Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Trail Virgin No More!

Running the trail was never one of my goals as a runner. I enjoy the road so much, but hitting the trail never interested me. 

April 15, 2016 – our Kroo Crew friends planned a get together at Barcino, Burgos Circle and after some drinks, Jeff asked me if I was interested in joining The North Face 100 – 22k Trail Race at Camp John Hay, Baguio on May 1st. I didn’t take him seriously so he said, go research about trail running and let me know if it interests you so we could join the upcoming race.

April 18, 2016 This was Jeff’s message:

The next thing I knew, I met up with him April 28 for some “pre-race briefing” – since we were trail newbies, we were not equipped to run the trail. He prepared some of his trail equipment and lent us his hydration backpacks and other stuff.
Chix and Jeff in Greenhills, April 28 (Thursday)
I guess this is it!

When we arrived Baguio April 30 (Saturday), the weather was cool and breezy, we had yummy lunch at Canto.

Lunch at Canto
Rish, Marky, Chix, Jeff, Mike
Photo Courtesy of Risha Lai
We visited the basecamp to have a feel of the starting line,

but it started to rain hard late in the afternoon until late in the evening. THAT MADE ME MORE NERVOUS! I couldn’t enjoy our “carbo loading” sesh as I was so scared, pretty much the same feeling I had when I ran my first marathon.

Mike and Jeff took a quick stretch / power nap at Marky's condo before our last carbo load sesh at Baguio Country Club.

May 1, 2016

When we got to the base camp at 4:15 in the morning, they announced that gun start for the 22k trail race will be moved to 5:15am, to allow a little bit of sunrise to make the course safer for the runners.
Marky, Rish, Chix, Jeff, Mike
Photo courtesy of Risha Lai

Photo courtesy of Jeff Lo (PinoyFitness)
After gun start, I was excited because we started running a bit on the road, but when my foot landed on the trail, I just realized… “WHY DID I EVEN SIGN UP FOR THIS?” In my head I was thinking, I don’t like this at all. I had no choice but to keep on moving because if I stop I will cause traffic. It’s so different from joining a race on the road, when you could just go to the side of the road and stop.  

In here, it was a VERY narrow trail, bottle necks here and there.  As I looked at my Garmin, at 0.75km (yes, not even 1km), I WAS TIRED.  I couldn’t breathe normally. I said to myself. “ This will  be my first DNF (Did Not Finish) race.” Roots, rocks, mud are not my thing!  I looked ahead of me, Mike and Jeff were just ahead, enjoying the trail, and there I was watching every root, every rock I step on and my feet and knees are so tense!  They’re killing me. So I just went with the flow, until it was almost an hour and we were just at 4.9km. I realized we will definitely not make it to the 5 hour cutoff because this damn trail is eating too much of our time! I didn’t like it at all.

When we reached the 11k U-TURN mark, that’s when things changed! We saw our friend, Rish, who were ahead of us. She was seated while taking a pizza break on the hydration station near the U-turn sign and we ate too as she waited for us. 
Jeff and his banana bread. Chix and her pizza.
11km break
Photo courtesy of Risha Lai
After that almost 10 minute break, I ran with Rish and observed her and tried to “imitate” how she ran the trail.  Wow!  Then I realized, I was doing it wrong!  She looked like she was just hopping and enjoying every step.  
Chix and Rish

When I tried how she did it, that’s when I learned to love the trail. I was doing it wrong the first 11k.  I was controlling myself too much, not letting myself loose, and not being one with the trail.  

At a lot of points too during the race, our fellow runners cheered us and we felt we were one, and we all had our own chants.

The last 11k of the trail race didn’t come easy, especially with the three tough climbs we had. 

Photo courtesy of Jeff Lo (Pinoyfitness)

At the 17th to the 18th km, I specifically remembered the steep climbs we went through.  At several points going down to the last U-turn to the 18.7 km marker, there were a lot of runners taking a break beside the trees / sitting on the rocks.  I had to literally bend and use my hands so I won’t roll down, that’s how steep it was. Upon reaching the marker, our bib numbers were registered by the marshal. The climb back up was the toughest ever! One runner would count for us so we could all breathe in and breathe out simultaneously. I would hear fellow runners say, “Nagbayad tayo para pahirapan sarili natin.”or “OK na Labor day talaga ito, May 1, pang laborer talaga ang ginagawa nating pagakyat.”  I never climbed that steep!!!  I thought ,my uphill road runs were steep, but this was totally different.  While climbing up (yes, not running, not walking, CLIMBING), I started to question my capability as a runner.  I thought I was tough, I also thought twice about how strong my glutes, core and quads were.

But at the last stretch of the tough climb, I just had to get it from my core.  I felt thankful that I had ample core training! My legs were killing me, so when I “ENGAGED MY CORE” it just lifted me up, literally!
At the last few hundred meters of the race, there were some spectators who were cheering us, and then that’s it! The next thing I know, I already crossed the finishline of my first 22k trail race!

So will I do it again? DEFINITELY!!!

Photo courtesy of Jeff Lo (Pinoyfitness) 
Thank you to The North Face (TNF) 100 Philippines organizers. It was a good decision that we joined the TNF 100 22k as our first trail race - very friendly marshals, ample hydration, and one tough but fun course.  

Of course, many thanks to Jeff Lo (Pinoy Fitness) for this opportunity.

Thank you also to Mike, Rish and Marky.  Definitely one of the best races I joined. 
Looking forward to running our next trail race together...

Photo courtesy of Risha Lai

Catch you later!

Watch our short trail video and get some trail running tips for newbies here at Pinoyfitness.com:


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