Tuesday, July 23, 2013

You Yangs 50 50 Trail Run - Race Report

Pre-race thoughts
All I wanted to do was to finish it in 8.5 8 7.5 7 hours tops, but YB discouraged me from setting a target (even before we signed up for it). I was adamant for a target as I knew that without setting a target, I would lack the desire to push myself to run hard.

With SCKLM postponed until September, my training during the remainder of June and early July became awry. Trail running was only on weekends so during the weekdays, I'd run hill reps with music blasting in my ears to blur out the monotony of the workout, and hoping that it would be just enough for this race.

Dinner the night before.

Sunday, 22nd July 2013 - Race Day
Waking up at 530am and getting out of the warm bed was very very hard. Why did it have to be so cold? Brrr.

Driving through Melbourne city towards the direction of Geelong.

It was a long drive to the You Yangs that morning, even if I wasn't the one driving. I was trying very hard to stay awake!

Compression wear was to keep me warm.
Photo courtesy of YB.

It was chilly (and I hate really dislike chilly and cold) so there I was, looking severely overdressed amongst the serious looking runners. 

We were blessed with clear blue skies, a contrast to the wet and gloomy Melbourne the day before. But you can never be too sure about the sudden change of weather!

Had to use the loo and found it to be an environmentally friendly one.
*holds nose*

The 50KM runners being briefed before the start of the race.

The eager beavers waiting to run - it's warmer to keep on moving than standing still at one spot!

Hullo there!
Photo taken at West Walk around Flinder's Peak, I think.

*sniff* felt silly in a thick jacket.

One lady (visitor/non-participant) actually chuckled at me and asked, "Aren't you a bit warm?"

*wry look*

So says the lady in a fleece jacket.

It's like a regular run in the park, but totally different from my usual FRIM scenery.

Looking like a lost tourist.

Up at Flinder's Peak, runners are to reach the top and turn back down. I was expecting a marshal to be there to ensure that the runners did not cheat, but who's to know? It was a matter of trust.

Only an honourable runner will not cheat. :)

But I was pretty much confused. Did I have to climb up the platform to complete the u-turn or was the foot of the platform good enough?

Stairs, OMG, s-t-a-i-r-s!

There's a walk/path which lead us up to Flinder's Peak. We had to go up there TWICE, and each time, it involved climbing up and down these wretched steps. I bet these caused my quads to seize up!

Almost halfway, yay!

Parts of the route involve running the same tracks at least twice, but all you needed to do was follow the instructions and arrows, and you won't get lost.
About 22KM into the run.

There is a section in the park for cyclists to whiz and weave through the gum trees. It was tiresome to run through and along the track as it was narrow. Most of the times the cyclists did not slow down or yell out to the runners to warn us of their presence, so it was always up to us to be alert.

I had to keep looking back all the time!

Checking out the view from Flinder's Peak.

Second time up, it was a very slow walk for me. I had to make sure my legs wouldn't seize up badly and quit on me. Was very worried.

Bumped into Couple On The Run on our way up! *waves hello*

Are we there yet?

Another 15KM to go!

You'd think you'd pump up the adrenaline and speed up for the rest of the 15KM but you are soooooo wrong.

I'd laugh at you if you did that, because you should know what was coming.

I was tempted to just crawl ...

The Saddleback Track was a steep, steep climb. Steeper and longer than Steroid Hill in FRIM. I'd say you have super thunder Hulk thighs if you can run up this slope AND still continue running all the way. :)

But I must say that this part of the route was my favourite. It reminded me a bit of our tropical forest back home.

With no leeches. :D

Bloody hell! Another 12.5KM to go?? Noooooooo~

Aid stations were a-plenty. They served oranges, fruitcake, pieces of chocolate, jelly beans, snakes, water and electrolytes (which was too watery), some Coke (if you're lucky) and power gel.

I loved the chocolate!

I was actually thinking of Choki-choki 5KM into the run. Hmmm that would have been so good!

Urgh, the bike tracks again.
It's what they say, 'mental'.

I could only imagine being in this part of the park in the wee hours of the night, like in a horror movie. I would not even want to run here at night!

What? That seems like a long way to go.

Just around the corner now ...

*hobble jog shuffle hobble jog*

Any minute now ...

The sun was soon setting, it was almost 5pm. It was getting chilly.

The clock started at 6am for the early runners of the 80KM category. Some were still on their way back.

Can I go home now? *hobbles*

50KM in 8 hours, done!
4th last, too. 

Verdict on the race:
Superb? Splendid? Just great!

1. Well organised and arranged. There were enough marshals and volunteers around at the aid stations and confusing intersections.
2. Sufficient aid stations. Loved the cheerful and supportive volunteers. You really must smile in return to theirs! :)
3. Happy smiley people everywhere!
4. Not technical - some runners were in their usual running shoes instead of trail shoes.

