Wednesday, May 22, 2013
I wanted to run the minute we arrived at Lagawe, Ifugao in the early morning of May 14. I was so excited to take in the fresh air of Ifugao Province that it didn't really occur to me to establish a clear route for my run. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a decent sleep on the bus during our 7-hour trip from Manila. This turned out to be a good thing because I had the chance to rest and then ask locals about where they suggest I go. Perhaps as a joke, one mentioned running to Yamashita Shrine located at the highland town of Kiangan 10km away. My ears instantly perked and I got extra excited about having an actual destination.
I woke up early the next morning with a smile. I got out of the foggy road and slowly but steadily made my way Lagawe bridge where at the end, the road divided into the way up to Kiangan and the other down to Solano, Nueva Vizcaya. I made the turn and absolutely enjoyed the ~8km of sweet and steady uphill. It was gentle but consistent ascents passing through communities and rice terraces with the Cordillera mountains as backdrops. I hesitantly played tagged with dogs that roamed the roads freely and greeted locals who woke up early with a curious smiles. I didn't notice the time and distance because I was pleasantly surprised to find myself at Kiangan. I asked for instructions to the Yamashita Shrine but was greeted by a closed gate. I was told by a local that it will open by 8AM but she suggested that I still try and ask the security guard if I can go inside and explore despite the early time. Fortunately for me, the guard turned out to be really accommodating and even volunteered to take pictures of me in front of the Shrine. He shared that the Shrine was erected as a memorial to when General Yamashita finally surrendered. He also told me about Mt. Kapugan which is about an hour dayhike but I didn't have enough time that day. However, I managed to check out the Ifugao Museum and explored the relics that represented the history and culture of the Igorots. Unfortunately, work awaited me back at Lagawe so reluctantly, I left the charming town of Kiangan.
I didn't find gold at Kiangan but I found something far more valuable: the natural wonder and beauty of the culturally and historically rich town of Kiangan. I'm already dreaming of the time when I get to go back and have more quality time in this side of the Cordilleras.
For more pictures, check out TRM at Facebook.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
|The curves of Kibungan trails :)|
Photo courtesy of Cha Javier
It was a struggle to put one foot in front of the other. I knew my legs weren't my problem. It was my lungs and my head that can't seem to cope with the altitude. Rather ironic for a skyrunner but I knew that I was paying the price from the activities a few days before: scuba diving twice. I didn't give my body a chance to acclimatize before embarking on the trails of Kibungan, Benguet.
But that's not enough of an excuse to stop but I had to slow down. Everybody was way ahead of me and the only one who kept me company most of the time was Kuya Charo, a guide who also doubles as the Municipal Tourism Action Officer (MTAO) of Kibungan. He kept my spirits up with questions about PhilSky, trail and skyrunning and the potential of locals to compete with international athletes. He also talked about the mountains of Kibungan and how he believes it would have been possible to cover the whole circuit (Mt. Tagpaya, Mt. Oten and Mt. Tagpew) had we started earlier. He was also very eager about the potential of the municipality as a sports eco tourism destination in the country. Our talk was a welcome reprieve but during times when fatigue was overwhelming me, Kuya Charo gave me space to deal with it.
I remember a moment when I had to stop and just stare out the horizon--drinking in the beauty of surrounding ridges with cliffs accentuated by curves and pine trees peeking from the top. Even though physically I was pushing myself too much, my reward was far more precious than the temporary inconvenience of fatigue. Emotionally and spiritually, I felt on fire. Oh if only my body could keep up! But at the end of the day, I am extremely grateful because I was able to experience the majesty of the Kibungan trails. I hope to be back one day, stronger and better.
My thanks to Kuya Charo for the patience and also to the PhilSky family for another amazing adventure with the mountains. Thank you for the support, inspiration and happiness.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
|In the comfort of family and friends. :)|
After a hefty serving of humble pie during last year's TNF100 (I DNF'd attempting 100KM due to running with an injury--read about it here), I decided to forego grand plans and settle with the 50KM category instead. And yes, I must admit, finishing Lantau50 last March 2013 also gave me confidence that I will survive the gorgeous but merciless Benguet trails. Unfortunately, my body had other plans for me that day. Here's some thoughts about my TNF100 50KM experience:
- Vertigo + Dysmenorrhea + 50KM trails = NOT A GOOD IDEA!
- Ibuprofen is useless against vertigo. Always bring usual meds. Always!
- Worse place to feel light headed due to "blood loss" is beside a cliff.
- Vertigo VS murderous glare of noontime sun. Sunshine FTW!
