RUN DMD

I run…therefore I am


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The Nuvali Trail Run, Take 2


 

with some of the Milo Apex classmates & Boypra…

It was during this time last year when I started running ultra races almost every 2 weeks as a way to prepare & condition for my Bataan Death March 160KM early this year.  It did strengthen me alright, both physically and mentally but those races were more memorable for the historic blisters I developed and nurtured from one ultrarun to the next, than anything else.  And that seemingly harmless growth first saw light in the trails of Nuvali during my first official trail run last year – a good 57KMs.

Team Kulit – unite!

I’d like to believe that all those trail runs/climbs I’ve done for some months now have honed my skills in moving along irregular trail routes.  So when the Nuvali Trail Run came in the calendar, I knew I had to revisit the origins of ‘that’ blister and hopefully keep it out of sight and do a blistering finish at the run.  Team Kulit (Dave, Chinky, Sheila, Reylynne & Sej) was also born in the trails of Nuvali so as a way of celebrating our first year, we chose to do a team run for the 31KM leg then celebrate thereafter.

at the starting line with the usual suspects…

So last July 1, Team Kulit clad in white sleeved tops and black shorts took off from the starting line at 5:15 am.  It was a team start but a few meters after I had shoot off into the leadpackers with Rey following later (to finish 3rd among the women).  The exhilarating feeling of watching the sun slowly reveal nature’s wondrous beauty was enough to keep me moving with earnest eagerness and excitement.

 

Maybe it was the shock-absorbent earth or the ever-changing sceneries but trail runs never fail to give me a jolt of unexpected awe and bliss while traversing the rolling terrain.  In my mind’s eye, I was Mercury delivering the message of the gods across the universe with some pump and push from Gaga & Fun.  It had rained the night before but thankfully, the muddiness of the trails wasn’t as bad as I had imagined it.  Unlike in Timberland (Merrell Adventure Run), I hardly slipped or lost balance, moving with familiar ease and hiking up during the ascents which were still very negligible.

my all-time fave: sloping downhills…

Soon, I was outrunning some of the 56KMers who had started 15 minutes earlier.  Soon thoughts of breaking into the Top 20 started dancing in my head.  I had no timer or whatever device with me to determine how far or fast I’ve been going but I knew I was faster than I usually was.

trail lover on paved route…

Just when everything was going well, of course, something had to happen.  During the final leg of the race, I trained my eyes on the nearest runner in front of me (after the 56KMers took a right turn for their 2nd loop) and never let him go.  I even followed him when he re-entered the trails upon seeing the blue ribbons.  With the tortuous route, I easily lost sight of him but still kept moving c/o of Nicki Minaj.  Something inside, though, was telling me something, ‘Aren’t you moving away from the clubhouse where you’re supposed to finish?’  But I had no idea how many more kilometers I had to go.  And I was getting deeper into the cogon wilderness.

 

Until I saw 56KM runner Dick Balaba who told me that I had entered the 2nd loop of the 56KM route.  Suddenly, Nicki Minaj was no longer super bass.  Tracing back, I met 8 fellow 31KMers who followed me into my wrong turn.  On the way back, I was imagining how many runners have overtaken us during this unexpected detour, an estimated 4KMs.  Bushed but not beaten, I tried moving while still hoping for a decent finish.

Team Kulit at the finish line with RD Jonel Mendoza…

Finally, the pyramidal roof of the Nuvali clubhouse loomed and I tried to join our ‘lost command’, scurrying into the finish.  I crossed at 4:02 (#40) and waited for the rest of the team Kuliters to arrive.  By 4:30, we had completed the group, all 6 finishing nicely and injury-free.  Along with Paz & Dave’s kids, we hied off into Army & Navy where I belatedly treated the group for my King of the Mountain 100KM triumph.

Happy 1st Anniversary, Kuliters!

Guess what?  As in my many trail runs, no blisters sprouted and my feet remained cleaned and uninjured.

it’s burrito & burgers after a trail run…

 

and coffee & tea c/o of Chinky, our team muse.

Stunning images are courtesy of Gey Enriquez, Runner’s Circle (Raul Acuna), Rene Vallarta, Chinky Villavicencio & Maxell Flores


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Milo Marathon Preps


 

medal upgrade for this year…

Just recently, I signed up for the 36th Milo Marathon which will have its Manila Leg eliminations on July 29.  The Milo Marathon has always held a special place in my running history. The first time I joined (the 34th edition), I almost tanked and DNFed (did not finish).  They say it was the worstly-organized race in its long proud history (take a bow, Mr. Biscocho) featuring depleted hydration supplies during the final loop and the death of 21KM runner.  It was my 2nd Full Mary (after the 1st Condura Marathon) and I clocked a dismal 5:49, practically walking the last 15 kms under sweltering desert-like conditions, along with the rest of the zombie-like runners.

