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Monday, June 25, 2007

Penang Bridge Marathon 2007

2.55 am. Went to the hotel lobby. Taxi not here yet.
3.00 am. No sight of taxi
3.05 am. Ask the hotel to call and check what happened. Taxi driver says he come at 3.30am. What the ^&%#! He's supposed to come at 3 am and bring us there by 3.30!
3.15 am. Taxi turned up.
3.40 am. Reached the USM. Road closed. Had to get down and walk. Taxi driver say only 1km. 1km my foot! Took us 15 mins to walk there! Sweating like hell. Registration close at 4.15am. Will we be on time!
4.00 am. Finally located the place where they are distributing the wrist band. Why can't they issue it at the number tag collection? M is asked to go to another site to collect hers so we split from there. Followed the crowd and walked across the Padang
through a housing estate and back onto the main road. Sigh, why can't they site the start point nearer? Took me almost 10 mins to walk there. Maybe this is the organiser's way of getting the runners to warm up?

We are doing the half marathon. This is my first major race for the year. I am not aiming for a PB. I just wanted to use this race to assess myself and see whether I am back to full fitness. So far the signs have not been good. The past few runs I have took 2.30 hours or more to complete 20km. In fact, the last 22km run was completed in almost 2.45 hours!

The crowd was huge. From the registration list we saw on Friday, the largest turnout was for the half. There are only about a 1000 runners for the full (in all categories) compared to almost 5000 for the men's half. Most of the runners were wearing the event's tees and a lot of them looks very young - in their late teens and most of them are in groups. I am stuck about 50 metres from the start line. I have a bad feeling!

4.30am. The race is on! Er what race - everybody was still walking. Struggled to go to the front but the crowd is too massive. 1.20 minutes it took me to cross the start line and even than couldn't run. About 10 minutes into the race and there are many walkers all over especially the young teens. They are walking across the width of the road. It's going to be a long run.

Finally up the bridge. At least a little bit of space to run. More and more walkers now. Than there are those kamikaze's runners - chiong for 20metres than walk than chiong and they criss cross the width of the road without regards for anybody.

First waterpoint. There is no more water! I couldn't believe it! So early in the race and they ran out of water? Luckily it was still early and I was okay without the water. The weather wasn't so good. I had expected a crisp cool weather, being so early but unfortunately it was just like another night in Singapore, hot and humid.

Didn't recognise anybody. Than saw this guy wearing a World Harmony Run t-shirt. Went nearer to him. He was listening to the ipod and damn - running with his eyes closed. Was he sleeprunning? Decided to 'wake' him up from his 'sleep'. Told him he damn good - can run with eyes closed! He opened his eyes to stared angrily at me. Gave a shout 'Singapore' to him and quickly dashed off before he hatam me.

The bridge seems to stretch on and on. There are no distance markers except some weird distance markers for the full marathon. Even those didn't make sense to me the way they are spread out. Saw some full marathon runners on the other side of the road. Started looking for familiar faces again. Finally saw IMD and Teelee running together. Shouted a loud 'hi' to them. Now managed to past a few woman running the full marathon. In fact, they are all walking. I estimated the distance for them should at most be about 18km. Walking at such early stage?

Finally I reached the uturn. Time taken about 1:08 hours. Is it 10km or 11 km already? Really had no idea. Managed to get 2 cups of water. Decided to take a pack of the powergel and leave the jelly beans. The return trip is just the same monotonous run. Continued to run at the same constant speed maybe 7min pace. Am overtaking more and more full marathon runners. I am very surprised. They started 1 hour earlier and most should have cleared this sector by now.

Picked up the pace a little bit but soon ran smacked into a big crowd. It's the 10k fun runners and the kids are everywhere. They had started their run 1 hour later and are now doing the return leg. Sign :( how to run like that! Anyway, that's mean I am near the end.

Finally, saw a sign that said '1km to go' on the way down the bridge. My watch shows 2:03 so that could be my 21km timing I supposed. Reached the end and was given a medal and a blank certificate. Total time taken 2:09:07 hours. Quite surprise. Based on the pace I was running at, I had expected to finish in about 2:20 but anyway am very satisfied with the time since it translated into a less than 6min pace for the 22.3km distance (if it is actually 22.3km)!

The organisation at the end was just as bad. The drinks soon ran out and by the time M came back, there was no more drinks. She completed the run in 2:18:04 hours which was a PB for her as it was better than her last year SCSM half marathon which was shorter.

Crossed over to the other field and it was better - free milo, corn fakes, fruit juice, coffee, yakult but the queues were very long. The goodie bag collection was in a separate building. After that went to find the 3 ex VRP girls before going back to the hotel.

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