We saw our van parked by a dirt road at the foot of the bridge. We parked the car behind them as Nick made us wear reflectorized sashes so we can be seen in the dark. When we got out of the car, holy kamote! It was sooo dusty. We decided to turn over supporting duties at a better location. So at this point Pat had all of his 10-member support crew waiting for him at KM 81.
Crew # 2 stepped out of the van and waited because Pat was waaay late in his time. Sheila told me, “ang pangit na ng itsura ni Pat”, which I thought to mean since it was dusty, and he was sweating, na hindi na gwapo si Pat. Boy, was I wrong! I learned later that she meant Pat was really pale when they left him at the start of the bridge pa lang but that they couldn’t obviously stop at the middle of the bridge so they waited at the end of it.
Irene was the one who saw him from afar. Walking. She couldn’t believe that it was Pat, seemingly holding on to dear life on the bridge rail. She ran to him. His eyes were closed and using the bridge rail as his only guide. By the time I saw Irene and Pat at the foot of the bridge, I went to Pat’s right side as Irene was on his left and put my left arm around his waist. I was whisper-shouting into his hear (amidst the noise of the busy bridge), ‘what happened? Are you just sleepy?’
And then it happened. He leaned his whole body weight on me. It took me a moment to realize he was collapsing unto me. I grabbed my right hand around the front of his waist to carry him while still walking and called to Nick and Dado and Beeps, “Nick! It’s dead weight. I can’t carry him!” They were there in a split second and supported us to the van. Someone removed one ice chest likod ng van so Pat can sit down. Doc Pnx was on him with a sphygmomanometer and Doc Apple was taking his heart rate in mere seconds. Sheila and someone else were massaging his legs. I think it was Aileen who gave him ammonia or white flower on a cotton ball to wake him up. His eyes were still closed and he looked pale as heck! And he still was not speaking. And when he did speak, it was to say with a shake of his , ‘hindi ko na to tatapusin. hindi ko na kaya.’
I stepped back in fear. As everyone was working on him, I stepped back looking to gain a little bit of sane perspective of the situation. Crap! Think, Marga. Think. I felt him collapse on me. I saw his pale face maski it was dark. He was cold to the touch. But he was still walking. Kaya pa ba niya? Do we push? Or when we do push, will he be worse off in the end? We’re here to make him finish , but in this situation, is it the right thing to do? Man! He can’t go out like this. He can’t DNF at a point where he’d really feel the DNF as a failure. (As a runner, you know what this means.) There’s giving up and there’s giving up. Lord, help. What do we do?
We see Team Boring’s crew park beside us waiting for Gab, Mar and Doc T. Their crew came to see how they can assist Pat and I hear Bong B (who’s running his first 102 next week) say, “ Pat! Mag donate ka naman ng support crew mo sa amin next week!” which drew laughter to all who could hear him. Even I smiled.
I saw Gab walk to his crew and I gave him a hug. He looked really strong, this one. And as if the angels told me what to do, I told Gab, ‘ Please talk to Pat. He’s thinking of dnf-ing. He’ll listen to a fellow ultramarathoner.’ Gab went to Pat. ‘Ano ka ba, Pat?!. Kaya mo yan! Maski lakarin mo. Aabot ka ng cut-off. Kaya kami nag ultra dahil sa yo! Ano ka ba?”
I was softly crying at this point, praying Pat heard him and gets re-inspired by the same people he inspired before.
I saw Ronald next and told him the same thing, ‘please talk to him. He’ll listen to you.’ Ronald goes to him and like a bother spoke to him in a firm but caring voice. ‘Hindi ka pwedeng huminto. Maski lakarin mo. Marga, maski i-pace ninyo na siya. Kesa naman bumagsak na naman yan sa gitna ng daan. Bro, kaya mo yan! Lakad lang! Tapusin lang natin.”
I was crying na talaga. I told Beeps, can you please call Mrs. BR to ask if we can pace Pat already? Natatakot tayong mag-collapse na naman siya. We know its only KM 81 but we’re really worried. Beeps called. They said for safety we can shadow him rather than leapfrog. But we cannot pace him. He’d be disqualified. We understood.
While all this was going on, Pat had his eyes open and the crew was feeding him. Gutom talaga.
He stood up and stretched. And took stock of everything that was told to him. He said, ‘1K.’ Which meant he didn’t want a pacer and he sure as hell wouldn’t want us shadowing him. We’d leapfrog. That was a small miracle we thanked God for. He’s getting back on his feet. He’d walk until he’s digested his food. But he was ok. I looked to Doc Pnx asking with my eyes if he’s good to go. She nodded. Moments like these were everyone’s focused on one goal, you can actually talk to each other with your minds. There will be many of these moments later on in this story.
