Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sundown Marathon 2010...

Event: Sundown Marathon 2010
Venue: Changi Exhibition Centre, Aviation Road, Singapore
Date: 29 May 2010
Time: 6pm
Distance: 84KM (42.19KM per loop by MapMyRun application)
Shoe: K-Swiss K-Ona C
By Frank

My story of ultra running started back in 2008 when I joined the inaugural Sundown Marathon 2008. Reading about Ben Swee's experience inspired me to take on this challenge. From there, I made my debut in last year's 84KM race which was supposed to be my first and last. But an advice from Geraldine telling me not to take it as my last brought me to where I am today. And my third ultra marathon adventure begins here...

28 May 2010. Pre race day.
The day started early, in fact too early as I couldn't get myself to sleep. Probably I was nervous, but on second thoughts, it sounded like a good idea to adjust my biological clock to suit the race the next night. And so, I arrived at One World Hotel as early as 6am to await for the First Coach bus which only depart at 8am. Yip, Keat Seong and Jennifer arrived around 7.15am, had a light breakfast before starting our journey.

About 5.5 hours later, we arrived safely at Novena Square. Met up with Lawrence there and bumped into Adeline and Mahizzan too. Had lunch at MOS Burger before we adjourned myself, Lawrence and Yip made our way to our hotel at Changi Village. Checked in, took a short rest and we found ourselves back on the street again at 4.30pm.

Together with Choi, we went to City Hall to to meet up with Boon Yeong who helped us collected our race packs last weekend. We also met up with Lynette too. From there, we went to Orchard Central, a new mall at Somerset to meet up with Keat Seong, Jennifer and Siok Leng for dinner at Spaggedies. I recommended this place as I enjoyed it 2 years ago. I simply like their pasta, however I can't say the same for the pizza we ordered. The sky opened up and we were forced to take shelter there. I was already very blur due to my lack of sleep here. Eye lids were heavy and my head was spinning a little. I wanted to sleep but I held on. "Too early" I told myself.

At Spageddies for our carbo loading dinner...

I ordered Grambero pasta ...

As the rain stopped, we proceeded to Orchard Cineleisure and met up with Chee Kong here to passed him the BV Sport Booster. Then it's back to the hotel as I prepared my race necessities before I called it a night at midnight sharp.

29 May 2010. Race day.
I woke up at about 9am. Just 9 hours of sleep. I don't think it was enough. However, Yip was missing. I made myself breakfast, watch TV for a moment before returning to sleep an hour later. Not a good idea with a tummy partially full of breakfast, but I had no choice. At 12.15pm, I was awake again. This time, I felt it was enough. Yip returned to the room and we joined Keat Seong and Jennifer who just checked in for our early "dinner" at the nearby hawker centre. I had the exact same chicken rice I had last year but I topped it up with a plate of economy bee hoon and a slice of black sesame apom balik pan cake which was simply heavenly. Had a good satisfying meal before I returned to the room for race preparation.

Poh Seng came to our room at about 4pm. I was already almost done at that time. I offered a place for Terence and Tey to drop off their luggage, but they did not come. So at 4.45pm, all ultra marathoners gathered at the lobby to greet everyone. Keat Seong, Lawrence and Poh Seng came too to see us off. Took a cab to race venue and was lucky that we were not drop at the wrong place, else we had to walk almost 2KM. Phew...

With Yip and we are ready to rumble...

Ultra marathoners of 2010 ready to rock and roll and also trying to recruit the odd one out here to join the club. Guess who is the odd one...

The race venue at Changi Exhibition Centre was huge. I now understand why the change of venue as Changi Village can't accommodate the number of runners this year. Greeted lots of friends here and while heading to the special needs bag tent, a gentleman was seen snapping photos at me. I looked up and it was Karim, my BV Sport sponsors. Shortly, Matthew too came by. We chatted for a moment before I had to leave to deposit my bag as the race will start in a while. Made my bag deposit and joined in with other Malaysian ultra marathoners for some photo session. I too met up with Sallehan again whom I met back at the Putrajaya Night Marathon.

With Karim, my BV Sport sponsor...

