Thursday, September 27, 2012

Craze Ultra 2012...

Event: Craze Ultra 2012
Venue: MacRitchie Reservoir
Date: 22 September 2012
Time: 7.00am
Distance: 100 miles / 161KM
Shoe: ASICS GEL-Hyper Speed 5
By Frank

My longest running distance has been clocked at the 100KM Sundown Marathon 2011. And my toughest run to date will be the Comrades Marathon 2012 "Down" run. Then came the chance to change all that when my good friend Ben of Running Guild Singapore, the brainchild behind the Twilight Ultra Challenge came up with the idea of Craze Ultra with the distance of 100 miles or 160KM!

A last minute arrangement, I was to run my first ever 100 miles race, in helping to raise funds for the cause I am championing for CARIF. Arrangement was put in and by the evening of 21 September 2012, a website was launch hoping that with my running effort, I can raise about RM5,000 within a month. It was certainly an honour to raise funds once again, but there was a little pressure indeed as the distance is certainly unknown to me. To know more about it, hit this LINK.

Fast forwarding to the event, I travelled down to Singapore a day before the event on board Jetstar with Bernard, Boon, Steven and Uncle. Roy is greatly missed here. Upon arrival and doing all the necessary checking in at The Hive Backpackers near Boon Keng MRT, we proceeded to the race venue of MacRitchie Reservoir to collect our race pack in the evening. And once done, it's back to the hostel to call it a day. I was really tired and it wasn't a good sign. I've spend too much time on foot and I was "boiling".

I didn't sleep well. In fact I woke up even before my alarm went off. All I put in was only like 4 hours and not a quality one too. No turning back, I did all my necessary pre run ritual before leaving for race site at 6am. And arriving there, the place was a lively one. Met familiar faces and new friends too. Had my blood drawn by Phil's associate to studies which I myself am interested to know. It's only 15ml by the way.

Part of the Malaysian Craze contingent...

The race was flag off sharply at 7am. I quickly settled into a comfy pace at about 7.30 minutes per kilometer. I was soon called out by Adam 1Arm Runner and we ran and chatted together before another familiar face join in, the ever inspirational Yim. We continued on till we hit the first checkpoint (CP1) which I did not stop as I am still fully equipped.

On the way to CP2, I was again with Yim and together, we ran pass the old now abandoned Woodlands Immigration. It was memories for me as this is where I travelled along during my treatment days some 20 years ago. And by the coastal stretch, I can see my hometown Johor Bahru though covered in haze. Soon, CP2 appeared and I absolutely like this area, located within a small cozy park. Hydrated myself and powered up my phone to post updates on my Facebook before continuing on.

To CP3 at Sembawang, the weather was still pretty OK though signs of a burning sun is quickly showing. I quickly settled in with a group of runners with Tammy, Kartono and Chee Ming being the first, followed by another group of 100KM runners. It's good to be running with a group and though I kept loosing them due to my slower pace, we always regrouped at the traffic light junction when the light turns red. Hahaha...

At CP3 with Chee Ming, Kartono and Tammy...

Arriving at CP3, I was glad to see Phil and Yee Hua there. Took some watermelons and hydrated myself with water before continuing on to CP4 located at Yishun. And along the route, met more runners which include seasoned ultra runner James.

Got lost for a while, but the map saved us and we arrived safely at CP4 after running pass many traffic lights, MRT station, bus stations and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. But that's not before a familiar face appear some 500M before the checkpoint. It was Kash with family! And she brought along supplies which we runners under the heat are needing for. Took 2 gulps of Cola before carrying on to the checkpoint and that's where Poh Chye and Jeff caught up. Spent a longer time here as the journey to the next checkpoint will be a torturous one as per advised by Yek Bun. It's going to BURN!

Thank you Kash for the support...

