RUN DMD

I run…therefore I am


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A Most Unexpected Journey


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our adventure in 4 frames c/o Glairold Racella…

Feeling undertrained for the trails as of late (my last trail run was the H100), I took to the road going up to San Mateo toward the Timberland area.  The goal was just to keep running for 2 hours then return on the same route back to the house.  I left at 6:20 am passing the villages of Rancho Estate, La Milagrosa, Meteor and the unforgiving Monterrey before reaching Silangan in San Mateo.  Around 7:30 am, I noticed 4 runners going the opposite way – BoyP (Meljohn Tezon) flashed a smile and Jessie Llarena came into view.  The other two (Glairol Racella & Ian Mabilangan) had joined the group going up to Timberland.  It was an alternate route which led to the pine tree-lined area.  So was I going to join along?  You bet your arse…

me...at the start.

me…at the start.

first food station...

first food station…

Our pace was unexpectedly quite fast by my standards but soon enough, I was able to join along especially during the downhills.  We had a coffee break + putos (and a grandiose view of Metro Manila blanketed in smog) before proceeding to another major breakfast stopover at the Giant eatery.  It was sort of a mini gathering of some ultratrail friends led by Aldean & Wilnar plus some familiar road & trail enthusiasts.  It was a good thing that I took in a lot of those spicy noodles for I had no idea that we would be out in the mountains, trails, rivers, etc. for the whole day.P1000214

Jessie attacking the pancit...

Jessie attacking the pancit…

2nd break at Giant resto...

2nd break at Giant resto…

The destination was Wawa Dam at Dulong Bayan in San Mateo but our group didn’t want to take the usual route from the Timberland area.  So BoyP brought us along a trail which he thought would bring us there, albeit a longer and more difficult way.  The pace was quite relaxed (still finding the time to stop by barrio centers for our liquid and solid requirements) but once someone starts to get enthusiastic (Glairol aka Uod for the uphills and me for the descents), the whole litter would follow along.  I feel we were entering the heart of darkness, deeper into rivers, valley and mountain system few people have trudged on.

halo-halo in the middle of the run - heaven!

halo-halo in the middle of the run – heaven!

by the Calawis townhall...

by the Calawis townhall…

 

getting our feet wet early on...

getting our feet wet early on…

BoyK (for Kalabaw)...

BoyK (for Kalabaw)…

It's uod slithering across boulders...

It’s uod slithering across boulders…

It became a challenge following the course of the river while clambering across black boulders and slippery slopes but we managed.  We could have done this the whole day without even getting to the mouth of the river.  Fortunately, a charcoal gatherer led us out of our endless labyrinth into a mountain whose inclination I couldn’t size up and fathom.  We finally reached the summit after a dizzying ascent where one false judgement could mean disaster.  And our trail newbie, Ian, throwing up from the eternal uphills.

up, up, up we went...

up, up, up we went…

taking a break from the neck breaking climb...

taking a break from the neck breaking climb…

how hi have we gone?

how hi have we gone?

After deciding against climbing the nearby summit (where are we to pass?) and waiting for Ian to recover, we began a descent where I had no choice but to move on all fours.  I was with Jessie while BoyP was guiding Ian down, down, down.  We reached a river paradise where the water was clear, the current silent & deep and nature at its most pristine.  Welcome to BoyP’s playground and natural spa.  We took into the waters like lost desert children while Ian recovers, again.P1000260

now this is the life...

now this is the life…

P1000272The final walk/run was a good 2 hours before reaching the twin peaks where Wawa Dam was situated.  Needless to say, the sights were awesome and picturesque, like we were worlds away from Metro Manila.  But of course, Rizal province has a way of ruining its beautiful landscape.

sssssssssnake!

sssssssssnake!

P1000301

mapping our journey, as illustrated by BoyP

mapping our journey, as illustrated by BoyP

Wawa here we come...

Wawa here we come…

For around the Wawa river strewn with ultrawhite boulders the size of houses and intricately carved limestone hills lay human wastes of the 21st century – floating videoke bars in an Olympic-scale competition to pollute the quiet and the clean.  And that’s just the start.  I don’t want to get into details but Wawa river and dam has the potential of becoming one of the country’s tourist attraction, most definitely.  Now if they can only clean up the area and dismantle all the blight and human structures all over.

this is planet earth...

this is planet earth…

Wawa Dam - damn those bamboo structures...

