Well guys, this is it: Tomorrow is race day! Fifty kilometers of sweaty goodness, starting practically on my doorstep! [Thank goodness for that last bit, since I am scheduled to arrive around 4:30 AM for a 5:30 AM flag-off.]
I’ll be running in – as they annoyingly insist on calling it – The North Face 100, Asia Series. It’s the emphasis on the 100 part that baffles and bothers me, to be honest. All the goodies proclaim: TNF100!! See:
The race actually includes 100K, 50K, 25K, and 13K distances – but all of the goodies yell, “TNF100!!!”. Truth be told, I will feel somewhat sheepish wearing this shirt, knowing that I didn’t actually complete the 100K that is proclaimed on the front. Further, if I actually DID run the 100K, but found myself living on an island (small enough that you see all the race shirts around, all the time) of 13/25/50K runners wearing “100K” shirts, I’d probably be even MORE annoyed. I feel like this diminishes both the accomplishments of the 100Kers (because all the shirts are touting “their” distance), and those running the other distances (since we won’t have shirts that accurately proclaim what we did). I suppose this complaint sounds selfish, when put that way. Believe me – it’s not that I need the shirt, but rather that the shirt I received is….well, inaccurate.
But let’s see what happens on race day. While I may not agree with the organizers on this particularly marketing choice, I am still optimistic about a well-managed, safe, fun run tomorrow. I’m keeping an open mind about the race, I promise.
So let’s talk a bit about the race! I’ve mentioned in the past that race organizers in Singapore don’t release the route until 1-2 weeks before the race. This route was unveiled exactly one week ago. However, in Singapore, there are only so many places that a trail race (especially a 50/100 kilometer one) can be held – and precedent from year-to-year provides clues on starting locations, etc. So the details weren’t a total surprise to me, when I finally got to see a map.
We’ll be flagging off from McRitchie Reservoir, and the first 4 miles will be along the section of trail that I train on the most – a double-bonus, since we’ll be running this section in the dark! We’ll then turn out toward Rifle Range Road, the Durian Loop Trail, and on to Bukit Timah. This is exactly the route I ran a few weeks back on my last long training run – it’s a route I know well. We will NOT be ascending the hill, however.
As the sun rises, we’ll run an approximately 8 kilometer stretch of the Green Corridor, encompassing most of the route of The Green Corridor Run, which KMN and I ran back in January. This is a flat, easy-footing section, albeit totally exposed. I hope to get there and through before the sun is too high in the sky. From there, the route takes us onto some of The Dairy Farm trails (no dairy farm any more, that’s just what the area is called) – and again, I have run this section with one of the trail running groups out here. This will bring me 24 kilometers into the race.
From there, I’ll enter “unknown territory” for a little while – 7 kilometers out to Mandai Road, then retracing 7 kilometers back again. I’ve never run this section before, but as runners will be going in both directions at once, I assume it’s a relatively wide path; and as we’re in Singapore, I assume it will be pretty flat; and as I haven’t met any super-gnarly trails out here, I assume the footing will be OK. Plus, once I reach the turn-around, I’ll be retracing sections that I’ve already run (once)!
We skip the Green Corridor section on the way back, diverting directly to Rifle Range Road. At ~40 km, we’ll head back into McRitchie, and finish the rest of the Reservoir loop to the starting point, with one short out-and-back. Incidentally, this is the same way I finished my tough 28 miler a few weeks back – I hope my mental training kicks in at this point, because I’m likely to have exhausted runner brain, and exhausted runner body!
I’m reluctant to make any pace goals for the race, for a few reasons: the dark start, the unknown trail section out to Mandai, and a bit of uncertainty about how my body will race for 5+ hours in the heat and humidity.
Thus, my race plan is based on “feel” and “attitude” than on Garmie. I’ll start at an easy, steady pace and stay in my aerobic zone by feel (since checking the Garmin in the dark, on the trails, is a dangerous mistake I won’t make!). If that means I have to walk hills (there are a few in the early part of the race), I will. If I’m ascending without too much trouble, then I’ll stay at an easy run. I hope to capitalize a bit on the flatter, smoother sections in the middle by picking up the pace a bit, then go into the “unknown” section with an open mind. By the time I hit 40K, I’ll be solidly back in familiar territory, and hopefully muscle memory will carry me to the Finish Line!
I’m less nervous about this race than about Perth, probably because of the uncertainties of and flexibility demanded by long-distance trail running. One small mistake isn’t usually a big deal, because there is a lot of race ahead. And I don’t plan to obsess over timing and pace – the best way to an ultra finish line is slow and steady progress!
And now…there are less than 12 hours until flag-off. [My start corresponds to 5:30 PM on Friday, Eastern Standard Time.] At the moment, I’m feeling 70% excited, and 30% dread. Dread will increase until flag-off tomorrow, and I’ll probably yell at KMN sometime in the wee hours of tomorrow morning (this is, unfortunately, my usual habit). I will definitely question why I’m doing this. I will wish I could go back to bed. But, I’ll get myself to the starting line, the horn will sound, and all will be well. Excitement will take over, and I’ll start ticking off the miles. Bring it!
But for now, I’m outta here. I’ve got to start collecting my gear, and applying the Body Glide.
“TNF100”: Annoyance-worthy, or get over it?
How do you feel about racing on a “new-to-you” trail?
If you’d like to adopt a mile for cheering, let me know which one. I promise to write it down (runner brain), and think of you during that mile.
[Hey, 31 miles is a long time for me to hang out with just myself, so I’ll take whatever company I can get – even via good mojo being sent thousands of miles.]