Race Report: 2014 CM 50 (Part #3)
Race In Progress @ AS4 To The Peak & Back
Upon reaching AS4 (Km #32), I saw a lot of runners making their refills in their hydration bottles and bladders; and some were eating what the Aid Station had to offer and what they had brought with them in their packs. One of the volunteers, who happens to be an ultra friend, asked my two bottles to be refilled with water as they were about to be empty when I reached the Aid Station. After a few seconds and as soon as my bottles were refilled, I left the Aid Station immediately and did not spend one minute in the place. As I left the place, I was smiling knowing that the Aid Station is consistently manned by Team BORING and I can appropriately relate to what I’ve been posting on Facebook about my training runs——they are simply “boring” trail runs and hill repeats!
From the AS4 to the peak of Mt Miyamit is almost 10 kilometers of single-track trail. The trail is dry, hard and compact and there are portions (with rocks) which are slippery. I had to jog on the flat and descending portions and then power-hike the ascending parts of the trail. Almost half-way to the peak, I started to meet the leading runner who happens to be a foreigner and then later on, followed by fast and strong local trail runners. This part of the course is well-covered with trees, bananas and other vegetation except for the last mile to the peak of Mt Miyamit or turn-around point which is covered with tall grasses. The temperature in this part of the course is cooler and it is where you start feeling the breeze of a cold wind. My pace would be slow but I make it a point to breath deeply and take advantage of the cleanest air that is available outside Metro Manila!
I always have the habit of counting the number of runners that I would meet along this part of the trail as I would know how I fared and know my position on my way down after coming from the peak/turn-around point. When I reached counting up to 50 runners before I could finally reach the peak, I just stopped the mental exercise. From this point, I knew already that I was slowing on my pace as compared when I finished this event last year. I can still recall that I was among the top 40 runners when I reached the turn-around point in last year’s edition.
It was only in this year’s race that I was able to see the peak of the mountain; the scenery of the surroundings; the river and trail that goes to the northern approach towards Mt Pinatubo, coming from Barangay Sta Juliana, Capas (route of Mt Pinatubo 50K Trail Challenge); and the clear sky above. As I moved and jogged towards the peak, I could see those tiny figures of runners as they trekked along the single-track trail that leads to the peak. Last year, I was not able to see such sight of ascending steep trail and the runners that were moving slowly towards the turn-around point. As I moved higher towards the peak, I was able to meet familiar faces of trail runners who are half younger than my age. From what I saw from their faces as I met them, I would see varied reactions. Some were smiling and cheering but some were looking-scared, too! Finally, I reached the peak/turn-around point feeling hungry and tired. I reached the peak/turn-around point in 8:10+ hours which was a very slow time as compared to my time to reach the peak last year. I would guess it would be within the 7-hour mark in last year’s edition!
I immediately got my “loom” band from Brian Tang Sen, who was also taking notes of my Race Bib and time of arrival at the turn-around point. As I looked around, I saw those runners ahead of me sitting on the ground and eating their food that they carried with them in their pack. Since I was drenched with my own sweat, I felt cold as the strong winds would pass my body and I started to chill. To remedy the situation, I decided to go down from the peak and try to locate a place where it is warmer and protected from the strong winds in the mountain. After about 400 meters from the peak, I stopped and ate my food which was one can of Tuna Paella and drank a bit of my water. I was trying to save my water as I was anticipating for the heat and warmer temperature as I descended towards AS4. While I was eating and resting, the runners who were eating at the peak/turn-around point would pass me on their way back to AS4.I wished them good luck and I was hoping that I would be able to catch up with their group.
I felt energized after eating and I had my mixture of MILO drinks and Gel as my hydration while trying to maintain my pace back to AS4. I would try to save the remaining water in my bottles by placing some candies in my mouth and letting them “play” with my tongue. However, within 2 kilometers before reaching the AS4, I started to feel fatigued and wasted. I knew I was about to be dehydrated. I slowed down and tried to hike the uphills and made sure to bring myself to AS4. I consumed the rest of my water and mixed drinks at this point and I was thinking that I would be drinking lots of water once I reached the AS4. While I was on my way back to the AS4, I saw one of my ultra running friends to be sitting on the edge of the trail. I asked him what is his problem and he said something about a fatigue “issue” and I immediately got one of my candies in my running shorts’ pockets. As I handed him the candy, I told him to immediately take it in his mouth and try to relax. I passed him but I knew he will be able to recover after some rest.
As I arrived at the AS4, I saw more familiar faces and most of them greeted me and I greeted them back also. I had my bottles refilled with water and took a chair while waiting for the volunteer to do what I’ve requested. Suddenly, I saw some 1.5 liter bottles of Sprite and I immediately asked from one of the volunteers for some amount of it. For not being able to look for a cup, he offered a lot of Sprite in an improvised cup (empty Sprite bottle cut in one-half) and I was able to ingest an equivalent of 1/2 liter. After a few seconds, I was ready to go down to the Miyamit Falls. I never drank Soda drinks in my training and by drinking Sprite when I was about to be dehydrated gave me an extraordinary feeling of power and strength!
