Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016, Rewind Of My 10th Year...

By Frank

Another year came, another year passes. It sounds so familiar and as we aged, this phrase seems to come faster too. And with year 2016 coming to an end in a few hours time, here's again to reflect back on the year it has been. Will only touch on running here this year round as honestly, the first 9 month's of the year has been pretty emotionally tough with passing of friends and patients to cancer.

2016 was meant to be my 10th year of running. To be precise, it will only start in the month of March 2016. But celebration can't come sooner that December 2015, when I was successful in my ballot for the West Highland Way Race in Scotland, the final race that was in my to do list. Building on a strong 2015 I had and continuing my momentum from there, all my resources was concentrated into this race as well as Comrades Marathon, as I continue into the new year. 

January 2016
Swinging into the new year in high momentum with a new mission in hand, my training plan as given by coach was all laid out together with my diet plan under the "Low Carbs High Fat" plan. With an unsuccessful ballot for the Vibram Hong Kong 100, my first race for the year was the Watergate 16 Hours. Didn't do well there though only managing 60KM in close to 10 hours due to my usual sleep factor but it did "wake me up" to try rectify this problem which I normally have to face during long distance races over the night. Nevertheless, I was in no panic mode and carried on with my regime and eventually finding myself at the Cyberjaya Twincity Marathon which I enjoyed very much with Soon Chung.

February 2016
The second month of the year was just to continue and improve on from the first. And with the Chinese New Year celebration, it may sound like a derailment for me. But what actually that derailed my training was due to an unfortunate accident that involved mum and Bailey. But was glad nothing much more serious happened and that everything was back to normal for them and me as we head towards the end of the month where I paid a visit to Gunung Nuang, for the 12 hours ultra there. My second attempt here and there were already positive results being shown which boosted my confidence.

March 2016
The third month came, and besides the month that marks my 10th year of running, it's also the month where I remember all of the 24 months of cancer fighting. In terms of training, it wasn't easy and I had to readjust as I soon notice that my usual group's training regime isn't helping at all. I had to improvised quickly for this is a critical month and managed to do just that with Twilight Ultra Challenge taking place in mid month covering 80KM in 13 hours. Not exactly ideal but was certainly productive as the month concluded with really positive results.

April 2016
All the first 3 months of training and sacrifices began to show here. I felt stronger and fresher during my training and with all the energy and strength gained, Route 68 Challenge was like an early trial for me. However, had a scare during the start of the month when I experienced the "dead leg syndrome", probably due to over used of it. But glad there was nothing about it, and my legs was performing as it's best when I ran a pretty good Route 68 Challenge. From there, I knew I was ready for both my big races ahead. What I had to do is to maintain on it and to avoid any potential injuries.

May 2016
It's all about getting ready here. Despite leaving my job at Running Lab (yes I resigned!) late last month, I was actually pretty busy with other stuff such as photo-shoots and product launches, both associated with Saucony. And yes, this is also the month that I parted ways with Saucony as their athlete to give way for new blood to join the team.

As for my 5th Comrades, for the first time, I am not raising funds for Cancer Research Malaysia this time round due to personal reasons and I am glad that they understood and stood by my decision. There were no races this month as I slowly tapered off my training before eventually flying off to South Africa on 25 May, 4 days before my first big race, the Comrades Marathon.

Half a decade of Comrades.

An accidental personal best of 10:27:07 hours at my 5th Comrades Marathon was achieved and was glad everything was good despite being my weaker "Down" run. That certainly boosted my confidence as all the sacrifices are showing results. Nevertheless, it was just a short stay at South Africa this time before I flew over to Scotland to recover and prepare myself for the West Highland Way Race 3 weeks later.

June 2016
The main highlight of my running career took place in this month, some halfway around where I came from. Running 152KM across the iconic Scottish highlands, the West Highland Way, a completion of this race will make my running achievement come full circle. Wasn't an easy race for I ran, walk, limp, struggled, slept and even pooped during my entire journey from Milngavie to Fort William. But I had a strong and supportive crew of Angela, Alexa, Chee Kong and Edmund who take care of me as I successfully finish off the race in a much faster time than estimated. And not only them, my "warm Scottish family" who were out there in full force were also there when I tackled through the trails. Indeed, everything of my running career came full circle here as I crossed the finish line at Lochaber Leisure Centre. My race report to my West Highland Way Race 2016 HERE.

My amazing WHWR team.

My moment of truth.

July and August 2016
After achieving what I set out to do, I began my totally deserved rest and also started a new career. Runs were kept to a minimal as I started to enjoy myself on the weekend. Nothing much happened for these 2 months as life was carefree and good.

