Monday, January 21, 2013

HK Vibram 100k 2013 (19 - 20 Jan 2013)

My second attempt at the HK Vibram 100 race, with a target to complete within 24h and get the finisher trophy. Last year I exceeded by 50min, and I decided that this year I would spend less time at the checkpoints gorging myself with the food.

I had pretty much the same base gear as last year. I wore my blue Nike combat long-sleeved top, and CWX insulating compression tights. We started at 8am this year (compared to an earlier time last year), and the weather was actually ok, not too cold. In fact, I thought the entire race was overall warmer than last year. I brought my Marmot jacket - first time using it - worked very well. I also packed an extra Nike insulating long-sleeved and my shell pants into the transition bag, which I would pick up at 50km.

This year, I whipped out my trekking poles at CP1. No point burning up my own energy to climb and tackle those slopes and steps. I realised that I was pretty strong in going up, but slow coming down. So I kept overtaking people on the up, and then they all flew down the slopes and passed me again. And that cycle repeated throughout the race.

Alber graciously accompanied me all the way. We made good progress at the start, and I made extra sure that I would not fall asleep and bomb the distance between CP5 - 6. That was the longest stretch and was also the section that almost did me in last year. I survived that section.

Alas, sleep still caught up with me. I was quite a zombie between CP 6 - 8. I kept dozing off, on the steps, on the way down, on the way up, on the flat road, everywhere! It was quite a chore and Alber had to wait for me. At some points, because he was going at my pace, he got tired and refused to move. But he of course caught up with me very quickly. We got to the infamous Needle Hill at CP8. You know that is the one because after an endless climb, you get rewarded by a sight of a steady stream of lights going 45-deg upwards ahead of you. The climb was not too bad though, maybe because I was psychologically prepared from last year's experience. After that, it was a steep descent to CP9.

When we got to CP9, we had about 3h buffer to get that finisher trophy. Alber thought there was not enough time, but I was not convinced. Nonetheless, I decided to go on 'turbo' and charge through the last 9km. Alber told me to go ahead. I must have switched my headlamp wrongly because the light seemed so dim. It was still dark and foggy and I could not exactly make out the way amongst the rocky path. It was uphill all the way to an observatory centre sort of building. It was the last hill climb. I was so happy to hit the winding tarmac road because that meant I was about 5km away from the end point. I sprinted (as best) down, using my trekking poles for momentum to swing round the bends. Was quite happy to overtake a couple of (surprised) runners, and also somewhat emotional as the end neared. The race was finishing! I crossed the line at around 23h and earned my trophy. :)  Alber came in about 8min after me, to my pleasant surprise.

Overall: 620
Category: 73
Gun time: 23:01:57h
Chip time: 22:59:58h

Support pt: 1:43:11h
CP2: 4:32:25h
CP3: 6:05:21h

CP5: 9:30:08h
CP6: 13:40:38h
CP7: 16:13:03h
CP8: 18:42:02h
CP9: 20:53:25:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Venus Trail Part II

Did not run as much this week.

Thurs - morning drizzle was the perfect excuse not to run. In the evening, it was a rush and by the time I got to the club, I could barely squeeze in 1h of run. Did two loops around Telok Blangah St 31 at a slightly faster pace than usual.

Fri - refused to wake up in the morning. Bummer...

Sat - ran to MR and explored the Venus Trail. Along the way there was a fork and the trail branched into two paths. Last weekend I followed the left path to the open carpark. So today I decided to take the right path and see where it would lead me to. I did not look at the map, but had a hunch that it was a loop. It was a relatively undisturbed little path. There were 3 photographers and no one else. I must have disturbed the peace because I could hear a lot of scrambling sounds to the sides as my footsteps approached. At one point, I looked up and saw a tupai (tiny squirrel) running across a branch that was just over my head! :)

The trail ended at an opening to a grass field. Down the slope to my left was the same open carpark where I was last week. To my front were a couple of nice huge bungalows ahead. I spotted two exercise machines at the window of one house, positioned to face the greenery. Nice. My hunch was correct, the entire Venus Drive trail was a loop which led to the open carpark.

Happy with my little discovery, I ran back to MR and continued my way home.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Double Short Runs

Hmmm, is mileage from having two short runs a day worse off, equivalent, or better than one longer run?

Did a relaxed wake up run in the morning (50min).
Did a relaxed chill-out run in the evening (108min).

What does that add up to?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Discovering Venus Drive

Refused to get out of bed this morning. My 自然醒 (to be awakened naturally) strategy resulted in me tumbling out of bed close to noon. The sun was blazing through my window and neutralised the air-conditioner in my bedroom. Too hot to run, I decided to wait until it was cooler in the late afternoon to hit the trail.

I started at 3pm, not too bad, there was some overcast alternating with sunshine. Wore my TNF shoes today, and they were so much lighter than my Salomons, my legs took flight and found a nice, strong cadence. It helped too that the trail had mostly dried up over the weekend.

