Wednesday, February 29, 2012

No Pain, No Gain: The 21k "Love A Tree" Trail Run, Sierra Madre, Tanay, Rizal

What:       Trail Run
When:      February 26, 2012
Where:    Sierra Madre, Tanay, Rizal
Distance: 21k

The Tale of the Trail:

First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Alvin Balderama for our free race kits.  We appreciate it so much!
"Much" is just the right word, for it is one of a kind race.  Being an organizer of two fun runs before, namely, Takbo Para Sa Mga Ulila ng Hospicio de San Jose on October 2011, and Halloween Barefoot Run and Harana on November 2011, allow me to give two thumbs up for this event for the following reasons:

1.  several months of preparation, "platsadong-plantsado", well-advertised
2.  Happy Mother Earth, Happy Family - tree planting and other outdoor activities which the whole family could participate on the before and after the race (I missed this!)
3.  free transportation to and from the site - "ang pagtakbo na lang ang iisipin"
4.  venue, where else? the magnificient Sierra Madre lang naman!  overlooking Laguna Lake & the mountain ranges
5.  the challenging 21k run route: pavement, rough road, 500-m river crossing and back...I almost DNF'ed!
6.  numerous hydration and banana stations- there's no thirsty and hungry moment
7.  the marshals - how sweet especially the youngsters.  Their cute smiles and "good-mornings" made my injury bearable.  There were also many men in uniform that adds to our comfort.  The Finish Line cheerers and medal-givers wiped out my fatigue.
8.  other than the loot bags, there were several post-race raffled items

Congratulations Mr Alvin Balderamas and Company for the job very well done!

The Thrill of the Trail:

The 21k route was I think intended to break the sweat loose right away(which was just right for the place was so cold, especially at this early am, 18degrees?):  a steep downhill about 800m(my own estimates), followed by almost 90 degree climb up a 200meters stairs. At the top, the sight of the Laguna Lake was a relief.  The long winding paved road downhill was fast and easy.  A marshal from the 21k loop even congratulated me for being the 5th female to get there.  But something unexpected happened...

I never was paralyzed 30minutes before, by my alternating leg and diaphragm cramps, and beginning right ankle tendinitis.  It started when my legs were suddenly immersed to the cold waters of the river at 10th-11th km.  The right cramped first, was a quick one though, managed to ignore it.  Other than that,  I totally enjoyed the scenic river part.  But when I got back to the road, aggravated by the added weight to my shoes(fully soaked of water, sand and pebbles),the left leg was afflicted, too.  Since then, the attacks were either alternating, or at the same time.  The steep rough road uphill back seemed eternity.  But I can still run some meters,  telling myself "this is a mind-over-body game, don't give up!"

The Pain, oh no, the excruciating pain...  At 14th km,  I can no longer take a step more.  The contractions were so intense I was just standing still.  A runner offered help, but I refused since I thought I could make it by myself.  Just when he was out of my sight, my right diaphragm cramped(due to overstretching of my right arm trying to reach my toes).  Now, I can't breath, too!  I told another runner, named Aryan, who passed by me, to contact an ambulance.  In the midst of the torment,  I was really decided to DNF at that moment.  But thanks to "no-signal", Aryan wasn't able to contact someone from the base.  After 30minutes of self-help,  I was able to walk-out from it,  met the hysterical marshals on my way up.  I told them I am the injured runner they were called for, and I am now OK!  Gave my big thanks to them.

And the Gain, oh yes, the splendor view of Sierra Madre.  My 7km walk(a bit of run could trigger another spasm, I can't allow it to happen anymore) back to the Finish Line was soothing, and of course, ego-boosting!  Imagine,  despite my detriment, I just conquered Sierra Madre!


The Inspiration

"Sleepless in Shuttle"
2:30am:  Assembly time for Bus Pick-up at Rox, BGC.
So we were already up by 1am. 

Met fellow runners in Sierra Madre Hotel receiving hall.

Cuddling in the form of picture-taking...  sooo cold up here!

