Monday, September 23, 2013

2013 Craze Ultra 100 Miles (Singapore)

Signing up for this race wasn't exactly an easy decision cos I dislike in running in Singapore, which is hot and humid.  But it's also a chance to check out my VO2 Max and Lactic Acid tests again and see how far I dropped from last year with aging.  :p

Doing the 2 Lab Tests - No Joke!

Day before Race Day
I decided to use only 4 of the aid stations this time round.  The problem with aid station with drop bag support was that you tend to stay longer than you actually required.  Since the distance between the aid station was mostly 10km~12km, I decided to drop my special drinks and food at CP2 (21.5km), CP4 (39km), CP5/6 (50.5/65km and 95km/110km), and the u-turn point at CP8 (80.94km).  I also decided what items I wanted in my drop bag.  I.e. not to put too much stuff so that I don't need to think too long what I need.  Running Guild was already setting up shop at MacRitchie when I reached at around 6pm.  I collected my BIB and went to a corner and pack my drop bags, having just bought my items from NTUC in the afternoon.  Then I deposit my bags at the stated point - which was super fast and easy.  I saw Joe, who like me, also DNF in last year's Craze Ultra.  Then I waited for Philip and his students to give me the pill as part of his research thesis.

The Organizers and Volunteers Hard @ Work!

 Logger that Tracks the Pill that Measure Your Core Temperature!  Looked Heavy!

Before Race Start
I woke up with a stomach upset and had to rush to the toilet twice.  I felt a little weak and left with little time to go MacDonald to get my breakfast, which was my earlier plan.  After changing, I took my pill and managed to flag down a cab to MR in super quick time.  I managed to contact Rosemary who brought some bread from her home.  Lucky me!  I reported to Philip as soon as I reached MR.  2 tubes of blood were drawn and I provided a urine sample before my weight was taken.  I was given a logger (for tracking my core temperature during the race through the pill) which I put at the bottom of my hydration bag.  I quickly gobbled up the bread which Rosie brought me after checking-in my bag deposit.  Then its saying "halo" to the friends either running, volunteering or simply supporters to send us off at the Craze Ultra.  Somehow, I didn't manage to see Molly!

 At the Start @ MacRitchie Reservoir!

Race Start to CP1 12km (12km; Arrived 8:35am, Left 8:40am)
Ben flagged off Wave 1 at 7:00am sharp.  I fall under Wave 2 and we started at 7:03am.  I felt the morning was cooler than last year so it didn't feel that hard.  Along Thomson Road I saw Belinda and her friends.  Twice if I recalled correctly!  This year, I decided I won't carry my compact camera.  Instead, I would rely on my smartphone instead.  To conserve energy and save time, I would only use it when I reach a aid station.  The traffic was also smooth as compared to last year when I had to wait at more traffic junctions.  Nope, I didn't jay walk cos there were other runners already there.  Terence passed me early in the race but he slowed down so that our picture could be taken.  Then John also passed me.  John's pace was actually very steady but I felt stressed when someone stronger than me (who's also running the race) ran with me.  I told him to go ahead if I was too slow.  :)  He went ahead soon after.  I eventually reached CP1 at around 8:35am and I saw Belinda helping out in the aid station!  I also saw Tekko taking photos of runners arriving at the CP.  So is John!  I requested for half a banana and a photo from Belinda.  I also took a gel knowing that I didn't have a proper breakfast.  I left after refueling my water.

Saw Belinda (Volunteering), John and Sim (Running)!

CP1 to CP2 21.5km (9.5km; Arrived 09:59am, Left 10:03am)
I decided to take a slow walk while updating my status onto Facebook, which on hindsight, was a bad bad idea.  John overtook me along Mandai Road.  Nevertheless, I had to update Mel who was volunteering at Woodlands Waterfront CP2!  In fact, she had checked out my drop bag and knew which one to pass me when I reached.  :)  It was definitely much easier to run this time round cos I knew the way.  I didn't exactly like this stretch as there were a few traffic light crossings, with the 2nd one came just after the Ulu Sembawang Park Connector where vehicles exit to and from TPE could be traveling at high speed.  At one traffic light junction (Woodlands Ave 2 and 5), I decided to pick up my pace as I didn't want to stop at the traffic lights and zoomed passed Sim, who followed suit.  By then, the weather was getting warmer.  Somehow, I managed to catch up with John again!  But I felt good and was able to maintain my pace so I didn't wait for him.  Further up along the Woodlands Park Connector, I bumped into a group of runners waiting at the traffic light and saw Archer.  Its always nice to see familiar faces enjoying the race together with you.  :)  I reached CP2 just before 10:00am and passed my water bottle to Mel.  She also passed me my drop bag in super quick time.  I took half a banana, water-melon and milo before leaving for CP3.

