I’M A SURVIVOR: My BDM 102 Story


Unlike many other decisions I have made impulsively over the years (some I regret having made but let’s not get into that), joining the Bataan Death March (BDM) 102 was a deliberate one. Except for the timeline, which was rather hard to ascertain because of the nature of my job. Will it be in 2012? 2013? I really couldn’t tell for sure at that time. Late last year, however, I had made my intentions to run BDM 102 known to my runners friends, and of course, Mr. Baldrunner himself, and the feedback were all positive. So when KB Runner signed me up on the last day of BDM 102 application and I eventually got accepted (Note: There are certain criteria to be met for one to get accepted as a BDM race participant), I was 50 percent sure I’d do it – the other half is obviously dependent on my work schedule.

Registered!

2011 ended and while nearly all of the 2012 BDM 102 runners were busy planning for the race and training properly by logging  precious mileage and incorporating heat training into it as well, I was busy working. And working some more. In fact, since 2012 started, I think I was only able to log a total of 40k running mileage and by ultramarathon standards, that is far from ideal. And then I was supposed to be somewhere for a company event on BDM 102 race dates so it didn’t occur to me to make time for some strength training at least. I was prepared to just cut losses and perhaps go at it next year. Next thing I know, our event was moved at a later date which leaves my March 3-4 weekend wide open for some ultrarunning action. By then, I only had three weeks to put together a game plan; look for kindhearted friends willing to be my support crew (whom I have found, praise God!); and psyche myself into BDM mode. Just to make sure my legs are still in good running condition, I joined two 10k races and carbo-loaded. I must say that was the best part of my preparation – EATING. I ate more than my usual amount of food intake, constantly reminding myself each time I would feel guilty that ‘Yeah, i’m going to burn all of it anyway come BDM 102!’ And so I ate like the buffet cart was going to run out soon.

The only time that the enormity of my decision to run BDM this year dawned on me fully was when I attended the Briefing Ceremony and Carbo Loading party two nights before the actual race. Seeing nearly all of the BDM 102 runners there and making a mental note of how strong and capable they all looked, I began to doubt myself. Seriously, what was I thinking?! It’s one thing to do 50k or even 65k and perhaps finish sterlingly (I did so with my two 50k races but DNF’d with my 65k race in Nuvali) BUT 102k is clearly something else! Reylynne and I would find ourselves staring blankly at the projector screen while BR was doing the briefing and clearly not able to put a finger to what it was that we were both feeling at that time. Nervous, unsure, excited, confident are only some of the decipherable emotions at play that night.

2012 BDM 102 Briefing and CLP at Camp Aguinaldo

BDM warriors with Sir Jovie aka Baldrunner, the brains and might behind Bataan Death March

Finally, it was the night before race day. I had been long done shopping maniacally for supplies (thanks, too, in large part to my brother who shared my BDM grocery expenses with me!) and I already have my Reebok gear, Lightwater and VitaminBoost, Smith Optics Pivlock shades, reflectorized vest with lamp from ARC Ph all locked-and-loaded. JJ of my running group Team UNGAS, also gave me some supplies for the race – all of which came in handy, especially the first aid kit. My amazing support crew which I’m sharing with Cris Dela Cruz, consisting of Eric Caramay, Running Atom, and Jennybave were likewise ready to rock and roll. I went to the salon for foot spa hoping it will relax my mind so that I would at least be able to clock-in some decent zzz time. Weirdly enough, I found myself tossing and turning until about 2:30am, playing scrabble on my iPad. It seemed my mind decided to race ahead of me because I would see snippets of various BDM scenarios being played out in my head! I woke up at 6:30am and even though gun start is not until 10:15pm, I couldn’t convince myself to sleep some more. Instead, I spent my time making cheese pimiento sandwiches, boiling eggs, and packing my running gear and accoutrements.

At 4pm, we were on the road to Mariveles, Bataan.

We made a short pitstop at NLEX to have lunch. In my nervousness, I forgot to eat something during the day. Funny story: Just as we were leaving HenLin, we were sandwiched by this small crowd of people having their photos taken with this guy who turned out to be friggin’ Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and I didn’t get a chance to have my photo taken with him because he was quickly whisked away by his posse before I could even reach for my camera or BB! Nakakainis lang!

With my support crew and runner friends.

We reached KM0 in Mariveles, Bataan at around 8:30pm and as much as we wanted to cram sleep, we opted to prepare for the race. Jennybave took pains in taping my feet, especially my toes which are all blister-prone. I had wanted to use my Reebok Zigtech but after the layers of Leukoplast on both feet, the shoes were already a bit tight for me ( I must remember to get a bigger size next time!) and so I wore Claudia instead which was a good size bigger and has had an ultramarathon experience at last year’s 2nd PAU T2N 50k. It’s important that I give my feet some room to breathe given that it’s inevitable that feet will expand due to constant battering during the race. With my running gear all in place, I looked just about ready to head out to war.

‘Ultra Vicky’ says my ARC Ph shirt.:)

At the KM0 marker, ultrarunners gathered and chatted away. Photos were being taken, as well. In just a few minutes, Baldrunner would call everyone to order and he appointed some runners to sing the US, Japan, and Philippine national anthems. And then we were told to move to the starting line for the prayer and gun start.

