I believe life is an individual journey. Be it going for ones career path or personal dreams, achieving financial freedom or spiritual growth, running a longest race or climbing the highest mountain, in the end what matters most is ones choice, the decision one makes which path to take. But I also believe that whatever path one will take, it is always best to be traveled with people especially those who matters to you most: family, friends, life coaches and mentors, business partners, loved ones. They are the support group that gives more meaning to what one is aiming for. They are the people who stick with you no matter what happens, they are the people who cheers you up when you are down, they are the people believe in you especially when you yourself is having doubt.
The same thing goes with running. It is a very individual sports yet it matters a lot to have a support group who will be there in training sessions, run with you side by side on races or waiting for you at the finish line, will be there with you savoring the victory or sharing the pain, disappointments and frustrations or joy and happiness during and after the race.
|Photo credits to Blue|
I run in almost all the TNF races in the country, who will not support them, I have them as my major gear in almost all my climb expeditions especially my high altitude alpine climbs. I am just an avid fan. From the 25km distance on the muddy trails of Batangas way back 2008 and 2009 to the 100 kilometer on the mountain slopes of Camsur on 2011 up to the rugged terrain of the mountainous area of Baguio Benguet year 2012 and 2013. I have been there in almost all the races and here I am again this year, my 3rd year of running the same distance on the same trail. I was suppose to run this race this year with a friend, the very reason I thought of running this for the 3rd time, with a running partner, who volunteered to be my pacer and his pacer as well with one goal, we will cross the finish line together. But that did not happen. When I found out that my friend cannot make it, I was having second thoughts if I will really do the race again this time.
With that, it took me a while to decide to finally join the race. The last minute decision made me become creative on where I can possibly get a 100km race bib. It became a bib hunting for me. But God was just too kind, He led me to the right people. I was able to confirm that I can run 2 days before the race and it was my wish, a 100km distance. I did not expect much on how I will perform on this race. As I am seriously working on my speed, I have been running shorter distance on the road for more than two months now. In fact this very race is a deviation from my training runs. My last trail run was 32km Salomon Race almost a month ago. I only hope my muscle will remember all that I went through on this very same trail having to run this for the third time.
|A the race briefing|
With the race held first week of May as compared to the last two years that it has always been on a 3rd week of April, it has been raining up North especially in Benguet area several days before the event. Whether this was an effect of the climate change or it was already rainy season on this side of the country, I had to be prepared for whatever condition come race day. Anticipating the rain, I prepared two sets of jackets (water repellant and gortex), trash bag and rain coat, 2 sets of headlamp, waterproof all my things inside the hydration pack and brought lots of trail food (1 set I carry with me while the other spare is at the half way mark). Mind setting become part of my preparation. How do I do it? I always associate the projected weather and terrain condition to what I had been through in my races and expeditions in the past. This time, I imagine that this is going to be as wet and cold and wild as climbing Mt. Halcon, one of the toughest mountain in the country. And just like Halcon, it is also expected that there will be blood sucking leeches on the forest area, so a rubbing alcohol spray is always at my reach in my hydration pack.
Excited. I came to the starting line excited especially that I know I will be running and sharing the trail with lots of friends, with some elite runners both local and international. Three of the famous race directors of the country will also be doing the race. Rare moment. The weather was not cold as I thought it will be, it was not raining too. Thank God. As soon as we were released, I was just taking my own slow pace, warming up my body, catching up my breath. From the road to the trail, I share the race with other runners especially those of my same pace. It's dark, the trail was slippery and wet and some parts were muddy. I just have to be extra careful and....the trail signs... I don't want to be lost again just like last year....at this early part of the race I was one of those who made a wrong turn. The weather was cold enough for a good start. Few runners catch up with me, I catch up with others as well. I was with Daphne and other runner friends on this part of the trail. I arrive Aid Station 1 earlier than I expected.
I was approaching AS2 almost day break. It is always breath taking to see the silhouette of the contour of the mountain from peach dark black until the green mountain slope with pine trees slowly become visible with vast mountain ranges with mountain peaks standing above the sea of clouds. Such view always fill my soul. This makes every mountain trail running always a spiritual experience for me. I can't help but shout with thanks for giving me another chance to be one with nature again. From AS2 to AS3 is mostly uphill, covering several mountain hills mostly on the trail between pine trees. I was with my friend Rashel. It is always fun running on this part of the trail, pushing a little harder on the ascends. The winding uphill rough roads with loose rocks and some cemented parts is always a sign that I am almost to the next station, but of course I have to endure with more and more going up, up and up. If one will look back where he is coming from, the elevation is getting higher and one can see the community a bit lower where the trail is coming from. A sign of almost at the aid station is the house made of galvanized roof, it has sari sari store that has food and soda that one can replenish before finally reaching the aid station. Just like last year, I did not stop on this place for food, I just want to tackle the next uphill road. I was with my friend Mercy too.