With 15 minutes to go, I warmed myself up and did some dynamic stretching. This time, it was definitely better compared to last year. No rush, and I felt prepared. I put on the special memorial bib for Ngae and I'm sure he will bless me throughout my entire 84KM distance. And with that, I went into the start area with Richard. The quest for a sub 10 hour adventure begins...

The start gantry...

I'm ready...

Butterflies in my stomach? Not this time...

An idea of what we are going against...

The quest for sub 10 hours begins. The first loop.
At 6pm sharp, the race begins. The atmosphere was great with music blasting and crowd cheering. I started along side Yip but he disappeared just as soon as the race started. I ran with my own comfortable pace of 6 minutes per kilometer. 1KM into the race, Richard came along side me and we ran together. As we entered the long Changi Coastal Road, he asked if this was my normal pace and I replied him with a "Yes". He seems comfortable with me and I certainly welcome a companion. However, I had to slow down a little from 4KM onwards as I was hit by side stitch. I tried to follow him but he was slowly disappearing into the distance.

As I battled my side stitch, Adam, the OneArmRunner from Singapore ran to me as he spotted Ngae's memorial bib. We chatted for a while and I even shook his hand. It was a great honour to have shaken the hand of another icon here. We ran together for a while and he even asked for "Kopi-O Kau" at one of the refreshment station which I actually burst into laughter. This guy not only can run, but he is certainly full of optimism too.

My side stitch finally went away at around the 10KM mark. Certainly a long battle with it but I was still on my pace as I arrived here in close to 59 minutes. Now that the long costal road is behind me, its time to enter East Coast Park, a part that I'm not looking forward too due to the concrete pavement. The first sign of entering it was the smell of barbecue chicken. Made friends with Hong Soon here who was tailing me since earlier. He introduced himself to me and said he was really comfortable with my pace. I welcomed him to tag along but he was really talkative. I'm a runner who can't talk much (short breath), but he kept entertaining me. I tried to replied when I can though.

Nothing much happen along East Coast Park except that my nostril was attack by the smell of food from the weekenders spending their time barbecuing there and also those who patronised the hawker centres there. I caught glimpse of Sallehan, Yip, Keven, Richard and Poh Chye as I approached the u-turn point at Tanjung Rhu. As I made my return, I cheered for my other friends like Jeff, Choi, Amelia, Haza and more at the opposite side. Hong Soon was still with me this time though and was still bombarding me with his speech. Hahaha... As I completed 25KM, I told him that I could not talk anymore and could only gesture.

Besides the smell of food, I was enjoying the scenery here. The night was brightly lighted by the big round moon which I believe was Ngae looking over us. I'm sure he was taking care of all of us here.

I was still running and feeling great here but I do want to conserve my energy as after all 30KM is where most will hit the wall. I noticed Richard near 28KM and finally was reunited with him. his tummy was giving him problems but his pace was still really strong. As for me, I felt a burning sensation on my right feet. It was near the big toe and I knew a blister is slowing forming. I had no choice but to bear with it and to avoid any chance of speeding it up. I took my first energy gel here and we ran together again but we did exchange positions for a few times, just like cycling in a peloton.

Arriving at the turning into Aviation Road heading back to the exhibition centre, Richard told me that it will be nice that if that was the second loop. Acknowledge him but told him to tell me later at the actual second loop if we are together again. I don't want to think too much now. Haha...

I took my second energy gel at the 40KM mark, and noticed that I was still way under my projected time of 04:45:00. Nevertheless, I still ran at a pace of about 6:15 per kilometer here and finally completed my first loop in 04:27:24.

The pit stop.
I was led into the pit stop where I was entertain by the group of friendly volunteers. We were really treated like VIPs here as I rested with Richard, Poh Chye, Ching Tai and Hong Soon. I quickly re-inforced my blister prone toes with surgical tape, rehydrate myself and took a small box of raisins and half a slice of bread. Washed my face and I was ready to rock and roll again. The time I spent here was about 16 minutes, 6 minutes off from what I expected. Sigh...

With Richard forcing a smile out at the pit stop...

