August 29th, 2008

Poke

Hood to Coast - Leg 23



Waiting for V to run in. All shivering.


I was getting colder by the minute. Check out the mist behind.


V runs in towards our flag


The worst leg was over. I was feeling relaxed for my second leg which was a 6am run.

Portland is currently still in it's summer so the sun is expected to rise early about 5ish and get bright. So I figured it was going to be a lovely run. Under my warm up jacket and pants, I was dressed in my running singlet and shorts. Then as my team headed out one by one, the weather still remained chilly. In fact, it was colder than the previous night.

All my stuff for this race were pre-packed in ziplock and labelled. I packed extra just in case. You can never go wrong being too well prepared. It was a good thing I packed a back-up set of long sleeves and capri for this leg. I decided to change out of my shorts into capri and wear my lighter running jacket over. Changed my visor to a beanie and decided to use my yellow sunspecs instead of the day versions.

As I was waiting for Vicks at the exchange point, the skies which were initially getting lighter started to get foggy. Then in split second, a mist hung over the start point of my leg. I was going OMG. Then Vicks came in and she was freezing and I took off.

I ran through a mist for this leg. This time around, I ran faster than I wanted to (my last leg is the longest so I had to pace myself), not because of the dark, but because it was cold. My toes were freezing, my fingers were cold even beneath the gloves. I kept pulling my beanie to cover my ears. It was cold and whenever I breathed, misty air came out of my mouth. At least for this leg, the vans could enter so there was a steady stream of vans driving through.

There were upslopes and downslopes for this leg and my legs were starting to feel it. I guess fatigue from the first leg was also starting to hit me. My music helped, I just kept running to keep warm so that the cold wouldn't hit me. Whenever I wanted to stop, I told myself that my muscles would cramp up if I did so I just continued and then before I knew it, I saw the exchange point ahead and I raced in with a smile.

My timing was again 41 minutes







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Hood to Coast - Leg 35



Exchange point


In pain


The last leg and the longest for me. Almost 12km.

My legs were pretty battered already. Whilst the rest were sleeping, I started stretching on my foam roller on the ground outside. That helped. The sun was already up and getting hotter. My run was estimated to start at 1530.

For this leg, I wasn't getting van support again. So I needed to carry a bottle of water. I started hydrating hours before. I was wearing as minimal as possible because the heat was really scorching.

My final leg, I couldn't wait to get over it. Little did I know, this was going to be my most challenging.

This leg was challenging for several reasons.

:: No van support so that got quite demoralizing.
:: It was a straight route for the entire leg. You couldn't see the end. Just a continuous path ahead.
:: 10km of it was on gravel. Similar to bedok reservoir terrain.
:: It was supposed to be almost flat but there were inclines.

Every runner doing this route probably knew it was difficult. So each time we passed each other, we would say, "Good job. Keep going." I felt as though I was running an endless route with no finishing line. Just in front of me was an endless path. I could see the mountains at the end but the gravel road was just long and continous.

It was not exactly scenic, but pleasant. On each side of the path, was just fields with chopped wood. Perhaps to make the route more pleasant, there was police patrol on tractors, horses and bikes. So here and there, it was nice to see some of that. But for the rest of that, it was just running endlessly.

I hate running on gravel because it is hard to get a proper grip and a consistent pace. You have to dodge large pieces of gravel and try to find a clear path to run through. For the parts where I had to run up a slope, I did so in smaller steps. It wasn't as hot and in fact, it started to get slightly colder. But that didn't bother me this time around.

With no finishing line in sight, I had to think of various ways to keep my mind sane and motivated. I kept chanting, this is the last leg, my whole team is waiting, B.T is waiting for my results. I kept cycling those thoughts over and over again. For the last few km, I ran with my head downwards because I just couldn't look forward and see the endless route. Never in my life have I run 11km odd non stop in a single straight route.

Finally, the trail ended and I found myself back on the road. I thought the exchange point was near but it was another mile. Just 1km before, 2 of my team mates were waiting to cheer me on. They took my bottle from me and told me I was almost there.

For some reason, the air was thinner and I started to feel my breathing getting raspy and quick. I told myself to take deep breaths and breathe slowly.

The last 500m was torturous. I started to hyperventilate and my breathing got rapid but I didn't want to stop. My legs were seizing up from the fatigue and I was in pain. I gritted my teeth and slowly ran towards the exchange. The moment I stopped, I started wheezing and I asked the girls to get for me a plastic bag. My inhaler wasn't with me and I was praying I could get it to stop. And thankfully it did.

So that concludes my race report and yes, this definitely was a life experience. No regrets.

This medal is very special to me. It's my first overseas run and with a team. I think I will be looking back on this with much nostalgia. More pictures will be posted later on.








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Poke

Itching



Official picture of me during leg 35


Now that the aches are long gone, but the experience still fresh and memorable, I am suddenly looking forward to possibly doing HTC again next year! Or perhaps, put to action the other race plan that I have :) I hate to admit, I am feeling a slight itch to get back into some races. But I just can't put myself through swimming and cycling (logistical issue) so maybe, just running.







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