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My Daily Grinds

Crossfit. Calisthenics. Marathons. Ultramarathons. Extreme Workouts. Diary of a fitness fanatic

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Race Reports

Singapore 200 Miles Ultra: Race Report

This post is dedicated to my family, relatives, Eileen, the Scorpions, RED72 brothers, Team Spartacus and everyone who had supported me through the 320km journey. Without you guys, this feat would not have been possible.

Photo Credits to RED72 Bros who had taken these photos as well as Tony Ton Ton Fun shots (check them out here)

Pre-race preparation

Training

So I had signed up for this race LOONG ago (think it was like..last year??). I had only started training for it 3 months ago, during my school holidays. Mileage per week is as such:

Wk 1: 40km
Wk 2: 55km
Wk 3: 70km
Wk 4: 40km
Wk 5: 75km
Wk 6: 90km
Wk 7: 100km
Wk 8: 90km
Wk 9: 70km
Wk 10: Reservist
Wk 11: 40km
Wk 12: 20km

This time round, I had more preparation, compared to my preparation for Monster Ultra 200 in 2014.IMG-20160810-WA0040

However, due to work, I had to split up my long runs. My single longest run was 24km, however, I did my best to increase my mileage density. For example, my 100km week was done in 5 consecutive days. I still do loads of cross training, such as crossfit style workouts, calisthenics and kettlebell work. I believed all these helped in my conditioning for the 200 miles, as it allows you to keep your running form over the entire course of 4 days.

 

Nutrition

As for nutrition, I was also more prepared as compared to my 200km race 2 years ago. With John’s advice (check him out here), I was in for a smoother race, thanks to his nutrition tips!

So basically John advised me to consume more whole foods, complex carbohydrates and amino acids instead of relying on processed food, sugar, isotonic drinks and gel. This was really helpful as I had not experienced any gastrointestinal upset (common among ultrarunners) and crashes due to the temporary sugar rush caused by sugar and isotonic drinks.

Support

This time round, I also had more support! Thanks to my family, relatives and friends, there are more people support me on this run which was a tremendous morale booster throughout the race!

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NOW, on to the race proper…

RACE EXPERIENCE

It was 0630am when I reached Macritchie Carpark. My family was up as support crew first. Did some final taping of the illiotibial band, some photo taking and then by 7am, Ben set us off!

0-16km: First off to pace me was Bob! Being the start of the race, I was feeling energetic and positive. Unlike the 200km race 2 years ago, this year I came in with lesser doubt and was raring to go. Finished the first 16km rather comfortably.

16km-35km: Was alone. Felt rather comfortable getting into the groove. Maintained all the way till Bukit Batok where Eileen decided to pace me on the run!

35-44km: Stopped for a 1 hour lunch break at Chinese Garden MRT. There I had a great meal of fish soup and rice prepared by my uncle. Did not really have an appetite but I consumed it anyway, knowing that if I don’t do so I will suffer later on due to the massive caloric deficit. Eileen continued to accompany me thereafter till we reached Pioneer MRT station.

44km-65km: My brother took over to pace me. This stretch was really boring, especially the Corporation Road-Yung Ho-Yuan Ching loop! Hit my first low point when I reached 60km mark. It looked it like was going to rain when I reached big box. It was really cold and I felt rather sian because if it rains, it is gonna take a huge toll on me later on in the race. If a torrential rain occurred, I would have taken shelter immediately to preserve my body temperature. Thankfully it stayed that way.

65km-71km: My uncle joined my brother to pace me on the run. Was feeling slightly better, legs were generally fatigued but I could still run and walk. Took a short break at NUS Business school and continued moving till Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music where I had my dinner, prepared by my mum and uncle. At the same time, it was the support crew change over, Steffan, Wenjie, Phil and Adrian took over. Ash and his family came down to support at dinner time as well!

71km-90km: By this time, my hamstrings felt like they were going to drop off but I could keep on moving thanks to the large pacing group following me! Somewhere along Commonwealth Avenue, Florence and Matthias joined the gang as well! It wasn’t for long that we settled into a pace which was really fast; the fastest being a 6:10 minute kilometer. Florence and Matthais left at Bukit Gombak MRT, and we kept pushing on. It was a relatively low point as we moved off from Bukit Gombak MRT station; my legs were feeling really sore and I was getting tired from the day’s worth of running and walking. We were initially scheduled to rest at Star Vista, but due to the slow pace, we aimed to stop over at my Aunt’s house to rest, which is JUST along Jalan Jurong Kechil! Took a shower, refueled and a nap (3hrs total) before moving on.

90km-112km: Alastair took over pacing as Phil and Adrian left. When I woke up my legs felt much better; not sore anymore, just a general sense of fatigue. Took in some food and then started running again. At this point, I hit yet another low. This stretch was rather mental; long straight stretches of roads along Bukit Timah and a hilly stretch after Star Vista. My paced slowed considerably with the fatigued legs and when I reached Alexandra Retail Centre at 6am I was “seeing god”. Thankfully, after having some fish porridge that my parents bought and with the sun coming out, I was recharged and ready to go again!

112km-133km: Yet another tough stretch. After pushing hard from 112km-128km with Alastair, where we linked up with Seetoh at the bottom of Mount Faber, I was shagged out by the blazing sun. Seetoh got us through Mount Faber with a fast hike. Really appreciate it as I was lagging behind time and could use a good push through this monster of a hill. Was considering to eat my meal before the Mount Faber climb but Seetoh advised against it. It was a good choice actually, both physically and mentally!

133km-146km: Had lunch at the carpark at Pender Road, where Zac linked up with me to pace me through Sentosa. As usual, my uncle cooked a meal for me and as usual, I did not have appetite but ate it anyway! This was taking its toll on me. I could not eat as much to get in the calories needed and I suspect this was causing me to slow down. The route in, around and out of Sentosa was BLAZING HOT. The rolling terrain within Sentosa was not helping either. I walked almost the entirely route within Sentosa. The heat was no joke, hottest through the entire 320km race. Seriously a sufferfest. I was seriously worried that I could not finish the race within the 80hrs cut off time. It would certainly be disappointing considering that there were many people rooting for me! I did not want all their energy to go to waste!

146km-150km: Eileen took over pacing as Zac left to work. Paced me till Ion Orchard where we linked up with Ironman Sam!

150km-158.5km: Sam and eileen continued pacing me, Jake joined in along Clarke Quay MRT. I told them that I could not pick up the pace due to my aching hamstring and Sam suggested powerwalking (he was able to powerhike a 5:30 marathon!!). We gave it a try and it was not long before we manage to pick up the pace made up for lost time! Stopped outside Verve Pizza Bar for dinner break where I had CHICKEN RICE!!! Yes, I was craving for chicken rice during the walk through this phase, and it turned out that chicken rice became my main source of fuel throughout the race!

158.5km-183km: Bear and Eric took over my family to support for my race at Stadium. I was joined by Pete, Sam and Wenjie who paced me all the way till Paya Lebar MRT. Along the way, Razip joined in for crew support with his own vehicle, Eddy and Lee joined in the pacing and there was loads of people together with me on this leg! Felt really blessed and super thankful! Was able to make up ALOT of ground. By the time I reached Paya Lebar MRT Station at 11:40pm, there were 4 cars as support and loads of pacers! Linked up with Glenn, Sylvester, Chuck, Kenny and my family at Paya Lebar Square. My dad took 2 huge pails of water along for me to bath in and I did so outside Paya Lebar Square…like a boss.

Took a 3 hours nap thereafter in Kenny’s car (super comfortable with aircon on) after which, Glenn, Sylvester and Almeric took over to pace me!

183km-200km: The walk was a shag one. I was consistently dozing off and feeling tired. I guess it is the time of the day that caused me to have the same low that I experienced the night (or wee hours of the morning) earlier on the first night! However, the four of us managed to reach 201km in 47hrs and..20 minutes? This gave me some breathing space: I was relatively confident  to finish the race with 120km left and 32hrs remaining. IMG-20160808-WA0003

200km-222km: John took over Almeric and together with Sylvester and Glenn, we picked up speed through powerhiking and made up LOADS of ground. Had more chicken rice along the way (a packet of rice at 630am, a packet of chicken rice at 730am) and then, it was beastmode once I hit Loyang! Ran ALL the way till I reached 222km where I had DUCK RICE hehehe^^ This stretch was supposed to be boring but somehow I got the energy to push and got myself a boost! We joked that it must be due to Hendon camp being around the corner which gaves me the extra boost needed! Needless to say, with around 10km of running, I made up LOADS of ground. Sylvester left at 222km to leave Glenn and John to pace me for the next stretch.IMG-20160810-WA0011

222km-234km: Managed to hold on to a good pace all the way till Lorong Halus, where we linked up with Steffan. The sun was blazing hot during this entire stretch but somehow that V-power boost lasted!!!

234km-257km: John left at Lorong Halus, leaving Glenn and Stef to pace me through the next few kilometers, which was agonisingly painful due to the SUPER LONG and mundane stretch along Punggol-Serangoon Reservoir. We did loads of powerhiking and by the time we reached Kovan MRT Station, my FEET WERE REKTED. Hammies were super sore, soles were super sore! Rested there for a while, and Melvin came along to visit us!!!

