Bataan Death March 2011 – The Day (1)

The Road To BDM

The Intro

Touchdown Kilometer Zero On Saturday Noontime

We left Manila on the early morning of Saturday.  As we enter Roman Highway, we took the National Road traversing from Kilometer 67 to Kilometer 0 to recon the route.

Weather was quite weird; drizzling and raining which would suddenly turn hot.  When we reached Jollibee Mariveles, we decided to take our lunch there instead of the original plan to try the seafoods resto we saw along the way.  I just wanted to have Spaghetti and Chicken.

touchdown kilometer zero...grueling heat of the sun

My crew was already confident that they won’t get lost.

When Lost, Trust Your IPAD- Mark. He longs to have a Garmin which can be detected by his GPS-enabled gadget so it's easier to support.

Mandatory Afternoon Rest

Almost all BDM Veterans I have talked to recommends that I sleep on the afternoon of Saturday.  The race starts at 10pm and ends in the afternoon of the following day.  Mark is from Bataan, so we stayed in their ancestral house in Limay.  After settling in our own rooms, I tried to get some shuteye but failed.  It was a long six hours of waiting.  I was keeping myself busy with my BB until Mark knocked and called us for merienda.  We had enough time so we can hear mass at 530pm.  Thanks to Tita for a really good merienda of pancit and kalamay!  By then, the tension was building up within me.  I can feel the starting line.

We heard mass and the priest’s homily was about putting our trust in the Lord.  “The Lord is my rock”, he repeatedly said.  It was a very timely reminder.

After the mass, I gave my crew another tour of my car.  As if I didn’t label everything which is already in clear containers.  We went thru my five-page instruction which contains 1)hydration, nutrition and gadget each kilometer, 2)food and hydration contents of the car and its location, 3)gears and clothes, 4) direction, 5)reminders and signs.  Rhea has memorized them by heart.  Mark is quite confident he can manage as he was my support in my first ultramarathon in Sierra Madre.  All set! I took a shower and did the usual pre-race rituals.  Everything was good except that I still have my monthly visitor.  I tried to be positive about it just keeping in mind that it would help because they say girls have high tolerance for pain during these days.  The problem is, one tends to overheat faster and there is a discomfort that I would have to manage.  “Think positive, walang aayaw!” – This is what Matthew, son of my friend, Vida says to us every time and I just try to imagine him chanting in his cute voice.  (Yes, his version, not Manny Pacquiao.)



Matthew would always tell me and my friends that everything is easy, and would chant: Walang aayaw in his cute British accent voice.

Off to the Starting Line

We decided to go to Mariveles and ditched the plan of meeting my sisters and brother (morning to lunch support crew) for dinner.  They were stuck in traffic in NLEX.  It will be Jolly- spaghetti and chicken and soup again-comfort food.

It was so dark on our way, a lot different in the morning when we drove to km Zero.  I feel colds coming, I was inhaling a vaporub. (Well, it was more of nervousness actually.).  We got to the starting line on time.  When we couldn’t find the check-in table, I went to Jollibee and had the usual photo-ops and meet and greet with fellow runners and support crew.  Jollibee Mariveles probably had record-breaking sales that night.

2010 and 2011 BDM Starting Line Picture, Same Place with Different Roles - I could be a Skin-Tanning endorser!

The starting line was very simple.  The lighting is coming from a lamp-post.  There’s a BDM starting line banner.  The Race Director with his mega-phone poses and chats with everyone.  The presence of the runners, and support crew who are mostly runners, family or friends of the runners are more than enough to make the environment festive.  Ultrarunning really creates a different bond among each one.  (I probably have made hundreds of new friends since I started last may 2010.)   The program was quite simple as well.  The race director gave a few reminders.  We sang the National Anthem (Japanese by Alfred, American by Camilla and another runner from the US and of course, our own led by the Race Director).  And Tess Gedes who also flew in from the US led a short invocation.  We had the group pictorial at kilometer zero and at the starting line  and then everyone toe the starting line still smiling.

