Thursday, February 20, 2014

The North Face 100 Thailand 2014 - My Maiden 50KM Trail Run, Part II (Race Report)

Hello there, feel free to read my TNF Thailand journey PART I HERE  if you want to. Let me continue with my Part II aka the Race Report first ya...

My Maiden TNF Thailand 50KM Finisher Medal... Hard earned with sweats and almost tears
Woke up around 3.10 am on that very morning. Yup, I was still feeling a bit sleepy because I slept around 11.30 pm or so. All my roommates were already woke up, had their shower and getting ready with their apparels and mandatory stuffs. We were very lucky to have an early breakfast on that morning, as they start serving breakfast at 3.30 am. I had some fried rice, some bull's eye eggs and took some bread with me.

Team Belmont Village Resort, 8 of Us, including Khairi Muin... 
Around 4.15 am, the free shuttle bus fetched us from the hotel and we arrived at Simalin Resort, the starting venue within 4.30 am. I immediately deposited my blue bag at the designated counter and off I went into the starting pen. Managed to keypoh for a while with other runners for a must group photo before the event, just want to ease the jitters inside me. And exactly on 5 am on the dot, we were being flagged off. I just took it easy since I didn't have time to do some warming up and stretching prior the race. Plus, I did not clock in any mileage at all before this event either after the tormenting Mount Datuk. My plan was to reach every 10km within 1 hour and 30 minutes to enable me to finish circa 7 hours and 30 minutes with some buffer time of 1:30.  Yes, it might sound easy but it was a hell of a 50km trail route on that fateful blazing day.

It was really dark when we started running. To make it even worse, we had to run on an uneven trail with lots of huge stones littered around. I hurted my left foot upon stepping on a stone in the dark. The dusty route lowered the visibility as the dusty sands were floating everywhere and it was difficult to breath properly too. all I could smell at that time was the sweet smell of the corn as we ran across the cornfield.

I`m still smiling because it's chilly and still looking fresh at 10++ KM (Credits to Mr Azim)


My cheerful expression picture... Thanks to Ultra Mohan Marathon!
As we ran towards the first incline, it was getting colder. I really thought that it will remain like this throughout the lovely chilly refreshing morning. The view of the hills was a spellbinding. I could not resist myself from taking a breather and took some photos along this route. I reached the CP 1 (KM10) after I did the mini loop. Met Azim Ashaary and Mr Mohan Marathon before the CP 1. From there, the crazy inclines started to pour in. I had to do my speed walk up the incline and managed to reach the black "Mount Doom" just like in the scenes from LOTR. Here running is impossible due to the loose sandy black gravel and too many huge rocks. From far, I could see my duo mate, Razinah up in front. So I tried to chase after her and decide to run along from that point on. The weather was still cooling as we were running in the shades. As soon as we hit the open space I could feel the heat started to build up and the our worst nightmare became reality! @.@


The stunning breathtaking view from the top of "Mount Doom LOTR"...  The searing heat awaits...  
As early as 8.30 am, the sun started to shine hotter and brighter than ever. I started to feel as if we were running somewhere in Australian outback since everything looked so dry and desert-ish. The incline started to increase slowly at KM14-15 as I entered the "project" site. I had to run a bit further from Razinah at this point to keep my momentum. I reached the CP 2 (KM20) and refilled my hydration bag with some cold water. I refilled my Gatorade bottle too with the cocktail of Thailand sweet isotonic drink. It tasted lovely, just nice! Ate several slices of cold watermelons and a half banana at this CP while waited for Razinah. As soon I saw her coming, I handed her a cup of cold drinking water and asked whether she was still ok at that point. We were sweating like pigs by that time. After that I continued my journey.

TNF Thailand 2014 Route - Red arrows are the 50 KM per loop, Elevation gain 2700 feet... @..@ 
I trudged on to the next CP 3, which located at KM 27. It was a very dusty trail road with many runners were seen running with buff covering their nose and mouth. I started having the desire to pangsai but I just could not find any decent outdoor spot at that time. So I kept calm and tried to hold on as long as I could. As soon I reach the tarmac stretch, I had to relieve myself at the nearest bush. Lucky I had a water bottle with me. It turned out that I was not that far from CP 3. Hahaa... After CP 3, I went on towards the right side and bumped into Kam Kasturie on the opposite side. He warned me about the killer elevation has yet to come inside the loop. He was not kidding about the Mother of All Incline. The gradient was sooo steep that I had to find a decent stick as my hiking pole to speed walk/hike to the top. It felt like forever. Luckily it was fully shaded and it was very windy at the top. The whole loop was 6 KM in total.

