Sunday, October 19, 2014

CAPAM International Run 2014: Race Review

I wasn't really looking forward to this run. The route for the CAPAM run was the exact duplicate of the PNM route the previous week and the thought of having to have to go through it again was really not very appealing to me. I suffered tremendously during the Putrajaya Night Marathon.

When I signed up for the CAPAM run, I didn't know which route they were going to be running. The route info was practically non existent on the organizers website. I only signed up cos the distance matched my training plans for the week. It would be like an LSD with a whole bunch of other people.

At least I had the company of Jamie, who was also crazy enough to sign up. Come race day, I reached the race venue early to pick up both Jamie, Choon Yuen (who couldn't make it due to work commitments) and my bib. I had to leave the bib collection to the last minute due to some unforeseen issues. The wife decided to tag along to lend support  and to be my unofficial photographer.

The weather though was lovely. It rained the night before in my place and I'm not sure if Putrajaya rained or not but the place was cool. Perfect weather for running. But I was expecting things to heat up fast as is always the case with Putrajaya.

For an event dubbed with the words international in it, there was surprisingly few participants. Jamie and me warmed up, and headed to the start pen for the 22k (yes, it was officially a 22k event) runners to await our start. The MC got on my nerves with his rambling and I couldn't wait to be flagged off to be rid of him.

The gun went off right on the dot at 6.30am and it was time to get to work. Since I was familiar with the route and its ups and downs, I was at least much better prepared to negotiate it this time round. The initial start pace was a tad too fast with the Garmin clocking in at 4:55 minutes for the first kilometer. Both Jamie and me decided that it way too fast a start and dialed the pace back down. After all, there was still a long way to go and we had to keep something in the tank for the second half of the race.

We ran together for close to 18km averaging a 5:15 pace, slowing when we had to and stepping it up when we needed to. Water stations were grab and run cos both of us weren't planning to stop just to re-hydrate. Every second we kept moving counted. The water stations were spaced out exactly as in PNM and that made it easier to anticipate when we would reach them. A nice mix of water and isotonics as well.

Surprisingly, I was feeling fine, even with a pace I wasn't really comfortable with. The legs kept going with not much protest and no signs of the knee issues showed up. Thank god. As I had decided earlier, when we reached the Taman Cabaran area just after the cemetary, I walked up both the inclines. Lost some precious time there but I wasn't about to challenge that climb. Once that was done, I got back into a steady pace again. Somewhere around the 18km mark, the 10k runners merged with us and things got pretty crowded.

At this point, I was already feeling tired. I didn't have breakfast prior to the race and had no gels with me. I was hoping that this wouldn't be a bad decision. The legs were already showing some signs of fatigue and I stopped at the 18km water station to walk. Thankfully there was no cramping this time. Jamie was still going strong and headed off on his own.

After a short walk to recover, I started my attack for the final 4km. I glanced at my watch and realized that I could finally break my 3 year old 21km PR. The confidence level rose. I upped the pace a little more even though I was gasping for air by this point. Surged up the final incline and passed the 21km mark in 1:54, I was ecstatic. My 3 year old 1:59 half marathon time was finally broken.

Now all I had to do was make it through the last 1.2km and the torture would be over. Once again the thought that I would shave off last weeks PNM timing was spurring me on. With every bit of effort I had left in me, I made a bee line to the finish and crossed the line in a time of 2:01, taking 14 minutes off my PNM time last week. Oh the joy!

I really didn't expect the results I got seeing as how I wasn't at all confident before the race but I'm a happy camper today. I'm hoping this is no flash in the pan and that the training plan I've cooked up is what contributed to this somewhat. We shall see how it really pans out in the next three months or so.

While there really is nothing I can say about the event cos it was kinda low key for me, the organization was pretty good. The race experience was decent, the volunteers were as always spot on and did a great job. Kudos to them. The only complaint I have was the lack of mobile toilets. Overall, save for the annoying MC, I say it was a pleasant experience.

A big congrats goes out to Jamie for his superb run and thanks for the company, well at least for 18 kilometers of it anyway.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Putrajaya Night Marathon 2014: Race Review

Don't let the title fool you. It wasn't the marathon for me this year, just the half, which in hindsight was one of the best run decisions I made in ages.

