I’m very pleased with myself, I finished my first ever 50km run last month. It feels like a massive achievement and I want to be able to look back on it.
I’m an ultra runner. Oh Yes!
The TMBT is a self-supported trail marathon set in Borneo, Malaysia by the Mount Kinabalu. You know that I love nature, and running across so much tropical wonders has made me realised how lucky I was.
Finishing the marathon becomes irrelevant, what I got to see, to experiment made the entire ultra-trail experience unforgettable. Here are some pictures I took during the race. If you want to know more about my feelings, learnings and tips, please check that article ♥→Link
The race starting at 7:45am on a sunny day. We were all cheerful, joyful, full of energy!
The first 10 km, oddly, was mentally almost the toughest – perhaps knowing how long there was still to go. But it quickly eased off, I had to found my own stride, a gradually steady speed, and the next 10 km seemed to go amazingly quickly.
I took this picture while running. If you look closely, you will get an idea of how far the Mount Kota Kinabalu is standing. Keep this in mind, and scroll down to check how closed I got to the Mount.
It took +-10hrs.
On the way, the scenery was magical. Yes, magical! I mean it! It is the only word that pop into my mind. Beside the weather (mostly sunny with some rain), the mud, the muscle pain, the mental struggle & Co, it was the best day of my life!
For my next marathon, I intend to buy a proper camera (any advice?), my old Samsung Galaxy has fallen to grab the purity of the landscape. Magical.
I know you want more, right? Below a few more pictures 😉
When I got back home and told my friends about my achievement, the questions I received the most was related to handling water management as well as food. Although the TMBT 2015 was a self-support trail run, every 10km (or so), a check point is set with staff. You can grab some food, water and also, if you wish, tell them that you wish to stop here and not go further in the race.
I have to apologize to you. The last 10km, especially the last 5km were though to the point all my energy was directed to cross that fu**** line, so I did not take any picture, silly me! This say, I arrived at the crossing line at around 9pm ish, in the full darkness of the Borneo island.
I started the race at 8am and finished at 9pm, 12hrs later.
1380 participants has signed up for the Angkor Marathon last August. And I was one of them! And today, I share with you my runner experience. Because, to say the least, it has always been in my must-do marathon since a while!
Imagine yourself running in the heart of an world heritage, the 8th World Wonder? The site has something mystical. Its stone carved creatures, its enormous size, and its aged temples are definitely a marvel worth visiting. And it is captivating enough to dare running along ancient temples sprinked with ancient trees.
A 6am race start meant an early wake-up call.
Alarm set at 4:30am, quick breakfast and ready to go at 5am sharp. My tutuk was ready to pick me up at my hotel entrance.
After my 20min tutuk journey to the site, we arrived: it was still dark, quiet yet vibrant. It didn’t seem like there were too many participants – until we got to the start. There is was: the others! The crowd! Very calm and mild athmosphere, I knew it would start to heat up when the race starts.
I was nervous at the start, relaxing was not on the road. As a runner, I get very results-oriented, it was unfortunately not the first time I found myself guilty of losing the perspective of what running is really about, and how lucky I am to be able to do this. It is my own Achille heels I need to overcome I hope to overcome by experience.
In an epic lapse in reasoning, I decided it would be better to deviate from my pre-race warming plan and find a quiet area away the crowds to breath and free my mind.
∴The beginning: 1-10km
On August 9th, I run 21km in 2hrs35min. Out of 2hrs35min running were a deep and one-way a 1hrs30 of mental talk.
What I love about marathon is that it basically forces you to confront weaknesses head on, exposing your limitations as well as your strengths.
There is no short cut.
The first 10km took me under 55min. I do not recall any particular pain or mental crackdown. My only distraction was the sightseeing I was deeply amazed by. I was running at a conversational path. A few words exchanged with fellows running, the usual “Where are you from?”, or “Good shoes”, and I was back on my solo run.
∴ An amazing scenery
I love the sounds of my feet hitting the road, and the peace and quiet and solitude. It is here that I do some of my best creative thinking 😉
While running, it was simply impossible to be bored, I felt like a kid, astonished by the beauty of the nature. They were so much to see: the botanical surroundings, details the old temples. Trees, monkeys, dogs, local Cambodians were all part of the scenery. And monks.
The moment was brief. At km 12, the distance caught up to me. I realized how much my legs hurt and how badly I wanted to walk. I had been running nearly continuously up until then, minus a taking the few odds picture.
∴12 to 17km, that’s 5km.
One word: the humidity.
It sounds like a forgettable value now that I write this post, but at that time, it felt endless. Crossing the finish line was everything I dreamed about.
Those “5km” represents represents a slow and painful phase that I love to call “Keep running”. Do not think about:
Even when wearing the appropriate high tech sweat running clothing everyone tolerates high heat and humidity differently.
