It seems like it's been only a few weeks ago when I was struggling in the 100km ultra trail marathon, Vibram HK 100, in Hong Kong, but actually it's been a few months. I have since run a half marathon in Brunei, a full marathon in Singapore, and another full marathon in KL. Oh! how time flies!
And then suddenly, I'm left with only 8 weeks before The Most Beautiful Thing 2 (TMBT)—another 100km ultra trail marathon. I have conquered the first TMBT last year as reported in 2 parts here and here. I can still remember my reply to a question from a friend immediately after the race:
Never would I do anything crazy like the TMBT again, ever! Been there, done that. Period!
Yet we all know that humans are very forgetful creatures; the lust for challenges that shapes men's ends had since brought me to Hong Kong in February for an ultra trail marathon. And hard upon that the lure of the TMBT 2 with a new route which is substantially different from the first one. The cut off time for the entire race had also been reduced from 36 hours to 30 hours. Well, I know I said no more TMBT, but this time it's tougher, what was I supposed to do? I had to oblige the challenge!
So with only 8 weeks of training left for TMBT2, yesterday morning I joined a few friends to the Inobong Station in the hills in Penampang for the long-overdue training. I've never been up there before. Last year, we trained along the Kibambangan-Terian route. Judy had been up to Inobong, so she played tour guide for the day. Except that she brought us to a wrong junction! Thankfully, however, Dr Liaw and Jonas have been to the Inobong Station before, so we ended up following them instead.
Shortly after we entered the junction, we came to a small substation. As we were about to get out of our cars, Jonas suggested that we should park our cars in the compound of a house by the main road. So we drove out again. In hindsight, I think it was all in Jonas' evil plan to torture us with the extra 100 metres or so!
It was about 7am when we started. Looking at the sky, it was obvious that it's gonna be a hot day. We walked a short distance to the junction again, and then into a gravel road with a mild climb. Jonas started running, and the rest of us followed almost automatically. Soon, we came to a steeper climb before reaching a cemetery.
I have to admit that hills are not my strong point, so eventually I was reduced to brisk walking. But Jonas continued running, and soon enough, he disappeared into the hills ahead. We alternated running and brisk walking. Pretty soon, it became obvious that the hills are very steep; in fact, they reminded me of the torture of TMBT last November.
There was a good dose of gravel road.
And long stretches of concrete driveway.
As well as stretches lined with palm trees.
But almost an hour later, we finally arrived at the main arch of the Inobong Station.
It may be surprising, but people would actually go to this park for a holiday. I saw nothing very special, but little did I know that that was just the entrance of the park. A little further beyond the boom gate, we came to a concrete driveway, which was ridiculously steep; I mean really steep!
Liaw and I tried running up the slope, while Judy decided to take this photo. I looked back over my shoulder and said the slope was "fun"! Judy started laughing. And then I said, "How come with all the effort, I don't feel like I'm moving forward at all?"; and that made Judy laugh so hard, I thought she was about to faint. But luckily she didn't after all. Otherwise, Liaw would have had to run down the slope to perform CPR on her. While Judy was still in her fit of laughter, Jonas came running down the slope like he just saw a ghost. He ran pass us, merely slowing down for a bit to say, "Right up to the end, guys, no cheating!". I think if I had a shotgun, I would have shot him there and then!
Well, it seemed like a never-ending climb.
But in the end, we arrived at a corner where a shed appeared out of nowhere for no apparent reason. Liaw and I decided to pose for a photo, but I swear there is nothing going on between us, even if the place is perfect for lovers!
After all the trouble, we were rewarded with this breathtaking view. It was surprising that we had actually climbed such a long way!
From that point, we could see the sea, the islands and KK City in the yonder... awesome, awesome view.
We went all the way up to the dead end before stopping to rest for a few minutes. It took us about 1hour 10 mins to reach that point. Then the return leg to our car. One would have thought that the downgoing should be easier, but actually, it's quite harsh on the knees. Still, it's easier than going up. On the way down, we met Jonas again on his way up for the second trip to the park. Damn! I think one of us should bring along a rope or something on the next visit, so that we can put Jonas on a leash.
Well, we reached our cars again, refilled our bottles, and up we went again for a second round of torture! The sun was already up and scorching hot. I marveled at Liaw with his sexy outfit. But perhaps it's OK for him to get a bit of sun tan, since his skin is so fair as if he's been applying whitening lotion on a daily basis!
The second trip up the hills was much tougher as expected; especially when we met the devil again on his way down when we were just about halfway up! By the time we reached the top again, I could feel both my quads and calves aching.
In spite of the exhaustion, it was mainly happy thoughts on our final descent—until about 4km to the finish when we saw Jonas running up the hill from the opposite direction. And I was, like, "Again!?" (Where is the shotgun when I need it?). However, despite his getting carried away with the training, Jonas had to turn back because he ran out of drinking water! We had hardly any water left on us, so in the end Jonas turned back and ran ahead of us. Might as well, because I might have kicked his butt so hard he'd roll down the hill like a rock!
We finished the workout in about 4 hours 35 minutes; and distance covered was just 26km. All the pain, and it's just 26km! So, OK, that's a good start. We'll come back again in 2 weeks from now. Who knows, perhaps by then we'd be able to do 3 rounds up the hills? But for now, my quads, calves and buttocks are killing me!