I’ll say this upfront – I signed up for this year’s PJ Half due to a change of route. As race day got nearer, the importance of getting the mileage under the belt became greater, what with an unplanned marathon to be tackled before 2015 comes to a closure.
The organizers certainly pulled out all the stops to have a unique, if challenging, route. The race started from Dataran PJ (in front of the Civic Center), heading to NPE, back to Old Town before Jalan Templer, SS1, SEA Park, Jalan University, Padang Timur before finishing where we started. There were so many major road crossings that I truly doubt that the traffic management could be pulled off well, if at all. A minor fiasco at the REPC didn’t add to the level of confidence and by the time I toed the line at 5am (I was awake since 2:40am!) with Zijill and Frank, my expectations were quite low. Nick had opted to accompany his wife in her 10K since he wanted to keep things on the conservative side for the time being post-injury. All of us were so casual about it that we were positioned near the very back of the start. In hindsight, it was a mistake, even if we had wanted to keep things easy.
The roads were not fully closed and it was hard running with the large crowd within the coned confines of the allocated lane. Congestion was so bad that I found myself fast walking at one stage.
It was easier to up the ante once we hit NPE since the roads were much wider. Until then, Frank and Zijill were never too far away and it was good to run together, pulling each other along. I chugged from my bottle of Gatorade and thus was able to skip a few water stations. Up until this point the marshalls and water station crew were doing a fantastic job, as were the uniformed officials.
Training has been extremely patchy but I found myself progressing pretty steadily. I’d bumped into many familiar faces which was a welcome diversion. The pee break I had just before the Honda dealership helped tremendously in reducing the feeling of discomfort from a bloated gut, undoubtedly from overdosing of fiber (from the copious amount of veg I stuff myself) the night before.
The route was tougher in the second half of the race, first with the climb past the cemeteries at SS1, followed by the devilish bump at SEA Park before the very long incline along Jalan University. I was able to negotiate those pretty ok, but the average pace dropped by 10 seconds in those sections. The morning was cool but humid so the plentiful sponges were helpful.
The legs eventually got as heavy as lead, as I ran pass Taman Jaya but with the finish just a KM away, there was no point in taking the foot off the pedal. Rounded the corner and gutted out a 1:55.28 finish.
The timing was to expected with my time spent training at a premium lately. Added to the challenging route, it was a fair result. More important was to be out there with friends while getting the workout done.
The organizers generally did a great job with traffic control and marshaling, and as a result prove my fears to be unfounded. The route was a nice change, albeit pretty tough.The start and finish were efficiently handled and I liked the fact that the Half Marathoners were diverted away from the larger crowds of the 5 and 10K categories. The bummer was the reported lack of finisher medals for some runners. I’d have given them mine if I’d known but it was a misstep on the part of the organizers.