Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sundown Ultramarathon 2011 - Part 1 / 2

I woke up at 0800Hr. Had been sleeping early for the whole week. Every day reaching home after work, I would quickly finish up my own stuff and go to bed. I would be asleep by latest 2230Hr. This was to ensure I got maximum rest. Yesterday night was no different. In fact, I slept at 2130Hr.

I laid down there not wishing to move, knowing well that I am unable to fall asleep anymore. Finally, I dragged myself up and went out for breakfast. Had a short walk around One Fullerton after breakfast. When I was at the edge of the river, at the opposite side I could see Marina East. This evening, together with hundreds of others, I would be passing through there, beginning the 100km run.

There was a gentle breeze. The sky was covered with dark clouds.

Arrrgghh .. better head home fast.

Once I reached home I began to pack. I had a list of To - Bring items with me. Gone through the list umpteen times in my mind to make sure I did not miss out anything.

As I was packing, it began to rain heavily outside. Time now: 1100Hr.

My race items. Ailing said I need a lorry to transport them. I told her a container would be better.

There was a spare top, compression tights, shoes and socks to be placed in the Special Needs Bag. Just in case I need a change of attire at midpoint. I did not plan to change if there was no need to.

I sent the photo of my gear above to my good friend who was now overseas. She was a big source of motivation and encouragement to me while training for the race. She replied: "Wah all ready to go :)" .. Hahaha .. :)

By around 1200Hr, the rain had stopped. I had also finished packing.

"all packed .. good to go :)", I messaged my good friend.

I was not feeling nervous. Strangely, I was feeling rather calm.

"At this moment, it is time to gave faith in the training you had done." I was told before.

There was still time and it was spent laying down on my bed staring into blank space, or surfing Facebook and reading the encouragements from fellow runners and supporters.

Lunch was late at 1400Hr. Purposely had it late. It was bak kut teh nearby my house. It had formed part of my main staple during weekends for the carbo and protein it contained. I had increased my rice intake since the beginning of the week. I had 4 bowls for this meal. I was on the verge of puking rice.

I quickly bathed and changed into running gear. The amount of vaseline applied on abrasion prone areas was much more than usual.

Checked through myself and the room to make sure I left nothing behind.

Ok, time to go. First I have to pick up Fumi-chan from her hotel. When I met Fumi-chan at the hotel lobby at 1630Hr, she was still deciding whether should she bring her hydration bag or the water bottle belt during the race. She was bringing both to the race site so I told her she still had around an hour to decide. Hahaha .. :)

We took a cab and reach Marina Barrage at around 1700Hr. It was already crowded with participants!

Evening sun at Barrage.

This is Fumi-chan. A Japanese lady I knew at Phuket 2010. She was running her maiden full marathon. We were pacing each other in the final km of the marathon and she came in 4:43. Later on in Nov 2010, she would go on to win the champion at the Bangalore Ultra 75km Women Open.

Sharing my packet of dried craneberries.

On the way to bag deposit.

Fia came down to support and send us of despite being clutches. Besides her, others who came down were Jennifer Lem, Joanne, Soon Teck, David Tan, Chin, Le Giang and many many others.

With Hayden, a friend made during the Twilight Ultra Challenge.

Charlotte, she has transformed into a running machine from the time I first met her a year ago!

Waiting for race start at 1800Hr. Sensing a "We are all going to die!" camaraderie among the runners around me. This spirit sort of bind us together as a team. Although an ultra was ran most often alone, it was also the fellow runners (most of them total strangers) in the race that makes the journey less lonesome. At some parts of the run, it may be this total stranger who would stretch out his hand to you when you need help.

Going through the numerous race photos after the race, a lot of times when I saw a familiar face in the photos, I would go "Oh yes! I saw him/her at where and where!" and you would feel happy for the person for finishing the race. This feeling seems stronger for ultra distance races, compared to FM or sub distance races. Maybe it is due to the fact that there are lesser participants in the former, thereby making it easier for you to interact or pass by more runners.


Pace: Same as Twilight Ultra Challenge, using 1.5 hr for each 10km. Except this time, I would do a 1 min walk break every 15 min instead of 30 min. I was thinking most probably I could hold it for the first 50km, with the second 50km gradually slowing down for each 10km. Main thing was to go slow. Slow and steady.

Nutrition: Using the same as TUC. Gels and snicker bars. Based on the TUC experience, after a certain distance I would not have appetite for anything so it should be something which was easy to eat. I added a box of Dextro Energy this time.


