Sungai Petani Half Marathon 2012

SP Half Marathon was a chance encounter through FB. Signed up before I even knew exactly where it's situated.

I later found out that it would fall on a Saturday (1/9/12) since Sungai Petani is in Kedah. But it is only about 15 minutes drive from where I work. So right after the run, I could rush back to the hospital and resume work as usual. No fuss. And no need to take a day off.

It was only 6 days after the Green Run. My legs were recovering well but I was still taking it easy in case of  unintentional aggravation, again. So, no speed work, no long runs. Just 7 and 10km easy runs during the week.

On Friday, our National Day, I drove to SP with the intention of collecting the bib. The Clock Tower (Starting/Finishing line) in the middle of the town was an easy find. But the collection venue (Wisma Penjara), on the other hand, got me going around in circles. My GPS wasn't working, and asking directions from the locals just confused the matter more. Each person had his/her own version....Frustrated and almost reaching the point of giving up my search, I gave it one last try. And this time, a good Samaritan guided me all the way by his car to the darn place. Bless his soul! The rest, was history.

This would be SP's inaugural Half Marathon. And judging from the way the bibs were organized and handed out, I had a premonition that it would be a bit chaotic. Having participated in a fair number of races, local and abroad, I can say that I have seen enough to tell. The rest, you could read about it in comments from FB....I would just mention some of mine later....But, hey, it's their first. We all make mistakes. The main thing is that they learn from it and improve in future races. And runners are usually a very forgiving lot....:)

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Drove and pulled into a parking space near the Clock Tower with 45 minutes to spare. The place was already packed with people and many familiar faces. Some fast runners were absent because of the concurrent KOMTAR run event. Anyway, I had no specific plan. Just wanted to clock a better time than Green Run. Also hoping for some assurance and sign that my injury has fully abated and I am well on my way with my target for Osaka. Target time was 1:30 (or better) depending on my form.

The start was delayed, perhaps due to late arrival of Dignitaries. We were "lucky" that it was a cloudy day. Or else most runners would have been fried by the time the race's concluded. The official starting time (6:45am) was really quite late. 5-5:30am would have been ideal.

Anyway, as we were flagged off, I went off at my pace of 4:15min/km. Soon, I came across Andrew Loh and "Siow Tee". I tagged along as they were running at the same pace. At about 5km into it, Siow Tee moved ahead and dropped us. He must have been doing 4:05ish. But I just kept to my own pace though it was so tempting to give chase. And I am glad now that I didn't.

The route was fairly flat with perhaps 1 or 2 minor elevations at the bridge. It felt quite comfortable. I was hovering at a sustainable 4:15 pace. Just keeping tap on my energy level as the race unfolded. It was a test of conservation of strength. I was careful to remind myself not to rush my way through. 21km isn't a long race but it still demands some respect if you want to perform optimally. If you are careless, you could still "hit the wall" prematurely. And end up with a slower second half.

I was glad that I maintained the same even pace through out. Even so, it was particularly trying when I reached 17km, I had to dig deeper to maintain the same pace. This is when a runner's tested on his mental resolve. I remember thinking the unthinkable DNF. And even bargaining with myself to slow down and "make do" with a slower time. "Well, no one will blame you for it." The Devil was running alongside me. Tempting me and sweet talking me to submission. I was physically feeling the strain and my breaths were out of sync with my pace. It felt like I was choking up....

I had to calm down. Think. And shut the Devil out. Just a few more km to go. I have done 1:28 at half point before in a full marathon race! If I could do that, I could definitely do this! I was not running aimlessly or senselessly. I was constant and steady with my pace. I could do this!

So, I held on, At 18km, my run was disrupted when I reached a junction where I was unsure where to turn. One sign marked 3km was pointing to the right. Another 5km marker was pointed to a different path. And NOT a single marshall or official was around to direct me. When you are struggling between DNF and die-trying, this was the last thing on your mind. Needless to say, I found this to be a major blunder for the event. I can go on without water for 21km but misdirection is a total shame!

Anyway, someone on a motorbike showed up a minute later indicated to me that I was on the right path. I was relieved but had lost a bit of my focus in the process. But held on I did, until I saw a familiar building indicating that I was just a km or so from the finish.

It is always a good policy to landmark the finish line so that you can hone in on a visual of the last km. Does wonders to boost the energy for a stronger finish. I push on and finished within my expectation of 1:30:44.

It was a respectable time. But I know that to sub 3, I would need to run a lot faster than that. Well, there's still about 2 and a half months to go. And having just recovered from an injury that cost me a few weeks of training, this would just have to do.

I was again the 1st runner up for the Veteran Category. I seem to have a knack for number 2....But, nevertheless, I was just delighted to be rewarded for the effort.

All in all, to sum it up like farmer Hoggert: It will do. ***. It will do.


  1. Congrats on your awesome finish! You have such incredible focus and determination. :o

    1. Thanks Grace. But I think all of us have the same problem when it comes to the crunch time. For me, it is always a struggle. It may look good now, but it's a whole different story during the run...But as we do more races and train more, I am sure this will be a more pleasant experience.

  2. Thanks for sharing yr experience. Congratulation!


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