I just popped (2) marble-sized blisters on my right foot. The right knees seem to be clicking every now and then. Otherwise, they are minimal casualties from yesterday’s 50 km. ultrarun from Tagaytay to Nasugbu. Along with my partner David’s family, I am holed up in a beach resort in far-off Lian. Dave and I did some short laps in their family pool and it seemed to have tremendously helped in relaxing the hardened leg muscles. What can I say, I’m learning to recover faster from long runs. I think.
I joined this run brimming with confidence (it’s supposed to be the easiest and fun route in PAU) and Team Boring’s weight on my shoulder. After that #16 finish in the Western Pangasinan Ultramarathon last month, I’d been predicted to finish first in our team followed by Kokoy & Ceejay, that’s according to coach Mar Marilag. It is also here where 23 runners from Boring will don our new team’s shirt in glorious kwek-kwek orange.
The Tagaytay weather was cool without feeling nippy so at the start of the run, I found myself running just behind the likes of Totoy & Junrox – two certified halimaws. I was in the Top 7 for the first 4 kms., traveling at a neck breaking pace of 5 or less. I had no illusions of maintaining the status quo but maybe, somehow, I would be able to distance myself from other runners early on the race and just try to maintain that position into the finish – yep, just like in Western Pangasinan.
By the time we reached Taal Vista Hotel, a feeling of getting wasted and burned out started setting in. Elton John put it more aptly, I was struggling “like a candle in the wind…” So I had no other resort but to slow down as the rolling vistas and Taal volcano on the left come into view under the early rays of the sun. This was when the other runners started assaulting from behind. I stopped counting once I reached the Top 40s. I guess I was going to be relegated to my former rankings in June this year – into the Top 70s.
Once we entered the Nasugbu arch, I no longer had the vigor and strength to enjoy the glide down, even upon the prodding of Ambow (Allen Gaspar). Days before, I had envisioned myself flying those down hills and outrunning every gremlin on the road. Ah…just too much mind prepping and conditioning.
I still managed a minor dash on the endless descents until something worse happened – the stomach started growling. Unfortunately, it wasn’t due to hunger. It was most unexpected since I’ve downloaded enough at 1 am before we left Marikina. So for the first time in my life, I bravely knocked at the first house I chanced upon and was promptly directed to their outhouse toilet replete with its own detachable door you need to carry to cover you from the outside. The 7-minute break allowed the legs and feet a much needed respite as I sat on my borrowed throne, imagining how many runners have passed me by. I left the house after responding to their ‘Success?’ queries with a 2 thumbs up.
Slightly reinvigorated, I started wielding more effort to regain lost ground. The terrain was still descending and the cool winds would suddenly and unexpectedly propel me downwards. I was expecting sharper drops where I could easily soar but this was a lot better than most ultras I’ve trudged. You could say I was just ambling along and getting lost in the shuffle – I no longer have any battle plans left. I saw two negative splitters (Jael & Jonel) who disappeared as soon as they materialized in front of me so I tried maintaining that same 6:30 pace which lasted for less than a kilometer before I started walking again.
Many times, I just targeted runners in front of me and tried outrunning them (and perhaps, increase my ranking) but for naught. So I just kept moving forward while every now and then, someone would sneak from nowhere and soon fade away in the horizon. I was no longer that eager to battle it out with the highly competitive mamaws. I just want to get it over with. The cramping was more palpable on both the calves and hamstrings while the feet was feeling the plantar fasciitis (left) and minor blistering (right).
But I guess, I’m not the one to easily surrender and just mess up a run. I’ve survived more grueling and longer ordeals on the road than this so I returned to my most reliable adrenalizer, stimulant & energizer – Music. As the first strums of ‘Let’s Kill Tonight’ by Panic at the Disco blared on my MP3 player, I knew I had risen from my road trance. There was still a good 15 kms. to go and I knew I had to make the move. The Glee cast had me jumping and scuttling to ‘Friday’ and Ducksauce had me grooving to ‘Barbra Streisand’. I still had my walk breaks in between but I was moving more swiftly and effortlessly. Every 5 kms., I was reinforced with food or drinks either by the Buban vehicle or the support van manned by Boringer Carlo and Kokoy’s girlfriend, Ana.
At kilometer 10, I finally saw Kokoy’s shadow and gained on him. We did Galloway for some 5 kms until I let him run ahead of me while I fended off the runner (Jason King Tan) behind us. We saw Vicky Ras and Lao Ogerio a few meters ahead and I challenged Kokoy to ‘skewer’ (make tuhog-tuhog) them. Unfortunately, they also saw us and started sprinting towards the towering Jolibee sign. She later told us that they thought we were 2 female runners in orange which pushed them to defend her 2ndfemale rank.
Soon enough, I was sprinting and springing on the main street of Nasugbu town proper with Kokoy a few meters ahead. I crossed the finish line a minute after him at 5:48 and ranked 41st out of 202 runners. Not bad for a race which started on wrong footing. And the best part was – I didn’t feel any major injury. Maybe the distance wasn’t as great as Pangasinan’s so the blister isn’t that big. But after MIM (Manila International Marathon) next Sunday, I will definitely be searching for better-fitting and appropriate shoes. Oh, did I tell you that I reached the 42 km. mark at 4:32? It might never be replicated again but who knows…
The other runners arrived one after the other with Dave ranked 47thand the third from Team Boring. But perhaps, the highlight of the day was the grand finish of Cindy (Master) on her first ultramarathon, welcomed by firecrackers and surrounded by an army of Boring runners in iridescent orange. It was indeed a proud moment for Team Boring as we welcomed 2 new female members to our growing roster of 43.
P.S. Special thanks goes to Ate Myra Dabucon, a former co-member of the Christian Communities Program (CCP) at the University of the East for preparing and sponsoring our stay at the Lian, Batangas resort. Even if she’s continents away – in Italy. And of course, for the Buban family for taking me in during and after the run and that most superb bulalo lunch in Tagaytay. Now I can get used to this.
My heartfelt thanks goes to Boringer Carlo Serrano, Paz Buban Team USB (Snail Runners), Keshia Fule , Jesus Roque, Team Hang Out Buddies, Mayor Alfaro and Maie Hernandez-Alvarez (Curious Runner) for the fantastic shots during the race!!!! It was nice to see me both at my lowest and triumphant moments.