Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Vibram Hong Kong 100 Ultra Trail 2013

It has always been my dream to do a 100km race,either a road ultra marathon or a trail ultra marathon.Two years ago I almost sign up for Singapore Sundown ultra marathon 100 km but "chicken out" at the last minute.It was due to the fear of the distance.

After TMBT 50km in September 2012 and seeing so many ordinary runners who were able to complete the TMBT 100KM really inspired me to take up the challenge again.It took me some time to consider joining Vibram HK100 and by the time I made up my mind,the registration has closed. 

With the "can do" altitude,I sign up for the charity place in order for me to participant.I have to pay HKD 3880.

After securing a place then came another problem.No time to train.I was actually in the middle of my preparation for my Part 1 MAFP/FRACGP examination.In between study,working and family life,I tried to do some running.The longest run I did was a 25km during the Newton Run.The longest hours of training was 3 hours and the highest hill I climb was the Kepayang Hill near my house (a low hill which take normal walker 15 minutes to reach the peak).I was feeling worried knowing my fellow runners who trained very hard by doing long runs back to back and climbing stairs in Batu Caves.

Since there were no runners from Seremban for this race,I contacted my friend Dr Wong from Kuala Lumpur who agreed to share a room with me in YMCA Salisbury Hong Kong.We stayed there for 4 nights.Friday was spent collecting the race pack and doing some shopping in Tung Chung.

Woke up at 5:00am on Saturday morning to get ready and doing a last minute checking before leaving our hotel for the race.Met up a Singaporean runner who stayed in the same hotel.We took a taxi to the starting point and it cost us HKD 160.(not too expensive). After deposit our baggage-one for the Check Point 5 @52km and another for the finishing,we walked around looking out for familiar faces.Many runners were looking happy,chatting and snapping pictures.

Race started at 8:00am.The weather was still cold with no sun light.It was a relatively flat terrain for the first 11km until we reached a dam.Many runners stopped to take pictures.Then it was walk,walk and walk all the way until Check Point 1 at 21km.I arrived at 12 noon just in time for lunch.I have no appetite to eat so just took some fried rice,noodles and drink.The foods were not as great as describe by runners who took part previously.

After CP1 we need to run across a beach.There were two girls in shark costumes promoting anti-shark fin cheering runners.They were busy cheering the runners to the extend that they forgot to direct runners to the proper route.I just follow those runners in front of me and finally we ended up on a hill across the beach.Then a Hong Kong runner told us that we took the wrong turn.We turned back to the girls in shark costumes.They apologized and direct us to the proper route.It was frustrating as we lost some 20 minutes and the precious energy.

Then another problem cropped up.My stomach doesn't feel good and I stopped to look for a toilet.After finished with the toilet call,I noticed that I have lost my new head wear which I bought for HKD 200.  .It was too late to turn back to look for it.It was uneventful walk all the way to Check Point 5 at 52km mark.I can't remember much except it involved many ups and downs through Hong Kong country side where I can see many old abandoned building,cows and many cow dungs along the route.

I reached Check Point 5 at 7:30pm.It was dark as daylight is shorter during winter time.Surprising I was met by Terence Poon at CP5.So fast?Actually he sprained his ankle and has taken the ambulance to CP5.He advised me to change and eat fast before heading out again.I told him that I just wish to finish by 32 hours and so there was no need for me to rush.I spent 1 hour at CP5,eating,changing to new clothes,replying sms to family and friends who have been sending encouraging messages to me throughout the day.

At 8:30pm I left CP5 alone.It was dark with no runners behind me and occasionally I can spot some blinking headlight a distance away in front of me.The journey from CP5 to CP6 was a torturing long 13 km trail  involving climbing the Ma On Shan.It was a dark windy and cold night.I was walking at the edge of the mountain and occasionally there were strong winds.In the middle of the darkness,I heard someone calling out my name.I was so surprised...someone knows me??It was Dr.Felice.She was tired.She asked me how long more to CP6.I said I don't know.I don't have a GPS.I just walk following the markers.  

I was tired and sleepy too.I have been awake since 5:30am, for about 18 hours.My mind was tired.I need to sleep.I told Dr Felice that I will sleep when I reached CP6.She was feeling nausea and giddy too.This was real torture...sleep deprivation.I saw one lady runner who slept on the trail while her two male friends sitting next to her.Even my new found friend Azahar from KL admitted to sleeping under a tree in the middle of the cold windy night.Nothing to feel ashamed of.Our mind and body needs some rest too. 

