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.

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.



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:

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:

 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:


The crater at a closer view. Photo credit:
River crossings. Photo credit:
Sapang Bato Trail, Pinatubo.Photo credit:

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.

I Love Trail Biking!

Okay fine, I don’t.  At least not yet 🙂

Yesterday, I had my first taste of trail biking and I can’t say that I loved it.

Would you love three hours of biking in Timberland Heights‘  muddy, rocky, slippery trail that went up and down forever?

Here’s a recap:

6 AM power breakfast:

Rolled oats slow cooked in chocolate soy milk, with bananas and peanut butter topped with cinnamon and almond slivers. Hot. Filling. Delicious. Healthy.

8 AM — bike loading time. My bike was placed inside our car ( front wheel dismantled). Hubby’s bike is loaded to his buddy’s car bike rack.

Dar, my baby sister’s hubby. Since the two are avid bikers, they already have a bike rack.
Note the very clean bikes.

Off to Timberland Heights, San Mateo, Rizal.

My baby sister Lis and Dar in their bikers’ outfit and gear. Mine is still a compromise: biker’s helmet, gloves and knee/shin guard; runner’s shirt, shorts, hydration belt, shoes.
Biking buddy Kirk lightens my newbie’s tension with his clown tactics.
Here we go! Look at the rocks on the foreground. Those are small compared to the ones ahead. Very difficult to navigate.
At a pit stop, we see some of our Bull Runner Marathon batchmates trail running.
Slowly navigating through slippery puddles as wheels are stuck in the thick mud.  Ahead are my kind buddies waiting for me. Most of them just charged through the puddle (above the ankle water level).

After about two hours, we arrived at the Pestano’s House, an al-fresco restaurant in the middle of what felt like no-where.

Famished! Hubby and I, who are supposed to be vegetarians, enjoy our meat-lover’s breakfast– eggs, fried milkfish and longganisa (native sausages), with extra rice!

Hmmm, I have to plan for our midtrail meal next time.

After the meal, there was another hour of biking back to where we started. Thankfully, we passed through an easier path.

Then just about 500 meters before  we reached the parking lot, I had a big stumble! There was a big rock and I didn’t know whether to brake or ride through it. I braked and flew forward. OUCH!!! My arms and hands hurt because I tried to break my fall. (Note to self: Study how to fall properly.)

That’s okay. No broken bones.

Finally, I finished! Yay!!

Hubby, proud of his wife (Of course, he’s biased! Hehe) 
Look at how dirty everything is now.

To conclude…

  • Did I enjoy trail biking? No, not really, haha! I was tense most of the time. Although admittedly, there were brief moments when I felt young and oh soo alive  🙂
  • Would I do it again? YES! So that bike trail cannot say that it reduced me.


Dear Timberland Bike Trail,

That’s the way you want things huh? I’ll be ready for you next time. In fact, NEXT WEEK!

Sincerely yours,

Tired-to-the-max first timer