Friday, December 30, 2011

The Trail Running Thrill

Trail running has started to gained a healthy following since a bunch of running friends decided to add a little variety to their running routine. Places like Kiara, which is a world class mountain bike trails has seen more and more action from the two-foot kind.
I am not an accomplished runner, let alone call myself a runner. I hate running. I hate hate running. The more i hate running, the more i want to run so i can try to get rid of the hate. Before i ran on the road, i actually started from running in the jungle - yes, those of you that know me will know my background as an adventure racer first and a triathlete second. With a void of good adventure race in the last 7 years until i found out about Sabah Adventure Challenge (SAC), things has changed a little bit.
There is an unexplainable draw to run in the trail. The undulating surface? The thrill of getting lost? Love nature? The basic caveman instinct? Maybe all the above. Running trail is different from running on the road. To start with, muscle usage is slightly different - you will engage your core muscle. You will build those smaller supporting muscle. You will get stronger. That will translate to a more agile and possibly even faster running on the road.
No where else but the trail you will face a 10degree gradient climb on your "easy" run and even come face to face with literally a wall in the form of a cliff.
Yesterday, i took to the woods of Kiara. I intend to run the trails. I told myself that walking should be minimal, if not at all. I was determined. I want to kick start my 2012 training. I want to keep my sciatica in check. I need to train like i signed up for another Ironman. I need. Need. Need.
I was re-introduced to Kiara by Roland. I never liked the place. Maybe because Kiara is too technical for my liking on the bike. But a twist of event when i signed up for SAC this year sort of forced me to visit Kiara at least once a week. If any technical riding needs to be done, this is the place. I know if one were to ride in Kiara well, any other crosscountry (XC) trail will look like it is flat. Running Kiara, however, is a totally different ball game. There are no granny gears to haul you up the big climbs. No hydraulic brakes to slow you down on those downhills. Only saving grace is that on two feet, the single trails looked like highway compare d to when one is on the bike. My game plan was to replicate what i did with Kheng Leong but even the most seasoned Kiara rider will sort of lost his/her bearing especially on the run. I went up Lung Buster with intention to cross over to the 4K loop. However, since running uphill was such painful fun, i decided to go up and exit at Twin Peak. My lungs were fighting for air and my heart were thumping wildly. A quick check on the wrist says it is approximately 190bpm. That was almost 100% HRmax. The legs was feeling good and the body was in agreement. I push my way up through Twin peaks and reached the peak.
Took a deep breath and started descending towards upper and lower. I was apprehensive initially to run down fast, but i remember seeing Kilian and Marco flew down Kinabalu with their hands all over the places to stabilize. I instantly shifted to high gear and imitated the way they ran down trails. Needless to say, i now know why the hands are all over the place - balance. Running down on the steep incline was addictive. I supposed i could had went like 12km/h or a 5:00 pace, maybe faster while looking about 10 meters ahead to anticipate the terrain and change of direction. Now, that was enough to remind me why i love trail running. Without a doubt.
I exit at lower and saw that the time was not in my favour as i am designated driver for wifey. The plan was to trod through Bar-A-Kuda and exit at the lowest point before entering Apollo. That was cut short and i took the tarmac to Apollo. From Apollo, i ran the 2K loop and the climb was just too painfully nice. Exited 2K and ran on the tarmac and entered the trail again to be back out to Kiara Park. I worked up a good sweat - and i could had scared a biker or two when i suddenly appeared from switchbacks running downhill on the reverse carnival. Total mileage was maybe between 8km to 10km that took me about 75minutes. Sciatica did not pay me a visit today, maybe due to the frequent changes in terrain and the muscle gets to work in a more unpredictable manner.
Looked like i could had found part of the Mojo i lost back. All i need to do now is to keep the momentum and hopefully, i will be able to run a  decent 10km on road again - and as an added bonus, run through Kiara as if she is flat pancake flat. :)

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