Trail Running By GoPro

10 06 2014





Trail Running Tips

28 05 2014

This post was taken from the Runner’s World Magazine’s article from Coach Jenny’s (Jenny Hadfield) Training Tips.

If you are new to trail running, the following tips are very easy to follow and understand. The list is a good reference and guide for serious trail runners.

Good luck and have fun on the trails.

The following is the link to the said article:

http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/21-quick-trail-running-tips?cm_mmc=Facebook-_-RunnersWorld-_-Content-Training-_-TrailTips





If You Want To Join And Finish A Trail Ultra

21 05 2014

On the day of my 62nd birthday, US Navy Admiral (Four-Star General) William H. McRaven, Ninth Commander of the US Special Operations Command and a US Navy Seal, delivered a Commencement Speech to almost 8,000 graduating students of the University of Texas at Austin on May 17, 2014. He is an alumnus of the said University and a product of the school’s ROTC Program.

The following is the complete text of his Commencement Address to the Graduating Class of 2014. http://www.utexas.edu/news/2014/05/16/admiral-mcraven-commencement-speech/

Having been a product of military training and some special operations training with the Philippine Army, I fully appreciate what the Admiral had gone through in his US Navy Seal’s Training.

However, for the benefit of my readers, I would like to relate the ten (10) lessons that the good Admiral had learned from his US Navy Seal training to the sports that I dearly loved at the moment and that I would like to be shared and experienced by other runners, which is Ultra Trail Running.

1. If you want to join and finish a trail ultra, start off by “making your bed”. Start with the “basics” of trail running. Go to the nearest mountain ranges or hilly parts in your place or community and find a trail when you can walk, jog, or run. Try to observe how your body would react to the uphills, downhills, flatter portions of the trail, rocky portions, muddy parts, uneven level of the trail, and the presence of obstacles along your path. Start training for the shorter distance, say 5K of pure trails until you can easily progress to longer distances. In trail races, it is better to start with the shorter distance events and slowly progressing to longer events in matter of months or years, and not of weeks. If you are totally new in trail running, I suggest you have to put in a lot of time running on the trails, like one year, before you are ambitious enough to finish a trail marathon distance (42K). As one has to progress to longer distances, one has to be aware of one’s hydration and nutrition strategy in order to keep ones energy and strength to finish the race. Make sure that you invest on your trail running needs like shoes and hydration system. Ask for some advise from the “experts and masters” of ultra trail running through their blogs or personal meetings/conversations with them. These trail runners are very much willing to share such information to you.

2. If you want to join and finish a trail ultra, find someone to “help you paddle”. It is better to train in trail running with somebody who has the same interest with you. It is either a friend or a group of avid/passionate trail runners. If you are new in a mountain, try to locate the Barangay Hall or the Barangay Captain and tell him about your purpose in going to the mountain or community. You can ask for the services of a Trail Guide within the Barangay who knows the “ins and outs” of the trail systems within the mountain. The services of a Trail Guide is invaluable as it will give you exact and accurate information about water sources and other salient information about the locality/mountain trail system in the area. If you are very serious in trail running and you have the goal to excel in this kind of sports, you can get an exclusive Coach for you who will guide you in your training. Get a Coach who is reliable and friendly. Aside from your Coach, start developing friendly relationships with your future Pacer/s and Support Crew if you intend to join 50-miler or 100K and above trail ultras.

3. If you want to join and finish a trail ultra, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers. Not because you have the physical strength, well-built body, healthy and fool-proof training, you can have the assurance to finish an ultra trail race event. There are things and factors to consider like the reliability and effectiveness of your running equipment; the prevailing weather; accidents along the course; nutrition; injuries and problems with ones feet and hydration strategy. Most of the faster and consistent podium finishers in ultra trail races are smaller (in height and body composition) people. Just look around you in the Starting Line of Ultra Trail Events, most likely, the smaller guys are the ones who dash froward as if the race is a 5K or 10K road race. These guys are usually the persons who have the tenacity to endure pain and fatigue.

