#9. Singapore: “If I should be so bold, I’d ask you.”

December 6, 2009
Age: 26
Occupation: Account Executive at RN
Residence: Chicago, IL
Time since last race: 7.5 months
Conditions: 80 degrees, 80% humidity, partly sunny
Official time: 04:29:17


This is the Legend of Skinny/Fat.

Being the sponge of knowledge that I am when it comes to running, I like to soak up every little piece of advice I can, try it, and see if it works for me.  Just three weeks prior to this race, my sister completed her first Ironman Triathlon in Phoenix, AZ(Just in case you didn’t know, the Ironman distance is a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike, followed by a 26.2 mile run.  And I thought running marathons was cool.) One little nugget of training information that she shared with me was about the usage of salt tablets during endurance athletic events that take place in very warm climates.  After most marathons I run, I have salt stains on my clothes and streaks on my face.

After a Half Ironman in August ’08, lots of salt on face:

My sister told me that taking salt tablets helps curb muscle fatigue which I think sounds like a great side effect and was excited to try them out.  Her best friend Kathy was talking about them and I *thought* that she advised me to take one every 20 minutes during my run in Singapore so that’s what I planned on doing.

In case you don’t know – and I will be the first to admit I didn’t know – where Singapore is, here’s a map:

It is 85 miles north of the equator.  Average temperatures year round are 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity is 60-90%.  These were the ideal conditions for me to try salt tablets.  Here’s my race day play-by-play:

4:00 AM – wake up, drink coffee, jump up and down to get the system moving, if you know what I mean.
5:30 AM – gun goes off for 50,000 runners.
Mile 8 – I started thinking about Mc Donalds french fries (what?) and also thought, “I can’t believe I am doing this.”  And not in a good way.
Every 2K – pour water on my head, drink 100 Plus.
Mile 20 – Catch up to the 04:30:00 pace group.
Whole time – taking salt tablets which were slowly disintegrating in my pocket causing me to look like I was pulling out hard drugs every time I took one.
Mile 25 – pushed a girl out of my way.  Imagine 50,000 runners bottle-necking through a narrow-ish street to finish the race!

With heavy shoes soaked in sweat I squished my way to the finish line, and out a sigh of relief as I was handed my medal and Finisher’s tee.  Next, a picture with one of my best friends, Kristin (who did the 10K) in the finish area.  And look what I saw when I reviewed the pictures later:

Before the race:

After the race:

“HOLY SH*T look how chubby you are!!” We all exclaimed!  I immediately emailed this picture to my sister, who sent it to all of her triathlon friends, who sent it to their families who shared laugh upon laugh at my blunder of using salt tablets.  Look how much water I retained!  Kathy told me that instead of the 12 or so tablets that I took, I really should have taken two or three. Oops.  In the words of HRE, “I mean it’s just TOO GOOD!”

I bet you’re wondering why I was in Singapore, huh?

I have a unique collection of friends who like to take risks, go on adventures and choose to live their lives to the fullest regardless of what anyone else thinks.  One such friend is Kristin who moved to Singapore with her husband to pursue job opportunities abroad.  By the time I visited them, they had been there for two years.  When I learned of Kristin’s intent to live in Singapore, my first reaction was, “of COURSE I’ll come visit you.”  After her first year there, she emailed me talking about how cool the Singapore marathon was and that if I was still planning on visiting then I should come in December and do the race.  I didn’t even give it a second thought!

Kristin and me, Spring Break Senior Year 2005:

Kristin, her husband Kenneth, (their stupid cat Raffles :)) and I had a blast together.  Ken is really into the food scene in Singapore which was clearly right up my alley.  I didn’t care about the touristy things, I cared about the food and what the locals do.  We had Chili Crab, ate in Hawker Centers, went for brunch in Little India, drank Milo Dinosaurs, ate Milo ice cream, bought Milo candy, went to the fish market, etc.  Did you know that in Singapore it’s very hard to come by fresh poultry or meat?  It’s 10x easier and cheaper to buy frogs (for frog porridge) or fish.

I was obsessed with the Milo Dinosaur drink, pictured below:

Fish Market:

Kenneth and Kristin cooking the pre-marathon dinner:

The bulk of my self-discovery on this trip was done on my side jaunt to Thailand.  Yes I was a 26-year-old female and went to Bangkok alone.  Not only did I go alone, I went for three whole days!  It was SO, so, so much fun.  I got to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted for however long or short I wanted.  Here are my travel tips if you’re a female and going it alone:

  • Act like you know what you’re doing (this is sound advice for pretty much any activity in life).
  • Use public transportation and don’t be scared if you went the wrong way on the train.  It usually only runs in two directions so back-tracking isn’t that hard.
  • Pay attention to how the locals are dressed and emulate it in a way that doesn’t say, “HI, I’M FROM AMERICA.”
  • Sign yourself up for guided (or adult babysitting, as I like to call it) activities that take upwards of 3-5 hours.
  • Splurge on a nice, safe hotel but think budget-minded for everything else.

Riding an elephant!

Thai cooking class:

You know how people always advise you to stay away from street food or farmer’s markets or anything of the sort when traveling in Asia?  I pretty much ignored all of that advice and ate most of my meals from street vendors while in Thailand.  I fell in love with some of the cuisine there and truly, truly believe that I will never taste Asian food as good or as fresh as I did than on the bustling streets of Bangkok.

Chicken liver snacktime:

Pineapple and mystery sugar? salt?

However, my confidence (cockiness) snuck up on me.  For my Last Supper in Singapore before returning to the USA, Kristin, Kenneth and I splurged on a nice dinner at a famous and higher-end restaurant.  My flight was around 11:00 PM so we had planned on going to dinner and then going straight to the airport.  The meal was delicious and we ate every last bite.  Almost immediately I didn’t feel well but I just figured it was because I’d eaten a lot those past ten days and it was just time to rid of the Asian food for a while.

Upon arrival at the airport it wasn’t pretty.  Wasn’t pretty about three times.  And then I got on the eight hour flight to Tokyo at which point, I spent seven of those hours in the fetal position on the bathroom floor.  The flight attendants didn’t speak English, the 80 year old Japanese couple next to me didn’t speak English and a random woman spent a good 30 minutes rubbing my back telling me it will be ok.  I couldn’t keep anything down, even water.  Lord knows how I made it through that flight but I did.  The next leg was about 11 hours and I literally drugged myself to sleep with some random Japanese sleeping pills that I got from the pharmacy.  Being conscious and feeling the pain that food poisoning causes is about last on my list of things to do, only one notch above the after-effects of eating bananas.

It’s a really funny thing to have gone from being over-hydrated (salt tablet mishap) to being severely dehydrated (Asian food attack) in the span of 10 days.  It is amazing how resilient the human body is, I swear.  Back in Chicago.  I returned to a regular workout schedule, a light year-end of work, and some heavy involvement in my newest hobby/obsession of yoga.  I for sure drank the Kool-Aid on this one.  It made me feel like I was up to something sneaky, like I was unlocking a secret that my body had been hiding from me.  I decided I wanted to take some time off from marathoning but that lasted about 2 seconds…

7 thoughts on “#9. Singapore: “If I should be so bold, I’d ask you.”

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention #9. Singapore: “If I should be so bold, I’d ask you.” « Walk to the Mailbox -- Topsy.com

  2. Pingback: #11. Salt Lake City, UT: “Too cold to touch it, your walls are up.” « Walk to the Mailbox

  3. Pingback: the road to boston: gina dicello – the lululemon athletica blog

  4. I was in Singapore in March and I went running twice and thought I was nearly going to die, so props to you for running a MARATHON in that humidity!

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