Thursday, June 16, 2016

160 x 3 = Why do I keep doing this?

The Thee Musketeers: Gat Uban, Gat Uban, and Gat Uban
Three years ago, Sir Rodell Mendoza, an ultrarunner and head of Active Runners Association of the Philippines, organized the very first Quezon Coast to Coast 160km Ultramarathon starting from Infanta, Quezon and concluding in Mauban, Quezon. I was still a bit fresh from my Bataan Death March 102km Ultramarathon finish, which was my first 100km Ultramarathon and was my longest run at that time, and I was feeling confident to conquer my first 100mile race. I saw the event page and didn't even hesitate to sign up for it.

1st QCC: Why am I here?
Before I knew it, I was already at the starting line in Infanta, Quezon, backed up by my support crew, Mami Arcie and Elbrij, followed by RJ and Sophie halfway through the race. I finished the race with two swollen feet, a bunch of nasty blisters, the likes that I've never experienced before, and a mangled spirit. But I finished the race. I swore that day, I'll never do that race again. EVER. Fast forward to last weekend, and surprise, surprise! I just finished my third QCC was given the Hall of Fame award along with two others, AJ, and Thomas, the undisputed QCC Champion for three consecutive years.

But despite the fact that this could be one of the hardest 160km foot race in the country, I still keep on coming back to it. I guess I'm just that type of a masochist? But no, I guess, I really enjoy the challenge of the course. All the uphills, ahem upHELLS, all the downhills, ahem downHELLS, the heat of the sun, the shade of the trees, or lack thereof, they all make this race complete. Like going home, some what. It sounds crazy. I think I might have banged my head somewhere there, but these things make me come back every year.

The following are the things that I'm always looking forward to see in QCC:

1. The rabid dogs

Baron: First dog to finish QCC; all around badass
They came extra early this year. First ten km and the dogs were already after us. But nothing beats the dogs in Caliraya and Cavinti, which was at km 75 to 97. Good thing we had Baron the Utrarunning Dog with us this year to save us. At least for that stretch of Caliraya to Lucban. Afterwards, I had to rely on my alpha dog skills to shoo them away. With my trusty Simple Hydration Bottle (not a sponsor) I'm equipped against all dogs with just one splash from my bottle and an alpha dog shout, and the dogs would just run away with tails between their legs.

2. Pasalubong

YAAAAAS! We're not yet there, huhu~
This place is where you can buy souvenirs and it also marks km 27.5 of the course. Here you can have your breakfast, rest, and gather all your senses. It should be noted that before reaching this area, it's mostly uphill in the previous stretch. Rest easy, 122.5km more to go!

3. Giant Red Horse Sign

"Hydration" Station, Red Horse pa more!
From pasalubong, it's mostly downhill going to Famy which is marked by a giant Red Horse sign, aka Amiel Casanova's headquarters. This is approximately at km 57.5. This is also where you can find lots of places to eat. Or have a few beers, if you feel like it. It's at a junction and to get to Caliraya, you have to turn left. Going to the right will take you to Rizal, so that's not the way to go. Unless you want to go back to Manila, I guess you can take that route as well. Not too far from there, though, there's actually a lugawan place. So if ever, you can at least turn right for the lugawan place then just double your way back to the junction and follow the merry road to Pangil-Paete-Kalayaan then~


Hi guyth! I'm here again!
This is one of the landmarks that's quite easy to spot. If you missed it, you probably went somewhere else. It's right after the hydro power plant.

5. Endless Caliraya - Cavinti ascent

Flashlight? Check. Reflectors? Check. Companions? Check.
Your landmark here before the ascent is the Phoenix Gas Station. You then have to to go up the long ascent to Caliraya-Cavinti-Luisiana. This is where you should ideally bring some companions as it's gonna be a long walk all the way to Luisiana and would be extra hard if you reached this place near sun down as it gets pretty dark in the area. But hey, if you made it here, you're almost halfway done. Almost. Phoenix Gas Station is at km 75 and when you reach Luisiana, you'll then be at km 107, yey!

6. Luisiana

I am the lord of this bench. KNEEL BEFORE ME!
Luisiana is my most favorite place in the whole wide world. Well, yeah, after 107km of running, seeing a park with nice benches, this will also definitely be your favorite place. Here is where I would usually sleep, eat, stretch, get changed, shop, dance, etc. Always looking forward to the warm color of the incandescent bulbs of the street lamps. The bite of the cold steel benches is also very welcoming to me. Especially after running under the heat of the sun for the whole day. Just the thought of the benches sends kilig down my spine. From Luisiana, it's mostly downhill all the way to Lucban. You'll know that you're there once you see Petron gas station.

