ELMA AMBAL – GABRIANA
ultra road and trail marathoner, loving wife, mother of four grownups and recently a grandmother. A devoted runner who strongly believes that proper training, perseverance and courage are virtues that spell success in every competition. She dreams of participating in Ironman Triathlon before becoming a “golden girl”.
I think I already mentioned several times how I love trail runs as much as I love road runs but since trails are rarely offered I take advantage of them. Even if trail has become a trend recently, many runners still dread the thought of running on dirt roads, stepping on rocks, of traversing, terrains, muds, etc. So, I thought of featuring a story of another ultra trail runner to invite more to try it and have fun.
More than encouraging people to try trail runs, I also hope to share the inspiration that my friend, Ate Elma has been giving me.
In my almost two years in the running community, I've encountered many inspiring people and heard of touching stories and this one is definitely one those that stand out.
When people tell me they admire me because of my pace, etc., although I appreciate them a lot and feel humbled, I also tell them that there are lot of factors why I'm able to run that way- I'm relatively young, I haven't given birth therefore has not gained much weight, although I'm busy at work, I don't have as much responsibility as keeping a house so it's easier for me to find time to train. This is just to point out that those who don't have these but still run, regardless of their pace, are more admirable than me.
This is why I really look up to Ate Elma. She may not be as young as me or other runners out there but I bet she's stronger than many of us. Finishing a 100K trail run was not a joke. I think it's one of the toughest challenges any runner could face. Proof of it was the number of those who did not finish the TNF 100 race - young men and women. But she's not just your usual senior runner, she's an ultra runner with a pace that will tire younger ones.
Her determination and commitment inspire me a lot. More than that, I admire her for how she takes care of her husband and her entire family and also of her friends. She's a beautiful soul. I have been gifted with the chance of knowing her and I'd like to share this gift with you.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN RUNNING?
My passion for running or if I may say, addiction, started three years ago in 2008 Adidas King of the Road together with my Fitness First (Fort) gym buddies. I ran 10k without thinking and proper training considering that it was my first run. As a result, I tasted my first ever sore quads, leg pains and even blisters as I was not wearing the proper shoes for running. Never even thought “running shoes” existed!
With her loving husband, Kuya Ronnie (Adidas KOTR, 101108)
With her Fitness First friends, minus me ;) (Condura Marathon, 020611)
WHAT GOT YOU INTO RUNNING?
I just got into it and found running beneficial physically, mentally as well as socially. Three years ago, my husband, Ronnie and I were desperately trying to find ways to lose weight and tried gym fitness exercises and of course, running. It worked, we lost weight and in the process gained more friends. What else could we ask for?
With hubby, Kuya Ronnie who's been with her on the road, the trail, anytime, anywhere ;) (Pinatubo Express, 080110)
100k in recently concluded TNF 100 held at Camsur last April 29.
HOW MANY ROAD RUNS? TRAIL RUNS?
(Runvocate: Brace yourself guys!)
41 road runs (2 ultras, 6 full marathon, 7 half M, 26 fun runs)
9 trail runs (4 ultras, 2 half marathon, 3 fun runs)
Tired but never quitting! (1st Cebu Ultramarathon, 112710)
Yebah! Didn't seem like she just finished an ultra marathon (PAU Pagudpod Ultramarathon, 082910)
HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE TRAILS?
60/40- trail over road. I find trail runs extremely challenging. It improves balance and strength since they usually take place on dirt roads, streams and mountains of varying terrain. I enjoy the rappelling on vertical surface or cliff, crossing rivers by stepping over rocks, running on steep hills or even on the edge of ravine when your heart beats faster than your feet.
Enjoying the mud like a child with her friend, Chinky Tan ;)
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST TRAIL RUN AND HOW DID IT GO?
