N – Nerves are normal
On race day, I felt a little anxious about how the whole run will go. I guess it is normal to be nervy when we have not conquered this distance before and are doing it for the first time. My advice on hindsight is: Don’t overthink, just run and enjoy the whole process as much as possible. No expectations, no fear!

O – Odours, odours everywhere….!
I am not sure if it is the night air that was too humid or my senses were on high alert, but  I could smell all the bodies running past… haha. I could smell myself too! All the time I kept the ‘clean freak’ in me under control and assured myself, “Ok, a nice cold shower with my lavendar soap awaits…! Just 4 more hours to go… etc…”. Right. Talk about self-motivation.

P – Protect your knees (that was my main issue)
Protect your knees. Protect your ankles. Strengthen your leg muscles to distribute the weight more evenly. Pay attention to the way you land. Build your core so that you don’t dump weight onto your legs only. Lift your legs and don’t drag your feet when you run. Stretch and stretch some more.

Q – Queue for toilets early on race day
When you need to go, you need to go. With the butterflies in your stomach, you feel the urge to go even more! So queue up and let it all go.

R – Rest and Recovery
Only when I started training for this marathon did I truly understand the importance of REST and RECOVERY. In the past, running 5-10km did not put so much strain on my knees, legs, and body. I felt I could run every other day and still feel good. However, when we started clocking more mileage (i.e. 20km, 25km, 30km) during our training runs, we needed longer recovery periods (3-4 days). Resting means – icing, stretching, going for massages, cross training (like swimming or yoga), or simply doing nothing.

S – Small steps to a Big Goal
This journey reminded me of this quote by Lao Tzu: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  There is no other way to reach a personal goal except to take the necessary action yourself. I have learnt that some goals may be more difficult to conquer and the end points seem very far away, but with the right mentality, we can reach them. Patience is indeed a virtue – it is honed when you tell yourself to take small steps with the faith that one day you will reap what you sow.

T – Trust the process
There are days when I asked myself if what I was doing was right (training for a marathon in 3 months!) and if my body could take the stress. There are also days when I felt awesome after completing a long run with my team mates. Then there are days when I wonder if I will truly be able to complete the race without any glitches. And the end of the day, I think when we are mindful about what we are doing, when we plan our training well, when we consciously take care of ourselves, we can safely say “trust the process”. Many of us have become healthier and stronger!