Dear God, we pray for safety, strength, perseverance, and courage as we conquer Mariveles, Bataan all the way to San Fernando, Pampanga…

At 10:15pm, we were off like a marauding colony of worker ants. Destination: KM 102 marker at San Fernando, Pampanga. Cris, my BDM partner, and I started off strong. Even while taking it very easy in the first 6kms which was a steep uphill climb, we managed to clock-in sub-6 for the first 42km. And just as I was feeling somewhat invincible, I was brought down to earth when I heard my left knee give off a loud click followed by a very sharp pain I had to cry out. It reminded me so much of my trail run in Nuvali where my knees locked and I couldn’t move and I had to be carried back to the start/finish line on a stretcher, bereft of pride. Hello, deja vu. We immediately called on our suport crew to assist me. Bave put cold compress on injured knee and gave my legs a good rubdown. I put my knee support back on and continued running. Just a few kilometers after, my right knee gave a similar jolt. That’s when I got scared and slowly see my BDM 102 dreams fall apart piece by piece. Knee injury at any race is never a good thing. I decided to take Arcoxia to manage the pain. Cris, too, at around the same time, twisted his right ankle. And so it came to be that we were both limping even before we reached KM50.

Oh my knees! (Subtitled: Parang mag-gi-gym ka lang ah!)

At KM48, I was starting to feel very sleepy I felt like a somnambulist. I told Cris that I would need a 10-minute nap once we reach the pitstop if I am to perform well in the second half of the race. And so we both cat-napped and our support crew woke us up in time for us to see the sunlight slowly peeking out of the night skies. To feel better and refreshed, I brushed my teeth, washed my face with Physio Radiance (yes, plugging!), and brushed my hair. JJ also forced me to eat puto and drink coffee to send me on my way. My knees were feeling better but there was no telling when both will go bust again. We knew it was going to be a very sunny morning/afternoon going into Dinalupihan and all the way to San Fernando so I made sure to protect my eyes with Smith Optics Pivlock V90 Max.

Good morning sunshine! With my Reebok cap, play-dri top and shorts, you can always tell I mean some serious running business!

Just when I thought my painful knees were all that I had to manage, my left shoulder also caved-in due to the pressure of swinging my arms for a long period of time. It got so painful I had to beg RA to administer makeshift arm sling just so I can keep it stable and not moving to and fro much which only aggravates the pain. So with my knees and left arm now all in pain, I couldn’t possibly suffer more, right? I mean, Murphy could not possibly be that cruel, surely? WRONG. Because when the sun finally came out, the heat emanating from that cosmically-gargantuan ball of fire nearly burned everything on terra firma, including my skin. I thought all those years of sunbathing in the beaches of Boracay, Phuket, Davao and Bali will give me some advantage but NOTHING could have prepared me for the kind of heat that confronted us from Dinalupihan all the way to KM83 where I nearly passed out – hungry, dehydrated, and burning up!

Check out my cool arm sling!

It was then that I seriously considered throwing in the towel and calling myself a loser. I was too weak and in so much pain to even consider going further. I wanted to quit and probably never show my face at races anymore. I prayed hard for God to give me one last boost and as a testament to just how faithful HE is to his promise of keeping us safe under his care, my boost came in the form of my support crew and running group friends JJ, Leya, and Ambo. They refused to hear my protestations and declaration of surrender and instead, pushed me to give it one more go. In between force-feeding me with fruits, making me drink Oresol, and wrapping my burning skin with very cold towels, they would encourage me to get up and run the remaining distance and lay claim on my BDM 102 trophy. My support crew realized that I have not exactly been eating all this while. I would have a slice of apple, orange, watermelon, and a piece of banana and nothing more. My hydration, also, left a lot to be desired. I would only take a few sips of Lightwater, VitaminBoost, and Pocari and feel as though I’m drowning in my own skin. So weird! At KM83, my apparel were soaked and the heavy fabric of my top and shorts were weighing down on me so I changed into fresh top and running bottoms. I also discarded my knee support and patella band because at that point, the contraptions were impeding blood circulation.

With barely 2 hours left ’til the 18-hour cut-off and still 12kms away, I regained some of my strength and my stride went from power walking to what my support crew surmised to be almost 6:30 pace all the way to the finish line. I took back the lead some of the guys snatched away from me when we were forced to just walk from KM70 because of our injuries and soon after, managed to squeak-in a strong finish with more than half and hour to spare.

Nearly there…

KM 102, come to Mama!

Seeing the FINISH LINE tarpaulin and the runners who crossed way ahead of me, including all the support groups, standing just behind the arch waiting to welcome the finishers was INCREDIBLE! That 500-meter stretch to KM102 was for me the best 500 meters I would ever cross – except maybe when I get married and have to do the same ceremonial crossing, only this time, down the flower-decked aisle and preferably with the feel of powder-soft sand beneath my sandaled feet. *ahem. ahem.*

I FRIGGIN’ MADE IT TO THE FINISH LINE!!!

And here she comes barreling through the odds stacked up against her…Vicky, FTW!!!

