Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sundown Ultra Marathon 2011...

Event: Sundown Ultra Marathon 2011
Venue: Marina Barrage, Singapore
Date: 25 June 2011
Time: 6.00pm
Distance: 100KM (100.2KM by Jeff's Garmin 310XT)
Shoe: K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light
By Frank

Sundown Ultra Marathon 2011, my first attempt on the 100KM distance. And boy, it was certainly a tough nut to crack. So tough, that I almost cracked. But I did not, for I know I can and there are simple awesome people rooting behind me.

Arrival at Singapore was a rush affair. Was running a little late to meet up with Yee Hua at Tanjung Pagar where her office is as traffic along the PIE was slow moving due a an accident just before the BKE turnoff. Luckily arrived on time and managed to pick up my race pack from her. THANK YOU so much Yee Hua for the assistance! From there, I made myself to my new office at Kaki Bukit Crescent to meet up with Walter and the rest of my new colleagues. From there, its working time till almost 8pm. From there, Walter sent me to Uncle Teck Ming's place at Serangoon where I rested for my adventure the next day.

My ticket to my magic carpet ride...

Race day...
Race day and I did not have a good night's sleep. A little sore on my neck but I was glad the sky opened up for it was raining! Took my own time to gear up while chatting via Facebook with some friends back home and also another at down under.

At 1pm, I left for Marina Square to meet up with colleague's from K-Swiss Singapore and also Victor. Upon arrival, I was greeted by Sharon. Grab my quick favourite Korean Bibimbap lunch at the newly opened food galleria before meeting up with Victor. And what a small world too as I met up with Ian who is now working in Singapore.

With Sharon from K-Swiss Singapore...

At 4pm, it was time and myself and Victor hailed down a taxi to drive us to Marina Barrage, the race site. Upon arrival, familiar faces like Gary, Mohan, Amelia and Winnie greeted us. Soon, probably the strongest from the Malaysian contingent, Shine joined us as we did our final gear checking. My hydration backpack is pretty heavy and I foresee sore shoulders into the race due to liftings of stuff from my work premises. But anyway, it was all laughters as we chatted with the rest from Yim, Paul, Adeline, Mac, Pui San, Alexis, Terence and so many more from KL.

The race was to begin at the open garden on top of Marina Barrage. And it will take runners down a spiral slope which means, we will need to climb that back to the finish line. The race started at 6pm sharp and I began with Victor at the middle pack. After exiting the barrage, I slowly picked up my planned 6:45 minutes/km race pace. Ran with it along the golf course before was greeted by the first pedestrian bridge to cross Nicoll Highway. Not much of a trouble as it wasn't the stairs type. Continued on passed some housing area and finally into East Coast park where is was really windy!

The first refreshment station came at the 10KM (01:05:51) mark where I had my first GU Roctane. And also, I picked up 2 icy cold sponge to cushion my shoulder from the hydration backpack's weight. I was still in good shape and carried on. It helped a lot a it fit much better now. Battled on till 15KM before the signs came. My left ankle is starting to give way. Enduring the pain, I tried to run faster before it develops to the next phase. But I knew I was slowing down.

Arriving at 20KM (02:17:45), there was signs of rain as it started drizzling. But a false alarm. At the refreshment station there, besides my planned 2nd GU Roctane, I cool my left feet with ice cold water. Yes, I poured them over my shoe for I know my K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light is hydrophobic. The shoe remained dry, but the cooling sensation managed to sip in to help relive some discomfort on my left ankle.

Carried on, battled on passed the long coastal road and into Changi Village. At Changi Beach where the 30KM (03:52:59) hydration station is, I took my 3rd GU Roctane. But this is also where things started to twist on me. Both ankles are now giving way with my left being in no man's land. I restarted my run, but not long later, I took my first walk. I failed to live up to last year's expectation of running a non stop 60KM. QUIT was the word floating in my head now as the soreness has now evolved into pain. But whenever I am in pain, I looked at the spot where even more pain is written over it, my left arm. And to think of my friends back in KL spurred me on. Myself, Jamie and Rao being chased by dogs, Fui Cheng's expression of loosing her toe nails, Vince having spicy noodles and more, these spurred me on.

40KM (05:33:32) at Pasir Ris Park, I met up with YS while rehydrating. I could no longer put in any energy gels from there, and I relied on fresh oranges and some gummy chews. Again cold water over my shoes before carrying on. Run and walk into Api Api Park crossing the 2nd pedestrian bridge at Tampiness, I wonder where I was at. For the first time, I saw Ikea Singapore and carried on. The half way point pit stop is just another 10KM away but boy it was far for my legs. Along the way, there were many supporters some I knew from Twilight Ultra Challenge 2011. Some was even so kind enough to offer us food and water. I picked up some gummy chews as this was the next best thing to go down after energy gels. Hong Soon was on his way back. He is some crazy ultra runner! We high five but immediately after doing so, my right palm heated up. He had deep heat rub on him! Argh...

