Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Painful & Beautiful Surf Coast Century 2013

The inspiring view at Moggs Creek circa 79k.. 

Best part of SCC? Making new friends & watching my wife vonsy having a blast :) 

Not the best part of SCC? My poor left thigh! 

And as much as I want to say I am, I am no 100k runner :) .. yet. And to be honest we had no plans to run the SCC but thanks to an invitation (thanks Jon!), the wife & I were part of relay teams - I did leg 3 & 4 and while I pretty much suffered most of leg 4, I have nobody to blame but myself & the lack of mileage & preparation. But no regrets of course... running long distances will always push the body to the limits in one way or another & it will punish. And it's this limit that I suppose all ultra-runners secretly hope to find themselves in - so that they can dig deep & conquer it! 

I do need to sort out the injured thigh though, and make sure the injury goes away for good. Many more runs to plan & train for.. 

The week leading to the run was a long week at work (which week isn't??) & I was just glad to outa the office & onto the road friday eve (I was still working during race briefing friday nite!!) LIFE. One day I will have it back! 

On race day, I was up at 4am to send the 100k crazies & leg-1 runner to the starting line, it was FREEZING! The moon was still up & it was great to see some old faces - one could certainly feel the buzz & everyone was shivering & dying to get started. When the runners finally started running, it was so cool to see the stream of headlamps dancing along the moon-lit beach.. :) 

moonlit beach.. 

Vonsy was doing leg 4 & we didn't really have to get going till about noon-time. It was good chance to catch up with rest too & we spent the morning with a hyper Jack Russell Archie who just wanted to play :) dogs are the best!

We made our way to the 50k mark in time for the transition from my strong-running team-mate who was doing leg-2. Shortly after the strike of mid-noon, I was OFF! 

Just before setting off for leg 3.. still smiling!
1k into the run & we had to do this ridiculous crawl under the bridge..!
totally unnecessary.. 
Leg 3 - 0k - 27k

I was thinking of splitting the 50k into 3 parts (read this 'strategy' somewhere).. first part was suppose to be easy, 2nd part feeling some pinch, and the final part an absolute crawl (I wasn't expecting 'absolute crawl' to really be that)

The first 20k I just took my time - but there were many climbs that even taking my time, and just walking up the slopes it was starting to sap my energy. I kept hydrated as much as possible as it was mid-afternoon & I knew I was sweating a lot. But tiredness was setting in fast. 

Anyway some shots of Leg 3:

The first 5-6k I believe.. 
8-9k (I think) - reminded me of TMBT!
A fellow runner was admiring the view when I arrived.. after exchanging pleasantries we did the tourist thing..
help take pics of each other!
Lady said the poor horse was getting scared with all these strange-looking humans running past her
Painkalac Dam.. weird name for dam!

Leg 3 done - I could already feel the pinch of the old left ITB injury coming back. I could not go downhill fast & it was frustrating. I had to be contented with just quick shuffles. I tried to stretch it out at the changeover to Leg 4, but I knew trouble was round the corner. Good thing I brought an ITB strap.. I saw a few more casualties of Leg 3 - I knew it was time to whip out the strap, dig deep for Leg 4 & aim to just complete.

Leg 4 - 27k to 50k

My memories of the last leg was.. a mix of pain & beauty. There I was at Moggs Creek staring at the beauty of the surf coastline & I was shuffling on for another 20k with a busted left thigh. It didn't help I missed a turn at some point & did an extra 1k..

Pardon my expression.. not my prettiest!
And again, there I was running along the dramatic high cliffs by the stunning coast & I could only shuffle on with a busted left thigh. There I was running along the long wide beach, crashing waves to my right, the fading light to my left.. & I had only my busted left thigh to accompany me.. ! (you can tell where I'm going with this, & what frustrated thoughts were going through my head at that point) but in all honesty - I was secretly relieved I was still moving..

A frozen smile & a blank stare spells P-A-I-N..
pic courtesy of supersportimages

I have never grit my teeth harder or told myself to toughen up more than I have done during this leg. I guess this was a mind-over-matter challenge I've never had to deal with before. Every km felt like forever.. the Garmin watch battery went flat on the 41k mark, and I was pretty much running blind - no idea how far I've gone, no idea how far I have to go.. all I could do was just to keep on shuffling right into darkness it was kinda pathetic!.. & yet I knew this was a chance to push both mind & body to the next level. A definite lesson I learnt was to really spend some time with the map & know what to expect at different sections of the course - especially the last part of the race when you're mentally exhausted & running in darkness (I nearly fell into a big hole on the beach!).

I did have time to wonder, between the winces of pain, what a beautiful picture it would've been if I could capture these headlamps moving by the coastline in the dark..

The final stretch. It was the prettiest sight - seeing blinking lights at the end of the beach.. surely the end was near. There still was a good few km to go at that point, and the blinking lights helped me focus. What I didn't expect to find out was that the person wearing blinking lights on her head was actually my wife! She had taken the initiative to make sure runners don't miss the final junction to the finishing line... :) what a star eh?

Cruising the final 50m, with my silly wife in tow, I high-fived all the little kids, did a little spin & raised my arms towards the finishing line. At long last & 7.5 hours later, the job was done. I was in pain & so tired.

Well, wouldn't it be nice if it was really 100k I did? :) 
Telling my story to my team-mates
Change of clothes & much stretching later.. finally could muster a smile

Lessons learnt:

1) Preparation coulda/shoulda been better - not enough mileage, blisters could've been avoided, map-study!
2) Injury - need to treat injuries properly ie. physio, sports massage..
3) Nutrition planning - not too shabby this time, perhaps need more slow-release foods instead of just relying on quick-fix gels

Will I do SCC again? Maybe?? Would be nice to experience the natural beauty of surf coast without the mix of injury & pain & see how that really is like.. if I do, I will need to take preparation more seriously & sign up for the 100k :) (Perhaps I'll just park this year's experience as the SCC taster-run eh?.. )

Thanks for reading folks!


  1. Well done on completing the race. Time to upgrade your garmin to the 910xt ultra runner!

    1. thanks buddy.. too bad i cannot just latch on a battery pack for the watch - that's all it needs really!

  2. your pic of that mad slope on Leg 3 brings grimace, i can't imagine the sheer climb to 'run' up.

    1. whoever runs up is just asking for trouble later.. ie.pancit! (there was one joker who did tho & saw him busted his legs end of leg 3)