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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An Ultramarathoner's Tale

Having run two ultramarathon does not make me a know - all but at least I can share the joy and torture of running beyond the usual 42.195 km.

My first ultramarathon of 64km in 2012 was one heck of  excruciating pain from the back, blistered feet and knee not to mention that we were soaked in pouring rain from 20th km and 50th km post.  Running with 13 men and catching up with their pace was mistake from the start.

I blamed  my ignorance and pride that an ultramarathon is just a little few distance to add on a marathon. With only 32km as my peak distance prior to the race, I thought I had enough; the pain during the run had mocked me otherwise. I finished the first ultra with 11 hours and pressing injury for a week or two.  So, I guess that made me a wiser runner not to attempt any distance without appropriate training.

My second attempt of ultramarathon was in Camiguin with my fellow Team Matutum. With only fun as motivation, I did my usual long runs but this time coupled with my triathlon trainings - swimming, biking and yoga.

Team Matutum runners from General Santos City at the port to White Island, Camiguin

We left General Santos City on a private car around 3:30am  and course through Tacurong City to head to Cagayan de Oro. We reached Balingoan Port around 12 noon and had our private car embarked on the ferry boat for another 1.5 hours of trip to Camiguin Island's Benoni Port.

Since the race would be in the evening of Saturday, we had the whole Saturday morning for the race's free tour around the island. And, indeed, Camiguin is one must - visit destination for its beautiful scenery,  varied tourist destinations from beaches to the mountains (or volcanoes), and heart - warming people.
taking a light break minutes before gun start

More than 250 runners filled the small streets around 10pm and with the rolling terrain of Camiguin, a runner without due training, would be quite taxing.

I had my game plan of running 5km straight and walk 1 minute at 8.0 - 8.5 minutes per kilometer and increasing my speed as I reached 32km. I had to be careful against blister and sprain.

However, my game plan was modified to 5 minutes run and 1 minute walk as I joined my fellow team mates who were nursing an injury before the race. To compensate for the walk, I was doing 7 mph  and the rain held us hostaged  for another 10 minutes until I decided to break away at kilometer 25.

I had to run more than I should, so, until kilometer 35, I was running more. I was conscious too of my hydration, so, I make sure I had enough fill in my hydration bag of water, bag of raisins, water with salt, salted caramel - chocolate and a small bottle of topical pain reliever. The race had their hydration every after 10km, so, our logistics car had made a great help as I did my hydration refill.

I was feeling ok and able to overtake a good number of runners until I reached kilometer 40 where I had to tag along with a fellow teammate who had drained his water already that I had to help him hydrate from my own water bag until I left him at the hydration point, kilometer 45.

The evening was so dark along Camiguin road as lamp posts were limited and the rainy clouds enveloped the moon to full darkness. I had to watch out for snakes and other creatures on the road as Camiguin is heavily forested.
enjoying post race on white island

I met a young nurse - runner from Cagayan who unfortunately was hitting the wall and stricken with urban legend fears that I had to slow down to pace with him. We shared talks and encouraged him to push through and just think of positive thoughts for the next 15km.

I managed to still help other runners too along the way with my pain killer and bag of raisins. Thinking that the young runner could manage on his own, I ran faster until I caught another team mate who were complaining of beaten feet. He lured me to more walking and less running and that dragged my time. While I was aware that I was running late, I could not afford to leave him. We decided to run the remaining 4 kilometers and I had the to still cheer for other runners who were walking and consumed  of fatigue and absence of sleep.

I had to ignore my own pain and continued the race until I saw the gate to finish line. I landed 10th place with over 9 hours of running / walking / helping. I could have done a better time should I have ignored other runners  but I would feel terrible too should I choose not helping them.

Nine hours of  race time caused me beaten feet, drained pain reliever and bag of raisins. Walking was uncomfortable but the ice bath at the finish line was a great help. I had my recovery walk and post - race carbo loading and just slept well for the next two days.

Recalling my race was both fun and regret. So, I guess,  I have to do better next race.







Rosilie

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