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





Race Report: 2014 TNF 100K Trail Run (Part 2)

8 05 2014

@ AS #5/Bridal Veil Falls, Camp 1, Kennon Road

It took me 2 hours and 25 minutes to reach AS #5, a distance of 12 Kilometers from AS #4 in Barangay Alang. As soon as I reached the paved road of Kennon Road, I was approached by Race Marshals to get my Race Bib number and instructed me to drop by the Aid Station for drinks and food. As I passed by the Aid Station, I saw some of the runners who arrived earlier and those who passed me on the downhill route from Barangay Alang. They were eating, refilling their hydration systems, checking their Drop Bags, some were changing to drier apparel and shoes, and some had taken their bath/shower at the nearby public toilet/shower room beside the road.

Arriving At AS #5, Bridal Veil, Camp #1

Arriving At AS #5, Bridal Veil, Camp #1

I asked my support crew to provide me with ice cold-soaked towelette which I could put on my head and nape as I was affected with the intense heat of the sun. I could feel the fatigue on my body due to the heat. I wanted to bring down the heat of my body at a faster rate by drinking ice-cold water and by rubbing my legs and arms with the ice-cold soaked towelette. It took me some minutes to do this “ice cold towel” rubbing routine to my exposed body parts. As soon as I felt my body temperature had stabilized, I asked for some solid food. I was able to ingest the whole can of Century Tuna Paella, 4 pieces of Vienna Sausage, and One Cup of Hot Chicken Noodle. I was able to drink half liter of ice-cold RC Cola while ingesting these solid foods.  My plan to change my shoes and running apparel did not push through. I decided to continue the run without changing any of my running kit. While eating, I soaked my running cap, Buff Bandana, and my Mountain Hardwear Mini-Bandana in my ice chest so that when I am ready to use them again, they would give me some cold feeling to my body.

Exhausted Due To Heat But Still Strong & Determined To Finish

Exhausted Due To Heat But Still Strong & Determined To Finish

AS #5 To AS #6 ( Camp 1 To Barangay Tabaan)

After 30 minutes of rest/recovery at AS #5, I resumed my race and had my Mandatory Equipment Check-Up by the Race Marshals before leaving the Checkpoint at AS #5. Even with a “buffer” time of 3 hours before the prescribed cut-off time in the Checkpoint/AS #5, I knew that the next part of the course will be the hardest part of the route with the peak of Mt Santo Tomas as the next target. Last year, I had only 30 minutes as a “buffer” time when I crossed the Hanging Bridge of the Bridal Veil Falls and after hiking 2-3 kilometers, I declared myself as DNF. Since I did a lot of recon hikes on this part of the course, I was confident that I can retrace my way and recall the trails/roads up to the peak of Mt Santo Tomas. I estimated to reach the peak in 6 1/2 hours.

For this year, once I crossed the Hanging Bridge of the Bridal Veil Falls with much time as a “buffer”, I knew I would be able to cross the Finish Line with an impressive time. As soon as I reached the first creek/stream of the route, I saw a lot of runners resting and some had submerged their bodies to the cold water to cool off their warm bodies. I just stopped to dip my cap and my bandana and acknowledged the greetings of the runners whom I passed by. I continued my climb leaving the other runners behind. However, at some points, I would be overtaken by younger and stronger runners. I let them pass as I stepped aside from the trail.

Preparing To Cross The Hanging Bridge @ Bridal Veil Falls

Preparing To Cross The Hanging Bridge @ Bridal Veil Falls (Photo By Juvy Pagtalunan)

After climbing the first uphill/ascent of the route and reaching the wide Barangay Road that leads to Andolor, I met two old couple who were watching me and the other runners. After greeting them in the local dialect, the old lady made some hand signs and verbal response to me. I immediately understood the message that she wanted me to do. She was telling me in the local dialect and hand signal that I need to close my mouth while exerting more effort in scaling those uphill climbs, thus, making me effortless and stronger in climbing. I said, Wow! I immediately recalled what I read in Scott Jurek’s book! According to a Chinese saying as stated in the book, “the nose is for breathing while the mouth is for eating”!

