Sunday, March 27, 2011

Twilight Ultra Challenge 2011

This post describes the Twilight Ultra Challenge 2011, the thoughts that ran through my mind when I ran it, how I felt during and after the race and the things I learnt from it.


Date: 26th Mar 2011, 1700Hr - 27th Mar 2011, 0900Hr
Distance: As many loops of 10km as possible in 16 hrs
Location: East Coast Park


I am using this race as rehearsal for Sundown 100km in end Jun. So it is

1) 10 loops (100km), OR
2) 16 hrs, OR
3) run till I give up hahahahahahahahaha .. :)


Started on Monday. Started to progressively increase my carbo intake. Learnt this tactic from my HK running friends. I had tried it in China Coast in Jan and Tokyo in Feb. It works.

Keep ordering extra rice for my meals. The closer it gets to race day the more rice I ate. Until on race day afternoon I had 4 bowls of rice when I ate bak kut teh for lunch.

*puke rice*


Only did 2 50km before. Zero experience at distances like this. So .. this is my ..

virgin 100km .. :)


The start point is near Carpark D1. There is a main tentage where we deposit our bags and also special needs bag. We will run towards Bedok jetty where there is a water station where we will u - turn back to the main tentage. Passing the main tentage, we will head towards Big Splash where there is another water station. We will u - turn from there and run back to the main tentage area. 1 such loop will be 10km. So it means

Main tentage: 5km, 10km mark
Bedok jetty: 2.5km mark
Big Splash: 7.5 km mark

The special needs bag is for you to store anything you deem necessary for the race, which you do not wish to carry around. Like spare running clothes, shoes, gels etc. I had brought extra running clothes and shoes, just in case I need to change.


When I started training for my first 50km in 2009, I have to follow another runner from forum for him to bring me around 1 loop of Macritchie Reservoir. During the run, he told me to run ultramarathons:

"You can go slow. You can walk. But you dont stop"

Somehow, this advice stuck itself to my mind all the way till now.

I calculated as long as I keep at around or above 9min pace, I will be able to do a 100km within 16 hours. It seems a safe bet as it allows for some buffer time.

"You can go slow. You can walk. But you dont stop"


Gel is a must. During my training runs, I realised also need some solid food. I cannot possibly carry a bunch of banana and run. Snicker bars are a good alternative. Not the Snickers Mini. Snickers bar!


Start - 10km:

1 x GU gel.

I started slow. Real slow. I even made it a point to walk a short distance after crossing the start line before I start to run. The rest of the runners are all speeding forward. I was going at around 8:30 pace .. I have not ran such a distance before so its not worth the risk to expend your energy so early. I told myself to stick to this pace.

Just before reaching the seafood center, there was this Caucasian who was there walking this dog. He asked me what's this race about. After I told him its as many loops of 10km as possible in 16hrs, he said: "So that's around 15 loops?"

Eerrhh .. I will be damn happy if I can reach 10 .. 15 .. ??!!!!! ..

I was among the very last to reach the 2.5km water station. Had a cup of water and went off again. Still in a slow pace. No hurry.

As I was about to reach the 7.5km water station, I saw Teck Soon and Joanne doing their weekend run. Joanne was commenting that I was running very slow.

"Yah, I know." I replied, "I'm not in a hurry."

hahaha .. :p

The first 10km was just below 1hr 30min .. on time! :)

10km - 20km:

1 x GU gel.

Run and run and run .. 8.30 pace .. slow and steady ..

Passing by the seafood center makes you wish you can also sit down and eat the chilli crab .. !! ..

I started singing to myself in my mind. The song that I like and knew how to sing one by one popped to mind in a random manner .. Jacky Cheung .. Leslie Cheung .. Leo Koo .. Eason Chan .. Roman Tam .. oldies .. newies .. chinese .. cantonese .. blah blah blah ..

I reckon I will never need to get a MP3 player ..

20km - 30km:

1 x GU gel.

The time is now 8+ at night. The sun is already down.

