Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sundown Ultramarathon 100km

25 Jun was the DAY!  The day I embarked my first ever 100km road race in Singapore.  I woke up at around 9am, read through the info guide for runners again before I packed my race kit and drop bag  to be deposited at the 50km mark.  I then went out for a quick brunch at the coffee shop.  When I reached home, I took a 2-hour nap before changing into my gear and getting myself ready to report to Marina Barrage.  I was supposed to meet Alvin at the Tanjong Pagar MRT at 3.45pm.  :)

But Alvin was late.  So I had plenty of time to put my change of clothes at the gym.  I also bought a medium-size meshed potato and a small ice milo at KFC, which I ate while waiting for Alvin at Tanjong Pagar MRT.  I saw quite a number of runners as free shuttle buses were made available by the organiser to bring the runners / supporters from Tanjong Pagar to Marina Barrage.  :)  I also saw Regina and Fennel but they were waiting for Ivy.  As soon as Alvin and his friend Wei Jie arrived, we made our way to the pick-up point.  Luckily for us, we needn't wait for the bus to be full to leave for Marina Barrage.  :)

Race Start

I then recalled about Bee and Ronnie's wedding shoot at Marina Barrage!  It was a few years ago.  I wonder if I would see them again soon.  We chose a spot to sort out our stuff.  (Actually, I already sort out my stuff but the 2 young men had yet to change into their running gear, etc!!!).  While they changed into their shoes, I snapped away photos of the them, the area, the other runners, and many running friends.  It was like a big reunion run!  There were also other runners whom I had met previously but somehow I couldn't recall their names / nicks.  :(  Even Permadi was there to lend us her support, although she had to walk with her clutch.  I also took photos with Matthew's dog but the dog was more interested in other runners than me.  :(  We went to deposit our bags at the baggage counter.  It was very efficient probably due to smaller number of participants (about 900 of us registered for the race).  We then went up to the 2nd level to kill time, as the weather at the start point - at the top level of the building, was freaking hot .  It was kinda cool to actually start a race running from the top of a building (even though it was only 3-storey high), but at the same time, scary to think that we had to "run" up the final 100 meters!

At around 5.40pm, after Alvin's repeated pestering, I relented and went up to the race start area with the two young men.  We went up to the notice board showing the route and examined the route details.  It was amazing yet frightening to know how far we had to run to cover the 10km between every pitstops!  It was different when you took part in overseas races as you had no prior knowledge of the route.  I took a mental note of the 5 check-points at start of ECP, NSRCC, Changi Village, Pasir Ris Park and Bedok Reservoir.  Benjamin, one of the organiser from HiVelocity, reminded runners to check their bib should they change into a new running top at the 50km mark.  I wouldn't have this problem since I would be using my race belt to hook my bib.  At 6.02pm, the organiser flagged off the first ever 100km road race in Singapore and off we went!

0km~10km:  On the map, the first 10km seemed short.  There were a few turns around Marina to Mountbatten to ECP, including running along a narrow path next to a row of hoardings of a construction site and a condominium, as well as across an overhead bridge, 2 roads and an underground bridge.  But there were traffic police to direct the traffic and runners were given priority.  :)  About 2km after I entered the ECP, we saw the pitstop #1.  This would be the easiest 10km of the night.  Time taken to reach: 1hr 16mins 37secs.

Pitstop at 10km
10km~20km:  I took 2 slices of oranges and a cup of 100+.  Then I took off.  The sky was getting dark.  But as it was a Saturday on a school holiday, there were plenty of people in ECP.  It was crowded but not so bad that you couldn't run.  I kept reminding myself even though I felt good, I should maintain my easy pace.  After Comrades Marathon, I was very aware of the kind of easy pace that I should run.  I visualise the sound my footfalls in sync with my breathing.  :)  Just before reaching NSRCC, it started to drizzle! :(  I sort of sian half and had put my compact camera into my hydration bag.  Luckily, the rain left as fast as it came, though my socks were wet.  I reached pitstop #2 after running for 2hrs 32mins 3secs.

Pitstop at 20km

20km~30km:  The next 10km was extremely boring as it was just one straight, never-ending road.  Although the night was still young, I was getting sleepy.  I forced myself to run past every 15 lamp posts and walk the next 5.  It worked for a while but soon, it became monotonous again.  So I ran past every 23 lamp posts and walked the next 2.  This combination seemed to work okie and I soon ran past the 22km, 24km and 26km markers.  At the traffic light junction leading to Changi Ferry Terminal, I saw acleong for the 3rd time!  I wondered if he owned a time machine.  I thanked him for taking my photos and continued my run.  After 3hrs 58mins 56secs of running, I arrived at Pitstop #3.