Into Bedok Reservoir, the view was great but seeing the distance of the pit stop being at the other side isn't so great. But with sights of Shine, Victor, Yim, Jeff, Anthony and Paul heading back spurred me on. I huddled as fast as possible as I wanted to pit. My systems needs some overhauling.

Upon arrival at 50KM (07:04:54), my special needs bag was already out thanks to the alertness of the volunteers. Headed back to change from Drymax to Injinji socks as my tapes has fell off. Didn't want to waste time taping my toes again. Moment of truth as I decided to ditch my hydration backpack. Gave both ankles some massage, head on to rehydrate and to consume some oranges, and off I went after thanking the volunteers for their 5 star hospitality. They guy depositing my special needs bag gave me a surprised look after that though. Hahaha...

After 15 minutes of "system overhauling", feeling ultra light without the "turtle shell" and with my legs pain free for a moment, I use this advantage to go at my usual pace again before I know the pain will return. And so it did after exiting Bedok Reservoir at just 54KM. I decided to stop at a nearby bus stop to stretch my legs. Didn't I notice, Prakash was there too. He has decided to call it a night as his legs were alreay a goner. I though it was a brave move from him before we parted ways.

Carried on and shortly further ahead, I spotted Mac resting in a bus stop. I joked with him that I wanted to borrow his bicycle. He was kind enough to offer me a fillet-o-fish but I have to decline as it was just too solid for my consumption that time. It was really tempting though! We had a chat before Lee Lee came greeted me. I parted ways with Mac along with Lee Lee. She is one crazy runner too slowly chipping away with the distance. Hardly seen her walk!

Back at the previous 40KM mark which is now 60KM (08:48:26), I was greeted by Lynette with her award wining priceless support. She helped me with drinks, food and sponges. We chatted for a while and this allowed me some rest for my poor legs.

The next phase is going to be tough. There will be ascend and it will be a long stretch. But I didn't want to think too much about it. I kept going, stopping at times to massage my foot and stretch. I have plenty of energy, but my legs just refuse to cooperate.

70KM (10:32:03), I took my first yawn. Now my mind and body is starting to shut down. I was sleepy. And the next stretch is long enough to make me drowsy. It's the coastal road. It had to be done so I implemented my strategy of counting lamp post. I run for every 10 lamp post before stopping to walk for another 10 and then to continue on. This gave me time to run and to rest my legs. And the counting at least made me awake.

80KM (12:29:48) and my leg was a goner. My rest here was pretty long and I took in a lot of fresh oranges. Though thirsty, I can hardly put in any liquid. I forced myself but my taste bud just "modified" the taste. I was burping and felt like throwing up. At this time, I experienced Yip's feeling when he run his ultra.

Day began to break and sleepiness is conquering me. But the sights of people doing their morning exercise at East Coast Park, some with their dogs kept me awake. Some were kind enough to cheer us on.

90KM (14:24:56), the final refreshment station. I summoned the first aid for there is a burning sensation on my right feel. For fears of blisters forming, I taped the area up before continuing. Forced a couple of cups of water in, washed my face and off I went for my final 10KM! Push push push! It's going to be over soon!

At 92KM, Alber whom I always met during long distance events motivated me. I introduced myself to him finally after meeting up so many times. We walked together till about 95KM, just after Nicoll Highway before I took off. I wanted to complete my run under 16 hours and it was risky time that time. I needed to run a little. The sun was burning but it's part of the game.

Finally into the golf course, I spotted Lee Lee ahead. Passed her and told her that's its only another 2KM to go! Amelia was ahead too as I pointed to her Marina Barrage which has came into view.

Finally on to the bridge and into the barrage where supporters were cheering and clapping from the side. The final hurdle, the spiral ascend as I adjusted my bib and zip up my suit. It's time to finish this and so did I! 100KM in 15:54:54! Finally a centurion and what an experience it had been.

Immediately after crossing the finish line, again I felt like throwing up but I held on. Was given a towel and a hard earned finisher's medal went on me. My friends Shine, Paul and Jeff was there and it was a beautiful sight as we cheered Lee Lee and Amelia on. Yim joined us shortly and I gave him a hug, a hug that was not meant to be forgotten.

Myself and Yim. 100KM finishers and a friendship that can't be bought...

