Anonymous Runner (Part 1)

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.

This is KM 102.

As each team re-groups and assesses the physical, emotional and mental health of their runner, you can feel exhaustion in the air.  You can feel the depleted energy all around.  But the atmosphere was still hopeful. Team Boring had their crew at a small square beside the chapel, eating, telling stories of their experiences.  Sid was massaging Gab. As in full on massage, ha? Not the  emergency cramp massage you get when you run.  Doc T with Doc Alpha was draining his blisters (take note, plural) with a syringe and I had to look away imagining the pain.  Talks of who DNF’d abound.  It was told in respect.  In surprise, but in respect.  Because every one of these warriors had their own story to tell, they respected the decision of their comrades to stop when they did.  No judgment.

But while there were no judgment , you can see there was the tug-of-war feeling of, ‘If he stopped, why do I think I can proceed? He’s the smarter one for stopping. Maybe I should too’  and of ‘ Wow. He stopped.  And I’m still okay to continue on.  Maybe I can really finish this.’   One of Team Boring’s support crew realized this early on and decided to not tell any of their runners that one of their own stopped at KM 69.  They knew this would demoralize the team and could give one a license to stop too (you know we still love you, runner  620 *wink.)

But I’m getting ahead of the story.  Let’s start from the very beginning.

January 2010. Matsuyama, Japan.

I get a YM from Pat that went something like this –

Pat: myhoffness, may gagawin ka sa March 5-6, 2011?
Me: Myhoff, grabe naman, kakabili ko lang ng 2010 calendar, 2011 na tinatanong mo.
Pat: may gagawin ka nga ng dates na yun?
Me: wala pa siyempre, diba? Im afraid to ask why
Pat: BDM 160 kasi yung weekend na yun and gusto ko sana itanong kung pwede kang maging support ko.
Me: Nakow! 14 months ang booking?! (tried to message something inane to give me sometime to think)
Me: (lunok) OK. I’ll be there.

Fast forward to:

January 2011 , Red Crab in Greenbelt 3

Pat hosted a dinner at Red Crab as an advanced appreciation dinner for his support crew and also as a way for the whole team to meet as one as not everyone knew everybody yet. ( We would like to thank Doc Sherwin and his wife, Elaine  for the very generous discount they gave for that evening.) There was me, Lauren, Doc Pinx.  We met for the first time Dado, Doc Apple, Sheila, Irene and Aileen.  As each of the girls came into the restaurant, I started laughing realizing Pat’s criteria for picking his support crew.  Kailangan maganda! That broke the ice for everyone.  We were all dumbfounded as well on why there were so many of us supporting just one runner.  We laughed about this a lot and even other runners wondered why there were so many of us. This was a running joke throughout. (There’s genius to Pat’s numbers in the crew. And we only realized this at the later km of the race.  You need your crew fresh at each turn so they are not as wasted as the runner that when runner says ‘ayoko na,’ the fresh crew can be in high spirits and say, ‘No!’ and mean it.  Whereas kung pareho kayong pagod, if runner says no more, because you’re also tired, you can agree na lang rin.)

This became our first meeting as well where we assigned two teams within the crew who would take on alternating shifts so one team is resting at any point in the race.  Each team would have a doctor, a driver, a feeder, a navigator, a time logger and any one of these members can double as the communications person and the photographer.  We assigned Aileen as one who would be in charge of the food and hydration of the 10 support crew members.  To make sure the crew is also taken cared of throughout the race.

February, Center for Aesthetic Studies, Bel-Air Makati

We had our final meeting after back and forth FB messages on February  in my office.  It was here that Nick and Beeps were added to the team, with Beeps as driver and Nick as navigator .  Aileen finalized the support crew’s food menu for 24 hours.  We worked on Pat’s target time of 24 hours to finish 160km.  We plotted the route and his target time per 5km.  We finalized the 6-hour shift per crew, where we divided the day into hours rather than kilometres.  Pat took care of the hotel the crew was staying in.  Irene knew of a friend at km 20 where they can have breakfast and rest.  The doctors will be preparing dextrose for Pat because of his BOTAK experience 2 years back just to be on the safe side. Better over-ready than not, we figure.  The girls promised to not bring too many things para magkasya everyone and the supplies in Dado’s van and Aileen’s car (lol).  And everything was set.

