I learn to adopt techniques as I go from one race to the other. There are those that worked for me the first few races that does not work for me anymore now. Along the way there are also things that I developed that I wish I did not. One concern is my nutrition and hydration. I become so sensitive with my nutrition and hydration that after over two years of running, a taste of a gu gel or any gel is not acceptable to my stomach anymore. I cannot take any kind of soda even if I wish to. I have to be very diligent with my food and hydration intake otherwise I will develop acid reflux along the race. Though I learn how to deal with it, I know if I want to do longer on this sports I have to address it.
I use to tape my toes on my races in the past, now I no longer do it with very minimal or no blisters at all. But my speed did not get any better, infact I feel it is getting worst, I got slower than before. I wish I had the same fresh legs the day I started running 3 years ago, no pain on the knees, hamstring, calves, etc. That condition leads me to my next move in the field of running: work on my speed and study my nutrition and hydration.
Early month of March I promised to really work on my speed, one thing that I know I have to do if I will really aspire to do tough long races in the future. With that, I know I had to work on my core, do more short distance races, speed works and intervals and lessen my ultra races. But barely one month of doing such with the help of my few running mates, I have to make a decision if I will join a race that I have been wanting to tick off from my list, running through the most perfect coned volcano in the world, the Mayon360 Ultramarathon. My stubborn self won and I decided to join. The 80km distance will be too long of an LSD to cover my total mileage for the week.
An hour before the gun start, we were already at the starting line. Lots of runners, over 700 with over 400 from the 80km solo category and 300 spread to the two sets of relay. It's overwhelming to see several familiar faces, and most especially toeing the starting line with some of the few elite runners in the country. The cash prize is a very good attraction that this race draw more runners every year. How I wish I can have my share but ofcourse that is only in my dreams. Even if cash awards will be given to top 30 and first 5 female, I still cannot grab a portion of it. All I am aiming this time is to finish with in the cut off time. That will be more than enough for me as I am doing my LSD anyway.
As I go from one station to the next, I really did not think of the time, I just run if I want, walk a little if I feel like I need to. As the broad day light come, I just enjoy the view, at first Mayon Volcano is on my right, until it is nowhere to be seen until it will appear again. It has always been like that all through out the course. There are some parts that is uphill which I welcome it with so much joy and same goes with my downhill. One thing I noticed, I become so patient with the flats now as compared on my past road long races. One little achievement for me there.
I celebrate success as I pass by every after 5 kilometer aid station. I see to it that I grab food, drink water and this time I tried few sips of soda, just very tempting (Sprite and Coke) really hoping that it will not give me trouble on my stomach. As I go on, there are times that I feel like peeing, I stop at the back of waiting sheds and at barangay halls but thrice at the aid stations I just sit down and pee on my running shorts, have water ready to pour on myself. Yakky? I just have to learn to do it. As the sun is up and shining the mercury started to go up as well. I started to pour water on myself which slowly made my shoes and socks wet. I asked for ice cubes if available and put it on my headwear, my usual strategy when it is too hot, balance in my head while running. What is so amazing on this race, in between stations, people prepare pail of water where runners can pour to cool our body, others prepared ice candy which I really welcome it with so much joy, I got 6 on the entire race.
As I run beyond 60km and it gets really hot and humid, clueless of the time, I just push a little harder. I can feel my skin is already burned, just run a little further. I was with the company of Del for several kilometers now, I always welcome running with the company of other runners for most of the time on most of my races I run on my own. Having her is such a blessing, my another first experience. We push together, most of the time she's at my back but at some instances she's infront of me. But at kilometer 70 I lost her, and as I move a little longer at times I look back hoping to see her from a distance, the street is at its highest heat, but nowhere to find her. I wish to cross the finish line with her. This part also starts the unbearable heat of the sun, I feel it was just too hot. I started counting the kilometer posts kilometer by kilometer. Reaching the 75km aid station was such a big relief, hydrate some ice cold water was such a big joy, I go on with the hope that it will not take me longer to the finish line, seeing the last 2 kilometer sign was suppose to be a big relief but not. As I become so accustomed with the distance despite the absence of a watch, I can already determine more or less how long a kilometer distance is, the last 2 kilometers seems to be taking forever, the sight of the finish line did not come soon. There were still many more electricity posts to count and some unofficial aid station along the way, one with ice candy that I grab two more pieces, my 6th now. Until the last turn came, I remember this will be the last one, a run around the Astrodome before reaching the finish line.
I achieved my goal, I did not push much, I had a happy stomach and gallbladder and no acid reflux this time, few sips of soda is a big leap of success for me on this race, had sunburn but not dehydrated. I survived with no blisters on my feet despite my wet shoes and socks, Altra Intuition and Feeture socks is great. I salute all the finishers, my hats off to the race organizer and my huge congratulations to all the podium finishers. Really, all of you are my inspiration.
I thank the people who made my journey on this race enjoyable, memorable and possible. To my Ayala Triads family (Sir Zaldy and Mam Gia and the rest of the company) thank you for all the coordination and fun, to Fairveiw Runners Sir Larry, if not because of your encouragements I could not have run this race, Sir Lao for the transportation and accommodation with the company of Sir Joey, Nina and Del, that was one great weekend, thank you for your warm welcome despite our first time being together, to Sir Miles, thank you for being our support during the race. The nutrition and hydration helped me a lot finish this race. Thank you SingPhil Ltd./Inc, to Altra Shoes, Feeture Socks and Elete Electrolyte Drink for supporting my races and expeditions. To my family for all the unwavering support, to my number ONE supporter and fan, Xie Xie, every distance is dedicate to you, thank you for all the encouragements and believing in what I am capable of doing. And to God Almighty, you never fail to give me strength to endure, thank you. Dios Mabalos.
Next stop will be on the trails of Hamilo Coast.