LOVIN’ THE DARK
In a nutshell, this was my game plan for the first 50 kilometers of the 102-km BDM ultramarathon. Run strong (at 6 kph to 7 kph) from 10:15 pm (March 3) to 5:30am (March 4) while it was still dark and the sun is still not shining. Hopefully, I would reach the Km 50 marker in Abucay, Bataan in less than 7 hours & 30 minutes, thereby giving me enough buffer to trudge along the second half of the ultra race and finish well below the 18-hour cut off time.
|At the starting line, 83neans with runners from the Army and Fairview Running Club|
Why adopt this strategy? Why even contemplate adopting a game plan for the BDM 102-km ultra? I never adopted any strategy in my finish of my 6 marathons and 2 ultramarathons thus far, why start now? I guess I was inspired to adopt a strategy when I read, 3 weeks before March 3, an old Bull Runner blog article (dated April 17, 2009) about an interview of 11 dynamic individuals who were part of the 1st running of the BDM 102-km ultra in 2009. One such individual is Odessa Carol and in the article she shared “I had a game plan and I stuck with it. In the end, the plan worked .” I have seen her in action as a pacer of one of the Top 10 finishers of the 2012 BDM 160-km ultra in January 28, 2012 and I figured she had the gravitas to share tips in surviving the BDM.
Why adopt a run strong at the first half strategy? The results of my running of the 1st 50-km test run last January 14-15 and the 2nd 52-km bootleg run last February 19, plus my PR-experience at the 2012 Condura marathon tended to show that I run relatively faster (above 7 kms per hour) at night time versus day time (less than 6 kms per hour in the heat of the sun) because I was more comfortable running in the dark. This observation was also shared by Fards, Bob and Ernie.
So it was agreed upon that my fellow 83nean runners and I would follow this game plan. And Fards, volunteered to run with me for the first 50 kms to help me reach my goal of reaching Km 50 marker in less than 7 hours 30 mins. To aid us in monitoring our actual progress versus the plan, we would divide the first 50 kms into 6 portions of 7 kms each and 1 portion (the last one) of 8 km. As long as we hit an average of 7 kph for 6 of the 8 portions of the first 50 kms , we would be fine and hit the bullseye.
Will it work? Let us find out.
|With Orly Jacob|
|With First Balfour support vehicle|
At Km 0:
All 4 of us 83nean runners were brought to the starting area by the First Balfour support vehicle driven by Orly Jacob and on hand to provide assistance was our Batch 83 classmate, Ed Balcueva. As we reached the Km 0 marker in front of Jolibee at 9 pm (March 3), the park was already full of BDM runners and their supporters. It was rockin and rollin time for the ultra runners. A lot of group picture taking happened and we got to exchange pleasantries with familiar faces (the “usual suspects” we call them). Candy Balaba, the Camp Aguinaldo neighbor of Fards was there with her ultra stud husband. There were the PMA schoolmates and military buddies of Fards. The hardcore running buddies of Bob from the Fairview Running Club were there too. I got to exchange greetings with a Team Boring runner and he told me that their running club had 16 members running the 2012 edition of the BDM 102. A handful of Ultra Snail Runners greeted me as well. A couple more of Bicolano runners were entered in the race as well : Val Caro, aka GreeNeyes of Daraga, Albay and Cesar Abarientos of Ateneo de Naga HS Batch 1979.
At 10pm, the opening program started with the Race Director (Bald Runner) speaking on a megaphone. He gave last minute reminders to us, his “warriors”, and then handed over the megapahone to Frontrunner’s Jonel Mendoza for the prayer. Then, the singing of 3 national anthems: USA, Japan and the Philippines.
At 10:15 pm sharp, the starting gun was fired by the Bald Runner and off went the other runners of the 2012 BDM 102. After ingesting my High5 Isogel, I put my left foot forward and off I went as well.