10 mins before race start, I took the first pack of GU Gel.

Waiting .. waiting .. waiting ..

5 mins before race start, everybody started moving closer and closer to the start line.

5 .. 4 .. 3 .. 2 .. 1 .. *AIR HORN!!* ..


Time: 1800Hr
Distance: 0 km
10km Split: NIL

I was at the back of the pack. First we had to make our way down the ramp of Marina Barrage.

"Great.", I thought to myself, "This means when we finish we need to run up!". I decided not to think about it. That would be an issue 100km later.

We cut through the supporters at the ground level. People from the second level and the roof were heard clapping and cheering for all of us. Some of the runners were also cheering among themselves. I only chose to wave back to the supporters, save up all the energy for the run. I would need it.

There was a gentle breeze as we ran on the dam. We turned left into Marina East. I saw Oliver here. I always thought that he looks a lot like a top martial arts expert. Maybe I watch too much TV serials. A lot of runners were overtaking me. I looked back and saw that I was really way back of the running pack. It was alright. There was no hurry.

As we passed Tanjong Rhu, the runners got more and more spaced out. From the condo side I could see the line of runners stretching towards the Indoor Stadium.

I met Clifford over at the condo. Almost could not recognise him in his visor and shades until he called out to me. We ran together towards ECP. I was trying to make a mental map of where I ran. I kept checking my Garmin to see where was the 5km mark (distance markers of the race were placed every 2km). As I ran to a narrow bridge along Sungei Geylang, the Garmin registered 5km. Okay, on the return leg, this would be 95km. This would be the "5km more to go" point.

We came to Mountbatten Road and had to cross a bridge. Clifford told me there would be 2 bridges as indicated on the map. I did not notice the bridges on the map. So this was one down.

We ran passed Katong Swimming Complex and ran through the semi detached houses, slowing making our way to ECP. Very soon, we got to the underpass and went through it and turned up at ECP.

Clifford and I chatted as we ran. We talked about races, marathons, ultras. We spoke about the 4 Desert races. I was startled by the registration fee of a single 4 Desert race. USD$3300! .. WHAT .. !! .. How long do I have to save .. ??!!!!! ..

Time: 1922Hr
Distance: 10 km
10km Split: 01:22:33
Food: Gel

The 10km/90km support station was crowded with supporters. They were cheering for everybody who ran passed them. I quickly refilled my water bottle and continued.

The sky was getting dark. I saw Le Giang again near the canal at Area D clapping for us. I asked why she did not take photographs of me. She replied: "You ran so slow. Now too dark already." .. sigh .. :s

I looked up at the sky over Changi. The clouds were red, indicating it most probably would rain. Hope the weather would remain kind to us.

We ran passed the seafood center, the lagoon and the skate park. It reminds me of TUC. Just that this time we would not be going through this stretch repeatedly. Just over Bedok Jetty, Clifford said he need to answer his phone and asked me to go ahead first. From this point onwards, it would be a solo journey.

The weather was not that kind after all. When I was running towards NSC, it began to rain. "Its ok. Take it in your stride." I told myself. I had learnt to run with the elements. Let the rain drops be your companion. Let the rain drops trickling down your face keep you awake. If you were totally soaked, so be it. Luckily, the rain stopped after 10 mins. It was not that heavy.

All this while, my pace was at around 8 - 8:30 min. Deliberately keeping it low. There was some moment when it went up to 7 min unknowingly. I had to purposely slow down my pace.

Very soon, we got passed NSRCC and got onto the park connector. 20km was near!

The 20km/80km aid station was set up at the traffic light at Tanah Merah Road. I looked at my watch.

On time.

Time: 2048Hr
Distance: 20 km
10km Split: 01:26:10
Food: Snicker Bar

As I entered the aid station, Michael Kang called out to me and gave me a pat on the back. I smiled back at him. Its good to see familiar faces. Some runners were resting and chatting with each other. I filled up my water bottle, ate some oranges and a couple of small muffins. As I headed out, I gave Michael Kang a pat on the arm and smiled to the other runners.

Time to go.

Next up, Changi Coast Road, or more commonly known as coastal road. 6km of straight and endless lamp posts. What greeted my sight as I turned into it was not very encouraging. A saw a runner sitting on the ground resting. A short distance up, I saw another sitting down to stretch his calves. Another runner was helping him and he seems ok.

