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Saturday, December 28, 2013

1st West Coast 200 Single Stage Race

Last year I finished the multi-stage and vowed NOT to do the single-stage. Guess what, I ate again my words! I did it for 3 major reasons:

1. I love the freaking buckle - the big round buckle with the golden paniki is enough reason for you to think twice about not doing the event. I've touched it and for some reason, I can't get my mind off of it because of the fine details included in the design. 

2. 2nd (or 3rd) leg of 2013 PAU grandslam awards - insane event. Yes, you have to do 200 kms after subjecting yourself in a gruesome 100-miler 20 days before. You want that award then get your ass off and run from Subic to Alaminos, Pangasinan

3. Cut-off - 48 hours. That's very lax compared to the 100-miler cut-off I did this year. It's very lax assuming you won't get injured in the middle of the race. You need to do it before the RD decides to trim it down in the next edition :D


I only had roughly 20 days to prepare for this race coming from a 100-miler in Antique. I didn't do any hardcore training in between since I can still feel the effect of the previous race. I did a couple of cross-training, trail runs and one race (DBB challenge) to keep myself in shape. I know I won't be 100% come race day so I have to be very careful not to injure myself nor over-train as it can result to a disaster during the actual race.

For my support, I had Harry, May and Nikki join my crew. I did most of the briefing online, sending them my gameplan over google docs (thank you technology) and requesting a couple of key items that I will use on race day. 

For my nutrition, I still choose solid foods, softdrinks and buko juice as they worked for me during the Antique event. Though I have to switch brand for my recovery drink since I can't find Fluid at the shops near our place and replace it with Recoverite (strawberry and citrus). I really don't like the taste but I need it to hasten my recovery during the race. Oh, the usual stuff as well like GU and Chomps for fuel just in-case I need it.

Also I used a new set of compression shorts as I don't want my #($*#%$ chaffing experience in the Antique 100-miler last month. Bought it on sale in ROX though I never broke them in. I'm going to take that risk but I know it should be better compared to my previous shorts.

By the way, did I mention that this is the first time that I experienced two successive sunsets during one race? ))


We planned to leave Manila at around 6 pm. But due to unforeseen circumstances, we left at around 8 pm after a quick dinner in a japanese resto near the MRT. I had a room booked in one of the hotels in Subic (with a pageant title holder at the front desk) so we can have enough time to rest before the race. This is better compared to last year where we didn't have any room and forced to sleep with the mosquitoes outside the starting line :)) Had a quick check on the equipment before I took some shuteyes.

We woke up at around 330 am. I saw a lot of familiar faces at the lobby while waiting for the rest of the crew to get ready. You can sense an aura of anxiety thru the smile of everyone (kabado lahat!). Of course, we didn't miss the chance to take a picture with the lovely hotel receptionist (where totoy was also PR).

At the starting line, I found out that there were more than 30 runners who will do the single stage race. I even had a chance to touch the beautiful buckle again and even showed it to the multi-stage participants hoping that they will upgrade to one long journey! (alas i was unlucky). At exactly 4:45 am we gathered already inside the Remy Field for the race briefing and immediately the countdown followed after. 5:00 marked the start of our long journey to Lucap, Pangasinan!

Km 00-50

The route basically followed the one we did last year. Same route different challenge. After doing 2 rounds at the oval, we began our run towards the gate of Subic. I chose to take a slower pace this time as I need to conserve as much energy as I can for the rest of the race. But during the cold morning, I took the chance of covering some of the distance before the hot sun appears at the sky.

I took my first break at km 10 with gatorade plus puto from the crew. I was still maintaining a good pace up to km 30 (San Marcelino) where I caught up with Simon who was also conserving. I noticed the temperature was rising already and the heat is becoming quite unbearable. I stopped over km 30 and had water poured over my head to cool down before running again to the next stop-over

At km 40, the sun was already up and beating us with its heat. I started to slow down and did some brisk walking to prevent from overheating. I ate some bananas and mogu-mogu which became my life saver (i love the flavor and the chewy nata). At this point, I think I was near Robert Watson already and Bobby Go already overtook me. Still I remained focus and continue the thought of having lunch at km 50 already :))

I reached km 50 around 11 am in the morning which is pretty much ahead of my 6:30 hours target time. Here I sat down to rest and eat lunch. I checked my condition, legs are still ok but I'm starting to get tired. I have 150 km to go so I have to recover by munching down the food and making sure I'm still hydrated.