4. If you want to join and finish a trail ultra, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward. I call these hardened ultra trail runners as “Dugyots” (Dirty Runners) and they don’t care if their shoes are wet and muddy. They don’t care if they slip and fall on their butts or fall on their faces if they slip along the trails. They don’t care of their unprotected legs are scratched by sharp blades of grasses or tripped by thorny branches of bushes along the trail. They don’t care if their shirts and shorts or compression tights are ripped off by some accidents along the trail. What is more disturbing to these runners when they don’t really care if they are bitten by leeches in the jungle and just allow the blood to flow out of the bites of these leeches. I know of some runners who pee on their running shorts or tights while running and they don’t really care what and how they smell after the race. In trail running, the dirtier you look as you cross the finish line, the better for your picture!

5. If you want to join and finish a trail ultra, don’t be afraid of the circuses. “Circuses” are translated to “DNFs” in ultra trail races. Even the elite runners have their DNFs. So, why would you be afraid to experience your first DNF? Even if you are properly prepared and trained to a certain ultra trail event, “shit happens”. There are things and factors that one don’t have a control or manage to have these things from happening. If you think that your body could no longer tolerate the pain or any incurring “issue” within your body system and it would jeopardize you for finishing the race, you have to decide immediately for you to DNF the race. There is no shame in a DNF and don’t be affected by what the other runners and friends would say in contrary to your decision. It is your body that you have to preserve and you and only you who would have the responsibility to take care of your body, not by other runners or your running friends. Just remember to use the DNF as your “weapon” in your future races.

6. If you want to join and finish a trail ultra, sometime you have to slide down the obstacle head first. There are times that you have to take the “risk” in ultra trail race that you have trained for. It is either on your Race Strategy or on the skills that you have acquired and learned in your training for you to have an edge over your competitors. You know what your body is capable of when something or a challenge is in front of you, it could be a steep uphill climb, or a steep descending part of the course or a very technical trail where one has to be careful in every step, it could be a river/stream crossing, or some kind of rock climbing, or the need to rappel up or down to a mountain peak. However, don’t take the “risk” of joining and expecting to finish an ultra trail event if you don’t have the training/preparation, you’ll be wasting your money and time on this event. Do not take the “risk” also of introducing some thing “new” during the race, most especially on your equipment, nutrition, and apparel.

7. If you want to join and finish a trail ultra, don’t back down from the sharks. What is best in Ultra Running is the attitude of the runners. Runners would help one another in times when one is in need of food, water, or medical attention. But if everything is ideal and equal among runners, each one of the runners are competing with each other! Whether you like or not, you have “friends” or personalities whom you want to beat, pass, or finish faster than them. In your mind, these are your “sharks” in your races—they are your friends but at the same time your competitors! This is true also in Race Directing/Race Organizing. There are “sharks” going around you but if they become offensive to you, you must give them the “worst and hardest shock” of their lives!

8. If you want to join and finish a trail ultra, you must be your very best in the darkest moment. As they say, ultras are exercise of problem solving and adjustments. Pain, Fatigue, Loss of Appetite, and Dehydration are the most common “issues” to ones body in Ultra Running. But the worst “issue” is Hard-headedness! Each of these “issues” has solution and if you apply such solution, you will be at your Best once you comeback to the race. A brief rest or sleep (if you have enough “buffer” time) is the best solution to these “issues”.

9. If you want to join and finish a trail ultra, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud. As they say, it is the “brain” that takes over when the body is already weak. The fight to finish the race is within the confines of the space between your two ears. This is where your “running mantra” would come in and you should express loudly for you to hear it. Some would use their iPods and MP3s/headphones to hear music; some would “pep talk” themselves with phrases or mantra which are repeated endlessly; some would count their steps; some would pray loudly; some would sing loudly which would make them on a happy mood; or some would think of their inspiration. Hope and Think Positively!