|Photo Credit to Sir Remo|
|Photo credit to Taddy|
I arrive AS5 12:45pm, my earliest among the 2 races in the past. All I asked when I arrived was ice cold water, ice cubes and just pour on myself. It was just really hot. Mercy and Yob and other runners were already resting. I had to look for my support crew, Ariel Toto and the group. They are situated few meters away from the main aid station. I tried to look for Des and Mam Shai but they were not around. I saw Madam Rowena and BR's support crew too. Seeing the halo halo is once again very tempting to eat some. But I learned from last year, I need to eat solid food first before any halo halo. I requested one but only after I ate rice and grilled chicken. My suppose to be 20 minute rest was shorter, 10 minutes, bringing my gortex jacket, replacing my headlamp, bringing more food and another 3 capsule of Coquinone, 1 pair of Essentials, Hepasil and Active Calcium, I decided to leave. To my surprise Mercy was still around and we leave for the next station together.
From AS6 to AS7 is the longest of all the stations. It is still day time. I had to tackle the road part of this trail on my own. At some part I had to sit down and rest, I decided to take another rain soul as my energy gel, I can feel the energy rushing to my body. Before reaching the trail, it is the road that I had to deal, rough road and cemented one. I know too well where is the next curve and the next bend, the next down hill the next uphill. Until it reach to another sub aid station. It has ice cubes which makes me so happy. I put on my hydration bladder, refill water. As it will get dark very soon, I bring out my headlamp and continue with my journey now on my own. Approaching the trail is the start of the never ending ascend, the agonizing uphill on the trail. I was with two more runners. After the first long uphill push I decided to rest with them, another 5 minute power nap, I just lie down on the ground near the farmland on the bushes. I was exhausted. Then tackle another ascend. Slowly I go until Sam Lapena catched up with me. I switched on my headlamp, slowly pushing myself up using my trekking pole. Andrew catch up with me and we go together up in the next mountain slope. I decided to take another nap when I reach another sub aid station while Andrew proceed. After another 5 minutes I push myself to do it on my own at first, then slowly few more runners catch up with me, including female runners.
From AS 7 to AS8 is just a 2.5 km distance, but a very steep downhill rough road with rocks and stones on this very wet and slippery condition. The other side of the road is a deep raven which I almost fell last year by walking on auto pilot mode. This time around, I had no option but really to be alert despite my being wet, cold, weak and hungry. Few more runners catch up with me, including Mommy Del and Sexy George. The one ascend on a road before reaching AS8 is also agonizing, but I just have to endure. I learn after the race that some part of this route had landslide that road maintenance personnel had to hold some runners for several minutes for safety purposes.
AS10. Finally, I know this is just another push and I will be at the finish line. I tried to take some food, drink a little and proceed. BoyP was with me on the tarmac part, until he went ahead of me. I was all by myself on the uphill road towards Camp John Hay. The street is well lighted, it's still around 4:00am, I was on my own. I encounter two men who went down from a cab. As I pass by them, they noticed me, one asked me how come I am walking this late. Scared, I am scared of drunk people. I have trauma of drunk people, or shall I have trauma of the smell of a liquor. I walk fast, run and walk on the uphill part hoping they will not follow me. Thank God they did not. Another uphill part a dog, very vigilant of watching his territory. I was trying to scare him with my walking sticks and headlamp and shouting at the dog, all the more he stayed at the middle of the road to the direction where I am going. No, I cannot stand with dogs. I had no choice but to wait for another runner. And I thank God two runners came, my kompare. I was with them until inside John Hay . They were kind enough to wait for me especially on the uphill part. Until they went ahead of me again.
I cross the finish line with so much joy. I cannot hold my tears. I know I finish much earlier this time than the past two years but my rank in the female category has gone much lower now. I don't care. Really, this year, I may not have achieved my original goal of running this race with someone else, that thought that I will share the trail from start to finish with someone and get a hug perhaps at the finish line, a crazy thought of those simple things that means a lot to me, but really I am so happy. I am really glad I push to do the race. One thing I learned, when in doubt, JUST DO IT!!!!! Along the 100 kilometer distance that I traveled over 27 hours, I met a lot of runners of the same passion whom I share the trail with. That was more than enough for me to be elated with so much joy aside from finishing the race on my PB, 2 hours 12 minutes much earlier than my last PB on the same race.
Thank you to all the runners whom I shared the journey with, I thank all the support crew, marshals and spectators who were kind enough to help me go through the pains and the joys. I thank those who made this race possible. To Dexter, Ariel, Daphne, Diane, Jon Las, Andrew, Ronnel. To Pedro, Oco and Ai as well. To TNF PH, you always makes me so special. To Singphil, for your generosity. To all my family and friends who send their well wishes and words of encouragements thank you. And I thank God for giving me once again the strength to enjoy what I love most doing, be one with nature and push myself beyond what I can imagine. Where ever TNF PH will be next year, Baguio Benguet trails will always be close to my heart.
Indeed, running is a very personal thing but it is always fun to be shared with people whom I share the same passion, the love of running and freedom to explore. I thank those who inspire me to push beyond what I can imagine. And I am also always grateful to know that in my little way, with what I am doing I am able to inspire other people to pursue their passion in life.