IMMUVIT Fearless Challenge: I think, therefore, I AM fearless.


I haven’t done that many trail races (as of writing, I have only done five trail adventure races: the 2009 Men’s Health All-Terrain Race at Sta. Elena, the first Merrell Trail Adventure in 2010, Mt. Pinatubo 50k Trail Ultramarathon in 2010, 65k Frontrunner Valley Trail Challenge in which I DNF’d much to my chagrin, and the 3rd Merrell Adventure Run last June) but there is no denying that I love trail running more than I could ever love road races mainly because of the amount of air and noise pollution I get exposed to when running in the Metro. Besides that, I don’t think road races can and will ever be able to give me the peace and, at the same time, the exhilaration I feel out there in the woods. Make that a muddy, slippery trail and I have just gone way above the happiest mark in the happy-o-meter!

I like filth. No, not that kind of filth but the mud-caking-on-my-face-and-body-oh-my-god-I-look-like-a-homeless-person-with-my-lifeless-hair-plastered-all-over-my-face-like-that kind. Never mind if I get bruises and scrapes, too, as bonus. I like my scars. I think they give me some sort of character. I have accumulated tons of them over the years – from falling down mango trees; falling off bikes; getting scratched by cats or getting bitten by dogs (I was bitten twice when I was a kid) and all sorts of accidents I always seem to conveniently get into.

It’s no wonder then that I fell mighty in love with yesterday’s IMMUVIT Fearless Challenge where I got to do all sorts of stunts including but, of course, not limited to getting sticky and squishy mud on my person.

Before this, I was pretty convinced Merrell Trail Adventure held at Timberland last June would be tough to beat in my all-time favorite races category. But now, I am sorry to say that IMMUVIT Fearless Challenge has officially taken over the top spot.

Without Limits certainly pulled all the stops in bringing 500 runners (number of runners was only kept at a maximum of 500, by the way) all the obstacle fun their adventurous hearts can handle. If you ask me, they had me at the first obstacle – the fire wall.

Fight fire with fire…

Obstacle course no. 1: Check!

From there, it was soaring, muddy hills challenging my legs, until I reached the second obstacle – the mud pit, where I had to crawl real low before hitting the trail running, again. By this time, I was already on fire – totally unperturbed by my state of disarray (hair ugly, face muddy, etc)!

Then came the log walls where I had to leap over logs of varying height – some of them as high as my chest, making it almost impossible for my short legs to jump over! For this, I had to step on the proffered hand by the marshall, haul my body off the ground, hug the log like a friggin’ monkey and jump over to the other side. That, too, was a lot of fun!

After covering more ground – or mud – I finally reached the military wall where I caught up with a few more runners from Wave 5, of which I was part of. It was here that my gloves first found its purpose because I had to climb up the nylon rope to get to the platform on top before sliding on my backside down to the other side of the wall. I could not have been more G.I. Jane-ish than this!

Slip sliding away… Also, I don’t think G.I. Jane ever looked this ugly!

In which my flat backside got flattened on impact again, they might as well be called pancakes! LOL.

From there, it was all running again until I reached the next obstacle course which involved  running across tire set – supposed to be good in testing one’s balance and agility – and it scared me a little bit because I’m usually very clumsy and uncoordinated with these things! Thankfully, I didn’t misstep and fall flat on my face or that would have been extremely painful and embarrassing.

Trees and mud — what’s not to love?

And then came my most favorite part of the obstacle series, the mud wall! To get to the mud wall, I had to go down the stream and wade in knee-deep waters. But alas, I slipped on the rocks and I ended up getting submerged chest-deep! Have I mentioned I’m clumsy?! At the foot of the wall, there were already a few men standing in line, waiting for the helmets to be passed to them and for the nylon ropes to be lowered so they can start with their ascent. Finally it was my turn and surprisingly, I kind of just breezed through it!

There was one more log crossing – and again, I looked like a drenched monkey clinging on to the highest of the logs – and one more fire wall before I finally crossed the finish line with the broadest smile ever seen on my face!

Sometimes I fancy myself a superhero.

I wonder how much fun I will have in the next leg of the IMMUVIT Fearless Challenge series? Can’t wait!

Thank you Benj Termulo for my compression sleeves! Finally got to wear them!

Here are more photos post-race. Enjoy!

Fearless Team REEBOK

With WITHOUT LIMITS PHILS. Race Director Ian Alacar

Team REEBOK With Jay Em of Pro Active Sports

Fearless, fierce, and all-female.