10. If you want to join and finish a trail ultra, don’t ever, ever ring the bell. There is ONLY ONE BELL in my Ultra Races and I, being the Race Director, is the one holding it and the ONLY ONE that is authorized to ring it. At the Starting Line, when it rings, it tells you “Good Luck & Have Fun”. And once I see you approaching the Finish Line, I have to ring the bell that tells you, “Good Job and Congratulations”!

Good Luck and See You In Your Next Ultra Trail Race!

Bald Runner @ Mt Susongdalaga (Playground Charlie)

Bald Runner @ Mt Susongdalaga (Playground Charlie)





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…





Race Report: 2014 TNF 100K Trail Run (Part 1)

7 05 2014

Last Year’s DNF 100

I reached halfway of the course at AS5 with 30 minutes to spare before the cut-off time of 14 hours. After eating and resting, I continued the run but after hiking for about 2 kilometers, I declared myself as DNF due to knee pains and fatigue. The race was over for me and I needed some rests and tried to assess my running capabilities as I was about to reach the age of 61.

After one month of rest/recovery and some lackluster training, I tried to join a 100-mile trail run just to test myself how far I would go. I registered to the said race five months before the race and made the TNF 100 as part of my training/preparation. I failed again in this race due to heat exhaustion/fatigue; dehydration; and poor nutrition plan. I reached the halfway point of the race barely within the intermediate cut-off time. I was allowed to pass the Checkpoint and continue with the race but instead, I simply hiked up to the next checkpoint and I was the last runner on the course until I was finally declared DNFd at the next Checkpoint.

After one week of rest/no running, I entertained the idea of getting the services of a Ultra Running Coach. And I got one. After some exchanges of notes and messages, I was ready to start my training for the next year’s TNF 100 as he gave me a training program to start with. It was in the middle of June 2013 when I started a structured training plan which was 100% done on the trails.

Training

The training was based from my age, number of years of running, and previous running-related injury/injuries. Monday is my Rest Day and the rest of the days of the week were on trail running with at least, 500 meters of elevation gain/loss in every 10K distance (6 miles). I started to have a mileage of 80+kilometers for a week. And as I got stronger on the trails, I would reach up to 110-120 kilometers per week on my peak training program where I would reach to higher elevations and mountain peaks. I was made also to do some strengthening exercises for the leg muscles and core muscles which I do once or twice a week. Speed work on the trails was also done at least, once a week. In my long runs, I had to test the best nutrition that my body would respond. I tested for purely water in my training. I tested also for powdered mix preparation which could be diluted with water. I would also test for solid foods ingested during training. But what was critical was to test the use of Power Gels/GU Gels and how they give you the much-needed energy during training. I would also test my trails shoes comparing them as to their weight once they are damped with my sweat or being wet from submerging myself in creeks and streams. I would also test my shirts and shorts as to which one are prone to chafing on any part of my body.

For the training and preparation for this year’s TNF 100K Trail Run, my post, “The Hay Is In The Barn” explains everything to it, to include proper tapering before the race. Aside from reducing the number of mileage within two weeks before the race, I also put more time to sleep and rest on the last week before the event. I was averaging 9-10 hours of sleep, at least, 3 days before Race Day.

Race Day

On the early  morning of Saturday after I had my shower (2 hours before gun start), I ate a full meal of rice, noodles with pork (pandit canton), vegetables, chicken, and hard-boiled egg; had my hot coffee; and took some amount of water. After the meal, I made sure I rubbed a lot of Body Glide to my body parts which I expected to have some chafing. I took my time fixing my attire/running kit from head to foot. I made sure that my shoe laces are tight but  making the ride as comfortable as it can be. I decided to wear my La Sportiva Helios which had been my DNF shoes in my last year’s races because it is the lightest and the most responsive shoes on technical trails. My Patagonia Shorts are battle-tested in the CM42 & CM50 trail races. My white long-sleeved PAU Shirt by A Simple White Shirt had been with me in my long runs in my playground. Aside from the Buff Bandana on my neck, I have also a sweat bandana by Mountain Hardwear wrapped on my forehead which was covered by my TNF Running Cap. After having tried the Compressport Calf Sleeves in my training, I opted to use the Ultra Model for the race and I never had any cramps or signs of having some pains in my calves. They were also useful as “sweat traps” to prevent my socks and shoes from being wet and protection for leech bites on the forested sections of the route.