Finally after 4 hours of walking in the dark,I reached CP6 at 12:30am.The first thing was to grab some foods and to look for a place in the tent.The tent was occupied by a few runners who has gave up and they were waiting for transport to bring them out.I was lucky as the shuttle bus arrived to pick up those who quit.Immediately I grab two thick blankets,covered myself and lie down on the cold floor.I managed to get some rest and sleep despite my sweaty body and wet clothing.Then more runners arrived and few gave up.They withdraw from the race by handling over their bibs to the person in charge.Late comers have to cover themselves in an emergency blanket while sitting outside the tent.I was comfortable and not leaving my position as I don't want others to take over my sleeping place in the tent.

At 2:00am,Dr Felice got up and preparing to move on.I really salute this brave and determine lady.She was going to continue to CP7 alone.I told her I am not going.I want to stay on longer.I requested to the person in charge of CP6 if I can stay on until 4:00am.No!!Either you leave by 3:00am or you are disqualified.Then I knew there are cut off time for each CP.I was in a dilemma.For the first time,DNF came into my mind.Give up and go home?or stay on? Luck was on my side.I saw Leslie and group (Azhar,Joshua,Ms Lee) were resting and eating at one corner.Leslie invited me to join them for the journey to CP7.

At 2:30am,five of us starting our journey to CP7.I felt better as I had about 2 hours of rest.Azhar was in top form too after a short nap.He was eager to run.I can still remember him calling.."Foo,mari kita lari!"I told him I will only walk.I reassured him that we will get to next CP in time before the cut off time.Just need to continue walking.

CP7 was at the top of a hill.We can hear loud music from far away.They set up a bonfire there for runners to warm their body.We (Leslie,Azhar and myself) spent about 10 minutes in CP7 before heading for CP8 as we were in a hurry to beat the cut off time.Ms Lee was looking too sleepy and tired.We had to "abandon" her at CP7.  

CP7 to CP8 was relatively flat and certain part was down hill tarred road.At CP8,a friendly Mat Salleh lady who was part of the organizing team inquired if I am from Malaysia.From Malaysia or Borneo?Eh..??probably what she meant is if I am from Peninsular or East Malaysia.Then she told me the next 7km to CP9 will be very tough."You have to climb this mountain (as she was pointing toward a mountain) then go down and another climb before turning around toward the Tai Mo Shan (pointing towards another mountain)".To me...all those mountains look the same to me.Finally she added:"if you want,you better quit now.Once you are up there if will be difficult".I said:"NO!" i am not quitting.Only 17km to go.On my way up,I wonder why did the lady encourage me to quit.Do I really look so torn down?Temptation comes in many forms.

By looking at Needle Hill (picture above) when one is tired will be very demoralizing.Such a steep and high climb.Mentally,one has to be strong.The next 7km I kept reminding myself that I can do it.Sure will be able to finish before cut off time of 32 hours.

Upon reaching CP9,the final check point before the end,I have lost my appetite.I just couldn't eat.I just took some drinks-Coke,one bowl of soup and orange.Went to the toilet to clear my bowel before the final assault on Hong Kong highest peak.Took 2 pieces of bun,oranges and hide them in my jacket for later use.

Immediately after passing through the timing mat at CP9,it was all the way up and up.It was very misty and windy up in the Tai Mo Shan.Visibility was poor at certain time.I just focus on walking and I was 100% sure I will finish this 100km.      

After 29 hours 25  minutes,I finally made it to the finishing line.Not much of carnival effect at the end point.Only one deejay announcing in Cantonese of arrival of runners.There I met with Leslie and few Malaysian runners who has finished earlier.Got myself some drinks,collected my bags and certificate,medal and finishing jacket.Everything was so toned down and going at a slow pace.Probably it was late noon and those organizing teams were too tired,just waiting for the whole event to finish so they too can go home.

My roommate Dr Wong who finished at 26hours 40minutes has left the race site.I bought a shuttle bus ticket to Tseun Wan MTR station for HKD 20.From there I took the MTR back to Tsim Sha Shui.Dr Wong was sleeping soundly when I arrived.    

1)well organized event with good support at each check points.
2)tough race for an ordinary people like me.
3)happy to achieve my dream of doing a 100km race.
4)happy to conquer my own fear.


Thank you to my wife for being very supportive.Thank you for her encouraging sms throughout the race.Not forgetting to all my friends and running buddies who sent their best wishes either through email,sms or phone call supporting me in my maiden 100km.Thanks a lot guys.You guys must try too next year!