It was such an emotional moment for me that I couldn’t contain my tears. I cried and Bave cried with me. I have wanted that BDM 102 trophy and medal since the first time I tried ultrarunning at Mr. Pinatubo and now it’s mine! And I have a laundry list of friends and sponsors to thank for making my BDM 102 dream a reality. Thank you so, so, sooo much! You guys know who you are.:)

Oh, and one more thing. If you ask me what else would I write down as great BDM moment for me, I would have to say — and you gotta keep your mind open about this and your sense of humor ready just in case — those times where I would no longer care where and how I pee. Honest truth! Bear in mind that I was competing against a lot of runners and this is where being a lady is sometimes a disadvantage – but I learned to adjust, adopt, and accommodate. Grassy patch, behind the car, in between car doors, in a dried-out canal, inside a held-out malong — name it, I’ve done it all! But only during night time when it was dark and there were hardly any people around. During the day, I would knock at people’s homes and gasoline stations and beg them to allow me the use of their bathrooms. Those times, I was never without my wet wipes which I would now declare to be among the essentials a female ultrarunner must have when running an all-nighter.

BDM 102 now officially crossed-out of my bucket list! BDM 160 na ba?;)

Pains and killer heat aside, I would say my BDM 102 experience is something I will never EVER forget. On the 3rd of March 2012, I went berserk and made true my dreams of doing the ultimate ultra – not for cash or freebies BUT for pride, honor, glory, and that little kilometer marker trophy I have always wanted to have. I am no longer just a road warrior dreaming dreams of pushing myself the limits, I am a survivor – A BDM SURVIVOR! 

My BDM 102 story.

Thank you REEBOK, ARC Ph, Lightwater and VitaminBoost by Suncoast, Smith Optics, Toby’s, CW-X, Chris Sports, FTW magazine, Team Reebok, Team UNGAS, my fellow BDM-initiate and partner Cris and my amazing support crew! To those who prayed for me and wished me well on my BDM journey, my deepest gratitude as well. We’re all made of WIN!

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Claudia is my homegirl.


I am in a running funk. Seriously, I have been logging some serious mileage the past weeks I’m afraid I might be wearing my legs out already, but then it doesn’t seem to be the case really because I have been performing quite well in races – stellar in some, even.  Whoa, that was one long sentence I think a comma or semi-colon should have made its way somewhere in those group of words.  And whoa, did I just say stellar? Such unabashed conceit I have half a mind to edit statement – but I won’t. You know why? Because I have been training fairly well and rather consistently that I feel I have the right to stake a claim on my little accomplishments- like that sweet podium finish at the 2nd PAU 50k Tagaytay to Nasugbu Run, for example.

Tooting my trumpet one last time...

Though I think I have tooted my trumpet pretty darn good about that race and for a good number of days, too, I believe I have done someone a disservice by not giving her a bit more attention: Claudia.

You all have met Claudia, right? She’s officially my homegirl. That day at PAU T2N, she made me experience ultrarunning like I had never before: In which I managed to complete a 50-km stretch of hardcore road pounding with absolutely no injuries – not even a dead toenail.

Claudia, my homegirl.

Since I got Claudia in June, I had scarcely been separated from her. She and I would run around Ortigas area, sometimes going all the way to Pasig or Katipunan, and she would always surprise me with surefooted spring in my stride that just gets better each time.

And her cushioning? Ohmy. I could just go on and on and on about it being absolutely perfect it does make me feel as though I am literally running on clouds.  Except that I probably cannot say literally because I haven’t run on clouds – yet. So should I say ‘metaphorically running on clouds’? Running 50 kilometers is no joke, least of all for people like me who grew up without a single athletic bone in their bodies.  Unless you count playing chinese garter, patintero, luksong-baka, or climbing aratiles and mango trees as proof of hardcore athleticism then, by golly, I am a super athlete!

Like I said in my previous post on PAU 50k T2N, unlike my other attempts at long distance running, I must say, I did pretty well in my training. For two weeks before the race, Claudia and I would set out every morning, clocking-in an average of 15k on weekdays (just before I go to work) and a minimum of 20k on Saturdays. My Sundays are for Church and catching up on my Criminal Minds and other tv series obsession and my reading, of course.

In those two weeks of committed running and sporadic Insanity routine, I have come to love Claudia. Nay, ‘adore’ would be more appropriate a word to describe our two-way romance. She is like the best sister and girl friend I never had! Also a formidable competition with the way she pushes me to go beyond my preconceived limits.

Have you guys read The Game of Thrones or watched the series, at least? You know how they say that for a swordsman to become really dangerous in fights, his arms and sword must be one. The sword must cease to feel like a piece of fashioned steel he’s clutching, but rather a part of him. That’s how I would describe Claudia. When I have her on, she ceases to be this sexy, sleek pair of kicks. She becomes part of my body.

My LSD partner, KB Runner.

BREAKING NEWS!!!! I got the sweetest email in my Yahoo inbox — I qualified for BDM 102!!! Thank you Baldrunner for ending my week-long trepidation!

Now it seems Claudia and I will have to start seriously training for next year’s BDM 102and I am mighty glad to have enlisted the help of this lovely gentleman called KB Runner who agreed to train me for the big race. He’ll be mapping out wild LSD routes for us to conquer on weekends until I’m all set and confident to rock BDM – in sexy style.

I just hope Claudia would still be very much around by then. Oh but she’s one tough cookie, I’m sure she’ll keep it together until we cross that finish line.

2nd PAU 50k T2N: A lot like Love, Ultramarathon podium finish is always sweeter the second time around


What can I say about the UltraRunners except that they are a great bunch of people to run with?

At the starting line.