La Sportiva "Helios" Trail Shoes

La Sportiva “Helios” Trail Shoes

One and a half hours before the race start, I was already at the Starting Line for the Mandatory Gear Check. I was carrying a tightly packed UNIQLO Light Windbreaker Jacket inside the backpack of my Ultimate Direction’s Anton Krupicka Signature Series Hydration Vest with two bottles of Simple Hydration and seven packs of GU Gels stacked on the different small pockets of the hydration vest. I had also a thin plastic poncho which is packed tightly inside my backpack. I was carrying a Fenix handheld flashlight on my hand and a Black Diamond headlamp on my head. I got the whistle from my Salomon XT S-LAB Hydration Pack and have it tied to my UD Hydration Vest. After the race check-in, I returned to my vehicle and mentally reviewed my race and nutrition strategy. The Race Strategy was to arrive at the Intermediate Checkpoints with at least 2 hours as “buffer” time before the prescribed cut-off time and to pass as many runners along the way since I will be starting from the back of the pack. The nutrition strategy was to ingest one GEL every hour, alternating one flavor to another out of the five (5) flavors that I included in my pack. Eat solid foods and carry some food on Aid Stations where my support crew would be waiting. As I did in my training, two bottles of water would be enough for my hydration needs for at least 20 kilometers with an option to drink some more if there are sources of water along the route where I could refill.

Thirty minutes before gun start, I had to pee and took my first GU Gel. Composed and relaxed, I joined the rest of the runners and positioned myself at the back of the pack with the rest of the “usual suspects” in ultra marathon in the country.

The "Usual Suspects" In The Country's Ultra Trail Running

The “Usual Suspects” In The Country’s Ultra Trail Running

At The Back With Ultra Friends

At The Back With Ultra Friends

Race Proper @ Camp John Hay To AS #3 (Ampucao)

At exactly 3:00 AM, the race started and I slowly moved forward to cross the START/FINISH arc by walking. Once I reached the paved road of Camp John Hay, I started to jog. My jog slowly became a run until I started passing some runners who would start hiking on some ascending parts of the first kilometer of the route. My run became faster on the descending roads and maintained my pace on those uphill ones. I remember last year that I was hiking on the first 2-3 kilometers of the route with a pair of trekking poles. But for this year, I was not using any trekking poles. In all my training runs for this year’s TNF, I never used my trekking poles. I tried to use them in H1 last February without any training and it gave me some problems with my pace. I just followed one of the “basics” in ultra, never use anything that you did not use during your training.

@The Back Of The Pack

@The Back Of The Pack

While running on the paved roads in front of Baguio Country Club and parts of South Drive, I have already passed a lot of runners and after hitting the trails of Camp John Hay, the group of runners in front and behind me had thinned out already. I had already my own space on the trail and I would have the freedom to dictate what pace I would be doing. The headlights in front of me would be my guide to determine how fast I would be running. I just took it easy to run the uphills and the downhills until we reached a populated area but we were still within the vicinity of Camp John Hay. Last year, I was overtaken by the lead runners of the 50K race which started one hour after our start time but for now, there was no way that the lead runners of the 50K would overtake me along the trails of the Camp. After one hour, I was already on the downhill approach towards the mining community of Itogon.