7. Petron

Welcome to Lucban!
Petron gas station! From here, it's only 15km to Tayabas, which is the next checkpoint. Petron is the landmark, but across it, you'll find a carinderia where you can have breakfast and freshen yourself up for the last stretch of the race. Last year, I discovered that brushing your teeth would trick your body enough to make you think that you just woke up and you're full of energy. I did that in this place last year and managed to do a sub 1 hour 10km. But that is only because going to Tayabas, it's mostly downhill. So yeah, protip: brush your teeth whenever you feel sleepy during a race.

8. Tayabas

Not 7-11 but a few km past it, still Tayabas, on our way to hell
The 7-11 in Tayabas marks km 131 of the race and from here, it's only 29km to the finish line. it's the last stretch and totally the hardest. Anyway, here you can have your second breakfast, if you're a hobbit like me, that is. But yeah, you can freshen up, replenish your supplies, sleep, take a dump, or do whatever you feel like doing. It's sort of your last chance as there are very limited stores that sell ice along the road to Mauban. And the heat is going to be a bitch as well. So it would be wise to stock up before tackling this last stretch.

9. Freaking Tayabas to Mauban Road

Winter is coming~
Ah, it's good to be back here in Tayabas-Mauban Road! Said no one ever! Especially when you're walking/running along this road under the heat of the scorching sun. This is the most gruelling part of the race even though it's only 29km to the finish line. Why? Don't you dare ask me why! But I'll tell you anyway. The trees here, if there are even, won't provide you shade. Yeah, maybe, but perhaps only for like 5% of the time. And it's not flat either, it's still an assault from Tayabas to Mauban. The only way to survive this is to run with enough ice on your head and nape. Pack enough sugar, sodium, and potassium rich food, and hope and pray that it will at least be cloudy. One part of this stretch will be lined up with trees though. Trees that are just as high as a normal person. So yeah, no shade. At all. The last 5km though are a bit forgivable, so yeaaaaah. The rest, you'll just have to muster all your willpower to survive it. Oh yeah, it should also be noted that I've passed this area more than I should have in my lifetime. Other than the past QCCs, last year's Quezon Day Ultramarathon passed by Tayabas-Mauban road as well. TWICE. So yeah, this is totally my jam. I "LOVE" Tayabas-Mauban road! (sarcasm was involved in the previous sentence, in case you haven't noticed it yet) At least in Quezon Day Ultramarathon, I passed by this area in the early morning of the first day, and in the evening of the second day. Doesn't make it easier though. This place is packed with stray dogs in the evening, so yeah, I'd rather tackle this under the scorching heat of the sun.

10. Mauban Coconut

File Photo: Quezon Day Ultramarathon 2015
And here it is! Once you see this, you're almost there! You're just 2.5km away from the finish line. You can have your photos taken here. Take a bite from the coconut if you want even. Just be sure to turn right, otherwise, you'll find yourself back to Lucban if you turn left at the junction.

And that's it! I guess, I'm writing this as sort of a guide as well for myself and other runners who will be taking up on the QCC challenge. Yes, it's my third year but I still get lost so I'll be going back to this blog next year still.

Oh, and to answer the question on why do I keep doing this? At the end of the day, it's not just the challenge that makes me go back but the camaraderie and friendship formed from the very first QCC all the way to the most recent. Plus, it's always fun to hangout with fellow crazy people doing crazy things under crazy circumstances! See you on the next QCC, cheers to craziness!

Photo credits: Rose Betonio, Baracks Baracael, Mami Arcie Valenzuela

3QCC Participants at the Starting Line

Sunday, December 06, 2015

The Quezon Journey: The Road to the Quezon Grand Slam Hardcore Series (Part 2)

Finisher Buckles of the Quezon Grand Slam Hardcore Series and the Manila to Daet Buckle

Picking up from where I left off in the previous entry, I'll be relating here the last two runs in the Quezon Grand Slam Hardcore Series, namely, the Quezon Day Endurance Race - 100 Mile Ultramarathon and the Southern Coast Nationals - 200km Ultramarathon. But, as previously stated in Part 1, some details might have already been mixed up or, worse, forgotten, so please bear with me, wah!