Applied sunscreen to almost every exposed skin and carried on. And yes, it was an open route with the sun blazing hot! It was the journey to the Punggol Waterway. Most runners were reduced to walking here, and by the time we hit the park, it was the sand dunes that welcomed us. It was just as hot but as the journey continued, I spotted a lady selling cold drinks by the side. Without any hesitation, I bought a bottle of isotonic drink and gulp it down. I was joined by many other which includes David Wong, a fellow Comrades runner too which I continued on with him sharing ideas on our passion of Comrades. We walked together as our tummies was filled with the drinks we gulped down instantly. We were too bloated to run. Hahaha...

We finally saw a red bridge in the distance. The checkpoint is near. But we were still walking till we are very near to the bridge cause there was a photographer there! Hahaha... We were welcomed by Steven and Uncle who is waiting for Bernard and Boon from the 100KM category. Checked in and other runners soon arrived too from Jeff to Sallehan. Kash was here too and again, I took Cola from her as the station ran out of ice to keep the beverage cold. I was also given an apple. Though my appetite wasn't there, I knew I had to eat and so did I. It was quite a long stop here but when I was ready, I departed with Sallehan.

The journey from CP5 to CP6 was horrendous! It was a giant 15KM loop which will bring us back to the same checkpoint. Both 5th and 6th is actually the same. But the problem with this loop is an open space concrete jungle. I was searching for a washroom to wet myself but to no avail. Myself and Sallehan was heating up badly. We walked together for about 7KM or so before I started running myself again. Then I took a long stop with Bryan who was resting shortly in front. Off we went together and soon, some trees greeted us.

At Buangkok Drive, where the Institute of Mental Health was. Perhaps I shall just check in here...

Nearly got lost but there's always Ben. Gave him a call at the crossing between Hougang Avenue 10 and Buangkok Drive. The directional marker board was there but the arrowhead was missing hence my story. A volunteer came by, and soon I was on track again. I needed the checkpoint badly as I felt something is going wrong with me. I pushed on and I could finally see the red bridge ahead. Sallehan overtook me to it as I could no longer run. I walked to it and was greeted by Yek Bun. Told him about my discomfort before I removed my race gear and went into sleep mode. My chest was tight and I was short of breath. I was blowing up. I rested and dozed off pretty instantly for about 15 minutes. A power nap indeed.

I felt better after waking up but I did some extra settings on my Polar heart rate monitor as I knew chest tightness is something I had to look into. I was supposed to meet up with Karen on my return trip here at midnight but the chances are really low and I did not want to hold her back. Hence I text her to carry on without me should I not arrive on time. Cooled myself down with some cold water and hydrated myself. Packed some ice into my hydration pack before continuing off with Sallehan into the darkness. It has been around 12 hours on the road for us already. I told him to carry on by himself as I did not want to slow him down. However, he soon detoured to the side and laid by the grass. He was experiencing dizziness and I accompanied him till a volunteer arrived and we radioed the medic for assistance before I carried on myself.

I felt better after walking for a bit. I began to jog a little and the rhythm began to showed again. Navigated some dark stretch before arriving at the town of Pasir Ris. I spotted a McDonalds across the street and I knew I had to eat despite my poor appetite. Bought myself a small fries and a large Cola before carrying on. I only managed half the pack of fries and I think I overdid it on the large Cola.

CP7 showed up shortly at 70KM and I was greeted by a close Facebook friend Zin whom I am meeting for the first time. It was really nice of her to show her support for the runners for dropping by at such a late hour. I really appreciate it. I had to leave though as I only had about 2 hours left to meet the cut off point at CP8 which is 80KM.

Blazing off from CP7 with a large Cola...

I continued on after being recharged a little and despite getting lost twice in the darkness, I managed to arrive at CP8 along Changi Beach with 30 minutes to spare and was greeted by Christopher who was volunteering here. Bryan arrived earlier and had already called it a day As for myself, as I pushed hard to arrive here before being cut off, my chest tightness returned and I started asking myself if this was it. I knew myself that sometimes, there is no such thing as third time lucky. Took a long break there and soon consulted the medic if I should continue on. Her reply as much as expected was to call it day. And from here, I consulted 3 of my friends over the phone, Chee Kong, Roy and Pui San. Although I knew it myself, I just had to hear it from someone. And after close to an hour of decision making, I finally threw in my towel. I told Christopher I am pulling out and he took note of it before Ben was informed. And so, I waited for my pick-up to be ferry back to MacRtichie Reservoir.

