Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2014: My Run and Thoughts

Ran my second International marathon at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM14) on 6th July 2014. It was a bitter sweet run for me. In a way my thoughts were cluttered with bits of disappointment, sadness, anger and joy. 

GCAM14 was definitely a very organised race.  After all, its Australia's very first marathon to attain the prestigious International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Road Race Gold Label. Its events in my personal life leading to the race that has left me in a 'rut'. However, after this morning's solo run of 27km at 5am and several chats with several run mentors over the last 3 weeks including my sifu Terence, Captain Foo, and fellow blogger runner Jamie Pang, I reckon I need to move on and be glad that I completed the race. Yes anger and disappointment with myself will be there but its better off channeling those emotions to training up for my next race or runs.

In May 2014, its been perhaps one of the darkest time of my life. A bout of lung infection, viral fever and dengue left me in a form that I didn't quite recognised or want to accept. The body was strangely weak. I had recurrences of flu leading up to race day and the platelet counts were on a yoyo or roller coaster ride of its own. In short, the training for GCAM14 that I happily aimed for at 4:30 was pretty much undone. Tried my very best to regain my form during the month of June but all I could muster was 12km. That's quite a joke considering that I was going to run 42.195km! Still I knew I wanted very much to run GCAM14 and went on ahead to fly into Gold Coast with the game plan of running as far as I could and walk the remaining race. I will be honest that I was really hoping for a miracle that I will be able to run the entire race as I have been doing for my last race SCHKM in Hong Kong.

Arrived on Saturday morning via AirAsiaX. It had been a good flight with me being able to sleep pretty much throughout the flight. Other than a runny nose, I was definitely rested. Of course the best part of the flight was meeting up with the cute and bubbly Berlowitz brothers. All 3 are talented in different sports with the oldest brother Jonah being an avid runner. In fact, Jonah completed his 2km Junior Dash in during GCAM13 2013 in 7:29...yes that's like under 4 minutes per km. Thank you Berlowitz brothers for the good wishes and vibes that I will be able to finish my race...of which I did... I hope to see you guys again next year. Jonah I hope to see you during GCAM15!

Checked into the hotel and hopped over to the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre to pick up my bib and of course to indulge in some retail therapy! Bib collection was easy and quick. Retail therapy begins with lots of bargains and offers at the exhibition centre. 
Miss Shortie had to tiptoe for her pic with the Asics girls.
Totally loved the GCAM app that included course tips, race day reminders and post race details including split times etc. And the My ASICS app that is linked to the GCAM app has also been a very good app that I used for my race preps.
Had my spinal alignment checked. Ooops... I have very bad alignment and from the test results am currently getting myself fixed in KL.
Lots of bargains. Lots of things to buy. And I certainly appreciated that Endura the official drink and gel provider at GCAM14 were also present at the exhibition centre. This is good because this meant that I was able to have a taste of their race day isotonic drink to ensure that I had no issues with the taste or unwanted side effects.
Of course I had to say hello to my MWM sisters who had a booth to promote the Malaysia Women Marathon 2015.

Caught up with my sleep and rest before race day. THANX to the GCAM14 app, I had a checklist to follow to ensure that I will be scrambling around looking for my gear etc on race morning.

My race flagged off at 7:20am. I woke up by 4am so I could have a leisurely ritual of a nice warm shower to warm up my body since the race start time was expected to be approximately 7ºC despite it being sunny looking.  A good breakfast follows and I take a walk to the race precinct with some other runners who were also staying at Palazzo Versace with me. 
A nice 25 minutes walk to help me warm up
Caught up with Pat from New Zealand who has been such an inspiring runner.
Love the sunrise view that greets us as we stroll to the race precinct

The race precinct is abuzz with activities. Its well organised with clear signs for toilets, race pens, baggage deposit, food stalls etc. Lots of room to move about and hehehe...I lost the hubster when he disappeared to take pics but its all good because all the runners are so friendly and soon I was chatting away with runners from all over. 
Nice and bright but its rather cold. There is quite a huge number of Japanese runners present so they even have their own Japanese village. Popped by to play catch up with some of the runners who are friends that I met through the Super GT
The sun can get really sunny and piercing under the blue skies in Gold Coast. Love the Suncorp Bank's complimentary sunscreen stations and white hats that were given out to participants. Silly hubster forgot his hat and thankfully the Suncorp Bank volunteer handed him a hat to shield him from the sun while he waited for me to finish the race.
Last minute bite before the race and post race refuel...
Last pic before we make our way to the starting line.

