After 2 marathons, a 16k fun run and several lazy training runs in between days where the sun would actually let me run (It’s been raining a lot lately), I registered for another ultramarathon. I must admit, I suddenly missed running long distances and running out of town.
I can’t say I trained for this run as I feel I lacked the mileage for it and was leaving everything to um, muscle memory? 😫
The Tagaytay to Kawit route was my my 2nd ultramarathon last year. It’s almost the same route this year, except for one slight change somewhere where it takes a different route. Sorry, I’m really bad with directions so, I can’t really specify which part. 😒
Our shuttle van arrived in the cool Tagaytay just in time for us to prepare ourselves and do some stretches and of course, to take some pictures. 😜
The race briefing was slightly delayed as we were told that there were runners still making their way to the venue — something RD Pat told us he usually does if there are still more than 10 runners coming in late.
Prayers were said, the national anthem sung, race briefing and last minute instructions by RD Pat followed by some Zumba stretching by fellow runner, Bobby.
As always, the start had everyone running strong. My vanmates had gone ahead of me while I decided to stick with my usual ultra plan of a 5k run all the way easy run followed by 3:1 (3 minutes run: 1 minute walk) interval.
It was around 10-15k mark that I had slowly started to overtake several runners who were slowing down because they were either running all the way or running and walking only when needed.
Even so, with no vanmates in sight, I felt that my progress was slow. I took half a GU gel every 5k which I had halved and repacked in tiny ziplock pouches. Hydration was no problem as there was a hydration point every 5 or so kms that I ditched my hydration vest for this ultra and relied only on my simple hydration bottle.
The route was basically downhill and flats with just a little uphill at the start. There were completely dark routes as usual, but had cars passing by once in awhile that didn’t give you the “isolated” feel like Runmania’s other ultras.
Yes, the dogs were present again, but most just barked and weren’t aggressive. This was the first time in all my ultras that I’ve come across men on the road who had obviously been on a drinking spree. Except for side comments they made as female runners would pass them by, they were pretty harmless. I also came across one sober guy seated on the opposite side of road talking to himself and expressing his heartaches in the darkness. *tsismosa*
It was around KM20+ when a female runner from a parked support vehicle across the road crossed and resumed her running right in front of me. We took turns taking the lead as I continued with my intervals. Her support (her husband I presume) leap frogged every few meters to check up on her and this continued for several hundreds of meters. It was at the next hydration station where she took a stop that she was left behind.
I finally came to the part of running an ultra where the gap between runners became bigger. It seemed like ages to get to this where one usually doesn’t need to worry about pace anymore.
Okay, so I wasn’t worrying about pace that I rarely checked on it. When I did, I realized I had been running faster than my usual above 7mins/km ultra pace. With that thought, my lower back started to ache along with the ball of my left foot as I still tried my best to keep my intervals.
At Km30, alone in the darkness and with only the aches keeping me company, I wanted to declare a DNF.
Wait, how do you DNF? Do I have to call Run Mania and inform them? As if it was possible as I didn’t have my phone on me. 😶
Then from a distance up front was a familiar back of a tall guy. It was my van mate, Ben! He seemed to be running and walking already. When I finally reached him, he said he’d run along with my intervals. I kept telling him to go ahead, but he refused.
I don’t usually run with someone during race events because I prefer running at my own pace. No pressure.
Having a running buddy who you don’t usually train with and who doesn’t have the same pace as you could either burn you out or drag you down.
Ben stayed on. He suggested we take turns in leading the run pace, but I refused. I took charge of the intervals to which I’d cheat sometimes.😜 When I’d tell him it was time to run and he’d run ahead of me, I’d follow from behind… power walking instead. 😜 We took several stops to stretch out our aching lower backs.
I knew there was something I had done wrong to be aching as much.
Could it be the downhill route where a different set of muscles were used?
The lack of sleep?
The lack of mileage?
Checking my watch, I saw the possible reason why.
We were running waaaaay too fast (at least for my standard). We were running on marathon pace when this was an ultra.
Almost a sub 5 at 42k? 😳
That explains it.
So, yes, we suffered the consequences for the last remaining kilometers.
By this time, another vanmate of ours, Jhay-r, um… joined in our struggle. 😣
As I mentioned that running buddies can either burn you out or drag you down, these two didn’t. We had our own cycle of being strong and weak that when one was burning out, he’d be dragged by the stronger one to go on. This went on till the last few kilometers until I decided to drop the 3:1 intervals and go for a 30secs run: 15 secs walk which was more doable at our state.
Around last two kilometers, the support hubs of the female runner I encountered earlier at KM20+ from across the road, asked us what my place was. I had no idea and didn’t matter to me at that point. I just wanted to finish.
Jhay-R, Ben and I were pretty much contented at how we were going with our pace the last kilometer when we heard the sound of people running behind us. Out of the blue came the female runner I had left at the hydration station somewhere at KM20+ with 2 pacers running really strong right behind us.
I was puzzled as I looked at the equally puzzled Ben and asked, “Saan galing yon?” while my good and evil me had started to converse inside my head.
Ben looked at me, gave me this wide eyed look (actually, minulatan 😂) and said, “Push mo na!” to which I jolted and did just that.
I dug deep… really deep.
I pulled out all the remaining energy that I had in me and ran as fast as I could huffing and puffing all the way to the finish line.
Now, that…. was an epic finish.
Turns out we were racing for the 2nd female spot. Who would’ve thought?
When I thought of actually throwing in the towel and giving up, along comes great friends ready to pull you through. Glad I tagged along.
Lessons Learned in This Ultra
Learn to conserve energy. Remember the quote “You do not win the race in the 1st 100 meters.” Go out too fast and you’ll pay for it later.
Until you cross the finish line, the race is not really over yet.
Never eat 30 minutes before gustart. Right, Jhay-R? 💩
To RunMania staff and RD Pat for a well organized ultra as usual. For the free racekit and yet another one that keeps me coming back for more. 😫
Thanks, too, for the decision to not give us any of your bonus kilometers for this one. *whew*
To the photographers, the selfies taken, the words of encouragement even from runners I had just met, thank you.
To my ultra friends and ultrabatchmates (who have now all leveled up to longer distances) who make running ultras SO much more fun being in your company.
To Ben and Jhay-R, endless thanks for snapping me out of my “wanting to DNF” stage and landing me Female 1st runner up spot and my fastest 50k ultra so far.
To the hubs who took over the kids for me as I ran.
To the guy up there for the strength and for bringing me to a safe finish.
From the bottom of my heart… I. Thank. You. 👸
Until, the next run… (Surprise!😝)
Photo Credits: RunMania • Aquizzed Snaps Photography • Doc Evelyn • Roy Simon
Distance: 50k (49.81 on my Garmin)
Overall Ranking: 33/203
Female Ranking: 2/27