Friday, September 27, 2013

Craze Ultra 2013...

Event: Craze Ultra 2013
Venue: MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore
Date: 21 September 2013
Time: 7.00am
Distance: 161KM
Shoe: Saucony Kinvara 4
By Frank

My second attempt at the 100 miles / 161KM journey at the same event that I crashed out last year, the Craze Ultra is all but over now. While, I do not want to keep the suspense of announcing what I achieved only at the end of this entry, I can announce it now that I once again DNF (Did Not Finish) the run. Sadly but this is really one tough nut to crack.

I told myself not to make the same mistake from last year of following the room mates on their adventures for pre-race day rest is up-most important. I flew in together with Roy, Hong Lan and Yen Erl early noon and by mid noon, we were already in our hostel. Despite settling in early, I received something very stressful which may caused my blood pressure to boil. Not that you don't know what I am trying to attempt, but can't you all leave me alone for at least 3 or 4 days? Managed to have lunch with Wind joining us and rested a bit while waiting for Jason to arrive. By the time he arrived, I was already behind my own schedule. Quickly made ourselves to MacRitchie Reservoir to collect our race pack and checking our special needs bag in, then leaving for quick dinner nearby the hostel before turning in. Managed to gain back some precious time to be put into sleep.

Unlike Comrades Marathon this year which I woke up feeling absolutely great, I woke up to a fiery sore throat and running nose. I honestly did not see this coming as I was feeling all right yesterday, at least from the health perspective and not stress. Not a good start to the morning, and not to mention the run itself. I however managed at least 5 hours plus to 6 hours sleep which was enough I guess. By 6am, we all but Jason left for the race site. Jason was to join me as my pacer at CP5 at around 2pm later in the day.

Spent about 45 minutes lingering around with other runners and meeting new ones too, I even had my blood and urine drawn for Phil's study. Not a good experience with the blood drawing though as the person in charge was not exactly experienced hence a little difficulty looking for mine. Roy had the same experience too.

With friends before the start.

The whole idea to starting this year's Craze Ultra is to start light to slow down any upper body fatigue as my right trapezius has been annoying since a couple of weeks ago. I deposited by front 2 bottles at the first checkpoint and only had 1.5L on my hydration reservoir. And finally to pace myself a little slower to conserve the energy.

At 7am sharp, the first wave of the 100 miles runners were set off. I was one of them. I was running at my very own pace with Roy following me behind. Though I got further at one point, we were regrouped at CP1 when we stop to refuel. Still feeling good but that's only 12KM in. We continued on together and though at different pace, we still managed to regroup once in a while as I ran a bit faster than him, while he walked a lot faster than me.

CP2 at Woodlands was facing my home town Johor Bahru. Great to see the city scape fro across the causeway. I turned on my mobile's data plan here and started updating Jason on my progress. And for myself, I was still feeling good. My pace was rather healthy and I am managing it pretty well I guess.

And the journey began.

The journey to CP3 was filled with junction and traffic lights as we ran below the MRT tracks. Along the way, I ran into Xiu Fang and Nyoman too. And with my nose still leaking from the start, Roy passed me some herbal remedy to combat it. Though I know it's too late already, but I guess it is still worth trying. Finally we arrived at CP3, and dig myself into the biltong I've put here. Needed the protein to refuel.

Arriving at CP3 with a wet head.

The sun started to crawl its way up when we left CP3. I put my Buff headwear on to shield my neck and head from the UV rays and continued my journey to next checkpoint. The journey was long through back lanes, canal crossing and junctions, but I made it to CP4 with Roy together. Was really feeling the heat here and my legs is starting to hurt with all the pounding. I took lots of watermelons here and had to walk it off.

Arriving at CP4 with Roy.

It was a tough and super hot journey to CP5. Through Yishun Dam via the long exposed route with long grass and sand dunes on the side, it was really crazy. Roy for some reason managed to find his rhythm and was no where to be seen. I really wanted to get into the Punggol Wetland but as I entered it, it was another long area to conquer. The Punggol Wetland is what we call the "desert" as certain stretch consist of the red soil to run on. However, at least half of it was already tarred. At the Promenade at about 46KM, the first casual support station was there. I was offered Coca Cola and was really grateful to them. I carried on and at 47KM, disaster struck! Triple cramps all at one go. Both my calves and right adductor gave way and I fell on the bench feeling miserable! I waved for help only to see a runner ran past! Was all alone for a while and as I slowly pick my pieces back again, there were a few runners who came to share with me their electrolyte fuel. I thank them for their kind gesture though I already had my share hence did not want to double my dosage.