With KB Runner, who just promised to train me for BDM 102 next year.

People with good hearts, most of them. I lost my support somewhere after KM12 and for a while there I thought I was going to collapse due to dehydration (my Lightwater only had about a sip left) when I saw this other support crew up ahead and they graciously offered me water and a banana. The kind gesture would be repeated several times after that, by many other support teams.

Lightwater and no other.

With my pacer, Lao of Fairview Runners

Thinking about it now actually makes me smile and teary-eyed at the same time. Lovely people you guys are! I don’t know some of you but I hope you know how much you guys have helped me get through the race and all the way to a podium finish – and for that, I am truly, sincerely grateful. I survived all 50km with just 3 bananas + 2 slices of apple + 5 refills of water – all coming from various support teams, some of them stranger to me. That and a whole lot of heart, courage, and pride. I keep telling myself I will not DNF, never again.

Crossed the finish line in 5:45:50.

To Chaddy, who drove all the way to Nasugbu to trail me and have lunch and Mochiko with me post-race, you are one sweet angel! To the Fairview runners, especially the guy who paced me – Lao Ogerio (I’m so sorry I forgot your name! I’m really really really bad with names, I swear! Good thing you tagged yourself in one of the photos.) in the dying 12km stretch of the race, thank you! Your pananakot na may babae na runner sa likod ko who might be a threat to my bid for a 2nd place finish (kahit malayong-malayo naman pala!) actually made me forget about my tired feet and burned skin and soldier on with renewed spring in each stride. Ayoko kase ng nauunahan pa, especially when I know I have earned my spot and earned it well. That’s how wildly competitve I can be. Dennis Ravanzo knows that about me. Right, Dhenz?

Landing a podium finish at an ultra marathon is always lovelier the second time around...

Sir Jovie aka BaldRunner said I look so much different from the Vicky who DNF'd at the BDM Test Run last year.

Before the race, I was aiming for a sub-8 finish. I crossed the Finish Line in 5:45:50! And the best part about it is that I suffered nary an injury or discomfort – not even a dead toenail, which, by the way, I am known to collect after a long run. Alam na alam yan ng pedicurista ko who’d often tease me for having un-sexy feet because of the weird bone protruding on my right foot, and the mainstay dead toenail. Just tired legs which disappeared when I woke up after 12 hours of sleep – the tiredness on my legs, I mean. I still have my ultralegs intact, haha. ‘Claudia’ did a fantastic job of protecting me from running injuries while giving me that awesome spring in my stride. Having said that, thank you again to all of you.

I'mYourAverageEverydaySaintPsychoUltraRunnerSupergoddess.

Official results placed me 2nd among female runners and 39th out of 202 runners!

This would be the second time I landed a podium finish in an ultramarathon. The first one was at the 1st PAU Mt. Pinatubo 50k Trail Challenge, my ultra debut incidentally, where I also finished second but got my cherry popped in a somewhat violent way. I remember coming down with fever when reached home after the race, sporting two dead toenails for weeks, and nursing a limp for the next two days. But what I like most about Bald Runner’s ultra marathons, is how they are all about courage and pride sans the glitter of cash prizes that seduce most runners these days. In this case, it’s just you and the long stretch of road ahead and how tough your gut is. This T2N  race for example was made even more exciting by the myriad of close calls I miraculously survived! I think this was the only race where I prayed the hardest, while pounding the road, from start to finish. I was nearly sideswiped by a bus and a truck  somewhere between Tagaytay and Nasugbu and got chased after by stray dogs, as well.

Running on Clouds

Unlike my Mt. Pinatubo debut, I sort of trained for T2N by running an average of 15k every morning, Monday to Friday, and at least 20k on Saturday for two weeks prior to the big race. Though my training got interrupted for a few days when I went on a business trip to Singapore, I made sure to pick up the slack soon as I got back. I was also able to slot-in two Insanity sessions for added core power.

With Chinggay Andrada

The week leading up to the race also found me getting actively involved in the Reebok EasyTone and FTW launch – both turned out to be a superlative success – and I also dropped by Skechers ProSpeed Bloggers’ event the night before the race, where I met Coach Chinggay Andrada of the Pinoy Biggest Loser fame. She’s so petite and lovely, I’m even more inspired to get fitter and stronger – looking hotter would just be an added bonus.:)

Thank you, too, Reebok, Bodivance, Lightwater, Chris Sports, and FTW magazine for your support. I am indebted and in awe.:)

And Lord God, you are awesome beyond words. Every single moment of the day.:)

Mabuhay tayong lahat na Ultra Runners! TAYO NA TALAGA!

 

***Photo credits to the following: Carlo Serrano, A Runner’s Circle, Mayor Alfaro, Bave dela Cruz, Sir Jovie, The Curious Runner, Team Boring, and Team CB

Yup, that’s algae alright.


I was intently peering inside my favorite Aqua Lock & Lock water bottle (it says ‘We make your table more elegance with our design water bottle’ on the sticker-on product label, so guess where it was manufactured from?) because I had been feeling unsettled by the yellowish discoloration at the inside bottom of the bottle which I had been drinking from for several days already — when Laj walked into the office pantry.

Me: Laj, tingnan mo nga ‘to. Why is the color yellow-ish at the bottom? I think it’s moss.

Laj: Na-a-arawan ba siya on your table? I think that’s algae.

