Venue: Queensbay Mall, Penang
Date: 22 November 2009
Distance: 42.195KM (42.38KM by Nike+ SportBand 2.0)
Shoe: ASICS GEL-Kayano 15
21 November 2009. Pre-race day...
I woke up an hour late but I had more than sufficient time to get myself prepared for the early flight to Penang from Subang airport on board the Firefly. Got to the airport at about 7.45am thanks to Jasmine who help drive me from home. Soon later, met up with Choi and Loke and we're off to Penang at 9.10am sharp. Oh yeah, we even bumped into Marvin who is off to Penang for business travel and also to run in the quarter marathon. Slight turbulence on board the airplane which sent my heart dropping a couple of times but we landed safely 45 minutes later.
From the Penang International Airport, we boarded the Rapid Penang bus which took us to Queensbay Mall at where we hung around while waiting for Lionel, Pueh Tian and some others to arrive and we had lunch at T-Bowl Restaurant famous for their bathroom settings. And just before leaving, I decided to visit the ASICS shop there which I did not regret as I found the ASICS DS-Racer VII which was just re-released to the market. I was instantly "poisoned" into getting them for my race in Macau.
Then, it's off to Krystal Suites, our hotel where we rested till dinner time at 6pm. As the taxi fare to town was priced at a ridiculous price of RM30 per trip, we decided to walk around searching for food. Took us a while as there were no food stalls around before we settled at a coffeeshop just behind B-Suites for a simple dinner. Chin joined us and we chatted away till about 8pm before he sent us back to the hotel. We each packed a pack of rice back for the extra food we needed. I showered and at about 9.15pm, I tried to sleep but I failed to do so. Choi and Loke was watching the football game between Liverpool and Machester City (final score 2-2). I even woke up once when I heard Liverpool scoring the first goal. Hahaha... Only managed to get myself to dream land just before 10pm. And by 11.45pm, I was already awake.
22 November 2009. Race day...
With less than 2 hours of nap, I was feeling a little wonky. Got myself ready and at 1am, Jeff, Jordan and Lionel came by and off we set off to Queensbay Mall by foot as it was just so near. Weather was perfect as it was cooling with the morning sea breeze.
With an hour to go till race time, we just hung around and did some warm up and stretching by ourselves before making our way to the starting area. Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng arrived on time on board his Mercedes S Class which took us marathon runners by suprised as he came from the rear. Haha...
At 2.25am, 5 minutes earlier than expected and after a short lion dance performance, the gun went off. Good luck wishes among my friends and off we went. Confetti were sprayed all over as we passed the start gantry and we soon found ourselves on the Bayan Lepas Expressway. Quickly enough, the first water station appeared and volunteers were handing out 500ml bottles of waters to each runner. What a waste as some were seen thrown away with still half filled. I skipped most of the earlier water stations as I have my bottle of Endurox R4 with me. I saw Uncle Sunny on top of an overhead bridge cheering for runners with Amelia and I called out to him. Haha... Sunny and SP from the Waterwall Weekend Warriors passed me here though we exchanged places for a few times later on.
The morning breeze was really cooling as I ran on the coastal road towards Seagate which was the u-turn point before heading to the bridge. It was flat so no issues except for my Nathan race belt which was bouncing all over due to it's free size. It even came unbuckle twice during the entire the race.
Soon, I was already on the Penang Bridge. With the widening works completed, the bridge was now with 3 lanes and brightly lighted. Looking to the end, it looks like a golden dragon. Awesome! And this time, runners are running against the traffic which was a first for this race. I arrived at the 10KM mark which was about a quarter of the bridge at 1 hour on the dot. Feeling absolutely great, I continue with my easy pace. Was telling myself not to push myself for this run is just a training.
Then, it's the journey up to the top of the bridge. Gradient was slowly building but not difficult. By the time I got to third quarter of the bridge, smells from the industrial area started to attack my nostrils but they were manageable. Arrived at the end of the bridge, did my u-turn and off I make my return to the island. Exiting the u-turn point, I spotted Jeff on the opposite side. He was still looking good.