Glenn retired at Kovan, Eileen joined in the fast march with Stef and I till Sengkang Sport Centre. We were moving at a really fast clip; around 7-8km/h. Along the way I did stopped one more time at Buangkok for another packet of chicken rice! It seemed like chicken rice was the V-power which is powering me through the mid-race! Feet and shin starting to hurt alot at around 251km and by the time I reached 257km I was really tired. We did however made up alot of ground and met the eventual Champion of the race, Boon Heng, outside Oasis MRT station. IMG-20160810-WA0051

257km-267km: After another dinner of chicken rice (lol), and a changeover of support crew from my family to Scorpions, we set off at a fast pace! First off to pace is Zac and Junying. They really set a punishing pace! We stayed at it till 265km where my right shin hurts REALLY badly. During the short break, I realised that when I touched my shin bone, it felt really painful. John and I suspected that it might be a stress fracture of the shin from all the powerwalking done for the past..24hrs. We slowed the pace down and took my time to walk. At all times I was really conscious to keep my pace between 10:00-11:50 per km. Reason being: 5-6km/h pace will keep me in the safe zone to finish within 80hrs!IMG-20160810-WA0009

My cousin joined me during the walk somewhere close to Serangoon Stadium and we walked all the way till we hit Potong Pasir MRT Station, where we were greeted by Uncle Bay, Alvin, a few more RED72 people, my aunts, John and Almeric. We stopped at a bus stop for a pit stop where Zac massaged my foot and everyone else helped me maintained my body, while the rest watched on. This had attracted many stares from the public and people on buses; they could not understand what was going on and why one guy sitting on the yoga mat with a sibei shag face was being massaged and given food. I felt a little paiseh but was at the same time feeling blessed to have such tremendous amount of support, which gave me the strength to carry on pushing. By this time, I was beyond tired but I was determined to finish the race!IMG-20160810-WA0048IMG-20160810-WA0047

267km-279km: RED72 bros joined along the run, together with Zac, Junying, my aunt and my cousin. We were a huge group running down Upper Serangoon Road, Bendemeer Road and Moulmein road, where I took a pit stop and was joined by MORE members of Team Spartacus: Anna, Florence, Zibin and Eddy! After that pit stop, I got supercharged again and was able to run REALLY FAST! This time, I ran around for around 2km at a 6:25/km split, which was really fast. When we reached 274km, we took a short break, whereby there after we continued moving. By this time, I was moving rather slowly once again: totally feeling it in my right shin and the soles. Managed to hang on all the way till 279km at AMK HUB where I just crashed for an hour after a bath brought to me by my uncle (he took 2 huge buckets of water along and allowed me to bath with a container!) In addition, he brought along an inflatable bed! Good stuff! Most of Team Spartacus left at AMK and it was left with Almeric, JJ and Adrian to pace me for the next stretch!IMG-20160810-WA0018

279km-290km: THIS WAS A REALLY TERRIBLE STRETCH. Lentor Avenue was plain torture and so was Yishun Avenue 2 and Canberra Link. I am so sorry to have Almeric, Adrian and JJ accompanying me here. This was the lowest of low in the entire race. I was moody and my expression showed it all. Steven linked up with us at Khatib MRT station and accompanied us till Sembawang Road. All I could remember was, shin pain, sole pain and VERY VERY sleepy and demoralised me. My right shin really hurt like shit and so does my feet. Icing was done at Khatib Station and the junction between Sembawang Road and Admiralty Road East. Super emo stretch.

290km-294km: This stretch was yet another slow walk. Just managed to keep the momentum going. Really gotta thank  Almeric and Adrian for tolerating my moodiness..this stretch of road there is REALLY NOTHING TO SEE. Plain boring seriously a mind torture. I kept looking at my gps watch; it is the only way that I can calculate my distance and keep myself sane. At the same time I was peeing ALOT and I really suspect it is due to the fatigue…IMG-20160810-WA0004

294km-305km: JK took over Almeric to pace me, together with Adrian. This stretch as usual, was slow. Shin started to hurt alot at around 301km…and I really struggled till 305km, where I iced my feet once again. Reggie joined us at around Woodlands Waterfront Park!

305km-321km: From here, it was an all out push to the finish. I could remember the last thing JK told me: ” WC, I am gonna pick up the pace a little, if not you will suffer when the sun is out”, before I actually just heck everything about the pain and went beastmode: I planned to run all the way back. It was a pretty long stretch but I was confident that I could do it! Emmanuel joined in the run, together with my sister at around 307km. Steffan joined along at around 314km, along with Zac. We were a huge group running and there were like…3 cars following me ( convoy madness). We pressed on all the way till the end, and MANAGED TO BEAT 12PM by 2 minutes!!!  I did 10 burpees as someone had shouted for me to perform them!IMG-20160810-WA0005

 

FEELINGS AFTER 320KM?

I was…happy and satisfied, and also relieved at the same time that it was over. Looking back, 320km was indeed a REALLY long race! My feet really swelled so much after the run and I could not walk properly at all. They felt like they were going to burst anytime soon. I was also really tired! I concussed for an hour after I reached home.

How to further improve performance for subsequent ultramarathons?

Point #01: Include longer runs; time on the feet
I felt that longer runs of 7-8hrs could be done over the weekends. They need not be running all the way, just time walking and running on the feet to get them used to it! This time round even though I had the mileage and thus the engine, my legs weren’t able to hold up as well.

Point #02: Night Runs
As much as possible try to incorporate night runs, especially wee hours of the morning. This is especially true for myself as I keep getting my “low points” during that period of time.

Point #03: Power of Powerwalking
Through this 200 miler, I realised the importance of powerwalking. Running and walking uses different muscle groups. With powerwalking, you are able to keep your heartrate low and still move as fast as 6-8km/h, which is really good. And I think I walked almost 2/3 of the race! Definitely should incorporate more walking into my ultramarathon trainings!

Point #04: POWER of Nutrition
John has shown me the power of nutrition in ultramarathons. Compared to the Monster Ultra that I had taken part in back in 2014, when I had super POOR nutrition planned which had caused me to crash, this time, I am much stronger due to sustenance of energy by consuming proper foods and avoiding refined and simple sugar. Definitely not something that I will want to neglect in future races.

Lessons Learnt

Throughout the entirety of the race, I had learnt alot and that is why I love ultramarathons; they teach you new lessons after each race and ultimately teach you how to live a better life.

Lesson #01: No man is an island, with proper support, you are capable of ANYTHING
This might be cliche, but it is very true. Looking back, I don’t think I could have done it without the support of my family and friends. Everytime I view my phone, seeing those well wishes perked me up quite abit. Do cherish your friends and loved ones as they will be your pillar of support when you come face to face with adversity. At the same time, do put yourself in their shoes and make sure that you will be there for them when they encounter their version of adversity. Little things like a note, a small gift, a word of encouragement, or a hug goes a long way.

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Lesson #02: Devise a plan, stick to it and grind it through
Many at times, we focus on how much we have left to complete a task instead of focusing on the task at hand. This is especially true during this EXTREMELY long race. With my pacers navigating for me, I can solely focus on getting through 5km at a time and in no time, I was done. This can be applied to work or school; plan your timetable, and after that, just let it unfold day by day while focusing and grinding through the task at hand.

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Lesson #03: Adjust your goals according to the situation
I believe in this. We need to adjust our goals on the fly if the plan went south. This is really true in ultra; whenever you fall off pace, sometimes it is better to re-adjust your goals than to fight to get yourself back on track. The ultimate goal is to finish and as long as you are able to do so, timing doesn’t matter as long as you stick to a plan which gets you there. This is the same for work or school; sometimes due to limitations or constraints, we cannot achieve the results that we desire. Rather than being angry over it or stressed up about it, work within the constraint and try to get the most out of it! The important thing is to NEVER GIVE UP!

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Lesson #04: Just..keep..moving
As the saying goes: “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going” every obstacle in life can be conquered, as long as you keep at it and don’t ever stop. After completing 4 ultras, I firmly believe in this. Just like every low points that you experience in your ultra are in that short spur of the moment, it is the same for the obstacles and adversities faced in life. I feel that this is the most important mantra learnt in this race. I firmly believe if you keep working on something long enough (wisely of course), you will eventually succeed. Just like the body starts to scream for you to stop due to the hurting shin, same thing for negativities in your life: learn to ignore them. Passion and determination triumphs over negativity.

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Ending Words

Zac did asked me about my feelings after completing 320km, and my rationale for attempting this race. I told him that it was a personal journey of self discovery, to show myself that I was capable of much more than I think. He told me that this run is much more than about me: through this race, I was able to inspire him to keep on going, no matter how tough business can get (he is da boss for green wall/ green roof installation if you ever want to install one in your home or facility, he is the man!). After hearing this, I felt really happy! As a coach, there is nothing more meaningful than to be able to inspire others to start working out and spread the values that sports and fitness has to offer.

The sport of ultramarathon is indeed more than just a sport for individuals, it tighten bonds between family and friends, teaches you life lessons and also inspire others! It is certainly a meaningful sport which I will continue to engage in for the rest of my life.

To all those who had read this post, I hope that this race report is value adding to your life and that you guys will KEEP ON MOVING when the going gets tough!!!

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Stay BEASTMODE!!

Jack

 

Review of Agoge 001

So just last weekend, I took part in the inaugural Spartan Agoge – an event which tested my mind, body and spirit. It was a really meaningful experience and I really enjoyed it alot; I made many new friends, learnt more about myself and overcame many doubts which I had leading up to the event.

Days leading up to the Agoge

So the Agoge was an inaugural event conducted by Spartan Race and thus, there was no information as to how it would be conducted. However, I had managed to get some hints through the Obstacle Dominator podcast interviews with Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena when he dropped a hint that we might need to enter the freezing water. This reminded me of the winter death race documentary which I had watched on YouTube, where Johnny Waite explained the entire conduct of the race. Thus I thought this upcoming Winter Agoge would be similar to the winter death race and decided to review the documentary and find out the possible tasks that could be done during the winter and trained for it.

I figured that the Winter Agoge is as mentally challenging as it is physically. In addition, the preparation of adequate equipment is of paramount importance as the harsh climate would be another obstacle which I have to face in the event.

Physical Preparation

In all honesty, I did not do lots of high mileage and long duration workouts. I had signed up for Agoge 001 7 weeks out. This left me with 6 weeks of training and a week of tapering.

Coming from an endurance background, I felt that I could focus less on building a base and instead place more emphasis on strength and muscular endurance work. Looking at the winter Death Race in 2015, I noticed that there was not much running; there were however, lots of carries – buckets, logs and loads of other weird objects. Thus I did more loaded carries; with my kettlebells and backpack up and down the stairs. This is to work on my grip strength and endurance needed to carry those heavy and awkward loads, as well as to build up on core strength which is required to maintain an efficient posture when carrying the load so as not to waste too much energy. Oh yes, I did LOADS of burpees as well, since the Spartan currency is burpees (and because I love burpees).

Mental Preparation

The Spartan Agoge is all about self discovery and teamwork. Thus, the event is designed around the Spartan X syllabus – a course which provides you with the necessary tools to become a better person and helps you to lead a more meaningful life. I had done the Spartan X in December and a week out from the Agoge, I revisited the course again to mentally prepare myself.

