Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy

What? Penang Bridge International Run

Where? Pulau Pinang or Penang

When? 24 June 2007 (4:00am)

How far? 22.3km

Another island trip! After a wet affair in Phuket the week before, I flew to Penang last weekend for the Penang Bridge Marathon (PBM). I had signed up for half marathon event. PBM is one of my favourite run in Malaysia because of the spectacular views and beautiful finisher medal.

It was smooth flight to Penang from LCCT, KL. In fact, the flight was so smooth that we arrive 20 minutes ahead of schedule. From Bayan Lepas airport, we took 2 cabs to Stallions Apartment. There were 8 of us. Stallions apartment is located about 30-45 mins walk from USM, where the starting point is.

Stallions Apartment even though can be considered "near" the start point is not quite convenient location. No public transport plies that area. So, we had to depend in our legs.

After checking in, we headed to Tesco, a hypermarket, 25 mins walk for lunch and grab our food supply for dinner and breakfast. I brought KFC for dinner and cup noodles for breakfast.

Our race kits were collected by a Penangite friend of us, HF. (Insert thank you here). Race kit consists of a T-shirt, two bibs, registration card, quiz card and a useless KFC voucher! (only useable in Queensbay mall and expired on the next day).

We didn't go out after we got back from Tesco. I had to go online and do some urgent office work. (Insert grumbling here). The dial-up was so slow that it took 3 freaking minutes to refresh a page. After dinner, everyone went to bed by 9:30pm. Below is a night view picture of Penang Bridge as seen from our apartment. Lovely, isn't it?

On the race day, we walked to the start point from our apartment. The main road was closed to traffic. It quite a long walk and my Saucony shoes felt strangely tight around the toes. Either my feet had grown fat for the shoes had shrunken. Hmmmm.....After long long walk, I finally reached USM entrance. The same commotion as last year happened. Runners were pushing and shoving trying to get into a half opened gate. It really felt like pigs being led to slaughter house. Sweaty and smelly. (Grrrr...Some people just don't believe in deodorant)

I exchanged my registration card with a yellow band, which is actually a hair band for ponytail. Last year, they gave a better quality PBM printed rubber band. After getting through one gate, I had to dash to another gate at the opposite end of a huge field. Then, we had to walk another few kms through some housing area to the actual starting point on the main road. Why do we have to do so much walking before the run? It was crazy! I was cursing all the way. There has to be a better way to do this.

As I approached the start point, I heard the crowd was cheering. I didn't hear the gun being let off but the crowd was moving already. I missed the start again like last year! (Insert sigh here!)

I had no choice but to tail thousands of other runners who were in front. Wowow! It was like the whole Penang population was on the road! I was sandwiched left right, back front by sweaty men. They should get some deodorant sponsor next year!

The road was so crowded that we couldn't even run. Had to do baby step, for the first km. There goes my PB down the bridge. As if! Heheh!

At the curve turning into the bridge, some runners even climbed over the divider to free themselves from the crowd. I did too....but I was greeted with more crowd on the bridge. Yikes!

My baby steps turned into baby jog as the crowd began to disperse on the bridge.

My Sony MP3 player was playing club mixes from Rihanna new album - Good Girl Gone Bad. My umbrella ella ella eh eh! Thank God we do not need umbrella as the weather was good even though it was forecasted that Penang would be hit by scattered thunderstorm.

I did a few stops to take photo of the bridge. To get a good shot, I had to bring my mini tripod along. going running with a tripod. Call me crazy but I think the result is worth it. See....

In case you are wondering, I used the night scenery setting. It worked OK with static object. When I used it on moving runners, the result turned out to be a little spooky....(Insert ghostly wail here!)

I enjoyed my run even though at times, my nostrils were assaulted by fishy smell which could be from the sea or the sweaty grunting runner running next to me. Deodorant, please!

I was quite happy when I reached the below signboard. It meant that I had finished half the battle already.