As I ran here, I kept looking down on the road as the vision of the long bridge can be pretty disturbing. I continued running and running with my Endurox R4 still in hand. It took me a while to finish it (finished at about 23KM mark) as I only started taking it at the 7.5KM mark earlier with small sips every 2.5KM.
Nearing the start of the climb, half marathoners were seen flooding the bridge already. But it was of no issues as the bridge was really wide. I navigated through the crowd with ease and soon spotted Andy who was among the half marathoners. Blabbered a few words before I continued on. Nearing the end of the bridge, I saw the signage pointing to Gelugor indicating 1KM to the turnoff. Last year's route immediately flooded my mind as this was towards the end of the race. But this time, I had another 15KM or more to go. Darn...
Exiting the bridge towards the Jelutong Expressway, this is where it all began. My right hip started to hurt and my weak legs are starting to feel the weight of my shoe. Continued running with a slower pace and tried to flex my right leg as I ran. When I got to the e-Gate building which was the u-turn point for the half marathoners, I together with the rest of the full marathoners had the whole expressway to our own again. The long stretch of this expressway was a killer but it wasn't an issue for Lionel as he was seen making his return already towards the finish line. He was looking great and there wasn't any fatigue look on his face.
I took my first walk soon later as I didn't want to risk the pain on my right hip. But not wanting to allow the buildup of lactic acid on my legs, I chose something like a lamp post shortly at the front to indicate myself to run again. It was like a short 15 seconds to 20 seconds break. And I did this for all my walks later. There were 3 flyovers heading towards the u-turn point at Gat Lebuh Macallum which runners have to tackle again on the return trip. Though not steep, it was still a problem for the weaken legs. I just want to get it over with as soon as possible.
At the second bridge, while walking, I spotted Choi coming in from behind. I waited for him before I started running again. I tried to pace him, but I failed after less than a kilometer with him. I tried to maintain my sight of him which I did but not for long as he slowly disappeared after the u-turn. As I made my way back, I spotted Loke, Jeff, Chooi Wan, Terence and Ngae. Told each of them the u-turn point is not too far away as a sign to motivate them. As for me, I'm still mixing running and fast walking.
When all the flyovers are at the back finally, I was looking forward to the sight of Tesco and then e-Gate. And when I passed those, I kept looking at the Penang Bridge. The sight of it getting larger and larger was really a motivational sight indeed. And when I finally put it at the back of me, it was then Eastin Hotel's turn. This was a long wait as it was hidden from sight due to condominiums around. But when I saw the 40KM marker, sights of relieve indeed. Though still mixing running with fast walking, my runs were slightly longer and at a faster pace.
It was when I entered Jalan Aziz Ibrahim that I decided to run all the way to the end. And when I ran around the roundabout at the Queensbay area, memories of me cramping up at last year's edition filled my mind. Confident that it will not happen this year, I ran the stretch heading towards the finish line with others cheering from the side. I eventually finished this grueling race from where I started in 04:47:24.
I soon bumped into Choi who completed some 6 minutes ahead of me. Soon it was the others from Terence, Ngae and finally Loke. Congratulations to Loke for achieveing his sub 5 hours timing. Rested for a while and refueled with some bananas with Henry at the rest tent before we decided to return to the hotel for a good rest before returning home on board Firefly again at 1.10pm.
Rear view of the finisher's medal...
The rear print on the finisher's t-shirt...
A huge CONGRATULATIONS to Lionel who ran a blistering 03:31:56 race. It was much quicker than his targeted 03:40:00 and though he can hardly walk after the race, I guess it was all worth it for "Pain is temporary while glory last forever". And to both Henry and James who completed their maiden marathon, congratulations too. Not to mention the organisers for the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2009 for they did a remarkable job this year. Though not perfect, it was a huge improvement over last year and it may even go down as the most successful Penang Bridge International Marathon ever to date. I guess all the feedbacks gathered especially from Facebook was really worth it.
As for me, I'm glad my 8th marathon is now over. Tough one but happy with my time though I guess I took it too easy which may have contributed to my hip pain. At the moment, I'm not too sure what's the issue behind it. It may be iliotibial band or the piriformis but I hope it's none of those for my main showdown is 2 weeks from now. So right now, resting is part of my game.