And in a blink of an eye, it was all over. My resume has now a DNF (Did Not Finish) status. I continued resting there and soon other Fred too arrive to support the runners. Adam 1Arm Runner and Carin arrived too though outside the cut off time. But as long Ben did not instruct anything, Christopher told them to continued on. Carin tried to ask me to tag along but I did not want to give her any problem should anything happens to me.

Kash then arrived shortly and she volunteered to drive me back to MacRitchie Reservoir. I accepted her kind gesture and was soon back there with Ben, Yee Hua, Phil and the other volunteers where I rested. I was getting better just like how it did earlier at CP6 but I just did not want to risk it to continue on with the run. I stayed to wait on for the arrival of other runners but more and more runners who came back in taxis appeared instead. Carin and Sallehan showed up, followed by Jamie, Hayden and then more and more 100 miles runners appeared. It was a a sad scene. Then, the first leading 100 miles runner appeared and this brought joy to the scene as he completed his epic run in just below 20 hours! What an inspiration and mood lifter!

The DNF club! :( With Sallehan and Carin

And so, my first official DNFand I have the honoured of giving it to Ben (*grin). Craze Ultra is certainly a tough nut to crack. The route was actually nice and not too tough. The issue was with the weather as it was blazing hot and probably my lack of rest. As life progresses, I will analyse myself on what went wrong and right now at the time of writing this, I can think of the following:

1) Pre run day events
2) Lack of sleep
3) Side effects from my treatment days
4) Lack of training
5) Stress at work

The overall statistics..

Although it's a bitter pill to swallow especially being my first time, I knew it's all over. Time to move on and learn from the experience to become stronger next. Sometimes, its good to gamble, but to gamble wisely we must. However, I really felt sad that I failed in my mission for CARIF. Though I know I tried my best and gave my everything, I still felt I let my donors down. I am truly SORRY to all.

The only positive thing is that I am still standing and moving on 2 legs and there is always another event to run at!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who had played a part and cared for me through my entire journey and in no order, they are:

1) Ben, Yee Hua, Phil, Yek Bun and the rest of the oganising committee and volunteers from Running Guild for this truly crazy but amazing event.
2) Professor Teo, Datin Dr. Amy, CARIF and Simply Giving for the last minute job in helping me setup a fund raising cause for cancer research.
3) Kash for popping out of no where and showering everyone with her care, motivation and of course supplies of drinks and food. And also for the drive back to MacRitchie Reservoir.
4) Zin for taking time off to pay me a surprise motivational visit at CP7 during the night
5) The medic plus XiuFang and Christopher at CP8 for the care and advise given to me. And the call to throw in the towel by Chee Kong, Roy and Pui San. I just needed someone to decide for me.
6) To all runners I met along the way for the friendship and companionship throughout this ridiculous event!
7) Too all donors for my cause for the contribution.
8) And to everyone else who have message me along the way or even after the event for your care and concern.


Yimster said...

Hey chin up now. Life does throw you a curve ball every now and then. I have DNF before lol and i DO know how that feels. More importantly the lessons learnt well from this experience and you are healthy body and mind to come back strong again.

By just being at the starting line, you are already a champ. I still remember where we ran by Woodlands and how you told me thats your regularly bridge where you will hop on a bus to come to Singapore for treatments in the early days. Did touch me that time and proud of how far you've come!

Till the next challenge my friend :)

Nick Arthur said...

It's still an awesome run, Frank. The fact that you had the courage to try is pretty inspirational! You did good! said...

Hi Frank, nice write up. I share your pain too... the pain of a 1st DNF ( I was in the same cat as you). I think we must have passed each other a few times on the way to CP5:-), me and my buddy only caught up with u guys just before the red bridge when we had to climb the stairs. Hope there will be craze 2013, till then, take care and keep running!