Friday, July 11, 2014

Soleus Trail Challenge: My First Trail Run for 2014

In almost 5 years of running, there are a handful of running events I joined which I considered epics and very memorable. Among these runs are the trail running races, where I get to run and tour various mountains and nature parks hidden in the outskirts of Metro Manila. For me, trail running is an ideal way to train power-endurance and technical skills that allow me to test my balance in uneven terrains. Trail running, for me, is the best way to train and strengthen the ankles, soles, and calves because they are exposed to various motions from the side lateral movements while running and, in some instances, when jumping a few drops along the way. It’s called technical scrambling, which has a higher risk of injury so you need to take it slow most especially if you're a newbie on the trails.

I was saddened by the news when I heard that the Merrell Adventure Run was postponed. I thought I’m not going to hit the trails this year. But thanks to my friends from Manila Water, I was able to have the opportunity to run in this year’s Soleus Trail Valley Challenge in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna. So I still got to run the trails after all!

The race was divided into three categories, 50k, 30k, and 15k. I was offered a 50k race kit and I was so tempted to take it. But since I have not run in the trails for quite a while, I opted to take the 15k distance instead. I have not experienced a DNF in running before, and I certainly didn’t want to have one in this race. We arrived at the venue a bit early when the 30k runners were about to set off. While waiting, I bumped into some long-time friends in the running community and did my customary warm-ups and stretching.  

5:00am was the gun start and at the first two kilometers, we already experienced a bit of confusion in the direction that cost us 5 minutes of time the wandering in the wilderness and getting lost. Since it was still dark, trail signs were not very visible. But it’s all good because things like that happen all the time during trail runs and runners just consider it as part of the adventure.

The hydration, as expected, was very much limited, that is why runners were encouraged to bring personal hydration bottles and supplements along the way. I only brought one water bottle that lasted half way, enough for me to refill and replenish all the energy lost. I already calculated this since I already know the trails of Nuvali from my previous runs. But my long hiatus from trail running took its toll such that exhaustion and fatigue overcame me too soon.

The 10k mark going back was more of a run-walk pace. I was able to catch up with another running friend, Pat Conception, and we paced together for a while. Pat was experiencing muscle fatigue as well and steep descents were a challenge to him, so I went ahead and kept a steady pace to finish the last few remaining kilometers.

At last, the finish line was in sight. Along the way, we passed by the water sprinkle of Manila Water and I can’t wait to go back there to cool down. Crossing the finish line was a relief as well as getting photos from friends and, of course, the finisher’s medal.

One of the best things about this race were the foods that were served. Very rare will you experience to get free breakfast, as in rice and viand after crossing the finish line. It was definitely a very fulfilling trail run and I certainly look forward to joining the Soleus Trail Challenge again next year. Perhaps that 50k will no longer be a scary feat to accomplish by then.  

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