Wawa Dam – damn those bamboo structures…

water flowing out of the mountain...

water gushing out of the mountain…

that's it pancit...

that’s it pancit…

We got to Wawa at 6 pm and headed to Montalban town proper for our Chic-Boy party – mine was Cebu Lechon, my prize for surviving another harrowing and fun adventure last Sunday.  So when do we go back, BoyP?

Some photos courtesy of BoyPraning (aka BoyP & Meljohn Tezon) – sa uulitin!

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Toto plays support and pacer (BDM 160 2013 edition)


Last January 27-28, 2013, we were witness to the 3rd edition of the Bataan Death March 160KM, the country’s longest continuous road race, so far.  Of course, last November 2012, there was the West Coast 200KM but that was done in 3 days in increments of 70, 70 and 60 kilometers each.  This time the 100-miler commemorating the heroic acts of our WW2 soldiers in Bataan starts at Mariveles, Bataan and finishes at Capas, Tarlac with a cut-off time of 30 hours.  BDM 160KM holds a special place in my running heart because it was this last year’s edition that we were fortunate to finish it at 26:51 hours, in the midst of ITBS, dwindling spirit/energy and sleepiness.

the goal....now let's rewind.

the goal….now let’s rewind.

 

This year, we were recruited by fellow trail ultrarunner CJ Paran to be part of his support team which included Boringers Rod, Mar, Bong plus Hugo & Thea (co-supporters for CJ’s BDM 102KM stint).   They have started 4 am and have been running for at least 6 hours when I caught sight of them near KM 42 in Balanga, Bataan where our bus dropped us off.  While awaiting for them, I encountered runners at position #5 downwards and was quite surprised by the leadpackers.  Of course, all of these would shift and change as the kilometers progress.

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Benj taking a bite at Jon’s banana (walang malisya)…

While in 2012, CJ was already in near emotional turmoil 20 kms into the finish, this time, he was in high spirits, running side by side with the equally ebullient Benj Termulo.  We were trying to estimate their standings and it was safe to say, they were in the low 20s so it was a nice 50-km opening salvo.  By late morning, the sun has spread its searing rays but our two runners were still in their respective elements with Benj keeping the pace up.  It was later in the afternoon when CJ finally found his groove and started taking on the other runners in front.  Yes, our little boy was following our every instruction (‘tuhugin mo si ____, ha’ or ‘skewer that motha#%@!).  Benj just couldn’t keep up with him but soon enough, his support vehicle arrived to be with him every 3 kms.

at the crucial crossroad of KM83...

at the crucial crossroad of KM83…

Near the 15th hour, CJ arrives at KM102 still eager and energetic.  The plan was for us not to stay too long at this pitstop since many were already thrashed and in near-DNF mode.  We regrouped at KM 105 where CJ changed outfit and had his much needed dinner.  Bong was the first pacer up to KM127 with stops every 3 kilometers.  Bong is the ideal pacer, keeping CJ’s spirits and pace up and running.  In the latter part, it was undeniable that our runner’s energy was dwindling when he started requesting for short naps. I was totally against it but the group finally relented.  I was just hoping it was for the best and not the break that would knock him out ‘til September ends.

with the cavalcade from Team Boring during the early part of the 3rd leg of the race...

with the cavalcade from Team Boring during the early part of the 3rd leg of the race…

still in high spirits...so far.

still in high spirits…so far.

Before midnight, I took over the pacing duties at KM127.  Basically, it was just accompanying the runner to walk/run while lighting his way and providing much needed provisions both liquid & solid – a skill my 160KM pacers could do in their sleep.  Some words of encouragement would be of help and if need be, some brutal version of tough love (‘you’ve prepared for months for this, are you just going to throw this away on the basis of your imaginary blister?’).  It really was his mind playing on him as Coach Mar inspected it quite frequently.  And so we had to tape on it some cushion so he can move on.  That’s after I’ve recited my long and painful history of ‘the blister’ from 2011.

lez do this...

lez do this…

As you can see, in the wee hours of the morning, CJ had started hitting his fantasy wall, no hallucinations yet so I knew, there was still hope.  Even if he started withering on one side of the street every few kilometers. I gave him a mere 2 minutes before I let out my imaginary whip and begin lashing him forward.  He had also become irritable such that every time, he started hearing my footfalls, he would stop his running (‘You’re pacing too fast, I can’t keep up with you!!’).  So what’s a guy to do?  Just keep a comfortable distance from the back while still keeping an eye on my runner who anytime could find himself among the rushing nighttime vehicles (or talking to a rock).

