4:30 am, May 9, 2010. I could hardly recognize anyone as I walk from my support vehicle to find my Team BR Professionals friends, I just returned the hi’s and hello’s . It was still so dark or am I just so nervous(?).
One-hundred sixteen runners….
Another hundred running and non-running support crew, drivers, photographers….
Running Elites in Team Bald Runner shirts and jeans….
A starting line banner on the road lighted by a Meralco lamp post….
The Bald Runner……
50 Kilometers… 3500 to 4000 feet of elevation…. Eight Hours to Conquer!
I signed up for the race out of peer pressure? No, not really, it didn’t really take that much of convincing for me. Why not? All my Training Clinic friends are signed up (despite the fact that we are coming straight from an Ultramarathon Relay the week before). This is where we had our LSDs in preparation for our Relay Event. The plan was to Finish and Enjoy! Yes, finish it as our first revenge from our Ultramarathon Relay experience.
The race start was as simple as it could be. After a few photo-ops and a countdown, we were off (I could not remember if there was a gunstart to send us off-was too nervous! — or was it because of the gun ban?) I was running on target with Iah and Tere. In the dark and hot dawn, our legs can feel the continuous ascent…..And that was just an appetizer.
Took my first stop at the 5th kilometer marker upon seeing the support vehicle of Jan. Smacky promised to take an elite-looking shot of us. (still waiting for the copy). But here’s what my support got of me…
At the 8th kilometer, I took another Gatorade. Refilled my bottle with a cold one (it was still dawn yet the coldness won’t last for more than 5k!). As I made the turn after the stop, the Main Course was served — the first serving of the dreaded hills – an average of 80 m ascent which lasted until the 11th First of the many servings of the main course for the next eight hours – THE HILLS! On certain turns, even walking is a pain as we pace with trucks who are on low gear as well as they make those turns. To conserve my energy is the plan for this stretch, I jog-walk the uphill.
On the 12th kilometer, upon seeing the downhill, I took my first revenge. I attacked the next two kilometers at a 5.05 pace average. It didn’t last long, after the Sampaloc intersection; I felt the road climbing again. I was on my own at this time. I overtook three runners. After the bridge, the breathtaking view of Sierra Madre welcomed us. At this point, Nam and Jerry and another runner caught up with me.
Kilometer 13 to 20. Nam and I will target a marker and run, and then take a walk break. (Thanks to BDM veteran Nam! He knows how to survive being crazy on the road.) I ran on the grass at some points to give my feet some break….At the last kilometer to the 20th marker, I ran ahead so I can take my CR break.
After a CR break, when I got back on the road, I caught up with Tere and Iah and other familiar faces (the BDM vets). I didn’t take the next stretch easily, I enjoyed the slow descents and caught up with some runners who would tell me I am on second place. My support crew told me that first lady runner was 5 minutes away. I know it was Michelle Estuar, she passed me by at kilometer 5 (a BDM Vet! and have seen her podium finish in some races I joined as a newbie). Hats off ! I wouldn’t want to push, though (hmmm…), I ran my next 7 kilometers of rolling hills in 43 minutes (just tried!).
27th to 29th kilometer was another CLIMB! I found myself with Iah, Nam and another runner. The best part of the race were these climbs. You hate and love it! Hate the pain it brings but love the joy shared with other runners. You sing songs of all genres from “Boom Boom PAU!” to “Where do I begin…?” and yes, “My way” . Someone would say, BR ano ba itong ginawa mo sa amin? Then everyone would answer, “Eh, Sali naman tayo ng Sali…”
At the 30th, we saw the Aid Station. The Elites were there to serve us…it was complete with all stuff you need. Full-service! I declined to be doused with water so as not to wet my shoes. (I’m worried to run another 20k in wet shoes). Iah, Nam and Jerry (he always catch up with us after uphill!) were there and they insisted. Fine! (But, please be careful with my shoes). It feels like we are just at the ULTRA oval track with the elites taking our recovery after the Yasso reps. Until, dang! We’re in an ultramarathon, not ultra! One by one we left the station.
