From trails to tarmac

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After one week of resting (with the exception of a couple of crossfit sessions at Fuel Athletics) to give my knees a break from last week’s full marathon at Kuching Marathon, I finally decided that it is time to start training for my next big race: Cameron Ultramarathon or Cultra for short.

I did an ultramarathon once, so I am not worried about the distance. With enough LSD training, I have a high chance of completing the race. However, Cultra will be different because it will be a trail run, and elevation is not a stranger. In fact, trail running IS elevation. Therefore I must learn to embrace it rather than being in denial thinking that road LSD will be sufficient. I have to prepare my feet for a lot of uphills, downhills, and uneven terrain.

To get a taste for Cameron Ultra’s elevation (2240m) I head to the tallest peak in Selangor called Gunung Nuang. Gunung Nuang has a trail fondly known as ‘Nuang loop’ among the running community. The loop consist of 5km uphill to the first checkpoint called Camp Lolo, then another 5km downhill to the entrance. The 10km loop was only 530m total of elevation gain, however I was panting! Overall, it took me about 2 hours (at a very leisurely pace) to complete one loop. Then I repeated the same thing again.

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Hey guys can I know what your legs are made from? Because I need the same thing for my legs to keep up!

 

There is never a lack of company in the trails. “Why is this human with only 2 feet is so eager to run? I have hundreds of feet yet I never want to go up and down these Nuang loops.” – said the giant centipede.

There is never a lack of company in the trails. “Why is this human with only 2 feet is so eager to run? I have hundreds of feet yet I never want to go up and down these Nuang loops.” – said the giant centipede.

Looks like the Nuang loops will be my training ground for the next few weeks. I will be back again to train harder!

The next day, I head to an event called My Buddies Run for a quick 5km fun run. I rarely participate in short distance events, but after yesterday’s hard work I took this fun run as a way to reward myself. The highlight of this event was not to break any PB, but rather getting dressed up in costumes and just simply enjoying the race since the route was easy.

IMG_2933IMG_2940IMG_5330IMG_5352Many came dressed to impress! My Minnie Mouse ears was nothing compared to the scale of their costumes.

Clearly I was excited to get dressed up. Just like any event, one must do their best to follow according to the dress code right?

Clearly I was excited to get dressed up. Just like any event, one must do their best to follow according to the dress code right?

Fun runs gave me a fresh perspective on running. Since it was a non-competitive and friendly event, many families came with strollers, elderly couples walked holding hands through out the route, and kids jumping around in their costumes…Looks like it is never too young or too old to inculcate the joy of running!

It has been a productive weekend for me. Now I am all recharged and ready to face Monday again!

Until next week,

King of Kampung Kemensah 18K Trail Run

I had several experiences running in various trails, yet I have never ran in Kampung Kemensah before. So I had no idea about the condition of the trail, or the level of difficulty that I might face. The organizers did not upload any map or elevation chart in their official website, however they did write down the checkpoints yet I had no clue about the distance between those checkpoints. I could search for videos uploaded by past year’s participants, but deep down inside, I did not want to spoil the surprise. Despite my lack of knowledge about the venue, I decided to proceed anyways with the race. There was a sense of thrill going into the unknown and taking risks with the unfamiliar. Or as the Malaysians say it, “Main redah je lah!”

IMG_4112IMG_4111Ready to embrace the unknown. I can smell the fresh air!

It turns out that the route was not difficult, yet it was challenging. The inclines were steep with elevation gain of more than 300m, and most of the ground was muddy. The forest was dense, but the trail was well-groomed. I was glad that I was wearing proper trail running shoes and carrying a hydration bag. As we approached closer to the mid point of the race, I can hear the gushing sound of water. Just as I anticipated, river crossing is a part of the route. The water went only to my knees, but the rocks at the bed of the river was slippery so I had to slow down and be extra careful not to slip.

