|Near the finish line at Lucban, Quezon|
When I first read about this race via facebook, I immediately texted Alvin to say, “We got to do this!” The reasons being: 1) It was held on my birthday and it should be an awesome and unforgettable birthday run, 2) It was a route neither of us had done yet – from Sta. Cruz, Laguna to Lucban, Quezon. I didn’t even know how to get to Sta. Cruz, much less to Lucban with a car, and 3) It had a very generous cut-off time of 12 hours, which was achievable for us.
So we paid the P1,400 registration fee (which was cheap for a race this distance) and saw that we were part of more than 500 runners registered for this race. The only requirement for joining the Laguna to Quezon (L2Q) Race was that you should be a 21km race finisher.
Our training for this race was to do 5 consecutive 10km runs the week before said race. It was supposed to be 3 consecutive 20km runs but I got sick after doing RU2 32km and Alvin didn’t want me to get sick again so close to this event.
We also booked a family room in Asia Blooms hotel, which was just 5 minutes from the starting line and left Manila on Saturday afternoon to get to Sta. Cruz before night fall. But we didn’t factor in the heavy traffic that day and by the time we got to our hotel, it was already past 8pm.
We woke up at 3:00AM and left the hotel at 4:10AM with the gun start time at 4:30AM! And we still haven’t claimed our race bibs for this race. Well, it was safe to say that we were late again for the gun start and were left behind by 98% of the runners. But that’s okay as we have a long way to go and could catch up with some runners.
My strategy for this race was to cover as much distance as possible while the sun wasn’t out yet. I always have a hard time when it gets too hot and had difficulty in running continuously. So much for this strategy as we walked the first kilometer of this race! Haha! There were a lot of support vehicles on the road and they caused traffic at 4:30 in the morning!
Our support crew is a team of one, the same person who supported us for BDM so she is quite used to it already... thanks Lani! Aside from relying on our support crew, I have two GU Gels in my running belt and Php 100 in cash for emergency and Alvin had a bottle of water with him.
The first pit stop for the support car was at 5km and as we neared it, I saw my car parked on the right side of the road. As I got closer (and getting excited to drink something cold), the car suddenly moved from the parked area and drove off! I was shocked! Where was it going? Alvin was behind me and I stood there dumbfounded and just stared at the road. In a state of panic, I told Alvin that we got left behind!
Luckily, we had our water and cash with us and we just kept on going, hoping that by the next 5km, we would see Lani again. I ate a banana and two energy bars before the race started so that helped me too.
We got our wish sooner than expected as we saw our support car heading back at 9km mark. Lani, in a state of panic herself, thought that we had passed the 5km mark without seeing the car so she drove off and looked for us and waited for us at 10km mark before she realized we weren’t there yet, and then made a U-Turn back for us.
|caught up with some runners|
At this point, the first of the countless hilly climbs had began and we didn’t know yet what to expect. Our plan for ALL the hill climbs was to walk on them and then run the downhill portions of the road. That would keep us strong and not make us tired from the effort. What we didn’t know was how long the hill stretched on the road. It was long and steep! Everyone walked here! And the road kept going up, made a left turn, then climbed up again. It was insane! Our average pace of 7:30 minutes per kilometer had gone to 10 minutes per kilometer and there was no end in sight! This was the deadly Laguna uphill road! As we reached the summit of this mountain road after 5-7 km of walking, I was glad that it would go down and we could run again.
That didn’t take too long as there was another uphill climb soon afterwards. More walking and less running!
Our route took us through Pagsanjan and through Lake Caliraya where the view was spectacular. There weren’t a lot of cars on the road and the weather was nice and cool. The race organizers also put water stations every 10 km and that was helpful to us! Best station was at 30km mark where we were served frozen ice-cream!
Lani now met us every 7km and I used that time to eat something from the car, whether its bananas, pretzels, chips or energy bar, there was something I munched on. We had cold sodas, Gatorade and water inside the car. It looked like a mini-camp! But it’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared! We gave runners chips and drinks too when they needed them.
|Uphill climb at the corner|
|view from the top|
At one point, it started to drizzle and that cooled us down but I was also antsy about it as I feared it would wet my socks and give me blisters. The rain didn’t last long and when it stopped, the sun came out and it was hot! I had to change to a shirt on the next stop at the car and Alvin told Lani to look for some ice for us. The hot weather and more uphill climbs didn’t bode well for me (yes, the uphill climbs were still there).
There were a lot of local people on the streets, probably shocked at the craziness of what we were doing. There were a lot of happy kids too and they looked forward to slapping our hands and cheering us on!
|Original BDM Crew! Thanks Lani and Alvin!|
|Alvin waiting for me!|
|My food and drink of choice!|
We slowly breached the halfway mark, then the 32km mark and surprisingly, I felt strong again. We met Lani every 5km at this point as the heat was getting to us. Luckily, there were a lot of trees that gave us the much needed shade from the sun.
At the flat or downhill portions, we would go off running again. At the last 8km based on my Garmin, I thought, “I could do this.” Then, we saw a sign to Lucban, Quezon and it had the words 11 km written underneath it!
“What’s going on?”, I thought to myself. It felt like all the energy I had was just zapped out of my body.
“I had to do 3km more to the 8km?! Ugh!!!!”
But there was nothing else to do but keep on going.
|Where's the finish line?|
As we got closer and closer, Alvin said he would run ahead and look for the finish line and come back for me. At this point, my Garmin had read 51km and there was no finish line in sight. Alvin had also switched to slippers early on due to some pain on his foot. But amazingly, he was able to run in them and at a rate faster than me!
|Happy it's going to end soon!|
A lot of runners walked now but I wanted it to end quickly so I could rest and sit down so I ran instead. There were some runners heading back to us and wearing the finisher shirts. “Where’s the finish line?”, I asked two of them. “You are near. It’s just where those small flags are” and he pointed to the horizon.
“But that was still far!” At least I could see the flags and that pushed me to close the gap further.
Then I crossed the bridge and the road went up again. “Seriously? Another uphill climb? This was insane!”
I saw a lot of cars now, and Alvin headed back for me and I knew I was close. So I went off again and was so glad to see that I was going to finish this race. There was no actual finish line but somebody handed me the trophy while another person put a medal around my neck and I knew that I had finished the race.
|Give me my goodies!|
|birthday gift to myself|
My Garmin Time was at 8:38:08 with a pace of 9:46 minutes/ km and a total distance of 53 km. My trophy was ranked no 352 out of a possible 500 runners. Not bad at all!
|couldn't have done any of it without these two AWESOME PEOPLE!!!|
Kudos to Runmania (race organizers) for pulling off a very successful Ultra Marathon - for P1,400, we each received a finisher certificate, finisher medal, trophy and lunch. There were also marshals at crucial turning points, a roving Ambulance, a roving marshal on motor bike, cold water, cold Gatorade, hard boiled eggs, GU gels and ice cream at various aid stations! This has got to be the best Ultra Marathon for me to date!
Challenge accepted and Conquered!!