My first trail run

What??? It’s November already? Time really flies when you’re having fun.

Well, well, well, I had my first trail run! And it wasn’t just in any trail, it was in  Mount Pinatubo, the beautiful but at one time very destructive volcano.  Running on volcanic ash and debris kept me alert the whole time and I totally enjoyed it!

I say this because, in road runs, I sometimes struggle with boredom and go on automatic mode putting one foot in front of the other.

Volcanic ash and debris (lahar) mixed with river sand. Some parts are soft, some concrete-like. Uneven. Interestingly challenging.

It was painful to remember how horrible this lahar was in 1991. Images easily come to mind: Hot lava, ash, rocks and boulders destroying lives, land, and properties.

Twenty-one years after, the  desolation is still evident. At least, plants have re-grown in many areas.

Blind runner Aga (with black cap) and his teammate and guide Gado impressively navigate the unpredictable.  Read about them here
This river rises when it rains hence the big bridge beyond.

Ninety percent of the run was in the river. Towards the end, we had to run single file through tall grass.

Hubby.
Icing on the cake: Finisher’s medal made of clay and lahar.

Yay! I’m almost 47 years old and I just had my first trail run! I think not a lot of people can say that.

So we had to celebrate…

A Mount Pinatubo replica. Three layers of different chocolate ice cream varieties, topped with chocolate chips and nuggets with overflowing chocolate and strawberry syrup, extending beyond the bowl.

Poignant.

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In four days, I’ll run a trail full of memories

I blinked my eyes, surprised and confused at what I saw. My duty as a medical intern just finished and it was the first time in 24-hours that I went out of the hospital.  This was in 1991 and we still didn’t have cellphones, iphones, Twitter or Facebook. Most of us didn’t have cable TV with CNN either.  So I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.

Photo credit: nl.wikipedia.org

It was already eight o’clock in the morning yet the sky was dark and everything was covered with a white material I wasn’t familiar with. It was as if we had a snowfall. (Note: The Philippines is a tropical country and we NEVER have snow.)

Then I heard the BAD news: Mount Pinatubo, a volcano fifty miles north of Manila has erupted. That white material was volcanic ash.

Actually, there were volcanic explosions occurring since about two months back and people already started to evacuate. 

Maybe it was my youth or my very difficult intern job, but I wasn’t aware about those things.

On June 15, Saturday, Mount Pinatubo erupted.  Lasting nine hours, it was the second largest volcanic eruption on earth in 100 years. 

A giant cloud rose twenty miles in the air and spread a 2-inch layer of ash and sand over a 30-mile radius. The air filled with white ash so thick it reduced visibility to almost zero.

Photo credit: explorevolcanoesnow.com

 Look at this world-famous photo. I’m happy to say that the photographer lived to show it to us 🙂

Photo by Albert Garcia, photo editor of Manila Bulletin. He won the grand prize in the prestigious World Press Photo Contest, a first for a Filipino photojournalist, for his compelling shots of Mt. Pinatubo’s fury. This photo was chosen as one of Time Magazine’s “Greatest Images of the 20th Century.” National Geographic Magazine included it as one of “Best 100 Pictures of the 20th century”.

To make matters worse, we also had Typhoon Yunya. The volcanic ash mixed with rain and then carried by the wind blanketed Luzon, the Philippine’s biggest region. More than 800 people died and the economic destruction was staggering.

That day, June 15, 1991 became known as Black Saturday.

I remember this painful incident because four days from now, I will be joining the Mount Pinatubo Trail Run.

I’ve done a full marathon, four half-marathons, and many shorter races.  But, this will be my FIRST trail run.

This is what awaits me:

Mount Pinatubo Crater. Photo credit: tonetcarlo.wordpress.com.

 

The crater at a closer view. Photo credit: pinoyphotography.org
River crossings. Photo credit: runvocate.blogspot.com
Sapang Bato Trail, Pinatubo.Photo credit: jazzrunner.wordpress.com

I’m glad I registered for this race.  It’s going to be an extraordinary event I’m sure. For then we will run remembering that painful event in our history. More importantly, we will run appreciating how resilient the Filipinos are:

often hurt, but not crushed;

sometimes in doubt, but never in despair;

and though badly troubled at times, not destroyed.

A Waterworld Prayer

They can say what they want to say about Metro Manila but I love this place and I’m sad that it has become a waterworld.

Photo credit: ph.news

Please LORD.  Please stop the rains.  Please help us, teach us what to do.  Watching the events unfold is so heartbreaking. Surreal, even. Continuous rains for many days  — so many lives lost, so much suffering.

I pray especially for those who have lost their loved ones.

Digging for survivors after a landslide in Quezon City.
Photo credit: abcnews.go.com

After a few days, the sun will shine and the roads will be dry. Many of us will resume our routines. But for them…

I also pray for the rescuers.

Photo credit: Reuters

Many of them have flooded homes too, LORD.  Please spare them from illness, injury, hunger, and discouragement.   Give them that extra strength so that they can continue helping many.

Photo credit: inquirer.net

After all these, may they be paid fairly and on time. And may it be that when they go home they will be welcomed by a safe, loving, and grateful family.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

AMEN.

 

For a news report regarding this terrible flooding, click here.