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I was silently praying that my phone does not want to go for a swim again, just like it did during Hulu Langat Trail Run

Since I was running in an unfamiliar route, I did not set any PB (personal best) target to beat as I did not know what to expect. So I took my time, absorbing my surroundings and enjoying the trees, nature, and sounds of insects. I even bumped into a few familiar faces along the way.

 

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Some familiar faces in the trail/ultra running community. I wish I had the time to snap some pictures with everyone, it was like a reunion party!

All trail runs are challenging in their own way, and Kemensah is no exception. I had no regrets diving into the unknown, while catching up with some people along the way. I would definitely come back again next year, hopefully for the 50K category.

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

 

P/S: I thrilled to be given a chance to contribute an article for Running Malaysia magazine about the positive impacts of being a part of a running community. Special thanks to Kyserun Krew for their support, inspiration, and motivation. Do grab the May/June issue at your nearest news stand now!

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Tips for Ultra Trail Run Starter

Have you ever participate in a trail run? If you haven’t, then this is your chance to get some benefits from our runner, Nahsuhah, who’s just done her first trail run at Route68. Route68 is a race course that took place on the 10th April where runners passed through remote area of Gombak, Selangor with an elevation of 1,900 m. How awesome is that?

Nahsuhah at Route68

Nahsuhah at Route68

Ow well..

Why Ultra Run?

First of all, why did she join the Route68? She joined it because she was suggested by her friend after she did the Pink50 run (Pink50 is a 50km loop run). According to her, it was slightly different. It has only one loop as to compared to the Pink50 that has 17 loops all together. The track was cooler for there are lots of trees to shade under. New experience comes with new knowledge, a reason for you to join the trail run.

 

This hard core girl loves the Ultra run for she can manage her time on completing the distance. She has done a 50km ultra run within 9 hours. Ultra is the medium that can challenge you beyond the limit. Compared to the Full Marathon (FM), Nahsuhah prefers Ultra than FM. Most likely because of the limited time that you need to complete within 8 hours.

 

According to Nahsuhah’s experience, you have to be wise on how to manage your time and energy. For her, she prefers to run as much as she can before the weather gets hot. Still, you need not follow every of her pace. You can just maintain your comfy speed instead in order to sustain your energy throughout the 9 hours.

 

So, if you never try ultra, you should add it to your wish list. Don’t limit yourself and try to do a proper training (e.g. LSD at least 21km) whenever you’re free. This prepares you mentally and physically. Schedule your time and make sure you carb-load and hydrate yourself enough during that week. Extra tips: if you never try run with hydration bag, you should start training with it so you will be used to it during the event.

 

What do you carry with you at the run?

A hydration bag, energy gel or bar, reflective vest, blinker, headlamp, mobile phone. All these are basically the mandatory items. Do take salt tablet with you to prevent cramp for long hour run.

Mandatory Gear List Provided

Mandatory Gear List Provided by Route68 Organiser

One more advice for newbies. You should know that it’s not necessary to put all the effort to run all the way. You might want to walk and run alternatively, that too also will helps you to finish in cut off time. One more thing, try brisk walk (11 min/km) when there is elevation of the road and run (7min/km) at your comfy pace when downhill. That might help, InsyaAllah.

Talking about elevation, make sure you study and know the route, elevation and key stations allocated the run. Keep visuals of them on your phone if the organiser provides them. Remember, your safety is important and you need to stay safe throughout the run.

Lastly don’t forget to smile while running as it gives you a better and confident feeling. Never let the stress overtake your enjoyment during run.

 

Credits : Nahsuhah for sharing her experience, Mandatory Gear list by Route68 organiser, Picture as watermark

 

Gunung Nuang Ultramarathon Challenge (Support Crew)

One might argue that although running in an individual sport, it takes a collective effort to be able to successfully complete an ultramarathon. Very few people can manage running an ultramarathon event by themselves, especially for first-timers. Even if you are not allowed to pace or provide external support, team mates or friends can be a welcoming sight to push you forward.