2009 TNF Sacobia. It was my first taste of trail. We registered for the 22k category. Since it was held at Sacobia in Clark Pampanga, we were informed that we'd run mostly on lahar areas. Technically our shoes were submerged into water, sand and dirt. The race was almost cancelled because of the bad weather a day before the race destroying base camp and halting 100k runners for safety reasons. But we were able to finish the race triumphantly and unknowingly. Since then I always looked forward for any upcoming trail races rather than the usual road.
Getting wet? Mud? Blisters? Bring it on!
(TNF Sacobia trail run, 052409). The heat was on.. so what?!
WHY DID YOU JOIN TNF 100? VTC?
TNF 100 Camsur was actually not in our race list. We were supposed to return to Cebu for the 2nd 65k Coast to Coast ultra marathon. But just a few days before the last day of TNF registration, I though, "how about 100 this time?" From TNF 50k in Baguio last year to TNF 100? Is it be possible? Can my body endure the grueling 30hrs cut off time, non-stop running and walking on various mountain terrains despite my now you see, now you don’t injuries? Immediately, I relayed the idea to my [co-addictus] trail running friend, Chinky Tan, and she (without any second thought) agreed with me. She even managed to encourage six other running friends to join us. The result was ultra history.
With her friends at Mt. Maculot. Training for TNF Camsur
VTC - I guess, same generic reason, love of trail runs! Plus it was organized by our friend, Jonel Mendoza who is also known for his extra miles/kms generosity. Also the VTC challenging routes and it’s an ultra.
Valley Trail Challenge.. when many decided to stop, she went on.. smiling! ;)
WHAT DID YOU LIKE MOST IN TNF 100? VTC?
TNF 100 - The challenging race route, the rappelling portion, the majestic Mt. Isarog Falls that surprised us after the treacherous steep and muddy declines and the race itself being well organized by RD Neville Manaois, CD Levi, TNF marshals, security and medical staff. The pre and post events shared together with our friends will be treasured forever.
Looking strong and happy with Chinky at the Mt. Isarog falls. TNF 100 Camsur
VTC – the 7K bonus, the scenery (couldn't believe, it’s just a few Ks away from Manila) and how it was organized. Perfect!
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART?
TNF 100 - The last 5k where the finish line was just around the corner where I thought that I was already at the 98km marker but found out that it was a big mistake! I was so excited when I finally entered the CWC grounds with ample remaining time but my excitement turned to nightmare when a race marshal instructed me to turn down right. I said, "Whaaaaat?!?! Are you kidding?" At that time, I wanted to scream and yell at him but what’s the use? I was already so sleepy, hungry and so dammed tired. My whole body was aching, as if these were not enough, we had to traverse the CWC Park, soaked my pressed and blistered foot on streams, climbed on muddy trail desperately looking for any on-sight stick just to be able to balance and keep me standing, I was so grateful to my running friend, Chinky who was with me the entire race. We crossed the finish line together.
I still get goosebumps everytime I see this photo. Celebrating her victory with Chinky. They did it and they said, they're doing it again. Salute!
VTC? – Right after 20k of the 1st loop where I felt my knees locked and the pain was so intense that running seemed impossible. Upon reaching back at the base camp, I was tempted to quit but I persevered and found myself walking as fast as I could in the entire 2nd loop. Surprisingly, I finished the race within the cut off time despite the pains.
TIPS FOR THOSE WHO’D LIKE TO DO TRAIL RUN. FINAL WORDS.
Priceless! That smile and glow in her eyes tell you how happy she was. Still standing strong and ready to sign up for another 100K
Every trail run is one of a kind. Anything is possible as long as you train hard. And when you’re in a trail, marvel at God’s creation, appreciate the majestic sceneries, be strong and confident, and always think positive. Statistics states that only 1 in 1000 can finish a marathon, I definitely believe that the odds are much much higher in running an ultra trail marathon.
The ultra trail runner is also an ultra loving grandmother
Maybe someday, when someone asks my grandchild Enzo, “where’s your lola?” he will proudly say “nasa bundok po, tumatakbo po ng 100km trail run!!!” If you didn’t know me personally, would you believe him?……….. Awesome, isn’t it?