I never planned to run a 100k+ ultramarathon.
I’ve always said that I’d just stick to the 50k’s. Okay, so maybe I ran a 64k later on, but 100k? 😳
It never did cross my mind.
I’ve always known that heat is my weakness.
When I had a tough time finishing an ultramarathon that had an early morning gunstart early this year, I proved myself right.
Running a 100k+ ultramarathon that involves hours of running under the sun when it would be at it’s brightest just wasn’t for me. 😓
Then what pushed me to join this one?
Having ran monthly ultras or long distance runs, I felt I had a good base. Not enough because I didn’t train under a 100k program, but um, it was good. It would be a waste not to put it into use.
Also having ran Runmania’s ultramarathons for the past few months, I knew how a self-support runner would likely succeed with the hydration stations they provided and I knew if something went wrong, I’d be well taken care of under them.
Then this popped on my FB newsfeed.
It was now or never.
Since my training wasn’t that heavy, (What?!? What training? I ran mostly on muscle memory for my past ultras! 😱) I didn’t expect much and was just willing to give it a try.
My inspiration weren’t those who trained hard and put in a hours of training and mileage, but those who didn’t train as hard but managed to pull through. 😜 (Imagine finishing a 102k ultra with only a 50k ultra a month prior to it as their longest run on top of several maintenance runs. Another one finishes 50k ultras with only a 21k a week mileage, that is if they were lucky to even squeeze it in.)
Words of encouragement from friends who believed I could do it gave me the final push. With my final decision to run it, came the harder part — getting hubs approval. 😣
It was a long process to which I thought he’d never yes to, but he eventually did. (Believe me, I wasn’t the only one who had a hard time convincing our significant others to grant us a “visa”. 😝)
Aside from the usual pre-race routines I’d usually do like carbolaod, massage, load up on sleep, I had to do a little more.
I reviewed and tried to recall everything.
I looked back at my old blogs where I had interviewed my TBR batchmates on how they survived their BDM102 and posts of recent BDM warriors. I followed some of their tips like how my TBR batchmate, Oliver drank milk to strengthen his bones so, I took calcium supplements instead 2 weeks prior (I know I should’ve started taking them earlier, but didn’t realize I’d actually run this). I took note of how another (I think it was Doc Dhona) brushed her teeth or ate menthol candies to improve endurance performance. Yes, there was a study. Gibo’s recommendation before not to take in soda if energy drink had already been consumed to prevent acid reflux also stuck to my head. I had absorbed all the tips from small talks I had with ultrarunners who had done longer distances.
I expected the unexpected.
I thought of the possible worst case scenarios that could happen during the run. Since there was an outer knee ache that had been bothering me after one of my LSDs (correction: my only LSD for ABDUM), I had taped it as a preventive measure. (My first time to ever use tape.)
I brought along extra tape in case my lower back issue haunts me during the run and researched how it should be taped. My first aid kit inside by hydration vest was ready for treating blisters and chaffing and small wounds just in case. Meds for diarrhea, salt sticks (which I don’t use), tissue wipes, disinfectant, white flower and a little duct tape, too. You’ll never know.
Since I had no support and would probably be running on my own, the ordinary alarm from a celphone may not work in case I decide to doze off. Not to worry, I had that covered as well with my egg timer. 😜
I packed in food easy to digest.
After researching as to what ultramarathoners abroad usually eat during an ultra, it led me to this. Potatoes with salt. They say that runners who eat full meals during ultras and who aren’t used to it usually end up with digestion issues leading to series of throwing up or an upset stomach— something I didn’t want to happen. 😖 I bought a kilo of boiled baby potatoes, packed some into my beltbag and left the rest in the shuttle. Instant carb refill and easy to just pop on the go.
I made sure I knew where my hydration points were.
Having no support except for the one provided by our shuttle service that had two stops, I had to rely on the ones provided by the organizer. Knowing when I’d be getting my next refill is essential for me to know when I could gulp everything down or when I’d have to just take sips and make my water supply last to next hydration stop.
I came up with a Game Plan.
Inspired by a friend who had posted her friends M2B250k (Manila to Baguio 250k ultramarathon) plan over on Facebook, I decided to make one as well. Okay, so I may not be running a distance as long THAT long, but since I was running unsupported I thought it was best to have a guide for myself… in case I reach the point of being delirious and can’t think for myself anymore.
