Sunday, October 14, 2012

Making the Return to Life @ The North Face 100 Singapore 2012

Never Stop Exploring
It's been slightly more than 3 months since i took part in an event, with the last one on 24 June 2012 at the KL Marathon.  Being stricken with a virus (of an unknown nature) causing my body muscles to ache for the 3 months and leaving me no opportunity to do any training (save for the 28km on 19 Aug when i felt ok), i was quite apprehensive when a last minute opportunity came to do The North Face 50km category.  As i felt quite alright in the past week, i decided to take up the offer and just give it a go, but go easy at the event and stop if any sign of discomfort comes over.  Without any expectations, it will be a stress-free event.  Still, that didn't allow me to have any shut-eye at all the night before the event.  Probably my body/mind was getting excited and couldn't wait to start!  haha

Fast forward to race day:
Hitched a cab ride to MacRitchie and arrived before 5am.  There were 3 others present at such an early time.  Took my time to prepare my race items and kept the post-race items in the locker.

Soon, more participants started arriving and we chatted with each other, e.g. Daniel Ong, David Wong, Tay Poh Chye, Mohan, Frank Chong, Peck Long, Alex Ang, and many other friends/participants from Twilight Ultra & Craze Ultra.  Such an event definitely fosters greater friendship & bonding :)

I didn't have breakfast that morning, save for a few cups of water. When a fellow participant offered a bar to me at the Amenities Centre, i didn't take up the offer even though my stomach was rumbling (maybe it could sense that food bar).

I mixed in 1 packet of Hammer Nutrition's Perpetuem powder mix into my hydration bladder and packed some Endurolytes capsules (24 of them) & additional Perpetuem packets into my hydration bag.  Those would suffice.  Didn't need any more than those.

At about 6.35am started making my way to the Zig Zag bridge and 'weighed in' my bag, entering the starting area, where i saw quite a number of friends (Tigger, Lionel, Soong Ing, Angela, Claire, Blade Runner, Tekko, Molly, etc), who were surprised(i surprised myself too) i was taking part.  After a few photos, we were ready to be flagged off.

Right from the start, i walked.  Running was out of the plan.  Didn't want to risk any discomfort.  In my mind, i thought of Joe Cheung, who walks all his ultras.  Now was the chance to experience what he does, at least until any discomfort stops me from continuing.  

I thought i was the last man/sweeper, but there were times when a few people overtook me at the first 2-3km.  Guess they might have started late or went to the restroom.

Walking such a long distance is definitely not easy, and considering i've never walked so long before in my life, i'd never know what to expect.  All i knew was, just keep going and 'feel the body'.  Soaking in the trail, the atmosphere, the smell, the surrounding was kind of surreal and pleasing, giving inner peace and calmness like no other.  

Along the way, met friends and also new people, chatting a little and encouraging each other.  We have a mutual understanding of what we're heading into.  And that gives us motivation to keep going.

Smiling occasionally to myself, i felt happy i was doing this.  It was so liberating, to be out there, on the trail, on the road, on the paths.  It was indescribable.  Positivity was the key to keep going.  Speed wasn't.

Sipped on my Perpetuem drink when thirsty & took an Endurolyte capsule every 20 minutes.  And just kept walking.  no music to accompany me.  Just the sound of nature, the rustling of leaves/rocks/gravel upon every step.  Being at one with nature.  Pure Bliss.

Met supporters along the way e.g. Sandy, Tao, Regina, Yankee, Burnz, Joanne, Tiwazz, Voon Ho, Cher, Lincoln.  So thankful for their presence, though i didn't take anything they offered (sorry, hope i didn't offend any of you by not accepting your kind offerings :) )

Sandy Heng (At Diary Farm)
Lynette, Yankee, Regina, Tao (At Zhenghua)

The route varied a little from the last year, skipping the Mountain Bike Trail just outside Bukit Timah Hill visitor centre, detouring towards the railway track.  Seems easier, and definitely less dangerous than the narrow MTB trail.

It led to Dairy Farm road, where i first saw Sandy and Kayano (the paparazzi).  At the Checkpoint, i saw Angela and decided to use the nice toilet facility there before continuing on.

Looking at the ground, the trees, the leaves, listening to the sounds of the forest brought smiles often.  It was amazing.  No need to think of the route.  Just putting one foot ahead of the other, and keep going.