Km 50-100

I left km 50 at around 11:30 am. I was brisk walking towards the town of Cabangan while looking for some runners who I can chat with during the race. I reached a couple of them in a carinderia where I asked for some hot soup to calm my stomach and neutralize the acid build-up (plus a short break to chat with my fellow runners).

After the carinderia, we all left and tried to do a short jog. Then disaster came: my left leg was already cramping! Damn, it was too early! I really have to slow down and asked my crew to prepare some oral salts and give me some chips to replace the sodium in my body. I even asked another crew to massage my legs but still it's taking me some time to recover :(

I was losing a lot of time already. Everytime I tried to run, the cramps attacked. I was thinking of giving up already but I told myself I still have time and I can recover. That gave me hope plus I promised Alain (who reached me at km 65)  that we can finish this race. I powered walk towards the town of Botolan where I again met Robert who apparently took a break before reaching the bridge. Rain was also falling that time which at least gave us a cooler weather. At around 4 pm, I reached the checkpoint in Botolan where I took a break to recover.

As I was resting, BR asked for my condition. I mentioned that I was still conserving my energy and recovering from the pesky cramps. The rain was getting stronger here so I have to get up quickly and chase my target time at km 80. I changed my clothes here and tried to pace with the Marupok boys and Tin Ferrera.

Damn cramps were still bugging me at this point. Then I remembered that Tin has coach Salazar as support. So at km 75, I asked him to massage my legs so I can recover. It took me 15 minutes and some silent screams when I he massaged my leg (I even cramped again during the session). But I'm glad he did that because I slowly felt that I can recover.

I thought I will have no more problems during the race. Boy I was wrong. After reaching km 80, I vomited. I literally emptied my tummy! Again, quitting was looming over my head but I can't fail my crew. I made it this far to surrender. With that in mind, I checked my condition. My body didn't cramp and I'm not weakened with the incident. So I asked for some water and food then I continued the journey. It was already dark so I asked for my headlamp.

It was so dark at this point of the race. But I was not complaining: last year, this section was scorching hot plus the hilly portion going to Masinloc. I was able to catch up with Reylynne and told her to pace up with me so she'll be safe through the night. I was tired and hungry but I need to recover. I asked the crew to prepare some hot noodles so I can counter the acid build up in my stomach. It was hard to find a store during that time but thank God they were able to get some.

I reached the midpoint (km 100) at around 10:00 pm. After checking-in, I asked the crew that I will sleep for 30 minutes after I eat my dinner. May was already force feeding me because I lost my appetite already. I was still hopeful and I know I can finish within my target time...

Km 101-150

I had a very shallow sleep. Hardly because of the anxiety and endorphine in my body. I was getting distracted by the people passing by plus the mosquitoes kept on biting me. But I tried to rest because I need the energy to last for 100 more km!

At around 10:30 pm, I wore my socks and shoes again then asked for some hot coffee. I took my painkiller (I'm desperate already) before I took off and continue the race. I know this part of the race would be a long dark hilly road minus the burning sun where I almost quit due to dehydration :))

I can't run. The painkillers were in place but I'm still brisk walking. Plus I felt blisters forming under my foot. I took the chance and brisked-walk. I even reminded my crew about the critical junction in Masinloc where they need to turn right at the INC chapel when they reach the junction. I was banking in on my hope to survive the night and still reach the next checkpoint with enough strength to finish the race.

The night was long and quiet. As I pass the town of Candeleria, it was so dark and quiet. I know some of my crews were already sleeping as they too were tired at this point of the race. I can't drink soda too because I was still recovering from the acid reflux earlier. No coffee either so the result: I was a walking zombie.

Up to now, I still can't believe how I survived the boredom of that night. Probably because Harry was adamant at forcing me to continue running/walking so we can arrive earlier in Sta. Cruz. But at this rate, I know the sun will be up before we reach the town.

Around km 130, I was able to catch up with Bong and Marupok support. At last, some company! I found out that they too tried to sleep and recover. They were also aiming to arrive in Infanta before the sun rises again. Take note, the sky was full of stars during the night. This is bad news for us :(

I reached the town of Sta. Cruz(km 134) at around 6 am. I took a banyo break (literally knocking at the houses) to relieve myself. I continued walking towards the Zambales-Pangasinan border before my crew called me to rest and have some hot mami in one of the eateries along that road. The noodle was a good treat as I was getting bored with the food since I choked up. I was able to recover so I tried to run towards the checkpoint in Infanta. By the way, at this point the sun was shining again with a blue cloudless sky!

