Rizal to Laguna 50k Ultra Marathon

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hi. As you may have noticed, I haven't joined any running events during the past few weeks. But it doesn't mean that I have given up on running. In fact, I have been running A LOT. You see, I was training for a huge event. Having finished my first full marathon no more than three months ago, I can say that it was a bit ambitious of me to aim for it. Not that I was over-reaching but some did say it was too early in my running career (?). Nevertheless, I didn't care. I registered the second I had some cash to spare. Here goes: my account on what happened during my first ultra marathon event. Fair warning, this will be a looong post so please bear with me. 

Weeks before I finished my first full marathon, I was already planning to join a 50k run. I just didn't know when or which event I would join. I seriously considered joining this particular one that would happen a week after TBR but I didn't risk it. Yes, I am a crazy person but I wasn't that crazy. Yet. Then someone invited me to the Rizal to Laguna 50k Ultramarathon via Facebook, I checked the details and I thought "This is it!" It was set to happen on April 26, which gave me just enough time to recover from my full-mary and train for this one. I felt very nervous and excited with my decision but I knew there was no turning back. So I did the only reasonable thing: I trained. And trained hard, I did. In fact, I trained to the point of over-training (big no-no, guys!!!) that two weeks before the event itself, my IT band was hurting like hell. I had no choice but to give it some rest during those last two weeks and hoped for the best. 

I had about six hours of sleep on Friday night the 24th, and I wasn't too happy about it. The next day, Saturday the 25th, I tried to catch more ZZZs but I couldn't. I kept waking up every hour. When I had finally given up on sleep, I took a shower and changed into my running attire minus the shoes, and fixed my stuff. I left the house around 6pm and arrived before 7pm at the meeting place where the shuttle was supposed to pick us up. I had a hefty dinner of unhealthy fast food while waiting for the van (and for Belle). It was almost 8pm already when we boarded the shuttle. I desperately tried to relax and get some sleep while on the road but to no avail. The assembly time at Pililia, Rizal was at 10pm but we got there an hour later because the driver got confused with the route and ended up getting lost.  This stressed me out a lot. Upon arriving at the venue, I was already feeling a bit panicky. I claimed my race bib, changed into a different shirt, put on my shoes and did my usual pre-race prepping. There was some briefing a few minutes before the start of the race but so many things were running in my head that I wasn't able to absorb any of it. 

At around 1am on Sunday the 26th, the race officially started and off we went. I was taken by suprise at how quickly the time passed that I just ran and totally forgot about my plan. I ran and ran on a moderate pace until we hit the first uphill. That was when I started walking. To cut the story short, I basically walked for the most part of the 8-ish kilometer of uphill road. While I had lots of hills training during the past weeks, I was worried that my ITBS would act up. And it did act up before I even got to the 12th kilometer. Then this weird thing happened: I would feel pain in my ITB whenever I would walk, but whenever I would run, the pain would completely disappear. And while it wasn't wise of me to do so, I ran everytime I could and walked a few seconds whenever I would feel out of breath. It was downhill from the 9th kilometer onwards anyway so it wasn't hard. 

When I was finally back on flat grounds, I did the Galloway method (4:1) on a comfortable pace. The air was cold, there was wind blowing in my face, and my legs felt fine. I was feeling good. Then I started on this long stretch of road that was very dark and I didn't have a head lamp with me (again, another mistake). So when I saw this truck coming my way, I moved to the side. I didn't see that the ground there was lower by a few inches so I ended up losing my balance. I fell, and I used my knees to get all the impact and to keep my face from hitting the ground. I was wearing compression pants, mind you. I felt a sharp pain on my right knee and when I touched it, I felt my skin (and also some blood) which only meant that my pants has a tear on it and that my right knee is wounded. Also, my legs started to cramp. That was when the tears began to fill my eyes. I was crying partly because of the cramps and the pain, but mostly because my compression pants are ruined. And it was only the first time that I got to use it in a running event! And also, they were very pricey! Yes, I was crying and whining and cursing. But life goes on so I continued to run (while crying like a baby and still cursing, I might add) and breathed a sigh of relief when I reached the second hydration station at the 20th kilometer. Upon reaching the station, I had a quick drink and looked for medics right away just so I can see the situation that was going on in my right knee. It was bleeding, all right, so I had them clean it and put some Betadine and gauze on it. Then I continued as if nothing happened. 

The next 15 kilometers went by uneventful. I was already a bit tired but was still so determined. I couldn't stick to my usual 4:1 so I just ran whenever I felt like it and walked whenever I would feel a bit tired. Not a good strategy but it was all I could do. I passed a couple of runners who were drinking soda at a store, then I saw another one at another store, and I felt a bit envious. So I stopped at the next store and bought myself a bottle of Coke and some wafer sticks. Then I saw all three runners passed by and I caught up with them. Two of them started to jog faster while the other one walked so I decided to pace with him. We started chit-chatting. Which was good because the chit-chatting took my mind off about how exhausted I was. When we reached the 42nd km mark (ice cream station, wee!), around 6 hours and 30 minutes had already elapsed. It meant that if I want to scrape at least a sub-8 finish, I had an hour and a half left. So after finishing my ice-cream, I decided to go for it and give it my all. It didn't last for long because it was already very hot by then. I just ran and walked alternately. 
photos taken around the 39th kilometer

When I saw the right turn towards the last stretch, I passed by this lady jogger who said to me "Konti na lang. 7k na lang." And while on most events the last stretch is usually the longest, for me it felt like the shortest 7km of my entire life. Maybe it was because my mind was just focused on finishing the run and it seemed like everything else ceased to exist. I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw the gate enclosing the Laguna Provincial Capitol, where the finish line was. When I got there, someone put the medal on me and I was handed my finishers trophy and certificate. Then I beamed at the cameras. I did it. I just finished my first ever ultra-marathon. 

Ultra marathons are not like your usual runs. There were less hydration stations compared to the regular races in the city. However, almost all stations have bananas, which was a plus. Since there were too few marshals, it would require discipline and integrity. But of course, any decent runner would take pride on finishing a race with pure honesty and would not resort to cheap tricks just to get it over with. If you know what I mean. 

Overall, my first ultra marathon experience was one for the books. Although I wasn't in a very good condition, with a knee injury and with very little sleep, I managed to finish it waaay before the cut-off of 10 hours. Hey, I finished in 7 hours and 50-something minutes, so it wasn't bad. Not bad at all. Thank you to Jaja for convincing me to join this craziness, to Desmond for the pre-race pep talk, to the runners whom I got to pace with (hello, Kath, JM and sir Grayham, if you're reading this), and to the new friends I've made. Super thanks to Belle for coming with me, for staying and waiting at the finish line, just to support me in my first ever ultra. Thank you to sir Pat Maranan and to the rest of the Run Mania team for organizing this event. 
rank: 63rd out of 109 runners, official time: 7:52:08

For now, I will rest and recover, and will plan my revenge on the 50k distance. Hahaha! So it is true when people say that ultras can get addicting. Can't wait for my next one. :)

1 comment:

  1. Ur welcome miss eva.. ^__^ - bailey