Run run run .. 8.30 pace .. slow and steady ..

30km - 40km:

1 x Snicker bar.

Alin, GY and Sandy arrived to support us. Thanks!

Run run run .. 8.30 pace .. slow and steady ..

The time now is 11+ .. most of the shops are closed ..

40km - 50km:

1 x Snicker bar.

Alin, GY and Sandy arrived to support us. Thanks!

Run run run .. 8.30 pace .. slow and steady ..

By this loop, all the shops are closed. Besides us, there are very little people on the pavement. The people at the BBQ pits are just sitting around chitchatting away or are already asleep.

For the first 50km, each 10km was done in around 1hr 30min. So when I completed 50km, it was around 0030Hr. On time.

I did not spend much resting time at the end water stations or the main tentage. Or rather, I did stop and rest at all. Given my slow pace, I know I cannot afford to idle too long at the water stations. My only form of rest is the 1 min walk break I give myself every 30 min I run.

50km - 60km:

1 x Snicker bar.

I took a deep breath as I stepped away from the main tentage. This step onwards will be unchartered territory for me. I had never gone beyond 50km before.

Alin started the loop with me. But she thinks that my pace is too slow for her so she went ahead first.

This loop took around 1hr 30+min. Ok, my body is starting to weaken. The self singing in my mind also stopped.

60km - 70km:

1 x Snicker bar.

Woohoo .. !! .. the mental war begins!

Its already passed 0200Hr at night. I am tired! Muscles are aching! My body is used to sleeping at this hour. Yet, now I am pushing it to do what it has never ever done before.

My mind switched to CS mode .. Curse and Swear .. at myself.

"Why do you sign up for this race?!!!"

"Why do you make yourself suffer so much?!!!"

"Why arent you sleeping at home now?!!!"

"Fark you! Fark you! Fark you! Fark you! Fark you!"

There was fear and anxiety.

"Can my body take this beating?!!!"

"What if I my heart cannot take it?!!!"

"What if I suddenly collaspe?!!!"

When I remembered I still have SDM100, it just got worse.

"Why did you sign up for SDM100?!!!"

"Fark you! Fark you! Fark you! Fark you! Fark you!"

I almost feel like crying. I begin to wonder should I go for SDM100. Should I sell the BIB away? Or should I just dont turn up on that day?

Looking at the time, I cannot tell whether if I can finish on time. Its like running blind in a tunnel without knowing where is the opening.

I cannot maintain the steady pace anymore. The pace is fluctuating up and down. I started walking. It was haphazard. I cannot maintain the running. I just run and walk. Run and walk ..

Simply put it, after 60km .. I do not know what I am doing ..

70km - 80km:

1 x Snicker bar.

The Snicker bar feels tasteless now! But I just chewed it and forcefully swallowed it down my throat. I know I need it.

The cursing and swearing in my mind continues. In a faster manner.

At the Bedok jetty water station, I had to sit down on the chair to stretch my leg muscles. They are too stiff already.

I tried to stop the haphazard run / walk pattern and add a rhythm into it. I switched to walking half the stretch (1.25km) from the main tentage to the end water stations and run the other half. Do the same for the return leg from the end water stations to the main tentage. But I will spend a lot of time on walking which may be too risky. i do not have much time to spare.

My Garmin was set to beep every 15 min. So I tried walking for 1 min every time it beeps. Nope. The walk break is too short. Not enough.

I tried walking for 5 min every time it beeps. Ok, feels good. Or at least it makes my mind feel better.

How I wish all this is just a very bad dream.

I tried to push away all the cursing and swearing in my mind.

"You dont give up .. You dont give up .. You dont give up .. You dont give up .. You dont give up!"

80km - 90km:

1 x GU gel.

20km to go. I had taken around 12hr 30min.

Time is around 0530Hr in the morning.

I need around 1hr 30+min for each 10km now. So the remaining 20km will take me around 3+ hr. For once, there seems a slight chance that I can finish this race!

