After 2 years of going haywire from the blogging world (maybe less coz I blogged for The Borneo Blog), I have decided to blog about my first 100km ultra trail marathon experience. Initially wanted to do it via Instagram but I have reached the maximum number of characters that I had to cancel my post entirely. I also thought blogging would be easier to backtrack just in case I wanna go back and reflect to the crazy things that I had gone though in life 😅
If am gonna start with my preparation and costings this would take awhile to finish, so am just gonna go straight to race day. Here goes nothing.
Pre-race: 15th September 2017 (Friday)
I was definitely feeling the pressure, my condition before race day;
- I fell on my butt the week before race day. Actually I fell a couple of times at Bukit Padang before. WHY?!? 😕
- I was on and off of sickness (flu, fever, cough, sore throat) for a month or so, had hives all over my body (every time I feel heaty), was allergic to everything, on antihistamine every 3-4 days. Had to go gluten and dairy free for few days.
- I twisted my right ankle after my B2B training (roughly 50km total) and was still recovering. Went to chiro to fix it, after 5 days, I started running, slowly. Went to the sports doctor to check my legs, apparently I still have minor swelling on my right ankle (there's minor pain but that's manageable).
- Had issues with my lower spine few years back and still managing that 🤣 (manageable with stretch).
- Diagnosed with plantar fasciitis on my left foot maybe a year ago (manageable with splint and stretch).
- Had an allergy on my right eye, was off contact lens for a week. Blurry vision everyday.
I was also on and off running for a month. The panic OMFG! Tried to clock in as much mileage.
Had the hardest time to sleep after I packed and checked everything. I didn't want to take antihistamine but was itching so badly, I would wake up and rub ice all over to cool my body till it's finally time to wake up. That's when I realized that both my eyes were swollen, popped a pill *sigh.
Race day: 16th September 2017 (Saturday)
|Funny friends. Lucu ko mond.|
|The early risers.|
I swear I remembered that the bus transfer to the starting point leaves at 3am. I was at Avangio around 2:10am. So early. I could have slept longer if I know it actually leaves at 3:30am lol. Bummer. Thanks Pame for getting me buns and mineral water 😘.
Photos before the the journey.
The bus left at 3:36am and I managed to get some shut eye.
|With Pame and the other 100km participants, sorry pacer 🙈|
Arrived Lingkubang at slightly before 5am (that was fast) and settled the drop bag before crossing the hanging bridge (that took awhile, traffic jam). Mind you, I had my glasses on and had to switch to contact lens.
Scanned my timing chip and stretch a bit. That sudden moment when your back suddenly in pain 😟 maybe it's just nerves.
Group photos with group of peeps! 💜
It was so crowded and there were too many people, sorry if I didn't spot some of my friends.
And not forgetting with the pacer. The pacer will only pace me for the first 50km, so I had to keep up.
Race starts at 6:20am. I was running side by side with the pacer.
|Uphill, heading to WS1 Kebayau|
I was doing ok and managed to reach WS1 Kebayau with no problem. Everything starts to turn to shit as I make my way to WS2 Tambatuon. I felt like I was going too fast and it felt like I was being hustled from behind.
|To the jungle we go!|
|I cut my finger at one of these hanging bridge. Can't remember which but it's one of those earlier ones and had few more cuts after that too haha.|
It was 9.9km when I asked my pacer to go ahead without me, those evil lingering thoughts of DNF (sthap! scumbag brain), I was feeling lightheaded while taking time to fix my breathing rhythm. Was moving at a slow pace and kept stopping for air. Felt like vomiting every now and then but nothing came out. Just kept moving. Consumed my first gel at 10km-ish.
I know I was reaching Tambatuon when I passed beautiful green paddy field. Breathtaking view, took a mental picture and videos with my action camera.
|Reaching WS2, wow new bridge. Photo credit: Gisya|
Met Hana too, she did a live update on Twitter of me running to WS2 💜
The most happening water station! Had pineapples, didn't refill my water coz I was carrying 2 litre. I was happy to see familiar faces and was feeling slightly better.
|With Dr. Felice and my pineapple, so refreshing!|
Tried to run as fast to catch up with the pacer since he left 15 mins before I arrived. I felt really bad when I found out that he had waited for me here. Sorry pacer.