The entire event was under threat of a bad haze enveloping parts of the country. The situation was so bad that I was contemplating to skip the event but decided to play by ear and wait till race day to weigh my options. I didn't want to miss this run not because I was intending to try for a PR or anything but simply because me and the entire gang were running our respective races in support of a very good friend.

If fact, this would be my longest distanced run in nearly two months since recovering from my knee injury. A conservative pace was in order. This marks only my second time running the half in the Putrajaya Night Marathon, with the previous two installments being the full marathon. I simply wasn't interested in reliving the pain of running a night marathon in the humidity of Putrajaya. It was a wise decision.

Thankfully, the haze let up a little on race day and the event was a go, not that the organizers actually had any intention of calling it off that late in the game anyway. Too much was already spent for it to be called off. The wife (who was also running the half) and me made our way early to the race location, bumped into Arman and Suzie before meeting up with Jamie.

The signature balloons archers of the organizer ...
After chit-chatting and warming up, we made our way to watch the start of the full marathon category. Back in 2011, I was running the Putrajaya Half marathon for the very first time and was envious of the Marathoners and vowed to be in the start pen with them one day. This year though I was smiling from ear to ear that I was not in the start pen with them. Jamie echoed my thoughts by stating that we made the right decision by signing up for the half instead of the full.

Caught watching the girls ... errr, I mean runners go by ...
Pic courtesy of the wife.
Soon enough it was our turn for flag off amidst a colorful display of fireworks. It was a new route for all the categories this year. And having run the route before I kinda knew what to expect. To say it was a tough route is an understatement. Right from the start you're already negotiating the rolling highway. Jamie already bolted off with a strategy of his own and I wasn't about to latch on to him, not with the pace he was going. I was still cautious about my leg and eased back into something that better suited my current level of fitness.

The first 12k was not too bad. I surprised myself that I could get into a 5:20-5:40 pace through that rolling highway stretch. The entire stretch though, even with a huge TV screen at the 9K mark (I think) was absolutely boring. Safe for the volunteers at the drink station, you were on your own with the darkness of the night. Mind numbing, I tell you.

A percussion band belting out some catchy tunes ...
By the time I reached the cemetery area, my knee started feeling wonky. It wasn't such a big deal, just a twitch on and off but I wasn't going to risk a recurrence of the injury so I dialed in the pace considerably. Which actually was a good thing cos that was when we reached the PICC incline. I made a decision to walk this stretch which even though I've run it before, felt like forever.

At this point I remembered that I forgot to take my one and only gel and quickly pulled it out and swallowed it down and in my haste I failed to make sure there was a water station nearby. You know la how these gels are when you don't really have water to wash it down. With a sticky taste in my mouth, I continued, hoping the gel would kick it but realistically knowing that it wouldn't really happen, not with one gel at that late stage of the game.

The half marathoners waiting for flag off.
Pic courtesy of the wife.
With about 7k or so to go, it was slow going. Even with the dialed in pace, I was struggling to reach the finish. The lack of proper and consistent training was clearly evident. Slowly and steadily I trudged on and finally after 22.3km and 2:15 later I crossed the finish line, not my best time but happy nonetheless to complete my longest run to date and remain injury free. I have a chance at redemption next week though cos the CAPAM International run plies the same route or so I'm told.

As with most of the Twenty First Century organized events, you get the volunteers personally putting the medal around your neck. I thanked them, quickly grabbed my finisher tee, headed to the car to get a quick change of tee and headed up to meet with Jamie to help him distribute some race flyers. After practically bugging everyone to take a leaflet, I ran back to the 20km mark to wait for the wife and pace her back the final 2km plus to the finish.

No one fights alone. This is for you 'Iron Man'
She did well considering getting cramps and all and I accompanied her back to the finish. Technically this was the first time I ran with her during a race :D She was happy with her performance and said she PR'ed the cemetery stretch ... LOL! Good job, hon.

