Two More Takes on Tagaytay

I just couldn’t resist the challenge of another series of Tagaytay route ultramarathon, making Luneta to Tagaytay (LU2TA) 60k Ultramarathon by Prince Multisports Event and the 50k Tagaytay to Kawit Ultramarathon by Run Mania Philippines my fourth and fifth ultramarathon respectively. Luneta to Tagaytay, my third 60k ultra happened last February 22, 2015 was already in its second year. The first time it was held I was in Baguio and was participating in Akyathlon 2014. Simultaneously happening then was another epic run the Manila to Baguio 250k run. This year there were a lot of other run events but I felt I had to run LU2TA. The symmetry it form along with T2K was simply too fascinating to pass up. In this year’s run there were about 400 runners who participated with contingents coming from Cabanatuan, Tarlac, Bulacan, Cavite, Batangas, Cebu, and a lone General Santos local among the participants. I was happy to be reunited with some of my Sungay 60k co-finishers Omeng, Jayson from Batangas and Thea with our tons of photographs from Sungay 60K Challenge. Also participating in this run event were some of my usual co-participants in other run events, Ricky Francisco and the 19-year old100k finisher, Rene Arroyo. My elementary and high school classmate Maritess also graced the occasion with her pacer Kathleen who was the champion in the Women’s category of the recently concluded 160k BDM ultra.

The gun start was given at 12:00 p.m. Runners went all the way from Kilometer 0 in front of the huge Philippine flag to NAIA Road via Roxas Boulevard. Since I have been running the route along Roxas Boulevard for a very long time the route did not anymore made any impression on me. Upon reaching the Coastal Mall, runners turned left along NAIA Road then right to Quirino Highway. The first Aid Station, which also marked the 10th kilometer of the race was in front of the St. Joseph Church. Proceeding next to Tramo passing by Diego Cera and the church, which houses the famous Las Pinas Bamboo Organ. Runners then made a v-line towards the Public Market that connects to Bacoor and had runners exiting at St. Dominic Hospital that led to Aguinaldo Highway. Pollution from the vehicular traffic was even more palpable here in spite that it was already around 1:00 pm and traffic was not anymore heavy. On the on set of the race I was already having a spell of coughing as I was still suffering from a two week long cough that hadn’t abated in spite of the rest I did already. Because I haven’t been running much in two weeks, I think I was a bit out of sync and weak. I was afraid I might even end up not finishing the race.

The 20th kilometer of the race was at Imus, Cavite. I ate the remaining Ham and Cheese Calzone I bought at Yellow Cab at U.N. Avenue prior to the race bib claiming and I popped my first Salt Stick Capsule. Along the way there were runners at the other side of the road running opposite our direction. I thought upon reaching Dasmarinas, Cavite there would be u-turn and perhaps enters a road that would take us out of Aguinaldo Highway, maybe along Daan Hari or something. But when I reached the 30th kilometer Aid Station in Dasmarinas and beyond it we did not encountered any u-turn. Those runners we met at the opposite side of the road maybe were just having a training run in preparation for the Tagaytay to Kawit ultra. The Dasmarinas portion of the race route had lots of steeper inclined uphill road. Omeng passed me by along with Gene brother of Jayson. The road after Robinson’s Mall was poorly lit but daylight was slowly creeping in the horizon. I soon caught up with Jayson at the 40th kilometer. The sun was already fierce in spite of being still quite early in the morning. Before we reached the 50th kilometer marker Jayson was reunited with his fellow Batanguenos Omeng and Gene. We stopped by for buko break near the Rogationist College. Gene seems got fired off by the coconut juice that he sped off. Another runner joined our pack as we proceeded with the race. We turned left at SVD Road and exited at Calamba-Tagaytay Road just beyond Estancia and Starbucks. Before heading off towards the direction of People’s Park we rested at a waiting shed. Jayson who was earlier suffering from calves or knee issues seemed to have had his second wind and was soon kicking dust. I followed in pursuit. By I caught up with Jayson we were at a tiny spinning wind wheel farm. Omeng managed to reach us and was turned into an opportunity for the three of us to have our photograph taken with the wind wheel farm. Gene was waiting for us just a couple of meters away. By this time we were just 4 kilometer short of putting this race behind us. When we crossed the finish line we thought we were among the last runners that made it to the finish line. But when we saw that there were still a lot of unclaimed finisher shirts and trophies, we were elated to know that finishing with a time of 11 hours and 30 minutes, we did not fare badly after all. There were like 90 runners still behind us. While resting we saw several other runners negotiating the final uphill before reaching the finish line. Among them was Thea who was preparing for 102 Bataan Death March run for a grand slam after completing a month earlier the 160 km leg of BDM. Master Vic surprisingly came in after about 12 and a half hours of running the course towing in line a lady he was pacing along. Ricky was also running along them. When we left the event venue and while commuting along the route we saw there were still many other runners trying to make their way to the finish line. I bade this event goodbye with a Bulalo meal at Mahogany with Omeng, Jayson, Gene, Thea and Anton. I could not say goodbye for good to Tagaytay for the following week I would again be gracing the place. But I promised that I would do far better on my fifth run and hope to top my Sub 8 finish at Tagaytay to Nasugbu run of last December 2014.

