Sunday, October 16, 2011

The North Face 100 Singapore 2011...

Event: The North Face 100 Singapore 2011
Venue: MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore
Date: 15 October 2011
Time: 8.00am
Distance: 50KM (50.2KM by Polar RCX5 G5)
Shoe: Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport
By Frank

Can't imagine it has been a year since my first TNF100 race. I still remember when having dinner with Jamie and Justin last year, popping by BV Sport office to get our gears and a year later, I was with Jeff instead.

The race route this year...

Trip via the usual First Coach was the usual smooth journey. Arrived at about 1.45pm and went immediately to Marina Square to collect our race pack from The North Face store there. After a quick lunch which we were joined by 2 out of 3 of our Malaysian 100KM solo runners, Allan and Victor at my favourite Marina Square food court, we then adjourned to Fragrance Hotel, Oasis at Balestier Road to settle down while unpacking our stuff, not to mention preparing our race gear.

Team Running Lab Malaysia...

With nothing to do and it was still early about 5pm, we decided to go shopping for race essential. Upon doing so and with still available time and unsure if Dannie and Carrie were to join us for dinner, we gambled and proceeded to Fragrance Hotel, Rose to try meet them there after all calls to them failed. Surprisingly at 7.30pm, they really appeared! Haha... The 4 of us including Dannie's 100KM Duo team mate Wong then proceeded to have dinner at apparently a famous chicken rice place which I find pretty slacking. However, it was fully packed! Probably just the hype.

Back to the hotel and called it a night soon after cleaning ourselves up. Didn't have a good sleep as it was a little noisy outside. But was instantly up the next morning at 5am and the adventure begins.

Myself and Jeff all geared up...

After all the fiasco of runners complaining on the change of start time to 8am for the 100KM Duo category, I was delighted to see the number of runners turning up. The only thing was that there wasn't a little gathering among Malaysian runners like last year. The contingent this time was a little smaller. Upon completing my preparation, Jeff caught a glimpse of Shine completing his first 50KM loop. I chased him down to try snap a photo of him running but just can't do so. He was still fast and looking good. Caught up with him at his resting tent where he tries to rectify his blister problem. Allan too check in soon.

I caught a glimpse of Nic and Carey and off I went over to have a little "colleague reunion". Wearing last year's race gear, I checked into the starting area as the start time nears. At 8am, we the 100KM Duo runners were let off and I soon set into pace after waving to Nic and Carey. Like going to war!

With my colleagues Nic and Carey...

The starting field for the 100KM Duo...

I immediately settled into my heart rate zone. Yeap, I have planned to run within the zone of 75% to 84% from my maximum heart rate and have set my Polar RCX5 to give out a reminder should I hit 85% and above. As this is my first official start to my training for that something great next year, my aim is just to complete the run comfortably and within the cut-off time. And after all, it's my first time wearing Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport on trail so I needed to be careful too.

1KM on tarmac, I soon hit the MacRitchie trails. First step on it on the TrekSport and I was like "Hey, this isn't so bad after all". It was actually really nice and not as painful as I might have though so. The only thing was it was a little slippery at certain moist areas. I had to be careful not to end up like a young lass that trip over at about 3KM into my run.

7KM, I saw Shine taking a breather at the water station. Ask if he was all right and he said he was, asking me to go ahead first. Dannie and Wong soon arrived and I was surprised that Dannie mentioned that he wanted to call it a day. Myself and Wong motivated and pushed him and we ran together will about 13KM.

I continued on my own from there on, and occasionally other runners caught up. I took it slow descending certain areas as it was just too slippery for my TrekSport. Arriving at the second water station at 15KM, I nearly got a heart attack seeing Jeff came from behind. He should be way ahead by now. It seems that he took the wrong turn and ran extra. With a flight to catch at 4.30pm, it wasn't helping. Here also, I took off both side of my TrekSport and starting taping up hot spots near both my big toe areaa as it was becoming a little warm. Signals of blisters coming up.

With Syah just after the Mandai exit at 20KM...

Continued on into Zheng Hua Park and back into the trails, I soon arrived at Mandai, 20KM into the race and it was here I bump into my KLCC run leader, Syah. From here we ran together side by side and occasionally changing places a little to keep each other motivated. It was HOT as we run into Lorong Asrama and soon at 27KM, DE JAVU! It was Hill 265. Took a rest at the hut as water was servd. I took the chance to call a few of my friends and even being cheeky, I sent a SMS to Nic jokingly asking him to prepare ice cold dessert for me at the finish line later. Haha...

Syah and myself getting ready to tackle Hill 265...

A cheeky SMS to Nic. Hahaha...

When myself and Syah was ready to again, we attack the hill only to find myself stuck at halfway up on all 4! It was my TrekSport acting up again as I couldn't find traction. One wrong step and I will go tumbling down. But luckily I managed myself and I'm sure Syah had a good laugh from behind.

At about 30KM near the huge hut at the exit of this area, someone called out to me. It was Tekko and I'm glad I finally met him in person. He offered an orange ice bar which was just heavenly sent. Super duper nice as I think he must have made it from freshly squeezed oranges.