Its almost race time and honestly I was jittery. I felt good but I wasn't really feeling all too great. A strange pre race feeling. But it was too late to chicken I inched my way to the starting line. The supporters before the race began were amazing and energetic bunch...and I learnt that this continued all through the race too. Went into the Orange balloon zone where I could follow designated pacers in order to achieve the targetted time of 4:30.
Runners getting ready.
Even baby is up to support the runners! 
The birds too are there to support the runners. Hahaha.
The orange balloons that I was to follow closely.
Flag off and the race begins.
Some run. Some jog. Some walk. Its our own race!
Thank you!!!

The race starts off and during my first 21km, it certainly felt good being able to run at my usual pre dengue speed. Completing the first half at 2:11 was certainly something that felt right. At that point I felt that I could possibly be achieving my targeted time of 4:30 based on my previous run history of being able to run under 6:30 per km. Even at 25km...I was still on target.

The body however started failing after 28km. I was beginning to experience some tightness on both my glutes. I could feel a cramp coming but I wanted to run on. Well at least to run till the cramps kicked in. So I slowed down and resorted to running 900m and walking 100m. Yes...I actually walked. And I was disappointed that I was reduced to a state of walking in a marathon. The tightness worsened at the race progressed. The only way to keep running was to slow down. It was getting painful but the cheers from the crowd and water stations urged me on. 

Surprisingly, I managed to speed up despite feeling that I was slowing down. I pounded on and on...greeting fellow runners and the crowd that cheered the runners. At the 38km mark, I have given up the hopes of hitting the targeted time and all  I wanted to do was just to finish the race. I consoled myself that it was going to be definitely better than my virgin full marathon of 5:27. The 40km point was the beginning of the most painful run that I have ever had. The cramps finally set in...

2 more kilometres to run and the cramps had to kick in? can a run go so wrong for me? I was tearing, wiping my eyes dry every now and then. I wanted to stop. I wanted to finish the race. My thoughts were every where. And as I approached the last straight 1km, a little girl at the traffic lights told me "You can do it...don't cry" and I knew I just had to run on even if its slowing down to a jog. And that was precisely what I did. I jogged till I reach the finish line...gave a little smile for the camera. 

I finished my race..the longest 42.195km of my life and I froze beside the fence...I had to hold on to the fence so as not to collapse as both glutes had cramped up. I could not stand on my 2 legs any more. A far cry from all my other race finishes. Thankfully 2 faster runners ran over and helped me out of the finish line, gave me water for me to hydrate and to pop my salt tablet. They stayed on with me till the cramps cleared and I made my way to collect my medal and finishing tee. 

Post race support was good with bananas, oranges, muffins and water being handed out to runners. I refuelled with lots of water and oranges. They were most palatable to me at that point of time. The cramps eased off but the glutes were sore. By now, I was with my fellow Malaysian runners...its good to meet them again. Lots of pictures and smiles. The smiling works to ease the discomfort in the helped cheer me up (I was secretly angry with myself for not being mentally or physically strong enough to block off the pain and run as planned). 
I finished my race and this is definitely my most painful medal ever. A happy smile that I completed the race.
Goofing around with Mei Ling 
Some of our Malaysian delegates

And the bitterness with myself went on till this morning. 3 weeks was too long and deep inside I didn't want to rot with bitterness over a race that I didn't run as how I intended it to be. So I woke up for a long run this morning...a nice long run on my own as I thought through the conversations with the mentors and what I really wanted. At 8am and 27km later, the following are my post GCAM14 thoughts:
• I am grateful that I completed the GCAM14 at 4:48:32. Its almost 19 minutes off the targeted time but I completed it!
• There is nothing to be angry or sad or bitter for not achieving the targeted time. Sh*t happens.
• I am still not a gel lover and they make me burp badly. So silly me should have remembered to take my salt tablets during the GCAM14 as I always had during races of which it turned out that I did not 'salt' as planned. Thus the cramps. And because I am capable of being forgetful, I will be putting alarms on my next race to remind me to 'salt' at the designated distance. 
• I am grateful that post GCAM14, my body is finally getting back to her old self. Training the last 2 weeks has been good and this morning I ran my best 27km! 
• The whole bout of lung infection, viral fever and dengue was a lesson to me to realise that when the body needs rest, I must respect that it needs the rest and not rush out to resume training or jump into races. 
• My life resumes and I will resume with whatever Full Marathons that I have committed to. Training too resumes for me to move into ultra races for 2015.
• And if I am still angry, its probably at the aedes mosquito that bit and infected me:P

GCAM14 has been a good race. Its amazingly well organised. Thank you to organisers, volunteers and fellow runners for piecing together an amazing race. I will be back for GCAM15 which is marked for Sunday 5th July 2015. For more information on GCAM15, bookmark

Full set of pics in Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2014. Do also head on to the following channels for more updates: