twice over, each of 13 weeks! That year I ran the quarter, the half, and the three quarter-marathon before the full marathon. I spent one year training for the full marathon.

Unlike the first marathon for which I prepared, I only trained three months for this year's marathon. Luckily I had been active all year round either through running or swimming. Back in September of 2002 when I first began my preparation, I was running five times per week, averaging approximately 50KM weekly. It was not difficult for me to build up the training to 100 km per week for eight weeks prior to the marathon. My weekly totals however dipped to about 80 km per week six weeks out. My four longest runs were only two hours in duration. I did these once per week over the last four weeks of training. In short, my training was well below that of the original plan. My average speed during training was slightly above 5 minutes per kilometer. Based on my past experience and perhaps a large dose of misguided optimism, I set my target for a 3:45:00 marathon.

Marathon day came on December 8th. My split times were as follows: 50 minutes at the quarter, 1:50:00 at half and 2:47:00 at three quarter mark. I crossed the finish line in 3:56:14. It was another disappointing run where I missed my goal by almost nine minutes.

I conclude by reflecting what could have gone wrong. The weather was one problem as it was extremely hot during the last quarter of the race. I hit the wall at 35 km as predicted. The other problem was complacency in not putting in sufficient effort. I promised to train more and look forward to running the marathon again in December 2003.

Thanks K.P. for sharing your marathon story.

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