From this point, the advise of the old lady stayed in my mind and strictly observed throughout the race! I would strictly breath through my nose and always conscious that my mouth was always clipped! I tried to jog on the downhill parts of the route but it was temporary as I would face one uphill climb to another one. I had to power walk these climbs with the proper form and technique. Through the blogs of elite ultra trail runners, I was able to apply in my training some of their techniques in power hikes on uphill climbs. The first one is to use your hamstrings and gluteus (buttock) muscles in power climbs instead of the knees and quadriceps muscles. I have to bend my body from the waist as I push my body forward and make sure to land my foot on a flatter strike on the ground. By doing this, the hamstrings and gluteus muscles are forced to go in action on power hikes in uphill climbs. The second technique is to be able to constantly count your steps while power hiking or running. I would count from 1 up to 90 counts as my left foot strikes the ground and when I reach 90, I start again the cycle with 1 and so on. By counting your steps, you will be conscious on your pace and running form. Third technique is to find out one of your favorite ultra trail elite’s personal video on You Tube. Watch his video and try to recall/remember this video while you are in the race. This technique will inspire you to mimic his/her running form and the cadence of his feet even if you have short strides. Try these techniques and I am sure you will enjoy more on mountain trail running! Through these techniques, you don’t see me using my hands to push my knees in steep uphill climbs or had seen me using any trekking poles! But remember to always close your mouth and maximize the use of your nose in breathing! You will be surprised the heavenly feeling of breathing the purest air on earth!

All of a sudden I reached AS #6 which is situated at the Barangay Hall of Tabaan. I saw a lot of the faster runners resting and eating in the said place. Some of the runners suggested me to pick-up some foods and drinks and try to even up with the registration fee that we had paid to join this race. I stopped to pick some ripe bananas and chocolate drinks and I left the AS immediately.

TNF Phil 100 Elevation Profile

TNF Phil 100 Elevation Profile

AS #6 To AS #7 (Barangay Hall of Tabaan To Mt Santo Tomas)

After a few kilometers from the Barangay Hall, a group of runners passed me while I was power hiking. I was amazed how these runners would walk with such speed. I was able to briefly talk to George Javier, a mountaineer and ultra mountain runner based in Los Banos, Laguna, and a lady runner Del Guidaben who is also a fast hiker/ultra trail runner! At an intersection with a Waiting Shed, I decided to have a brief rest to eat what I’ve taken from the previous Aid Station. While eating, I would be greeted by those runners who stopped at the previous Aid Station as they passed my resting place. After 5 minutes, I was back on the road and continue with the race. I would never see the backs/shadows of George, Del, and the rest of the runners who passed me at the Waiting Shed.

More uphill climbs with more uphill hiking until I reached the Church of Andolor where Race Marshals and Medical Aid Personnel were stationed. The marshals advised me and the runners who were behind me that we can have a refill of our water bottles and we can also get some ice cubes from their supply. They warned us that the next 9 kilometers will be the steepest uphill/ascent of the course without any Race Marshal. I knew that the next part of the course will be the hardest to tackle as I need to rest/stop in every 20 steps on the steep inclines. The cycle had to be repeated until it became darker in the forest. It was still 6:30 PM but due to the thick foliage and cloudy sky/impending thunderstorm to come, the trail was already dark! It was time to bring out my Black Diamond Polar Headlight. In a few minutes, it started to drizzle and I immediately unpacked my light UNIQLO Windbreaker Jacket which I used in Mt Pulag during the H1 100-Mile Run and zippered it to cover my upper body. At this point, I still have 5 Kilometers more to go before I could reach the next Aid Station.

