Remember how my foot was hurting before the Kiara Trail Run? It got worse after that. But that was due to stupidity on my end. I had mixed symptoms of an ankle injury and plantar fasciitis. Every runner’s worst nightmare!
Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. The cause of it can be a combination of foot mechanics, overtraining (sudden increases in mileage or speed work), overpronation, running on hard surfaces and wearing worn out shoes.
I’ve heard about the much dreaded plantar fasciitis, but I didn’t think that I’d be suffering from one! It came along after I did a mixture of hard sessions and introducing new strength based training (currently working on a little project!). I pushed it a bit further by taking part in the Kiara Trail Run. I felt ok after the trail run so I didn’t think that it was serious. What caused it to go over the hill was not enough rest coupled with continued running.
By Tuesday evening, I was hobbling around. I couldn’t take a step without feeling a stabbing sensation under my foot. I could only survive 1KM with the Puma Running Club on Wednesday. In view of my Stong Climbathon coming up on Saturday, I stopped running for 3 days. I crossed train with swimming and some upper body strength work.
By Thursday, I wasn’t feeling any better. I thought of giving the race a miss because Kelantan is not exactly very near. I was disappointed in myself because there was a huge possibility that I would not make it for my FIRST CLIMBATHON. I prayed hard that I’d be ok by Friday.
The Day Before Race Day – Friday
By Friday, my foot was feeling a lot better! THANK GOD! I finally decided that I should go for it! Super excited to be attempting my FIRST CLIMBATHON! I’ve always enjoyed climbing (rock climbing). It was what I did before I started running.
After finishing some work, Kevin and I set off on our journey to Gunung Stong at about 4pm. We took it slow because the roads were narrow and dark. We also made a few stops along the way.
There were parts where we drove through total darkness with fog in the atmosphere. It was like a scene from a horror movie!
RACE DAY FUEL!
We finally arrived at the Gunung Stong base camp at 11pm! I had a bit of supper and went straight to bed! We “camped” out in the car because it was too late to book a place. The camp site was free but it was raining so Kevin failed to set up his hammock! The rain certainly cooled the air but that would mean muddy trails the next day!
Got up at 6am and took an icy cold shower! Refreshing! I had my breakfast of bread, eggs and banana. The good stuff!
God answered my prayers! My foot had no sign of pain and my legs were feeling pretty fresh! The crowd was small but competitive! I saw a few familiar faces. Most of them had either done a climbathon before or had a lot of trail running experience. And there I was, the city road running girl, standing in the midst of the pros. I felt so out of place!
5, 4, 3, 2, 1……
We were off at 7.50am. There was only about 50 meters of road before we entered the never ending upward climb nightmare. The first grass climb was so challenging! I was out of breath by the first 150 meters! It got worse after that, of course.
I was in 4th place at that time, running closely behind Hani. I stayed as close as possible. I lost her at a point when I was struggling to haul myself up. My shoes, Puma Mobium, were NOT meant for the muddy trails. I kept moving my feet but my body was going nowhere. I slipped many times and the uncle behind me had to catch me with his knees! THANK YOU! There were many parts where I had to pull myself up using only my arms because I was wasting too much energy trying to gain traction.
By then, I could not see any of the girls in front of me. I didn’t have it in mind to chase any of them. I just continued to climb UP, UP and UP!
The route was challenging. It was harder than climbing up Mount Kinabalu! I kid you not! I didn’t have to use my hands for Kinabalu but for Stong, I had to get my hands dirty! We had to jump over huge logs (that were too big for my physique), cross rivers and climb up rocky terrain.
After 1 hour and 40 minutes, I made my way to 3rd place (finally)! Thinking that it was “only” 14.5-15KM, I didn’t think of taking my gel. Instead, I had my Kopi candy. It worked! I had my caffeine and sugar kick! After a few more climbs, I saw the girl in 2nd place! She was shocked to see me and she went a little faster.
Before reaching the peak, I managed to climb my way to 2nd place. As I was heading towards the peak, Liana (the girl in first place) ran pass me. She was just under a minute away from me!
I got the last coloured band and started my journey back down.
Sliding My Way Down
Going down was SO MUCH harder than going up! I didn’t want to slip or hurt my foot/ankle any further so I went REALLY slow! I had a huge lead because I bought a lot of time on my way up. After about 10 minutes, the girl in 3rd place appeared RIGHT BEHIND ME! I was shocked! So, I changed from my slow careful hike down to a running/jumping pace. I still had a lot of energy in my legs but I just didn’t know how to hike down the tricky terrain. Wearing the wrong shoes made it WORSE!
To make things worse, my shoelaces came undone and I had to stop to tie it. And as I did, the girl overtook me. I stayed really close behind her. I could see that she was slowing down. The funny thing was that she had to tie her shoelaces too! So I took the opportunity and made my way back to 2nd place! This time, I went as fast as I could. Whenever there was a straight flat trail, I ran.
Things got uglier after that. The second part down was mainly mud. The first part was more of rocks and branches which were easier to go through. I was falling and sliding my way down. I suffered several blows to both my knees and the palms of my hands (from trying to break the fall). I was counting how many times I fell but I lost count.
The cut on my right knee took 2 days to dry up!
Both my knees were bleeding by the time I made it to the river crossing. The bomba men stationed there kept asking if I wanted to stop. NO WAY was I going to give up! I said that I was ok and pressed on.