I revisited my True North, my values in life and my believes which I believe will be a huge motivating factor when the going gets tough during the event. Most importantly, I did visualisation. I visualised about the worst possible scenarios and state that I can get into, how I would overcome it and compose myself. I visualised how I would want to behave during the event; what are the actions that would be aligned with my values. It always helps to be mentally aware and in control of your emotions during tough times so as to not let adversity get the better of you in the heat of the moment.

Equipment Preparation

Out of the 3 types of preparation, I was the LEAST prepared in this aspect. I had only got my Arcteryx base layer a week before the event, borrowed my hardshell and insulation top, as well as 2 pairs of wool socks from my friend a day prior to flying to Boston. The REST of the equipment I bought it a day before the event. It was hardly comforting at all when you looked at the packing list and found out that you had not handled a third of the equipment that you will be using before in your life.

I found out that sleeping bags had heat ratings on them when getting my sleeping bag from EMS. I found out what are snow baskets. I found out what is a multi fuel stove. I found out what are gaters. Oh boy, I learnt alot while shopping at EMS. But knowing about the existence of such equipment does not mean that I KNOW how to use them. I had to figure it out.

D-1 to Agoge

Purchased all my equipment at Eastern Mountain Sports. Thankfully most of the gears were on sales. Spent about USD950 in total and still did not get everything I needed. Bought like…27 Clif bars as a replacement for the nutritional requirement of 2 x 4800 kcal worth of MREs. Not really sure if it would be enough. I figured that from my past experience in National Service, to stay 2 days out in the field this amount of food would be enough. However, this is an entirely different climate, with the temperature being so low, your body burns alot more calories in order to keep you warm so I guess I was taking calculated risk!

Got back to the barn and had to pack my stuff. Again, I only brought a 40L camping backpack which was apparently not large enough to fit my sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles and tons of other stuff. So I had to use my hand carry luggage bag – a 60L Low Level Aviator from Crumpler. The good thing about this bag is that it is a front panel loading bag, which makes my kit more accessible as compared to most top loading trekking bags. However, this would mean I would have less straps outside to tie down my sleeping bag, sleeping pad and poles.

In order to pack everything together and keep my hands free, I had to resort to using 550 para cord to tie down my sleeping bag, sleeping pad and trekking poles. I placed my sleeping bag in a huge plastic bag as a waterproof layer and tied it down to the bottom of my bag. Next I created a quick release mechanism for my sleeping pad with some para cord and a small carabiner which I took from my laser pointer (shows how unprepared I was- having to resort to various sorts of improvisation) and tied to the left side of my bag. Lastly, I tied my hiking poles to the right side of my bag. The poles were pretty bulky – they were not the Z-poles which can be folded till they are of the length of your forearms; they were around 70cm in length when shortened so I had some problem moving around when I embark on hikes through the mountains later during the event.

I had also taken the time to sort out my other equipment – learning how to use some of the equipment like gaiters, deciding how I should layers my clothes, packing extra layers into ziplock bags and also sorting smaller equipment into groups and packing them into ziplock bags. Thereafter, I planned where each ziplock pack or equipment should be packed into the bag, prioritizing accessibility as the primary importance. In an event like the Agoge, where everything is fast paced, it is essential to keep certain equipment accessible. For example, my Clif bars, multi-tool, emergency kit (consisting of fireproof matches, fabric tape, para cord, duct tape and wet napkins) should be in the front compartment of the bag for easy access. I placed clothing as a lower priority and set them deeper inside the bag.

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The sleep before Agoge 001

By the time I was done packing my equipment, it was close to 1230am. I had 5 hours left to rest. It was insufficient, however, it was not a problem as the most important time to get a good rest is the night which is 2 days before an event/race. This is because the night before there will usually be adrenaline kicking in due to the excitement of the race, and I definitely felt it. Well, it was more of the feeling of nervousness and anxiousness about the possibility of the lack of food. Somehow after packing, I felt that I had brought too little food, considering the 9600 calories recommended in the packing list. I think the total number of Clif Bars, together with a box of Orea double stuffed cookies and a small cup of instant noodles barely made it to 2500 calories? (I salvaged every piece of food that I had in my luggage, backpack and any food that I could find in order to stock up my food pile.) I was tossing and turning around with a slightly elevated heart rate, unable to sleep; at least I kept my eyes shut and that was some sort of rest I had gotten there. It was the LONGEST 5 hours of my life. I knew I could have done better to get some sleep, however, at that point of time, I was not able to calm myself down.

Finally, the dreaded 530am came. Time for me to wash up and hit the registration pit. Gobbled down a cup of instant noodles (definitely not enough but I guess it will w0rk). Then there after I headed down to the brown barn for registration.

Agoge 001: Registration

So the registration was held in what they would call the brown barn. All of the us (the participants) gathered outside the small bridge leading towards the entrance of the second level of the barn. We were told by the Krypteias (the official name for the cadres in Agoge) that we had to enter the barn one by one for registration, and was cautioned that by entering early does not mean you will be feeling less cold after. The temperature outside was around -6 degrees Fahrenheit as shown by a large thermometer attached to one of the pillars along the bridge. I was feeling chilly, but not super cold yet so I decided to stand around a little more since I have a bad feeling about entering early due to the warning issued by the Kryteias earlier.. I stood around for maybe an hour and decided to head in as my fingers and toes were getting cold. Moving around a little would help.

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AGOGE ON! (Photo taken from Spartan Race Facebook Page)

When I finally entered the barn, I saw noticed that it was empty. All the way to the other side of the barn was a table with a Krypteia standing behind it. The purpose was to get each of us to sign an waiver and then a simple medical assessment before we were cleared to start the Agoge. There after, we had to leave the barn from the other exit (no wonder the barn was so quiet!). Agoge 001 had officially begun.

Agoge 001 GAME ON!

So the first thing that we had to do after the registration was a an equipment check in the cold. We had to lay out all our equipment on a tarp neatly for the Krypteias to check. This is to ensure that we are not holding on to anything which were deemed as contraband.

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Equipment Check from afar. (Photo Taken from Spartan Race Facebook Page)

Standing in -6 degrees Fahrenheit was something very new to me and my toes were freezing up and getting numb. After I was cleared of the equipment check, I had to join the rest of the participants who had cleared the equipment check in a series of suicide runs and log rolls along a snowy path of around 150 meters. The suicides were alright but DAMN I hated those log rolls. Essentially we had to roll for around 300m. Snow gets into your clothing, froze your Nalgene water bottle that you are holding onto and just made you giddy! NO MATTER how slowly you rolled. I felt slightly better when I consistently changed the direction of roll but at the end of the 300m of log roll I felt really nauseous regardless. I could feel that Clif bar that I ate this morning in my throat. Bleah.

Thereafter the rolls came the jumping jacks. We did 500 of them. Those who had finished had to do burpee broad jumps along the path. When I was about to embark on those burpee broad jumps, the instructions changed – we were to gather and line up in a straight line at the start of the snowy path and start rolling to the other side in a single file! I had to roll hard to keep up with the guy in front of me and prevent a jam from rolling too slow as there was still a queue behind me. I stuck to my game plan and kept switching sides so as to keep vomiting at bay. Some guys had vomited a few times by this point of time but I was grateful that all of them went to the side to do so, so we will not have to roll over puddles of vomit.

When we reached the other side, we were instructed to lie on our backs, packing ourselves like sardines next to each other. What happened next was….MORE ROLLING!!! This time round, the last person (closest to the turning point), had to roll over the entire class and stop next to the last person in the queue. Then the sequence went on and on..for 75 meters where they had all of us run back together as a class.

Lesson learnt: No matter how difficult or uncomfortable a task is, leave no man behind. Wait for your teammate, relay the message, help and encourage them to finish the task.

After tons of rolling, we were grouped up into teams of 8 and had to build a simple transport out of 8 25 feet 1-inch tubular tapes and 2 table tops with 4 holes drilled into them to carry ALL our backpacks and the heaviest person within the team. There after the task was simple: carry it around a large field without leaving any sled marks (or try not to). It was really heavy! We had problems negotiating the small elevations and depressions present along the farm as the snow was really slippery! There would be 4 stations along the way, teaching us about identification and prevention of frostbites, prevent dehydration during winter, how to start a fire, how to build a shelter in the winter and educating us about True North and Commitment – 2 of the Spartan X modules that would be the pillars for this Agoge. Suddenly I felt that this Agoge will not be just a session of mindless torture – the Krypteias were equipping us the tools required to survive in this harsh winter conditions; all we have to do is learn how to apply them.

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My team in action, trying to move the (inefficient) transport around the farm. (Photo taken from Spartan Race Facebook Page)

I think in this aspect, the Agoge had differentiated itself from the Death Race. Although I had not done one before, I had did some research about it and the Death Race was all about figuring out everything yourself. Basically the Death Race forces people to quit. The Agoge is more about beating you down emotionally and mentally, thereafter, applying those tools that we had learnt, giving us time for reflection and with the help from the Krypteias, build us back up again. This process will repeat throughout the entire 48 hours and through repeated exposure and application, inculcate these desirable traits (taught in Spartan X), into you and equipping you with the tools to becoming a better person.

Land Navigation

After all going through the first activity, we were then taught navigation skills – using a barometric altimeter. I had never used a barometric altimeter before but oh wells LETS DO IT! My team and I headed off and we had a pretty good time walking around looking for checkpoints in the forest. I thought that the navigation exercise was the very first activity that tested our ability to work as a team as it was something very new to all of us – it can get frustrating with the amount of uncertainty involved and it is the nature of navigation exercises. I had some form of experience in land navigation but was a little rusty..However, my team really worked together really well. Everyone had some sort of input and we listened to each other and tried to piece everything together. No one blew their top, even though walking around looking for shit (WALFS) got REALLY cold as it turned night time and I am really grateful for that!

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Halfway through the exercise we noticed that we were running short of time. One reason was after we decided to walk all the way to the top of the mountain before finding all the intermediate points on the way down. We got distracted en route up and started looking for points, which might have caused lost of precious time. As time started running out, I was concern about being back by the stipulated time given and some of the rest wanted to continue looking for more checkpoints. This meant deviating from our route to the top and that we have to find another path back down. It was a risky move, but I am glad we took it. This move had allowed us to obtain more checkpoints and we managed to find 2/3 of the total number of checkpoints given to us.

