September 30th, 2009 at 10:07 pm (Home)
The following is an excerpt from Born to Run and it tells of Scott Jurek’s first ever 135 mile Badwater Ultramarathon experience in 2005.
By mile 60, Scott was vomiting and shaky. His hands dropped to his knees, then his knees dropped to the pavement. He collapsed by the side of the road, lying in his own sweat and spittle…his friends didn’t bother trying to help him up; they knew there was no voice in the world more persuasive than the one inside Scott’s own mind.
Scott lay there, thinking how hopeless it all was. He wasn’t even halfway done, and Sweeney (the race leader) was already too far ahead for him to see. And the wind! It was like running into the blast of a jet engine.
“There’s no way,” Scott told himself. “You’re done. You’d have to do something totally sick to win this thing now.”
“Like starting all over again. Like pretending you just woke up from a great night’s sleep and the race hasn’t even started yet. You’d have to run the next 80 miles as fast as you’ve ever run 80 miles in your life.”
“Yeah, I know.”
For ten minutes, Scott lay like a corpse. Then he got up and did it, shattering the Badwater record with a time of 24:36:08.
For the uninitiated, the infamous Badwater Ultramarathon, held in the middle of summer in Death Valley, is the ultimate in ultra running. The region is a big shimmering sea of salt ringed mountains that bottle up the heat and force it back down on your skull. The average air temperature hovers around 50 degrees Celsius and once the sun rises and begins broiling the desert floor, the ground hits a toasty 90 degrees Celsius that has the runners toeing the white lines on the road so the soles of their running shoes don’t melt.
September 23rd, 2009 at 10:10 pm (Home)
Am feeling strangely calm and detached from the entire event. It’s almost as if I have surrendered to the fact that the time is now almost upon me and there is just about nothing I can physically do to prepare for it anymore. It’s an unfamiliar liberating feeling to be entirely devoid of stress. Perhaps I am in denial mode and mentally escaping from the monumental task ahead. Whatever it is, I am beginning to relax and take things in stride and this can only be good for me.
The support I am receiving from people around me is absolutely tremendous. The offers of help; self-sacrificing generosity and encouraging words of affirmation strengthen me and shore up my spirit. And it is my spirit that needs stocking up at this point. Most of my gear has been purchased and most of the food has been tested. All that is left is to pack it all in and shed any excess weight; beef up my own body weight; try out some lunch snack combinations; and go for a few long walks.
I bend and flow with ease and all is well.
Love you all.
September 15th, 2009 at 8:44 pm (Home)
I ended my previous entry on listening more to my body, and boy, is it talking to me! In fact it is throwing an almighty tantrum. Physically I am feeling very tender with aches all over my body, blurred vision and plunging energy levels. Mentally I cannot string two full sentences together and just typing this entry is taking three times longer than usual as I constantly have to hit the ‘backspace’ button. It’s almost as if I am under the influence of a mind altering drug. Emotionally I am quite spent, having spent the entire last week on two empowerment workshops for youths, which took a lot out of me than I had imagined.
As a result I have had to cancel all work appointments and have spent the previous three days cooped up at home. My sole foray out of the house was this morning as I just about made it to the Egyptian Embassy to apply for my visa, only to realise that I had neglected to bring along a photo. On the upside I picked up my Platypus hydration system from the wonderful people at Campers Corner. Still need 8 Singapore flag patches to be sewn onto my clothing but can’t seem to find them anywhere even though I am sure I have chanced across numerous shops selling them in the past. But I came up empty handed even after a trip down to Peninsula Plaza. Would certainly appreciate someone pointing me in the right direction should they have any clue where I can get them.
The date for my departure to Egypt inches ever closer and I have to admit my anxiety levels are shooting up. In fact I am getting rather fearful. All sorts of questions keep popping into my head. Do I have all the right equipment? Have I missed anything? Why did I sign up for this in the first place? What if I don’t complete it? Am I ready, physically and mentally, for this? Have I trained enough? This last question, is of course, moot, since it is rather late to do anything about training, especially in my current state.
Nonetheless I have been encouraged by an anecdote from the book “Born to Run” that I recently started to read. One small section goes like this: “…this ninety-five year old man came hiking twenty-five miles over the mountain. Know why he could do it? Because no one ever told him he couldn’t. No one ever told him he oughta be off dying somewhere in an old age home. You live up to your own expectations man.” How very thought provoking…
I am so fortunate to have so many people rooting for me and willing me on. In fact it is their constant affirmations and encouragements that lift me up and keep me moving forward. I am running to raise funds to make it possible for students from low income families to make it through school and I know it is a noble and important cause. At the same time the knowledge and reminders that I am already inspiring people – from young children to teenagers and adults – to go live their lives and have their dreams come alive is absolutely brilliant. That people are already benefitting – from those I personally know or have met, people whom I can put a face to, or who have heard of me – somehow makes a difference and is simply awesome. I know I can’t possibly let them down.
