Sunday, October 31, 2010

Genting Trailblazer 12km Run

Jamie & Jeff Ooi

This year, the organizers had set up 2 days with different course of run. I joined the Saturday 12km, as getting drenched in mud, wasn't I think, fun. Did some trails training prior, and I think I had the right fitness level to tackle it.

Met with some friends prior to race. Jeff Ooi, Lee & his wife, Major Kalam & his son, and Allan was there as well. And some African runners were there to try, wait, that's not a right word. Win, is more likely.

After some of the usual aerobics, we're let off at 8:30. Just after the start, the African's dazzling speed is no match for the local runners. They were so fast, that I lost them just after a few hundred meters. Mark williams passed me by, and he's off. Ahmad, the Moroccon runner (wasn't participating officially), went fast as well.

I was just trying to hang on. When the trails started, I was in my element. The shoes gripped well, and I was able to bounce off & leap easily. But when the uphill starts, that's when the walking started.

After the wooden staircase, there's even more rocky uphills to battle. Then it's back down for a 2nd loop.

Miro (this guy cycled up to Awana yesterday) caught up with me after the 2nd loop. But on the uphills, I couldn't caught up. Lungs were just going almost max. I was wondering if I could still push it.

Anyway, back to the finishing in 1:09:57 at 17th position. It was kind of fun, and that's what trails is.

Now if only I could figure out how to train to run faster.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The North Face 100km solo: TNF DNF

A group pic at the start..

Thanks Freddie for this pic...

Resting at the medic tent. Not all is well...

Hmm...that rhymes. Ok doesn't sound so bad after all.

Alright, as for this race, my preparation wasn't so much on covering distance. I focused more on upper body strength, core, and speed work. At the end of the whole training regime, I think I did achieve what I intended to be better at. Stronger legs, better cardio, and feet that can withstand repetitive pounding on the trails.

Another thing is lugging a hydration bag, which I wasn't so fancy of. But after awhile, I got used to it. Heck, it's better than carrying a pouch bag.

Race day. I woke up 2:30am after several hours of unfit-full sleep. Got the usual breakie in, then took a cab to the starting point.

As for the solo 100k runners, they gave us a table to put our bags. I'd recognize a few faces, namely Sallehan from Brunei, Mr Yong Yuen Cheng who did 218km, Sean Tan who won MR25 last year, and Jeri Collett. However Tobias was not here.

Before entering the starting line, they had to weigh our bags. I have no inkling what mine was, but was glad it's around 1.6kg. Yeah, another goal is not to run with a heavy load.

At first everyone was running pretty decent speed. I soon took off on the lead, but I am very assured that my speed wasn't fast. It's 100km anyway. After exiting the 4.1km trails, I proceeded a bit further up the road. But actually I was heading in the wrong direction. The right direction was actually barred by a metal pole, which leads back to the trails. There was a car there somehow, but no one to direct me.

As I ventured further, I found myself the opposite direction, as one runner came streaming blazingly fast. Curious, I tried asking him if he was one of the solo runner, and he said yes, as he continued on running. No one was following him, and I was confused. So I guess I might as well follow him and see where this leads to.

Yes, there are signs put up, but if you somehow missed that, it's hard to know where to go. It's dark, and the LED light can't possible scan all the possible options to take. At one path, I stood confused again which route to take. Is it left or right? Right looks like an open path, but after I found out, it was a small stream. Kinda bad choice cause I soak my shoes in it.

Another part where I got lost was at Bkt Timah Nature Reserve. I noticed a motorcycle parking area, and a tar road leading up. I thought I saw a TNF marshall, and gestured for direction, and he showed it was up the hill. So I ran up the pretty steep tar path until I met a fork with no directions. Darn, looks like I got lost again. I tried looking at the map near the hut, but couldn't make sense of it (yes, btw I didn't brought my own map, so partly this is my fault), so I took the right path, and after meeting an uncle, I concluded this is the wrong route.

So I backtracked down the hill, finally found the sign and ran up a small hill. I thought I was at last right, with some lads following behind, but then we're stuck at some lookout hut. One of us called the number, and tried to find the right direction, but I guess that didn't help. 7 of us were lost up there.

So, it's backtracking again, and soon enough, the error was we took the right path up, instead of left.

Soon, I was in front again, but I don't know my position. I didn't care much then, just hoping that I run at the right path.

Daylight came, and i soon reached Mandai. I've been running solo till now. After reaching another signage, I stopped to do dawn prayers, then continued on.

Now this is where the tough path, becomes tougher. There's tar road, gravel, sharp rocks, uneven concrete, you name it. If you're not wearing tails shoes, you're in for a big pain on the feet.

Upon reaching hill 265, I broke open a powerbar, then ran down. I think it's another 25km back.

I tried to run as much as possible, and soon I was passing all the front runners. But I wasn't speeding at all. It was just moving on as much as possible. If you're no running now when it's cold, it's going to be hard to run later.

On the way back, the 100km duo had started. The first runner I noticed had a 'F1 runner' emblazened on his bib. And yes, he was as fast as one too. Then met with Frank, jamie, and some other familliar faces.

For the last 10km, the path diverted, and soon, I was running the tar road back to Mac Ritchie. Then things look tougher. It was the increasing humidity as the sun came up. Breathing in it was like nothing getting enough air. Eventually I slowed down, and walk some parts of it.

Around 1km before the start, the 25km runners were let loose, so I had to walk back. Finish the first loop in 6:15.

I was hungry, eaten some food, and then went for the next loop. But things just got worse from here. My gut wasn't feeling well, so I walk most of the route, trying to keep the body moving. Now the heat is really getting higher.

Reached Bkt Timah again, when I started puking after drinking a can of tea. So that's it, I thought it'll be too dangerous to continue and decided to call it quits after 60km. An ambulance came and drove me back to the start.

Thanks to my buddies who was concerned. I kind of sad to disappoint some of you who had expected a completion, but I think it's best to err on the side of safety. I am pretty ok with DNF, and there's always next time.

I've been thinking what went wrong, and it's certainly got to do with my guts. I had puked at Ironman, Sundown, and finally TNF. Somehow it's just not working, or perhaps I've loaded on water. This could be one of the problem.

I think high humidity has also caused water retention in the guts, as it's pretty hard to for sweat to evaporate, thus causing most of the fluid to stay there.

Or it's basically something I ate which just doesn't gel well. Anyway, I'll need to sort this out by figuring what I can only eat during race rather than gulping down anything.

My legs were pretty ok, and not so bashed up as MR25 last year.

Would I do this next year? Maybe not. I think the route up north is too hard to run on. Some parts are really hard and sharp rocks, with uneven cement jagged out, ready to shred your feet to pieces. I wasn't even running on that parts. More like treading safely.

As for the organisation, I had wished some marshalls had directed us more. It's pretty hard to see in the dark. Yes, I understand we have to consult the map, but it would be nice not to stop and find your way around.

But overall, it's pretty well organised, only that I wished the route would be easier to run on.