And a big congrats also goes to my GC buddies who ran the SCKLM the next day, who did great in their marathon with a few getting some exceptional PR's and some on their virgin marathon attempts. Great job guys. 'Iron man' will be proud of all of you! As for me, it's time to work harder to keep up with these bunch of speedsters!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Boh Highlands Run 2014

It was a cold, wet and muddy affair at the Boh Highlands Run 2014 this morning but it was not without fun. The rains that came pouring down just before the race start and remained until the event was over didn't damper the spirits of those present. In fact, everyone reveled in the rains, mud and cool, crispy fresh highlands air.

The wife and me started our journey to Cameron Highlands for the inaugural Boh Highlands Run 2014 at the ungodly hour of 6 am. We took a nice slow and easy drive up to Cameron's with the intention of avoiding the infamous Brinchang 'pasar malam' gridlock that had me fuming with rage a few years back. Back then it was our first visit to Cameron Highlands, also for a run event and we were stuck in the crawl for close to two hours.

The infamous Brinchang Gridlock, and I thought KL was bad!
We weren't going to have any of that this time round. The drive up was uneventful and pretty much easy. With a stop at one of the highway rest stops earlier for breakfast, we reached Copthorne hotel, our 'home' for the weekend around 11.30am. The traffic was already getting a little congested and we decided to park the car in the hotel car park and explore the place on foot since it was still way too early for checking in.

We weren't short of places to visit seeing as how just a few metres down the road were shops and stalls selling all the usual Cameron Highlands knick knacks and food. We took our time checking out everything, bought a couple of stuff and before we knew it, it was time to check in. Checking in was a breeze since our reservations were made out in advance.

Upon checking into the room, I was already plotting a route in my mind for the wife and me to run later in the evening. The roads were not really safe nor very conducive for running, what with it being narrow and choked with slow moving cars. The next best thing was to make a beeline towards the Boh Tea Centre at Sungai Palas. After a short rest I was already bugging the wife to get ready. My feet were itching to get in some running before dinner. Besides, I really needed the mileage and the sublime weather was simply begging for a run.

The beautiful tea plantation scene that accompanied us on our run to the Boh Centre
The plan to run to the Boh Tea Centre was a sound decision since the route, though a little narrow was devoid of much traffic. The run was scenic with a beautiful view of the tea plantation on our right. The weather was simply cool and reminded me so much of our Gold Coast Airport Marathon excursion. It made me miss the place all over again. Yes, yes, I simply love the Gold Coast! There, I've said it!

A castle like dwelling on the way to the Boh Centre 
Anyways, we reached the race start location and the organizing committee, led by Dominic and the event crew, led by Wan, were still busy setting up the place. Caught up for a bit and then headed up to the Boh Centre before heading back to the hotel. The journey back was a little more difficult, what with the entire route back being uphill but we both got a nice good quad workout. It rained on the way back and that didn't bode well for tomorrow.

A cute goat that posed for me on our way back ...
After a quick shower, a disappointing dinner at the hotel, it was back to the room to chill and call it an early night since we planned to drive to the centre instead of taking the shuttle bus provided by the organizers and our main concern was getting parking since space was limited.

The mist waiting for us on the trail route
Up bright and early the next morning, we were out of the hotel and headed to the race start location by 6.00am. The place was already filling up with those who opted to drive on their own. The music was already blaring and the place was starting to get in a party mood. Most of the participants had fancy hats or head gear on since the theme called for a wacky hat. Shereen, from the organizing committee passed me a hat to wear, which of course I was too shy to put on ... LOL!

Then, as per my deductions, the rains came which had everyone scrambling for cover under the tents. I was secretly and sadistically happy but god, was it cold and chilly. The rains didn't let up and for a moment the event looked set to have a delayed start but thankfully Wan, the race director decided to keep to the schedule and off we went. I was a little concerned about the participants cos at least 95% of them were wearing normal road shoes instead of trail shoes and the route was bound to be muddy and slippery.

The hard working organizing committee
The start for me was pretty screwy. The thin mountain air and the uphill start had me gasping for breath as early as 600 metres into the run. As expected the route was muddy, water logged at certain points and very slippery. Since I had on my grippy and trusty GObionic Trail, it was all systems go for me and I pounded the muddy paths as fast as my legs would allow.