Maybe falling ill right now is actually a good thing. It is my body’s way of having me spend time with, and for, myself so that I will be in tip top shape come October.
This is the game of life. You never know how hard it will be. You never know when it will end. You can’t control it. You can only adjust.
September 5th, 2009 at 1:41 am (Home)
Tried out my spanking new Polar Heart Rate Monitor this afternoon and had a pretty horrendous time. The original intention was to take it out on a short 2 hour run but it took me all of 45 minutes just to figure out how the thing works and how to create my desired settings. I’m not the most technologically inclined at the best of times, so sitting in the middle of my living room with my kit on poring over the instructional manual wasn’t the least bit enjoyable.
Things didn’t quite improve once I was out on the running trail. I struggled to get into a consistent rhythm as I was continually squinting down at the watch (the proper name for it is training computer) attempting to make sense of all the numbers staring back at me from the different page views as well as the beeping sounds emanating from the instrument. And I simply wasn’t used to repeatedly adjusting my pace to keep within my heart rate training zone throughout the run.
So, upset at a ruined run, I went out again late at night to make up. Things went a lot smoother and instead of being distressed by the monitor I chose to use it to help me. I managed to keep within my zone with less effort this time and I believe the forced slower pace will help calm me down in the long run.
Looking forward to listening more to my body.
September 4th, 2009 at 8:11 pm (Home)
Have completed just over half of my shopping and am in the process of testing my equipment. This includes the different packets of freeze dried food which I had shipped from Expedition Foods in the UK as well as the packets and tubs of hydration products, both from Athlete’s Circle, who so generously sponsored a great deal of PowerBar products, and ScienceinSport.
It is important to test out these nutritional products to ensure that they agree with my constitution and do not give me any stomach cramps or bowel problems. The tastiness of the products is also paramount as the last thing I want when I am shattered from a day out in the scorching sun is to force myself to tuck into foul-tasting, revolting grub.
On the whole the food was surprisingly aromatic, albeit the main courses lacked salt and the sweet courses weren’t sweet enough. A handful of salt and sugar sachets will set that right. Generally I thought they were decent, even though a tad expensive at £4.50 (about S$12) per pack. I must imagine the costs of production aren’t low, given the technology required to produce them in the first place as well as the packaging.
As for the drinks, they do take some getting used to. I experienced a fair bit of flatulence and bloatedness in the beginning and am still trying to get the dilution ratio spot on. Plus I am not a fan of the stickiness, though this is due mostly to my clumsiness; somehow when I am running and gasping I have a tendency to spill fluids down the front of my shirt with each swig.
Steady on, Thaddeus
Electrolyte and Recovery Drinks
Freeze Dried Foods
September 2nd, 2009 at 1:06 am (Home)
More on feet…specifically blister prevention. Once again this is an education on its own. There is a myriad of products out in the market, from gels to powder, skin guards to skin plasters, which purport to protect one’s feet from the dreaded blister.
The blister is a fine example of how something that starts up innocuously enough as a mild irritation can expand and cause such an impact as to literally bring a man down. It goes to show that power lies not in physical size but in the extent of influence. So if a little blister or mosquito or tick can wreak such havoc, surely we as human beings, regardless of age or size can similarly induce positive change and spread goodness all around. The diminutive Mother Teresa is a fine example, as is Nick Vujicic, or even closer to home, young Jeremy Lim. Or better yet, that person staring back at you in the mirror.
So after researching extensively and getting opinions from runners and reading reviews from athletes and specialist magazines and websites, I have settled for 2 Toms’ SportShield and BlisterShield. SportShield is a roll-on which applies an invisible coating to the skin to prevent chafing in areas such as the groin, upper thighs, under arms and nipples (yes things happen in the unlikeliest of places). BlisterShield, meanwhile, is a powder to sprinkle in the socks to keep feet dry and reduce heat buildup, thereby reducing the likelihood of blisters and hotspots. And to top it all off I have gone for the patented two-layer WrightSocks, their moisture wicking ability and double layer coolmesh highly touted to reduce friction and provide optimum breathability, hence preventing blisters.