As I write this, I am experiencing muscle aches and pains in my legs – most especially in my glutes, my quads, and my soleus.
Yesterday's 2015 Resolution Run, which was run at Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, was grueling. And while I am elated that I finished the 32k, I would still give the organizer Runmania a thumbs-down on the way they had handled the event. More on that later.
I actually discovered that the route would be an uphill run when I stumbled upon the Resolution Run event page. They posted a picture of the elevation gain and it showed that the gain would be 589 meters. Then, during the opening speech, the organizer gave more details about the route and mentioned that the route would take us up to Palace in the Sky, which an incomplete Marcos mansion but now converted to an urban park. Though I have never physically been to the site, I knew that it would be a really steep ascent. My friends and I were once contemplating a mountain bike trek to that place and we knew that it would test our strength and stamina. I mean it was named Palace in the Sky – not Palace on a Mountain or Palace on a Hill. Palace in the mother-f*ckin SKY!
Gun start was 4 am. I started the run slow. Slow as in zone-2 HR training slow. My heart rate averaged 134 for the first 11 kilometers and my heart rate stayed below 140 for most of the that portion. There were a few hills but it was nothing compared to the “mother-of-all-ascents.” I think it was that slow pace that made me survive the entire run. At the start of the run, people were overtaking me but when we reached the uphill portion, they were walking while I was running (albeit it at a slow pace) and overtaking them.
The uphill climb began at around the 11-kilometer mark, taking a right turn from the road which would have led us to Canlubang Country Club. It was about 5:30 am and still dark. It took me about 90 minutes to reach the peak which was at about the 20-kilometer mark. The sun was up by then. That's 1.5 hours! Granted that it wasn't a continuous uphill climb (there were brief moments of flat roads), but it was still a 9 kilometer torture fest that saw me climb more than half a kilometer uphill! Moreover, there were portions of the road that were unpaved.
I was running – even running uphill! – until I hit about the 19-kilometer mark. That was when I saw that it was one continuous climb to the top. At that point I uttered something like “f*ck this” and chose to walk. I still walked briskly, overtaking a number of runners as I strode up. You could hear a few runners asking the ones on the opposite side (they were going downhill) how far to the top. I really thought that we would reach the Palace in the Sky but the U-turn point was some distance away. We didn't even get a glimpse of the gate. That was disappointing. Maybe I misheard the organizer because I clearly heard him say we would reach the Palace.
Anyway, the marker for the U-turn point was an ambulance. Come to think of it, that was the first and only ambulance I saw throughout the run. I reached the U-turn point, there was also a hydration station so I took two swigs of water. Then I began “running” downhill. I put quotation marks there because it seemed more like shuffling than running. If you think going uphill is hard, running downhill is just as difficult. Running uphill is tough because your legs muscles are pushing you up; running downhill is tough and painful because your body is absorbing the shock as you hit the pavement!
I walked another time when I reached somewhere close to the 23-kilometer mark. I got hungry and ate an energy bar while holding on to a plastic cup of water.
A funny thing happened though at around the 4-hour mark. Suddenly everything felt light and easy and I really genuinely felt that I could finish strong with plenty of energy left. That feeling disappeared at around the 4:30 mark. It was supposed to be the final stretch and it looked endless. My running app was already registering 33 kilometers so I knew I couldn't rely on it. Was the GPS so unreliable that it was off by 2 kilometers?! My landmark was the parking lot, which would have meant that the finish line was a few hundred meters away, but as I looked far into the horizon I couldn't spot the parking lot! It was 8:30 am and the sun was already up so it was beginning to get warm. I kept on asking myself: “Where was the finish line?” At that point I began to walk.
Then, after a few minutes, I could hear music from a distance, which meant I was nearing the finish line. I saw the parking lot appear to my left. I began to run once more and finished at 4:45. The app measured the distance at 34 kilometers.
So why did I give Runmania a “thumbs-down” rating? Here's a summary:
- It didn't mention anything about an uphill route in their site.
- It didn't mention anything about dirt roads or rough, unpaved roads. It wasn't much, maybe about a kilometer in total, but if I had known earlier, I would have brought a different pair of shoes.
- Given the difficulty of the route, a 5 1/2 hour cutoff seems unreasonable.
- I spotted only one ambulance, and it's at the 20-kilometer mark. Given the difficulty of the course, there should be more medical facilities available.
- The organizer mentioned bananas at the 13.5-kilometer mark. I didn't see any.
- Some hydration stations ran out of cups.
I would think twice joining another run organized by Runmania.