I reached the checkpoint at around 8 am. I was supposed to sleep here but it was already hot so I asked for some food and changed my clothes. It was getting hotter so I left the townhall and started making my way towards Dasol.

($)$(%#%%#$ HOT!!! SO #(#)(#%#$ HOT!!! sorry for the profane words but that's how I can describe the weather during that time. I was literally getting baked under the sun. I have to buy some ice water and ice candy along the way to rub at my nape and neck just to cool down. Damn I thought I was dying during that time (they soaked me with water but after 2 minutes, I'm all dried up).

I reached km 150 at around 11 am which means I would miss my target time in 160 of 30:00 hours :(

Km 151-200

As I continue to battle the scorching heat of the sun, I have to find my way to keep my core temperature down. Water from deepwells, softdrinks, ice candy and ice bags along the way helped me. It's also no use to run here as it will hasten my dehydration. Talk about doing a literal deathmarch!

Upon reaching the town proper of Dasol (km 162), I asked the crew to prepare me some quick lunch already. I tried to run the downhills and uphills when the heat started to subside but unfortunately I have to stop again at a store because my crew was missing! They missed a turn and overtook me so I have no choice but to take a short break at the store. They apologized when the reached me though I told them that I really wanted to have some lunch.

Remember the uphills that I was running all the way last year on the way to Mabini? I saw their full glory this time! It was a big ladder of punishing uphills which made me wonder how I was able to dash thru them. At this point, clouds were already forming and cooling the weather as expected. Though i was worried if it rains because my blisters were already big and my butt has a big chaffing at its cheeks :(( I still have no choice so I continued towards the town of Mabini.

I had lunch at the junction with the most delicious giniling and soup in the whole wide universe! (of course i'm exaggerating because i was tired already). I realized that I only have less than 30 km left towards the finish line plus the route at this point would all be downhill. I decided to change my shoes already though I felt pain at the side of my feet because they were already inflamed and my shoes' toebox were narrow. I have to live throughout the pain and change my socks just to keep the pain at bay.

I was able to run towards the town proper of Mabini (plus there was a double rainbow along the way) as darkness begins to creep in again. This is the 2nd time I witnessed sunset during this race so I believe I can be considered as hardcore :)) Before the ascend from Mabini, I took a stop-over with the Marupok boys and chatted with TLC. He even gave me a stick of barbecue which I gladly accepted plus a bar of snickers for good luck. I know we still have at least 18 km left in this race and I appreciate the small talks before we cover the remaining distance.

On the way to Alaminos, we climbed a short hill then ran a long downhill with incoming traffic. Blisters were already big and starts to annoy me when I walked. I convinced myself that I will be walking the rest of the race because of the annoying pain on each foot.

That changed when out of nowhere a screaming TLC appeared on my back. He told me that there is another runner who was chasing us from behind. I cursed him for being so competitive even if I was running on race pace! It was a miracle on how I was able to sustain a pace until the town center of Alaminos. I was catching my breathe when I caught up with the Marupok support vehicle. I asked for a banana and some water before heading on my last 6k towards the finish line.

Like a man possessed, I ran in my race pace. Damn it was good. The pain was gone and I can feel the sea breeze passing by my face. I felt strength from out of nowhere and asked my crew to stop for one last time so I can refill my water bottle and had a munch of food before I asked them to proceed to the finish line. I felt so strong as I was counting down the remaining distance.

On my last 2 kms, I looked again at the sky. I closed my eyes and prayed to God. I thanked Him for the adventure of a lifetime, the protection He gave me and for the hope that He put in my heart. I raced my last few meters and at around 8:30 pm, I was able to complete the longest race in my running career to date! I finally conquered West Coast 200 single stage ultramarathon!

Thank you to my crew: Harry, Nikki and ate May for sharing your time and patience with me all throughout the race. Thank you to the Marupok support crews: Ate Juvy, Kuya Jay, Mama Arnelli and Ate Shawie for the help during the race. Thank you sir Jovie and Mam Rowena for the challenge and pushing us beyond our limits. It helped us discover a lot about ourselves and gave us a ton of life lessons.

Congrats to my batchmates who finished the race! And that concludes my 3rd leg for the PAU grandslam award this year. One more crazy leg to complete it!

"Maintain focused on your goal. A lot of distractions and disappointments will head your way but as long as you keep your goal in sight, nothing should prevent you from obtaining it. Pain will always be part of your victory and let those scars tell the most awesome story you have in this lifetime..."

(the following day we did some island hopping but that would be another story :D)

Some pictures during the race:

All photos are owned by their respective photographers. 

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