Half Marathoner to UltraRunner(PAU 50K)

After reading what my running buddy Mark (markhernz) sent me about the details of the 1st PAU (Philippine Association of Ultrarunners) 50k run, I told myself… “You gotta be kidding me, am I ready for this?”. Thinking that I don’t even have a marathon belt, with just 7 half marathons and one 32k run, (which if I remember it right didn’t turn out so good), I don’t have the chance of finishing it. But guess what… I registered!

Race day, woohoo! As this is a whole new mountain to conquer for me, I decided to have my own support crew… the best support group in the world.

Redrunner, me and DocVanj

Starting line would be in Shell/Flying V Stations in Tanay where a pack of veteran runners gathered in one place.

Runners at the starting area

Mark warned that the route would be very, very challenging. The first 20k would be going uphill, the next 15km downhill and last 15km would be another tough uphill climb. Don’t forget about the heat — talk about challenging! I still remember my 32k that I barely finished, given that it’s just flat and had lots of trees and houses for blocking the sun. This would be a whole new adventure run for me… oh well… let’s go!

Hydration and Garmin – check! All set to run.

Race starts early at 4:57am. We started running at a very slow pace as other support groups passed by us. See you on the next 5th KM.

Let’s go! Mark on Yellow, Me on black.

Uphill as expected. Steep!

We go higher and higher as we run. With the cooler breeze, view of the mountains from side to side and local people cheering at you, I never felt the uphill of the course (yet). I think this is the best 10k run I’ve ever had. At around 6:45-7am, the sun began to shine above us. At kilometer 14, I changed clothes to battle the heat of the sun.

Running outfit #2

I felt so great after finishing the first 20km uphill. I also managed to stick with our plan of 3-2-3(1st 20km at 3hours, 15km downhill at 2hours and last 15km uphill at 3hours) on my first 20km. It was really a great feeling!

RR accompanying me to the 20km mark.

FFS at 20km mark.

And the battle continues… The next 15k would be series of downhills and minor uphills. With the heat of the sun rising, I started to run the downhill terrain. The plan is to finish it in 2 hours with breaks after every 2kms.. I expect that running that downhill was much easier, as I thought it won’t require too much effort… but nah… it’s worse than I expected. It was steep downward so either I go with the flow and speed up but might tire my legs faster or slow down but give damage to my knees. Either way, it’s a lose lose situation. Kilometer by kilometer, I managed to pull things through. At kilometer 32, I celebrate as it’s the start of beating my longest distance ever ran (32k).

Melon break on my 32k mark. yum.

Then there I go, start of my 32k+ distance. After a gruelling downhill run, I crossed the U-turn slot after 2 hours and 10mins total of 35km. It was 10mins slower than my plan. I never expected that running downhill as steep as that would make me slower. Geesh, I need to be faster than my usual plan on my last 15km! Darn those melon breaks, sarap kasi eh. Harhar!

Outfit #3 at kilometer 35

Last 15km to go. This is where the true race begins. FFS tired and exhausted, leg muscles cramping (right calf/quads;left halmstrings) and the inexperience on long distances made this last leg the toughest and longest 15km for me. Not to mention the elevation of the course and the heat. But as Zapotec says “It’s in the borders of pain and suffering that separates the MEN from the boys”. Am I a man or a boy? Let’s see…

Then it began, my last 15km of the race. The first 3km was alright, but I had my hydration and melon breaks more often and told my support crew to meet me every kilometer instead. It was on the 38th kilometer where I hit the so called “WALL”. I don’t know what struck me but all of a sudden it darkened my thoughts realizing that I still have 12 kms more to go. At that time I told myself, I could no longer go on. “12 kms more, tired, cramping, heat, just can’t go on…” These are the words circulating my head at that moment. I knew I was tired, my legs are hurting and I tell you, REALLY hurting. I always look at my Garmin distance reading and was always hoping for the “beep” (end of laps).. With the very steep uphill, every kilometer felt like running forever.

Walk breaks. Tired.

At last I managed to finish the 42 km mark. I am now a marathoner (unofficially). My support crew congratulated me on my achievement so far. But while sitting at the back of the car, I just really wanted to lie down and not let my legs/feet touch the ground anymore. “Is this all I’ve got? Am I done here? should I quit now? I already crossed the 42 km mark anyway”. I almost shouted “I’m done!”. But while thinking about the 42kms of suffering I’ve endured for the past 6.5hours, why can’t I endure another 8km to the finish? Eight “long” kilometers more to be an ultraRunner. I psyched my myself “I can do this!”. The clock was ticking and without further hesitation, I stood up and started running again… Though I was too tired and hurting, my strategy is to run on downhill/flat and walk if it’s uphill.