0 Kilometer: The Battle Begins

Slow Start

A little past ten pm, after a countdown of 10, we were off!  I walked and waited until I have a room to run and that’s when I started slowly jogging.  I tried to keep in pace with my teammates Mark, Jerry and Tere.  Jerry, Mark and I agreed to be at a conservative 7mpk pace at the start two weeks ago.  They bailed out from the plan the week before as they said they would slow me down.  Truth is it got me disappointed.  I do not know the route and it will be very dark based from what I’ve witnessed last year.  I have to do this, all by myself then.  I told them that we can probably pace together until the 7th kilometer since we plan to walk it anyway.  After 500 meters, I keep telling them that we are going too slow for a 7mpk and we should peak up, then I found Bobby.  We ran side by side and weave thru the runners to overtake.  Before we started ascending, I lost him.  We exited the Mariveles Zone and darkness set in as we climb…..

Pitch Dark

I tried to stay behind a group of runners and maintain a pace that would keep them in my eyesight.  This would happen every few hundred meters then I would lose them.

Since the terrain was rolling, and there are several winding turns, I was running some portions on my own.  I dare not look at the left side and focused on the road.  At around kilometer 5, a hanging branch with leaf hit my left shoulder which gave me the scare of my life.  I continue to run-walk until I saw a group of support vehicle around kilometer 6+.  I was consciously looking for my support crew as I feel myself overheating.  It was very humid with strong headwinds.  (Later on after the race, Atty. Jon shared he had the same feel on the first 7k.)

7th Kilometer: First Stop

Mark and Yan2 can still smile =)

I took one sip of Gatorade, cold water and a bite of Nature Valley bar.  After refilling my handheld bottle with ice, I went back on the road.  Since I didn’t really have a good dinner (cause I couldn’t eat much out of nervousness), I felt hungry immediately.  Good that I have power gels in my pocket; I took half of it while running.  The plan was to miss the next stop after 2-kilometers but I had to stop to fix my shoelace which is tied a bit loose.   I felt so hungry at the stop that I started to eat sweetened Camote unscheduled.

Eating while fixing my shoes

The next five kilometers were mostly downhills with slight climbs that were manageable.  The asphalt road was uneven which is not good given that we can only take the side of the road facing traffic.  The headwinds are strong on areas where there are no houses.  It started to become chilly again.

At several instances, I had to get off the road to avoid the speeding buses (it’s either the driver doesn’t care if they hit me or they can’t really see me).  The problem with running on the side streets, puddles are everywhere.  I’ve lost my balance several times but I probably have mastered the art of losing it and not falling after my recent mishaps during training.  At one point though, I had a really bad landing and I’ve twisted my legs.  Before I reach kilometer 14 (where we need to enter the town proper of Pilar), I started to feel a stinging pain on the left side of my knee.  (The culprit is either the uneven road or that acrobatic landing.)  I managed by having higher leaps as I run which is not really advisable as I still have 88 kilometers to go.

14th kilometer: Breezing Through

We entered the town of Pilar.  Finally, we’re out of the dark.  For the most part, we were running along houses.  I was surprised there are still so many people still awake and are on the streets.  Well, it’s not yet midnight and it’s a Saturday night!  (So, what am I doing running then?)

At some part, a group of teenagers lined up and asked for a high five each which I gladly gave.  There were so many drinking sessions ongoing and the DOGS are out.  I walk when I see a dog or transfer to the other side so as not to disturb them.

I thought it would be a well-lighted stretch but I was back running by myself again.  Good thing though that some support vehicle would pass every now and then.  I would meet and greet fellow runners and exchange a few hi’s before we go back into our own zoned out space again.  I envy those runners running in groups.

After 4 kilometers, we were back in the highway.  This portion is a bit lighted as there are several establishments along the road.  We’re back on the uneven asphalt road and rolling terrain.  I just put one foot in front of the other.  The meds I took is taking effect and the massage helped.  Now, the pain is bearable.  The drill is done every pit stop.  I started to lessen my gatorade intake to every ten kilometers at this point.  I relied on my GU gel for electrolytes as I feel sour-taste and I don’t want to risk getting acidic stomach.

The stabilo-like tops works in the dark!

23Kilometers: Zoned Out

I was actually enjoying the run; I didn’t even notice the marshall at Kilometer 23 (or 25?).  Juscell called me and I can’t cross the road as there were so many bus and trucks passing, I continued running and he met me a few meters away.  I shouted my bib number and made the right turn.  We’re in the National Road of Bataan and it was a long stretch of pitch darkness until the road merges with Roman Highway again.

I was just praying as I run.  I am not even halfway.  My exchanges with fellow runners would be “uy, 1/3 na tayo, or hay 1/4 na”.  I was looking forward to the almost-halfway mark, Kilometer 50.

Kilometer 32: Chasing the Mid-way Major Stop

We’re entering the town proper again.  Time-check marshalls are there.  I heard BR shouting, “Tin” He said, “Sound pa lang ng paa, alam ko ikaw yan” and some words of encouragement.  (Everyone tells me that, not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.  Well, if I am to sneak in and surprise a competitor with a surprise overtake then it’s bad – Good thing I’m not an elite runner so it won’t be my problem.) The elite team members were there and were gladly cheering on me.  “Less than 70 kilometers to go, baby! This is like one PAU-Pagudpud to Pasuquin.” Those were my thoughts as I entered the town proper.

It will be a cement stretch of road all the way to kilometer 50 which is very unfriendly to the feet.  The good thing is there are lampposts but there were still stretches of total darkness.  I still feel strong at that time.

This stretch was uneventful.  Well, except for my two encounters with drunken guys.  (Total of three, actually.) The first one actually was along the stretches of night clubs along Roman Highway where a co-runner appeared from behind and said, “Stay lang ako in-pace, madami lasing”. It was already about 2am at this point, so it is not surprising that those coming from drinking sessions are really drunk.  1) One guy from a group of three started to run side by side (I know he won’t keep up though).  His friends stopped him though.  2) The second one was around kilometer 40 when a CRV parked (which I thought was a support vehicle) and a guy alighted.  As I was nearing, they were cheering me and telling me to ride with them and they’ll take me to San Fernando.  I didn’t bother looking and ran faster until I reach two guys who were a hundred meters from me. Whew!

A few meters after, after finishing one full marathon, my support vehicle was ready waiting to take my picture.

After one full marathon, I finally had a photo with a kilometer marker.

I shared to them my adventures.  (Well, actually have shared several stories every stop which was their gauge that I was still okay.)  Later on, they told me that I should not have had that much stops and chikas.  They said I was still so strong while they’re the ones going lo-bat.  I was even OC, telling them why there’s no spoon for the food, etc or they should start waking up the morning support crew, among others.

Seven kilometers to go before the 50th marker and I am so excited.  I was looking forward to the CR break and to clean up.  I am looking forward to a hot cup of noodles which I requested on the 50k.

At this point, I have already taken one nature valley bar, sweet camote and banana, 1/2 liver spread sandwich, half banana, 1/4 apple, 3 GU gels, 1 1/2 bottle of 350ml Gatorade, one salt cap and 1/4 teaspoon iodized salt.   Wow, I was full!  I also had one Maxx candy midway to eliminate the sour-taste.

About four kilometers to go before the 50th k marker, I saw Precy. She has overtaken me and was still running strong.  I didn’t really thought of pushing until I realized she would be able to use the restroom first so I have to rush. =)  It turns out she didn’t stop at kilometer 50 so I had the restroom for myself.

I reached kilometer 50  on target, maintaining an average 7:03 pace including stops.

BR, where’s my medal? Ugh, 52 kilometers more before I get that priceless trophy.

Foot Massage while Eating my Hot Noodles "Yaya!!!"

I really planned to make a quick pit stop at the 50 kilometer marker.  However, given my red letter situation, I had to take some time during the break.  It took me 30minutes for the CR break, eat, change clothes, change shoes, massage, glide, sun block.  I did everything at the same time with the help of my Yaya’s err sisters and friends.  I decided to wear the same shorts since I already have tan lines with the shape of my K-swiss shorts (and it’s the most comfortable one that I have – soft and light)

Ready for another 52K

I am happy with my run so far.  But the battle has just started……….Done with the warm-up, off to the next 52K.

The Finish

Categories: Race Reports

5 replies

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