Pitstop at 30km
30km~40km:  At the pitstop, I saw Mohan and said hi.  There was an official who asked me if I was okie.  I was okie.  I felt okie.  I decided to take a gel at the pitstop since they were giving out free gel.  But bad choice!  The Strawberry Power Gel was not okie.  It was horrible!  The worse kind of flavour and texture I ever ate!  I should have had my GU Mandarin Orange Gel!  As soon as the gel went into my throat, I had the urge to throw everything out. YIAKS!  I washed down a cup of plain water but it only helped a little.  I took some slices of oranges and felt better to continue.  Running out of Changi Village was some gentle upslopes.  It meant I could walk without guilt.  I found this 10km section the most enjoyable as we ran past the Commando Camp, Loyang Road, a mosque, a Condominium showflat, before reaching Pasir Ris Park, pitstop #4 in 5hrs 45mins 34secs.

Pitstop at 40km
40km~50km:  Just before I reached the pitstop, I saw the leading man running back towards the Marina Barrage direction.  At pitstop #4, I took some oranges and drinks.  By then, the 100+ started to taste horrible.  After I left the pitstop, I had to run along some dark path behind some private housing and crossed another road.  I also met someone who asked if I needed anything.  I asked him what drinks he had and he offered me a packet of sng pao and a banana!  I thank him and continued.  After crossing another overhead bridge, I saw many supporters near a bus-stop and almost took a wrong turn.  :p  I was pointed to the correct path and knew the stretch to Bedok Reservoir was near.  At one of the traffic light, I bumped into Napoleon - a Filipino runner whom I met at TNF100 Philippines.  We wished each other well and ran the opposite direction.  Just before I reached Bedok Reservoir carpark, I met another support team who offered me Red Bull, and Terence/Tiwazz/Charlotte who offered me a packet of electrolyte!  :)  As I ran towards the half-way point in 7hrs 29mins 25secs, Alvin zoomed past me!

Pitstop at 50km

50km~60km:  I had 2 cups of soup and some biscuits and bananas before I changed into my new pair of socks, shoes and my running top.  I spent less than 10mins in total.  About 1km down the path, I met Wei Jie, who was walking.  I told him to join me as I was doing a run-walk combination.  I also ran past Evy and waved to her (I think so).  At the 48km/52km marker, I saw John again and requested him to ask Tekko and Molly to help me get Milk Tea as I was sick drinking 100+.  Wei Jie did very well and followed every instructions I gave him - when to run, when to hold back, when to walk, etc.  Just before we turned into Pasir Ris Park, I ran into Lynette who was taking photos.  :)  We reached pitstop #6 after 9hrs 26mins 33secs.

Pitstop at 60km
60km~70km:  I took 2 packets of raisins, 2 packets of sweets, a banana and plain water.  After Wei Jie filled up his bottle with special electrolyte tablet, we pressed on.  This time, we ran 400m and walked 100m until we were out of Pasir Ris Park.  We continued with running 400 steps, followed by walking 100 steps.  At one of the bus-stop, I met DreamRunner and his group of supporters.  Someone offered me Kopi O and a packet of Ice Milo!!!  The Kopi O was great!  I asked Wei Jie if he needed anything but he was too shy.  Just after we turned into Loyang Road, I saw a familiar carplate numbering 842 and recognised it might be Tekko's car!  I was right.  He stopped the car further up a bus-stop and asked me what I need.  "2 bottles of Milk Tea please!" I said excitedly.  They drove off but soon, returned and gave me a bottle of Pokka Milk Tea!  Molly said they will pass me the 2nd bottle along ECP.  :(  (I should have asked for 3 bottles).  :p  We arrived at pitstop #7 in 11hrs 19mins 47secs.

Pitstop at 70km
70km~80km:  The 70km pitstop was just after Changi Village.  I took a sponge to cool myself down. After I got my necessary refill and food, I told Wei Jie that I had to walk for about 5mins for the food to digest.  He said okie as his legs were getting painful to run.   So we walked for almost 10mins and our pace slowed down considerably by then.  Just after the SAF Ferry Terminal, Wei Jie decided had to visit the washroom and told me not to wait for him.  So I left Wei Jie and took up a different form of strategy: running 500 steps and walking 100 steps before I reward myself with a sip of Pokka Milk Tea.  The counting was as boring as running along Changi Coastal Road.  I didn't pay special attention to the km marker but knew that the pitstop would be just 1km after the 80km marker. There were a few volunteers on bicycles as well as cyclists riding or training along the road / pavement.  It was almost 7am when I reached pitstop #8.  Total time taken: 12hrs 59mins 41secs.