On Sunday, I head up to Gunung Nuang (Nuang Mountain) as part of the support team to cheer friends who are running in the Gunung Nuang Ultramarathon Challenge. Runners must complete at least 5 loops of 10km trail route (5 x 10KM = 50KM) in 12 hours. To get a taste of the event, I accompanied my friend to do her last loop of 10km, and it took us over 2 hours to complete at a leisurely pace. Elevation gained was 530 meters, and my thighs were screaming in pain. I could not imagine doing it for 5 times, yet at the same time I was secretly considering if I should register for this event next year.

 

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IMG_2997Her first ultramarathon! Congratulations, welcome to the 50km club.

IMG_3015Race post-morterm discussions. Mad respect to this bunch for completing an ultramathon event!

IMG_3003Another familiar face in the local running scene that needs no introduction.

Overall, it was a great event. I enjoy attending ultramarathon events as spectators or supporters because of the genuine camaraderie and team spirit which seem to be the highlight of the event. Everytime a participants completes a loop, there will always be cheering and clapping. Various teams set up tents and brought along loads of food, some even took the opportunity to go for a quick hike to the waterfall and stream. It is also a great opportunity to meet new people and expand your running social circle.

Gunung Nuang Ultramarathon Challenge, I’ll train hard and come back for you next year as a participant!

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

Compressport Combo Challenge (Trail Run 6K) 2016

Remember my previous trail run experiences at FRIM and my 2nd trail run at Mardi-Maeps? Through my past experiences, I have learnt that trail runs can be unpredictable: What if it rains tomorrow? What if I had to endure another 400m of elevation gain? What if my legs suddenly cramped up? What if I have to swim? I had so many doubts on the Saturday before the race, I was considering if I should skip this week’s event. After all, my legs were not 100% recovered yet since my [incomplete] full marathon debut.

However, thanks to the infectious positive and optimistic vibes of starting a new year, I woke up on race day morning feeling fine and fresh, ready to run again. Aside from a very slow 10K run on 1st of January 2016, I have not been seriously running because my quads still hurt. So what better way to start the 2016 running log with some trail running at Mardi-Maeps!

 

IMG_2371Looks like 2016 will be a great year with these bunch of people! (photo credits to Kyserun Krew)

IMG_2373Hello there, Family Running Crew! (photo credits to Kyserun Krew)

 

My previous experiences in Mardi MAEPS have taught me to be overly prepared and always expect for the worst-case scenario. I knew I was not ready to take on a double-digit trail run event yet, so I signed up for the 6K category. But this time, the 6K route was unexpectadly easy and simple. Hills are unavoidable – they are a part of trail runs anyways. But for today’s case, the uphill climbs were not challenging. According to my Garmin, it was only 188m gain in elevation. My friends who participated in the 12K category thought otherwise. Judging by the blisters on their feet and how tired they looked at the finishing line, I was convinced that their route was definitely tougher than mine.

The only unpredictable part of this trail came at KM3 – we were pleasantly surprised when we were informed that there will be some river-crossing. In my mind, I was prepared to encounter a river that could potentially soak me from head to toe, just like in Hulu Langat Trail Run, and thank god I choose to wear my Nashata Tron Ultra Top today because it’s light and it will dry up fast. Instead, we faced a small stream that was only up to my ankles!

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Expectation…

IMG_2361….vs. Reality

So far, it looks like I’m right on track for 2016! This event gave me the confidence booster needed to take on more challenges, and just the right amount of motivation to start running again. So, how did you spend your New Year?

IMG_2368I am so glad that I decided to run today!

 

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

The Weekend Runner: FRIM Forest Trail Run 2015

I have a love-hate relationship with trail running. I would be cursing at myself, but right after the race I would be hunting for the next trail run. Perhaps it was stemmed by my first trail run (Mardi MAEPS Trail Run) in 2014 which was a total blunder. No trail shoes, no hydration pack, socks that were not suitable…what was I even thinking back then?!

