Only those that risk going too far can possibly know how far they can go.
– Walter Bishop, Fringe
The car ride from Camp O’Donnel in Capas, Tarlac to Mariveles town in Bataan was smooth and took only less than two hours. That’s barely two episodes of Fringe which I was watching at the back of the car to take my mind off the next day’s epic race.
The car’s trunk was crammed with two ice chests filled with nutrition and hydration for both runner and crew, change of clothes, a mini pharmacy, sanitary pads and tampons, wet and dry wipes, batteries, lights, Kinesio tape, knee supports, a foot care kit consisting of petroleum jelly, baby powder, betadine, super glue, duct tape, silicone gel shoe inserts, a banig and folding beach chair.
I also had a device that looked like the Olympic torch from afar and a beer bong up close. It’s my personal innovation of an improvised funnel that will allow a woman the convenience of peeing like a man where there’s no toilet or public restroom. Try squatting or sitting after running beyond 50K and you’ll understand why this bit of indignity becomes necessary.
Because I had very limited budget and didn’t want to bother my friends, I organized a lean but mean support crew of family members. My husband Eugene was in-charge of race logistics, race pace calculations and security. My brother Alex who’s a registered nurse and special rescue firefighter was the designated medic, alternate driver and pacer in the last 58K.
We were battle ready.
At the crack of dawn of February 26 Saturday, I met the usual suspects at KM 0– Front Runner magazine publisher Jonel Mendoza, our very own Bro. Carlo Bacalla and several others whom I’ve become friends with after running last year’s Bataan Death March 102.
We were 59 starters, all brave and courageous. Fifty-five men and four women, all out to prove that there are no limits except for those we impose upon ourselves. My personal goal was not only to finish, but finish strong and standing on my own two feet. I would have none of the drama of last year’s BDM where I collapsed at the finishline from heat exhaustion.
It was a very slow start. When we reached the three-kilometer ascent up the zigzag pass, the runners slowed down some more and brisked-walked until we reached our support wagons at KM 7.
When I reached the top of the hill and saw the first ray of sunlight wash over Mariveles town, the magnitude of BDM 160 hit me -- it would take the runners two sunrises to finish the whole journey all the way to Capas. We had to keep moving.
But here’s the irony of running an ultra. The distance is so great yet the faster you try, the longer it takes you to get to the finishline or worse you never get there at all.
To successfully run an ultra, you hack away the distance both slowly and steadily. I’ve seen this happen in all ultra distance races I’ve joined. Those who run at a conservative pace at the back end of the pack always overtake those in the middle.
Instead of running I leaned forward and glided through the dusty road, lifting my feet as little as possible to conserve energy. There were only three words playing in a loop in my head that day to the tune of F.R. David’s “Sahara Night” – relentless forward motion.
As we passed through the towns of Bataan -- Lamao, Limay, Orion, Pilar, Balanga, Abucay Samal, Orani then finally Hermosa, I could feel myself getting stronger. I hit 42 kilometers in 6 hours 45 minutes and it felt like I was just getting started. We reached the 50K mark in 8 hours 5 minutes and it felt as if I could go on forever. My blood pressure at KM 50 was 100/80. The only icky feeling I had was the desire to go to the bathroom and do the number two but there was no gas station in sight. So I did the next best thing and fed the fishes at a fishpond by the roadside.
One by one I overtook runners who earlier in the day were running at a much faster clip. As dusk fell, I knew I would make it to the 18-hour cut-off at KM 102. (To be continued.)