Saturday, June 7, 2008

Sundown Ultra Marathon (310508 - 010608)

My bib for the ultra marathon

This is my longest run in my life, i still cant imagine why had i signed up for the sundown ultramarathon 84 km during December 07. But there is always the first time.....

Pre race

I arrived at Changi beach at around 1800 hrs to secure a parking lot, was quite surprised that most of the carparks are half full. I had earlier anticipated that there would be a lot of vehicles as it was weekend and closure to some of the carparks. As i was more than 2 hours early, i rested in my car while reading the newspaper. At 1930 hrs, i left my car for the starting point. Visited the sgrunner's booth and met up some friends, everyone seemed to be physic up for the race.

Race

Finally, the race had started. It was flagged off by Mr Teo Ser Luck at 2025 hrs, 5 minutes early. My aim for the first round, which is 42 km, was to maintain at a steady pace of 7 mins/km without taking any walk break. The Changi coastal road was shortly filled with ultramarathoner hopeful and the 10 km corporate team challenge runners. But once the 10 km runners U-turned at halfway point, the road in that was in front of me became a lonely and quiet journey. Luckily, i had my beloved MP3 player which would accompanied me throughout my rest of the journey.

Coffee break was next at the sgrunner's support station(27km). I was very grateful to had reached there without severe cramps and pains. There were only a few supporters along the way as compared to the Standard chartered marathon as everyone must be sleeping soundly in their bed.

I managed to complete the first round in 5 hours 10 mins. The transition point was my next checkpoint, as i immediately looked for a place to take a short break. I swapped my shoes for Asics Nimbus 9 together with a new pair of socks. Sand witches and Powergel were my fuels for the second round.

My next strategy was to maintain a 7:30mins/km pace with 20/5 mins run/walk routine. But after 3 such routines, i decided to abandon it as my thighs were yelling for "help". I was basically walking throughout the coastal road, not a very good start for the second round.

"Hitting the wall" is always a torturing moment for runners especially in an marathon. But in an ultramarathon, one must be ready for numerous "walls". Circadian rhythm (At around 3 am to 5 am) was another barrier that would posed a problem to ultramarathoners as it is during this period that our performance reduces to up to 35%.

At 62 km, i was surprised that there was a sudden surge of energy that flowed through my body. This allowed me to increase my pace to 6 mins/km throughout 63 km to 70 km. Was it the powergel which i had consumed minutes ago that contributed to my fuel tank? My next pit stop will be the sgrunner's support station. Once again, it was their helpfulness that motivated and spurred my morale to continue the rest of my race(15 km more). I came to a walking pace at around 72 km and started hallucinating. Both my thighs started to sore badly and the abrasions beneath my arms started to swell.

At 75 km, the sky began to rain dogs and cats. I was all soaked up and my thighs started to cramps again. By this time, i had overtaken the tail end of the 42 km marathoners as they took shelter from the heavy rain. Nevertheless, i continued to push myself and ran through the rain.

With just 4 km to go, i found out that i could complete the race under 12 hrs, which was my targeted time. I slowly picked up my pace and finished the grueling sundown marathon in 11 hours 22 mins. I was glad to see some of the sgrunners at the finishing point, capturing my tired looks as i crossed the finishing line without much fanfare. Finally i could officially announced that "I AM AN ULTRAMARATHONER!!!" It was a great sense of achievement in my life!


Finally, the finishing line

Me with ultra khakis enjoying 100 plus and banana.

I managed to get the 84 km finishing medal, t-shirt and towel without any hassle (By this time, most of the runners had gone home for their precious sleep). I was happy that most of my ultramarathoners khakis managed to complete the run within the cutoff time of 14 hrs 30 mins. I knew that despite completing the race, i had another barrier to overcome, that was to walk 600m to my car, and drove home .... in one piece. I did and live to complete another Ultra .....

Finisher T-shirt and medal





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