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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

May 13, 2014

7TH T2N: My 1st Ultra with the Penguin


EmoticonBlogger’s Note: 

This article by newly-minted ultrarunner, Marl Dario, is part of the series that the Bicolano Penguin (BP)  is doing on the 7th edition of the ever-popular Tagaytay to Nasugbu  ultra marathon.  The Bald Runner refers to  the T2N as “where ultra marathon running addiction starts.” The wise general  is correct and I am guilty of being a fellow pusher to this addiction, albeit to a much lesser degree.  The BP has had a few recruits to this addiction and the latest willing convert is Marl. Actually, it was a request for help and I gladly took up the ultra adventure with him. Marl is an officer  in Energizer Philippines and it would be an honor for me to be of assistance to an officemate of my wife. By and large, the said company has been good to my wife who has been an Energizer employee longer that she has been a mother to my son. Also, Marl is a fellow TBR Dream Marathon alumni having tackled his first full marathon this  February 2014 in Nuvali. By guiding him in his maiden  ultra marathon adventure, this 2010 alumni  hopes to make proud our idol Bull Runner who encourages all to “pay forward.” Marl finished the T2N with a time of 8 hrs & 12 mins, placing 90th out of 113 finishers.  In the 2 months we have shared the journey with him, Marl has shown  positive passion for running in particular and for life in general.   No doubt, his confidence and intellect will power him to whatever long distance he desires in the future. Here is his T2N story.Emoticon   

How It All Began

A couple of months  back, I saw this invitation on Facebook  calling out for ultra runners and ultra runners wannabes  for the 7th Tagaytay to Nasugbu  Ultra Marathon. 

It took me less than 3 seconds to push the “JOIN” button. I never realized that by pressing it, I made a commitment to all  my friends  on Facebook  that I would be part of an  ultra marathon. I had the jitters. Even though I just recently finished my first full distance marathon, I had my doubts whether  I could really do this. After a couple of days, I edited my wall  and changed the post to “NOT GOING”.

Weeks passed, and I never really thought about it again, I saw Marianne De Lima in the office. I shouted from a distance, “Tell  Macky   to accompany me in an ultra marathon.  He joined the TBR long ago and I know he can help me finish it.”  I really did not mean it. I just had nothing to tell her that day.

I knew Macky from long ago. I see him  often whenever he picks up Marianne in the office. I, however, did not realize that he had a secret identity.

The following day, March 28, 2014 at 11:08 AM an  email arrived. Macky said he would love to accompany me finish my first ultra and that he had helped  a lot of his friends  do the same. I  was sent a link together with his email, only to find out that he is the Bicolano Penguin - a  famous running blogger.

Several email exchanges were made until I had the chance  to talk to him in person. Knowing that he was about to run in the Mayon 360, an 80-km ultra marathon that weekend, I invited him to a buffet breakfast. To my surprise, he said that he was watching his food intake and he wanted to maintain his fighting weight. Wow, all I knew was that a few days before a race, I ate as if I owned  a bakery.

His stories were incredible. You can see his passion in running. He told the story of how he evolved as a simple  runner up to his several marathons and ultra runs. After the chat, I paid my entrance fee in Bald Runner’s 7th  Tagaytay  to Nasugbu  50k  run.  Did he inspire me?  I guess so. The clincher was  when I found out that he was older than I.

The Training

I was never  really idle prior to this. I continued to run, swim, and bike after my marathon in  February.  I am a TBR alumni. Naks. I merely  continued my LSDs and maintenance runs and did my longest LSD of up to 40km during one weekend for my ultra training. I stopped riding my bike and swimming sessions to get enough run mileage. I also monitored  my  friends who were to run the same event,  particularly my TBR friends/QC Mamaw group. I started hearing  heat training,  split LSDs,  and releasing the ITB. All of it seemed complicated. All I wanted to do was  to last 50 km on May 11. Did I also do all those things? Of course I did. They all wanted to finish the 50km race,  so I thought they  must be doing the right things. I had to follow their plan. I also did a run with the Bicolano Penguin at Camp Aguinaldo and meet his high school  friends, all ultra marathoners. I felt comfortable running with him since he adjusted to my pace. Secretly, I said, I think I could outrun him in the  upcoming  50-km run. This is contrary to what I later learned during the last  kilometers of  my first ultra marathon.