Then the faster runners were making their way back and clapped to cheer them on.  Some acknowledged, some just carried on.  No matter their response, it was good to see them looking strong, or appearing to :)

Just before crossing Mandai Road, saw Burnz & Joanne providing support & drinks. and soon Soong Ing & Angela caught up and stopped by B&J convenience store, whilst i crossed Mandai Road to enter Lorong Asrama area.
Burnz, Joanne, Soong Ing, Angela (At Mandai Road)

And along Mandai Road were Tiwazz, Cher & Voon Ho with another support station.  Great to see them.
Tiwazz, Cher, Voon Ho (at Mandai road before Lor Asrama)

Before entering the Asrama area, there was a Checkpoint, where i wanted to refill my almost depleted hydration bladder, but we were not allowed to take a full bottle to top up, only could take the cups.  I just shrugged and drank 2-3 cups.  Took a photo with Randall & Angelina before moving off into the wildnerness of Asrama with Joe Cheung.  My bladder, i think had only 200ml-300ml of Perpetuem.  Had to ration it out then.  It might be quite challenging, considering the heat of Asrama.  But it'll have to do.

Randall & Angelina at Asrama

The Asrama "HOT" journey

Endrew Larpi, having a break

The famous Hill in Lorong Asrama.

Mr Ultra Runner
100km at TMBT 15-16 Sep
100 Miles at Craze Ultra 22-23 Sep
100km at The North Face 12/13 Oct
Multi-Tasker Ultra runner spotted in Asrama region

Tan Kim Lai with special Umbrella.  Call him for orders :)

Melvin Tan, a Walk In The Park :)

The Asrama segment was only about 7km, instead of 9km.  Hmm, it seems easier this time compared to last year where it was 12km.  At the Checkpoint, i spotted 2 participants refilling their bag from 100 Plus bottles.  I didn't hesitate to do so.  That was my 1st refill after finishing my 1.5L.

Well, after Asrama, it would be the home run stretch, or rather home walk.  Met up with Ivan Lau & Eric Yue at the exit of Asrama and there will begin our 'fight' to the Finish.  We kept pace with each other for quite a stretch, can't remember exactly for how long.
Ivan Lau, Mr Zumba :)
Mr Eric Yue, Mr Teacher SIR!

Also bumped into Frances, a new friend, who was going very strong, you should have seen her running at the downslopes.

Soon, we reached the pipeline area, leading to Rifle Range road.  Less than 9km to go.
Pipeline, back to Rifle Range Road

Crossing over the barrier into Rifle Range Road, met Perry & Doris who were having a well-deserved break at the water station. Me, I just kept walking.

Entered the reservoir area, and shortly saw Fred Tai & Stephen Ong.  Fred was doing the 100km & Stephen was pacing him for 35km.  Fred was cramping all over, but yet he kept moving.  Good job Stephen for motivating him!

Lincoln, who was a volunteer, told us 5.5km to go!!!
5.5km to go.  Go Go Go!!!
Entering the golf course area, i saw Frank 'Mr Burger' Chong & called out to him!!

It was then i made my mind to try jogging the final 4.5km or so to the finish line.  It was so joyous to run free!!! woohoo!!

Saw familiar silhouettes as i jogged on, Eustaquio!!!  Swee Heng!!

told Eustaquio "Let's Hammer It"  since he was using Hammer Nutrition.. hahaa

And soon, the end of the trail emerged, meeting the concrete path, just a short distance to the Finish line.

Lo & Behold i met this Gila group at the sidelines, cheering for everyone.  Couldn't resist the temptation to take a photo of them.
The crazy gang :)  Thanks for your cheers!!
Met Chow Kean Fatt just before the finish line & we held our clasped-hands up in jubilation as we crossed the Finish line to complete 50km at The North Face 2012 Singapore!!

Eustaquio, Let's Hammer It!
Paparazzi, Francis Kayano :)

Famished i was, had to grab drink, banana, sandwich, orange at the finish line, but downed them slowly. Felt good & walked around chatting with friends who had finished earlier.  Also saw some who were about to start their 15km.

Nice chatting with Jon Cheong before i had to take a shower & prepare to conduct a personal training session at MacRitchie with a client at 4.30pm.

After the PT session, i went back to the Finish Line to await for Yeehua's return as she was pacing Sarah Sumathi in her 15km TNF race.  Quite anxious, as there was a cutoff time of 2.5hrs.  The sky was turning darker & i moved towards the trail portion, hoping to catch a glimpse of their return.  In time, Sarah & her gang of pacers (Yeehua, May, Nicholas) emerged!  So happy to see them & we ran to the finish line together and Sarah got her finisher medal.  Well done Sarah!

The many pacers of Sarah Sumathi
It's been an exciting experience, believing in yourself, and just giving it a shot.  You never know until you try.  Don't say you can't.  That's negativity.  Throw that thought away.  It doesn't help you become a better person.

Whether you get to the Finish or not is not the ultimate goal.  
Races end, Experiences never.

Get out of your comfort zone, go out there and Live Life to the Fullest!
Never Stop Exploring & Break All Boundaries!

More photos can be found HERE

By Garmin

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