Km 1 to Km 2:
Fards asked me if I was going to do Galloway and I replied that I planned to do 4:1. But one thing about starts is the adrenaline pumping and I felt myself running at a brisk yet easy pace, so I decided to go for 8:2. I felt I needed to run a bit faster in the flat first 2 kms because the uphill was coming up at Km3 and I expected to be walking a lot on the hill. Fards and I finished the first 2 kms in less than 13 minutes.
Km 3 to Km 7:
This 4-km stretch is uphill akin to the zigzag roads of the Quezon National Park between Pagbilao and Atimonan, Quezon province. And in the uphill, we decided to walk more than run. But even while walking, we were doing it at power walk pace so that when we reached the Km 7 marker where our support vehicle was waiting for us, I looked at my watch and it beamed back that we tackled the first 7 kms in a minute after 1 hour. This was better than expected as I would have been happy in tackling the first 6 kms in 1 hour.
Km 8 to Km 14:
This is my favorite portion of the race as this was almost all downhill and we made a lot of hay as we finished the second 7- km portion of the race in less than 52 minutes. I ditched the 4:1 here and utilized a walk break of 1 minute after each kilometre marker. One thing I noticed, when it is downhill, Fards let me take the lead but when it was uphill, he was the one leading. Teamwork is fine.
Km 15 to Km 21:
The 3rd 7-km portion of the race was not as fast as the second one as it took more than an hour for us to finish although I noticed that we were not declining in speed. I think it was more attributable to my perception that the kilometre markers from Km 18 to Km 20 are spaced much longer than a regular kilometre of 1,000 meters. This was expected and I did not worry . I was glad to leave already Mariveles and.....
Km 22 to Km 27:
.......enter the petroleum refinery hub of Limay. This is the land of bright lights to the right of the road (the petroleum refinery is lit like a bright lantern in the night) and the twinkling (patay-sindi) lights of the videoke gardens to the left of the road. The danger here are the GROs who like, mermaids and sirens of old, tried to tempt passerbys and runners alike to stay for a beer or two. In the face of such temptation, I started my praying of the rosary with the Joyful mysteries. A day before the BDM ultra, I read in the blog of Patrick Concepcion (http://runningshield.blogspot.com/) that he prayed the rosary in all the marathons he joined. This gave me an idea and I planned to pray the Joyful mysteries on the first part of the ultra and the Glorious mysteries on the second half, preferably at the demanding Dinalupihan to Lubao highway stretch. In the 4th 7-km portion, we were able to recover our 7 kilometer per hour pace.
Km 28 to Km 35:
From Limay, we entered the town of Orion, the birthplace of Don Cayetano Arellano, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court . Here the menace are the askals, not the football kind but the barking and biting kind. Despite the clear instructions of the Race Director to run at the left shoulder of the road, we found ourselves running more in the middle of the town road to avoid any ambush from the dogs. It was at this portion that I signalled for our support vehicle to provide us a hot meal which was in the form of cup noodles. This early morning snack slowed us a little bit and we got to finish the 5th 7-km portion in more than an hour.
Km 36 to Km 42:
This portion is the start of the flat roads and here Fards dictated the pace as he was more disciplined and consistent. The Km 42 marker is in the town of Pilar which has historical markers like the Flaming Sword and the Dambana ng Kagitingan. We reached the full marathon distance in a time of 6 hours 14 minutes, indicating to us that our average speed from the start was at 6.7 kph , almost 7 kph but we still needed to push more.
Km 43 to Km 50:
After Pilar, we entered Balanga City, the capital of the province of Bataan. We picked up our pace here a little bit and we entered the town of Abucay feeling good as we could see that we will hit our target. Fards and I eventually crossed Km 50 with a time of 7 hours & 24 mins. We were smiling as we approached our First Balfour support vehicle. Fards transferred his stuff to his Mitsubishi Adventure where his wife and son were waiting. From Km 50 onwards, his car will be his support vehicle. He will now be running at his own faster pace than mine and chances are he will be able to catch up with Ernie who left the Km 50 marker with Bob roughly an hour ago.
I will now be running without my fellow 83nean runners from Km 50 to Km 102. How would I fare? Was making a lot of hay while the sun was away the right thing to do for a runner in BDM 102 ultra?