I picked up a red rubber band at the U turn at the end of the bridge. The sky was still dark. I remembered that the sky was much brighter last year when I did the U-turn. We started an hour earlier this year! This mean I had to slow down a little to catch the sunrise. There goes my PB down the bridge. As if! Heheh!

The moment that I was waiting for. Bit by bit, the East horizon began to dramatically lit up with hues of purple, orange and red. I kept turning my head back to watch as the sun was rising at the mainland side. Simply glorious!

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy

Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry

Sunshine on the water looks so lovely

Sunshine almost always makes me high

If I had a day that I could give you

I'd give to you a day just like today

If I had a song that I could sing for you

I'd sing a song to make you feel this way

If I had a tale that I could tell you

I'd tell a tale sure to make you smile

If I had a wish that I could wish for you

I'd make a wish for sunshine all the while.

OK! OK! Enough karaoke singing...Time to get back to running....Heheh!

The dividers at the middle of the bridge blocked the view. But, it will not stop me from taking this photo.....

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy

Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry

Sunshine on the water looks so lovely

Sunshine almost always makes me high.

Heheh! Can't resist this John Denver song! It's so....sunny and happy!

The running continued...The heat from the sun started to be felt. I could feel my feet melting away. Not because of the sun, but I think I walked too much on the day before and on that morning....

If you thought my Phuket nipple bleeding incident was bad, take a look of this. Her back was bleeding in crescent shape! Bad friction from her bra, I guess. That must hurt like hey when she hits the shower. Lesson learned, marathon, like the other physically demanding activity, proper lubrication is absolutely essential before doing it! Heheh!

Doesn't this building look kinda peculiar? To me it look like someone had sawed off the top portions of KLCC Twin Tower (insert). I knew the finishing point was near as I approached this building. My timing? Really baaaaad.....It was over 3 hours (qualification time) but at least they still gave me a medal. I think I took more pictures than I ran. Heheh!

I hang around the finish point area, looking out for my marathon running friends.

Seen below is Running Mom completing her first marathon ever. (Insert applause here!)

This marathoner (below) collapsed once he crossed the finish line. He must have conserved his last drop of energy till the finish line. Wow! Very dramatic. I was actually shocked by the loud thud he made when he hit the ground. I hope he is OK now. (Insert salute here!)

Overall, Penang Bridge Marathon is still one of my favourite running event in Malaysia. There are some improvements that the organiser should look into, as the participations grow bigger and bigger by year. I really hope they introduce timing chips and improve the reporting procedure. Please do not let us run like headless chicken to the starting line.

Will I be back next year? Sure...We already started planning.....where to stay, what to eat, where to go.....I just love Penang!

What's in the Goodies Bag?

2 x canned drink

1 x MyVito biscuit

1 x Flavette lozenges

1 x Indo Cafe Instant Coffee Mix

1 x AntaBax Soap (To smell fresh..They should include deodorant next year!)

1 x Hovid Glucosamine Sulphate (to lubricate those creaky joints)

1 x Sloan analgesic rub

1 x Proviton capsules

1 x Fruitale Shower Gel

1 x Tesco plactic bag. Heheh!

Note: My friend in Paris, Mr. Waterman had posted these amazing shots from the Penang Bridge webcam. Take a look and be awed! Merci beaucoup, H20man!

Bird Eye Views of PBM 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wet, Wet, Wet Phuket

What? Laguna Phuket International Marathon

Where? Bangtao Bay, Phuket

When? 17 June 2007 (Sunday), 6:00am

How long? 21km (Half Marathon)

Run Paradise....That is the tag line for the 2nd Laguna Phuket International Marathon. But they didn't warn us about the torrential rain in Paradise. When it poured, it poured for hours.

Phuket has two main seasons: Rainy (May-October); Sunny (November - April). I think there was a conspiracy behind the Laguna Phuket Marathon date. It must be fixed on the rainy season to increase tourist flow. Hahah! Anyway, the trip was enjoyable despite the daily downpour in wet, wet, wet Phuket.