The route though short and slightly under distanced, at 4.5K or so was by no means a pushover, what with the uneven, muddy and sometimes rocky terrain coupled with its ups and downs. It took some effort at certain points to keep going. But everyone looked like they were having a good time with lots of participants taking advantage of the simply beautiful backdrop of the tea plantation to stop and take selfies.

Overall, safe for the rain which no one can control, the event was pretty well organized for a fun run, if you asked me. The 500 or so participants all looked like they were having a blast in the rain. Their spirits weren't dampened and I had a blast myself. How often do you get to actually run in the rain in a picturesque tea plantation?

There were loads of activities on hand such as the 'BOHfie' competition where runners took selfies at 'BOHfie' spots around the plantation. 20 prizes were set to be won and three people I personally know managed to grab a prize each. Kudos to Max, Evelyn and Marlina for grabbing a hamper each for your 'BOHfies'.

That small green dot is yours truly captured by the wife. 
The main objective of the run was to actually create awareness on the importance of environmental conservation. All proceeds from the run registration which amounted to RM25,000.00 were channeled to the Malaysia Nature Society for environmental education projects to be implemented in all the 27 schools in Cameron Highlands.

All that's missing is the Mad Hatter ...
The wife and me finally made our way back to the hotel, tired but happy and after a bath and a short rest headed for home. This was the least exciting part of the weekend. Before I go, I'd like to say thank you to Boh Plantations for your hospitality and complimentary entry for your event. I had a blast. If you're planning to do this again next year, maybe a longer and even more challenging route this time round? :D

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reality Check

The pain of the recently concluded Starlight Ultra is still very fresh in my mind, which has resulted in me downgrading my entry for the Putrajaya 100 Miles 100km category to the 52km category. I thought about it long and hard, a whole 3 seconds to be exact, before making the decision to write to the organizers, went down on my hands and knees to beg them to downgrade my entry.

They so graciously accepted my pleas and downgraded my entry to the 52km category. No, I didn't chicken out. I'm simply being realistic. I'm not ultra material. Period! Yes, there's a 30 hour cut off for the event and I could crawl on all fours around Putrajaya and still make it back within the 30 hour cutoff but what's the point? It would only prolong the suffering and I still wouldn't be ultra material, not by a long shot.

As much as I would love to delve into different aspects of running, I've got to stick to what I'm capable of. Running an ultra requires a dozen lorry loads of dedication and commitment, both of which is beyond me. Running around my neighbourhood a few hours a week is not what one constitutes as training for something like an ultra. I'm only setting myself up for disappointment. Personally, I'm still suffering minor depression from my horrible Starlight outing. 

Taken from Google Images

So I decided that I best put a stop to my delusions that I could play around in the backyard of the big boys of ultra-marathoning. Might as well save myself the heartache and pain and stick to something I can do a little better, just plain old marathoning, the 42.195km kind. I'm a pretty competitive (with myself) person and my failures hit me harder than I'd care to admit. 

I put a lot of effort (sometimes to the point of being fanatical) in my training and failing to achieve what I set out for does weigh heavily on me. I was pretty depressed after the Starlight Ultra that even had the wife worried. Even though she thinks I should do the P100, she's been a pillar of strength for me and supports my decision to quit ultras. For now anyway. Maybe when I'm done chasing my marathon dreams, I might just be brave enough to try ultra-marathoning again.

On a different note, my training post Starlight has taken a huge beating. I'm nursing a busted knee, which I suspect is ITB and probably caused by my persistent need to not 'dnf' the Starlight Ultra. The pain is pretty bad that in my last long (if you can call a 15km run long, that is) with the GC gang on National day, I had to limp and walk back half the route. I've been in sort of a rehab mode since then with very short 4-5km slow runs to nurse the knee back to good health. 

My fitness has taken a huge dive south and it's going to be a long, slow road back to my pre-Gold Coast fitness level. It's not something I'm happy about but patience is the key to a good recovery or so I've heard. Unfortunately patience is something I'm very short of but for now, a regime of stretching, icing and strengthening of the hips are high on my priority list. The last two sessions has seen some positive signs and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that what I'm doing is contributing to it. I can't wait to get back to regular running again.

