We arrived at the starting point, Mariveles, Bataan with a few minutes to spare. Dawn was breaking and the cold sea wind and stirring bustle of the town roused us from our stupor as we got down from the van. We had time to get our names down on the list, take a few pictures, and before we knew it, we were off.
I was going to run slowly, even slower than my usual easy pace and walk the hills. I initially started running with Jun but further down the road he and Vener sped up and eventually other runners began passing me too. A few kilometers later, I could see only one person ahead of me and another person behind me as we negotiated the undulating roads. In order to keep myself from speeding up, I took in the beauty of my surroundings while evaluating my strategy as I walked. I realized even if I slowed to a pace of 10 min/km I would still make it to the cut-off time of 18 hours even I stopped to rest for 3 minutes and 20 seconds 24 times along the way.
At the 7th kilometer marker, I arrived at the pit stop and saw my van was one of the few vehicles left at the site. I replaced my empty Nathan bottles with new ones filled with cold sports drink and water and I brought along a whole wheat pandesal with luncheon meat to munch on along the way. Past the hills, the roads were wider with little tree cover from the sun, but the air was still cool and it was quite comfortable to run specially when the rest of the way to the next pit stop was downhill.
At the 10th kilometer marker, I told my brother to just move on to the 15th km as I still had bottles filled with sports drink. I was also worried that Vener and Jun might get there and find the van nowhere in sight. However, during the next 5 kilometers, I began calculating their possible location based on the time and different pace times and I reasoned that they couldn’t be farther than 3 km from me. With the help of a race marshall, I made the turn into the first critical intersection at the 14th kilometer.
By the 15th kilometer marker, I confirmed my computations while I replaced my bottles, ate a banana, and slathered on sunblock. They were probably a little more than a kilometer ahead. The sun was climbing higher and I didn’t want to put on sunblock earlier for fear that it would mix with my sweat and get into my eyes. However, a burning sensation on my right ear would warn me of the need for further protection.
At the 20th kilometer, I had a few bites of a Jollibee Double Cheeseburger. I did not have the appetite to finish it and continued my run.
When we made another turn at the 23rd marker, my Garmin indicated a distance of 25.71 km. I began to worry since there was no sign of my support van. It was possible that they might have missed the turn and had gotten lost or worse, gotten arrested for parking in a no parking zone.
The route passed through the main road of a small town. There were more jeepneys and tricycles and the pollution and rising temperature were combining to make it a uncomfortable experience. I had run out fluids and the only reminder of my last meal was the taste of the burger each time I burped. I had been constantly eating and drinking along the way to battle dehydration and loss of energy, but unless I met up with my support crew I would need to walk soon. At one gas station, I made a quick stop to wash my face and neck with water from an outside tap.
I finally saw them after 29km. I could hear them say something about taking a service road, but my mind could not process it as I was intent on getting a cold drink and food. Jun was already with them having completed his run. I instructed them to just use the odometer and meet me every 5 kilometers instead of using the markers.
The last few kilometers saw my heart rate creep above 130, but beyond the 30th kilometer, I could run albeit conservatively and keep my HR within 145 to the finish. However, the heat made it next to impossible to maintain a steady pace and HR as it would climb 5 bpm every 30 minutes unless I slowed down. I decided to maintain my pace and let it climb reasoning that during the BDM I would be running this route at night which would keep my HR at my targeted zone.
The last few kilometers I wondered where the finish line was. I was looking for a church or a municipal hall but when I saw kilometer 50 in what looked like a parking lot in Abucay, it was the happiest sight of my life ( or so I thought at the time). I made it. My first ultramarathon experience and it was a painful but sweet deflowering.
Distance : 50.06 km Time : 6:01:33 Pace : 7:13/km Ave. HR : 133bpm