Race Report: 2015 TransLantau 100K Ultra Trail Run

20 03 2015

Race Report: 2015 TransLantau 100 Ultra Trail Race

Place: Lantau Island, Hongkong

Date & Time: 11:30 PM March 13, 2015 To 7:30 AM March 15, 2015

Introduction

I could be one of the few Pinoy runners who first registered to this running event which is considered as its fourth edition from the time it was created. One of the reasons why I decided to register in this race is to test my present state/condition in mountain ultra trail running and validate my training program as I embarked for more mountain trail challenges in the future despite my old age of sixty-two and my thoughts of considering my retirement from running.

Official Flyer/Advertisement Poster Of The Event

Official Flyer/Advertisement Poster Of The Event

Looking back from the Trail Book given as gift by my friend US 100-Mile Grand Slammer/200-Miler/Race Director of Hongkong’s 4 Ultra Trail Challenge Andre Blumberg and the regular Facebook posts of running pictures from my friend Lloyd Belcher, who are both residents of Hongkong, I was attracted by the beauty of the island of Lantau, thus, it was a good and appropriate event to actually see the beauty of the island by foot.

The Event’s Website gave me the necessary information and data that I needed for me to come up with a a specific training program and look for a training “playground” for me to prepare this event. I even “googled” in the Internet in order to find out if there are specific “journal” or blog of past runners who finished the 100K category race. Luckily, there is only one runner who is generous enough to share his experience through a blog with a nice drama of something that he accomplished. Although it was not as detailed as what I would expect it to be, it was enough to know that the writer mentioned about the course and mentioned the word “steep mountains” and his personnel fulfillment to have finished the race. Although I have some runs on the limited sections of the McLehose and Wilson Trails, courtesy of Andre Blumberg, I could relate and imagine that the general appearance of these trails are the same with that in Lantau’s Island——there will be lots of rocks lined up as steps or stairs which I fondly call “rock stairs” trails of Hongkong. Here is the link of a blog of a 100K Finisher which I made as a reference:

http://waterbuffaloandconcrete.blogspot.hk/2013/03/i-wokeup-on-saturday-march-16-th.html

Training

On the first week of December 2014 (yes, last year), I asked my trail running coach that I have the intention of joining the 2015 edition of the TransLantau 100 and he gave me a training schedule/program starting on December 8, 2014 up to March 12, 2015 where my peak/highest mileage for the week was only 54 miles ( 86.4 kilometers). The training program has a duration of three (3) months only. But my ultra coach advised me to train with more elevation gain and look for higher mountains as my “playground”.

Knowing that the entire course of the Translantau 100 has a total elevation gain of 5,800+ meters or 19,140 feet, I have to look for a specific “playground” where I could “mimic”, at least, the elevation gain in a specific distance that I would like to run in my daily training. With a total elevation gain of 19,140 feet, I should look for a 10K distance that has a total elevation gain of at least, 1,914 feet.

Finally, my original playground which I call the “Brown Mountain” offered what I’ve been looking for! For the first 4 miles or 6.4 kilometers of the course, it would give me a total elevation gain of 2,000 feet already! And with lots of rocks and steep ascents and descents! So, I’ve chosen this particular “playground” and this is where I did my training since December 8, 2014!!!!

At The Peak Of "Brown Mountain" With An Elevation Of 1,975 Feet

At The Peak Of “Brown Mountain” With An Elevation Of 1,975 Feet

Going up to the peak of the mountain, I would register an elevation of 1,975 feet but the total elevation I would get in order to reach its peak would be 3,000 feet! To complete one-way of my daily runs, I would go up to the mountain and go down on the other side of the mountain and I would register a distance of 7 miles or 11.2 kilometers. To make it more challenging during my weekend’s long runs, I would make a “Yo-Yo” run which is described as running back on the same 7-mile route that I went through (one-way) in order to complete the workout. Simply put, it is a LSD “Mountain Repeat”! My longest long runs in the mountains would be 15-16 miles which is exactly a “Yo-Yo” run with additional one or two miles of uphill climbs on a paved road. It would take me 5-6 hours (which are done during nighttime) to complete my “yo-yo” runs. Each “Yo-Yo” run would register a total elevation gain of 4,200+ feet and it gave me full confidence that my training will prepare me to finish the race.

Knowing that the race starts at midnight, almost all my long runs are done during nighttime. My daily running schedule are done in the early morning and in the early evening and tried to observe how my body reacts to the different times of the day.

On hindsight, I realized that I was doing Back2Back2Back2Back2Back (5X) on my “peak training week”, from Thursday up to Monday, where the total mileage would be the whole distance of the race event. These “Back2Back” runs were very easy on my body as my workouts were done in the same “playground” with lots of combination on how to run through the mountains. This is where I studied and observed my Average Speed and improved my hiking strength.

I have to train also with my hydration and nutrition intake. I made sure that I would be able to consume my two bottles of Simple Hydration within a distance of 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles. I had to take in some solid foods in my long runs and test on how my body would react when I don’t take any foods except water within the distance of 10 miles. Entirely within my training period, I did not take any pain-reliever medications, Gatorade, salts, and liquid food supplement. I only take Ensure drinks and Whey Protein mix after my workouts as my recovery drinks.

However, I would have my daily massage, courtesy of my training partner, Dannin before going to bed.

Different brands and flavors of Sports Gels had been tried and I knew what to use depending on what time during the run or what distance I was going to run. It was just a matter where I would stash each brand of Sports Gel in my running shorts’ pockets, on my race belt, and on my hydration vest’s pockets so that I will be efficient in using them along the course during the race.

My running apparel would be the same——Patagonia Shorts; a base layer shirt; PAU Long- Sleeved shirt; Salamon Shoes; UD’s AK Race Vest with two Simple Hydration bottles; Uniqlo Windbreaker; and a light Uniqlo Down Jacket tightly packed inside my Back Pocket of my Hydration Vest.

Race Strategy

With 600+ runners in the 100K category, my Race Strategy was to simply “follow the runner in front” of me, making sure that I was maintaining my training’s Average Speed (2.5 to 3 miles per hour), maintain a “buffer time” from the cut-off time in every Check Point, and Finish the Race (with a Smile!) within the cut-off time of 32 hours!

With the knowledge of what to expect on the trails of Hongkong through a brief “walk-through” on sections of the McLehose and Wilson Trails with Andre Blumberg and by reading the book that Andre gave me (four years ago) which depicts/describes the Four Famous Hongkong Trails, I would expect a lot of rocks prepositioned on the trail to act as stairs in climbing to the peak of the mountains; some portions to be paved; and lots of single-track paved or hardened earth trails. Practically and realistically, I was prepared to run through the “rock-stairs” of the Hongkong Trails!

HK's Trail "Bible" For Serious Hikers & Runners (Gift From Andre Blumberg)

HK’s Trail “Bible” For Serious Hikers & Runners (Gift From Andre Blumberg)

My mantra for the race would be “Easy on the Climbs and Easier on the Descents” in order to preserve my knees and my legs up to the Finish Line! There was no point or intention of using my trekking poles during the race as I trained for this race without them.

Strategically, Translantau 100 was just a “test” on myself for a “bigger” mountain trail adventure in the next few months. It is my way of strictly following my “Three-Two” Rule in running through the rest of my life. Simply put, train and finish “Three Important Races in Every Two Years”. All the other running events that I would join and finish are just considered as part of the training for these important mountain trail events.

Nutrition and Hydration Strategy

Eat a Full Meal Before The Race; Drink My Vespa; Intake of One Sports Gel every hour; consume my water in my two Simple Hydration bottles in-between Check Points; eat solid foods in the Aid Stations; and remember to take Ginger Chews/Candies on those hard climbs!

I have to emphasize to follow strictly my food intake procedure which I adopted and applied during my training—-there is a need to stop in order to eat a full meal and NOT eat while on the move. Except when taking in Sport Gels and drinking my water where I have perfected this one while on the move. In the past, I had a problem in “eating solid foods on the move” and I always end up choking and coughing. I’ve learned from this mistake and I made sure to eat my solid foods while on STOP in the Aid Stations.

Travel and Accommodation Arrangements

These arrangements are also important to consider if you travel abroad to join running events…and they are NOT cheap! But with the advent of the Internet, everything is already arranged through On Line and the transportation system in Hongkong is very efficient.

Depending on your budget, you can choose your accommodation and places where to eat in Hongkong. Buy an “Octopus Card” at the Airport and you can have a lot of options on how to travel from Point A to Point B, just read the map that is FREE and available at the Airport, and if you are in doubt, ask someone for directions. If you are in a hurry, just take a TAXI and show the driver your destination (in Chinese characters/writing) and he will take you there fast and safe!

This kind of “drill” is almost THE SAME if you travel abroad for a running event——everything you need to know about the country is available at the Airport. As compared to Manila, a visitor is prepared to be “duped” by a TAXI Driver once he/she gets out of the Airport. And that is just a start of a series of frustrations. If you are a Pinoy runner reading this blog, you would know what I mean.

Lantau

Lantau is the largest island in Hongkong and it can be reached by ferry/boat, bus, TAXI, and railway from Hongkong or Kowloon. It has a lot of fishing villages, some beaches, and lots of mountains and vegetation. This is where the famous Disneyworld Hongkong, Tallest/Biggest Buddha, and the New Hongkong Airport are located.

As suggested by the Race Organizer, I would take the Ferry Ride from Pier 6 at the CENTRAL Station to Mui Wo in Lantau, where the Silver Mine Beach Resort/Hotel/Park is located. The ride would take at least 40 minutes and then from the Lantau Pier, one has to simply walk to the Silver Mine Beach where a Hotel is located. There is a Park and a Toilet Facility which is FREE for everybody.

Google Map Of Lantau Island & Race Route

Google Map Of Lantau Island & Race Route

I was 2.5 hours ahead of schedule when I arrived at the Starting Area and I just observed the other runners coming in while seated on one of the concrete benches.

Jeri Chua, a famous ultra trail runner from Singapore, approached me at the Pier 6 waiting area and introduced herself. She would advise me to just take it easy on the race on the first half as the race progresses with lots of steep mountain trails on the ascents and descents until the last 5 kilometers. She emphasized on the words “take it easy”. Her advise would be etched in my mind throughout the race and it was the best advise from an expert.

Prior to the start of the race, one of the Chinese runners called my attention and asked me if I am the Bald Runner. After answering him positively, he asked me to have a “selfie” shot with him using his Samsung Note Cellphone. Wow!!! I am a popular figure here in Hongkong! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Lantau 100 Blogs and References

There are lots of blogs on the Internet of those who finished the race, a limited number of blogs are available in the 100K category but most of the blogs are in the 50K category. There is only one word that is the common denominator among these blogs——“steep” ascent/descents! There are NO dramas of pain; frustrations; fatigue; “bonking”; lost moments; injuries; complaints or “whining”. All these blogs simply described each section from one Checkpoint to another and their blogs were boring to read with the usual attached Google Map, Elevation Profile of the Race Course, and pictures of some of the sections! (Note: At the end of this blog, a Google Map Video was posted by Stanley Ho of Taiwan for the detailed direction of the route from Start to Finish)

Race Proper

Expect A Lion Dance Minutes Before The Gun Start

Expect A Lion Dance Minutes Before The Gun Start

There are no unnecessary announcements from the Race Director or any of the Race Marshals. Runners simply went inside the Starting Area Chute behind the Start Arc and waited for the Race to Start.

I took time to take some pictures of the runners at the front and at the same time took some “selfie” shots.

The Front Runners Before The Start Of The Race

The Front Runners Before The Start Of The Race

Five minutes before the start of the race, I went inside the chute and pre-positioned myself in the middle part of the long queue of runners from the Arc up to the back. Then there was this performance of Dragon Dance with the accompanying Drums and Cymbals in front of the Arc and after the said dance, the Race started on time at exactly 11:30 PM of Friday. And we were off running along the beach.

After about 100 meters, we left the beach by running U-turn along a paved single-track road fronting the Hotel towards the populated area of the Mui Wo Village. After one kilometer of flat paved road, the course started to ascend and up we go to the mountains.

Elevation Profile Of The Course

Elevation Profile Of The Course

Silvermine Beach, Mui Wo To Pak Mong (12 Kilometers)

I started almost behind the pack with I think about 20-30 runners behind me. I maintained a very slow pace with some walking in-between as we approached the populated area Mui Wo. I started to see runners going up in front of me as we started to tackle the first mountain in the race. I could see far from me that the lead runners are already about to approach the peak of the first mountain peak. However, I have to keep calm and tried to monitor the numbers that are registered in my Garmin Forerunner. I really wanted to have an average speed on this course, from Start to Checkpoint #1 to be more or less to 3.5 miles to 4.00 miles per hour, thinking that the trail is not too technical and narrow.