Quezon Day Endurance Race - 100 Mile Ultramarathon (QD100)

The Brave 18 or the Crazy 18?
This is the penultimate race in the series and even though I've already done a 240km run and a 160km run before this, it was still a tough race. Unlike the two previous races wherein we go around the province of Quezon (SL240) or running from point A to point B (QCC100), in QD100, we had to go do the course twice, the only difference is that the first loop has 90km due to the addition of 20km and the second loop with 70km which coincides with the Quezon Ultramarathon 70km. This definitely added to the mental challenge of the run. Not to mention that there was typhoon while the race was ongoing.

Similar to what I did in SL240, I commuted from Manila to Quezon and got to the event just in time for the assembly time with only an hour or two of allowance, if I remember right. Which was enough, though, as I got to get a few minutes of sleep before the event started. The race started at 3:20am and I tried running the race barefooted, just to check if I can finally finish a 100mile race without shoes. But alas, I got worried that I won't make it in time, so after km 10, I decided to wear my trusty Xeroshoes. The first part went smoothly. And by smoothly, I meant the usual road conditions in Quezon. Rolling hills and sometimes a few killer uphills, but nothing that we're not used to. The only bane of the whole race was the rain. Or to be exact, Typhoon Ineng. Despite the fact that it didn't directly hit the province of Quezon, the effects was still pretty evident. I remember running the uphill part easily, only because there was a strong gust of wind pushing me forward. But when the wind changed its course, I would easily get thrown to the same direction. Yup, it was tough. I got back to the starting line of the first day around 6pm and it was raining like a bitch. Like a total bitch.

Ready to battle the cold!
When I got back at the event place, some of the participants for the 70km race were already there. And since it was already raining really hard, I decided to take my time, chat with the runners, ate dinner, freshened up a bit, and grabbed a few minutes of shut eye, in the hopes that the rain would eventually stop. But it didn't. So I had to face the music that this rain will be our constant companion for the rest of the race. High five Ineng. I high five you in the face with a chair, damn it! 

The second half was slow, despite being shorter than the first loop. One of the reasons is the cold that was slowly starting to seep in to my bones. So I had to constantly jog just to keep myself warm. Not to mention that we're passing majority of the race course for the second time, which somewhat makes you think about the next uphill (or  upHELL as what we would often call it), the next batch of stray dogs, or where the buses will kill you for sport. So yeah, this is where the mind games begin. It should also be noted that my favorite (insert sarcasm here) part of the course in QCC100, the road to Mauban from Tayabas, was also a part of this race. And we had to pass by it, twice. Oh joy! Not that I'm complaining. I'm only thankful that the both times we passed by it, it was either raining or it was in the evening. So it wasn't as bad in QCC100. All part of the challenge and any challenge at this point of the race is welcome, anyway. Coz we're hardcore like that. Or crazy. There is quite a thin line that divides the two.

YAAAAAAS! With Rommel
ANYWAY! At km 120, I decided to sleep in one of the sari sari stores as I got tired fighting with the dogs. At this point, three of my fellow runners caught up with me, namely, Baracks, AJ, and Rommel. So we all decided to sleep somewhere near a multi-purpose hall or something. With the lullabies of the barking dogs in our ears. Oh joy! When we finally recovered, we tried running for a few hours just so we can cover the rest of the race while it's still cold. Come 6am, we decided to have breakfast in the nearest sari-sari store. Oh hello there Mr. Cup Noodles, oh how I've missed thee! Grabbed a few minutes of shut eye again, before we proceeded on our journey. By this time, I think we're already at km 130? At some point, it was only Rommel and I who are pacing. At the last twenty kms, it started raining again, because why not? We finally reached the finish line, wet and tired but with a smile on our faces, coz these are the things that make us happy. Crazy right? Yeah, we are crazy and proud of it. Third leg, CHECK!

Southern Coast Nationals - 200 Ultramarathon (SCN200)

This is it, pansit!
And so it has come to this. The last race of the crazy journey. At this point, I've already ran my longest distance, the Manila to Daet 342km (I'll blog about it soon, that deserves an entry of its own), but I know that doing 200km will never be easy. And true enough, despite being the second shortest in the series, the route of SCN200 was one of the most gruelling that I've encountered. We would often joke around during the route that this has everything, uphills (upHELLS), downhills (downHELLS), killer buses, asshole motorcycle drivers, rabid dogs, mud trails, gravel trails, dark roads, hot weather, and strong rains. All of those were present here which is why this is one for the books. There were only ten runners in this race. The gunstart was at 1:10am coz it was already raining before the event started. 