Pat started to walk on the dirt road. Doc Pnx ran after him to give him water. I see them talking. She walked back to us and said, ‘hanggang 102 nalang daw ang kaya niyang tapusin’.
We drove about 400 meters into a gas station and Crew 2 turned over to us everything. We decided that we will push him until he can’t be pushed anymore. But we had the goal of finishing 160km and by golly, we sure as well will try our darndest!
KM 81-86 was a walk struggle for Pat and for us. Very conscious of the 2 .5 hours delay we have on our target time as well as the 11:30PM cut-off at the KM 102 marker, we were computing and re-computing at every km. What pace he needs to run in so he can make it and all that.
It was at KM 86 that Doc Pnx and Nick told Pat that he needed to pick up his pace so he can make it by cut-off time . Doc Pnx was not allowing Pat to stop anymore. We were rushing everything to him- water, water with electrolytes, chocolates, egg para lang hindi na siya mabigyan ng dahilan huminto sa van. And at the rate of 1km per leap frog, stopping is no longer an option. Nick told him he needed a 9 or better pace. Jog lang huwag lang maglakad ng matagal. Lauren said, if he just shaves off 2 minutes at every kilometer, he can make it with time to spare.
It was at KM 87 that he began his rally and Doc Pnx and Nick decided to not let him stop longer than necessary. Doc Pnx was an awesome motivator, literally dragging Pat when he was slacking. ‘Hindi na pwedeng huminto. Hindi pwede maglakad. ‘ Of all of us, Doc Pnx had the only credentials as far as a runner is concerned in pushing Pat this way. Pat will listen to her in sheer fear or embarrassment . Whatever works. LOL.
She would run after him after force feeding him chocnut so he can wash it down with water. And for Pat force feeding was our game plan at this last stretch. Our mistake of letting him be when he said he’s not hungry or does not want to eat earlier will not be repeated. We know better now. He metabolizes really fast so he needed to be fed every kilometre.
We were so ecstatic every time we would see him from afar gaining speed and not walking. In the dead of the night, Lauren, Doc Pnx and I would scream our cheers to him. It was pure joy to see him running and seeing that determined look on his face after what we witnessed at KM 81. Every kilometre became a celebration. And he was passing some runners already. And we knew he needed to see that he can still pass some of them to go on. As we leap frogged, we’ll see runner x and runner y and we’d scream inside the van ecstatic with the fact that he really is gaining ground-literally!
At one point in a long straight stretch of the road, we saw at least 10 vehicles with their hazard lights on parked on the right side of the road. Dado, Nick, Lau and I looked at each other and said, ‘it means he has at least 10 runners he can surpass!’ This realization made us girls scream again! We see a group of runners walking. I see Gab saying in a booming voice looking up in the sky, “Come Holy Spirit!…” I see Coach Mar going strong like an ox! Grabe! When he said the Angels were with him, he was not joking. He looked really strong.
It was my turn to run after Pat at KM 100 na yata yun, I’m not sure. He said, “Papahinag muna ako ng sandali pag dating sa van.” I said, “ Do you see that line of cars with their blinking lights? That’s how near you are to the other runners. You can’t let up now!” (In my head, patay ako kay Doc Pnx pag huminto ka. That was our pact. To not make Pat walk at all anymore.)
Lo and behold, he didn’t stop at all and continued running.
Doc Pnx was in needles and pins because it was 11:03 or something and we led her to believe that cut-off was 11:30 when it was 11:45 because gun start was late. So she was pushing Pat to his limit because she really thought cut off at 102 was 11:30. She couldn’t stand it that the buffer was mere minutes. So she was pushing Pat like crazy. Hahaha
Because we were all stickler for rules, we didn’t turn into the left turn for the 102km marker. The support van went around so we didn’t see Pat beat the cut off time and essentially his finish.
I see him sitting down where Team Boring was and Doc Pnx talking to him and I see Doc Pnx eyes wet with tears. I sat beside Pat., and with a questioning glance, Doc Pnx shook her head and bowed her face. In my head, Oh no, I think Pat just DNF’d. His first words to me were, “Sorry. Alam ko disappointed kayo. Pero hindi ko na kaya. Promise.” Me: “Pahinga ka muna. Don’t think about it.” Pat: “Hindi na talaga. Ganito naramdaman ko sa Botak when I was rushed to the emergency room. Kilala ninyo ko, hindi ako quitter. Pero …” Nick: “Pare, pahinga ka muna. Relaks lang” Gab: “ Mamaya ka na mag decide pare. Pahinga muna.” Pat: (shaking his head). Me: myHoff, hindi ka naman naming pipilitin kung hindi mo na kaya, kaya lang, ang lakas mon from 87-102 eh. Marami kang nalampasan and you finished. Ngayon ka pa ba hihinto?” Sid: “pare, game. Masahihin muna kita. (as he lays down the black bag so Pat cay lie down)”
When you touched the side of his thighs, he would scream in pain. Doc Pnx, Nick, Lau, Dado and I looked at each other to see what we can do, vacillating yet again between allowing him to stop and pushing him some more with just hand signals.
