Thursday, March 16, 2017

Gunung Nuang Ultra 2017 Race Notes

1) I was somewhat prepared for the race doing some climbs and had consistently ran. The furthest run was half marathon distance on roads and trails. So I know I could some how get to 20 - 30k, hike the rest of the way and still finish it. Nutrition wise, I have had experiences during long runs and most of the time I don't bonk or hit the wall that bad. By my standard, "bad" means vomitting, pulsating/painful cramps or anything that forces me to stop for a long time. My real concern actually was more on those pesky cramps. Those were usually the limiting factors in races and on long training days. But still, cramps aside, I never went more than 20+km so I knew It's gonna be tough after 30km but the primary goal was to just finish, enjoy the day/trail and learn as much as I can. It is afterall my 1st ultra so I don't have anything to aim for. If I finish, it's definitely gonna be a PB.

2) Race morning and I woke up at 4 and did a 1 km shakeout run, breakfast, poop and went to Nuang. The best thing about a run race is that there's not much gear to prepare unlike a triathlon with all the bikes and stuff. Found a parking spot and went rushing to the toilet to relieve myself only to find that there was a long que forming. So I decided to put my nutrition at the aid station first. It was dark, I needed to piss badly and the race was starting in 5 minutes. I didn't give much thought about the start. I know it was gonna be a long day and the trail was gonna be packed with people. I didn't plan to run going up so it was a really relaxed start to the race. In fact, the race started while I was taking a piss. I wasn't nervous at all and looking back, it was a pretty great start to a race since some time.

3) So as planned, I hiked up until it was runnable. About 1/3 of the 5km going up was runnable. Then on the descent, ran a bit but on steep descents I slowed down to save the quads. At the 10km or start/finish line aid station, I was looking for gels when I realized my car key was not in the race bag I was carrying. I thought maybe it was in the nutrition bags. I kind of had a bad feeling about the whole thing. I tried to ignore it, so I got some food and went for the 2nd loop. Applied the same strategy for the 2nd loop. After 2 loops (20km) I went searching for the keys. I've probably spent about 10 minutes looking for my car keys while at the same time, taking care of nutrition. Still couldn't find them and thought it might be stuck some where in the bag. It has happened before. On the 3rd loop, I took out my poles and ran/hike with them so I was concentrating on the poles and less on the missing keys. It was my first time using poles. I did use a makeshift poles from a couple of sticks at G. Angsi once and found them to be quite helpful in maintaing good form during climbs.

4) By the end of the 4th loop, I properly took out all of the content in search of my car keys and by then I knew I was fucked. I have lost my keys. I was like "what the fuck am I going to do now"? I had 10km to go. I can quit and go look for my keys or finish the damn thing and look for it afterwards. I decided to finish the race and was going to deal with it afterwards. So, I didn't get much nutrition because I was getting lazy and was worried sick about my keys. Spent the whole time going up thinking about where I placed them and how I was going to explain all of the mess to my wife.

5) On the final loop, after hiking up a bit and upon reaching the runnable section, my quads started to cramp. Then it became worse and I had to stop and stretch it out. I knew I'm at borderline here. Tried running and it just won't go away. So I walked the rest of the way (which was probably about 6km +) and finished the race. The first thing I did was went looking for my keys at the aid station and then at the surau. Then I walked to the car worried that it might get stolen (paranoid much?). Finally went back to the organizer and asked them if anyone found a car key. The organizer said "was it a honda?" I was like "yeah" and was so relieved and thank the guy who found them. Turned out, I accidently left them at the aid station. I must have accidently put my keys along with all my nutrition. It was dark and I was rushing to the toilet. Talk about lesson learned.

6) As for the race, I'm sure there are more interesting reports about the race out there, so I'm not gonna go into details. Just that, at 40km ,I lost my focus and didn't eat well. I had several chances to rectify my nutrtion during the 5th loop since I had some food with me. But I was lazy to do so and it was too late by the time I finally did manage to get some nutrition in. Mentally, I went on with the narrative I had in my head even before the race started which was to walk if I had to after 30km, so it was kind of like a self fulfilling prophecy in a way.