My journey began with rain in low cost carrier terminal in KL, which caused the flight to be delayed for 45min. (Insert grumbling here).

I arrived in Phuket about 2pm (Thai time). Greeted by my Thai friend, Eng. He is kind enough to allow me to stay with him for a night. After dumping my baggage at Eng’s house, Eng took me to the beach. The sky didn’t look as blue in the Phuket travel brochure I picked up at the airport. In fact, it was grey! (Insert Oh! No! here).

Later, it rained the whole night.

I woke up with the sound tapping on the roof.

I was a little worried as I promised Narumol that I would meet her at the marathon expo at 10am and the place is like 30 minutes away by motorbike. I texted Narumol, that I would be late. The rain stopped at around 10am. So, I rode with Eng to Laguna Beach Resort to collect our race kit. Horror! Horror! Halfway through the journey, we saw the road was FLOODED!

We could either go home or "bulldozed" our way through the 1-foot-high water. We decide the latter. I kept very still to avoid wobbling into the water. Eng expertly maneuvered the bike through the floodwater. Finally, we reached the other end of the road unscathed and continued our journey to Laguna. (Insert Phew! here)

Met Narumol (Kop khun krub for the registration) and Hajime at the Expo. Collected my stuff and made a quick walk around the so-called expo. What's in the goodie bag? An official vest, bib, Championchip, a muscle ointment and some pamphlets.

We zoomed to Phuket Town. It was another ride. I was holding to my dear life as Eng sped his bike along the winding hilly road. We visited Central Festival where I bought Madonna Confession Tour DVD and Beyonce's B'day Deluxe Edition CD. (Insert happy face here).

It was another bumpy held-on-to-my-life bike trip back from Phuket Town to the airport area. My shoulders were very sore as I had to lug another 7 race kits bag that I had collected for my fellow Malaysian runners. But who's complaining? Things that you would do for your friends, right?

Later in the evening, I checked into Laguna Beach Resort. Wowow! I was very impressed with the room and the surrounding. But before I could warm-up my bed, Eng called and invite me to party with him in Patong, which I gladly accepted. Not often that I get the chance to come to Phuket.

Thank God, no more bike ride. Eng's friend got a car and drove us to Patong. We had a few drinks there. I think I came back to Laguna about 3:00am. Great! I still got two hours of shut-eyes before the half Marathon. (Insert ZZZZZ here).

I was still groggy when I put on my running vest and shoes. With 2 hours of sleep, I hope I could survive this 21km run. After a light breakfast - a plain water and banana cupcakes, I took the hotel tuk-tuk to the start point. The sky was dark. (Insert thunder and lightning here)

We, the half marathoners were set off at 7:00am. At the same time the sky decided to bombard us with raindrops. For once, I didn't get that "why now" feeling! Why? Because I got my new baby! And my baby was going to get wet for the first time!

What baby am I talking about? My brand new Olympus 770SW water proof camera, of course. I used to get very upset when it rained in my runs. But now, I felt invincible! No rain is going to stop me now! You can now virtually run with me in the rain! Heheh!

First drink station. Rain water with ice! Yes, the Thais like to put ice in everything, I notice. Heheh! Chai Yen Yen!

As you can see here, there were distance marker in every km. (Insert thumb up to the organiser). Our Malaysian marathon organiser please take note. It is not difficult right? There are 42 markers only to be placed along the route. It will help us in pacing ourselves.

The first 1/2 of the route was quite flat. We ran pass paddy fields, coconut groves, rubber plantations and small villages. Scenic...but wet. (Insert wet shoes sloshing sound effect here)

Mobile toilet! A rare sight in Malaysian city running route but you could find this in the rural area in Phuket. (Insert applause to the organiser!)

But then again, some idiot prefered to do it openly on the route. Shame! Shame!