After 2-3 kilometers, the pace started to be slower as the runners would be lined up going up the mountain in a single-track trail. All the runners were already hiking and more are patiently walking just to be able to progress towards the peak of the mountain. I could not believe what my eyes were seeing, long lines of runners snaking through the peak of the mountain as seen by their headlights/hand-held flashlights. The single-track trail and the steepness of the mountain prevented the runners to jog or run through this part of the course. It would be a crazy idea to jog or run on the ascending trails as early as the first hours of the race. After hiking for about an hour, I thought to have reached a peak but to my dismay, there is another higher peak on the horizon. Darkness in the night had made me a fool and after reaching a flat surface, there is another peak that could be seen with runners approaching it.

One Of My "Selfie" Shots In Front Of The Start/Finish Arc

One Of My “Selfie” Shots In Front Of The Start/Finish Arc

At the Km #6+, the single file of runners in front of me just immediately stopped. There seems to be a traffic on a steep descent where it immediately followed with another steep ascent. Some of the runners had lost their footing and they had to land on their butts and I was there next to them and patiently waiting for them to stand up. Finally, I reached the peak of Lo Fu Tau which has an elevation of 465 meters or 1,534.5 feet. It became colder and windy as we go higher in elevation and I was protected by Uniqlo’s Windbreaker. From the peak, there is only one way to go but to go downhill. As they say, what goes up must come down. This is where those Rock Stairs started to come out and the challenge on my legs and old knees were starting to take its beating.

Reflectorized Directional Sign/Arrow & Ribbon (Green & Silver)

Reflectorized Directional Sign/Arrow & Ribbon (Green & Silver) (Photo From Event’s Website)

But before those “rock stairs”, there is a single spot where it is too steep that there are two points where one has to rappel from the rope down to the steep descent. The Marshal has to give you two options——rope on the regular steep descent or to the steeper one. I chose the regular steep descent but when I tried to get over the rope, the rope scraped on my headlight and it completely removed from my head. My headlight dropped to one of steep recesses of the rocks on the side of the mountain and the runner ahead of me had to pick it up and handed to me. I would say thank you to the guy who is I think 2 times younger than me. My hiking continues on those steep descent until I reached the First Check point of the course in Pak Mong. There is no way to squeeze in 600+ runners in a single-track with lots of bushes on the sides and a very steep descent. It was unfortunate that the runner in front of me kept on falling on his buttocks on this descending 6 kilometers.

The first section, from Start to Pak Mong, covers a distance of 12 kilometers——6 kilometers of ascent and another 6 kilometers of descent with lots of “waiting” moments because of the traffic of runners on the descending parts. Before reaching the Aid Station, I had my Racematix Timing Wrist Band checked by one of the Marshals. My split time was 2:34:44 hours and placed #420. I took two slices of banana and some slices of orange and refilled my two bottles of Simple Hydration and then left the Check Point.

Timing Wrist Band & Electronic Gadget/Reader

Timing Wrist Band & Electronic Gadget/Reader (Photo From The Race Website)

Pak Mong To Pak Kung Au (9 Kilometers)

The section distance is 9 kilometers but one has to tackle first to the Sunset Peak which has an elevation of 854 meters or 2,818 feet! One has to reach Checkpoint #2 at 7:30 AM which is 8 hours! From the Start to Checkpoint #2 (Pak Kung Au), a distance of 21 kilometers has a cut-off time of 8 hours? It gave me the impression that the climb to Sunset Peak will be a hard and steep one and this is the time that I have to prove it.

The problem in running the 100K category is that you are not seeing your surroundings as it is still dark on the first 5-6 hours. The only things that you can see are the lights of the runners in front of you; the reflectorized strips of the runners’ apparel/shoes directly in front of you; and the few feet or meters ahead on the trail you are stepping on where your headlight can illuminate it.

"Easy-Peasy" Push To Sunshine Peak

“Easy-Peasy” Push To Sunset Peak

So, climbing the Sunset Peak was too insignificant as I kept lifting my legs and feet on those “rock stairs” and hardened trail. What was significant for me was the fact that I was passing a lot of runners on my way up to the peak of the mountain.

I did a lot of hiking on these ascending steep trails and focused on my nutrition and hydration. I would take at least one Sports Gel every hour and my energy was transmitted to a non-stop action on my legs! Sometimes, I would jog on the flat parts of the route and made progress on the distance I was covering. I arrived at Checkpoint #2 (Km #21) without any problems. I had my time checked and immediately had my water bottles refilled. I started eating PB & J sandwiches and oranges in this Checkpoint’s Aid Station. I think I was ahead of the cut-off time by almost 4.5 hours at this point.

"Rock Stairs"

“Rock Stairs” (Photo By Tommy Tan)

Pak Kung Au To Ngong Ping (12 Kilometers)

Looking at the my notes, I would see that the first half of this section is downhill and the second half will be another uphill climb. I took advantage to run and jog on the first half and I was already alone running on the trail without anybody that I could see in front and behind me. The Lantau Trail markings are seen on my right side and from time to time, in varied places/distances, I would also see the reflectorized ribbon for the race route.

I would be able to catch up with the faster runners on my way up to the mountains as I’ve observed that most of the average Chinese/Hongkong locals could hardly climb steep inclines without using their trekking poles. I have observed also that they are half younger than my age and I could hardly see among them a runner that is the same age as mine!

Another glaring observation among the Hongkong locals is that they don’t mind if there is a faster runner behind them as they continue with their pace without even having the courtesy of asking the runner behind if he/she wants to pass. So, what I did was to shout “On Your Left” or “On Your Right” just to give them a warning that I am going to pass them. I am glad most of them understands English but there are others who would talk to me in their dialect thinking that I am one of the locals.

When the locals are tired, they simply sit on the “rock stairs” facing the incoming runner and just keep quiet in observing as you pass them. How I wish I could wish them with remarks like, “Good Job” or “Looking Good” or “Are you okey?”

Because of the darkness and fogs on the mountains, some of them would be lost and ask for directions. Some ask for directions from me and I have to answer them that it was first time to run through the course. At one point, I was leading a group of 5 runners but I took a wrong turn due to thick fogs and I’ve realized I made a mistake after a few steps. After that, I did no longer had the courage to lead other runners.

I could see that the locals are very competitive in the race and they are fast hikers/walkers whether on flat and downhill runs. They could be weak on the uphill climbs on those “rock steps/stairs” but they are daring and fast runners on those descending ones. I have the conclusion that they are very familiar and used to the trails in the island as most of their past trail running events are done in the island. I got an information that Raidlight had been regularly sponsoring trail running events in Lantau. And there are other shorter trail running events that are done in the said island.

As for me, I was focused to finish one section at a time within the cut-off time and finish the course. Take my Nutrition/Food in every Aid Station and enjoy the scenery of the island.

The Ngong Ping Checkpoint/Aid Station is a crossroad where the 100K runners would pass for two times. As my time was checked through my Wrist Strap, the Marshal did a random check-up on the mandatory items to be carried. She asked me if I have a cellphone and I showed him my iPhone tucked inside one of the zippered pouched of the UD Race Belt. At the Starting Line (before the race started) one of the Lady Marshals approached me and checked on the mandatory equipment. She asked where I pinned my Race Bib as it was covered with my Uniqlo Windbreaker. During the race, these were the instances that I was asked and challenged about the mandatory equipment in my pack. How I wished another Marshal (in another Checkpoint) should have asked me if I have a bandage and a “space blanket” which I have both in my pack.

I ate a lot of food in this Aid Station (hot noodles, cold cuts/salami, PB &J sandwiches and oranges) and after 5-6 minutes, I was off and back to the race!

Over-Acting (OA) On The Ngong Ping To Tai O Section (Where are the woods?)

Over-Acting (OA) On The Ngong Ping To Tai O Section (Where are the woods?)

Ngong Ping To Kau Ling Chung (11 Kilometers)

From the Aid Station of Ngong Ping, the road is paved/cemented that every runner should run on the shoulder/sidewalk. The road is a winding downhill for about 3-4 kilometers and I was in the company of local runners and European/American runners. We had to cross the paved road depending on how we would be able to shave some distance and be able to cut corners to avoid the winding road. We practically followed a straight path on this winding road. I was able run at a faster pace due to its descending nature and in a relaxed manner but I was sure that on the bottom of this road, we will start an uphill climb to the next mountain peak which is the Keung Shan (454 meters in elevation or 1,498 feet). I passed two runners on this section before we started our climb to the next mountain.

The climb to Keung Shan started in a park and the effort to cover this section was insignificant as the same “rock stairs” would be the nature of the trail. While the other runners are busy using their trekking poles, I was consistently and easily forcing mg legs and knees to propel me from one stair to another higher one. As usual, I have to count the number of steps that I would take in climbing such mountain in order to break the monotony.

Once I reached the peak, it was time again to go down and I was running along a concrete canal which is very wide and deep. Such structure on the side of the road would the drainage or water passageway of water rushing from the peak of the mountain during the rainy season. In my estimate, the concrete canal is 12 feet deep and 6 feet wide. There are places along the canal where there is no barrier from the road and I made sure to run on the left side of the road, farther from the canal, for safety purposes. If someone becomes dizzy along this road on the edge of the canal, there is a possibility that one would fall down to the canal. The people in Hongkong call these canals as water “catchways”.

After almost 2.5 hours of running along this section, we reached the Aid Station which was manned by four (4) ladies to include the Timing/Checkpoint Marshal. I was already at Km #44 and I was 4 hours ahead of the cut-off time. It was time to eat some more!

Knowing that the ladies have the facial features of Pinoys, I jokingly cursed in Ilocano dialect and one of the ladies laughed! They then started the conversation by telling me that 3 other Pinoy runners had just passed their location. I told them that I don’t have the intention of catching them because they are fast and younger runners compared with me. The other 3 ladies are from the Visayas and I started to talk to them in Tagalog.

I think stayed in this Aid Station for 4-5 minutes eating my favorite PB &J sandwiches (runner has to make his own) and slices of oranges. I think I repeatedly ate these foods for 3-4 times while talking to the Pinoy ladies. When I checked on my notes, one of the local runners started a conversation in their dialect but I explained that I can’t understand what he was saying. The runner could be in his early 30s and he was using a Vibram Five-Finger Minimalist Shoes. He asked me if I am on my schedule and I said “yes, more than the enough time that I need to reach in each Check Point” and he said “you are good”. I replied him, “I am trying to be good for my age at 62!”. One of the guys who have heard my reply said, “How I wish I could be doing this Lantau 100 when I reach your age”. I just smiled at the two local runners. After refilling my water bottles, I asked these two gentlemen and the four Pinay ladies for me to get ahead and proceed to the next Checkpoint.

First Time To See The Bay After The Start

First Time To See The Bay After The Start

Kau Ling Chung To Tai O (12 Kilometers)

After running for about 1-2 kilometers of paved road along the drainage canal, it was time again to go up to the mountain. I would estimate the next mountain to be a little higher than Keung Shan. Its peak’s assault was very steep but once I reached the peak, I could see a beautiful scenery overlooking the village of Tai O and the sea. Tai O was the traditional capital of the island until it was overtaken by the infrastructural developments of Mui Wo (Starting Area).

Tai O Village...So Near, Yet So Far

Tai O Village…So Near, Yet So Far

The village of Tai O is seen as very near, yet very far on foot! I’ve tried to jog and run the descending portions and flat portions as the trail is made of hardened earth and some are flats rocks but the last half of the descending portion towards the foot of the mountain has “rock stairs” that are constructed very steep. The winding “rock stairs” ended in a paved road of about one meter wide which forms part as the circumferential trail of the island. I turned right and followed the paved trail with a big pipe on the right side which I believe to be a water pipe that connects the water reservoir to the village. After 2 kilometers or so, I turned left towards a pedestrian cemented bridge that leads to the center of the village that crosses a combination of swamp planted with mangroves and the rocky shores of the island.

The village is big and have lots of buildings and wide roads but I could not see much of the people living thereat to include vehicles. The ribbons and directional signs brought me to a school and the Aid Station was set-up inside the school’s gymnasium. Since it was already noon time, I decided to have a full meal and just have some rest and stay in the Aid Station for about 15-20 minutes. I was hoping that I would be able to wait for the other Pinoy runners to arrive or somebody whom I know personally.

But before I entered the school premises, I asked the young Time Checker boy, who I presumed to be one of the students of the school, what was my place/ranking among the runners. He checked on his electronic gadget/reader and told me that I am Runner #362. I was happy to be in this position among the other runners presuming that the total of runners would be 600+.

The Descending Trail To Tai O Village

The Descending Trail To Tai O Village

Tai O is at Km #56 and I was still four hours ahead of the cut-off time. I was feeling strong but I need to eat and stretch my legs. My full meal consisted of chicken noodle soup mixed with thin slices of salami; PB &J sandwiches, French Bread, Crackers, Tea, and Oranges. After my full meal and a drink of Hot Tea, I was ready to leave the Aid Station.