Meeting The Kind Soul
During my falling saga, a guy caught up with me. He told me that the 3rd girl was very close behind. True enough, Hani zoomed passed me. She literally flew/hopped her way down! Crazy fast! Looking at the terrain, I wasn’t going to risk injury by catching up with her. It was not worth it.
He saw how much pain I was in and he was kind enough to stay with me for the rest of the way down. Thank God he was there because I don’t think I could have made it without him! He supported me all the way and helped me up whenever I fell. THANK YOU!
The Kind Soul! 😀
The Final Blow
The last fall really pushed me over my limits. I fell (for the thousandth time) and my right thigh jabbed and scraped the side of a rock. It was a huge blow to both my leg and my mind.
Everything came crashing down. The pain from previous falls, fatigue, jelly legs, the frustration from having enough energy to run but just couldn’t and the thought of losing a huge lead, it was an explosion of emotions. Everything that I was holding in from the journey just hit me and I burst into tears. I really wanted to give up. It was both a physical and a mental test.
I wasn’t prepared to give up and I knew if I continued, I could still secure my position. But it was so hard. During the last downhill part of the trail, a lady in another category caught up with me. She was at least 10 minutes behind me when we were going up!
By then, my hands and feet were getting numb. It was about 3 hours in and I haven’t had anything to eat except for the Kopi candy! I kept that lady behind me and started running as soon as we hit the flat bamboo trail. It was an open area and we were running under the scorching sun. It was there that I had my second Kopi candy.
Just When I Thought That I Could Cruise To The Finish Line……
Before crossing the last river back to the road, I looked back. To my horror, I saw another lady in MY CATEGORY! I was thinking to myself, THIS IS UNREAL! Adele, you suck!
Thankfully, that was the end of the trail so I started running. When we turned up to the road, we were greeted with a STEEP hill. I walked the first part up and jogged the middle part before continuing to walk up the last part. I turned around and she was still within my sight! I harnessed whatever energy I had left and started running. The road was long, VERY LONG! It seemed like the longest stretch of road in my life!
You can see how much I slowed down during the downward phase of the race!
I ran for a bit and stopped to walk. And then started running again. This went on until the last 200 meters of the way. I lost sight of her, phew!
At the junction, there was nobody behind or in front and I thought I went the wrong way! I stopped to ask the police men who were having their morning cuppa at a pondok. They said that I had 100 meters left! So, I RAN! But it was NOT 100 meters. I stopped to walk again. When I looked back, she was back within my sight. I hobbled my way through until I lost sight of her. I was just 50 meters away from the finishing line. But I had exhausted everything I had. Plus, it was ANOTHER HILL!
So, for the first time ever, I walked straight
up to the stage to the finishing line.
FINALLY, THE END!
I went straight for the medic tent and they gave me a big bag of ice. I was in so much pain but at the same time, I was so relieved! The ATM (Angkatan Tentera Malaysia) guys came over to keep me company. Everyone was so nice! We all had a good catch up sesh.
Kevin came in after that and he managed to place 30th! He went home with a prize too! WIN!
I must say that it was VERY well organised! Despite the tricky terrain, marshals/bomba men were stationed at all the major checkpoints. There were more than enough water stations too!
Plus point to the MC of the day who spoke perfect Bahasa and English AND SHE PRONOUNCED MY NAME CORRECTLY! WHOOP! She was a lot better than many of the MCs in other races.
The Minister spoke to me in Hokkien! This was me laughing because I don’t speak Hokkien (HAHA!)!
Congratulations to all the winners of Mount Stong International Climbathon 2015!
1, 2, 3, 4 !
Thoughts About The Climbathon
Mount Stong certainly lived up to standards! I chose to do this particular event because I thought that 14.5KM sounded like a reasonable distance for my first climbathon. I was wrong on so many levels.
14.5KM with an elevation of 1443m is not an easy feat! It was a lot tougher that I had imagined it to be. It was NEXT LEVEL! It blew me away and clearly, I was not well prepared (in terms of pre-race and in-race fuelling and proper attire). I only had 2 Kopi candies throughout the whole journey! I didn’t know that this route would take me 3:19 hours (according to my Mio Alpha 2). It was almost as if I ran a full marathon!
Definitely an experience to remember!
And I learned a few things too:
1. Never underestimate a CLIMBATHON
2. Get proper trail shoes
4. Get a waste belt with drink bottle. I was holding either 1 or 2 bottles all the way.
5. Never settle/cruise/take it easy EVEN when you have a big lead (applies to anything in life too!)
6. The body is capable, you just have to convince your mind!
Some things cannot be read or seen, it has to be FELT WITH THE BODY AND THE HEART (and blood, sweat, tears. Hah!)!
Up For A Challenge?
This route definitely challenged my physical and mental capacity. It was tough. But I am glad that I can finally add Climbathon (and everything else that happened) to my experience bucket!
Sometimes, you learn a lot about yourself when you are pushed beyond your limits. It is a true test of perseverance, endurance and strength. This applies to anything that you encounter in life.
When was the last time you tried something new? Something that would make you feel uncomfortable, scared, awkward, excited or nervous? Stay within your comfort zone and you risk not realising your full potential.
Have fun with life and let the experience shape you!
... And let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus…