Cemana nak mula ekk..?
Let me just say that it's the toughest run I've ever done (yet). If I can call it a run la. Sebenarnya, rasanya part yang aku lari tak sampai 1 kilometer kot. Serius tak tipu.
Meh nak cerita dari awal. Aku sebenarnya join buat jiwa murni kat Tioman nu sempena event SASTIEC 2011 ni gak la. Pegi Tioman naik kapal navy dari Tanjung Gelang. So alang-alang join tu, masuk la skali race ni. Kalau ikut website yang tak siap tu, katanya dalam 30K la, which is about 18 miles. Cut off time dia bagi 7 jam. I thought it was very doable, and I was going to treat the event as my LSD. Really taking it easy.
So my plan (or lack of it) was therefore very simple. Just bring a bottle of plain water, with some energy (in the form of cloud9 and a roti krim jagung) in my left pocket. Poket kanan ada sunglasses and a ziploc bag containing a few plasters and my phone. Slow run along the trail and refuel along the water points. Hey, I survived longer distances using that trick, so it can't fail right?
My buddies had already recce'd the race route (they were part of the medical support team). And some of them had to stay overnights (!) at the checkpoints due to the rough terrain.They'd already warned that the route is tough. But I thought.. "It's OK kot.. It will be just like a trail run with rolling hills. Lagipun ramai weekend warriors join mende ni. Takkan la diorang nak buat susah sangat kot. It will be just like a simple trail run." Anyway, I was already there, it's really too late to do anything about it.
But I forgot a tiny detail. Askar yang pegi tebas trail tu. I should've known better. Memang takde ampun maap punya.
Kat starting point tu jumpa la Yim ngan Ray. Itu je la yang aku kenal nama pun sebab pernah sembang sebelum ni. Runner lain biasa la tengok muka tapi nama tak tau. JJ mungkin tau la kot. Plan pun sama. Just to complete the thing in one piece. Flag off je.. mula la berlari. Aku memang stick to the plan la. Rilek-rilek duluuu.. Yang lain banyak gak aku tengok take off berdesup laju depan aku. It's either they're really good, or they didn't know what's gonna happen. I guess for most of them, probably it's the latter. Aku pun lari le ngan sebotol air kat tangan, pastu standby roti ngan cloud9 tu dalam poket. Tak sampai satu kilometer pun lari, dah masuk hutan dah. And the torture began.
Masuk je trail tu terus panjat bukit. Memang singletrack punya. takde ruang sangat pun nak selisih. Merangkak la naik atas tu. And it went on and on and on and on.. The thing was, the terrain was slippery (wearing the wrong kind of shoes did not help at all), I had to grab onto something when scrambling up and sliding down. More often than not, I grabbed hold of the thorny pokok nibong and akar rotan. The next scene after that was me imitating Wile E. Coyote plucking out the inches long thorns out of my palms. Yang kecik-kecik tu are still embedded in my palms at this time of typing. Kejap lagi kot baru nak cungkil ngan pin.
Oh, and my water bottle? I had to hold it between my teeth during the intense ascending and descending maneuvers.
Hot and humid conditions made me sweat a lot. So instead of drinking every twenty minutes as per my initial plan, I gulped every 5 minutes or so. The first checkpoint was A1, which was also a water point. The marshals manning the checkpoint distributed a bottle of drinking water per person. With a very specific instruction: Ration the water and keep the bottle, the next water point was a long way to go. I guess very few followed it as a lot of bottles were discarded not very far along the route towards A2.
Walking towards A2 was more climbing, more scrambling, more thorns, more rock hopping, more tripping, more of everything other than easy. One woman asked me if I had any plasters with me. It happened that she stubbed her toe and had some bleeding. I happily gave her two strips of plasters and went on my way. So far I felt okay-ish, but water supply was running real low. I hoped A2 will have a water point. It had one alright, except you had to refill yourself at the nearby stream. We were told during the race briefing that the water is safe to drink so I had no hesitation at all. What other choice did I have anyway?
It was at the stream where I bumped into Yim and his friend. Cramp started to set in and I had to stop a few times to sit down and let the feeling pass. Yim took the opportunity to snap photos of me and asked how I was doing. Seeing that I had only plain water, he offered a packet of ORS and his friend gave half a gel. Thank you guys very much! Yim's friend, sorry I didn't catch your name but you're my friend all the same.
