Event: Back 2 Endurance 2014
Venue: Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 15 June 2014
Distance: To run as many 2.3KM in 12 hours
Shoe: Saucony Kinvara 5
Back 2 Endurance 2014 was scheduled 2 weeks after the Comrades Marathon. I did not know on whether should I participate in it as it will be risky to injure myself. After all, a full recovery for Comrades Marathon is one full month. However, Jeff who was the event director mentioned to me that should I feel good after my biggie, just give him a buzz as he would have extra race bibs with him.
So I text Jeff from South Africa while at the Satara Camp to inform him on my decision to run the event. My decision was done hastily and I thought to myself that I needed to "torture" myself. And so, I was registered.
The format is to run as many 2.3KM loops around Lake Gardens in 12 hours with the direction switching every 3 hours. It is not as simple as it sounds, as the pavement is hard there and with the scorching hot weather, this is one tough run, a good prepration for the upcoming Craze Ultra. But I still started it with one aim, to complete the Comrades distance and I reminded myself that I had the 6 days circuit race experience to help me in this.
The morning did not start well though as I dropped my bottle of frozen SlowMag (Magnesium) onto my left big toe which caused it to swell. I tried to roll it off and numb the pain by using the same frozen bottle but the discomfort was there already. Guess the damage has been done. Oh well, since I mentioned earlier that this is going to be a "torture", might as well take it to another step higher.
I arrived at Lake Gardens at 6.10am and was a little distorted. The run was to begin in 20 minutes time from the playground as I dashed to collect my bib and to find a spot to put my cooler box which was filled with my nutrition. I'm glad to have found a spot next to Jason and Hong Lan. Once all my gears are finally checked, the run started. Phew... Just on time.
Immediately at the start, I threw away my hammer and went for it. I tried to run on the softer tarmac surface when available else I had no choice to run on pavement. However, as there were construction on the opposite side where the ground was broken into gravels, it became a cross-country race instead! Though uneven and risky to run with rocks small and big scattered around, I continued with my journey and went for it, well at least for my first 20KM, all done in 2 hours. At this pace, I know I won't last long, but I did not care nor think too much. And sorry to those who called me out. I was concentrating on my run and although sometimes I did not hear nor see you, I did so and ignore a few of you. Apologies on this.
From the distance onwards, I took the run walk strategy where I walk at the rocky segment of the course while running on the rest of the surface. The swollen big left toe began to hurt but I bear with the pain and continue on with my venture. I was mostly running alone though the supporters and photographers were very supportive cheering the runners on. And if not mistaken, Jason join my run at the 30KM plus distance, or maybe nearing 40KM. We were also joined by David who took the run easily after running a great Comrades 2 weeks ago. Tey at this time was somewhere around the mid loop snapping photos and also armed with the water spray to cool runners down. A simple but yet thoughtful gesture. Thanks Tey.
I completed the 44.5KM in about 5:14 hours, a bit slower than what I did at Comrades by arriving at the halfway point of Drummond. Yes, I have a lot of thinking of Comrades while I ran this together with some other thoughts. And with this, at least it took my mind off the scorching heat. My legs were badly thrashed at this point and it hurts everywhere with every step. My pace got a lot slower and I mean a lot! I started using the ice therapy here to cool myself down and to rub off the pain. And upon completion of each loop, I used iced water which I've frozen back home to splash all over me to cool myself down. Then I took in a combination of electrolytes with SlowMag or Coke with water upon completion of each loop to ensure I did not dehydrate.
Splashing ice water all over.
At about 2pm upon completing about 55KM or so, Susanah arrived with some food and drinks. She helped pace me and although it wasn't consecutively pacing during the early stages,I was really grateful for her kind gesture. I was worried at the same time too that her foot's injury will flare up but she kept me going, chatting with me and sharing positive vibes with me. Although in daze, I could hear everything she was saying and that kept me moving. With just slightly more than 4 hours to complete 30KM, I started hallucinating and am taking longer time cooling and rehydrating myself at the end of each loop.
In pain and the thoughts going through my head.
My calves, hamstrings, adductors and piriformis were starting to twitch and I know the next big thing that is going to happen will be cramps should I not manage it well. I started stuffing ice into those areas and I thank Yik Yee for helping to dig them out from the ice box. Wai Hong and Andrew was helping spray water all over me to keep my core temperature down. At point, I was grumpy but I always remember to thank them. If I did forget at any point of time, do accept my apologies my friends.
Water spray to keep the temperatures down.
Fast forwarding to the final 17KM or so with 2 hours to, Susanah once again paced me. I knew at that time that her foot was already hurting and that she had to go home to celebrate Father's Day, but she stood by me and controlled my pace. Realistically the 90KM distance can still be achieved but it's going to be very tight and I can't afford to lose too much time from then onwards. And with my right medial knee area hurting, things got complicated. I relied on her positive vibes to push me on.
Runners who has completed their run and the volunteers cheers as I completed each loop. Susanah stayed with me till my final 7KM. Thank you Susanah for all the pacing and yes, miracles do happen! I started my third final loop and found Wai Hong coming to assistance. Appreciate it Wai Hong! I believe this will be my fastest loop as I had about 48 minutes or so to complete the distance. Time is running short and I need to find all my remaining strength and energy. And yet, I had to visit the loo to relieve myself! Damn it! However, I couldn't take the punishment of the pace and slowed eventually at the second final loop. I thought that I can find one more extra gear at the next final loop and hence conserve some energy for that.
The final loop. 15 minutes was all stand between 90KM and failure. I took one quick splash and dash before starting. I bombarded the descend near the waterfall but soon the legs started screaming. I guess the extra gear was no where to be found and hence just maintained my pace. "It should be all right", I told myself as Wai Hong ran alongside me. And after the construction area, the final straight was the home stretch. Quick glimpse on my watch and it was showing 9 minutes till the 12 hours cut off. It can be done and hence it was to manage the legs till I reach the end. And eventually, I did just that with 2 minutes before the cut-off, completing 90KM in 11:58 hours earning 3rd spot for the men's category and 4th overall.
With Jason's trophy since I did not get mine due to insufficient stock.
I was in daze upon completing my run though I did not forget to thank my friends. In fact, I remembered that I actually shook hand with each of them. And that was before lights out for me as I laid down on the bench. Not sure if it happened, but thought I had blacked out for a moment before my right hamstring cramped up and Ewegene and Jason came to help.
One for the album!
All in all, although my friends told me that it was my own effort in running yet again this distance 2 weeks after the gruelling Comrades Marathon, I know for sure it was a combined effort from Susanah, Jason and Wai Hong that took me there. And of course not forgetting the support both morale and actions from friends like Yik Yee, Andrew, Tey and many others. So yes, THANKS everybody in helping out the very blur and distorted me on this day.
I thought the event was overall pretty well organised. Well done to Jeff and his team. However, it was not without it's flaws. A certain volunteer actually asked me for refunds for the toe shoe that wasn't even bought from my workplace. Hey... I am there to run not to discuss on this matter! And next, the mysterious case of holding back food and drinks caught the attention of lots of runners as those were not only felt but spotted. What happened to the big pack of chips that was not served at all? What about the sudden disappearance of Coke? And what's with the hold back on the watermelons? If someone or somebody wants to treat us runners like prisoners waiting for food or to wait till we collapse, you certainly do not deserve to be part of Jeff's team. I hope Jeff will be able to investigate on this matter and hope it will not surface again in the next edition. But all in all, well done Jeff and thanks for the opportunity!
* All photos here credited to the respective photographers. Many thanks to them.
* All photos here credited to the respective photographers. Many thanks to them.