More Than Usual But Not Quite There

As ridiculous as it was, what I did earlier this morning was out of necessity. Project 40 calls for a memorable year, and clicking on the Submit button (actually Frank, my race partner, clicked. My fingers cramped up) on the TNF registration page literally sent me up and down uncharted paths. How does a working stiff on 12-hour days really train for a trail ultra without his kids and family forgetting that he lives with them? I’m no Dean Karnazes where the whole family tags along to races in an RV. I also don’t live in the mountains where the air is fresher and environment zen-like.

Shine, Jeff and Pui San – all ultra veterans

In other words, I live in a REAL world. But if I gripe, there’s no end to it, and I might as well curl up in a ball and cry or simply give up and head to the caves and live a life of a hermit. What remains then is just to manage however best I can. So far it has been ensuring that my weekend long runs are done. Today’s run merely takes the concept up a notch. Sorry, several notches. Since I’m down to run the Nike City 10K on Oct 10th, I’ve to play my part for the KL team in the KL vs SG challenge (the KLites’ @sses are being whooped big time BTW).

Que sera sera.

My alarm went off at 2:30am and I had only 4 hours worth of sleep. Breakfast was cup noodles washed down with a tumbler of Endurox. The morning was muggy and I was dressed appropriately but boy, was that all about to change.

I was the first to turn into the car park and Jeff pulled up even before I shut off the car’s engine. Shine was next, although he would just be doing 20K and finally Pui San. Jeff was nursing extremely sore muscles following his jumping exercises the day before. I know, you’re probably thinking what the heck was he doing the eve of a 50K. But more on Jeff later. Soon enough the 4 of us set off in what would be unknown territory for me. While these 3 had completed 84K, I’m pretty much an ultra virgin. Let’s just say that I carried enough cab fare as emergency!

On the way to the Matrade Building. You can see the trio in the distant.

We went really slow and this was my first learning. Tackling an ultra means slowing down and preserving the legs. And I was in good company to control my instincts to go faster than is necessary. Walking up steeper climbs also help extended the legs. Once we reached Solaris, lightning flashed across the skies and gusts of wind started to build up. It began to drizzle lightly when we cleared Desa Hartamas. A quick toilet stop followed at the Petronas station. And just when Shine and I were wondering where Jeff and Pui San went, the sky opened up and it really really poured. We took shelter at a car workshop from the rain and wind.

Running past Solaris Hartamas
Past Solaris, approaching the turning to Mont Kiara

My running top was a very thin singlet. I was prepared for a hot run but the rain and wind conspired to send chills into my bones. Our wait was far too long – close to 30 minutes – and we were forced to decide on the next course of action. We were losing time to complete the distance by noon and Jeff mentioned that the trek up the Kiara club road could be perilous with the many trees that line the winding road. With the strong winds, a tree could easily be uprooted. The decision then was to do loops between the IRD office and Petronas. Each way is approximately 5K. With the exception of Shine, we were all determined about completing at least the marathon distance.

Wet and cold with nowhere to go.

After 30 minutes, the rain started to ease off and that was the sign for us to move along. Starting back again was uncomfortable. The muscles’ cooled down and it was very very cold. Shine went ahead to complete his run before heading off to work while Pui San and I ran together. Jeff was further back trying to walk off his quad pain. Pui San and I were in agreement that Jeff is pretty much a masochist. In our conversation with him, he seemed to be looking out for pain, and relishes pain. In other words, he’s quite mad. I hope in my transition to an ultra runner, I won’t turn into a Jeff.

Pretty soon, the day brightened up and we shared the road with many Muslims on their way to the mosque for their Hari Raya prayers. Pui San was in her cheery self wishing many “Selamat Hari Raya”.

A Malay family dressed in their festive best.

A lot more running and walking later, we were back at the car park but with 2K short of the marathon distance, we took another loop around the bird park and ended up with a 43K run. It was extremely satisfying despite this being just a training run and that we came up short from the intended distance. There’s something about the marathon that gives you that feeling. I had a good outing and I’m much more confident of tackling 50K. I learned that with proper pacing, it can be done. I was also happy for the fact that I only relied on 2 Kellogg’s cereal bars for fuel in this 5:44 run and didn’t feel wasted. The time spent on the feet provided great conditioning. Hopefully there will be another chance to cover the same distance again before TNF.

2.5K to the car park.
Back at the car park, ready to get the day going. You can check out Pui San’s report here