A week before Tarayem Sangagasot Kilometros I ran in the event, MF (Miyamit Falls) 42 last October 2, 2016 held at Alvierra, Porac, Pampanga. I thought this event would be something similar to my experience with Team Malaya’s 42 kilometer runs in their Cordillera Series which I had ran before: tough but accomplishable given enough time. I was not least bit worried about failing MF 42, after all, I finished 2 tougher TNF’s already. MF 42 was supposedly a preview of CM50 or Clark-Miyamit 50 miles. But for a preview, MF42 proved to be more like the main feature and CM50 probably a two-part sequel. MF42 shown me I couldn’t win all the 42k trail events with just a will to do it. I DNF MF 42 when I didn’t reached the 12:30 noon cut-off at the junction leading to Miyamit Falls. I was among the 52 runners who DNF from this event along with RDF, Gerald and Chie whom I met at Sagada Marathon. The muddy and unlimited uphill of MF42 took so much out of me that now I fear would greatly affect my chances at the 100k Tarayem Sangagasot Kilometros.
October 8, 2016 nearing 9:00 pm gun start, I am once again standing in front of the Provincial Capitol Building in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. Almost like a déjà vu. My confidence was at all time low. I was so nervous I wanted to vomit. Quitting a race is probably the easiest thing to do once you had done it before. There are always good reasons to quit especially when you know you can always try again some other time. One reason for quitting a race is about avoiding risk. However, sometimes it is difficult to tell if ignoring risk and confronting the danger is the best thing to do. Just like in running, challenging oneself to go beyond one’s limit may court certain danger especially if we are talking about 100 kilometers. Is there really a point for me to ignore danger and push myself to surpass my distance limit to conquer my first 100 kilometers? I tried before to stop myself from falling into the trap of testing my limit. After all, what is there for me to gain if I conquer 100 kilometers? But I eventually found myself desirous of finishing a100 kilometers distance. In my attempt twice already I failed. But I became so obsess with taking my first 100k that I found myself returning to Ilocos Norte to give myself another shot of the route even if in January there is another race of lower distance which will cover Paoay to Vigan. I just have to put Tarayem behind me. This mean DNF was not an option.
The fact that I found out we were only 13 participants in the 4th edition of Tarayem did not help improve what I was feeling at the moment. I realized aside from me, two other runners from Manila had ran before under Prince Multisports Event, Inc. as evidence by the shirt Joe was wearing and the running suit of Batanguena Runner. Another runner from Manila Rodel had seen action recently in Ibtur, an event where I also participated. Rodel was the Champion in the 88k of Ibtur. In Tarayem he was racing against another Ibtur runner, Marcelo who placed 1st runner up in the 160k category and 4th timer at Tarayem.
When the gun start was given I fell behind quickly because once again I am having acid reflux attack that was causing me to slow down because I feel like my heart was going to burst. However, upon reaching San Nicholas just a little of 4 kilometers I was regaining my bearing as my condition improved. How to go by to pass the time while trying to complete a 105 kilometers distance? After all there were portions of the route that were desolately dim and lonely. In the areas were streetlamps illuminated the road there were constant racking from dogs barking ruins your moment for rumination. Once again I retraced the National Road Manila bound passing by Batac, then the junction whose other road led to Currimao and then to the waiting roving Aid Station at the junction near Pinili where I was informed that about 300 meters ahead of me was the nearest runner. When I reached the 40th kilometer, which was just after Badoc and lies at the boundary of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, I finally caught up with the runner Cyndi who was eating. She was with her support crew composing of her kids and a pacer. She invited me to sup with them but I opted to go ahead and try to establish as much separation I can from her. At last I ceased to be the last. What was also good was that I seem to be doing a better time than I did the previous year. I was targeting to reach the 50th kilometers, which lies in Cabugao sub-10 hours so that I could still have ample time to cover the remaining 55 kilometers before the cut-off time of 19 hours. The first Municipality of Ilocos Sur was Sinait followed by Cabugao. There was no lomi (egg noodle soup) to sup with this time at Cabugao unlike last year. At Santo Domingo I passed by another runner who eventually DNF because of blisters hounding him. However, a little further away while I was resting and spraying BSI medicated spray on my legs, Cyndi passed me by. I could not anymore put up a fight to overtake or even chase her along San Idelfonso. She disappeared