Tai O To Ngong Ping (12 Kilometers)

I left the center of the village through foot bridges on the shore and swamp of the island and had a chance to walk through the village huts which are made of aluminum walls. I was following an American (white) runner in his early 30s who was wearing black tights and compression long-sleeved shirt. He was just walking and I was behind him walking, too! I really enjoyed walking on the circumferential trail of the island that leads to the village of Tai O. There are lots of hikers that I would meet along the way and they are surprised to see us. I tried to run along this paved road which is about one meter wide but I decided to just walk and enjoy the scenery of the sea and the coast. I would enjoy watching the construction being done along the sea which I think would be a bridge that connects the New Hongkong Airport to an island which seems to be a resort or park with white sand.

However, after walking for two kilometers, I said to myself, “Houston, we have a problem!” I need to pee! But the trail is abundant with people who would be coming in front of me as they are going back to the village after their hiking exercises. I could not see any place at the side of the paved trail where I can just pee as there are no covers to speak of. What I did was to run farther in front and looked for a curve where I could see visibly the people who would be approaching such curve before they reach my position. When I was able to locate a place and not seeing any person approaching such curved section of the trail, I just dropped the front part of my running shorts and “let it go”!

I could see in the color of my urine that I was not dehydrated but the volume of fluid coming out is more than what I’ve expected. To my surprise, when I was about to leave my position, there was this local runner who was in all-Salomon black apparel getting nearer to me. I looked at his face and he just smiled. He was a faster walker than me and I followed him along the paved trail. After about 400 meters, the local runner went inside a Portalet that was located on the left side of the road which is near a populated area. I said to myself…Ooppss! I am sorry, man! I can no longer control the pain!!!

I am glad I walked from the village of Tai O for the next 4-5 kilometers. After such distance, ribbon indicators would direct the runners to veer a sudden right turn towards a single track trail which is full of bushes. And once I looked up, I saw a thick vegetated slope of a mountain where the trail is leading to. It is again a “bushwacking” episode for all the runners just like the first 10 kilometers of the course. Ahead of me on the slope were the runners who passed me on the circumferential paved road from Tai O who were partially covered by the bushes on the side of the trail. I could see that they are very slow in their progress to reach the peak of the mountain. I need to take a deep breath and start my mantra again of counting every step I made as I go up to the peak of the mountain. I could no longer recall how much time did I spend on this steep uphill portion of the mountain. Without the aid of the trekking poles, I had to grab every branch of bushes and trunks of small trees along the sides of the trail and made them as my “climbing ropes”. My GIRO Cycling Gloves were very useful in this part of the course as I could easily grab and hold on on such twigs and branches of those small trees and bushes on the sides of the trail. Once I reached a small flat portion, I would rest for a few seconds and then proceed again with my ritual of counting the number of steps as I go up to the slope.

When somebody had to be fast to reach my position, I would make a signal for them to pass me but all of them had to decline and signal their hands for me to proceed. On this part, I was able to pass at least 3 runners and one of them is the American runner who was way ahead of me before reaching the slope. From this place, one could see the New Hongkong Airport full of departing airplanes on queue on the runway before take-off and the sound of their engines’ full thrust could be heard loudly on the mountain slope. While resting, I would entertain myself by watching those airplanes taking-off from the runway.

Bushwacking Time After The Village Of Tai O

Bushwacking Time After The Village Of Tai O (Photo By Tommy Tan)

I found it later that this very steep single-track and full of bushes trail is called the Shek Pik Trail. I will not forget the name of this trail. Most of the local runners whom I spoke during the ascent had only word to say about this trail, it is the word, “Terrible”!

Patience is the key in this part of the course. However, once every runner reaches the peak, the Biggest Buddha beacons and can be seen on the right side of the mountain range with the cable station slightly in front. From one peak to another, runners would reach the Cable tram station through steps/stairs and follow the trail behind it in order to reach Ngong Ping. From The Cable Tram, it still 3 kilometers to the Ngong Ping Checkpoint/Aid Station. I found out later that this place is called “Nei Lek Shan”

We are going on full circle on this one but on the different sides of the island and different scenery and challenges. So far, I have just finished 68 kilometers and the hardest or highest peak is not yet reached——the Lantau Peak, the second highest peak in the Hongkong Area, which 934 meters in elevation or 3,082 feet.

Ngong Ping To Pak Kung Au Via Lantau Peak (5 Kilometers)

I Never Did This Kind Of Style

I Never Did This Kind Of Style (Photo By Lloyd Belcher)

I took time to eat the same stuff at the Aid Station——Hot Noodles with Slices of Salami; Slices of Oranges; Cups of Ice Cold Coke; and Boiled Potatoes. While eating, I had a chance to talk to one of the local runners whom I signaled to pass me on the steep Shek Pik trail and he was telling me that this course is the hardest 100K trail race in Hongkong and he promised that he would not dare to repeat this race in order to improve his time. Another local runner in Salomon apparel seated beside me and repeatedly telling me that the course is “terrible”. After I’ve finished eating, it was time to move on.

"Rock Stairs" To Lantau Peak

“Rock Stairs” To Lantau Peak (Photo By Tommy Tan)

The first few meters of the trail as I left the Ngong Ping is flat and wide but after about 200 meters, the “rock stairs” would appear again and I knew that this is now the start of a very steep and winding trail to the summit/Lantau Peak. I was following a couple of runners but once they reached the “rock stairs”, they simply walked their way up with their trekking poles. I tried to follow their pace but I had to take some brief stop every time I would step on 20 successive steps/stairs. I briefly stopped in one of the benches on the side of the trail to bring out my headlight as the night was coming and the fogs was becoming thicker as I went higher in elevation.

Steel Chains At The Assault To Lantau Peak

Steel Chains At The Assault To Lantau Peak (Photo By Tommy Tan)

I was passed by some runners who were with their trekking poles but I patiently kept following them using my hands and arms as support to my knees. As I was nearing the peak, the wind blow harder and I could hardly see the ground due to thick fogs plus the fact that it was drizzling, making the “rock stairs” very slippery to some of the trail shoes. Finally, I would see the steel chain that is placed on the edge of the trail where one could hold on while going up to the assault part of the peak. More steel chain on the trail up to the peak as I moved higher until a Race Marshal approached me and advised me to start taking the descending trail and proceed to the next Checkpoint. He told me that there is no need for a Time Check.

The Marker At The Lantau Peak

The Marker At The Lantau Peak (Photo By Tommy Tan)

I said to myself that I would be able to finish the race earlier than what I planned for, knowing that every thing will be going down from the highest point of Lantau Peak. However, I was wrong! I was not too confident to move at a faster pace in going down due to the slippery trail/“rock stairs” and thick fogs. I felt that I was not making a progress on my faster pace. I was alone on the trail on my descent but I would be passed by some of the local runners who are very fast in going down even if the trail was slippery.

The Descending Trail From The Lantau Peak

The Descending Trail From The Lantau Peak (Photo By Tommy Tan)

Finally, I was back on the paved road with a deep canal on the side of the road and I knew that I was approaching the Pak Kung Au Checkpoint. I would cross another hill through “rock stairs” again and went inside a thickly forested area. Once I got out from the forest, I saw a Lady Marshall (a Pinay) seated beside a paved road waving a blinking signal lights. She said that I still have 4 kilometers more to go before I reach the Aid Station.

Finally, I reached the Pak Kung Au Aid Station/Checkpoint and had my bottles refilled with water; ate some slices of orange; and asked for a cup of Coke but they have none. I took in one Sports Gel and continued my run towards the next Checkpoint.

Pak Kung Au To Chi Ma Wan (12 Kilometers)

This is the section where I practically ran alone on the course and it seemed that the trail was the same as the flat trails that I ran through on the other side of the island. After running on a flat trail for about 3-4 kilometers, it was the start again of a descending “rock stairs” which I thought would lead me again to the beach or bay. The steps would be dried this time as compared to the descending parts from Lantau Peak. I would see some headlights from a distance in front of me and it gave a boost to run faster but when the terrain changes to uphill climbs, I would continue with my fast walk. After overcoming a short uphill climb, it was all downhill until I reached the Chi Ma Wan Aid Station/Checkpoint. A Timing Marshal got my time of arrival through his electronic gadget and I asked the Marshal what was my place/ranking among the 100K runners. He said that the device could not show my ranking but he gave me some information that more or the runners are still behind.

As I approached the Aid Station, I saw a lot of the runners who were already lying on the backs and sleeping inside the Checkpoint Tents and more of the runners were just on the ground resting by sitting or lying. I would estimate that there are almost twenty of them.

I tried to sit on a concrete base of an electric post while I ate crackers while drinking an ice cold coke. After I finished two pack of crackers and two servings/cups of Coke, I was on my way to the next Checkpoint.

Did I Actually Reach And Pass This Place?

Did I Actually Reach And Pass This Place? (Photo By Lloyd Belcher)

Very Steep & Challenging Route

Very Steep & Challenging Route (Photo By Lloyd Belcher)

Chi Ma Wan To Shap Long (10 Kilometers)

I was so frustrated to find out that I am going up again to a trail with stairs but instead of rocks, it was the ground but with with a “concrete” half-log placed on the outer edge of each step. Sometimes, they are wide-U concrete that is filled with earth where one could step most specially on the descending parts of this route. It was a continuos stairs to a peak of another mountain, Lo Shan Yan, which is 303 meters in elevation or 1,000 feet high.

After running and hiking for 83 kilometers, I could already feel the fatigue on my legs and on my body but because of my intake of Sports Gel I would have an instant energy to push my body to a certain distance.

As soon as I reached the peak of the mountain, I would see some of the runners that would pass me on my ascent to be lying flat on the grassy ground to have their rest. Silently and without any word, I would pass them and continue with my run and hike on the descending portions of the mountain.

Later, I was joined by a group of International Runners (from Malaysia and Singapore) and some of the local runners. They would move so fast by just walking and I would keep up with their pace. Looking at their built and appearance, they are on their early 30s. However, they tend to rest and sleep after walking for some distance and then pursue their fast pace once they resume their hike.

At one point, I was in a group of 8 runners and we maintained a very fast hike for about 4-5 kilometers but 4 of them stopped for a rest/sleep until later, I was already alone left walking for the rest of the way. I just kept my composure and did not panic as I walked alone for about 2 kilometers until I reached a junction. I came into a runner who seemed to be lost and could not find any ribbon on the said intersection. I tried to look also for the said reflectorized ribbon but I could see none. In a few seconds, a lone runner came behind us and pointed the right trail to follow and we let him lead the way. I was behind the said runner while the runner I came upon at the intersection was behind me. I found out later that the guy in front of me was a Cantonese and the runner behind me was a Singaporean and we had been meeting each other in every Aid Station where we stopped to eat and have our bottles refilled with water.

"Rock Stairs" @ Lantau

“Rock Stairs” @ Lantau (Photo By Tommy Tan)

We came down to a concrete steps as part of an approach to a water reservoir. There was a marker towards a downward direction and the steps was towards an elevated pedestrian bridge that crosses the reservoir. As it was too dark, my headlight could not see the bottom or what is seen below the said elevated bridge. I would assume that the bridge was too high or the reservoir is too deep for us to see the water below. After we crossed the bridge, we were at a lost and argued if the blue ribbon tied in one of the branches beside the road is part of the race markers. The Cantonese guy was trying to explain that we have to cross the mountain in front of us in order to reach the next Checkpoint. The Singapore guy is not sure if the blue ribbon tied on the side of the road is part of the race. What I did was to retrace the markers and crossed the elevated bridge back to the downward steps just to be sure that we are on the right track. The other two guys started to bring out their cellphones to call the Race Director and asked for directions. While they are dialing their phones, I was crossing the bridge back and forth! At the downward steps before the bridge, I saw two ribbons tied on a branch of a tree and they are colored white and blue for each of them. From what I’ve seen, I would be back to the other two guys and explained to them that we are on the right track by following the blue colored ribbon. I argued to them that we are on the right track and just follow the descending road and hope to find out another marker at the end of the road.

The three of us walked down the descending road and in about 50 meters, we had a glimpsed of those reflectorized ribbons and directional signs. The Cantonese guy hiked quicker towards the trail while the Singaporean guy sticked to my pace as I was behind them. I guess, this episode of being stalled on the trail delayed us for about 30 minutes.

Finally, we reached the Shap Long Aid Station/Checkpoint and at this point, what remains is the last 5 kilometers to the Finish Line. The Cantonese guy was already a kilometer ahead of us.

Shap Long To The Finish Line (5 Kilometers)

The last 5 kilometers is a paved road with about one meter wide which is rolling and part of the circumferential trail of the island. Ok, there are lots of Buffalo Shits on the road and trail on this portion of the course. The smell of the air is a mixture of the sea air; carabao dung smell; and the smell of victory to have tackled this difficult trail running course!