To quote an sms sent from Dr Liau before I fly to Hong Kong:
"wish u best of luck in HK100.Try your best.Do your utmost.Have faith&be strong.U can't conquer the hills,but can conquer your own weakness&fear"

Well...I have conquer my own fear and I have succeed.

I am just an ordinary people being extraordinary!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

TMBT aka The Most Beautiful Thing Ultramarathon 2012

My first ultra marathon and it was a trail ultra instead of the road ultra run.I signed up for this run many months ago together with Steve andYS.Uu Ban decided to join us at the last minute.Having Uu Ban on board definitely make our trip to Sabah more interesting.

On Friday morning,14th September 2012,four of us took a MAS flight to Kota Kinabalu.There we rented a car and headed straight to Kundasang.We booked a place in Cottage Hotel which is within the walking distance to our starting point. 

After 2 hours drive,we arrived in Kundasang.The beautiful scenery of Mount Kinabalu and its surrounding can be seen from our hotel.We checked in and decided to have a quick dinner before collecting our running packs.It was getting darker and cooler by 6 pm.At this point,I discovered that I did not bring any sweater.Luckily Steve has an extra jacket for me.Many thanks Steve! 

After a quick dinner we rushed off to Kinabalu Park to collect our running numbers.Then it began to rain.The weather was getting colder especially when there was strong wind blowing.The collection was in big hall and it was a very smooth process.Each runner gets a T shirt and 2 bibs.That's all.No freebies like those given out during shorter road races in Malaysia.

Then it was the race director presentation to all runners.He went through the rules and regulations of the race,the dos and don'ts,what to do in case of an emergency during the race and a short briefing on the route and terrain of the run.When we were leaving the Kinabalu Park,it was still raining moderately with strong winds.At this moment,I began to worry about the run tomorrow and started to have some regret of signing up for this run.Later at our hotel,I forced myself to sleep but the strong wind pounding on our room glass window increased my anxiety level.Somehow managed to get a few hours of interrupted sleep.  

To my surprise when I wake up the next morning,the sky has brighten up with nice cool fresh air but there was still occasionally strong winds.I knew God has answer my prayer.I began to feel optimistic and was looking forward to the run.We took a group photo before leaving to the starting point.(picture above:you can see that Steve is the one among us who come very well prepared.He has his wind breaker on)

Picture above:These are some of the local volunteers for the run.Even the local feels cold in this kind of weather.

The open area near our hotel where runners gathered before the start of the race.There were about 400+ runners with 140 persons doing the 100km event,113 persons doing the 50km and 118 persons doing the 25km event.

Immediately after the start,at about 500metres from the starting point was our first climb which lead us pass through some vegetable farms.Everyone was still energetic and cheerful.Many were seen snapping pictures and talking while walking.The first 10 km was still manageable and I took some pictures too.

The scenery of the farm and mountains around us is definitely something different for city folks like me.Steve,YS and Uu Ban were with me throughout the first 10km.It took us about 1h 30 minutes to reach the first water station. 

The first water station cum check point at 10km.It was a simple set up with a small tents and boxes of mineral water and medicines.No 100 Plus or any isotonic drinks.At water station we filled up our bottles,signed on a piece of paper acknowledging that we have passed through.The persons in the orange jacket (picture above) were the race crews.    

From water station 2 we proceed up hill towards Mount Kinabalu Golf Club and later passing through many vegetable farms.It was running and walking through farms and not through jungle as I initially thought when I signed up for the race.There was no thick foliage coverage and we began to get "roasted" by the sun.  

From water station 2 to water station 3,the route was still manageable.It was quite a flat and down hill route.The scenery remains the same;farms all around us.The interest to snap pictures has gone and I was more focus on my run.Caught up with Steve at water station 3 while YS was not far behind me.

Uu Ban were some where behind three of us as he was busy "emptying" his bowels.Later I heard he went off route three times to do his "business".Something must have gone wrong with his bowels on that day.I was still feeling good at water station  and decided to run a bit faster as I know it will be mostly down hill until water station 4 which was about 10km away.
**pictures posted here are taken some where from the start until 28km**

Running down hill seems to be easy but only if you run for a short distance.The next 10km route was mostly down hill but the road was fill up with small to medium size gravels.This was hurting my feet and the strain of running down hill cause lots of pain to both my thighs.Occasionally I have to stop and walk.