 Feeling Happy to see Friends!

CP2 to CP3 30km (8.5km; Arrived 11:26am, Left 11:33am)
Again, I took unnecessary time to update my Facebook.  I also called Sotong to tell him that I won't need horfun at this hour.  This stretch could be a bit confusing.  By now, there were less runners and you had to pay more attention to the direction signage!  Roy was in front of me so I told myself not to loose sight of him.  We had to make a left turn into Woodlands Park Connector and as it was blazing hot at 12pm, we ran on the path made by residents, and under the shade created by the MRT track!  I didn't like running past the MRT as human traffic was high especially in the mid day.  Roy and another runner ran further and further away from me as I slowed.  I saw them making a left turn after exiting Canberra Park Connector and I knew CP3 was near!  It was great to see the volunteers!  And guess who I saw again?  Belinda!  Seemed like she had a time machine.  :p  I thanked her that I didn't need anything as the food/drink she prepared must be for her runners.  Besides, I already had a sngpao reserved for me!  Brokie asked me what I wanted and I "shouted" COKE!!!  It was great after drinking coconut water and plain water for the past 6 hours!  In total, I had 3 cups of Coke, water-melon and a gel.  Then a volunteer asked me about my perceived effort and weather and I realised I didn't look for the volunteer at CP1 and 2 to report my data!  I roughly recalled and informed the volunteer at CP3.  Before leaving, Brokie gave me a Coke sngpao while Roonz helped me to take out my sunblock lotion from my hydration bag before sending me off.

Saw many Old Friends @ CP3!!!

CP3 to CP4 39km (9km; Arrived 12:56pm, Left 13:03pm)
I took my time and walked along the Simpang Kiri Park Connector while sucking the ice, cold sngpao.  This stretch of the race route passed through more housing estates and Yishun MRT, which meant even more traffic light crossings!  At one point after running past Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, I couldn't see any runners in front while the distance marker at SAFRA Yishun didn't show any direction.  No direction meant I needed to go straight and I did that.  Before the next traffic light junction, I saw a middle-age man if he saw any runner earlier, and he said yes and I had to cross the road!  I thanked him and true enough, I saw a right-turn sign that led me into the Khatib Bongsu Park Connector.  Coming out from the park connector, I saw a runner running on the near side of the connector instead of crossing the road.  As there was no traffic then, I decided to cross the road since we had to make a left turn down the road.  I asked for my drop bag first thing I reached CP4 and took out a can of milo and gel.  I also took a banana from the check-point.  Then I went to use the mobile toilet which was surprisingly clean!  I also saw Sim, John as well as Szeto!  I probably stayed too long at CP4, eating and taking photos!

Guess Who I Saw? - Szeto, Sim and John!

CP4 to CP5/6 50.5km (11.5km; Arrived 15:06pm, Left 15:23pm)
I hated the 1km stretch from CP4 to the 40km marker.  The ground comprised of lots of slabs of concrete, some with ring at both end of the slabs.  While the slabs were stable, some were not fitted nicely and would shift when you stepped on it.  I told John he could go ahead as my intention was to walk that part.  After crossing the road (last year, the road was not fully built yet), it was a long, long stretch before turning into Punggol Park Connector.  Actually, I loved running that stretch this year cos there was less trucks on the road.  I saw Sim from a distance and he looked strong.  While taking my walk-break, I saw another running next to me.  He was Joshua whom I met through Trail Running Singapore.  I didn't wait to talk to him cos I had come to the end of my walk-break.  :p  Then I saw another runner resting by the side of the pavement (whom I would meet again along the 15km CP6 to CP5 stretch - I think).  He was taking a rest.  Once I crossed into Punggol Park Connector, it be mentally tough.  Perhaps it was the weather again but I prepared myself sufficiently (I carried 3 bottles of 500ml).  Then Sallehan ran past me!  Where did him come from?  I thought he was in front of me!  I saw Frank further up.  He asked if I had muscle rub but I didn't usually suffer from cramps so I didn't bring.  Then I saw Juay Seng and his pacer, Shairul, as well as Terence on their way back for the 101km!  Both were looking very strong.  I reached CP5/6 and saw Zco at the end of the bridge.  I rushed to the toilet to wash my face before reporting to the volunteer.  I shared a cup noodle with John, had a milo, a VESPA, and top-up my coconut drink.  I also filled up my water bottle.  Before I left, Rosie appeared and the baby powder she brought was a life saver!  I dried my feet and shoes by applying the powder generously!  When all was comfy, I pressed on.

