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.

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