Soleus Valley Trail Challenge

Monday, July 7, 2014

On the 29th of June, I joined the Soleus Valley Trail Challenge in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa under the 30km category. Why 30k? Well, I have no choice. I actually did not register myself for that event. It just so happened that one of my Milo friends registered for this run and decided last minute that she could not do it. So she offered me to take her spot. And hey, who am I to say "no" to a free race event? Right?

I got the race bib on Friday, two days before the actual event. I haven't had any experience with trail running prior to this event so I was feeling very jittery. But I figured that since I have been training regularly, I can finish it well within the cut-off. Also, I have finished a 32km race on the first week of June so I guess that helped. Except that that 32km-race was on road, and people told me that running on trail is twice as difficult. So more jitters there. Ugh.

I did not have much sleep the night before so it was a good thing that I completed at least eight hours of sleep on Friday night. I tried my best to catch some zzz's but to no avail. You see, I was sleeping over with some friends and I always find it hard to sleep when I'm not in my house. Finally giving up on the thought of getting more sleep, I decided to take a shower at around 1am, three hours before the start of the race. I did my normal prepping and had a breakfast of fish and rice. I chugged a bottle of Gatorade after. At a little past 2:30am, we left and headed to Nuvali. It was already past 3:30am when we got there so I consumed a pack of GU Gel and squeezed in my usual warm-up stretches and got ready. Four o'clock came and we were off.

I started the race with a slow jog. I had to be careful because it was dark and I wouldn't be able to see where I was going if I didn't have a headlamp with me. It was also foggy on some parts of the route. A little over an hour has passed and I finally reached the first hydration station on the 6th kilometer where I refilled my bottles with water and Gatorade, and had a slice of apple. A lot of people stayed for a while on that station so I did not waste any more time there. I scurried off to continue the run. Being that it was already past 5am, the sun is almost out. I finally got to enjoy the sights which were definitely refreshing. It was a nice change from the usual sights of vehicles and buildings that we encounter during fun runs in the city. This time, I was surrounded by trees and tall grasses. Instead of hearing honks coming from cars, I hear crickets and birds chirping. The morning breeze felt good. The unfamiliarity of the route added some thrill. It was probably one of the best feelings that I ever had and no race event had ever given me that feeling before. I maintained an easy pace during the first half of the race, with some walks in between especially when the ground felt slippery. 

The next hydration station was at the 15th kilometer marker. I stayed there for a few minutes and made sure that I was properly hydrated. I even got myself a chocolate bar for the road. And it was a good thing that I did because what came next was the longest ten kilometers of my life. By then, the sun was already up and it was scorching hot. My legs were tired from the uphill climbs. My feet ached that I had to stop twice to loosen the laces on my shoes. There were hydration stations on the 20th and 25th kilometer markers and I made the most out of them. I even put some ice inside my shirt because it was a really hot day. I walked throughout those ten kilometers.
my running OOTD:
K-Swiss shirt
Nike shorts
Asics Gel Noosa Tri 8 shoes
Timex Ironman watch
Halo sun visor
had to take a picture with these cows, haha

After the last hydration station, I knew that I was close. I practically used all my remaining energy to go on a faster pace, alternating between jogs and walks. My feet were still aching, it was very hot and I was sweating like crazy. During the last half kilometer, I encountered a very small pool of mud and dirt, and my right foot sunk in because I could not stretch my legs any further to jump over. When I saw the finish line, I ran as fast as I could with a smile on my face to claim my finishers medal. I was dirty, sweaty, and sun-burned. My body ached from the waist down and I didn't care. I just finished my first ever trail run which was no easy feat at a 32-kilometer distance (the organizers actually added a couple of kilometers for sight-seeing purposes, lol) so I was feeling happy and proud. I finished with an official time of 06:03:21 which was well within the cut-off time of 6 hours and 30 minutes.
 my shoes got down and dirty

The Soleus Valley Trail Challenge definitely lived up to my expectations. True to their word, it really was indeed a no-frills, all-thrills event. It gave me such a running high that I never had before. I got a medal and a loot bag upon finishing the race but the medal would have been enough. The experience was something that one couldn't get elsewhere. Giving me a new running milestone, the Soleus Valley Trail Challenge is definitely one of those races that I will always remember. Kudos to FrontRunner and Soleus for this event! :)
my finishers medal

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