My calf muscles was about to cramp at km 10 and 13 but thanks to kind strangers who had muscle spray, I was able to continue. Then I was back to the usual dilemma on how to last the next 10K on cramping legs. Somehow, I did! That’s a reminder of how it is to suffer and yet find the inner strength to gut-it-out and finish.
Volvic Force of Nature Marathon
I forgot how it felt like to suffer in a race. While the course was moderately rolling, the challenge was the scorching heat of the sun. That’s trail running, it can give you a different experience every time you’re on the trail. 13K into the race along the open Rifle Range Tunnel Trail on the way back made me think how to make these cramping legs hold up until the finish line. But, before that let’s rewind it a bit to the start of the race.
My last race was in March and even if I still frequent the outdoors, I’ve been away from that competitive race environment. It did show in the race as I’m no longer used to the wear and tear of a fast course. MacRitchie Nature Reserve was definitely a run-able course, which I have tried several times when I was in Singapore. It was a nice feeling just to have fun and enjoy a race. No pressure really as I’m just glad to be racing again in a different environment.
Gun start was late and was moved from 7:05 to 7:35 am but as the race started I joined the runners on a running start. It looks like the legs was ready to go with the usual feel of shin splints gone maybe because of the volume of walk I had lately. I went on a run-walk pace and just tried to try to finish 6 kilometers in an hour since the trails were run-able.
First 4K was the from the start going around the lake and 3K of the rolling Mac Ritchie Trail followed by another 2 kilometers heading to the Bukit Timah access point. I tried maximizing the descents to runs and recovered on the climbs with a brisk walk pace. First 6K in an hour and then it was a kilometer. It was another kilometer with mostly climbs before hitting the aid station and Rifle Range Road.
When I hit the road, the hamstring felt stiff so I tried to manage my pace a bit but still went on taking advantage of the less drag of the road surface. We entered the Rifle Range trail heading to the Dairy Farm at around km 9. It was an open trail so the heat was in full force at this stretch. I was starting to feel the sting on my calf muscles and it was about to cramp at km 10 so I slowly went to one of the rocks to sit a bit to relax the muscle.
Fortunately, one of the hiker was quick to apply spray on the calf muscles and it was heaven sent. My muscle felt a lot relieved so I was able to speed up about approaching the turning point. I asked for spray at the Check Point and there was none so I went on after hydrating. The cramping feel was back at kilometer 13 as I can barely move my leg without cramping. I slowly went on the rock to rest a bit. Now how to finish the next 10K with these cramping legs?
I was asking runners passing by if they had spray and most had none then one runner had this roll-on and it was a relief. I applied it all over my legs and then he told me that I shouldn’t have done that as I could burn my legs. It was a warm sensation on the legs so I had to pour some water on the legs just so it won’t sting. I was able to speed up just to head to the water station and pour some water on my legs. 7 kilometers to go.
That was the last water station so definitely, I’ll have to survive with what I have for the next 7 kilometers. So that’s 1K heading to MacRitchie from Rifle Range, 2K to the covered MacRitchie Trail and 4K to the finish line. Somehow, I stayed constant with my pace and would stop a few seconds on the huts and then resume. One set at a time. Not too fast but not too slow either. Keep the rest shorts to save time and keep going. With that drill in mind, I was able to countdown the kilometers and reach the finish line.
Despite the struggle, I’ll take this one. It was more than my usual easy pace on the trails and more than my dose of sunlight lately. Just glad to be back!