TNF Phil 100 Route Map

TNF Phil 100 Route Map

At some point after I wrapped myself with my Jacket, it began to rain lightly but as I go higher to the peak, I have observed that the rain became stronger. The trail was already flooded with water due to the rains and I had no other choice but to let my shoes and socks to be wet. The decision not to change to another shoes was favorable to me as I knew that my shoes would be drained easily from the absorbed water because the uppers are very porous with the materials used. Due to the strong rains, I found out that the water had seeped through my jacket. I started to feel some coldness in my body and my fingers had started to become numb. I remember what my Coach had advised me if ever I would be exposed to colder temperature during a trail race—keep on moving faster through hiking and/or moving or swinging the upper arms AND feed the body with more FOOD for the body to ingest. More food means more energy, and more energy means warmer  body. I took in one GU Gel and ate a lot of those small potatoes (as big as those quail eggs) which I had it boiled with salted water before it was packed and followed by eating slices of Korean Pear. It was part of my food resupply at AS #5 from my support crew. It was still raining hard when I reached the place which I call “The Cable Drop” Point. Race Marshals were positioned on this point  with their Camping Tent. From this point, I have to follow a steep descending zigzag trail until it would flatten for awhile and then followed with another uphill climb before an intersection. Another Race Marshals  with tent were positioned in this place and I was told to turn left, meaning, go for another uphill climb again.

Due to steepness of the climb, my movement slowed down but my body was still warm. To anticipate the lowering of my energy due to my slow movement, I brought out my thin plastic poncho from my pack and had to wear it. It was still raining but I am confident that my warm body will not go down to a colder temperature with the poncho that I was using. Finally, I reached AS #7 near the peak of Mt Santo Tomas. One of the Race Marshals approached me and handed me a thin red plastic bracelet. I saw some of the runners at the tent eating some food and being attended to by the medical aide. When I saw that there are bottles of Mountain Dew, I got one plastic bottle of Mountain Dew and drank 1/4 of it. I was told that the distance to the next Aid Station is 3 Kilometers—1.5 kilometers as rough road and the other half as cemented road.

I reached this point at 10:15 PM and it took me almost 8 1/2 hours to climb Mt Santo Tomas! If not for the rains and colder temperature, I could have reached the peak with a faster time. At least, I was still enjoying a “buffer” time of 2 1/2 hours, reducing my previous “buffer” time at AS #5 by one hour.

AS #7 To AS #8 (Mt Santo Tomas To Mt Cabuyao)

It was all downhill from AS #7 but the road was rough with rocks although I can have a choice of where there are no protruding rocks along the wide road. I kept on power hiking on those downhill portions. I brought out my packed boiled corn in a cob for more more energy even if the rains had stopped already. While hiking, I had to eat the corn and ingesting them with the bottle of Mountain Dew. I was full of energy once I stepped on the concrete part of the road leading to Mt Cabuyao after I finished eating the corn. I would try to jog on the downhill portions and power hike on the uphill until I would see a completely submerged part of the road with water. I would go to the edge of the road and try not to dampen my shoes again. After slight rolling terrain along the paved road, I could see already the lights of tents near Cabuyao Peak. Once I reached the Aid Station, I was met by a lady Race Marshal who is a foreigner and she noted my Race Number. She advised me and the other runners reaching the place to get and eat some rice porridge. Instead of stopping by the Aid Station, I continued my walk to the trail that leads to the next Checkpoint/Aid Station.

I reached this point at 11:15 PM and had a “buffer” time of 2:15 hours before the cut-off time of 1:00 AM for this Aid Station/Checkpoint.

But there was some itchy feeling on my upper left leg and buttocks that I tried to scratch with my fingers. Lo and behold, I was being attacked by leeches. I believe that the leeches attacked my left leg on my way down from the peak of Mt Santo Tomas. I removed the leech from my left side buttocks, then another one on my upper left leg and then two leeches were trying to suck some blood from my left knee as they tried to cling to the upper edge of my calf sleeve. Four leeches attacked my left leg! After removing the leeches from my leg, I just continued my walk not minding if the blood was flowing out from my wounds.

