Saturday, June 20, 2009

Conquering Mt. Faber: The Mizuno Mount Faber Run 2009

A number of friends decided not to register for the Mizuno Mount Faber Run 2009 for either of two reasons:
  • there was a negative review of a previous run by the same sponsor, and

  • Mt. Faber didn't sound like a fun, easy, flat terrain for a 10 km run.
In my case, I'm at a stage where I'd take almost every opportunity to run in preparation for my 21 km challenge by the end of the year. I registered before I gave myself enough time to realize what I was getting into, although I've once been lost in Mt. Faber so I knew it was going to be a serious challenge if the event was going to live up to its name. This sounds naive, but I only found out on the race day itself that Mt. Faber was indeed part of the route.

On that day, my alarm managed to wake me up at 5 a.m. despite the fact that I only had a little over two hours of sleep. I went straight to the shower contemplating whether I should go through such self-inflicted punishment. When I couldn't find a pair of shorts to wear, I thought things had been decided for me, but of course one eventually showed up after a few more minutes of frantic searching. So I was going to run half-awake. What the heck? Each race is a new adventure.

From the Tiong Bahru MRT station, I followed a trail of moving green shirts to the assembly area — a huge open space between HDB buildings. It was a little past 7 a.m. and people were scattered all over the place. It occurred to me that the atmosphere was very different from those of the other runs I had taken part of. Perhaps it was the lack of exciting music or perhaps the inability of the announcer to get the crowd moving. Maybe it was just my zombielike state.

Getting hydrated is an important thing for runners before they start any race, but so is the opposite. I joined the queue for the loo, my unforgettable experience from my first run looming in my head. There were a number of announcements, including one which said participants should be behind the starting line by 7:25. Then, before I knew it, when I had barely finished what I had queued for, the race had already started. There was neither a countdown to warn of what was to come nor a loud horn to signal what just happened.

With the lessons from my recent run still fresh in my mind, I was off to a slow start. Dozens of runners overtook me. I caught up with some of them at an intersection, the first of many, where we were asked to stop to allow cars to pass. The first slight ascent came only after a few minutes, and I thought running without adequate sleep was torture enough. I took my time warming up, after which I began to increase my tempo a bit, only to be slowed down with more stops and uphills.

Like an unexpected gift, a long downward slope was suddenly in front of me. I zipped past more than a hundred runners, wondering why they chose not to take advantage of the rare opportunity being presented. I was thanking the heavens for giving me lots of practice running down steep hills and mountains when I was a child, praying at the same time that I wouldn't slip and become the laughing stock of the event.

Then it was time to head up Mt. Faber. I initially tried to maintain my pace but weariness soon overtook my body. Tens of other walking made it look fashionable. How could I resist from doing the same? It was at this stage that I remember having pocketed my remaining caffeinated energy gel from GNC. At the pace I was going, I had no trouble getting it open and consuming its content.

As if a direct answer to my complaint that I could still feel the sticky fluid halfway down my throat, the first drinking station came into view. I was in no rush drinking as much liquid —first H-Two-O and then the real H2O— as I could, Mt. Faber wasn't going anywhere.

It seemed like the rest of the route was pretty much upwards from thereon, which only meant I did a lot of walking. When the road went downhill, again I was one of very few who dared to go full speed. During the agonizing ascents, Confucius' words kept echoing in my head — "It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop." Wise words indeed.

Of course, all good things must come to an end. I reached the finish line in a little over an hour. Partly to my own doing, it was the most challenging run I had participated in. I guess Mt. Faber will be seeing more of me in the coming years as I aspire to complete the same run in a shorter time.

Next run: POSB Run for Kids 2009, July 12.

Photo credits to Joan "MoJo" D.G.

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At June 22, 2009 at 6:47 PM , Anonymous sant said...

hey dont worry....... next time definitely you will win ......... try to give your best performance.


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