Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pattaya Marathon 2009 as a Pacer

If I have one word to describe the Pattaya Marathon - it was like Tom Yam whereby it has a mixture of, spicy, sweet and sour. The weather was also a mixture of humid, cool, warm, strong headwind and light drizzle (which we didn't get to enjoy as we were already in the hotel). The terrain was quite tough and challenging especially after halfway mark - lots of inclines with 2 big hills at approximately 36km and 38km!

When we were at the starting line at 4.30am local time, we were already drenched due to the high humidity. After the start, I just set a pace where I felt was comfortable enough to bring us, Patrick Lee and I, back within 4 hours. Patrick was determined to do a sub 4 hour after his close encouter in the recent SC KL marathon. I am also as committed to help him in achieving his target.

After a left turn out of the town, the weather turned slightly cooler and breathable. When we reached 10km, my watch showed 54.17. I told Patrick we were on the right track as I estimated we could finish in 3:51 with 9 minutes backup. I didn't know if my words of encouragement have a positive or negative impact on him as he seemed to be charging ahead whenever he saw a runner in front of us. Is he purely motivated or is he secretly setting a higher target? I didn't know. What I knew was I was trying to keep up with his pace at times. Of course it's not fair for me to slow him down if he was in good form that morning. True enough, when we reached 20km mark, our time was 1:47 instead of the initial plan of 1:50!

At 21km, he started breathing quite heavily. I told him to concentrate on his breathing as I sensed that he has started to slow down his pace. The start of the inclines at this point didn't help at all. I forgo my targeted pace and tried to "pull" him out of his doldrums. I thought I succeeded but not too long, when we arrived at the 26km mark, he signalled me to go ahead. Before I bade farewell to him, I told him he could still make it as there's a 9 minutes backup. Then I soldiered on myself.

From then on, the journey was quite lonely and boring. As we turned into the coastal area from 32km onwards, there was a strong headwind that we had to encounter. Although it was a hindrance, I welcomed it wholeheartedly. But then, at 36km mark, I faced the biggest challenge of this race. Ahead of me stood a big hill almost one kilometre long...I almost wanted to give up! I managed to brave myself and ran as fast as a snail! This was fortunately followed by 1-km downhill which was a huge relief!

As we made another turn, I almost fainted with what I beheld - another slope like our own Double Hill! Try to imagine running Double Hill after having run 38km and you will get what I mean.

The last 4km was just a test of mental strength. I did a swift mental calculation and gosh, I might fall out of 4 hours! Faint or die, I had to increase my pace and finally, I crossed the finishing line in 3:58.19.

Official result:
Name Net Time Cat. Position Overall Position
1) John 3:58.19 45 144

2) Wai Mun 4:20.42 9 229

3) Patrick 4:31.33 24 287

4) Chooi Lin 4:51.10 5 372

5) Uncle Hooi 4:59.57 2 405

6) Teresa 5:42.46 7 533

7) Francis DNF

Half Marathon:
1) Agnes Tee 1:58.04 12 367

2) Peter Lim 2:22.47 74 807

1) Gary Goh 1:04

A big thank you to the Thai Organisers for their hospitality, generosity and an event well organised. What amazed me most is runners get to run on three/four lanes and only one lane is open to the traffic. The ratio will definitely the reverse in Malaysia!

My appreciation also goes to my good friend, Gary Goh for making all the arrangements for a smooth and enjoyable trip in Bangkok and Pattaya.

Congratulations to the age-group winners - Uncle Hooi and Chooi Lin for winning some cash prizes.

To Patrick, I'm sorry I failed to assist you in achieving your aim. Nevertheless, with your determination and endless effort I'm sure you'll be able to achieve your sub-4 the next marathon.


Frank Chong said...

Congratz on another marathon well done. Cute and colourful medal. Very Thai indeed.

John said...

Thanks Frank. You may block a date for this run in your running calendar. Just prepare to conquer the hills and the heat. I was obviosly caught off-guard.