tl:dr I just completed my first 1000m trail run. In case you wonder what is 1000m to an Ironman finisher. This 1000m *is not the distance but the altitude, together with strong wind and the fluctuating cold weather, this is also the toughest trail run that I did after The North Face 50KMin 2010. This run certainly opens up my knowledge about trail running and further propels my love for running. Furthermore, I really learn a lot on this run both in terms of life and running and I have to share it with you.
This week I’m on a work trip to Tokyo to pilot test our HEMS software with our Japanese partners. Since I’m there for a week, I decided to bring my shoes along, just to keep my weight in check because I know the food over in Japan are awesome. Running in Tokyo is amazing, especially during this period of time as the weather hovers around 10~20 degree celsius. I spent most of my time in the test lab with YC and Chris, but I managed to catch a few morning run around Yoyogi park. I got a free day on Saturday, so I ask my friend Kumi to make an intro to her friend Colin – a 63 years old gentlemen that has been the age-group winner for several trail running races in Japan. We got connected and he suggested we meet up on Saturday for run, it would be a light run because he is running the UTMF2013 in another 2 weeks time. So I think why not?
This is the real shit
Trail running to me was MR, Bukit Timah Hill or sometimes Mandai because these are the common places where people do trail running in Singapore. This is also part of the route that North Face Singapore uses. I did overseas races before like Ironman Triathlon, Marathon kinds but never did trail running overseas. So I was really excited, but I had a few problems, I was not properly equipped, I did not have a long sleeve nor did I have any water bag with me and I was using road running shoes. I did not want to spend much so I got a long sleeve from Uniqlo for only 1000Yen (S$13.00) and off I went. We went at Shibuya and took a train down to the sub-urban area (Agano), the journey took us about 2 hours. Colin also invited another two of his friends (I’ve forgotten the names, I’m sorry cause I’m bad with Japanese names). One of the ladies have her time in the top 10 placing for local trail races and she just started trail a year ago. (her age 48, makes me think that nothing is impossible)
Starting from the station, we ran about a km on the road before cutting 3km across the forest. It was warmer in the forest as compared to the road but the cold still kicks into your bones. As I run across the forest, and the cold win stings my face, my mind keep boggling that this is the real shit. This is not MR or Bukit Timah Hill. The trees are huge, there are no man-made path ways, if you miss a turn you will get lost. slopes that are so steep that they are almost vertical (I climb when I reach this slopes but Colin shared that pro-trail runners run up the slope for training), there are even signs that warns about bears appearing. I mean this is for real man, the true trail, the nature. It is just beautiful No wonder, some of my friends are so addicted to overseas trail running.
Bukit Timah Hill is only 163.63m in elevation, that is the highest you can train in Singapore.
Heading up towards 700m, I started to feel sleepy. I think I was going through slight altitude sickness. I keep yawning and my brain keeps wanting to shutdown, seems like a lack of oxygen. The feeling was terrible and I started to slow down. Thanks to Colin-San and his friends, they waited for me and keep me company. They also shared their nutrition with me which makes me feel better. I believe my body was running out of food too. In fact, at this point of time I wanted to give up, but the support from Colin and his friends was definitely motivating and inspiring.
Enjoy the run and think less of your gears
And another big thank you to Colin who was very kind to lend his spare gloves and wind jacket otherwise, I would not be able to last 5km into the run. I was under-dress, I came in an attire similar to what I would wear when I’m going for a run in MR expect that I was in long sleeves. Colin and his friends might be thinking, boy, this guy is crazy I also did not have a water bag, I only have a day pack, a small bag that came along with my backpack and I threw my handy tupperware water bottle in. Usually, when I’m going for a run or a race and I do not have the proper gears, I would feel uncomfortable. I would usually try to get best gears (according to my budget) so that it “kinda” gives me confident. It is also sort of like a form of fetish, always wanting to buy the latest gears, the lightest gears, hopping that I could get better performance out of it. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being properly equipped and buying good gears. I know the difference between a budget water-bag vs a soloman. but sometimes I get carried away, so do my group of friends.
On this run, I learn an important lesson. I can still do it with the basic gears. Better quality gears does help but it’s the passion that keeps you going. It kept mine.
There are so much to learn about running and about life. This run also leads me to think about my startup journey. Enjoy the process of building a company and a great product be less concern with nosies.