7) All in all it was nice event. Food was good, simple and I like the fact that I felt relaxed going into it. I manage to complete it in 7h 35 min. Don't know if that was good or bad. It doesn't matter. I finished it. My 1st ultra. In retrospect, I could've probably do better at 40k but the car key incident just totally threw me off. I then got really lazy/super tired and didn't execute my nutrition well and in a race lasting more than 2 hours, the smallest mistakes can have enormous consequences. It's like the most frequent advice you'd read on ultras articles and I've experienced it 1st hand. At least I didn't compound that by actually losing my car key.

8) To be fair, I arrived at the start line not totally fresh. Only taper for a day after running about 70+km that week. So I wasn't in an ideal condition to race but knowing I can consistently run day in and out, and having no major issue after such a long run is comforting.

9) Went back, sore and stiff. Got some food and rested. Wake up the next day to catch a flight to Bangkok. Upon arriving, rested for a day and did some easy run on Tuesday to let the legs know who's boss. They only obey by Thursday.

10) Did trans nuang to signal an end to the base phase as I shift my focus to running on roads mid March, April and May. Going to cap running at +-60k per week and compliment easy run days with quality workouts for the Sub 4 attempt in May. But before the attempt, I sneaked in some trail race: Hulu Langat Trail Run 18k and King of Kg. Kemensah 50k.

More on that later.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Logs and plans

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So logging starts. Monthly updates, hopefully. Likewise in Ironman training, I scheduled some races leading up to SCKLM 17. Considering I plan to do an ultra race (have to get some LSD anyways), I decided put in some challenging trail days to get some elevation in and to get the body ready. I guess for 2017, that epic race is TMBT 100k.



1) Nuang Ultra
2) Hulu Langat Trail Run
3) King Of Kampung Kemensah



And I've planned some trail run/hike to get some elevation with the elevation increased progressively.

1) G. Datuk
2) G. Angsi via Ulu Bendul
3) G. Datuk + G. Gagak + G. Rembau
4) G. Nuang
5) G. Berembun + G. Telapak Buruk
6) G. Angsi via Ulu Bendul + B. Putus
7) Trans Nuang

So far, I'm only left with trans nuang. I'm waiting for my Salomon Skin Pro 10 to arrive and also get some additional gears before attempting it. These trails are about (or less) than an hour from home (or my parent's) so the convenient factor + the nice elevation was the main reason all these courses were chosen. So far I think the best would be G. Berembun since it has everything and runnable. Would love to do Broga but there are probably too many people on weekends, but we'll see.

The 1st half of 2017 training is mainly to set a PB at SCKLM. At the same time, the 1st half base phase is also a time to explore new trails to train for the 2nd half of the year. Volume will peak mid march with a total mileage of around 80km. I don'k know if it's possible, but that's what I'm aiming for. Focus on endurance and speed for the last 2 months before SCKLM.

A months break for Ramadhan and training continue in the mountains again. This time probably more specific/threshold stuff.

The 2nd half training is mainly focused on finishing TMBT. So it's gonna be a lot of long runs and climbs.    

1H2017 Stats:
Start/Ends: 27 November 2016/21 May 2017
Planned Number of Training Weeks:
Goal Average Distance Per Week: 60km+-
Goal Average Elevation Per Week: min 1,000m+-

Thursday, January 26, 2017


Judging by the Ironman training, I've made an error in judgement by skipping base training. Base is the most difficult and most important phase. During base you have to go slow and its counter intuitive to go slow since naturally you want to go fast. Patience and faith is needed in base training. Most of my reading lead me to believe the base portion is the main phase of a training plan and hopefully I can perform them right. I also think the base phase is the right time to train to gauge speed and effort without garmin. I can also listen to music and explore new routes since I'm not tied up to any specific workout. It's simply just ... run.