Lessons learnt from navigation exercise:

-Learn to take risks at times even when you are not feeling as confident. 

-Listen to everyone’s opinion before making a decision.

-Committing to a planned route and following through would increase efficiency of getting stuff done.

 Building of Shelter

After land nav, we were brought up the mountain once again to build our winter shelter, which we will rest in as small groups of 4-5 for the night. We built a fire, set up our tent and took turns to keep the fire going throughout the night. I remembered how difficult it was to crawl out of my 0 degree Fahrenheit rated sleeping bag to watch the fire. When I  came out of the bag, I was barefooted and with my warmth and outer top layers off and DAMN IT WAS COLD!!!!!I quickly put on my clothes and shoes before I took over my buddy’s shift. It was an hour of rest and I felt rather refreshed! It was a really good time for reflection of the day’s activities and also a perfect time to bond with my teammates over the fire!

ATTEN….TION! And Earth Angel.

So VERY early in the morning at around 0430hrs we were told to pack up and assemble in the red barn. There, we had a medical check and then were split into 2 large groups. We were told that one would head off to a place 30 minutes from here and the rest would stay behind and the activities would swap 6 hours later.

My group stayed behind.

We were told to go to the brown barn. Inside the barn we were told to leave all our rucks to the side and assemble in the centre barefooted. The brown barn was cold – there was no radiator turned on. My feet felt cold on the wooden floor. I thought that we would be led through a brutal session of physical training and I felt confident about it because of all the training done during my preparation. I was ready!Bring it on!

BUT NO.

What happened next turned out to be a session..which made us stood at attention for a few hours. I remembered that at that point of time, the Kryteia had only told us to stand in this position till they asked us to stop. With that instructions given, flashback of the instructions about the 6 hours change over popped into my mind…

Well, at least there is an endpoint. I told myself that we can work towards 6 hours. At the Commissioning Parade during my National Service days  I had stood for over 2 hours during the actual day under the hot and humid climate of Singapore, and lot more hours during the rehearsals. Despite the fact that I had not tried standing at attention for 6 hours straight, I was confident of it. What I had to do was to keep my blood circulating in order to prevent blood pooling at my legs.

The secret is to wiggle your toes and slightly flexing and extending your quads. This will encourage blood flow. Wiggling your toes consistently will also ensure that I am getting blood flow to my toes, which were freezing up and getting numb on the icy cold floor.

The Krypteias turned off the lights in the barn and told us their life stories. Many of them were from the military and their stories were really interesting and inspiring. I was able to keep up with the stories for awhile but after that I could not help but to drift off as it was getting really cold. When you are standing at attention, blood flow is minimal. You generate much lesser body heat and thus, you freeze up fast. It is not helping with the lights turned off, which was totally sleep inducing. After an hour and a half of story telling, another Krypteia took over and THIS TIME, with the lights turned off, he placed a chair infront of us, put his phone on the chair and played a song called “Earth Angel” on replay…damn the song was old and rather sleep inducing. Together with lights turned off, it was a potent receipe for inducing drowsiness. I did my best to keep awake by keeping myself distracted – listening out for sudden loud noises at the back of the room, shuffling of feet, tapping my toes, trying to do some simple arithmetic in my head, doing reflections of the event thus far, ANYTHING that will keep me awake. I felt the need to switch up my attention time and time again to prevent myself from dozing off.

Finally after a few hours, we were allowed to relax and we went through a light session of PT to get the blood circulating in our feet and body. The first test was over.

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Everyone standing at attention, trying not to faint or sleep.

Sled dragging, Elevations and Rappeling

We swapped with the other group after 6 hours and took a half an hour bus ride to a remote destination.

Upon reaching, we were instructed to drag a boat about a half mile across a frozen lake. At this point of time, I had lost my snow goggles and regretted it badly. There was a strong breeze and together with snow falling from the sky, they hit hard at your face. I found it hard to keep my eyes open as a result and without the snow goggles, part of my face was exposed to the elements and I was freezing. The boat drag require our team to place all our rucks inside the boat and 2 person on board. Me being one of the lightest was one of those on the boat. Being on the boat may not necessarily be a good thing – as you are not moving, you are not generating body heat and you freeze up even faster.

We dragged our sled too far and had to drag it back – in total my team dragged the sled for about a mile.We only realised that we had dragged the sled beyond the point of exit when we were no longer dragging on snow – there was exposed ice everywhere and lack of sled marks left behind by the other team. At this point of time, I thought all of us were really afraid that the ice beneath us might give way and cause all of us to drop into the water. That would be totally disastrous. It was a really quite a moment.

But thankfully it did not happen. We backtracked and found the right point of entry. From there, we hiked up a hill – from one of the steepest route possible. With my snow spikes attached to my shoes it was easily to climb. Up till now, even though I had my trekking poles with me, I had not used them. Not once. Somehow I felt that the spikes were good enough. After all the farmers carries up the stairs with loads, my legs were able to handle the physical punishment of slopes. Thus I was able to keep my hands free and trust me, with free hands, it is easier to move yourself through branches and pulling yourself up steep slopes using thicker branches.

I was walking and chatting with a soldier who was with the Marines for a decade. He was apparently in pain. It was when the medic approached him when we reached the top that I found out that he had multiple injuries and had some metal parts inside his body. In the sub-zero – probably around negative 15 Degrees Celsius , those metal pieces probably caused alot of hurt to him. Really kudos to him for gritting it out in the cold and finishing the climb up.

There after, we did a rappel down a quarry before we head back. We were a group of 4 heading to rappel. Each rappel took around 10-15 minutes interval and me being the last one to do so was freezing my ass off. It was so cold that my toes were in the coldest state throughout the entire Agoge and I was shivering really badly.

When we got back on the bus, I felt REALLY fatigued and cold. It was a really miserable feeling. I thought the cold might have taken its toll on me. Fell into a deep sleep on the bus ALL the way back to the farm.

I was abruptly woken up when the bus reached the farm. Felt disoriented for 10 seconds or so, I scrambled to my feet, grabbed my ruck and headed out of the bus. PERHAPS SLEEPING WAS NOT A GOOD IDEA. Body temperature drops when you are sleeping. While I was comfortable and sort of snug on the bus, the cold hit me hard when I exited. I was shivering once again. My toes were not totally “thawed” from the experience up in the earlier exercise and it was bad. I had a huge concern about frost bites. There were no Krypteias in sight to facilitate the movement to the next exercise. We were not moving and exposed to the cold elements. That was probably when I hit the lowest point throughout the entire event.

It was only after a while 2 Krypteias turned up and brought us for a feet check. After the feet check and taking in some Clif Bars I felt slightly better.

Lessons Learnt:

-Always constantly wiggle your toes and your fingers out in the cold. You won’t be able to feel your extremities freezing up initially. If you do, it is probably too late.

-Having the commitment to follow through your task even when you are experiencing extreme discomfort. Know that there will always be an end to suffering. It is a matter of time. Embrace and enjoy the process instead of looking at how far you have to go.

-The importance of preparation. If you are not adequately prepared (not having snow goggles for the snow and wind), be prepared to suffer.

Team Plank Walk AKA Team Skiing with Planks

The next exercise left the strongest impact on me. We were divided into 4 teams – 3 of which were the original team and 1 team was a pseudo team made up of 2 person from each of the original 3 teams.

I was part of the pseudo team. There were immediate challenges – coordination issues, lack of knowledge of each other’s personality, etc; a sharp contrast to the other 3 teams, who already had the land navigation to go through the forming and storming stages of team development.

One of the Krypteia came over and asked for a team leader. No one volunteered. So he picked me. He continued to explain that we were all going to stand on two long planks – one leg on each. Each of us were to have tubular tapes tied onto the planks and we had to use it to anchor of feet to the planks in order to ‘ski’ (or walk) with them. The team leader is to be at the front of the ski. BUT there is something else: everyone except for the team leader and the last person had to be blindfolded. To make things even harder, every time someone fell from the ski or had their feet off the planks touching the snow, we were to start from scratch, even if it was 10 meters from the finish.

I could feel the stress from the team. As the team leader I definitely felt a little stress. However, I am glad that we manage to figure out something which definitely worked for us and we managed to finish the course! NOT BAD AT ALL!

After that, the blindfolds were removed but there were new challenges – 2 members left from our team and were replaced by 2 new members. We need to negotiate the course skiing backwards and moving sideways. I was getting comfortable with shouting the commands and continued to do so. After a while, my team wanted to speed up, however, I was a little reluctant to do so. But I tried. And to my surprise it worked! Despite having new members we were able to do it within 10 minutes! There after, everything that the Krypteia asked us to perform on the planks we did it with ease as our coordination improved exponentially over the few hours. There was nothing we simply cannot do!

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Performing the plank ski.

Lessons learnt:

-Crystal clear communication is the key to coordinated execution – keep your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as simple and clear as possible.

-Learn to take risks to improve the efficiency of work done. Constantly stretch the limits of the team in order to bring teamwork to another level. Of course, only do so when a certain baseline performance is established. In short – there is always room for improvement in efficiency and coordination.

-Be adaptable and flexible to situations – and it is only possible for a team to be adaptable and flexible AND coordinated with everyone pulling their own weight and FULLY understanding the baseline SOPs.

-When you established momentum – keep on going, don’t stop! Keep going faster. That is the key to progress – do not be afraid to move faster and test yourself. At the end of the day when you fall, mentally you will know that you are capable of reaching a certain speed – it takes little time to recover to your baseline performance. However it takes MORE time to exceed your performance – thus don’t be afraid to fail – the more you try, the higher chance you have to succeed.

Boiled Fish

NEXT UP was something special – we had to cook a fish. Frozen fish. We were split into our original groups to do so. We decided to boil the fish as it would be the easiest way to cook it without having to defrost it and you cant over boil a fish. Even if you do so, it will make the broth sweeter and you can still eat it.