Last February 28 as I came out of the shuttle van that took us to Summit Ridge Hotel, the cold breeze of Tagaytay quickly wrapped around my body. I began to shiver uncontrollably. It was by far the coldest moment I felt when summer is supposedly knocking at the door of the Philippine climate. I was in Baguio last December running in the mountains of Benguet and was in Tagaytay when there was a strong storm hitting the country that was suppose to pass through Tagaytay also in December. But I never felt this much cold until now. Tagaytay to Kawit was Run Mania Philippine Promotion, Inc.’s 50k offering and my 7th 50k ultra. As usual it was packed with about 600 registrants. Grupong Bente Uno’s Lyndon and Victor were doing their second 50k while Anthony and Ann were doing their first. Ricky who also ran in LU2TA seem to have not gotten enough of LU2TA, proudly wearing the latter’s finisher shirt, he also was seeing action at T2K. I myself was quite confident that this run would be much easier than Baldrunner’s Tagaytay to Nasugbu – I thought wrongly of course – since the route would be mostly downhill along Aguinaldo Highway. But I would soon found out that the only portion that would be covered along Aguinaldo Highway was up to the intersection near Robinson’s Place, which lies along the 25th kilometer mark of the race.

At little pass 11:30 pm runners left the starting point. I started slow gradually acclimating myself with running. The pull of the downhill portion of the road was slowly tempting me to speed up my pace. But I resisted. I don’t want to tire quickly and lose power right at the early portion of the run. So my pace had allowed instead many other runners to push pass ahead of me. I try to picture in my mind the previous week’s ultra, the spots where I stopped for rest periods. But I couldn’t pin point exactly the spots. Then I tried to turn my attention to other stuff that would keep me from being aware of the distance and time I needed to complete the course. The cold temperature turned out lasted only until we left Summit Ridge. Most of the way was balmy. The Silang portion of the route up until the portion when we left Aguinaldo Highway at Dasmarinas was poorly lit. The incoming vehicles were for most of the time the only source of light that enabled me to distinguish the road. I reached the first 10k marker without fanfare. Unlike the previous ultra I ran at I did not try to hydrate myself every few kilometers apart. Instead I tried to take in water only after 10k kilometers at this early juncture of the race. This way I didn’t felt bloated. I wasn’t also hungry in spite having only Batchoy, which was mainly liquid at Ted’s at around 9 pm. Governor’s Drive, the road after taking left from Aguinaldo Highway near Robinson’s Place had uphill portions. I told one of my companions at the shuttle that there would be no uphill along the race. He might be in for a surprise since he was going to run the race in his sub 5 42k pace. My feet were beginning to bother me with some pains I attributed to my recurring plantar fascitiis. Or maybe it’s the constant battering of my Achilles to the ground. With this I began to do a lot of stops to rest. My calves were impinging pain as well but they were more manageable. The 30th kilometer lies along Governor Ferrer Drive. The route from these portion offered no interesting sight given it was still dark and we were running along the road which featured fields in both side of the road. By the time the Aids Station at the 40th kilometer, which was along General Trias Drive presented itself, ice cream treat was waiting for us. Light had already broken out by the time I was happily chomping away a Creamline Drumstick Ice Cream. I jokingly asked the marshal if I could dip in my feet in the ice cream container for relief.

After the ice cream treat there were just about 13 kilometers along Antero Soriano Highway standing between putting this ultra in the bag but sometimes the last 10 kilometers were actually the most longest portion of the run for me and every inch of my advancement were felt more like some bizarre exhibition of the Special Law of Relativity where in you’re the one slowing down while the rest was speeding up like the cut-off time. Distance seemed to stretch inversely proportion to the stamina you still have. I was sure that I would not be breaking any Personal Record I had with this race.

Eventually, I reached the gate of the Aguinaldo Shrine which served as the Finish Area. I was handed a trophy, a medal and posed for a customary photo-op with the Finished banner. I survived a back to back Tagaytay ultra the fifth Tagaytay series! Limping and chaffed I went towards the shuttle vehicle. Thank God I was not the last passenger to arrive as what happened to me at my first two ultra runs. But the passengers I rode along with this time were not the usual runners I was familiar with who rode with me in the past ultra runs. Most of the new passengers were younger with two still college students who were running their first 50k. This run indeed had many first timers in 50 k. What this tells me was that newer converts to ultra running trooping in after having ran 42k’s even for just a couple of times. While those who have ran about 4 50k ultras are turning their eyes on 100k runs. In my first two 60k runs runners numbered only about less than 70. Last week’s 60 k run had 370++. I have no doubt in time 100km would be simple be treated like 50k and had the number of runners swelling while 50k would be the new 21k. For now I still can’t see myself breaking the wall that would allow me to see 100 k distance manageable. With pains that continuously manifesting along my feet area causing my confidence to dip, I would just continue to wade the 50-60 distance for a while. But if all goes well maybe in some future time I would be adding Bald Runner’s Tagaytay to Ternate to the Tagaytay Series, which I think was supposedly a 100k run.

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