February 25, 10PM, EDSA Central

Most team members met up at EDSA Central and they were picking me Lau and Beeps at Munoz’ McDonalds.  Lau and I had a good laugh on Beep’s textbook reading material of ‘Office Share’.  When do you think you’ll read that at the course of the race, and why that book. J

Dado was driving the Starex with Nick navigating.  Pat, Lauren, Doc Pnx and I were at the back.  In Aileen’s car were Irene, Beeps, Sheila, and Doc Apple.

February 26, KM 0 2AM

We got to KM 0 at around 2AM and we already saw a couple of runners who travelled the same time we did.  Some of our friends travelled the day before so they can rest in Bataan.

We placed the Bataan Death March tarpaulin on the van and obsessive-compulsive Dado reminded us to make sure the tape is placed evenly. Doc Pinx ‘careered’ it tuloy. J We placed it on the bottom back of the van. We were so proud of our small accomplishment until we realized we couldn’t open the back because we covered the handle with the tarp. And what is a support crew if you can’t readily open the back for the supplies, right? FAIL! And because we did such an awesome job on the even-ness of the yellow tape, we didn’t want o remove it anymore.  So some genius decides to cut a slit on the handle of it.  FAIL turned funny SUCCESS.  (lol)

See that slit on the tarpaulin? Genius!

On the urging of Ronnel, Crew 1 (Beeps, Nick, Marga, Doc Pinx, Lauren) decides to go to KM 7 already so we can easily park.  It was Crew 2 ( Dado, Aileen, Doc Apple, Irene, Sheila) who would see Pat gun off (approximately 5:50AM).  They would then proceed to KM 20 to rest at a friends’ house and resume their supporting duties at 12NN.

KM 7

We see a bunch of cars parked and we made kapit bahay at Ronald’s support crew Carina and Pepsi and a couple of Ronald’s mountaineer friends.  They had a lutuan with butane, and already had a fire going with boiling water for coffee and instant noodles.  It was ‘brrrr’ cold J . But it was so much fun to see runner friends supporting another runner.  The mood was very festive at 6AM J

In the distance we hear the wang wang signifying the first runner coming.  And we see it’s one of our own Wilnar.  (Wilnar finished at a strong 17:35 and as we get updates from Earl his support crew, we are amazed at the speed he was doing it in! A-Mazing!)  Right beside him was an attorney. They were followed by a couple of Singaporean nationals.  We saw a couple of other runners and then we see a red shirt coming to us.  It’s Pat! Wow! That was fast.  (the first 7km is a tricky pure winding uphill that a saner runner would walk to conserve his legs). He didn’t need anything pa and he just said to meet him at KM 10.

KM 20 7:43AM

Pat was doing really well on time but we were over hydrating him.  Between lack of sleep and having his last meal as dinner, we made our first error as a support crew when we allowed him to drink too much water on this first leg.  He realized this as well as hunger set in and ate while walking at some parts of the course.

KM 34

He was making too many stops in this last 14 km.  We were keeping track of everything he ate and drank but we allowed him to skip eating at some parts when he had his momentum going.

KM 50

We tagged team with Crew 2 at KM 49-50.  Doc Pnx turned over to Doc Apple his BP and heart rate as well as telling Sheila, the resident physical therapist any pain Pat was feeling.  Lauren turned over the time log to Irene.  Nick turned over the food and hydration situation to Aileen and the navigation to Dado.  Beeps was continuing on to drive for the team as he was supposed to leave by 6PM to go back to Manila.  He was doing a 12-hour driving shift.

It was at KM 50 that we found out that Pat’s rank was #26 out of the 59 who started earlier.  We saw at this pitstop Mark Hernz and OJ. They were buddying it up in this race and we had some pretty nice shots of  these two  running.

We left Pat to the able hands of Crew 2 and I drove to KM 102 where our hotel was.  The moment Doc Pnx hit her head on the pillow, she was out. J Nick, Lau and I puttered around until we fell asleep as well.  We set our alarm to 5PM  (this was around 1:30) so we can go back to our support duties by 6PM.

