Saturday, March 17, 2012

Twilight Ultra Challenge 2012: longest road run in Vibram Five Fingers Classic

This is my 4th ultramarathon and my 1st on the hard road....The previous 3 are MR25 Ultramarathon 2005(73.5km) , MR25 Ultramarathon 2010(81.6km) and The North Face 100 2011(50km)..All 3 in the trails.

This is also my worst prepared and worst fitness level going into an event.I was ill since Nov last year and only recovered and started running end of Jan...My longest run was only 15km so I am going into this run with no target...just to complete as much as my legs can take.

I took part last year in good condition aiming to do 100km but after 40km, I went to the toilet and pee only red blood...It was hell of a scare and I stopped immediately..It took me 4 urine tests within a week to get myself cleared of any health problem.

The run started at 12 midnight so I got myself to the ground at 11pm. It has been raining for few days and it was quite cool at night. Got myself prepared and the race started on time with a crowd of 100+.

The first lap was fine..I adopted the same strategy as last year...running towards bedok jetty, I will slow to walk when I hit Jumbo seafood and start running again when I hit the cable ski bridge. After U-turn at Bedok Jetty, I will slow to walk at jumbo and start to run at the new MacDonald. After crossing the Start/Finish line at 5km, I will slow to walk at the first shelter after old MacDonald and the U-turn is just after Big Splash. The return leg will slow to walk at around the same shelter. 1st lap is always the fastest becos full fuel tank. Some runners are very fast .......1hrs 14min

My 2nd lap started to feel fatigue after 15km as that was my longest distance be my longest distance before this run. I thought my pace got slower and managed to maintain almost the same as 1st lap......1hr 15min

The 3rd lap is the marathon "wall" distance. Less runners on the path and can see some are getting tired and sleepy. East Coast Park is still alive and many party away at the chalet. The smell of BBQ food is causing some disruption. I just continue to drag on my feet and maintain my run/walk and I was much slower than the 2nd lap. And some runners has completed a marathon distance!!........1hr 23min

4th lap was a drag. Even less runners...East Coast Park suddenly went quiet after 5am....started to feel cold during my walks..Can see the volunteers are drained and many has dozed off..This is the time we started see the early bird runners out on the road. I completed this lap still feeling good to go..It was a good achievement for me to be able to cover this distance......1hr 29min

The 5th lap was the toughest. I managed to covered marathon distance in about 5hr 40min. I started to walk run/walk momentum was lost...the strategy cannot last as my whole body started to break down. My feet started to sore and I started to feel knee locking due to my tightening back. I have to stop and stretch my lower back to loosen my knee. I drag my body thru the cool dark morning....started to see runners' sleepy eyes....even more volunteers are turning "zombies"...I was telling myself...If i can survive this lap, I will just try to walk the next and stop. This lap took the longest to cover......1hr 52min

The 6th lap was a surprise...2nd wind as One of the organiser at the Bedok Jetty water point was saying. I managed to run more than the last and was able to maintain my pace well...The sun started to come out and it was getting real hot..more park goers are here...managed to finish much faster than the 5th...nipples started to burn, quickly put lots of vaseline after this lap....1hr 30min

The 7th lap was much harder than 6th...I guess was going too fast on my 2nd wind and started to drain out. The sun got hotter and really left not many runners around. Most of them walking most of the time and I am also walking a lot..I have to stop frequently to stretch my back to loosen my feet are battered and i started to really feel my legs breaking down....I dragged on and completed in one piece. My feet were in bad shape and I decided to push on for the 8th and last lap.....1hr 44min

The 8th lap was a killer....My feets are some point of time, not feeling my legs are working hard to move forward..there is a stretch which I stopped to stretch for every 200m....i was doing like walking 10min run 1min..It was almost noon and the sun is right above and the last 2.5km was real torturing to my feet.........1hr 42min

I managed to complete in 12hrs 12min..still have the energy to smile and walk around after completed the longest distance on the road with my Vibram FiveFingers Classic.......

There are many factors that contributed to this fantastic run. I managed to hydrate well with the sponsor's HEED and plain water. Nutrition is very careful not to over eat and caused stomach bloat and also to walk long enough after eating to let the stomach digest before running again. Surprisingly no abrasion or blisters.....I guess lots and lots of vaseline helps and this is the first time I am using so much of it especially in my VFF. Lastly, the weather condition is perfect. I believe the humidity is not high as this the first time I ran more than 10km without getting my shorts wet. Most friends know that I sweat a much so I look like I took a dip int he pool after run...but not for this shorts are totally dry...and I was lucky to stop early as heavy rain came not long after I left the race site.

Thanks to the organiser, Running Guild for organizing such a fantastic race with great support. The volunteers who has give up their comfortable bed for a night to be with the runners and the photographers who has captured many memorable moments. The recovery ice foot bath was shiok and also thanks Hammer Nutrition for providing the isotonic drinks and recovery beverage for all runners.

In conclusion, this was a very bad example of running an ultra. A runner come into a race unprepared, untrained and tried to go "commando", pushed beyond the normal threshold of pains and aches and physical limits. I was very lucky to escape with zero injury but at least, I have compensate this run for last year bad showing.

So for next year..........well.....till then we will see


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