The Lone Wolf.
Was this moniker conveyed as an admiration or a goading? For the giver, whose sincerity has been consistently inconsistent🤨, opined that it was the former. But for me, the recipient, it’s more of the latter. Being on dissenting opinions in regard to cliquish running, I took the taunt positively from the source for it aptly describes me in the T2M (Tagaytay to Maragondon) 2018 ultramarathon on March 3-4.
Availing of the event’s service van in going to the start area in Summit Ridge Tagaytay City from Starmall Alabang, I was alone but totally free from tension when all of us 14 runners, who were strangers to each other, reached it a few minutes past 8:00 pm. We arrived early for the race kit claiming. The table, where we were supposed to queue for our respective bibs, was not yet manned by any members of the Run Mania staff. I noticed several participants who were likewise on-stand by for their numbers.
It was a green light for me to look for a place where I could carbo-load. The three hours of waiting before the flag off at 11:00 pm was just perfect for me to prepare.
That evening Robinson’s Tagaytay was full and abuzz with local and foreign tourists. For that reason, it was not surprising when the two diners I entered declared “take out only” and “pancit luglug only” to someone who wanted to sit comfortably and enjoy her meal. As a result, I allowed myself to cross the street and forget all about my decision, which was arrived at together with my family in November 2017 due to unimpressive customer service, that I’d no longer eat at Josephine’s. For a famish human being, eating one’s word can be resorted to just to be full. Hahahaha…
Tahong or mussels soup, fresh spring rolls, four seasons beverage and rice (oh, rice!) comprised my late dinner. The hot soup was what I needed to normalize my body temperature. Consuming all the spring rolls, I didn’t anymore take in any rice, which has already been substituted by sweet potato in my meals. I finally surrendered to the big bowl of soup even if I wanted to sip some more. I also had to warn myself for the possible bad effects of overeating these “poor man’s oysters.”
Pleased with my simple dinner, I went to the rest room to change. Since I was familiar with the place, I knew I would have a bigger cubicle where it would be easy for me to wear and check my running garments. I had more than two hours to complete the pre-run routine.
I went back to Robinson’s activity area and spotted the runners who were claiming their bibs. I found my turn in the line. Receiving my personalized bib, I looked for a corner where I could wind up with my attire change.
Two runners followed suit and I did a little chitchat with them. Once finished equipping myself, I walked to the service van where I left my bag in the care of the driver. When I returned near the start area, I again saw Dinoji Bhadra Ananda, a fellow ultra marathoner returnee, whom I exchanged a quick greeting with right after having my bib.
Dinoji and I met in one of our training runs in San Pedro, Laguna later part of 2016. We shared the road and felt a rapport at once. Foremost reason I guess is our being both “nutty” runners and our speaking the same tongue about this unfathomable craziness. 🤪😜🤔 Second is our discovery that our Grade 12 children are batchmates in the same Benedictine school. I was starstruck! No kidding. This guy can be a Facebook influencer and celebrity with his addictive wits and humor. Then while we were in the middle of our conversation, I saw another familiar face, who added to the positive energy that I was surrounding myself with that night. He was with his own running buddies who are Dinoji’s mutual friends too.
Roby Villaflor Amil, one of my “angels” during my 2BatoQ odyssey, was obviously surprised but delighted to see me again after my final bow from ultra marathon in 2016. You see, it has never been final at all. I, the Wandering Jouster, am now picking up where I left off almost two years ago. And yes, it has to be via a Run Mania Philippines Promotions event.
Why Run Mania Philippines Promotions and not in any other sponsored ultra races? Simple. RMPP has remained true to its Alagang Run Mania tagline since the time I had my maiden ultra marathon in August 2013.
Its name is associated with dependability and commitment. It delivers what it has promised to us runners: safety and satisfaction. This I say without sugar coating.
Therefore, when I experienced running without a support vehicle in 2016, I was confident I could do it again this year and perhaps in the coming years. I know I will always be in good hands if it’s Run Mania (Sound that trumpet please…🎺🎶🎵).
Three hundred eighteen runners, ready and defiant to the darkness and distance, began the challenge in the cold night at 11:00 pm of March 3 after a short program. The runners’ loud exuberant yells as we were all released elicited a wide grin from me. “Go for it, Mau,” I silently but firmly commanded myself. I could feel the eagerness of my feet upon their reunion with Tagaytay pavement. Almost akin to my first ultra, I did a repeat of continuous running for roughly 30 minutes. Whilst my energy was at its peak, I had to make hay while the sun shines.
With a mau-friendly route due to a lot of downhills, I could feel from my first stride that all the training runs which I did for almost a month would be fully utilized. I trained well, cleaned up my diet and reread literature about ultra running as if I were a neophyte. I had to do them seriously. I promised my husband that I would be out of harm after giving me his permission in January. So, while my run was in progress, I visualized the route map and elevation with the food and hydration locations (ice cream at km 45, still a Run Mania trademark!) and erased any doubt that I would survive this ultra marathon comeback.
At 11.5k, runners were treated to a banana fest. The first food provision, I partook of it plus a refill of my hydration bottle. Since the time I had stopped depending on energy gels, I would appreciate whatever energy food was given in a race. In my hydration belt though were two mini bars of Snickers which I brought with me. I also bought Kitkat bites but I already ate them a few minutes before the race began. My taking chocolates instead of the expensive energy gels convinced me that taking GU, High5 or Stinger every race time to boost one’s power was just a marketing strategy designed for runners/athletes. For me, as long as I have water to take, I will endure.
And endure I did.
Monitoring my pace and the distance covered in my Strava running mobile app, I was in high spirits. It was the first time that I ran 8km/hour for three consecutive hours. Yippie! I quietly prayed to make me maintain it. I ran steadily and made sure that I wouldn’t be meeting any mishap. Kudos to my legs, they had not shown any sign of tiredness yet at km 26! Perhaps the two hard boiled eggs I ate at km 18.5 were responsible for the sustained strength. It was in this station where I had rock salt from a generous unknown support crew. In my hectic sked from Saturday morning to late afternoon, I failed to buy myself salt sticks which ran out at Cycling Hub in front of Molito. So, encountering someone with what I needed was heaven to me!
From km 35 my pace started slowing down. I could already feel fatigue creeping on my lower limb. A question popped out above my head: Where would I be getting any muscle pain ointment if it worsens? Yes, dear readers, due to my prioritizing a mother’s duty that Saturday, it was not only salt sticks which I failed to bring with me. Watson’s had no Perskindol and there was no Mercury Drugstore nearest to Robinson’s Tagaytay where this could be purchased. Well, ultra running is a melting pot of diversity, but one can always be a brother to one who is in need. Overhearing my query to someone who was standing near an ambulance whether he had an ointment, a fellow runner behind me offered a spray muscle relaxant, which I deduced he’d been carrying from the start area. I accepted it at once and lavishly thanked him. It worked its magic on me!
Afterwards, I checked my phone again and saw that the battery was nearly drained. I turned it off to save some battery for updating my family at the end of the race. Calculating my time, I was still faster compared to my previous ultra marathons. In fact if I am not mistaken, T2M had me achieving a PB (Personal Best) at km 42.
I felt jovial. Happiness is the most beautiful emotion which served as my unrivaled energy booster at T2M. It is free and unlimited for me to take and give away to fellow runners.
It was the very same intangible armour which kept me company and served as my first witness when I crossed the finish line with a PR at 8 hours, 12 mins and 51 secs, placing me at rank 209th overall, and rank 29th out of 43 female runners.
Negative musings? X!
T2M 2018 did bring out a better wanderer and warrior in me.