Event: Penang Bridge International Marathon 2011
Venue: Queensbay Mall, Penang
Date: 20 November 2011
Distance: 42.195KM (43.57KM by Polar RCX5 G5)
Shoe: K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light
The task of qualifying for the "oldest" and "biggest" falls to Penang Bridge International Marathon 2011, my one and only chance. An AIMS certified route is needed and I will need to run a sub 5 hour marathon get entry. However, I was aiming for a 10 minute buffer just for "insurance" purpose. Another aim was that I do not intend to stop running along the route except for hydration or toilet needs. An inspiration taken from the Relay Of Life, the run must continue on to signify the fight against cancer is forever ongoing. This I had in mind along my run.
The journey up to Penang was a smooth one. Andy picked me up slightly after 8am and with no where to eat around the Tropicana City Mal, we decided to detour along the way to Bidor for the famous noodle shop before continuing on. At about 12.30pm, we arrived at Queensbay Mall and after picking up Andy's race pack, we rendezvous with other running friends like Jamie, Jeff, Elaine, Alex, Dannie and Carrie for some grocery shopping before adjourning to Equatorial Hotel. Took a while to check-in due to the long queue but was glad the room was just so nice and comfy. Just renovated and even the smell is still there.
Prepare our race gear, rested for a while before heading out to the nearby Super Tanker food court for an early dinner where I finally found the fusion apom pancake which I lost touch of it many years ago. Was glad, was glad that I found it by chance.
Called for an early night and decided to wake up at 11pm with about just 3 hours to sleep. But I do feel good after waking up to a hot cup of white coffee and bowl of hot noodles recommended by Jamie. By 1am, both myself and Andy made our way to the lobby to catch the shuttle bus which I also met Azam too. We both hitch the special van catering only to marathon runners while Andy had to hitch the next. The shuttle van stopped us near Gold Coast apartment due to the blockade but it was good for us as we had the opportunity to do a light jo warming ourselves up to the starting point which was about 1KM away.
At 2am sharp, the marathon was flag off by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and off I went. Immediately the tightness on both my quads for pushing through by bike leg at last week's Powerman Malaysia 2011 showed. I hope to shake it off throughout the run bt that did not happen. Not even the Coca-Cola I had help. In fact, it only help making me more alert. Haha...
Just after the u-turn at about 3KM or so, Yim passed me after a short chat. He was on a fast pace and I had no intention to follow. I want to do this alone, my way, my pace and seriously I don't think my legs can take much punishment this time with lack of training. A few other running friends came along side me but I have to apologise for not being able to chat much as I was too into the run and trying to conserve my energy and concentration. First 10KM was in 58 minutes which was fine but as tightness on my quads was getting bad, my time began to slow too.
Jeff passed me just before the climb up the bridge. But fast forward to the return trip, I caught up to Jeff again on the climb up the bridge. We were joined by the half marathoners here but was glad that no interference from them. But I had the shock when an ex-pat lady came along side me and said "OOoohh K-Swiss" in response to the gear I was wearing. The"OOoohh" part really freak me out!
Nearing the end of the bridge, I caught both Jamie and Jeff walking enjoying the sea breeze which was actually cooling. Jamie came along and we ran side by side for a moment before starting to exchange places. On the Jelutong Expressway, I was struggling with my quads and in addition will be my right ankle which surprisingly is giving out a weird signal. With another 12KM to go, it isn't helping much but I just knew that I have to push through the pain barrier.
Fast forward to the u-turn point at 34KM, I pop my last GU Energy Gel and tried to go for it. However, it was Jamie that went ahead and he disappeared in the distance. Jeff's vest has also came off too and he ran even faster! Crazy fellows!
My timing doesn't look good and I had to visit the loo which I had at 37KM. As the mobile toilet was pitch black inside, I decided to do it behind, fertilising the grass. Hope no one caught a photo of a "K-Swiss athlete flowering the grass". 4KM to go, Karen came along side me and we ran together which she mentioned to finish the run together. She even nearly knock into a ridiculous marshall on a bicycle who I can only describe BLIND! We were both running our lines dressed in bright colours and yet he kept pedalling towards us and finally making a decisive u-turn just in front of Karen. DUH!
At 3KM to go, my time was seriously not looking good and Karen asked me to go for it which I did. A wake up call from her, I push hard only cause my left hip flexor to give way forcing me to slow down again. I grit my teeth and tried to force myself through and at the final stretch, I look at my watch and I saw my sub 5 in bag and slowed for Karen not too far behind and decided to slow down for her. She had the final kick at the last 500M which I couldn't keep up. My heart rate was peaking at 94% and she was on her top gear. But eventually she slowed down too and we both cross the finish line together with my time of 04:57:23. A quick glance at the official timer on the gantry showed a 04:58:xx. I did it and qualified, but in the toughest and most scariest way and I have Karen to THANK for.
Back at the hotel, I quickly called my contact person from the cancer research society to deliver the good news. With green light awarded, I can now disclose a little on the "oldest" and "biggest" event I will be participating next year. It will be the Comrades Marathon 2012 on 3 June 2012. The "down" edition racing 89KM from Pietermaritzburg to Durban at South Africa. And I will be running it as part of a charity fund raising campaign for a certain cancer research society which I won't be revealing till the green light is awarded due to some finalisation that has yet to be done. But it will happen. For now, I'm just glad I made the qualification and all is in good shape now.
On route to Comrades Marathon 2012...