I did it! My 2nd half marathon (21km) and first international run!
I was invited by Air Asia X and Tourism & Events Queensland (TEQ) to run the 39th Gold Coast Airport Marathon, which was held on 1st and 2nd July 2017.
The invite came in just a month before the run. Initially, I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to do it, as I wasn’t ready. As most of you would know, I’m not a runner and I don’t run long distance regularly. But after hearing from several friends about the Gold Coast Airport Marathon; the route, the stunning scenery and how it’s a fun run, I thought it’d be nice to take up this challenge and make this my first international run.
So I took the courage to sign up for the half marathon. I wasn’t crazy enough to sign up for the full marathon just yet, especially without any training, haha!
For the next 3 weeks leading up to the marathon day, I trained and ran 10km once a week. Gosh, the first training was a struggle. To me it was more of a mental rather than physical struggle. It was mentally tough to keep running and not find it boring. Thankfully, I had a close friend who was happy to train and be my pacer. We did 3 running sessions in 3 weeks and I’m off to Gold Coast!
I travelled via Air Asia X on Thursday, 29th June and arrived into Gold Coast the morning of Friday, 30th June. It was an 8-hour journey and I managed to sleep for the most part of it. I was travelling along side some of the people from the Malaysia GCAM Group.
Upon arrival, we head straight collect our GCAM racing pack. I was really excited and was looking forward to the race.
The next couple of days, I spent my time checking out few places in Gold Coast and to be honest, it was just series of eating and eating. Haha!! Hey, I was carb loading, alright.
RACE DAY! Sunday, 2nd July 2017
Finally it’s the day of the race! I slept pretty early the night before. I was gone by 9pm and had a really good rest. I set my alarm to be up by 3.15am as we had to leave with a coach by 4.30am.
This was the breakfast set prepared for us.
For my pre-run snack, I took 2 bananas and 1 small energy bar at about 5am, which was just an hour before the race. It’s important for you to understand your body and know what food works best for you to provide you with enough energy and run well.
Personally, I cannot take caffeine or milk before a workout. It’d just leave me feeling extremely bloated and uncomfortable. Another tip is to not change your regular eating habits, especially on the day of a race. Stick to what you’re used to eating.
The flag off time was 6am and the temperature was 10 degrees. I was freezing my butt off while waiting to start the run. I wore 3 layers of clothing – tank top, long sleeve and a windbreaker jacket. Elana and I were both waiting indoor at the information counter, and I was fidgeting throughout trying to keep myself warm.
There were more than 8,000 runners for the half-marathon race. If you have run a marathon before, you’d know that it’s almost impossible to run the initially 5 – 10 minutes. It’d be so packed with people; you’d most likely be at a jogging pace.
I had my music on and I paced myself throughout the entire run. I didn’t want to be overly confident, so I did not go all out and run at a quicker pace than I’m used too. I’d say that the initially 16km was easy. The route was flat, the scenery was breathtaking, the weather was perfect and there were lots of people cheering for us.
After the 16km mark, it was more of a mental struggle. I wasn’t in the zone, I was running but mentally, I was constantly looking out for the next kilometer mark and it seemed like I was running FOREVER. There were few occasions when I wanted to just slow down. If it weren’t for a stranger that I “met” and we somehow silently paced each other and ran side by side for most part of the race, I’d probably have slowed down.
We didn’t talk to each other at all throughout the run until we cross the finishing line together. Having someone running along you can be a huge boost. Because I wasn’t slowing down, he kept up with my pace and vice versa. So we finished the race together at a decent time and it was my personal best time too. My first half-marathon timing was 2 hour 29 minutes. What I was most proud of was the fact that I ran throughout the entire 21km, I didn’t slow down or walk.
Everyone I knew who did this run achieved their personal best timing. We celebrated the night with lots of good food and drinks! The company I had throughout this journey made it a memorable and fun one.
If you asked me just 1 month ago, would I ever consider joining a full marathon? I’d definitely say no. Now, I’m actually considering it. Who knows, maybe I’ll run my first full marathon next year. Huge thanks to Air Asia X and Tourism and Events Queensland for pushing me beyond my limits. Watch this space!!