Me with Jie-sama at km 57
The first fifty km were pretty okay, though when the sun started to rise, it got hot pretty quickly. I was running with Jie, whom I met two years ago in another ultramarathon in La Union, roughly around the same date. We were pacing for the first fifty km and everything was going smoothly. We even clocked in at 8hrs for those fifty km which was a huge advantage. Unfortunately, around this time, things didn't looked good with Jie as she started having tummy aches. We pushed for a few more km but more problems arose on her part. She started feeling nauseated and we had to take a few nap breaks so she can recover. We even got the chance to ask the locals for coconuts. We were about to pay them when they told us that they were free. Which was cool coz we weren't expecting that at all. At km 60, Sir Jim, an ultrarunner and part of our support crew, decided to help out in pacing Jie as she's already running low on energy. Come km 63, things aren't looking good in Jie's condition and in order to avoid any further complications, she decided to not risk it and go home instead. It was sad but it's better to be careful than to make matters worse. 

Ser Jim after the buko break
Now I'm running solo and was getting worried that I'll get caught in the dark alone. It was 3:30pm and I needed to get to km 80 before sundown. It wasn't easy as the next 17km consists of sticky clay trail and gravel due to road improvements/repairs. It was tough but I managed to reach the junction before it got dark. I was also fortunate to catch up with AJ, another one of my running buddies and was previously mentioned above. We then tried to catch up with the next batch of runners who, according to him, was only around twenty to thirty mins away. We got hungry though so we grabbed a quick snack at the next store. It was already 6:30pm, I think. We managed to run for the next two hours and finally caught up with the next batch of runners ahead of us. This group consists of Amiel aka RH King, Baracks, and Joel. It was perfect though as we found them near a waiting shed which means NAP TIME! 

Kami ang Tulog Boys! Zzzzz...
We are actually the last five runners so we decided to stick with each other till what not. At around 9pm, we found a carinderia, finally. We decided to finally have a late dinner of sorts before carrying on with our quest. By 12mn, we've reached km 125 where the race director, Sir Rodell Mendoza, was waiting for us with our stuff. There was food as well and we found one of the runners, Rommel, who I paced with in QD100, just woke up from a two hour slumber. Our group, though, Amiel, Baracks, AJ, Joel, and I, aka the Tulog Boys (Sleeping Boys), decided to sleep for an hour before heading out. We had a wonderful bed this time. A parked jeep in front of the aid station. It was AMAZING! Rommel already went ahead as he already slept enough.

When we woke up, we managed to run a few more km before the lord of dreams made us sleepy again. We found a coffee vending machine at some point and in the next few km after that, a beautiful, comfortable, enticing, waiting shed made of bamboo. It was the most beautiful thing we've ever seen that we had to sleep in it, yey! All was going well only to be waken up by a bastard dog. It was roughly around 5 in the morning. We hurried to make up for the lost time. Grabbing quick breaks in between. Come 11:30am, we finally reached km 145 where there is a 711! Lunch time!

Kalilayan Bridge at 1pm. Winter is coming.
We certainly took our time here as well as it was too hot and we were famished. We even slept inside the 711 coz why not. By 1pm, we decided to brave the heat and carried on buying ice along the way to prevent our bodies from overheating. We managed to slowly jog still despite the heat. We then reached Padre Burgos by 6pm, which was km 165 of the course. By this time, it was only me and Joel pacing. We decided to have dinner here as well, while waiting for Amiel, AJ, and Baracks. We found out that AJ and Amiel are already having chaffing problems. Joel and I decided to go ahead in case we catch up with Sir Rodell.

IT IS DONE! My feet are done, that is.
After a few hours, my toes and feet started to feel the exhaustion so I had to rest for a bit just so I can recover a little bit more of strength. After a few minutes, the rest of the Tulog Boys finally arrived. AJ and Amiel found a temporary solution to their chaffing problems and I've finally regained some of my strength. We then, once again, paced together till the end. Joel went ahead as he is having stomach aches at the last ten km. It started raining really hard again at this time of the night, which was roughly around 1am. So when we crossed the finish line, it was me, Amiel, Baracks, and AJ. It should also be noted that at the last 5km, a motorcycle tried to ran over me, in which I replied with a resounding "Tangina mo!" We finished after 49hrs. We finally finished the crazy Quezon Grand Slam Hardcore Series. It was an insanely difficult and crazy journey, but in the end, it was all worth it. It was after all these races that we weren't only awarded with trophies, medals, and buckles, we were also given the chance to have an unforgettable and unbreakable bond with our fellow brothers and sisters in this little community of crazy individuals. To me, that is the best reward I could get after the whole thing. Next to that, of course, is the victory belly dance that we do afterwards, oh yeah!