Another highlight  of my preparation was when I went to  a Physical Therapist. After hearing that Chek, my friend  in TBR was having a session in Mega Mall, I PMed  him and asked about it.  I ended up in Peak Form in BGC having my ITB released. And you know what? It was hell. It was painful. It was summer and it  felt  like my entrance into manhood. It was  circumcision day for me all over again. I told Bicolano Penguin or BP, that the  therapist  was a sadist disguised as a PT. I never really knew then if it helped me in my run. All  I knew was that it gave me confidence since my friend  also experienced the same.

Pre-Race Preparation

BP and I continued exchanging notes, or it was more of him giving me pointers. He lent me 2 books to read since he said I should really get motivated. I finished  the Ultra Marathon Man, Confessions of an all Night Runner by Dean Karnazes   fast, but the second book,  Eat and Run by Scott Jurek, is a struggle to finish.  Maybe when I do a 100-km ultra marathon I will be done with it. We also agreed with the  supplies that we are to bring from the  chocolates, Chippy, almonds, bananas and many more. My friends in the office were saying that we were headed for a  picnic in Tagaytay and not a run. They  could not understand why I had  Mountain Dew  or why I had to buy chocolate bars.  Maybe the watermelon was more confusing for them.
              
Race Proper

After picking up Bicolano Penguin  in his house, we arrived at Tagaytay Picnic Grove at 1:40 am Sunday. I was not able to sleep prior to that. I was trying to get some sleep in the vehicle, but was secretly eyeing BP if he had some pre-race ritual that he had not taught me. I don’t know if he was taking  a quick nap or he was meditating to the  gods to  help me finish the race. There were a couple of runners upon our arrival  who were already waiting. After a few minutes, more support vehicles arrived in front  of the Picnic Grove. Runners intimidated me as they started doing sprints,  gymnastic stretches, and breathing heavily as if they were going  to war. It was either they were getting psyched up or trying to psyche me down. I  stood up, put my hands on my waist and did my share of 10  simple reps  of calf raises, plus  a five-meter jog. That was my warm up.

Marl, with the Bald Runner and Bicolano Penguin

Bald Runner, giving out last-minute reminders before the start

Marl listening to the briefing

Off we go at 4am!
Gun start was at 4:00 am. No  thrills like the usual Runrio races,  but you could feel the adrenaline. Our agreement  was to do a 4-minute run and 1-minute walk, then adjust it to a more comfortable pace later. Oh boy, was I in trouble. BP either had Alzheimer's or something, but most of  our 15-km run was running  all the way. The support  vehicle, manned by my trusty driver,  Jojo and his nephew whom I  just met,  was waiting for  us every  5 kilometers. We did this religiously  up to the 15-km mark, then we reduced the gap to 4kms. I remember calling up Jojo and giving him a scolding. He was not at  kilometer 27. I had run out of water and was tired.  When I called him up, he said, “Nandito po kami sa kilometer  28. Sabi nyo po plus 4kms. Kaya km 23 plus 4 equals 28.” I wanted to run faster towards  him and scold him in person, but I  had to back off  if I were to survive the  rest of the race  through his help.

Reflectorized vests and Energizer headlights  for safety
BP was a good pacer. He ran in front of me all throughout the race. After  following him for 8 hours I could already draw in my  mind how his butt looks like, but that is another story all together. The race was hard. I guess it was the hardest  among all the races that I have entered. It was hot. You could literally feel the heat upon reaching kilometer 35. A lot of people were watching us, probably amused why we were running under  the extreme heat. You could even feel the heat entering your rubber shoes. My mind started to control my body. All of a sudden I could feel pain in my knees, my ankles, then  the left side of my chest. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I said to myself,  this is not happening. BP is 10 meters ahead of me, and my support vehicle is nowhere to be found. I cannot fry out here in the heat. I  have to run.  We reached  42 kilometers  and BP congratulated me for breaking my previous marathon record. I recall earlier when we're at KM 25, he said  that theoretically, based on our current time multiplied by 2, we would be done in 7 hours.  Yes, it remained a  theory. BP is  a very meticulous person. He computed mentally the average speed, compared it with the plan and ensured that our target time would be met. He did not use a GPS. I was different. I just looked at my GPS watch and hoped that the information there was correct. Anyway, whatever BP’s computation was, it was the same with my watch. I just pretended to recalculate his analysis in my mind to look smart.