I think my complaints are more about the route, which I know cannot be helped. It's not a big deal. :)
1. Climbing up those steps to Flinder's Peak.
2. Climbing down those steps.
3. Doing 1 & 2 twice. :D
4. Running through the cycle tracks several times. Not only a mental challenge for the runners, but they are too narrow to fit both runners and cyclists to run/cycle alongside.
5. I would have loved to see some motivational signs along the way. I thought of plenty as ran through the cycle tracks. E.g. "What's another 5KM when you've already done 45KM?", "Runners Don't Quit, Quitters Don't Run!", "Keep Calm and Soldier On", "Suck it up, Soldier. Move it!", "Beer & Sausages - 10KM To Go!", "You're Doing Great!", "Hey There, Hot Legs!", "The End Is NEAR!" ...

My race strategy/run
I couldn't find an elevation map to study and as it was my first time at You Yangs, I didn't know what to expect. I was more worried about a wet and blustery run, so it was a huge relief for blue skies and sun over our heads throughout the run.

At the start of the run, I suggested to YB for a target of 2 hours for every 15KM, which was doable as I was on track for the 1st 15KM. It was only at KM20 when I started to get a bit worried. My quads were signalling some cramps to come and by 26KM, we had already taken 3 hours 46 minutes. I had to stop every now and then to ease my tightened quads. It was frustrating, very.

I had to stop a lot by the side of the route to squat (I couldn't stretch as my muscles would seize up) and YB kept asking me to drink up the electrolytes.

There were no thoughts about quitting the run, and I would damn well walk all the way if I had to. I could only hope that the cramps would ease and made my hobble-shuffling more bearable. I kept drinking electrolytes til I was so bloated!

As we made it through km after km, I could only wave goodbye to my target time and hoped I'd be able to complete the distance in one piece and before the cut off time at 5pm, which was mainly for the 80KM category. I'd crawl past the finish line even if I had to but that would have been too dramatic for words!

The cramps in my legs would get bad every now and then. The quads, mostly, occasionally the calves, and once, even my glutes seized up too. I wanted to laugh at the audacity of it all! (They didn't cramp at the same time, but took turns. Just once!)

The 2nd half of the run was slower, taking 4.5 hours. Instead of wanting to cry (for feeling like a failure), I was more frustrated than anything else. Often times I'd think of Uncle Oliver who could out-walk any of us slow runners, and hey, with his determination in mind, I just kept on going.

It was a relief, nevertheless when I could still jog albeit very slowly during the last 10KM, although I still needed to stop and walk at times. We had caught up with a couple and a girl, and the 3 sets of us were fighting not to be the last in our category. 

Oh, it felt like forever, though. The last 10KM.

And oftentimes, I wished I had my iPod to shut out the boredom soon setting in. No wonder they say that ultra runs are lonely.

My 1st 50KM was a truly humbling experience, hence I named it my initiation into the world of ultra running. Not only sufficient training is required, but there is talk about my nutrition planning. *nods at YB*

I'm happy to report NO blisters on my feet, save for the soreness I now feel at my bunions / first metatarsal joints.

I'd like to share with my running buddies back in KL about the positivity I noted during the run.

There were 4 categories: 15KM, 30KM, 50KM and 80KM. Each category started at different times and along the way everyone would cross paths. Almost every runner I met (98%!) would greet each runner they passed by with a "Good job!" or "Well done!" and all of them had a smile on their face or a thumbs up gesture.

But this is the trails, yeah, where endurance and strength is the key. And having fun.

What's next??
Both YB and I ran together for our 1st 10KM in 2009, 1st marathon in 2011 and 1st ultra this year. Funny we didn't run together during our 1st half marathon!


  1. One important question. No pacat, right? Good job to the two of you and the trail scenery is simply awesome!

    1. Too cold for pacats?

      Now that's a motivation to head out to colder countries for your Ultra Nick! ;)

  2. Congrats to both of you!

    Love the scenery.

    Chuckled at the thickness of your jacket

    And absolutely drawn to that big smile of yours?

    You were suffering, you said? Didn't show. ;p

    1. Suffered, that's for sure! But but but must always smile at the camera :D

      yes, the scenery is pretty, especially so on a lovely sunny day. :)

  3. Well, you guys could run your 1st HM together now. ;)

    Awesome report on the race. Makes me feel like I wanna go.

    1. you will have your chance soon! :)

  4. Wowww, well done for your 1st Ultra 50km trail run, Yvonne... Not bad timing albeit you had cramps along the way... Guessed you need to do more stairs training and proper warm ups, izzit?

    Wahhh! The breathtaking view was awesome, especially at the Flinder's Peak, no wonder you were required to run up there twice! Very tempting, hopefully I could go there next year perhaps... =D

    I bet YB and you will be doing your 1st 80km You Yangs next year... Hopefully more trail running events in your calendar soon... =P

    1. i think more hill running was required, and especially long ones that last for 5 hours at least, haha!