Water station 4 was not at the bottom of the hill as expected.The organiser really made us suffer by making us climb another steep hill in order for us to fill up our water.This was really torturing especially when the afternoon sun was scorching my body.Outside the water station 4,a TMBT photographer was waiting to take pictures of runners.I saw him waiting patiently for me to get closer to him.My heart tells me to at least walk fast or run just to pose for the picture but both my thighs were stiff.I have to stop and stand for 15 seconds before continue to walk.

Finally I walked near to him and he took few pictures of me.I told him that the route was very tough and the weather was very hot.He asked if I wanted to stop and pull out from the race.I said no and proceed to get my water. 

Had a brief stop at water station 4 where the organiser checked our essential items like hand phone and head light before allowing us to continue.The sign at the WS4 showed that I have covered a distance of 38km and the end is near.

Coming out from WS4 and walking along a main road,a lady invited me to eat at a Hari Raya open house. I politely declined.Luckily I found a sundry shop nearby selling cold drinks.Bought 2 cans of cold 100 Plus for RM3.00.It was so nice to be able to taste some cold drinks.I was walking and was unable to run anymore.

There were no runners in front or at the back of me.I was walking alone some where in a secondary jungle.The tree foliage has blocked off some sunlight and the wind was blowing so it was quite cooling after 40km.Then Lim and Lau phoned me asking if I was coping well.I told them the route was quite difficult and I was feeling very tired.The trail leading up to water station 5 (the last water station) was hilly after the small stream.It was walk,stop,stand for 10-15 seconds before continue walking.The process repeated until I reached WS 5.   

Finally reached the last water station and met up with the same photographer again.Had a brief chat with him before continuing.Uu Ban who was way behind me finally caught up with me.I was surprised to see him.I asked him to go ahead as he seems to be energetic after 47km.He declined and decided to walk together with me until the finishing line. 

Uu Ban and me crossed the finishing line together.Our time according to Uu Ban watch was 9 hours 44  minutes and 45 seconds.The finishing point was just a simple set up.They hung a finisher banner across two poles with few persons managing it.A lady hung the finisher medal around my neck together with a local hand made souvenirs beads with the word "TMBT Ultra 50 KM Finisher".However I did not see any official photographer taking any pictures of us finishing.    

After the run,we are entitled for free flow of foods and drinks.Here we were served with cold can drinks like Coca-Cola,rice,porridge,eggs,bananas,chicken curry.I was so hungry that I took two large full bowls of porridge and it tasted so nice.(probably I was too hungry)

The hard earned medal.I think I under estimated the toughness of this race.There are few areas which I did not look into and take things for granted.
1)The terrain:I never bothered to find out the actual level of difficulty in climbing a hill even though the organise has e mail us the map with the gradient of decent/accent.I don't even understand how much is a 1000metre elevation like.

2)Training:I have never did a proper hill run.The hills around my areas which I do my usual training is nothing compared to what I encountered on the race day. 

3)The foods to bring and eat during run:took this for granted.I just packed few bars of chocolates and have never try taking it during training..However I discovered that I was unable to take chocolate bars and Powerbars during this run.Only taken 2 powergel and a piece of Gardenia bread for the whole of 50km.   

According to my friend Fook Seong who also did the 50km run,the data recorded by his watch was: total ascent 1920m,total descent 1980m, moving at altitude 666m-1767m,average altitude was  1231m,temperature 23-35C.

Conclusion:a very nice experience for me despite all the suffering and the poor preparation.A totally new and different kind of challenge.Next? TMBT 100KM.....??

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Adidas King Of The Road-2012

A "stress free" running event for me.I ran the same event last year at the same venue and this year,my focus and "worries" are more towards my maiden 50km TMBT on Saturday.I did not do any specific training for this 16.8km run,none tempo or any speed training.Just my usual normal run around my housing area.That's explained my poor result compared to the rest of the S2 runners.

The event is quite well organised except for some delay at the start.The route is flat with adequate water stations and distance markers.However the absence of Tey in this year event is significant as I can't find much pictures of this event on Facebook.

