Thursday, September 3, 2015

Notes from an ultra runner.. My QUMAR story

I am no expert. I don’t claim to be the best in the community. I've had countless failures and mistakes. Maybe these are the reasons why I attempted to share lessons learned so that others would have a better experience than I had and that they would enjoy the benefits of the few right things I was able to do.

You can take what you think would be helpful and throw away those that wouldn’t. Whichever, I hope you enjoy the read! :)


I have this tendency. I easily get excited and go along the adrenalin rush. During the first few kilometers, I usually sprint to release the anxiety I'd have before the race. That’s my way of shaking the tension off. That should be ok except that sometimes I don’t realize I’ve been doing it for quite a while to the point of losing my energy for the remaining distance.
Ultra marathon involves a lot of calculation. We need to know how much energy there is compared to the distance that we need to complete. 

In the first 10 kilometers of the race, I decided I’d run with my “boys” and keep a steady pace of 6min/Km. It was a bit faster than planned but it was enough to release the fear and slow enough not to get wasted early. It was also because it was still ark so we thought it would be safe for me to run with them.
Everytime I felt like I was running faster than I had to, I’d slow down. I didn’t want to be exhausted even I could still speed up. I didn’t mind being passed by other runners even if it was an ego bruiser. I kept telling myself that it was still early in the game and I should focus on my own race. I think that it's a sign of maturity not to be driven by excitement and be mindful of your own capacity rather than get insecure being left behind.

Many times I have been asked whether I don’t get scared running alone in the dark and I always say no. I cant think of any ultra marathon where I got afraid that I was alone in the long stretch of roads with only my headlamp on. I’ve always felt secured that nothing would happen to me but that doesn’t mean I’ve not been extra careful. When I find myself alone, I heighten my senses and become more aware of my surroundings. While I focus on the run, I also make sure no one was around to hurt me and that I am running in a safe place. I become more careful with the vehicles going so fast in the highway. I don’t care if I slow down to go to the side and give way as long as I am safe.
From Km. 10 until Km. 20, I was alone. Although most parts of the road were well lit, there were sections that weren’t. It takes courage to be willing to pass by those areas but more than that it takes greater sensitivity of your surroundings. No race is worth your life or safety. Go slow if necessary. If you can take with you some weapons to protect yourself in case an attacker comes, do so even if it adds weight on you. I must say though that the organizers are responsible enough not to place us in dangerous situations but still better be careful than sorry.


It’s not all the time that we get the chance to run in the provinces with trees, rice fields, mountains, clean air but sometimes because we get too pre occupied with finishing the race with a good time, we lose the chance of savoring that moment; that gift.
I reached Km. 21 before 6:00 am when the sun was just beginning to show up and its rays were slowly kissing the rice fields welcomed by the birds chirping and flying around. It was green. It was beautiful. And then I felt the cool breeze touching my face as if telling me that everything would be fine. While lingering in that moment, I was greeted by early risers- farmers, children smiling at me and cheering me on. Some of them were riding in carabaos, some of them were just walking barefoot. Then I began to smell fresh pandesal,  tuyo and sinangag; tinapa, corn, COFFEEEE!!!! J
I made sure I was there to have those images in my mind vivid and savor the smell, the view, the moment.

Anything can happen in a run especially in ultra marathons. Because of the long distance, there are more chances for surprises to arise. You can only prepare so much. We should be ready for whatever may come.
It was a girly run for me. An unexpected, unwanted visitor came before race day so I was running on my second day- the most painful and uncomfortable day for a woman. I knew I had it and tried so hard to prepare for it but after four hours of running in the rain, the situation had gone from bad to worse. I had to stop every now and then for the routine to keep myself clean and sane J 
It was painful and uncomfortable. A perfect combo for a potential DNF. Men may not understand it. Some women even. To those who’ve gone through that agony would know that it’s not a joke to have your period especially your 2nd day on race day and especially in an ultra marathon when you have to deal with it for almost the entire day.
Well, what could I do? I rolled with it. I did the stops as quickly as possible and tried to ignore it.
It was sweat, blood and tears for me. SORRY, TMI! J

Challenges can come in many other forms- cramps, side stitch, hyper acidity, a lost whatever, a vehicular failure of your support crew, etc. but keep in mind that it’s part of the adventure- deal with it, RUN!