During the river water drinking and the hike between A2 and A3 where I had to jam and squeeze myself through the rocky sections, scenes from the pages of Ralston's book flashed in my mind. I'd seen the movie too, so it made the visualisations really easy. I used a lot of 'chimneying' technique described in the book, as my shoes provided no traction at all. Kengkadang rasa cam Jackie Chan pun ada. Anything to distract my mind. This section was where I ate my cloud9.
A3 towards B1 was done in zombie mode. My arms and legs were a mess. Calar-balar. Palms full of holes. Most of time I was alone, with just the route markers guiding my way. Dehydration effects really made its presence felt. Kat sini makan roti separuh tapi minum kena jimat sebab air dah tinggal sikit gila. Kena berenti every 10 minutes sebab cramp. Glancing at my watch, it showed that I had barely covered 10K (6.2 miles) in almost 4 hours. Karut ni.
The strategy changed from finishing to just to make it to B1 and see how I feel there. Jalan punya jalan, panjat punya panjat, golek punya golek.. sampai la B1. Really disappointed when it looked like B1 was just a checkpoint, and that was it. No water, no nothing. Sambung la jalan..
Less than 50 meters past B1, I felt lightheaded. Relaxed for a few minutes and during this time I reached into my right pocket for my phone in the ziploc bag. Sekali itu ziploc bag sudah masuk air peluh derr. Lingkup tepon aku. Sunglasses pon patah sebelah tangkai. Morale memang down gila masa tu. I glanced at my watch again. It had been slightly over 4 hours, and I was nowhere near halfway done. It's impossible to finish the race before the 7 hours cut off time. No point in risking my life over this. Logic said that I should let this one go.
Went back to B1 feeling lightheaded and nauseous. Told the marshals there that I'm done. Waited there for some time and soon there were about 7-8 other runners there throwing the towel too. Met a hardcore bomba guy who cracked his ankle. Seems like he used to do adventure races like this a lot. Also met a vet named Erni (I think) who sprained her left shoulder or something, and a barbed twig got caught in her hair.
From B1, we were shown the escape route towards Jeti Genting pastu naik bot bomba balik Jeti Berjaya ke start/finish area. So that was it. 6.65 miles done in 4 hours, 11 minutes and 6 seconds.
Got my arms cleaned at the medical tent there. Kaki melecet sebab pakai kasut masa race, sebelum ni dah lama gak lari barefoot. Lepas sembang dan minum air lebih kurang, went back to my room and took a bath. The soap stinged my open wounds but at least I was freshened up. Solat and then try tido. Except I couldn't.
I vomited. Went out to borrow a buddy's phone and called JJ describing my DNF situation report. She was worried because I cannot be contacted. Nak contact cemana, telepon dah lingkup. On the way back to my room. I threw up again on the grass.
I called the medical team's room requesting for a normal saline drip. An IV line was set up. And then I vomited. Again. Some minutes passed, and I vomited for the last time. Dr Zaki came over to see my condition and we talked for some time. Penat ooo muntah banyak-banyak kali ni. Nak sembang pun tak larat sangat pastu aku tido le. Akhirnya.
Esok pagi bila bangun, alhamdulillah, I felt better. Rupanya sudah 3 botol air masuk daa.. 1 normal saline, 2 lagik glucose 5%. Patut la kenyang.. Rasa pahit tekak ada lagi, tapi tadek rasa nak muntah la. Pagi tu belasah gak 1 nasik lemak bungkus. pastu lagi 1 nasik lemak boh dalam pinggan makan kat kedai sementara tunggu kapal kat jeti. Balik naik kapal APMM pegi Tanjung Gemuk.
Come to think about it, this was my third time dealing with dehydration issues. Memula kat ENR 2010, muntah. Pastu kat PBIM 2010, muntah gak. Pastu kat sini, yang paling teruk la sebab siap masuk IV drip. Tak belajar-belajar lagi.. ekeke.. Yang tak muntah waktu PBIM 2009 je, tapi tu siap ITBS pastu lutut kong dalam sebulan lebih.
Tips for weekend warriors attempting this next time:
- Don't assume. I underestimated this thing and paid the price for it.
- Start trail running. Actually, this is not your usual wide open trail through the woods. Think of it as bushwhacking but without the parangs.
- You have to do hill training. Even after you think you've done enough hills, do more hills. Hills hills hills. Without training on hills, this race will trash your quads faster than you can say "quads".
- Wear gloves.
- Long sleeves and pants if possible.
- Wear proper socks and shoes. Trail shoes. Not aqua shoes sans socks like what yours truly wore.
- Plan for hydration and nutrition. Self-sufficiency is the key here. Carry them during your training runs.
Itu la dianya..