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been a huge help to this journey. Mami Arcie, Dadi Joel, RJ, Hydee, Bosing Clyde, and the rest of my Hamog Family who has always been there from the start to help. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Team Sa Buwan, ESR, and Team Pasyal for the moral support and constant high fives and celebrations, you guys are awesome! This was quite an adventure and none of these would've happened if it weren't for the man behind these races, Sir Rodell Mendoza. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to better ourselves and push ourselves to our limits. My deepest gratitude goes to you!

And that wraps up my entire Quezon Quest! Cheers everyone! 

Goodbye Atimonan! Till next time!

Photos courtesy of Baracks Baracael of Gasma Xfinity Runners

and Adrian Aquino

For part 1 of this story, CLICK HERE

Friday, December 04, 2015

The Quezon Journey: The Road to the Quezon Grand Slam Hardcore Series (Part 1)

The Crazy Grand Slam Trophies and their respective Finisher Buckles
When the year started, I already had my eyes on sight for the Quezon Grand Slam Series. This was something that I missed the previous year and I really wanted to focus all my efforts on bagging it this year. However, unlike the previous year, this year, we had an option to choose which of the series we wanted to complete. I decided to go for the Hardcore Series. It wasn't an easy journey, though, as it consists of four races and none of them were lower than 160km. With the first being the South Luzon Endurance Challenge with 240km, followed by the Quezon Coast to Coast 100 Mile Ultramarathon, then Quezon Day Endurance Race with 160km, and would be concluded with the Southern Coast Nationals - 200km Ultramarathon.

And as the year ends, I look back and think how crazy this journey was. I'll try to relate my experience here. But it's been a while and I might actually mix up details and stuff. But I'll do my best, yey!

South Luzon Endurance Challenge - 240km (SL240)

This was the event that kicked off the whole craziness. By far, before this event, the longest that I've ever ran was 160km and this was sort of the run that would totally test my limits. 

Prior to the race, I had to go to work first as I was under probation period and my absences are restricted. Work ended at 3pm and I had to struggle to catch a bus going to Tagkawayan, Quezon. Easier said than done as I had to do some shopping first before I can finally take the bus. First problem that I encountered on my way to Quezon was that there weren't that many buses going to Tagkawayan. Secondly, all the buses were quite packed as most people from Manila are going to the province to abuse the long weekend vacation. Somehow, I managed to board a bus at 6pm. But I'm not quite out of the woods yet as the trip was roughly around 8-10hrs. Which is not good since the assembly time is at 4am. That would mean, I couldn't afford to get stuck in traffic. It was quite tight and I almost did a buzzer beater finish when I arrived in Tagkawayan. Got there at 3:30am, got changed and proceeded to the starting line. I was lucky still as I managed to catch some shuteye along the road, hence I'm not totally exhausted after the trip. And the adventure's just about to start!

There were 14 runners who participated in this race. We started at 5am of the 1st of May in Tagkwayan, Quezon. The first day started pretty well for me. I managed to stay in the top three for the most part of the day. Everything went downhill in the evening. And this is figuratively speaking as there was hardly any downhill along the route. I got injured while walking. Yes, while walking. My power walking technique wasn't well defined hence I was struggling to keep up with my buddies. This was the first lessoned that I learned here in this race. Learn the art of power walking. The first night was a struggle even as we kept on bouncing from one waiting shed to another just to get a few minutes of sleep. We would occasionally catch up with with the race director, Sir Rodell Mendoza, every 10km or so and by the time we reached the 24hr clock, I think we were already in the km 90 or km 100 of the 240km run.

Top Three in the First 80km or so
My left leg was barely functioning by this time and I was already limping for the most part. I had to go do some boy-scout-macguyver solution shit on my leg if I wanted to finish the race. So I tied a handkerchief on my left leg to lessen the swelling. It worked, though, and I managed to push myself to run, albeit, on a much slower pace. Another problem for me was my change of diet. I have eliminated chicken, pork, and beef in my diet previous month and I had a hard time looking for places to eat in the province. Being a pescetarian was quite tough and I was just on my first month so I was really having difficulties.

