Sunday, November 21, 2010

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2010...

Event: Penang Bridge International Marathon 2010
Venue: Queensbay Mall, Penang
Date: 21 November 2010
Time: 2am
Distance: 42.195KM (42.28KM by Nike+ SportBand)
Shoe: K-Swiss K-Ona C
By Frank

Since year 2007 when I first started running, the word "Quit" has never came into my mind during my runs whether a marathon distance or even an ultra. But yet this morning, for the first time, I thought of it...

3.30am as the time I woke up on Saturday. Didn't feel too good as stomach was bloated with wind. Took my very own sweet time preparing myself before leaving for Subang Skypark at 6am to catch my flight scheduled at 7.10am. Bump into Chris who is on the same flight and running the quarter marathon distance. Had a good catch up with him before boarding the plane. Surprisingly, we took off 5 minutes earlier! Hooray!

Upon touching down at Penang, it didn't take long for Chin Chin to pick me up and we headed straight away for breakfast at a famous prawn noodle stall. Lie Wei and YannKai was already there waiting. The noodles tasted pretty good I will say, though it was on the spicy side. From there, we then proceeded to Chin Chin's home to unload some stuff before heading for some traditional toast and steam bread. I visited this place before at Campbell Street which I really like their steam bread. However this time, we waited a long time to get our order taken and somehow, my bread came out to be "disfigured"! Taste wise was still awesome though!

Next stop, Eastin Hotel as Luc has already arrived. The rest left to do their stuff while I check out Queensbay Mall with Luc before having a simple lunch. Then it's back to the hotel to prepare our race items before getting some rest which technically I did not.

My race gear...

5.15pm, I reunited with Chin Chin and Lie Wei and we headed off for dinner with Keat Seong Jennifer, Siok Bee, Carmen, Chris and Yvonne. A simple dinner then it's back to the hotel for rest. I turned in at 8pm but only manage to do into dream land an hour later.

Race day...
Didn't have a good sleep and manage only 3 hours. Felt sluggish and yet the stomach issue still stands. Breakfast wasn't too ideal too. By 1am, we headed down to the lobby to meet up with others like Keat Seong, Jennifer, Poh Seng, Karen, Mohan and more. Took a slow walk to the start venue and just hung around there.

The start venue was rather a busy but boring place with the emcee repeating the same old message till the start. I was hoping the organisers will play some motivational music to brighten up the race atmosphere.

At 2am sharp, with the Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng present, runners were set off. I started fine but upon arriving at about 3KM, I started feeling really tired. My stomach felt heavy and my thighs and calves are still feeling the tightness from last weekend's Powerman Malaysia 2010. It's going to be a real challenge to complete this race, I told myself.

Back at Eastin Hotel which is about the 5KM mark, I was really wasted. And after 44 months of running, the first time thinking to quit came. "Why am I doing this when I can be sleeping through the night in the hotel?". Just when all the negative thoughts were coming, Poh Seng ran beside me. He encouraged me not to quit and just carry on slowly aiming just to complete the run. His idea did not struck me instantly but I continued on with him slowly disappearing into the distance ahead with Keat Seong.

Soon enough, I found myself on the Penang Bridge. And the first sign of the sky opening up soon came with the presence of thunder and lightning. The weather forecast did forecast a wet morning though.

Kept running till the u-turn point at the end of the bridge. I wanted to take my first stop at the 20KM mark but was shattered when I saw the u-turn point to be only just 16KM. I though it was 18KM as stated on the race information booklet? However, upon completing the u-turn, another distance marker appeared this time showing 20KM instead. I was confused!

This is also where Karen passed me. I tried to stick with her but slowly for sure, I was loosing out. Then the sky finally open up, big time indeed. Heavy rain and the droplets were huge. And to my suprise, Loke came beside me when I though he was already far ahead. As the droplets were huge, we ran beside the wall hoping it will shield us.

Then at about 21KM or so, came the defining moment. The rain help freshen me up and I was ready to pounce. And with the really wet conditions when other shoes began to feel heavy and squashy, my K-Swiss began to shine. I navigated through the runners like a possesed one and managed to catch up with Karen. She followed me closely and I welcomed her company. But my pace reduced again after 24KM. Probably just an instant boost from the rain.

Managed to find ice cubes with the medics at the bridge's mid span distance and use it to ice my thighs. Rain was slowing down but the roads was still very wet. With the bridge conquered, it's now the mentally challenging Jelutong expressway. At about 28KM or so, I spotted Jennifer walking. Pulled over beside her to find out that she is facing chest discomfort. Knew how that felt for I had experienced it before. And looking at how strong Karen was running, I guess the better option here was to keep Jennifer company.

Whenever Jennifer is ready to run, I did too. And she was leading it. We used signage and markers like street lamps to indicate where to walk and restart our runs, something which I use during my ultra runs too. We stopped at most medic stations to get our legs ices. I even stuffed ice cubes into my calf sleeves.

With each other's company, we soon arrived at the u-turn point at 33KM. One final long stretch back to the the finish line. Time wasn't the factor anymore for I just want to complete it. Though stomach isn't really well, I was hungry and looking forward to breakfast.

Meters and kilometers, it got closer. We are still walking and running till the final kilometer. We ran, looking forward to the finish although with ease as legs were giving way. Don't want to end our run in "style" and we just hobbled till we see the finish gantry. Good to see friends like Yim and Paul cheering by the side as we both completed our run in 05:06:28.

Collected our finisher's medal and shirt and then reuniting with our friends. I went to Poh Seng immediately to thank him for his encouragement. Karen was also there and she ran a superb first marathon in just under 5 hours. WELL DONE!

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Some quick photographing session and we then limped back to the hotel to get ourselves clean up before heading for breakfast. Luc ran around a 3:20 despite being unwell too. After breakfast, I rested in the hotel room. Luc left at about 10am while myself 11.45am for the airport where I hung around with Shine, Keat Seong and Jennifer before finally heading home on a 1.50pm flight.

All in all, despited not a personal worst, it's by far most my worst marathon experience. The condition I was in made it really difficult to run. Even experience runners falter at times like this and had to rely on others to see me through. At the end of the day, I'm just glad I still remain marathon "Did Not Finish" free!

- Luc, for paying for the hotel room using his corporate account.
- Poh Seng, for encouraging me not to quit but yet to run slowly aiming just to complete the run.
- Karen, for the pacing together and spurring me up. And a HUGE CONGRATZ on completing her maiden marathon strongly and in style!
- Jennifer, for the pacing together.
- Chin Chin and Lie Wei for bringing me around during my short stay.
- And to many others I met during this trip and along the race, THANK YOU!


Ladycooper said...

congratulation for finishing the full marathon.

ian yusof said...

phiewww ... and i thot u quit! despite of all the problems faced, u still managed to clock in good time. congrats bro.

Frank@Runnerz said...

Ladycooper: Thanks.

Ian: Was really in the brink of quitting. No fun running in pain. Somehow, someway, I managed to carry on and I was glad to have finish my run, and with a friend.

Jamie said...

Not a shabby time. It must be very tough but you did it and the streak is alive.