Goin’ nuts on Wilson Ralleigh 2011

First of all, I think the organizers should call this event “Wilson Rally” instead this awkward spelling “Ralleigh”. What’s with that anyway?

Wilson and I are enemies till death do us apart. The first time, I had to abort because I had a flu and I was feeling dizzy on Devil’s peak. The second time, Typhoon Megi canceled our get together. The third time (i.e. yesterday), I ended up having food poisoning and despite all determination to persevere, I crashed and burned at CP7.

Ok, it all started with Carb Loading the day before which seemed to go great until a massive dump took it all away! Kind of like filling water in a big bucket before the base collapses releasing a deluge of water. Anyway, I won’t get into too much detail (you are welcome) but here are comments from Facebook.

Before the race started, I had to pump my body with massive energy. So, my bag of mixed nuts came to the rescue. I gobbled on them while teammate Steven went with his religious racing protocol (coffee 30 minutes before, gel 5 minutes before, etc, etc). (His hardcore preparation for a racing event puts everyone else to shame!)

My body seemed fine for the first hour or so but I could feel a little bit of discomfort as the hours passed. When we reached Quarry Bay MTR station, the discomfort increased but was tolerable. I didn’t read too much into it. We met Dom there who guided us all the way to Yau Tong and gave us supplies to refill during the train journey. We broke most of HK’s rules yesterday for “civilized” people – (a) No eating/drinking on the MTR (EAT THAT!) (b) No jaywalking on busy roads (WATCH ME!) (c) No running in the MTR platform (OH YEAH! TRY AND STOP ME!)

Steven was like a kid in a playground! Devil’s peak, Black Hill did nothing to slow him down. He was fast and talking at the same time while I was trying to fix this little discomfort I was having and kept my mouth shut most of the way in order to concentrate. Then came a scary fall. I fell down sideways but had my arm out just in time to prevent injuries. Took a bit of confidence out but did no lasting damage.

After that, we had the infamous no-name hill to climb. To make things worse, the sun was also out! This is where I lost concentration again and ended up twisting my right ankle. The discomfort was with my stomach and it also dramatically increased at this point. I could not increase pace because of two reasons now (a) Stomach issues (b) Right ankle issues. Steven was way up ahead. With the stomach + leg issues as well as seeing all and sundry pass me by, I was overwhelmed with negativity and lack of confidence. I was pretty sure that Sha Tin Pass was the end of the race for me.

Then I met Steven who was patiently waiting for me at the bottom of the no-name hill. He comforted me and volunteered to retire at Sha Tin Pass! He didn’t want me to go through any lasting injury. Support is a beautiful thing. It suddenly fills you up with positive energy and determination. Knowing I had Steven’s support, I suddenly reversed my decision to retire at Sha Tin Pass and no longer wanted to give in to the stomach discomfort or the ankle pain. I sat down in Sha Tin Pass, got what I thought was a muscle pain relieving cream from the checkpoint (it ended up being Dettol!!) and we continued.

I tried to stabilize the body as much as I could and I got the ankle to behave again. We called our support team and told them to cancel all support as we would likely bail out sooner or later. But, at least for the time being, we persevered. Steven, who showed absolutely no signs of fatigue, was patiently running at my reduced pace. We kept losing time and my mind would keep imagining my bed at home which is exactly where I wanted to be!

We kept at it and reached Shing Mung. Our support team then called us to tell us that they were not going to cancel support! They told us that irrespective of our time, they would be there and support us! That gave me an extra boost but by the time we reached Lead Mine Pass, my stomach problem got much, much worse. Each step was painful. I grabbed a handful of mixed nuts from my bag and immediately detected a stale taste to it and had to spit it all out. It then struck me that maybe that was the culprit.

Once we reached Lead Mine Pass, we met Alex, Ringo, Vivian and KW from the Hong Kong Trampers. It was great to meet my old friends there; although I badly wanted to sit down and break there for 5 mins, I didn’t want to let my macho image down in front of them. So, we went down a trail and stopped there instead for my break! By this time, my calf muscles were cramping up and I knew I had reached my limit for a safe race. Plodding on further would have been counterproductive. So, we asked our support team to meet us at the end of CP7 and we retired there!

Vic, Jinhwa, Annie, Newman from our support team took such good care of me there that I didn’t feel like leaving at all! Ice on the ankles, food, lots of moral support, encouragement, hiking stick, relief for my ailing calf muscles – I had it all! Vic and Jinhwa were ready to run with us all the way to the finish point but in the state I was at, that was ruled out!

After I returned home, sure enough, all the mixed nuts were out through the mouth instead of the preferred method! Massive puking and instant relief! Then I wished I were back on CP7 and we could have finished. At one point, we were #4 in the race!

Anyway, two lessons learnt:
a) Don’t carry stale mixed nuts that are a couple of weeks old
b) Wilson and I are enemies for life but I will be back to defeat my old foe

Special thanks to our fabulous support team and teammate Steven for all his support!