The second day was a struggle and we were about to approach the hardest part of the race. The road to Labo-Sta. Elena in Bicol. This was a freaking crazy route, almost 66km of endless, winding, rolling hills jammed with dogs and strange things. I, fortunately, didn't see any strange occurrences here, but getting chased by dogs was totally a bitch at this point.

I was pushed to the last pack by this time because of my freaking injury. Good thing, I wasn't alone at the tail. My buddy, Baracks, and I paced from KM 160 (I think) till the end. We were both injured and we almost had the same pace so we managed to carry on and just gave each other encouragements along the way. We look ridiculous here, by the way, as we were fighting endless hordes of dogs. I, with my arnis stick, and him, with this bamboo pole that we found along the way, fought the dogs with shouts and profanities just to get through the endless stretch of Labo. It should also be noted that it is in Labo that we managed to sleep in a bahay kubo thanks to one of the locals who let us sleep in his kubo. It was a few minutes after midnight and it's already the third day of the race. We did oversleep though and I was already dreaming that the sun was already out. Good thing we managed to jolt ourselves back to consciousness.

Xeroshoes in Quezon
Coincidentally, May 3 was Pacquiao's big fight versus Mayweather and we were just running from one house to the next every round. Trying to keep up with the fight. It was amazing how there are really no vehicles during that period. It's totally the Pacquiao Magic. 

The last 20km was the hardest part for us. We were both exhausted, burned out, and running low on spirit. On top of that, it started raining really hard. Probably because Pacquiao lost, ugh! ANYWAY, we soldiered on and pushed ourselves to the point of insanity and made it to the finish line. Thus, ending our longest foot race ever and starting the first leg of the whole Quezon Grand Slam Hardcore Series. 

Quezon Coast to Coast 100 Miles Ultramarathon (QCC100)

At the starting line with Vic, Raymond, Thomas, Sir Rodell, and Joseph
The second leg of the Grand Slam was held last June 12. This was the second time I ran in this route but it doesn't really make it easier. In fact, it was much harder, as unlike the previous year, I'm on self-support mode in this race. Not that it's my first outing as a self-sufficient runner, but I know hard it was without a support vehicle in this route. Especially in the last stretch.

So the race started at 3:30am and it was freaking raining. Blessing from the gods, perhaps. This time, there were 24 runners at the start of the race. Unfortunately, three didn't finish.

With Brader Jun at KM 60ish
The first stretch was pretty okay. I actually managed to maintain a good pace for the most part up to km 65. At this point, the heat of the sun was already roasting our backs. I decided to grab lunch at the nearest sari-sari store. I totally missed the carinderias so I'm stuck with my every trusty, cup noodles. This was on the way to Lumban, if I remember it correctly.

By km 80, one of my friends, Ray, caught up on me during my break. By this time, one of our friends, Jie, arrived driving a car. She's on an emergency support crew duty for Ray. They were kind enough to support me as well in this stretch. Which was a great help as this stretch of the race all the way to km 100 was the darkest and most dangerous because of the stray dogs. We got lost at some point and when we finally found the right way, we found two more friends along the route, Pat and Reyman. We paced all the way to Luisiana where we slept at the park. This was km 100 if I remember right. We freshened up a bit and hurried on to km 115. The sun was almost up at this point and we've been running for close to 26-27hrs. 

Baron, the wonder dog, with Delon
At km 115, we also found out that we needed to be at the next stop, km 130, by 7:30am. And it was already 5:30am. So we really had to push really hard to do the next 15km within two hours. Which was already a feat if you're still fresh, what more after running 115km. But we needed to huddle to make it in time. Managed  to get there just before 7:30am, which was a relief. The last 30km was the hardest as the road from Tayabas to Mauban gets really hot at this time of the day. And there's virtually no shade along that route. A few sari-sari stores was our saviour though. Alas, the last 30km, I had to go solo as my friends needed to sleep. And they needed the support vehicle more than me. So I went ahead to finish the last part buying ice candies, ice cream, or whatever I could grab that can make my body cool. No one sells ice here, somehow, or maybe I could've missed them. But after almost five or six hours, I finally crossed the finish line. Leg 2, check! However the most interesting part of the race was Baron, a jack russell terrier of one of the runners and a friend, Delon, who accompanied his master for 160km. Ultradog in the house, y'all! In the end, we all celebrated with a bottle of our favorite recovery beverage, Red Horse Beer, miam miam! 

Inuman na!

