Laguna Bay Ultramarathon Relay-2nd & Last Day-14 Survivors Hits the Road Again

Day 1, read here…

Day 2 starts at 5am.  I had a hard time getting sleep and woke up every hour, finally, my alarm snoozed at 3:15am.  I rode the second car, bought gatorade and and reached the starting line ten minutes before gunstart.

Start of day 1- Our runner 1, Loo covered by Jerry. Is he stretching or praying? I would not want to be in Loo's shoes, 28.8k with the pressure to finish it in less than 3 hours?

We left the transition area before the take-off but the lead pack were going all-out, we had a hard time overtaking the convoy.  It was a good thing though, we were able to cheer on the runners who will be running 27.8k for the first leg (later on turned out to be 28.8).

The Lead Pack-in the shortest shorts shorts

Our Runner 1 -Jan, Macky and Loo in regular sized running shorts

I wonder if the running shorts have something to do on their speed.

Note to team for next relay, hahaha…it could be the shorts?!? =)

We had enough time to buy ice along the road.  Our coolers are ready for the heat of the sun.  At 6am, heat was already unbearable.  We reached the Mabitac Town Plaza with enough time to spare.  The transition area is right in front of the Mabitac Church which has a hundred or more step to climb.  Tere thought of going to the church to try the steps as warm up.  I was still half asleep then and I could have snapped and said “Duh, not the time for training!”. We prepared our runners Jucell and Nam, lent them my Bib belt so they can bring GU gels.  We kept on reminding Laya that it was okay to DNF if it would really hurt.  The two guys agreed to pace each other and keep each one in sight.   Still half asleep then, the Team BR support arrived and said the team is leading.  A few minutes after, the convoy started to arrive at the transition area.  We waited and cheered on…

First Leg

Rene Desuyo arrived first.  It took another four minutes before Team Antipolo arrived and Team BR2 was next.  The Team Brooks was fourth place.

Strong Finish for Rene Desuyo, nag-smile pa talaga!

We left immediately and went to Transition 2.  We got a message that oOur own Loo arrived after 2 hours and 55 minutes for a 28.8kilometer leg together with Macky.  The leg consist of some uphills and a nice view but the distance in itself is already tiring considering you are running back to back.  Later on we learned from Loo that he wasn’t able to sleep just thinking how he can finish the leg under 3-hours.  We received this news when we were already in Jalajala Municipal Hall, the second transition point.

The second transition point always makes me nervous.  This means I am nearing my leg.  The second support vehicle arrived with Macky and Loo.  Inspired already with the strong finish of the two, I started prepping myself.  From our estimate and our target, the second runners should finish in 3 hours for us to meet the cutoff time.  I actually have about five hours at a minimum to wait.  Ughh, I so hate this feeling…While waiting, we helped attend to Runner 1 of Team Brooks, (Vertek’s team).  He was so dehydrated and was already throwing up even the hydrite, he was taken to the hospital and was back in 30 minutes.  We also enjoyed some photo ops with Vertek.  (yes, again!)

With Vertek Buenavista and Rene Desuyo (both top finishers in their relay legs)

With the Female Runners and Corrie of Team BR...I could have won if there is a category for most geared up female runner...they actually run in a singlet and shorts only. (no shades, visors, belt, etc...)

Second Leg – the Elites

Team Antipolo arrived first (for the second time).  The guy is really strong, we were in awe seeing  him stride on the uphills.  (If those legs can be borrowed, I would bid for one for the PAU 50K run in Sierra Madre on May 9.).  Team Brooks got an edge by finishing second.  Vertek is off after getting the baton (He won this leg again, finishing the 19.9k distance in 1:04).  Jujit De Asis (a team BR elite) came in third.  We were worried for Jack (the third runner of Team Bald Runner).  He started first with a four-minute edge.  We heard he was already run-walking the last 3-kilometers.  Much as I was cheering for each team, I was saddened by the situation.  When Jack showed up, we all jumped and cheered on for him to hold on till the transition point.  He started to speed up…

Jack finishing his leg on fourth place. He knelt down as soon as the baton was handed over to 3rd runner. BTW, they say he looks like Jericho Rosales. Let's see when Echo starts to join the fun runs.

We left the transition point no. 2 to make it on time to Transition 3 in Tanay (where my leg will start).  Mark and Carlo are so ready….

My friends Rhea, Anne and Donna were there to bring our lunch.  Finally! A decent meal.  Thanks bestees! We ate on the sidewalk sitting down.  The sun was so punishing, all the ice in our coolers are now water (which is not even that cold anymore).  We had it refilled.  At that time, Laya and Nam has not arrived at Transition 2.

First Decent Meal after Two Days

Second Leg – Hours after the Ordinary People

Our runner 2, Jucell, is injured.  Nam and Laya plans to run together.  Nam would ensure that Laya will not push too hard (Our worry is he might try and worsen his condition.).  Laya pacing Nam would pull him to hang on considering the distance.  And that is exactly what happened.

can you feel the pain in Jucell's face? His stride is far from his normal stride. Hats off to you guys! This is the leg fitted for warriors.