I said to Pat: “ myHoff, you can’t stop like this. You just can’t. You’ve done this 102km twice or thrice already right? This should be more than 102km. C’mon, you can give us another kilometre. Maka 103km ka lang, ok na. If you still feel you can’t, then I’ll shut up (I said this on the premise of how he rallied that last 15km strong and I said, ako lang anmana ng mag shut up, not any of the support crew. Hehe). He didn’t say anything.
And like a precious kitten, we moved him to the van not saying much so as not to mess up his thought process. Maybe he was thinking of a come-back and he’s not just saying it. It was a long walk to the van, though. He couldn’t bend his knees. Both knees. Tsk.Tsk. We were half carrying him and as he tried to move into the van, I felt him shiver. We all forgot that he had his shirt off and he was having chills as his body temperature levelled down. Nakow! Jacket please! Since he couldn’t move fast enough to get into the van, we scrambled for anything to cover him with. Body warmth was his first line of defense. He got into the van. We told him to sleep for at least20 minutes and we’d talk to him after and decide if he was to continue on. After a few minutes, his whole body was having spasms. He still was not talking. We covered him up at which point Doc Pnx said, “Ano, swero-han na kita?” said in half-jest. Pat said in a very small but lucid voice, “Pag nag swero, DQ…” Lau and I shouted with joy because it meant he wasn’t DNF-ing. Not yet at least…
As we silently closed the sliding doors of the van, you could see from the outside an exhausted warrior sleeping in the dark, using two (2) sarongs as blanket. You can hear the faint sound of the soothing music of waterfalls and the ocean to aid in hastening his sleep. The good healer sitting beside the warrior regularly checks his vital signs making sure the spasms that manifests itself every once in a while is just spasms and nothing more severe.
As we walked into the road, we saw the almost fallen soldiers recuperating in their own way – massages in the ambulance, dinner, music, resignation, a quiet jubilation. At 12:40AM Sunday, February 27, 2011, the second to the last warrior left KM 102 and continued on to attempt to run 58 more kilometres.
The last warrior left at almost 12:50AM struggling with every step, with a friend by his side and his carriage with his ladies in waiting patiently seeing him through the last kilometre he promised to run/walk for them. That was the most joyful DNF anyone could have asked for.
Poor Nick. He was soooo excited to pace Pat not just 10km as planned but 58 km if need be. But alas, the fates were not with him that fateful Sunday dawn…
Or maybe Fate was with Nick…laughing behind the clouds as it made Nick pace Pat at the bestest pace Nick can muster…
40 minutes to a kilometer…
Pat could barely walk and was just trying to do so, so as not to disappoint his Entoraj (we fondly call ourselves Pat’s entoraj). Excited Nick (I can’t stop laughing!) realizing this was going to be the longest kilometer of his life, gets 2 packs of chips from the van. Akala namin for Pat. Para sa kanya pala. Chika pace kung chika pace! hahahaha
Lauren, Doc Pnx, Dado and I were laughing so hard at the picture this 2 brought to the fore that Pat was getting annoyed already. He has no choice but to take in the ribbing because he was in too much pain. hahaha
At exactly KM 103, Pat said. Oh, 1 kilometer na. Nick asked again, ‘Oh, mag de declare na ka ba ng DNF?’ Pat said with no hurt in his eyes, ‘Oo. DNF na’
Funnier part: As Pat was getting into the van, I thought Nick had him and Nick though I had him and we both left him at the same time. Next thing you hear, “Hoy! Mahuhulog ako,” as we saw him slipping down the side of the van. I couldn’t help him in because I was laughing so hard.
*We called in a DNF for Patrick Winceth Alcomendas at KM 103 at 1:30AM. Proudly and with Love.
Epilogue1: We proceeded to the hotel where Doc Pnx quickly administered to run 2 bottles of dextrose on Pat for dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. His body would still involuntarily go into spasms even when he was asleep.
In the morning, Crew 2 would run an ice bath for him which was the funniest thing in the world . Doc Apple would take pictures of Pat inside the tub of ice as Sheila would count to 20 seconds. He hated it. LOL.
Epilogue 2: I asked Pat if I could write about this whole experience and he said, ‘pwede bang Anonymous Runner na lang ako?’ Sabi ko, ‘Sure!’ Hence the title. Bow.