And speaking of regular running, the MPIB run clinic will be making a return somewhere mid-October. I for one am hoping to recover in time and join in the clinic again, and based on last year was nothing but fun. Aside from the fun, you get to learn lots of interesting tidbits and tips about running from a host of experienced runners. First hand tips and sharings like these are something you can never find in any running books. Don't just sign up for the clinic only though, make sure you sign up for the race as well. What better way to start the year than with a run!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Starlight Ultra 84K: Race Review

Right up to this very minute, I have no idea why I even signed up for the Penang Starlight Ultra. Since I need to blame someone for the pain I'm feeling in every inch of my body, I'll just blame Jamie for this. He was the culprit who first signed up for this and like an idiot, I followed suit!

After an initial postponement a few months back, the race finally got underway yesterday. Yan Leng, Piew, Yeehoo, Jamie and me with MC Gan being a late addition, were among the five from the original 8 or 9 of the GC gang who decided to carry on with the event after the postponement. The rest of them couldn't make it due to prior commitments. They were probably the more intelligent ones.

Pebbles, my ever faithful medal model ...
We put up in a nice little apartment at Straights Quay, not that we got to enjoy it cos we only spent time there for a short rest and to get into gear for the race. The apartment was picked cos of its vicinity and convenience to the race start location which was just downstairs. 

We had a couple of hours to spare before race start and as usual with the GC fellows, it was all fun and joking around, it was the least we could do to keep our mind off the huge task ahead of us. We headed to Tesco to get some stuff to sustain us for the race and then headed back to the apartment to prepare our gear and get a short rest.

Slightly closer to 6pm, we headed for dinner at the mall below, met up with Yeehoo, who drove down, for an early dinner, snapped some pictures and dropped off our drop bags before heading back to the apartment to get ready. Though I was joking around like crazy, I was a bundle of nerves inside. I was hardly prepared for this race. With a total lack of motivation coming off my Gold Coast marathon in July and a complete lack of mileage leading up to Starlight, I knew things were not going to go well for me. 

I really wish I had signed up for this category instead ...
Pic courtesy of Jamie
Thoughts of not turning up for this was very real in the weeks prior to this event but I promised the wife I'll do this and I don't quit so easily. So there I was with the rest of the participants come race day at the start line on a nice cool night.

My strategy was simple. I know suffering was inevitable. I planned a nice slow paced run. Walk if and when I have to and run when I can. I had 16 hours to circumvent the island and if I played my cards right, I might live to tell the tale. My gear consisted of my S-Lab 5 hydration vest. I ditched the bladder and opted for bottles since I needed the storage space, a Columbia top, shorts, a cap, a Petzl headlight, shades with clear lenses, quad and calf compression and a brand new pair of Skechers GOrun 3.

The race started right on time. We all started together at an easy trot which I knew wouldn't last cos I could sense the energy coming out from Yan Leng, Piew and Gan, whom I knew would start getting into proper ultra running mode soon. The start stretch, in fact, the entire town stretch was choked with traffic from the Saturday night crowd. Since we were running with traffic and the roads were not closed or even cordoned off, we had to be contend with traffic zooming by, which was a little dangerous. I was even hit hard by a side mirror of a car that just didn't give a damn as he/she drove by. I was a lot more careful from then on.

I only thought I'd see scenes like these in movies ...
The initial 10-15k was run with Jamie before I started slowing down when I started feeling a twitch in my knee. I've been having a buggy knee since Gold Coast and was hoping it wouldn't rear its ugly head so soon. I told Jamie to go ahead cos I wanted to protect the knee for as long as I could. I opted to run when there was no pain and walk when the pain appeared. 

We both opted to hook up our Forerunner 620 to a power bank for the first 42k to keep it charged and then ditch the power bank and cable at CP4 only to find out that once you hook the Forerunner 620 to a power bank, it switches off the recording and GPS functions. To make sure the watch would last the entire 84k, we just used the usual watch mode. That meant no knowledge of what kilometer we were at and what pace we were doing. It was all by gut feel. Not good.

