Running

PJ Half Marathon 2016

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Posted By Zyen Hoo

So fresh on the heels of the Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon, I went for the Petaling Jaya Half Marathon, which is slated as the oldest half-marathon in Malaysia, at 28 years strong.

The running T-shirt which proudly announces PJ Half Marathon as the oldest half-marathon in Malaysia
The running T-shirt which proudly announces PJ Half Marathon as the oldest half-marathon in Malaysia

I had the opportunity to join this run in 2014, although only the 10km; I had to miss it last year as it clashed with a dance competition I was going for.

The website for the PJ Half Marathon was very well-designed, and it was easy to sign up for the run. Even their Facebook page was well-maintained, with constant updates given… just that I hadn’t followed them on Facebook, so I wasn’t aware of the exciting exhibitions that were set up for participants, hehe.

PJ Half Marathon's well-maintained well-designed website
PJ Half Marathon’s well-maintained well-designed website
PJ Half Marathon's Facebook Page which was constantly updated leading up to the event, and even after the event
PJ Half Marathon’s Facebook Page which was constantly updated leading up to the event, and even after the event

Run pack collection was at Tropicana City Mall this year, and it was a breeze. I went on Friday, where there was fortunately no line at the time I arrived. The people manning the desks advised me to check out the revised map of the 21km …. not that I would know the difference, hehe. But someone pointed out to me that the water stations were quite far from one another and that there were no banana stations. It was good that it was pointed out to me, so I could prepare sufficient water to carry during the run.

Updated 21km map
Updated 21km map

RUN DAY 21 AUGUST 2016

I had a tiring week, so the morning of the run, I woke up feeling a bit worn out. I would normally be unable to sleep out of nervousness, but this time I didn’t get enough sleep because I was exhausted.

Just like for the SCKLM, I was telling myself… you don’t have to go; it’s okay, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t run; go back to bed and get your well-deserved rest. And again, this was going through my head as I was getting dressed and having a cookie for breakfast (because that was all I was able to eat).

I didn’t really know where the starting point was, as the PJHM in 2014 flagged off from the Kelana Jaya stadium. This year it was the same venue as last year’s, at Laman MBPJ. I kind of knew where it was, so I just drove to the general direction of the town centre.

It was easy to figure out where it was once I got closer, as there were many cars heading towards the same direction – evidently, the participants of the PJHM. But the parking spots around the venue were obviously full, so I followed the line of cars to a location not too far away that fortunately still had a few available spots.

I quickly made my way to the starting line, with about 15 minutes to spare before flag-off.

Me with Uncle Chan, Andy, and Colin; all three of them are amazing runners
Me with Uncle Chan, Andy, and Colin; all three of them are amazing runners

I was fortunate to have had some run training with Mr Chan Nam Kiong, a dedicated runner  who is more than willing to share his wisdom. I admitted that I was not a fast runner, and have never been able to break the sub-3 mark in Malaysia (actually I did last year once at the 2XU Compression Run, but because the distance was 22km, my official time was over the 3 hour mark. And since then, because of injuries and insufficient training, I have not been able to hit sub-3). Uncle Chan (as he is fondly known as) advised me to go slow at the beginning, so that I won’t tire myself out, and then try to pick up speed after the halfway mark. He encouraged me to try to go for sub-3 for this run, saying that it was not impossible for me.

This was coming from a man who was aiming for sub-2. It was almost embarrassing for me, haha.

So when we flagged off, I took his advice, and jogged at a slow, steady pace, allowing a lot of other runners to overtake me. All this while, I had always tried to go fast at the beginning, believing that since that was when I would have the most energy, I should take advantage of it. Unfortunately, because I don’t even have much energy to begin with, I usually can only maintain a fast pace for 2 km before I was forced to slow to a walk. Yes, I know – it’s rather pathetic.

So this time I picked a slow pace, and just kept going, and I surprised myself – I was almost able to keep this pace for a full 2 hours! I did stop occasionally when I reached the water or sponging stations, but then I was able to pick up my pace again and keep going.

I would also normally be just walking up slopes, but this time I was able to keep jogging up inclines, even the steep ones! Of course occasionally I had to take a short breather, but I was able to get going again on my slow pace.