Beat the sunrise. The second loop.
The second loop, where the real challenge begins. Leg was a bit stiff here, but I learnt from last year that I had to jog slowly to avoid both legs locking up. I held on but towards the end of the straight, a blue volunteer asked me to return to the pit. I told him that I just came out from it but he kept asking me to return. I repeated to him again that I just came out from it before he acknowledge. Was he sleeping? He at least took a couple of minutes from me here. Grrr...

As I made my way out again, I spotted James and we high fived each other. Then it was Roger and I told him buffet is served at the pit stop which was generally true as there was unlimited supplies of bananas, muffins and drinks there. Into the long Changi Coastal Road again, and I spotted Richard walking. Ran to him and asked him to start running, at least jog. However, his tummy was really playing with him and he really had trouble. However, once he starts running, he would passed me. That shows how determine and how fast he was.

The fluid that I took during the pit stop is showing signs of making its exit. I needed a toilet break and finally got one at the 50KM mark. Phew... Signs of relief as I continued on. Shortly in front, I spotted Keven at one of the refreshment station. He is calling it a night due to indigestion and had to hop into the ambulance. I feel for him, but at least he was all right. There's always another chance. Took my third energy gel here.

Re-uniting with Richard in East Coast Park again, signs of fatigue on my legs was starting to show. I wanted to stop to stretch at times and kept telling myself that I will stop at the next kilometer marker. But I did not. It was until I spotted Richard lying on the bench that I took my first stop at 60KM. My longest single run minus the refreshment stop and pit stop. I surprised myself. I stretch a little before continuing on. Richard was still resting, but he caught up quickly enough. 1KM before the u-turn point again, I spotted Sallehan at the opposite and he told me he was sleepy. Later it was Yip. I couldn't see him well but shouted to him. He was acknowledge but was reduced to walking immediately. I felt bad for breaking his concentrations here. Sigh...

Lynette and her support crew was in front. I asked for water but she only had coffee and Milo, both I can't take for tummy reasons. I appreciate her offer though as I continue on. There was a refreshment station with ice cubes ahead which was heaven sent. I inserted a few cube into my calf sleeves and that rejuvenated my calves a little. It helped relieved the soreness a lot and my pace actually increased here. However, the moment it wears off, I was back to my usual pace.

I passed Lynnete and her support crew again. She passed me a bottle of water which tasted "sweet". I thank her for that for it really did help a lot. I took my fourth energy gel with it.

Then, I made my mistake. I rested too long to stretch. Legs started to lock up. I tried to shake it off by jogging but the damage has been done. I still tried to hold on to Richard, but he found his form here and slowly left me. Marathoners were seen at the opposite side, some which I knew like Boon Yeong, Lai Fong Sang and Jennifer who called out to me. My apologies for not replying in speech back as I was almost a goner. I could only wave to them. And to my horror, I am left with no energy gels. I made a mistake by replenishing one pack lesser at the pit stop. I had to rely on isotonic drinks here.

I was running, jogging and power walking already. My quest for a sub 10 hour was still there but I know it was slowly fading. At 8 hours into the race, I had 17KM more to complete. I kept telling myself that I already come this far, and I do not want to waste this opportunity. However, my legs wasn't too supportive of my thoughts. The horror of last year's injury came back and Lynn's message asking me to look after my legs came into mind. I tried to battle on, but upon arriving at the 72KM mark, I know it's all over. 12KM more to be done in 72 minutes is almost impossible at the state I was in that time. Sadly, I literally let it go here aiming just to complete the run, which was my main objective after all.

At about 6KM to go, Keat Seong who was running the marathon finally caught up with me. Both of us couldn't speak so we only gestured to each other before he took off. 5KM to go, there was no second wind for me unlike last year. I was still mixing running, jogging and power walking. Into Aviation Road, I tried to hang on as long as possible before making my final walk which lasted less than 30 seconds.

I pushed here, look upon the big round moon as it shined throughout the night. At the last 1KM, Lai Fong Sang who completed his marathon came out to support. He cheered for me which I was so grateful of that I forced a speech out of my dry mouth to acknowledge him.

As I approach the final stretch, I slowed to remove Ngae's memorial bib from my race belt, raised it high up as I ran with it and eventually crossed the finish line in a time of 10:30:23, 97 minutes 7 seconds shaved off my previous effort. This is for you Ngae!