Support crew of another runner offering food  to Marl

Marl gamely battling thru the heat
BP (in white)  pacing Marl (in orange) while another runner (in green) rests his cramping legs
When  we reached kilometer 43, he  said that it would be the longest 7 kms. I smiled and said to myself, 7kms is easy. We will be done in an hour. Gosh, was I wrong!  It was the most difficult.  It was hot! Really hot! I started to feel pain once again. I felt like my internal organs were  getting fried. Sisig anyone?  He looked at me and I shouted, "Can we do a 2:1 pace (Run 2 minutes and walk 1 minute)?" He obliged. I realized it was still too much. I should have called out 1:5  instead. BP  was consistent. It seemed he sucked energy from the sun. Was he photosynthetic?  He seemed to get stronger and he was running faster. He signaled for  me  to run.  I felt I was,  so I looked down to see if my feet were moving that fast, but I guess they were not. I was  just walking, pretending to run. I swayed my hands  higher trying to fool him that I was running. He did not buy it. He  still  called me  and this time I pushed forward. I thought that 7kms was hard. It was even harder  during the last 3kms. All I wanted to do was walk. I kept on asking bystanders where the Petron Station was. That was the finish line. They answered back that it was still far. I needed those ... discouraging words. One step at a time, I reached the finished line after 8 hours and 12 minutes. I was so happy. Too happy that I felt dizzy and BP asked me to sit in the support vehicle to cool off. I was not able to say goodbye  to  my friends during the race because of this.

BP and…

…Marl entering  the finish line area in Petron Nasugbo

Marl at the finish line with row5runners
Did I have fun? Yes. 

Am I in pain now? Yes.  

Can I now be called an ultramarathoner? Hell, YES!


Marl back in his office the following day and proudly wearing the T2N finisher medal


P.S. 

Photos courtesy of Marl Dario, Ernie Badong and Running Photographers


   

4 comments:

  1. Congratulations Marl! You are now a certified ultramarathoner. I'm sure in your mind gusto mo pa ng isang Ultra. Nakaka addict yan. Hahaha! Cheers!

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  2. Thank you very much. Yes, I am looking forward to more Ultra runs soon. Cheers~

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  3. Hi Marl! It was fun reading your first ultra-run story. I’m somewhat like reading a play-by-play ordeal . . . . err . . . story pala ha ha ha! If I’m not mistaken (sana TAMA ako! Otherwise, sayang itong comments/message ko sa iyo aha ha ha!), in the middle of April, we already met at our famous UP Campus playground in Diliman. Me, my wife Vangie (whose wearing that time our gray TBR batch 4 finisher’s shirt) and running along with your TBR batch mate Gerly “Gelay” Santos (wearing your now famous blue TBR University training shirt) chanced upon each other at the University Avenue and we greeted each other “Hi batch mates!” with the presence of sunflowers at our sides. Your way was going inside the UP Campus and we are on our way towards Commonwealth Avenue for our long run and I shouted “pre tapos ka na?” and you replied “hindi pa!” That’s when we concluded you are preparing for a long run. Since Gelay is your batch mate (and a first timer like you), we told her in ultra-runner’s parlance, “Gelay mukhang katulad mo yung batch mate mo oh. May MAITIM na balak din aha ha ha!” And that’s it! We are right to say the words “MAITIM na balak” because you two run and finished T2N last May 11! FYI, they say that “you are not a hardcore ultra-runner if you didn’t run a BR organized run.” Well I should say “WE BELONG NOW!”

    Marl congratulations! You are now an Ultra-Marathoner (at hardcore pa)! Hope to bump with you and Maestro BP at the 2015 BDM-102 (Naku! Pressure to ah!). Yan e kung papalarin kaming ma-invite ni BR ha ha ha!

    Thanks for the acquaintance and see you on the road.

    Cheers!

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  4. Hi Efren, Yes! Yes! I remember you. That was the time I was confused on why I was doing all the hardcore training. I really hope to see you guys on the road again. Just give me a shout, because for sure I know you will always be running ahead of me ;)

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