Finally I’m alive again!

Be prepared….Be very prepared! (I always doubt myself..Am I really prepared for this?)

When Cameron Ultra Trail was announced, I was the extremely excited….until the organizers released the official promotion video,…Then, oh my! Yes! It was no joke!…

The elevation was about 2280 m and the highest elevation that I ever hiked prior to that was only 965 m – the Mount Serapi in Kuching. I did not get to train enough for trail. My daily routine was training on the road after my whole day at the hospital… Yeszz! I thought I would die this time!

I flew from Kuching on Thursday night, after my Sarawak Advanced Life Support In Obstetric (SALSO) examination that evening. It was a busy and hectic week for me. The next morning I went to Cameron Highland for race pack collection and race briefing.

The day before the race, it was raining throughout the day and I was most worried.

Finally the day came. I just wanted to finish strong without injuries, no DNF and if possible, I wanted to arrive the finishing line before Maghrib prayer. I didn’t want to be stuck on the trail in the dark.

We started our crazy 50km at 5 am,..with a hike towards peak Jasar, with an elevation of about 1684m and distance 3.2km. Though the route was slippery, everyone was fast. Everyone started to leave me behind. I feel like a toddler who just learn to walk. I just keep moving at my pace, although slow, I just kept moving and stayed safe.

14572917_10208594682357890_5105643482328353448_n

This pic was taken after I just had my Subuh prayer , 6.30am at the nearby road. Then I continued to run.

The next big challenge was Mount Berembun, with an elevation-1835m, and distance 10.1km. It was a never ending hiking up and I felt like my both legs were going to separate, I feltl tired and I wished to stop for a while but, no! I needed to keep moving, I wanted to arrive at the checkpoint 3 in time which was 6 hours from the start. And yes! I arrived at the checkpoint 3, 40 minutes earlier. Hooray I made it! And…Alive! Yup I was alive!

14642412_1157827797646911_2308315416291803753_n

This is Queeny from Singapore. We ran together start from the Peak Berembun as our pace was not that different, we managed to survive together in the forest.

 

14666249_1157125844383773_704185541214981865_n

The next route is the BOH Tea Plantation. And yes, I love green!

The next 27 kilometres was by the hillside of BOH Tea Plantation. I thought it would be easy until…. I realised there were a lots of pebbles along the route, and they hurt the surface of my feet. I was grateful, the surfaces were not slippery like previous route. Oh ya, I like the weather at the run; breezy, not that sunny, less sunburn though. For those who wanna breezy run, you can try here,..and after that you can pick up strawberries with total mileage 30 km to Tanah Rata.

14563530_1159030787526612_4184774136552300019_n

The never ending route!

My tips is..you don’t have to run all the way (if you want to run, go ahead!), but run when it is downhill or less elevation. When you are going uphill, do powerwalk. Am sure you will be arrived every checkpoint in time.

14650104_10208611588900543_2250236950607812144_n

What motivated me to keep going is the view.. How could I stop if they keep follow me all the way 🙂

Along the race, I saw friendly faces. Every participant who passed by, would cheer up one another, or at least they smile. The marshalls were very nice and helpful, they keep motivating us to be strong. A moment I will never forget is when I arrived at the CP 4; one of the uncles made a cup of warm tea for me, and it was so nice to have it after a long, never ending run. I thought it was the best tea I ever had throughout my life.

14581535_10153974396987919_793162771280100377_n

– Finally I found road! ( and yes! I love road more! )

For every checkpoint that I stopped at, I refilled my hydration pack, drank and fueled up with dates provided. Then I continued my run. I just wanted to save my time and be on time at the next checkpoint.

At 4.30pm, I was on my way go back into the trail route which lead me to last checkpoint – checkpoint 3 at the Robinson Waterfall. It was about 8km towards finishing line. As I entered back the forest, it felt dark. I was feeling very tired, but kept moving. I just wanted to get out from it before dark.

14606519_1156481307781560_8228988401852841483_n

yayy! Finally it almost end 😉

Finally, I reached finishing line at 6.12pm with official timing 13 hours and 12 minutes. Yayy! Mission accomplished! I suffered from no injuries, no DNF, finished strong and arrived before Maghrib prayer. And yes, I was alive. Alhamdullilah!

