What made me decide to run my 3rd ultra?
Aside from it’s been almost a year since my last ultra, the route being downhill and ultramarathoner newbie friendly (or so they claimed), THIS is what actually got me .
The moment I saw the picture of the trophy they were going to give out to the finishers, I knew I wanted one even if it meant I’d have to run 50k just for it.
So, I found myself lining up for my bib in Tagaytay (the assembly place) where I caught up with some runner friends, who as usual had no knowledge I’d be there, too.
Based on my ultra# 2 T2K (Tagaytay to Kawit) which I had joined same time last year, I knew it was going to be cold in Tagaytay. Cold it was that I had to sit by at the benches inside the mall to try to keep myself warm as I waited for gunstart.
What I thought was going to be a midnight gunstart was actually an hour earlier. Oh, great! Like just when I had taken in my GU and a dose of diatab… serves me right for not double-checking the race details! My usual plan of stretching and light jog I wasn’t able to do and was replaced with a little stretch here and there.
At around 11:30p.m. after the briefing and prayers, we were sent off. The energy was so high as even if the route at the start was slightly uphill, the runners kept going. No one was taking walk breaks… yet.
My Race Plan
I had originally planned to do a 5k run all the way as warm-up before proceeding with my 2:30 (2mins run-30 secs walk) interval, but my legs didn’t quite want to go with the plan.
I started out with r-e-a-l-l-y heavy legs. Frozen was more like it. You know the feeling when you’ve been made to squat the longest time and your legs get all stiff and begin to really ache all over? THAT! That was how my legs felt at that time.
I was thinking of declaring DNF (Did Not Finish) that early as I felt my legs wouldn’t be able to carry me through all the 50k in that state.
When I checked my watch, I had only ran 800m! Hu-WHAT?!? I wasn’t even done with a full kilometer yet! 😦 Kahiya naman mag DNF! 😀 Okay, think positive, Jah. I knew for a fact that it always took time for me to warm up. It’s usually at 4km that I’d be “into” the run, so I slowly continued taking my walk breaks despite the ache. Sure enough, by km 4, my legs had picked up and I was okay. *Whew*
I felt good enough that I skipped my intervals and continued running as much as I could. I ran even if the road went slightly uphill (overtaking several runners) and continued even the more when it was headed down. The 1% competitive runner in me emerged as every female runner I saw in sight started growing long ears and were made my rabbits. 😀
On My Own
I came to the stage of the ultramarathon when runners were scattered already. Everyone was going at their own pace. Gone were the closely lined up runners as most of us were now in our own individual battle with our endurance.
The route had longer darker routes compared to last years’ T2K ultra. I was running and walking along the dark roadside lined with trees, high grass and just a few houses. What kept us company were the support vehicles that lined up at the opposite side of the road with their blinkers on and several dogs barking at us once in awhile.
Whenever there were a group of cars at the far end of the road and several people around it, it would most likely be hydration stations provided by RunMania.
On Being Self-Support
This, being my 3rd Ultra and my 3rd with RunMania, I believe that what Pat Maranan (Race Director) told me before about support vehicles not being necessary is true. This is my 2nd self-support ultra and I think the hydration stations that they provide, as well as the food every 10k (banana- 10k, boiled egg-20k, chocolate sandwich-30k and ice-cream- 40k along with water and gatorade) is sufficient. When you think about it, it’s just like running a full marathon back in Manila relying on just the hydration stations. With just an addition of several kilometers to it (I’m talking about the basic 50k ultras here), runners manage to pull through without the need of support vehicles, right?
I guess the added push and cheers from team mates in support vehicles is what other runners had over self-supported ones like us during ultras like these.