I get a message from Carina at around 4PM asking where we were because they just passed Pat at KM 64 and Pat was already contemplating DNF-ing.  Nagising ako ng di-oras sa nerbiyos.  (as you can see, I’m easily excitable. lol) I texted Irene and asked how Pat was and she said he’s ok naman.  I’m thinking, what they hey, Pat? Why are you telling another support crew you want to stop when your own support crew is just one km away! After a short assessment, we figured it together with Crew # 2, Pat’s feeling dejected because Ronald is passing him by.  Don’t get me wrong.  These two are ultra-buddies from way back.  But because he was tired already, any reason to stop will make him want to stop talaga – pain here and there (hamstring & itb) , the heat, the dust, a couple of runners passing you on the road…In short, nag-iinarte lang. LOL.  But Carina and Pepsi aside from Crew # 2 of course, boosted his morale as he passed KM 66 and we got reports that he was running again. Yey!

KM61

Pat complained on feeling cramps on his quads. Shiela gave him a good massage and stretch until his muscles relaxed. He also changed his duct tape. How we wish we knew the exact measure of tape and how to wrap it on his foot because his hands were shaking while he was cutting the excess tape and we just stood there watching him and holding the roll of duct tape. We started being more conscious on his electrolyte and salt intake. As the van left him to leapfrog to the next 2km, we could see him walking with pain in his face.

KM63
We waited for him at KM63. He was taking a bit too long. Shiela rushed to Pat when she saw him from the distance. We sat him down at the kilometer marker as Shiela tried to locate which part of his left thigh was tense. This is the part where Pat started to hate Beeps. Beeps grabbed his left thigh and gave it a deep tissue massage which elicited shouts of “Aray! Masakit! Tama na!”. Beeps replied “Alam ko masakit” as he continued to massage Pat’s glutes. We squirmed together with Pat each time he let out a cry of pain. The girls tried to cheer him up while he was shouting. After some stretching Pat stood up and walked to the other side of the road. We saw him limping and so the crew went back to check on him. Beeps and Shiela gave him one last massage and set him off.

“Aray! Masakit! Tama Na!”

KM 65
We waited anxiously at KM 65. While waiting, we received a text message from Marga saying that Pat told Carina he was DNFing. The crew was surprised. Seeing him from the distance, the crew rushed to him checking on his condition. AS Marga instructed, we told Pat that Wilnar will be coming back to pace him after he finishes the race. This made him smile. The crew gave him some words of encouragement. “Kaya mo pa yan. Runner X is just 10mins ahead of you.” And so Pat set off again. Shiela told the crew his muscles were already relaxed at nagiinarte lang siya. So the crew cheered him as the vehicle passed by. We knew he was in back in the game at the next stopover when he asked what time he left KM50. He started to run again at this point checking his time every stop over. Nabuhayan din ang crew.

Crew #2 told us to take our time because they were okay pa to support Pat.  Instead of 6PM, we can take over mga 7PM or 8PM.  We took our time eating and prepping with me and Doc Pnx putting make-up on pa that Doc Pnx even said, “pag hindi pa naman niya natapos itong race na to!” LOL.  We passed by McDonalds and had sundaes and coffee  pa.  We wanted to run after Wilnar on McArthur Hi-Way but decided to just see the beginning of the route of McArthur Hi-Way then head back to Crew # 2.

 

To Be Continued…

13 thoughts on “Anonymous Runner (Part 1)

    • hahahaha! adik ka ronald. sorry i used the wrong name. Can we change it to Runner 6xx then? Baka isipin nga nila kasama si Runner X. =p

  1. Incredible story, Marge! I saw Pat at KM102 (even took a pic of him with Gab) and noticed he was very exhausted but with the feeling that he’ll continue the long haul. Sayang, but he’s strong and has still a lot in him to pursue more ultras in the future!

    • I didn’t see you at all. I was asking for you from others…Nasa 102 ka pala. We wanted him to continue…But we were also very cognizant of his physical limitations what with a horrible nutritional situation and lack of sleep problem—hahahaha. Doc Pinx and Doc Apple were really our measuring stick for his health, though. And yes, he has plenty of ultras left in him and this time, the support crew will monitor his training a year ahead-hahaha.

      Thanks, Rene for the post🙂

  2. Wow, such a highly systematized approach to the support MArga dear. I am so proud of all of you. I wish I had seen you guys more though, saw you once lang ata hehe🙂 Bitin, can’t wait for the next part😛

  3. Reading through this again I just thought each one of us had a ‘how’d-i-get-booked-into-this’ story, hehe! I’m sure each of us would have a per kilometer recount version. Beautiful blog!

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