Thursday, April 10

4th Mayon360 Ultramarathon 2014 (50mile Road Race) - The Beginning of My Re-Learning Process

Running ultra races over the past three years is a continues learning process for me. I have my own share of triumphs and defeats, joys and frustrations along the way. I come to learn so much about myself, got amazed with what I can do beyond what I imagine I can. I am blessed I am able to run that long for I know not all can despite their desire and will to do it for their body cannot endure the extreme activity that the sports is asking for.

 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.

My goal in mind? Take an easy pace, study my nutrition and hydration, survive the heat, test run the Altra Intuition1.5 road running shoes and Feetures pair of socks  and most of all HAVE FUN. Compared to my other ultra races of almost the same distance, this time I came at the starting line on a very less expectations and less running gear. I want to run light and run free, so I only bring my 320ml hydration bottle, small sachet of wet ones and enough amount of cash. No hydration belt, no power bars, gels and chocolates, no chia seeds, electrolyte drink nor nutrimeal, no watch, cellphone, camera. There will be aid stations every after 5kms on the stretch of the race course and some support vehicles that we can always ask for food and water. The specific vehicle that I ride with will also be around though I am not sure if I can have it available if needed. I also did not study the race course, the elevation profile nor the area where it will be most hot and exposed to the sun. This race is known to be hot and humid, it reached 41degrees C last year, others said. Without much heat training the past weeks, my mental conditioning on race day was 'I experienced the extreme heat of a desert race in Arizona and Utah without the luxury of so much supply of water and ice cubes to cool my body, I overcome the microwave temperature of Dinalupihan in BDM102,  I should survive the heat again this time with out much trouble.  

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 soon as the 10 second countdown ended to one, I just run on my own pace on the streets of Legazpi with enough light from the street posts. 4:00am is still dark. Thank God I decided to bring my headlamp, that saved me from the streets with far apart lighted houses and street light posts, buses and vehicles are rushing fast so it is always best to stay on the safe side and better be alert not to move to close to the white outer lane of the highway. I was feeling comfortable with my speed, though no wrist watch with me to monitor my time, I am pretty ok as I pass the first aid station to the next, it is still dark. I barely drink the water on my hydration bottle, I hydrate from the first few stations. What worries me though is that solid food will only be served at kilometer 20 aid station. I really wish I can survive as I do not have any food with me. True enough before the day breaks I reached the aid station with food. The start of my  boiled bananas, hard boiled eggs and chocolate diet on this race.

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.
The festive ambiance at each aid station bring so much encouragements as I go along the race. Volunteers, marshals, fellow runners especially on the relay either waiting for their turn to run or just finished running and just waiting for their ride back to the finish/starting line and spectators are just there to help which lightens the atmosphere. Aside from banana and egg, I live with suman that our support vehicle prepared, I see to it that I always have that in my hand alternating it with boiled banana. Before mid day, I welcome real food of rice and fired fish, though I did not eat much.

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 was just too glad I cross the finish line still on day time for I do not have my headlamp with me anymore. And my run free mode is a success. I did not even bother to look up and see what my official time as I cross the finish line. I only realized that after several minutes of moving around after the race. It was fun, I conquered another ultra on a really relaxed manner. It was one good race that I highly recommend to others. Its one well organized race supported not just by the LGU but also by the locals and the local community. Runners will survive even without support vehicle, aid stations are full of hydration and food, a good heat training for future races, and most of all a well coordinated event.

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.


  1. Is this a road marathon or trail? what's the elevation profile?

  2. ohhh never mind. It says road race :)

    1. Yes Dean, it is a road race and elevation profile is not much, I think its just a little over 1,000feet.