Sunday, July 12, 2015

Recap of Asics Half Marathon at 2015 Gold Coast Airport Marathon

I signed up for the Asics Half Marathon at the 2015 Gold Coast Airport Marathon for 2 reasons; a post-exam weekend getaway to celebrate the end of a full-time 6 month course, and to provide myself a goal to keep fit and keep myself in check lest I lose my fitness altogether. The trip itself was also to catch up with some friends. :)

Being too busy and exhausted with studying during the past 6 months certainly took a toll on my fitness. I gained weight, felt less of a runner, and my frustration ate into whatever I had left of my confidence. Every day after work and every month after an exam, my respect for working mothers increased by a notch – how did they juggle everything??

One of the long runs with Bin and Eugene at Altona Beach.

Studying and training

When I signed up for the half marathon in April, on the last day of the early bird registration, I only had 2 months of strict training (haha) to follow. This forced me manage my time properly, giving me a perspective of what I wanted to achieve in the evenings, besides cooking dinner, studying and completing assignments.

Getting involved in running again definitely made me happier, and parkruns on Saturdays reflected the progress of my training. I was gaining my speed once again, although not as speedy as I was 2 years ago.

While waiting for a table at Vapiano for dinner the night before the race.
Photo courtesy of Foo.

The gloomy winter evenings didn’t help things. It was always easier to say, “It’s too cold, let’s skip the running!” rather than change into running gear and get our butts out of the door. It was hard work.

I told myself that even if I did minimal training, I would manage to comfortably finish in 2:15 so I need not put too much pressure on myself to chase the sub-2 finish that has been eluding me for all these years.

At Vapiano, standing in line to order your food before a designated cook.

Was my training enough?

Like the last 2 (full) marathons, I adopted a training plan which I was comfortable with. I did a half marathon trial 3 weeks before the event and despite how difficult it was for me, I was surprised to finish in under 2 hours. Granted my posture was horrible and I was panting like hell, but I was happy to know where I stood - the sub-2 was within reach. 

No more doubts about it!

Managed a group photo despite being late. We got lost in the crowd!
Photo courtesy of Jamie Pang.

Race Day – Sunday, 5th July 2015

We stood at the end of Corral B and couldn’t see the start line at all. It took us several minutes to cross the timing mat but I wasn’t sure how long it took. I tried looking for the clock but I don’t think there was one at the start gantry. Or maybe it was facing the other direction.

The first 1km was slow at 6:15 pace. I wondered how long it would take for the road to widen so I could increase my pace. The second km went by at 5:15 pace, making up for lost time. After that, I kept a steady pace of 5:25 and prayed I could last the rest of the run comfortably at this pace.

Based on my past experience and training, I knew it was a long shot as I still wasn’t as a strong runner as I’d hope to be.

I wanted to pop a power gel at the 8km mark but there wasn’t an aid station. I had failed to study the aid station locations! Thank goodness there was one at the 9km mark.

The timing mat at the 10km mark showed 1:00:xx and I was surprised that I was faster than I had anticipated. It got me worried, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to last.

True enough, right after the u-turn (halfway), my strength faltered. I supposed the energy gel hadn’t kicked in, but I felt so depleted that I wanted to call it quits at 11km. I began to struggle to ease my breathing, but from the feel of my posture, I knew I was weak.

I kept moving and looking at my watch every 500m, just to keep an eye on my pace. I was going at 5:35 pace (not too bad) and I began looking out for aid stations as an excuse to stop to hydrate and catch my breath. It was a poor judgment call when I gulped down a full cup of Endura as running with a belly full of liquid wasn't fun.

Seeing as I was starting to falter, the hubs forced me to take my 2nd power gel at 13 – 14km. I was breathing so hard and I hated it! I kept moving, of course, but with less vigour and determination. 

I was annoyed. 
I was frustrated. 
I wanted to quit.

Every time I checked my watch, I was conscious of the decision I had to make.

“35 minutes left to get that sub-2 …”

“30 minutes left …”

“25 minutes to go …”

“Finishing 2:01 isn’t so bad …”

‘Should I give up?”

By 17km, the hubs forced me to take another power gel, despite me asking telling him that I wanted to quit. Somehow I ended up behind a guy who’s top had the words, “Never give up ..”


I supposed at this stage, I slowly snapped out of the gloom. What happened to the tenacity I used to have when tackling a tough event? I asked myself. What's wrong with me?

I was disgusted.

By 18km and looking at my watch, I knew I could still make it. I was half disappointed, to be honest, as I wanted a reason to give up! Haha.