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MERRELL Adventure Run 2012


Between a trail and a road race, I would go for trail – in a heartbeat. That I have always known since I had the opportunity to try out trail running at the first Merrell Adventure Run held at the Wawa Dam in Montalban, Rizal back in 2010. I only did 5k at that time and even though we got lost and ended up wandering aimlessly for a good hour before we would be able to find our way back, it did not diminish the exhilaration one bit. It sure was fun taking photos of the ducks, rocks, and the dam itself.

So when I was invited by Agatep Associates (Thank you Agatep!) to be part of the third Merrell Adventure Run last 2 June, this time at Timberland Heights in San Mateo, Rizal, not only did I say ‘hell, yeah!’, I also signed up for 21k for maximum mountainside adventure experience!

The night before the race, it started to rain and the downpour came cold and steady I struggled mightily to get out of bed at 3am – enough time to shower and get prepped-up for the 4am pick-up. In the car, Lai and I were speculating whether or not the race will happen given that it still hasn’t stopped drizzling. We passed by Philcoa to pick-up runner bloggers Running Atom and Allan of Run Free Manila, both of whom I know and have run several races with in the Metro.

It was still dark and chilly by the time we reached Timberland Heights, but there were already a lot of cars parked and runners milling around, some doing stretching exercises and others are happily playing catch-up with fellow runners.

With Running Atom (in black) and Allan aka RFM (red)

Ten minutes before gun start, Running Atom and I made our way to the starting line to join the rest of the 21k runners. Looking around, everyone seems to me is in great trail running shape. Extreme adventure athlete Thumbie Remigio, the brains and brawn behind this year’s more physically and emotionally demanding Merrell Adventure Run course, gave a few reminders to the runners before sending us off to what awaits us at Timberland Heights — a dunk in a mud pit, a few kilometers of slick uneven rocky pathways, and was punctuated with an endless string of uphill climbs.

The downpour had turned the already rigorous uphill off-road course into a slippery path.  We found ourselves sliding down muddied inclines, groping for handholds at slippery slopes, and splashing across natural streams.  I slipped twice while trying to cross the boulders that dotted the stream. One particular ‘vertical split’ (imagine one foot slipping fast down the side of the rock while my other foot was still lodged above) gave my inner thighs/crotch a nasty stretch, I would feel the tingle for a few more hours after the race. I also collected a number of cuts and scratches on my thighs, legs, and arms, from coming into contact with blades of tall grass and tree branches.

I didn’t have my watch with me so I couldn’t tell how long I had been running out there for but I was having so much fun  I was practically oblivious to anything but. I passed Reebok teammate Beep Beep at some point and would not see him and our other friends after that. Most of the time I would be on my own, occasionally overtaking a few runners, but would also be overtaken by a good number of runners as well.

There was enough water and Pocari sweat in all the well-placed hydration stations (Pocari was, of course, limited) to keep me hydrated all throughout the race. Before the race, I had planned on bringing my hydration belt with me but decided against it when I learned about the mud pit. A wise decision as I would not have been able to save it from getting dunked into a pool of mud.

Thankfully, I did not suffer cramps or knee injuries that would have made running uphill and downhill such a painful task. Before I knew it, I was already approaching the finish line and Running Atom (boy was he fast in this one!) and Alan (RFM) were already there waiting to snap some photos of me crossing it. Chip time says I finished 21k of the challenging Merrell Adventure course in 4 hours, 19 minutes, and 27 seconds.

Merrell Adventure Run 2012 certainly ranks high on my list of all-time favorite races!  A fantastic upgrade from its maiden attempt in 2010. I enjoyed the race so much I am now on the lookout for more trail runs I could join. Thank you Merrell and Agatep!

Thoughts on (hopefully) Running on On-Running


When it comes to running and nearly everything fitness-related, I have to give loads of credit to a certain friend of mine for getting me started – and pretty much hooked – on it. Though the ‘hooked’ part is really more of a personal conviction, something I am determined to keep on the up and up for as long as my body can take the pain, he was the one who introduced running to me – right from my first pair of legit running shoes, Mizuno Wave Creation 10 in bright orange (around this time, I haven’t gotten into the habit of naming my shoes yet but for easy recall, let me now call my first pair, Wanda. She breathed her last in Phuket  where I have decided to leave her degraded body – but Wanda served me well. Very well, in fact.) which he gave me as birthday present two years ago; Phoenix, my NF trail running shoes who carried my weight and busted shins all the way to the finish line of my first trail run – the Men’s Health All-Terrain Race in Sta. Elena; my prized Zara the Zoot which I would wear to my first (and only) full marathon, the Condura Run for the Dolphins in 2010 in which I crossed the finish line in less than five hours. Far from a Kikayrunner finish, obviously, but not too shabby either. Zara the Zoot were given to me as Christmas present so I was actually one of the few who would be wearing the pair before it was formally brought into the country by the local distributor. Zara came in patriot pink, by the way, which happens to be one of my favorite colors. And I got another pair of Mizuno Wave Rider, which I named Blu, as my 2011 New Year’s present. All these serve as constant reminder for me to work hard in making my fitness resolutions stick because I have been known to run my mouth on this and that and end up not achieving the end-goal I desire because I would get bored halfway through it and move on to do something else. It’s like the early signs of ADHD, I tell you.

