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Sunday, 14 October 2012

Solo Almost Marathon

According to my training plan I was supposed to run 35km this Saturday. That's a lot of laps around my house. I have decided to make it a bit special and planned to run from Kuala Kubu Bharu to Fraser's hill in Malaysia.The route is over 40 km long and I knew I will probably walk anything beyond 35km. The altitude difference is about 1100m, with the highest point somewhere around 1200m. I wanted to run in decent pace, 7 min per km.

Itinerary

Friday 12th October

Pack everything, go to Kuala Kubu Bharu from Kuala Lumpur by KTM Komuter train, register with the local police and stay in a guest house for a night.
I packed very lightly. I reckoned every gram will count. I had only my Camelbak with 3L of water, 0.5L of highly concetrated Gatorade (from powder), 6 energy gels, three muesli bars and some basic toiletries. I took only one extra t-thirt and shorts. I regreted not taking the flip flops though. And I totally not regret taking my Kindle!


It turned out registering with the local police was pointless. When I called them after the run, they didn't seem to remember me at all. Well, fortunately nothing happened on the way!

Saturday 13th October

4:30 am - start from KKB and run for about 6 hours. By the time I reach the top it will be almost noon, but KKB is 1200m above sea level and it should be considerably colder than in the valley.

Sunday 14th October

Find a way how to get back to Kuala Lumpur...

Route

According to the map it is about 40.1km from the guest house to the hotel. But I can't be sure, because my GPS watch was running low on battery and I had to turn it off.

Run

Start

I managed to wake up on time, 4:00am. I ate my breakfast (apple, bananas, muesli bars) and did some stretching. I felt I ate too much, so I delayed my run until 4:45am.

0 - 12km

Surprisingly this was the most scary part of the whole run. Two aggressive stray dogs chased me for a while. Barking and hiding in the shadows. Since there was just enough light from the street lights, my headlamp was turned to red light. Everytime I looked at them I saw only two pairs of red glowing eyes. Thanks a lot, tapetum lucidum.
When I finally get rid of the dogs I turned my headlamp to white flood light because it got almost pitch black. There was just one fluorescent lightbulb that somebody forgot to turn off in front of their house. And a huge concentration of moths flying around it. Well, that was expected. But what I did not expect were the bats at this all-you-can-eat moth buffet. I ran straight into a cloud of hundreds of small bats just a few meters above the road. Not a single one hit me, but it was not pleasant seeing flashes of bats illuminated by my headlamp just in front of my face.
At the end of the town, the road got wider all the way to Selangor dam. I took my first break there. I tried one of the energy gels, but the taste wasreally disgusting. No matter which flawor. The only thing that helped was diluting it in water.

12 - 26km

After the dam I saw the first traces of sunlight. It was cloudy, but I could see the road without the headlamp. I turned the red light back on and moved the headlight to the back of my head. The road got narrow again and cars started passing me by. From 12km I was taking breaks every 45 minutes. One of the breaks almost meant the end of my run.
It was at this resting place with a small waterfall where I slipped on the wet mossy surface. My legs were just not stable enough after 24km of running uphill. Fortunately I have landed on my hands. The worst scratch was mitigated by my wristband. I almost left it at home because it was too tight!

26 - 32km

After the break at the waterfall the battery in my GPS watch was at 20%. I needed to keep at least stopwatch - I turned off the GPS. This part was quite boring and nothing special happened. Just more cars started to pass me. Some people waved at me, but that was all.

32 - 37km

I reached the Gap where the road to Fraser's hill goes only up and you have to take another route down. It used to alternate up/down every hour but not any more. It started to rain. The rain was pleasant for a while, cooling me down. But when it started pouring I knew I am in trouble. I got cold and my shoes were soaked with water and heavy.

37km - finish

This was by far the worst part of the whole run. I hit the wall. I couldn't run anymore. There was nobody around who could motivate me.I was cold, soaked with water and my legs just gave up. I slowly walked the rest and had to stretch every 500m.
But I made it. I reached Fraser's hill. I was tired but satisfied. The running/walking time was 5:45 with six 10 minutes breaks, in total 6 hours and 45 minutes.

Way back

The next morning I just had breakfast and went to the end of town to hitch a ride back down. It was 9 am. Despite the fact that most people start leaving the hill around lunch time, I waited only half an hour and the 4th car on the road stopped.

Conclusion

It was overall a pleasant experience. I definitely tested myself before the upcoming Fuji Marathon but I know I need to train a bit more. Fraser's hill itself is a boring place when you don't go hiking. But my shoes were totally wet and I couldn't imagine walking more anyway. The weather was dreadful too. The whole hill was basically covered by a cloud. I spent the whole rest of the day reading a book and stretching. The next day the weather got better, but I was looking forward going home.

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