The longest distance I ran within one day happened last August 29, 2010. It was a big run from Pasuquin to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte (hosted by my running idol Jovie Narcise a.k.a. The BaldRunner).
D-day started in-front of the municipal hall of Pasuquin. 125 strong runners tried to conquer the epic distance, passing thru scenic landmarks and racing against the heat of the sun. We started the race at exactly 5 am after a prayer from Doc Topher.
Km 0 - 10 Early Start
Good thing I had a pace partner during the start of the race. Our plan was to take it easy on the first 30 km then speed up during the other half. We decided to take an easy 7:00 pace but eventually hitting the 6:00 pace. During this leg, we passed by a lot of stores selling salt. The route was still dark and some of the dogs were already chasing us (parang Tanay lang!). Got support by the end of the 10K route
Km 11 - 20 Long Run
Next 20 km, we're still hitting the 6:xx mark. Passed by a few locals, greeting us and telling us that we are still far from the finish line. We crossed a bridge with a glimpse of the sea to at least entertain us as we try to conquer our journey.
Km 21 - 30 First Landmark
Reached the first landmark, the Burgos Lighthouse. The route was a short but steep uphill so we decided to conserve our energy going up this part of the race. Took a picture in-front of the lighthouse before we speed our way downhill. We took our first set of Hammer Gel already to replenish our energy as we have a long way ahead. The road was already rolling with brief uphills and downhill towards our next stop. The sun had risen already and the heat starts to build-up. Still we push on with the race
Km 31 - 40 The first surprise!
At km 33, we finally reached the entrance to the Kapurparan rocks. I didn't expect that the trail was long so I only brought a few hydrations. As we continuously ran the trail, we began to notice that they were not kidding about the distance. It was freaking long! And more bad news, I'm feeling dizzy already. This means that I am already dehydrated. There was a brief moment of panic as I sipped from my bottle to cope up with this state and thank God I also brought some rock salt from the Inn. Beeps went ahead already but I caught up after I licked a bunch of salt then drank some water.
Then there was another problem: my shoes were meant for road races and not for trail running. I felt the ground with each step and I guess it was adding stress to my feet already. We were forced to walk in most part of this route. To make things more exciting, the trail on the beach were sharp rocks! I was hoping not to trip over because it will mean disaster so I really have to walk slowly to the marker guy. Had a photo-op with the photographer (I asked for some water as well) before we hit the route again. It was another run-walk session on the trail.
When I got back to the main road, our support group was missing. I was sensing that I have to panic already so with the other group, I drenched myself with water, applied some painkillers and tried to chase after the support group. Oh well, I just told myself that hopefully I can reach them without the blisters forming on my feet ache. I did reach them at some point and changed my socks. It felt good so I tried to run again with Beeps towards the next landmark.
Lessons: 1. If BR said that there is a trail run, bring some trail shoes! 2. Never panic, just keep your composure 3. Believe in your support team
Km 41-50 The Windmills and the heat
Our pace by this time dropped already because of fatigue and heat of the sun. We were doing 1K run then 1K walk to reach the cut-off. The sun was not cooperating as well as it continues to warm up our route. I reached my wall as well so I'm already conserving my energy.
We reached the entrance to the Bangui Windmills and learned that it was another trail run. It was my first time here so I don't have any ideas on what to expect within the route. First part, it was a sharp descend so we can't run it (mahal ko pa mga tuhod ko!). Then the heat is building up plus the trail is already giving pain on my feet (read lesson #1 from Km 31-40). We literally walked the whole trail until we reached the road.
At the end of the trail, we found our support crew. I asked for some sandwich plus gatorade while having my feet massaged to loosen up the pain. I also drenched again on water to cool-down before running again the remaining part of the route. The 2nd wind was there already but after a few meters I felt pain on my legs and back. I was forced to walk. I have a bad feeling about this...
Km 51 - 60 Breaking Point
It's noon already. The heat was very unbearable. Beep already went ahead because I don't want to cause him anymore delay in this race. Pain on my legs. I was already cursing myself for reaching the wall but with sheer determination I walked. Cramps were already building as well. A part of me says that I should quit but never in my entire running career did I commit a DnF.
Prince (joseph) was passing by already and I asked him if I can pace with him. He was so helpful in building my morale again and be motivated to try running even if this body was already weary. He helped me gain momentum and never left me as we continue to finish this part of the race.
Our strategy was simple: do some short interval runs then walk. It was effective especially now that we were so tired. It was really sheer determination to finish the race.
For some reason, I felt a 2nd wind pass me when I saw the "Welcome to Pagudpud" arc. It means we were near! (hooray!)
Km 61 - 64 Lost?
Dreaded uphill were already killing my legs but I tried to do some short runs in between. On the downhill, the momentum was great but have to stop because of the pain. Reaching the flat road, I began asking questions to the locals on how far are we from the resort. They said it's around 1.5 km. So I built my pace and start running like hell. After 1 km, I tried asking again on how far was the resort. Still 1.5 km.
I realized that there is no point in asking them as I will only get disappointed. And I did because at Km 63, we have to do a left turn towards the municipality. I have to shut down my brain and just do the running. I'm really determined to finish the race
Km 65 - Finish line
Still a long way to run! Brain was only programmed by that time to focus on running. No more questions, no more buts. Just run! And by all means at exactly 10:41, I was able to cross that finish line. I was so happy and fulfilled that beyond all odds I did finish my longest race so far in my running career. I want to cry but I promise not to. I sat down for a while contemplating on the achievement and still in the high of finishing a darn race
Thank you Beeps for the strong pace + support, Takbo.ph for the support (hindi ko talaga kakayanin to kung wala kayo), Prince for the help and knocking my sense back, BR for the fantastic race and to God who with all his mercy allowed me to finish one hell of a race.
Will I still continue with my Ultra-marathon career? Definitely yes! See you in PAU 50K Pinatubo :D
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