After the turn around point and nearing AS8 once again, I was surprised to see good friend Mariel waiting for me with open arms. She helped me take a sit on the side of the road as I babbled nonsense about how I felt and fought back the tears. Looking back, I realize I must have looked rather pathetic. The guy beside us suddenly remarked, "Is the final uphill so tough to cause a breakdown?" First thought in my head was "I don't do breakdowns!" but I immediately accepted that it was only my wounded pride speaking with denial.
Thank goodness Mariel reminded me what our other friends always believed in as far as racing is concerned: sometimes we need to lose the day's battle to continue enjoying the trails in the future. And haven't we always advocated that priority is to finish strong and not wasak (wasted)? Or worse, finish with the trauma of not being able to run the trails for a long period of time due to sustained injuries. I decided to DNF to allow me to run another race.
After recovering with my sister and friends back at Camp John Hay, I opted to offer support to PhilSky family who continued on with their battle. Massive congratulations to everyone who finished the race! And salute also to those who braved the trails and joined the different categories of this year's TNF100. But most of all, kudos to the organizers, partners and sponsors of TNF100 for a job well done! Thank you so much for offering us a race that is truly bigger, so much better and lots more fun for everyone!
Will I be back next year? Of course! Fingers crossed I'll stand at the start line with my game face on!
Will I be back next year? Of course! Fingers crossed I'll stand at the start line with my game face on!
Monday, April 8, 2013
|The Good: Happy run under the pine trees.|
Photo courtesy of Kirk Patrick Ang
After a good breakfast, we briefly outlined our itinerary for Saturday before we were all off to the trails to recce the route for Session 2 of the R.O.X. Trail Running Workshop Series which PhilSky conducted after lunch on the same day. We established the 5-km short but picturesque trails that was used for the time trials and assigned people who served as marshals. Of course, we all couldn't resist having a bit of fun under the sweet-scented pine trees--we had a quality run with the guys taking photos and videos at the same time. In the afternoon, we all had a go again at the same lovely route along with the participants of Session 2. The headache was still there but admittedly, it was set aside with all the good time I was having with my friends.
But I can only ignore it for so long...
|The Bad: Me hiding under my red cap trying to stay awake.|
Photo courtesy of Al Casas
Sunday morning we all woke up early for a major uphill challenge in preparation for the upcoming TNF100 Benguet on April 20-21, 2013. My head felt like lead but still, I ignored it and joined the group. During the jeepney ride to the jump off point, I was struggling in and out of consciousness. I tried to steal as much sleep as I could hoping it will be enough to last me the day. We started on an ascent and I went on my own pace, allowing others to advance but moving fast enough not to be left behind. I was hoping the increased heart rate will jolt me from my state of slumber. After half an hour and still yawning like an idiot, I took an energy gel with caffeine. After another half hour and the gel did not kick in, I munched on energy chews...then ate a small pack of chocolates, drank some electrolytes, ate more chocolates and when I still wasn't getting out of my zombie-state, I ate my emergency oatmeal bar--and still no shot of energy! It was tragic how my adrenaline wasn't really picking up. Worse, all the sweets were just adding to my headache. And I knew the worse was yet to come as far as our route for the day was concerned. With disappointment, I had to declare myself out of the training for the day, took an exit route with a couple of other new friends and headed back to the city.
So what was wrong with me? Lack of quality sleep for the past couple of weeks. *Sigh!*
With TNF100 looming the next couple of weeks, the only thing I can do now is learn from this experience and log in as much rest as I can, take in proper nutrition and prepare myself mentally for what likes ahead. The universe will conspire.
Friday, March 29, 2013
|PhilSky Booth at Salomon Xtrail Pilipinas|
Photo courtesy of PhilSky FB Page
I was registered in the 24-km category of the Salomon Xtrail Pilipinas but immediately after completing the Lantau50 race (read about it here), I asked PhilSky friend Pat to swap bibs. There was no way I can run 24-km of trails after the painful beating my out-of-condition body took during the race at Hongkong the week before. And yes, I was too ambitious to even think I could pull it off.
Reality came in and I found myself at the Start Line of the 12-km category and this proved to be a good decision. I took my sweet time and just enjoyed the undulating and relentless hills of Hamilo Coast. The high points offered sweeping views of the coast and fresh air which was a welcome reprieve from the searing heat of the day. Added bonus was crossing the finish line with close friend Christine!
After the race, I spent the rest of the morning hanging out at the PhilSky booth to promote and sell the skyrunning-inspired technical shirt for fund-raising purposes. You can check more information about it in the PhilSky website.
