Wednesday, January 23

Vibram HK100 2013 - The Second Time Around

20th of  February last year, few minutes after  crossing the finish line on the same race, Vibram HK100 2012, I was with my Singaporean friend PS, we finished almost the same time missing almost an hour to grab the bronze trophy. I remember vividly what Alber asked us, "So are you two ladies coming back to do this race  next year and grab at least the bronze trophy?" Without second thought we both answered in unison, 'no way'.

But really funny how the mind easily forgets what the body went through,  few months after, when the registration for this year's race opened, I thought of joining again but surprisingly two days later, the registration closed, and I had to wait for further announcement. I cannot think how that happened, I tried writing the organizer and  settled to sign up as wait listed and finally got in. 

I know this is not going to be an easy race, thinking all the hills that I went through the year before, I know nothing will change to the terrain, all I can do is train for it. Indeed several months before the race, I trained like hell, did some intervals, tempo runs, several long runs and even went up north to experience the actual uphill terrain and did a simulation of stair climbing training on the evening. 

Hoping that I had enough training, I come to the race this year with an ambitious goal, aim for the silver trophy. It's free to dream big anyway so I thought I might as well make it really big.

With the number of runners almost double as against the participants last year, it was already a long queue to the drop bag area and at the starting line. I stayed at the middle part, in between the front and the back portion of the thousand of runners, upon gun start, I just did my usual steady pace. Despite the human traffic at the first uphill trail, I managed to enjoy it. Having in mind my target time for each check point, I was just doing pretty ok. I did not take much picture anymore, I was just too focused with my target time per station that I did not put so much attention on the great view ahead. I've seen it anyway last year. Volunteers and marshals at each check point still are very efficient despite the increase number of runners this time. 

On the first 4 check points I was doing well, always few minutes ahead of my target time. After hydrating and grabbing few food to bite I did not waste much time but rather proceed to the next station. It was on my way to Check Point 5 that I can feel something is just really wrong with my stomach. As I do not eat small bites of whatever food I have with me before reaching the checkpoint, I can feel I am already hungry. I tried eating some chocolates, but I feel like nauseous. I was hoping my condition will feel better if I will have something hot or something sweet at the next CP.

I was already 50 minute behind target time upon reaching CP5. But despite that  I was hoping I will be able to recover after having food, but I was hoping for a different kind of food, probably watermelon or porridge, not noodles and banana anymore, but of course that was not possible.  What made the situation worst  I had my full blown period again on this very day. But the show must go on. Two of my Filipino friends were still at the check point and they decided to wait for me. Ten minutes before 6pm we left with all my cold gears on my hydration pack and head lamp ready on  my head. The next  stretch to Gilwell Camp took me forever, it was already dark and I was already feeling nauseous more often than the previous hour. I tried to stop several times to eat bread and have some power gel but I vomit most of it few seconds after swallowing it. And I already begin to feel the pee stops even before reaching the station. I had no choice but to go off trail and do it. 

Feeling the worst physical condition ever, I had to tackle the several hills to Tate's Cairn, to Beacon Hill and up to Needle Hill with struggle. It's just too difficult to push myself on all the uphills for I really feel so weak, I thank God for all the downhill trails and stairs, without reservations I just run and jump two to three steps apart. It was almost midnight, at some point I feel sleepy and wanted to sleep on the side of the trail but that is not possible, I still go off trail several times to pee.

With my condition getting worst, even the thought of getting a bronze trophy was never in my mind anymore. I just want to get through this race whatever my time maybe. But pulling out was not an option either.  I reached Beacon Hill 1:00am, with how I perform on the past few hours I know it will take me another 3 hours to Shing Mun Dam and another 3 hours to Lead Mine Pass. Oh well, I'll just do my best and with the math that I am doing, I know I don't have enough time to finish on sub 24. Despite my auto pilot mode in some of the uphill road, yes I am walking with my eyes closed,  lot's of things going through my mind again, 'F007's mission will be an epic fail if I cannot get the bronze this year'.

The never ending descend of stairs towards Lead Mine Pass (CP9) surprisingly were to my advantage, I just run going down,  upon reaching the check point, it was already 10 minutes before 6:00am. I did not stop to get anything not even water, I will throw it up anyway. I was just hoping I will have enough energy to go through the last stretch of this race up to the finish line. It was still dark and cold. My goal in mind is to divide what ever time left as against the distance left to be run. First 30 minutes I should be out of the uphill boulder area, which I did. The next 30 minutes, I should already be towards the peak of  Tai Mo Shan, but it took me longer to reach that part than I thought I can. It was foggy, dark, windy and very cold.  I cannot see anything down below, not even the zigzag road that I run last year.

With only 20 minutes left on the 4 kilometer downhill stretch towards the finish line, I decided to give it a try, to sprint with all my might. I haven't run such short time on such a distance before,  but  I wanted to give my best shot,  for whatever the result be at least I can say I give my very best.  Thanks to one runner who sprinted behind me, it motivated me to run even faster. At some point I wanted to leave my trekking pole, I think I can run even faster without it. Passing through the several downhill, curves, the flat area that has cars  parked and another curve, I feel I do not have enough time I just continue running  until I saw the flaglets, the banner and the finish arch. I can hear my fellow Filipino runners cheering for me, I can hear the sound system now clearly.  I crossed the finish line in 23 hours 59 minute. I was so tired, exhausted, wasted but I am still standing and alive. I thank God for all the strength, indeed it was worth the chase and worth the try. I was able to grab the bronze trophy this time. I shed off 45 minutes of my finish time this year than the race last year but I was far more better and stronger physically last year than this year. I guess I am more stronger and determined mentally this year.

There it goes my very first race for the year 2013, my 5th 100km trail run, my 20th ultra marathon.

What a humbling race for me, an experience I have so much to learn from. With such scary situation, I know if I have to go on doing ultra I have to learn to manage my nutrition and hydration during the race. I may have trained hard for it but running with proper intake of food is so much part of the race as well.

Adding to the trophy is the great joy of running on the same trail with the people I love, with the friends I cherish and the new found friends during the race. All the pain and the challenges are all worth the experience. 'Til the next trail on the next adventure.   

Official time 23:56:50. Ranked 89th on the Women's category, 691 is my overall rank of 854 finishers with 1,079 starters. Vibram HK100 2013 Race Result

Special thanks to the many people who made this race possible, to Jessie Luo Sulagui for the accommodation and to the unending support of the following products: Elete Electrolytes Asia SLS3 Asia

No comments:

Post a Comment