Enter Reebok…and suddenly, my fitness goals have taken a whole new dimension. Just before I joined a bunch of cool runners as brand ambassador for Reebok Running, I thought my running mojo had decided to go on an extended vacation – indefinitely. At that time, I have not been logging decent mileage per week, so much so that I have already placed my running shoes back in their boxes, which resulted to my pants getting a bit tight around the waist again. Uh-oh. Danger alert!

Now what I like most about Reebok is its versatility. So far, the shoes and apparel that I have worn to so many running events and also at home when I do my Insanity workout (which reminds me, I gotta start Insanity Asylum soon!) have all given me my main prerequisites: Comfort, Performance, and Style. It fits perfectly with the very active lifestyle I maintain. I have Bruno, Basia, Purple Pippa, and Terra of the ZigTech family, and all of which have seen some hardcore action on and off-road. As luck – combined with hard work, determination and a whole lot of prayers for safety and deliverance from major injuries, if I may say so – would have it, I have also bagged a few podium finish. Recently though, I swallowed my prescribed dosage of this bitter pill called DNF and it did not taste heavenly at all, but it taught me a lot of things which I really ought to apply in my next ultra run happening in August. It’s 60k, if I’m not mistaken. Oh but before that, there’s MILO marathon happening end of the month for which I am hoping to log a new PR. I will attempt to shave off at least half an hour from my first marathon record of 4:56:00. Reebok Teammate Titanium Runner is egging me to pick up the gauntlet and throw in my bid to go sub-4 just like him and Sam the Running Ninja but I don’t know yet. I think it would be too tall an order for me. But who knows? Barring unpleasantries, I think I have enough fire power in me to achieve my marathon goal.

So now I think it seems pretty clear that I am a fitness enthusiast who loves shoes! I don’t know with you guys but it just seems very logical to me to come armed to the teeth when I am about to embark on some fitness activity – especially running. And by that I mean, I have to make sure my feet, knees, shins, etc. are insulated from injuries – especially the lingering kind. Nothing hurts a runner more than not being able to run.

Speaking of shoes, I have recently come across this brand which I heard will soon be making an appearance in the local running scene (courtesy of CHRIS Sports) — On-Running. Have any of you guys seen this on the road? I read Titanium Runner and JazzRunner‘s blog posts and I must say my curiosity got piqued. In a colossal way! It’s supposed to be the fastest running shoes in the world and it’s got nearly all of the world’s elite athletes raving about it. I took a peek at On-Running’s official website to learn a wee bit more about their patented CloudTec™ 3D cushioning system and found myself daydreaming about it for quite a bit. I mean, it’s rather hard not to when shoe performance is talked about glowingly like that. I have no illusions of one day running neck-and-neck with the gazelle-like Kenyans but I am mighty curious to know just how much faster I can still run. I don’t think I have reached my maximum speed yet. I mean, I may be 32 but I think my body’s built to constantly morph and improve. I wonder how it feels like wearing them? How exactly does this CloudTec system work? Will it really make me more agile and run faster and longer?

I suppose there is only one way to find out.

What are you running ON?

Uhrmmm, by the way, my birthday is less than 24 hours away. I’m just saying.

The Valley of (Sudden) Death: A DNFer’s Tale


After reading my partner in (ultra) crime Dennis the Runningpinoy’s very graphic account of what transpired last Saturday at the first-ever frontRUNNER Valley Trail Challenge held at Nuvali in Sta. Rosa, I have decided I cannot possibly come up with a better – if not more descriptive – blog post. By the way, have you read it? Get full details here.

The Close-up smile before the copious tears.

So now that you know, I, being the queen of stating the obvious (only sometimes, anyway) and at the risk of sounding more pitiful (uuuyyy, pa-damsel in distress effect pa kunyari!) would like to state for the record that I DNF’d – with only a few kilometers left to cover before the finish line! And even more painful than that, I dragged Dennis down the highway of shame with me. I tried as best as I could to push the pain on both knees away – mentally, at least – but sometimes, you REALLY have to listen to what your body is telling you. In my case, my body wasn’t just ‘telling’ me it was feeling some minor discomfort – it was screaming in pain and begging for respite. As much as I am a proud woman with a relatively high tolerance for physical pain  — Remember, this girl took a major plunge while MTB riding and suffered cuts, bruises, and what-not and had to be CT-scanned and X-rayed but was back on her feet doing hiphop in just three days and competing in a 5k race exactly a week after the accident. Yes, I’m a mutant like that. —  I also know when to throw in the towel and call it an unfinished race. Live and fight another day, right?