As soon as I came up from the tormenting loop, it was already 33 KM. I ran on the road towards the next CP. This stretch really pushed my limit and mental endurance as it I had to run on a open trail with scorching temperature up to 35, 36 degree Celcius. Thrown in some more inclines, confusing loops like a number 8, I had to walk uphill and jog/run downhill and flat route. It felt like forever to reach CP 4 (KM 40), which was located on a small hill. I had to run across tapioca plantations too  along the way. I still remembered I ate a lot of watermelon slices there and quickly refilled my hydration bag with cold icy water.

The barren land and hill... Dusty trail road... Open sky.. Gulped! (Pic credits to Azim)
This turqoise green lake was the only eye soothing landscape along the final 10 KM. (Pic courtesy of Azim)
It was another 10 KM or so to reach the Finishing Line. I kept on praying deep in heart that Razinah will forged on and braved the insane heatwave towards the finishing line too. I knew she's a strong fighter. The remaining route lead us back towards Nongtakoo Temple and I had to run along the tall dry grasses. Felt a bit creepy when I thought about some slithery creatures might be resting somewhere nearby. At 48 KM ++, I had to be really careful when I want to cross one dangerous stone slope before I reached the tarmac. From there I knew I was not far from the finishing line.

I tried to run but only managed to slow jog my way. I could not muster anymore strength to run under the extreme heat so I've resorted to a brisk walk once I've reached 50 KM distance based on my Garmin. The last 1 KM felt sooo far away. My hydration bag was empty after 48km. I guessed it was leaking or dried up quickly due to the merciless sun.  I had to stop at the shades I found on the route several times. Finally I ran with everything I had once I saw the finishing arch. The feeling once the emcee announced your name and category was indescribable beyond words The agonizing pain was finally over. I managed to cross the line in 9 hours, 21 minutes and 58 secs.

Authentic Thai massat.... Simply a bliss after a super hard run!
I was so thirsty that I drank a lot of water, watermelon and isotonic drinks. Still did not have the appetite to eat, I went for the complimentary Thai massage to ease up all the stiff muscles. I could feel my right stomach started to cramp during the massage. It felt so good that I experienced only a mild DOMS and sore shoulder the very next morning. After the massage all I wanted to do is I want to rest and sleep on the haystacks. Not long after I've arrived, Razinah crossed the finishing line together with a Japanese lady runner. They were so happy full of relief and hugged each other. Later on I did dozed off for awhile on the haystacks waiting for the other runners to arrive. Zzzz...

Razinah, my duo mate and her new friend, Mitsuko... Their companionship story was truly heart felt... Well Done Ladies! 
Me and Azim before the sunset. Congratulations to Mr Azim for your maiden 50KM Ultra Trail Marathon! 
My utmost respect went to those who had guts and determination to run the 100 km solo, especially in the extreme day and humid night. To those who's DNF, fret not, there's always one year to train well and wiser and come back stronger next year. The pain of DNF. It hurts. I would like to congratulate Razinah, my duo teammate on her first 50 KM Ultra Trail finisher and she has proven to be a true fighter and a great pacer too. Although we did not get the targetted 18 hours but we did our best and had so much fun and adventures in this event. Let's be my partner in crime for the gruelsome 100 km Solo next year, shall we? #coldshivers

More pics with other TNF 100 Thailand running buddies and Ultra otais...

Wajah - wajah penuh keinsafan terserlah di wajah kami, especially me... Muahahaa =(
Let's pose one for the album, shall we... Muka masing2 sunburnt to the perfection daa... =D
Here's what I've worn during this gruelsome TNF 100 Thailand 2014:

1) GoBionic Trail Shoe Size 10 - worked like a charm but I could still feel the lack of cushioning at the heel department. Whenever I stepped onto any shap stones, it hurts...

2) 2ndSkin's Hills Are Speed Work In Disguise - The Vaporskin Technology really amazed me for its breathability and I remained dry despite being sweating like hell during the extreme hot weather

3) Floral purple Buff from BUFF itself

4) PETZL Tikka 90 lumen headlamp - not bright enough but that will do.

