On March 31, 2011, the most well-attended local trail run - Salomon X-Trail Run happened at the Tagaytay Highlands. My buddy Jhun Oro and I arrived at around 4:30 AM. The fog obscured the driveway while the cold breeze set the mood of excitement. It was generally a favourable weather for a run though.
After gearing up, we filled our hydration bottles with cold water and Gatorade at the hydration booth. Paolo Abrera, the host, strongly pointed out that there would be no plastic cups to be provided in the hydration booths, so it was indeed necessary to be equipped with hydration bottles and be well-hydrated.
At exactly 5:30 AM, the 24KM category was set off. The first kilometer was a downhill road. Some runners have rapidly overtaken others while some were taking it easy just like the two of us. I want to reserve my energy till the end, I thought. And so the trail began. It has a narrow entrance; hence the runners fell in line first so we could go through one by one. The course was mostly muddy and slippery, good thing I used my old rubber shoes for this. Not to mention cow’s poop were also present that some might have taken them as mud. The route has a lot of uphill and downhill slopes. And I can say on behalf of all runners, that it was a hell of a trail!
Though the trail was tough itself, the organizers made sure of the safety of all runners. Yellow caution and arrow signs; and marshals to guide us were all in the trail.
I have also yet to mention that since the venue was in Tagaytay, the scenery was of course spectacular! We passed through eggplant and corn fields. The top view of the city was also breathtaking. Kids in the community greeted us “Good Morning!” and gave us high five. We felt like we were athletes competing in Olympics.
The track after the 3rd hydration booth, perhaps 11km or 12km, was the start of hiking. We had to hike a very steep mountain which I thought was inclined by 80-90 degrees. Here, we climbed up to the peak using ropes that the team has provided, held onto big rocks and even clung on the roots of the trees to be able to get up there. It was like sunshine after the rain as when we reached the peak; the beautiful scenery somehow replenished our energies. I saw some runners who sat or even lied down for a while to take a rest and just enjoy the view. But that just prepared us for another challenging trail as after resting and picture-taking, we were now about to climb down.
The trail is not yet finished as we still had 10km more before we could reach the finish line. Pressure was also on the way as we only had 1 hour remaining before the cut-off time. But our legs and calves were already numbed and it was impossible to run such distance in 1 hour. So we needed a strategy. Jhun and I decided to run and walk in a slow pace until we finished the race. Even the last 3 kms was harder than what we thought as we needed to run an uphill steep. The last hydration booth was like a pot of gold in our eyes and we hurriedly refilled our bottles and splashed cold water onto our faces.
The last kilometer was a downhill road. “Sprint na natin to” I told Jhun in jest but he agreed “cge takbuhin na natin downhill na naman madali na yan”. Hey! I was just kidding! But I had to agree and so we ran the last 1km until we reached the finish line. Unfortunately, we did not make it to the cut-off. Our official time was 4:48:25. When we reached the finish line, the organizers were already removing some of the equipments because actually the event has already ended.
I admit I almost cried when I reached the finish line. The feeling of success, relieved, frustration and regret was all there. We said to ourselves that we should have just joined the 12km and not the 24km mountain run. But the feeling of completing that tough trail was just like running a full marathon. All in all, I was still happy as I survived the 24km mountain run! I can now say that I’m just no ordinary runner – but also a trail runner.
Tomorrow will be the Salomon X-trail Run in Tagaytay Highlands. I will be running 24km mountain run with the cut-off time of 4 hours. I feel so excited but nervous at the same time. This is my first ever trail run and it is in Tagaytay Highlands with a picturesque view, though I also feel nervous because I don’t know if I will be able to finish it within their cut-off. I am also worried as I don’t have the right running shoes for the trail and if the training I had would be enough for the activity. I also have my fingers crossed that the weather will be good to all of us runners. Enough for the negativities! One thing for sure, I will enjoy this run.
Pinoy Fitness Tech Shirt
Nike Running Shorts
Salomon Trail Cap
Nathan Speed 2 Hydration Belt
Timex Tap Screen Watch
Bandana (from Landmark)
I am Mark Lloyd Gallardo, 29, IT professional. So why Markee Runner? Nothing special on that actually, my friends call me Marky or Markee, so I better name myself Markee Runner.
I started my first run by joining the Century Tuna Superbods Run last January 2010. I ran for a 5km race without any training then in which I have finished in 35mins. After that, I felt that it was fun and have enjoyed it. Then the story began. The enthusiasm started to grow in me. I run almost every day and make it to a point that it is part of my routine. I run in Ayala Triangle, Nuvali, McKinley, Luneta. Then in April 2010, I decided to join my first 10km race in Takbo para sa PGH which I finished with 1hr and 10mins.
After each race, I challenged myself to be faster. I run 5 times a week. If I can’t, I go to gym and have improved my 5km to 26mins and 10km time down to 1hr. After several 5kms and 10kms I asked myself if I’m ready for a half marathon. So I registered in the 34th Milo Marathon last July 2010 and ran my first 21km. I finished the race within the cut-off time with 2hrs and 24mins. The feeling was extraordinary when I completed my first half marathon. Since then I continued my training and participated in races with longer distances (15kms up to 21kms).
I also tried to race out of town and my first was the Camsur Marathon 2011. I did the 21km category. My initial pace was good but when I was reaching the 10km mark, I felt an aching in the side of my left knee. That’s when I knew that I have an ITBS. It is every runner’s nightmare and I had my fair share of it. It had affected all my succeeding races where I struggled to finish them and even got the worst time ever. ITBS struck me after reaching 10km mark. In my Cebu marathon last January 2012, it was my right knee that almost stopped me in reaching the finish line.
That gave me the hint to seek medical opinion. I was expecting for the worse but the news was even worst. I needed to slow down and rest for a while, meaning not to run for a period of time.
This has changed my training plan and affected me as a whole. Instead of 5 times, I reduced running to 3 times a week. But on the lighter side, this situation has led me to discover my passion to other sports such as swimming, table tennis, lawn tennis and wakeboarding. I turned to these activities whenever I couldn’t run.
As of now, ITBS already healed. I ran 42km in Camsur marathon but my knees didn’t hurt at all. My training plan was now back to normal and I feel that I am fully charged to join in more marathons, hopefully ultramarathon and if possible triathlon. I am saving for that so I can buy my dream bike and have a proper pool trainings. Moral lesson is - do not stop dreaming. Don’t stop believing as what Journey said because it is true. If I stopped right after ITBS injury, then I won’t be writing this article and you won’t be reading it now. I wouldn’t be able to join more races and wouldn’t be able to feel the same rush I feel when running. We just need to listen to what our body says and always be safe. There’s no need to rush in pursuing our dreams as everything will fall into place in the right time.
I have joined a lot of races but I started to ask myself, why do I run? Do I run because of the freebies, because it’s a fad, or there’s a hot chick out there waiting for me in the finish line? Or even worse, do I run just to gain popularity amongst my friends as I have finished a 42KM run?!
Then I realized, all of them were false. All of them do not matter to me at all. I run not just for fun, physical fitness or to have a healthier life. I run because I want to be an inspiration- to inspire other people to live a good and positive life. Running has changed my way of thinking. It has changed my lifestyle. It helped me see things optimistically and build self confidence and patience in me. I may not be strong or fast as the others but when I am running I know to myself that this is me, a man who has courage and never gives up on battles. Either short distance races, marathons or for my future ultra marathons, I will never stop.