On the weekend that should have seen the first VMM 100 Miles take place in November, a group of friends took on the 100 miles challenge in Soc Son, Ha Noi. We caught up with one of them, Tra My, to learn more about it.
What inspired you to do the 100 miles on this weekend?
Maybe it is the youthful desire to conquer 😀
100 miles is a long journey: from signing up (for the extremely challenging and completely new contest that very few Vietnamese ever finished), to the training process for one whole year, making the time, plan, and preparing for the key training sessions.
During the lockdown, I maintained the indoor training and managed to finish all the sessions as planned. I wanted to be my best self, ready and confident at the start line.
Therefore, despite this year event’s postponement, I went on with the training. Finishing 100 miles on its original date 12/11 tested our training plan, and motivates us to keep training until the race actually takes place.
How did you choose the route and can you tell us about it?
I chose Ham Lon Mountain in Soc Son (Hanoi) as the running site for this challenge.
I have previously finished a Half Everesting (4,424m – 94km) at Giong Temple; a 90km run around West Lake; and a run with 8,849m gain in my building’s stairwell; and a 120km run in Ham Lon Mountain.
Among those, I think Ham Lon fits ultra trail running the most; you can enjoy the fresh air and run on actual trails instead of the cement roads in the city center.
I chose to run on the fire road surrounding the jungle. I have run here a lot and know it well enough not to worry, and to make a very sound plan for the run.
In Ham Lon Mountain, there are also many route options for my teammates: Doc Ton Mountain for those who aim for elevation, or flatter trails around the mountains. Our support team can even set up these beautiful tents (see pic).
Regarding the running date, we started on Friday morning to make it the same as VMM, and ran for 1 night and 2 days. The more the conditions resemble the race, the better.
Who took part with you?
I took on this challenge together with Vivian Le, Hoa Organik, Tuan Anh, Ha Thu, Doan Phi and Nguyen Ngoc Bich. They are my very best friends in my previous runs, we support and cheer each other up a lot. I am very fortunate to have them as running mates. We take the training very seriously and get better together. “If you want to go far, go together”.
Vy: 160km – elevation 6,388m – 30h20m
Tuan Anh: 160km – elevation 5,981m – 30h30m
Hoa Organik: 104km – elevation 4,700m – 20h
Tra My: 161km – elevation 3,769m – 28h04m
Did you have a goal for your finish time?
Yes, I did. Originally, my goal was to finish 160km in 30 hours (3 hours for a 16km lap, for my usual pace here is 2h15m/lap). It was also because I had never done a 160km run before. During the actual run, I adjusted the pace to my conditions to avoid injuries and overload, which will badly affect my future training. I am quite satisfied with the result of 28h, I made it back just in time to have lunch with the team.
Did you ever feel like stopping? If so, how did you get over that feeling and continue?
Not even once. I had previously finished 120km in less ideal weather and physical conditions, when I was not even as well prepared.
However, it was really hard around midday on the second day. The sun was strong, and I was very sleepy. I was so lucky to have Napas runners by my side. Every week, they have been training here for 100 miles, so they completely understand my feelings and cheer the youngest in the team – me – up a lot. That is one great mental gift to me.
How was the run supported? (friends helping with food etc?) How did you fuel the run?
The aid station was set up at Trang Thieu Camping site. There was food, clothes and tents. We stopped here after finishing every 16km lap to refill.
We also received huge support from our “big sister” Bich – she prepared everything from cold fruits to food and even helped us with muscle relaxation. Thanks to her, we could focus more on running.
During the run, I had bread and dry provisions every one hour, water and Tailwind Endurance every 20 minutes. I had porridge and fruits at the aid station every 2 hours, after finishing one lap.
At the extra checkpoint at km4, there was bamboo-tube rice, roasted sweet potato, fruits, and boiled eggs.
During my previous run, I ate too much and drank coffee all night, which badly affected my digestion. Therefore, this time instead of drinking coffee, I slept twice, 30 minutes each time.
What was your longest run in training?
My longest run before this was 120km and also in Ham Lon Mountain.
Now you have done 100 miles, are you more or less scared of the VMM 100 miles with the elevation it includes?
I believe I need to train even more seriously. After this run, I realized my weakness with uphill sections. The coming time will be a good chance for me to improve myself in this area. Our team will make the plan to conquer the equivalent elevation at Doi Bu mountain with its 35% climb.
What lesson did you learn from this 100 miles that will help you with the next?
Proper training is really important. I also believe that nutrition during the race plays a very big role.
Last time, I had a digestion issue, that together with the July heat made me stop at 120km. This time, I was more experienced and confident. After one week, I could still finish the long run 30km as usual and experienced no weight loss 😀
I very much look forward to VMM 100 miles and hope it will take place soon. I will keep on training and be ready for all the challenges to come.
My’s run on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/6249995777
My at VTS races
VMM 2020 100km finisher
VMM 2019 100km finisher
To read more interviews with runners, see our Q and A archive here.