- Date: October 2,2016
- Venue: Sandbox, Porac, Pampanga
- Distance: 26K
When you lack physical preparation, train your mind to be tough enough not to quit. That’s my mindset as I was running with some injury. It was not an easy course with more than 1,000 meters of elevation gain with both the sun and the rain coming into play in the race. Miyamit Falls was just beautiful and the race was just EPIC.
Miyamit Falls Trail Marathon showcases the beauty of Miyamit Falls and the trails of Porac, Pampanga. I entered the 26 kilometers category since I would want to get a feel of the trail and eventually try the full distance next year. I was able to invest some mileage in July and August but September was just erratic. I had some bouts with Ankle Sprains and Plantar Fasciitis so I switched to a lighter training schedule. I did have some attitude toughening climbs leading to the race. I promised that after finishing the race that I’ll take a short break to let my injuries heal before I build up for 2017 season races.
Race Route and Elevation Profile
The race starts at the back end of Alviera Sand box and proceeds to Sapang Uwak, where the climb begins starting at kilometer 2. There’s about 8 kilometers worth of climbs covering about 750 meters of elevation gain on mix of paved and muddy roads. The race descends to the Falls on the next 3K kilometers with a steep descent of 150 meters worth of elevation followed by a steep climb back to the aid station and finally descend back to the start area.
What could go wrong? That’s how things went before the start of the race. While my ankle was ok the whole week, I had a minor sprain and Plantar Fasciitis the day before the race. I even had to beg off the exercises at the Under Armour Run Crew last Saturday to reduce the strain in my feet. I was seriously contemplating if I should run or not. With the slight pain on my foot, I decided to tape it to minimize the movement in the ankle during the race. So that was it, last 26K before I really give my body a chance to recover. Going into the race, I was trying to divide the race in segments.
- 10 kilometers ascent
- 3 kilometers steep descent
- 3 kilometers steep ascent
- 10 kilometers descent
I had to divide the race into segments and telling my mind that I shouldn’t quit and the goal was just to finish the race even if it would mean that I would be the last runner. With an 8:30 cut-off, I programmed my mind to make sure to keep each kilometers below 20 minutes per kilometer in order to meet the cut-off.
What Could Go Wrong
Gun start was 5:30 am, which was the same for both 26K and 42K runners. At gun start, I just went with the rest of the group who started fast. It was ok at the start since it was on soft lahar grounds for the first 500 meters. After entering the bridge at SCTEX, the terrain shifted to a short descent and the surface shifted to a mix of lahar and rocks. I hit one of the rocks and felt the pain on my ankle and that was the point I realize that I need to be more cautious on my ankle. It was time to shift to plan B. I started slowing down on the rest of the descent and was also more mindful of the uneven surfaces.
The Long Climb Ahead
After two kilometers on rolling terrain, it was time to climb. That’s about 8 kilometers of climbing to go. Since I can’t really speed up, I wanted to be consistent on the climbs. The first 3 kilometers of the climb were the steepest part. It did help that this portion was on paved roads so there was less drag. I went at a consistent pace on the climb. It was scary to look up as you’ll see an endless road to the top. So I just focused my view to about 10-20 meters away. I would climb until I reached the short flat portion after each long climb and recover a bit before going to the next climb. My trekking pole helped a lot on the climb.
The paved road led to the muddy trails and it was a different ballgame from there on. There was a drag on the muddy surface as the mud made each step a heavy one. It was mostly uphills with a several flat areas and short descent in between the climbs. I slowed down a bit at this stretch as I was more cautious on each step and also had to figure out which was the less slippery part of the trail. This was the pattern for the next 5 kilometers. I took it one heavy step at a time and just focused on consistent with my pace. The heat of the sun also started to come in to play towards the middle part of the climb.
Descending the Falls
Despite the challenge of the climb, I was in awe at the beautiful backdrop being surrounded by the different mountain ranges. After 10 kilometers, the trails starts to descend moderately in the next 1.5 kilometer heading to the aid station. It was a hot morning so it was a bit more energy draining heading to the aid station. I was also making mental notes on which would be the challenging part of the trail coming back. After the aid station, it was a steep ascent heading to the falls with some portion designated as no-run zones because it was slippery. Despite the descent, I had a slow time heading to the falls because of the technical nature of the trail and the hot weather. I just went on at a consistent pace and finally, I was able to reach the falls.
The past 13 kilometers was a difficult one with the endless climbs, the muddy trail and the hot weather. It was worth it just seeing how magnificent Miyamit Falls was. I never get tired of the trails even times like this when I struggle and I’m not a 100%. Moments like this are just priceless and even if time is of the essence because of the cut-off. I took my time to appreciate the falls. I event went on the shallow part and played like a kid. It was also nice to see Majo there as one of the marshals.
Time to Climb Again
Halfway into the race and done with about 70-80% of the climb. The trail from Miyamit Falls to the aid station was the toughest part of the race because of the steepness. I took it with several big efforts on the climb with about 100-150 steps before taking a 10-15 seconds breather. It did help that there were portions that were similar to stairs and it helped a lot in the climb. Kilometer 14 and 15 would be my longest kilometer because of the difficulty of the climb. It was also extra hot at this time so it was really both physically and mentally draining. The drill was climb, rest and never quit. I’ve finally reached the aid station after like climbing forever. I knew that the difficult part of the trail was over.
The Road Back
10 kilometers to go. I took the next two kilometers at a relaxed pace as I was still recovering from the steep climb. While the road back were mostly downhill, there were short climbs in between. By kilometer 19, it started to rain. The rain was refreshing though it also gave me a lot more urgency to speed up as I would want to reached the paved part before the trail transform into a total mudfest. I went through puddles of muddy, slippery trails and the climbs at a faster pace. It was good that I was using Ahon gaiters so I didn’t have to worry about debris entering my shoes. I was able to reach the paved part faster than I anticipated.
Last 5 kilometers
The next 3 kilometers were on paved grounds. I immediately noticed that I was now on a harder surface and also going on a steeper descent. Funny, how I was moving faster in the muddy trails than the paved roads. The steepness of the paved part was a challenge on the knees and the calves. I had to stop a few times to stretch a bit just so I won’t have cramps. The goal was just to keep going. The last two kilometers had us back on mixed of lahar surface with rocks and puddles of water. It also rained harder. It was really fun to be doing trails under the rain. I went on at a good pace, slowed down a bit on the climb and went on to the finish at 6:51.
I was surprised at how I did in the race. I totally just went at a consistent pace and finish more than an hour away from the cut-off. It was an A-Race effort using Plan B. There were points that my body felt like giving up but my heart never did. This was an epic race because of the difficulty, the scenic view and the never-give-up attitude. As promised, it’s time to rest all those sore muscles for a month before preparing for 2017 season. Congrats on a great event Race Yaya!!!