[Click here to see happy pic of me!]

By 20km, I stopped focusing on trying to straighten my horrible posture and focused on maintaining my strength and energy to cross the finish line. Granted my breathing was out of sorts, but I kept moving.

After the 21km mark, I was despaired that the finishing line was not within sight. I was FURIOUS. I was so afraid I was going to collapse before I even cross the finish line.

A runner next to me asked the question aloud, "Where's the finish line??"

We spotted it and that's when we sprinted for it. 

[Click here to see pic of me and my horrible posture!]

It was finally over.

After collecting some fruits, water and finisher tees, we headed out towards the exit. I was starting to cramp, alternating between the right calf and left shin, so the hubs made me sit on the curb so he could stretch my legs.

Damn you, stupid crampy legs!
Photo courtesy of Bin.

Supporting our friends and runners

We changed into fresh clothes and met up with Eugene and Steven for breakfast at the Australian Fair food court. Both guys completed their half marathon in 1:52 and 1:41 respectively. After that, the hubs and I headed out to keep an eye out for our friends who were running the marathon.

One of the marathon runners in a cute get up. :)

Standing at the 31KM mark and feeling the heat on our skin, we cheered the runners who ran by, and hoping to catch a glimpse of our friends. We were so worried that we had missed them but eventually spotted Gavin, Sophie, Yuan and Jamie.

The hubs then went off towards the finish line to catch them in action while I waited a while longer to catch CY and the rest. However, I only waited long enough for CY to come into the picture before heading off to the finish area.

Someone setting a record of running the fastest marathon while balancing egg on spoon.

It was not easy to get close to the finish line as there were barricades around the area. I squeezed into a spot on the grandstand and waited impatiently for our friends to cross the finish.

Happy celebrations

It was good to be able to cheer for some of our friends who were running the marathon that day. The event location was packed to the brim with people, which made it hard to cheer for the runners who were crossing the finish line. It was madness!

Got to be part of their team photo. Yay!
Photo courtesy of Jamie Pang.

Basking in the atmosphere, I was happy to hear of my friends' achievements and their drama stories. They remained cheerful and it was good to know that they did extremely well. Most of them scored a new personal best that day. Yay!! :)

Managed to get everyone to do a jump shot with me. :)
Photo courtesy of Bin.

What can I say about the event?

1. I was surprised to see spectators already out on the roads to cheer the half marathon runners. To be up at 6am and cheering us on is quite amazing, especially for the kids! I had a gel in each hand so I wasn't able to high-five them along the way, but I was glad that the hubs managed to score a few high-fives.

2. There was some Beatles' or oldies music blasting somewhere along the way - I loved that!

3. Plenty of aid stations.

4. Funny moment at about 1.5km into the run. We heard a spectator cheering us and saying, "You're almost there!!" Everyone around me laughed. So did I. :D

5. Every tiny slope felt like a mountain to me - that's because I am weak! :P

6. Distance markers went a bit off after the u-turn. I think my watch said I ran 21.2km but hey hey, that means I still ran pretty fast despite the extra distance! :D

Post-race lunch at Obsessions.
I had the Shady Cortez burger, it was so good.

Post-race frustration

I remain disappointed that I am not as strong as I have always hoped to be. Two years ago, I was running faster 5ks than what I do now, but the sub-2 was always far beyond my reach. It was almost impossible then, yet I always carried the belief that I could.

Fast forward to 2015, I lost that faith and had high doubts that I could finally have a sub-2 half marathon officially on record. It was never my intention to resurrect this 'dream' of mine but what the heck, life is not worth living if you don't chase those touchable and un-impossible goals, I suppose.

The obligatory selfie to share on Facebook!

I thank the hubs and all my friends, near and far. who for some strange reason, believed in me when I didn't. Somehow reading your congratulatory cheers and messages online was the one thing that triggered my tear ducts into action, not the numbers 1:58

Thank you! xx

The Malaysian GCAM Training Clinic

For those of you who are wondering why I was graciously allowed to join the group of Malaysian runners in their photos, I don't know, too! 

Haha I'm just kidding.

Two years ago I joined them for training runs, and whilst they were training for the GCAM in July, I trained for my Malaysia Women Marathon in April. We also ventured into trail running together (some will say I dragged them into it) and these bunch of peeps became my regular running buddies.

[See this post, this one and that one.]

Thank you for letting me hang out with you guys a few times during the trip! xx


  1. You're always and will be part of the group la. Wonderful job on that sub 2. Good to catch up again after so long. And congrats to your hubby too.