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Thursday 1 January 2009

Report Penang Starwalk 2008

By Aiman Cheah Tiong Chap
Venue: Penang International Sports Arena
Date: 14 December 2008

I had received the entry form for the Purtrajaya 12-hour Walk via e-mail from Mr Khoo Chong Beng much earlier. I was a little disturbed because the event was to be held on the 3rd week of December which Penang Starwalk is always held. No doubt that I enjoy the endurance race, I feel that this time I am not prepared for it, so I waited patiently for the Penang Starwalk to be confirmed.

Once the entry form is out in the Star, I quickly made my hotel booking, Seri Malaysia. A month before the event, I bought the bus return ticket Penang. I was quite shocked to have to pay RM70. Only to realize that there was a 30% surcharge.

I had not had any training since the fasting month until 19 November. I thought one month should be enough for me to get me back into shape. Only jogged or walk between 4.2 and 6.3km on alternate days to condition the body. I was really in bad shape as walking pace was a 7 minute per km and jogging was 6-6.5 mins per km. I had managed to walk at the average speed of 6.5 mins per km by 4 Dec.

Everything was undone once I returned to Kijal for Hari Raya Qurban. Continuous rain and raining in the afternoon spoilt my training. So, when I was back in KL on 10th Dec, my physical condition was back to square one.

I walked for 10.5km in almost 70 minutes. On 11th Dec, I swam for 1,500m. It was a slow swim and I was struggling. My final training was on Friday 12th Dec. I did another 10.5km. Having done 65 minutes I was quite confident of challenging for the last medal in the Men Junior Veteran Category – the 15th position.

I felt good on race day. I considered my self to be lucky as there was no more runny nose or high temperature. I brought along paracetamol pills just in case I might need them. Luckily, vitamin C, garlic pills and Ho Yan Hor tea managed to keep my slight fever and runny nose under control.

I was early at the reporting area and did my warm up. 5 minutes before 7, I inched my way to the front barrier. Only one or two pieces of the barriers were removed and the participants were slowly released. I was jogging to the starting line once I was out of the reporting centre.

There was already a sea of people ahead of me. When I was about 30 metres of the starting line, I began to walk and looking to squeeze towards the ‘pole position’. To my horror, the pistol was fired, signaling the race had started. I started my stop watch and begin my race.

I realized that I was not the only one caught off guard as familiar participants walked past me after 4 minutes into the race. I could not keep up with them once they zoomed past me. Clearly, I did not have the stamina to sustain my pace. I eased up the pace and saw more participants overtaking me.

After catching my breath, I stepped up the pace a little and to flow with the crowd. My idea was as long as no participant overtaking me, I won’t be doing badly. Only after the 14th minutes, I found my rhythm. I managed to sustain my pace and there was no participant who could overtake from then on. But then, there were already too many who were ahead of me.

I knew I may not be in the top 15 this time to land me a medal. I had failed to win a medal in 2006 when I finished in 1hr 09mins 13secs. Then, I was in Men Open and the medals offered were doubled of that for Men Junior Veteran.

My slow and steady pace allowed me to overtake two participants from my category before I turned into Jalan Tun Dr. Awang. There were another two who were within my sight. They looked good and strong. I tried to keep up with them. I overtook one of them before going uphill but he came back charging strongly when going downhill.

I did not resist him as I was already out of breath. My plan was just to keep a steady pace and make my move in the last 500 metres. I was glad that after a while when I overtook both of them, they did not stepped up their pace. They must be just as tired as I was! I went all out after the traffic lights just in case they struck back.

When I turned into Jalan Mahsuri, I pushed harder. My stopwatch was 1hr 04mins 14secs and I saw the official wrote my bib number on the 30th line. I received my certificate and lucky draw card. A little disappointed because of my poor timing but that was the best I could have done. The actual time would be wose than that because I was struggling to set my stopwatch when the pistol went off at the start.

In the Men Junior, the target must to finish below 62 minutes to be sure of a medal. After the race, I picked up the free Sunday Star, took free drinks and return to the hotel to freshen up and take the complimentary breakfast.

Then I returned to PISA for the variety show. I was surprised to learn that I was 15th in my category. When I looked at the official result, my time was 1hr 04mins 26secs. The 13th and 14th timing was 1hr 04mins 02secs and 1hr 04mins 03secs respectively.

DiGi was generous to give RM50 prepaid reload. Besides that I got an umbrella (timely for this kind of weather) and a goodie bag (the goodie bag which I received during bib collection only has 3 packets drink!)

Since time is not on my side for ‘proper’ training, I will have to miss my favorite GE30km run in January. Probably, I will have a long break until March/April. If things go according to plan, I should be back strongly for the Ipoh Starwalk in July and hopefully, there will be a 24-hour walk for me to try to break the 100km mark.

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