On the next entry, I'll be sharing my experiences on the last two races of the Quezon Grand Slam Hardcore Series,  the Quezon Day Endurance Race - 100 Mile Ultramarathon and the Southern Coast Nationals - 200km Ultramarathon, woot woot! Stay tuned! Boy Lipad, out!

Photos courtesy of Baracks Baracael of Gasma Xfinity Runners

For part two, CLICK HERE. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

To the Colombian Girl

Photo by Bren Ebrada

I was in BGC last Sunday. I would normally just walk from Ayala to BGC via McKinley or the other way around if going back to Ayala. But last Sunday, I decided to take the shuttle back to Ayala from Market Market, just to mix things up, coz why not.

At the terminal, I saw this girl. She's a foreigner and she's sorta lost. I would normally ignore and just carry on, but somehow, I felt the urge to help her out.

I said to myself, that if she goes the same way, I'll totally help her out, but I was in a hurry so I just went straight to the bus. Much to my surprise, I have to buy my ticket first before I can actually take the shuttle. So I went down and found myself asking for directions myself.

I finally found the ticketing booth et voilĂ ! The foreign girl was also there. Oh but maybe she's taking a different bus? So I just got my ticket and went again for the bus. Apparently, she's also taking the same bus!

As she's still lost and asking the conductor for directions, I decided to intervene and tried helping her out.

She's headed to Kalayaan Ave, where her hotel is. I found out as well that she's from Colombia and that she's here for an event. I helped her out, told her a few things about the traffic situation in the Philippines. Apparently, she's looking for H&M in High Street. Someone told her the wrong info as there's no H&M there but told her that there's one in Ayala.

I said: That's okay, you can always go tomorrow. Right? Unless it's your last day in the Philippines, then that's a different story.
And she was like: Ummm... Actually...
And I was: Wait, it's your last day here?!

The unfortunate thing is that it was indeed her last day in the Philippines last Sunday, as she was only here for nine days. The most unfortunate thing is that she didn't even give her name when I introduced myself.

Me: By the way, I'm Jeff.
Her: Nice to meet you!

And alas, such is my luck. We parted ways at the Ayala Terminal of the Fort Shuttlebus. I guided her to where she can take the bus and we bid our farewells to each other.

To the Colombian girl, I hope you did find your way back to your hotel and hoping that you managed to find the time to go to H&M.

She was looking for her hotel, I was looking for love. We're not looking for the same thing, obviously, but I do hope that one of us managed to find what we're looking for.

Until we meet again, Colombian girl, hopefully, in a better circumstance.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

IBTUR 120km + 10km (or 6km)

Ah! What a wonderful day to relax by the beach! Oh, wait, whut?!
So I just finished another crazy run. Not as crazy as my 100 mile run, but still crazy enough to be listed as crazy. CRAZY!

This time, it's a 120km run plus 6km bonus, according to the organizer, Sir Randy Abasolo, but felt more like 10km. It was at San Juan, La Union last Sept. 26.

Soooooo, last Thursday, after French class, I went straight to the bus terminal in Cubao to meet up with my buddy, Toto. We were supposed to meet up at around 10pm but I got delayed and arrived later than usual. Nonetheless, we were able to catch the 11pm trip to Laoag which will pass by the resort where we'll be staying for the night until the gunstart, which initially, we thought was 10pm the following day. We were supposed to be three people going on the trip but one of our buddies called sick the day before so she won't make it to the run. However, during the trip, she texted and said that she's already on her way to La Union as well. Good job, Jie-sama, wee!

Breaking our fast by daybreak
The rest of the trip was pretty much the usual. Toto and I just shared a few stories before calling it a night as we still have seven more hours to burn in the bus. To our surprise, the usual 7hr trip was cut short because, after all, we did leave a little before midnight. Thus, from 7hrs, the trip to La Union took us only FIVE-FREAKIN'-HOURS! We arrived at the Final Option Resort around four in the morning as we were told that the rest of our companions are staying in that resort. So we went to the reception, told the guy that we have a reservation along with nine other people. After waking up the guy in charge, he started rummaging through all the receipts on the desk and found no one with our reservation. And Jie phoned us and said that we're on the wrong resort and that it wasn't Final Option but Normi's Resort. With this new discovery, we told the guy that we made a mistake and asked him where we can find the said resort. I guess he was a bit pissed, he told us that it's just 500m away from Final Option Resort, which was not true, btw. His little revenge, clever guy, was that we apparently had to walk 2km from Final Option to Normi. No biggie, after all, we're going to run more than that in a few hours. While walking, Jie's bus finally caught up on us and we all met up a few meters away from Normi's. And so we continued the rest of the way laughing at our little mishap. The following day, we weren't laughing anymore though, heh.