KOTR results S2 runners:

Teng Yee Hong 1:26:58

Lim Tee Kiap 1:27:24

Lau Thien Cheong:1:29:49

Azizul Manaf 1:30:32

Suraya Ahmad 1:31:22

Foo Yuen Cheng 1:31:37

Liau Kok Keon 1:31:40

Steve Yap (Yee running using his bibs) 1:34:18

Heng 1:48:11

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Update and TMBT 2012

Just noted that I have not update my blog for almost one month.It must be due to my laziness.Life still the same for the past one month.It is work and occasionally doing some running.The sad feeling and the stress which I encounter last month after my nurse passed away is gradually fading away.I feel much better now but occasionally I still think of her especially during my lunch hour.Why?Because she was the person who usually go out to buy food for me,either for lunch or for the afternoon tea.Now I have to do it myself.Finally I managed to get two new nurses and managed to persuade my senior nurse to remain working by giving her a 50% increment of her monthly salary. 

My main race for this year is definitely TMBT which is something new to me.It is a trail run and it covers 50km.I have not done either a trail race or any run beyond 42km.So,I am definitely excited!!But the "negative points"are runners need to have many mandatory items listed by the organiser in order to participate.The second item I bought after my trail running shoes was a backpack (picture above)which I got it from Hong Kong.

**part of the RK-Mambau trail which involved some paths through rubber estates**

Then it was time to do some training which is definitely lacking, in term of mileage and proper trail running.The nearest place to run a trail is probably the Kepayang Hill near my house or the "newly discovered" route from RK to Mambau.Both are not truly suitable as the distance is quite short,narrow or too steep.So most of the time I will just do my training run on the normal tarred road around my housing area for a distance between 5 to 10km. 

Then an opportunity came along for me to run in a trail almost similar to those trail in TMBT.Steve and Uu Ban,both seasoned trail runners and hikers suggested that I joined them for a final training in G Nuang on Merdeka Day.I found this to be my last chance to train and at least to experience what it like to run a trail/in a  jungle.  
So,on a drizzling Merdeka morning,we drove to G Nuang at 5:00am.When we reached the park at the base of G Nuang,it was still dark.We started our run at 7:10am.It was relatively easy at the beginning.

**This is the official route which we are going to run on 15th September.Can't really make out much from this map but I know it will involved many ups and downs for the 50km route.**

Our plan for the day was to do three loops from the G Nuang park towards the first sight of the river and back to the park.One loop covers a distance of 9.4km.Uu Ban and Steve had successfully ran 2 loops previously.After five and a half hours (time taken included stops for foods and drinks),we managed to complete a total of 28km.

It was a tiring run.I found it to be difficult probably because I am not as fit as my other two TMBT comrades.During the 3rd loop,I suffered from muscle cramp on my both thighs and I was walking very slow throughout.However I found this Nuang running a truly valuable experience which may be useful to  me next Saturday.I have to thank fellow TMBT comrades Steve and Uu Ban for this.It was a pity that fellow comrade YS was busy and unable to join us for this final training.However I am sure Uu Ban,Steve,YS and myself will be able to complete our maiden TMBT 50km ultramarathon on 15th September within the cut off time of 15 hours.    

To fellow TMBT comrades,together we will walk,run,climb,enjoy and suffer the trail and jungle of Sabah next Saturday.Looking forward to this new challenge and experience.Good luck and all the best.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The End Of A Stressful Week.

Today I conquer pain and I won!!I hope it will be that way from now on.I have been taking painkiller on daily basis for the past one week.I know it is not a good practice to self treat with painkillers but I just couldn't bear with the headache.I have never experienced such a bad headache which struck me daily from mid morning until night.

This started exactly one week ago,last Friday when I was waken up by a phone call at 6:15am informing me that my 22 years old nurse has passed away from drowning.I was shocked by her sudden dead.She was my best staff:a quick learner,efficient and not lazy.She was the only staff whom I did not scold.To make the situation bad,my permanent staffs put in her resignation-one new staff resigned within 24 hours and my long serving staff gave one month notice.I only left with two part time nurses.

To relieve stress,I went for a run.When I sweat it out,I feel much better and surprising I did more runs when I am under stress.

Saturday: Did a short trail run with the S2 group.We ran up and around Kepayang Hills for almost 2 hours.It was a strenuous work up under the hot evening weather.

Monday:Did a short 10km around RK.It was a slow run,more like a personal time away from home searching solutions for my problems.

Wednesday:Did another 10km run around RK.Slow run at 6.5 minutes/km.Body was moving but the mind was focusing on something else. 

Friday:Together with Yee,we went around RK trying out a new trail route through rubber estate and hills.

Now,hope everything will be back to normal again.Just wasted too much time with all the unexpected events in life.

To my dear nurse Vicky,may your soul rest in peace.It is very sad that you died so young,there are many things in life waiting for you but God decided to bring you along at such an early stage in life.You will always be in our heart.