I believe my preparation for BDM 102 started when I finally joined the 1st Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU) 50K race in Tanay, Rizal. It was followed by running more PAU races, like the P2P 70K race (from Pasuquin to Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte) and T2N 50K race (from Tagaytay to Nasugbu, Batangas). My performance as a runner during the (65+5) 70K race in Ilocos Norte was my gauge whether I would join BDM 102 or not. I felt fine after the race. There were no major issues except for common soreness in the body and legs. It was not an easy decision when I finally signed up for BDM. I was afraid and apprehensive at the same time. Receiving the official invite via e-mail from Sir Jovie a.k.a. Baldrunner, I knew then there was no room for postponing it. I had to dance to the music.
The first thing I did was to look for a 100-kilometer training program that would best suit my performance as a runner. I’ve found one from an online source, http://ultrarunning.co.nz/content/100km-training-programme, and I personally customized it against my previous races as well as my available or remaining time before the BDM 102 race in March of 2011. I got my invitation sometime in September 2010. That would mean training would start on November 2010 and end on March of 2011 to complete the 16-week 100K program.
Mondays and Fridays were REST periods. Rest days I considered my free time to do stuffs other than running. Training days included Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Wednesdays would always be an eight-kilometer run, jog pace. Tuesdays and Thursdays were intense in terms of repetitions. It would always be a 15-kilometer distance either at a half or marathon pace. Saturdays and Sundays were considered long runs ranging from 1 hour to 5 hours of back-to-back running. It was really tiring, especially, that I’d do my training after work.
Did I strictly follow the program? My answer would be a Yes and No. Yes, in terms of being committed to it. No, because there were times when I just couldn’t follow the program for some reason. Well, one issue that women runners have to face with is, with all the changes in hormone levels that occur during menstrual cycle, you’d expect speed workouts to suffer. Another No, when I lost my mother last year. I was exhausted and kind of overwhelmed for a while. I was back to running only sometime in January this year. There were weekends when I couldn’t do the long runs because I was afraid to go out too early in the morning without any companion. Most of my ultramarathon running friends was also busy preparing for their 100-mile race then so that left me running on my own most of the time.
Sometimes there were times, I just couldn’t help it when you began to question why you are putting yourself under so much stress, that sometimes self pity would set in, especially, when you’d be running alone at the Mall of Asia grounds, seeing some people there having a good time, and here you are running back and forth because it’s part of your training. But again, as a runner, to be focused is the main ingredient for one to be successful in his/her endeavor.
I became more nervous as race day was getting closer. I wasn’t sure whether my preparation was enough or not. My failure to run on Saturdays or Sundays was usually compensated with swimming. I would spend one to two hours at the Makati Aquatic Sports Arena (MASA) swimming pool. After running 2.5 to 3 hours on Sunday morning, I would then go swimming in the afternoon.
Two meet ups with my support crew were also scheduled to discuss the route, strategy, hydration, food, supplies, among others. It was a bonus that Dhenz a.k.a. Runningpinoy, 2010 BDM finisher, volunteered to offer his knowledge and experience in one of the meet ups.
Indeed the spirit of voluntarism goes on and on in so far as BDM 102 is concerned. Despite the short notice, Ziggy volunteered to bring the shirts as a surprise during the meet up.
I just couldn’t let them down. The shirt tells it all! Come race day, it would be my mantra, “102 all the way!”
What I also could bank on was my accumulated mileage based on my participation in PAU ultramarathon races for the past ten months, plus two marathons during the first quarter of the year.
Runners were also required to submit medical clearance. Non-compliance means DQ or disqualified. My cardiologist didn’t give me any clearance until I took another stress test. Thankfully, results showed good heart and blood pressure conditions.
Weeks before the race, logistics wise, I was ready. I met my support volunteers twice and discussed with them my food and hydration needs including coordination instructions during the race. When all of these were settled, it was time to slow down. I reduced my activities during the week, thus, getting to bed early to take some rest. Two nights before the race, I relaxed my body and treated BDM weekend as if it was a non-race day. I found it effective. I got what I want, a sound sleep. Both are considered equally important for an optimal performance. This strategy worked for me.
I used my Garmin Forerunner 305 during my training days for two reasons: (1) to see my average pace; and (2) to log my mileage each week. On race day, however, I decided not to use my Garmin. I didn’t want to feel pressured watching my pace from time to time so I used instead my Ironman Timex watch set its timer feature to 18 hours.
I didn’t join any of the test runs for three reasons: (1) to save on expenses; (2) the schedule of the test runs didn’t fit my training plan; and (3) running back-to-back ultramarathon and full marathon not my cup of tea. I’m not made of steel. I believe that the body can only take as much. Every runner is different. If other runners can do it, well, I let them be. As for me, it’s clear that my body couldn’t take that much stress.
I was clueless what to expect of the route since I didn’t join any of the test runs. I, together with my support crew, checked the route on race day itself. We left Manila at around 9AM. It was a rainy Saturday morning. We arrived at San Fernando, Pampanga around 11AM. Our first stop was at the 102-kilometer marker, then, we followed the old road where one marker after another was placed along the road where the infamous death march took place.
We had our second stop in Balanga, Bataan City. We had our lunch there and made some last minute shopping for additional supplies needed.
We arrived at the zero-kilometer marker in Mariveles, Bataan around four in the afternoon. We took the long way down since a vehicular accident happened at the zigzag road hours before our arrival at KM 7. I only saw the uphill course when the road was declared passable again.
That left me with three or so hours (to rest or take a nap) before start of the race…