Race day experience of a first-time marathoner

A marathon is a test of the body, the mind and your character to finish the race.

My finisher shirt and medal after completing the marathon

My finisher shirt and medal after completing the marathon

Well, that statement above is an original based on the actual experience I had running and finishing the 42-kilometer race. It has only been a week since the TBR Dream Marathon concluded.

Me after seeing my relatives cheering me up and before reaching the finish line

Me after seeing my relatives cheering me up and before reaching the finish line

The race did not start quite good for me. The adrenaline was there but the small amount of sleep caught up with me. I had frequent breaks at the portalet maybe because of the temperature (23 deg C at 2 a.m.) and the liquid I took before the race. I actually had three trips to it even before the race started. I also had tummy problems while running. I'm thinking it's because of the bananas I took during the race. What's wrong though is I still ate them even though I did not practice having it during my training runs, bad decision. I should have stick to the carb gels I have brought with me. The race route is difficult as well since it's hilly. When I finished the race, the elevation I was able to track was 477 meters. The elevation I ran on my 32K run was only 201 meters. It's way below the actual race and you can really imagine the difficulty if you're not used to running that kind of elevation.

It was really tough. I'm trying to achieve a decent 6-hour finish but ended up going an additional 1 hour and 21 minutes. My legs and feet have experienced pain around the 25K mark and all I'm thinking at that moment is finish the race. Racing a marathon is also mental so I composed myself when the pain started to enter. My portalet trips and tummy have stabilized by that distance already so it's a different challenge up to the end of the race. As I was running the 28K mark, I took a break and had my legs sprayed. But before I resumed, I grabbed some mixed nuts from the tent stationed there. The salty taste made a lot of difference, it might have released my endorphins triggering a positive feeling to my body. After that, I looked for some more chips in the next stops aside from water. After the mixed nuts, the wet sponges helped a lot in cooling my body. We are very fortunate to have a cloudy weather on race day but when the sun started to shine, these wet sponges helped in stabilizing my body temperature from the heat. I placed the sponges on my left and right shoulder under my shirt. I kept them wet with cold water from the hydration stations. I kept them before I reached the 40K mark.

The taste of victory after completing the race!

The taste of victory after completing the race!

Having the right training is just one factor in a marathon event. You also need to have the mental toughness and perseverance to complete the race. What I experienced during the event tested my character a lot. I changed my mindset in every difficult situation and kept the goal in place -- to finish the race no matter what. For example, instead of thinking the finish line that is still far, I thought of reaching smaller milestone marks first along the route. It made a sense of accomplishment. The whole event is a great learning experience which I can apply to future running races. I once heard someone say that once you start running, you won't easily remove it from your system. I have it already and I think it will stay for a long time.




Salute to all the TBR organizers for such a wonderful event, without you, there won't be a race for 1st and 2nd time marathoners.

Salute to all the marathon finishers for completing the race, your persistence and training finally paid off.

Salute to our top finishers, you have set the bar of excellence that future runners like us can emulate.

Salute to all the photographers for the great pictures, you have captured the great moments of the race.

Salute to all the family members and friends who waited before the finish line, you have served as our inspiration and motivation to finish the race.


My Marathon Journey

If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon. (Emil Zatopek)
My Race Kit for TBR

My Race Kit for TBR

By the time you read this, I either crossed the finished line or failed to do it. Of course, failure is not an option after training for 6 months. Today is a big day for me as I participate in my first ever marathon. It has been a magnificent 6-month journey from being a less active person to a more serious running individual. I joined the TBR Sunlife Dream Marathon and this is my journey.

The TBR Sunlife Dream Marathon is the first and only marathon in the world that caters exclusively to first- and second-time marathon runners. This was one of the reasons that encouraged me to join the event from the start. Who would have thought a leisure runner like me will join such a feat? I never imagined myself running 42K since I only took running seriously last year. Me and family members started running 5K events for fun and fitness. I learned of TBR on Facebook and being an event for first- and second-time marathon runners encouraged me to join. 

Structured training is not new to me. The training program on the Nike+ Run Club app introduced me to it when I started on my first 5K and this was the same principle I used in TBR. TBR has its own program and I just cross-check the one I’ve set in the Nike app. I made it to myself to follow the training program religiously. I don't want to get hurt running my first marathon. I also ensured that I attend the TBR workshops monthly for the lectures they provided for the participants. It was very enlightening actually putting some more perspective into running. I learned a lot in the lectures from nutrition, hydration, proper clothing, shoes and technique. The lectures are also inspirational as they also shared their first marathon journey.

I used my iPhone and Apple Watch during my runs and I kept track of my progress on the Nike app. This is the trio that accompanied me throughout the training with a supporting cast of other applications. Some examples include the Health app for checking my health metrics and the Intervals app for my run-walk intervals. I also got lucky winning the On Cloudflow running shoes in one of the sponsor’s contests I joined during the TBR program.

My very own On Cloudflow

My very own On Cloudflow

And before I end my post, let me share with you some more personal tips from my training, here are some of them.

  • Dedicate yourself to the program and follow the training with consistency. While there are group runs in TBR, the majority of the training are executed on your own. Good thing if you have a group but if you’re solo, you need to keep yourself motivated.
  • Allocate time to training. I myself have a day job and it's not an easy one. There are days that you need to do extended work but it's never a reason for me to skip training. Adjust and adapt accordingly but don't cram.
  • Get your gears right. Wear drifit shirt and shorts, running socks and of course running shoes. Before getting your first shoes, better to have a gait analysis to determine your pronation. You want to be running comfortably during a race and avoid getting an injury.
  • Don't just run, walk too. When I started my 5K, I thought running was, well, all about running from start to finish. But when you go the distance, that concept changes with doing some walk too. If you're a beginner like me, you will benefit a lot doing the run-walk technique.
  • When you want to go fast, consider going slow. At the start of the race, when we are also fresh and feeling strong, we tend to go fast. I do fall to that as well but running fast spends a lot of energy. Similar to what I mentioned above in run-walk consider conserving energy and pace yourself. You don't want to be a DNF (Did Not Finish) because you don't have energy left to complete the race.
  • Hydrate, eat and think about what you put in your mouth. Carbohydrates and protein are the main nutrients you'll need when you workout and it's no different when running. Carbohydrates is your body's main energy source while protein helps repair muscles post workout. Drink water as much as you can to avoid getting dehydrated. I personally track my fluids and target a volume of 3L everyday majority of which consists of water.
  • Rest and recover. Follow a structured training so that you don't overtrain. Prepare a training plan that suits your activities with family and work and allocate days for resting. You don't want to get injured on race day. Sleep is also a vital factor during your training so consider having enough of it.

The culmination of all of these will happen today and I hope as you finish reading this, I am done with my race.