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RACE REPORT: Aldean Lim, Four-time CM50 BAD ASS Finisher

ALDEAN LIM has been joining the Clark-Miyamit Falls Ultra (CM50) since 2012 (its second year of staging). He has consistently finished strong and took the championship in 2013.

Every year, he has been present as a volunteer in the Miyamit Falls Traill (MF42) Marathon, a shorter distance race that is part of the series.

Here is Aldean's 2013 Race report which could be a good resource for those joining the ultra distance for the first time.

Days before the race, I was thinking of my race strategy but I couldn’t think of any that would work because of the badass lineup. I counted too many fast and strong runners and I was getting demoralized. But then I remembered Bruce Lee saying “Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water.” I decided to just prepare all the necessary things I need during the race and to play it by feel and trust my gut during the race. So, a day before the race I went to Clark to get a full days rest before the race as the gun start is at 1am Sunday 25 November 2013.

At the start line, I greeted and chatted with some friends and felt from everybody the excitement and nervousness (except for some veterans who knows how to mask their feeling and accepted the fact that its going to be a long grueling day) brought about by an International Ultra Trail Marathon race. The level of competition at the start line inspired me. It was none I have ever seen before since I started Ultra Trail Running a year ago at exactly the same race. Almost all of the fast and strong runners in the local ultra trail running scene signed up for this race. The International players was deeper some of whom are UTMF finishers, holds blistering PR’s in 100k’s, and others have raced all over the world.

The Start

Pre-race briefing by the RD, group pictures and the gun went off at exactly 1:00 AM. After 1-2km the lead pack already lined up consisting of at least 10 runners including Simon Sandoval (2011-13 CM50 Podium finisher) Roland Wangwang, Koi Grey, James Tellias, Julius Bay-an, Robert Watson, Koji Beppu, Naomi Fujimaki (2013 CM50 Women’s Champ), Jerome Bautista and the rest of the pack. I knew I was running against guys faster and stronger than me but I also knew my advantage --- I was familiar with the course, terrain, and weather. I realized that most of the lead pack were not familiar with the course, their common strategy is that they will take advantage of the guy who is familiar with the course by following him until the turn around point and leave him there (I would have done it if I’m in their position). I decided that I would not give them that advantage and break their strategy.

Entering the short stretch of trail from the paved road leading to Sacobia River, Booom! I made a break and decided to lead and push the pace. I told myself that if they will catch up to me then they’ll catch up to me but at least I tried. I never lead a race this early, more so, experienced to lead a race. The pressure was there but I told myself to relax and stick with the plan and the basics --- check my pace, equipment, nutrition, course and run as fast as my legs can take me. During that time all sorts of questions flooded through my mind --- “Did I train enough?” “Can I maintain this pace?” “Can I maintain the lead?” and “Are you crazy? What do you think your doing?”. I then decided to silence those thoughts and focus all my mind and energy on doing what I came here to do, to run my best. I went primal.

I arrived at Aid Station 1 (manned by Team Lihukan UPMountaineers) refilled my bladder and went off immediately. I need to be efficient and fast in the aid stations. From Aid Station 1 to Aid Station 2, it was more or less 10 kilometers going thru technical sections, steep ascents and descents, a lot of intersections, corn and sugarcane plantations and crossing the vast Pasig-Potrero River.

The view above one of the technical hills from AS1 to AS2

I know there are a lot of forks and turns from Aid Station 1 to Aid Station 2 that could lead runners astray but I memorized all those details and knew that if I tried to push the pace, some runners will try to play catch and maybe…maybe… in their frantic pace of catching up they will lose some focus, make some mistakes and get lost along the way. It was all part of the strategy. (Moi bad)

Sometimes, I turned off my headlamps if there’s an intersection or a sudden change in the course to prevent those who are following me from gauging their distance from me. Every advantage that I could think I took it without hesitation and regret.

I maintained my pace, monitored my nutrition and arrived at Aid Station 2 (manned by the guys from Road Eaters Running Club). I just thanked the volunteers and went off immediately.

From Aid station 2 to aid station 3, I was maintaining a very fast pace somewhere in the 4:30min/km to 5:30min/km. I was redlining and was torn between slowing down my pace to conserve energy before the assault to the peak or increase my pace. I was crazy to choose the latter.

Arriving at Aid station 3 (Ayala Triads station), RD Jon was there and I was very thankful for the volunteers especially Karlene Sebastian and Iris Torculas in assisting me with my needs. I got my drop bag and I changed socks and shoes, refilled my bladder, loaded my pack with nutrition and off I go for the long assault to the peak.

Drop Bag at Aid Station 3

My race strategy was to power hike the uphills, run the flats and bomb the downhills. But if your leading, the pressure is enormous that somehow changes the race strategy. I needed to adapt fast, so I ran and scramble the uphills, run as fast as my legs could take me on the flats and go controlled suicidal mode on the downhills.

I arrived at Aid Station 4 and was greeted by Team Boring and was very grateful for their assistance. Got my nutrition from my drop bags, drank some coffee, ate some bananas and thanked the volunteers before I left. Going up to the peak, the fog was slowly setting in and I could feel and hear the life of the forest, it is eerie beautiful in ways that I could not explain. I know I am at home.