I was surprised to find out from my Garmin that my Average Speed was 7-8 kilometers per hour. At daybreak, after 2 1/2 hours after start time, I was already approaching AS #2 and I have run a distance of 20 kilometers at this point.  I did not stop at AS #2 and kept on running on the easy flat and ascending parts towards the mining companies in the area. After passing a Gate/Guard Outpost of a Mining Company, the route started to ascend and I tried to run slowly until I passed more runners who were hiking. As we left the Mining Company perimeter, it was the start of the first never-ending steep ascent towards Barangay Ampucao. More runners would step aside from the trail as I passed them. I had a refill of water for my bottles when one of the marshals told us that the flowing water coming out of the water pipe is potable and clean. After some uphill and downhill, I was already near the Ampucao Aid Station. I reached AS #3 (Ampucao) at 7:30 AM, 4:30 hours after Start and I was happy and surprised. I had 3 1/2 hours as “buffer” before the cut-off time and I was 2 hours faster than my last year’s arrival time in this place!

Sharing Happy Moments With The Younger & Faster Runners

Sharing Happy Moments With The Younger & Faster Runners @ Ampucao

AS #3 To AS #4 (Ampucao To Alang)

I immediately made a refill of water to my hydration bottles at the Aid Station and tried to glance what were the foods available. I saw some boiled bananas and boiled camotes and I did not attempt to pick up any of them. Instead, I approached my support crew and gave me hot noodle soup which I requested with two slices of fried Spam. I took my time to eat some solid foods after ingesting at least 3 GU Gels of different flavors for the past four hours in the race. After almost 30 minutes, I was done with my rest, eating, and hydrating myself with colder water. I was back on the road at 8:00 AM with a target time to reach Barangay Alang at 11:00 AM. Last year, I left Ampucao at 10:00 AM.

Ampucao to the “Mossy Forest” is mostly an uphill part of the course. The trail was too narrow and there are portions where there are too many rocks on the trail. I went up fast enough as I was confident with my training. I would slowly jogged on the flat portions and downhill sections of the course. Some trails are also enough for the cow’s feet to move within the place as this place is used as a ranch for cattles. This is also the part of the course with a breath-taking views of the Philex Mines, Baguio City, parts of Eastern Pangasinan and the San Manuel Hydro-Electric Dam, and the Mount Santo Tomas-Cabuyao mountain ranges, which is the other half of the race course! I did not have much time to stop and look around the views all around the place as I was focused to the very narrow and technical trail in front of me. I’ve been in this place for two times in my recon runs last year and it was enough to glance on spots where I would laugh and remember what my running friends had experienced in this place.

Before entering the “Mossy Forest”, I knew I had enough “buffer” time. It is a proof that my training is paying off and I was excited that my body was still strong. I had to overtake some more runners and sometimes allow the faster runners to pass me. And looking at the faces of those who would overtake, I am just happy that they look like they are half of my age! At this point, I was 2 hours ahead as compared with my time last year.

I purposely power hiked once I entered the “Mossy Forest” in order to take time for my body to rest after the uphill climb. I started to eat a sliced Korean Pear which I took from my support crew at the Ampucao Aid Station. The sliced Korean Pear was placed in a plastic bag and soaked in some ice. Eating such cold, juicy and sweet Korean pear was heaven in my mouth! Eating this fruit after ingesting one GU Gel is something that I would recommend as a good nutrition to ultra runners! I would jogged on the wider parts of the trail in the mossy forest which are mostly downhill. There are steep portions where one has to be extra careful on ones footing on the ground. There are also two portions where a runner has to rappel with a rope to go down from a higher to a lower ground. I could remember also that once there will be some uphill climb after the rappelling sections and pass by a “house with a water hose”, it is a sign that in a few minutes, I will be reaching AS #4 in Barangay Alang.

