Monday, January 7, 2008

Recollecting thoughts on ultras

Haza commented:
I only have two questions:
(1) How do you do it? For me 42km is long enough, I cant imagine going a step further. What makes you keep at it until three-digit km? What were you thinking of all those hours? What occupied your mind?
(2) A silly one. Weren't you scared running alone on deserted roads in the early morning hours and midnight? Hantu is one thing, what about thugs?

I know there are female ultra runners in this country. I wonder how and where and when they train. I mean, safety issue and all.

(I wrote this as a post, because it made me reflect deeply rather than ignore what I have went through. Thanks Haza. It's kind of long anyway.)

hi haza,

I'll tell you something regarding myself. I love to do very very hard things. I don't like simple challenges. My philosophy in life would be, do the hardest stuff you can do. Solve the hardest problem. I guess, this is what motivates men to climb Everest and swim across seas.

But I think I am not so crazy like some other crazier fellows. I am just ordinary guy running long distance. If you think you are crazy, there's other doing more crazier stuff. There's Hardrock 100 miles with a total elevation 10,000 metres climb (note higher than everest from sea level). And there's badwater 135 miles as well.

What were I thinking? Depends on the mood of the hour. Sometimes, is this worth it? Why would I be running like this, if i could just sit at home and do some hacking. I am a programmer by profession, so i like hacking and writing codes. Sometimes, I think, could I do 200km? 260km? I try to visualize how far it would take. If you can conceptualize the distance and the path to be taken, you might be more confident in tackling it. But usually, I throw out any thoughts that says this is stupid. Or go back and rest. In my mind, its just "make the distance". Don't think this is crazy. Whatever distance, be it 100km or 140km, it's just a darn distance. You want to think it's normal. Although, in reality you are doing something, you know it's either the stupidest thing, or the most fulfilling challenge.

The other thing I always think is food. If only i got a support crew where I could get some nice nourishment instead of powerbars. Or hot coffee instead of cold water from streams. Not to mention no electrolytes. This is my mistake. I'll bring some salt next time.

On the scary part, yes, it's pretty scary. I am not joking. Running in the dark is one thing. Running in the dark, in the jungle, midnight is a whole lot of difference. In total, I ran 3 ultras cutting through Hills of Genting Peres covering the 84km back to back. Imagine this, after running up to Genting Peres, it's 1am. Not a soul is around this place. Totally dark. The only light you have is your small LED torchlight. Right and left, are tall thick bushes and trees. It's cold, and damp. But your legs needs rest, and there's a cement drain 200 metres further where you can sit down and rest awhile. You run a bit downhill, and soon you find it. But sitting down and rest, makes you think, is anyone watching me from the back? What if I encountered some paranormal sightings. And shit, you are all alone. Tired, and have another 40km to run. But you got no choice. After resting 10 minutes, you stand up again on your stiff legs. And started running again. Mechanical at first, because at this point, you have ran 100km. Your legs are pretty much worn off. Soon, your run turn out into a slow jog, and you feel relieved because you can run, although it's darn slow. It's sometimes so embarrassingly slow that you think walking is the same speed as running. But you run nevertheless, in hope that some miracle will make you run faster a bit.

Once in awhile some bats will swoop right in front, and my whole body would just stand up. Sort of like jerking, because of shock of not knowing what the heck went by. But after some pretty slow computation, I deciphered it's just a mammalian bat. And kept on running afterwards.

Running here is so lonely, that in one hour, there's only 1 or 2 cars passing by. Oddly, I try to think the cars passing by, as sort of encouragement and attachment, to counter the loneliness feeling. In other words, I need cars to feel not lonely.

And there's so many times running in the wee hours of morning, I thought I see shadows of objects, that turned out not what it was actually. I had thought there's a car below the street lamp, but when i came nearer, it's just some bushes. So, I guess, no point trying to figure out what I am seeing. As long as I could see the road in front and keep on moving, that's fine.

You know what is the most relieving part of this journey. Getting out of the forest after Genting Peres, and reaching the foothills. It's amazing to think, I had reached this area yesterday at 10 am, and here I am 3am the next day. And still running.

Thugs? I haven't encountered yet. Hopefully not...I don't think that even thugs would come into this part of the path.

Training for ultras is pretty simple. Just up your mileage. Run lots of hills. Do lots of long distance run. B e self sufficient if you run alone. You'll get used to it. But for female runners, it's a safety issue. So, the best thing is to run in an organized ultra event. Like MR 25 12 hours run.

What I wrote can't be substituted for the real experience. If anyone dares, try running 84km back to back from Gabai to Kuala Klawang. Then, you'll fully know what it feels like.


Raymond said...

Phew!Well written man!
Sounds exciting and challenging at the same time to me.
So,r u ready for the assault of climbathon in KK this year?

Raymond said...

btw,u r really inspiring Yip!...and u r inspiring and motivating others!How cool bout that!

yipwt said...

hi raymond,

Have to train on mountains this time. I chatted with Tey, who went 3 times for it. Not easy feat. Only Gavin Bong manage to go up once. This guy runs every year. The hard part is the time limit. Imagine 4 1/2 cut off time. And also 2 1/2 hours to reach summit!

We'll have to run mountains for training...Gunung Nuang is one of them.

I plan to go there...if you interested..lets go together to scout around.

Tey said...

Bro Yip:

My fastest up n down Nuang from power station is around 4 hrs during fit fit time.But Nuang route condition and Mt K condition is different.

That time my fist attempt climbathon to almost sayat-sayat is 2hrs.

So,from there,u can adjust u timing for 2.5h to summit.

Even Gaving Bong,no train much for SIM.Sub 3:20 like that,also difficult to achieve,may be u can as hard u as u can b4 40yrs,think after 40yrs,I will give it a try again,cuase got extra 2hrs ,reach summit is 3.5h.

I will try to upload climbathon for you reference.

U know Gavin Mah ? he try b4,only reach laban rata....

yipwt said...

hi Tey,

Thanks for the kinabalu climbathon advice and reference.

Yea...sounds hard...but never try, never know.

I'll need to run on mountains for training. I dunno both Gavin, but would be glad to meet them both.

CP Waterman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CP Waterman said...

I really take my hat off for you! I'd be scared stiff to even drive at nite in that area let alone run woh!

I had one scary experience while driving back through a jungle trail from our quarry in the Tapah Forest reserve, Bidor at 3am after tackling some machinery problem.

It was pitched dark & after taking a corner my car just bumped over what I thought was a "HUGE" tree trunk placed across the road by some "robbers". It was so frightening I sped away like doing a formula one race.

But soon my senses came back to me that it couldn't be a tree trunk because it felt kind of "soft" when my 4 wheel drive Toyota 'ninja turtle' went over it.
I turned the car around and went back to the very spot. EMPTY!!!!
So scary wan!

haza said...

Yip, thanks for sharing your experience as an ultra runner.
H2O, that's scary! I wouldn't turn back and check!

Carboman said...

ummm...gabai to kk? no tks but i'll gladly read all ur adventures! hahahaha! am thinking of the kedah 12hrs though but will only consider it after i achieve my marathon goal. cinya salute u!

yipwt said...

hi haza,

no problem...if i could make it back...then worth sharing :)

carboman, when is the 12 hrs run? Is it on this year?

run to live said...

great article written

from SGP