Friday, June 26, 2015

Back 2 Endurance 2015...

Event: Back 2 Endurance 2015
Venue: Perdana Botanical Gardens, Kuala Lumpur
Date: 14 June 2015
Time: 6.30AM
Distance: 2.3KM per loop. To run as many in 12 hours.
Shoe: Saucony Kinvara 6
By Frank

2 weeks after the Comrades Marathon and 2 days after returning home, the intention to run the 12 hours looping Back 2 Endurance seems like an insane one. But still, I went ahead with it despite the jet lag and sore legs. Although I came in a surprise third position last year, I had no intention in defending it.  What I wanted was just to run the Comrades “Up” distance before taking a 1 month’s break and also to face a certain music.

I wasn’t sleeping well since returning from South Africa and despite turning in early, I only had 2 hours of sleep on the night before the event. I arrived at Perdana Botanical Gardens (previously known as Lake Gardens) at 5.30AM, an hour to spare before the start. The rain which begun a couple of hours ago showed signs of slowing down.

Put my essentials aside and lingered around till the start at 6.30AM. I had my waterproof Saucony Razor jacket on as it was still drizzling. Had to be careful with my steps as the pavement was slippery, and besides, it was still dark. I once again had my heart rate monitor on and just ran based on it not letting it go beyond the 150bpm mark. And also, I tried to follow as closely to the Banting diet, minimising sugar intake during the course of the run.

Despite the sore legs and cold condition, I started pretty well. I kept my Saucony Razor jacket on for the first hour or so before the rain stop and the sun broke out of the horizon. It kept my body dry and warm but my shoes was still a little wet and I had to be careful with my steps so that I won’t risk any blisters despite wearing an anti-blister socks. Eventually, the rain water in the shoes and socks dried up.

I was going at an all right pace before dropping out a little upon hitting the half marathon distance when the jet lag sets in. With a 6 hours difference between South Africa and Malaysia, I should be asleep. To keep myself awake, I started snacking to keep myself occupied while running and I was delighted to have David with me for about 2 or 3 loops running together. Nearing the 3 hours mark, I was waiting for the change of direction but to my surprise after asking Jeff, I found out that participants are to run on the same direction throughout the entire 12 hours, which means that we are going to apply pressure on the same leg. Knowing my legs have not recovered fully from Comrades, I went on a safer approach to care for my legs.

With fellow Comrades, David.

I was fighting sleepiness as I ran and walk. But I kept moving despite lunch of noodles and rice being served early. Instead I took in some watermelon and lots of oranges (when they are available) as I complete each loop. Once a while, I also ate some biltong which I brought along. And when the energy started depleting at close to 12PM, I took out the can of Heineken I brought along too. Guess the combination of biltong and beer could be the life saver here, but it’s just too bad it isn’t Castle Lite.

Happy to have my beer.

I took small sips of the beer as I ran pass it as it was stronger than Castle Lite which I drank every night while in Namibia to keep me warm. And as time passes by, I also regain some alertness as it was time to “wake up” from sleep. At 2PM local time, it was 8AM South Africa time and I am awake at that time. Regained some strength and I ran better. The weather got a little hotter as I put on my Pink Drive arm sleeve to prevent the arms from getting burn again. But after 3 loops, the sun decided to go into hiding leaving us with a pretty good Sunday afternoon. However, I was too lazy to take off my arm sleeve and just continued ahead with it.

At one stage, I started the loop with David again. And since I had too much orange, I decided to walk it off while chatting with him. David was ahead of me by 1 loops and still feeling very strong too and I asked him to go ahead should he intend to start running again. But like the Spirit of Comrades, he accompanied me till the completion of the loop before he went off.

Fast forwarding ahead, despite still moving, I was slowly loosing pace due to sore legs. With about 8 loops to go before I hit my target, Tey bought some ice cream for the remaining runners. I took one and munch along but soon, it upset my stomach and I had to visit the loo.

After making my deposit, I soon realised that time wasn’t on my side and I needed to move swiftly. Made some calculation and decided to run the entire stretch with a low heart rate range of 140bpm with the exception of the climb at waterfall area where I shall walk to recover and to preserve some energy and leg strength for the closing stages.

Towards the final 3 loops, as I can’t afford to lose any more time, I was basically moving in and out of the refreshment area on a touch and go basis. Grab a cup of water and just move on.  And I was glad Siaw Hua reacted swiftly to my needs and I really thank her for her actions.

85.1KM and with 17 minutes left, I told myself that one more loop to complete the Comrades “Up” distance is possible. All I need to do is to go at a constant pace and knowing like Comrades where the fastest split will normally come near the finishing stages, I was confident and thus took off from there with Jeff, Tey, Hong Lan and a few others cheering along. I decided to raise my heart rate by 5bpm and closely monitored it so I would not blow up like an overheated engine.  I soon realised that I was the lone runner out there as I saw no other participants around the route. Upon completion of 1KM into the loop, I had 11 minutes to run the remaining 1.3KM. That’s when I knew that my remaining task is just to keep moving even by walking. But walk I did not and continued to run and eventually, I completed 38 loops clocking 87.4KM in 11:58 hours with a position of 10. A satisfying result.

Job done. Happy to enjoy my rest next.

Back 2 Endurance this year was almost flawless. Runners were given almost a first class service by the organisers and volunteers. And unlike last year, snacks and refreshment was made available whenever runners needed it. Besides that, Jeff also paid for both the toilets (one at starting area and another along the run route), which made things really easy for us. Overall, though it was really difficult for me this year, I still enjoyed the whole event for now, I can have a little rest.

* All photos credited to the respective photographers. Thank you.

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