Pitstop at 80km
80km~90km:  I was so happy to reached the 80km pitstop as I was too hungry.  I grabbed a banana and 2 cups of plain water.  A volunteer helped me to refill my milk tea bottle with plain water.  After eating, I felt much better and energized.  I looked at my watch and reckoned I might reach 84km before 13hrs 50mins (my finishing time for 84km Sundown Ultramarathon), if I continued my earlier pace.  So I pushed myself to run 400 steps and walk 100 steps.  I caught up with Dave Poh a while later.  Further up, just after the toilet, I saw a group of supporters next to a shed.  Permadi and Michael Kang were there too!  The supporters must be from the Punggol Runners group.  One guy asked what I want: suan mei sng pao, red bull or coke.  I gladly accepted red bull AND coke.  :p  I also saw the 84km marker just further up and requested them to help take a photo.  :)  I knew I would be seeing Tekko and Molly.  Just before the hawker centre I saw Tekko, Molly and JohnMolly passed me new bottle of Pokka Milk Tea while John waved some inspirational sign at me.  I thanked them and continued.  By then, ECP was kinda crowded.  There was another activity organised for older folks and they had no sense of human traffic.  Luckily I managed to avoid collision.  I reached pitstop #9 around 8.30 am, after running for 14hrs 31mins 42 secs.

Pitstop at 90km

90km~100km: The last 10km was the hardest as it was already past 8.30am.  Sun was OUT!!!  I had to ration my bottle of milk tea as I was sure it would not last me till the end if I just drank freely.  I managed to maintain running 400 steps and walking 100 steps till after crossing the overhead bridge across Mountbatten Road.  It should be around 95km when I ran out of milk tea.  I attempted to take a sip of 100+ left but it was awful.  It was then I realised that I couldn't run anymore as I would probably faint if I pushed myself too hard.  It was disappointing as I managed to pick up my pace from NSRCC to Mountbatten.  I also knew it was not possible for me to complete below 16 hours.  I tried to think positive: the faster I walked, the faster I get replenishment of water or food at the end of the race.  Runners then passed me one after another.  Just before the 98km, a Caucasian woman walked passed me and I noticed she had some water left in her bottle.  I asked if she had plain water to share and she gladly offer her bottle although it left less than 1/5.  I decided to stick to her pace until she stopped at around the 98km mark, when we had the Marina Barrage within sight.  I slowed down and wait for her to catch up which she did.  Just after we turned into the construction site and across the bridge, I asked if she had done Comrades Marathon before and that I felt this was much tougher than Comrades.  She totally agreed even though she loved the warm weather of Singapore!  Just after the bridge, I decided to run up the slope and signalled her to follow but I guessed she's just too tired.  I almost tripped over the finishing banner when the volunteers released it too late.  As I staggered across the field, another volunteer put a towel over my shoulder.  I realised that was a finisher towel!  It was nice to have something different.  BUT I don't need the towel at that point.  It was not cold or windy like some US cities.  It was HOT and HUMID!  Nevertheless, I remembered about the lady who shared her water with me and was fast enough to snap a photo of her finishing her race.  :)  My unofficial finishing time: 16hrs 24mins 37secs.

I went down to look for Alvin and told him I ran with Wei Jie for about 20km.  I then asked about the finisher tee and he said it was next to the food area next to the finishing line!  WTH...  I had to walk up 2 storeys!  As I was feeling nausea, I went to the medical tent to seek help.  The medic told me that I had electrolyte imbalance and I should be fine after resting for an hour.  Benjamin was kind enough to help me get my finisher tee.  Alvin asked if I want to have my photo taken but I just want to go home.  I was not interested to get my food or my certificate or my photo taken.  He told me that Wei Jie had finished about 15mins after me and was looking after our stuff.  When he was done, we took the free ferry service back to Tanjong Pagar MRT and I went to the gym to wash up before meeting up with Vivian and her boyfriend for brunch @ Sushi Teh.  Then it was home sweet home.  :)

Note: I met many more friends than I could have mentioned here.  I'm very sorry that I am unable to include all the details and all my friends who had helped me in one way or another as doing so would make my report too long-winded.  I also tried to mention 1~2 highlights during the 10km run between every pitstop.

1 comment:

RaYzeef said...

good job ripley, it was one hell of a race.