It has been over a week since the Soleus Valley Trail Challenge race in Laguna. And here I am still grappling with my post-race story. Anyhow, allow me instead to share with you once more a trail running experience of a good friend/colleague of mine who was instrumental why I opted to try the trail running challenge. I asked him if he wanted to share his story with you here so here it is. Francis or FR to his close friends has been in hiatus from racing and the trail race last weekend was to some extent his comeback in the world of long distance running. He has scaled great mountains here and abroad including Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa, and I had the chance to race/run with him in major long distance PAU races before.
Read on friends/dear readers …
Trail Running nOOb1 in Nuvali
3 AM to 11 AM, Sunday, 29 June 2014
By FR Hortelano
A heavy downpour gets off the ground as the bus rolled on for Manila. The heavens pause its tears for a while. But upon arrival at home, Manila’s dusty streets were swept by the rains. Such was a respite from the boiling temperature I experienced for three long hours earlier.
It may have been grueling hot, but I still would have preferred it than cruising through sticky, muddy and slippery trails in a span of 8 hours. An Aquarian does not fear the water-bearer, but not after years of hiatus in any sports and outdoor activities.
Once again, the newbie feeling resurrected, i.e., butterflies in the stomach, excited yet nervous. Even doubtful. Shall I ever cross the finish line? And if ever, will it be on cut-off time?
As I dropped my loot bag and race gears, the 50-KM Nuvali trail event slowly sank in.
For the first time, I received a loot bag after an ultra-race.
For the first time, I ran/trudged Nuvali’s scenic trails.
For the first time, I ran for free through the kindness of Adidas Body Care c/o the RUNNING DIVA.
For the first time, I was shuffling a hydration bottle on my left and right hands.
For the first time, I ran at the mercy of a piteous mileage. 5 KM was my last fun run a year ago.
For the first time, I reached the starting line just before the race organizer started the countdown (“10, 9, 8….1. Good luck Runners!”).
For the first time, I hitched a ride to the starting line (God, where did these angels come from?)
For the first time, I wore old, derelict shoes that just got sewn and glued.
Yep! The list could go on and on. Lest I forget…
For the first time, my mind was LSSed2 on Elton John’s song.
“Turn me loose… let me fly to distant lands, over green fields, trees and mountains, flowers and forest fountains…”Skyline Pigeon, Elton John
I started humming the lyrics on the break of dawn (past 4 am) as the majestic horizon revealed its secret grandeur.
“Let me wake up in the morning. To the smell of new mown hay...”
The scent, the sight, the milky white brush like foxtails (buntot pusa) strewn over the hills is a visual treat. The tamed cows and bulls even shared their morning grins.
“Fly away... towards the dreams you’ve left so very far behind...”
Then approached the newly bulldozed areas. Everything became dry and brown. It was difficult to run. But yet, this path had to be faced head on. Slowly, I hurdled the 25-KM mark (3 hours or so? within cut-off time of 5 hours). I could breath. At least, I met my goal. I could call it a day.
“To laugh and cry, to live and die, in the brightness of my day...”
Then the blazing sun illumined all nooks and crannies of the trail. I struggled the uphills and downhills from the 30th to 45th KM. At times with a group and at times, in my lonesome. The cows faded. The leveled grounds turned dusty. Every race of the sun started biting inch-by-inch my exposed skin and garments. Yet still, I needed to keep on moving. As a recreational runner, I just wanted to enjoy the run.
“Towards the dreams you’ve left so very, so very far behind!”
Running a road or a trail race is no different from life itself.
It takes sheer persistence to reach the finish line;
Train. Train. Train. Enduring trainings to build on required mileage/strength;
Be inspired but never bank on previous achievements. Muscle memory can only bring you so far.
Honor your pace. Enjoy those moments when pacing with a group, even on lonesome times.
Express genuine gratitude to all (runners, marshals, organizers, sponsors). The blessings come back a hundred fold.
Dedicate your run. Thank you Mama for showing us how to courageously face life. Your body may have gone back to earth but your enduring spirit and resilience shall forever inspire our lives.
My sincerest thanks to Running Diva for making me sign-up on the last registration date; Ivy Macainan for making me remember Mama on the eve of the race; Mark Leo Antonio and Elma Magbuhos of Adidas Body Care for the race kit. Apologies for failing to personally express this at the finish line; Sir Jonel Mendoza, race director and editor of Frontrunner magazine, for organizing this meaningful event; and, to all the runners who run with me along the dark and bright corners of the trails!
Thank God for making it all possible.
2 Last Song Syndrome