We managed to get a nice fire going and melted heaps of ice for water to boil the fish. It took us around 45 minutes before the fish was ready to be eaten. The fish was fresh and sweet; so was the broth! We were all really satisfied with ourselves. Throughout the entire activity, we took the chance to fuel up and resupply our water. This would be the perfect time to do it as we never know what will happen next.

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The frozen fish that we were given to cook. (Picture taken from Spartan Race Facebook Page)

BUCKET CARRIES AND BURPEES

Unfortunately we only had 10 minutes to eat the fish. Anything that is left after was to be disposed. So sad…

Anyways that would be the commencement of the next activity – bucket carries. There were probably 30 buckets lying around, each filled with water and was frozen (thankfully)

We were split into teams of 2 and instructed to compete against each other on a “it pays to be a winner” principle. What we have to do is to perform a duo relay bucket sprint. One person has to carry 2 buckets, sprint as far as he can. When he hears a whistle, he has to relay it to his partner and this carried on till the first team passed the finish line. The first team to pass the line in each round will be declared safe and no longer has to do the activity. This carried on until the last team standing which will have to perform a penalty. Thankfully, my partner and I managed to work out a smooth transition rather quickly and had to only perform the relay 5 times.

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Here are the buckets that we had used for the PT sessions, with water frozen inside (thankfully). (Picture taken from Spartan Race Facebook Page)

Lessons learnt:

– Do it once, do it good. Make sure you give your best at all times to ensure efficiency of work.

MORE BUCKETS..and PT

So next up we did a series of teamwork bucket exercises which really tested our cooperation as a cohort. I thought that we did rather well.

Then we were led by the Krypteias to run up and down and around the farm. My guess was that they were trying to tire us out before hitting us with another evolution.

Sleep time?!

I had expected this night to be a sleepless night filled with PT. However it was not to be. We were kinda surprised when the Krypteia led us into the red barn, which was fully heated and told us to get some rest. It was a really odd move and I was feeling rather suspicious. It was only around 3 in the morning and the night was still young. I figured that: a) They would turn us out after majority of the people fell asleep to cause maximum chaos or b) allow us to get probably 1 or 2 hrs or sleep and hit us REALLY HARD during the last 2-3 hours of the event, similar to a right of passage.

At 5 in the morning, we heard a really loud: “Everyone wake up!”. I was up instantly and waiting for chaos to happen. But it did not come. Instead we were led through an hour of PT at a controlled pace and then there after split into groups for discussion about our journey through the past 48 hours.

And that was the end of the Winter Agoge.

Reflections

I felt that I had really learnt quite abit from the event – from the activities, to my teammates, to the Krypteias. Each of them offered different perspectives to various situations and taught me different things; all of which ultimately provided me with tools and knowledge to be a better person.

With these knowledge and self awareness gained, I am looking forward to applying them to more challenging tasks that I would be taking on in the later half of the year, with the highlight being the 320km ultramarathon.

The Agoge is definitely a very meaningful event which provides you with the platform to learn how to cope with difficult situations in life and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to find out the better version of themselves.

 

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Thankful for this bunch of awesome teammates! Their energy, optimism and cheerfulness got me through some of the toughest times during the event! #TeamQuitAidorTeamFitAid
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First International Participant to finish the Agoge!AROO!

Race Report: SoCal Spartan Super Race

I did my very first Spartan Race the past Saturday! It was also my first obstacle race and it was really fun! The course was hilly, the climate and mud made clearing obstacles that much harder. After completing the race, I felt that I have the potential to do better if I had done more specific training and honestly it is quite exciting when I think about it! What I really like about the Spartan Race is that it requires almost all the fitness attributes to be developed in order to do well. In this report, I will be going into detail on how my race went, areas which I felt that I could have done better and how I am going to work on it!

The Race Route

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Screenshot of map taking from Spartan Race Facebook page

As you can see from the map above, this is the layout of the course – the red route connects to the blue route at obstacle 18 which then loops back to the red course to continue onto obstacles 19-22 to give you the Spartan Super course.

The Spartan Super is the middle distance race of the Spartan Race series. It is generally between 8-10 miles long and for the SoCal Super, it is 9 miles long.

The Race

I really did not know what to expect, given that this is my first time running a Spartan Race.

After the flag off we immediately hit the soft fine sand. The thing about such surface is that it disperse the force of your “push off” in your running gait – you will have the feeling that you “slipped” and basically did not project yourself as far forward as you would when running on tarmac. It was rather inefficient and I had to switch my running style to one which relies more on lifting my feet off the ground and minimizing the “toe-off” in order to conserve energy.

Obstacle 1: Over wall

The first obstacle that I reached was the Over Walls. Basically it is just a wall just around head height? Cleared it with ease.

Thereafter, came a HUGE climb. When I say huge, I really meant it; or at least in my eyes because this was one of the longest and steepest hill that I had climbed. It started out gentle for only 50 meters, then it just went straight up at a 45 degrees gradient; some parts a little steeper for maybe around 400 meters? I am not sure, but all I know it was tough. Lactic acid built up in my legs so quickly even though I was taking smaller and more efficient steps – I had to resort to a series of powerwalking and jogging up that incline.

Obstacle 2: 6′ Wall

At the top of the ascend was a 6′ wall. Despite being out of breath, I cleared it easily.

From there on, it was a series of runs along the ridge line and I could see the beautiful scenery of Temecula’s desert just running along it! The breeze was cooling as well and overall it was just a great experience running along the ridge line.

The ridge line was not flat though – it consists of mini rolling “hills” and are mainly made up of firm dirt. I gained more traction and started to cruise along.

Obstacle 3: 50m Barb Wire Crawl

The Barb Wire Crawl was..long. I alternated between log roll and leopard crawl to complete this obstacle. Crawling was tough…I guess I will have to do more of it! Thankfully there weren’t many tumbleweeds caught in between the obstacle and I had a relatively “smooth” crawl through.

Obstacle 4: Rolling Mud with Dunk

Well…this obstacle is not much of a problem. You just have to get wet! The only irritating thing is that my shoes are made of goretex…SO…I could feel water sloshing around on the inside when I exited the pit.

Obstacle 5: Slippery Wall

The slippery wall did not feel very slippery. Grabbed onto the rope attached to the wall and went over it easily.

Obstacle 6: Inverted Wall

The inverted wall is similar to that of a low wall – just that you have to use more pulling strength to get you over it. I got over it rather easily, but figured out that it can be a problem if you are severely fatigued.

The barb wire crawl, rolling mud with dunk, slip wall and the inverted wall were placed along the flat stretch of the course and I felt that this was the easier section of the course as not much strength is needed to overcome these obstacles.

Obstacle 7: Monkey Bars

As I left the inverted wall and continued running, I realised that the route brought me back to the festival area and to the monkey bars. The rungs on the monkey bars are of varying heights, which added some difficulty into the obstacle itself. This is also the first burpee generating obstacle that I saw; the burpee area was filled with people doing burpee penalties for failing the obstacle.

I was a little worried before the race that wet palms will hinder my ability to hang on to monkey bars. Thankfully, when I reached the monkey bars, my palms were relatively dry and I managed to clear it quickly.

Obstacle 8: 7′ Wall

Approximately 5om after the Monkey Bars was a 7′ Wall. Cleared it with ease.

Now I am feeling pretty good and continued at a pace towards the next obstacle.

Obstacle 9: Sandbag Carry

Ran all the way and saw a cluster of people in front. I thought I reached a water station but in actual fact I had reached the sandbag carry station. I grabbed one of the bag and started walking. The sandbag was not heavy but its awkward shape made things uncomfortable. I had to consistently find a new way of holding on to it as the bag will shift around.

The sandbag carry was not hard, but I realised that in order to do well, the time taken to clear the station will have to decrease which means you will have to be familiar with this exercise in order to learn how to run with the sandbag!

Obstacle 10: Over-Under-Through

Not a very tough obstacle. Again, I would think that being more athletic will help me clear it more quickly.

After this obstacle I felt that I had lots of energy left in me and I continued my running pace. However, I was hesitant to run at a faster pace though I could as I am unsure of the race ahead – afterall, this is my first time running a Spartan Race and I really did not know what to expect.

Obstacle 11: Memory Sign

So after a short run, I came across a huge board with words and numbers on it. It turns out that I will have to memorize the word and numbers associated with the last two digits of my race tag number. Mine is 56 and the words and numbers associated with it is “Echo 703 2295”.

Then I head off. Right in front of the board is a steep hill and I had to power walk up it. I guess they are already trying to make you fail the memory test.

Obstacle 12: Cliff Climb

Reached a really steep incline and had to pull myself up using the ropes attached onto the cliff. You just have to grind through it.

Obstacle 13: 8′ Wall

It was all the way down hill after crossing the cliff climb. Then I hit a flat stretch and in front was an 8′ wall. This wall is significantly harder to clear than the 6′ and 7′ walls (duh).

Obstacle 14: Hurdles

For this station there were 2 hurdles which are of shoulder height. I couldn’t figure out a more graceful way of clearing them so I just hug and swung my legs to get over them. Didn’t look pretty but it works. I will probably need to spend some time learning how to clear it more efficiently.

Obstacle 15: Atlas Carry

So for this station, the Atlas stone will have to be carried from the start point for approximately 25m, drop the stone, do 5 burpees, then bring it back. Technique wise I felt that I was not as efficient, but a relatively strong posterior chain got me through the station. It also got my heart rate up really quickly – had to take a breather before continuing my run after completing the obstacle.

Obstacle 16: A-Frame

Well….this is easy. Climbing up and over. This obstacle gives me time to recover from the running and by the time I was over, my heart rate had returned to normal.

Obstacle 17: Spear Throw

AND…I GOT IT!!!!I’VE GOT 30 BURPEES!!!

Threw the spear too hard and missed the haystack. My first penalty of the race.

Obstacle 18: Slackline

So basically they were testing out this new obstacle; failing it you will not have to do a penalty. I tried it first time and failed, but managed to do it successfully on my second attempt! SHALL ADD IN SLACKLINE WORK SOON!!!

Obstacle 19: Mud Crawl

Yep…after the slackline, we had to run along the delta..which was really muddy.

Obstacle 20: MEMORY TEST!!!

Along the way I had been chanting my code as a mantra. Not surprising that it came out naturally when the volunteers asked for my code.

