2013 TNF 100: The Redemption

After having DNF’d in my first TNF 100 race in 2012, I told myself that I won’t suffer the same fate again. Although I must admit that that experience taught me valuable lessons, and gave me a new perspective on running, and in life in general.

Lesson 1. Be Prepared

Around the 3rd quarter of 2012, I started with my training (which also coincided with my training for BDM 102) with much help and advice from elites and season ultramarathoners, and coaches. Whenever I don’t have a race on a Sunday, I took on the Pasig – Antipolo – Angono – Binganonan – Pasig route, completing at least 40 kilometres. And on any given day of the week, I do at least a 5k, alternating with my tempos and easy runs, and heat trainings. By the end of the March 2013, I felt that I was ready to face my greatest failure – the TNF 100. I was up for the challenge of trails and the mountains of Benguet and Baguio once again. 

I packed my bags complete with my running gear and the essentials of trail running. I booked myself a 10am ticket bound for Baguio which would get me there by around 6pm. I was able to get myself a seat for the 9:30am trip, though I had to pay an extra 50pesos for that seat. Well, 50 bucks didn’t matter that much as long I could get to Baguio much earlier. 

Arriving at the bus terminal, I contacted my associates Neil, Joey and Leo. It was raining that afternoon but we managed to drop our LP2 logistics at the race venue and got our race bibs. We’re all set, and we took our dinner slash carbo loading at an Italian resto at Camp John Hay. 

By nightfall, we rented a two – bed transient room near the race venue. We set our alarms at 1am. I said my prayers to gain some confidence and lay my trust in Him. Having learned the art of “sleeping right away”, I didn’t have a hard time dozing off. I felt some jitters as I took my place in the bed but shrugged them off. I woke up before the alarm took off and got myself ready. Soon, the three of us were heading to the race venue. 

The start line had a festive ambiance as the runners gathered up. The morning air smelled so fresh of pines. There was so much fun going around as the runners waited for the gun start at the wee hours of the chilly morning. Cameras flashed everywhere. Runners exchanged goodlucks and friends extended us their well wishes. With determination and prayers, I joined the runners in the 10 second countdown to gun start. Soon, we were treading the trails in the midst of the pines. Reflectors in the runners’ gears flashed in the darkness. Lights emanating from the headlamps and flashlights floated in the air like giant fireflies, moving away farther into the deep forest.

Photos (clockwise from left): At LP2; Start Line; with Mommy Cleo (thanks for the send off wishes!); with Doc Marc; somewhere between AS2 and AS3.

Photos (clockwise from left): At LP2; Start Line; with Mommy Cleo (thanks for the send off wishes!); with Doc Marc; somewhere between AS2 and AS3.

Lesson 2. Get Fuelled Up & Stay Hydrated

By the break of dawn, I have gone past the Aid Station 2. I took a slice of pizza which was a leftover from last night’s dinner from my hydration pack for my breakfast. In the next few clicks, I will be eating uphills and I needed some energy reinforcement. I took advantage of the early morning when the temperature was cooler, gaining more mileage whenever I can. At half past 8, I was at Aid Station 3 where I met some ultra – friends. I knew that there wasn’t much time to waste so I went my way as soon as I was done with another breakfast. Trails and ridges came into view with each step, and the temperature started to creep up. The short rappel led to the moss forest. It was a pretty long trek, or so I thought. It was mid – morning when I reached Aid Station 4. A 15 – minute rest was all I need to get charged up. 

Despite having trained well, I didn’t escape from the killing muscle cramps. Frequent stops impeded my momentum, hydrating when necessary. But that didn’t distract my focus. The trail cleared into a partly concrete and partly rough road. Just like what I did in the previous year, I played Santa in Summer to the kids I met along the way – sharing with them the chocolates and some Jelly Ace I brought with me. The roads were deserted, except for some runners, and some occasional locales who could be on their way home. An hour to mid – day, I passed a village where race marshals and some residents were on a look for the runners. I stopped by and flushed my face with chlorine – free water. It was very refreshing. I had to exert as much twice the effort to make it to the LP2 (Km 53) by lunch time. The downhill slope was a blessing. And yes, I made it at LP2 minutes before 12.

Lesson 3. Get the Rest You Need

It was a relief reaching LP2 where lunch was waiting. It was time to get a much needed break and to gear up for the next leg of the race. It was an opportunity to gel with running friends and meet new friends. And I also got the chance to payback the kindness that my friends accorded me when I did BDM 102 the previous month. What was supposed to be a quick break extended to three hours and three – quarters. Most of the runners I met have already left, save for those who just arrived. At 4pm I set off for the second half of the race. I could still feel the burning heat of the sun as the rays cut through the woods. At Aid Station 6, I had my dose of the fruit flavoured Hydrite to ward off impending leg cramps. The liniment was a big help, too! The station had monoblock chairs, chocolate drinks, bananas, energy drinks and cold water for the runners. I took a seat in one of the monoblocks elevating my feet. I felt so much relief. But then I can’t stay there for as long as I wanted. I had to get moving. The peak of Mt. Sto. Tomas was waiting.


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