 

Yet, it was so addictive. There is something about being in nature, a change of scenery from the concrete jungle that drew me back to off-road races. Unfazed by the bad experience, I signed up again for FRIM Forest Trail Run at the end of 2014. I settled for only 9km, but I vowed that I will be back in 2015 to take on the 16km category. So here I am again, in FRIM Forest Trail Run 2015, to fulfill the promise that I made to myself, hopefully better, faster, and stronger than last year.

 

NHIB65132014, 2015. Same venue, same event. FRIM, it’s good to be back.

Another reason why I was continuously drawn to trail running was because it can be a humbling experience. I felt like the most confident runner in the world. But then it rained heavily the night before. The ground was soft and slippery, with loose stones and gravels scattered along the route. I lost count how many times I tripped. It sounded like a minor problem, but multiply the tripping several times you will end up losing precious minutes, not to mention very painful ankle joints tomorrow.

 

IMG_7561Mother Nature, you win this time. But I won’t lose without a fight. (Picture was taken from FRIM Forest Trail Run 2014).

Trail running can also be very challenging, yet rewarding too. You are transported to a totally different world, it feels like a mini-vacation. The steep, uphill climb that you have to endure? A very beautiful view awaits at the top. The route is long, and sometimes lonely. You can walk for miles, and not bump into a single soul. You leave it all to your instincts and the sign boards. But the sound of birds chirping, leaves rustling, and rushing water from the river will always accompany you. Plus, isn’t the main reason to sign up for trail runs was to enjoy the sights and sounds that nature has to offer?

IMG_2006Sights like this make trail running a worthwhile experience.

I don’t think this love-hate relationship with trail running will go away any time soon. Trail running is here to stay for me, and I look forward to more adventures off-road in the future.

 

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

The Weekend Runner: Mardi MAEPS Trail Run 2015

As I treat the minor cuts on my fingers and my sore thighs, I chuckled at myself for being overly confident and optimistic last year during Mardi Maeps Trail Run 2014. I thought “It’s only for 12 km, I can do this in 1 hour 30 minutes”. I was so wrong – It took me close to 2 hour 30 minutes. So I ended up with more than just cuts and sore muscles; I ended up with an ego bruise too. This year, I knew under 2 hours is not a realistic target for me. I never forget how I grinded up the steep stairs and hills, cursed at myself for not training my glutes and quads enough (they took away the stairs route this year, thank God!), how I wished I brought my own water because I knew nothing about increased humidity in the trails, and most importantly, how I wished I had proper trail running shoes.

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This was me back in 2014, making my debut trail run at the very same event, with friend I knew when I was studying in Canada.

 

IMG_6959From 2014’s route: Thank God they took this super steep route and killer stairs out of the route for this year.

 

This year I was back, mentally prepared  and armed with the correct equipment (but still physically under prepared due to consuming too much Eid goodies), ready to take on the same trails again. They retained about 80% of their 12km route, so I could recall with some sense of familiarity and nostalgia as I ran. As we proceeded deeper into the trails I could hear the birds and crickets, amazed at the vast expanse of green despite still being in the city. I even spotted a snake!

IMG_9797Trail shoes? Checked. Bladder pack? Checked. Nashata’s Ultra Top? Checked.

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Taking in the fresh air after conquering one of the many elevations and uphill climbs. The view was rewarding!

It was raining the night before. So we have been warned by the organizers that the trails are slippery and muddy. There were occasions when the downhill was too steep, so everyone had to sit down and slide or crawl slowly. Thankfully, Nashata’s Ultra Top has thumb holes so the end of the sleeves acted as finger-less gloves. My palms were protected from the rocks and thorns but unfortunately my fingers had minor scratches. But hey, it’s all part and parcel of trail runs.

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How I improvised Nashata’s thumb hole as finger-less gloves for trail runs. At least my palms were protected!

IMG_9812Shout out to Kak As, a random runner I met yesterday. Our pace matched each other’s so we kept company through out the run.