from my sight while I struggled to reach Bantay, which seem to have stretched farther than the last time I remembered it to be. By this time I seemed to have reached the point that I only have just enough to carry me all the way to the finish line. So, I avoided overexerting myself to chase Cyndi. I pressed on like it was a normal business day for me after all I have BSI medicated spray to make my legs forget about it hurting. At last I was entering the road to San Vicente. The marshal that shadowed me last year at this portion of the race and to whom I succumbed to DNF came to welcome me. He was riding a bicycle this time whereas last year on motor bike. I said to myself, No way I’m going to ride that bicycle on the way to finish line if I chose to DNF once again. DNF was still not an option. To make a show of my determination to finish this race I jogged the length of the road until I reached the point where I did a Yamashita thing and surrendered. I was initially thinking of doing some ceremonial exorcism to prevent me from repeating that last year’s defeat but as we pass by the place I lose interest on it and instead became more eager to get away. In truth I regretted so much not finishing the last 15 or 18 kilometers last year thinking it was just a couple of distance away. But as I struggle now to cover the remaining kilometers it slowly dawn to me that I made a reasonable choice last year. The remaining kilometers were no push over. Aside from depleting strength because I was at my threshold, the sun was beating mercilessly down on me wanting me to bow down. On the way to the U-turn along the breath taking view of the coast of West Philippine Sea after passing by Santa Catalina Church another runner fell short of his goal to finish the race. Farther ahead returning from the U-turn was Cyndi. After taking a photo op at the U-turn I ate heavily at the Aid Station. At that point I was almost sure I would make it within the cut off time. But the trip to Calle Crisologo at Vigan took me longer than I expected. I was really getting tired that I had to walk and stop for rest. At last, I entered the tourists filled Calle Crisologo like a triumphant hero but nobody seemed to notice me. I thought I would make a sort of novelty and attract photographers but probably after seeing the others ahead of me pass the place by they realized I was a straggler and a sort of slow poke. I sat along the pavement for just a couple of minutes and then decided to move on. After the U-turn at the other end of Calle Crisologo my next itinerary was the Bantay Tower. If I could get there before 2:00 pm I will still have two hours before the cut-off time. However, I got to Bantay 2:30 pm which left me an hour and a half to finish the remaining 8 kilometers. The problem was, I’m already spent. The only thing that was keeping me up which were the energy gels and Enervon Activ multivitamins had all ran out already. I was reduced to zombie walking and stopping frequently for rest. I came to the point I was singing the Lord’s Prayer hoping I could find some strength in God. When I was riding at the back of the motorcycle to get me to the finish line after I quitted last year, the path to the finish line seemed so easy. I was really ashamed to face the people at the finish area then because I didn’t put so much thought on my quitting. Now, at any moment I can just simply collapse because my body couldn’t handle it anymore, regardless whether DNF was among my option. Uphill welcomed me at the last 3 kilometers then followed by downhill then I saw finally the new bridge at Banaong. As I stepped on it I knew the people at the other older bridge who were waiting for me to finish this race saw me. I wanted to give them a show that I am going to finish strong at least even though I am last. But midway I run out of steam and walked momentarily before resuming my run. Then as I stepped off the new bridge and on my way to the old Quirino Bridge I saw Cyndi in the front of the pick-up truck that was shadowing her all throughout the race. She egged me on. I stepped on the old Quirino Bridge and tried to run faster. As I move nearer the Finish arch, I removed my running goggles and cap thinking that I want to preserve this moment with a photographed where my face could be seen better. As I approach the Finish arch and finishing beyond the cut-off time I still felt like a champion crossing the arch. I imagined the cheers of the organizer and staffs who were quite aware I was taking Tarayem the second time were cheering me because I had delivered what they long ago believed I can. Crossing the finish Arch means I have gone the farthest distance my feet could take me. It now opened a new area for me to explore. Not that I am in a hurry. In fact, if only I had not signed up already for the 117 kilometer Andres Bonifacio Day Ultramarathon happening in November, I would not run any farther soon. But before I venture to my next 100 km I would run the following week a 5 kilometer distance event, the distance where I got initiated into the running journey since 2010 in the event, Unending Race at UST.