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Post-Race Report: Mount Stong International Climbathon

Pre-race

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.

Keyword: REST!

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.

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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.

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There were parts where we drove through total darkness with fog in the atmosphere. It was like a scene from a horror movie!

IMG_5157RACE 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!

Race Day

Got up at 6am and took an icy cold shower! Refreshing! I had my breakfast of bread, eggs and banana. The good stuff!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

IMG_5381The 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.

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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!

IMG_5387The 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.

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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!IMG_5401

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!

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So, for the first time ever, I walked straight up to the stage to the finishing line.

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FINALLY, THE END!

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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.

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Kevin came in after that and he managed to place 30th! He went home with a prize too! WIN!

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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.

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The Minister spoke to me in Hokkien! This was me laughing because I don’t speak Hokkien (HAHA!)!

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Congratulations to all the winners of Mount Stong International Climbathon 2015!

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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.

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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!

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Definitely an experience to remember!

And I learned a few things too:

1. Never underestimate a CLIMBATHON

2. Get proper trail shoes

3. Carbo-load!

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.IMG_9612

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!

Keep Running!

... And let us run with perseverance

the race marked out for us,

fixing our eyes on Jesus…

Hebrews 12:1-2

Post-Race Report: Kiara Trail Run 2015

Pre-Race

Took a break from racing for the last 2 weeks before the Kiara Trail run.

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Spent one of the weekends at Penang with my girls. It was one of the most fulfilling trips with loads of good food, deep and meaningful conversations, time-out from the world and just pure relaxation.

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I love how I can be my crazy self whenever I am with them.

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Raw. Straight up. No judgements.

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Although it was an awesome weekend, there was a twist to what was supposed to be a happy ending. 3 hours after arriving home from Penang, I suffered a sharp pain to my stomach.

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I thought it was just the case of indigestion because we had a lot of food throughout our trip. I had diarrhoea and vomited a few times. I went to bed thinking I could sleep it off. It was 12 am at that time. I was wrong. The pain did not go away. I spent the next 3 hours rolling on the bed and enduring every random wave of stabbing pain. I finally gave in to pain and had to call my dad on his phone because I could not walk.

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I was wheeled into the emergency room, curled up into a ball, shivering and shaking. I had a very high fever and the doctors were concerned that it was more than just food poisoning. I remember having my blood tested, a few jabs and 2 packs of IV drip. Thank God the pain went away and it was nothing more than severe food poisoning!

I took a few days off from running to fully recover. I had a lot of rest (adding up the rest days in Penang and when I fell sick)! The first day back on the road was tough. It felt like I was running for the first time! It was mentally tough too. Everything was BLAH and it just felt like I could not do it anymore, it was a real stab to my confidence level.

I took it slow. Did a bit more of strength training and stretching to work on my flexibility. I was feeling tight all over!


Race Day

The Kiara park was closed a few days before the race because apparently 6 armed men ran off into the trails. Michelle and I wondered if the race would go on. Thankfully, the park reopened just 2 days before race day. But we were still concerned over the thought of 6 armed men being somewhere in there.

I woke up that morning feeling like I had been hit by a truck. I was feeling very tired and sore all over. That was because I was doing all sorts of running and strength training throughout the week. My left foot was hurting too. It had been hurting since last Wednesday. It hurt whenever I walked but seemed ok when I ran.

The race flag off was at 8am, so I had a bit more time to sleep. Dragged my 2 feet to the race venue.

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Source: ET Tey

It seemed as though Coach Mark photobomed a rather decent picture of us.

Put in a mini warm up before heading to the start line.The flag off was odd! We had 3 different “flag offs” because the runners didn’t know if they should start running! It was a mess! We were finally off after the 3rd sound of the horn.

I was told that the entrance to the trail was very narrow. Coach Mark said that we had about 700m of road before heading into the trails. To avoid being jammed up at the start of the trail, it was important to get a good lead during the first 700m.

I was following Michelle and Danielle during the first part of the race. We were just behind the lead pack and we entered the trail head with ease. After about 1KM, the crowd started to space out and there were only a few guys behind and in front of me.

IMG_5032Source: ET Tey

The guys were really supportive! They let me pass whenever I came near, cheered me on whenever I slowed down and asked if I was ok whenever I slipped. THANK YOU! I slipped and tripped quite a bit but thank God I did not fall or twist/break anything! My foot was already feeling a bit weak and the last thing I wanted was to twist it!

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The body is able but the mind says no. Strengthen the mind and harness your will to succeed. Running sucks, giving up sucks too. PICK ONE!

I love trail running because it is both very challenging and technical. The techniques you use to steer your way through, up, down, shuffle from side to side, crawl, avoiding the mud and jumping over branches/rocks are all very different and not what you would encounter during road running. This was a pretty tough course with a good mix of uphill and downhill. The regular strength sessions and drills that I do certainly helped a lot!

