Shadows of the Night – Sundown Marathon

I love running in the night – except the body is so confused when the start time is around 1:20 a.m., but it keeps the heat down here in Singapore to a balmy 85 degrees, rather than 90 or 95 degrees.  I don’t love getting a massive cramp in my right leg at 28K and having to fight it for the next 14K to the point of being knocked to the ground from the pain and hoping I can still get up again.

Once again, Michelle was super-amazing, and outdid herself this time.  We took a kind of nap from around 5pm to 10pm and then got up and got ready for the race.  It was weird and we kept saying that it was really morning and to go through the normal pre-race routines, except it meant eating pasta salad for ‘breakfast’ instead of toast and bananas and coffee.

We got a taxi to the start line area at the F1 racing pit areas in the shadow of the Singapore Flyer with the night lights twinkling and the full moon above.  We got there in time to see (in the distance) thousands of half-marathoners heading out around midnight so the pens were cleared by the time we got there and it was all marathoners milling around and waiting to start.

As usual, I had been incredibly nervous during the past day and the Waiting is the Hardest Part (so says Tom Petty anyway, RIP), we sat around, took some pictures and ate and drank some more and fiddled with the iPod, Bluetooth headphones and FitBit.  When it finally became time to line up in the pens, we said our goodbyes with already sweaty kisses and made plans to meet around 12K or 14K in East Coast Park, near where we live.

It took almost 20 minutes for my stage to cross the start line among the many thousands of runners who were there.  Most were locals, though a few foreigners, and it was a pretty subdued group compared to American races, no really whooping or cheering, just a quiet determination.  You could still see the universal worry in most everyone’s faces.

We walked by the F1 pits where the Singapore F1 (in September) starts from and they had a fire burst thing going as we migrated to the front.

Then we were finally off and I quickly discovered I could walk faster than I could run due to the crowds and small running areas.  So I thought to let that be and conserve energy for the many kilometers to go.

I really felt pretty strong and concentrated on not running into anyone or trip anyone up.  The first clicks are hard since you’re counting them up from 3 to 4 to 5 and thinking dozens to go, so it takes a lot of mind-power and distraction to keep going.

It was really a beautiful night, for Singapore slightly cool, with every so light breeze, the lights of the brilliant city all around and just hearing the footsteps of the runners, watches beeping and my own custom music in my ears.

It eventually got into a sort of meditation while running mode when we got to the long stretches before East Coast Park by focusing on the unbroken yellow line in the middle of the road and staying focused on that and putting myself into a semi-trance.   That was great, but as soon as I’d make some progress, there’d be a group of 3-4 runners walking down the road and blocking the whole thing off forcing me to either go around or through.  Around this time, the first of the ‘running’ songs came on and it made me smile:

Shadows of the Night – Pat Benatar

“We’re runnin’ with the shadows of the night
So baby, take my hand, it’ll be alright
Surrender all your dreams to me tonight, they’ll come true in the end”

So that seemed appropriate.  I then made a little game of seeing which songs could be reconsidered running a marathon (at night) songs – which was a little stretch, but hey, it made the time go by.

Prove it All Night – Bruce Springsteen

But if dreams came true, oh, wouldn’t that be nice,
But this ain’t no dream we’re living through tonight,
Girl, you want it, you take it, you pay the price.

Prove it all night, prove it all night girl and call the bluff,
prove it all night, prove it all night and girl,
I prove it all night for your love.

Pieces of the Night – Gin Blossoms

Is it any wonder that the stars just don’t rush by
When you’re only doin’ 60 through this oh-so-vacant night
But it’s lacking something big this time

What do you remember if at all
Only pieces of the night…
And is it any wonder in the middle of the crowd
If you let your feet get trampled on
When the music is that loud
But you wanted to be where you are
But it looked much better from afar

I was drinking 100Plus at every hydration station (about every 2K) and was looking forward to seeing Michelle at 14K, near our normal running starting place next to the skate park, and there she was!  Pretty in pink and with flashing lights that I could not miss.  I gobbled down another banana, and a special energy drink, said I’d see her on the way back to what seemed like a long another 11K to get to 23k and off I went.