AS #8 To AS #9 (Mt Cabuyao To Camp 6)

This is the steepest downhill part of the race course which consists of very narrow trail where one side is a steep ravine. In my recon runs in this part of the trail during the day, it was a fast one running and hiking along this course but with a muddy and slippery trail brought about by the rains on the early evening and trekking this part on a nighttime, it’s a different story. No one would dare to jump or run on those very technical and narrow trail of the route. One mistake or slip along this trail would result to flying to the deepest ravine of the mountain. I was very deliberate on my footing and every step on the steep declines which my movement very slow. I started to get a warm feeling to my body and I took some time to remove my thin plastic poncho and brought it back to my backpack. I could still feel that my windbreaker jacket is still damp and wet but my body was warm due to continues body movements.

As I slowly hiked down this trail, I immediately felt that my stomach was having some trouble and I could feel that I need to go to the bathroom. But I could still manage the situation as I continued my hike. As I approached a vegetable garden of cauliflower, I slipped on a muddy part of the trail and my buttocks “kissed” the ground. I tried to use my left arm to prevent my body from hitting the ground but it was not enough to counter the momentum of my body and I had to roll-over and landed on the vegetable garden. I immediately stood up and there was a pain on my left wrist. I thought my left wrist was broken! I slowly rotated my palm and tried to stretch/bend my wrist repeatedly. I was glad that there was no wound on my wrist and by massaging my wrist while walking, the pain just simply disappeared. I could see some blood flowing from my left knee but there was no pain on it and I concluded that the blood was coming from the bites of the leeches. I was glad that my slip was not done on those narrow trail where one side is a deep ravine!

After I’ve recovered from the slip, other runners would pass me along the trail and I would gladly step aside from the trail when I notice that there are sounds of steps behind me. I know that these runners would give notice or inform whoever were the runners resting on the next Aid Station that I was already near the Aid Station. Such information from these faster runners would also be relayed or monitored by my support crew waiting for me. More or less, my support crew would know that I am fine and still active/moving along the trail.

I continued my power hike but I’ve noticed that headlight’s illumination was becoming weaker. I had to move at a faster pace to reach the Aid Station where my support crew was waiting and where my stock of new batteries are located. As I moved faster down the trail, I forgot to take some GU Gel and my body became weaker, too. I had to stop, took a sit on a strip of lumber on the side of the trail and ate one piece of Hopia and drank a little of Mountain Dew. I felt nauseated when I swallowed the Hopia but I did not panic. I had to take a deep breath and observed my feelings. When the nausea feeling disappeared, I took one GU Gel and one Imodium capsule for my stomach pain before I continued with my hike. Slowly but surely, the sound of the river became louder and the sounds of the vehicles passing along Camp 6 in Kennon Road were becoming louder and nearer!

Replacement Of Batteries & Inserting Packed Foods In My Backpack

Replacement Of Batteries & Inserting Packed Foods In My Backpack (More Blood Stains On My Left Knee Due To Leech Bites) Photo By Stephanie Hefti

I reached Camp 6 at 1:30 AM and asked for my stash of running kit placed inside a “tupperware” box from my support crew. I immediately changed the batteries of my Headlight. I also requested for a hot noodles and coke. While eating, I tried to clean the leeches’ bites with wet wipes and declined suggestions from the Race Marshals that the bites should be treated by their Medical Aide. I also asked for my packed foods (sliced Korean Pear + boiled small potatoes) and have them inserted inside my backpack. As I ate and rested, more runners would arrive at the Aid Station. After about 15-20 minutes of stay in the Aid Station, I was ready for the last steep uphill climb of the race route.

Eating My Hot Noodles With The Picture Of A Leech Bite

Eating My Hot Noodles With The Picture Of A Leech Bite (Photo By Stephanie Hefti)

To Be Continued…








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