Yoga & Fitness

Trail Marathon in the jungle, who’s in?

How it all started

Marathon is a gradual challenge I could easily compare with starting my OiB blog. Daring to start, scaring to experience and amazing to see grow.

My hobby or no fun without pain. Simple
My hobby or no fun without pain. Simple

For most people, running marathon is synonymous with physical torture. It is a no brainer, a big no-no. Actually, when I say to people about my hobby, they politely say “whao, that’s fabulous!” and secretly think “OMG, this girl is fuc*** crazy”.

So, I started with no real plans, I guess I was in a feel-good mindset when I typed my debit card numbers to pay for my participation ticket. Smooth and short process that opened the door to experiment new opportunity in getting to know myself better.

I became my own boundary pusher.

I was not in need to loose weigh, or reshape my body tone. It was neither a way to cope with a specific work related stress, pragmatic lady as I am, I do OK in maintaining a sharp line between work and leisure.

 

Getting mentally & physically ready

Suprisingly, I found a large range of training program starting from 4 up to 18 weeks online. The goal I fixed myself: run, muscle up and repeat, ideally slowing down on Wednesday and Thursday ladies night drinks in Kuala Lumpur heart of night life, Changkat Raja Chulan,

Different apples type you can find in my fridge.
Different apples type you can find in my fridge.

At the beginning, I completely underestimated the value in becoming a runner while living in Malaysia, my new entertainment has aroused a set of healthy habits in my day-to-day life, I had to go back on my nutrition books and reread about proteins, glucides and…water!

When you’re not running, you’ll be thinking about running. Marathon training is totally addictive – you’ll finish a run, feel incredible, and almost immediately begin kicking yourself for not running faster or for longer.

Certainly, this hobby comes with a bunch of risks in terms of troublesome running injuries, nagging aches and pains that crop up and threaten to limit your ability to run altogether.

My physical pain level usually remains under 4. I keep the smile on! (Image Smadesimple)
My physical pain level usually remains under 4. I keep the smile on! (Image Smadesimple)

My trail marathon: 31/08/2014

The first marathon I joined was set in August 31st, 2014.

The TMBT trail marathon, the sport event gathered around 1000 participates, mostly locals men. It offered a fabulous trail discovery, a mixture of jungle hike, village crossing and deep sky-high landscape over Kota Kinabalu Mountain, the roof top of Malaysia, heading at 4, 096m altitude.

THAT finish line

TMBT | OrganicIsBeautiful
TMBT | OrganicIsBeautiful

Well, the kick you get when you cross THAT finish line is worthless.

You do not feel the pain in your legs and feets anymore, I did it! 

I feel happy, I feel proud, and mostly I feel invincible, like if I was wearing underneath my running gear WonderWomanCap with my name on it 😉

What I learnt?

The truth is that running is often a solitary endeavor. It is a me-myself and I solo trip to mastership. Because YOU set your own performance goal, YOU and only YOU can ultimately define the shapes and the colors of your journey to success. Endurance is one of the most important building block for marathon preparation and there is not short way. I am a solo runner, I usually hit the pavement with Spotify playlist in my ears, the bits keeps me going and takes away any short moment of weirdness. Spotify, as a running mate or/and inspirational voice that whisper: mooove faster!

And there is was, the Mount Kota Kinabalu.

Treadmill or outdoor track?

I am lucky enough to live in a pleasant condo with a –yet warmed off- workable treadmill. Hence, treadmill = morning, pre-work workout, a 30min express run and hop! I am ready to have a wonderful day. But, to be honest with you, to really to spice up my running routine, outdoor run is a must, like at the lake garden, a few minutes walk from KL Sentral station.

And ideally away from traffic jam and heavy nuisance.

Amanda 😉

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Marathon

Ultra Rail in the jungle – Gallery & Learning

Volcano + Rain + Forest

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.

And there is was, the Mount Kota Kinabalu.
And there is was, the Mount Kota Kinabalu.

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.

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learning

So, I run my first 50km Ultra trail marathon last week.

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 was THE benchmark to 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.

Step means you had to walk and not run!
Step means you had to walk and not run!

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

Ultra

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