I got home around lunch time and the wife was surprised why I got home early. She knew that I’ll be running my first trail run- 57km (that started 5am-ish that day) at that and she expected me to arrive past 5pm. I told her that I didn’t finish the entire run, that I only got as far as the first loop (the route requires to finish 2 loops for 57km total) and the reason why I didn’t finish the race was because I lack heat training, the race was too hot and sun’s killing me. It was raining cats and dogs outside the house and I wasn’t really sure if I was able to convince her of my alibi.
Rewind 10 hours earlier
I picked up Xerxis (ultra team mate from Team Ungas) around 3am and the plan was to pass through Carmona Exit to reach Sta.Rosa Laguna. The road from GMA to Carmona exit was treacherous, several uphill that you could not see the next incoming vehicle and the downhill roads you have to be very careful with, there we no lights along the road, several sharp turns in the road with no necessary warning signals, I was wondering if the local government of Carmona were a bunch of monkeys that didn’t pay attention to road safety(much apologies to real monkeys). To make things more complicated, it was raining that day that I thought I’d rather run another 102km than drive along those roads.
Xerxis was hoping that it wouldn’t be too hot during the course, I could only agree with him by nodding my head and not say anything as I was more concentrated driving on that hell road while muttering in my head biblical passage Psalm 23 with slight innovation…”even though I drive through the road of shadow and death,because you are with me, I fear no harm.” We reached Nuvali club house around 4am where the rest of the 25 and 50km runners were already gathered.
It was a familiar sight of fellow ultra runners. It looks like they were all prepared for the battle, some were preparing their hydration and foods, some were doing Kodak moments, a lot of chit chats going on with familiar faces, it was a sight to behold. Mr. Jonel of Front Runner magazine was so busy, announcing every 10minutes to sign their names in the list pasted on the table there. As I signed my name on the list, I checked the paper and noticed that there were around 200+ doing 57km. I was 70th in the list. Beside the list is some sort of disclaimer. Just like EULA when installing a software, I bet my ass only few or no one reads it at all. I believe ultra-marathoners are more responsible, more battle tested and more serious in races like this, that if they screwed up, they only have to blame themselves and not the race people. Having said that, I believe its everyone’s responsibility to read it. Did I read the disclaimer? No…je je je je je!
As it was my first time to run a trail run, I was surprised with the route. We mostly run on dirt road. I’m glad I wore my CWX tights to protect my legs from sharp leaves. There was even a surprise there when we cross a smaller part of a river. We didn’t really submerged our feet on it as there were some huge rocks we could step on to keep our shoes dry (as if that still matters). The hydration station were spaced to far from each other like 5-6km. Not that I blame the organizers, we knew that before hand that was why we were told to bring our own hydration. I got with me a 2liter Camelbak (I only fill around 1.5liter of it) on my back, damn it was heavy as I ran. Blas would comment how huge my backpack was and I believe I possessed one of the biggest bag that day for the run.
I honestly didn’t have any problem with my pace, I was able to run comfortably and applied Galloway technique on the last 10km of the first loop. However around 7:30am, it already unbelievably hot. I have to convince myself there will be lots of shades to hide from the sun and everything will be fine. Solid intakes and hydration were perfectly fine as I was able to find a way to figure out how to drink and eat based on current fitness level and unbelievable higher sweat rate. I carried with me Hammer brand Electrolyte and anti-fatigue capsules with me. Being well prepared on all aspects of hydration and my faith that my legs are prepared to handle the gruesome task of the race, I actually planned to finish the race by lunch time or 1pm but not exceeding 2pm. But then, there was one thing I wasn’t able to prepare….
If there’s one thing I wish sir Jonel prepared that day, it was I wish there were ice-soaked sponge to help cool our body. But then, I can only blame myself. I train in the gym kse, 4 days a week at that. You can ask Totoy, my gym buddy. While the legs were prepared for the hills and I have the necessary endurance to finish the race, I was pampered in the air-conditioned gym. I felt like a salt-fish thrown into fresh water environment (ok that was a bad analogy), my body ache from each direct contact with the sun.
As I was approaching near the end of first loop, I met fellow ultra runners Ronnie and another runner I could not recognized. He jokingly told us, “uy 2 km na lang, another 28km pa for the next loop!” something to that effect, I calmly accepted the fact that I will not do the next loop. Seeing Nuvali clubhouse around 500 meters from me, instead of turning left for a short 1km or something to reach the place, I went instead straight to the parking lot with the intention of going inside my car, turning on the engine and turning on full blast the car-aircon! I proceed to call sir Jonel(the organizer) and informed him that I won’t do the 2nd loop that I was not prepared for the heat. I think it was the lousiest excuse he ever heard that day but was real, honest thing I could say. I do not have any blisters, my legs can still run, upper body still strong even if I was carrying a huge bag and no other issues whatsoever. He told me to do a short-cut and proceed to the club-house.
I approached Mr. Jonel, I thought I would received some sort of verbal abuse for DNFing his race with the lousiest excuse of all time but he did not. Siyempre mabait yan eh! I repeated him my case that the heat is starting to take its toll on me and I was not prepared at all for it. He was just happy and told me its OK, there’s always next time. I spent a couple of time in the club-house and even managed to have free massage from Salonpas and bought that buy1-take1 Nature Valley bar.
I didn’t go home with a defeated-emo type of emotion. In fact, parang bisyo na tong DNF na ginagawa ko. I believe this is the 3rd time I DNF and the first one this year. As I drive on my way back, passing through the same treacherous Carmona road, I noticed a tow truck pulling an L300. I knew it! A van fell off the ravine! The windshield was broken with some blood on it. I hope nothing very serious and life threatening happened to the people inside that van.
Such incident made us realize how precious life is. You might feel broken or beaten down, but you know there’s always another chance to hold and fight. As for me, I may went home not victorious, but I know there will be another trail run (and I will run this race again!) to prove myself…and I’m glad I’m alive to still do continue this fight.