All Women Ultra Marathon (AWUM) is a 50K long-distance run that’s held on the first weekend of the International Women’s Month, which is March. This amazing event is organized by the non-profit Think Tank, a group of ultra runners in Cebu.
Last year, on its 3rd year, I was privileged to join the Toledo Adik ug Dagan (TAD), a running group from Toledo City, in assisting the women runners during the race. I was so thrilled. It was great handing them with super cold water, food, ice, etc. What was more awesome was the part when we cheered and applauded the women; encouraged them to not give up and told them that they can do it. I saw those brave women run carrying with them different wonderful stories. I saw their pain though I could not feel it. I saw their determination to finish strong. I was really amazed. Watching them gave me the courage to think that maybe I can also be one of them. I secretly thought of joining and earning my own AWUM medal.
Then I tweeted this…
I registered for the most prestigious AWUM 2015 and was so nervous. I don’t know. I just thought that once registered, I can never back out. Yes, technically, I can but I won’t. And still I was nervous. I started training alone and kinda like it because I can run on my own pace. And I am aware that I’m lazy so that means I can’t annoy and waste someone else’s time during my training. The great thing was that my boyfriend, a barefoot runner, really supported me, really pushed me to register and automatically became my trainer. He was always monitoring my training, checked my food intake and we did cross-training.
By January, I joined the Cebu City Marathon 2015 and ran 21K. It was my longest-distance run so far. It was grueling and really tiring. My legs went numb and my feet were all sore. My body was telling me to give up but my mind was telling me the opposite. And why would I? I finished the run within 3 hours and 20 minutes. Got no injury but the race made me think of the upcoming AWUM 2015. I was nervous again. It’s 50 freakin’ kilometer!!! What have I got myself into?
Continued my training and this time I was more serious. I am a mountaineer and I am used to hiking for hours. But running is a different thing. And this is going to be my first time so I started reading articles about marathons and got a lot of tips. I focused on two things; my endurance and rhythm. I can run. But can I endure? I know my pace. But can I be consistent with it?
Then the day came, March 7, 2015. I had a hard time sleeping. I spent my day re-checking my running gears. I watched two movies just to divert my attention from weird and scary thoughts. I can feel butterflies and all kinds of insects in my stomach. I felt really weird.
Gunstart at the Cebu City Hall, 10pm. 255 pretty, sexy and tough women started running their way though the excruciating race. I was wearing TAD shirt and I loved it. My goals were simple. Let me rephrase that. My goals sounded simple; to finish within the 10-hour cut-off, to avoid getting injured, to take one kilometer at a time, finish the race and enjoy the longest fashion show of my life. I was so nervous but really excited as to what was ahead of me. I was looking forward to the different stations where running clubs with their lively members were patiently waiting and ready to assist us. I managed to think of the good things and made sure to have fun. Plus I have a lot of people who wished me luck.
After 3 hours, I was running alone. As much as I wanted to have someone beside me during the race, I realized that since it is my first ultra I have to be able to measure myself. And it would not be possible if I run with someone because I might not be able to level with her speed and I don’t want to be a drag. So alone I was. The uphills were agonizing. The dark streets were scary. I checked my clock from time to time wondering how long have I been running/walking. I listened to my body, legs and feet to know if they’re still okay. I was excited to stop in every station because I knew people will pumped up my spirit and above all, my boyfriend was there. He’s the sweetest! 🙂
After my 34th kilometer (already passed through the old bridge of Lapu-lapu City), I started feeling the pain. The left part of my back started hurting. But I was definitely not stopping. Passed through Marcelo Fernan Bridge and Cansaga Bridge. My knees were screaming of pain. The volunteers gave me water and massage which really helped a lot. Then they told me that I only have 9 kilometers left to run. I sighed and felt proud. But it was not yet over. I played songs on my phone and did not care if it was on loud volume. The music helped me with my rhythm.
I realized that the most crucial part of the ultra marathon was the last 9 kilometers. It was the part of the race where my entire body was shrieking for pain. My muscles were sore. My legs were numb. My feet were tired. I was running very, very slowly. I was frightened of the thought of getting injured. I don’t want to take risks so I ran really slowly. And what was funny was that I started cheering myself out loud. Go, Silver, go! Hapit na, Silver! Kaya na, Silver! 🙂
You know when you are suffering and you feel like giving up, your brain is set to take you to memories worth thinking. Your brain will play series of events and most of the time show you pictures of people. That was what I realized. I started to think of my mom, of how brave she was for fighting for our survival. My siblings and the rest of my family who were always my fans. My friends who believes in me. The achievements I’ve done. The lessons I’ve learned. The plans I’ve made. The thought of how blessed I am kept me going. I will finish the race to show how grateful I am with the great life I have and for the amazing people in it. I will finish the race and have a blast!
Yes, I made it! My personal record was 9 hours and 23 minutes, 7:23 AM on the clock. I felt like crying but I was overwhelmed with the smiles I saw from my co-runners, marshals, spectators and organizers. I heard someone mentioned my name and felt the heavy medal on my neck. I was happy. Above all, I was proud of myself. No words can really express the feeling.
And my boyfriend looked me in the eye and said, “You are now an ultra-marathoner, pangga!”
Five days had passed and I am still high from the feeling. I still could not believe that I did it. I would like to thank all the awesome people who made the event possible. To the organizers, Think Tank. To the running clubs, the men, who volunteered and helped everyone. To the marshals who patiently waited for the runners. To the photographers for the perfect pictures. To the government for supporting this event. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! You just don’t know how grateful we all are to your services. 🙂
To the winners of AWUM 2015, Congratulations! You were all tough and amazing. To all the women who ran the longest fashion show of their lives, I salute you. I respect your strength, endurance and awesomeness! It was an honor to have shared the streets with all of you. I am so lucky! Again, CONGRATULATIONS!
To the running club who adopted me, Toledo Adik ug Dagan, thank you so much for the support. Your cheers kept me going. To TAD sexy ladies, congratulations! You, guys, rock! I am happy to have known great ladies like you.
And to the guy who supported me from the very start, thank you so much. I would not have made it without you. The thought of seeing you in most of the hydration stations motivated me. It was like I was running towards you. Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t. Thank you for everything. I may not be the race champion but having you in my life makes me one. Thank you, pangga! 🙂
Here’s the link to the photos and articles of AWUM 2015. You can also check out the winners here. AWUM 2015
I also want to share this amazing story of a runner named Candice Maque. Her strength is awesome. And she’s definitely an inspiration. Memoirs of a 50K Awum finisher
This event will forever be in my heart. I really learned a lot about myself and realized how great life is. I don’t know if I’ll run on next year’s AWUM, I know I will still be nervous but what I’m sure of is that I will never stop running…
March 14, 2015