After which we had to run across the delta to the other side to begin the next section of the race. The route was really muddy – my pace slowed significantly. However I did not stop running. This carried on for around….600m or so.

Obstacle 21: Stairway to Sparta

This is basically a Jacob’s ladder stacked on top of a low wall. Nothing much unless you are afraid of heights!

Obstacle 22: Z-Wall

I was really afraid of the wall traverse before the race. I did not know how wide were the ridges of the handhold and foothold of the obstacle. Thankfully, they were large enough for me to get a good grip. All I had to do was to keep my body close to the wall and I managed to clear it easily!

Obstacle 23: Plate Drag

Negotiated yet another hill in order to reach the plate drag. The weight was HEAVY!!! I found out that I can get more work done using my core to pull the plates instead of my arms and thus saving grip and upper body strength.

Obstacle 24: Tyrolean Traverse

It was ok…not exactly VERY hard but it required some effort to clear it. It also gives me rope burns on my calves since I rested them on the rope as I pulled myself along!

Obstacle 25: BUCKET BRIGADE!!!

OMG I hated this so bad. We had to hug the bucket 3/4 filled with stones, bring it up an incline 200m out, and 200m back. My back and forearms were burning from carrying the heavy bucket. I was concerned about my grip endurance and decided to reduce the time spent on carrying the bucket but making up ground quickly at the same time through a series of running and resting intervals while carrying the bucket. Definitely not an obstacle for a small dude like me.

Obstacle 26: Rope Climb

This wasn’t tough. Thankfully I had been through army and learnt how to climb a rope efficiently with my legs, using the S hook method to get myself up!

Obstacle 27: HERCULEAN HOIST!!!

Oh my…I swear the weight was HEAVY!! I mean when I held on to the rope with both hands and placed all my weight on the rope by lifting both feet on the ground THE PULLEY WON’T BUDGE!!!

I only managed to pull the bag up halfway, only to lose my grip and failed the station.

30 burpees for me.

Obstacle 28: Multi Rig

The multi rig was kinda easy. It was a series of alternating gymnastic rings and ropes, ending with a horizontal bar leading to the bell. I skipped the ropes by swinging from ring to ring.

Obstacle 29: Fire Jump

This one is a no-brainer – jump over it and 30m away is the finish line.

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I guess this result isn’t so bad for the first attempt? I felt that there is definitely room for improvement to reduce the timings but several things need to be done:

After Action Review

Technique, technique, technique
Clearing obstacles requires technique in order to be as energy efficient and as quickly as possible. Therefore, I will want to learn how to clear a wall more quickly, how to carry an atlas stone more efficiently and how to hoist a herculean hoist more effectively. This would mean getting the necessary equipment like the atlas stones and/or find substitutes to work on these techniques.

Grip Endurance 
There is a need to work on grip endurance. Grip on ropes on the multi-rig, grip on monkey bars. Basically tons of grip work. There is also a need to learn to grip on slippery surface and gripping in cold conditions. Yes, cold weather can numb your extremities, making it very hard to get a good grip. I realised that if you possess a great amount of grip endurance, the difficulty of obstacles will be reduced by a very large degree.

I will be designing a mini multi rig in my house with various things to grip on (e.g. towels, rops, pull up bars, etc) in order to work on grip!

Stamina
I came to realise that obstacle course racing requires its very own sports specific training – being able to generate strength under fatigue. Many at times, I will stop just 20m short of the obstacles and walk towards it to catch a breather before I start negotiating obstacles like the bucket brigade, Tyrolean traverse, rope climb, etc. By learning to negotiate obstacles when you are under fatigue will give you the confidence to go through these obstacles “on the fly” during the race which will help to reduce timing dramatically.

Will be designing workouts and circuits which can help to achieve this specific stamina required for OCR.

Hills…
Being able to run on flat is one thing; being able to run on hills is another. Being able to run on steep inclines requires strength and stamina – something that I will have to work on. Will be looking at more stairs work, weighted pistols and kettlebell swings in order to develop strength, power and endurance in order to conquer those hills!

Aerobic Base
While I have a background from cross country and long distance running, I still believe that a solid base building period leading up to an OCR race can help to improve performance. Probably will be dedicating 12 weeks base building leading up to my next obstacle course race!

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So, this is my very first Spartan Race race report! Will definitely be striving to improve my performance!

Asics City Relay Race Report

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10.5km race

Time: 40:23

Really glad that I had the opportunity to run with this great group of brothers! We did an awesome job together as a team, coming in 9th in our category!!:)
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Race Report

Hamstrings were feeling a little sore prior to the run and was feeling rather tired from all continuous chain of activities that happened during the day, but all these miraculously disappeared when 6pm approached.

Took some photos and chill around with my team till around 5:15pm. Was feeling some form of adrenaline by then and I was really keen to get in some warm up soon because the race starts at 6 (As the 1st runner, I want to squeeze to the front to get a good start and not be blocked off by other runners)!

Managed to get in some dynamic stretching and a couple of strides. My legs felt fast and surprisingly springy and powerful despite still having some minor niggling aches. So far so good. This made me slightly more confident to tackle the race later.

Finished my warm up at 5:40pm and made my way to the front half of the pack. There were still tons of people in front of me! Waited for an agonising 15 minutes before we were finally flagged off! The start was chaotic. There were runners walking out, strolling out, jogging out.. and I had trouble finding a way out of the jam. Thankfully after 50m I freed myself and started to make my way up the pack!

For the first 2km, I found a VJ runner and stuck to him. Since I don’t really know the pacing (haven’t ran a competitive 10km in like…..years!!!!!), I decided to run by feel and use runners as gauge!

Over the whole course I had stuck to around 4-5 runners for extended periods before moving out to chase another runner when I summon enough confidence. Reached the halfway mark at around 19 minutes!!! Not a bad timing. Thought to myself that there is a chance of going sub-40 minutes for 10km! That became my goal during the run.

Second half of the race was harder as there were lesser people to follow. Most of the runners in front of me are slowing down due to the fast starting pace and there was a huge gap between the lead pack and us – 2nd lead pack! Could feel my pace slowed but I was determined to keep a decent pace to achieve my target.

It was really hard. So much harder to do so! Decided to stick around abit longer to the runners before attempting to breakaway for the last 2km or so!! It was really tough. I could feel myself slowing down but luckily a runner caught up with me close to the 10km mark and I summoned my strength and stuck to him like glue.

Passed the 10km marker I checked my time – 39:12. YES! I did it! Revert my focus back to sticking as close as I can to the runner in front of me. Pace was fast but IT IS ONLY A LITTLE MORE!!! Then I saw the left turn into the stadium. I could feel the aircon and started to look out for my 2nd runner, Glenn to pass him the green slapbands (baton for the relay). I finally found him BUT I DID NOT pass the slapband to him till he tapped me and I snapped out of the blur state at that point of time😂. Oops.

But well I was glad that it was over and that I did a surprisingly good time!!! Despite low mileage. Actually the only running I did prior to this race was.. 3 or 4 15kms runs over the past few months and weekly stairs sessions. I felt the stairs sessions played a huge part in my performance today. It gave my legs strength and endurance during the run and convinced me that it is an effective form of training and will form an integral part of my training program!!!

2015 Burpee Pull Ups Challenge report

1000 burpee pull ups completed. (3h40min)

So.. quite awhile ago I set a goal to complete 2015 burpee pull ups to welcome the new year.

You may ask WHY burpee pull ups? This is because for the New Year’s Eve of 2014, I had completed 2014 burpees in 3 hours and 20 minutes. That is 10 on the minute for the whole of the duration. I felt confident after completing the challenge and thus made me set a more challenging target for myself for New Year’s Eve of 2015.

Training

Leading up to the challenge I did more pull ups and burpees. I know that I am in shape for my burpees and that the real challenge will be the pull ups section. I trained my pull ups by using the “greasing the groove” method, doing around 300 pull ups a day on alternate days. Burpees wise.. I was doing it regularly and know that it is not a problem. This was proven when I could complete 450 burpees in 30 minutes in one of the confidence workout that I had done.

The Challenge

So I started my workout at 2:45pm today. I set out at a comfortable pace and was surprised to be able to complete the first 300 in 55 minutes, a great pace and I felt alright. I was doing in sets of 10 but towards the end of the 300 I was doing them in sets of 5 but I was still going strong. However, there was a tingling feeling in the left shoulders, but I proceeded anyways.

Proceeded on to do the next 300. My plan is to keep the current pace and complete this next 300 in an hour. At this time I feeling the slight strain in the shoulders and I had to slow down a little. Completed it on time. 600 in 2 hours. Split time is around 65 minutes. Towards the end of the 600 reps the shoulder was stilling holding, my engine was going strong but my joints are not as fortunate.

The point came at around the 800th rep when my shoulder joint starts to feel..the strain. It is not a good sign as I previously strained that shoulder before. I decided to push to the 1000 rep mark and take a short break to see if the shoulder condition improves after some stretching.

I went home, had my dinner and rested for a while before I attempted the challenge again.

First thing I did was to test the shoulders. It is still… a little sore. Not wanting to risk it I guess enough is enough for the day. I still want to do this thing for the years to come and I dont wanna risk getting injured.  OH WELLS. I guess it is till next year when I will attempt this challenge again!!! Sucks to quit but.. I guess sometimes it is better to live to fight another day?? I guess it is till next New Year’s Eve!!!2016 reps!!

Note to self: BUILD UP ON THOSE SHOULDERS STRENGTH!!!

