Monday, November 06, 2006
Bidor Half Marathon 2006
Event: Anak Malaysia Bidor Half Marathon
Timing: 2h03m20s (Personal Best)
This was the event I had spent the last 2 months preparing for. My ultimate target was to run a sub 2 hour race but at the very least I had to improve my personal best timing by a fair bit. This time round we had Lim, Lee, Peter and myself running the half marathon, while Lim's nephew was running the 10k.
Peter couldn't make it with us the day before so the house we rented was to be shared by six of us including Eugene and his son Yi Xi. On Saturday I had picked up both Lim and Lee by 1.45pm. The journey to Bidor was smooth but it was raining sporadically on the highway. We were debating whether the fog in the jungle and mountains was just mist or haze but I still maintain that it was haze!!
We arrived at Bidor around 3.15pm and went to collect our Bibs before going for lunch at the famous Wan Tan noodles shop. We then went to survey the starting point. The following pictures show the volunteers preparing the starting point. About 90% of the volunteers are senior citizens from the town itself. Even the owner of the house we rented was seen later in one corner patching the a road which was uneven. Other race organisers should learn from their example.
Next we proceeded to survey the half marathon route.
The first 9.5k was generally flat, but once we had reached the border of the town again, we had to turn right up a steep hill and it was mostly undulating terrain from there. The u-turn at the waterfall was approximately 15.6k. We only saw kilometer markers for the last 4k and my heart sank when my cars mileage showed 21k at the "1 km to go" marker. There goes my sub 2!! This was going to be an overdistance race. Total distance displayed when we reached the finish was 22k.
It had been raining since late morning and was still raining at 6pm. We waited for Eugene and Yi Xi to arrive and just lazed in the house for a bit before heading out for dinner at close to 8pm. After a good meal we returned to the house and struggled to finish a large tub of ice cream with bars of chocolate we had bought earlier. Talk about some serious carbo loading!! I felt too stuffed to sleep after that but managed to knock off around 10.45pm after a refreshing shower.
Next morning my alarm rang at 5.35am. I was surprisingly fresh when I woke up, even though some neighbourhood dogs had woken me up twice during the night. After a shower and lubing the body I went downstairs and had my Ali Cafe and Powerbar while waiting for the others. Last night we had decided to drive to the starting point but this morning everyone agreed to warm up by doing a slow jog. The house is located at just the '1km to go' mark.
I reached the starting point with Lee just before 6:45am. That's when it hit me!! I had forgotten to bring Peter and Wong's bibs!! We had left them in the car last night thinking we were going to drive to the starting point. Frantically I had to run back to the house, met Lim halfway and he followed me back. Wong had called him by then asking for the bibs!
By the time I had reached the starting point again I was sweating profusely and was already panting. I've never done anything more than a few hundred meters of slow jogging before any race and here I had just run 3km!! After apologising to both Peter and Wong, I managed to jump into one photo take with the PMs before the countdown began and the race was started.
The first 9.5k was quite uneventful. I only managed to set into a proper pace after almost 2km since I was still recovering from the panic state of forgetting the bibs. I was running with Fook for the first 3k but he started to pick up the pace after that and I didn't want to follow as I knew that I would suffer in the second half of the race. He would later run a great race and finish below 2 hours for the 22k!
After the u-turn at the Indian temple, I just maintained my pace and was starting to feel quite comfortable. I was using markers I had made during the previous days route survey to check my target pace. At 7km my split time was appx 37m30s and at 9.5km 50m15s. With this I presume my 10k split time should be somewhere around 53min which was my target pace for the first 10k.
9.5k to 15.6k
What I wasn't prepared for was that the weather would take such a drastic turn. From the extremely cool morning, the sun was suddenly blazing by the time I had reached the 10k mark. Since I generally don't train under the sun, I perform badly under it. This time was no exception. The hills and the sun put together was slowly draining my energy levels.
Peter and Wong overtook me somewhere around the 12k mark. I was surprised to see Peter coming from behind, later he told me he had to stop for over 5 minutes to do his business... poor guy. For the next few kilometers I was pacing with Quek Ai Ling from Singapore. I used her strong pace to push myself a little each time I felt I was slowing down.
I was glad when we finally reached the u-turn at the roundabout. This meant there was just about another 6km more to go. The water station there was the only one where isotonic drinks were provided. All there previous water stations only had water. I suppose this is fine as water is sufficient for distances up to 10 to 15k.
The 100 plus seemed to perk me up a little bit, plus the fact that there would be a lot of downhill stretches from here onwards. I was especially looking forward to a long winding stretch of over 1km which we had covered on the way to the waterfall. I think I might have given myself too long a break at this stop. By the time I had started running, Ai Ling was quite some distance away. There goes my pacer!
I found myself still running at an even pace without slowing down much in the final few kilometers. There was only one stretch where me and many other runners stopped to walk. This was an uphill stretch crossing a flyover built over the PLUS highway, but this was for no more than 30 meters. As I approached the final 1km mark I saw a familiar face standing at the corner with the officials... it was none other than our captain Ronnie himself!
As I passed him I looked at my watch and saw my 21k split time was about 1h57m40s. Yes I had managed to meet my target of running 21k under 2 hours, but it is unfortunate that it wouldn't be recorded as a sub 2 half marathon. The last 1km was a downhill stretch so I just let myself run relaxed all the way to the finish line. Fook, Rachel, Sim and others were waiting there and cheered for me. Total time taken for 22k was 2h03m20s. My position for the Mens Open category is number 42.
Overall I am very happy with my performance. There is still a nagging feeling that I could have pushed a little harder. For now I will have to be satisfied that my half marathon official race record will have to remain over 2 hours but this will give me something to train harder for in future races. I enjoyed this race very much and will definitely be back next year if they decide to organise it again. The finishers medal is really a beautiful medal as can be seen.