I would like to extend my congratulations to everyone who completed the race. The 12-km route was already challenging so I can only imagine how much more difficult the 24-km route was. Salute also to friends who joined and finished the 6-km category. Cheers also the Salomon Pilipinas for hosting a successful and fun-filled event!
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
|Lantau50 Elevation Profile courtesy of www.lantau50.com|
There were a lot of runners with those running the 50-km and 100-km category starting together. Over a thousand, we were informed. And we were also warned of single track trails. I sighed with the image of traffic but easily shrugged it off. It didn’t really matter how many were out there. At the end of the day, it was just about doing my best. And I realized I wasn't my usual nervous self. There were no hesitations or insecurities like before. But I admit, I wasn't exactly confident. I just stood there with all I have (and trust me, with my schedule the past couple of months, I didn't really have a lot of training to pull from) and embraced the trails that waited for me.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
|R.O.X. Trail Running Workshop Series Overview|
My whole love affair with trail running started in 2009 with only a mediocre mountaineering background to guide me. I ran carefree and enjoyed every experience to the fullest--which was also my downfall at the time because to be honest, I really didn't know what I was doing. And this resulted to several injuries and inconveniences which could have been avoided had I known what to do.
And that's why I'm extra excited about the R.O.X. Trail Running Workshop Series which is a project of the Philippine Skyrunning Association (PhilSky) in partnership with R.O.X. Philippines and Nathan Sports. I strongly encourage trail running newbies or even those who just want to go back to the basics to be part of this extensive 6-week training program which aims to equip you with skills that will hopefully help you cross that 11-km or 22-km trail race finish line with a smile. Did I mention registration is FREE? But this is limited only to 50 participants so register now!
See event posters below for more information or check out Nathan Philippines at Facebook and the PhilSky website or PhilSky at Facebook.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
|Clear Malindang Mountain Range with the moon above. :)|
I'm back on the field for work and found myself with several opportunities for training. Unfortunately I do not have enough time to hit the trails so I had to contend myself with the road but overall, it was still a rewarding experience. Here's a summary of my weekend training:
|Chika pace with Jing|
|Pagadian City's Fajares Avenue|
|Love the trees along the highway! <3|
Is it enough for the monster race I got lined up next weekend? Heck, no! But at least I got some mileage on my legs. Still planning several more road runs which I hope (fingers crossed!) will be enough to survive the race.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
|PhilSky volunteers with Akyathlon runner, Sen. Pia Cayetano|
I am not a race organizer.
Like I always say when asked to introduce myself, "I am a community development worker by profession and an adventurer by passion." Not in my wildest imagination did I think that this would result in race organizing. It only made sense now that I look back and realize that maybe I wasn't so clueless about being part of the organizing team of the 2013 Pilipinas Akyathlon held last February 9, 2013 at Brgy. Tinongdan, Itogon, Benguet.
See, what made me confident being part of the organizers is the fact that the Akyathlon itself is unique. It's not just promoting a healthy lifestyle, ensuring that participants have all the logistics they need or that sponsors are represented well in the race. The Akyathlon is so much more than that. It's a community effort from the PhilSky volunteers in partnership with the Department of Tourism-Cordillera Autonomous Region (DOT-CAR), Province of Benguet, Municipality of Itogon, Barangay Tinongdan and the Cordillera Conservation Trust (CCT). Community effort. I realized that I was in my element. These hardworking men and women working together for the common goal of promoting skyrunning and sports eco-tourism in this part of the Philippines inspired me to give my all. The Akyathlon is a wonderful example of bayanihan in action.
It warmed my heart to see so many friendly faces on race day--not just the runners but also members of the community at Barangay Tinongdan. I wanted to hug and personally thank you but unfortunately, there wasn't enough time with all that needs to be done to make sure we give you the best race that we can. But know that I am grateful that you have shared our passion for the sport of skyrunning and have embraced the Akyathlon not just as a race but as something that empowers the community and highlights the natural beauty of the Philippines. Sports eco-tourism is a sustainable advocacy that we at PhilSky share and I believe we have proven that it can be done during the Akyathlon. And like everything else, there is always room for improvement. We hope to learn more from the experience of all stakeholders so we can give an even better Akyathlon next year.
But for the meantime, allow me to thank my PhilSky family. Nina, Carlo, Rashel, Glenn, Cha, PJ and Mia: you guys are amazing! To Mon and Kath who have contributed so much in their quiet way, a big thank you. And of course a special shout out to everyone who put in man-hours on race day: Tito Willy, Doc Tom, Kuya Bert, Jay, Kian, Pat, Roland, Rome and Doc. I am proud to be a part of PhilSky because of each and everyone of you. Cheers!
