It felt good to be there, it felt right. I knew we were gonna have a good run.
Back to the the grind of reality as I try to gather my thoughts & all I can (want) to think of is TMBT!! What a feeling... TMBT 2012 will now forever be in a special place in my running memoirs. The organizers did a fab job designing this route & making it happen & we did a good job signing up for it! Especially if they're not planning to repeat this route in the future! shame tho huh??
I'm extremely contented that I made the trip from Melbourne for TMBT 2012, achieving what me & wifey wanted as a memorable race running together before the year ended. Things were still up in the air at one stage. Thanks to the crazy Melbourne weather, I did finally fall sick on the freaking FINAL WEEKEND before TMBT. Flu was attacking the old body & the poor wife had also started coughing. It was worrying & demotivating... while we didn't really have any target for TMBT anyway, but falling sick I had to resign to the fact that I might not run at all... As for the wife, she was less lenient with herself & extended her 5 hours target for 25k to 6 hours (5 hr + coughing allowance 1 hr).. haha
But you can imagine.. it was very frustrating. I was still feeling half-dead with headache & runny nose on the Tuesday before race day Saturday, but after sleeping like crazy & piling on the drugs, I was actually surprised I was feeling 10x better by Thursday. Super high-five to Flucor & Ho Yan Hor!!!...... Flucor is highly recommended btw. It was a relief that I could run but I knew my body had weakened considerably.
So arriving KK I brought no expectations but to enjoy the run with the wife. That was the only race strategy I had, or could have. I thought: aiya just fully utilise the new Panasonic tough cam FT-20 during the run & enjoy la... (btw, whoever wants to buy camera cheap in KK - go to Center Point! got a fab deal!)
And so off we went. Showed up early for the pre-race briefing at KK Park HQ, saw new faces & spoke to like-minded enthusiasts, beginners n pros. It was certainly the first time for me attending such a pre-race briefing, I would imagine it's common with ultra-runs around the world, & I found it energizing being in the same space with the competitors, I felt the air of excitement in the air - and why wouldn't there be.. we were only about to embark on something we all loved.. running & living on the edge with nature! :)
So despite the super HEAVY downpour half-way through the briefing, and the fact that I was shivering after getting caught in the rain trying to retrieve our car, I would not be stopped. Not now. The winds were howling throughout the night in our little simple homestay room and after being entertained with traditional music by the homestay owners (that thankfully ended by 10pm), I just snugged up & told myself.. it's gonna happen. Come rain or shine!
Stepping out at 6am, the weather was cloudy, winds were semi-howling, the rain stopped & overall it was definitely bearable weather. It was a relief... Walking from our homestay to Kundasang War Memorial, the view of Mt KK looming against the rising sun really did take my breadth away. It felt good to be there, it felt right. I knew we were gonna have a good run.
"All the best all the best!"... A short clip of the flag off!
First 10k. THE VIEW WAS JUST AMAZING. Mt KK like I've never seen it before.That Most Beautiful Thing was everywhere I turned. The organizers deserve a big pat on the back for this. I actually found it hard to focus on the run coz the view was just so damn inspiring! So we just stuck together, taking pics of the villagers, saying hi to the kiddies, stopping a lot, laughing & turned it into a free & easy TMBT hike instead of run! Many others did the same ~ besides with the kind of slope we were tackling there was no way of sustaining a run. Not at my level anyway!
Love this pic! That's us! Photo courtesy of KC Leong
14k. This was where the 25k split from the 50k runners. At that point we were 26 n 27 in our category & it must've been the emptiness that made us wonder where on earth are the 25 runners in front of us?? Kiasu-ness kicked in & we thought since it was gonna be largely downhill WE SHALL GIVE CHASE! We gave each other the target to make top 20! So we started running..!
Some feelings we had at around 10k!
20k. The wife said... Go la you! So off I went! To do my best in the final 7k with what I had. Final 7k. I mean, how tough could it be right?.. WRONG.