14666107_10209579082248158_4386537656580209111_n

That happy face with my new favourite medal 😉

I would like to dedicate this longest ultra trail  to my friends, my family especially my mum who keep supporting me and always believe that I’m far more capable more than what I think. And lastly, I would like to say big thanks to my sponsor, Nashata for the event slot, accommodation, transport and of course big support throughout the event. Without you guys, I might not be able to do this.

img_6174

Nashata Runners survived till the end.. Yeah! Women power 😉

Till we meet again, keep running and be inspired!

The toughest race (so far)

I don’t usually start my blog post with an appreciation speech, but a 50km ultramarathon trail is an important milestone in my running career. I would not have been able to do it without my family and friends who have always believed in me, Nashata.com for assisting from registration to accommodation and everything in between, my running family Kyserun Krew for their weekly training, LSDs, trail running, and Gunung Nuang hiking, my other running family Naked Spirit Runners for their encouragement, and my Fuelfam Fuel Athletics for making every rep count. I dedicate this medal to all of you.

img_6159

As soon as I watched Cameron Ultra-Trail’s official promotion video, I knew I had to do it. I can feel it in my guts that 50km is the distance that I should sign up, despite the crazy 2240m of elevation and little voices in my head doubting my capabilities. I had 6 months to train, and it has been 8 months since my first 50km ultramarathon (road condition). I did not have much time, and the elevation that I will face in this race is no easy feat. I set to work immediately within the limited time that I had. Trail running and strength training became a regular part of my routine, and as the race day approaches I hiked to the peak of Gunung Nuang twice.

slide2 slide1Never underestimate the importance of studying a route with its checkpoints, especially for a long distance race.

With other 50km runners

With other 50km runners

Finally, it was Race Day. I can tell that the race director and his team have put in a lot of effort while planning the route so runners will get the biggest bang for their buck – after every tough segment of the race, runners will be rewarded with a magnificient view or a very pleasant downhill. Checkpoints were also strategically placed with enough food and drinks. My biggest regret was not utilizing the special bag drop facility (the crew will bring your bag from the starting point to CP4) to stash an extra pair of road running shoes, because CP4 (at 18km to 42km) we will be running around the Boh Tea Plantation on gravel and road. Unfortunately, I packed another pair of trail shoes so they weren’t very helpful to be utilized on road conditions.

We were transported into another world when hiking to the highest peak of the route - Peak Berembun

We were transported into another world when hiking to the highest peak of the route – Peak Berembun

The first cut off point - Robinson Falls

The first cut off point at 12.3km- Robinson Falls

Personally, I found the Boh Tea Plantation was the hardest segment of the race. It wasn’t very hot however because Cameron Highland’s high altitude, I felt as if the sun was shining right above my head. Sipping on isotonic drinks were really helpful to prevent cramps and the dizzy spells. After 34km, reality hit me hard. I could not run anymore despite refueling with solid food. I was mentally exhausted. Even the sight of the vast green tea plants and the fragrant smell of freshly plucked leaves were unable to uplift my spirits. I gathered whatever that is left inside of me and dragged myself to the next checkpoint to head out of the tea plantation. After heading out of the tea plantation, there was only 8km left and that cheered me again because the finishing line feels a lot closer now. I completed 50km in about 14 hours 18 minutes (unofficial timing) in one piece.

Boh Tea Plantation - we spent about 27km going up and down, and in loops

Boh Tea Plantation – we spent about 27km going up and down, and in loops

"Oh my god what am I doing"

“I am ok I am ok I am ok”

Ultramarathon brings out the best and the worst in everyone. Due to it’s extreme distance and long hours, it digs up emotions that I never knew could exist. Never before I have felt the highest high and the lowest low that I could possibly feel in one day. It also brings out physical pain on muscles that I never knew in my body. Yet, it gave me an indescribable satisfaction that could not be attained through other distances. Despite all of the hardship, preparation, and emotional toll, I could not find a single reason to stop participating in another ultramarathon. Eventually, I hope to make 50km a regular distance in my running calendar.

img_6174

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner