Running 100 miles is a celebration of life – paraphrased from sir Jovie Narcise’s pre race briefing for the 100 miles ultramarathon held a few days back. His words struck me and made me more excited to conquer my first 100 miles.
I was too excited to join this prestigious event. I was the first person to register when they started online registration.
My last LSD before the race is an 80km LSD around Metro Manila. One of my anticipated worst enemy on this race will be the scorching heat from the sun. I have experienced it last year and I thought I already know what to expect this year.
Before my 100 mile debut, I joined 100km ultramarathons since March 2014 – BDM102, Tarayem 100km, IBTUR 120km, Bonifacio Day 100km ultra. Each of these races taught me a lot about 100km races. I ranked 2nd place both in Tarayem and IBTUR and 5th place in Bonifacio Ultra (female category) though I know that I could have done much better. I was walking almost 90% of the time in my last 20kms for the Tarayem race as I was already too hungry and can’t find the food that I want to eat along the route. Same is true for IBTUR as I just walked in the last 30+ kms due to pain in my achilles tendon. In Bonifacio Ultra, I overheated in my last 10kms thus decided to just walk until the finish line. BDM102 and Mayon80km taught me how to handle heat, Tarayem taught me to keep proper nutrition during ultramarathon, IBTUR taught me to respect recovery as I did Tarayem less than two weeks before IBTUR, Bonifacio Day ultramarathon taught me that even if sun is not showing up, I need to keep my temperature at a low level to prevent from over heating. I am stubborn at times though I take note and learn from my mistakes. These races made me decide to sign up for a 100miler.
Gunstart was at 2am of April 10. My hydration belt and camelback is filled with water, gatorade, granola bar, raisin. I made sure I have spare money on hand as my support team can only be with me starting 10am. I made sure I have enough hydration and food when the stores are still closed during the first few hours of the race.
My camelback backpack is a bit heavy but I tried to neglect it and assume that its part of my body. I have garmin in both my wrists as my Garmin watch can only last maximum of 18hrs and I want to capture the entire route of the race.
Around km 24+ I saw a carinderia along the route. I have no water left in my hydra belt thus it was perfect time to refill. I also need to pee thus I asked the store owner if I can use their CR. It was a huge relief after holding my pee for quite a while. One of the runners I met along the route – Benedict, ordered his breakfast. He had his pansit in a plastic (probably plastic labo) and he is having his breakfast while walking. I was having my granola bar on the other hand and we chatted a bit. We were looking forward turning left to Pioduran but it was already way past km 25, and this is probably where the bonus km will come from. I run a little ahead of him as he was still having his pansit and I’m already done with my granola bar. I know that he will overtake me later on.
Km28 we turned left going to Pioduran. I’m excited and happy that I have already covered 25% of the route. My body is in synch and I no longer feel the burden of my camelback.
I saw an open bakery and thats where I had my spanish bread. It only cost 2 pesos and I though that it will be my first breakfast as I am not yet really hungry though I know that I already need to feed myself otherwise I may experience the same mistake I experienced during Tarayem. In the next kilometers I bought coke, skyflakes, refilled my water. I was looking for taho vendor but I had no luck. In one of my pitstops, I asked again the store owner if I can use their CR. All the store owners asked me where I came from, where and what time the race started, where I will be going. They were all surprised to hear me saying that the race started in Legazpi City and we will be going to Pioduran back to Ligao City, Tabaco City, and Legazpi City. Common denominator of their statements were – “ang layo pa ng Pioduran”. I answered back, “ok lang po, makakarating din ako dun.”
At 630 am, sun is already emphasizing its heat. I put on my 5 year old rudyproject shades. I continue my Pioduran journey. I thought the route is somewhat similar to Sierra Madre (Masinag to Sierra Madre Hotel). The route is rolling thus I took advantage of all downhills and preserve as much energy during uphills but I make sure I will do powerwalk and not walk slower than 5kms per hour. I disciplined myself to check my pace and not be slower than my target pace so that if something bad happens, I may still have time to finish the race even if I will just be walking until km160. I had a scratch paper where I listed down my target km and target time. I gave it to my support team so that they know where to locate me. My love for mathematics allows me to strategize my race accordingly and keep my goals a bit tough but achievable.
Around 10mins before 10am, I already reached my target of 55kms in 8hrs. I told my support team that at 10am I should be at km55 mark and they can start looking for me on that distance. Around 1020am I saw them! It was the best sight! Finally I will be able to unload – i gave them my camelback. I had my hydration bottles refilled with water and gatorade. I had my first massage. I changed my top shirt while they are massaging me. I thought I need to maximize my time by multi tasking. I didn’t care removing my shirt in front of them as they are my friends and wont mind seeing my bulges.
In my next stop with my dear support team, I changed shoes as my brooks ghost 7 (pink) is already wet. I wore my blue Books Ghost 7 (male shoes). Yes. I have two brooks ghost 7, blue should have been male shoes, and pink is the female counterpart.
I was the third female runner probably from km10 onwards. I was happy to be on this rank and tried to keep a good distance from them and tried if I can move further away from the 4th female runner. 4th female runner overtook me at around km 65/66 before the Pioduran u turn, but I again regained my lead when I took shorter time peeing and having my lunch. I probably just spent maximum of 10 mins having lunch, peeing, and refilling my hydration bottles.
Even if I have my support team, if I see a store and would want to buy something, I really stop to buy it if I know that my body needs something at that moment. I had 3 halo halo stops and I ate halo halo while walking. I eat skyflakes, bread, granola bar while walking. I have to do all of these to minimize resting time.
