Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Big Sur Marathon

When I first arrived in Berkeley, I wrote down a list of 5 things I wanna accomplish before I head home to Singapore, one of them being "To run a Marathon". Well, I'm proud to say that I've finally done it! Initially, I thought that it'd be a neat way to test my self-discipline, considering that most of the running actually happens before the marathon itself, and of course keep fit at the same time. Having said that, I could not have pulled it off by myself without the company of my running buddies, 6~8 singaporeans who came together for the love of running, or the longing for pain! In any case, it's been a joy train4ing with these folks & boy, crossing the finish line is pure ecstacy!

The route:


Route (with Wayfaring):



The gang walking down the streets of Monterey...this could have been a very Reservoir Dog shot with some cool shades and black suits...


At the convention center where we picked up our goodie bags (with running tags, sensor chips, energy bars etc), Chengsi took a picture of this t-shirt...haha...anyway, there're many stores selling running-related merchandise... i ended up buying a Gore-tax-like "Wind Stopper" that's supposed to block wind without suffocating you...it looks like a decent specialty windbreaker except for the fact that the texture is not exactly very smooth inside...one thing came to mind: "NIPPLES ABRASION"!...I guess i'd find out during the run..


The worst Japanese Restaurant in the world can be found in Monterey! It's called "Koto". Firstly it's clearly not authentic (they spelled "Koto" in English while the Japanese name they put there is "Kyoto"). Then they began to serve some of the worst 日本料理 I've had in my life...just look at the McDonald-inspired super-sized Sushi in the pic above...the rice in the sushi taste like chinese rice..plain wrong!! and then they made me wait 20 minutes for my food before they found out that they forgot my order...to top it off they overcharge us by $30! Fortunately Siswi spotted the discrepancy before we leave this lousy place..


Back to the motel rooms after dinner, I was trying to force myself to sleep by 9pm. (Btw, our rooms are ridiculously HUGE! 2 king-sized bed for ~$98 per night...could easily fit all 8 of us into one room...though we booked 2 rooms at the beginning...which is fine too cos it means everyone get to sleep on the bed) Unfortunately, "Back to the future" was showing on TV and I just have to watch it...the other 3 guys try in vain to get some school work done...i brought my japanese textbook too, but as usual it didn't work out the way I envisioned it to be (study in car, study in motel, study before run etc)...


It's 3 am...it's cold...it's marathon time!


"Hey 2052, looking pretty good there..."


"Mr Barefoot Ken Bob, hmm, did you forget your shoes?"


First, the priest did a little prayer over the PA system, then they brought on an opera singer to sing the national anthem, which ended with the release of some 40 pigeons...a pretty dramatic way to start the race...and I'm pumped!


Chuo hao & Siswi: This is easy!


The woods looking misty...


"Run Forrest Run!"


I think i've run about 4-5 miles when I snapped this pic...at this point i was telling myself "Breath through your nose, only your nose, till the 16th mile". At this point I was also feeling an unusual muscle strain on my right shin, probably because i tied my shoelace too tightly...I wonder if this will get worse..


Ok, I have to admit Chengsi takes better picture than me...check out this pic she took here..


There're a few other runs going on at the same time, 5K, half-marathon and relays...here the relay runners are waiting anxiously for their teammates to appear...now my right shin is hurting even more, and I'm barely out of the 8 mile mark...crap!


The thing about hydrating yourself before the run is that u'd have to take a piss sooner or later...for some folks it means doing it the in-one-with-nature style...reminds me of the good old days when I was still serving in the army where "the world is your toilet". These guys are already pretty decent since they bothered to face outward, I actually saw a girl who took a piss right by the track, without any cover, facing the incoming runners!!! I have to think she's a show-off..


Well, some decent folks choose to stop and wait at the mobile toilets for their turns...probably also to catch some breath...another great pic by Chengsi...


Water!! Give me water! Oh wait, my right shin's not hurting no more! Oh yeah!


The mist slowly fading away on our right..


Though the pacific ocean on our left doesn't look too forgiving for now..


The road is long...


Very long...


Cow asks the philosophical question of the moment: "Why run, when you can eat grass?"


Another barefoot ranger, with his "flip-flop" SGT on his right...these guys are nuts! Anyway, my legs feel much better now, and I'm pretty comfortable with my breathing, though another thing has slowly surfaced...my nipples are starting to hurt!! crap...nipple abrasion! i've seen marathon runners who cross the finish line with bloody nipples before...i do not want bloody nipples...i repeat, I DO NOT WANT BLEEDING NIPPLES!


One of the many entertainers along the way...another sign of a very well-organized marathon...they have jazz bands, rock bands, drum ensemble...definitely makes the run more interesting...


Cliffs...


More cliffs...in case you have not realized...we're gaining elevation...about 9 miles so far and feeling good...


Folks ahead of me, for the moment..hee


More folks ahead of me...shit!


Where ocean meets land...


The temperature actually dropped for a bit, especially after we started running along the sea...that's when I know I made a good investment in the "wind stopper"...i guess my nipples will have to be the sacrifice...


You can actually make out the "tiny dots" of runners mile ahead despite the misty weather...these guys are probably gonna qualify for boston...I told myself sub-5 will be something I can shoot for...sub-5..just breathe through the nose...till the 16th mile..


After this turn would be the much-feared 2-mile upslope..the "Hurricane Point"...a slope that makes this marathon "one of the toughest course in the country"...a desciption i only found out the day before at the convention center...well, we'd see if the slopes here beats those in Berkeley...


Ok..this dude in singlet is pretty much running alongside me throughout most of the race, which is fine except that he keeps farting!


