Wet and slippery but not wild.
This is how my third Mayon 360 began early morning of May 5, Saturday.
Incognizant of the intermittent drizzles at 4:00 am, the combined number of almost 400 ultramarathon/marathon enthusiasts boldly faced this additional challenge in this eighth edition. For me who’s a self-confessed pluviophile, the weather was favorable! Even if it would have turned into a heavy rainfall and deluged me, I would openly welcome it. Yeah, I could count in my fingers the times I was a drenched cat in a run. Who would ever forget my first 16-k run in Legazpi City where the rain beat on me from start to finish and handed me my first taste of crossing the finish line last? Well, with the forgettable events that went with Run For Your Heart on February 12, 2012, it was still epic! I would still hum Aegis’s Basang-Basa Sa Ulan (Soaking Wet in the Rain). Hahahahahaha…
Yes, the rain has that idiosyncratic effect on me. It was also the morning light shower which washed away my worry about my blood pressure shooting up again though all my senses were on red alert for any unwanted symptoms. For every stride I executed, my built-in sphygmomanometer worked and finally cleared me of any pending stroke or heart attack.
The first 5kms were treated as an easy run for me. It’s “easy” in the sense that I let my body run at the pace it wanted to run. Even without using my watch and turning on my Strava apps, I knew that my pace was so relaxed and slow. It was far from my T2M start. Or may be at the back of my mind, I was still thinking of Dr. Apolinar-Parlade’s words of caution about my state or my husband’s repeated reminder “Huwag pilitin pag hindi na kaya.” (Don’t force yourself if you can no longer do it.)
Sweating profusely caused by the change in the erratic temperature, I removed my cap. The absence of my soaked head gear resulted to a lighter feeling. My strides became a little quick.
Reaching Cabangan, Camalig at km10 now, I was hoping for food provisions. Nada. That station was another designated area for water. I then continued after getting my second bottle. Taking in my first salt stick at km10, I could feel that my body relaxed and gained a faster pace after a while. This spiraled to another level of speed when my need for energy foods was addressed and satisfied from km15 onwards. And presto! I smiled more often. Ha-ha.
Unexpectedly, a bonus energy food was on standby for me in the first barangay in Ligao City. This was the rice puto macapuno.
One of my favorite native Albay delicacies, I crossed the street and bought one freshly baked puto (rice cake). I was singing inside while eating it! If I were not running, I could have purchased more. They would go perfectly with a freezingly cold soda drink to complete my merienda. Burp!🤤
I suppose the rice puto macapuno contained a secret element which amplified my power required to shed off two hours from the eight-hour cut-off time to reach km40.🤔 Moreover, it could be partly responsible for converting my wandering and jousting prior to entering Barangay Buang, Ligao City to be one for the books.
A fraction of this trek was deriving immense joy in seeing a beautiful remembrance of my childhood. I thought it was already extinct.
Lubi-lubi (scientific name: ficus pseudopalma) is a plant that looks like a palm but actually belongs to the ficus or fig family. The dissimilarity is that it has no branches. What it has are saw-like long leaves. Its young leaves can be cooked in coconut milk with either meat or fish (tinapa or smoked fish is the best!).
And after learning a big lesson from my 2015 Mayon 360, I had already carried my mobile phone which led to indulging myself in sightseeing and taking raw snapshots.
It was a well-chosen mental and visual detour which primed me well for the upcoming rain showers at km50 and changed my mind about my decision in not eating my lunch.
It was here in Tabaco City where I tarried for almost 30 minutes even if I didn’t consume everything in my plate. Why? I had to wait for my change to the 500-peso bill. Now, I sincerely forgave the waitress for making me delay my finish time because of a doused but cleansed cat’s well-captured mug. Bwahahahaha…
Checking my watch while another downpour came, I had to do some catching up with these fellow running maniacs whom I have exchanged small talks and morale-boosting words. They too served as my yardstick for my pace amidst the unpredictable Bicol weather that day. 😆
I progressed toward the finish line. Running after eating was part of my preparation for this ultramarathon. But then, I had to first go through the loooooooong uphill in Sto. Domingo. I was wondering why I had no recall whether I went ape or fussed about this elevation at M360 2014 and M360 2015. This year, I asked three spectators at the side of the road if my clambering up was near to end. Their response was all in the negative! Did it elicit a thuggish reaction from me who was already having heavy and aching legs? Absolutely N-O-T. A staunch believer of the expression “Every cloud has a silver lining“, I was certain I’d be reaping these entitlements.
With all candor, km60 to km70 was the apex of this running crusade. Every training I did at Daang Reyna and Victoria Homes for almost three months was fully utilized. I was very grateful! Truthfully, if the extreme heat pummeled us while going through this high slope, it would be agonizing. Reducing my weariness was seeing how the organizers, JCI Legazpi and Albay LGU, have impressively fulfilled their promise of gratification, security and safety to us runners. It gave me no room for whining. Early on, I already grabbed the opportunity of personally expressing my thanks and congratulations to these people behind Mayon360 2018. Their supply of foods and water escalated in kind and quantity which made me quip “Wow! Showcase pangkabuhayan.” (“Wow! Livelihood showcase.”) at km75 and forgot that I still had 9 kms to hurdle. (Per ultramarathon practice [or some may call it sadism] 🤪😂 4kms was added to the published 80-k distance.)
Unlimited hard-boiled eggs, chocolates, bananas, cookies, and candies were offered to us. Topping this was the hot goto (rice porridge), fishball and kikiam (fried meatloaf sandwich). Perhaps if I seriously requested for a short entertainment (say a macho dancer?) they would surely grant it! Harharhar…
Dear organizers, you deserve a shout-out from me! For the WJ, Mayon360 2018 was your profound redemption.
With all the positive vibes along my way, I was assured of another victory which was witnessed by my niece and her two children more than a kilometer before crossing the finish line.
They were my only audience this time. You know, mobile network service in Legazpi City sucks! My other sibling and his family failed to receive my sms, informing them about my participation. This failure led to confusion and anxiety among my relatives. Anyway, Johanna, NJ, and JD’s presence added to my unrestrained jubilation for my Top 2 PB in 14 hours, 31 minutes and 8 seconds. I ranked 183th out of 223 solo runners and ranked 19th out of 31 running knightesses.
The most surprising gift in my latest running odyssey though was finding a gem of immeasurable worth during and after Mayon360 2018. A co-BUHS (Bicol University High School) alumni, she was my instant upper and para-personal lensman with the many photos she took of me. Without her and Axl John Mirabueno’s freezing my defining moments, I wouldn’t have these active photos. In addition, her wittiness made it easy for me to come up with the catchy title for my two articles.
Elaine Mirabueno-Botabara, a seasoned ultramarathoner, was on a wife-cum-mother duty for this year, but her support, kindness and generosity were extended to most of the runners. Indeed, kindred sisters like her make this crazy journey more dramatic and addicting. Mabalos tabi saimo!
More than lucky. More than blessed. That’s me. I can go on and on with my running concierto, but I don’t want to bore you now. What I need to answer is the big question whether I would have my fourth monumental finish come 2019?
Elaine Mirabueno-Botabara https://www.facebook.com/elaine.m.botabara