(Picture grabbed from Ysmael Ilagan)

The two finished at 11:37…We are seven minutes behind.  This means we have to finish our remaining legs in less than two hours.  We know the possibility is already remote.  Even if we PR less than 2 hours for 21K road races, that is a totally different game.

The waiting in Tanay was the longest waiting time ever.  I would go to transition area and chat with the organizers hoping that they would lengthen cutoff time.  No effect though!  Chat with the PNPs, the other teams, my teams, etc.

Jack has recovered. Chatting with BR Clinic trainees Donna and Rhea at Transition 2. Is that you Echo?

While waiting, my cousin passed by and saw me.  Another guy in motorcycle passed by and asked if I was running (didn’t recognize him.  apparently, he was a batchmate from high school).  Glad that we are not taking the town proper route, not really up to seeing old friends while I’m on race mode.

At the transition area

Jan’s team arrived at 1:38.  Our runner should be arriving in about 15 minutes.  We stayed in the transition area ready to take off, then got engrossed to chatting with the people there.  (especially Raiza, the runner who stopped to eat halo-halo during leg 2 of the race).  Was surprised and jumped off when I saw Mark and Carlo arriving together.  I was caught off guard, I forgot my white towel.

3rd Leg

The 3rd leg is critical for the lead pack.  Vertek again gained advantage and lessened the gap.

Antipolo arrived first at Transition 3

Vertek coming in second (still has the fastest split time in this leg which shortened the gap between them)

The third leg was between noontime to 2pm.  Mark and Carlo ran from Jalajala to Tanay.  There are gradual inclines.  The scenery is very nice with the bay on your left and mountainous area on your right.  These means the runner is directly exposed to the sun’s heat.  No shield.  We are not worrying about heat stroke as we’ve learned our lessons on the first day.  The support has a small cooler with ice already and the two regularly hydrated and dosed themselves with water.

Pacing helped as this pushed the two to continue running.  The heat really slowed down their pace.

Wearing the Belt (Baton) Before Taking Off

4th Leg

By this time, we do not have spare time.  We are short by 33 minutes already.  This means, I need to run the 19kilometers in 1 hour and 43 minutes, a pace of 5:42.  I know I can not do it but the race is not over.  I was praying for the sun to hide.  It did not!

Starting My Most Memorable 19kilometer Run

Tanay to Binangonan.  I grew up in Baras, studied in Morong, hangs out in Cardona and Tanay.  I know the roads we are to traverse except Binangonan.  I thought we are going to run the town proper though so I did not expect to be welcomed by the rolling hills on the first 5 kilometers.

It was really so hot.  When the motorcyle support caught up with us, I got my towel.  I soaked myself in it and placed it on my nape.  I would alternate it with the yellow one when I already feel it is no longer cold.

At the First Three Kilometers with Tere and the Best Support Ever - Arnel. Plus Tere's Support

The first part was rolling, I was dictating our pace as I have a garmin.  We finished the first 5k in 28 minutes.

Downhills were attacked, there were parts of a long downhill when the heat was taking a toll on me, I don’t want to stop and wet my tongue instead using my towel.  At some point, our support Arnel went ahead for a kilometer to buy ice.  (Yes, he is that caring and he even used his own money!).  Imagine, it was only 6 kilometers and all the ice in the cooler has melted.  With Arnel nowhere in sight I tried sipping from my towel. Ugh, it tastes like a laundry soap!  It was a relief when I saw him before Namay.  It will be a climb after that.  Recharged after seeing him and pushed on.  I can not waste time.  I know that when we enter Morong town proper, traffic would be worst.

And yes, it was! The two sidewalk was filled with townpeople  in different sports uniform, vehicles not moving.  There was practically no place for us to run.  The police escort decided to take the middle of the street.  I followed.  Arnel stayed on my left, another police escort on my right.  Tere was behind me plus her support motorcycle and another police escort.  We ran the whole stretch at a split of 3:40 .  We could not afford to slow down.  Eveyone was watching, the vehicles are starting to hate us.  I hold on to the pace until we reach the “Paglabas” area in Morong, 400 meters from the boundary of Cardona.  We reached 10th kilometer at this point in 58 minutes.  After 200 meters, we saw the support vehicle of Team Flash Forward.  Iah and Jerry went down and started running with us.

The organizers told them that if we do not reach the transition area at 3:30, we will be swept already.  And apparently, they all saw the coming uphills with steep inclines.  They projected that with the heat and those hills, we will finish in 2hours and 30minutes.