So, yeah. This wasn’t exactly a secret race anymore like I had planned. It WAS, until the final list of runners where they forgot to exclude my name was posted online. 😫
Howell. To those who found out and kept mum, super thank you. 😘😘😘 To those who found out and was specifically asked not to tell, but did anyway 🙄… thank you, too. Now I know… 😂
It had been raining days that led to raceday. I had prayed that the weather be kind to us over the weekend with no sun, but I didn’t mean take out the sun entirely and replace with rain. 😖
We got to the race venue with enough time for us to eat, get ready and catch up with the usual ultra crowd. I don’t think the runners were that nervous anymore as everyone looked so calm. Ahhh… the calm before the storm. 😝
Soon, we were called out to start the race briefing regarding the directions where to turn and landmarks and so on. As usual, nothing went into my head as I’ve said I’m not good with directions. The only important line that did was the one that Pat said that if there’s no line (white lines in the middle) on what you’re running on, you’re on the wrong road. Good enough. I probably won’t get lost. 😜
There was no more time for stretching. Ugh! I didn’t even get to stretch that well. We were sent off a few minutes after the 10p.m. gunstart as we had to wait for the cars to lessen a bit before we crossed the road to a start.
I skipped my usual 5k easy run all the way and started with my 2:1 (2 minutes run: 1 minute walk) interval right from the start.
As many runners overtook me, I reminded myself, “Stick to the plan, Jah. Just stick to the plan.” I also heard a senior runner comment “Hindi naman pabilisan ‘to.” (This is not about going fast.”) as the faster runners went ahead.
It wasn’t like pouring cats and dogs, but yeah, it rained.
Based on the ultras that I have ran, it’s usually by Km20-30 that runners get spread out. It was different this time because as early as Km10, the gap between runners had already stretched out quite a bit.
As I ran and walked, I felt something different about my left shoe.🤔 It was as if something was rubbing onto the back of my heel part, but I chose to ignore and kept going. When it started to bother me, I stopped and took a look.
What the…?!? My inner sole was sliding out right to the back! 😳
I untied my shoelaces, took my shoe out, pushed the inner sole way back in and it was okay again.
Um, it was okay for like another few kilometers. 😫
Untie. Push in. Tie. Run.
I did this like 3 times with the last frustrated attempt ending up with me taking out the sole as I ran with one soleless shoe and the inner sole in my hand. 😂
Ay- ya- yay!
I knew something had to be done as I didn’t know what could happen with me running on one soled shoe and the other without. When I had done my first 20k and was time for my rest stop, I sat down and dug out my duct tape from my backpack. See! Who would have ever thought that the duct tape would come in handy? I taped the inner sole to the shoe. 😬
Worked just fine.
My sitting down also encouraged other runners to take a break as well.
As I continued with my 2nd set of 20k, I came across a lot of runners already taking naps whether it be at a waiting shed or long benches of closed stores. Some were seen eating and resting at the benches of 7-11.
I kept going until I got to the hydration point at KM30 where I caught up with shuttlemate, Ben. Syd who he ran with from the starting line had gone ahead and Ben said he’d pace along with me. I ate half a Fudgee bar from there and we ran again. My 2:1 intervals was just right to sustain for the both of us.
At KM40, we took a short break to stretch our backs and snack a bit.
We then continued on. A lone runner we had passed by decided to follow our intervals until we finally made it to our shuttle van stop point where there was free food provided by the shuttle van and our bags that had whatever we may need. Syd was already resting by the van.
Even if I did have another set of clothes, I didn’t change as I usually get sidestitches whenever I’d take my shirt off a run. I didn’t want the sidestitches happening this early.
We took this time to lie down on a pavement and try to nap for a bit. I wasn’t able to doze off, but the break was enough to reboost me a bit.
When we left around 15 minutes later, Syd decided to join Ben and I who continued with the 2:1 interval. We kept going at it until the part where the uphills started that we had to walk more.
Ben already had this look on his face and kept looking at his watch in anticipation for the beep to walk. When one does that, it meant that their body was already having a hard time keeping up with the interval— I should know. It usually happens to me as well.
