Running through the night

6pm marked the start of a long journey to East Coast Park and back, and to East Coast Park and back again. The first 11km was really boring; no scenery, just aeroplanes lifting and landing, lots and lots of trees beside you, the road is just one whole long stretch of… boring boring things. Then we reached East Coast, oh this was good, at least there were sceneries. There was the smell of food from food village, the chicken wings and satay, there was cable skiing, there were bars, beer, childen, cyclists, Macdonalds, everything that would keep you going on. At the 21km mark I decided to take a break and stretch my legs,

“It’s only ¼ through. OMFG”

And then I continued running back to where it all started. At the 29km it was all boring again (funny how the route actually sucks, so boring). The streets were dark, the supporters didn’t really give a shiet, and so on. Through the park connector I went and back to the Coastal Road again. The Coastal Road back was really long too, and I longed hope to see the 39km mark so I could turn back to the starting point.

“5h 1min, a good timing for the 1st round”

And I was only reminded then that an Ultramarathon is a double full marathon. The thought of it chilled me at the starting point. I took my time to transit, replacing as many things I have on me as possible.

The second round was fine at first; of course I did not feel as refreshed as the first round, so I slowed down my pace and tried to keep it consistent. This time, unlike the 1st, the mind game started. As I started out the old boring route once again, my legs were telling me to stop to take a short stroll, and then get back to running. Instead I tried to last as long as possible before stopping. At the 5km mark, I thought I had run for almost forever and it was only and utmost demoralizing when I realised I had 38km more to go. As I entered East Coast Park again, I spotted a 5:30 pacer and tried to keep up with him. Then I lost him. Then I found the 6h pacer. And I lost him again. So I decided just to do my own pace, with a little running and ALOT walking. At the 16km, I decided to walk until the next hydration point, and then tried to pick up my pace again. This time round ECP was different from the first round, the crowds were less, shops were closed, and the marathon mood was not present at all.

At the 19km mark I saw some of my friends who I was really glad to see, Fabian, Yue Zhi, Pak Kin and Shu Yi. Their presence reminded me why I sign up for this run in the first place. Nonetheless I kept on walking because this time round my legs were breaking down. When we were separated, I tried to pace myself to the 21km, stretched a little, talked to a veteran marathoner and catch up my pace. I tried to increase my pace till the 26km because they were there waiting for me. When we met, my mind was totally tired, oblivious to what they were talking about. I sat down and stretch and realised my blisters were forming. I wanted to sleep but told myself to stay awake, so I could continued my last stretch of 16km.

At 4 plus am, your body usually tells you to stop whatever you are doing and go to sleep. That was what exactly my body told me. Being an extensive sleeper (do you even have such word), a deprivation of sleep meant disaster for me, and the people around me. At the 30km, I started to question myself more, like what I did for the past 72km, why the hell am I doing this. This time, reality really started to kick in. All the negative thoughts flow through my mind, my legs were sore; more and more blisters developed. The air was really cold it made me feel sleepy. I was really tempting to take a 15min nap somewhere but I was afraid I couldn’t finish the run on time. The road back at Coastal Road was the worse. The boring, monotonous route set me to think about what should I do when I reach the finishing line, or for that matter why couldn’t have I done it now, just flag off an ambulance, go back to the starting line and go home to sleep. As I walked, I endured the pain, focusing my energy onto completing the run, trying hard not to stress my legs and to avoid cramps. Even going to the toilet was such a chore!

And the sun rise at 7am. The sky began to turn bright and I knew I had to finish the run so I could get back to sleep. I tried to up my pace a little. I reached the 41km make and asked myself “why in the world the last 1km is so damn long?” I began to jog a little, ignoring the countless of blisters formed and stride for the last 200m of the run. I crossed the finishing line, telling myself that this is one of the greatest achievement I have ever made, because who the hell is crazy enough to sign up for a 2x marathon run in a single night?

I needed to be constantly reminded of why the hell am I doing this, and this cannot be done without the full support of my friends and parents. Daphne was there right from the start till the end. My parents who came later due to the stupid bus transport were there for my 1st and 2nd round. The heartfelt presence of Fabian, Yue Zhi, Pak Kin and Shu Yi (and Yannick’s power gel) who specially come down just to support me till the end. I was really surprised to see Yong Shen and Geraldine for my first round! Toh Chen and Ying Tian specially cabbed down to see the start of my run.

The X-ers who constantly giving me the support and encouragement, Patrick, Kelvin, Melvin, really could not have done it without you.

My legs brought me my first round; my mind brought me my second. If it is not for the extensive support, encouragement, inspiration and motivation of the people around me, I may not have even completed this run. A total of 13h 25min was taken for this run, it may not be the best, but it certainly changed my life. I will be glad if this run changed yours too.

Impossible is nothing, for the fact that I started to pick up running at early May 2009, had my debut marathon at Dec 2009 and my debut Ultramarathon at May 2010, who says you can’t be crazy too?

Best Regards,
Alvin Low
Sundown Ultramarathoner 2010

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