Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sundown Marathon 2008 ultra 84km



Sundown marathon is probably the toughest in terms of mental challenge. Perhaps it's because we haven't ran the route, while the singaporeans had their famillirization run. Or perhaps it's the continuous fighting off the sleepiness feeling creeping at around 2-3am.

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A bunch of us travelled into lion city by car. Namely Raymond Hee, Raymond Ng, Siok Bee, Siok leng, and Patma. We stayed at 7th story hotel near bugis.

Victor Loh and I had started our journey from 7th storey hotel. We hitched the ride from Bugis to Tampines, which was followed by a 30 minutes bus ride to the starting line. Was able to meet with Tey and Shine. Nothing much to do except putting my bag which contains some stuff for the halfway point later.

I was able to meet Mohan, Siau Peng at the starting line. All of us were bundled together with the relay runners as well.

As the gun went off, I quickly settled to a normal pace. The first 10km was an interesting one, as we ran side by side airplanes taking off from Changi. One could feel the ferocity of the jet turbines engine roaring off into the dark sky.

Somehow, my pace kicked into a higher gear, and I found myself running faster. I quickly overtook some runners.

At 10km, my time was 51 minutes.

The scenery changed to be a pleasant one as well, as we ran near the coastline. Lots of happy campers, and groups, just relaxing for the weekend.

At 21km point, I crossed the line, and was soon heading back from the u-turn. On the way, I met Sukaimi (thelonelyrunner.sg), and he was happilly running with another friend.

Things turn bizzare as I found out that we had to run across pedestrian bridges, and behind houses, and park connectors.

Soon, I reached Bedok reservoir, which we had to run a good 2km plus, and at the end of it, was the 30km mark.

After this point, I slowed down considerably. The fast pace proves to be a bad strategy. And soon, other runners were overtaking me, sukaimi included. As I came near the last few kms, I put myself into a relaxing pace, sometimes even walking to relax the joints, because the next half would certainly be another hurdle.

I crossed the 1st half of the ultra clocking 4:24hr. Then I proceeded to take a banana, and drinks from the pit stop. I even had an ice-cream, which was given free at the event, before running off into the night. The time which I took off was 4:53, so it's like half an hour rest.

Now for the next marathon.

Running at a straight road for 9km, with a sleepy head is tough. It's mental torture. It's so boring, I kept on counting 1 to 10 to put some ryhthm to the legs. And for the record, I've ran the route mostly by myself. You don't get the feeling of running in a race, like side by side with another person, because i could hardly see anyone beyond me, or behind me.

As I ran the coastline again and nearing the 21km, I caught up with some back pack marathon runners, and this is where I felt that I was running with others. The cold sea breeze was so soothing, that at one point, I just slept for a few minutes at the park bench. I didn't cared much about timing, as long as I can finish it without brain damage.

After the 21km mark, Siau Peng was running the other way. I was pretty amazed by her speed, and told myself to get it over quickly. So many had passed me, so I've got to do something. To hell with this sleepiness feeling! I quickly bought a can of red bull and orange juice, and downed them both. Then I had the phone mp3 cranking up power songs, on speaker mode, just to beat the drowsy head. And guess what, it work.

I've had some cramps, but I didn't care anymore. With the music blasting away, I ran the next few kms at a blistering pace. The runners in front would be surprised at what was coming. (Sorry folks for the rudeness...)

I met Raihan, who was manning the sgrunners station for their group. He was kind of nice to offer a cup of black coffee. It tasted great. This ought to be the drink at all the station for the race. He mentioned not many from his gang doing the ultras had reached the station, and somehow I did agree, because at this time, most would have settled for a slow running/walking pace.

At 30km mark, I thought it would be a good idea to sit down at the curb, but that proves to be a big mistake. I had both quads locked up in a major leg cramp. It took a few minutes, before I could stand up, and walk again.

And after this, it was really running and walking with cramps. I tried to suck some salt, and it somehow worked a bit.

Then had quite a downpour, and some station workers were telling us to get shelter. It was kind of nice of them saying that, but I have no inclination to stop. I just have to go on.

Night slowly turns into day, and I found myself running among the sea of back pack marathon runners.

I tried to follow another ultra runner with the "North face" back pack for a few km, but could not matched his pace. There goes one placing down, I thought to myself.

As I reached the last 2km uphill, it was a painful walking affair. But I did manage to crank up the legs to push for a fast run for the next 1.5km, which I also did manage to overtake the runner I was gunning for. And that is probably, the best part of the whole ultra race.

I finished at 11:07, which is now my fastest 84km.

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If you guys have read other runner's reports, it sounds pretty tough and not a good experience. I could not agree more. The KM markers were not properly placed. Some parts felt longer than it was supposed to be.

And there's the issue of overdistance. I could safely guess it's 43km.

Lesson learnt here is, every route is different. You've just got to adapt to it. The challenge here was more mental than physical. It's not about leg cramps, but it's facing the same monotony feeling running at the pavements. The first 21km is alright, but the next 21km is tougher due to all the pedestrian crossing, some stairs, running on wet sand in the dark.

To sum up, sundown is a tough nut to crack. And those who had done it, you've just made history doing it the first time.

10 comments:

kev said...

Well done, Yip. An Ironman would be a lot more interesting, and the time taken is about the same... give or take (most like give, rather than take) an hour or two ;)

Runnerz said...

KUDOS for cracking the tough nut. My salute to you.

RunWitMe said...

Congrats for your achievement!

haza said...

Congrats Ultraman! Ms Leong and I were looking for you at the start. The marathon was hard enuf, and you ran it twice, and in less than 12 hours. You just missed me at the finish by a small margin ler.

Yea, I made history oso! Hehehe! What a story to tell my cucu cicit if I live that long.

zulhassan said...

taniah yip, ko ni inspirasi aku dari mula aku jumpa blog ni.May be i will try to run lebih jauh ikut cara ko :D dan jadi ultraman Taro juga.

Boleh ke???!!!
nanti aku cuba try test tengok.

yipwt said...

hi kev,

yea..12 13 hrs is ironman normal finishing timing.

runwitme,
thanks.

haza,
it's hard...took me 2 days to walk properly. :)

zul,
Actually ultra tak susah sangat. If you plan to do ironman, it'll be the same hardship. but maybe ironman is a little easier on the legs, since you don't run more than a marathon. You can if you just think it's possible. Then train more.

Carboman said...

well done well done! didn't see you though!

Tey said...

Found few of u foto..but not clear ..u want ?

congrate u kau kau lat...

U just little behind kenny choo..cinya

yipwt said...

hi carbo,

I didn't see any guys from the marathon as well.

tey,

thanks for the photo...after finishing the race!

Anonymous said...

yo dude...

amazing stuff.

regards
kirpal