It appeared that the paved trail road is on the slope of a mountain that is near the shore of the island. On the last kilometer, one has to go down to the street level of Mui Wo and pass the commercial center of the village which consists of a McDonald Fastfood; some Restaurants; Bus Terminal, the Ferry Pier, and the main street of the village. After passing a turnabout, just take a Right turn towards the beach and I was on my way to the Silvermine Bay Beach and towards the Finish Line.

My official time of finish is 28:50:11 hours and placed #323 out of 403 finishers with 24% or 97 runners to have been declared as DNF.

I was smiling when I reached and crossed the Finish Line!

Crossing The Finish Line With A Smile

Crossing The Finish Line With A Smile

Post Critique On My Performance

1. My Proper Training Paid A Lot——The three-month training program for this race has a total of 630 miles or 1,008 kilometers where about 90% was done in my playground which I call the “Brown Mountain” and the rest of the 10% was done on the flat grounds of the Philippine Army Grandstand/Parade Ground Jogging Lane. As I described in the earlier part of this post, I concentrated my training on the trails in running to the peak of the Roosevelt National Park in Hermosa, Bataan with an elevation of 1,975 feet or almost 600 meters. This mileage would not include my participation in the 2015 edition of the Condura Skyway Marathon and other hikes to some mountains. If you try to get the average weekly mileage, it would result to 84 kilometers.

2. More Recovery Days During Training——My Mondays were strictly my Rest Days and did not do anything except to do some calf strengthening exercises; leg stand balances (single leg with eyes closed) and “foam rolling” my legs. No other “cross-training” exercises were done on my rest days. My Back2Back runs were always followed with complete rest on the remaining time of the day. While my Back2Back (5X) workouts were followed with a rest the whole following day.

3. Nutrition Is The Key——I have already perfected the pattern on how to use a Full Meal, Vespa Drinks, Solid Foods Available in the Aid Stations, Water and Sports Gel during the race, most specially in 100K distances. Ginger Candies had became my “thirst suppressant” and at the same my anti-acid reflux weapon. I no longer drink any kind of electrolyte drinks like Gatorade, Propel or 100 Plus in my ultra races. At the TransLantau 100, my full meal before the race (2 hours before Gun Start) was a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder Sandwich with French Fries and it was followed with Stinger Waffles and a Power Bar 30 minutes before the start. I took in one Vespa Pack with one Sports Gel with water 15 minutes before Gun Start. This food intake gave me the energy on the first 3-4 hours. From then on, I would take in some food at the Aid Station and made sure that my two Simple Hydration Bottles are refilled with water. I would also take One Sports Gel every hour except when I have to eat a lot of food in the Aid Stations. I got a reserve of GU Roctane Gels (4 pieces) just in case I need them for my last push on the last 10K of the race.

4. Taper Properly——My taper period started two weeks before the race and took advantage of this period for more rest and sleep, more fuel/food to feed my body, and more time looking at the elevation profile of the course/reading the Hongkong Trail Book given by Andre Blumberg and more time to watch movies and stroll in the malls. It was timely that the conduct of the 7th BDM 102 Ultra Race were done during my taper period and I was calm and relaxed during these weeks. My longest run in these two weeks of taper period was 8 miles or 12.8 kilometers!

5. Take It Easy, Stay Relaxed & Have Fun——There is no need to pressure myself with a certain Finish Time goal in this race. My ONLY Goal in this race is to Finish within the cut-off time of 32 hours without any injury or “issues” and would still be smiling once I would be able to cross the finish line. Although I would be cursing silently on those steep ascent portions of the course, I would console myself with the thought that I was passing a lot of the local runners who are half of my age or younger. The “overall” funny part on the race about my performance is when I saw my splits and took notice on my placing/ranking from Checkpoint #1 up to the Finish Line. At Checkpoint #1, I was ranked #420 runner; at Checkpoint #5, I was ranked #362; and at the Finish Line, I was ranked #323. This simply means that my patience resulted in improving my ranking for 102 positions and I would be improving in my standing as the race progresses (or maybe there are more weak and slow runners behind me)!!!

6. Gathered Some Learning Lessons——As an RD in our local ultra races, I was able to learn and pick-up some lessons through my observation on how these international races are being done. It was worth the money, effort and time to join such race if one can pick one or two things which can improve the overall operation of a certain local event.

Expenses

Airplane RT Ticket (w/ Travel Tax & Terminal Fees)———P 8,000.00

Hotel Accommodation, Food, Transportation (4 days)—— 15,000.00

Coaching Services & Training Expenses————————20,000.00

Registration Fee —————————————————— 6,000.00

Massage & Spa ——————————————- 1,000.00

T o t a l   E x p e n s e s ——————————————P 50,000.00

My Race Kit & Equipment/Accessories

Runner’s Cap: Salomon
Headlight: Fennix
Neck Buff: Buff
Baselayer: NIKE Compression Shirt
PAU Long-Sleeved Shirt
Windbreaker: Uniqlo
Running Shorts: Patagonia
Ultimate Direction’s AK Signature Race Vest with 2 Simple Hydration Bottles
Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek’s Signature Race Belt
Gloves: Giro Cycling Gloves
Calf Sleeves: Zensha
Socks: DRYMAX Trail Running Socks
Shoes: Salomon S-LAB Sense 3
Watches: GARMIN Forerunner 310XT & Timex
Power Bank By Gavio (Dyna Q)
Nutrition: 24 Sports Gels but only used 13 pieces; 3 VESPA Packs but only used two; Stinger Waffles; Ginger Candies
Medications: 2 pcs of Pharmaton Capsules and 2 Aleve Tablets
Leukoplast Adhesive Bandage/Tape
Salomon’s Space Blanket & Whistle
Iphone with Headphone (But did not use my Music throughout the race)
HK$ 200 & Octopus Card

Pedestrian Bridge Approaching Tai O Village

Pedestrian Bridge Approaching Tai O Village

My Personal Thoughts On This Race

I did not realize that this race has 3 points for UTMB and with another successful finish at the latest Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run last November 2014 which has 2 points, and so far, I have earned 5 points already. However, the fact is that I don’t have any intention of going to the UTMB (Chamonix, France) and I have never considered it as part of my ultra’s “bucket list”. But, you may never know! Maybe, I will start saving my money and at the same time look for sponsor-friends who will support me in this endeavor.

If I add up my Anteloop 100K “run through” in order to determine its official cut-off time on the last quarter of last year, I would say that I am becoming a stronger and a hardened mountain trail ultra runner despite my age as a Senior Citizen. I would be proud to have accomplished these running events and proved to myself that there is NO limit to one’s endurance and capabilities to tackle a certain challenge as long as there is a proper preparation and training that support it.

But there is a bigger and better meaning or message of what I’be been doing and accomplishing in mountain trail ultra running. This had been my favorite and most emphasized “Leadership Principle” when I was in the military service as Commander of various units from being a Junior Officer to a Star-Rank Position——“Set The Example”! This is the very reason why I have to “run through” a course and write about it in this blog before I would make such course as a running event. Almost all the running events which I organize and direct were created through this procedure. It could be a single stage or a multi-day stage runs on my part but my story and experience would be etched in the minds of the other runners. And for this reason, I always say in my stories that “If BR can do it, You can do it, too!”

And for those who are crazy enough to accept the challenge to try and experience what I’ve been doing, my stories and articles in this blog would be a good reference as I try my best to give a “blow by blow” account of the things I’ve done. Blogging about my experiences and the description of the places where I run and join these races is as important as setting the example. This is where I would share my tips and techniques on the things one has to prepare in order to finish any challenging running event. I don’t have any “secrets”; “shortcuts”; or “miracle pills” for me to finish these races. They are all in my stories and it is up for the reader to pick-up what is suited for him or her. They are simple products of hard work, discipline, focus, determination, patience, and simplicity of effort. So, if you have plans of joining this particular race and for one to be exposed in international ultra trail races, you have to simply read my stories and your goal/objective to finish is half-done. As a start, you need to do is to save your money. And the rest will follow.

What is next for the Bald Runner? I will be back again to the mountains after two weeks of rest and recovery. My next ultra running adventure is still a secret and it will be coming soon!!!

Approaching Ngo Ping Towards Lantau Peak

Approaching Ngo Ping Towards Lantau Peak

On The Other News About The Race

John Ellis, a Blogger of Gone Running, came up with the following Race Report for the Elite/Podium Finishers in each of the Race Categories:

“Australian Vlad Ixel and Santosh Tamang from Nepal traded blows until the brutal bushwhacking climb up to Nei Lek Shan (2km, 500m D+) at around 62km.

From here, Vlad pulled away and never looked back, finishing with a blistering 11.6kph final stage, to win comfortably in 13:25:11. Santosh held onto second place with a brave 14:16:36, and last year’s Lantau Vertical champion Kawai Wong from the Fire Services Department rounded out the podium with a well paced 14:40:07. Special mention goes to Pig Chan and Allen Ng from Asia Trail, who blitzed the Team of 2 event in 15:20:29.

In the women’s race, Tor des Geants finisher Lijie Qu of China started slowly but eventually held on for the win in a very respectable 17:47:43, less than five minutes ahead of fast-finishing Australian Joanna Kruk in 17:52:11. Nicole Lau of Cosmoboys finished third in 17:59:29.

International runners dominated the 50km edition (2,600m D+), with ChengDu-based American Justin Andrews taking first in a relatively comfortable 5:42:31. Australian Majell Backhausen prevailed in a sprint finish with local 2XU athlete Ying Tsang in 5:50:44. The women’s champion was Irene Montemayor from the Philippines in 7:44:27, ahead of local runners Olivia Chan in 7:52:49 and Ivy Chung in 7:57:20.

The winners of the 25km race were Joel Deschamps from France and Ukrainian Oksana Riabova, while American David Woo and Canadian Joyce Edmondson took out the 15km version.”

Lastly, here is the link of my Garmin Forerunner 310XT at Garmin Connect:

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/720115872

I hope you were able to read this post and have enjoyed my story. See you on the trails!





Race Report: 2015 Condura Skyway Marathon (Run For A Hero)

3 02 2015

Background

I was expecting that the 2014 edition of this race was to be conducted for the benefit of the victims of Typhoon Yolanda but instead, it was cancelled and the Race Organizer opted to donate a part of their budget for the recovery and rehabilitation of the people of Samar and Leyte.

Many of the runners were frustrated to hear this news and I was one of them.

And my ultra running friends were not also happy about the news. For the past editions/years, the Condura Skyway Marathon had been always and became the post-recovery run for all the participants of my Bataan Death March 160K Ultra Marathon Race as both races are one week apart.

Official Logo Of The Marathon Race

Official Logo Of The Marathon Race

But runners would not have to wait any longer for the good news about the next edition of the Marathon Race. In a few weeks after the actual schedule of the event, the Race Organizer had announced that the 2015 event will be for the benefit of the HERO Foundation. Being a part and former soldier, I was happy to know that this event will benefit the families who were left behind by our fallen heroes who died fighting against the enemies of the State and threats to our peaceful way of life.

Exactly one week before Race Day, elements of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police encountered in a firefight agains the separatist groups in Mindanao, MILF and BIFF, resulting in the death of forty-four (44) and the wounding of others. This incident became a national issue where the public called for an immediate action for the arrest, apprehension or killing of those who are involved in this dastardly act against our troops.

Thus, in the minds of all the runners, this Marathon Race had become an instant “platform” for them to sympathize with the “Fallen SAF 44 Heroes” and for a united call for the government to give justice where it is due.

Training and Preparation

I did not have any specific training program leading to this race except for the my training program which is in preparation for me for the Trans Lantau 100K Trail Run which will be held in the middle of March of this year. Such training program was so specific that my mileages should be done in the mountains. But with my trips to the different provinces since the start of the New Year, in order to coordinate with my Ultra Races for this year where I am the Organizer and Race Director, my training runs were solely on paved and flat dirt roads.

Instead of having more vertical climbs/gains in my training, I opted to improve on my speed by doing tempo runs on the road and flat dirt roads. I had also the chance to have my rest and recovery in-between runs for a more extended period. And trips outside Metro Manila to Aurora and Albay Provinces became my tapering period a few days before Race Day.

I have also prepared my mind on this race and think of it as a Long Steady Distance (LSD) weekend run with a faster speed while my HR monitor will not breach more than 162 beats per minute.

Since all my runs for the past two years were devoted to trails and with a hoard of new trail shoes in my “trail running arsenal”, I have to choose the lightest shoes for this race and had to try them for a couple of times in my tempo runs. The choices were between the INOV-8 Roclite; SALOMON’s LAB Sense 3; or ALTRA’s Superior 2.0. I selected the Salomon LAB Sense 3 as it is the lightest among the three!