Uphill walk

Downhill run

Every kilometer seemed like a half marathon race. There were lots of walk, run, and breaks during those periods. I just focused and thought that it would be over soon. At last, one last kilometer to go! I stopped for a while — I ate the remaining melons, drank the remaining hydration gels, and told my myself “Lets Finish this!”

At that point, I can still see runners ahead of me. Around 2 or 3 as I remember. But I definitely had no idea whether there are other runners behind me. I can’t see anyone running at my back. “Did they quit? Did they pass by me while I was resting? Am I the last person?” Then at long last, I can now see the finishline. There were lots of cars parked, some people eating, and taking photos. My support team was there shouting “konti na lang!”. As I approached the finish line, I couldn’t help it but cry! Haha. This is the 2nd time I cried while crossing the finish line (1st was when I hit a sub 2hour 21k which I thought was unachievable for me at that time). 100meters, 50meters, 10meters, at last I’m done…

Approaching the finish line

I can’t explain the feeling at the moment when my foot stepped on the white paint that says “FINISH”. Baldrunner (organizer) gave me a warm welcome while other runners cheered for me.

Finisher’s trophy pic with Baldrunner.

FFS support crew (Redrunner, Kathy and DocVanj)

Out of 116 runners, only 104 finished the race. And guess what, I ranked 100th place with an official time of 8:07:48. Not bad ey? I want to thank my support group for being patient always (kahit bored na bored na kayo kakahintay, haha). I wouldn’t have made it without you guys. Sir Jovie (Baldrunner), thanks for organizing a very good race. You inspire me a lot.

Woohoo! My finisher shirt and trophy!

It was an awesome race. It changed me a lot. From a half marathoner now an ultrarunner. I feel like I have been upgraded several notches up. Nothing beats crossing the finish line… the finish line of an ultra race! It was certainly very tiring and hurting, but ironically it’s something you want to do all over again…

Ultrarunner FFS

Until the next race!

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15 Comments

  1. Hey Dude, your are no doubt a MAN, a crying MAN, hahah! I can see really that this fulfilled you. BAsed sa description mu, baka naospital na ako kapag ako ung nasa lugar mo…but you did it, congrats dude!

    I know, you wanted to inspire me in running, but I think, di ko pa panahon, mas gusto ko pa matulog kesa tumakbo nang tumakbo…lol! sana kung may running buddy na talaga ako, ung talagang comfortable ako kasama, cguro pwede na, hehehe (i’m not saying I’m not comfortable with your company)

    Aim for more and you will definitely attain what you r dreaming of in running 🙂

    • darvy! maybe, i’ll require you guys to bring running shgoes always.. im sure di kayo tatanggi saken once nagaya ako. hahahaha!

      • i’ll go kapag nasa mood tumakbo 🙂

  2. Congratulations UlLTRAMARATHONER Bryan!!!! The feeling of finishing an ultramarathon is truly addicting, that plus the great view (which I personally enjoyed through pictures since I was focusing on my run :p) made this run an awesome experience… next up… P2P (Pasuquin to Pagudpud)… another breathtaking view… then after that, a run to the beach from People’s Park Tagaytay to Nasugbu! By that time, you’ll be ready to conquer the Mecca of Philippine utrarunning – BDM102!

    • thanks mark! yep, the view was really great… kathy took some pictures too… hmm.. let’s see about the P2P…

  3. Or maybe BDM 151… hehehe!!!

    Congrats Bryan on your feat!

  4. bryan! 🙂 ganon ba talaga super haba ng marathon na yan!? hahah! takes a great deal of will power to finish. galing! btw, meron kang support team, meron ka rin bang photography team? ;P

    • hi miss donna from new york! 🙂

      yep, mahaba haba po. maybe ilang ikot din sa central park. hihi! photography team? why didn;t i think of that… haha! andito pa nmn ang tripod niyo. 🙂

      anyway, thanks po!

      • hoy! yang tripod na yan.. ganon talga ang purpose no.
        gusto ko lng pumayat kaya kelangang magjogging. hahah!

      • question: anong susunod na level sa “ULTRArunner”? MEGARunner?SUPERRunner?

  5. hahaha, Go Kathy, nood ako sa inyo 🙂

  6. hey Bri,

    Congrats!!! Catch you soon sa mga future Run.

    Kathy (a.k.a. Bru),

    Gow ako dyan, Gawa tayo ng Choreo for the cheerdance sa kanila.

    Hehehe!

    • Thanks roi! namiss kita sa morning runs naten ha.. next tym ayt?

      • Ayt! 🙂

        kaso palipat na kami next week. 😦


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