Left slightly after and head towards WS3 Lobong Lobong. A friend from Brunei was taking photos around the paddy field. Almost didn't realize he was there 😂😂😂
Was still struggling, my right vision started to blur, had problems breathing through the nose (had to breathe through my mouth) due to weather or tree debris I have no idea, but it felt like I had phlegm stuck around my throat and I hear echoes around my left ear. I could hear my breathing loud and clear. The 2nd time I felt like giving up (those evil thoughts of DNF again, I told myself to at least get to 50km and see if am well enough to proceed) I was grateful to have people cheering me on and asking how I was doing throughout the race course. Didn't let all these bother me. Occasionally had to stop to breathe and adjust my hydration bag (way too heavy). I also came to realized that it's not easy to take video or snap with your action camera (that clamp thing is so tight).
I scrape my under butt while sliding down a big rock. All those river crossing, pebbles got into my shoe, couldn't be bothered to take it out, left it there, minor blister at the side of both foot, not too painful. Lets just say that I had a lot of cuts and bruises along this trail. Also fell on my knee, scrape that too but not too bad. At this point, my shoulders were in pain from the weight am carrying. I only started using my poles here (should have use it from start). I dropped my sunglasses twice, once at the river when I was cooling myself. Another time I had to backtrack to find my sunglasses but another runner from the 50km found it and return it to me, thank god, I would cry if I couldn't find it. My toes curled (cramps) few times but I just pretend the pain wasn't there. At least my calves are good. I would stop and bend for a bit whenever my back was in pain. It helped, it's like doing forward fold, just to stretch it a bit. I also had some ankle twisting moments but wasn't so bad (high pain tolerance), my left foot was in so much pain.
Symus was coming down to find me as I was approaching WS3. Got my ribena! That moment, my pacer was 1 hour away from me huhu, I couldn't keep up. Also met Yoke Lee but I left straight after I refilled my water and scanned my chip. The scenery was beautiful!
|This snap doesn't do justice. It's really beautiful especially from WS2-WS4|
Heading towards WS4 Kiau Nulu, greeted by friendly locals.
I couldn't remember where Mary gave me lemon blast (I needed something sour at that time), definitely at one of the hills, it helped a bit and I was feeling much better, at least am not lightheaded. A lot of locals selling food and drinks. I had fried noodles and soya drink. I actually brought along with me rice and a can of sardine but didn't eat that.
I met with Jay and Waibee along the way and met them again at WS4. High-5 with a lot of kids when running downhill to WS4. There were also dogs fighting when I was running down, startled me. Put on my windbreaker coz it started to rain, I love it when it rains. Had pineapple here before I proceeded to WS5a. I was alone most of the time but would cross path with Melissa and some other familiar runners.
Hello again "Bukit Nenas" (trauma 2015). Uphill battle. I recognized this place, so I thought to myself. But this time I was prepared, I wasn't as stressful as before, I was still feeling crappy though. Push through!!! I lost count of the number of times I stopped and sit, trying to get to the highest peak to finally go down. I was sitting taking a rest when I saw Sandi, she was shouting and told me to keep moving. Nasier and Mag, taking photos and videos of runners. Thank you for waiting for me and checking on me Sier. Also had a cup of thick milo (I needed something sweet at that time), thanks so much Mag, that really helped a lot, I have the energy to run down after that, you'd be suprised what a cup of milo could do. Making my way to the highway.
|Shuttle transfer to WS5 Puncak Borneo, this view though 💜|
I was with probably less than 10 people in the van to WS5. Thanks Chui Ling for the snacks. That was a short ride but sitting for awhile, oh my legs. Refilled my bladder at Puncak Borneo, had biscuits and took out my contact lens (my eyes were hurting so badly).
