Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Race Report - Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Date: 17 November 2013
Location: Queensbay Mall, Penang
Distance: 42.195 km (42.8 km)
Bib No.: A00647
Registration Fee: RM60 (early bird)
Gears: Brooks Pure Connect, Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Starting Time: 2.00am (1:59am)
Running Time: 03:52:00
Pace: 5:25 min/km

It is the 3rd time I am running on Penang Bridge International Marathon. It was all started with a rookie that knows nothing about running a marathon in 2011 that my 3rd marathon happened to be PBIM 2011, I still remember that the timing was 4:43 after 2 disastrous  FMs. Then, back in 2012 I was exposed more to running, incorporated LSD into training but somehow, I stumbled after kicking the water sprinkle pipe, then it was gone. Sweet and painful memory here.

2013 is not an easy year either, especially before month September. All the training went haywire, there was no consistency, there was no goal, except be a 'good' pacer for Sub-5:00 which I have delivered about 4 to 5 minutes faster on 29-September-2013 in Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon. Changing of job means that less time on blogging, so you see less and less of me, except this one.

I am tempted to write and share the experience that I have had during the preparation for PBIM2013, but I think it is better for me to focus on race report at the moment.

November 16th 2013, Saturday. It was a morning dim sum breakfast with family, then do a little housekeeping. Wanted to have a power nap but it ended about 2 hours and I was awake and not be able to sleep again. Wifey and I went to Sushi King to have dinner and I was checking out the calories of the sets that is offered. There was one Christmas set that comes with a perceived wholesome food at the cost of over 1000 calories. Wow... I skipped that because the combination was not attractive to me, at all. I ended up with a Salmon and Fish Roe rice, more than 800 calories. Good for full marathon :P

We went home. I was busy checking all the required items for my FM, just to make sure that I did not leave anything behind. I trained so hard for this, not going to ruin it by a little carelessness. Hydration belt, checked. Gel and salts, checked. Bib and shoes/socks, checked. PB suit... no... it is just the first Brooks running vest that I have purchased years back, need to fully utilized it. I love it. Checked.

Open the door. It was raining. Live update from Penang island, also raining. At 10:30pm, I kissed wifey good bye and drove to Queensbay Mall. The traffic was surprisingly smooth, it took me less than 40 minutes to reach QBM. I parked at the roadside because I did not want to 'chopped' by QBM for the parking fee and I like immediate escape from traffic after the race. The price to pay was I had to walk farther to the portal pottie. Nature call came at the wrong time, I had to take out the umbrella and walked about 500m to the portal pottie. The wind was chilling and I was shivering on the back and forth way. Shit... so cold.

Time was ticking quite slow, only 11:45pm. I ate the banana and Butterscotch bread, only 2-3 pieces then I started to apply the analgesic heat rub on my ankles and calves which could be the most susceptible to injuries during run (just apply for me). Big business calling and I had to hold it because another 500m, back and forth 1km, was not an option. The rain became sprinkle and soon there was nothing....

After getting everything ready, I went to clear my bowel at 1am, it was a must-do and luckily I did it, else additional 500gram to 1kg of waste need to travel for another 42km before being discarded.

Then I met Huei Giap, who was going to run his maiden full marathon and he came with little preparation due to his family commitment but I never doubt his ability and determination to complete it. We greeted each other and walking towards Coffee Bean where most of the Cari Runner, BK Runners and LLC will gather. Huei Giap and I took a photo together, as an evidence of his full marathon participation. Then, Chau Kok Yik caught me by surprise with a selfie as well.

Captain Yellow, Steven, KL Tan, Kenny, KFC, Rango, Andrew & Fibi, etc... were there, everyone seemed to be prepared for this. They were talking about Waja vs City, which is the handicap 35 minutes that I have given to WJ, I know that I have to perform in order to beat Waja + handicap, besides I must do Sub-4 to be 50% safe. The stake is not a lot but the side betting made the whole scenario very interesting. I do not wish to disclose here because betting is not good. LOL...


1:35am and I started to do some warming up, some usual stuff that I do before training run and race. Had to calm to nerves a bit because I have seen many cases that people failed to cope with the pressure and failed in pursuing race goal. My primary goal was simple, which is to be a Sub-4 full marathon runner. If I do that, I will break my PB of 4:05 in SCKLM 2012. However, I constantly remind myself not to think about it too much, what could be done is done before the race, now it is the time to enjoy the race.

1:50am most of the FM runners taking the line. I was still busy looking for other runners that I might know and wish them luck in the race. Sub 4:00 pacer just stood in front of me, Dave Ang, who is from Forward Sports Club with respectable FM finishing sub 3:30. I did not think about it much, pacer was not part of my race plan.

CM Lim gave his speech and we were flagged off at 1:59am. Many runners flocked out like it was a 10km race and I just eased my body into the comfortable pace, I was holding the pace cautiously because I know that it was a long way to go. The weather was very humid after the rain, first KM pace was 5:30 min/km, which was good. I adjusted the breathing rhythm gradually and felt much better. Many runners still overtook me along the way before Penang Seagate U-turn, the pace was well under control at 5:33, 5:28 and 5:27.

The 2-3 lanes road was crowded with runners. After the Penang Seagate U-turn point, bridge bound runners simply squeezed to run half of a lane while U-turn bound runners simply occupying the whole road... Sub 4:00 pacers were behind me, I was not sure what were their plan, but I think I could run in front of them, so I don't really care (unless I drop behind them, which I will try my best to avoid that).

