Thursday, November 21, 2013

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013...

Event: Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013
Venue: Quuensbay Mall, Penang
Date: 17 November 2013
Time: 2.00am
Distance 42.195KM (42.9KM by Suunto Ambit 2 Sapphire)
Shoe: Saucony Type A5
By Frank

The chance of running on the new second Penang Bridge for this year's bridge run was dashed when a small part of the bridge collapsed a few months back. Nevertheless, I am still happy (at least I am) that this year will bring runners back to the current bridge as I will know what to expect during the run. It's after all as mentioned in my previous entry, my qualifier and seeding race for Comrades Marathon.

And so, I became the driver this year driving up north together with Roy, Jason, Susanah and Lai Leng. We started our journey from Subang after breakfast at about 9am. Traffic was smooth until we arrived at Juru some slightly more than 3 hours later where we drop Jason off. From there, it was to Queensbay Mall to pick up the race pack. I actually had mine couriered to me so I saved the hassle from queueing up with the crowd under the hot sun. Instead, I hung out with my friends from CARIF who had a booth there to promote cancer awareness.

A simple lunch at Queensbay Mall before heading off to our hotel at Cozy Inn at the heritage site. Unpack, rest up and early dinner before it was lights off trying to sleep.

I only managed 2 hours of sleep. And unlike the recent previous races, I did not feel good. I even had trouble with my post run ritual. My left trapezius was a little sore probably from the long drive yesterday. I know my chance to qualify for F seeding for next year's Comrades Marathon is in doubts. Nevertheless, the show must go on and so we left the hotel at 12.30am to pick up Si Main at Tune Hotel before heading off to the race site. It was raining but luckily I had my Buff to prevent sweat from entering my eyes during the run later.

We were parked at Sungai Nibong or was it Telok Bayan site, some 2KM away from the race site due to road block. Luckily, the rain has stop as we walked to Queensbay Mall. My tummy wasn't feeling good and I needed the toilet. Sadly I could not find a proper one to make my deposit and hence decided to hold on. And hold on I did as the feeling subsided. Caught up with some friends before entering the start pent with Roy and Si Main while Lai Leng made her way to the front.

At 2am sharp after Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's speech, runners of the full marathon category was flagged off. As usual, the starting stretch was tough to overtake and with the increase number for this year, it made things even tougher. I thought it was fine as we enter the Jelutong Expressway, but it wasn't to be for this year. The entire expressway was filled up and I had trouble. And after the u-turn, things got worse as the running lane was reduce to one or sometimes 2. Lost time here but managed to gain some back through some fast kicks.

From 4KM onwards, I was free from the crowd and started to make haste. My target at that time was to pass the 4:30 pacer which was Yim and Karen, and to build a buffer, staying ahead of them for at least 10 minutes or so for I know they will probably hit their time allocated! And so I did passed them at 6KM.

Fast forwarding to 9KM where I entered the bridge, I was still feeling all right. The moodiness from the morning was gone as I pushed on. I was on time for a 4 hour finishing at quarter of the journey in but I knew it was still too early to tell. I must hang on to the current pace to achieve it, a task which I've failed for the past 3 years or more. But the shoe I had on, the Saucony Type A5 is certainly helping with my pace here.

14KM, a slight drizzle came and the wind was pushing us back. Yeap, it was head wind! I was lucky I had my Buff on as the drizzle got a bit heavier and vision was affected at least a little. As I conquered the climb up the bridge, I could already see the elites returning on the opposite side. I pushed on till the turning point at 19KM where Neal was with me. We ran together and my pace was still on time.

Disaster struck at 24KM when my tummy felt unwell. I told Neal to go ahead without me. The morning feeling return and I needed to go. I took my water bottle starting to knock it against my head hoping the tummy discomfort can be diverted. I looked back to try spot the 4:30 pacer balloon and they were no where to be seen. I hung on and tried to build more buffer as I hunted for the potty. The agony was horrible as I held on. ARGHHH...

