Thursday, October 20

Summit Training Day

Oct 19, it's the team's summit training day. All of us that arrive Monday together with the others that arrived earlier except Rom and Marlita joined this training climb. Rom feel that he'd rather reserve his energy on the race day for he wouldn't have enough time to recover if he will do the training climb this late. While Merlita has been to the summit three times since the time they arrived a week earlier. On my part, after four days from my TNF SG ultramarathon, I feel my legs are already better, I cannot feel the sore any longer. With the cold temperature and the wind that never stop blowing, we wake up earlier than our wake up call for the training run. As we peep at our terrace while preparing, it's really foggy and the jagged rock face of  the summit is all covered with clouds. This is going to be a cold day, the wind is still blowing.

After we are all set, bringing all the possible things that we will be needing on this run inside our indivual hydration packs off we start our trek along the side of the highway of Kundasang. It's going to be more than one kilometer walk to the park entrance and another more than five kilometer uphill walk to the gate of Timpohon. Our target is to be there before the gate opens at 7:00am. We arrive earlier than the target time, enough time to take some pictures, eat some food to replenish energy and final visit to the rest room. The gate opens passed 7:00 am, we register and off we go with our business of the day, to get familiar with the trail and be acclimatized with the altitude. I climb this mountain more than a year ago, though not through this trail going up, at least I am still familiar with how the terrain goes. My focus at this time is to get a technique on what approach to do on the big steps of stairs. I tried to do small steps at this time looking for possible steps in between the bigger steps. The lead pack of the team already out of sight, I am now with the mid pack, going ahead of the others. Our target is to be at the summit on or before the turn around time of 1:00pm.

I arrive Laban Rata after 2 hours 30 minutes, that is the best that I can push at that moment. It was after Laban Rata that I really take my time climbing on the stairs. I can now feel the altitude hitting my head. It took me longer to cross the steps of wood and rocks before reaching the rope. It was getting colder, so I put on my jacket. To my surprise Jessie is right behind me. Only to find out he stop by Laban Rata to eat a 45MR buffet for he is just really hungry. At first we continue trekking together until he went ahead. I meet some climbers going down from the summit, others asked if I am training for the race and wish me good luck, on this situation hearing such well wishes it uplifts my spirit. I just continue with my going up, thinking it is only this way that my body will be familiarize with the altitude. I am now all alone on this part of the trail. Until one runner appear from behind me again, at this time wearing shorts and his shirt tied on his waist, not on. It's already foggy and getting colder. Wow, I am all covered with my jacket and my gloves on while this guy is shirtless.

He passed by me while I just continue with my slow pace. I concentrate on my trek, being alone and feeling the drizzle as the fog pass where I am situated, I am thinking will it still be safe to proceed, if there will be a heavy down fall of rain at what point will I turn around. I am still far from our cut off time so I just go. I think if it will be dangerous then probably some ranger will ask me to go down at some point. I just continue  with my trek when I meet the man that passes me not a long time ago. So I started the conversation by saying 'whow, you're so fast' and he replied 'no i only reach up to KM8, i don't want to go any further on this weather without any jacket with me'. Our conversation continued a bit longer until I said ok then, good luck on Sunday. I do not know him at all but with his look I know he is on the men's open category. As I trek further I realized his accent is not American, it seems like he just learn English not a long time ago only to know when I was with the group already he is Kilian, one of the star athlete on the this race and one of the best athlete in Salomon team. I did not even ask for a picture of him on the rock face.

I know the lead pack already reach the summit and I hope I will encounter them on my ascned while they will be going done, but I did not. I continued with my trek on the rock face, foggy, no view and cold. I hold on to the rope on the stiff parts, alone I struggle the high altitude, I feel cold and sleepy. Until before reaching the KM8 signage I notice Mon already approaching with Nina and Jules behind him. I am glad I saw them, I waited for them to give a little enthusiasm  with my trek. It's just too difficult to trek alone. Upon reaching the signage, the view cleared, the summit already visible and the rock formations beautifully towering from the distance. I can't help but bring out my camera, getting a picture of Mon first, after a while Nina and Jules arrived which Jules thought I am already on my way down. She beg to wait for her so that a picture of her will be taken. I said I will go with you up to the summit.

Nina continued with her trek while we take pictures, she feel she needs to continue walking. We followed, and I just really take it slowly. I can already feel the altitude hitting me. Upon reaching the vertical rock face, I literally crawl up to the summit. It was difficult, because of the high alti, the wind blowing,  without proper meal yet and my colds keep on flowing. I really had difficulty breathing. I just sit down below the signage of the peak while Zean take pictures, I bring out my camera again and managed to take pictures as well. We replenish food again, after several minutes it's already 1pm and our turn around time.

We started our descend, and for others even if they were almost near the summit, all complied to the turn around time. We started our descend, at fist on a slow pace, I am with Erl and Nina as our lead while others are ahead and there are those behind us. At first we just take the going down on a relax pace especially on the stairs, until when we reach the less stairs area, Nina started to run, Erl and I followed. It becomes a run going down until we reach the gate. We are asked to be there before 4:30 and we did it, we log out 3:59pm. Others are already ahead running on the road up to the real finish line, a 4kilometer down hill run from the gate. I am hungry, and already imagining food while still on the trail, I have to pee, I rush to the toilet, I already run out of water too but I still have gatorade, enough to hydrate me until we will arrive to the restaurant. Luckily, upon passing the gate, there are some cars and one bus standing by, we asked if we can have a ride, which they allow us. Some teammates behind us was able to catch up on the bus too.

Really hungry, we decided to take our super late lunch at the restaurant right infront of the park entrance. I do not have the energy to go  to Uncle's place anymore. Josaw and Roland are already there eating their order. I ordered two sets of food one rice meal and one bowl of noodles. I know it will be too much for my size but I am just really hungry.  We share our expereince on the climb while waiting for our food, and most especially each one's encounter with Kilian. Others had a photo with him, Jules asked a hug from him, while I said to myself, an opportunity to ask a photo from him at that moment is gone but I still have several days to do that.  As we are about to finish our plates of food Rom and finally Rashel arrive, my first time to meet Rashel, she's pretty, gourgeus, tall and friendly. Now part of the team arrive and still waiting for more on the evening. After eating we decided to start trekking, this will be another more than 1kilometer walk to our lodge and despite being tired we just have to deal with it, there is no other way that we can reach our place.

We arrive the lodge still dry for it did not rain but it's really cold. We meet Merlita along the highway bringing food for the Bukidnon boys. And there is cooked food in our room, chopsuey and tinolang manok. A good dinner probably. Few minutes after we arrive, it rain a heavy down pour. Thank goodness we are already inside our rooms when it happen. I just hate being wet on this kind of temperature. It's just really too cold. During dinner, others went out, I decided to just join with Merlits having dinner on the food that has been cooked, change and having fun with the other members of the team. Our room becomes the kitchen of the lodge while Nina's becomes the business center, it is nearest to the wifi are which gets the strongest signal. The group chatted for a while with Rom and Mon are the entertainer of the team, really no dull moment of this team. We just keep on laughing as we convine together. Other members of the team are expected to arrive about before mdnight which I did not notice anymore.

When all is settled, they are done with their massage session and we are done with our cleaning, and done with checking updates on the net, we settled on our cosy bed, I am at the second deck of  the bed, having me difficulty sometimes going up and down with my sore legs but manageable. It's still early but we already have nothing to do, the wind and rain is blowing and pouring outside, no street lights and it seems like no one is roaming around the street. That's just how this place is, so silent and serene. I learn to love it as days goes by.

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