 I ran into Durian Loop to avoid the heat, and did my usual route to MR. On the return, I randomly decided to explore the Venus Drive trail, after seeing the signage all the time. It was my first time going into that path despite my years of running at MR. I was curious to see where it led to.

It turned out to be a nice and pleasant little path. Fairly tranquil. First it snaked along the Singapore Island Country Club, then it filtered off to a little trail that reminded me of the 'terrain' at Durian Loop. The path ended at an open carpark - and now it all clicked. I always meet people who come into the Tree Top Walk from that (nearest) carpark, or people who get to the Ranger Station and are desperate for the shortest way out. The Venus Drive carpark was their answer.

The signage at MR said it was 2.4km, but based on my run time, I estimated that it was only about 3km in total, to and fro. Or about 9min each way. That made it a just-nice distance and timing for an impromptu detour or extension in future. Not overly taxing and still within the water-support point of the Ranger Station thereafter.

The weather started to cool down as I headed back. I was pleasantly surprised to still see a number of casual joggers and hikers in MR, especially families (typically the ang-moh ones) with children enjoying the nature.

I also noticed recently that there were many more young monkeys along the route. I guess the mating and birth season must have been late last year, and the young ones are starting to come out and play.

Lovely way to decompress and end the weekend. :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Long Run is Like Eating Sashimi

I think this would be my last longish run before the HK100.

Lazily woke up at 9am, ate a little bun, and started my run before 10am. The trail has somewhat dried by then, and it was not splish-splash-muddy. I managed to clear two loops in MR and head back. Shoes relatively dry and intact. Bumped into Yihui, Jane and Li Hui separately. Good to see the girls again, all looking so cheerful.

This formula of mine seems to work so far. Buying a milo from the vending machine on my second loop and drinking it before heading home. I have not 'hit the wall' or bonked yet on my last couple of 30+km runs.

My route goes something like this:
1. Run from home to Rifle Range to MR
2. Head to the Ranger Station to top-up water
3. Run back towards the Jelutong Tower and wooden boardwalk to complete the loop.
4. Pit-stop at Visitor Centre, toilet and top-up water
5. Continue to Ranger Station, top-up water
6. Continue on 2nd loop
7. Pit-stop at Visitor Centre, toilet and top-up water, and buy a pack of Milo :)
8. Continue to Ranger Station, top-up water
9. Turn out to Bukit Timah, down Rifle Range, and home.

That would be about 32-33km.

It suddenly occurred to me during the run, the reason why I love my long slow runs. I have always wondered, is it 'wrong' not to want speed, or is it 'lazy' not to push my pace and breathe hard? There is always that guilt element, like why is my timing not improving, or how come everyone else is getting faster or overtaking me....

Then it sort of hit me that I actually enjoy my LSDs. A long, slow run is like having a large plate of sashimi, to be savoured slowly, piece by piece, and step by step. One does not devour all the fish at one go. The satisfaction comes from slowly chewing and feeling each sashimi slice melt in your mouth. Just as there is happiness in hearing the steady crunch of every foot step and going through each step. The longer I run in comfort (= not panting), the happier I get. I must be weird..... but happy. :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Double Trots

Had a rest from running yesterday, figured I had enough mileage over the new year's break and should spare my legs for a day. Went for a nice long massage instead. It was the first day back at work and I already felt like I needed another break....

Ran along Rifle Range Road this morning. Nice cool morning after last night's rain. Easy run, 50min.

Decided to haul myself down to MF tonight as well and ended up trotting along for an hour. Two loops around Alexandra - Telok Blangah St 31. Another breezy evening, after this afternoon's downpour. One of those "lost in my thoughts" kind of run. Brain decompression, nice.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year Greetings!

First day of the year. First run of the year.

It was a total washout yesterday, as the rain stormed down the entire day, non-stop. I thought the trails would be a mud pool today, but it was surprisingly clean and dry. Cleaner than the previous days that I ran. The rain must have washed away all the top layers of loose sand, mud and accumulated slosh. How apt, to start the run on a (quite literally) clean slate too!

The weather alternated between sunshine, overcast and drizzle. I managed about 32-33km, two loops of MR and back home. Along the way, I ran past 3 monitor lizards (in sizes S, M, L), 2 skinks (eeeiu...), and 1 yellow-green pencil thin snake, which slithered away to the side as I approached and continued looking out for edible prey. I suppose the rain yesterday must have thwarted their plans and it was a good day to be out for some sun-tanning and food.

I also bumped into a couple of familiar trail-ultra faces. Good to see like-minded folks, lost in our own contemplative solo runs. It was that sort of "Hi, happy new year" moments, running past one another, perfectly understanding why the other runner was also out in the trail.

Strangely, my stopwatch clocked about 4-ish hours for the run, but my watch was about 5h since I left the house. I must have mysteriously lost 30min at pit-stops...! Anyhow, by the time I got home, I was quite a shade darker, courtesy of the random sun.

Great to start off the year with a run, and looking forward to more good long runs.