2012 should be considered the 3rd consecutive year that I registered for Penang Bridge International Marathon. In the first year I didn’t turn up for the race! I DNS (Did Not Start) in running term! Last year, I ran 10km together with my friends and we had a blast.
Fun memories of the race as well as the post race “makan-thon“ (food eating marathon) still lingers in my mind and as soon as registration opens this year, my friends and I immediately signed up for 21km Half Marathon without hesitation! After all, this may be the final time for us to run on the Penang Bridge, the 4th longest bridge in South East Asia. Come next year, the annual Penang Bridge International Marathon will move to a new site — the spanking new Second Penang bridge.
My friends and I headed to Penang on an early Saturday morning in a convoy of 5 cars, with just 1 thing in mind ~ “jalan-jalan cari makan” (food escape) along the way from KL to Penang. We stopped over in Ipoh for breakfast and then made a detour to Taiping for a sumptuous seafood lunch! Final carbo -loading before the race! Unfortunately, this is not a food blog or else I would have lots to share!
Penang Bridge run is such a killer to our bedtime routine! The Half Marathon category will flag off at 3am, which means we have to be up by 1am. We had an early dinner and went to bed around 6pm! Are we kidding ourselves? How to sleep at this ridiculous hour? My sleep was light and I woke up frequently. In fact, I felt I hardly slept at all!
Together with my running buddies Kah Hoe and Susie, we arrived at the starting area while ahead of time. How I wished I could start running, finish it off and go back to sleep! Staying up late (or waking up at ungodly hour) is really not my thing!
Having completed 2 Half Marathons and the 30km Back to Basic race just weeks ago gave me the confidence that I should be able to complete this run too. I’m praying hard that the cramps do not get in the way. I packed a bottle of Salonpas spray in my fuel belt just in case.
This is our strategy. Stay in front of the pack at the starting line to get the momentum! There are thousands of runners and if you are in front, you are likely to start at a faster pace because most fast runners are in front! Secondly, you won’t be blocked by other runners. The idea is to pull away from the crowd so that you could run at your pace! Sounds logical?
So, as soon as the Men’s Half Marathon category flagged off, we quickly squeezed our way through to the front! The race starts on time at 3.15am.
I ran along Susie who was trying to get the GPS signal on her TIMEX watch. I couldn’t get the signal on my smart-phone either!
Without the Runkeeper (a running application) to track my pace, I just ran as fast as I possibly could. About 15 minutes later, I saw the first water station. Wow, I hardly sweat yet and had not even drink a sip of water from my bottle! So I skipped the water station.
After turning into the Jelutong Expressway, I lost sight of Susie. I couldn’t tell whether she’s in front or at the back. The road is pretty dark. She’s probably sped ahead!
I kept running, my body is warming up and I found my comfortable pace and was consistently overtaking other runners. So far so good! I kept praying..”No cramps, please”!
Where are the distance markers? I can’t seem to see them along the way or was it too dark for me to spot? I can’t tell how far I have run. I just kept going.
Yeah! I finally reached the bridge. The incline along the bridge is quite gradual and I was happy that I could still run (though at slower pace) and not walk! The weather was hot and humid. No sea breeze to cool me down. Another water station ahead but I didn’t stop either! Still plenty of water left in my bottle.
Many runners stop to take photos at the mid span of the bridge. How I wish I could have a picture of me here, I thought? And bingo, I ran into my friend Kar Mun, trying to take picture of herself. Just my lucky day!
After the mid span, it’s downhill all the way. Out of a sudden, Susie zoomed passed me on the right and seconds later she’s out of sight! I couldn’t keep up with her. When it comes to running downhill, she’s the Queen!
For Half Marathon, we do not run the entire bridge. We have to make U-turned after going down from the mid span. I was still happy with my pace, not very tired but my calves began to feel tight! Oh oh! Not wanting to take any chances, I quickly sprayed on the Salonpas.
At the next water station, I filled up my bottle and added another tablet of GU Brew (electrolyte drink). I was contemplating whether to eat the 2nd surge (energy gel) or not. My energy level seems to be okay so I thought maybe later. I just chewed the GU Chomps.
I managed to catch up with Susie again while going uphill and we paced together for a while. It was 5am. We have been running for 1 hr 45 mins and we were still running on the bridge! When is this going to end? Towards the end of the bridge, it’s downhill and of course, I lost Susie again!
I have no idea how far more to go but psychologically once you’re done with the bridge the finishing line seems to be within reach! Agree? Based on my current pace, I made an educated guess that I’ll probably take another 1 hour. Apart from the nagging tight calves, I was feeling okay. I keep spraying Salonpas constantly.
After making the U-turn (before Tesco I think), I ran for a while before I spotted the 3km distance marker. Almost there! 3km is not that far but with tired legs, it seems to take forever. Then I saw the 800m mark, then 500m and finally touch down! The race is over!
One of the cool feature of the PBIM run this year is the introduction of the Live Race Tracker which track your running status the minute you cross the starting line, at the 9km and 17km mark and the finishing line!
Here’s the status being updated instantly onto my Facebook!
When I cross the starting line ————I started the 2012 Allianz PBIM (Half Marathon) !
At the 9km mark ———–I crossed the 9K at 4:27:35 am with a time of 01:13:22 and pace of 08:10 min/km.
At the 17km mark ————-I crossed the 17K at 5:28:37 am with a time of 02:14:24 and pace of 07:38 min/km.
I completed the 2012 Allianz PBIM (Half Marathon) at 6:09:41 am with a time of 02:55:27 and 08:19 min/km avg pace. (UNOFFICIAL)
Overall, my timing was slower compared to my previous Half Marathon run. At the Standard Chartered KL Marathon, I finished the run at 2:41:09.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I FINISHED, didn’t I?
I am looking forward to the race at the new 2nd Penang Bridge in 2013. Full Marathon? Hmmm…We’ll see