Eventually, he was just too hot to handle and even too cold to hold.  I just had to remember that he was not in a normal state of mind and body so what he blurts out should not affect me – I just needed to bring him to the finish line, by hook or by crook.  But I guess, I’m just human so at some point, I was getting frustrated.  Don’t worry, there was none of those shouting matches and altercation (DNF was out of the question, I kept reminding myself).  It was more of our little psychological war.  I had to trick the little guy into moving like hell (the lemmings are on our tails) in the face of sleepiness, fatigue and more importantly, mental breakdown.

polar-opposite vibes...

polar-opposite vibes…

dude, where's my runner?

dude, where’s my runner?

And so I summoned my inner Deepak Chopra and kept badgering him with positive thoughts and anecdotes (‘there will come a day when you would suddenly feel like you’ve had enough and would just quit a race but this is not day’ blah, blah…).  The guy was still mad at me for matching his ‘attitude’ but he was moving, perhaps, out of spite or my most encouraging adjectives (‘this is the perfect day to finish the BDM 160!’, ‘hell, you’re in a place I can only dream of – you’re in the Top 15 for crying out loud!’), I care not to know.

today, we shall reach paradise...

today, you shall see me in paradise…

Daylight had started creeping in when we ventured into the final and most trying 10 kilometers.  I was having a hard time to get him moving faster.  Good thing two Boring vehicles were on hand to help me for the final push.  And as always, we see a speeding Totoy appear and disappear in minutes.  Few runners also came and went including ‘Mr. Tuhog’ Bong Alindada (ably paced by Aldean Lim) who was gracious enough to keep our lead until we finally relented.  In the concluding kilometers, the competitive spirit (or perhaps, the need to just get through with this race) finally kicked in on CJ and we were running down a dream.

clark kent (as assisted by Boringers Nono & Cindy) transforms to SuperB...

clark kent (as assisted by Boringers Nono & Cindy) transforms to SuperB…

The time is near...So near it's stirring the blood in their veins!

The time is near…
So near it’s stirring the blood in their veins!

redemption - just a few breaths away...

redemption – just a few breaths away…

In a blink, I saw the hulking Bataan Death March monument before us and soon enough, it was Sir Jovie Narcise (Baldrunner) giving CJ a warm, sweaty hug.  I was waiting for that tearful moment, just like what happened at BDM 102 but I think he’s too dehydrated to even excrete tears.  But it was both exhausting and triumphant and I felt I was part of it all.  To see CJ place #14 among the 43 finishers was something like seeing your child graduate from pre-school Magna cum Laude (except that there isn’t one and I don’t have a child).  So anytime, I guess, I won’t hesitate to pace and support anyone in an ultrarace.  It’s never without its exciting & exacting moments, trying and winning episodes – now that’s something I wouldn’t want to miss…

Team Mayor CJ at the Finish with Sir Jovie...

Team Mayor CJ at the Finish with Sir Jovie…

A beer toast between runner & pacer (160 kms. later)...

A beer toast between runner & pacer (160 kms. later)…

 

Love in time of sweat & fatigue - Ronnel & Irene (100-miler couple)

Love in time of sweat & fatigue – Ronnel & Irene (100-miler couple)

Photography by Paulo Navarette & Rod Apolinario (Team Boring)

 


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Frontrunner Article 2: (Trying to) Look young beyond 40


I’m not so sure if I am the proper authority on this but my critical and detailed observations among people of varied ages and status through the years could help many of us – runners, especially those over 40 or even just approaching it.  I mean, many of us serious runners, plunged into this lifestyle basically to look and feel younger than many of our contemporaries.  Beyond the rising blood pressure and fluctuating dial on the scales, the yearning to bring back those lost years is what primarily drives us to wake up at dawn just to hit the pavement like there’s no tomorrow.

enjoying my beer (not my choice, really) after playing pacer during the BDM 160...

enjoying my beer (not my choice, really) after playing pacer during the recent BDM 160…

Basically, runners have already the edge over his less active buddy whose idea of physical activities would be surfing (the net) and throwing rocks at angry birds. We have flatter abs (though, not necessarily), a better posture and a certain air of confidence (esp. if one has finished an ultrarace, though this can go overboard).  A lot of other people may not be physically fit but how come they still stand out among the crowd?  Don’t worry, this isn’t an advertorial from Belo or Obagi.  Many runners already have the guns so it’s just a matter of harnessing them sans surgery or drugs.
a.  Think young, look young.  You don’t have to sport the latest Justin Bieber hairstyle (considering, if you still some hair up there) to blend in with the younger generation.  You don’t even have to know the latest apps or single by Jason Mraz.  Having a greater zest for life and an adventurous attitude would help (not much of a stretch for many of us).  Avoid acting like a father/uncle if one of them starts taking alcoholic drinks but assert some authority when things go a little beyond control.
In short, try to go with the flow and be more open minded with younger generation’s mind set.  Yes, they also have their pluses which our generation failed to imbibe.