26KM, I spotted the potty and ran towards into it. I spent at least 7 minutes in it, at least 1KM wasted. But it had to be done else it could have been "messy". And here's a little about the potty before I carry on. It was reasonably clean, squatting type with toilet paper! It was also littering shaking like on the plane and the refreshment station was playing PSY's Gentleman while I was inside. How I hate that song right now!

Once out, I spotted Roy and chased him down. I need to up my pace for the time wasted but the legs stiffen. Both my glutes were feeling cranky. I finally caught up beside Roy and asked if the 4:30 pacers already passed. To my relieve, they were still behind as I push forward with the uncomfortable feeling of both glutes. I know I was loosing time but I just had to hammer it for as hard as I could.

Into Jelutong Expressway again, the mentally torturing long stretch. I just tried to focus. I took a few walks but also managed a few blistering pace. The problem I had besides the glutes was that I could not hold on to the pace. But I was really glad the tummy was fine. Steven caught up and we were pacing together till the u-turn at 33KM where I told him to carry on for my glutes were acting up again.

As I headed back, I spotted the 4:30 pacers. Neither near nor too far away. I had to take my chances to hammer, hold on and to look after the glutes. As I arrived at 37KM, to my horror, Yim called out to me to push me forward. The 4:30 pacers caught up! Soon after, Soon Chung from the opposite side asked me to "F" it! It was a wake-up call as hammer even harder hoping that some magic will hold my glutes together. Sadly unlike KL Marathon, the magic did not happen this time.

Shortly in front, I spotted Susanah icing her legs. I told her to jog it off. She started with me, but the mistake I made here was that I did not look back if she had continue to follow me. My time here was either a do or die. My buffer for a 4:20 hours "F" seeding was already gone and I needed a 6 minutes per Kilometer pace to achieve it.

The final 3KM, the human barrier where the half marathon runners combined together. There was no clear running path as I had to zig zag through them. I spotted Selva and we ran together for a while but the zig zagging caused my glutes to flare up as I told Selva to go ahead without me.

Literally, my time slowly disappeared and with 1.3KM to go at the turning into the Gold Coast Apartment roundabout, my quest for "F" seeding ended when my chrono showed 4:20 hours on the dot. But, the journey must continue as I headed down the home stretch to finally cross the finish line in 4:25:57 hours, finally a sub 4:30 hours time since don't know when. And my first PBIM under the state government that I completed before the sun rises and also my first marathon into the potty!

On to the red carpet towards the finish.

Saucony Type A5 and the finisher medal.

I waited for my friends at the finish before adjourning to the rest area for some snacks. Bumped into Zijill too where she completed her run in one of her best timing and in top Malaysian honours! Well done Zijill! Then its back to the hotel for some rest before the lunch and the tiring journey back home.

Zijill with her "catch" at PBIM. CONGRATULATIONS!

Though a little disappointed as I did not improve on my Comrades Marathon seeding for next year, I am still delighted with my time as it has certainly been a while since a sub 4:30 hours time. Its indeed a positive sign. And the problems I had to go through before in the morning of the race start do at least help me to justify my thoughts. I had no proper breakfast and I messed up my nutrition plan on the run due to my tummy issues. But these are just part of the game as not all the days or runs are meant to be good, not even perfect. To me, this is just one of them. And the "What if" thingy is just something illusive. "What if" I did not stop for the potty? "What if" I didn't drive to Penang?  These are all unanswered questions. I am just glad I am not injured from this run as I prepare for the official training for Comrades Marathon to kick off in a month's time! My only regret now, is not looking back when I had to when a friend needed assistance. :(

My split timing.

All photos here credited to the respective photographers. Thanks a lot to them!

1 comment:

Neal Jansen said...

Congrats on your sub-4:30 Frank! Was great to run with you on that short stretch at 19km. Hopefully if there is a next time for me - I'll be able to stave off those crippling cramps!