Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Race Report: Route 68 Challenge

This is my 2nd ultra marathon that’s goes beyond the usual 42.195km, and I started the preparation of it with a really ambitious plan. The publish route indicated a 1900m elevation gain in total out from this 69km course (for comparison, Titi50 only 900m elevation gain in total out from 52km). In the end, I only completed this ultra with the similar speed like I did in Titi50 2014.
Around 20km, thank Tey for the photo.
Race attires,
Nike We Run KL 2010 T-shirt, 2XU compressed short, Injinji socks and Merrell Bare Access.
Rudy Project Argon Impact X2 sunglasses, running cap, Ultimate Direction SJ 2.0 vest with 1x 500ml Gatorade bottle (plus all mandatory kits).

Didn’t slept very well and woke up at 1am, so I decided to left for the race site earlier and arrived at the starting line around 4am. Got nothing much to do and just hang around looking at busy volunteers getting ready for the race. The weather was great, no rain on the night before but not very hot too. Did the final preparation and get myself ready for the race to start at 6am. And off we went!

I broke the total 69km into 4 sections (about 17km each). First quarter was 17km of incline and I planned for 2:15 to reach A3 check point at Genting Sempah. Then 17km of descending, I planned for 1:45 to reach the A7 check point at the u turn. Coming back will be similar cause it is an out and back course.

The first quarter of the race went well, in fact very well! The inclines were fun and adrenaline rushed; I reached A3 in 1:45! This should be the pace I used for descending, but now I did that in ascending the 17km! I was happy, but quietly took stock. The body seem to be doing just fine hence I only slowed down a bit after A3. Slowly but surely, the fatigue kicked in, I was struggle to kept a 6min pace after 30km. Then I finally arrived at A7 after 3:56 time lapsed. The incline after the u turn point was still gentle, so the body still pushed on with a 7-8min pace. At 38km I bonked totally.

Mostly run and walking from there onwards, tried really hard to keep the average pace around 8-10min. Finally, arrived back in A3 after 7:00 lapsed. Gave up running altogether and I decided to walk the balanced 17km back to finish line. It should take me less than 3 hours to complete this torture! I swore to myself that this would me my last ultra marathon. While descending to the A2 water station, one cyclist called out “3.2km until the next water station.” 
Suddenly, I felt angry! 
“I should have completed this by now!" 
"Why I can’t make it happen?" 
"How many more training required for me to achieve my goal?” 
While I hated myself for another failure, I slowly picked up my pace. Back to run walk routine and made sure that all my split time average maintained below 10min/km. Anyway, later the flame ran out of fuel and I reduced back to walking mostly after A1 water station. 5 more KM later and I completed this race in 9:47’58”. Overall position 67, with total of 26 competitors overtook me in the last quarter of the race.

Key learning from this race, pacing is top priority in ultra marathon. Likewise in marathon, the result will be 99% based on what you put into practice and training. Merely 1% of the result may be on luck. And to deliver according to what we practiced, we need to pace accordingly. I planned, I practiced/trained, but failed to pace. Btw, looking at the overall result for the rest of the participants, 8 hours finishing time is somehow too ambitious. If everything went well, mostly I will still finish by 8.5 to 9 hours only, but I will felt much better compare to the defeated sour taste left in my tongue now.

Another stumble block in this race was the coke and rather emptied stomach. I took a refill of coke near 25km A5 water station into my bottle. Most of the water stations didn’t serve much food (banana, orange and biscuit, only A5 had bread). I did bring along energy gel, but my plan was to fuel the run by real food. From A5 to A6 water station, when coke met with the rather emptied stomach, it caused gassy stomach condition which is damn painful to run with.

Overall, the race was well organized. Only my execution part failed to deliver. There were no chafing or blister in any part of the body (inclusive the feet, which were first time running in Bare Access for such a long distances and period), only both big toes nails are painful now. Probably due to too much of pulling from the new Injinji socks.

Will there be any more ultra marathon for me in future? I am not very sure now because the painful experience still fresh in memory. At least it won’t be any more for 2015. Now, I will take some time off from running. The next marathon training program will start in first week of June.

Keep running.