At Km. 40, my legs were beginning to complain. Since my last ultra marathon was a year ago and my longest run before the race was the Milo Marathon, my body began to adjust to the distance and complained. The pain was here and there; my feet, my hips, my back, my shoulders, my motivation. When all these were calling my attention, I did not easily shrug them off. I paid attention to each of them and tried to identify which pain was just caused by irresponsible lack of training and arrogance and which were more serious, I should stop.
We are masochists, that’s a given. The fact that we’re willing to suffer for how many hours proves that we’re born to survive but we’re not reckless. We’re crazy and insane but not stupid and damn. There is a thin line. I find it noble and admirable that we break our boundaries and surpass the difficulties but I find it more respectful when we are willing to quit if it would mean long term injuries or our lives. We take calculated risk. It takes strength to beat the pain and go on but it takes wisdom and humility to know when to stop- for yourself and the ones you love.

It sounds crazy but I don’t mind admitting it. Everytime people learn that I do ultra marathons, one of the first questions I get is what goes on in my head while running for such a long time and I’d always say- random thoughts. Then they’d ask if it’s not boring especially after they learn that I don’t listen to any music so I can hear the vehicles coming or the people around. I’d tell them, I love running and it would be hard to get bored doing something you love plus I talk to myself. Then they’d laugh at me and call me crazy. To which I’d reply: I am! Haha!
From the beginning especially when I reached Km. 50 after overcoming the hills that seemed not to end, I’d talk and motivate myself. I argued with myself. I would remind myself of the reason why I was there; of how I was able do those kinds of runs before and would remind myself that I was strong and the finish line was close. I would remind myself of happy thoughts- friends and family, the fandom, the happy workplace, the blessings. I would get myself excited at what awaits me at the finish line- the comfortable slippers, the good cup of coffee, friends waiting, REST!
It’s helping me and I don’t know how you see it but it sustained me in all my races. Try it? ;)


The last stretch of a long distance race seems the longest. The closer you get to the finish line, the more you feel impatient and exhausted and you’d have the tendency to get grumpy and moody and bad. The tiredness would creep in and you’d find all excuses to justify a bad mood and take it out on your support crew. It’s unfair. I’ve always wondered how runners can get mad at their support crew when these people did nothing but help you in what makes you happy, in something that they didn’t force you to do. It’s not easy to lack sleep and rest, to cheer us up, give us what we need, etc.
Try to be nice. Try to be patient. Think of happy thoughts. Thank your crew instead when you are tempted to be angry, cry if you must than hurt them. It’s not fair. It’s not right.
Do not lose your virtues in the run. Hold on to it. The run should make us better people. Ultra marathon is a mental game but also a character test therefore we should not only keep our heads tough but our values and integrity intact.

You need to keep your core strong- the physcial core and core values.


You deserve a treat after that grueling journey so celebrate. Eat properly and what would give you comfort and joy. Stretch. Laugh. Enjoy the moment!
When I crossed the finish line, I saw my good friends waiting with open arms and teary eyed. They knew the life I had. They knew how much I wanted to finish that race and how afraid and doubtful I was. They knew that it meant so much to me. I cried, they did.
I could not utter any word but gratefulness and joy. The podium finish was a bonus. It was more than enough that I crossed the finish line injury free despite the di makataong route and weather.

Good luck! Have fun! Stay safe! Finish strong!
















Friday, August 28, 2015


Hopiang ube, macapuno, munggo. Diced, round. Japanee, Filipino, Chinese. Regular or special. I don’t care. I love my hopia. I have it every single day for my am snacks at around 10am along with my maybe, 4th cup of coffee for the day- during good days. I have it before and after a race.

I’ve become famous with it that almost everyone would give me hopia everytime they pass by a bakery, etc. Hopia and myself have been identified with each other just like how I've been known to loving coffee and nuts; running and advocacy.
I love hopia and it had a whole new different meaning when i became a Rebel- a member of fandom following Rhian Ramos and Glaiza De Castro of Thr Rich Man's Daughter TV show where we talk about "hopia" but with a different connotation. "Hopia" that their love story is real. Witty!
"Hopia- minsan pagkain, minsan ako." That is now the famous joke to refer to lovers who hope that the one they love would reciprocate their love.

Simply... hopia= hope.

Is this why I love hopia? I’m used to experiencing unrequited love (hugot pa more!) so maybe not that.