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
|Heading back after a quick picture.|
Photo courtesy of Charina Javier
I haven't been to Mt. Apo since October 2011 (read about it here) and upon making plans for my comeback this year with PhilSky friend, Charina, I've noticed several changes. First off, I was informed that my former contact at the Kidapawan Tourism Office passed away last year and there are new faces at the office. Unfortunately for me, none of them heard of my Mt. Apo ascents in a day so I had to once again explain the concept of skyrunning. Another change is the increase in guide fee to P800/day. The increase is due to the professionalization of the guides to secure the safety of climbers. I found out that Jason, my guide before, was not accredited and the Kidapawan Tourism Office had to find another guide willing to take on my "insanity." Amboy Torres, part of the Rescue Team accredited by the office, took on the challenge with the condition that we descent at 11AM regardless of where we are. Confident, Charina and I agreed.
After meeting the new Kidapawan Tourism Office staff lead by OIC Grace Tayuan and undergoing the mandatory climb orientation, Cha and I went to Lake Agco where our Mt. Apo skyrun adventure officially began. Since my itinerary in my first Mt. Apo experience (read about it here) seems to work perfectly for what we have in mind, we followed it and began our ascent at 3AM.
Most of the early morning we faced slight drizzles. I've noticed several rickety and slippery bamboo/wooden bridges build over the raging Marble River but we were still forced to cross it directly on several instances. More wooden bridges was also added in the Ko-ong Trail where more landslides seemed to occur. But it was a familiar situation and we remained optimistic that the weather conditions will improve.
All that changed when we surfaced at Lake Venado and an onslaught of biting cold winds and sharp pin-needle rain drops slashed at our soaked rain jackets. My skin started to feel itchy underneath 3-layers of clothes. I felt my face numbing and I knew what it meant--I was having an extreme allergic reaction to the huge drop in temperatures (cold urticaria). I had to settle with paracetamol hoping it will stabilize my condition since none of us had any antihistamine in our light packs. I was kicking myself mentally for this oversight. And I knew the worse was yet to come in the last assault to the summit. This section of the trail had any overhead cover to protect us from the rains and winds. We all knew that we were in deep trouble. But nobody voiced this fear and we kept going.
It was struggle to get from one point to another. We were on the lookout even for the smallest tree or rock that can serve as protection. We would stop for a few minutes, huddle, compress and set a next small goal ahead of us. We had our hands in the pockets of our rain jackets because none of us brought gloves (another stupid mistake, I must admit) and a few hundred meters to the summit, I managed to glance at my hands and saw that my knuckles and tips of my fingers were turning blue! All this time my prayers were consistent, "Lord, please help us endure." Over and over, these words played in my head as doubts and fears slowly but steadily built inside. Thoughts of hypothermia and anaphylactic shock stayed at the back of my mind. Even the morning sun was helpless against the other elements. We were doing a dangerous dance and we were all afraid.
Our moods picked up when we saw several mountaineers going down. The knowledge that there are others in the mountain that can offer us help in case of emergency cheered us up. Thoughts of asking for coffee or hot soup and even hot water on our way back motivated us to try a little bit harder. When we did reach the summit at Kidapawan side, we barely managed to celebrate. The goal was to reach the summit at Davao side as fast as we can. And so the struggle continued. But a few meters to the peak, we were all at our limits. Huddled in between rocks, I already told Cha to go on ahead with our guide as my body was shivering violently and I could barely manage to move. Cha said she was content where we were at the time and our guide seemed like he also had enough of the miserable conditions. But I couldn't stand the idea that Cha, who traveled so far, would not reach the rooftop of the Philippines which is only 5-10-meters away! Digging deep, I told them we'll give it one push, take a couple of shots and just do a mad descent to regulate our temperatures. And that's exactly what we did!
Fortunately, a hundred meters below the peak, weather started to clear and became more tolerable so we had the opportunity to enjoy the sweeping views of Lake Venado below and Mt. Talomo on the horizon. We also took more pictures to remind us of our scary adventure. Reaching Lake Venado, we were so happy to be warm that we decided to take jump shots--literally "jumping for joy!"
Picture taking and meeting friends along the trail slowed down our descent but at the end of the day, all that's important is that we're all safe and incredibly grateful for the success of our Mt. Apo Skyrun.
I would like to extend big thanks to Ma'am Grace and Ma'am Gillan of the Kidapawan Tourism Office for their kind assistance and warm hospitality. They helped us find a registered guide willing to take on our challenge as well reserve a room at Mahomanoy Lake Agko Resort. And very, very special thank you also to Sir Erning, Ma'am Cora, Sir Glenn and other friends from BCS who were incredibly supportive of our crazy adventure. Daghang salamat sa grabe ka-dakua na tabang! Big, big, big hugs to all of you.