July 2010: into the finish…

Well, things have improved since then.  A year later, during the 35th MM, the weather had a complete turn around.  It was literally storming with strong rains whipping on all the runners along Manila Bay.  Perhaps, I had improved as a runner (with a lot of competitive challenge from my buddy Dave) for I crossed the finish line this time at 4:52, my first sub-5 time.

July 2011: into a soaking finish…

With the 36th MM looming ahead, I’ve been trying to challenge myself during our almost daily training runs.  The reasons:

a) That PDI article on the Team Wetshop of 3 differently abled swimmer, cyclist & runner who placed 2nd during the 5i50 Triathlon 2 weeks ago.  From hereon in, no more excuses or alibis – just too shameful.

Uytengsu, Jopson & Aba at end of the swim leg of 5i50 triathlon…

b) My frustrating performance during my last 21KM race (Run United 2) where I kept slowing down and walking, eventually timing a poor 2:10.  I’ve been eyeing a sub-2 so it was high time to take my training regimen to the next level.

at the finish with co-ultra/trail runners Che, Boypra, Mang Vic, Jep & Tina…

Since May, I’ve been running with Team CrisTina (that’s Cris, Toto & Tina) around the neighboring village which has some minor uphills and downhills.  Our speed is what I would call a Chika Pace since we talk and share stories more than run actually, covering around 10 kms. from Monday to Friday (but I would usually miss out on 1 or 2 days).  Now our pacing is usually more continuous with some speed runs incorporated when the we’re feeling stronger.  Fridays usually takes us up to Antipolo church (a good 13KMs) culminating to short prayer session and a light breakfast.  We take the jeepney going down thereafter.

Team CrisTina in front of the Antipolo church…

Two Saturdays ago, I got to join former Milo Apex colleagues (thanks Vann) who visited the Marikina Sports Center for their insane speed runs around the oval.  I had a trail race the next day so my effort was half-baked even if I was sweating like a pig.

putting some speed at the Marikina Sports Center….

I have a registered already in one international marathon and some trail and ultra races so I’m hoping to really improve on my 42KM performance.  I plan to start this with Milo…yep, I’m really getting ready!  Now, if only the gods of the old and new would bless me during those magical moments.


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The Merrell Adventure Race: it’s a mud, mud world


Coming off from my triumphant King of the Mountain 100KM race one week later, I  was running with the swagger of a battle-worn warrior along Timberland’s snaking muddy trails.  Welcome to the Merrell Adventure 21KM race, I told my myself under a labored breath.  It had rained the day before (June 3) and though some of the trails in KOTM were wet and slippery, the effort to keep moving without slipping or sliding was just too much to maintain that the minutes kept ticking without me covering that much kilometer.

 

the orange cavalier of the House of Mudjoy…

I started 3 minutes late so the goal to outrun the tail enders was obstacle enough along a thin, sinewy trail already mashed and molested by the lead packers.  The trick is to run on the sidelines (provided they are still flat and not too inclined) where most of the vegetation had only been slightly trampled.  After a few minutes of trying to dodge the muddy, watery trails, one eventually gives up and embraces the earth in all its form (packed, loose, watery or sticky).

 

clear as mud…

the long, arduous trek up…

How many times I slipped and slid and planted my behind on mother earth or outmaneuvered a fall by tilting my right arm was beyond me (suddenly, I missed my trekking pole).  Suffice to say that my butt and right arm/shoulder were sore days after.  Most difficult was when I had to ascend a slippery slope that I had to move on all fours, grappling on whatever the trail has to offer – a sliver of cogon, a loose bamboo trunk or a jutting rock.  Yep, I was that bad.  Well, so were the others.  I even found some 10KMers on my 2nd loop.

the river wild…

 

Perhaps, the real highlight of this race was the circuit of river trails one has to move through, jumping and skipping from one boulder to the next and moving into waterfalls and shallow fords.  Some brave runners finally succumbed to the river’s allure and dove right in and traced the waters going back into the trail.  This was the part I enjoyed the most since the rushing waters cooled my already fatigued & dehydrated body and cleansed my caked shoes (Lady Gaga would have loved it) so they can still grasp on the muddy earth.  And start accumulating new mud again until I’m 4 inches taller.

 

still chugging on…at the final leg.