I on the other hand, had slowly began to feel lower back pains 😩 and I was getting r-e-a-l-l-y tired as well.
Little by little, we finally made it to half way point at KM60 within the cut-off time. It measured 62k on my watch.
There was a crowd of runners and support vehicles as it was also the transition point for the 2 man relay. It was actually nice to see that many runners again after having spent hours only spotting a handful every now and then along the route.
We replenished ourselves with the with the boiled egg the hydration station provided and rested for a bit as flies swarmed over us. Ewr! Stinky!
With fear that my lower back ache would get worse, I had it taped. I didn’t want it to reach a point that would lead to severe pain and a DNF.
After awhile, it was time to go again.
Syd had gone ahead. His hyper legs just couldn’t stay put with our slow 2:1 interval. I can’t believe how much energy he still had in him as he ran sidewards, hopped and just kept moving while I could barely run anymore.
So, it was just me and Ben again.
With the heat, my 2:1 was interval turned into a 1:2 until Ben suggested we powerwalk instead. The heat just got to me. I wanted to rest badly as the effects of sleep deprivation was making itself felt, plus the heat…ugh!
My Garmin low batt alerted at KM66.38. We had to stop and I had to use another GPS watch and continued using it from there. Yup! I had brought along 2 GPS watches and an ordinary one just in case. I have never tried using the watch while charging and found out it actually was possible after. Next time, I’ll bring a powerbank instead. 😝
You know how people who are tired or hungry or sleepy tend to get all cranky? Put all those together and BAM! You’ve got one really cranky person… me. ✋🙄
As I kept telling Ben that I’d probably rest or even sleep when we’d get to the next shuttle point (supposedly at KM80) and he said there wouldn’t be time for it as we may not make it to the KM90 cut-off at 4p.m., I decided to let him go on his own to follow his target. Hmp! I wasn’t after a target anyway. All I wanted was to see how far I could go, even accepting the fact that it was okay if I didn’t finish the whole distance.
So, I let him go ahead as I stayed behind giving him space.
Alone, I tried running on various intervals like the 30s:15s (30 seconds run: 15 seconds walk) interval just to keep myself going, but the heat was just too much. Serves me right for not doing heat training during the hottest part of the day.
When I finally came across a carinderia that had a table and chair to spare, I asked the lady owner if I could take a short nap there to which she allowed me to. I even kindly asked her if she could wake me up after 10 minutes. 😬 The locals rarely say “No” whether it be asking if you could get some water from them to pour over yourself to cool down or even use their comfort room inside their home.
As I slumped over the table with my arms crossed to cushion my head over the table, I heard them talking about where I possibly came from and said that I must really be tired. I then heard someone ordering mami who turned out to be one “hangry” runner as well. Seeing how he ate heartily, I was enticed to eat as well. The P15 mami did taste good, but my body just didn’t seem to be in the mood to eat at all that I had to force myself to take several spoonfools of soup and a few strands of noodles.
As I was left behind eating, Ben had arrived and I invited him to join me. He refused to eat after a gassy stomach issue and just sat there to take five. We then left together again with Larry tailing behind us. The little rest gave me a little boost that I went ahead again.
This time we were at the town proper where the busy huge unshaded streets were. I caught up with TBRmates Swoosh and Ayn at a stall that sold cold fresh buko juice. It was really refreshing for the hot weather and it just what we needed. I then saw them at the ice cream hydration station eating ice cream this time. These two seem to be eating everywhere. 😂
Love these two as they gave words of encouragement to push on. Ayn even gave me a hug when the look of giving up was probably written all over my face telling me to walk and I’ll get there.
So, walk was just what I did.
I finally made it to the shuttle van stop in Pagsanjan. I wanted to cry upon seeing the Sally, our driver, another guy and Gerald who was done with his 1st part of the relay run. I kept telling them “Ayoko na. Hindi ko na kaya” (I don’t want to do it anymore. I can’t do it.) to which they replied the complete opposite that I still could.
Sally, on the other hand kept teasing me asking me if I wanted him to call RD Pat to inform him I was declaring a DNF. He even added “Ano pa kaya itsura mo pag dating mo ng papuntang Cavinti nyan?” (I wonder how you’d look when you reach the Cavinti part?) That easily translated to: There’s more tougher routes to go through. 😫😫😫
“Isipin mo nalang na 2 hours kada 10k na lakad, pasok ka na.” (Just think of it as 2 hours per 10km of walk, you’re in.)