Me: Well, yah, ‘coz I leave it on top of my table lang naman and when the sun is high and mighty, it gets exposed to heat.

Laj: Yup, that’s algae alright.

Can you believe that? It turned out I had been drinking algae with my water for several days already and I didn’t even bother to investigate at the first sighting of the yellowish thingy inside my water bottle! I’m surprised all this while that I had been inadvertently snacking on algae I did not grow gills or whatever these fish that feed off on algae have. Took a quick glance on my skin just now and I didn’t see scales – yey, I’m safe!

These things always happen to me. There were times before when I would take a swig off a Yakult bottle or have a sip of milk only to realize after several gulps and the initial sour taste lingered, that those were actually expired stuff in my fridge! Seriously, who does that?!? The problem with me is that I go crazy when doing grocery shopping. I buy so much stuff, mostly perishables, leave them in the fridge for several days without bothering to eat them because I often feel full already from the meals I had taken during work hours. By the time I remember I still have them stored somewhere, they’re expired. Moments like this, I can almost hear Kassy say ‘Gumu-gujab ka na naman!

Patayin sa algae si Becky!

***

This week is war week at work for all of us. Our Boss is in town and we have so much ground to cover in terms of projects pending, and those that will be launched in the near offing. Good news: the first VOYAGER mock-up is ready to be presented to the Boss later. I am really proud of my VOYAGER Team! Call it great talent or serious pursuit of perfection finally paying-off but we are really coming up with great issues one after the other. The last issue which was distributed to our convention participants in Malaysia last May was already pretty nifty and it got great reviews from the readers – and then I saw the first mock-up of the latest issue and it definitely stood head and shoulders above any of the past issues!

Not only that, we have gone online as well. Wanna see it? It’s right here. You can browse through Issue no. 7, no. 6, and no. 5 and see what fun and informative stuff we have put together all these months and years.

***

FTW Magazine is now on its final stages of editing and proofreading and will be hitting the printing press in no time! This one is exceptionally special for the FTW Team (Kassy, Marga and Chad) and our growing roster of supporters and sponsors because this is something we put together with only our ideas and daring in our limited arsenal. After weeks of putting together this piece of wonder and talking to so many sponsors and partners, we are inching closer  and closer to actually touching and smelling the printed pages of the magazine. Yey for us! Not to be yabang or anything but I am pretty sure you would all agree when you see this mini magazine that we have just outdone awesome.

***

Thank you Ena Terol for this photo!

By the way, please don’t forget to drop by TRINOMA Activity Center on the 15th of September, from 5:30 to 8:30pm, for the REEBOK EasyTone Launch and FanCon. We have tons of surprises in store for all of you Reebok fans and converts and you would loathe to miss all of it! For details, check Team Reebok Running page on Facebook regularly.

SEE YOU THERE!

***

On the running front, I must say I am mighty proud of myself for logging decent mileage during the past weeks. Just before I left for Singapore nearly two weeks ago for a workshop, I accumulated a whopping 100.5k mileage in seven days! Unfortunately, Chris and I were only able to run twice while I was in Singapore and did not immediately jump into running when I got back. But after a few days, I was back on the road and have been running an average of 15k every morning – with the longest distance of 25.38k in 2:32:30 last Saturday. I had wanted to do a full marathon distance, LSD pace, with KB Runner that time but he had prior running commitment with some runners down south. I had to settle for nearly 26k, all by myself. I would have gone on to cover a bit more distance than that but I had FTW meeting + family dinner + hangout with the becky’s on the same day.

The past three days, however, I had to take a break from running as I had been waking up lightheaded – which I now attribute to the damned algae on my water bottle! hahaha. But last night, I started to feel the excess weight and the sluggishness that come with it so I committed to start running again when I wake up in the morning. I’m telling you, I am no longer used to not doing cardio everyday. I get cranky, impatient, and I feel bloated even when I’m not. Since I got all maniacal and obsessive about this whole fitness thing, I even feel guilt-stricken having to eat food when I know I haven’t worked out previously.

So anyway, this morning, I did 15.35k in 1:35:30. I was slower than usual, I know, but I think it was because of the fact that my legs went on vacation for three days. Ang tatamad ng mga hitang ‘to! hahaha.

Oh, and I have also been using Claudia for most of my training and she’s awesome! She’s the perfect combination of superb performance and ultra comfort.

I have two major races coming up: One is the PAU 50k from Tagaytay to Nasugbu and Manila Marathon (i’m doing full mary here) back-to-back in September.

This will be my second PAU ultra race, the first one being the memorable Mt. Pinatubo 50k trail race last year which I kind of aced. Last Saturday, the trail runners took to the crater and back again with the 2nd Mt. Pinatubo race but I didn’t join because I am not feeling so confident. I don’t want another DNF on my record, no siree!

Aaaaand that’s all folks! Tune in again in a few days when I post a fresh update. Meanwhile, go and get yourself some good vibes and give back loads as well. Cheers Loves!

Travel: My Goodness, BATANES!! (Part I)


I am one very lucky girl.

I may not be rich in the traditional sense of the word but God (has) most certainly blessed me in many other ways. I don’t drive around in fancy cars or fly business class, but I have traveled to some of the most remarkable places here and abroad. With the exception of my occasional leisure trips with my dear friends and boyfriend, most of my international travels are work-related. It’s quite rare to have a career that enriches you professionally and at the same time, gives you ample leg room for you to be able to explore activities that will, in turn, enrich you both physically and spiritually.

