Sunday, April 8, 2012

My First Trail Experience – Salomon Xtrail Run 2012

Running in the road is hard, but running on the trail is hardcore. Salomon Trail Running Pilipinas proved this statement to me last March 31st at Tagaytay Highlands.

After my half marathon on the first week of March, I haven’t had any training at all because I was so busy with work and family matters.  So when Laira asked me to join up the route recon for Salomon Xtrail Run 2012, I was so eager to join. But because of such short notice, my filed leave was not approved. Given the situation, I have no idea what to expect come race day. I was even thinking if I would really join in or not.

My Salomon Xtrail Run Kit!

Trail Running... I heard some of my very fit and active friends engage in this kind, and for me I assume it is already beyond what I can do. Most of them run marathons like it was just a short stroll at the park. I know this is too hardcore for me, but my love for nature, adventure and trying out new things made this race very irresistible.  Given a fact that there is a 6K road and trail category that i perfect for beginners, I know this is worth trying out!

Before the big day, I tried gathering up infos from my friends who already experienced Trail Running. I also did some researches of my own.  Some of the tips that I gathered are the following:

1.    Wear something lightweight and comfortable.
2.    Bring some emergency essentials like Band-Aids, liniments and wound solutions.
3.    Bring extra clothes and more towels.
4.    Keep your mobile phone charged.
5.    Do not wear earphones.
6.    Trail Shoes are the perfect pair to wear on the route.
7.    Do not hurry up, just enjoy the scenery!

Since my work schedule is now in the morning, I had more time to prepare myself for the event.  For sure I know that even if I only took the 6K distance, it won’t be that easy. Based from my 10K experience from Nathan Ridge Run that happens in the same place, I know there’s going to be lots of hard ups and downs on the road in addition to the Trail. I was told that it rained the day before the race so I was already preparing myself for a muddy race!

I don’t have a Trail Shoes, and it is impractical to get one at the moment, so I decided to bring along Ryka, my first Running Shoe that I haven’t worn for almost a year. Didn’t wanna bring Empress along, she’s too precious to get dirty, and she’s dedicated to just run the road with me.

This is my last fresh-looking shot before going down and dirty... on the trails! ^^_^

Race day, I woke up and made my final preparations. My brother is kind enough to drive me to ROX where the bus is waiting for us. They gave 15 minutes grace period to those who were late and then were off to Tagaytay Highlands.

When we arrived, it was all foggy. But the fog is much bearable compared to the Zero Visibility fog we’ve experience at Nathan Ridge Run. The venue was well oragnized and there are big jugs of water and Gatorade waiting for the runner’s bottle to get filled up. Salomon Xtrail Run is a green race, so no cups are available. A huge stage and a huge Television to project the videos. The sponsor’s tent were placed on the sides. Everything is just perfect, even the weather because the coldness is just right.

Saying a little prayer of guidance before the race starts.

The race started in interval times of 30 minutes. There were more than 1,000 participants in the event, double of what the target participants expectation set by the organizers. As the time of the 6K race is about to come, I started to get nervous, a very usual feeling of someone without training and will try something for the first time.

I think our distance is the least populated compared to 24K and 12K. I have no fears of finishing last since I know 24K’s will took longer than I will. I say a little prayer before the race and before I knew it, it has begun!

The first kilometers was a breeze! Going down the road was the easiest part for me. I just stride down with less effort. After that runners began to pile up entering the trail since it’ll only allow one person to pass at a time.

The queue of runners waiting for their turn to hit the challenging trail.

The first time my foot hit the Trail I felt lighter, or maybe the soil is soft that hitting it with my foot bounces me back. I was enjoying the easy trail until I stopped for another queue of runners working their way up the very steep trail. I felt chills down my spine. My heart started pounding faster when I saw someone who almost fell down. I kept calm, composed and focused. I did my best to climb up, and I did it easier than I expected it to be. My confidence boosted. I gained speed in climbing up hilly trails.
Then afterwhich, we encoutered downhill trails. This time, I am so afraid since I can see that one wrong move and you’re gonna go down deep. It was very slippery since the soil became mud from the rains the night before the race. We are trying our best not to slip, not because we’re afraid to get dirty but because when we do, other runners ahead of us will slip, domino effect is never an option!

When it was my turn to go down, there was one part where I almost slipped, glad that there was this woman who lend her hand before it happened (Whoever you are, thank you!). I think going down is more challenging than climbing up. But nonetheless, there is a part of the trail where they put a rope. I really enjoyed sliding down using that. I wish there was more along the way though. I felt like I was in Takeshi’s Castle!

I love the Blue Rope! ^_^

After the steep climb and slippery downparts, the trail became a continuous path that reminds me of Temple Run. I felt like I was in a game so I ran my way out of it. It was a breeze running trails like this for me. I enjoyed it.