20-25k. Well. It was the longest n toughest downhill my poor legs have ever tasted. Gravel. Non-stop pounding on the thigh muscles and hamstrings, not to mention ankles & sole to maintain balance and controlling speed of descend. The ribena pack and 2nd power gel and the remaining water was used up very very quickly... the sun that has been largely missing all this while started emanating heat behind the veil of clouds & was getting warmer and at one point in the final 24k, I must have had my first out-of-body experience..!! Or rather my first inside-body experience!.. the body wasn't mine anymore, it was just a machine with two legs working in auto-pilot mode & I felt like I've shrunk further into my head & was just watching myself from inside. I remember telling myself you must snap out of it. But I knew I was gonna be in trouble soon.
26-28k. I was walking, I've tanked. Hit the wall & about to fall flat on my face. The 4 runners I passed earlier caught up with me. I was thinking.. U fool, its 27k not 25k, your pacing has gone all wrong! The category name of 25k must've stuck in the subconscious. But I was at a point where I was just glad the muscles were not cramping up. I was munching M&Ms down my dry throat (no more water!) and dragging my two lifeless legs, finally the final 1k was visible. The 100m elevation over that 1k was the killer genius of the plot. And I'm pretty sure placed by design by evil route designer
Klauss Clause to push our bodies to the limit just before WS4 & right after our legs have turned into jelly from the never-ending pounding from the descend.
I stopped at least 5 times at this final stretch, streams of lactic + blood + pins + sore just gushed down to my feet every time I stopped. With me was a fellow 25k runner in this agony and while there was nothing left in the physical body, it was the mental strength that took over & pulled me (& all of us I'm sure) through to the end.
I remember bending down to stretch, moaning & groaning when they placed the Finisher's medal & souvenir beads round my neck. My Garmin clocked 3:51, & my official time was 3:52. 14th placing overall for 25k. I was perished & proud! :D
In the WS4 hall, I sat at the bottom of the stage in total exhaustion. In my blurry vision, I saw a lady speaking to a guy with mustache & was pointing at me. He then came to fan me like Cleopatra while I recovered. What an angel. And further kudos to the medical team for their quick attention to the needy. Fortunately I recovered fast and found out I ran with the top ladies of 25k. I congratulated them and it was hardly 10min after, the wife suddenly showed up! I was in disbelief. I was even contemplating SMSing her warning her about the final hill, but clearly she had already conquered it! Ha! Not too sure at this stage but seems she was the first local girl for 25k category?? & 19th overall! We made our top 20 :D Can't remember much now but we went on rambling and hugged and congratulated each other. The WS4 hall was just mainly the 25k finishers quietly recovering, lying on the floor like dried-out ikan bilis but I'm very sure smiling inside with what we had all just achieved.
Overall I think it goes without saying that TMBT totally must retain having Mt KK as part of the route going forward. Some fellow runners lamented the lack of jungle & river-crossing - elements from 2011 that weren't included this year & I do feel the same. People have come to expect a closer presence of mother nature as compared to having too much gravel. Having said that the route design this year was commendable, but I felt it would've suffice even with 2-3 notches down the toughness scale eh?
Nonetheless it truly has been a humbling experience - the 50k and 100k runners have shown me I'm far from ready for ultras & my deepest respect goes to all who went the distance - be it physically or mentally. I do feel a tiny itch as I write up this race report, a bite from the ultra-bug?... :) We shall see what the future holds. The thighs & hamstrings are still very sore & recovering. See la how first...... haha.
Meanwhile here's to TMBT 2013 & many more years to come. Thanks for the memories TMBT 2012, & congratulations for a job well done!
With Tony Quay's group! Photo courtesy of KC Leong
Not my finest moment but hey, still a group pic with da TOP runners!! Courtesy of Doc Sidhu's sharp eye!
pps. Was nice to see familiar faces of KL runners again! Hopefully get to run with everyone again soon.