Check out more photos at TRM at Facebook.
Updates on arranging a Mt. Apo Skyrun:
- Best to take van to Kidapawan City at Gaisano Mall (GMall) where fare is only P150/pax unlike at SM where it is P170/pax.
- Kidapawan Tourism Office: (064) 278-3687.
- Registration Fee: P500/pax for Filipinos and P750/pax for foreigners
- Guide Fee: P800/day
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
|Mt. Pulag's signature sunrise over the sea of clouds :)|
|Babadak Ranger Station|
|Splash of colors in dreary weather conditions|
|First Summit :)|
|At home with my PhilSky family. :)|
We extended our stay at the summit and took as many pictures as we could, maximizing the soft natural lighting of the early morning sun. I remember having a quiet moment seated on the grass watching friends take one picture after another and thinking to myself how truly fortunate and blessed I am to be part of it all.
I like to make a special shout out to Efren, our very friendly and reliable guide who was game with our crazy, unexpected but absolutely fun adventure. And of course, great big thank you to Mia, Carlo, Roland, Pat, Mae and Des for the wonderful memories. I'm very excited to share more of these moments with all of you guys! Cheers!
Check out more pictures at the Philippine Skyrunning Association (PhilSky) Facebook Page.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Typical of our routine, we immediately proceed to our day's adventure with hardly any sleep and after a long and restless road trip from Manila to Baguio City to the jump off at Brgy. Tinongdan, Itogon. And as always, this didn't bother us one bit. It was a day meant to be shared with friends in one of our many happy places up north: the breathtakingly beautiful Mt. Ugo. Blessed with wonderful sunny weather, cool breeze, magnificent views and awesome company, our little PhilSky family had another great holiday skyrun.
Special shout out to superfriends Mia, Cha, Roland and Pat! Thanks for a year of friendship and shared passion. Cheers to more of all the good stuff in 2013! ^_^
For more pictures, check out Philippine Skyrunning Association (PhilSky) at Facebook.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Taking heed the hard lessons brought by my injury earlier this year, I decided to be more vigilant in incorporating cross training with my runs. Fortunately for me, Groupon Philippines and Ensogo/Living Social offered great deals that allowed me to enroll in pilates, yoga and even dancing classes. Perfect to iron the kinks out of my body and hopefully result into a stronger and happier running experience!
Monday, December 10, 2012
|With PhilSky's Tito Willy, Cha and Pat. :)|
Despite only 2-hours of restless sleep and with my legs still heavy after the 42-km run at QCIM the week before, I was actually excited about the 36th Milo Marathon Finals for several reasons:
- This is the first race that I joined with my sister, Marievic. She did an amazing job with her 10-km category run!
- This is my last road race for 2013 so I want to end on a high note. Thank goodness I made it to the 2:30-hours cut-off. Well, it was 2:30:30 but still.... Hihi!
- Met up with super fun PhilSky friends! Congrats Tito Willy, Pat and Cha! :)
- Milo Marathon Finals, being the most competitive race in the country, allowed me to see amazing speeders from different regions!
- Lovely post-race breakfast and bonding with my personal support crew, mi familia!
Bring on 2013!
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
|Photo courtesy of Cha Javier :)|
My last attempt at a full marathon ended up with a trip directly to the medics immediately after I crossed the finish line (read about it here). I have to admit I was weary about taking on another 42km run. But things have been going well with my other road and trail runs the past month so I figured I'd take another crack at it especially since I need the mileage for my grand plans for 2013.
I found myself half an hour late from the gun start of the Quezon City International Marathon (QCIM). I didn't get the announcement about change in time. Drat! Not exactly a good way to start the race. Although frustrated, I was determined to add mileage to my legs and so I took off by myself and a handful of other folks who were late like me. I decided to just take an easy pace and finish in better form compared to the Subic International Marathon earlier this year.
Fortunately no more drama occurred this time although admittedly I got irritated with the lack of patrol as I ran the last stretch to the finish line along Commonwealth Avenue. I had to play "patintero" with equally agitated motorists (due to the traffic the marathon was causing) and had a too-close-for-comfort encounter when I tripped and fell to my knees. Despite this, I'm grateful to have finished QCIM still with a smile and happy to reconnect with old friends I haven't seen in such a long time.
Now time to get down and serious with the ultimate goal--my first 100km! Eyes on the prize!