After that, we are back on the road. I felt that the mud stuck on the dents of my shoes are so heavy. When I saw a pile of sand, I used it to shake off the mud on my shoe and it kinda helps. I had the hardest time the last few kilometers since it was pure uphills. Those I passed through the trails were able to catch up on me.  I really need to work out on this one.

The after-run picture. My hands are all dirty from holding on the trees and ropes, but it was fun!!! ^_^

I finished the race with an unofficial time of 1:33:35. I expect to finish it at 1:30 so a 00:03:35 time excess is just tolerable. Anyway, it was my first time. I even felt that I can still do a second round!

After I finished the race I had a great plated lunch courtesy of our friends from Salomon, a treat for the Media and Bloggers. It was no different from the boxed food that was given to all participants. It was a great way to replenish!

Since I finished early, I get to have a rest time while waiting for my fellow bloggers to finish their 24K trail run. While at it, I roam around the event grounds and just spend time with the crowd.

Event grounds

With the celebrity couple, Susie and Paolo Abrera and the celebrity runner, Bhoy Runner's Runner!

After my 24K trail runner friends came in, they were wearing this shiny medal that I was so envious about!

This is definitely worth treasuring for!

Now, let's go to my observation about the race. Here are some of the commendable things that gives a thumbs up to the organizers.
  1. Bus left the pick up point on time. (Giving 15 minutes grace period for the latecomers is tolerable.)
  2. The event grounds was intelligently planned out.
  3. Gatorade was well diluted the sweetness and sourness is neutralized. They come in this huge barrels where you can refill your own bottle. No queuing since they have enough.
  4. The portalets are so clean! They have cleaners who maintains it. They even have tissue papers inside. SWEET!
  5. The set up of tables and chairs are great.
  6. The Helicopter Camera Carrier did not crash this time!
  7. Shuttles are available whenever needed.
  8. Food catered by Tagaytay Highlands is simply delicious!
Boxed food, simply yummy! Oh, it comes with a glass of Iced Tea! ^_^

Some of the things that can be improved for next time:
  1. It would be better if the place is covered with tents so everyone will be shaded from the ever switching of light rainshowers and sunny rays of the Sun that day.
  2. There is a place somewhere that has 3 dogs that looks kinda angry on our way back. I guess putting Marshals to shoo them away will help.
  3. The 180 pesos shower fee of Tagaytay Highlands for me is too much. They should have given a discount to the participants given the fact that most will go for the service because of the mud and dirt on the runners. Thinking that Script Money is bought by 100 peso denomination, what are we going to do with the remaining 20 if we buy a 200 worth?
  4. How about more love inside the 6K Loot Bag?

Anyway, after 3 days the results are already out. If you haven't seen yours yet, just click on this link HERE.

Oh well, "Anne" is a nice second name. :P

Some things I learned from Trail Running:
  1. Wearing a Trail Shoe is really an advantage since it is made for dirt.
  2. The "fashionista" running gears should not be worn as it might get ruined.
  3. No earphones. The sound of nature is perfect!
  4. Do the Shadowing Rule. Follow the steps of the one infront of you since he already tested that step to be stable.
  5. It's better to have a buddy. You'll never know when you'll need a pull up from a steep trail.
  6. Use tree trunks, vines and grass to hold on when you need to. Don't hesitate to get your hands dirty from touching them or the ground.

After the trail experience, I must say that I fell in love with it. I am a nature lover and an advocate of preserving Mother Earth. I found out that trails are not about the speed, it's about the adventure you'll get from it. It offers a wide variety of terrains from soft soil, mud, stones, water pools, uneven trails and even steep uphills and deep downhills. It is also a great way to enjoy the trees, hear the birds chirp and smell the grass. It is a breather from the usual road races that we have back in Manila.

Special thanks to Salomon Trail Running Pilipinas for making me a part of this successful event. To Primer Group of Companies. To my blogger friends who made the experience more meaningful (Daddy Rene, Kuya Ed, Tin, CJ, Kuya Jojo, Kuya Peds and Jared) and to Ms. Laira Legaspi for taking good care of us from start to finish. Mostly, to God for giving us the strength to finish the race.

I had a hard time cleaning but it's worth it! ^_^

Will I run trails again? You bet I will! and I'm gonna be looking forward to the next trail running events from now on. You should try it too and who knows? You might enjoy it as much as I did.

See you on the next running events, and see you on the trails!

Good Vibes everyone and Sweet Running! ^_^


tontan said...

Congratulation!! and Great job!!

Jonathan J Inocando said...

You may also try Merell Adventure Run 2012. see this link

Im sure, you have many stories to tell as I have done this last year.
Good luck to your running. Run safe.
Date: June 2, 2012 (Saturday)

Venue: Timberland Heights, San Mateo, Rizal

Race Distances: 5K, 10K, 21K