Signing on again…
It’s been a while, I know. My apologies for keeping you, guys in the dark on my whereabouts. So aside from all the trainings (practically the last 5 months), I sneaked in a holiday travel (Nov.), Christmas Reunions and Get-togethers, House/Clinic re-dos (Dec.-Jan.), pocket trips here and there and of course, it was at this time when patient volume balloons (Oct.-Jan.). So after a long day, I barely am in my senses to even write something or even finish a few pages of a book (Fevre Dream by GRR Martin).
So Let’s Look Back…
Milo Lipa Eliminations
This was my second attempt to qualify for the Milo Marathon Finals in December. We had 1.5 months to train for this combining gym workouts (spinning & definition classes at Gold’s gym), speed runs at the Marikina Sports and the UP Oval (Payasso 2200), and a bit of Milo Apex sessions at the QC circle
Unfortunately, the running gods were not on our side that September 14, what with cold breeze and pelting rain harassing us, as we navigated semi-flooded and partly-lit streets (it’s brownout across Lipa city due to storm Luis) which in the latter part featured descents (whee!) and ascents (aawww!). Perhaps, I wasn’t that well trained for a few kilometers into the 21KM, I was experiencing fatigue and occasional cramping (for the nth time). Oh well. 02:01:22 it was.
Run United Philippine Marathon 2015
This was perhaps, the main reason why I lost interest in blogging. Yep, RUPM was supposed to redeem my Milo marathon debacle, over 2 months later and 4 days after I turned 49. With our regular Milo Apex (M & W) coupled Payasso 2200 (T & Th) sessions, I was confident I would avoid the same cramping conclusion from my last marathon. We tried to pace a bit in the first 21KM (unlike in the Milo marathon) clocking around 2:10. Soon enough, stabs of muscle hardness started appearing out of nowhere. Later on fatigue, burnout and cramping conspired to reduce me to walking in the last 7 kilometers. When my unofficial pacer Van finally said “lalakarin mo na lang ba ‘yan hanggang finish line?” (will you walk all the way to the finish?), I almost said yes (I admit that’s what I really had in mind). But the question piqued my pride and I started to picking myself up, even if I was shuffling and waddling (to vary the pressure on my sole) like a newly castrated eunuch. Not in the plan but 4:55 ain’t bad for my 16th full mary.
Back to the hills!
A few days of sulking (and walking like an astronaut), we were back on the trails in preparation for the my first ultra-trail race since…hmmm TNF 100 in 2013. That’s how long it’s been so it was a struggle (to say the least) to find my trail steps but once everything fell in place, I was flying and having a blast. Dave was our trail master along with Van, Chinky, Reylynne, Tricia and the rest of the gang.
The Hills are Alive!
At the start of November, we joined the CM60 recon run while trying to retrace the route I ventured in in 2012. We only did 45KM, out and back. But it tested our patience and strength. Good thing I had Van & Alfred with me to take me through those challenging up hills and technical descents and kill boredom. After 8:30, we reached the Clark parade grounds, weather beaten while feeling more confident for the real race on Nov. 20.
A week later, we took on the Purgatory 30KM (c/o Frontrunner magazine) from Japas to Boko, Benguet. It was a magical route which entered a mossy forest verdant and virgin from human intrusion (t’was heaven in Purgatory!) and a protected oasis before going to more up hills and finally descending into really mean and technical descents. Who would have thought it would take us 6:55 to finish a 30KM race? Our skills and guts were really tested with the steep killer and sometimes slippery (strewn with pine needles) downhills. Hopefully, it made us stronger and more familiar with technical trails.
Clark to Miyamit 60KM
I was supposed to do this 2013 (the 80KM edition) but since I was still recuperating from that knee surgery (chondroplasty), I had to withdraw from my trail dream for me time. After recovery, strengthening and training for a year, I found myself at the starting line with Van, my running partner throughout the 60KM distance. The gun start for both 80 & 60 kilometers were at 12 midnight of Nov. 23 so paces were varied.
We rounded up the Clark field roads before entering the laharlands with our trusty headlamps to guide us through shifting sands, gushing rivers and mean climbs. We were finally led to the trails which soon enough started ascending until the angle kept increasing and the calves were put to the ultimate test. I had done these hills so many times so I was no longer overwhelmed but the difficulty level never diminished. With a constant hiking mild pace with little stops, we finally reached Miyamit Falls after 6 hours and 15 minutes and had our obligatory dip in its cool waters which revved up our energy in no time.
We were quite confident to finish within our 12-hour goal. My 2012 experience had us doing a negative split, with our return trip faster by 45 mins. And so we started our descents while walking the minor up hills. By the time we entered the Sacobia river area, I was reduced to just walking and had a hard time forcing my foot to run. Soon there was a struggle in my climbs as the sun kept badgering us (we would later learn that this was the hottest edition of the 3 CM races). I had to stop many a time to recover as my breathe was labored and the palpitations more felt
But we kept hammering even if we knew we had slowed down tremendously, courtesy of moi. Along the expanse of the endless lahar landscape, we were trudging and enjoying to keep our wit and sanity intact. In short, we were thrashed like hell. We only came to our senses when we saw lone female runner (Tess Leono), a few meters from us. So we started jogging-walking along the streets of the Clark complex into the finish. After 13 hours and 30 minutes, we reached the finish line scrambling like the Last of the Mohicans.
Here’s my Facebook status then: It’s my longest ultratrail/mountain race this year and it’s a darn reminder of strengths and mostly weaknesses, both physically & mentally. The first 30KM was already bitch but at 6:15 up to Miyamit Falls, we were quite excited of a 12-hour finish, and so the descent towards Sapang Uwak was testy but still manageable & quite swift. By the time, we reached the final 23 kms., I was thrashed and could hardly jog as the minor cramping had set in so we had to do it in walking mode, except for the down hills (some of which have lost their tracks that we had to slide down on our butts). My lowest points were the last 3 intense climbs where I had to do some stops to recover. By this time, hallucinations, dehydration, negativity and thoughts of quitting had set in but my partner Van kept pushing me (and this is where I realized how old I am). It was a lot of endless, brain-frying and monotonous trudging across lahar lands before we reached AS1 when i realized Van has already bonked himself. The final 10 kms. had us struggling across the great expanse of planet lahar with the final push and run inside Clark (Tess Tess Leono was a few meters behind us). It’s been quite a journey and I underestimated it (why my 2012 50M race was so much easier compared to this is beyond me).
Photos courtesy of Dhona Castillo of Run Lipa, Dr. Evelyn Ponce, David Buban, CJ Paran, Team Ayala Triads and Team Payasso 2200.