Monster Ultra 200 Race Report

Dedicated to my family, Eileen, my Scorpion friends who  took time off to support me for this race. They most certainly had seen the worst state that I was in and yet they not only were patient with me, but stayed by my side all the way to the finish line. Also dedicated to the Avengers, for tanking the project preparations  during the weekend that I was racing and still find time to come down and support me.
The Monster Ultra is definitely the most challenging race that I had attempted to date. From as long as I can remember, I never once had doubt of myself in completing a race. Not even for my first Ultra, the Sundown 100km.  I find 100km races still rather manageable as coming from a cross country background, having clocked weekly mileages of 100-120km before, the mental edge knowing that you ran 100km in total mileage for consecutive days really gives you the extra boost in confidence to finish the race. Nevertheless they are not to be underestimated. However, I had not in my life, attempted to up my mileage to 200km a week, and I am not even close to 160km! 200km to me, was a rather huge step into the world of the unknown. Doubt were most certainly present in the days leading up to the race.
Training progress
The realization of insufficient conditioning only struck me in September, after I had done the Craze Nut 101km as the experience was not a really great one ( I ran alone, without support because I did not sign up for the race).  Thankfully, it was still had 5 weeks out and I still had sufficient time to train up adequately for the race. Thus I set out to ramp up my mileage in order to further condition my body to the brutality of the 200km. The punishment endured at Craze Nut 101km was a sharp reminder as to how much more I would have to improve in order to tackle the 200km. Thus, I planned to do as many 30km  runs as possible after the Craze Ultra leading up to the Monster Ultra, with another speed session in the middle of the week and the rest of the days would be adopting crossfit as a form of strength and conditioning to transform my body into a 200km killer machine.
Everything was progressing well. I was improving rather quickly, feeling stronger after each training session. However, after my 5th30K run, I came down with flu 2.5 weeks out from race day, which was probably, as my doctored told me, due to the haze. I was desperate to recover quickly and continue training, eager to get in some last minute miles to reassure myself that I was conditioned enough to tackle the 200km, however, having ran competitively since 13, I knew, as much as I hate to say, it is better to go into the race slightly undertrained, in tip top health to struggle through the race than to train through an illness and entering the race sick.
Finally, 3-4 days before the event I was fully recovered. I went for a slow 10km jog 2 days before the race to get the feel of race pace on the day itself and discovered that there was a tingling sensation in my ITB. It appears that my ITBs were rather tight and thus contributing to this sensation. Being worried, I did some foam rolling, stretching and avoided running till the race itself. Although the events leading up to the race was not a smooth sailing one, I remained optimistic, convincing that should I make it to the start line healthy and injury free, I would push through the 200km.

Logistics
Conditioning the body alone is not enough. To tackle a race this long will require extensive support from your crew, to provide you with constant supplies of your needs, be it food, drinks, medical. One week out from the race I actually met up with my friends together with my family to discuss the crew support plan. In the end, it was agreed that my friends will take 12hrs night shift, whereas my parents, together with my girlfriend, will take the day shift. We planned down to the details, as to where could be the possible stop points, what I would like to eat at each checkpoint, my possible needs, my targets for the race, etc.. the meeting took about 3 hours before we are finally done with a comprehensive support plan. In essence, my plan was to stick to a diet of bread and isotonic drinks, taking them at 
10km intervals with seeing my crew every 5km.
There were lots of stuff to be bought! Medical supplies such as painkillers, cold and hot spray, bandages, plasters, antiseptic, etc. Food, bottled water for my hydration bag, isotonic drinks, ice box, spare clothes, spare shoes, windbreaker.. The list is endless. By the time I layout everything for item check the day before the race, I felt like I was going out for a camping trip instead of a run!

RACE DAY
So D-day finally came. I was still rushing my project in the morning and early afternoon, eager to get as much done as I know I will have the weekends burnt. During the late afternoon at around 4pm, I tried to get in a nap but I was too excited to do so. All I was thinking about is the race and I cant wait to get to the end of it! I was so excited that I don’t even have the appetite to eat much of my dinner that evening.
Finally I was at Macritchie Reservoir, the start point and end point of the race. Being an hour early, I went to collect my race bibs and sectional maps provided for the race. The sectional maps were maps which showed 10km of the route at a time, B6 size. I took my time to pin my race bibs to my hydration bag and my running singlet, applied some Vaseline on sensitive areas and waited at the carpark eagerly for the race to start. It was a very humid night – I was already sweating even before I started running!
At around 845pm the race organizer, Ben Swee, gave us a safety brief and explained how the support by the organizer will be done. It turns out that there will be only one vehicle, with food and water supplies, roving along the race routes. In addition, one ambulance will also be providing roving medical support. I felt that I was lucky to have brought along my crew if not I would have to go through the hassle of buying food as I highly doubt I will have frequent encounter with the supply vehicle. After the brief ended the race officials gathered us at the start line and I felt the surge of adrenaline once again. As I was getting ready to run out of the start line, one of the race officials issued a sparkler to every participant, stating that after the last sparkler is simmered the race will begin. Halfway through the igniting of sparklers I was getting restless and impatient. WHY CANT THEY JUST START ALREADY?! It felt like eternity before the last sparkler simmered and the race director flagged us off. 0km down, 200km to go!!!!!

The Race
0-10km
Once out of the starting line, I felt an abundance of energy within me. I felt light and great. Perhaps  the tingling sensation of the ITB, as well as the illness before that which forced me to take rest, allowed me to fully recover before attempting this race which thus explains the great feeling – starting the race fresh. I was on pace, and I felt like I could go on forever. I was supported by Hong Yew and Hazel, who provided me with ice cold 100 plus at the 5km mark as well as some food at the 10km mark. I was feeling great, however, I held back, knowing that the suffering would kick in later on in the race if I let my adrenaline take control of me.
10-20km mark
10km mark was outside Sembawang Air Base, from there I ran to the next checkpoint which is outside Kranji MRT Station. This was my first time running past woodlands MRT. As I ran past the MRT station and residential areas, the surroundings became more quiet and peaceful. I briefly enjoyed this short moment of solitude. Sometimes running alone have its pleasures too. Hong Yew and Hazel continued to provide me with leap and bound support from his car and I am still consistently getting in fluids and food. Everything is going well so far.
20-30km
From Turf Club, the next 10km will be a rather boring one as we will travel to the industrial areas in Lim Chu Kang, then Kranji Dam, to Neo Tiew Road then to the long stretch of road at Lim Chu Kang. I was running towards Kranji Dam when Hong Yew’s car drove past me and out comes my first pacer of the race –  AKUJK aka Jian Kai AKA the beast AKA the hulk. I was glad that he joined me at this stage of the race as it would be rather dangerous to run alone along this stretch – we are running along the roads with no pavement at the sides so it is crucial to have a buddy to watch out for each other. In addition, dogs are present in those areas and the last thing I want is to be attacked by one so early in the race. I felt that by having a buddy will deter the dogs from attacking us. I was still going strong along this stretch of road. No doubt it is boring, however JK kept me well distracted with his unusual pacing method – His pace is not consistent, constant change in speed throughout the time he was pacing me – Sometimes he sprints forward, sometimes he does a brisk walk, sometimes he did some cadence work,etc..This thus is able to distract me and thus the boredom wasn’t as bad as it would be. At certain point of time Hong Yew will be driving directly behind us, to act as a warning to incoming vehicles. At 2-3am though it is a peaceful and quiet place to run at but this area is also thus prone to reckless speeding drivers.

