Monday, November 24, 2008

The Great Cranleigh Kauri Run 2008

Race report first. Trip report later.

There were many firsts to this race. It was my first race in Auckland. It was my first time running 32 km off road. It was my first time wearing running shoes for a trail run. It was my first time eating Leppin, their sport supplement here. And it was my first time having Jellybeans at the refreshment stations!
The race started at 10 am on Saturday morning. The turn up was good they say, although I thought races in Malaysia attracted more people. If they had given free t shirts perhaps they'd attract more *grumbles*. Anyway, I was feeling a tad nervous before start. I was the only one among my friends who was doing the 32km. And at that point of time I suddenly thought, maybe I wasn't being so smart. Let me remind you how my race profile looked like.Yeah. So I wanted to make the most of my visit there. Owell, no turning back. My target time? 4 and a half hours. Everyone started together. The race started with a 2 km beach run, which didn't turn out that bad in the end. Because we ran at the wetter shores of the beach where the sand was compressed. Weather was hot, and I was soon starting to sweat, and yearning for the shade of the jungle.

Then we came to the trail run. People here are so polite, they don't fuss or hurry people whenever there is an obstacle to go through i.e. causing a bottle neck. They wait patiently in queue. Anyway, the moment i started running on the roots and streams I instantly missed my trail shoes. It makes heaps of difference running with road runners. Mine were pretty worn out, so i slipped a lot. Which made me slow down a lot whenever it came to a creek or a muddy slope. Which I got pretty frustrated about because those are spots I usually am able to overtake people. Could've been a tad faster i guess. Owell, least I had my hydrapak. =)

I was doing quite alright in the first 10km. There were markers every km, and it seemed like the kms were passing by faster than it felt. Somewhere after 10km, the route diverged whereby the 13km runners ran down to finish, and we continued to run up. The view was amazing. I didn't bring my phone with me, for fear I might damage it, but mere photos would not do it justice. You'd just have to see it for yourself. =)

A little after the 12km mark or so, I was running alongside this guy who seemed to be having some difficulty. He stopped a lot but kept moving. I spoke to him and found out he did the race last year. I asked him how he did and he said "5:30...but that was because I pulled my calf muscle". whoa. ok, i need to up my pace if i were going to meet my 4:30 time, I thought. So I ditched him as gracefully as i can and carried on. The route could not get any tougher. We were running on gravel road with loose rocks sliding beneath my feet at a gradient of about 75 degrees! My feet were really sore by then. My little toes felt crushed because the shoe was a little too narrow for me.

At every water and refreshment station I had a banana, a few jellybeans and Leppin water. I was getting pretty hungry by about 1 pm, but the food just didn't seem to get digested. And if I studied it right, it is because your gut stops working when you're doing intensive work out. Blood flow is diverted to areas like your legs to maximise energy production. If that is true, whatever food I shove down my throat would just sit in my gut! I dont know if it did, but my stomach was bloated and aching from hunger. I wasn't feeling very comfortable, to say the least.

At about 20 km into the race, my feet were killing me. every step sent a burning sensation through my feet up to my knees. the sides felt more and more crushed. if i stepped on uneven ground, sharp pangs of pain radiated through my ankles, probably due to previous ankle injuries. and because my steps were heavy and uncoordinated, my knees were pounded on very very intensely. the tip of my nose was officially burnt. I had sunscreen on, but i must've missed my nose.

25 km - But i think i dried out my tear ducts as well. I was in so much pain and agony that my throat twisted, like it does when u want to cry. I was heaving, almost asthmatically, but no tears fell. My legs were wobbly and weak and I kept on stepping on loose gravel or mud puddles or mossy rock. I kept slipping, but miraculously never fell. I did a hobble-jog-shuffle-run-walk-hobble. I was thirsty but my stomach felt way too bloated to take in anymore fluids. I honestly never felt so miserable during a race in my life. And then i did the inevitable. I tumbled over at some point and rolled into a thorn bush. Got my hands and legs poked all over. There are still splinters in my hands which I've yet to take out.

28km - The "Success Trail" started. Which was all the way downhill. I should be rejoicing but i wasn't. Uphill was exhausting, but downhill was a torture to my legs and feet. Every single step was painful. And I had 4 km of pain to endure. I wasn't in a very good mood then and it must've showed because a lot of people asked me if i were alright. Either that or people here are generally nicer than runners back at home. I started talking to myself. Scolding even. My will power and drive were really put to test here. I gave myself little goals to achieve, but they were getting littler and littler. Like "Ok Karen, run for the next 2 km", became " till the next km mark, ok?", and eventually I'd spot a leaf at the furthest end of my sight and go "Idiot, just run to that leaf and then u can bloody walk". I was going delirious. I'd have good stretches where I ran for 5 minutes or so...and I'd have really really bad stretches where I ran for 5 seconds and then double over and took deep breaths to stop myself from crying.

30 km - The road. Gorgeous, flat, smooth, pavements. I made myself a promise to finish the last 1km + of the race. And I did. I came in just a few seconds shy of 4 hour 45 minutes. Not too bad shabby la. Friends were all there to cheer me on. The organizer (i think) stood at the end of the line and said "Well done, Karen! Well done!" with his arms outstretched. I don't know if he was just welcoming me with open arms, but I just hugged him there and then. More like i collapsed onto him. hahaha...but yea i was dying to be comforted at that point really. So a big white man's hug was pretty good. =)
running in. that's me in a whole lot of pain.the amount of salt that stayed on my face after the run. click on image for large race FREE beer! that's a first too!

Turned out, I came in 18th in my category out of 24 runners. Ok la. Quite happy. =)


sam said...

KAREnn!!! i must say...that race sure is HELL..but what the heck...uve made it thru..and im damn well proud of u..awesome stuff..u better beat my ass this coming 42km=D see u soon!!

galnexdor said...

hahah...woohoo~! nolah sam...we run together ok? =)

kev said...

Haiyo, I think you look at the view too much lah, until lost sight of your track, that's why fall into a thorn bush!

Well done anyway, it is through obstacles and challenges, that one prevails, makes a stronger, better person.

Rest well and recover soon for the marathon.

Jackie Voon said...

WALAU!too geng adi...u're probably packing for home adi..and i'm struggling thru my last paper!! crapzZ!

Da sister said...

Karen! respect!

this should make get off my ass and start walking the dog!

Obi-Kwan Kenobi said...

Karen, d 2nd pic looks like u were as-salted. :P