Penang Run 4th Series
Penang Run. 4th and final series.
I could almost hear the soft sigh of relief from Andrew….
Judging by the response of the local and international community, this brainchild of Andrew Loh and team was a well-received one. What began as a conception of an intriguing idea of running 4 half marathons around the Penang Island soon gave birth to its inauguration in Jan 2013. And now, after a full year, it climaxes with the finale of its 4th leg from Teluk Bahang to Esplanade. We have finally gone a full circle. The sense of achievement was indeed tangible. And the jigsaw medals, nothing less than spectacular. Certainly and literally: a collectible.
By now, everyone knew the drill. Board the bus @ 4am at the Finish (Esplanade). And the bus would transfer us to the Start at Teluk Bahang PBA. It may be a wee bit early for some but if we stuck to the schedule, we would get there in good time. But somehow, some folks still managed to turn up late. Consequently, the last bus reached the start point 10 minutes after 5:30 am. As a result, the start time was delayed.
Regardless, the mood was not to be dampened by the late start. Everyone was just too eager to start that SeowFung was having a hard time trying to herd the crowd to stay within the confines of the gate. Nonetheless, we finally got our flag off. In wasting no time, the front runners dashed off to ensure a commanding lead over the rivals. Since we had raced together for the past 3 series, it did not require any astute observation to figure out who the rivals are.
In fact, we were given the heads up on our overall position well in advance of the race. Mine happens to be 3rd overall until now for Men Veteran. Frankly, if given the choice, I would rather not know that. It places unnecessary pressure on you. Not to mention unwanted attention too…
After my recent escapade at TNF HK and Tour de Malaysia (where I did about 50km of the segment from Nibong Tebal to Balik Pulau), my legs needed the much deserved rest. Besides, we have all been racing all year round, I was getting a little “sien” (fed up) with all the races. In fact the point of the final series was nothing more than to prepare towards my Standard Chartered HK Marathon in February. But the show must go on…..
My strategy was simple. Don’t bonk. I knew I was not in any shape to recreate my PB time back in the 3rd series. And I know that I have some seriously strong contender the likes of Khir Salleh, Baskaran and my closest rival Chuah Kean Kok in the Men Veteran category. So, I had the focus and mental strength. But the delivery part was somewhat lacking. You need the vehicle to achieve that. And mine was at the stage of requiring a major overhaul.
Anyway, I tried. So, I started conservatively. My pace was between 4:15 to 4:30. It was a fail proof method as I seriously did not want to bonk after 15km knowing clearly that I am quite out of shape. At the start, several runners like Tiger and Jin Ji zoomed past me. Only Lim stuck by me as we comfortably paced each other. At about 12km, I finally caught a glimpse of Kean Kok and was ready to up my game a little to give chase. But unfortunately, it was not going to happen unless I put on a pair of rollerblades. He was way too fast to catch. Soon, Sarah dropped by and said Hi. She even offered to pace me all the way back. But she was going so strong that I felt I would only slow her down if I did. Love to see the way she runs. So effortless.
That was when Lim was already ahead and went off to claim his place amongst the Men Open. So, I was left alone to complete another 6km to the finish line.
I was tired. But I was now less pressured to give chase. Somehow, I felt the burden lifted off me. Like it didn’t matter at all how this race ends. I just run a consistent 4:30 pace and drew the race to a close at 1:36. My slowest time. But, who cares J I was glad it was over.
I was fourth this time. But still maintained my overall 3rd position in the Men Veteran.
Sometimes, we runners have to remind ourselves that there is a season for everything. There is never the need to always stay on top. I for one would certainly not beat myself up over it. And of late, I am taking a lot more respite and discovering what to do with retirement. Though there is no likelihood of stopping my marathon running, I have been thinking about taking it a lot easier with races this year. Not going to sign up any more in fact, after the HK marathon. So, Boston may well be off my list for now.
What did I learn from this race? Well, surprisingly, it took the past 3 series to hammer in the message: You can be consistent. You can aim high. And you even can try to always stay on top. But allow yourself some slack once in a while….That is actually an important part of maturing as a runner. You may not think so now, but I think you will someday.