Right. Right. Easy to say, but Ugh! 😭😭😭
A shuttlemate arrived as well at the stop and encouraged me to go on. After his brief rest, I tagged along with him. When I felt that I was pulling him back while he still had so much to give, I convinced him to go ahead.
It was really mostly road, road and road from there. There was barely any houses. Oh, there were a few at the start… one with a girl watching me walk uphill and shouting from their window across the street, “Pagod ka na, ‘te?” (Are you already tired, sis?) to which I just smiled and nodded a yes.
I stopped for buko juice at one of the stalls. Every stop, people would usually ask us where we came from and where we’re headed to. Then they’d remark at how faaaaaaaaar we had yet to go. 😭
By this time, I had stopped taking in my half a sachet of GU every 5k. I felt my tongue was numb with all the GU intake and to me seemed like it wasn’t helping anymore.
From a distance, I saw runners gathered and resting at a hydration point. Yes, this must be the 90k mark. Since they listed my number, I guess I made it to cut-off. I sat down beside the rest on rocky ground and ate a banana that was provided.
Then it was time to go again. 😩
I lost count as to how many kilometers I had yet to go, especially when I had changed my watch at KM66 and had to keep adding the distance to the watch I used after. Every inch on my body was tired. Every strand of hair and my brains cells included, so don’t ask me to add. 😭
I followed two groups of runners. One group had a strong pacer pushing the two male runners from behind… literally. He had his hand at their backs. Another in a group of 4 was being tailed by a support vehicle.
I eventually went ahead of them as I walked alone asking myself over and over again why I was doing this.
When you’re alone and have so much “me time”, you tend to talk to have a conversation with yourself inside your head.
I could even hear hubs voice asking me, “Ano pa ba kailangan mo patunayan?” (What else do you have to prove?)
“Hindi ka ba pa ba makuntento sa 50k lang?” (Aren’t you contented with just 50k?)
“Mahirap maghanap ng kapalit na asawa.” 🙄😬 (It’s not that easy looking for a new wife.)
“Sigurado ka ba na tutuloy ka?” Baka mas malaki pa gagastusin ko kung may mangyari sa yo?” (Are you really sure you want to push through with this? I may end up spending more in case something happens to you.)
Yeah, hubs was worried, but just didn’t want to admit it. 😂
A waiting shed was a sign for me to take a rest. I felt that I really needed to nap badly as my eyes had their own intervals of shutting close for a few seconds and waking up. 😴😳😴😳😴
I took out my egg timer and set it at 10 minutes and used my backpack as a pillow. Just minutes when I had my peace and quiet came a support vehicle that parked in front of the waiting shed as the driver yelled, “Ate! Baka mapasarap tulog mo nyan!” (You might sleep too well!). I told them I had set an alarm. 😡 If waking me up wasn’t enough (oh, wait! I wasn’t asleep yet, but STILL), they stayed parked there and chitchatted away. Of all places?!? Of the whole loooooong stretch left, you could have possibly chosen another spot. Besides, they were parked on the left side of the road where they’re not supposed to be. 😡😡😡
So much for the 10 minutes of rest.
I got up and proceeded. Haaaay….
By that time, a lot of runners had overtaken me already.
I didn’t mind.
As I walked, everytime I’d pass a certain KM, thoughts of my friends who had reached that far would come into mind. Also in my thoughts were those who had the guts to go even beyond. These people are just …wow! No words for them, but just my utmost respect.
I thought of why people actually do this. I now know how it actually feels running ultras as long as this and yet I’m confused at why people keep doing it.
I then thought of my kids back home. I wondered what their Sunday activity was… if they had gone to church or had eaten out for lunch. I thought of hubs and wondered if he was worried about me as I ran and was thinking of how far I had already gone.
I thought of the other runners I knew who were running this, too. I wondered how they were. I thought of the runners I was still running with… runners I just met along the way and have been a source of strength to keep pushing. Love you, Peewee!
I thought of what I had done wrong when the first half was going smoothly as planned.
I even thought of what my post on FB would be like, whether if it was a DNF post or a triumphant one. I thought of what to write in my blog.