Once Jamie bolted off, I was basically on my own. While I went through the route map prior to race day, I wasn't all that familiar with Penang. I had no idea where I was most times and no landmarks that I recognized, unlike running a race in KL. So, with no GPS to help me, I was completely 'blind', not knowing how far the next check point was or what pace I was doing. It was all just guess work. Sadly, there was no distance markers placed throughout the race, which I read there would be. It would have helped a lot. 

A group shot just before dinner ...
Pic courtesy of Jamie
The route was a complete bitch! I knew it wasn't going to be easy going, but just how tough was not something I was expecting or even prepared for. It was mind numbing and purely mental. The inclines when they came into play was simply insane. The long numerous and deserted stretches pushed your limits to the max. You spend hours on end without anyone to talk to, so you do the next best thing, talk to yourself, at least until you reach a checkpoint.

The first half was pretty much flat, a mix of road and pavements until you came to a stretch of elevated roads just before CP4. Bear with me on the road names. I'm not familiar with Penang. This elevated stretch was simply snaking its way up half way to heaven. But it was also one of the best stretches in terms of 'ambiance' which clearly describes the essence of the Starlight Ultra. This stretch was filled with the sounds of insects, croaking frogs (for want of a better word) and if you took the time to look up in the night skies, you'd see a beautiful cascade of stars watching over you as you made your way up. 

And people said running was easy, you only need a pair of shoes ...
Pic courtesy of Jamie
I power walked up this stretch so fast that I think my walk pace was faster than my run pace. Once you reach the peak, the downward stretch loomed. On any other day, I would have rejoiced but with a busted knee, the declines were tougher than the inclines. I made my way down slowly, keeping as much pressure off the knee as one could possibly do on a decline. Soon enough CP4, the halfway point, appeared and I rejoiced. I planned a 15 minute break max before I head off.

The check point was well stocked. The volunteers were very helpful. They came to me, guided me to my drop bag, dug it out for and even opened it and ask me what I wanted from it. I thanked them for their kindness and said I could take it from here. I dropped off whatever I didn't need from my hydration vest, stocked up my bags with what I needed before going to get some food down my tummy. Once again, the volunteers here were very helpful. They asked me what I need, and when I opted for the mee in the cup, they even made it for me, got me coffee and fussed over me. You guys have my gratitude.

The thoughts of just quitting at this point was playing heavily on my mind. Should I go on? Should I just quit? After all, no one is going to fault me for giving up, at least I tried, right? But I didn't want to disappoint the wife. I checked in with her at every single check point and I didn't want her waking up in the morning to see a text from me saying I quit. Even though my entire body was in pain, I solemnly trudged on. The next stretch was extremely mental. It was dark, lonely, scary, flat, never ending and that's when the hallucinations started. 

The Ultraman figurine that was presented by Jamie to all of us after
 the run sits proudly among my other trophies
Most of the time I was practically alone along this stretch. I didn't dare look behind, left or right for fear of seeing things that were not there. Once in a very blue moon, an occasional marshal on his bike would pass along. That was the only signs of life I had until CP5. To alleviate the knee problem, I compensated with my other leg and my left hamstring started tightening up. They say bad luck comes in pairs. I walked this entire stretch, which was about 10k.

Somewhere before the Teluk Bahang section, due to the lack of marshals and the fact that I was in a daze most of the time, I took the left fork instead of the right and ended getting lost. The only realization that I was lost was the signage was stating somewhere else instead of Teluk Bahang. I didn't know what to do at first but was confident that I memorized the map correctly and this felt wrong. I doubled back and sure enough when I reached the fork again, I saw another runner going the other way and knew that I screwed my directions up. Lost almost an hour in and out but took it in stride and kept on moving, upping the run/walk pace a little to make up lost time. 