At 84km, the timing was around 13hr 15min.

I remembered reading this in the book "Born to Run"

"Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast. You start with easy, because if that's all you get, that's not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don't give a shit how high the hill is or how far you've got to go. When you've practiced that so long that you forget you're practicing, you work on making it smoooooooth. You won't have to worry about the last one - you get those three, and you'll be fast."

Think easy! Think light! Think smooth!

Running towards the Big Splash water station, I heard a voice calling me.

"Jacky! Wah, still running ah?"

I turned around and saw Kim Lai and Alin on the bike track. They are walking over to join the Fatbird training at Big Splash. I gave a barely noticeable nod.

Alin shouted to me: "Keep moving! Keep moving!"

Another barely noticeable nod.

As I was finishing the loop at the main tentage, Ben Swee called out to me: "Jacky! Very good!"

He is trying to encourage me. But the packet of rice he is holding in his hand is not .. :p

90km - 100km:

1 x GU gel.

I just took a cup of water from the main tentage and went off. I do not want to stay at the tentage too long. I am afraid the longer I stay I more I will be tempted to stop.

At the bedok jetty water station, I need to press onto the table to support myself and stand properly. :s

The guy in charge of the station knows that I am very tired. He took away the empty cups on my hand and said: "I'll throw for you. You go."

More and more people are running on the track now. The sky is already bright at this time.

Just before passing the main tentage, the Fatbird people ran past me. I saw Le Giang, Fia, Tang, Emily. They waved and cheered for me. Thanks!

(Later, Fia told me when she saw me that day, I look as if I was dying.)

1 x GU gel at the main tentage.

5km more!

When I reached the Big Splash water station, they had already started packing part of their stuff. But there are still cups of water on the table.

In my mind, I keep repeating to myself: "Dont stop! Move! Move!"

2.5km to go.

I just want to finish this race. I know I am on time. I was like a walking .. no .. running corpse. This is the fastest that I can go now. I have no more strength.

As I was running, somebody came alongside me. I turned and saw Steven. He was there for the Fatbird pacer training and saw I was in a bad bad shape and came to accompany me.

Our conversation went somewhere along like this:

Him: Jacky. You ok or not?
Me (whispering): Ok
Him: How long have you been running?
Me (whispering): 15hr+
Him: How much more to go?
Me (whispering): 2.5
Him: 2.5 to how far? 80?
Me (whispering): 100

I must admit. At that moment when I said the "100", I was so damn proud of myself .. :p

I asked him to go ahead as he has his own pacer training to do. Mine is too slow for him. Before moving off, he even offered to give me his isotonic drinks. Ha .. thanks! You make a good pacer.

I just keep running .. and running .. and crossed the finish line at 15:37.


I have a 20 cent coin size blister on my right heel. Thank goodness, there is only one!

I lost 3kg right after the race. I lost a lot of water.

My muscles are aching like mad. From my thigh down, every inch of muscle is screaming in pain. Shoulder is also aching.

There is a light buffet catered at the main tentage, to my surprise. Good service! I did not expected it. But, I lost all appetite to eat. I know I need to eat something to replenish my spent energy so I just grabbed some food and force myself to eat them.

For the next couple of days, I can only moving around walking slowly. I hate stairs. I have to sit down on the ground to bath as I cannot lift up my legs. Hahahahaha .. :)


100km in 16 hr can be done. I have more confidence for the SDM100 now.

I know my back - to - back runs on Saturdays and Sundays are worth it. They did me good. I just need to continue working on them.

I had asked Jacqueline before: "How do you run 84km? How do you do back - to - back runs?"

She gave me a simple reply: Endurance.

I think I can appreciate her answer now.

This is my V100k race .. learnt a lot ..

Endurance .. plus mental strength .. plus that bit of stubbornness ..

You can go slow. You can walk. But you dont stop. You just keep moving.

Sitting at the main tentage, after collecting my bags, I realised one thing .. "Shit .. !! .. I still need to make my way home."

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