31st to 35th kilometer —Downhill again! At this time, we are coming across the lead pack. I couldn’t imagine how they do that. (Especially the veterans in their 50s and 60s!). Each runner who would pass me would tell me I am on second place. About 200 meters from the turnaround, I saw Michelle. Ay, second nga ako =)
It was a relief seeing the turnaround. But It was like a wall for me as well. I wanted to stay longer. I panicked when I saw that my shoes and legs are so dirty. Took out my visor, which is a habit for me when I want to take a rest. I looked for my hair comb. My support crew Mark then answered, “Where is it? Is it in the first aid kit?” (…Arggh, sa beauty kit, of course!)…I left…
35th to 40th kilometer CONTINOUS UPHILLS (not rolling, it is going up all the way!). I took it easy. I shared the next five kilometers with my BR Professionals friends. Roll call: Iah, Tere, Nam, Jerry. Then we saw Macky and Mark (who is injured but enduring the pain). Okay, complete attendance! We calculated the time left and wohooo, we are all going to finish even if we walk all the way! Tere said “Tin, bilisan mo, para second ka”. The boys cautioned us to just take it easy. I decided to take it easy. Tina (a BDM vet overtook us. She was strong and consistent with her pace even on uphill and is even singing her way through it!). I partied with the boys and Tere until the 40th (where the aid station is). Upon seeing the aid station, I went ahead and started my plan to speed up again. One last push! Frank, from the aid station appeared behind me to douse me with water. (Not my shoes please, but thanks really! I know I needed that for the next push and was just being bratty) I took the next four kilometers at a pace of 4:45 to 5:38 min/kilometers. I knew I was going too fast. I asked my support to go ahead and meet me when it’s going up already. I overtook some male runners and ended up pacing with Argo. I overtook him and thought I wouldn’t stop he might catch up with me. (At times like this, you just need to look for anything to push yourself). I didn’t stop pushing myself as I can hear him behind. Man, wouldn’t you slow down? (So, I can.)
When I saw the hills coming, He said, “hills again”. I said, “Yes, and I’m gonna walk that”. I’ve been pacing with him at several points on the road. I remember at some point he asked what my name was and I said, “Tin, you are? Ah, yeah, Argonaut, it says in your singlet”. (My maldita self really comes out at times, sorry Argo! But thanks for that push!).
I finally saw my support vehicle after one kilometer. The aid station is also there, Alquin of Team BR insisted again to douse my head with water (Thanks Alquin!). I caught up with Jerry who just said, “Bilis mo ah”. I said, “Yes, I reserved cause after this, I’ll be walking my way up….”
Six kilometers to go….. As we get nearer the finish line, the view seems to be so breathtaking….more and more breathtaking…but it was taking my breath away!
My legs are still fine. But my mind is saying no!
I am hydrated and am full from the banana-GU Gel-water-gatorade combination. But the hills seem to be eating all my energy.
I very much needed to go the CR and do a CR Break No.2. (I had an upset stomach from too much of Gel-gatorade-water combination until Monday morning). I wanted to run faster to reach the finish line or the CR, whichever comes first. =)
I am losing the will to go on, all I can see are the winding roads, the ravine, the view of Laguna de Bay, the mountains, the view of a runner in light blue about 300 meters away. I slowed down so I can pace with the runner behind me in a dark blue singlet and exchange a few words. Few as in, “Malapit na?” Response, “Malapit na siguro”. That was all we can utter.
I am not talking to my support crew anymore who wanted me to pose for a picture. I am not sure if I said, shut up or oh, please. (Sorry guys!).
Then Nam appeared again behind me. Just in time! We started counting the turns. We then counted the trees. We were longing to see that tower, seeing it was blissful! Two more turns, less than two kilometers. (Iah and Jael appeared behind us and have overtaken us.).
Nam said, “Run na tayo, overtake natin”. (just to motivate ourselves). I said no, Nam opted to stay. He stayed and we practiced our dance moves. “There’s a party going on right here…let’s celebrate…good times”. We were back on happy mode when we saw the elites before the last turn. Tin-“Are we dancing our way? Or run?” Nam-“Run na lang” Yasso! Una ka…”
After 6 hours and 51 minutes (official time), I crossed the First PAU 50K Run as the 39th Finisher and the 2nd Runner Up-Ladies! View the complete race results here.
God be praised!