With Sallehan (top left), John (bottom left) and Sim Chin (right)!

CP5 to CP6 65km (14.5km; Arrived 18:10pm, Left 18:20pm)
I was about 15mins slower than last year despite starting off faster in the first 3 check-points.  But I saw Angelina (who was a very fast runner) coming into CP5 just as I left.  I told myself I had to slow down.  After passing the 55km marker (somewhere around the Sengkang Riverside Park), I met someone from the office who was on his bicycle!  I was surprised to see him and even more surprised when he gave me a ice, cold sngbao!  He had set-up his shop underneath the TPE flyover and looking out for participants of the Craze Ultra!  I took a short rest and gobbled up a packet of ice-jelly, which tasted so heavenly.  I thanked him before pushing on.  Before exiting the Punggol Park Conenctor, I heard someone clapping from afar.  I turned my head and vaguely saw someone clapping at a window and raised my hand.  The clapping stopped.  :)  After exiting the Punggol Park Connector, I ran on the Buangkok Park Connector and Serangoon Park Connector before it joined back to the Punggole Promenade Riverside Walk.  There, I saw Rosie, Sharon and Mui set-up their shop.  But as I knew I was running a little late, and that CP 5/6 was just round the corner, I decided to give it a miss.  I reached CP6 at around 18:10pm, which was much slower than last year.  :(  Someone (can't recall who) helped retrieved my bag and I did another round of powder bath on both my feet.  Charlotte was also kind enough to help me refill my 2 water bottles, banana, pose for photo, and threw away my trash etc.  I also drank another can of milo knowing that dinner would be just 5km away!  Just before I left, I saw Ngah Ling reaching the CP5/6 who was doing her first 101km race!

You can only see Happy Faces @ CP5/6!

CP6 to CP7 70km (5km)
I took it really slow this year as I ate too much and my stomach was full.  I wondered if I could still finish the roasted chicken rice waiting @ CP7.  Along the way out to main road in Pasir Ris, I saw a few uncles having fun flying kites.  One of them asked what was the distance we were attempting to run.  Upon hearing 160km, he turned and told his friend, "160km!  Not 106km!"  Further down the road, a young boy stopped me and asked if I could see any scratch mark on his neck.  He said he was cut by a kite and I told him there was no blood but a swollen line could be seen across his neck.  I told him to see doctor if he didn't feel well and he said okie.  I  plodded and reached the entrance to CP7 at about 19:15pm(??).  Angelina was already on her way out.  I saw Rosie with my packet of chicken rice!  She helped me get a chair, poured the chilli before refilling my bottle.  But my stomach wasn't good and I puked out what I ate earlier at CP5/6.  It was a way of my stomach telling me that I should be eating the chicken rice and not banana / milo for dinner.  Unfortunately, I could only eat 3 spoonful of it.  After refilling my water bottle, I went to the toilet to relieve myself.  While my diarrhea was gone, my stools were still soft.  And from the top, it was easy to spot the pill I took about 14 hours ago!  A thought came across my mind!  Should I scoop it up, wash and swallow it?  I pondered for a short 5 secs and decided against it.  I quickly called Philip and he said there was nothing that could be done if I was sure.  So the pill was gone for good after I flushed the toilet and on my way to CP8.  :(

CP7 to CP8 80.47km (10.47km)
This year, we were not required to run into Hendon Camp's direction.  Instead, we just need to head straight towards Changi Village to CP8, which was a nice little change after the earlier CP7 where we had to run inside to the carpark.  I saw a handful of runners already on their way back, including Henry who passed me just after Hendon Camp junction last year but much earlier this year.  :(  I continued and saw more and more runners heading back towards CP7.  Nearer to the Coastal Park Connector, I saw Deborah, then Archer, and then David Wong who commented that I was about 1.5km from the u-turn.  The new Coastal Park Connector was also bright with the new lights installed.  It was a relief to reach there as I was told by Philip that I could return the logger since I was sure the pill I consumed had come out.  Doris was helping out in this aid station and asked me what I wanted.  I had a cup of ice, cold longans while waiting for Doris to retrieve my drop bag.  I was surprised to see Philip there too but he was just moving around as more and more of his subject were dropped from the race.  I took out a can of luncheon meat and had some.  It was exceptionally good!  After weighing my body weight, I left.