I love hopia for all the it is- fluffy, sweet, flavorful, cheap, goes well with coffee, comforting.
Hopia! That should be the theme of all our endeavors- to give hope to those who know us because we don't exactly what each other’s journey is so we shouldn’t judge. A runner on the heavy side struggling to finish a race shouldn't be looked down especially if we know that she's been trying; parents or employees who have little time to train but try to make the most out of whatever time they have should be admired, they deserve my hopia! :)

Hopia! For a nation baffled by hits and blows; of never ending struggles and challenges; of political inefficiencies and patronage; of disaster and poverty.
Hopia for vulnerable and neglected sectors that they'd eventually receive the respect and attention they deserve.

Hopia to those who dream and work hard to get them.
Hopia for you, hopia for me. Spread the hopia! :)


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Running back to running


Let me resurrect this blog. Let me relive the days. Let me remember.

Running is the only partner that will not ask any question when you decide to embrace it again after taking some time off and setting it aside. Its comments are probably expressed through sore muscles here and there; that high heart rate that you never had when you and running were dating more often but other than that it still gives you the same satisfaction and the high that you need to escape from the realities you face. It comforts you no less and warms your heart just the same. It doesn’t judge the choices you’ve made and doesn’t bother you with a list of your mistakes because it recognizes the fact that the very reason you’re back in its arms is that you knew, you learned.

Running, I realized, is such a fundamental part of who I am. Competing is a different story but running, I mean running regularly that I chose to set aside for a while, makes a lot of difference to my being. I don’t completely regret those times that I took a break but I cannot deny the fact that I missed it and I only felt it when I came back.

I ran to running during my most vulnerable moments; when sweat was what I needed to cover the tears; when my body longed for physical torture to surpass the emotions that overwhelmed me. It was there, run was there. I was silent, I was crying, I was catching my breath and the run was there allowing me to stay still, to mourn while I gasp for perspective and clarity.

I can change. People around me can change. Running remains. It’s like my family that constantly and unconditionally loves me; it’s like my dear and real friends that welcomed me with open arms and journeyed with me after I’ve hurt them without demand for any apology or explanation.

Running may just be a sport to many or another form of exercise but in time you’d know that it’s more than just what you expected it would be and I’d forever be grateful I discovered it.

I will run as long as I can. I may still have lull moments but I know that I will always return to it every time I need to find my way back home.

This it for now. Off for a run! J

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Maybe someday, when someone asks my grandchild Enzo, “where’s your lola?” he will proudly say “nasa bundok po, tumatakbo po ng 100K trail run!!!”


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.


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)


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.


(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)


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 ;)


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?!


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! ;)


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!


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.


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?

Friday, June 24, 2011

EXTRA CHALLENGE at the Valley Trail Challenge

After finishing 50K in the TNF 100 Camsur last month, I’ve always looked forward to running in another trail. I thought roads are always there anyway so I should take advantage of trail runs which are rarely being offered.

Before I continue, let me first congratulate Mr. Jonel Mendoza, the Frontrunner and rest of their team for such a successful race. Thank you for your hard work and effort to provide runners with a new and exciting route; and sufficient hydration and Nature Valley energy bars. It also felt like a gathering of friends sharing the same passion for adventure.

VTC lived up to its title. It was challenging indeed. In fact it was one of my difficult races not only because of the long distance but also because of the extreme heat, the rolling hills, the trail that’s more challenging to my knees and the tendency of getting dehydrated. But more than these, there were other challenges I had to overcome to finish it.


When I heard about the Valley Trail Challenge, I got excited and thought I should join despite recurring pain on my right knee which I tried to disregard but was too painful I could not simply brush aside. It weighed on me in all my runs and got me frustrated especially during races. I felt like dragging it all the time even when walking. After doing half marathons every week before the VTC as part of my training, I decided to take a rest the week before. I drastically reduced my mileage and did cross training instead. I mustered all courage to resist the temptation to run to give my knee a break and a chance to recover. While I think that I deserved some pat on the back for not being too hard headed, I also recognized the mistake of refusing to see a specialist to have it checked which I should do soon. Anyway, I think that rest helped me finish the VTC.


Although the knee had the chance to rest from running, I had not. That week was one my busiest weeks at work. I had to do back to back travels with just a few hours of sleep to meet deadlines and handle events. The day before the race, I even came from Mindanao and only had three hours of sleep which made me more worried about how I’d perform in the race.


