My Gigantic Leap Of Faith

The Warrior 50 Ultramarathon (2nd edition) route.

I have finished the marathon distance once via CCM 2012. I haven’t tried going past the 42.195-distance, though. So, attempting to finish a 50-kilometer ultramarathon would be a big leap of faith for me! It may be suicide for others. Even my wife Espie and my parents would not approve of it at first. But for someone who is always hesitant about new things… well, I am actually afraid of new things because I’m not sure of the outcome, or the result will not be how I perceived it… I just gotta try this!

G6 Runners posing before gun start (photo by Kim Lim)

About two hours before the 1 a.m. gun start of the 2nd edition of The Warrior 50 Ultramarathon, while sipping coffee with Espie at McDonald’s-Lapulapu City, I remembered the words spoken by a certain Christian singer during his concert. He said, “That’s why we need faith – faith in GOD, to get us through days when everything seems to go against our way.”. Hey, it’s not exactly that things aren’t going my way. In fact, I am already very excited at this point. But it’s the “faith in GOD” portion that goes back-and-forth in my mind. Hebrews 11:1 described faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. If ‘being sure that I can finish this 50km event and having the certainty of seeing myself raising my arms in the finish line’ is what GOD impressed in my heart, then it’s time to get this thing started!

At Km 4, pacing with Madeline Bedolido & Charito Montealto (photo by Coleen Digman)

Together with some of my G6 Runners teammates, we started moving at the back of the pack. After a kilometer, I slowly accelerated until I was running comfortably at 6:20/km to 6:40/km pace. My game plan was simple — execute what I was doing during my long run practices. I thought I would not alter anything from what I practiced because my body is already accustomed to it. I did intervals of 3km run-100 meters walk, hydrate during walk breaks, and eat oatmeal cookies or banana every 1.5 hours. I even ate “humba” prepared by the Tsinelas Runner shortly after the turning point.

I was coasting along just fine and reached the turning point in Compostela, Cebu after 2 hours 58 minutes. I was the 105th runner to reach the place. The fact that the race started an hour after midnight assured the runners won’t get any heat challenges, at least on the first half of the event.

I managed to maintain my running pace up to kilometer 34. At this juncture, fatigue was creeping in so I slowed down my jogging pace between 7:20/km to 7:40/km. Upon reaching the aid station before Cansaga Bay Bridge, I sat down for 2 minutes while gulping about 500ml of Mountain Dew. With still 12 kilometers to go, I thought it’s important to gather my energy before embarking on the final stretch.

Given an ice-cold sponge bath at the turning point. (Photo by Hazel Sanchez)

As I crossed Cansaga Bay Bridge, the majestic sunrise greeted me. I knew I had to hurry up if I don’t want to get burned by sunlight. I clocked 5 hours 21 minutes at the marathon distance mark, a 39-minute improvement from CCM 2012. Afterwards, I felt some pain beneath the big toe of my left foot because a portion of its callus got ripped. Maybe, too much friction between my big toe and my Kai Maka running sandals, which has gathered substantial dust already, caused the discomfort.

The pain was nagging that I had to adjust my left foot landing and sometimes stop for a while, causing me to lose momentum. My intervals became more like 1km run-100 meters walk. When my Garmin Forerunner 405 prompted 48 kilometers, I decided to finish the race strong and run the remaining distance at 6:00/km pace, overtaking at least 4 participants in the process.

I did it! I ran 49.37 kilometers (based on my GPS watch) in 6 hours 28 minutes 8 seconds (official time)! I was the 82nd out of 279 finishers! When I made the decision to join the 50-kilometer foot race, I knew I made a gigantic leap of faith. When I crossed the finish line, all I thought of was “Thank You LORD for the answered prayer!”. Wooohooo!!!

At Km 41, going down Marcelo Fernan Bridge. (photo by Reynan Opada)

A lot of people to extend my gratitude for helping me accomplish this feat. First of all, to my one-and-only Espie, for all the love and support, and for allowing me to conquer my fear. She also cooked my favorite spaghetti days prior to the race for carbo-loading purposes.

To my G6 Runners family, thank you very much for inviting me. Running with a bunch of serious-yet-fun runners made our preparations a memorable one. Congratulations to all of us who became ‘warriors’ that day!

To our mobile support crew, led by Joseph Judilla & Rodel Sollano, and Kai mobile support crew of the Tsinelas Runner, and to our aid stations, headed by Frederick Angalot & Eric Flores, thank you very much for providing us all that we need during the race! To our bike support crew – Carlomanne Abapo, Mark Anthony Abol & Marben Golez – thank you very much for not leaving behind some of our teammates!

To all who took photos – fellow G6ers Kim Lim & Ira Naron-Seno, Coleen Digman, Hazel Sanchez, Reynan Opada, Roy Delez, among others – thank you very much for documenting our unforgettable experience!

And, of course, to the organizers of the event – Jonel Mendoza, frontRunner Magazine, Garry Garcia and BE Resort – double thumbs up for creating a venue to express our “addict-ness” in running!

What’s next for me? Only GOD knows. But you can be sure, I will keep on running. See you on the road!

At the finish line after 6:28:08. (photo by Espie Abella-Savellano)
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