Trail running is a lot harder to navigate because the route is not always clear. We got lost twice. Danielle was ahead of me and at one point a group of them were on the road shouting for the right way to go. Luckily the marshal saw us and pointed us in the right direction. I waited for her to come back up from the road and back onto the trail.

I saw all the route markers – 6, 8, 10 and 11. It felt like I had completed 10KM when I saw the 6KM marker. My legs were dead! There was definitely some crawling involved. I slowed down to a jog quite a bit and surged up the hills whenever I had regained my strength.

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The second half of the route had white picture markers all over the trail so I knew I was headed in the right direction.

There was another major turning where there were no marshals and I caught up with Danielle again (because she was lost). I think many people got lost here. During the first part of the race, Jessica was running quite closely behind me. I lost her somewhere after the 6/7KM marker. She appeared in front of me during the last stretch of the race. I was shocked and she was shocked too. She had the courtesy to let me pass :). It was not her fault if she took a wrong turn because it was not clearly marked! She was looking really good and strong at that point. Whoop!

After the end of the trail, there were a few meters of road to the finish line! Thankfully, that was the end of it and nothing more because my limbs were jelly-fied. I waited for Jessica at the finish line. We gave each other a pat on the back for surviving this race!

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Michelle conquered her first full-fledged trail run! Happy for you, twinny! But I think she won’t be joining another trail run anytime soon. She probably cursed her way through!

IMG_5078Source: Tan Tai Nyee

Managed to catch up with a few other runners. Bumped into some of the people from OBC too!

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Yes, Michelle carried pepper spray throughout the run to errrr, spray the 6 armed men in the eyes? Right…… (bahhaha!)

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After the adrenaline rush, my whole body felt like it was about to crash. Michelle and I just wanted to lie flat on the ground! Thank God the prizes were given out soon after. Overall, it was a good run. Relatively well organised and I enjoyed the tough route!

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BURN!

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Time for a good stretch and foam rolling sesh! AND SLEEP!

Hope you guys had fun at the trails! If you haven’t tried it before, GO!

Keep Running!

The Grand Canyon: Part I: Getting there and Yavapai Lodge

After partying up in Vegas, we left to seek the great outdoors – the Grand Canyon.

There are only 3 different ways to see the Grand Canyon:

  1. By helicopter.
  2. By tour bus.
  3. Drive. (Self)

The helicopter ride is an expensive but quick way to see the Grand Canyon. It only takes a few hours of your day, but you do miss the sunrise and the sunset. However, you get to see the Grand Canyon with a bird’s-eye view.

Unless you’re pressed for time, I wouldn’t recommend the bus ride from Las Vegas. Going to and fro would take a total of 12 hours and again, you miss both the sunrise and the sunset.

So, we decided to drive and spend 3 days there to fully soak in the beauty of the Grand Canyon.

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We set out on our journey immediately after checking out of the Bellagio, Las Vegas – to make sure we arrived before night fall.

After six tiring, butt-aching hours, we finally made it to Yavapai Lodge. We only made two stops in-between: one for coffee at Starbucks and the other for my birthday lunch.

FYI: If you ever plan to drive and stay at the Grand Canyon, the park fee (for driving your car in) is 25USD, valid for 7 days.

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Birthday meal at Cracker Barrel.

10009280_10152352063201388_393042486_nFarm fresh southern food.

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Oh, we also stopped for this jump shot with a view.

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Yavapai Lodge is located along one of the many lookout points along the south rim. It is walking distance (0.5 miles) from the lodge to the canyon edge. It is the largest lodge at the canyon with over 198 rooms scattered within the area (rooms are single or double storey buildings) and within convenient walking distance from other village services (the grocer, Chase Bank, the Canyon Village Marketplace and the post office).

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They are slightly more expensive (about 200 ++ USD a night) but we had a forest view which was definitely worth it.

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Our room was 10 minutes (on foot) from the main building which housed the reception, canteen and the gift shop.

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Our ride and our crib.

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I love the room, so homey and warm. It was very decent with two triple sheeted queen sized beds, heater (A MUST!), tv and a refrigerator.

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Toilets are the first thing I check whenever staying out. They have to be clean.

After checking in, we managed to catch the last meal at the Canyon Café (closes at 8pm). If you are feeling hungry after 8pm, you can drive to Bright Angel Lodge which is about 5 minutes away to catch a quick meal. They close at 10pm.

We collected some maps and got some handy tips from the lady at the lobby.

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It was below 10 degrees C outside and the temperature continued to drop throughout the night. We had a very comforting chicken dinner before heading to bed early.

Next post: The Sunrise and Sunset!