Welcome to the 3nd part of the blog about the 444 km C2C Race experience. If you haven’t read the first two parts, I strongly recommend for you to do so simply by clicking HERE! If you are all up to date with the story, let’s jump into Day 4:
Day 4 was the most magical day. I don’t know if I could find the words to describe how magical, special and unique the day was. I felt so privileged and blessed. It reflected my values and the true essence of why I run.
We got ready as fast as we could, so I was ready to run at 3h45am. The first 50km of the day were in a palm tree forest. I have no words to express the calm of the forest, and the magnificent of it. As I was lucky enough to be running so early, I knew that it was the best time of the day to see wild animals. Just love to see animals, especially in the wild. Every time I see animals, I feel humbled by them, even in a zoo, I can contemplate animals for hours. I knew that setting early for running would give me a chance to see wild animals. As soon as we enter in the forest, we saw animals after animals just appears in front of us. We saw Tamarin, not just one, but a bunch of them: incredible!
I saw coming from the forest a animal who was bigger than a cat with a black and orange stripe. We were looking at it, my husband and I was thinking : Is it really a baby tiger? What else would it be? Our next thought was, if it’s a baby tiger, where is the mom’s? I started to become a bit stress by now. Wow! I couldn’t believe that I saw a baby tiger. I started to run a bit faster! I didn’t want to make a face to face with a Tiger mom’s! All along this morning, I felt so emotional to see those animals, even the wild cow looks unique and reminded me how lucky I was to do this 444 km journey.
Later in the morning, the organizers team came and we shared breakfast together. It was so unique and so special, those moments of conviviality, humanity and friendliness boosted my day. The coffee and the noodle were magical the ingredients which I needed to carry on. I asked so many question to Mr Seow (one of the running organizer) about his running journey, he is very resourceful. We can learn so much from him, he did so much running across the world I guess he has the true spirit of running. A sensei in the running community. I felt so privileged to have been able to chat with him and to learn (even just a bit) from him. It gave me a lot of confidence!
My mental state during the 444 km was a roller coaster, it sometimes felt really good and other times the difficulty of the challenge hit me, and I started to ask myself ‘why I am doing this run’, and my mind started to become wavy and uncertain. The entire challenge of the 444 km was to deal with those waves and try to keep my mind as positive and clear as possible. Without a clear mind, I couldn’t carry any longer, simple as that. The mind, like the physical aspect can be trained, so during this journey I had to train my mind and help the mind to react the best and most constructive way possible to push me through the finish line.
As any good south East Asian country, the middle of the day started to hit me like a bullet…The extreme heat it felt as if I was in the desert! Needless to say, it was hot! We then entered the elephant reserve (which was like a forest) there was absolutely no shade where I was running. I started looking everywhere waiting to see an elephant unfortunately for me I had no luck. Around the middle of the day, the sun started to feel hotter and I started to slow down. Between me and the checkpoint there was a 50 km difference, before 10km of reaching the checkpoint, it seemed like I would never ever reach it… It was like a bad joke… The question that I was thinking was, “Am I really the at the right cp? Or am I hallucinating?” Because my GPS couldn’t sustain for that long neither, I had absolutely no reference whatsoever. There were no way for me to know how long until the checkpoint! I had to have a warrior mindset. I was telling myself: Go! Let’s go, kill this section, you can do it,” the check point must be near, just go, don’t ask yourself too many questions, go ! Run you will arrive sooner than later.”
Suddenly, I saw a runner, I recognized Allan (one of the race director), running in my direction. I was asking myself “Why was he running midday in this extreme heat?” When he came near us, he said that the check point was about 2.6km. Wow! I told myself, we must be close to the end of the race! so I just started to run fast, seemed like sprinting at the time. I just wanted to reach this Check point. Once I arrived, I had this fabulous Ice bath once again, which helped me and it help me calm my entire body. After a short rest, I decided to carry on running. Around this time, the sun was quite high, so I decided to get off of the Check Point quickly and walk to rest a bit and enjoy this WONDERFUL scenery of the elephant reserve.
After all the days of running, the exhaustion started to come and haunt us (my husband and I), like a bad virus. It was bad. I started to ask myself whether I should stop and rest a little in the car or carry on? Because it was still day time, I told myself : “push, make the most of the daytime.” I decided to carry on running and do the best I could possibly do. I realized in this 444 km journey, that the exhaustion is also a wave, I felt so tired and exhausted, but once I decided to keep pushing, it felt as if my energy came back again just like that.
My dedicated and lovely husband who was my only crew member over the 444 km, had the same diet as me: If I ate, he ate, if I slept, he slept, simple as that. As he was my only crew, it was difficult for him to catch up with sleep because he had no one to exchange the wheel and sleep a bit more. He used to wait for me every 2 km in front of me, and when I passed the car, I knock on the car’s window giving him a thumbs up, it was a way of saying that I am ok, I don’t need anything and I carry on. In the moment, I saw him relaxing in the car, seat was laid back, I was thinking that he was sleeping in the car, and I kept going as my husband was ok. Again, I knocked on the window, he raised his head, opened his eyes, I did a thumbs up and I carried on just as usual. By this point, I noticed that my husband was very exhausted.