September 2016
First race since West Highland Way Race, I know myself I was up for trouble at my third attempt at Back 2 Endurance. All I wanted was a Comrades distance in 12 hours and though I only managed the "Up' run distance, I was content with my performance. After all, it was my "downtime". And also, that it was after this race, that I needed to get my tooth fix. I was referring to my problematic left lower wisdom tooth which had been disturbing me for a couple of years already. And hence I had it removed through a very scary surgery procedure which left me out of action from physical activities for almost 3 weeks. And it was after that it had all settled down, that an "emergency trip" with Yang Leng and Piew to Gunung Nuang was done traversing through it, to prepare ourselves for the upcoming Cameron Ultra-Trail.

October 2016
Looking forward to get back into a little running at a brand new local event at the Cameron Ultra-Trail. Not for the faint hearted, this event was tough as I suffered badly at the final quarter of the run heading up and down the 2 peaks. But it was through this event, that my friendship with Wai Hong grew stronger when the both of us made our journey back together from halfway point. There is too much to say about my experience with him so I suggest you click on my race report link to read more on what we both went through together. Thanks Wai Hong for being that friend that stood by me at the peaks of Cameron Highlands. And indeed, this event was an eye opener to many and it will be an important preparation to what lies ahead next month.

Tasty oranges at Cameron Ultra-Trail.

Completing the Cameron Ultra-Trail with Wai Hong.

November 2016
November seems to be an important month.  With 3 weekly back to back events, I had to be careful with my expectations as it involves my Comrades qualifier for next year's edition. With almost no runs since the Cameron Ultra Trail last month and with my return to Running Lab (yes, I made a u-turn), I faced the Bromo Tengger Semeru (BTS) Ultra like a rookie runner. Yes, the BTS Ultra will mark my step forward into my next chapter of running, towards the "unexplored territory" beyond my comfort zone. I may not have complete my 10th year of running but since the opportunity came, I guess I might as well grab it and give myself  a head start. Besides I had no expectations from it and even before the race, I knew my chances of suffering a DNF (Did Not Finish) will be high.

And so, it happened. With barely any experience running on volcanic terrain and a fall I suffered 3 quarter distance into the race, I threw in the flag and earned my 3rd DNF of my running career. I may have plenty of time to make the distance, but with risky conditions, I did not want to risk it. I wasn't sore at all with my decision but was glad that I actually was brave enough to take up the challenge. And after all, I had a memorable holiday too.

Next to Mount Bromo's crater.

The week later, was my Comrades qualifier at the Putrajaya Night Marathon. Again, very low expectations for this and I only hope to complete it within 5 hours. Jut slightly below 5 hours I did, suffering from halfway distance. But most importantly, my ticket to Comrades is secured.

Then my final event for this triple weekend back to back and also my final race for the year. A downgrade from the previous 2 editions, I opt for the 78KM distance at this year's Putrajaya Ultra, running together with Jeannie, Jamie and Nick. A steady run which not I only felt good, but somehow satisfied to help them through the distance. And with that, my running for this year came to an early "end", as I took a long rest in trying to rebuild my career and my hope to spend time with someone important.

December 2016
Things didn't go pretty well in life here. Struck down my migraine in the early days of the month that prolonged till the end of the year, everything that I hope for was derailed. I was supposed to even jump start my training for next year with the Vibram Hong Kong 100 fast approaching on the 3rd Sunday of January 2017, but I guess I have to lower my expectations for that race now. Guess this is the result from taking a too long break from running. 3 years of improving from strength to strength, this is where I am going back to square 1 again.

And with all that from above, a total of 3,128KM was ran in the entire 2016 with more than 2,000KM coming from the first half of the year.

As most welcome the new year for a much welcome change and a renew hope, it won't be particular easy for me as 2017 will be the year I start to seek out new frontiers. Call it my second chapter of my running career and with my failed attempt at BTS 2016, I know that the new "adventures" and "challenges" I seek will not be an easy one. I expect lots of DNFs (Did Not Finish), but without trying, I will not know. After all, it's this that makes one look further.

Won't touch further on things here, but all I can say is that I foresee 2017 to be a really difficult for me. Building on a new career, getting into my second chapter of running, juggling time for personal matters and also trying to come to terms with other things, 2017 might just not be the year that will be smooth for me. But since I was given the opportunity for yet another year, I will embrace it for all I can since moving forward is the only option. So AYE, Happy New Year to everyone!

Coming full circle in my first 10 years of running.

1 comment:

asrul affandy said...

Teruskan berlari tuan.. Saya mengikuti blog tuan sejak saya mula berlari (mac 2016). Tulisan tuan memberi inspirasi kpd saya. Daripada sedentary lifestyle, tahun ni saya telah menyertai 3 acara 10km dan 3 acara HM, HM saya dapat buat PB sub 2 (1:59:17- Osim Sundown Marathon Penang). Tahun 2017 saya set target untuk join FM (PBIM 2017). Teruskan menulis tuan.. dan memberi inspirasi kepada orang lain.