With the event host Supladong Irish Runner aka Jared B. and his co-host from Team USB, and the legendary Coach Mherlz Lumagbas at Starting Line.

With Ok-Okers /ARC co-runners:  Jose Ramizares, Nancy Bandolin, Aquiz Minlay, Mary Grace Lao(this photo courtesy of her), Mrs Ria & Mr. Jom Zagala.

On your marks...  Set...  

...  Jump!  Needed to warm-up while waiting for the gunstart.

Now, it's bright enough to start the race, at camping ground of Sierra Madre Country Club.
Photo courtesy of Pimco Sporting Events.

The steep downhill, about 800m(my own estimates) at the start of the race.
Photo courtesy of Pimco Sporting Events.

Followed by about 200m climb upstairs.
Photo courtesy of Pimco Sporting Events.

 The paved road, the Marcos Highway, about 10km of the 21k route.

It is a long winding mostly downhill route.

Only a few short seemingly flat roads...

Passed by a hydration and banana station.
No thirsty and hungry moment during the run.

Thanks to Mr. Jose Ramirazes for these two downhill photos.

 This road looks easy going down...

The 500-m river crossing, part of Kaliwa Watershed, Brgy San Andres.

Trying to smile with the right leg already cramping due to sudden immersion to cold waters.
Photo courtesy of Jose Ramizares.

Balancing acts in between slippery stones and now turbid(depth uncertain) waters.
Photo courtesy of Jose Ramizares.

It's pretty obvious we all had fun wading here!
Photo courtesy of Jose Ramizares.

Met a runner friend Joanne Racquel while trailing back from the river run.
Photo courtesy of Jose Ramizares.

Crawling back to highway.  Already had spasms alternating on my left and right legs, sometimes at the same time.
Photo courtesy of Jose Ramizares.

With the cute marshals in one of the hydration stations, and Mr. Jose Ramizares.
Photo courtesy of Jose Ramizares.

The tell-tale sweats.
Photo courtesy of Jose Ramizares.

No room for bad elements!  Safe run for everyone!

John with Mr. Alvin Balderama himself.  Hubby got to the Finish Line an hour ahead of me.

This and the following photos below are the reason why I still finished this race despite my injury.
The mountain ranges...

Some valleys...

The lush greenery...

...  I can still smell the local herbs.

At last!  Still at in piece, about 200m to the Finish Line!

Most of my Finish Line moments are videoed by hubby, because he always finishes ahead of me.
Barely able to run, but I have to, since this is supposedly a Trail "Run".

The sweet smiles of success!

Our signature Medal Moment.

Quick relaxation at the poolside.

It pays to bring baon.  Rewarding ourselves during awarding ceremony.

Before I got here,  Hubby John and company were already here, had their 39km run from Cubao to Sierra Madre, some time in January.  To name some familiar faces:  Jon Las Bruce, Ok-Ok Otek, Albert Tubera, Ate Annaly Alojado, Mr Jom and Mrs Ria Zagala, Jose Ramizares, Phillip.

Now I had conquered part of the trail they blazed!

Hope I can run here again soon.  So love the place.  Again, Kudos to this adventure-event!
Below is a link of Pimco Sporting Events' photos of the route before the race.



  1. //love this post..! good job, Doc Summer...keep 'em coming..

  2. Replies
    1. tnx joeyboy!
      sama tayo next time, meron ata ulit sa april.

  3. Replies
    1. tnx bossing...
      bka like u recovery dun sa april...

  4. Replies
    1. tnx ria!
      congratz to all of us!
      special cheers to us, running couples!

  5. nice blog Doc Gerda. I would also like to congratulate you for conquering this trail after enduring so much pain from the cramps. You truly are a determined woman!

    More run to you Doc Gerda!

    1. tnx jo!
      the last time i was badly injured(not as bad as our trail run though) was with my 42k MIM.
      i've learned my lessons... again!

      More injury-free run for us!

  6. Hello, Congratulations! By reading your post and looking at the photos, it seems that I also experience that kind of trail . I really enjoyed your post. Thank you for sharing.