Do not count the lamp posts. Do not look at the airport. Just look straight and keep running. I overtook a few runners, some others overtook me, including Michael Kang. I knew in my heart that this stretch of coastal road was not tough. The return leg would be tougher, when you were already mentally and physically tired. As I ran I slowly noticed something. i looked forward and saw nobody. The same for my back. I was alone.

Keep running.

After what seemed a long while, I came to the junction of Aviation Park Road. It was at 25km. I saw a guy walking slowly forward with a slight limp. It seems the distance and night had began to slowly take its toll on us.

Going in Changi Beach Park, I saw more runners in front. Directions were marked with boards with arrows or bicycle lights. The place was filled with families having a weekend BBQ. They must sure be curious why was there a bunch of goons running passed them.

SAF Mainland Ferry Terminal came at 27.5km. I was quietly running when suddenly there was this girl who zoomed forward on my right. I looked closer and recognised the back view. It was PS. Do not follow her. Do your own pace!

I was looking forward to the next aid station. As I was running, a voice filled the air: "Jacky Lee!". It was Sandy! She waved at me and I smiled back. When I got near her she gave me a tube of orange flavoured ice pack. "Thanks!", I shouted back.

I twisted the ice pack into 2 and passed half of it to another female runner beside me. I was afraid that finishing the whole thing would give me a bad stomach but I did not want to waste it too. She was also happy to receive the ice pack from me.

Time: 2213Hr
Distance: 30 km
10km Split: 01:25:02
Food: Gel

I saw more familiar faces at the 30km/70km aid station. Pui San, Mohan, Winnie and also PS. The mood seems high. Morale was good. Great!

Refilled my water, took some fruits and bread. Go!

We were now at Changi Village. We turned into Netheravon Road. It was upslopes followed by downslopes. The last time I ran here was during my maiden full marathon at Sundown 2009. 2 years ago. Wow .. :)

I met Rosalind and Genevieve who were supporting for their friends at Loyang Avenue. I found myself slowing down running Loyang Avenue. Strange, did I went too fast initially? Was I already tired out by now? Could not be. It was only 30km. As I was trying to figure out why, I realised that we were running upslope. It was a long upslope.

"Do not struggle. Save the energy for later." I walked up the slope.

As I was approaching the top of the slope, I saw Hazel and Nancy cheering for the runners. Nancy asked me if I would like some lemon with sour plum powder. I was like "huh? eating lemon during a marathon?" Well, I could not afford to be choosy now. Whatever they gave you, its a bonus. Just take it. I put the lemon slices into my mouth and lightly bite on them. The lemon juice rushed out into my mouth. It made me alert instantly. Shiok! I was going to spit out the lemon skins but was thinking whether if I could eat the skins too. I chewed on them and the skin was so crunchy! I ate the lemon skins too. :)

i felt as if I had a sudden burst of energy. We turned right from Loyang Avenue into Pasir Ris Drive 3. It was downslope. I cruised my way down.

We had to turn another right into Pasir Ris Drive 2. At this moment, there was a bike coming towards me in front. There was somebody running behind it. As we crossed each other, I saw that it was the first runner. The time was 04:52. The distance we met was 34.5km. It meant the guy had ran 65.5km in 04:52. Is he a human?!

At 36km, we entered Pasir Ris Park. I met Azhar just before we entered the park. We ran along the paths in the park. I another another friend in Pasir Ris Park. Alexis Phang.

Me: "Alex!"
Alexis: "Hey, Jacky! Hurhurhur."

Hahahahaha .. they were infected with my trademark laughter.

Not much interesting things happened at Pasir Ris Park. We followed the runners in front of us. We came to this U turn in the middle of nowhere. It was 39km. The 40km/60km aid station would be not far away.

Time: 2341Hr
Distance: 40 km
10km Split: 01:27:20
Food: Snicker Bar

I did not stay for long at the aid station. A few more runners ran passed us on their return leg. Among them was Sumiko Tan. I continued and we went into the residential areas. First it was some semi detached housed followed by HDB flats. We were running along the food paths below the HDB flats and trying not to miss the directional signs or the bicycle lights.

A very familiar number came before me. The 42km distance marker.

Time now: 2358Hr

In my mind, there was this voice that was saying:

"Jacky, if you were running KL this weekend, you would still be sleeping at this time!"

1 comment:

Fumi said...

Oh Jacky, you made me feel like a celebrity I found my name and pic in the famous "Journey. Light."!!! lol