My mind just kept going and going keeping my legs and body distracted.
From night time that we had started into the daylight, it was back to darkness once again. The roads that we were on had zero lamp posts and was pitch dark. There was electricity in the houses that lined the sides of the roads, but wasn’t enough to give light to the road.
I had to take stops once in awhile as my thighs were hurting and the front of my right foot ached. It was a miracle that my back didn’t bother me. Taping works.
During one of my stops, a silhouette of a tall familiar runner figure appeared. “Jah? Ikaw ba yan?” (Jah? Is that you?) It was Ben again!
I had somebody to run with again, although I kept slowing him down with my requests for breaks. With the last 7kms to go and few minutes to make it to the 23 hour cut-off, I told him to go ahead.
7kms of an all downhill route would be a delight for any runner, but not for one that has been running for more that 22hours and more than a distance of 100k. I would’ve loved to run, but the top of my foot ached. I didn’t think it was worth injuring for the sake of making it to cut-off.
Ben had gone way ahead as I told him to. I prayed he’d make it to his target of cut-off while I struggled just to finish. I was in company of other struggling runners whose faces I can’t remember as we were in total darkness encouraging each one to push on.
One runner was already flagging down a passing vehicle saying he couldn’t go on anymore saying, “Nanigas na mga binti ko.” (My legs have become all stiff.) He was walking in a weird way, much like a huge paper cut out of a man that didn’t bend at the knees, but I kept telling him it was just the last stretch and he’d make it.
The end of the downhill seemed never-ending as it kept turning left and right. 😭😭😭
Then, there was light. No, I didn’t pass out. 😂😂😂
The town lights were there.
We were back into civilization.
We were in Lumban.
It took several turns until I heard someone call out to me. It was Ben who had seated himself at the sidewalk. I asked why he didn’t go ahead to the finish line and he replied he had been waiting for me since he wasn’t going to make it to cut-off anyway.
I looked at my watch and told him, “Abot pa!”
“8:56 palang!” (It’s only 8:56pm.!)
He didn’t realize it and all the while he thought it was way past 9pm. already. I also told him that a runner told me there might be a slight extension as the gunstart was a few minutes late.
We walked-ran together through several turns again and when I looked at my watch it read 9:06pm. 😞 Nearing the Lumban sports complex, I heard a voices shout out from the side “Go Jah!”. It was Swoosh and Ayn.
Ben looked back and told me to go ahead.
Susginoo! Uso pa ba ang ladies first? 😂
I refused and told him to just go as he was the one with the target.
He ran to and entered the complex to finish.
I followed him a few steps behind.
Oh, God! I actually made it. 😭
I could barely hold up the banner. “Abot ba? Abot pa ba?” (Did I make it?) was all I could remember asking.
It turns out that I did make it with 3 minutes and 17 seconds to spare. The 10th and last female to make it to the cut-off. Top 10! 😂😂😂
I thought I’d cry at the finish line, but was probably too dehyrated to even shed a tiny tear. My mind was also too preoccupied about thinking of my shuttlemates who had been waiting for us so the van could finally leave.
It was a finish line like the usual ultras. Only difference was there was a panel like row of chairs facing the finish line with people taking down the time and so on.
It would’ve had been more dramatic with friends welcoming you there, but since my friends had ran too, and were tired, it was understandable.
After getting my loot, taking a bath, we left at once. There was hardly anytime to socialize or take pictures with everyone. I didn’t even get to eat or stretch, but managed to take in a tetra box of chocolate milk. 😖
At the van, the usual long conversations throughout the ride back home lasted only for a few minutes as everyone was off to lalaland within minutes.
