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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2010

Finally have some time to sit down and write about my incredible experience of my 1st Half-Marathon Run in Penang earlier. The marathon is on Sunday morning and my half marathon run is suppose to start at 3.00am. Full marathoner starting at 2.00am! Bugger, running marathon is already crazy, somemore start so early ....

Anyway we woke up a little late and left the hotel that's located between Ferringhi and the town only at 2.30am. I got exactly 30 minutes to get there, park the car and start the run! Shite, so I drove like crazy and the worst part is there is road block around the main road and cars jammed up. Not very familiar with Penang road, and with some help on my GPS, i took the small road around the town and finally stalked a motorcyclist that's wearing the same half marathoner shirt all the way =) haha, nice experience, and on the way as we were going for a run of our life at 2.30am, we saw lots of people still partying in the club along the road ... making me think i'm such a loser ...

As we got nearer to the area, the road is already blocked and we were still almost 5km away from the event. Cars are parked everywhere, packed up and luckily I found a spot just below the tree and stucked my little italian beast in it. Next time I will make sure I allocate at least over an hour to reach the place. Let's go and complete the whole damn thing.

We finally got there just right on time and we have to run to the starting point because they already started. Once reached, we stretched out a little bit and done some warm up while everyone is already running. We started late and the way is already blocked by the woman category. Squeezing our way through to the starting point and we crossed the line and the time start. Looking at the participant list itself, there are 3,465 half marathoners. Hopefully I can be within the 1st half to finish the line. My target for the half marathon run is to complete the run within 3 hours, while the qualifying time is 3 hours 30 minutes.

Overall participants of the event is almost 13,590 people in all 42km, 21km, and 10km category for men & women. That's not counting the fun run / family run stuff stucked in the morning that's the main crowd event. The area there is packed and people were sleeping beside the roads. All coffee shops are opened and it's fully packed with people sleeping, phew, such a mess.

As I started running, I realised a mistake, my handphone is still in my pocket! My friend said just carry it and run because it's not really that heavy also. But I need everything I got, so I quickly tried to spot my wife who is busy taking photographs and luckily I found her! And my decision is the smartest thing I've done for the run that day! Read on.

That's the photo when I spotted my wife. I ran towards her and passed her the phone. Then I continued to run. Just started running and as we are approaching the first corner into the main roads, we saw water station already opening up =) not water supply station, but water releasing station. People are peeing around the drainage area and that makes me feel like peeing also! Another bad sign. My friend asked me to go for it, better to do it here than trying hard to hold it and find portable toilet later. So I peed beside the street along with the "water station" =P long time since I'm a kid doing that ...

Moving on, we continued to pursue at our pace and slowly we started to overtake lots of runner. As we started late, most of the runners at the back are not really in good shape and just a few kms down the road, they already walking & struggling. I have really no idea they are planning to complete the half marathon run. Everything seems to be in good shape, running at our pace, keeping my breathing in pace, and chit chat as we run with all kind of funny things that we see on the road. You will be surprise on all those things. Best for you to experience yourself, but one of the thing is that you will tend to fart as you run. You wouldnt be able to stop it and you will sometimes smell something funny along the road! Crazy ...

The run pursued and we were approaching the entrance of the bridge and I'm still feeling good. We were almost 4km into the run and that's, of course, part of the plan. As we started to get onto the bridge, it's quite packed and as usual, irritating runners continued to stay on the main path and blocked the road from faster runners like me and my friend. We got to waste some energy to do some evading movement around the entire road until we approach the turning point. I started to feel the weight of my body and the legs were getting heavier as we were approaching the penang suspended bridge spot. At the same time, girls category were coming fast from behind, and damn they were fast! Like sprinting!

I were struggling and thanks a lot to my friend, for keeping me up to pace by following him. We reached the peak of the bridge and I thought it's all over and I finally reached the turning point, meaning 10km. I grabbed some drinks and continued to go downwards but I didn't see any u-turn area! I checked with my friend and realised we were only 8km into the run but I were already struggling. I targetted to run non-stop for at least half of the journey and I pushed on. Finally we reached the turning point and I stepped on the counter to mark my 11km run. That's crazy.

Since I've completed my target, the remaining half is up to me. Next target is to continue to follow my friend as long as possible for the remaining half and finally I lost him at 14km mark. But the worst part was it started to rain when we are approaching 13km!! Storm-like heavy rain is killing me. My friend was loving it saying it helped to cool him down, wtf ... I'm soaked in rainwater and my shoes were all wet. The rain was so heavy and there were water ponding along the road. It's fun, but not funny after you run in rain for a few km.

As I were struggling for my life, my wife was walking around the starter line and snapped some photos. Awhile after I left, it started to rain so my wife went back to the car and hide there till I'm back. Thanks!

As I were approaching into 15km, problem start! My breath was running out of pace and I got to walk from time to time to keep up, mainly because I lost my pace in the rain. And the main problem was I felt slight pain between my thigh. My experience tells me that I might be suffering chaffing, and that's bad because I still have 5km to go. I continued to adjust my running pants but that did not help. As I were reaching the 17km mark, I stopped up for medical check to see if they have any lubricants. I applied some of their burnol-like paste and the cooling effect helps a while. It came back after 17km mark and I can feel my muscle is pulling so tight that I will get cramps if I pursue. First time of my running experience, I'm forced to stop by the road side to do some stretching or else I'm out. The chaffing pain was getting worse and I were basically just dragging my legs along just to get moving like zombie. How bad is it? It's more painful than my experience when I climbed the Mount Kinabalu till I'm so exhausted to just lay down and die there. It was worse.

The remaining 2km was like forever and finally I saw the finish line. I brought myself together and I gave a final push and I crossed the finish line! I even forgotten to check my time, I collapsed by the road side and I didn't even have strength to massage my muscle tension. I couldn't even wake up to find if there is any massage station. I'm so tired.

Here is a shot of my victory and that's my friend, Raymond. If not for him, I wouldn't have completed the half marathon, and did I mention that he is the one inspired me to join up for this run? Thanks man! Looking at my size, I'm overweight and glad that I manage to still complete the half marathon.

After the event completed, I were basically bed ridden for entire day. Main problem was the chaffing, it was so bad that I couldn't even walk. Reaching afternoon lunch time, I forced out to get some medicine for the chaffing. I got myself the Vizomet and Beepanthen that's recommended. The pharmacist said the Vizomet is for curing while the Beepanthen is for lubrication specialist in curing baby's rashes. I took both because kiasu =) I applied the Vizomet and went to sleep again. As I woke up the chaffing got better, after I took bath, I reapplied before dinner and before sleep. By the next morning, I'm fully cured! Incredible. Next time I will make sure I bring along the petroleum gel for my next run! It's a must have for all runners.

Once all dust settled, I did a quick check online, here is my result.

Rank: 1,442 of overall 3,465 participants
Category: 21km Men Open
Gun Time: 2 hours 41 minutes 48 seconds (gun-to-finish time)
Nett Time: 2 hours 36 minutes 5 seconds (start-to-finish time)
1st check point @ 9,389m: 1 hour 13 minutes 25 seconds
2nd check point @ 16,566m: 2 hour 5 minutes 25 seconds

I surpassed my original expectation and target and I'm ranked within the first half of the runners! Incredible results despite all the problem I encountered. My next plan is to complete a full marathon by 2011. I'm not sure how to do it, but target is what keep us moving. I need to train harder! Thanks.

A nice add-on to my life achievement collection =)

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