“I keep in mind that my goal is not to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time…”
– Bikik Besavilla, an ultra marathoner, mother, businesswoman and more based in Cebu.
Then what could be Bikik’s goal in her running?
After seeing the 1st All Women Ultramarathon video clip above, Bikik’s goal is probably to “tats” the hearts of her running mates and other people. Unknown to her, I’m one of those who were touched by her sunshiny disposition during races. When you feel doubtful if you could finish a race, the sight of her would not fail to motivate you to go on.
If you’ve been wanting to start running, but then some million things keep holding you back, read her story below and be “tats” (touched).
In running, I find inner peace.
Aside from that, it has helped me lose a bit of the unwanted weight and it is enough to keep me from taking maintenance meds (medicines) for hypertension. I now manage to maintain a 110/70-110/80 BP.
How did you get started?
Back in September, 2009, I started out by walking around the oval everyday, doing about 14-37 rounds. I was way too heavy to run at that time.
A friend of mine saw me doing my daily rounds and suggested running. I told him I couldn’t do it, that it would result to chest pains if I did.
But I gave it a shot! That first time I jogged around the oval, I managed to go for 2 rounds! Then I stopped, took a breather to call him on my cellphone and told him, “I’M STILL ALIVE!” He laughed at that!
Then I could go nowhere but up. I increased the number of rounds everyday until I reached 17 rounds, always on a slow pace.
I realized it’s actually DO or DIE.
What’s the struggle you experienced when you started? How did you handle them?
Breathing was definitely something I struggled with at first. Since I was still really heavy, I had difficulty catching my breath every time I ran. But it didn’t matter. I kept trying.
In March 2010, Max Limpag invited me, my cousin and his wife, Ted and Belle Espinueva, to join UNGO, a running group which ran every Friday night. We had speakers who would share their running experiences, tips, and the like. Fellow runner Kenneth Casquejo once joined me, taught me some breathing exercises and cadence. Up to this day, I still do them.
First ever official race participated?
Sesqui Blue Run, Ayala Terraces, 5K in 1hr and 10mins. The 5k felt like it would go on forever!
I was in cloud 9 when I crossed the finish line! I had fun! It made me so eager to sign up for the next run. I’ve found a new addiction, a good one at that.
Most unforgettable experience in running?
Let me share this funny story:
While running along BTC one fine, early morning, I was surprised by a good looking guy who stopped running (he was running his half mary (half marathon) for Citigym) and said, “Hey Ma’am! I saw you last Sunday at the bridge, I was the one who said “Hi” to you in the army uniform!” Then, he extended his hands to shake mine.
And, all I said was, “Oh! Okay!” I shook his hand and ran off! Hahahaha! Instant fan club. A friend then asked me, good humoredly, what charm I possessed that made men do that. Really funny!
Best PR (personal record) time in running?
For 5K, 40 mins; for 10K, 1 hr 42mins; for 21K 3hrs 3omins.
Not much, but they’re the best I have. If I go faster than this, it would be surely be something; but I’m afraid of the injuries I might get from forcing myself to go overboard.
Three races you are proud of? Why?
1. Summit Water Camsur International Marathon
My 1st 21K. I never had training since I was sidelined by an injury. On doctor’s advice, I refrained from running for 2 months.
Since I already had my tickets and was already registered for this run, I pushed through with it. I left my then trusted hydration belt at home, just to convince my daughter that I was not going to run, but I brought along my cap.
Fellow UNGO runners attended the orientation the day before the race and they insisted that I join. So I did! I even had photo ops with celebrities!
During the race, I ran in turtle mode and prayed that I’d make it through without pain on my injured knee. It was really hot in CamSur! The best part was their service: they served really cold water in 1.5KM stations, they had medic aids every 3KM, and sponges! The people of CamSur who were out cheering and serving water and bananas were really a sight for sore eyes.
I was in tears when I saw the buntings that lead to the finish line! I crossed the finish line in exactly 4 hours, got my 1st medal and never felt pain on my knee! It was nothing for others, but it was definitely something for me!
2. SM 2 SM Run II
Every time I register early for Run for Sight (Dr. Yong Larrazabal’s race organizing committee), I get injured or I’m out of town. But this time, I made it! I had so much fun running this 21K, literally singin’, and dancin’ in the rain!
The usual time I do 21K is 4hrs. Sometimes when I get back to the finish line, the arc is no longer there. Ka ulaw! (How embarrassing!) But this one, I clocked in 30mins earlier! Hoooolaaaah! And, this made me sign up for the 1st All Women Ultramarathon.
3. 1st All Women Ultramarathon
My only preparation for AWUM was a 7-KM run routine everyday that lasted for a week. I never had a chance to LSD (long slow distance).
When I arrived in Ayala 3hrs before the gun start, I hurriedly went for Krispy Kreme to get some sugar in my system. And also to calm me down because my heart was beating really fast!