30 – 40km
This is the stretch that stretches across the long stretch of Lim Chu Kang Road, past Jalan Bahar and then down towards Boon Lay way. When I reach Lim Chu Kang Road, I began to run in a ‘zoned’ out state. I was a rather nice feeling. Basically I was stoning and running all the way. Everything just happened because of muscle memory. Hong Yew drove behind JK and I and provided me with water and food regularly. JK was carrying my water bag so whenever I needed water I just have to reach out and drink from the tube. We made it look like JK was breastfeeding me initially however, we got the hang of it rather quickly and I could drink on the run just after a few tries. This stages of the race everything still felt great, no aches and no pain in my ITB. A really good sign.
40-50KM
When we reached the 40km mark, which was a Shell station next to Boon Lay Way, the pacer duty passed on to ALBERT. I was really glad to see Albert, now that I have an additional friend joining the crew, my mood lightened up from running the mundane stretch along Lim Chu Kang Road. Here on we will run to West Coast Park’s Macdonalds where we will link up with the rest of the crew. The route was seriously boring as it is now 3-4am. There is very little cars on the road and all you can see are long neverending stretches of roads. Along the way I felt a drop of water or two then I was like “Dammmmmmnnnnnnnnn..” It was starting to drizzle. I was really worried that it will turn into a torrential rainfall and that would mean I have to run in the cold. Not exactly keen on that. Thankfully, it was only a passing drizzle. I was also starting to get a little sleepy and things are starting to get a little harder mentally. Physically I was still alright. When Bert and I reached the Macdonalds I lay down on the ground, to relieve some stress on my back, which was aching a little (I don’t know why). Shortly later the rest of the crew came and Hong Yew, JK and Albert all worked together to give me a massage. It FELT SOO GOOD AHAHAHA. I was also a little sleepy by then. Took in some fluids, had some bread again changed my socks and lay down for awhile more. After half hour of rest, I proceeded on with the race.
50-70km
This 20km brings me from West Coast, up to Clementi, to Bukit Batok, Bukit Timah and all the way to Toh Tuck Avenue. It is close to sunrise and by this time I was already 15 minutes off my pace. My legs were starting to ache a little and I was doing slightly more of a run-walk pattern to conserve strength. At the 60km mark I was really hoping for the sun to rise as I was feeling very sleepy from the earlier portion of this stage. That feeling reminded me of outfield days in NS when we didn’t get to sleep for a few nights. At 70km we met up with Hong Yew and the crew. I was still feeling rather sleepy despite it already being day time. We refilled my waterbag and I ate somemore of my blueberry bread, which is starting to get a little boring as I had been eating that for quite a while. Furthermore, when taken with liquid, the bread will cause bloating in the stomach and I had been running with a weird feeling in the stomach for the past 30km.
70km – 80km
The last 10km that my friends will crew me. After that the duties will be handed over to my family and there will be no pacers for the next 20km till 100km. I felt re-energized, knowing that I will be able to see Eileen and my parents and this 10km felt strong. HOWEVER, Bert and I nearly got lost as we took a wrong turn at Dairy Farm Road. Instead of turning to Hillview Drive we continue to head down Upper Bukit Timah Road. Luckily I sensed something was wrong and checked the map and fortunately, we were at a Junction whereby we just had to make a right turn and head all the way down to the other side of the road then we will be back on track again. When we finally reached Blackmore Drive and linked up with my parents and Eileen my friends left and I was running alone again.
80-100km
After 9 hours of company with a pacer, it felt incomplete to run without one. When I resumed running after a short rest at Blackmore Drive suddenly I felt someone turned off the Master Switch within me. I could not run. I began to walk more and then when I reached Holland Road, I realized I was hungry. Fortunately my mum cooked some porridge and I took abit of it. Though I was hungry, I could not eat much I just didn’t know why. But it feels good to eat something different, after a 12hr of diet on bread and Isotonic. It began to drizzle again. After eating the porridge I felt better and could continue to run alittle again. However, the issue with porridge is that it is easily digestible and at 85K I was hungry again and had to eat again. This carried on every 5km till the 100km mark.
When I reached the 92KM mark, Eileen joined me to runJ Felt so much better to have someone running with you. We reached the bottom of Mount Faber and I decided to walk up to conserve energy since the climb up was actually very long and steep. It had been a long time since we last gone up Mount Faber together and I totally enjoyed the walk up with her. Glad that I was able to “Pak-tor” and run a race at the same time HEHE! It still took q abit of effort to walk up Mount Faber, given that I had already ran 90+ km. There we linked up with my parents. I had a little more porridge and enjoyed the breeze for a moment. That day was rather hazy and everything that I saw from the top of Mount Faber was a blur. The tranquility of the surrounding makes me feel much better. Soon after, we head down Mount Faber and linked up with Kok at Telok Blangah MRT Station. When I saw Kok I was…too tired to be happy. The weather is getting hot by the minute. The three of us ran all the way to Labrador MRT, through Labrador Park and towards Keppel Bay. It was very humid. There was no breeze at all and I was suffering rather badly. Struggled through Keppel Bay, didn’t have the energy to appreciate the scenery and FINALLY hit the halfway mark at 2pm. I rested at the carpark opposite Seah Im food centre. I tried to get some shut eye but because the weather was soo damn hot, I just couldn’t. Took a 45 minutes break, changed my shoes because they were a little wet from perspiration dripping down my legs. The feeling was so good. When you are uncomfortable like that every single thing that makes you feel slightly better youll appreciate it. I even changed my top. The warm top boosted my spirits and I felt better immediately after changing into dry apparels. And yes I was feeling a little cold despite the hot afternoon. Weird.
100-120km
I felt much better after changing into dry shoes and clothes and after some porridge and a short rest, I was hitting the road again, this time at q a good pace. I managed to sustain it till MBS then I crashed again. This time round, it was a rather huge crash. I managed to struggle till Marina Barrage where my parents linked up with me again. I had some porridge but when I left again. I could not run. I just could not I don’t know why. Maybe it is mental? Maybe it is the diet?? (more on that later) or is it my training was inadequate? I am not sure. I was in despair. I could only do what I can. Walk. And walk it is. All th way from Marina Barrage all the way to Tanjong Rhu. There, I saw a fellow competitor and IMMEDIATELY, I felt much better. Now that I am typing this report, maybe it is really all in the mind. But I was able to carry out a jog for a while. Till I reached Old Airport Road and I crashed again. It was so bad that I nearly walked all the way to the 120km mark, which is the junction pass Victoria School going towards Bedok. I was really happy when I saw the support vehicle parked there as I was running low on fuel. Immediately took some coke and potato chips from there. We sat there and I did some stretching till my parents came with black herbal chicken soup and rice. I gobbled down everything. That was my very first solid meal since……..24hours ago. I felt full and satisfied. Shortly after I finished my dinner, Hong Yew linked up with us. There he took over the pacing duty of Kok and my girlfriend towards Bedok Reservoir, which is the 135km mark where 
John will take over the crew duty from my parents and Eileen.
120- 157km
This part of the race is what I can consider the worst part of the race. Due to the long rest that I had at 120km and the food that I took, I was able to set out rather comfortably, and despite being tired, being able to set out on a walk-run routine. We ran past East Coast Road, then to Still Road. All that while everything is still going well, but when we finally reached Upper Changi Road, I felt bad again and this time round I walked from Bedok MRT to Expo. I was feeling really sleepy and frustrated and though I should just walk till I feel better then I start running again. During the walk I ranted a lot to Hong Yew. It made me feel slightly better. I think there is really a huge difference running alone and with someone by your side.  Looking back I feel quite bad but I just cant help it at that point of time. I guess there is always this part of ultra where you will need to communicate with someone, just to keep your sanity. For me it is always to talk to my friends or Eileen. During the Craze Ultra, because I was racing alone, after the race I experienced a few days of mental trauma from the race due to the torture that the mind had to go through during the race.
 At Simei, Hazel joined the run. I felt really bad that I had due to being crew support for the race, the couple lost substantial amount of sleep. When Hazel linked up with us, we had a short rest at a public bus stop. I was so tired that I just lay down on the floor and fell asleep immediately. I didn’t even know till Hong Yew woke me up and he told me that I had already slept for 15 minutes! But after that sleep I felt slightly better and I could carry on a consistent run/walk routine all the way to Bedok Reservoir.
I was REALLY surprised to see the Avengers waiting for me at Bedok Reservoir. It was a confidence booster and that brighten up my spirits, which was really at a low for quite awhile since the 110km mark. I was also really happy to see John. At that point of time I guess I was too tired to show any emotion but I was feeling very grateful for everyone who had supported me or visited me so far. John was a huge fitness fanatic. Unlike me he is all fitness, down to the nutrition level. I guess he would have scrutinized my meal plan. He fed me with bulletproof coffee brewed with butter and a drink which is a mixture of coconut juice, coconut, flaxseed and other superfoods in it. I guess I know at that point of time my nutrition plan is indeed screwed up and thus, I just had to give it a try. A brief rest and chat with the Avengers and John, I continued my run with HY and Hazel to 140km where we will linked up with JK and John again. Along the way, we passed by long stretches of road with nothing in sight. It is also already night time – around 11pm and the sleepiness is setting in again…..
We linked up with JK and John at 140km along Tampines Avenue 9. There I got a massage from Hong Yew and I ate some fried noodles that JK had bought. It tasted so damn good. Was so tempted to finish it all but I still had to run…Hong Yew and Hazel stopped pacing me there and JK took over. We ran all the way to 145km mark which is just nxt to Eileen’s house. There I took a 1hr nap. I fell asleep immediately at the void deck when my head hit the hydration bag (my pillow). I was woken up by JK and Eileen when my napping time is overL I was really groggy and had to limp up to Eileen’s House where I took a bath. It was really cold and I was shivering even when I was showering in warm water. The feeling is similar to showering when having a fever.  The shower woke me up a little and I continued running after that. I could move at a pace for a while till Changi V and after that I crashed again. This time it was a 7km low period. I walked all the way. I was sleepy, my legs were heavy and refused to move. Once again, I told myself to be patient, just relax and walk. Nonetheless I was really tired and I did not realize that I was showing a very black face. Eileen accompanied me throughout this journey and she is optimistic, despite me showing the very tired face she constantly cheered me on and encouraging me. I was really grateful that she did that. To John and JK also thanks for putting up with those face of mine and the short replies of umms and ahhs  during that period.

157-200km
After that period, I suddenly checked my time. It was 820am and I still had 43km to go. I freaked out and instantly became awake. Suddenly, the idea of not finish became very real. Despite the reassurance by my crew, I decided to just push all the way. It is do or die to me. For me, it is untruthful of me if I said that I never thought of giving up. That thought DID come to my mind. But I know, I will NEVER take that path. The thought of the feeling of regret should I give up came to my mind, the thought of the disappointment of my Crew members came to my mind the thought of my pride came to my mind and it is as soon as the thought of giving up came to my mind, it went away. Instead, I was thinking of the medal waiting for me at the finish. The thought of my future ultramarathon plans. All these came to my mind. I was, at the 157km mark super determined to make up for lost time and make a strong finish in this race.
I carried on at a very good pace. A pace which is so much faster than the one which I had been traveling at for the past 14hours. After a short stop for a breakfast of Economical bee hoon, I sprang off. At Punggol waterway, I was joined by Almo and Bert (once again). We ran all the way at a rather fast pace, stopping only for short periods of time to get in a massage or get in some food. No time was wasted. Once I had gotten enough of what I need we continued moving. I felt more awake and my legs were suddenly energized. We ran past Serangoon, Sengkang, Yio Chu Kang, Serangoon, Ang Mo Kio, where we were joined by Anders. We continued till Khatib MRT Station where Almo left and shortly after at Chomp Pang Camp, Kok and Eileen joined us. By that time I had covered 30km in 5 hours – a sharp contrast to Saturday when I took 10 hours to just cover 40km. The finish was really strong I literally ran the last 5km without stopping at all to walk. It was really hot but Albert, being such a good pacer and after running side by side with me for 50km, constantly fed me with water from my water hydration bag that he carried for me to ensure that I can continue at this strong pace. I felt awake, refreshed and strong. I crossed the line with a time of 43h40min and felt a rush of relief. The relief that it was finally over.

Lessons Learnt
I felt that I could have done better, possibly a sub 40hrs finish if I was able to handle my mid race a little better. I think the poor performance of the mid race was due to:
-Nutrition
I guess my nutrition of bread and isotonic is totally flawed. As I had mentioned earlier, bread causes bloating and actually made me rather uncomfortable, giving me a false sense that I am full but actually I am still lacking in calories. Thus this might have caused me to crash numerous times. What I had found out is that soup with rice works really well for me as I had taken that for the entire last 1/5 of the race, where I performed rather well. In addition I did not try out what foods work for me during training and thus this had caused me to suffer costly. What works for 100km MAY not work for 200km.
-Lack of Sleep
200km, unlike 100km is a very long race. Unless you are running competitively, it is always better to factor in some form of rest.  In addition, I realized that I had not scheduled night training runs and that might have caused me to not be used to running at night.
-Mental
Probably not enough visualization done. Or rather I did not know what to expect. What could be done the next time would be to go through the hardest part of the race (middle) constantly to know what to expect. In addition, long runs could be longer to give a mental edge in running races longer than 100km.
-Training
Include in more long runs probably up to 5-6hrs long and at a much slower pace to acclimatize time on feet even more. However I feel that the implementation of Crossfit had benefited me greatly as it kept my ITBS at bay.

SO..THIS IS MY MONSTER ULTRA 200 REPORT! TILL NEXT YEAR!:)

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