I was not yet worried, I carried on. After what I thought took 30 minutes, with no signals of my husband. I carried on running, telling myself that it is ok everything is alright. the more progress I made, the more I worried since there were no signs of him for a while. I even met a Malaysian worker telling me:’ You are running! Wow! You are alone? That is dangerous’. At that moment, I started to stress. I took out my phone, to realize that my phone had no battery. “What if he had an accident.”
All the worst-case scenarios started to come to mind. At that point, I thought what if I ran backwards since, I was looking for the car to arrive, I was looking if it was my husband’s which was at the back. It honestly felt like an eternity but when told myself that, I would definitively see someone from the organization at some point. I checked if I had enough water and food to carry on and kept running ahead. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally saw my husband car, and him inside! I was so happy and relieved! This journey was not only hard for me, this journey was also hard for my husband and all the crews from all the others runners. Without our crews, none of us would have manage to complete this 444 km journey. Hats off for the crews who supported the runners in all their ups and downs.
After seeing my husband, I knew that I had to increase the pace, I wanted to do the best I could during daytime. Looking the kms done, I knew that the next day would be the final day of the race for me. I started to get excited. My body and my mind melted together, I felt so over the top. At dinner time, my husband drove in front and managed to find an incredible spot to eat. We ate the fabulous teriyaki chicken of Miss Fun in front of a splendid, magnificent lake. I sat there and ate on the sunrise waiting an elephant to come up. This place was so unbelievably nice, it was a true nature wonder. I found myself so lucky at that moment. It’s easy to keep your mind clear, when you are surrounded by such beauty. I couldn’t stop looking around me, and see if I could find an elephant somewhere.
During dinner time, we saw Allan (the race director), we chatted with him for a while, which gave me the confidence boost to continue. After Allan left, I remembered, him sending a message to the group saying that he saw an elephant just 3km away from where we were. So, my husband rushed and packed everything in the car, drove and got to see the mysterious elephant’s place Alan was talking about. My husband saw what looked like a baby elephant, as he was waiting inside the car. I was running in the back, trying to run as fast as I could to be able to see this magical elephant. Unfortunately, luck was not in my favor, but it didn’t make the run any less interesting. 😊
So, after the expedition with the elephant I had to do the last 10km in the dark. The night time was the hardest for me, as we were situated in the mountains…During night time, it was impossible for my head lamp to predict if we were going uphill or downhill, which made it really difficult for me to strategize.
During the night time I thought “How can I plan something when I can’t see where Im going?” In the same evening, I ate Toblerone and candy as it was my best rewards-celebration. At this point, I was running 20 minutes and walking maybe 2 to 3 minutes, and I was walking the mountain uphill. Each time that I reached a slope that went up, so I rewarded myself by eating Toblerone or candy whichever I felt like eating!
I even looked at my watch and told myself: “In 3 minutes, Its candy time!” It was a good way for me to relax as the last 10km were very difficult for me. I felt as if the run was going on for ages, In the last 2km we arrived into a wonderful village. From right then and there I knew that the checkpoint was near. So I started pushing through. In fact running is all about knowing how to deal with those hard times!
Luckily for me I was the first runner to arrive at the aid station at 21h30. Since I was the first runner and that I was ahead of all the other runners, I decided to continue. I decided to cut on sleep, wake up earlier and run through the next day. (pun intended.) I was going to do whatever was needed to finish that race. I knew that I had to run the whole way on the last day, I decided to just give it a go. The first hour I managed to place in 7kms in, and afterwards my pace started to increase.
That morning, I asked myself: “how long can I sustain this pace?”, the reality was that I had absolutely no clue how long I could hold it for. It was the first 444km race I ever did. As opposed to when I did the 3010km – 72 days that was an adventure I did at my own pace, so I had no clue how my body would react. The only thing I knew based on my experience, is. If I am getting tired, I would just decrease my pace and start walking.
I told myself, all the runners are passing through the same journey, if I am getting tired, they would be too right? I decided to clear my mind, and just go for it. I ran the pace of 6min every kms, for the first 40km, needless to say it was insane for me. Arriving at the first check point of day 5 (my last day) was incredible! my arrival time was 4h30…How did I achieve that after doing 444km… I was shocked. At the end of this 65km day, I managed to get an average of 8km an hour, which was impressive. I never thought I could run this fast! I was stunned how could I manage such an incredible speed! It was great!
After this check point, I carried on running. At around 15 kms before the end, my husband told to me to relax as I was way ahead of all the others runners. I replied spontaneously “No! I will push through to find my greater self. The other runners don’t dictate how my run will go!”
From this moment on I knew I reached a deeper purpose in my life; I knew that I achieved something I could never have done before in a way it was as if I became the super hero I always knew I was. It was truly incredible and I was running like I could never have done before.
Although my luck worn thin when I got lost 10 km before the finish line but thankfully, my phone was charged So I grabbed my phone as fast as I possibly could and I called my husband thankfully I then got redirected in the right direction. After 10 minutes of running around, my husband found me so we continued. At 10km before the end I started crying! From extreme joy. It was one of the greatest opportunity I could have ever done and I am all the more happy for taking it. I was so grateful and happy for finishing this amazing 444km. This race was an exceptional experience!
I am so happy to have been a part of this 444km run I am so happy for everyone who participated in this 444km with me! So, with this note I leave you with my next big project.
The African continent runs.
This run means the world to me. So, wish me luck on this next great adventure😊