Km 105 is the next stop and cutoff time is 10pm. I arrived at the checkpoint at around 630pm. My support team bought me Jollibee Spaghetti for Dinner. I’m back at Ligao City at km 105. I thought i will turn left, good thing the policemen and other runners at the checkpoint told me to turn right. That’s where I had my dinner.
While having my spaghetti, my support team gives me an update for the leading two ladies. They told me that they are nearby having a massage at the barangay hall. I smiled and thought that it is still mathematically and physically possible for me to get nearer them. Then I just told Karl smiling, (son of my friend Celso) “The race has just started at km105.” Why I said it, its because a number of things can still happen after km 100. Knowing the first two female runners are not too far already gave me hope to aim something I always dreamed of.
I changed again my top at km110 as I already felt cold. I wore long sleeves again. At the same time, since I am running alone at night, I don’t want to attract any attention. Many of the runners I have spoken with told me to have a buddy or run with someone at night for security reasons. I don’t have and I am not comfortable pacing with someone I haven’t run side by side with thus I decided to just keep on what I’m doing. After changing clothes I peed not too far from the people at the km stop. They told me I can use the CR nearby, I told them that will take longer time I just asked them to look away from me so that I can pee.
It started to drizzle. I was alternating run and walk as I really want to catch the runners ahead of me. I was singing in my head, counting numbers so that I can synch the rhythm of my stride with the song I sing or with the numbers I count. This time it was mind game. If you are all alone at night, your worst enemy is yourself. I already felt sleepy and tried to nap for 5mins. I just closed my eyes and gave in to the feeling of exhaustion. But i said myself and told karl 5mins only nothing more nothing less. I was not able to sleep though I felt refreshed even with such short period of time. I was alternating coke and sting (red) at night to keep me awake. At the same time I was chewing maalox to prevent hyperacidity and acid reflux.
Opportunity came at km115. It was another km checkpoint where there is someone who gets your bib number. Karl was shouting at me, told me to hurry. Then when I checked in, Karl told me I am already at the top spot. I was surprised and asked why, he told me that the two lead female runners were sleeping. They checked in 948pm at km 115, while I checked in at 1030pm. I took that opportunity to lead the race among the women for the very first time. I did ‘t looked back. I just continued to run. My mindset has now shifted and I dreamt bigger. Maintain my lead until km 160.
I want to curse myself for wanting to fulfill this dream. I told myself if I really want to maintain my lead until the last kilometer, I should run more and walk less. It was cold, dark, and I was alone. I thought I saw something along the route but when I get nearer I saw nothing. I was battling with my brain, my tired feet with blisters, my aching upper and lower back. I was running purely with my heart. I was praying as I run because I’m afraid and uncertain can keep up with my heart’s desire. I asked Him to keep me safe as I was running alone and my f
eet, achilles tendon wants to give up on me. I stood firm with my decision to keep my lead as much as I can. I was running nonstop as much as possible and walk only during uphill. I was very sleepy and tired but I kept focused on my goal. Sleep can wait, I told myself, this is a rare opportunity.
I peed even more frequently still on the highway. I just chose a dim spot so that it will not be overly obvious that I’m peeing. Kuya Noel, Kuya Marvin and Karl kept me secured all throughout the race especially at night. They were more inspired to push me further as they know that I am the lead female runner. I don’t want to disappoint them. I know they are tired as I am or even more. I told myself to just stick with my current strategy.
I was at the last 30kms when at least 3 runners passes by as I do my powerwalk. I felt a bit disappointed with myself. I started to fear that the next female runners may just be behind me. I was cautious, afraid, and is wanting to give up my strategy. I want to rest my feet and legs and just walk until the finish line. My blister is hurting and my achilles tendon isn’t cooperating. My mind is just telling me to stop, rest, and just walk the rest of the route as I still have ample time to finish the race within cutoff time. It was painful to continue running though I thought it will be more painful if I stop and just walk as my heart tells me that I can still push myself. In the end heart wins over mind.
I checked my gps and I know that I am on my last 5 to 6km. One male approached me, asked for my name and told me “malapit na po, kayo po ang nauuna sa babae.” Then he rode his motorcycle and tried to keep abreast with me as asks me questions like my full name, where I came from and the likes. I felt that I’m getting closer to my dream of making it to the top spot. But I maintained my strategy of running as much as I can even if its only for 30 seconds. I still want to maintain 5 to 6km per hour speed. Even I can’t decipher how am I am able to run even until the final stretch. At the last 3km (more or less) there is a Caltex gas station and I need to pee. Instead of going to Caltex’ cr, I just peed beside the van to save time (in broad daylight!). I didn’t remove my tights anymore, I just sat down, peed while Karl poured water at me to at least “flush away” the urine and its smell from my tights. I’m still cautious that the next female runners are just nearby. It was my first time to be the lead female runner and I just want to keep it as it is. Finish line is too close yet feels too far. I only felt confident in the last kilometer yet I kept on running until I crossed the finish line. Then all the pain and fatigue set in. My blisters and inflammed achilles tendon are shouting at me for ignoring them. I got my trophy, medal, and finisher shirt and told my body parts to shut up as I will do it again.
This is how I celebrate life to its fullest – pushing myself to its limit and overcoming all the negativities I feel to reach my goal. Finishing an ultra race within cutoff is already a great achievement. Being the top finisher is just a bonus. We compete not with other runners but with ourselves. Praise God for this wonderful post birthday gift. Thank you for making me insane enough to follow my heart’s desire.