Last Wednesday, June 11, while I was procrastinating about my unwanted work schedule (no weekend off!.. imagine that!), my running buddy, Ino Lao, called me and ask me if I want to join them in trail running at La Mesa Eco Park on Thursday, July 12 (Independence Day). At first I was so excited to say yes as I have never tried trail running before but when he told me that the group consists of his ultramarathoner and triathlete friends, one thing crossed my mind immediately… “Oh my, they are too strong and fast. I think I cannot catch up with them”… So I declined. After few hours, my running buddy called again convincing me to join and of course he won, always!
WHAT: Train running
WHEN: Independence Day
WHERE: La Mesa Eco Park
MEETING PLACE: Every Nation Building
TIME: 4:00 am
As agreed, we all met at 4 am in our rendezvous. All of us are too excited for our adventure that we arrived at the venue early. The park will be opened at 6 am but the rangers and guards let us in only up to the parking area. While waiting for the park to open, we went up the Tower one which was situated at the parking area. Atop the tower was breathtaking… a sunrise view with beautiful Cumulus clouds over the mountain. I was so disappointed that I forgot to bring my camera with me (WHAT?!… in a nature park without a camera?!! <facepalm>).
Before we start, there are some planning and briefings about the route chosen, listing and signing of waiver. As nature park’s protocol, a group should have a guide coming from them and it was Kuya Inggo, a lean medium built man in a Crocs and socks. Yeah, in a Crocs… the first thing crossed my mind?.. Oh my! (later you will know why).
As our tradition, we always take pictures at the starting line to at least have a decent photo because we know what we would look like after finishing the route… hahaha
Karlo with his friend, Pastor Ferdie, Ino, me and Gerome
And off we go…
We have chosen the red single trail which, as per ranger, consist of trails of pebbles and rocks, less of mud. The start of the route consists of wet hard soil and some small rocks. It was a little bit inclined but manageable, with some big and small tree branches lying across the path. It’s like running in an obstacle course, it’s fun though, crossing over and under big tree branches, crossing the bridge made out of small logs, up and down some muddy tracks. Enjoying that, I realized that my group was leaving me behind. Asking myself, am I slow as (I was panting already) or they are just fast? and I told myself that I should run faster so I will not left behind but luckily, Pastor Ferdie was on my back as a sweeper. But of course, we have to keep up as they have the guide, kuya Inggo and we don’t want to get lost. I keep my eyes on them, at least to their cap or at least a glimpse of their shirt. As we reached the first cross-road (I think that would be about almost 5K), the group is waiting for us. I saw them looking at the lake which was so beautiful.
And what would you expect?… Selfie na ‘to!!!
The lake was so serene but as we observed that the water level was low as minimal rain has dropped by in our country for the past few months to fill up the river.
After the selfie, we continue to run as a 5-member group only as Karlo’s friend decided to take a rest back in the car. As we traversing the sometimes muddy, sometimes rocky, downhill and uphill route, I keep telling myself… “I can do this… I won’t give up”. I know I can. I still not suffering from pain or strain or whatsoever. I am just a little short of breath which is one of the adverse effect of my anti-vertigo medicine I am taking (due to my recent accident), so I knew that is manageable. I am not too slow, they are just too fast. O yeah, they are so fast. Especially Kuya Inggo and Ino, we always lost sight of them. In a difficult and muddy route, I think they are in a pace of 5 or 6 mins/km… Gosh! To think Kuya Inggo was only running in Crocs. Every time we reached the cross-road and saw them waiting for us, I am relieved. Not because I am afraid to get lost but because we are resting for a while… hahaha…
My little adventure
As we reached I think the half of our planned route, we came across the cross road and they opted to take the downhill route and be back that same route again… OMG!.. the road was so steep. It’s more than 45 degrees inclination and “WE HAVE TO GO BACK THERE?!” That was not a thought, I blurted it out… hahaha… With pity, Pastor Ferdie and Karlo told me to just stay up to the junction and wait for them but I told them I will try, if ever halfway I realized I can’t, then I’ll go back (‘coz I’m a fighter) but kuya Inggo insisted to just wait them at Tower 3. He says “basta ma’am kanan ka tapos, diretcho lang, may ranger na dun”. For clarification I ask “Kuya, turn right lang” (twice). So when I reached the crossing, as kuya Inggo’s instruction, I turn right. The path was a little bit muddy but there are fallen dried leaves on the ground, so the road was not that slippery. As I was traveling along the route, I realized that the place looked untamed like it was seldom visited by runners or bikers. As I go down deep into the woods, It become creepy. There are huge, weird rock formations and it started to rain hard. I try to call Ino but my call could not go through as there was no signal. I just sent him a text message. I started feeling goosebumps, so I decided to go back to where I started and because I came downhill at first, coming back is uphill and I just wish I just join with them because I think the route is the same except my route is muddy. As I reached the top, I saw rangers and caretakers at the side of the road. I asked for direction of the Tower 3. One says “Ma’am kasama nyo po yung bumaba? Nandun na po sila sa Tower 3”. After thanking them, I ran to their pointed direction and then I saw Karlo and Pastor Ferdie passed by me. When we reached the Tower 3, I told them what happened and realized that we have a misunderstanding about the direction. Kuya Inggo was telling me that to go straight first then at the right, I will see the Tower 3… hahaha… epic fail! <double facepalm>
To the finish line
As the rain poured while we are running, the route became wet, slippery and muddy. It’s hard to run in the slipper big rocks but it’s harder to run downhill in a muddy, slippery route. I tried to step on the branches and grass situated on the side, avoiding the slippery path. Then again I realized the only me and Gerome was left behind and of course, Ino and kuya Inggo was flying. I visualized them like the “Cullens” of the “Twilight Saga” who went hunting in the forest, chasing a deer for food…gliding, not running… hahaha
When I saw the sign “To Parking”, I was relieved… “Yes! malapit na!” That was I thought, I passed 3 signs like that and still no glimpse of any car or Tower 1 or headquarter or whatsoever… hahaha
As I traversed the rocky path, I came across a group of bikers with one of them is lying across the path, wounded. I think his bike slipped and he fell. I think they are waiting for first aid personnel to pick him up. I came across with so many bikers so I thought that I am near the finish line and then again, I’m wrong.
When I saw a water tank, then there I thought “yes! parking lot!!!” I saw the rest of the group were sitting at the bench, eating egg and banana. Ino congratulated me for a job well done despite of getting lost… hahaha
Our after pic… everyone was tired but smiling
one of the muddy path we traveled
one of the uphill route
As my first time to try trail running, I realized that I’ve done 8 half marathons, one 25K, one 32K and 1 full marathon, but a 21k trail running is twice as hard as road running. It’s like running a marathon but it’s fun and with the breathtaking view… it’s priceless. I will try it again even I will get lost for the second time… hehehe