Going past QBM on the coastal road or Lebuhraya Lim Chong Eu, the crowd was getting more scattered as I know most of the runners in front me are good runners that capable to do a 4 hour full marathon. See Wei was running beside me, but we did not talk as I guess both are actually under similar pressure to break the Sub-4 spell. I took a couple of sips every 2-3km as I knew that humidity is not very friendly to runners. I reminder See Wei to drink more, too.

We progressed steadily past QBM, N-Park and I grabbed one cup of water to drink and another to cool down the body. The pace was slightly faster at that time around 5:20 min/km and I saw KFC and Rango not far going up the ramp into the Penang Bridge. There were in front and maybe the pace was not sustainable. I fueled up with power gel at km-9. 10km at 55 minutes, still good. See Wei and I went past them and it was like a 2 horse race going up to the midspan of the bridge. It was mild elevation from km-11 to km-13, I tried to increase cadence and run as economical as I could because I know that this would be a killer if not manage properly.

I could see Sui Yu (water fish) in front and from his pace I knew that I could overtake him easily in a couple of KM, so no hurry. At the time going up the elevation, I could see the See Wei was having a strong strides up, I wanted to keep up but I dismissed the idea since still long long way to go. I reminded myself again, what goes up must come down, so I knew I could make up the seconds lost from midspan onwards.

Overtook SuiYu around km-12 and I could to cheer, although I wanted to because he was not really a 'nice' person compared to his wife, who is more friendly and cheerful. From the highest point, I just let the gravity does it magic to propel the strides, with as little fuel as possible.

The pace increasing and I could easily overtake See Wei. I leveraged from the down hill and build on the momentum. The average pace from km-13 to km-18 is below 5:10 min/km and that was done with the headwind blowing towards runners and that was one of the key range that I think I have lost control and let the pace overruled me.

I could see Jensen at KM-17 and managed to get into shoulder to shoulder at KM-18. Greeted each other at the Toll Plaza U-turn and I still moving with pace a little over 5 min/km (which is not in my plan, it must be the adrenaline's fault). I fueled up at KM-19, went past Jensen and tackled the ascending elevation of the midspan again. I knew I was a little speeding but I did not slow down, I overtook Pirate Chan Hong Tiong and still built on my pace to reach the peak, the point that I planned to take a rest.

The pace going ascending the midspan was 5:37 which was acceptable, but I did not really want to stop, the pace already gave the signal that I was spending extra fuel to sustain the pace from KM-18 to 24. The downhill was sluggish as compared to the 5:1X before the U-turn. Took some time to pour the electrolytes and refill my bottle. I could not let myself down. There was no wind, there was no more sprinkles, I felt hot and it has taken toll on my body and pace. I acknowledged it but I had to continue.

I was struggling from KM-26 to KM-28, but as soon as Jensen came up from behind, my fire was re-ignited again because he said I was slowing down (I know that~!!!!) but I could still paced with him. We chatted a bit until we almost missed the power gel at KM-28. We ran side by side from Tesco onwards to the U-turn point at Goh Tiao Lor. Fueled up immediately at the next water station and we tackles the Bukit Dumbar hills and Jelutong Expressway hills together, the pace was going remarkably strong at average 5:15 min/km. Greeted Dr.Francis, Lee, Huat that were already heading back to QBM.

At the U-turn point Jensen just sped off, maybe he was doing a negative splits while I was taking it conservatively. I did not want to lose it as I have had went thru the hills at 5:15 min/km... no way... The ultimate target is Sub-4, not beating WJ, that's just bonus. I ate half banana and I just wanted to maintain the pace at average pace of a Sub-4, which is 5:35 min/km. I was holding well... saw WJ on his way back when I was at km-35, he was fast, faster that I've predicted, but I did not really care. Focus on my own goal is more important.

Pace started to drop ans out of control at KM-39, due to the human traffic from half marathon. Had to run zig-zag and asked runners to keep to their left, quite tiring. This was compounded by a bad decision to skip one gel at KM-38. Pace dropped kao kao lat... The angels and demons were fighting, walk or run? walk or run? better time or Sub-4? because should able to make it with a little walking. I was exhausted, I just let them talk inside my mind, I did not care about anything, just continued running.

I knew that the last 5 km in full marathon is always the farthest 5km compared to any 5K, 10K or HM. I simply had to pull it through, I just ran, my lung was bursting, the rising heart rate became more apparent, my feet was aching, I was sipping the last drop of my electrolyte when my watch showed 40km, but after 42km, I was only making the turn into the Persiaran Bayan Indah to QBM.

It was over-distance as usual. I knew I was not far away when I ran along the roundabout. I was going to make it. I saw Alwin jumped out to take photo and I posed with a Sub-4 gesture but some how it was blur. I saw many cameraman but all I wanted just to cross the finishing line.

From distance I could see the digital timer 03:51:XX and ticking and I adjusted my form and cadence to finish in style. It was not a really strong finish but I have done it. It is a first Sub-4 full marathon for me. It is achieved in Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013, home ground. Yes... finishing time on my Garmin Forerunner 910XT wass 03:51:59, distance 42.8km.

Mission accomplished. Helped Captain Yellow with photo shooting for a while after change up.

Race Summary:
  • This is my 13th full marathon and first Sub-4:00 full marathon.
  • Break the myth that PBIM is not a PB route (to certain extent). Faster by 13 minutes.
  • Average HR 174bpm is lower compared to PBIM 2012 181 bpm. Aerobic fitness increased.
Garmin Data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/405210576

Will share my training plan when I am free.


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