Trying out the 50K race sometime in May, I would say, was never part of my plan, but some sort of a personal challenge to conquer fear of running beyond the 42K distance.
After I finished my first ultramarathon, I’ve come to realize that indeed it was possible as long as you put your heart to it, even if training would never be that easy, and where goals or reasons why run that distance in the first place, were put to test.
Ultra distance running can be daunting with its physical and mental challenge and I couldn’t agree more. The formula that worked for me, every time when in a race, was a personal mantra, “You’ve done 42K, a full marathon, what’s 8K added to it as warm up. Reach the finish line!” Funny, strange, but it worked for me.
If you asked me of my thoughts while running an ultramarathon, well, sometimes there were none, sometimes they were just random thoughts like “I prayed.” “I recalled experiences in the past, both good and bad.” “I enjoyed the view.” “I admired Mother Nature.” “I pondered on my experiences as a runner?” “I don’t know.” “Not sure.” And the list would go on and on.
Running an ultramarathon wouldn’t be easy but the reward, as you reached the finish line, ah, would be cherished forever.
Going back to my story, the Tagaytay-Nasugbu race, I opted to do it this time on my own sans any volunteer crew. The only support I had then was the drop bags I left with the race marshals at KM20 and KM40 aid stations. Since I hardly use hydration belt or fuel belt, I had only a bottle of water, hand held, and some GU gels, to last me until KM20. One of the best things running an ultramarathon is, even when done guerilla running, support will always be there.
How I tackled the race? The only strategy I could think of then was to run the first thirty or so kilometers within the range of six to six thirty pace per kilometer. I crossed my fingers.
I was doing alright but I got sidetrack with a series of kidney break and looked for a place to relieve myself. It was a good thing there were hotels and inns along the way.
The route wasn’t as difficult as Tanay. Quite the exact opposite in terms of terrain, most of it was downhill. Plus, the weather that day cooperated.
As I reached Nasugbu, I couldn’t help but smile and felt like one of the brave persons in history as I saw the welcome arch. Inscription reads “Maligayang Pagdating sa Lalawigan ng Magigiting” (Welcome to the Province of the Brave).
Within the twenty or so kilometers, it was here where I had to slow down and paced with Aaron or Aron, a member of Team Boring of Takbo.ph. Aaron is a strong and fast runner. He was one of the finishers in the recently held PAU 70K Ultramarathon in Ilocos Norte. I paced with him until he told me to run ahead.
I was somewhat confident I could finish the race within six or so hours, but as I was about to run past another runner, my attention was caught when he suddenly called me by my moniker, so I decided to slow down and chatted with him for a while. During our conversation, he made mention of some blog names, known in running community such as The Bullrunner, Jazzrunner, Baldrunner, among others. I learned he drew inspiration to run his first ultramarathon, the 4th PAU, also from blogs that he read and followed. I paced with Macky until at the bend, across Shell Gasoline Station in Nasugbu.
I ran ahead, supposed to hydrate, but opted to run the rest of the kilometers instead. Running Diva, during the last two hundred meters, on her way to the finish line. Many thanks to Vener aka Run Unlimited for the photo below.
Did I reach my goals? My answer would be a YES and NO.
I failed to run the first 32K within the pace I set for myself. I didn’t finish within the number of hours I also set for myself, but I reached the finish line within the cut off time. I finished my third ultramarathon this year, beyond what I dreamed of. I met newfound friends along the way, thankful to those who followed this blog, and glad to have paced with fellow runners whose goal was same as mine, to reach the finish line. I never get to use my drop bags in any of the aid stations. Many thanks to Joy of Team Boring for the photo below (receiving the mug trophy at the finish line with Sir Jovie aka Baldrunner, PAU Race Director). Joy finished her first marathon at the recently held New York Marathon. Straight from the airport, she headed for Tagaytay to give support to fellow runners and teammates of Team Boring.
Of course, I couldn’t have done it alone. Either guerilla running or with support crew, fellow runners, family, and friends would always be there.
Many, many thanks to the following persons who made it possible for me to reach the finish line. To the hotel staff who prepared my-so-early-requested-breakfast; to Chelly and Team CB for the bread with peanut butter; to Cindy of Team Boring for keeping my stuff safe and for checking in on me during the race; to Macky for the Omega pain killer and hydration, Aaron and Mar aka Forefoot Runner for accompanying me; to I Love Kamote Team for their cheers; support crew of other runners for handing out water in cups; to the children along the way who gave me water and high fives; to Sir Jovie aka Baldrunner and Team Baldrunner for the cheer and support and magic drink; to Pao for your support; Team Boring for the ride back to Manila, and to those whose names I failed to mention here. Again, thank you so much!