The disappointments was unexplainable.  I wasn’t talking.  I slowed down my pace. It was the first uphill.  I know I can run this fast, I have tried before but what’s the point?  I was running my best at that point thinking of Loo (who finished his leg and PR’d on an ultramarathon with a 28.8k distance), Laya (who ran with one leg but still finished), Mark (who ran the hottest portion of the relay).  I was imagining Jerry at the transition point but here he is running with me.  I wanted to be brat and tell him to get lost.  (Seriously Jerry, I thought of that)  I guess at that time though, we have been bonded enough after almost two days into the relay cramped in the car that I just trusted they made the right decision.  So much for the drama, after a kilometer of uphill while processing the situation, I started to speed up.  I overtook on Jerry and ran faster.  In a kilometer or so we will be passing by the house of my friend Rhea.  I know that they will be there to cheer on.  Tita Cora has been waiting since that morning for me to pass by.  I wanna look strong (at least for that picture c/o Anne).

Approaching Rhea's house. Managed to Smile for the Camera despite my then 'emoooo' mode

Iah and Tere on the mood for the Cam

After Rhea’s house, it is only 7 kilometers to go.  Another uphill awaits us.  I decided to slow down and think of PAU next week.  I might as well just reserve my energy for that one.  Iah who was behind us caught up on me and we had a brief chat climbing that hill.  I can not remember anymore what we talked about as I started to speed up when my Garmin said last 5 kilometers.

Tere and I agreed to pace but I didn’t bother to anymore. (sorry partner!)  I know there was a support vehicle and there was Jerry and Iah pacing us.  I registered an average  fast pace of 5 for the last 3 kilometers.  Had I not walked and slowed down in the middle, I could have finished the leg and meet the time I need to cut-down.  But then again, I might be limping by now if I did.  (There is a reason for everything!)

I didn’t know that Jerry and Iah rode the car already.  There was another call received, there is no rule that we will be swept and they can still proceed with the race.

I was surprised when I entered the transition point and saw that Jerry will still run.

Tere came in after me and Iah left the transition area to take his leg.

The Final Leg

Jerry has 1 hour and 34 minutes left to run the last 19 kilometers…………….He was giving it his best, and even with a 15 minutes time discrepancy with Jan’s team he reached a point where he can already see Smacky.  He can already see the buildings in Ortigas.  He’ll soon be back in the city.

At that point though a Maynilad truck was already asking the runners to ride. At 5pm! Shouldn’t the cut-off be 5:30pm? hmmmm strike two!  If the race started at 530am, then cutoff should be 530pm, that’s 12 hours.  They asked Iah to ride…”Tapos na po! Kahit takbuhin  niyo yam, wala na ding tao dun pagdating niyo.”  repeatedly being said by the guys in the truck.  (I wish they emphatized more and had been more encouraging).

When Iah passed by Jerry, he told him about the situation….Jerry has a lot of story to tell on how he eventually decided to ride.  And he did!  That was the end of the relay for our teams.

At that point, we were negotiating our way through the traffic of Floodway….we were glad when we are not seeing the two.  We were thinking the two really gave it all out.  We know they can!  Until we saw Smacky ( last runner of Jan’s team).  And he said, “sumakay na, sumakay na sila”……….silence…………

No one was talking.  We still don’t know the story.

The hardest part was when Norman asked if we are turning right to the relay route or take the shortcut to Tiendesitas.  I said, “Take the shortcut.  Tapos na naman, wala na tayong hinahabol…”

We knew from the start that we might not make it to the cutoff.  We knew the cutoff is impossible.  Though, we keep on hoping until the end.  It was the saddest hour of the two days.  No one uttered a word.  Iah told us the story when we arrived.

I honestly just wanted to go home but my thoughts went back to our Team Objective which we all had a pact on since our planning stage, “Participate and Enjoy!”…and Dang! why not have one round of beer while watching the awarding ceremonies.

We had one round, two rounds, cheered on the winners, celebrated Laya’s birthday, had fun!  The fun was back with a little less energy though as the effect of two-day feat is already on us.  Of course, we celebrated the success of the Team Bald Runner-Elites.  Ali Quisay and Rene Desuyo won the Lap Honor for first leg, days 1 and 2.  Team Bald Runner 1 (Desuyo, Alquin, Nhee-Anne,Patrick and Jack) won third place while Team 2 (Frank, Jujit, alvin canada and Co. won the fourth place.  And it still truly calls for a celebration as the Team Bald Runner Professionals (Flash Forward and Lake Dashers) took on the challenge to be one of the few non-athlete team at the relay, gave it their best shot, qualified on the first day while 4 teams dropped and had the best race of their lives so far….PAU 50K here we come! And Laguna Relay, we will see you next year!  (Yes, with the same team!)  Hope more mortals join next year….

Elite Team Bald Runner with the Bald Runner Professionals

Congratulations to Team Antipol and to Team Brooks-Airforce (Vertek’s team) for winning the first and second place, respectively.  Also to PNP A, Coast Guards, Army C, Maynilad, LLDAs, MMS, Team Sagul, UPLB Mountaineers…We had fun rubbing elbows with you, the best of the best in running! (Next year, we need to have a more intimidating name – is it Army-X or PNP-Z, let’s see!)


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