Penang Run 2013 (3rd Series)
A race event is many things to different people. It's not about how grand the event is. Penang Run may be a small event by comparison. But it is no less interesting to me. Be it the World Majors or just a backyard race, at the end of the day, it's the issue of a well placed meaning that defines a run. And with it, the level of enjoyment attained.
One thing absolutely consistent about the event was the fact that all were totally drenched to the toes (and undergarments). The torrential rain made sure of it. That might have marred the idea of a pleasant run for some but to a Terengganu boy like me, it was a welcome bonus. (We embrace the monsoon like ducks to water). Rain and cool wind only means cool climate and fun! And I do well in these circumstances.
However, we had been warned that it would be hilly. Unless you have frequented the route in the past, the interpretation of it would have to be an experiential one in order for the message to hit home. And since it's not just a casual jog, where most of us were facing the prospect of racing each other to the finish, it would be understandably more challenging. And with that, I approached the race with trepidation and respect.
Ego is a funny thing. It elevates you to a false sense of security. Knowing for a fact that recovery is important especially after a marathon just 2 weeks earlier didn't do much to help dissuade me from running in this half marathon. I promised myself that I would play by ear. But the truth is, I am hard at hearing....The ever hearing, but not listening type.
So, I braved the decision and along with a thousand plus runners, lined the start under the watchful eye of God, and the mercy of the unrelenting rain. After the last two races, you naturally know whom you are up against. And in my category, there were a few that posed serious threat. It is a race by nature to me. Of course you can call it what you want, as I have said, you define your own meaning and purpose. But to me, it would not make sense to run anything less than my best. So, I was prepared to put up a fight.
Gun off at 6am. And the heavens opened. The rain was fierce. But fiercer were some of the competitors who lunged forward to gain command of the lead. Within a few hundred meters, the ranks were established. You see the pace of sub 2:30 marathoners, the sub 3:00 marathoners etc all settling well into their respective packs. It synchronized so well that it was almost poetic. If I were not caught up with my own race, it would have been a spectacular sight to behold.
I established my pace and started tailing some of the contenders within my category. The initial stretch took us on a round trip from the start line into a 6km loop. It was at best undulating but the real challenge was yet to come. After the 6km, we moved into the dreaded climb. 6km to 12km of straight up, no nonsense hill proper. It was a test of true grit from then onwards as we took turns to lead. We had formed a 4 men pack and you could feel the tension as we clung onto each other. None dare let up pace. The ascent was perhaps the toughest part of the race. And to me, the crucial deciding factor. I kept my head low, focused on my breathing, increased my cadence and trot on like a good soldier. The fight was on. You just know it. Like the fire in your belly. (unless you have ulcers/gas issues). I took lead as we near the end of the 12km mark and pressed forward leaving the rest behind. I knew that it was down hill all the rest of the way. The hardest part was done. But the fight was not over yet.
Downhill was not as easy as I thought. After the initial 2km, I was actually going so fast that I was heaving. GPS was showing a pace of 3:43. Then I reminded myself to let it roll and ease off a little. But the guys were all within clear view behind me. That's when you know you have to hold the lead. This is the part that I don't like. Felt like a rabbit chased by the hounds.
When we finally reached Teluk Bahang Dam, we were only 2 km away from finish. The rest of the route was flat but having worn out the calves with the controlled descent, suddenly the legs felt heavier than ever. I had thought the hill was challenging. However, this was in fact the toughest part of the run: Maintaining pace through out that final stretch. The only consolation was that it was just 2 km left. I grit my teeth, held on some more, kept to a 4:05 pace and eventually cleared the finish @ 1:27:01.
It's a PB. And the added bonus was winning the second place in my category and some prize money. But the main thrill of the run wasn't about the achievement. It's about putting on a fight somewhere along the 6-12km and the final 2km. The gut tells you that you are 'on'. And it's like a consuming fire. It infuses you with the courage to take on the challenge and when you decide to go along with it, it ignites into a combustion. Rocket power? I thought so too.
But I prefer a better description: Powered by Jesus.
|Got to shake hand with the CM LGE too. Wow!|