Saturday, June 30, 2012

My 100 Mile Debut
The Great New York 100 Mile Running Exposition 
June 23, 2012
That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
-Friedrich Nietzche

January 2012. Five months before the race. I texted Jesse Gellor that New York Ultra Running Organization is planning an inaugural 100 mile race in New York City. Sound crazy but the idea is perfect for a 100 mile debut. Just like an itch waiting to be scratched. No need to rent a car, book a hotel and all other extra expenses. I live here and I know the place like a home court advantage. Triboro where else? Just a subway ride wherever you go. With no waste of time Jesse dashed in to his computer and emailed Phil McCarthy, the Race director asking to accept our entry since the race is limited only by invitation. Anxiety builds up not for that the thought that I was out of shape. In fact I have an upcoming 50k and 100 k coming up in between so it is perfect! But it's the angst of rejection that gets in to me. So, what the heck might as well get trained and give it a shot". Miraculously our entry was accepted. We are in. Let the fun begin.

Mile 0: The starters
The Start: At the crack of dawn in Times Square, New York at 4:45 a.m. My wife Donna came to support me at the start of the race. Thirty one runners gathered and few supporters gathered enjoying the pre-dawn air. Humidity was low by then and the air was calm. Although, the weather forecast says high 90 degrees on the final day of the 3-day heat wave. I hid away my anxiety by standing away from the other runners, chatting only with Donna & Jesse. By the time I got to the start, I was ready to go. According to my simple mathematics, the run is going to be three marathons plus a 22-mile tune-up run or just simply putting your foot in front of the other and only stop at the finish line. A short briefing from Race Director, last photos were snapped and some "Good Luck" were exchange then the final "go" at exactly 5:15 a.m. Just a cheer from the runners and off we start.

Mile 0-18, Times to Bronx Zoo. I ran conservatively from the start, the trick is to walk up the hills. I was in the middle of the pack, pacing along with Lisa Bauer, an ultra-runner veteran to run her 18th 100 mile race this year in her attempt at a record-breaking 30 hundreds for 2012, Emmy Stocker, Paul Arroyo, Matt Gerwitz, Mark Vengrove and Becky Tsai. I enjoyed the climb to Van Cortland Park with the view of Hudson River. Right after Van Cortland Park I kept following Lisa and another runner along a golf course path that ended us up to Yonkers. We were four miles of the course. That was a costly mistake. Smartphone technology helped us get back on course. There then, we finally caught up with the last few runners; Jick Gellor, Trish Cherns and Dave Luljak in Bronx River Parkway at mile 18. . At this time, heat reached its maximum level with humidity factor that feels like in the middle 90's. The mullet hat that I wore helped a lot.

Mile 19-40, Bronx to Queens

The first aid Station is at Pelham Bay Park at mile 21. There I saw Giselle & Toni with huge banner was waiting for me saying: " go" go" go" "Gerald Tabios". That really boosted up my spirit. I refilled my hydration vest and took some nutrition and back in the race. Unfortunately after few minutes, Jick made a wrong turn that took him to City Island. I have no idea how long he has been off course. I was running along with ultra running legend Trishul Cherns pacing and having a few conversations about his record that includes his 3100 miles in 50 days, 1000 miles and 6 day stage run. I can't believe pacing side by side with an ultra-legend. Volunteer and ultra running veteran Nick Palazo paced with us somewhere along this whole section. Trish was slowing down when we crossed the RFK Bridge and so I went ahead.

Mile 41-52 Queens Marina to Alley Pond

Jick Gellor finally caught up with me at the 41 aid Station (Queens Marina). I don't know how he did it. Unbelievable! We then paced all the way to Crocheron Park. At mile 46 he showed some signs of slowing down and lets me run ahead. At Mile 51, Alley Pond Park trail, Richard "Butad" Fernadez called to check on my situation as well as Maritess Yabo to give some words of encouragement. I was running alone as fear sets in, with the wind moaning, tall tress blocking the sun that made the trail dark. At this point, I remembered all the stories when I was a kid about witches and sorcerers back in the Philippines. Although I heard that experienced ultra runners suffer hallucination. My eyes were playing tricks on me. I knew it was pure imagination. I just laugh it out off. Robert Frost's poetry struck my mind. "The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep". I'm not dying, I have promises to keep". Suddenly, Nonong phoned me that Jick called it a day at mile 51. He was obviously disappointed for Jick.