Salomon Ultra Trail Running Shoes

Salomon Ultra Trail Running Shoes

In order to arrest my sweat from reaching my feet and shoes, I prepared my Headsweat (for my head), Buff (for my neck), Long-sleeved PAU Shirt for my body), and Compresport Calf Sleeves, and Drymax Socks.

Race and Nutrition Strategy

Being an “old-school” marathon runner, I consider Marathon Running as a Speed Endurance Event where walking is integrated while drinking my two cups of water as I leave in every Water Station. In-between those Water Stations, one has to run and jog as fast as possible!

Knowing what my body is capable of as an “experienced and old” marathon runner, I opted to use the “negative split” way of racing this event. If I had prepared properly for this race, I had opted to use the “even pace” strategy where my race pace at the beginning is maintained throughout the race. My experience in ultra running and consistent advise from my Coach dictate that my pace at the beginning should be slow and progressing to a faster pace towards the last half of the race up to the Finish Line.

On nutrition, I had a full meal rich in fats and carbohydrates one a half hours before the start of the race; snacks of carbohydrates 30 minutes before the race; one Gel every hour; drink water every Aid Station; last Gel to ingest was a GU Roctane; and a reserve of Stinger Waffle as my “reserve solid” food just in case of emergency.

Race Proper

I’ve been away from the road running crowd for the past two years and it was the members ultra running community and my readers in this blog who approached and greeted me as I joined my co-runners in Wave I. It took us 30 minutes to wait from the time the Wave A runners were released from the Starting Line. Those 30 minutes were devoted to talk to some of the ultra runners within my Wave Group and review in my mind my race & nutrition strategy. As we got nearer to the Starting Line, I had my simple prayer to myself and thought of my Officers and Men who died under my Command during my stint and tour as a Military Officer and lastly, to those of the PNP SAF 44 soldiers.

My slow jog on the first 400 meters was the most memorable part of this race as I saluted every time I would approach a SAF member holding a framed picture of the Fallen SAF 44 who was standing in attention on the left side of the road. Yes, it was a slow jog but saluting 44 times is the best that I could do to honor these men who unselfishly offered their lives in the name of peace and safety for the citizenry and our country.

First 400 Meters Of The Course

First 400 Meters Of The Course (Photo By Spin.PH)

Salute To Our Fallen Heroes

Salute To Our Fallen Heroes (Photo By Spin.PH)

I started at the back of the Wave I and waited to make a move on the first uphill climb on the Skyway. I passed a lot of the slow and walking participants on this part. Knowing the whole course’ profile, the first 8-10K is a slightly uphill climb and it worked well with my slow pace as it served as my warm-up. On this first 10K of the course, I would maintain my slow speed of 4.6 miles per hour being aware of my running form; hydrating myself as I would reach the Water Station; and most of all talking to some of the runners and acknowledging their greetings as I passed them.

For about a minute or two, I was able to talk to a couple, Miguel and Cachelle, and kept my pace with theirs. I was happy to see them running together. As with Miguel, I did not see any signs of limping from his gait and strides as he fully recovered from an unfortunate accident while participating in one of my BDM “test runs” two years ago in the Pampanga area. Looking at them together, I knew they would be able to enjoy and finish the race. I will not be surprised to see this couple to be back running in my ultra races soon! I had to beg off from them as I wanted to continue with my own pace as knowing that they are enjoying and having fun with the race.

Smiling On The Early Part Of The Race

Smiling On The Early Part Of The Race

When I reached the 10-Km mark, I was already enjoying the windy and cool atmosphere of the early morning. I have increased my speed to 5 miles per hour and I was surprised that I was too comfortable with such pace. I ingested my first Gel once I reached my first 40 minutes while I was approaching a Water Station. Two cups of water were enough to bring the gel to my stomach and let it provide the much-needed energy to my machine!

At the 13-mile point, my speed had reached at 5.6 miles per hour and I never let that speed to decrease all the way to the Finish Line. At times, I would reach up to 6.0+ miles per hour on the downhill portions of the course. In my tempo run workouts, I could still run a 10K race with a time of 55+ minutes but forcing myself to this kind of speed in a marathon race without the necessary speed training will be courting for an injury that might jeopardize my training for and participation at the Trans Lantau 100K. There is no point to take a risk on this race.

Getting Serious During The Race

Getting Serious During The Race (Photo By Running Photographers)

I kept reminding myself that this race was part of my training for an ultra trail run in the middle of March.

Getting Faster On The Lat Half Of The Course

Getting Faster On The Lat Half Of The Course; From Wave I To Wave F (Photo By Pinoy Fitness.Com)

And my rituals were repeated as I reached nearer to the Finish Line——ingested my Gels every hour after my first Gel at 40-minute mark from the start of the race; reached for two cups of water (only, No Gatorade for the whole race) in every Water Station; would pass other runners at the Water Stations by running up to farthest end of the table and walk quickly & briefly while drinking the water; making sure that my empty cups would land in those garbage bins provided by the Race Organizer; by just waving my hand or simply greeting back to those runners who call my attention or greet me; no unnecessary “chit-chat” to other runners on the last half of the course; by allowing other runners to pace with me or run along with me (without any conversation); and try to pick-up and increase my pace through some quick “surges” on the uphill portions and on the last 10K of the course (all downhill to the Finish Line).

It was still dark when I reached the Finish Line. I finished the race with an Official Time of 4:40:19 hours and ranked #569 out of 5,022 Finishers.

I did not realize that I could still run this fast considering my age of going to 63 years old in 3 months. Maybe with a more focused training in the Marathon distance, I still could run this fast and hopefully, could still have a shot to a Boston Marathon Qualifying Race, the proper and traditional way!

But on second thought, I will remain as a Trail Ultra Runner and consider the Condura Skyway Marathon as my ONLY yearly Road Marathon where I could be in touch with the marathon/road running community in the country.

Breathing Hard Through My Mouth

Breathing Hard Through My Mouth (With The Wave F Runners)

Lesson/s Learned

1. Marathon Running is an Art and a Skill. Racing is about You and the Distance. Every runner needs Endurance and Speed to have a very successful finish. One has to compete with oneself and not with any other runner.

2. Marathon Racing is NOT a time to socialize. “Socializing” is done after the race. As compared to Ultra Running, Ultras are races where one has to “socialize” from the start up to the finish and beyond the race itself. Sometimes, Ultras’ “socializing” starts during training and preparation.

"Socializing" Before The Race

“Socializing” Before The Race With An Ultra Friend

3. Proper Nutrition Strategy is the Key to a successful Marathon Finish coupled with proper Hydration technique. Gels are the best immediate source of nutrition in a Marathon Race. Eating a full meal few hours before the race and later, a light snacks few minutes before the race always worked positively in my races.

4. Racing Strategy is dependent on one’s training and preparation. If you are NOT fully-prepared and trained for the event, be contented to aim for a Finish without any injury, and not for any PR or best time for a Marathon Race.

5. No complaints and “whining” in a Marathon Race. Before Gels and Sports Drinks were invented, Marathon Races have ONLY Water as support for all the runners! Try to strive and train for the simplest and most basic way of running a marathon race.

6. Be LIGHT. Wear the lightest running kit and try also to run light with your body. It is not yet late to learn how to run light by using your forefoot or mid foot as you run by feel.

7. Taper Properly. Since the race is done from Midnight to the early morning, runners are practically sleepless on Friday night, considering that the trip to the event area is outside the Metro Manila. It is advisable to have a complete rest and sleep for at least 7-8 hours every night on the last week prior to Race Day.

8. Marathon Race should be a part of an Ultra Race training and preparation in order to improve one’s speed and endurance. I really did not have a focused and dedicated training for this race. This marathon race was part of my weekly ultra training program where it was to be a “back-to-back” long runs where each day would be a 12-mile run. Instead of two days of 12-mile a day run, I did it for one day/one workout with an excess of 2.2 miles. My average total weekly mileage for the past three weeks leading to this race was from 47-50 miles.

Very Rare Picture With Ultra Runners In A Marathon Race

Very Rare Picture With Ultra Runners In A Marathon Race

Running Kit & Accessories

Running Shoes: Salomon S-LAB Sense 3 Ultra Trail Shoes

Sweat Absorbers: Headsweat and Buff

Shirt: PAU Long-Sleeved Shirt By A Perfect White Shirt

Shorts: Salomon Trail Running Shorts (Bermuda)

Calf Sleeves: Compressport

Socks: Drymax (Trail Running Socks)

Cycling Gloves: Specialized

Headlight: Fenix

Nutrition: 2 pcs of VFuel Gels (Fudge Brownie); one GU Gel (Salted Caramel); one GU Gel (Roctane); and 2 pcs of Stinger Waffle (Reserve)

Race Belt: Ultimate Direction SJ Signature Series

Watches/GPS: Garmin 310XT with HR Monitor and TIMEX Watch

Congratulations to Tonton and Raul Patrick Concepcion (Race Organizers); Rio Dela Cruz (Race Director); and to the rest of the Condura Skyway Marathon Team for this well-organized and international-standard marathon race which honors our “present day” heroes in the military and armed services and supports their dependents through the HERO Foundation.

Last Half Of The Course

Last Half Of The Course

Approaching The Finish Line

Approaching The Finish Line

Congratulations also to all the Finishers!

See you next year!





1st Week Of Training (December 8-14, 2014)

17 12 2014

Monday/December 8:

Rest

Tuesday/December 9 @ Roosevelt National Park: 

Time Of Start: 4:30 PM

Distance: 6.8 Miles

Time/Duration: 2:24+ Hours

Average Speed: 2.4 Miles Per Hour

Total Ascent: 1,323 Feet

Highest Elevation: 1,170 Feet

http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/651295445

Comments:

1. Started late in the afternoon and it became dark where I had to use my headlight on the 2nd half of the run. My run became slower when it was dark already.

2. It was slightly raining and I had to use my Eddie Bauer Waterproof Jacket with Hood during the duration of the run.

3. Brought two (2) bottles of 20 oz. each capacity; 4 pieces of GU Gels; 3 pieces of Power Bars; one piece of Honey Stinger Chews; Pocket Camera; iPhone; and Thermal Blanket. I purposely brought all these items in my pack to put more weight and have my body accustomed to the food/nutrition needs and required/mandatory items that I will carry with me during the race.

4. I used my INOV-8 X-Talon Trail Shoe and it was responsive on the wet condition of the trail and rocks along the route.

5. How I wished I could go higher in elevation in the mountain but due to the thick growth of grasses along the trail which need to be cleaned and cut, I decided to turn-around at 1,150 feet elevation.

6. The Eddie Bauer Jacket which I bought 5 years ago was very effective in preventing the rain from getting inside my body. However, my body sweat made the lining of the jacket to be damp and wet which made the Jacket to be heavier as I finished my run.

Running Under The Rain

Running Under The Rain

7. My legs and knees started to become painful as I descended on the downhill portions of the route as I went back to where I started. I have observed that my leg muscles became tighter as I went downhill but I persevered by taking shorter strides and lighter with my footing along the trail.

8. I had a “deep-tissue” massage after my dinner and the soreness and pain disappeared as I went to bed.

Wednesday/December 10:

Rest. I am scheduled to have a 6-mile run but I decided to have a rest after being late to my place of training after a trip to another venue of one of my races where I am the Race Organizer/Race Director.

Instead, I did some body squats and lunges to find out if I still have pain and soreness to my legs. The “deep-tissue” massage the night before “fixed” my issues about my legs. I slept early in the night…eight hours of sleep!

Thursday/December 11 @ Roosevelt National Park:

Time Of Start: 8:00 AM

Distance: 7.37 Miles

Time/Duration: 2:24+ Hours

Average Speed: 3.1 Miles Per Hour

Total Ascent: 1,670 Feet

Highest Elevation: 1,575 Feet

http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/651295455

Comments:

1. The run was done in the morning and the weather was with clear sky and slightly cold weather in the mountain. My water/hydration system was the same with that of the Tuesday Run, consuming 40 oz. of water during the run. I added two (2) pieces of VFuel Gels in my pack and I was able to ingest one piece of Gel on my second half of the run.

2. I felt lighter without the Jacket and I was comfortable with my pack with the same content that I had during the Tuesday Run.

3. I used my ALTRA Lone Peak 1.5 Shoes and they are responsive to the trail and rocks.

4. The highest elevation of 1,575 feet was reached at 3.1 Mile but I decided to have my turn-around at this point due to the thick bushes and grasses along the unused trail towards the peak of the mountain. In my estimate there is a need to clean the trail for a distance of about 2 miles until I reach the peak of the mountain. If the highest elevation of this mountain will reach 2,100+ feet in less than 6-Mile distance, this could be my ideal training ground for my TransLantau 100 Race.