Until very recently, it never occurred to me to make my own bucket list – maybe because I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of setting a deadline on anything that has got nothing to do with my work deliverables. I guess I have gotten so used to be being on my own that the only pace I know how to walk or run is my own. I slow down when I want to; I go on full sprint when I want to. In retrospect, it all started with running.  Tried it once and got hooked for a while. From my first 5k, I found myself running a full marathon in less than a year. I didn’t stop there. Shortly after my first and only full-mary, I dared to do an ultramarathon and got even more hooked. Since then, I have tried my hand on so many other outdoor activities that I never thought I would have access to – let alone be genuinely interested in. Fishing, Trail running, Scuba diving, Surfing, Mountain Trail Biking — these are some of the things that I have now X-marked on my list.  Though most of them I have done only once – bringing to fore that I am indeed ‘Little Miss Will Try Anything Once’ – I wouldn’t mind giving them another go sometime in the near future. Surfing, especially. But first, I seriously need to learn how to swim already. Not just for that, but for my general knowledge and survival. You know, just in case someone tries to push me into the water and make it look like an accident. Hah!

And now it seems that my list had just gotten longer with the addition of rock climbing, scrambling and rappelling which I may be doing soon as I get back from my trip. I want to tell you about so many other MORE EXCITING projects we’re working on with some very good friends but I don’t want to jump the gun too soon. For now, let’s just say that we are going to conquer the world one step at a time. Right, Kas, B, and Marga? *insert smiley here*

Now, on to the main reason for this blogpost which I accidentally turned into a novela again because of my penchant for digression: BATANES.

What else can I say about Batanes except that the island is TOO BEAUTIFUL for words? My senses are still somewhat overwhelmed that I cannot even come up with adjectives good enough to describe the whole Batanes experience (that) my friends and I had just recently.

So, just like what Eric did in FB, I will let some of the photos we took do the talking. And maybe add some unintelligible description here and there if only to delude myself into thinking that I’m still some sort of a writer.

But first, I want to thank Emperor Eric Cabahug for planning the whole thing and booking our flights as early as March when Seair announced its promo fare for Batanes. Normal flights to and from Batanes would cost you around Php16,000 including taxes and that is quite steep for a local flight. But let me tell you now that it’s all worth every centavo – and MORE. If it weren’t for the locals that look and talk just like us, you wouldn’t think you’re still in the Philippines. The island is so multifaceted you would think you’re in Hawaii or Scotland or New Zealand — three places I have never been to, by the way, but the natural land and seascapes of Batanes may very well rival the vistas of these three countries on Google images.

Sleep-deprived and in my case, still under duress from work (very normal for me), we – Eric, Cris B., Cris C., Uly, Romy and I – took the 5:15am flight from Manila to Basco, Batanes on July 1. The flight was one and a half hours long but quite comfortable. Our airhostess, Frances, had the best natural voice I have ever heard come out of a woman’s mouth. It had a sultry ring to it and she enunciated every word to near-perfection!

The Batanesians.:)

Batanes Airport is small but you instantly feel the warmth and beauty of the island the minute you step out of the plane. At the airport, we were welcomed by Kuya Jun, our designated tour guide slash driver for the whole of five days. After snapping our touchdown Batanes photo, Kuya Jun drove us to DDD Habitat, our home during our stay.

Ate Monica, cook extraordinaire slash manager of DDD Habitat, treated us to a scrumptious breakfast of fish lumpia, veggies, and rice. Not wanting to waste a single minute of our Batanes time, we changed into shorts and tanktops and set off to explore the island – except for Eric who opted to sleep the first half of the day. That morning, Romy, Cris B., Cris C., Uly and I went to the lighthouse nearby.

One of the MANY jumpshots we will be doing in Batanes.

United Colors of Batanes.

San Marino advert gone dark. haha.

Paging mobile providers, you might want to use this in your marketing collateral. LOL.

When we came back just in time for lunch, we were all twice as dark as when we first arrived in Batanes. We did not really anticipate the heat to be that intense so we scrimped on sunblock. Lunch was fantastic and we all fell in love with the fern salad Ate Monica prepared. Thus began the Batanes BUSOG EDITION. Let me explain. The minute we arrived in Batanes, all we did was eat, walk, take photos, eat, eat, EAT! Hence the ‘busog’ look in all of my swimsuit photos. So much for ripped abs. The all went back into hiding beneath the layers of fat – many thanks to the sinfully delicious meals we would have five times a day! Such was the case for me, at least. Because Cris B.’s perpetually ripped! he ate as much, if not more than, I did but the abs stayed right where they are. I asked how it’s even possible for those pandesals to stay unfazed despite the amount of food ingested whereas mine looked, well, bloated, he said, ‘it’s all muscles, Vicky.’ So I guess I have to work harder than ever before to scrape the fat layers, eh? When did it get sooo hard to be a woman?!?

Living on the edge is good...sometimes.:)

At the viewing deck of one of the smaller lighthouses.

For Cris' Mom.:D

Binibining Yellow bell.

Inside one of the rooms at 'Fundacion Pacita'

According to the caretaker, Fundacion Pacita can be rented for around P7,500 per day. They are currently renovating the place but it should be open for business again soon. In the meantime, you can have lunch or coffee at this beautiful place with the stunning view of the rolling hills of Batanes and the great pieces of art on display inside the house.