Proceeded to WS6 Perkasa. Managed to cross path with Jay and Waibee again. I tried to keep up as much as I could. Jay's powerwalk OMG so fast. Got ready the headlamp, reflective vest and blinkers as it was getting dark. Sprayed my back, both my thighs, my left shin, by this time I had chafing around my inner thighs and back (first for everything). This was also the time I checked my phone and replied to some text. The pacer updated me with his location also. Had problems with my headlamp that I end up going solo at night in this farmed vegetable area, slippery, thank god didn't fall, sometimes runners will pass me but I just kept going till I reached the main road heading up to Perkasa. Suprisingly my legs were still good to move.
I reached Perkasa before 8:30pm. A lot of people had already DNF at this WS, also the drop bag. Some people also asked if I wanna DNF? WHAT? NO! The horror! I had some watermelon and had rice with soup, by this time I was getting better, tired but better. Went and get my bag, changed shirt, cleaned my legs, finally peed. Changed my socks and shoe (Altra lone peak 3.0, I was using Salomon S-Lab Wings for my first half). I also changed my headlamp. I can see clearly now. My eyes weren't as bad but still blurry.
|Jay gave me this for my 2nd half, it helped a lot coz I didn't get any blister or chafing after this wiping my foot and affected areas.|
Day 2: 17th September 2017 (Sunday)
Followed Jay and Waibee again to proceed to WS7 Kouluan, refilled my bladder too. Vee joined us. The guys were so fast that we were left behind but it's ok, I was pacing with Vee. I was getting tired and kept wanting to stop but Vee kept me going. I think I was still relaxed at this point of the race course. Arrived at Kouluan and had a cup of maggie, couldn't finish though. Thanks to the marshall there who helped us.
Proceeded to WS8 Mesilau, at this point we had to cross a log bridge. At one point we couldn't remember where we were going, almost took a wrong turn, but thank god we got back on track. That moment when you saw a big rock with a log bridge, I was taken aback by it, I guess it would be fine in the morning but it was so dark that at that moment I thought, if I were to fall this bridge and hit my head hard on that big rock, I would die and nobody would know 😓 so many hills to climb. This place is a bit creepy in my book. But lets eliminate all those negative thoughts. I met Frankie, am suprised he could see me in the dark lol. He came down from WS9.
We passed a bunch of people but I couldn't see who was in front of me, all you can see are lights from the headlamps. 2 guys passed me and I turned coz I think I recognized 1 of them. It was Glen and my pacer, Rizwan (I know they're together coz the pacer had WhatsApp me earlier to inform me that he was with Glen, so I roughly know where he was).
So I called out "Ui".They replied: "Ui, sepa ko?" ("ui who are you?")Me: "Saya bah!" ("it's me!")They replied: "Sepa?" ("who?")Vee: "Mas bah"Me: "Dui pacer sendiri pun nda kanal" ("you can't recognize ur own pacer?")Pacer: "Kenapa ko pakai spec?" ("why are you wearing glasses?")Me: "sakit mata se" ("my eyes was itchy")
We part ways after. It was like a gangster showdown lol. That was funny. My pacer then told me he thought I was some random chinese chick asking for direction.
Reached WS8, scanned, peed, drank tea (one of the marshall was kind to lend me her glass, I had tea). I took off my windbreaker, that was a bad idea, coz I rested for few minutes and I was shivering a bit lol. Decided to proceed before my legs doesn't wanna move. As we make our way to CP1 Veggie Farm, I had this sudden pain around my right inner thighs and had to massage it while walking. It was somewhat around 3:30am. I was estimating that we could complete 4.2km vege loop in probably less than 2 hours. Boy I was wrong. It felt like a maze! I guess it would look really nice in the morning. Long way up and everything looks repetitive, this is a bit challenging mentally. I can't stand repetition. Vee was in front of me and would turn around to check on me. Thank god it wasn't as muddy, but got my shoe all dirty.
|The sun is rising. I would have took a dump along the bushes but I don't know how lol.|
Returning back to WS9 was a relief, I couldn't wait to get out of Veggie Farm. I somewhat was running down heading back coz I needed to take a dump. Was there by 6am with this view!
