And I'm back! So I've been gone, yes I know that much has been obvious. What I mean is that I've been "gone, gone". I'm not in the country. I left for London early September and now I'm in the Philippines. Before anything else I'd like to send a big shout out to my man Scott Berge who is taking care of my place while I'm gone. Dude you are the best!
I was in London to visit my girlfriend, she's in a master's program there and I'm here in the Philippines to visit family. It was my grandmother's 94 birthday the other day, quite a reunion for the family. She raised me until I was 12 and like the rest of the family we are especially treasuring the time we have left with her.
Got to do some running in London, flat but enjoyed it nevertheless and I got to do some running here too in the Philippines, also flat but humid and warm. Here in the Philippines, it's been loop courses, not a lot of places to run in the places I've stayed at, the streets are not safe because of vehicle traffic and stray dogs. To be honest the running has been at a bare minimum. I only manage to run every 2 or 3 days or so. I'm so off my rhythm, have to consider other people's schedules and I've been working on my freelance work at night. I've also been um… indulging in the local foods I miss so much. Ah well, nevertheless this hasn't stopped me from signing up for a 60k this coming Sunday:) What the hell, as long as I don't pass out from the heat, finish in a decent time and still make my plane back to my hometown I'll consider it a huge success. I just hope I don't embarrass myself. Some runners here consider me the most experienced Filipino ultra-runner. I don't know if that's really true and if it is it won't be for long. More ultra races are being organized in the country and those who have the means travel internationally for races.
The running scene here is booming including Ultra's! It has been for the last 4 to 5 years. Runners have become celebrities and more celebrities have taken up running. A gal whose blog I use to follow is now on billboards and posters endorsing products. Good to see. She also helps a lot of runners get started with her programs. Through the years I've made friends with her and other Filipino runners, ultra and non, through blogs and Facebook. It's been 3 years since I've been back to the Philippines and I've been wanting to meet some of them. Some I've lost touch with over time which is a shame. If I was here longer I could take the time to track them all down. Anyway I did manage to connect with four runners last week and one of them, Jonel Mendoza, invited me to run a 60k at a neighboring island. Lots of islands here. It's only a 30 minute turbo prop ride away but far enough that they speak a different dialect (77 dialects in the country), thank God for English because frankly my proficiency in the national language is suspect and spoken with an American accent.
I was in good company that evening, accomplished gents with a lot of passion for the sport. Jonel Mendoza runs races all over the country is the editor in chief of FrontRUNNER magazine - a great running mag with lots of ultra content. Jonnifer Lacanlale and Simon Sandoval finished UTMB with Simon going on to run the Berlin Marathon three weeks later. I've always wanted to run Berlin since I visited the city so many years ago. Doc Peter, I forgot his last name:), is a doctor from the University of the Philippines who has also participated in UTMB twice. He has had the opportunity to travel for work and has run the Grand Canyon. I promised to take him to the Marin Headlands when he visits. Only thing that could have made it better is if Jovenal Narcise aka the Bald Runner had been able to join us. He is a retired two star army general who has been tirelessly working to grow the sport of ultra in the Philippines. He travels to the U.S. frequently and applies the things he's learned to the ultra scene here. He is the RD for the Bataan Death March which started as a 102km (63 miles) race that was extended to a full 160km (100 miles) this year the winner of which broke 18 hours. It's a road ultra but the Filipinos are getting faster every year! He has since organized another 100-miler, it will be the second for the country, that is primarily trail with hills and a stream crossing. It will be a loop course, in an Army base, but safer. It's a wilder environment here and I'm not just talking about the kind of animals that walk on four legs. The Bald Runner is busy in California, he is set to run the Dick Collins Firetrails 50-mile - my favorite 50 mile under it's new but accomplished RD, Julie Fingar, who also organizes two other incredibly popular ultras, Way Too Cool 50k and the American River 50-mile.
So my current shape; not a lot of running - vacation schedule, plumpier - is that even a word?, slower and not acclimated to heat and humidity. Awesome right? This has the makings of an epic run or epic failure. Well I just couldn't pass up on the opportunity, it will be my first international race after all and an ultra at that and furthermore at a place I've never been. The run starts off in the midst of a town complete with dusty roads and crazy traffic but we will make our way to tree covered fire roads and HILLS! I miss hills and I miss trail. I think this is the first year of the event. Not sure though. If it is it just adds more incentive for me to finish well and by well I mean just finishing looking decent. I'm sure.
Wish me luck or say a prayer if you are so inclined. I will need all my so-called experience to make it through this one gracefully. I've never been the kind of runner who just winged it at events. Like in college, I spent a lot of time studying and working to make up for lack of God given talent and skill.