during my recent NY jaunt:   the gift of wonder & discovery

during my recent NY jaunt: the gift of wonder & discovery

b.  Details, details. A sprouting nose hair, a chipped tooth, a gag-inducing breath or an overlong eyebrow strand – think how this could ruin someone who looks and smells good then you get the picture.  Beyond being kikay, it’s about having proper hygiene and being clean.
c. Less is more.  During our time, the term minimalist was unheard of (though this did flourish in mid-century homes).  Now it’s everywhere – in architecture, furnitures, running shoes and clothes.  So those who think that their neon shirt and pastel pants would still do, think again.  Time to update your wardrobe.  The simpler, the better.  Let go of your flamboyant, over the top 80s attitude.  We’re in the more practical, streamlined 2010s.

'Gliding' during the Condura Skyway Run 2013

‘Gliding’ during the Condura Skyway Run 2013

That indigo high waist jeans you’ve had for the last 20 years only belies your age.  Young people nowadays sport tighter jeans with low waists one can glimpse of eternity.  Get a good tailor who could adjust your loose shirts and pants.  I did when I lost a bulk of my arms and chest from running.  I’m not suggesting to sport that skinny jeans + v-neck shirt + Chuck Taylors ensemble but try to take it halfway without looking too fashionista- we’re talking about looking fresh but still respectable.  Lastly, if you want to look more senior, tuck in your loose shirt underneath your giant buckle, yes, even if it’s the Western State silver buckle. Subtlety – now that’s something you can introduce to your system.IMG_0073
d.  Take care of your biggest organ.  The skin that is.  Runners are most prone to all forms of skin discolorations/burns/dryness.  If you’re going for that gruff, rugged look, go ahead if you think it’s cool.  You could also stop shaving for 3 days if you want.  Just don’t complain if they won’t let you in the hotel lobby. Time to let go of your fantasies of looking like Barry Gibb or Kris Christofferson.  It’s about looking clean and decent – minimal body hair, most especially those gorilla chest hairs.  Most Southeast Asians are at an advantage here for very few have ear hairs you’d want to secretly pluck out.

nobody gets too much hair anymore...

nobody gets too much hair anymore…

The opposite of the spectrum would be those super clean and mega-white bleached look from our north Asian brothers.  If you’re longing for that kind of ‘ghostly’ face, go ahead and spike the sales of sunblocks, glutathione and papaya soaps.  We are runners so accept the fact that we will never bring back our fairer look (unless you’re a Jael/Jonel) or you can take a hiatus and hibernate in the caves of Huyuphuyupan.  So love that bronze god look which could only be achieved from all that heat training.  Lastly, moisturize, moisturize – if Rob Lowe does it, so should you.  I know that supplemental spraying of sunblock will hardly stick on you 12 kms after so better make up for it when you’re already off the road.

forever young...I want live

forever young…I want to live

e.  Accept your Age.  There are certain things we have to learn to accept whether it’s a fading vision, a thinning hairline (a bald pate is way cooler than brushing your last few strands towards your glinting forehead), a weaker stamina, or greying hair.  A high school classmate who’s a cosmetic surgeon once suggested that I should get ‘botoxed’ to hide my crow’s feet which appear upon smiling.  I told him I might lose my signature acting style ‘coz I’ll look expressionless on the big screen.

that's me during the 25th year reunion of our UERM Batch '88 last month...

that’s me during the 25th year reunion of our UERM Batch ’88 last month…

Seriously now, we can only just do so much in reversing the hands of time.  Relish your wisdom and experience that can only come with advancing years. Besides what we lack in physical perseverance, we more than make up in mental toughness in an ultramarathon.  Ever seen an old runner emotionally break down at the BDM 160 finish line?  In short, learn to love what you’ve become – a better and faster human being who’s capable of outrunning and outwitting individuals half your age.  And enjoying his second wind in midlife.  Whenever I see someone young, eager and strong on the road, I wish him/her to remain spritely and ‘still at it’ when he/she gets to my age.  Because in the end, it’s about longevity and sustenance.  And finishing strong in this race called life.
First Photo is courtesy of Paulo Navarette