Before Hurricane Point, the drum ensemble cheers us on...


Up!


Up some more!


Slopes like these beside the road has caused much problem (landslide) in the past Big Sur marathons, though it looks like they're quite well-behaved this yr..


Going higher...


Finally, the mid-point is in sight!


The dramatic Bixby Bridge marks the half-way point (13.1 mile) of the marathon...


Another angle of Bixby Bridge


On the bridge itself...


Looking down from the bridge...


The photographers get photographed...


I've seen this dude in the Big Sur website...it seems that he's always wearing the same tuxedo...but the music is heaven to the ears...he really does play very nicely...and you can hear the piano half a mile away!


can you hear the piano? sweet~~


Can't help myself...have to get at least one pic with me in it...a kind marshall on a bike did me the favor, against the backdrop of a roaring pacific ocean...


Another band along the route...anyway, after the mid-point, my frequency of taking pictures have drastically reduced as the fatigue really set in...the first to give in was my left knee, then by mile 18, it was pretty much my entire lower body plus my back...this is when you know you haven't trained to enough to condition your body...


It's probably past 10:30am when I took this pic...I hate to stop because I know it'd take alot more determination to start running again once I've lost the momentum by stopping to take pictures...then again, this shot was really worth it..


It's mile 20 and I'm TIRED! I'm also getting more hungry with each mile...that's when the energy gel (packed like a packet of ketchup so you can squeeze out into your mouth as you run) that you receive from the stations (which are about 1.5 mile apart) really helps...I'm also drinking alot more at each station...


The sun's out...and I NEED H2O!!! Michael, keep breathing, through the nose...wait till mile 22...hold out..breathe...ok, getting bored...let's starting counting....1,2,3,4....50...I need H2O!


It helps to know that there're all these ppl running behind me...hahhaa


Run...with the wind...


More uplope????? What!!!


I know what you're thinking...this entry post is getting realli toooooo long...but then again, this is a Marathon post...gotta be this way...


I was there...an hour ago...


This dude is AWESOME! If you have not realized yet..the support along the entire marathon is really sensational...we've got bands, piano, dancing, drums, orchestra, lots of local residents who choose to wake up early to cheer us on and of course, we have this DUDE...he's the guy shouting our timing at the 21 mile mark (my fav number too!)...and he was screaming at the top of his voice "DO WHAT I CANNOT DO...DO NOT LET YOUR WEARINESS BRING YOU DOWN..." and he was making such dramatic motion as if he's making some speech to his troops before the soldier go on a major combat...in any case, just wanna say to all the volunteers that I appreciate all the encouragement along the way...it really makes the run so much more enjoyable..


Mile 21...still Mile 21...still Mile 21...where's Mile 22?...wait, Mile 23!!!!Damn! I was waiting for Mile 22 to start breathing through my mouth and now it's already Mile 23! I've wasted a mile of oxygen boost!! Oh well, not that it matters thou, the limiting factor is no longer my breathing..it's my whole body...every step, every 0.1 degree of elevation is pain...but hey, I think I might be able to finish the race under 4:15!!! ...lovely beach there, but I can't stop to enjoy it now...I've got a Marathon to complete...


Instead of counting the miles up...it's finally counting down!!!! 1 mile to go!! Before the race, I told myself that at this very end of the race, I should think about all my loved ones (Tammy, my mum and dad, patrick and sam) for motivation...I tried doing that...but the truth is, I am so freakin tired I can't concentrate on thinking about anything, let alone anyone...the only thing on my mind was how painful my lower back is and how good it'd feel to just stop for abit...the last mile is really quite torturing...plus there was still another bloody climb up another slope!!!


This was the moment I've been dreaming about for the past few months..I know I look like shit here...but I did cross that line...alive and under 4:12:32 (chip time)!


I really needed to lie down after the race...unfortunately the channeled the runners immediately after the finish line to the lunch box collection area...well, i know i want to eat...but my feet are realli giving way...i need to lie down...


And lie down I did...just like these folks who, like me, are waiting for the free massage the organizer provides...


After an hour of rest, I was pleasantly surprised to bum into a fellow Singaporean Wolverine alum....Zhi Yang graduated a year earlier than me and has been working in Singapore for a year now...but he happened to be in town for work for a couple of weeks and decided to join the race too...what a small world!


A final victory shot of the group...a few years ago I would not dare think that I'd be running a marathon...but the company of these guys has made this goal achievable and the ride much more enjoyable...I guess all of us join for different reason...Hong How probably joins for pain...Huiliang probably joins for reminder of the glorious OCS gungho days...Jiawei probably joins because he's got long legs so why not...Chuohao probably joins to prove that he's still young...Siswi probably joins because she gets runner's high (yes, her face lights up after every run)...Chengsi probably joins because her roommates join...XT probably joins cos hmm...Siswi dragged him along? Why did I join? I guess I can write down a long list of things I get out of this "struggle"...one thing I did not expect at all at the beginning is the people you'd meet along this long run...indeed, a run is a much shorter one when you're not running alone...and to that end I thank God for this group of energetic and fun-loving young men and women, who inspired me and each other to achieve something that seems really far-fetched at the beginning....so...San Fran marathon anyone? hee

5 comments:

Marcus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marcus said...

great photos! alas, I had all these grand ambitions of running a marathon, but from the looks of it, i may never get down to actually doing it. :P running up and down East Coast Park just does not sound like an exciting way to chalk up the mileage. haha.

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Anonymous said...

Very nice to find your photos today... the day after I registered for BSIM 2008. Your commentary is getting me excited for next April to hurry up and come!
Jeanne in Ohio