I was advised by Uncle Chan to aim to complete 10.5km in 1.5 hours, and to increase my pace thereafter. I was surprised and pleased to find that I managed to get less than 1.5 hours. Problem was… I found that I couldn’t increase my pace! I was actually getting really tired!!

So I decided to just maintain this pace as best as I could, but by the third hour, I was getting stitches and was forced to slow down to a walk for quite a while. What made it worse for me was that the distance was actually longer than 21km. I was monitoring the distance on the pedometer app on my phone, and I compared to the distance markers (of which there were ample, especially towards the last third of the run), and found that the distance actually covered was more than what was indicated by the signage. It wasn’t much difference, only a few hundred metres; but for me, this could make the difference between hitting officially below or above 3 hours.

By the time I saw the 20km marker, I gave up trying to hit sub-3. In reality, if I measured exactly 21km by my app, I was able to finish the half-marathon a few minutes below 3 hours. But I wanted the official timing to show sub-3, as my personal bragging right. And it is rare for actual half-marathon runs to be exactly 21km; it depends on the route that they take, and organisers have no control over how long the roads are. The best they can do is get the distance to be as close as possible to 21km, give or take.

Looking at the time I was taking though, it seemed that I was going slower towards the end. Based on my mental calculations, it seemed that I would cross the finish line just above 3 hours. 1 or 2 minutes may not seem like a big deal, but I had personally really wanted to get the number “2” in front of my official time. To me, there was a huge divide between 2h59m and 3h01m.

Then suddenly as we rounded the corner, I recognised the roads. We were approaching the finish line, which was the same place as the start line! Not much further to go!! With a burst of energy, I started running all the way to the finish line. I may not be able to get sub-3, but maybe I could get exactly 3:00 hours!!!

As I ran across the Finish line, I whipped out my phone to stop the tracking, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did make sub-3!!! By a whisker!!!

Total 2h59m, for 21.6km!

I know that for many of you runners, this time is nothing to shout about (you might even be embarrassed to talk about it)…. But this is a personal achievement for me.

The official certificate which proves I really did sub-3!!!
The official certificate which proves I really did sub-3!!!

I got in line to collect my medal, and finally managed to get my hands on a banana (none were given during the run) to fulfill my hunger pangs.

When I opened the medal, I burst out laughing! I thought it was really cool that the organisers of this run made use of current events to make a super cool medal! It was the medal that made me really glad that I dragged myself out of bed to run!

The cutest medal ever!!!
The cutest medal ever!!! Everyone gets the same medal; the different distances are determined by the colour and text of the lanyard.
Finisher items for half-marathon runners, including a T-shirt, medal, bun and banana
Finisher items for half-marathon runners, including a T-shirt, medal, bun and banana

And one of the highlights of the event! The real Chickaboo!

Real live ostriches, here at PJ Half Marathon!
Real live ostriches, here at PJ Half Marathon!
The ostriches had been announced on PJ Half Marathon's Facbeook Page before the run event. It's just that I hadn't been following, so I wasn't aware of the ostriches!
The ostriches had been announced on PJ Half Marathon’s Facbeook Page before the run event. It’s just that I hadn’t been following, so I wasn’t aware of the ostriches!

Thank you to PJHM organisers, marshalls and volunteers! A job well done. It was much better than my experience back in 2014. Keep up the great work, and looking forward to the 29th edition!

Andrew and Luan, my regular running buddies, also joined this run. Thanks for waiting for me, guys, although you finished my earlier than I did. You rock!!!
Andrew and Luan, my regular running buddies, also joined this run. Thanks for waiting for me, guys, although you finished my earlier than I did. You rock!!!

THE STORY OF CHICKABOO

In case you were wondering, what is this Chickaboo and why is it a big deal?? Well, it’s because just a couple of months ago, an ostrich called Chickaboo made news headlines both locally and internationally… it had been spotted running along the Federal Highway (the road highway connecting Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya), much to the bewilderment of motorists. This highway sprint had been captured on video by one of the road users.

Here’s the story taken from The Star Online. Thank goodness the cute fowl is perfectly safe and healthy, and well-taken care of!

 

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