At The Turn-Around Point

At The Turn-Around Point

5. The massage that I got last Tuesday evening and Full Rest Day on Wednesday gave me a better performance for today. I did not feel any pain or soreness or tightness on my leg muscles and knees on my downhill runs back to Starting Area. It resulted to a faster Average Speed in my workout.

Friday/December 12:

Rest. I had a trip to Fort Magsaysay to attend a Coordinating Conference regarding my race thereat to be held on the weekend.

Taklang Damulag

Taklang Damulag

Saturday/December 13 @ Hill Taklang Damulag, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City:

Time Of Start: 7:23 AM

Distance: 10.30 Miles

Time: 3:32:52 Hours

Average Pace: 20:41 minutes per mile

Average Speed: 3.1 miles per hour

Elevation Gain: 2,800 Feet

Highest Elevation: 1,255 Feet

http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/651295464

Comments:

1. While supervising my race as the Race Director, I thought of running the course from Fernandez Hill View Deck to the Peak of Taklang Damulag (Hill) trying to find out how many “hill repeats” that I can do until I am tired. However, my training program called for a 10-mile run and any distance after that would be a bonus.

2. The weather was cooler in the early part of the morning but it became hotter on my third climb to the peak. I was carrying my TNF Hand-held Bottle which is just enough for my hydration need for one trip.

3. I had to rest for about 2-3 minutes just enough to make refill on my water bottle and eat something, most specially before I started my third climb.

4. I used my ALTRA Lone Peak 1.5 which was very responsive on the slippery trail and rocks along the route. However, the shoes became heavier as it became wet/damp from the sweat going to my socks and full body.

5. I did not have any problems or soreness on my legs during the duration of the run. If only not for the heat of the sun, I could have attempted a 4th climb to the peak.

6. I will make a point to visit Fort Magsaysay at least once a month and try to break my personal record on how many times I could climb the peak of Taklang Damulag in one day or 12 hours!

7. I was averaging 1:11+ hours per “hill repeat” which is a big improvement on my performance in climbing the hill two years ago.

Sunday/December 14 @ Hill Taklang Damulag, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City

Time Of Start: 6:56 AM

Distance: 6.69 Miles

Time: 2:20:57 Hours

Average Pace: 21:04 minutes per mile

Average Speed: 2.9 miles per hour

Elevation Gain: 1,814 Feet

Highest Peak: 1,255 Feet

http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/651295472

Comments:

1. I felt I was not wasted from yesterday’s triple trip to Taklang Damulag. For today, I did two “hill repeats” which I expected to have a distance of 7 miles but my running effort was satisfactory.

2. I used my INOV-8 X-Talon Trail Shoes and they were very light and was able to have a very nice leg turn-over during the duration of the workout. I might be slower this time but I feel strong to finish another repeat after completing my scheduled distance for the day.

3. Just the same with yesterday’s run, I was using my TNF Hand-held bottle. I had my breakfast before I started the run and it gave me the energy throughout the workout.

3X "Hill Repeats" @ Taklang Damulag

3X “Hill Repeats” @ Taklang Damulag

Summary:

Total Distance: 31.16 Miles or 49.85 Kilometers

Total Time: 10:30 Hours

Total Ascent: 7,607 Feet (152.14 Feet Elevation Gain Per Kilometer)

 





Race Report: 2014 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (Last Part)

5 12 2014

Race Report: 2014 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (Last Part)

What Went Wrong?

5. Gout Attack——Just when I finished my last long run in preparation for this event, I had a gout attack and the joint on my big toe was inflamed and sore. My first gout attack was in March 2008 and since that time my choice of food was limited to those with no uric acid. For the past 6 years and a half, I was on a diet and I was able to control my uric acid intake. However, for the month of October, I was not able to control my diet and craving for boiled peanuts & beans and native chicken & goat’s meat! Actually, on those days and weeks that my toe was inflamed, I forced myself to hike on the mountains. On race day, I was still feeling some pain on my toes but I was able to endure even if I was able to ingest my ALEVE tablets before the start of the race.

Very Accurate Depiction Of My Gout (Picture Taken From Google

Very Accurate Depiction Of My Gout (Picture Taken From Google)

What Went Right?

1. Lesser Mileage, Healthier Knees——I am scared to think that reality is setting in—I am getting older and I need to take care of my knees. With the lesser mileage on every week in my training, I was able to preserve the good condition of my knees. Plus, the addition of a recovery day aside from my usual Monday rest had also added the stability of my knees during the race. I did a lot of strengthening exercises which were focused on my legs and core muscles but most of these exercises were geared to strengthen the muscles surrounding my knees. I did these exercises at least three times a week. If you are wondering what are these exercises, they are very simple! I did body squats, lunges, 100-ups, push-ups; exercises that strengthen my hip flexor using an elastic band; and Pilates exercises that strengthen the core.

2. Taper Properly——This is the most violated training principle among the younger ultra runners whom I know. They think that tapering for one week is enough for them to have fresh legs and body ready to tackle this very challenging race. For the two to three months that I was focused on the training for this race, I had my longest run on the seventh week, which is three weeks before Race Day. My longest run was a 26-mile (42K) mountain trail run which lasted for 8-9 hours and I was able to finish strong and my knees were able to hold on with the course where I had my training. After this long run, I made a steady reduction of my mileage on the coming weeks leading to Race Day until I was running 4-5 miles on my last week and got rested and slept well two-three days before Race Day. This is one of the reasons why I decided to postpone the inaugural edition of the General Aguinaldo Historic Trail Run which I intended to join as one of the participants. This race was scheduled two weeks before the CM 50 Race Day. I was able to monitor the younger runners who joined a trail running event one week before Race Day and I had the observation that they did not perform well in this event. Some of these younger runners would tell me that they have not recovered well after the race they have joined 7 days ago.

3. Nutrition——This is the second time in a running race event that I used VESPA. I’ve used this before in my long runs and I find them effective and working well with my body system. At this time, it was more effective when I started using Udo’s Oil as part of my supplementary nutrition. I usually mix at least two spoonful of this oil once a day in one of my viands/food either in my lunch or dinner for the three weeks that I was on tapering mode. I could feel that I was gaining a little weight which I would thought will be a source of my stored energy in my body to be used during the race. I took one pack of VESPA after eating my meal before the race and for the next 4-5 hours I was full of energy, taking only two (2) pieces of GU Gel, and hydrating with water every 30 minutes. I was not feeling “thirsty” because I was putting a Dynamite Candy in my mouth every time I ingest a VESPA Pack. I suspect that my slow pace made my stored fats as the source of energy and not from the carbohydrates that are available in my body. After 4-4 1/2 hours, I would feel hungry and that’s the time that I would eat my PB & J sandwiches, take another VESPA pack + GU Gels + Dynamite Candy and continue with my run. For the whole duration of the race, I was able to consume 4 packs of VESPA. From AS4 on my way to the peak, I started mixing my 2 MILO Packs with 1 GU Gel in my water bottle which is equivalent to almost 300 calories and I would ingest the whole liquid mix in one bottle within one hour. This mixing of MILO Packs + GU Gel was repeatedly done all the way to the finish line. Last year, I used Perpetuem Powder mixed with water as my source of nutrition and some solid foods (sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, and boiled bananas).

More Carbohydrates @ AS3 (Photo Courtesy Of Team Ayala Triads)

More Carbohydrates @ AS3 (Photo Courtesy Rovelyn Dimaala Of Team Ayala Triads)

Because of the hotter condition of the day as compared to last year, I might have used the stored fats in my body faster than what I’ve experienced before and I felt weak and exhausted once I returned to AS4 after coming from the Peak/turn-around point. It was an “accident” that I impulsively asked for a Sprite Drink and such “sugar-rush” to my body jolted me to be on a faster mode in my pace from AS4 to the Falls and back to AS4! I suspect also that from this point, my body needed more carbohydrates to propel me all the way to the finish line. This is the reason why I had to ingest some rice and solid food and more Sprite Drinks at AS3 and every hour after this, I was already using my remaining Gels up to the Finish Line.

4. Knowledge of the Course——This is the only year that I was not able to run the CM42 race in preparation for the CM50. Also, I did not had any runs or visits or recon runs along the course. From the past CM42 and CM50 races that I joined and finished, I was able to know what to expect along the course, from the Start to every Aid Station up to the Peak and back to the Finish Line. I was confident on what to expect in every turn and particular place along the route. Such knowledge of the course made me more confident that I will be able to finish the course within the prescribed cut-off time of 18 hours.

5. Having Fun——With the lack of mileage, sickness/diarrhea , condition of my knees, gout attack, and of course, my age, I tried to condition my mind to have a better performance on this race. Such positive thinking pushed me to endure everything and reminded me about my race strategy to focus more on my nutrition and that I would be healthy & injury-free to finish the race. This reminded me of the practice or tip of which I adopted from my Coach——placing one piece of GU Gel inside my cycling gloves/one GU Gel in each glove! This practice would remind me that I need to take a Gel every time I would swing my arms while running. Once I use one Gel, I would replace it with another one from my Belt Pouch and place the litter in one of my shoulder pockets of my hydration pack. I was also having fun when I outrun the younger runners and sometimes would scare them when they see me that I am nearing them or about to overtake them. Counting my strides when fatigue and heat of the sun would be very hard to the body gave me more fun as I gained some distance getting nearer to each of the Aid Stations.

Cycling Gloves & INOV-8 X-Talon Trail Shoes (2013 CM50)

Cycling Gloves & INOV-8 X-Talon Trail Shoes (2013 CM50)

6. Evaluation Run——I did not join this race to earn some points for the UTMB and I don’t have any future plans of going to Chamonix, France to join such race. This race is an evaluation run for the training program that was given to me in preparation for this race. It is also an evaluation run to determine my strengths and weaknesses as I prepare for my future races in the next year to come. I have learned (again) a lot of lessons that I need to make some adjustments in my race tactics, strategy and nutrition needs. I have also personally evaluated that my knees are getting stronger if I give them the much needed rest and recovery. I have learned also that I could run in a slow pace for me to use my fats as the source of energy and I could easily switch to a faster pace mode if I consistently add more carbohydrates to my body system. Lastly, taper mode on the last three weeks leading to Race Day and getting a lot of rest and sleep on the last week made a lot of difference.

How Much Did I Spend?

Coaching Services——P 13,000.00
Training Expenses (Travel & Food + Supplements)——P 3,000.00
Nutrition & Hydration Needs (During The Race)——P 2,500.00
Registration Fee——P 2,500.00
Transportation Costs (Gasoline + Highway Toll Fees)——P 2,000.00
New Gear (Ultimate Direction Belt Pouch + SALOMON Cap)——P 2,500.00

TOTAL——P 25,500.00

Was The Event Finish Worth For The Expenses?

Of course, setting an Event Record in the history of this race as the Oldest Runner to have finished the course in two consecutive years within the cut-off time of 18 hours is more than enough to compensate for what I’ve spent financially in this event. I would not regret spending my spare time in the mountains and trails just to prepare for this event. In the course of my training, I was able to meet a lot of people and make friends with the people in the mountains and being able to learn of how these people live in the mountains and know their problems. In the race, I was able to meet new runners and find time to talk to the “usual suspects” in ultra running in the country whom I only meet in person during such events even if we regularly communicate through the social media. Some of them are participants in the race and some of them served as “volunteers and marshals” in the Aid Stations, turn-around point and in the Lahar Area. As you might have observed, I don’t show or brag my Finisher’s Medal or wear those Finisher’s Shirts as they are not important every time I finish a race. It is the experience and the journey in finishing the race that count most.

Hand-held Hydration Bottles (2013 CM50)

Hand-held Hydration Bottles (2013 CM50)

Future Plan On This Event

Definitely, I will be back for the 2015 edition and train harder as long as my knees and body are healthy and injury-free. I need to bring back my INOV-8 X-Talon Trail Shoes and my hand-held bottles which I used last year and try to train for more speed on the trails. I am not shifting to any kind of diet but I will have to be more disciplined and selective on my food, making sure that they are uric acid-free and won’t cause diarrhea.

Suggestions/Advise To “New” Runners For This Event

1. Know your Ideal Racing Weight—-If you think you are heavy and way above your BMI, you should reduce—with more calories to burn and lessen your intake of unnecessary foods. Such weight that you can shave off from your body will compensate for the hydration and foods/nutrition needs that you will carry on your vest or belt/pockets.