As time was running out and I have a flight to catch, I was forced to leave the scene of celebration with deep regrets. Flagged down a taxi and back to Uncle Teck Ming's place to clean up before he sent me to the airport for home and my bed is my next destination. Sleep cannot wait anymore!

Finally a centurion. 100KM, a journey and distance to be treasured. And I did it my way. No short cuts, no pacing nor being paced and I did it under the original cut off time of 16 hours. My most treasured fuel was my left arm and of course my friends. Whether to do it again, I doubt so, period. 84KM is fine, but the extra 16KM is tapping into my reserve already. And I do think I have hit the wall for ultra running. I do deserve a break for now, at least my body does. Till my next ultra run.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

- K-Swiss, BV Sport and GU Energy for the gears and nutrition
- Ben and Yee Hua for helping me collect my race pack
- Uncle Teck Ming, Aunty Siew Hong and Eugene for preparing my accommodation with them
- Walter, Huey Na, Shiu Leen, Marc, Carey and the rest of Outdoor Venture for the support
- Fui Cheng for the cheerful happy go lucky motivation shown
- Jamie, Rao, Vince, Jennifer, Suet and the rest of the Aladdin Runnerz who has been part of my journey during training and also following my race updates on Facebook
- Yim, Shine, Jeff, Paul, Anthony, Kash, Razif, Zack, Kash, Adeline, Amelia, Alexis, Chooi Wan, Pui San, Chin Ann, David, YS and the rest of the Malaysian contingent including Mac for the fillet-o-fish and Lynette for the out of this world priceless care and support given
- Hong Soon, Oliver, Chin and Alber for being my bunch of Singaporeans ultra runner friends
- Luc my running mentor and Seow Ping my ultra running mentor
- Lynn, Geraldine, Eugene, Soon Chung, Raymond, Michelle, Yip and the rest that had follow my journey back at home
- And to rest of the ultra runners, volunteers and supporters I met along the way, THANK YOU for making the night, something to be treasured dearly
- The organisers for the top notch event, probably the best ever among the 4 editions
- And to those not mentioned, you know who you are. THANK YOU!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Overcoming 100KM...

By Frank

It's the eve of the race day's eve. Nothing much can be done now except to exercise my mental strength. Been so busy with lifting boxes these few days that it had served as a upper body work out for me. And to makes matters worst, our local water authority decided to cut off supplies of water for 48 hours before I leave for Singapore leaving me a stinky traveller?

From Facebook, I see many fellow century runners to be building up the hype to it. A couple of them even managed to run in the name of charity. Not for me though. This run is about myself, my sponsors, Runnerz Circle and the team behind it, and of course in the name of my past and present.

I mentioned pain tolerance in my previous entry. A note on how am I going to get through it this time, I survived and gone through painful moments before and this will serve as a memory when I hit the critical zone come race day. While I run, thoughts of my fellow Aladdin Runnerz running mates for all the months of training will fuel me. The thoughts of having a needle inserted in my bone marrow will tell me that soreness and pain during the run is nothing compared to that. And while I run, I must tell myself that I am running because I can and I will complete it. It's only 100KM! Everything will be over when the sun rises on Sunday, 26 June 2011.

Preparation might not been well. I may have said that I wouldn't mind jumping on the wagon should I won't be able to run or continue on. You see, I don't mean what I said. When I run, I will give me all to complete it regardless of time. But of course, I must finish it before my plane takes off. Yes, once again, I have a plane to catch. Therefore, as much important will be my race pace, completing it will be my main priority.

What is more painful is written on my this left arm...

Till my race report, to my fellow friends running it this weekend from Yim, Shine, Paul and more, here's cheers to us all. It's Sundown Ultra Marathon 2011 weekend and it's just only 100KM!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Final Countdown...

By Frank

It seems like only yesterday when I first signed up for Sundown Ultra Marathon 2011 back in December 2010. Moving forward, I'm now just 6 days away from it. To think back about it back then, I was certainly looking forward to it. However, it isn't the same case now for preparation was certainly not up to par if you had follow my build-up to it.

No matter, what is done is done. This morning, saw my final long slow distance and 10 of us from the Aladdin Runnerz group showed up, except for Vince. It was great too to see Fui Cheng back running. And Kannan's sight of dropping his bottle gave us some hilarious moments. Even the usual pack of dogs did something different from usual to us this time. They came guerrilla style ambushing us from a small hill. What a morning.