Mile 52-58 Alley Pond to Flushing Meadow Park Unisphere, aid Station (14 hour cut-off)

Pressure mounting up on me and as I checked the clock at 6:45 p.m., calls from Donna and Nonong telling me that the cut-off time was extended to 7:45p. Originally 7:15p (Phil's manual states that cut-off is not enforced to the last minute...not if you are visibly struggling.). A hint of discomfort in my knee made me think that it would seem to be impossible for me to run 6 miles in one hour. And this time, I said No, I don't care much about the cut-off time anymore, enforced or not. I will get there anyway and do negative splits which I was thinking of it all time. With the gang of supporters who came out for me including my two kids holding up the banner steadfastly kept the aid station volunteers stayed until I got there at 8:05 p.m. There I caught up with Emmy Stocker, Paul Arroyo and Michelle Mason (Paul's designated pacer) which give me boost and confidence that I am still in the race. At this point, I was feeling pretty good again, gobbled a "Mc Donald" cheese burger and back on course.

Mile 58 - 75 Flushing Meadow Park Unisphere to Rockaway Beach Park

Mile 58: Flushing Meadow Park 

As planned Nonong and Roy would crew for me up to 12:30 p.m. Nonong made sure that I have the right nutrition, hydration and as well as my electrolyte in balance. Pain prevents me from listening to what my body needs, that's why a good handler is important at this point of the race. Roy on the other hand, had his car fully-stocked with nutrition and other necessary stuff better than what you'll find from an aid station; from gels, ice water, gatorade, flashlights name it… except of a bathroom. It was getting dark when we get to forest Park. At mile 65, somewhere along the stretch on Cross Bay Boulevard, Friends, Perry Dazo and Jick Gellor came along with their bikes whipping behind my back. My butt was kicking and my adrenaline was pumping.

Mile 75 - 94, Fort Toten to 4th Ave., Brooklyn

Mile 70: On Rockaway board walk
and aid station volunteers behind.
After Nonong Callao pace for a good long 18 miles, Raul Vidal took over for the final stretch of the course. Months before the race, Raul planned that he would pace for me from mile 70 to finish. The boardwalk to Marine parkway is the City that never sleeps. Mermaid parade in Brooklyn was also happening that day. Raul and I were just having a lovely conversation while I power walk and shuffled the boardwalk. The miles just rolled up in relentless forward progress. The time was around 1:00 a.m. and one of the high moments in the whole race came right at night, the long stretch of bike path along Belt Parkway. Verazano River is nothing but ship docks with its wharf loaded with container vans which reminded me of "Balikbayan boxes" being shipped to the Philippines. Inadvertently, that was also my slowest pace, knowing that I have ample time to finish even before the 28 hour cutoff. The cool of the night was a relief from the sauna heat we experienced during the day. Soon this will be a fun run I would say. Raul enjoyed keeping an eye for the yellow arrow markings on the streets that will guide us along the course. Making it sure not to mix it up with other contractors markings. This event was purely meant for running; however, you will also experience a gist of treasure hunting along the way with those marking. It is indeed, an urban adventure race. Between Marine Parkway and the next aid station, borough hall, we passed along 2 competitors Rebecca Sheaffer and  Tatsuri Suzuki, then Elaine Acosta at 4:00 a.m.

Mile 96 - 100.3 Borough Hall to Times Square

Worried about my calorie intake, I wasted no time; I gulped down my last bottle of Ensure and told Donna to advance to Times Square. Entering Brooklyn Bridge was quite a bit of surprise. Boy, Jick and other friends came like an entourage of bikers to cheer support me. Jick could not believe how refreshed and rejuvenated I was that early morning. I sped the downhill section of the bridge pacing 9 min/mile. There was euphoria and a sense of accomplishment. I was about to pass the test. I walk and run the last 3 miles I could even barely walk. My legs were so stiff. But when I saw a glimpse of Times Square from half a mile, which was the final 5 blocks, there I thought, this is no match not even for the faster runner in the world, as I sprinted to the finish line. With courage and determination, I had faced the limit of human strength and endurance that I had succeeded.

My goal was to finish the race less than the cut-off time of 28 hours. Only 14 finished out of the 31runners. I finished 11th with the time of 26:55:25. Then I thought to myself that I will do it again. I hugged my wife tightly and thanked her for supporting me throughout the entire race.

Soon after snapping few photos, the Race Director Phil McCarthy congratulated me for my first 100 mile race. Of course the whole entourage was there... phone calls as well.

July 24th, a month later, I received my beautiful brass buckle, and a note from Phil written on Badwater letterhead. That same month Phil finished his 135 miles in 6th place out in Death Valley, California the famous "Badwater Ultramarathon”.

The note says:


Congratulations on your amazing finish in The Great New York 100 Mile Running Exposition! Sorry this took so long. Thanks for running, and best wishes on your future adventures.


You're right on Phil. More to come...