Did you know that until 1967, no women participated in a full marathon event? Katherine Switzer broke that record and signed up as a gender-neutral “K. Switzer” in Boston Marathon. When reporters realised she was a lady, she made headlines. She continued fighting to empower women in sports, and the rest is history. Imagine what would have happened if Katherine Switzer decided not to run! I am so glad that female-friendly races are becoming more common these days. Fast forward to 2016, inspired by Katherine Switzer’s legacy, I was honoured to run under Team Nashata in the full marathon category for Malaysia Women Marathon.
An opportunity to run with the ladies of Nashata? Why yes of course!
When the gun goes off at exactly 4.00am, it’s show time. Game face on, it is time for a second shot at completing a full marathon. This time, the challenge lies not in the distance, but in the cut off time. I have never completed a full marathon in 6 hours and 30 minutes. My personal best at 42km was during Pink Ultra when I clocked in just slightly under 7 hours. So shaving off 30 minutes will be a struggle.
Excited for pacer duties, boys?
Everything was fine and I was ahead of schedule up to the 30km check point. The last 10km was the hardest part, especially the highway route. The rolling hills along the LKSA highway, the heat, the emptiness…you can run for miles without bumping into anybody. The highway route felt like forever to complete. At this point, it was a battle between the mind and the body. Many people started walking, and I felt like I should start walking too. I was glad that I had my pacer with me. We didn’t talk much, but at least he was there to keep me company. He pushed me to continuously run, no matter how slow I went, which I tried to abide to (in protest!). In the end I ended up with the walk-run-walk-run cycle just like everyone else, and my pace fell dramatically towards the end. Not to mention the confusing signage and unclear direction from the marshall at the 38km, causing most participants to lose precious time hesitating which direction they should go.
Hunger was slowly settling in too. But I was surprised that the only food provided along the way was only bananas, apples, and pears. I was accustomed to seeing at least some biscuits, chips, ice-cream, or at least Coca-cola in most long distance events, so the lack of sweet and salty snacks spread was pretty surprising. Luckily, I had my energy gel with me, and my pacer bought along some protein drink mix.
The last few hundred metres push. Believe me, I wasn’t smiling if it wasn’t for the camera.
Spotted any of these cheer squad along the way? Boys, your macho level and manliness just went up a notch in those tutu skirts and pompoms!
I managed to conclude my 2nd attempt at a full marathon in 6 hours and 33 minutes, exceeding the cut off time by 3 minutes. Now I wished that I listened to my pacer because he was right when he said “Hey no pain, no gain, girl!”. I have to train harder for my next full marathon in a few months time, because it is not fun being among the last ones to arrive!
Full marathon and half marathon finishers.
Until next week,
The Weekend Runner.