My moves from AS4 to the Miyamit Falls was a non-stop jogging/slow running as the trail was descending. I was able to meet a lot of runners who were going back to AS4. I saw some of the runners to be picking up their hydration bottle which they left on their way down to the falls and retrieving them back again as they reach back to AS4. Last year, I’ve observed a lot of my running friends leaving their hydration packs or hydration belts/bottles at AS4 before going down to the turn-around point at the Miyamit Falls. I personally consider this as unfair practice for those who don’t remove their hydration vest/pack/belt from their body during the entire duration of the race. Anyway, this observation did not affect my motivation to reach the Miyamit Falls and back to AS4 with a faster pace and be able to pass more runners in the process.
As soon as I reached the turn-around point at the Miyamit Falls, I was able to get my “loom” band and made a quick turn-around back to the AS4. There is no valid reason for me to stop, wash my shoes and remove the lahar-sand in them, or have some pictures taken with me and the Falls as the background. It was a waste of time. The power of the Sprite drink that I had taken from AS4 was still in me and I made it a point to jog and power hike all the way up to the Aid Station. I think I was able to break my record time in finishing this part of the course. It was a very fast climb back to AS4 even if I was sweating profusely as it was too hot already for all the runners. As soon as I reached the AS4, I took another drink of Sprite and I was off towards AS2. I was able to surprise those runners who were resting at the Aid Station and I immediately told them that “the race is about to start from this point!”
Running from AS4 to AS3 seemed to be the easiest part of the course since most of the trail was descending in nature. But I was wrong, the heat of the sun showed its strength to all the runners and it was time to adjust my Buff so that my nape and most parts of my face are covered; to wear my Oakley sunglass; to continuously hydrate with my water and mixed MILO + GU; and to try to look for a more shady part of the trail which was usually on the right side of the trail. I was glad those sunflower plants on the side of the road were able to provide enough shade for me! My knees were holding up so good that I was able to run a slow and even pace most of the time. This made the other runners to be scared of me as I tried to quicken my pace while I was in front or behind them. I have memorized already this part of the course after so many times of visiting/running this place and I was confident to anticipate of what kind of terrain to expect from afar. My race tactics is always consistent——count the number of strides up to 90 and then repeat; hydrate every 5 minutes with a sip, alternating water and MILO Drinks; breath from the nose; keep shoulders relaxed; power hike on the ascending portions but still maintaining on counting my strides up to 90; and think positively about the race!
AS3 is located in Barangay Sapang Uwak of Porac, Pampanga and the place is a resettlement site for the Minorities called “Aetas”. The building where the AS3 is located is a tourism facility and Barangay Hall Center. Once I entered the populated area of the Barangay and about 400 meters before reaching the AS3, I was hearing a loud announcement from one of the house’s TV that Manny Pacquiao won its latest fight in Macau. I even asked from the Aeta (owner of the house) standing in front of the house if the opponent was TKO’d by Manny Pacquiao and he related to me briefly what happened during the fight as I slowed down from my running! More or less, this is the approximate time of the day that I reached AS3.
Finally, I reached AS3 and I still have 23 kilometers more to go before reaching the Finish Line. With my experience last year, I knew that it was NOT the last 23 kilometers of the race. It is actually the last 30 Kilometers to the finish line as the whole course has a total distance of almost 54 miles! With only 5 hours + to spare to reach the Finish Line within the cut-off time of 18 hours, I made a mental computation on what could be my average pace/speed in order to be safe and be able to finish strong!
The Ayala Triads was manning the AS3, the one that I promised to the RD to have my pit stop on my way back to the Finish Line. I really stopped here for about 15 minutes——ate a lot of watermelon bites; I was served with fried bean curd dipped in vinegar (tokwa) and pork adobo with rice; refilled my bottles; mixed my MILO drinks; hydrated with a lot of Sprite; and had a brief chat with the volunteers and the rest of the runners at the Aid Station. I knew that this will be my last Aid Station where I will stop and make my refill, so I took time to rest and eat some solid foods. I was so thankful to the members of the Ayala Triads for very attentive and helpful to my personal needs and to the other runners’ needs.
The afternoon was getting hotter as I gained my ground from AS3 to AS2. It was a non-stop jogging and power hiking, alternately. This is the most “boring” part of the course where I would consistently count the number of my strides as I was getting nearer to AS2. It was so simple and “boring” to follow——count my strides while jogging up to 90 and then repeat until I felt I was tired and then power hike up to the count of 30 and then back again to jogging and…counting! It is a “boring” practice/habit but it is very effective! The power hike was my rest period and yet I was still moving forward!
As I was getting nearer to the Finish Line, my Race Belt Pockets/Pouches and Hydration Vest/Pack are getting lighter, too after consuming some of my stashed drinks, food, and gels. But my Salomon Sense-3 Soft Ground Shoes was getting heavier due to the lahar-sand that entered in them. It was time-consuming to stop and clean my socks and shoes from the sand as I knew that I will pass and cross those lahar-filled river crossings (again) before finally reaching the Finish Line. There was no time to fret on such thing where I thought it would be better if I used my INOV-8 shoes which I used in last year’s edition. I did not listen to my first observation when I used them for my 20K run at the Mt Pinatubo 50K Trail Challenge two weeks before this race. I was too engrossed in coming up with a 300-Kilometer mileage before I can write a Shoe Review for this shoes!
I was able to reach AS2 but I simply passed through it and continued my run. My next target was to reach AS1 as fast as I could with my remaining strength and will power. I think I still have 3 hours+ before the cut-off time at this point. It was still daytime!
To be continued.