I am the number ONE! I believe this is what he was gesturing with his finger. Initially, I thought he was giving me his middle finger. Heheh! Couldn't see clearly in the rain! Later, when I checked the result, he is indeed the winner of the half marathon category. His name is Niwat Oytip from Thailand with timing 1:21:14. (Insert applause here).

(Pic above) This is our Pacesetters Athletic Club Malaysia President - Mr Munning Jamaludin, slogging it out in the rain.

The rain subsided after I made the U-turn. The atmosphere was cooling and the country air was crisp. Everything seemed so fresh. Nice view, eh? (Insert wink here!)

Beware of Cows!

Beware of cow dungs! Where there are cows, there are cow dungs. Heheh!

We ran passed a small town, with a busy market. Not sure what is the name. Someone mentioned "Thalang" town. Anyone to verify? By then, I was a little hungry. The aroma from the fried chickens, dumplings and "khanom" stalls was very inviting. I breathed in as much the yummy smell as I could. Heheh!

The photographer being photographed! I hope my handsome picture turn out OK! Heheh!

Food! I screamed when I reach one of the drink station which also carried some delectable taengmo (watermelon) and gluay (banana). Of course, I stopped and gorged myself silly.

The 3/4 of the route was hilly. We ran though many "hillview" housing projects. Lovely houses. But they cost millions!

The latest fashionable headgear taking Phuket by ehem..storm. Wear your showercap outdoor.

Our sweeper bus? Nah...Just kidding!

For a Phuket event, I expected to see more "seaview". However, only at the last 4km we got to see the sea from afar. Sorry, the picture didn't turn out well.

At the same time, my MP3 ran out of battery. So, my remaining run was accompanied by the serenade of the waves. It was a pleasant change. I chugged on, while noticing some blood trickling from my left nipple on my white vest! (Insert oh sh*t! here!)

Bleeding nipple? Oh no! I had worn this vest before for half marathon with no problem. How come it bleed this time? How embarassing!

My theory? It was due to the rainy cold weather. Well, you know what happen to nipple when it gets cold, right? So, more friction happened. (Insert ouch here!)

Sore nipple was not a problem. I plodded on. I also noticed the blood spot location had moved further down. Due to rain! Not drooping nipple! LOL!

I knew the end point was near as I passed by the water station right after The Banyan Tree. I quickened my pace.

One man cheerleading team. Kop khun krub for the tireless support!

Me, swaggering towards the finish line. I could have sworn that I heard "Chariots of Fire" playing.

Me, receiving my sweet medal from an equally sweet young girl.

Ooooh...We looked so totally cool with plastic bags on our head! Heheh! Wouldn't want the rain to ruin the expensive rebonding treatment, would we?

Steph Cox - The Editor In Chief of AsiaRunner, a premiere magazine for runners in Asia dashing to the finish line. I met her briefly at the marathon expo the day before. I think it was her first marathon. She finished 4:01:21. (Insert applause here)

For more info about Asia Runner, please visit

AsiaRunner Website

If Steph is reading this, I can't find AsiaRunner anywhere in Kuala Lumpur! Help!

This is for Terence Leong! A bunch of Pacesetters members dedicated the run to Terence Leong aka Penguin 6 who succumbed to brain tumour last week. See my previous posting on Terence.

My hard earned medal - with sweat and blood (from nipple!). Thank God, no tears!

A little treat after slogging it out in the morning. I screamed for ice-cream! On top of the ice-cream, I had a full body Thai massage later in the evening! What bliss!

I stayed another night in Patong Beach. Visited the beach on the next morning. The beach looked deserted. As you can see here, the deck chairs were empty. Why? No prizes for guessing rain!

I must say the Laguna Phuket International Half Marathon was one of my most memorable runs despite the wet weather. My new baby sure made the run more exciting!

Bye Bye Phuket

For more pictures, restaurants, shopping, things to do and other recommendations in Phuket, please click

runwitme's Virtual Tourist Guide to Phuket