This is for you, Ngae...

Keat Seong was there at the finish line as he welcomed me back. I made my way to collect my finisher's medal and shirt. Ching Tai came in too and we gave each other a big hug. I bumped into Richard and I gave him a big hug too for he ran a splendid 9:56 on his first ever ultra marathon attempt.

Yip wasn't doing very well though he ran a 9:50. He looked very wasted and after resting for a while, we together with Richard and Claris made our way back to the hotel to have our well deserved rest.

My split times.
05KM - 00:28:27
10KM - 00:58:44
15KM - 01:28:36
20KM - 01:58:31
25KM - 02:30:05
30KM - 03:02:50
35KM - 03:37:19
40KM - 04:12:30
42KM - 04:27:24
Pit stop - 04:43:20
47KM - 05:22:20
52KM - 06:01:45
57KM - 06:38:18
62KM - 07:21:50
67KM - 08:00:40
72KM - 08:45:11
77KM - 09:32:28
82KM - 10:13:49
84KM - 10:30:23

Post race.
After waiting for Poh Seng to return, I took a short 3 hours nap. Poh Seng and Yip was already awake by then and I was really glad Yip was back to his normal self. However, he had lost his finisher medal and shirt while he was sick after the race. I feel for him but I will try to find him a replacement for I do know the organisers. Took light snacks and packed up.

At 12pm, we were reunited with other fellow runners at the lobby as we checked out. Khoo Yit Kiat who silently joined the half marathon category appeared out of no where and together with Keat Seong, Jennifer, Lawrence, Yip and myself, we went to Novena for our breakfast and lunch. Khoo left us after filling up his tummy and the remaining us shop a little while waiting for our bus at 3pm.

It was a long journey back home, a 7 hours one due to heavy traffic along the expressway. Back home, it was time to catch up on sleep as Sundown Marathon 2010 is finally over. Project 84 V2.0 and another chapter of ultra running close.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

Post mortem.
I did not run a sub 10 hours 84KM. I don't deny I'm a little disappointed here but at the same time too I'm very happy with my achievement. To complete an 84KM is no simple task and to run a sub 10 hours is certainly really tough. I under trained for this but despite that, my timing was pretty acceptable for my standard. I knew I gave it my all here and I have no regrets over my actions taken throughout the race. If I would to blame anyone for not achieving the sub 10 hours, it was only myself. A simple mistake I made for resting too long was the main cause of it, but I know there's always another 84KM race. Look back for experiences, but look forward always. There is no denying that tomorrow will be better. Till Sundown Marathon 2011...

Thank you my sponsors...

- K-Swiss and BV Sport for sponsoring the amazing race gears.
- Every ultra marathoners and marathoners that was at the Changi Exhibition Centre on 29 May 2010 like Cheang, Chee Kong, Choi, Lawrence, Gary, Poh Chye, Poh Seng, Mohan, Richard, Terence, Tey, Yip, Amelia, Kash, Haza, Pui San, Yen Erl and many more whether Malaysians or Singaporean for it really was memorable moment.
- Keat Seong and Jennifer for organising the night training runs.
- Boon Yeong for helping out with the race pack collection.
- Lynette and her support crew for the aid given.
- Luc for 2 busy us always try to keep each other entertained with weekday morning runs.
- Lynn, Michelle, Raymond Ng, Raymond Hee, Cheong Hin, Shine, Jamie, Geraldine, Seow Ping, John, Wai Mun, Juliana and many others that had wished for me.
- Fellow ultra marathoners I met along the way like Sallehan, Hong Soon, Baldwin and more for keeping each of us entertained throughout the journey.
- Organisers, volunteers, marshalls and supporters for a job well done.
- To those whom had played a part, you know who you are. Thanks a lot.
- And finally to Ngae for I know you were there throughout the 84KM.


Jamie said...

Once again congrats. Experience shows and next year you'll have your target! Very nice medal - I like the multiple curves.

Kevin Siah said...

Congrats and well done! A massive PB! Don't fret about the sub 10 hours. It'll be yours for the taking soon.