Any runner will now about this situation. I had one of those moments where you see someone coming back to you and although sprinting hard already, wondered if I gave it EVERYTHING I could get past him, and indeed, if I really cared about giving it everything.
I got angry with myself for thinking about it.
∴ Straight to the finish line
What made the difference? The crowd support. The scenery too. I gave it all. I am fully aware that I often grimace with effort during the race. Can’t help it! I can get a smile (or what I like to believe looks like a smile) when I see kids smiling at me along the way.
It took me 2hrs33min to run 21km. The result was amazing yet disappointing considering my past result. The Bali Marathon ended with a kicking 2h15min. That’s in 15min difference. A small and huge difference.
∴ The end
As soon as I crossed THAT finished line, I genuinely felt on holidays, just the sand beach and the coconut juice missing.
I was exhausted, but I could not stop smiling 😉 It was done, over and to be repeated soon. The big plus of the marathon, the after-care of participant. You could receive a massage (that they call “Therapy”?!), grab some coconuts, beers or even buy yourself some new sunglasses 😉 Why not?
I took one last picture of the temples and headed over to my tutuk, who was patiently chatting over with other drivers like today was just an ordinary day in both our life.
Thank you for stopping by, I wish you enjoy this article as much as I enjoyed sharing my amazing experience in Cambodia with you
The Ultra trail TMBT 2015 was my first Utra trail marathon. It was exactly 7 days ago and its actually feels like it was yesterday. It took me 13hrs15min to cross the finish line.
Not 10, not 11 but exactly 13:15min.
This figure seems surrealistic now like it was somebody else score, not mine. At the time, my ultimate goal was to do the best I can and completely enjoy every step (yes, even the painful ones) of the 50km.
∴ It is NOT a half marathon.
→ First 21km marathon: MBII Maybank Bali Marathon (Edition: Aug. 2014). After months of treadmills running and park training, it wasTHE benchmarkto test myself against.
I found it extremely enjoyable and well-balanced: running 21km was long enough to be a realistic test of fitness, physical stamina, and mental strength, but yet it remained short enough to be within reach of anyone willing to train consistently for a couple of months.
→ First trail marathon: Guang Nuang trail Marathon (Edition: Oct. 2014). I have discovered the joy of running in trees rather than traffic, around national parks rather than around in circles, and up mountains rather than speed bumps.
On the D day, it was never steep enough to be completely uncomfortable; you just feel like you’re having a good I knew I found a new hobby
→ First Ultra-trail marathon: TMBT 201 (Edition: last week). Set in Borneo, across the rainforest field of the Mount Kota Kinabalu.
I am not gonna lie, it was physically demanding. My learning outcome: The mental aspect of running is so much more influential than what it’s given credit for.
∴ What I am thinking about during 13hr15min of solo run?
I am not puking, and nothing is broken, so keep going.
Running an ultra-trail marathon is an emotional commitment. I cried, laugh, screamed, cried and laugh again. An endless circle. I’m a very goal-driven, results-oriented person (anyone out there agree with my self assessment?). What I do? I visualize myself crossing the finish line. It helped me a lot, especially during times when I felt very tired, the weather condition were terrible, and I needed to dig deed to find the motivation not to give up.
I bribed myself all the time.
There’ll come a point in the ultra when your body will be so exhausted that it will be all about playing the mental game. I learn to trick my mind to get more from my body. It felt like my brain was my boss, and my body its machine. My body simply obeyed on what to do and what not to do. My (virtual) self-proclaimed gift were (per order of difficulty): A trip to the beach, a giant chocolate brownie cake, or a nap.… whatever got me to go out and run.
Think of it as an 10km warm-up session, followed by a 2* 15km training run followed by an 8-km race.
I noticed something. Each time my mind was heading south, I became emotionnaly filled with self-doubts or thought of pulling out. Almost instantly and with no warning, it affected my body, drawn me down almost instantly. Hence, to avoid feeling overwhelming, I used to cut each step as a serie of running sequences, each set as a mini-marathon race.
Repeat after me, “I am having FUN”.
Getting to the finish line is part of the fun.
Yes, I said fun.
Paths are usually narrow and organic which makes for a truly unique running experience. There were no monotony.
During the TMBT, I could run over over rocks, tree roots and across streams. It meant to find a good balance between distraction from the outside scenery and mental inner focus: every step requires a keen attention making it a zen-like running workout. And to be honest with you, I usually find it a challenge to keep my brain engaged so I don’t slack off.
∴ Would I do it again?
Yes, 100% yes. The pain following the race was completely worth it.People say that it is important to fill your life with goals that are worth finishing and eliminate the rest.
Well. Now, I agree.
Running is 80 percent mental, 20 percent physical. So goes the sports adage. It’s a reminder that our bodies can go longer than we tend to think they can.
“If you want to be competitive, you have to learn how to deal with the discomfort. A lot of the heavy, good physical training is about training the brain to cope with discomfort.” Runners Word