As usual, as in other races, anxiety overwhelmed me before the start. On our way to Nuvali, I kept on sighing because of being too nervous.

When we got in the race area, I met a few friends and chatted with them to try to release the tension. I was so anxious my hands were feeling cold.

With friends before the race (L-R) Jesus Roque, Chinky Tan, Elma Gabriana, Shiela Compendio, Ronnie Gabriana, David Buban, Jose Leorenzo Mina


When the gun was fired, I ran with the pack and along some friends. We took the first kilometer slow and easy but after warming up I felt the adrenalin rush to run faster so I did.

I was having the time of life, enjoying the ability to run that fast again after being stalled for almost a month because of injury until I heard someone shouting from behind saying that we were heading towards the wrong route. I had to run back and did it a bit faster since I was told that we lost 1.6K already. I thought I should compensate by sprinting. While I was so engrossed in recovering my lost mileage, I was also starting to get worried I might burn out too early in the race so I slowed down.

At that time, I didn’t have any idea about my rank. That was the last thing on my mind. I thought a bunch of female runners were already ahead but after the first water station, I was informed that I was running second.

It was good news but also an added pressure. I thought I should maintain it which meant I could not go as easy as planned.

To be able to run faster, I left my assault pack with a friend who was at the last kilometer before the base camp so I'd be load free and since I was starting to get blisters on my shoulders. I took the risk of not taking it and just brought along with me a 500ml bottle of water.

Since the third placer was just too close I tried to run fast to have enough lead and rest in the next kilometers. While most runners stopped, took some rest, changed shirts and shoes at the base camp, I did not. I was so in a hurry, I just grabbed a bottle of Pocari, refilled my water bottle, got a bar of trail mix and headed off.

Tired even before the first half


Maybe because of too much rushing, although the second half was just the same route as the first, I still got lost. One of my weaknesses is not having a sense of direction so when I got confused about where to go and was pointed by a marshal to go straight instead of going right, I did. I was with two other runners finding our way in that area where no signs and no other runners were.

I got very frustrated, at the verge of crying and almost gave up. I hated my self, all I wanted to do was just go back and stop. So arrogant of me!

I think I spent almost ten minutes roaming around. Since I got lost again, I tried to compensate by sprinting, this time with my legs already tired and weak. I knew I’d feel terribly bad if I didn’t make it just because of getting lost so I pushed myself so hard.

When I finally ran past the then second placer and had a few meters lead, I was happy I could finally do what I'd been wanting to do which was to run at a relax pace or even walk. But when I reached the water station, the marshal informed me that I was the 3rd placer and the 2nd one just left. Like a rabid dog, I wonder what got into me but what I did was run fast and looked for the 2nd placer. Again, after getting ahead of her and having some lead, I started walking since my legs were so exhausted especially with the heat.

Last K before the finish line. See that pressure and exhaustion on my face?


While walking, a woman ran ahead of me but I was then willing to let go of being a second placer since I was already drained to catch up and was beginning to experience cramps. But at the water station, I saw her resting so I took advantage to go ahead. I ran and ran and ran to keep my lead and then jogged and walked after a couple of kilometers.

When I thought I could already rest, someone from behind called my name and asked if I was trying to keep a place since the woman next to me, he said, was just meters away. So even if I was already wasted, I ran at my race pace again until I crossed the finish line.

With the organizer, Mr. Jonel Mendoza who handed the medal for being the 1st runner up among the female finishers


I placed second, took that huge medal and gift packs home but wasn’t completely happy as everyone thought I should. I felt disturbed with the way I behaved in the race, with how competitive I’ve become and how arrogant I’ve been. Was it right that I missed the beauty of the trail because I was so engrossed with winning?

I wasn’t sure if it was right that I tried to outrun those women and felt good after. I wasn’t sure if it was right that I took that much pressure just to have a podium finish. I wasn’t sure if the level of my being competitive was still right or if I’ve crossed the line of arrogance.

I was happy that I took the discipline to rest for my injury; that I was able to strike a balance between work and trying to get some rest for the race; that I didn’t give up despite getting lost, the heat, the exhaustion, the cramps and all; but I was faced with the greater challenge which was to reflect about what kind of person I’ve become. The more important challenge that bothers me until now.