This was a stretch we knew oh so well from our many training bike/runs and it seemed like home.  There was the moon shining over the water, peaceful running, and the numbers going off in the head of trying to get to 21.1K which would be the halfway point.  I honestly felt really strong at this stage, good pace, body in good shape, and mentally moving along.  Some of the U-turns are hard because you have to pass all the runners ahead of you, but they you get to make the turn and see everyone behind you.  The sides of the road started to get littered with those with cramps and stretching and resting and was praying for that not to be me.

I was super-fast in this section and got to 23K where she was still waiting.  Took another banana and some Gu chunks and walked a bit to drink and toast my fellow runners.  I didn’t care, I was happy and only 19K to go.

Running on Empty – Jackson Browne

Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I’m running behind

Everyone I know, everywhere I go
People need some reason to believe
I don’t know about anyone but me
If it takes all night, that’ll be all right
If I can get you to smile before I leave

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
Look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too

It was at the 28K mark that the cramp just hit me so suddenly.  I was wearing a new pair of compression leg sock things that I thought would help, and with all the Potassium from the bananas, carbs from the pasta, sports drinks, Advil, salt tablets, and the lower heat from the night, I couldn’t understand it.  I gingerly got up and took some steps and hoped it would not return, but it would again and again not quite causing me to think about quitting, but for sure making me go slow to make sure I did.

It’s a really dreadful section after East Coast Park and around my normal golf course, Marina Bay Golf, where we’re trying to get to 32K and that would mean just 10K to go. It seemed to take forever.  I amused myself by working on my QBR script for next week in my head – anything to distract.  At times, and I worked really hard on this, I just gazed at the city, the people, the moon, the water, and drank in the experience.  And ran/walked.

I’m Not Running Anymore – John Mellencamp

Well I look in the mirror – what the hell happened to me?
Whatever I had has gone away
I’m not the young kid that I used to be
So I push the hair back out of my face
That’s O.K., I knew this would happen
But I was hopin’ not today
Hey Baby, I’m not running anymore
But I’m on my way

But then, the kilometers ticked by and the sights of the city, the lit up Flower Gardens, The Art Science Museum, the Marina Bay Sands, the Fullerton Hotel, the water, the reflections, it really is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and especially at night when you get to run through it.

I know 35-36-37-38-39 were agony kilometers and as soon as I got a good pace running, I be bowled over by the evil cramp.  One time going across a bridge a healthy clip, the female runner ahead of me just stopped, not even looking around, causing me to fall off to the side with a near twisted ankle and reinstated the cramp.  I was not a happy camper then.

What A Wondeful Life – Louis Armstrong

The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky,
Are also on the faces of people going by.
I see friends shaking hands, sayin’, “How do you do?”
They’re really sayin’, “I love you.”

When I got to 40K sign I let out a big whoop, checked the watch and made the final 2K push, and knew I could crawl in if I had to.  The last kilometers are always special and you can see it on the faces of those around you saying ‘good job’ and their own relief of finishing.

As I sprinted down the straightaway towards the finish line I had time to reflect on how lucky we are.  We live in a safe, clean place, our children are happy and healthy and we have good love between us.  These were my thoughts as I crossed the line, got my medal (it’s bomb), finisher shirt and then saw Michelle in her chair off to the side.  Made it just before the sun came up. Got a big kiss and a celebratory Carlsberg, put on a clean dry shirt, and took off the yucky shoes for flip-flops and made our way home via taxi where a well-deserved nap until the early afternoon awaited us and now a 4th of July (well, 5th) BBQ deluxe dinner.

Second marathon plus in the last three weeks and #46 overall.  But those are stats.  Life is love, and loving life is a beautiful thing.

Long May You Run – Neil Young

We’ve been through
Some things together
With trunks of memories
Still to come
We found things to do
In stormy weather
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
Have come
With your chrome heart shining
In the sun
Long may you we run.