Sunday, February 5, 2012

Failure of My 2nd BDM 160km Run & The Positives

The Bataan Death March 160km Ultramarathon was my 2nd attempt at a road 100 Miles.  Last year, I successfully completed my first ever 100 Miles race in the same event.  However, having done so before does not guarantee success for subsequent runs.  The distances are so long that anything could happen, whether it is a short 45km ultra (Australia's Great Ocean Marathon and Six Foot Track Marathon) or long 100km to 100 miles ultra.  Having said that, success in the same event does give you some confidence going into the race.  But you still must do your part - proper training, getting yourself to the start line fit, proper nutrition during the race, proper pacing, etc, etc, etc.  :)

I gotten most of the part right, except that I was not sure if I had fully recovered from my strained ITB and Popliteus muscles (Popliteus muscle is a thin, flat, triangular muscle in back of the knee, the action of which assists in bending the knee and in rotating the leg toward the body) when I toed the start line.  Especially since I had DNF my last 100 Mile run in last Nov's Ozark Trail Endurance Run in the USA, due to the strain that I felt behind the back of my knee half-way during the run towards Check-Point 3, which resulted me in walking the remaining section and the whole of 5.2 miles to Check-Point 4.  Although the strain subsided and I started running again, I eventually missed the cut-off at Check-Point 5 by 1 minute.

So when Titanium Runner insisted that I should complete my 2nd BDM 160km Ultramarathon, I was a bit skeptical.  Nevertheless, we had a good brunch, watched Darkest Hours in 3D, and went shopping for our hydration and food replenishment needs on Thursday, just 2 days before the 2nd edition of the BDM 160km run!  Then we went to attend the race briefing conducted by Bald Runner inside a dinning hall of a Army Camp in the evening.  I collected my Bib No. #20 and sat down to mingle with other runners.  Bald Runner, aka Sir Jovie Narcise, went through the details pertaining to the run.  From running route, to safety instructions, to rules and regulations.  Then we had dinner and photo taking session before we left the race briefing at about 2100hrs.

We had an easy Friday but I unfortunately didn't carbo load properly.  I skipped breakfast cos I slept through to almost 1100hrs!  We ended up eating instant noodles for lunch!  For dinner, Titanium Runner brought me to the cafe located in his old university compound.  We had pasta and shared a huge coffee cake.  We took a stroll around the area to relax our legs before heading home.

At around 2000hrs I could hear some noises while trying hard to sleep.  It must be our support crew, which included a driver, Titanium Runner's mum, Estan, and 2 other friends (so sorry I had missed out your names... :( ), one of which was assigned as my hydration/nutrition assistant!  :)  They helped to load up everything that we bought on Thursday before Titanium Runner woke me up from my sleep.  It was only 2300hrs but it was time to leave for the start line.  :(  I was still in dreamland and continued sleeping in the van almost the whole journey to the 00km marker of the BDM 160km run!  I simply refused to wake up till 30mins before 0500hrs!  Saw Terence Chen and Sallehan, the other Singaporeans I knew at the race start. Bald Runner invited some runners to sing the Japanese national anthem, the USA national anthem, and the Philippines national anthem.  Another runner also said a prayer for all runners to have a safe race before Bald Runner flagged us off at 0500hrs sharp!

With My Support Crew Eric @ 00Km Marker

My plan was to replenish my water every 8km.  And my support crew duly obliged to my request.  For the first 5km, I ran with Terence Chen.  His target was 27hrs and mine was 29hrs 59mins.  But I lost him when I made my first pit stop.  From then on, I ran on my own, at my own pace, which I liked.  When I passed the 31km marker, I met Bald Runner and I remembered I fell somewhere around here last year.  Thankfully I didn't make the same mistake this year.  I read somewhere that when you brushed the bottom of your feet/shoes against the running surface, it meant that your fuel tank is running low.  So I made sure I had gel and/or milo to fuel from the beginning of the race.  Another strategy was to adopt the run/walk strategy right from the start of the race.

Walking During Ultra Is Part Of Strategy

I did okie until just after the 50km marker.  By then, it was 11mins past 7hrs of running, and I was almost an hour faster than last year.  I felt great although I knew my stomach wasn't feeling the same.  I changed to plain water thereafter but it didn't help much.  Then I vomited everything that I drank.  Yiaks.  I rinsed my mouth using my bottle of plain water, drank more of the water and continued my ran.  I realised I had drank too much Pocari Sweat.  I should have alternated drinking Pocari Sweat and plain water every 8km instead of relying just on Pocari Sweat (although I bought plain drinking water - hmmm what was I thinking!)  Then I saw Sallehan lying at the side of the road at around 55km mark as he suffered from severe cramps in his legs.  I told him to take it easy when he's back to his feet before continuing my race.

 Changing Into A New Pair Of Socks & Running Shoes

I managed to meet up with my support crew and had a changed of my running shoes and new pair of socks.  When I reached approximately 60-something km, I started craving for salty stuff.  Another support crew saw me in trouble and gave me packets of salt and some salty crackers!  It helped!  Even if its for that few minutes.  I had the legs and energy to run but my stomach was screaming.  By then, the liquid I tried drinking didn't go down well.  So I decided to fast march instead from about the 70-something km onwards.  I was still faster than I was last year but I decided to call it a day 20mins after passing the 82km marker at 1755hrs, when my support crew and vehicle stopped.  The sky was still bright but I knew my day was over.  :(

So what positives could I possibly take away from this unsuccessful attempt?  Well, the most important take away was that I felt no pain or strain to my Popliteus muscle on my right leg!  It meant that I should have fully recovered from the strained which put me out from 2 months of running, as well as DNF key races in TNF 100 Singapore and Ozark Trail Endurance Run.  And I knew I could now embark on proper training to prepare for my next race. :)  The next important take away was that the stretches and exercises I did to release the stiffness to my lower back were working!  Back stiffness was something that I experienced for the past 2 years since I started concentrating on ultramarathons.  It was nothing serious as it didn't stopped me from running.  However, the stiffness makes the run unpleasant even after I stopped to stretch.  Of course this is still a work in progress and something I knew I had to continue doing by incorporating into my other strength training regime on a regular basis.  It's a relief that the back stiffness is not something that could be more serious.  Phew!  :)  And my last take away, is to brief your support crew members exactly what you need at each hydration plan prior to the race in order for them to give you the fullest support.  And if you can have the same support crew, that's even better!  For me, I was very lucky to have Titanium Runner's mum and Estan to support me again as they had been supporting me since 2010's BDM 102km Ultramarathon.  So I only need to give some reminders for them to carry out their task effectively.  Without their previous experience, I might spent more time at every replenishment point.  THANKS guys and appreciate all your support for the race.  :)

I am not trying to console myself about my 2nd BDM 160km failure.  You have to be able to see the positives from your failure.  Otherwise, you would be too caught up by completing a run for the sake of completing a run, whether its a long training run or short race.  Would I try BDM 160km Ultramarathon again?  I will not rule that out but I also know that I don't need to prove to myself again, especially when I already had 2 finisher trophies (BDM 102km & 160km), a 1st runner-up trophy for BDM 160km and a BDM 160km finisher buckle standing nicely among my other finisher medals collected from runs around the world.  :)  Next run: 1st All-Women Ultramarathon in Cebu!

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