The Teluk Bahang stretch was crazy. The roads were winding and this one reached all the way to the heavens itself, It was also pretty chilly, what with the on/off rains through the night. The only good thing was I had company at this point in the form of a female competitor who was urging me on every time I wavered. Let me tell you something about the women in this race, they're all bloody strong competitors. The both of us reached up to CP6 almost the same time.
The classy looking place we put up in
Once again, thoughts of quitting were strong but the wife kept cheering me on with text messages and I just couldn't let my number one fan down. I put my chin up, puffed my chest and headed down the road. It was downhill and windy all the way. I tried running but the hamstring and knees protested. I had already modified my quad sleeves to act as a knee guard but even then it offered little respite. So I walked down all the way. The view of the dam was breathtaking but I didn't have the liberty to take any pictures. Time wasn't on my side, what with the one hour loss and my fatiguing state. 

Just before the 70km mark, I met up with three other competitors who heard about my knee issue from the earlier runner who ran up Teluk Bahang (who zoomed off ahead of me after CP6) with me and they offered me some much need medicated spray. I tried asking the medics that I happen to see at previous CP's for some ointment or sprays but none of them had any. I know we're supposed to be self sustainable in an ultra but heck, you're medics and things like these are basic needs in runs. Oh well, my fault not to carry any of my own. 

Seeing the CP7 check point was heaven sent. That meant there was only 14km or so to go. Heck, I could do that or so I thought. All thoughts of DNFing left at this stage. No way was I going to give up when I've come this far. Topped up my stuff and left within 3 minutes. I was fighting for time. This was it, the final leg and then I could finally rest. Oh god, this last 14k seemed like it was 140K and my legs, in fact every part of me was hurting so bad that I just wanted to cry and I mean really cry.

The final Batu Feringghi stretch of roads was so windy and littered with continuous ups and downs that I thought I was not going to make it. The heat was getting unbearable and the rains made it worse. I was practically crawling at this point, gritting my teeth so hard to stop the pain. I think I stopped at every bus stop to rest cos the pain was that bad. Time was running out, loads of mental calculations were being done and based on my guesstimate and distance left, I would be cutting it real close. The wife was on edge but her belief in me never wavered. She kept urging to keep calm and just keep moving. 

Finally, after what felt like 10 years, I came to the final check point. Took a couple of gulps of cold isotonics and asked them how far more would I have to suffer. One of them said, about 1.5K and my heart dropped. When you're as fatigued as I was at that late stage of the game, 1.5k might as well be 15k! Reluctantly I urged my feet forward. When I finally saw Tesco, I was ecstatic. I would make it with time to spare. I crossed the finish looking dazed but relieved that it was finally over. I practically ran around the entire Penang Island and survived! The first thing I did after that was to call the wife and share my joy with her. 

I wanted to cry but was too tired from the ordeal. MC Gan was waiting for me at the finish and told me the good news about Yan Leng's podium. Good for her, we always knew she would get on the podium. Definitely more to come from her. I hobbled my way slowly up to the apartment to shower and rest. After our rest, we grabbed a late lunch and headed to the airport to catch our flight home. We were all exhausted but quietly happy at what we all achieved today. 

What did I learn from all this? Well, for one, ultras are not for me. I don't really see myself going any further in this. Running an ultra is not something you wake up one day and decide you want to do. It takes lots of training (which I have lack of) and total dedication (another thing I'm lacking) to really run an ultra. 

I'll be sticking to something I'm more capable of from now on which is marathoning. It's easier and something within my capabilities. I've had a taste of running a real ultra and it doesn't sit too well on me. I have two more that I've signed up for and will get it over and done with and that's it for me! NO MORE ULTRAS!

Organization wise, there were pro's and con's. My main beef was the lack of marshal at that key point of a fork in the road that had me going the wrong way. The lack of ointment or sprays I could live with, that's my fault for not bringing my own but the marshaling was a little lacking, if you ask me. Another point was the lack of distance markers. It would have helped a lot to know roughly how far had to go. The volunteers though were simply amazing, the way  they fussed over you when you came in the check points. You have my gratitude.

Once again, a big congrats to Yan Leng on her podium, Piew, her ever reliable pacer, MC Gan for his incredible finish, Yee Hoo for a great effort and Jamie for holding us all together since the start of this crazy endevour. You guys rock, bigtime!

And most of all, this success is dedicated to my number one fan, my ever supportive wife!