2. Start going to the Trails—-I mean, mountain trails! And start your training NOW! Start with some hiking in the mountains along dirt roads or single-track trails and feel how your body responds to the ground, elevation, and the scenery. If you have the time do your trail hiking on a daily basis, then do it! If not, make sure you hike on your weekends or off-duty days. Be patient on this as you make your progress from a 30-minute hike up to 8-9 hours of running/jogging/hiking in the mountains on your peak training period. Once you progress and adjusted to trail running, look for a place that has the same elevation profile with that of the race and do more of your training in the said place. If you can have access to the actual route, by all means, spend your weekend runs thereat. If you are afraid to go to the mountains, then you can do it with the “Philippine Army’s Scout Ranger” way! (Note: This will be discussed in my future post featuring one of my Ultra Running friends)

3. Be selective in your Races—-It is not on the quantity of races that you have finished that defines you as a good runner. It is the quality of your performance in finishing your selected races. If you have decided to join this race as your A-priority race, then start your training as early as possible, save some money for your registration fee and training costs, register early and abide by the race/RD’s requirements, and treat your other running races as your training and evaluation runs. Make sure that you have to make some space or period of recovery in between these running events so that you will come out stronger and smarter in the process. Not because you are still young and strong that you don’t need to taper and have more rest before the Race Day, it is always you and only you will be the one responsible for your success or unsuccessful finish in this race.

Eat While You Are At Rest (Photo By Rovelyn Dimaala)

Eat While You Are At Rest (Photo By Rovelyn Dimaala of Ayala TRIADS)

4. Nutrition is the Key—-In every race, I keep on learning about my nutritional needs. “Fat-Burning” and Carbohydrates as sources of my energy work well with me in ultras. But it took me a lot of time and experience to try what is best for me. It is also worth to know that I have to fully stop and take a rest if I need to ingest solid foods to my system. In the past, I would take in some solid foods while on the move but it gave me more problems like choking and coughing, most specially in high altitude races that I have joined in the past. However, I don’t have any problems ingesting my Gels as I have to suck them quickly and followed with a sip of water from my bottle. Once my taste for the Gel would become uncomfortable for me to swallow, I would start mixing them in my water with my powdered drinks like MILO Packs and just the same, they give me the much-needed calories for my body. As the experts would always advise, fuel up early in the race while your pace is slow and then progressively pick-up the pace while maintaining your food intake and hydration. It is easily said but it needs a lot of practice and discipline.

Thanks for reading my longest Race Report! Keep on running and see you on the mountain trails!

See You Next Year!!!

See You Next Year!!!





Race Report: 2014 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (Part 4)

3 12 2014

Race Report: 2014 CM 50 (Part 4)

Race In Progress: From AS2 To AS1 To The Finish Line

I still have 3 hours+ to cover a distance of 16-17 kilometers (on paper) but in reality, it might reach actually to 22-23 kilometers. I need to run and jog at an average pace of 6-7 kilometers per hour in order to reach the Finish Line before the cut-off time of 18 hours. It is doable and I could still have some “buffer” time to spare just in case I need more time to rest or power hike or simply walk along the course.

After running on the ridges of hills and edges of sugar plantation, I was going down again to the bank of lahar-sand-filled river which is popularly called as the Pasig-Potrero River and on my right is the bridge before reaching the Porac Exit along the SCTEX when one goes to the direction of Subic Freeport. After crossing the vast and wide river, I was back on the bank of the river and tried to follow those reflectorized markers and colored-orange paint that I could see on plants; on sticks; on rocks and on the ground. This time they were already located on my left side.

I was already getting impatient as to when I would be able to reach the “rope-climbing” part before I finally reach the populated part of the course and the cemented stairs that I’ve climb on the early part of the race. As I jogged and power hike, I would allow the faster runners to pass me because I knew that they are younger than me and they deserve to have that bragging rights to have finished the race ahead of me, a Senior Citizen!

Sacobia River

Pasig-Potrero River (Picture Taken From Google)

Finally, I was on my way up to the peak of a hill with those ropes and I know in a short while, I would be on my way to that descending cemented stair to be able to reach the populated area. Just the same with last year’s experience, I was able to see those parked 4X4 jeeps and those children playing on the road trying to mimic the way I run and would keep running on my side. I know that after passing the village I will be back again to that road which is full of lahar-sand which is flat and that will lead me to the AS1 which is near to a Spa and Wellness Facility. One runner had passed me on this part of the course and tried to follow him.

It was already getting dark when I reached AS1 and I thought to myself that I still have 7 kilometers more to go which is I could easily do in order to reach the Finish Line. I guess, I still had one hour and 45 minutes before the cut-off time at this point. The lady volunteer at the AS1 was asking me if I needed something, food and water, were still available and I was the only one she had to attend to. I just said to her, “Thank You” and I was on my way to the last 4 kilometers of lahar-sand filled river of Sacobia. I immediately brought out my headlight and had it fitted on my head as I walked on the lahar. With another runner ahead of me, I could easily spot him on his direction. However, even without the runner in front of me, I would easily get my bearing and direction back to the Finish Line as I still would recall that on my way to the AS1 on the early part of the race, all the runners were running on the left side of the river. So, on my way back, I should be running on the right side of the river trying to be near as possible on the right side of the bank of the river. From afar, I would see the flashing lights of the volunteers/marshals and I made a direct route to reach their positions. I was trying to hug the right bank of the river as I run in semi-circle path towards the trailhead.

Puning Wellnes Spa & Resort @ Vicinity AS1

 Near Puning Wellnes Spa & Resort @ Vicinity AS1 (Photo Taken From Google)

As I ran on these last 4 kilometers of lahar-sand and river with flowing water, different kinds of insects would be attracted by the glow of my headlight and they became problem to my vision. Some of the insects would get into my eyes and made used of my hands as an inverted pendulum to drive them away. It did not take long to endure in this kind of situation as I made my way back to the trailhead leading back to the paved road of the Clark Freeport. As I got nearer to the trailhead, I was able to meet the locals and their families as they proceeded to the river. I got the impression that they were going home to their respective villages which is about 4 kilometers of walking along the river. They even joked at me if they can borrow my powerful headlight as they were moving down to the river without any flashlights. At this point, my Garmin watch just died and I was looking on my other watch on how many more minutes left before the actual time of the day reaches to 7:00 PM. Upon reaching the paved road, I got 45 minutes to go before the cut-off time and I know I would make it and finish strong.

I finally brought my distance nearer to the runner ahead of me up to 5-8 meters behind him as we ran the last 3 kilometer of paved road to the Clark’s Parade Ground. I told the runner that we will finish the race in the same order that we are in, which means that I have no intention of passing or “out-kicking” him on the last kilometer or so. I just maintained my regular LSD pace and I would notice that I was still strong at this point. My legs and knees were not hurting and did not have any bouts of cramping during the duration of the race. My feet were fine and I wasn’t able to feel any signs of blisters except for the annoying lahar-sand that was embedded inside my running shoes and socks.

On the last kilometer before the finish line, I slowed down and let the runner ahead of me to widen our gap in between us. It was okey and took my time to jog easily towards the Parade Ground. Finally, I was able to cross the Finish Line with almost 10 minutes more to spare before the cut-off time. Officially, my finish time registered at 17:50:51 hours! The RD awarded my Finisher’s Medal and I was able to get my Finisher’s Shirt.

Few Meters Before The Finish Line

Few Meters Before The Finish Line

I did it for the second time in two consecutive years. Not bad for a Senior Citizen at 62 years of age! Surprisingly, I was not limping, no chafing and did not feel any soreness or pain as I walked towards my personal vehicle.

It is worth to mention the following items that I used during the race. For the second time in a row, I did not use trekking poles in this event. And and never ingested any “pain-killer” and salt tablets during the run.

Running Cap: Salomon’s Matador-X (Red Color/Clima UV50+)

Headlight: Icon Polar by Black Diamond

Sunglasses: Oakley

Neck/Nape/Face Cover/Protection & Sweat Absorbent: Buff

Running Shirt: PAU Long-Sleeved Shirt By A Perfect White Shirt

Running Shorts: PATAGONIA Shorts

Watches + HR Monitor: GARMIN 310XT & CASIO Watch

Belt Pouches: ULTIMATE DIRECTION (Scott Jurek’s Signature Series)

Hydration Vest & Back Pack: ULTIMATE DIRECTION Anton Krupicka’s Signature Series

Water Bottles: SIMPLE Hydration Bottles (Two) + One SALOMON (Collapsible) Water Bottle (10 oz.) inside my hydration pack.

Thermal Blanket: SALOMON

Whistle: SALOMON

Cell Phone: SAMSUNG Dous Flip-Phone

Camera: NIKON Coolpix SO1 Pocket Camera

Calf Sleeves: COMPRESSPORT Ultra (Black)

Gaiters: Dirty Girl

Socks: DRYMAX

Runinng Shoes: SALOMON S-LAB Sense-3 (Soft Ground)

Running Gloves: Cycling Gloves By Specialized

Anti-Blister & Chafing Protection: LEUKOPLAST By BSN and BODY GLIDE

Pain Killer: Two (2) ALEVE Tablets taken after meal before the Start of the Race

Nutrition: 4 Packs of VESPA Drinks; 12 pieces of GELS ( GU + VFuel); 4 pieces of PB & J Sandwiches; 3 Packs of Honey STINGER; One Can of Tuna Paella; 8 Packs/Sachets of MILO Drinks; and 8 pieces of DYNAMITE Choco Mint Candies By Universal Robina Corporation (70 calories in every 4 candies)

Nutrition & Hydration Items Carried In My Belt & Pack

Some Of The Nutrition & Hydration Items Carried In My Belt & Pack

What Went Wrong?

It is nice to analyze once performance in every event that I join so that I can improve in my future attendance to this event. First, I need to discuss my “alibis” or reasons why I slowed down and was not able to duplicate my performance last year. These reasons are geared more to my training and preparation for this race. They maybe gross and disgusting reasons but I have to mention them here:

1. Diarrhea——Would you believe I was having a diarrhea for the whole month of October? Yes, the whole month and no amount of medication would be able to treat it. Just imagine me running towards creeks and streams during my trail running long runs just to be able to relieve myself. I really did not know what illness came to my digestive tract for those weeks. Even in my sleep during nighttime, I would wake up and go to the comfort room for a minimum of 3-4 times! After taking in different brands of Loperamide capsules, my situation did not improve and I just completely stopped taking such medication. Instead, I tried to drink more water and maintained my usual daily diet. I would meet and run the required mileages in my training program but the intensity was not there and I slowed down in my jogging but did more of “power hiking”. I experienced being dehydrated in almost all my long weekend runs.

2. Training Program Adjusted——As compared to last year’s average of 55-60 miles of weekly mileage on my peak training, I was doing 36-42 miles of weekly mileage for the 2 months of training preparation for this year’s event. Last year, I prepared for 5 months and for this year, my preparation was only 2 months! The training adjustment was done for my body to recover for my past ultra trail races in the middle of this year and for my knee injury recovery. It could be a blessing in disguise that I had some medical issues (diarrhea) for me not to over train and put more intensity to my training. There were no speed intervals done for the training period and it was limited to some progressive and tempo runs while doing my long runs and daily short runs. The training adjustment came also with an additional one day of rest and recovery for the week. Monday and Friday became my recovery/rest days for the week and it was maintained for the the tw0-month period of training.

Salomon S-LAB Sense 3 (Soft Ground)

Salomon S-LAB Sense 3 (Soft Ground)

3. Wrong Choice of Shoes——Two weeks before the race, I made a 23K run at the Mt Pinatubo 50K Trail Challenge while monitoring the progress of my race and my runners. I used the Salomon S-LAB Sense 3 (SG) and I found out that the lahar-sand would easily enter in my shoes’ upper mesh. I was so hard-headed in my desire to come up with a 300-Kilometer mileage as soon as possible for this shoes before I could write and post a decent Shoe Review for it. I should have maintained using my INOV-8 X-Talon Trail Shoes which I used in last year’s edition where its canvass material would easily prevent more lahar-sand entering to my shoes. Although I did not bother cleaning my feet and socks from the lahar-sand throughout the race, I have the feeling that it affected my leg turn-over during the run and overall, I became slower and easily got tired from the additional weight my legs were lifting.

4. Weather——This is my hottest running experience on this route but the scenery was its best! My energy was zapped and got exhausted on my way from AS4 to AS3 after coming from Miyamit Falls. I know that most of the runners experienced this kind of situation. It was unfortunate for us to be in the “tail-end” that there were no more ice available for us by the time we reached AS3, AS2, and AS1. This was not a big deal for me as long as I was able to drink some Soda drinks in the Aid Stations. Anyway, my hydration bottles were never empty from this point on to the Finish Line.

Something To Be Proud Of

Something To Be Proud Of

To Be Continued.





Race Report: 2014 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (Part 1)

25 11 2014

In the history of this event on its 4th year, I am the ONLY Senior Citizen and OLDEST Finisher for TWO consecutive years within the prescribed cut-off time eighteen (18) hours.

At The Mt Miyamit Peak (Turn-Around Point)

At The Mt Miyamit Peak (Turn-Around Point)

Last year, I finished the race in 15:30:20 hours and placed among the top 30 runners with 120+ starters. I prepared for five months in order to finish this race with more favorable weather during race day. I was then 61 years old.