And that concludes Day One.

Clutter Express: Reebok Bloggers’ Night, Total Fitness, and GAG-O


It seems to me that everything is running at top speed these days. There’s just so much going on – mostly at work – that I sometimes have to sprint in order to keep pace. And when that happens, I swear that I can see my heart beating through the fabric of my shirt!

First things first.

Two weekends ago, I introduced you to Purple Pippa, my second pair of Zig Glam who carried all 97lbs of me from the starting line of the Fuego Sunset Run all the way through the 5k finish line. A few days ago, Bruno, Basia, and Purple Pippa, welcomed another addition to the growing Reebok family — feminine yet tough as nails TERRA. Terra is the offroad/trail shoes featuring the Zig(Tech) technology which comes in sushi green and flat grey colours. Terra will be seeing hard action in the upcoming 50k Nuvali Trail Challenge organized by Ultramarathoner and frontRUNNER Magazine owner Jonel Mendoza. Wanna know just how lucky I am these days? It seems I will be the only one in the country who owns this pair as Terra won’t be released in the local market – at least (not) for now! I just love, love, LOVE Reebok!

Terrific TERRA

Incidentally, I will have Dennis the Running Pinoy running by my side in Nuvali. If you remember, Dennis was my rock when I dared to run my first ultramarathon last year at the PAU 50k Mt. Pinatubo Trail Challenge and landed second behind the unstoppable Camilla Brooks. He never left my side when he could just as easily have, at any given time of that harrowing – but very fulfilling! – 9 hours or so of trail running adventure. Because of that, Dennis is now officially the Batman to my Batgirl!  Fellow Team Reebok ambassador Titanium Runner will also be there running the same 50k distance.

Batman and Batgirl of Ultra Trail Running

With The Running Pinoy and Titanium Runner doing Nuvali 50k with me, how can I not cross the finish line in one piece? Now IF I land another podium finish, would it then be safe to assume to I am officially ‘made’ as a runner, nay, ultrarunner? Not yet? Okay then. Next stop: PAU 60k and BDM 102.

***

More on REEBOK. So last Monday, Reebok held the ZigTech Run Bloggers’ Night at Paul Calvin’s in Burgos Cirle, The Fort. Close to 40 runner-bloggers trooped to the venue, including everyone’s favorite The Bull Runner Ms. Jaymie Pizzaro, in a show of solid support to Reebok’s first-ever run to be held on the 5th of June. TEAM REEBOK was there, along with the official photographers, and of course, Ms. Yoya and Ms. Villy of Reebok Philippines – the two ladies responsible for making us perform and look good while running!

With Ayn and Beep Beep of Team Reebok

Flanked by Titanium Runner and frontRUNNER's Jonel Mendoza

Bloggerful of Fun at the Reebok Bloggers' Night

To all our runner and blogger friends, thank you for your love and support! And again, to all runners who have yet to register for the REEBOK ZigTech Run, you have until the 4th of June to register for the race. Don’t miss this one, okay?

***

Have you picked up a copy of this month’s TOTAL FITNESS magazine, yet? What the?!? We’re more than halfway through May, you should already have a copy in your home, car, office, and even your Ex’s bedroom!  Read my article on the Ultimate Wake Championships held last January and another feature on running.  Besides that, there are tons of interesting articles on motoring, sports, health, relationships and a few other topics of great interest.

Shameless plugging by the writer.

***

And finally, here’s something FIERCE, FABULOUS, and FUNNY from The Grupong Rainbow…

GAG-O’s SHANGHAI SURPRISE Day 1!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoBXxNvTAwE

Remember that time we went to Shanghai for a quickie tour? Well, we didn’t just go all touristy in the city labelled as the Paris of the East. In between train rides, coffee breaks, hunting down cuties and what-not, we actually shot some scenes for our youtube show GAG-O!

I watched the episode more than ten times already and quite frankly, I am getting sick of my face and my nasal voice, so can I pass on the viewing duties to you guys and make us even more famous than we already are? Great! And while you’re at it, why don’t you click on the share or email button and send it to whoever you think needs some major cheering up.

Okay. Now. I. Am. Good.

***

Oh wait. Happy birthday to my gorgeous boyfriend who is celebrating his 31st on Friday, 20th of May!  We have come  a loooong way, you and I. Here’s a toast to so much more in the coming years. ILY.

Happy birthday, Luv!:*

FUEGO Sunset Run 2011 and Estan Cabigas


It’s raining wildly outside as I type this blog entry; and there’s still the burning sensation on my tongue, courtesy of the hot soup I had nearly an hour ago at Nasi Lemak. I take full responsibility for the scalded tongue because, as usual, I did not think before taking a sip. For the bazillionth time, I had murdered my taste bud. But no, neither rain nor burnt tongue will dampen my edified spirits because yesterday – yesterday, was one darn fine day and let me tell you why.

But first, have you met Purple Pippa?

Purple Pippa

This gorgeous Zig Glam pair is the youngest of the Reebok brood I keep safe and nurtured right at home. She came just weeks after Bruno and Basia arrived separately and the three of them practically took over my athletic life, much to the consternation of my other running pairs. I just don’t have the heart to give up Zara my Zoot and Blu my Wave Rider because they were both given to me as a gift.  I could not have chosen a better way to break-in Purple Pippa than this weekend because she looked absolutely stunning out there!