Plan is to periodize to peak for SCKLM (planning for a sub 4 or a PB) in May and complete some ultras and one last big race nearing end of 2017. Most ultras especially those sought after races occur after syawal so it's also something I have to look into. Went for a standard 4 week macro cycle. 1 peak, 2 level and a recovery week. Will take it easy in June during Ramadhan and sort of re-start again after.

Decided to focus on a base of maybe around 3 months of easy runs, some elevation and strength training. I try not to be too fancy about it. If I can stay consistent running with an average of +-60km per week with +-1000 m of elevation, I'm set. Increase by 10% per week every 3rd week. Won't care about speed. Also rest/recovery every 4th week and if needed. Try not to push things too much. Also a marker workout to track fitness progress every recovery week.

Basically, at a micro level, a week in base is a combo of long run (trail/road), a medium run and the rest just easy runs. Week starts on Sunday and ends on Saturdays. This is so I can get the long run out of the way early and just fill the rest of the week with a recovery, strength, speed and threshold workout when those phases arrives. I learned that I usually had to skip my long runs due to a missed weekend. This way, I can re arrange my long runs to the next weekend and the mileage will still be considered in the same training week. Have to see how that'll turn out and adjust.

Then of course I have to balance mileage and speed/threshold workouts as SCKLM gets closer. A good taper and finally race.

I came to realize that its not that complicated, but it can be. The ironman training certainly provided some indication of what personally works and doesn't. This time I just want to be a bit flexible but have a plan to guide so that I have something to aim for every week.

Few rules:

1) Staying consistent by excecuting safe run combos. No hard day followed by another hard day. Hard means long or tough sessions.
2) Recovery: 1 day per week (no running/cross training), 1 week per month (go easy and reduce mileage to 70% from previous)
3) Be Specific: Go long, go vert, go on trails, go long on vert trails.
4) Stop/cross train when injured
5) Minimum 1 strength /core session
6) Do drills and strides on easy days
7) Split long days if needed

I'm also not going to update progress every week like I did during Ironman 2016. Maybe a monthly summary would suffice. We'll see.

Here we go.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2017 run

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This year is gonna be all about running. Few issues I have with running are that, the longer I go, the more it hurts. The faster I go, the more it hurts. Combine the two, running can be quite painful. Since I signed up for a 50k trail run/ultra race, I sort of have to run far and somewhat fast. So, these issues require attention or I'll be in trouble even before the race starts in February. I also signed up for a marathon and executing them well is also one of 2017 goal. So a proper training plan is required.

Since I'll be running trail, I need to run on trail. Finding one is a challenge by itself. There's plenty, but in terms of logistics it's quite inconvenient to get to. I love the fact that I can just go out the door and run straight away. But for trail running, it seems like I have no choice but to drive to get to a trail. Especially trails with a pretty decent elevation. So places/courses to train that don't take much time to get too is required as well.

Trail running usually involves few hikes/walks due to the sheer amount of ascent one have to do. So pace would be significantly slow and more often than not, I'll probably be spending a lot of time on the trail. There are no shops selling 100 plus or snickers bars which means I have to carry my own nutrition and water. The weather could also turn and I might end up running in the rain, muddy with leeches etc. Getting lost/injured is a real possibility too.

So good gears, nutrition and carrying important items are essential.

More on these later.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


In 2016 I committed to record and write about stuff especially tracking progress. Its cool to look back at those moments in writing. So I'm gonna continue. If it's important then it's worthwhile to record them.

It's now 2017 and sporting wise, 2016 was relatively a great year. I won't go into details cause it's something that'll take ages to write about.