Back into Mandai trails, I soon find Syah stopping by the side to tape up his blistered toes. He offered me a preserved plum (assam boi) and it was a wake up call for me. It was really nice but as I was having a recovering blister under my tongue, it gave me the "SYIOKNESS". Haha... I continued without him and back into Zhenghua Park and soon the 35KM water station where an anonymous volunteer handed me a can of Coke. A can was probably too much but he just asked me to take it which I did with a lot of THANK YOU coming out from my mouth. I gulped the whole can down pretty instantly and off I went again burping a little along the way. BURP!

About 2KM ahead, I saw a fellow runner laying flat on the ground with his team mate and a volunteer with him. Offered him help but it was all already taken care of as medics were on the way. I hope he is fine.

I have something to confess at the final 10KM or so. I was holding on to the call of nature since about 8KM into the race earlier. The toilets that appeared on the map did not appear along the race course and I had to hold it. But as time goes by and with a can of Coke downed earlier, I can't take it anymore. Found a secluded area and "showered" the trees there. Sorry Lion City but hopefully some nice tree will pop out next year. :D

With about 8KM or so to go, I got a little lost at a junction and waited for other runners to arrive. A French name Vincent soon arrive but he himself was unsure. Later it was a Singaporean lass who guided our way. I soon found out that Vincent is actually from KL too and stays only at Taman Tun Dr Ismail. What a small world. We chatted briefly before I continued on before accidentally kicking a huge rock. My poor right tiny toe.

Seeing the entrance to MacRitchie Trails was a love and hate thing as this stretch marks the last stretch of trails before the finish. But it can also be mentally challenging as it can feel pretty long due to fatigue. I took it easy and soon enough, I saw the light at the end of it. I was 1KM from the finish line. Recompose myself and saviour all the moment and soon I saw it with others cheering from the side.

Enter the MacRitchie Trail...

Light at the end of the tunnel. Another 1KM to the finish...

With no team mate to wait upon this time round as I was the slower one, I finally completed my second TNF100 Duo with a time of 07:38:39. Boon Yeong was there as an official photographer and we exchanged some words before I proceeded to the rest area where I refuelled and caught up with Walter who was so busy himself organising hydration to be send to respective water stations.

My completion time...

While doing my post run recovery, I caught up with the rest of my colleagues like Huey Na, Marc, Carey, Yati, Nancy and Janet. I also went to look for my ice cold dessert from Nic. Hahaha... Soon, I was reunited with my Syah and Allen too who had completed his 100KM Solo in about 13 hours plus! Respect this guy!

Withnot much time to spare, together with Syah we had a slow walk to the locker area to have ourselves clean up as we are leaving back for home shortly. And this is where I first remove the taping on my toes and VIOLA, bloody blister on my right big toe. I was still able to run earlier as it did not burst but it didn't look pleasant though.

Some love after the gruesome 50KM...

After cleaning myself up, I went back to find my other fellow Malaysian runners and was delighted to see Razif, Ian, Dannie, Wong and even Shine completing their run. Walter was back and we also exchanged some ideas on the event and now I understood it more on what was the fiasco all about.

After hanging out with Carey and Yati for a while, at 6pm, I left the race site with Allen to Novena where my bus is scheduled to be at 7pm. It was a long trip back home alone and I was freezing in the bus. But it was a smooth trip and I found myself back home at 12.30pm. And with this, it was another TNF100 Duo completed.

Front view of the finisher's medal...

Rear view of the finisher's medal...

This is some statistics and findings from my run:
- I took 3 servings (4 per serving) of GU Chomps, 2 GU Roctane, 1 GU Energy Gel, 1 preserved plum, 500ML of half diluted Gatorade (from the start), 8 cups of 100Plus, 14 cups of plain water, an ice bar, a can of Coke and survived on 2 litres of water in my hydration back pack. Yeap, I did not refuel along the way and it only got depleted at the finish line.
- Suffered 2 blisters on each feet with one bloody version on my right big toe.
- Running on the Vibram FiveFingers TrekSport on trails isn't as painful as many though will be. Legs was just as good as new upon writing this entry. However, it was slippery especially in moist surfaces.
- Ran within 75% to 84% from my maximum heart rate and a reminder beep from my Polar RCX5 should I hit 85% and above.
- Didn't experience any cramps though had ice cubes inserted into my calf sleeves twice to manage it.
- Although weather was really hot, I did not have temperature issues even though clad in black.

- Walter for sponsoring me as part of Team Running Lab Malaysia and Karen Chua for managing my registration.
- Jeff for being my team mate this year.
- Gary from Athlete's Circle for specially bringing in a Polar RCX5 G5 in advance for me.
- Syah whom I share some company with from 20KM till 30KM.
- Tekko for the heaven sent orange ice bar.
- The anonymous volunteer at 35KM for giving me a can of Coke.
- My team mate of last year, Jamie whom I know will have been again my team mate if work permits.
- Karen Loh, Yim and Paul for the comfort words and heads up a few days leading to the race.
- Mohan for offering a space in his car booth for my luggage although I didn't take up the offer.
- To all my colleagues whom I met and have played a part in this gruelling race and to all volunteers, a big THANKS to you all.
- And to those not mentioned, as usual you all know who you are. THANK YOU!


RaYzeef said...

Congrats and good job Frank. You made it sound so easy....see u same place next year ?

deo said...

Well done Frank!