Running 50K is crazy, I know. But I wanted to be one of those crazy people!
Running during the night was easy for me, since we’re used to it with UNGO Friday night runs. But with the distance, it’ll make you think twice.
We had a mass before the run. I started off slow with the intention of having enough energy to finish. I had my music mixes on; I had pictures taken by fellow runners and some photographers along the way; I had stops for restrooms and to put on some liniment; I drank cold drinks in every station!
Since I was the last runner, marshals and fellow UNGO runners Arthur Batucan, Eric Flores on motor cycle, and Jun Alicante in his pickup truck, accompanied me all through the night. I had humba at km21, massage and water refills at km 22 and 25; I had to change into slippers because of the huge blisters on both feet.
I jogged and walked my way through, up, and down the bridges. Before I could go through Cansaga bridge, my blisters bursted! I had a hard time walking until fellow UNGO runner Dr. Niel Nacario came to my rescue and used his handkerchief to wrap around my blister so I could walk further and finish the route.
Then it rained! When we got to the Marcelo Fernan bridge, we had to stop to tend to the burst blisters on both feet. Someone stopped and temporarily parked his vehicle along the bridge and gave us a piece of cloth probably from a uniform! We thanked him and hurriedly wrapped both feet with it, and continued the journey.
When I reached km42, the blisters worsened. I was in pain; we were walking on rocky sidewalks. I got drained by the thought of not crossing the finish line before cut off. But the thought of going DNF (did not finish) never crossed my mind. Fellow Ungo runners Dr. Alex Junia and Noel came and wrapped both feet with gauze and bandage while I finished up my fair share of humba.
So I was up and about when I suddenly say someone wearing the AWUM finisher shirt with Dr. Willie Estepa! I said to myself, “I have to talk to her!” I asked her if I could see and touch her medal, and she showed it tome. For a while, I stared blankly at it, and then I realized I still have 8K more to go! So I told them to move, go for that finish and get that medal! Seeing that medal gave me the will power to continue the race, to not mind the pain.
This time, we were joined by fellow UNGO runner, Gerald Laput and elite runner Tony Galon. I asked Tony to send me an umbrella and to wait for me at the finish line, which he glady did! As we continued the journey, I heard some ladies and men shouting and cheering me on from their cars. They were going home at this point and yet I was still counting my steps to finish what I started.
When nearing Karancho Beach, I started to have chest pains. It was being nearly at the end and seeing my fellow runners, who, at this time were already full from lechon and drinks they brought along, that kept me going! When I entered the gates of Karancho, people cheered on!
Finally, I arrived, with an umbrella and bandaged feet with cords tied to my slippers! I was really tired then but seeing fellow runners waving and cheering on, I felt good and loved for that special moment! Seeing Tony at the finish line, with Michelle So, Loi and Jun Alicante, and Phindy Honasan made me cry.
Then, I remembered the pain I got from my burst blisters! I knew I was way too late but I also knew, and still know, that I did it right! I got the medal, with dignity and pride, no less!
I’m glad I signed up for this, for this one made history. And, I was part of it — the 1st ALL WOMEN ULTRAMARATHON IN THE WORLD!
What special skill it takes to survive the back of the pack?
It doesn’t take a special skill, but it takes an amount of dedication enough for a whole battalion.
Everyone knows that I run for fun! Isn’t that why they call it fun run in the first place? Right? Hahaha! Seriously, I know lots of runners are scared to finish last because of this assumption that they’ll be the laughing stock of the running world because they’re at the tail-end when in fact, it’s the complete opposite. You run for yourself, not for others.
Modesty aside, I consider myself the quintessential dedicated runner because during every run, I keep in mind that my goal is not to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time, but just to get there with minimal injuries. Of course, this is not say that finishing with all the bells and whistles is not ideal, but because I know my limits, I prefer to get through a run knowing that if I finish uninjured, albeit slowly, as there will be more for me to conquer than this one.
In a nutshell, I run for my health and happiness. The most important things to remember when entering the running world are to have fun and gain new friends. Never forget those who were there during your successes and times of need. If you ever find yourself injured, instead of moping and fretting about not being able to run for a while, why not go out there and support those who are capable of running? Get them enthusiastic, get excited! The running world is interdependent, therefore every person counts.
I had a chance to meet and talk with Bikik. At the end of our talk, I asked her what’s her motto, she said:
No guts, no glory.
Not “tats,” no story.
Tats simply means touched. It’s some kind of a dare where she would ask popular personalities and celebrities to touch their chest in a friendly manner for a photo op. And, it all started with no less than with a Cebu City’s Mayor Mike Rama. Tats is one of the gutsy acts only Bikik can pull off.
A wonderful tats-ing story only requires guts, which we all have. Before we doubt and quit, think about that gift.