The highlights for 1st half of 2016 would be PBing my Half Ironman and Powerman. Started the year by having a strcutured training regiment but didn't strictly follow the program or monitor my progress much. I guess I was on the steep section of the learning curve where significant improvements were gained by not doing a lot. Got 2nd place in a trail run at Kemensah and almost a sub 2 at Nilai Marathon. Ran and enjoyed more trails.

In the 2nd half of 2016, committed to a training plan. Didn't follow 100% but felt the need to objectively assess how much work was done. So I closely track the metrics and developed a simple monitoring system with MS excel. I also felt it was important to log how I feel or feelings I had when training or whatever observation I had at that time. Race wise, learned a lot blowing up in races and a sub 2 half marathon followed by a 7th place finish in the Mantin Hill 2 Hill run capped of a great "racing season" for the 2nd half of 2016.

Then, the big and final race of 2016, Ironman Langkawi. The race that anchors everything. In the space of 2 weeks leading to Ironman Langkawi, my grandfather passed away and my wife gave birth to a baby girl days later. My head wasn't in its right place and training didn't go as planned but I accepted all of these circumstances. I finished the race and I think the effort that was put in matched the result. The race itself wasn't the highlight and I forgotten much about the details of the race. But the training, the preparation for the Ironman was probably the best thing that has ever happened because I learned a lot. Training for Ironman revealed a lot. The main thing I learned was about scheduling and being extra careful with time. With 3 sport to train for, time is of the essence.

There were also highlights personally and professionally, things outside sports such as the trip with buddies/family to Tasik Kenyir, vacations etc that was pretty awesome as well. But those memories are reserved/saved just for me.

Right. Now that 2016 is all done and dusted, it's time to line up a new project for 2017. It has to be epic by my standard. It has to be long, impossible (almost) to do without training and most of all fun. I also have to consider the financial damage it will cost me.

Looking back at 2016, I was always curious when running on trails especially those really long ones. Trail running was a sort of escapism from the Ironman routine and I always wonder why haven't I done it sooner. It seems that there's a whole segment of endurance junkies who ran more than the typical marathon distance. I thought running 42km was crazy. Try 100 - 200km. That's nuts. But I was curious. There was an element of uncertainty, a challenge to overcome and an epic race to sort of hold everything together in a structured way. Trail running puts two things I love together, being outdoors and running. It was not harder or easier than a road race but it's unique. The longer trail races or ultramarathons demand similar things as any endurance event i.e solid preparation, the right gear, nutrition and race day strategies.

The difference would be that, elevation is something that's factored in trail races or ultramarathon. In an Ironman, a hill is a specific point on a course where participants have to go through at some point in the race. In trail racing or ultras, it is the course. The hill/mountains and the whole natural topography is the race course. Which makes for a far more scenic run. It's quite lonely sometimes too. Quiet, peaceful. You can walk without feeling guilty or wimpy because the terrain won't let you run no matter how strong you are.

The top 10 finish in 2016's trail races also sort of strengthen that feeling of wanting to go out and run/race in the wild and to train to become a better trail runner. So immediately after Ironman I signed up for my first ultra in February 2017. A 50km/ 12 hour run at Gunung Nuang. Its a 5 X 10km loop and is perfect if I ever decided to drop out or anything LOL. Have started pre-training, recon some courses to train at and developed a plan that'll guide me towards that epic ultra race near the end of 2017, whatever race that'll turn out to be. As far as triathlon is concerned, it'll supplement my run training and I'll treat it as cross training. Currently not looking forward/planning to do any tris in 2017. I won't say I'm done with multisport as I started with triathlons and always enjoyed doing them. But, it's financially consuming and takes a lot of time. Those factors had huge bearing on my decision to pause triathlon/multisport.

2017 means challenging not only how far or fast I can go, but also how high (elevation) I can go. I've started obsessing about it and I guess it'll be the theme for 2017. It's not as complicated as the Ironman but the challenge could be similar or even greater.

It looks to be exciting if everything goes to plan. Also have some other non sport personal goal to address but that's another story.