5) GARMIN 910XT Watch - worked like a charm but unfortunately I failed to get a proper satellite signal.

6) UVEX shades - glad I wore it along the hot bright route.

7) Salomon 3/4 Tight - my favourite tight so far

8) CompresSport compression calves sleeves - No cramps issues on the race day. Glad I've survived!

9) Camelbak hydration bag - A gift from my dear friend Yvonne Teo aka Piffles Inc. Love the design n the 3L bladder tuh... Really handy to bring during the run... Thank you so much... =D

P/S: Next: my TITI 50KM Race Report - My Maiden 50KM Road Run... Definitely an unforgettable experience of a lifetime...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The North Face 100 Thailand 2014 - My Maiden 50KM Trail Run, Part I

Hello there folks! How are you today? I would to share my 1st part of my journey to Thailand for my debut TNF 100 Thailand. Being a novice in Ultra Trail race, Ray urged me to sign up for 100Km duo category. Dr. Razinah would my teammate for this race, and we only had the opportunity to train together once, at MARDI Trail. We really hope we could finish this race together under the cutoff time of 18 hours.

My Dynamic 100km Duo Team Genocide... 
My journey to Thailand began on the Thursday, 6 February when I took a flight to Bangkok at 1.55 pm . At first I thought that this would be my 2nd solo trip to Bangkok. Later on I found out that I wasn't alone. Met Mr Nik Nasrullah at the LCCT and he told me about his last year's TNF Thai experience.  He told me to expect a cold trail run like in Genting or Cameron Highlands. Wow... That would be a very good experience.

My 280 Baht Train Ticket for Second Class 
Bangkok felt like my 3rd home after Jakarta because I've just went there December last year for my Ayutthaya Marathon. Once I reached the arrival terminal, I went straight away to Dong Mueang Railway Station to book a ticket. Unfortunately there was no ticket available for 4.20 pm Left without any option, I had to take the 7.29 pm train to Pak Chong. There goes my chances to reach there early and soak in its atmosphere.

In the meantime, I just walked around the Don Mueang International Airport looking for something halal and yummy to eat. I had a microwaved rice soup with chunks of salmon for my late lunch. Not bad at all... ;) *Still hungry though but that would do for the time being.

Anyhow this was my 1st time travelling on a train in Thailand. The 2nd class coach was comfy, clean and it was fully air conditioned too.  They provided us with a blanket for our freezing cold 2-3 hours journey. At first, I couldn't afford to doze away due to the rockiness of the train hahaa...  Started to feel slightly dizzy due to rocky motion.. But somehow I fell asleep along the journey... Went a bit panicky when it was already past 3 hours and Pakchong Station was not in sight yet... Looks like I missed the station and the trainmaster officer stopped at the next station for me to hop in the incoming train... He was very friendly and helpful. Finally managed to reach Pakchong around 12 am and went straight away to the Pakchong Hotel to call it a day. The motor taxi ride costed me 50 Baht only... =D

The not so cozy second class coach... So freaking freezing though...
Finally, Pakcong Aku Datang!
Woke up the next morning and we had our breakfast at the cafe in front of the hotel. Since halal food was scarce at the cafe, Ray, Khairi and I requested for some toast with strawberry jam and our coffee. I had a nice strong mocha for breakfast. After that, it's time for us to scout around the small town of Pakchong. We walked around the local market and decided to buy some stocks for our TNF Thai race. Ray and Khairi bought some Coke, Gatorade, instant food and planned their drop bags at each CP. 
Enjoying our breakfast on the 1st morning in Pakchong... =D
Love my Mochalicious and toasts... 
My heavier breakfast meal - spicy chicken with sticky black rice and  seaweed chicken roll... Yummeh!
After we've checked out, we went to the nearest mosque, Nadun Firadoush Mosque looking for some decent halal food for lunch. Although we had some problems in communications with the local Muslim auntie, we had our plain rice with chicken cooked with Thai basils and bullseye egg. It tasted like heaven! Thanks to the kind Pakistani guy who helped us with the menu. We even decided to order 3 more for the takeaway since it will be very hard to find halal food around the resort. 

We took the open air taxi jeep to Khao Yai National Park and it costed us 150 Baht each. We had to take another jeep transfer (170 Baht) to Bonanza Resort Khao Yai for the racekit collection and the compulsory race briefing by the Race Director. 