I tested my gear last week and my whole body was sore due to the 2 liter hydration backpack. It was too long ago since I carried it back last year. However this time, I purchased a Nathan HPL #020 after hearing positive feedback from Jamie. It was certainly good but as good as it gets, I'm always better in running light. The feeling of having a small little "turtle shell" behind me made me feel like Gokou in Dragon Ball Z. I again experience soreness after this morning's run. I ran at a very comfy pace, nearing a 7 minutes per kilometer pace. Race pace plan for next weekend is a 6.45 minute per kilometer. Just hope I be able to withstand the backpack well.

My left ankle issue resurface again last week. Still unsure of the problem, I'm now taking high concentrated calcium milk hoping it will help strengthen my bones. Even my usual dosage of Omega 3 supplement has been increased. My disbelief on Glucosamine has been put aside hoping it will give some assistance to it. I just hope the pain will just give me a break on race day so that I can complete the run in 1 piece without additional agony. But should it comes, I guess the only way is how good my pain tolerance can withstand it.

As the clock slowly ticks away, the moment of truth will soon arrive. These few days will just be critical. Every step counts and here goes nothing...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Back In Biz...

By Frank

Remember when I mentioned that I was attached to a big project in some of my previous entries that I hardly have any time to train? And for those who read my blog entry regarding Runnerz Circle's closure carefully and found the "bread crumb" that I left behind (very smart and attentive reader you are), I guess it's time now to reveal my journey ahead on what this big project is.

Yes, Runnerz Circle as of 12 June 2011 has closed its book and reverted back to a blog. However, I was given a second chance which I believe was through the fair play I been practising all the past 1 year. Presenting my new venture... RUNNING LAB!


Yeap, it's the exact same multi sportsware store that you find in Singapore. It has finally made its way into Malaysia and I'm part of it together with the rest of my team down in Singapore. Yours truly will bring forward all the knowledge and experience gained through my studies and also working time from my previous venture.

It has been a very tiring past 6 months. But all in all, the results are finally showing. Running Lab Malaysia's first store is scheduled to be operational on 1 July 2011 at Tropicana City Mall. Product range almost 90% identical to Singapore's store, so be prepare to find footwear and gears from reknown brand such as K-Swiss, Zoot, Saucony, Vibram Five Fingers, FuelBelt, Nathan, GU Energy Labs and BV Sport, just to name a few.

Why choose to close Runnerz Circle you asked? As stated in my Tough Day... entry, the business isn't showing a good sign at the end of last year. We all will know when something isn't going well, and at that time, I knew it myself. Therefore, I seek support and when the opportunity came and with my working relation with Running Lab, this was a venture not to be forego. Therefore with this, I sincerely hope this long journey ahead will be a much brighter one.

My apologies to those who had asked me on what my future plans were. It wasn't the correct time to reveal this new venture and therefore I had to tell a "white lie". Only my team back at Runnerz Circle knew and perhaps some who found the "bread crumb". But I guess it's of no hiding now and so I hope to see everyone at Running Lab soon.

And here's another "bread crumb". Await our official grand opening!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

My Battle Armour...

By Frank

For those who played role playing games such as the Dungeon & Dragons and Final Fantasy series which I used to during my younger days, you will know that in the game itself, players get rewarded by putting on armour and getting themselves equip with weapons. Rewards such as adding up statistic points such as strength, dexterity, speed and so on.

With my upcoming century distance in slightly more than 3 weeks away, unveiling now is my "battle armour" which I will use on race day. Yes, you read correctly, yours truly has decided to run it. I've received my new gear a couple of months back but did not reveal it until now. I will be running my first ever century distance in the K-Swiss tri top and shorts, with the K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light. Reason I choose the triathlon apparel is due that it's going to be a long adventure and I will be pouring water over myself to cool myself down. This, the triathlon apparel will be able to take it. And not forgetting that after a few times running in them, I do find that it's certainly more comfortable than traditional running vest and shorts. Maybe a +1 to strength and dexterity. Haha...

As for the K-Swiss Kwicky Blade-Light, the hydrophobic Ion-Mask coating will definitely help with water that will be coming down from all the pouring, and not to mention the drainage and ventilation pods. And after running plenty in the Blade family of shoes, I am confident to say that the "Blades" does help in propulsion and also the protection for my feet in the gruelling run. So perhaps a +1 to speed and armour?

GU Energy will be my nutrition for the race. GU Energy Gel, GU Roctane, GU Chomps and GU Brew will be my choice for the night. A choice I selected on my own based on my experience with it. How will I take them, I will leave it to the last week prior to the race to decide when I measure my body composition.

My training has gone down the drain. If last year was bad, this year was worse! Last year, I was super busy in setting up Runnerz Circle. Coincidently, I'm again busy attached to another project this year. However, with the closure of Runnerz Circle, I will be running my first ever century distance under my company, a dedication to it and also to my sponsors. From there on, a new chapter awaits...