Near The Finish Line!

Near The Finish Line!

This year, I made it again to the Finish Line with only 10 minutes to spare before the prescribed cut-off time of 18 hours. This time, I prepared for four (4) months with lesser mileage in order to lessen the return of my recurring knee injury. The weather was so brutal and challenging to all the runners. I am now 62 years & 6 months old.

I was able to tame and defeat this “beast” for two consecutive years and I feel I am still strong enough to fight this “monster”.

My personal record in this event is intact and hopefully, someone within my age bracket will take the challenge to break my personal record.

My trail running adventure continues.

To be continued.





Race Report: 2014 TNF 100 Trail Run (Part 3)

9 05 2014

AS #9 To AS #10 (Camp 6 To Loakan Airport)

As I started to leave the populated community of Camp 6 and following the TNF Markers in between houses in the area, I was with a group of 5 runners who crossed the hanging bridge that connects Kennon Road to the next uphill climb towards Fort Gregorio Del Pilar or PMA Grounds. As we leave the last house in Camp 6, we were faced with a steep trail on the side of the mountain overlloking Kennon Road and Mt Cabuyao. As we went higher on the trail, we could see the lights of the other runners coming down from AS #8 as these runners were able to pass the Checkpoint within the prescribed cut-off time at 1:00 AM.

It was already 2:00 AM of Sunday when I left AS #9 with 4 other runners. I was asked to lead the assault on the mountain but I did it for a few steps and asked for the younger runners behind me to lead the group. At first, I was able to keep up with the pace but as we moved higher in elevation, I can feel that I was breathing heavily. I rested for awhile and let the other 3 runners to go ahead with their pace. The technique that I used in going up to Mt Santo Tomas was put to use again—counting 10-20 steps then rest for 5 seconds and then repeat the cycle again! With due patience and consistency, I reached a wide dirt road which is flat but I know that this is just a transition for a steeper approach to the grounds of PMA.

At one point along the steep section before reaching the perimeter of PMA, I was overtaken by three (3) big guys and I was amazed on their pace in going up along the slope. I thought to myself that they could be regular mountaineers and very strong on their legs. Even if they were power hiking, they were really fast for my pace.

Before I approached the perimeter grounds of PMA, Michael Lafuente, one of last year’s TNF 100 finishers and one of my training partners in last year’s TNF, joined me due to weak batteries of his headlight. We had to share some stories with each other about the TNF 100 last year and our training experiences and recon runs in preparation for the event. It was nice sharing the trails with him from Camp 6 to the Loakan Airport.

This Race Report would not be complete and accurate if I don’t mention what I did on the last 100 meters before reaching AS #10. I asked Michael and Danin, my training partner, to guard the trail for incoming runners so that I can “take my crap” beside a water source which is popularly known to Michael and some of our training partners last year. I could no longer tolerate the pain in my stomach that I need to release whatever wastes in my large intestines! I asked them to put off their lights; warn me of the presence of any incoming runner; and waited for me to whatever I need to do to relieve the pain in my stomach. In a few seconds, the job is done and the free-flowing water source was very convenient to clean everything, including the washing of my hands! What a relief! While I was washing my hands, a runner arrived at the place where Michael & Danin were waiting and Michael asked permission to go ahead with the runner.

We reached AS #10 with strong spirits to finish the race. Michael stopped by the Aid Station and I went ahead of the other runners who were resting, eating, and being checked by the Medical Staff. It was already 5:30 AM and it is already daybreak. A support crew of one of my training partners gave me some cola and Gatorade drinks. I also brought out from my backpack the sliced Korean Pear inside a plastic bag and held it with my right hand as I started to run. As I started with my run, a support crew shouted to me that I am already on my last 7 kilometers of the course!

AS #10 To The Finish Line

I knew that at this point that I can already “smell the barn” and try to run all the way to the finish line. Just follow the TNF markers hanging beside the fence of the airstrip, cross the airstrip of the Loakan Airport and then proceed on the streets of the houses near the vicinity of BEPZA and I will be in Barangay Scout Barrio, and ultimately enter the premises of Camp John Hay.

While running along the airport road, I started to eat the slices of Korean Pear that I brought out from my backpack and was able to consume it before I crossed the airstrip of the Loakan Airport. It was so easy and visible to follow the TNF Markers placed along the streets as I left the premises of the Airport. I noticed that a younger runner was tailing me as I entered a populated area. I could see also two runners in front of me walking up on an uphill road. The younger runner on my back had easily overtaken me because he had a faster pace. Once he passed me, I brought one of my Gu Gels and ingested it for my last 6K to the Finish Line. The younger runner who had overtaken me had come back and I was meeting him along the road. I asked him why he was coming back and he told me that there are no markings that he can see along the road. I told him to return back to his former direction as we were on the right road to the Finish Line. He believed me as I pointed out to him the markers ahead of us. He went ahead of me but I was able to overtake the two runners who were walking on the uphill road.

The last GU Gel that I have ingested had given me the much energy to run continuously as I passed the “three big guys” that passed me before I reached the PMA Perimeter/Grounds. From a distance I could see a group of runners who were walking along the trail and found out later that it was the group of Baguio Ultra Runners to include my friends, Jonel Mendoza, Nick Pasiken, Carlo Gonzales, and Ryan Jucutan. Instead of passing them, I joined them in their hike for the last 5 Kilometers before the Finish Line. By my personal estimation, if not for my decision to join them in their hike, I could have finished the race in 27:30+ hours. Our hike was delayed and was made slower when our group was able to meet the group of 22K runners which had started at 6:00 AM. We had to wait and stand beside the trail for the 22K runners to pass us. Well, what is 45 minutes or one hour of delay for the finish if you are with “loyal friends”  in the ultra running community and be able to share some good stories with them and their experiences during the race.

"I Can Smell The Barn!" @ Camp John Hay

“I Can Smell The Barn!” @ Camp John Hay

At the last 200 meters before the Finish Line, we have agreed the order of finish among us. Carlo Gonzales was first and I followed him because the two of us considered this run as our “redemption run” for having declared ourselves as DNF in last year’s race. The other three runners were behind us as they had been regular finishers in this event since it was held in Baguio City. We started to run towards the Finish Line and we knew that we will be met by a crowd of spectators!

I crossed the finish line at 28:16:31 hours and I was awarded my first TNF 100 Finisher’s Medal as soon as I crossed the Finish Line. Officially, I was ranked as #107 out of 195 finishers from the almost 400 starters of the race. I may not had been successful in attaining what I have aimed for in this race, upper 50% of the finishers, but what is a few percent over the 50% (I am within the upper 54.8% of the finishers) if I was able to finish the race successfully without any injuries or any “issues”.

Official Result of the TNF 100K: http://www.thrillofthetrail.ph/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/TNF-100-2014-Overall-100k.pdf

Let me thank the Almighty Lord for giving me the strength to have this kind of ability at the age of 62. I may not be fast but with guidance and protection from Him, I was able to finish the race in healthy and safe conditions.

Let me thank also the Team Bald Runner for providing me the support in every key Aid Station along the route. They were instrumental in preparing what I needed every time I need resupply of my hydration and nutrition requirements.

I would also thank the younger runners for making them as my targets during the race. I am doubly happy when I see them resting in a place and then suddenly resuming their trek to the uphill climbs when they see me coming to their direction.

The Race Marshals, Medical Team, and Volunteers in the Aid Stations were very invaluable for the success of the race. I would like to thank them through this post/Race Report, although I know that I was the only runner who would usually say “Thank You…For Being Here” to them during the conduct of the race!

My appreciation goes also to my orthopedic doctor at the Philippine Army Medical Center in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig for seeing to it that a Retired General of the Philippine Army would be accorded free rehabilitation and physical therapy on his knees. He made sure that I would buy the prescribed VIARTRIL-S (Glucosamine Sulfate, 1,500 mg) Powder For Oral Solution which I took once I wake up in the morning for the past 3-4 months. It is a very expensive powder solution in a small sachet but with my Senior Citizen’s 20% discount, I was able to save some of my money.

I am not a “sponsored” athlete/ultra runner but it is worth mentioning the things that I’ve used during the race. Here is the list:

Trail Shoes—-La Sportiva Helios

Socks—-DRYMAX Trail Socks

Gaiters—-Dirty Girl Gaiters

Calf Sleeves—-COMPRESSPORTS ULTRA (Black)

Running Shorts—-PATAGONIA Trail Shorts

Anti-Chafing—-Body Glide

Belt Bag (For Cell Phone)—-NATHAN Belt Bag

Upper Shirt—-PAU Long-Sleeved Shirt By “A Simple White Shirt”

Nipple Protection—-Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid

Hydration Vest & Pack—-Ultimate Direction Anton Krupicka Signature Series (Small)

Hydration Bottles—-Simple Hydration Bottles

Watches—-GARMIN 310XT & TIMEX Expedition

Bandana—-BUFF

Head Bandana—-Mountain Hardwear

Running Cap—-The North Face Flite Series

Light Jacket—-UNIQLO Windbreaker with Hood

Body Oil—-Johnsons & Johnsons Baby Oil (Applied to exposed parts of the body before the start of the race to keep the body warm)

Gloves—-Specialized Cycling Gloves

Headlight—-Black Diamond’s Polar Headlamp

Flashlight—-FENIX Handheld Flashlight

NUTRITION/Hydration (Aside From Water):

12 pieces of GU Gels (regular) of 4 different flavors

Corn In A Cob (2 pieces)

Small Potatoes Boiled In Salted Water

Slices of Fried SPAM; Boiled Eggs; and Steamed Rice (Ampucao)

One Can of Century Tuna Paella

One Liter of RC Cola

One 12-oz bottle of Mountain Dew

Half-Bottle of Gatorade

Two Bottles of Coca-Cola (8-oz)

Chuckies & Bananas @ Aid Stations

Hot Noodles (2 cups)

Chinese Hopia (Sweet Bread)

Medicines/Drugs:

2 Capsules of Pharmaton (Multi-Vitamins & Minerals)

2 Capsules of Immodium (Anti-Diarrhea)

4 tablets of ALEVE (2 tablets every 12 hours as Pain Reliever to my Knees)

Advise; Suggestions; & Lessons Learned: 

1. Knowledge Of The Course—-It is not enough to know the technical description of the course. Seeing the elevation profile and the location of the Aid Stations/Checkpoints on the Course Map is not enough to have a full appreciation of the course. A runner must be able to recon the course if he/she wants to develop confidence to finish the course. Undoubtedly, this is the hardest TNF 100 course in Asia, harder than those TNF 50-Mile courses in the United States. Since I have a knowledge of the course during my recon runs and actual race last year, I was confident and ready on what to expect in every phase (in between Aid Stations) of the course.

2. Services of An Exemplar and Reputable Ultra Running Coach—-Get the services of a consistent Champion in all the Ultra Races that he joined in the past years (maybe for the past 10-15 years!) Some of his feats are still standing Course Records in 100-Mile Races. You might say that it is expensive to be paying such kind of ultra running coach but you will find out later that the investment is all worth it. Do not get a Coach who is an Average or Back of the Pack Ultra Runner, you are just wasting your time and money with him/her! “Get the BEST  TEACHER and YOU SHOULD DO THE REST”!

3. Specificity Of Training—-This is the “most abused” advise from Coaches, Podium Finishers, and Trail Running Friends. If the race course is in the mountains, go to the mountains for your training, period! There is where you test your gears and hydration/nutrition plan. This is where you test and evaluate your running skills, running form, tactics, and techniques. You have to concentrate more on what is best for you on your food intake during your long runs/hike in the mountains.

4. Follow A Structured Training Program—-Obviously, the Coach will ask you what particular event you are preparing for. Tell him your target and intermediate goals and he will give you a training program that is suited for your age and running history. Follow the program and be serious of attaining your goals. Don’t get the impression that the training program is good for a few weeks or one months before the race day. You can not “cram” or “fake” your training for a rigorous 100K ultra trail run even if you are a fast marathon runner. In the Philippines, TNF 100 Registration Period opens two months before Race Day. Do not start your training once you have registered if you have just shifted from road running to trail running. You can finish it but not with an impressive finish time.

5. Taper Properly—-Two weeks before the Race, I was already tapering my training mileage. One week before the race, I was getting more rest and sleep. I was also eating what I usually eat during my regular days of training leading to the Race Day. By tapering properly, my body was able to rest and recover from the stress that I put into it for the past months of going to the mountains. I was fully rested, recovered and relaxed when I toed the line at the Starting Area. And the rest is history!

Lastly, if you have plans of joining the next year’s edition of the TNF 100 Trail Run, you have to start your training NOW!

Congratulations To All The Finishers!

Crossing The Finish Line

Crossing The Finish Line








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