SCSM 22 - My First Marathon

Bucket list kinda thing.


Racepack collection day: D-1.

The Marathon

The origins of the Marathon has always been an interesting story to me. At 42.195 kilometers or 26.2 miles, it's not a nice, whole number that seems to have any significance.

Legend has it that Philippides, a Greek messenger, raced from the city of Marathon to Athens to announce victory over the Persians, and, upon doing so, promptly died.

And of course, when people heard this tragic story, they went like "oh yeah that sounds like a good time, I should do this as well," and organised marathons became a thing.

This year, roughly 40000 people signed up for the Standard Chartered Marathon, with around 6000 people opting for the full 42.195km — and I happened to be one of them.

Irrelevant Backstory

I'm someone who's hated running for much of his life. I've always enjoyed sports but never been a great athlete, or someone who's naturally athletic. When I played soccer way back in primary school, I often opted to be the keeper so I wouldn't have to run.

During national service, we got forced to run a lot more and I slowly got fitter, better, faster, allowing me to enjoy the process just a lil more.

So, on 18th December, whilst running a chill 5k, with a 12k being the longest run in my belt, I suddenly had the brilliant idea to sign up for SCSM and "check this off my bucket list."

I was joined without hesitation by a good friend whom I did weekly runs with (they were usually less than 8km and always ended up with a good meal at McDonalds.)


0 hesitation from Joseph. I love it.

The Training

After paying $110 for the privilege of running 42 kilometers, with ~80 days to prepare for this, I sat down at my computer and looked for a training plan.

I figured a 10-week training plan would suit our needs, but after quite extensive google-ing, couldn't really find one that made sense. They were mostly 12-week plans, or plans that were catered towards much more advanced runners with a lot of mileage under their belt.

At this point, my combined mileage for the past 2 months (Jul + Aug) was 3.65km, though I had done quite a bit of walking as I'd just returned from a trekking trip in Nepal. In the end, I just decided to create my own training plan in GCal and hope for the best.

Some training stats:

396Total Distance (km)
2443Time Spent (mins)

My plan was one long training run per week — this was the most important part of any marathon training plan, the idea is a progressively longer run each week to get used to the long distance, peaking at a 33km run that would hopefully be enough to get us through the finish line.

The highlight of my training was also running my first ever half-marathon on my birthday.


Had to do 22km on my 22th for auspicious reasons.

Running Department

Marathon prep introduced me to the idea of paced runs — there was a super friendly Singaporean running community - Running Department - that organised 2 runs per week: (1) a shorter, faster run in the CBD on Wednesdays, (2) a longer, slower run at East Coast Park on Saturday mornings.

Running Department was an absolute godsent. The pain of the long runs were made bearable by them.


Final run with RD before SCSM. This was a 15km at Kallang.

Race Report: Marathon Itself

It was my first marathon and I'm no runner so the goal was just completion.


RunSelf explanatoryYes
FinishWould drag myself across the finish line if I had toYes
Be able to walk tomorrowHad school the next dayYes

Woke up around 1:30am (flag-off was supposed to be at 4:30am), had some oats and chilled, waiting for Joseph to pick me up.

Arrived at 3:15am-ish. Realised I forgot my race bib. Panicked. Suddenly super awake.

Rushed back to take bib. Joseph broke several speeding records.

Arrived back at Suntec at 4:10ish. Weather looked kinda sus.

Turns out being late was a good idea — the race was delayed due to weather and because we were late, we managed to find shelter easily while the majority of other runners were stuck in the rain and cold.


Flag-off announced at 5:30. Being Pen F, we waited for quite awhile before it was our turn. started at 6am. Holy shit it begins.



DistanceTime (H:m)My Face

First 10km



First 10 kilometers flew by. Enjoyed the energy of the crowd, stuck in the masses but we were taking it slow and steady. Fist bumps every kilometer marker, water stations weren't needed. Weather was nice and cooling. Feeling good.

Felt kinda wild running in the middle of the CBD on the roads. Whenever I saw a traffic light, had the strange, primal instinct to slow down.

10km - 21.1km

Cruising. Slowly started to feel my legs around the 18km mark, but spirits were high, broke off from the half marathon people, crowd thinned out. I remember telling Joseph "Ok time to start digging deep and holding on".

21.1km - 30km

Half marathon done... only...??

Said I had to use the restroom around the 25km mark but actually I just wanted a respite from running. Really started to feel my legs, especially my right knee. But ok, still manageable.

30km - 35km

Finally saw the 31km marker at ECP that we drove past in the morning.

33km was the longest run I completed in training. Everything from here on out was uncharted territory. At this point, we were around 4 hours in, and the Sun was starting to burn down on us.

35km - 39km

Oh my god. The Marina Barrage bridge has never felt so long in my entire life. Walking more than running at this point. Nursing a side stitch. Quite a few people cheering around GBTB though, which was always a much-needed morale boost. Really appreciated all the people taking time off their day to cheer people on.

Walk breaks started to become longer and were needed more frequently. The Sun was relentless and the unsheltered stretches were an absolute killer.



39km - End


Most painful 3 kilometers of my life. The bridge was an absolute killer, and seeing the float right next to us was a massive bait that caused us to speed up, when in actuality we had to run away from it before making a u-turn in front.

Finish didn't really feel very climatic or amazing. It felt sweet to finish, but I guess deep down I knew that I'd have to put in more effort for this to truly feel special.


6 hours and 42.195km later and WE'RE DONE!


Everything you ever wanted to know about yourself you can learn in 26.2 miles.

~ Lori Culnane

This quote seemed really deep and I had hoped for something during the marathon.

Not sure what. Nirvana? Absolution? Clarity?

Unfortunately, I had no such epiphanies.

Instead of figuring out the meaning of life, most of my thoughts consisted of wah where's the next water point pls.

What I learnt was that 42 kilometers is a long distance, Singapore is really hot, and running for a long time definitely hurts the legs.

But it was fun. I remember joking with Joseph: "Spirits are high, heart is willing, but the body is broken and bruised."

Notes to future self

Bucket list items tend to be one-off but I did title this my first marathon, so in the event that I decide to do this again, future gavin pls listen up.

But for me, the biggest takeaway is truly appreciating the age-old adage:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

~ African Proverb (?)

While running can seem like a very solitary sport and many people use it to escape into their own heads, de-stress, or take some alone time, for me, being with others really allowed me to push further, dig deeper, and go longer.


Having an amazing running partner to keep me accountable and talk to during those long runs made things infinitely better. Truly couldn't have imagined doing this without Joseph.

Looking Forward

As I'm writing this in Dec 2022, I think it seems fitting to take this time to reflect on my running goals for the future and hopefully keep me accountable.