The sand dunes in between CP4 and CP5.

After a long rest, I continued on, this time limping. The damage to the left calf was pretty painful and I had to drag my left leg. I was way behind schedule to meet Jason at CP5 at 2pm. One kilometre to go,  I text him to let him know I am nearing. But that may require another 20 minutes or so as that was the snail pace I was littering limping at. And finally, I was there. More than an hour behind schedule and it was already blazing hot!

Arriving at CP5 in pain.

Rested at CP5, had some medical attention to my calves, refuelled and was limping again close to 4PM. Next was to complete the giant CP6 loop under very hot circumstances. I wasn't running at all as both legs were pretty stiff after the long rest. I was trying to walk it off together with the pain. And when Jason realised the pain I was undergoing, the took out the Sloan Deep Heat Rub. Applied on my left calf, and although it started off with almost no feeling, it literary became so hot as it burnt through my skin! The agony as the skin turned reddish on my left calf. Had to stop to wash it off a few times. The second casual support station appeared some where halfway throughout the journey located below an overhead bridge. Ice cold drinks with ice cold wet towels, it was certainly a very welcome sight. I used the towel to wet my head and finishing it by wiping off any left over deep heat rub residue on my calf. It helped a lot and soon, I managed to run a little and little became more and more.

The running rhythm came to an end at Buangkok when the pain set back in. It was another 3KM or so till hitting CP6. I continue walking and limping and with a couple of hundred of meters to go, I spotted the third casual support station by Sharon and Rosie. She offered heavenly drinks from soya bean, Coca Cola, "Cheng Teng" and even beer! I skipped the beer though and took the ice cold "Cheng Teng" before checking into CP6 for a rest. It was already dark by that time.

Awesome support station from Sharon and Rosie.

Leaving CP6 in the dark at around 7.30pm, I couldn't run. I had to walk and for a long stretch I did. CP7 is about 5KM away, the nearest of all, but it still took me some time to arrive there. And when I did, it was already close to 9pm leaving me around 2 more hours to make the cut at CP8. I was in a daze and the volunteers a CP7 wasn't really helping. I left after finding not much of a help. Arriving at Downtown East Mall, about 2KM after leaving CP7, I lost concentration and was feeling wonky. After much advice from Jason, I stopped by chrono at 14:17:21 hours to call it a day. And thus, my resume is filled with my second DNF - Did Not Finish.

We headed into the mall and settled in at ChaTime to refuel ourselves. I had a cup of fresh milk and after doing so, we headed to CP8 on board a taxi to collect my essentials. Upon arriving there, Phil and his team "drag" me out of the taxi to have my blood taken for research. I even found out that I lost about 3KG throughout the run too. After all is done, I headed back to MacRitchie Reservoir to cheer runners coming in before heading back to the hostel for some rest.

The next day, we headed back to the race venue to await for Roy's arrival where he came in just slightly more than 31 hours. BRAVO to him for completing his amazing 100 miles journey! We hung around for a while chatting and cheering for others including David, Terry, Angelina, Alex and more. It was an amazing feeling to see them completing their journey, a feeling which is currently illusive to me.

All in a all, despite not finishing and a little disappointed with it, I've learnt to accept the fact that DNF is part of the long distance running game. And there is no one to blame but myself. I've been taking too much time off since Comrades Marathon this year as it was one "weight" off my shoulder. As for Craze Ultra, though I know of the difficulty due to the extreme heat and distance, it is still another running event for my attention will only lie with the Big C now.

And to my pacer Jason, my apologies for not being able to go the distance with him. He flew all the way down hoping to pace me for about 100KM but only ended up with a miserable 20KM walk and run super slow pace. If given the chance again, I will definitely welcome him to be my pacer again for he really respects the runner, and that's the only important personality I am looking for.

With my pacer, Jason.

To Ben, Yee Hua, Phil, Yek Bun, Tee Lee and the rest of the volunteer and people at work at Running Guild, well done and many thanks for all the care and first class services provided. As for CP7, time to buck up a bit and show some extra care and love for the runners, at least in own view.

As for Craze Ultra 2014, it is still too early too tell. Perhaps it will be one final shot at it, but I won't know.

* all photos here are of properties respective photographers. Thanks a lot to them.

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