On the way to the finish line, one still needs to pass through what one would easily mistake for a pig pen.  You go through a lake of brown water, contorting your tired body through concrete tunnels and low-roped obstacles your face can easily end up swimming on the muddy pool.  Of course, I enjoyed that part because by this time I was taking in the whole muddy, murky experience, just the way we did it when I was a kid, 40 years later.

 

yes, I love, love being a pig…

For the 21KM runners, one had to go through the same loop again (slippery trails, giant boulders, more mud and rains, anyone?) before finally crossing into the finish.  The 2nd time around, given a more fatigued runner, mushier/muddier trails and (surprise!) fresh rains from above, was nothing short of moving along a sea of molasses, resembling some Tarantino movie scene done in slo-mo.   At this time you just want to end the whole spectacle and wash off/shower/clean yourself but there were more uphills to conquer.

 

men in brown…

over sideways and under…on a mudgic muddy ride…

4:26 later, I finally crossed the finish line – grimy and dripping and smiling, proudly displaying my battle scars of the day.  Now, this was one great fun adventure I’ve ever had in recent years.  Perhaps, I’ve forgotten how to be a kid again and the feeling of freedom and calm and awe came surging in like some electric current after a power outtage.

 

I’m mud about you…

2 hours later, I was scrubbed cleaned and smelling sweet, garbed in my clinic gown and treating a patient.  Back to reality, Toto, I say.  Suddenly, I was longing for mud…and all the fun the goes with it.

With trail idol Che…

Photos are courtesy of Ms. Cheryl Bihag (she who had scaled Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina), Mr. Thumbie Remigio (race organizer) & Ms. Ella Dator Perez


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Mt. Pinatubo Adventure, Redux


foreboding & mysterious…

 

I know, I know – I’ve been remissed on my blog entries for the last few weeks.  As you will realize later (once you start reading on my activities), it has been a hectic running/travelling life for me as of late.  Complicating matters was my mission to finish the Game of Thrones 5-book series + its TV serials and  you have one sked OC juggler.  I’m not really complaining because it gives me a bottomless source of blog materials.  So here goes nothing.  First off – my 2nd visit to Mt. Pinatubo with a group of gym buddies who have lately been discovering the excitement and joys of traveling around Luzon (so far) since our Mt. Pulag sojourn.

with Cris, April, Mark & wifey…

 

otherworldly…

it’s becoming a tradition to jump shot in every new destination for me….

Last May 22 or 4 days before my King of the Mountain 100KM race, we found ourselves venturing across the desert-like lahar land of Zambales on our way to the crater of Pinatubo, an aftermath of its 1991 volcanic explosion after more than 400 years of dormancy.  The first time I was here was in 2010 when I joined my first trail race – the PAU Pinatubo 50KM race.  You can read my entry here – https://rundmd8.wordpress.com/2010/10/ – which features a military exercise at the climax of the race, a lost shoe, surprise quicksand traps and searing desert adventures culminating to a strong finish before darkness set in.

what an SLR camera can deliver…c/o Rowie

 

lovelier the 2nd time around…

This time around, I was bent on enjoying the whole Pinatubo expedition with nary a clock ticking every minute nor the beating sun following me throughout.  Instead of 50KMs, we just went up 10KMs and another 10 going back to the drop-off station where our 4×4 vehicles were waiting for us.  I simulated the climb to the crater lake as if I were in the KOTM race (my last attempt at trail training), meaning I was moving faster than the rest of our party consisting of more than 30 gym denizens.

hiker in a strange land…

 

almost there…

The route was quite familiar though with Pinatubo’s ever changing terrain of ash hills and waterways, I had to rely on my internal compass – by tracing the river’s source to reach the lake.  When before, we slowed down many times whenever doubt set in if we were going in the right direction – this time, I was moving through stones, boulders and hills with familiarity and ease.  I reached the lake quite ahead of everyone and proceeded to take in the glorious views and dive in its turquoise fresh waters.  A great relief from all sweat and sand I’ve accumulated on the way up.

truly worth the trip…

 

made it!

my reward for a half day’s effort…

the lovely waters await…

More pictures and swimming sessions later, I was already gliding back to where we had started, still in trail training mode.  The terrain and the waterways have changed form and direction in just a few hours.  More minutes of waiting for the rest of our company and we were driving back to Capas where we had a hearty lunch and a refreshing shower.

The great shots of Pinatubo are courtesy of gym mates Rowie Co, April Almanon & Mark Nuezca

 

Finally, I got to enjoy Mt. Pinatubo and all it has to offer.  But I won’t mind racing back, though, along its lahar and river trails.