I think the newest thing that happened to me after a run happened when I was preparing my change of clothes at the finish line. My fingers started cramping and sticking together. Upon research, I found out that it was actually a sign of dehydration. Come to think of it, during the whole length of the 23 hour ordeal, I had only done 2 bathroom breaks. 😵
Upon getting home, I saw that the top of the feet were red and slightly swollen probably because of the shoes and all that downhill. I also had two tiny blisters with one on the side of my big toe and the other below at the sole. Gladly, these were minor and I had no souvenir injuries, just aches… and trauma. 😂😂😂
Of course, couldn’t help and share my achievement with everyone before went into hibernation. 😂
To the runners who bravely signed up for this event, those who finished within or beyond cut-off, those who tried their best but DNFed: Congratulations! 🎉🎉🎉
To the other runners who finished, but didn’t do it in an honest way: Well, shame on you. I saw what you did. Just so you may know, support vehicles are supposed to leapfrog without you the runner in it. Or should I say runners in it? 😤
MY THOUGHTS ON THE EVENT
If there’s one thing I noticed about this event as compared to other events offering long distances like these is that this one doesn’t really have any strict rules to follow. You can go inside airconditioned stores to buy your own stuff and even stay there, you can cross the road to go to the support vehicle and even sit inside it, you can have a pacer — advantages over those other runners who don’t. You can also join without any prerequisite such as a minimum longest distance done.
Cheating for those who are a pro at it comes really easy, too. 😞
If you’re also the the type of runner who doesn’t care much about trophies or medals, this one is for you.
Why? A solo runner who DNFed, a runner of a 2 or 4 man relay gets the same trophy as one that finishes the whole 117km. EXACT as in same size, same distance written on it even if you’ve only ran like 30km. Oh well, I guess it’s really the buckle that not everyone gets. At least the finisher shirt states if it was a 2 or 4 man relay that the runner finished. 😶
There were some hydration points that were too far from each other, especially for those who were running self-support. I’m glad some support vehicles particularly the Snail Runners Alabang were kind enough to give out water or even soda to anyone who needed it during the last stretch.
Now, would I recommend this ultramarathon?
It’s a tough one. Wait, I can’t think of a word that really describes this one, but it’s tough x 1,000,000,000.
If you’re the type who likes the uphill and downhill routes of RunMania, go for it. I would however, suggest you join their shorter distances first to get a feel of what their routes are like. This one is definitely for the hardcore. I’m no hardcore, but I was lucky instead to have made it. 😬
To God— for keeping me safe all throughout.
To the hubby– after my visa was denied several times and was given a back to back 50k ultra visa instead, you finally agreed to granting me a visa for this. I know until the last minute you still didn’t want me to push through with it, but allowed me to as you knew this was something I really wanted to do. Thank you. 😘😘😘
To everyone who has given me tips from the very start and has shared stories of how they survived their ultras (You guys know who you are), thank you.
To those who believed I could do it more than I did, thank you.
To my ultra shuttlefriends, (I won’t name you one by one as not to miss out on anyone) for dragging me into this. Nananahimik yong tao, e. Nandamay pa kayo. 😂😂😂 Thanks to those who didn’t “broadcast” my run as well. Labyu guys.
To ultra Bes Syd — thanks for constantly checking up on me regarding the training and even the status of my visa. 😂😂😂
To Ben who didn’t want to leave me behind and pushed me when I felt like giving up.
To all the runners who I ran along with at any point of the route… the ever determined Peewee with his Nike App cheering him on: everytime I’d see you, I was pushed to keep going. Your will power rubbed onto me and because of that I am grateful. The other runners who greeted me along the way, but I was too fazed out to recognize you. To Ayn, Swoosh for all the words of encouragement, same goes with the people at the shuttle, Gerald, Sally, Edison and the rest. To the others ran in the dark with and kept me company, thank you.
To Sheilla, thanks for the extra effort of trying to provide us with two van points with food. It meant a lot.
To all the support teams, Snails — thank you so much for asking if I was still okay or if I needed anything everytime you’d pass me by. Thanks Gaile, too!
To everyone who ever worried about me — my eldest daughter telling me how worried she was knowing I was running a 100k+ distance and wanted to call me. To my kids who even saved an extra chair for me when they ate lunch out during my absence from our family day.
To Runmania, Sir Pat and the whole staff — Had it not been for you, I would’ve never even dared to try achieving what I thought was impossible. For this once in a lifetime experience (hindi na mauulit), I will forever be grateful. ❤️❤️❤️
Photo Credits: RunMania • Aquizzed Snaps Photography • Ohdz Arce • Laguna Run
Distance: 117k (66.38k + 53.62k= 120k on my watches)
Overall Ranking: 93/94 who made the cut-off
Female Ranking: 10/10 who made the cut-off
Beyond Cut-Off: 20