The most noticable improvement made this year was the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle), No Cup policy at every water station. Styrofoam cups can be an eyesore, and contribute a significant amount of waste. The organizers deserve a round of applause for keeping the trails clean, and I hope this concept can be implemented at every race that has multiple water stations.

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I had a bladder pack as well but a plastic bottle is handy for refilling purposes.

Overall, I rate the route of this event as easy to intermediate, as there are relatively minimal technicals compared to other trail runs that I have experienced. However I highly recommend some serious amount of lower body strength training if you are running in Mardi MAEPS for the first time to be able to tackle the technicals and hills. I think I will be back next year, and upgrade to the 18km category instead.

 

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

Larian yang penuh MENCABAR @ Putrajaya Deuter Trail Run 2014!

Acara Deuter Trail Run yang diadakan pada 11 May 2014 semalam di Putrajaya Challenge Park Presint 5 berjalan dengan sangat lancar dan mendapat sambutan yang menggalakkan dari pelbagai pihak. Peserta larian di anggarkan sebanyak 1000 peserta. Larian ini adalah sepanjang 10km di mana 80% larian menempuhi pelbagai jenis cabaran dan 20% larian di atas jalan raya. Program ini terbahagi kepada 4 bahagian iaitu :

1) Lelaki terbuka

2) Perempuan Terbuka

3) Kanak-Kanak Lelaki (13-17 tahun)

4) Kanak-Kanak Perempuan (13-17 tahun)

Apa yang menarik tentang acara larian ini?

Mereka yang pertama kali menyertai acara larian sebegini mungkin akan berasa benci dan mungkin tidak akan menyertainya lagi. Para peserta dikehendaki mengharungi halangan-halangan yang di reka oleh penganjur sepanjang larian termasuklah menggelongsor, mendaki bukit curam, melompat, mengengsot di atas tanah dan sebagainya. Apa yang pasti mereka yang sampai ke garisan penamat kesemuanya pasti dalam keadaan kotor dan sangat meletihkan. Mereka yang kelihatan bersih akan di keluarkan dari penyertaan serta merta kerana tidak mengikuti garis panduan yang telah di tetapkan. Program ini juga mendapat tajaan dari Nestle, Red Bull, Mountain Dew, Revive, Suunto, Coleman, Sport Tape, Nathan, 2XU and Running Malaysia. Jika enjoy, pasti seronok! Antara halangan-halangan yang mereka tempuhi adalah seperti dalam gambar yang di tunjukkan di bawah ini :

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Sebelum memulakan acara larian, kesemua peserta manjalankan senaman aerobik terlebih dahulu sebagai streching-up

senamerobik_1 senamerobik_2

 

Peserta-peserta lelaki terbuka berlepas di garisan permulaan pada pukul 7.30 pagi

Lelaki terbuka

Peserta-peserta perempuan pula berlepas 15minit selepas pelepasan lelaki

peserta perempuan

 

Sementara menunggu para peserta menamatkan larian ke garisan penamat, pengunjung yang datang di sana boleh berkunjung ke booth-booth yang terlibat antaranya booth Deuter, Suunto, ProGround dan Nashata, Power Bar dan sebagainya.

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Tidak disangka salah seorang dari pelanggan kami iaitu Nina Aziz menyertai acara larian bagi kategori perempuan terbuka dan berjaya mendapat tempat ke-34. TAHNIAH diucapkan pada beliau kerana berjaya ke garisan penamat. Dan tidak juga lupa tahniah kepada kesemua peserta-peserta yang lain

Nina Aziz

 

Siapa kata lelaki sahaja boleh lakukan Trail Run ini? Perempuan juga boleh lakukan! Cabaran ini menjadi mudah jika anda betul-betul seronok lakukannya bersama teman-teman dan bukan kerana terpaksa. Bagi mereka yang belum pernah mencuba, mari sertai untuk acara trail run seperti ini akan datang!