The North Face 100 Thailand Race Report Part 1 : Deo
Wow! As much as I was and am excited to write (type) this report, it is quite difficult to put it down so that this report would not be the same like my previous three TNF100 Thailand reports. I will try, will try to make it sounds different than the previous three editions and I will try to make you wanna do and sign up for the race next year!
TNF100 Thailand 2015 was the 4th ever edition of the race, having the first edition in a different place in (Amphawa) before the race was moved to Khao Yai in the second edition until today. It was also my 4th TNF100 Thailand, haven't missed a beat of the race. It was also my 9th 100km ultramarathon since my first one in 2012 which I did in Amphawa. So, TNF100 Thailand is my anniversary 100km ultramarathon, I would like to see it that way. As the unofficial results show and what I have recorded with my Garmin, I finished the race in 14 hours 35 minutes and 40 seconds. It was the best timing I ever had of all the four TNF100 Thailand editions. Although it was not much faster than the 14:36'06" I did in 2013, the 2013 route was a lot easier than this year, one section that was not in the 2013 edition was the hilly climb or I called it 'The Lord of the Rings Hill' that goes up to maximum elevation of almost 600 meters. My timing this year, however, was more than 40 minutes faster than what I did last year on a similar (about 90-95%) route. The marked difference between this year's and last year's race was the weather. It was all hot and bright and dry and energy-sapping, oven-like weather from 9am to 5pm last year (read my report here but this year, the weather was almost perfect - raining the night before the race, temperature in the teens at the start, the sun came out during the normal hours around noon for about 3 hours, and even when the sun was bright up in the sky, it remained windy throughout the race before it got cold again after sunset. I can saya that although I'm hearing some runners complaining about the hot weather in Khao Yai this year, I think they were a lot lucky with the weather this year! Just to recap, the inaugural edition in 2012 remains the easiest of all with relatively flat route all the way.
Actually, I had a slight ambition to run this race under 14 hours. I even told my traveling buddies, Ezam and Eijoy, that I would be really happy if I can do 13:59'59" but it didn't turn out as planned. As early as at around KM10 that I knew it was not achievable as I could not go any faster early on for some reasons. But in ultramarathon, the race is too long to finish that a lot of things can happen during the race that could hamper your plan or goal.
However easy the race sounds to you, it was not spared from drama, of course...
Preparation-wise. I admit that I didn't prepare as hard as how I prepared for Penang 100. After Osaka Marathon in October last year, my training mileage took a dip, especially in November when I just recorded 170km before I realized that I need to pick it up again for this race. December mileage went up again to 301km despite the holiday and off-season for most runners. I continued with high mileage in January, clocking about 250km heading into the race. While I think the two-month mileage was sufficient for me to finish the race, I failed to do any 50km training run (which I'd always do before any of my 100km race) in the two months. The longest training runs I did was a marathon distance at the Cyberjaya Marathon in December and the two-loop of Padang Merbuk to Hartamas and back that was almost 40km long. And that kept me worried. I got really nervous when Ezam acknowledged my lack of training when he compared to how I trained for Penang 100. In the end, the experience and familiarity of the race, especially the weather and route, had helped me even with the little lack of preparation. I also didn't pack my stuff until the very night before my early morning flight. Without the checklist that I would've normally prepared, I thought I've packed everything I need but at the end, I realized I left the country without perskindol cool/hot spray that helped me to last throughout last year's race or perskindol cool gel that I had used a lot (and helped me a lot, too) during Penang 100. And I didn't bother to look for them in Bangkok, just praying that I would be ok without them.
[photo by Ezamizudin]
[photo by Ezamizudin]
[photo by Pongsak Sarapukdee]
[official photo of TNF100 Thailand]
I was practically alone from there onward, nothing unusual for me, carefully moving myself with a sustainable pace, not to aggressively take on the uphill while going downhill in a defensive run mode (not too fast and not over-striding), taking quick but ample stops at each water stations to drink up one or two cups of iced water and the flavored energy drinks. At the same time and throughout the race, I ensured that I was disciplined enough to consume a pack of Hammer gel, two caps of Hammer electrolytes and two caps of Hammer Anti Fatigue Caps for every 10km. It worked well for me especially with the Hammer gel, when I got a feel of energy boost after every pack consumed that lasted for between 2-4km. However, for the Endurolytes, I wasn't sure why I still got cramp signs coming as early as 40km into the race despite the consumptions and consistent consumption of water throughout the race. After a while after the race, I think the cramps were due to the lack of water intake in the week before the race, especially on Friday the traveling day. On top of that, I was still taking coffee in office (as works are piling up) during the week prior to the race as normally I would quit taking caffeinated drinks a week before a race. Yes, as mentioned I had to deal with the cramps since KM40 of the race. It came attacking behind of my left then right thigh, and then attacking the front, then my calves. And how I dealt with them, to ignore them, stretched once a while, and not to over-stride especially going downhill. The cramps were notorious this time they even attacked when I slowly walking up the uphill sections.
[photo by www.shutterrunning.com]
So from the point I lost Ezam, the route went from tarmac into sandy, open trails, bushy, rocky (that I many times accidentally kicked those rocks followed by cramp-pinching moment duh!), forever rolling uphill and downhill sections, that you couldn't afford to get a loooonnggg flat or downhill section to run but instead, once you managed to run at a nice pace, you'll have uphill section to deal with not long after that. KM20 to KM40 was the same like last year, with a minor turns, probably, in one of those trail loops that we need to go through. I caught up with Eijoy around KM30 and it was nice to have someone to talk to again (although most of the times, it was drop dead silence between us). Running with Eijoy was kind of mix between bless and stress. It was stressful when he followed me close from behind that I could hear his foot steps - one of his foot step equals to two (or maybe three) of mine and it was a blessing as it caused me to move on a faster cadence to cope with his long strides (of his long legs). As much as I wished Eijoy could accompany me at least until we were back to Simalin Resort (KM50), I lost him somehow at CP4 (KM40) and I was alone again for the last 10km of the first loop.
This entry has gone too long, I guess. So, let's have the rest of the story in the next one. Stay tuned!