CP8 to CP7 90.94km (10.47km)
I saw Joe checking into CP8 just as I left.  A group of kids on bicycle talked to me and asked where did we started running from.  Their jaws dropped when I told them we started from MacRitchie.  I bet they would dislocate their jaws had I told hem we run towards Woodlands, Semabwang, Punggol and Pasir Ris!  I reckoned the return leg for this stretch was not hard.  Both my feet are aching but this was part of the deal when running long distances.  I was glad that Rosie's foot powder was very useful and I managed to keep my feet dry.  I told myself I had to reach CP7 by midnight so I could have an hour to reach CP6/5, which was about the time I reached CP6/5 last year.  So it was a run-walk strategy - 400 steps of running followed by 100 steps of walking.  And I reached CP7 right on time.  I was surprised to see Philip again.  Apparently, there were more subjects dropped out of the race.  By now, I was sick of the coconut drink and filled up both water bottle with plain water instead.  Next target - CP6/5!

CP7 to CP6/5  95.94km (5km)
I was getting tired as it was past midnight and I didn't have any coffee yet.  Luckily, there were still cyclists around and some of them would sound off their bell!  When I turned into the Paris Ris Farmway, a car stopped next to me and asked for direction to some prawning place!  At that unearthly hour!  I told them I didn't know where the place was, didn't wait for their acknowledgement and continued my run-walk.  At the junction before the Lorong Halus Wetland & Visitor Centre, I whatsapp Poonster again that I was near.  Unfortunately, he didn't replied.  :(  I reached CP6/5 at around 12:55am, had 2 cans of Nescafe coffee (thanks to Sharon) and half a cup of chicken noodles (prepared by Osbert).  I also saw other newly arrived volunteers/supporters like Angela and Diana, which gave me a boost as they said they would wait for me to return to CP5.  I thanked them before setting off for my 14.5km loop, which was the point where I DNFed last year.  I was determined I would go back to the CP again.

CP6 to CP5 110.44km (14.5km)
Drinking the 2 cans of Nescafe coffee was a right choice!  By then, I was alert mentally.  This year, the instructions was to do the same anti-clockwise direction so I know what to expect although the day and night view could be very different.  Unfortunately, while I was alert, physically, I didn't seem to have the strength I had last year to chiong for 5km.  So I continued my run 400 steps, walk 100 steps strategy.  I didn't think I would meet anyone but I did!  Runners who did the clock-wise direction for the way back!  The only runner I knew personally was Archer, whom I past after my 100.94km (which meant he was 5km ahead of me)!  At the Serangoon Park Connector, I saw a guy resting on the bench - he was taking a rest, but he joined me for a short while later.  He eventually passed me just before the bridge.  When I reached CP5, I saw Deborah leaving!  It was just past 4am and I was glad to see Angela and Diana again.  They offered me a seat and helped me filled up my water bottles.  Osbert brought me some hot coffee as there was no more Nescafe coffee.  One of them also brought me the Coke and KFC meshed potato that Poonster bought me!!!  I finished the meshed potato in double quick time but decided that I won't need the Coke.  I also finished half of the hot coffee before leaving the CP.

CP5 to CP4 121.94km (11.5km)
I decided I should walk this stretch of the trail till I reached the "runnable" pavement.  I then realised in my rush to get out of CP8, I had forgotten to retrieve my headlamp needed for this stretch!  The gravel terrain was bad for my feet and the sensation of having blisters came back.  :(  I pushed on to find a seat so that I could sit down properly and apply the powder.  2 cyclists wearing the Craze Ultra volunteer tees rode past and asked if I needed anything.  They said I was near the Punggol Promenade.  I asked if they had any muscle spray as the front of my left foot was hurting.  One of them rode ahead to take out her first aid kit.  After spraying the foot, I applied more powder on both my feet before continuing.  With the feet now fully "touch-up", I found energy to "surge" ahead.  But the hard effort left me with stomach issue and I had to stop somewhere for an emergency relief!  Luckily it was too early in the morning and no one was around to witness!  I felt better and continued along the Seletar North Link.  Daylight arrived before I reached CP4.

