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!

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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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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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November Trending


November just whizzed past me and I’m now in the busier month of December, thus this belated blog entry. With my brother Eric and his family from New Zealand dropping by plus a heftier patient volume (mostly balikbayans) and we have the perfect recipe of bungling my planned training on the last month before BDM 160. I’m trying to keep the discipline and consistency in check here, prioritizing the runs over late nights and extended parties so let’s see how I will be able to hold this all up and hopefully survive it – still coherent and sane.

November was not really the banner month in this running year as I had hoped it to be but looking at it in a wider perspective – I had balanced off the deficiencies in a week with some make-up runs. In the 6-month plan leading to BDM, November should have been my peak in training where I had to simulate around half of the 160 kms. But upon inquiries from BDM 160 veterans, December should be the peak of my training and only tapering in January.

Fort Runs

Most of my Sundays in November consisted of runs at the Fort. We opened with NB Power Run 25 kms on a rainy morning so reminiscent of that Milo Marathon last July I almost shrank back to my bed. But I was glad to have taken the challenge. I donned my fluorescent CDO-Dahilayan 55 km ultrarun raincoat to avoid shivering on the first 5 kms. Once I’ve properly warmed up, I just tied them around my waist and continued confronting the rains and the flooded streets of BGC. I’ve finally learned to embrace running under rainy conditions after being burned out in Milo but then again, this one’s 17 kms shorter so who knows. But yes, this was one enjoyable race and my time of 2:32 ain’t bad (at least in my book). Btw, I have no blisters anymore even in the presence of constant moisture. Hopefully, I’d be able to hurdle running’s many challenges both in wet and scorching conditions.

the final 200 meters: soaked and smiling...

The next week, I was back at Taguig, this time for an all-new challenge – the Men’s Health Urbanathlon (courtesy of Milo APEX co-runner, Jeff). It’s a short 15-km run but at the start and the near finish, one goes through a series of obstacles before crossing the finish line. I came in early to get a head start but soon realized that I had left my race bib and had to go back home to retrieve it. It took me a good 40 minutes to return to the starting line and by this time, the 15-km group had started 5 minutes ahead. It was a struggle to play catch up with my group, weighed down by the slower 10-km runners around me.

downing barriers one at a time...that's moi in orange

The first obstacle consisted of low barriers one hurdles as fast as one can. A little persistence soon found me in the company of some of the 15-km runners as we detoured around the central business district in Makati then back to the Fort. The 2nd obstacle had me going through more bars, up and down and sideways before hitting the pavement. 3 more obstacles awaited us in the final distance – the 5 hurdles along the road, the monkey bars and the high wall. I had a hard time with the monkey bars and slightly on the wall but I managed to survive them and still do a glorious finish. In fact, along with Kokoy & Keshia, we were still able to join the rest of our group who had left for Timberland that morning on their return run to Marikina and racked up 22 more kilometers for a total of 37 kms for that Sunday.

Fellow Boringer Keshia takes the top plum in the 5-km category but is more delighted with the fringe benefits (both at the left & right)...

meeting up with the rest of the gang...

The 3rd Sunday I woke up a lot earlier to be at the Palms Country Club in Alabang for Team USB’s Aquathlon. My Light category entailed a 6-km run, a 600-m swim and a 3-km run. Days into the race, I was a nervous wreck trying to cram on my swim training and trying to perfect Total Immersion into a faster race pace. But since I had only a video to guide me, I hardly accelerated in the 4-foot pool. In hindsight, I could have moved more smoothly using the freestyle (which was quite helpful in my 1st Aquathlon).

with Team Boring just before the water works...

and here we go....

The 6-km run was quite a breeze, moving through rolling terrains and mild descents. I was 20th when I entered the pool but soon enough, I felt the rest of the swimmers behind me suddenly surging and leaving me behind, like some drowning duck. I tried to keep up with them but soon enough I was struggling at each lap, taking long breaks in between to recover. It was no longer enjoyable and I was just waiting to get through with the 24th lap and start hitting the pavement. I still had enough power for the final run but by that time, most of my contemporaries were already breezing the finish line. Time to reboot my total immersion style.

epic fail at the pool...(song of the moment: 'Let's wait awhile')

Training Runs

The class of 2011, Timberland edition.

Besides the weekday runs where I averaged 15-20 kms, I was able to do a full Timberland training run on the last Sunday of November. I had joined our group (led my indefatigable and dangerously adventurous partner Dave) earlier in October where Team Boring along with Team Life (& Team Kulit) ran from Marikina going up and down Monterrey to San Mateo and finally into Timberland and back. The most compelling part of this route is definitely the Shotgun road – a series of ascending planes one loses count of as one continues to go uphill at 45 degrees or more, quite reminiscent of Bukidnon before Camp Philips in the Del Monte area.

the long (and rising) road ahead...

an oasis amidst the concrete 'desert'...

After what felt like forever, the concrete roads soon give way to rocky & muddy trails as we sped downhill into the Clubhouse area and going further down to The Wall then back to San Mateo town proper and Monterrey. While the first time took us more than 7 hours (we were over 20 runners), the November Timberland run clocked a mere 6 hours and one can’t help feeling like a conqueror after surviving it with minor problems.

playground of the bold and the passionate...

Milo APEX

with coach Jim...during the final session.

I knew I would have difficulty maintaining my weekday runs around the village so I enrolled in the Milo APEX running clinic at the QC Memorial Circle every Monday and Wednesday night. Under the tutelage and guidance of ace coach Jim Saret (and a bevy of competent Milo coaches), I learned the magnitude of leg and core strengthening and was able to get me out of my comfort zone. We did a lot of body strengthening routines coupled with numerous speed and recovery runs. Each session had us wounded and panting and sweating to our limits but we always looked forward to the next assembly.

Terrabanders unite!

fun (and hard) times with the 42-km group...

I averaged around 5-7 kms. per night but I felt so strong and revitalized after. What we did were quality runs and exercises and I don’t think I could have done them by myself plus I met some great and passionate runners in our 42-km group. I will miss Milo APEX but I need to learn to train and run on my own.

Terraband exercises with coach Jim and Boringer Edwin...

with Raffy & Jeff...

Weighty Issues

I started at 150 lbs before August 2011 but by November when all the training had intensified, I had dropped to 143 lbs. I would jump up a pound or so when I’m more relaxed and the metabolic heat inside had died down. The pictures would attest that I look gaunt and sickly but I’ve never felt stronger and resistant (and this is not me psyching myself up). We’ve ran through hard rains and the searing sun but I never got sick even while almost everyone in the house is experiencing some form of allergy or coughing. Anyway, I can take all the brickbats (some well meaning, actually) up to January. After BDM 160, I can always go back to my old self, 5 pounds heavier but maybe not…who knows. I might also miss some traces of an emerging rectus abdominis.