With Team UNGAS.

With Reebok Team Captain, Titanium Runner

With Dennis and birthday boy Totoy

With Paul aka Pageman (thank you for the plaster on my left knee!)

Dennis asked me several times, perhaps noticing the drastic drop in my pace and the limping which I could no longer hide, if I’m feeling okay and (still) in shape to see the 58k race to its very end. And I, of course, would only smile and say h*ll yeah.  Unfortunately, I can stretch my tolerance for pain so far. With less than 4kms to go, I found myself slumped on the trail, crying both in agonizing pain and utter frustration over what I consider to be another failure. My failure. Do you ever feel like you’re being too hard on yourself sometimes? I do, except that it’s more frequent with me. Sometimes I cannot even forgive myself for something as simple as spelling error or mismatched socks. It’s horrible, isn’t it?

Before gunstart.

Well, anyway, and this has to be said, Jonel Mendoza and frontRUNNER did a great job of putting this race together and despite DNF-ing, I’m still glad I participated. Overall, the combination of greens, paved road, mini river crossing, hills, and pebbled dirt road made the trail exciting and challenging at the same time. Even today, I ask myself how it came to be that I took on Mt. Pinatubo by the horns (so to speak) and actually finished second in the 50k race and fail in a major way in Nuvali which is not exactly as rugged and raw as the former. Not to say that I did everything perfect. In fact, as I was telling Pageman earlier on Facebook, except for the generous application of petroleum jelly on my feet, I did nearly everything wrong before and during the race itself: (1) zero sleep on Friday night, (2)ate only half a tuna sandwich for lunch and half serving of Pad Thai for dinner, (3) and during the race itself, my body was literally powered only by Pocari sweat, a minimal amount of water, and a bar of Nature Valley. Add all those elements together and voila! You have a dust-and-mud-covered girl, slumped on the dirt road, bawling her eyes out in pain — until finally being carried on a stretcher to the finish line area.

Oh yes, Siree, I took the ambulance ride of shame! *hides face* But I have the ability to bounce back so fast so don’t be surprised to see me pounding the road again soon. *shows face again*

But enough about me. We have 10,000 more blog posts to cover all that, so just sit tight ya? Dennis said some glowing stuff about the trail/route and I am in total agreement. Hard on the knees as some parts of it were (especially on my 32-year-old knees, demmit!), there truly were some exquisite slices of nature to see and experience that you cannot help but feel revitalized no matter the exhaustion. Dennis took some nice shots and I’m sharing it with you.

The hills are alive with the sound of my quiet tears (yes, drama queen!)

And it's still a looong way to go...

Bowed head, shoulders hunched over --- yep, I was already gone at this point.

Dennis the Runningpinoy

Vicky the Runningchimay --- ay hindi pala, mukha lang. hihihi.

And now that we got the pagpa-pa-cute out of the way, let’s talk shoes. Notice that steel grey + neon green beauty in some of my photos? That’s TERRA and she belongs to the Reebok ZigTech family. To those who have yet to get themselves familiarized with Reebok’s latest shoe performance technology, here’s all you need to know: Reebok ZigTech shoes are designed to conserve and return energy to the athlete for a soft and springy ride. And due to the sheer volume of cushioning in the ZigTech sole unit, training or running is much easier on the leg muscles, especially the shins and hamstrings. Now, runners out there, this you would know — shin splints are a common injury, but Reebok ZigTech running shoes give athletes a bounce and energy for longer training sessions with less strain on the muscles. And that’s how you get a pair that allows you to go further and faster with less fatigue, but without reducing the work your muscles are doing for a much more rewarding running sessions. But my Terra is, right now, the only one of its kind here and that’s because this line of offroadies is not due for release until 2012. How lucky am I?!? VERY. And she did perform well at the race, carrying my weight all the way to the 52nd kilometer without giving me a single blister. So yes, I would give her an A+ for cushioning.

Terrific TERRA

So you see, it wasn’t all bad for me last weekend. Looking back, I had more to be grateful for (shoes, friends, nature, running, and very important life lessons I mulled over while running) than to feel bad about at the Valley Trail Challenge.

Thank you God – YOU. ARE. AWESOME. BEYOND.WORDS.