Singgah2 di muka pintu saja sebagai transit ke Bonanza Resort Khao Yai... 
As we reached the venue, many runners from all over the world were seen to be there already for the racekit collection and drop bags arrangement. There was a mini expo from the sponsors and co-sponsors such as PETZL, Tiger Balm, Garmin and The North Face. It was havoc. We joined the other runners for our Malaysian contingent for a group photo before the briefing. Everybody seemed to be smiling happily not knowing the storm was coming on the very next day since it was a windy cooling afternoon that day. I was on the other hand, still feeling nervous for my maiden 50KM Ultra Trail Run, especially during the briefing.... I just could not look at the elevation map.. It's really mental challenging I must say hehee... Rather go with the flow and mustered every strength I had on the race day... hewhewhew...

Malaysian Contingent with Rayzeef as our Chef de Mission... =D

After the race briefing, we checked in at Belmont Village Resort. I shared my room with Kam Kasturie, Khairi Muin and Azim Ashaary. It was a huge room, suitable for honeymooner with a elongated bathroom + walking wardrobe. We had a simple hearty Brahim's dinner, omelette and vegie soup together... Before I hit the sack, I ensured everything is in order, the timing chip on my shoe, bib number pinned to my running 2ndskinasia tee, filled hydration bladder and mandatory items such as headlamp, whistle and medical kit were in the bag. I decided to bring along 5 energy gels for this race. One for every 8-9KM. That should be suffice to sustain my energy level throughout the run. 
Kam, Azim, Khairi Muin and Yours Truly - Roomies for 2 nights... =D

Simple but filling dinner before the race day.... 
More on the race event in my Part II... Stay tuned fellas as the best has yet to come.... =D

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Me & Gme, My New Substitute Partner In Crime Ehh... =P
Hello there to all my fellow followers (silent) and loud ones.... My dearest brothers and sisters in the running community... It's already Chinese New Year in the year of Wooden Horse... May this year will bring lots of huat and prosperity to all of us...  Gong Xi Fa Chai! Huatt arrr... Hopefully... =D

Without further ado, I would like to share with you guys out there on my not so recent hike to Mount Nuang (4 January 2014). This is a revisited trip after my debut hike there. All the previous details is right HERE. This was kinda an impromptu plan for me and Gme Azmi. I invited him to feel the wrath and beauty offered by the forever Majestic Nuang.

Both of us had a scrumptious sinful nasi lemak with a bull's eye egg for our breakfast before our trip. It's a must based on my previous Nuang hike. It was still a cold cloudy and windy weather that fateful Saturday morning. I was worried about the uncertain weather so I've decided to bring along my jacket. So circa 8.30 am, we started our hike at the Nuang base camp. I've learnt from my previous mistakes in underestimating the right amount of hydration before so this time around I brought along 1.5L of water and 1 bottle of Gatorade for the hike, while Gme brought along 3L of plain water and 1 bottle of Gatorade too.

At first, all we wanted to do was to hike until Kem Lolo. Just want to test the water for Nuang newbie hiker like Gme but somehow I failed to recognize the changes around the Kem Lolo (all the new safety ropes and such) and we accidentally realized it after we asked a fellow hiker that was descending from the peak. We actually had passed the Kem Lolo and almost reached Kem Pacat.

Pose2 running along the mystical bamboo forest... Priceless!!!
The first 5km of trail route from the base camp was quite challenging and the bamboo jungle was gorgeous as always. These bamboo jungle reminded me of the stunning scenes from Hollywood film like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
Us with the mysterious tortoise... Kura2 bunian kah? Shhh... jangan tegur bukan2...
One of the most mysterious and mystical entity that we encountered on our way up Mount Nuang was we found that there was this BIG tortoise was eating a mushroom in the middle of nowhere up there. It was Gme who was shouted in shock once he saw the mysterious tortoise. How on earth did this creature managed to find its way through the rugged muddy steep terrain? We took some pictures with as the proof... Just as we predicted it was long gone once we passed by the same spot on our way down. Creepy... much...

 We reached the famous Kem Pacat after 2 hours and 44 minutes of hike/rest. There were many hikers chillaxing around the camp while eating their meals. It was almost 12 noon and we started to feel a bit hungry as it was a bit chilly and misty. Feared of the heavy downpour along the descent, we decided to cut the break short and quickly made our move immediately after we took some picture around Kem Pacat, including the famous must snap picture of this unique entangled roots/branch.

