Please click here to view 191 photos taken by Weng.
Note by KC: Bravo to Moira Toh! This is a entertaining, informative and well-written report.
Written by Moira Toh, Penang.
“Great! The Bridge run is back! At last!!” echoed yours truly and probably all Penang Runners who have been deprived of the Bridge run for the last 2 years. Apart from being the only marathon and half marathon run in Penang, the Bridge run offered the only opportunity where people were (legally) allowed on the bridge without their vehicles. Never mind that the rest of Penang traffic will be affected for about 6 hours during the run and probably in a state of chaos, we had our run back!!
The few days leading up to the run started well enough for me, I had received my complimentary yellow pacesetters t-shirt from a fellow pacesetter in the form of a sweet gentleman Mr Hooi See Wei, courtesy of arrangements by Munning Jamaluddin and Jenny Lim. Mr Hooi and his 2 friends had arrived in Penang the Friday before the run (on Sunday 30.7.2006) ahead of the Pacesetters contingent in order to “climatize” themselves to Penang to which I presume must be acclimatizing to the food and traffic jam!!
A peep out of my window on Sunday morning 30th July 2006 (day of run) at the unearthly time of 3.30am confirmed no rain and no haze and after a light carbo-filling breakfast, me and my husband, Tuck, set off towards the run. We were both entered for the half marathon race.
Our runs started off exactly on time- 5.30am and 6 am respectively with the Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu flagging us off – kudos to the minister for waking up at this ungodly hour!! This year, my aim for the run was to finish well and strong and to see if all the long runs I had put in before the run would work. Due to constraint of time from work, I could only afford 3 days of training per week which is hardly adequate but on Saturdays I had made sure that I did quality (or at least I hoped!) long runs around the area of Penang Botanical Gardens and the Penang Municipal Youth Park.
At the start - I wished my fellow participants queuing next to me “Good Luck, have fun and see you back at the finishing line” to which in turn 2 smiling ladies returned the same wishes. I remembered to start slow and mentally broke up my run into 4 parts, - approximately 5 km mark (middle span of the bridge), 10 km mark (Perai), 15km (back to middle span again) and finally the finish line at Universiti Sains Malaysia (22.3 km).
Running up the middle span the first time was tough, it was really quiet and I had to keep on reminding myself that it will take me approximately 10 -12 minutes to reach the middle span from the beginning of the slope up to the middle span. The cross winds were rather strong at this time and I felt I was going to be blown off the bridge! One must not complain though, the winds brought relief to the heat and probably blew the haze away from Penang. Ah! Made it I did to the middle span of the bridge and the first water station was ready for us.
The second part of my run – I decided to run next to the barriers which separated the 2 way traffic of the bridge. I remembered that I had complained before that with the barriers being set up last year that that took the “fun” out of the bridge run because I could no longer look forward to seeing friends and Tuck when they were on their return journey on the opposite side of bridge (as the full marathoners and the half marathon men started off earlier than the half marathon women, I actually took inspiration when I could see the leading runners on the opposite side of the bridge zooming past! And of course friendly faces from friends helped too!!). But this morning, I took refuge in the barriers so that the strong gusts of winds could by-pass me. I knew the barriers were of some “use” after all!! At this point of the run, I “followed” a lady in black top and leggings as she paced me, this really helped me to find my rhythm in this part of the race.
Relief came in the form of a water station at around the 10km run in Perai and now for the return journey back. I met a friend who was walking and encouraged her to run on (she did eventually finish the race within the time allocated). Swallowed my chocolate flavoured energy gel (by far the best flavour) for some zoom zoom power and I was actually feeling hungry /stomach empty at this point.
“Where? Where? Is the middle span?” I thought to myself running early at this leg of the race. It was at this point that a gentlemen drew up next to me and paced me in my run. He smiled and told me that he would pace me and if I slowed down, he would too. Oh! How nice to have someone to run with. I felt encouraged and his pacing helped me relax into a comfortable rhythm/pace. At the beginning of the slope up to the middle span, this gentlemen high fived me and told me to “go for it”, encouraged, I aimed to reach the water station at the 15 km mark.
After the water station at the 15 km mark, it was time to “go home”. I turned on my i-pod for music which was a “promised treat” to myself and the praise and worship downloads I gingerly maneuvered the day before into the i-pod made me smile and I took a little time to look at my surroundings and admire how beautiful Penang Island and Jerejak Island was bathed in the warm morning sunlight and how blue the sky was! At about 2 more km to go, I decided to put my “tempo training” to use and attempted to race all the way back. The finishing line could not have looked better as I ran into my allocated line to finish. I did it in approximately 2 hours 18 mins! I wanted to finish well and strong and I believe I did, a broad smile appeared on my face with the usual euphoria from the rush of adrenalin accompanied that smile.
Post Race reflections
What I learned from this race:
(a) long runs are a staple as one learns how to go through (dare I say it??) the “pain and suffering” during a race;
(b) friendly pacers and runners (and running buddies if available!) are a God -send!
(c) Setting a reasonable goal can be inspirational;
(d) “treats” such as music (or drink or food or friends/supporters!) can be encouraging.
(e) To take in the beauty of the surroundings and simply enjoy the run.
What I did not like about this race:
(a) not enough toilets /port -a- Johns;
(b) markers for each km were not provided (certainly not for the half marathoners);
(c) water stations information were not provided in the entry form (or informed to half marathoners);
(d) there were no bag deposit stations;
(e) a very long walk to the starting line for the men half marathoners (this input from Tuck who heard complaints from others);
(f) there was no clock (digital or otherwise) at the finishing line;
(g) signs were make- shift and category signs at the finishing line were hand written thereby not lending a “professional feel”.
Be it as it may, there were plenty of helpful volunteers and I applaud especially the volunteers at the water stations working industriously and also the Red Crescent volunteers who offered their assistance to all the runners! And of course, I am glad that the Penang Bridge Run is back!!