It was freedom at its finest, I can feel all my other senses heightening up to the point that I could hear every movement around me and feel every pebble and sand in my toes. During those moments, it was very liberating to run alone, in the dark, in the mountains, I was exactly where I wanted to be. I was happy.

Nearing the peak, I saw the first burst of sunlight and the view slowly unfolded before my eyes and it was magnificent. I was greeted by Isko Lapira and Joma at the peak and was surprised and very happy when they told me that I arrived 6am flat (5hours of running already). At that moment, I was already happy for my accomplishment, gave myself time to enjoy the scenery and took deep breaths. But at the back of my mind another thought was searing --- “Do I have it to win this race?” and “How badly do I want this?”. My competitive side kicked in and told me that I wouldn’t know if I wont try. I intend to discover if I could dig deeper and push further my limits.

Around 10minutes going down from the peak, I came across Koji Beppu and Naomi Fujimaki followed by Julius Bay-an, Simon Sandoval, James Tellias, Jerome Bautista, Roland Wangwang and Majo Liao. I knew that the real race starts here. It would be decided on who can hold on longer until the finish line. I then remembered my mom always nagging how stubborn I am and I decided to put that stubbornness into good use.

Going down from the peak, I immediately assessed my situation and condition. I’m already in the negative caloric intake so I told myself “You need to eat to run, if you stop eating, you stop running”. So I ate and ran as if I stole something. I went downhill suicidal mode. I’m not as gifted and as fast in downhill running compared to the likes of Koi Grey or Roland Wangwang but I believe in the power of technique and skill, which can be acquired and honed. But due to the heavy beating my legs received from downhill running, cramps is slowly settling in my quads. There was one instance that my quads suddenly locked up and I fell to the ground. Luckily, a foreign runner was there and helped me to put pressure on my cramping legs. I did not fail to thank him after the race but I still forgot to get his name. (My Bad)

I wanted to say sorry to all my friends and people who greeted me but I ignored or failed to greet going down from the peak. I was barely holding onto my focus and one misstep would mean a different ending.

Focus

I arrived at last at Aid Station 4 (busiest of all the stations as all runners will pass by through here at least twice), I could see a lot of people converging on the tent and Team Boring helped and assisted them in any way they can. Kudos to you guys for a job well done!

I went down directly to the falls, checked in from one of the marshalls, got the wrist band and upon coming back to AS4 I met Koji Beppu followed shortly by Naomi Fujimaki and they are around 10min to 15min behind me. I knew I needed to push and maintain a pace that will hurt me. I thought if it will hurt me, it would kill them. I guess I was wrong, they were able to maintain that same pace and I was the one getting killed.

From AS4 I put on my cap, shades and music player. After almost 6-7 hours of running, it already hurts where it supposed to hurt and I needed something to push me harder. The music gave me both motivation and distraction. The downhill section from AS4 to AS3 was a quadriceps and hamstring killer and the sun is already going up. I gritted my teeth and prayed to God and to the mountains to give me strength to survive and will to succeed.

Leading a race from Kilometer 5 to kilometer 64 compounds pressure to a degree that I had never imagined nor experienced on a race before (as I always the one chasing and not the one being chased). It came to a point that I need to look at the back every 15min or so just to see if someone was following me. I arrived at last at AS3 and after getting my nutrition, drank some soda and thanked the volunteers, I immediately went off. The Sun was at its fullest and the heat really hurts. I tried to convince myself that I am used to this heat during training runs and if it hurts me I was better off because I could imagine the others were feeling as they came from places with colder weather. I even tried to play games with my mind and imagined myself as Superman, recharging and getting stronger from the rays of the sun.

One of the many river crossings from AS1 to AS2

The AS3 to AS2 section was the hottest part of the course; there were no cover except for the two tunnels and some mango trees. When I arrived at AS2 I could feel my internal organs boiling and have to douse myself with water to keep my temperature down. I got some nutrition, chatted with some volunteers, thanked them and crossed the Pasig-Potrero river. After the river, the sugarcane and corn plantations and the technical sections came and it was suffering at its finest. Many runners called it the Spider or Spiderman section. Now I understood why.

From Aid Station 1 crossing the Sacobia River up to the finish line was the longest 7 kilometers of the race. My quads, hamstrings, calves, and core were all thrashed and it hurts like hell. All what’s left in me was my mind and the desire to move on. So I kept moving.

This is the part where I began to thank God for the blessing of life, health, family, friends, work and the chance to live my passion.

Winning the race and breaking the course record did not dawn unto me until I saw the big smile on the RD’s face and the official time 10:24:xx at the finish line.

The finishline

I am a badass once again.

The Top Male and Female of 2013 CM50 Trail Ultra

All I can say is, those who push the limits discover, that sometimes the limits push back.

Content was reposted from aldeanlim.blogspot.com

(Photo Courtesy of Dennis Cumal of Tukod, Myruntime, Aileen Manat, Roadeaters Club, Laurel Tibo-oc and other photographers.) 

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