A lady race marshal was waiting at the “hut with a water hose” and she told me that the Aid Station with food and drinks is very near. I asked the Lady Marshal of my ranking and she told me that I was #91. It gave me a boost to slowly jog and try my best to reach the Aid Station within the targeted time—11:00 AM. After a few minutes, I was out of the forest and I could see the Aid Station with runners eating, drinking and refilling their hydration systems. The Medical Personnel asked me if I need some massage on my legs and I said, No, it would be enough that I would just sit and have a taste of the food prepared at the race. I was disappointed to eat a rotten ripe banana (lakatan). I think I had to get another one and peeled it with the same result. Instead, I took two small packs of Chocolate Drinks (Chuckie) and consumed the drinks! I made sure also to drink a lot of water in the Aid Station and made a refill to my bottles in order to anticipate the hot temperature as I go down to Kennon Road (AS #5). I still have some solid food in my pack which I would eat as soon as I would leave the place. In about 15 minutes, I was already back on the race and I was ready to face my “waterloo” in my last year’s race—the 12K downhill run from Barangay Alang to Bridal Veil, Camp #1, Kennon Road which is popularly known by the locals as “Ligay” (Wheel).

AS #4 To AS #5 (Alang To Bridal Veil Falls)

After jogging for about one kilometer, I brought out the food which was handed to me at the Ampucao Aid Station by my Support Crew—boiled sweet corn! I had to eat the corn from the cob as I walked on the slight uphill climbs of the course. It was too convenient for me to bite a part of the corn from the cob and then chew the corn in my mouth while running downhill. I practiced this kind of eating some corn from the cob while running during my training. It takes some time to chew the corn but with a small amount of water sipped into the mouth, the corn could be easily ingested. After a few minutes, I was able to eat one piece of corn on a cob and jogging downhill was just so easy for me.

At the middle of the 12K route, there is a convenience store where I would see some runners starting to leave the place once they see me approaching the place. I guess, they are making me as their “reference point” that they need to hurry up or else they will get passed by a Senior Citizen. I decided to buy two bottles of Coke (they were not cold) for my personal consumption in this convenience store. After a few seconds, I noticed a younger, tall and dark runner who ordered one bottle of coke and I said to the lady owner of the store that she would deduct the payment from the change of my money. The young runner was surprised to know that I paid for his drinks and he thanked me. I asked him if he is a local runner (Ilocano) or a runner from the South in Tagalog dialect. He told me that he came from Indonesia to join this event. We started a conversation until we left the store and started running. He was behind me for a few minutes and only to find out later that he completely disappeared  from my sight. I guess, I was really faster this time in downhill running as compared in my last year’s experience. I would meet some locals in the area and race marshals preparing for their food/lunch and telling me that the next Aid Station is very near. I would say “Thank You” to them but I usually look at the horizon and the nearby mountains and compare where I am for me to gauge and estimate my elevation. As I can see that I am lower than the ridges of the nearby mountains, I can conclude that I am really getting nearer to the next Aid Station which is the Bridal Veil Falls at Camp #1 in Kennon Road.

Classic "Happy Face Of A Strong Runner" Look Near AS #5

Classic “Happy Face Of A Strong Runner” Look Near AS #5

Some of the younger runners would overtake me but I maintained what I’ve trained for in downhill running which is appropriate and adjusted to my age and personal capabilities. I knew I was doing good in the race as compared to my past experience last year. I just needed some patience, focused concentration, and positive attitude for me to reach the halfway point without any problems, “issues” or injuries. I had to hydrate some more as the sun’s heat was already at its highest. As I glanced to my watch, I was surprised to see that it was 1:20 PM and I was almost one kilometer away to the Aid Station! I reached the Aid Station at 1:30 PM with 3 1/2 hours as “buffer” before the cut-off time. It is insane to think that I improved 3 hours faster time than in last year’s race!

To Be Continued….





“The Hay Is In The Barn”

1 05 2014

This is the statement that my Coach would send me after putting all the miles in my training program in preparation for the 2014 The North Face 100-Kilometer Trail Run which will be held this weekend. Since it was a new statement to me and have some varied personal interpretations about it, I would “google” it in order to find out what my Coach would like to tell me. And I was satisfied of the things that I would read on the Internet explaining what the statement is all about.