Thoughts On My Mind
It’s along the long dark road alone when your mind keeps you company by talking to you inside your head. One thing it kept reminding me was my need to pee! I couldn’t take in my GU every 10k as I would need to drink up 6-8oz water just to wash it down. With my bladder getting full with the frequent sips of water and gatorade, I skipped the GU plan and stayed with the food provided along the way, but I still needed the boost. It could be a reason why I slowed down on my 2nd half. I kept looking at the huge trees and tall grassy areas and even support vehicles where I could possibly pee from behind, but didn’t do so. The rare gasoline stations, small hospitals were all closed. The houses were all locked up and people were in their deep sleep in those ungodly hours. *Ugh!*
Trying out the LCHF came into consideration where your body they say learns to depend on fats for energy when your glycogen levels go down. Um, what fats?
When you’re alone, you somehow already know who the runners you passed by are and who are those tailing right behind you. When runners you don’t recall passing along the way or runners you know you had left way, way, way back suddenly overtakes you with no light on and with so much energy in them… hmmm…
Okay, okay… the “Nilampasan ka lang, nandaya na kaagad?” comment I read on FB a few days back made me give them the benefit of the doubt.
The Last Few Kms
It was after the ice cream stop (supposedly on KM40, but read km38 on my watch) that my body really wanted to rest. This is one hydration stop that I really took the time to sit and enjoy the ice-cream cone.
“Kuya, ilan na nakadaan?” asked a runner as we sat enjoying our ice-cream. “Nasa 250+ na” replied the marshal. Yes, that was when I thought to myself that I was an ultramarathoner as the numbers didn’t seem to bother me at all.
My lower back and thighs started to ache that I really had to stop several times to stretch them out. The lack of sleep also made its effect present as closing my eyes every now for a few seconds as I ran slowly was a total bliss. The site of a waiting shed was a temptation. I haven’t ran more than 5 hours in such a long time and I felt I was dying. Nah! Okay, I was only dead tired… close to dying. 😀
Soon, sari-sari stores started to open that I had to run to the 1st one I saw open to buy a bottle of cold refreshing mountain dew for take-out in a plastic bag without a straw (Bawal daw kasi).
“Saan pa kayo galing? asked the Ate in the store.
“Sa Tagaytay pa po.”
“E, saan kayo papunta?”
“Sa Maragondon po. Malapit na po ba?” I asked.
“Ayyyyy, malayo pa! Aakyat ka muna ng tulay, tapos bababa ng tulay, tapos daadaanan pa ng… ” Okay, ate. I get it. That’s enough. 😀
That Mountain Dew helped pick me up for the next few kilometers. Instant sugar rush. We passed by an unfinished road that left us dusty.
When we finally made it to the town proper, I knew the finish line was getting closer with every step I took. I tried keeping up with my intervals and still managed to overtake a few who had decided to walk already. I kept going until I reached a male runner in front of me who turned out to be Mark, a runner I met from the Corregidor Marathon who was just doing his 1st marathon back then. It was nice seeing him again that we found ourselves walking our last few kilometers (the longest I’ve ever walked in a race event) as we chatted and he snacked on a bag of chips he had bought from the store along the way. Runners kept passing us by, but that didn’t seem to matter anymore.
We had the town people along the way curiously asking us where we were headed to which they’d tell us we still had a long way to go. Marshals from Runmania passing us by on a pick-up on the other hand, cheered us and told us we were already near. Yeah, right. 😀
Finishing the ultramarathon was just one of the ordeals as the long line to claim the trophy and finisher’s shirt ended up being another ultra. We were in line for more than an hour holding onto the certificate, medal and meal as we waited to get into the City hall to get the rest of the loot that we had earned .
Later on, the line was stopped as the Mayor was going to arrive and then another change in the lines was made by collecting by teams to make the process easier. It still took a long time to the dismay of many runners, but I was told this was the first time this ever happened with RunMania.
The thing I love about ultramarathons is how runners can be so easy to get along with. The night before when the shuttle service picked our group up, we were all complete strangers. The following morning after having completed the ultra, we were cracking jokes and felt like we had known each other for quite some time already. 🙂
I could not wait to bathe and sleep! Eating a full lunch wasn’t on my mind as I had managed to munch on a protein bar and had chugged a tetra box of chocolate milk in the shuttle service.
Yes, I finally got the trophy I wanted.
It definitely wasn’t easy, but hey, I got you!
Rank: 201/480 solo runners