Taichi by the beach
Around quarter to five, we finally reached Normi's Resort, or to be more accurate, Normi'2s or Normi Squared S. Found our companions sound asleep and just decided to do the same. All of us were woken up by MJ, the organizer of our little band of merry men, and told us that our free breakfast is waiting downstairs. After having our fill, we then decided to go to the market and buy stuff for our lunch. When we got back, we've divided the labor amongst ourselves. Some of us went swimming while others did the cooking. I had a little bellydancing and taichi 101 class before lunch and it was nice to share a few stuff that I do with my fellow runners.

Para sa Diyablo!
Around 11am, while waiting for our food to get cooked, some of us actually bought alcohol. So we had a little drinking session before lunch. And when lunch finally came, it was a total feast! And for a   fleeting moment, it's as if we're just there for a vacation. If only that was the case. So after lunch, we all decided to sleep a few more hours before the race briefing which was at 6pm.

This is what dreams are made off.
Fast forward to the gunstart, we all gathered at the starting line and officially the race started 10mins after 8pm. The first 31km I covered without footwear and sticked with my running buddy from the previous IBTUR edition, Jie. The road started to get rocky and although I can still continue barefooted, I decided to wear my running sandals (XeroShoes) so I won't get left behind. I don't want to go running alone in the dark. The dark is okay but I fear stray dogs the most. Fortunately, I've brought my trekking poles with me just in case for protection and learned a new technique on how to scare a pack of dogs. I will not cover that here but feel free to ask me what it was anytime. Anyway, From that point, it was roughly around 10km to San Gabriel which was the start of our punishment. The 24km of happy uphell all the way to Santol, our next stop.

At Santol, famished and ready for brekky
At San Gabriel, there was only darkness and trees and occasional streams bypassing on the road. It took us around four hours and reached Santol at around 7am, just in time for breakfast care of Team Karipas. From Santol, which is roughly km 60+, we have to go all the way to Sudipen which is around 26+ km. We managed to reach the town proper just in time for lunch. At this point, running was nigh impossible for most of us. We had our lunch and made our way to Tagudin which is our last U-turn point. And from there we went to Bangar, at the pebble beach to be exact, for the last 30km of the run. We reached the pebble beach roughly around 4:30 in the afternoon and exhaustion is already catching up on most of us. And now for the fun part. From Bangar to Luna, we had to walk on the pebble beach. It's around 7km and I'm already starting to close my eyes thanks to the friendly glare of the sun. The consequences of not brining sunglasses. Not to mention the blisters on my feet are celebrating with the pebbles as well. Oh joy!  Anyway! It took me almost two hours to cover that sandy, rocky hell and reached Luna around 6pm. Here we had a light dinner and had our photos taken at the oldest structure in Luna, the Baluarte Watch Tower, which is roughly around 400 years old. Anyway, from there, to the finish line, it's only almost around 20+km, according to the marshall. But we checked with Toto, and it's actually around 27km more, yey!

The Happiness of the Pebble Beach
And so on the last part of the race, we just walked all the way to the finish line. And as always, the last few kilometers were the most grueling part of the journey. And after almost 30hr, 29h56m to be exact, we crossed the finish line with our hearts in our hands. It was already 2 in the morning of Sunday. After the photo-op, I was just too tired and just had a few sips of water and a banana or two and just went straight to sleep at one of the cottages.

And that's it! Well, just to end the La Union weekend story, I woke up after 3hrs and saw one of my friends just crossed the finish line. Decided to fix my things and finally got my finisher's kit from the organizer. Was already about to leave but both of my feet were practically useless. And since I was moving so slow, a few more of my friends crossed the finish line while I was deciding on how to get home, more of how to stand up actually. Which was a good thing though as now I won't be alone commuting back to Manila. They got rested, took a few photos and decided to break our fast before we take our leave. We left La Union at around 9 in the morning.  I, however, left my feet in San Fernando, heh. And yes, we are UNBREAKABLE. Our willpower, indomitable! We might actually pass as members of the Green Lantern Corps, if needed. And as we all reached our destinations in Manila, we bade our farewells to each other and went on to celebrate our victory! By celebrate, I mean, sleep. Ah yes, hello bed. You look pretty. Let's call it TONIGHT, shall we? :P

Finisher's Painting