Vicky FTW!

TEAM REEBOK Pilipinas at the Fuego Sunset Run

I won first place in yesterday’s FUEGO Sunset Run held at Club Punta Fuego in Batangas! This hot little munchkin has lorded over a handful of 5k female runner hopefuls and crossed the finish line in 30 minutes. But wait, before you all scoff at my little achievement, allow me to state for the record that it wasn’t just your regular flat surface run. It was an evil cardiac hills run at 4:30 in the afternoon with the Fuego heat beating down on us! And for someone who’s not quite used to running hills, I would be the first one to admit that it is not at all easy. Sure I have had my share of trail runs – MH All-Terrain Race in 2009 in Sta. Elena featuring Phoenix who is now back in the grave, never to resurrect again; Merell Adventure Trail Run 2010 at the La Mesa Dam where a bunch of us trail runners got lost and so we ended up just photowalk-ing; and my all-time favorite 50k PAU Mt. Pinatubo Trail Challenge where I trailed behind the sensational Camilla Brooks – but I certainly don’t do this type of run on a regular basis.

Post-race posterity shot

TEAM REEBOK Pilipinas with PEP SQUAD Events and Race Marshals

At gun start, I made a mad dash for it like everyone else but nearly met an accident when confronted by the sharp downhill which started just a few feet from the starting line. It was almost like that time  I first attempted to do mountain biking at San Mateo, Rizal, flew off from my bike, and landed hard on the pebbled dirt road, sustaining a number of injuries.

TEAM REEBOK

At the Starting Line

I still carry the scars from that accident to this day. Like that deep downhill slope of San Mateo, this one in Punta Fuego has got me foot-braking in an attempt to slow down (the) momentum which could potentially send me sprawling on the ground again, in a bloody heap. Thank God, this time, none of the sort happened. I was in full control of my legs and wobbly knees (hey, they’re almost 32 years old, so cut them some slack, will you?!) and though I slowed down considerably after that – which gave this other girl the opening to overtake me, at least for a few meters, before I would snatch back my lead and continue to keep the girls at bay all the way through the finish line.

The heat was pretty intense that, for a while there, I got worried Purple Pippa would sustain permanent injuries herself! I could feel the heat literally creeping up the soles of Pippa, all the way through my legs, and up my thighs and it was debilitating! But the second the FINISH LINE materialized before my eyes, the pain and heat seemed to have vanished and I was like Oh yeah, baby! Who’s your Mommy?Errr, that doesn’t exactly have a nice ring to it, ya? Nowhere near ‘Who’s your Daddy?!‘ so I guess I better quit it.

Nognog Runner on a rampage!

Great race performance by Team Reebok!

We stayed until the awarding ceremonies and got our fill of delicious buffet dinner. Beer was overflowing, too, much to the boys’ delight. Meanwhile, I got a medal and a gift check from Reebok (what are the odds of that happening, huh?!?) which I’m planning to use to get me another one of the Cirque de Soleil top I so adore! See that blue top I wore to the race? That’s the Cirque de Soleil apparel and it also comes in pink – which I’m claiming using the GC I won. I also won a GC worth Php1,000 from Milk & Co. during the raffle.

TEAM REEBOK at the Awarding Ceremonies

All in all, it was a great race and Pep Squad did a good job of organizing it! Thank you, too, Reebok Philippines and my team mates at Team Reebok Pilipinas for the wonderful opportunity and, yes, the warm friendship and solidarity. Here’s to greater success in future races and other events. WE JUST ROCK, don’t we?

Oh, by the way, prior to the sunset race, we spent some time at the Terrazas de Punta Fuego – mostly to enjoy the food, glorious sun, and the nice beach. And since we have TEAM REEBOK’s de facto photographer Estan Cabigas with us, expect some great photos of our pre-race beach-combing, the actual race, and the awarding ceremonies. Below are some of the photos we took by the beach. These are not by Estan, so you will have to excuse the poor quality. Estan’s are definitely waaaaaaaaaay better, so watch out for it!

Before the clothes came off...:p

Team Reebok hours before the sunset race

No, that definitely isn't spray-tan. Au naturelle, baby.

The Succulent Runner with the Titanium Runner

Beep Beep, Vicky, and TR

Purple druhmuh. Bow.

🙂

Caution: VERY dangerous curves ahead.

In which we traded our running gear for sunscreen. Yay.

POST SCRIPT:

  • Congratulations to Pinoy Pride MANNY PACQUAIO for yet another momentous victory in the international boxing arena! Ikaw na!
  • Congratulations, too, FERNANDO ALONSO aka The Greatest Love of My Life for a strong P3 finish in yesterday’s F1 Turkish Grand Prix. Oh you should’ve seen the silly grin that refused to leave my face the whole time I was watching the post-race press conference! Kilig kung kilig ito! Round 4 done and over with – 15 more to go and things have started to look real good for my favorite Spaniard.
  • Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there! Yes, that includes you, my dear absentee mother.
***
Finally, as promised,  here are four photos taken by ESTAN CABIGAS. Gorgeous, ‘innit?

Estan Cabigas Photography.

Estan Cabigas Photography

By Estan Cabigas

Vicky Ras by Estan Cabigas