Had some photos taken here and a nice cup of porridge, thank you Wong.
We left at 6:30am. Proceeded towards WS10 Liposu Lama, 8km!!! This is when I started to panic, I needed to deposit more time, scared I might not make it. We ran down at certain area, a bit hard to run, too many rocks, gravel road. We were passing some vegetable area till it lead us to this forest trail. There were 5-6 of us. I think I ran so hard that time, thank god didn't fall on my face. Arrived the hall at 8am, there's donuts and bananas. Vee had told me to refill my water and patch up my wound but was anxious. She told me to go ahead. I felt bad but think I should go.
So I proceeded to WS11 Kibbas. I got a bit lost here trying to find the marker, didn't know I should have checked further. Thank god there was a guy behind me who went ahead to check and called me to follow. The sun was straight on my face at this hour and I was alone. I would run on flat road and downhill. Hiked as fast as I could on hills. Lets just say when I reached WS11, I scanned and directly proceeded to the finishing line.
Had met up with 2 people along the road and had watermelon, thank you! Should have gotten water but I wasn't thinking straight that time. I wanted to get it over with. 11.5km uphill. Struggle was so real. It kept going up and it felt like there's no end to it. Didn't realize I ran out of water, thank god for rain. Lips and throat were dry. Think I was drinking rain water at one point. I think I was hallucinating. The gravel road looks the same to me, I felt like am in this dimension of never-ending loop. I think at one point I got so angry that I kept asking myself "what's going on?", it felt like I wasn't moving at all. My watch died, should have charged it when it beeped on "low battery", but I was frustrated, stress out, tired and couldn't lift my legs. Wong came down looking for Vee, he told me I still have 6km to go. OMFG! Are you serious? I think I wasn't in the right state of mind at that point. Few people passed me but I kept going and stopping, at one point I thought to myself if I even gonna make it, till I met Sher, I finally snapped out of it, to whatever state of mind I was in. He told me 1 more km. Couldn't be bothered with all the pain I was feeling and kept moving, at the junction, I was doubting where I was going and followed my guts till I finally saw the junction before turning left to the finishing line.
From afar I could hear bells ringing and friends cheering. Ran to the finish line, thank god I made it in slightly over 30 hours.
|Thanks Sham for the photo|
What a relief. TMBT organizers had prepared rooms for participants to shower.
I went to shower then went down for lunch before heading back to Avangio.
|Late lunch, chicken was a bad idea, everything else is fine. Oh my throat, so dry. Also had super sweet coffee, cringed.|
Hard earned medal.
Thank you TMBT for the wonderful race course (except the last hill, I kid) and experience with beautiful view and wonderful people. Thanks to all the random people, locals and friends who cheered me on along the race course and who had faith in me in completing this race, my team: Sabah Trail Seekers, training buddies, Geng Radu, my pacer (big bro), Rizwan for having the patience whenever I complained about training lol and waited for me during race day, for believing in me and giving the peptalk I needed, all the support crew, marshalls at each station, you guys are the best! Nana: thank you for the tips and for believing in me. Nasier, Mag, Lee and Sher for motivating me. Friends who supported me from afar. It had been a blast and I had fun! Most brutal trail, definitely not for the faint hearted.
Congratulations to everyone attempted this race!
I apologize if I missed anyone out from my appreciation speech.
I would totally recommend joining this race but with proper training (mentally and physically).
Last but not least, thank you for reading my super long post and I hope you enjoyed reading it.
Back pain so bad, all I wanna do is Savasana. If I ever run an ultra marathon again, I would want a hydration bag that doesn't uses bladder 🙈. I reached home, had an early dinner (I have no idea why I wanted KFC) and fell asleep after that. 8 hours straight. Woke up in the middle of the night looking for 100 plus and cola lol. My sis said I was talking in a native dialect while I was sleeping. I wasn't even dreaming.
Somewhat blister free. That blister is from my first half of the race.
Chafing lol, on my back, my inner thighs, both sides of my body.
Struggled to wash all these.