Our last article suddenly jumped to 2017 for the Rizal Mountain Run but let’s look back at my last quarter for 2016. We take off from my last Milo Marathon in 2016. We will cover August 1 to December 31. And as I look back, it seems I did more sightseeing than actual running though a lot of walking through picturesque places didn’t slow down my adrenaline.
By August, I went back to my regular road training either in UP or around Rancho Estate coupled with some strengthening P90X workouts. On August 20, Van and I did the Trail Valley Challenge 50K (though my Garmin read 48.68 kilometers) at the ever progressing Nuvali area in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. It’s our annual pilgrimage (thank you Frontrunner magazine) which never ceases to surprise since the route keeps changing as the villages keep expanding and the trails are relegated to the fringe territories. This time, the rains kept the rolling route a bit challenging but we kept trudging. And actually, we enjoyed the drizzle since the place can get very humid, with minimal trees as in the past editions. On our return trip, the rain drops have swollen to a full shower and we were like kids playing and running to a wet satisfying finish (while bypassing some runners in the process). 8 hours and 16 minutes later, we were welcomed by Frontrunner editor/RD Jonel and Ms. Connie.
The last 2 weeks of August had me heading to my friend Bon Aga’s functional gym to pack in some muscles (to fit in a suit), as opposed to the usual intense cardio workouts. The reason – I belatedly got the news that our movie, “Ang Babaeng Humayo” (The Woman Who Left) was accepted for the Main Competition at the Venice Film Festival. I think I forgot to tell you that last May, I was invited by a long time patient, Director Lav Diaz to join his crew in Mindoro for a week while they were shooting their little film starring Ms. Charo Santos-Concio and John Lloyd Cruz. Weeks before that, I was shuttling to ABS-CBN to create dentures to uglify the main characters (including Nonie and Shamaine Buencamino). So it was a whirlwind affair with the Lav Team as they created before my eyes part of a film which would eventually become one of the best in world cinema for 2016.
It was a hectic 12 days in Venice where I explored and enjoyed the main island for 5 days (including a day trip to Florence). After that, I joined the group at Lido island where the Venice Filmfest was happening, as we binge-watched on the finest new films from all over while going gaga over the stars (chanced upon Christ Pratt and Tom Ford in an elevator and got up close with Natalie Portman). It was a relaxed time for our group to meet up with fellow cineastes and bond more. The highlight for me was sashaying in my royal blue suit along with the cast of ‘Humayo’ on the red carpet and getting featured on ANC. A day later, on Awards Night, our film (yes, I did have a small speaking part here) would take home the highest honor for Venice, the Golden Lion Award. And that’s my brief foray into showbiz .
Later in September, our beloved UA Milo Apex school reopened so we found ourselves at the Quezon City Memorial Circle on Tuesdays and Thursdays doing runs, workouts and a lot of heart-thumping, intense hard work that after an hour we were sweating like dogs and searching for our favorite restaurants.
On October 2, a day after I turned 51, we took on the Clark-Miyamit trail marathon. We were familiar with it’s steep ascents at the beginning so we just kept scaling the unending heights in a trail laden with soft, slippery mud and sharp stones. The going wasn’t easy but we managed until I made a wrong turn from the main route. A good 30 minutes later, we were back on the designated trail but we had a cutoff to chase at the Miyamit Falls which we were reminded at the turn around at the peak. So under the pelting rain, we rushed down towards the falls area until we were informed in mid portion that we no longer have the time. And so we were officially declared DNFers (did not finish). Though, 35 kilometers of trail mileage on a Sunday morning ain’t bad training at all. Still, it was a wakeup call on our poor trail skill levels.
By the middle of October, we finally visited a place not because we had a scheduled official race or a filmfest but to relax and unwind. And Japan, with its disciplined citizenry, serene places and quaint streets, looked promising. Still, Van mapped out an itinerary that required a lot of walking and hiking around mountainous trails and hidden temples atop glorious views. A 5-kilometer bus ride, why not just walk it out and enjoy the quiet views and simple pleasures of wandering around (while scrimping on our yen fund). A 2-kilometer tram climb – let’s just take the stairs and take in the views less fleetingly and more musingly. Maybe, it’s his way to make up for the runs and workouts we missed for a week and balance out our gustatory conquests everywhere we went. From our AirBnB base in Osaka, we were still able to visit the sights in Kyoto, Kobe and Himeji. But the most pleasant surprise of them all was, with a little research and proper planning, Japan turned out to be cheap but still satisfying. Now let me just troll the net for some dirt cheap tickets to Tokyo.
Our UA Milo Apex running school covered the months of October and November 2016 but we never tested our running mettle until the NB 25K Powerun on November 6. We joined the race around BGC detouring to Buendia with little expectations. But when we realized how constant and comfortable we were running, it was time to up the ante and finish the run at a decent 2:28 (less than a 6 km pace). I guess, all our Apex training had paid off pretty well. Btw, our 10K was reached at :54 minutes while our 20K at 1:57. Not bad at all.
Since the Milo Finals was just a week after the Clark-Miyamit 50 miles, I had to bail out of CM but I was still able to join the recon run the week before. On November 20, I joined buddies Keshia and Alfred for a 22-kilometer jaunt across grassy trails and lahar lands with some climbs along the way. It was my way of keeping my trail skills in check in preparation for the many upcoming trail races and trainings in early 2017. Yes, trails would be taking up a big chunk of our 2017.
We capped off the year with the Milo Marathon Finals in Iloilo, my mom’s home province and favorite hunting ground ever since I can remember. We hopped on a plane the day before the race to claim our race bibs and met up with cousins who treated us to a memorable and sumptuous carboloading lunch. On December 4, at 3 am, we joined fellow Milo Finals qualifiers (remember my 1:57 qualifier at the Milo Dagupan?) at the Iloilo Convention Center to start our 42K adventure. The weather was cool perfect along 8-lane to 4-lane highways with nary a trace of jeepneys, tricycles, buses to contend with (so un-EDSA like). It was our first time to run along Iloilo’s newly constructed roads and developments and we just kept going for it. Water stations abounded and the sweet Ilonggo hospitality was overflowing. Here’s my run splits: 10K at 59:34, 20K at 2:02, 30K at 3:12. So it’s not really a fast race for me (Van and I separated in the 30Ks) but there were no cramping episodes so it’s a good day indeed.
Most memorable was the Milo Qualifier ribbon they gave us 10 meters into the finish line. We proudly raised it while crossing the finish as cameras clicked. Sadly, I still have to find those pictures. I finished at 4:41:50 while Van did it at exactly 5 hours. We celebrated the day’s accomplishments with a buffet breakfast at Injap hotel where we were billeted before being whisked away to Igbaras, Iloilo to stay and meet up with relatives. Igbaras had a lot of natural sights to offer so besides bingeing and feasting on the endless eating marathon among relatives, we were able to visit Igcabugao caves. It was a challenge to go up and down its treacherous trail a day after the race but we managed. And we were rewarded with dark mysterious cavern halls, gargantuan boulders rising to the sky, gushing rivers and waterfalls. It’s great to be finally home. My bond with Igbaras with never waver ‘til I kick the bucket.
2016 had been full of surprises and unexpected adventures. I look forward to what 2017 has in store…
Thank you to Butch Maceda, Daphne Codilla & Paksit for the great pictures. Cheers!