CP4 to CP3 130.94km (9km)
I saw the whole gang of my friends at CP4 which was a big surprise!  Charlotte, Philip, Neyton, Teelee, Tiwazz!  Then I realised why!  They would be tearing down the CP after the cut-off time!  I looked at my watch and knew I better get out of CP4 soon.  But I could feel my blister and ask Philip if he had needles or safety pins that I could use to break the blister.  To me, this was the best way as I could squeeze dry the blister, and apply foot powder to absorb the water from the blister.  Unfortunately, while I managed to poke dry the one on my right foot, the blister on my left was not big enough though I managed to squeeze a little.  I was also running out of foot powder.  :(  I requested Neyton to run with me till I cross the road onto the Khatib Bongsu Park Connector.  Along the way, he helped me to google where I could find 7-11 and possibly foot powder.  After we parted, I told myself I had to reach CP3 before 9am as that was the cut-off.  I decided to beat the traffic lights when they were not in my favour.  I really had no choice by then.  Every seconds counted!  I also switched on my cellphone and got a message from Mel who would be waiting at Admiralty MRT!  I reached CP3 at 8:50am???  I saw Nyoman, who helped me filled up my water bottle.  I took sometime to fix the blister on my left foot.  This time round, I could see another small blister next to the big one.  I managed to poke the small blister and dried it before applying the last few drop of foot powder.  And left the CP before 9:00am!

CP3 to CP2 139.44km (8.5km)
Somehow, I knew I didn't fix the blister problem on my left foot well as I still wasn't able to run properly.  I was getting frustrated as this was the first time in a long time that I was unable to fix a blister problem.  I limped my way to Admiralty MRT and saw Mel and Terence about to cross the traffic light junction.  They were funny - Terence wanted me to go towards to bus-stop area as it was a flat road while Mel wanted me to walk up the steps as there was less traffic.  I couldn't blame them as they were last minute activated.  :)  Nevertheless, I followed Mel as I didn't think there would be a place to sit down at the bus-stop to sort out my blister.  I applied more powder on my feet and poured more into my socks and shoes.  It still didn't feel right.  But I didn't want to waste more time since that was the best I could do.  Terence led the way to CP2 while Mel went to get me a harsh brown.  By then, my mind had shutdown and I just followed Terence wherever he ran/walked.  Nonetheless, I did notice some signage and a distance marker at 135.94km.  Terence was very encouraging and kept saying about a good pace and that we should reach CP2 before 11am.  Mel joined us just before the final 1km.  By then I had an idea what I needed to do - to proceed and let Terence and Mel get what I required at CP2.  This was to save time, as well as to prevent me from stopping.  But I didn't communicate this to anyone.  We reached CP2 at around 10:35am, which meant that we had 4hrs 24mins to cover the final 21.5km.  And I allowed myself to rest!  Huge mistake but by then, it was way too late as my mind and body had closed shop.  No amount of coaxing from Mel or persuasion from Terence, even after resting for 15mins, could get me going.  :s  I simply wanted to stop and sleep and nothing else!

 On Our Way to CP2 @ Woodlands Waterfront!

So it was another DNF 100 Miles race for me in my impressive list of DNF races!  Perhaps I should have continued and I probably had enough time even if I had to limp my way for the remaining 21.5km.  But my mind just shutdown as soon as I stopped at CP2.  It seemed like a wasted effort but I did learn some valuable lessons.  Last year, while I stopped and took photos along the way and at aid stations, I didn't waste time to upload the photos and status onto Facebook.  Also, while I always knew the pitfalls of aid stations with drop bag option, I pride myself for knowing how long I should spend at such stations.  It was a conscious to get what you want and quickly continue your race.  Somehow, I was spending more time than in the later stage of the race.  There would be other small tweaks to nutrition that I could improve a little, as well as being more careful to what I need in the race: foot powder (bought the foot powder but left them in office on Fri before going down to MacRitchie to drop off the drop bags) and headlamp (packed but forgotten to retrieve)!  So, I won't be able to volunteer for the 2014 Craze Ultra.  Instead, I would be running for the 3rd time and to finish it!

Resting at CP2 - DNF!!!

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