We took a breather once we reached back to Kem Lolo. I took this opportunity to wash my face and cool off my drinking water with the icy cold river. The  river looks tempting for a quick badak berendam session but we have to descend asap. Looks like I have to revisit this nice river for the third time soon. Hohoho....

Took a quick break at Kem Lolo... The water was sooo tempting and icy cold! 
Met with Syed Ali, Ayumi and their hiking friends once we reached the beginning of the steep route to Kem Lolo. They were taking their lunch/cigarette break. Took some pictures together with them and off we go, still fearing the possibility of the heavy downpour along our way back. My instincts was damn right. It started to drizzle at first and the first wave was bearable. We decided to run in the rain to avoid the drench. We were pretending as if we are the Ultra Runners who were running on a trail in a heavy rain. Bila lagi kan nak feeling2 Ultra Trail Runner... LOL!

Me, Gme, Syed, Ayumi n her friend at the last wakaf before Kem Lolo
When we thought that it has stopped to rain, we were dead wrong. The second wave of downpour was even heavier! The torrential rain changed the landscapes where there were puddles of mud and streaming mini rivers along the way down. We had to be extra careful running/jogging the decline as there were many slippery stones and trail route. I had enough of tripping down incidents along my way down from Kem Lolo.

Finally, safely reached the base camp drenched wet!!!
Finally we reached the base camp after 2 hours and 18 minutes. We were so relieved as we were super tired and hungry by that time. That's 15km of good LSD hill + trail run workout. The maximum elevation was 3,392 feet from the sea level. It took us 5:03:12 for our hike/jog/run trip overall. We had our scrumptious late lunch at Dusun Tua warung as we were starving and fatigue like hell. Kihkihh... Oh, thank goodness I escaped the viscious itchy leech bites while Gme had 2 bite marks at his feet... Thanks to my Compressport Calves Sleeves... =D

The starting line of the venue with a stunning view of Putrajaya at night
I reached home circa 5.30 pm and rest a bit before I dashed to Tmn Seri Empangan, Putrajaya to witness the flagoff/honk-off the participants of Water Gate 16Hours Ultra event. I was just in the nick of time to had some photo ops before this Awesome Ultra event. It was an inaugural Ultra event organized by PACat Adventures Team, supported by Le Sabuns Ultra Malaysia team. At first I did registered by this event. But somehow I didn't proceed with the payment and I wasn't mentally prepared for it... Hewhew... Banyak je alasanku kan... hehee... Oh well, WG 16h 2015 perhaps? =D

One for the album guys... Everybody looks sooo happy2 jolly..
I offered my help and became the accidental volunteer for Check Point aka WS 2. It was really a great experience to see these relentless Ultra runners doing their loops nonstop. Some of them were already in a league of their own. Names like Auntie Shine Teh, Yimster, Ultra Maman, Rayzeef, Madame Karen Loh were no stranger to the Ultra running community. They were my Living Legend and very down to earth too. I was totally inspired seeing them in action.

Ultra Yimster still looked so fresh...
We Love Our Giyomi Pose With Maman!

Rashid, Sis Suzie and I - Extra Volunteer for WS2
Me & Rashid, The Dynamic Duo of Le Sabuns Ultra Team.... hohoho... Like Batman n 

Abg Zaini and Sis Lina, the ultra running couple in the making on that very night. Razinah, my team mate for TNF100 Thailand managed to clock in 67km++ too Well done guys... Woot2...  =D

Me goofying around with Arman's foldie bicycle... Felt so good to cycle around the WS... Hihii... Dah terima hidayah nih xlama lagik nih... =D

After keypoh-ing here and there untill almost 12am, I went back home to catch some sleep and had to DNS my 1st run of 2014, MPIB Run due to the sore muscles, injured knees and lack of sleep after the Nuang hike/run.... So sad but that's reality hehee.... Suck it up and move on yaaa... However this WG 16H was an awesome Ultra events. It was a really well organised event by runners for runners. The weather at that night was cooling and windy too due to the heavy downpour all day long before. Lots of food and drinks for them,  cheap registration fees too. Would love to give it a try next year... =D

Till then... Toodles!

P/S: Wish me luck for my debut TNF 100 Thailand this coming Saturday, 8 Feb 2014. Really nervous as I'll be running along Razinah as we took the TNF 100 Duo challenge. Let's run in the wilderness of Khao Yai National Park! =D