Basically, farmers (in countries with winter season) would put and store bundles of hay inside their barn in preparation for the winter to come so that their livestocks (cattles/horses) would have enough food when snow covers their farm. In the Philippines, our farmers don’t have barns or livestock covered structures where they could store rice straws/hay as food for their horses, cows and carabaos (water buffalos). Our farmers would simply bundle them and stack them on top of the other to form a pointed cone in the middle of their farm. But the intention is the same, for the livestock to have a reserve food during the dry season which sometimes result to drought.

"Hay In The Barn" Philippine Style

“Hay In The Barn” Philippines’ Style (Photo By Google)

In running. which is the same with the other endurance sports, the statement would mean that one has to appreciate the past months that one had prepared for the event and it is time to reduce the volume and intensity of training before Race Day. It simply means that one has to taper in final preparation for the Big Event, the end-goal of ones months of training. Putting more miles and more intensity to ones training at this point would no longer have an effect for a better performance during the event. If one is hard-headed not to observe the taper period, he/she is likely to be overtrained or not fully recovered and fresh a few days before Race Day.

My failure to finish in last year’s TNF Phil 100 was the reason why I would concentrate on mountain trail running. For the past 10 months, I’ve been almost running on the trails in my playground 5-6 days a week! Following a structured training program for trail running which is tailored to my age and history of my  running-related injuries, I would log in at least 240-260 miles (380-420 kilometers) every month with some speed training/tempo running on the trail once a week and a rest day on Mondays. This is where I would test my nutrition, apparel, shoes and running techniques.

My training program paid off as a result of my satisfactory finishes at the Clark-Miyamit 42K Trail Run and Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run last year. Last December, I finished only 110 Kilometers in the Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Run due to nutrition problems and in February of this year, I was able to reach Kilometer #60 in the H1 100-Mile Trail Run after being lost along the route and spent a lot of my energy trying to catch-up with the rest of the runners. These DNFs had also contributed in my mileage in preparation for the next events to come.

For the past two months, March and April, I was consistent with my training which involved more hiking and running to higher elevations except for at least two weeks where I would reduce my mileage and do more some stationary cycling inside the house. It was also in these two weeks that I had to see my orthopedic doctor for some tests and rehabilitation for my injured knee in the past. These two weeks gave me the much-needed rest and recovery to be stronger in my runs and hikes to higher elevations and peaks within the vicinity of my playground for the rest of my training period.

Two weeks before this weekend’s TNF 100, I have tapered my training and I am ready for the challenge stored for me to this yearly event. I don’t have any specific goal for this event but as I usually predict in my CM Trail Races, I would target again to be among the upper 50% of the Finishers. If there will be 200 Finishers in this year’s TNF 100, I wish that I would land among the top 100 runners.

Wish me luck!

 





Why I Love Trail Running

28 04 2014

Tell me a place within Metro Manila where you have a dirt path/road where you can do some trail running. I guess, there is none. That is the problem when our urban planners do not value the need of a place within the city where we can enjoy the environment of the outdoors. I know of some golf courses in the city but you can rarely see trails inside these golf courses and most of them are restricted from pedestrians.

There are places within reach in Metro Manila for about 30-minute drive from the main populated areas but you can not still escape the dirty surroundings of garbage and poor quality of air due to industrial plants’ and vehicles’ fumes. One has to travel at least 1-2 hours away from Metro Manila in order to reach the mountains of Tanay, Tagaytay, Laguna and Cavite. If you have determined a specific trail/s on these places, you can enjoy the outdoors and have a pure experience on trail running away from the populace and the traffic of vehicles.

For the past 10 months, I have permanently shifted to trail running and I had been in the mountains of Fort Magsaysay, Subic, Bataan and Pampanga. These are the following reasons why I love trail running:

1. The Best Air Quality For The Body-–One has to breath a lot of air/oxygen when you are in the trail, whether you are hiking or running. But there is no need to worry as the air you are breathing are pure and unadulterated. The plants and trees all around you will be happy to have your carbon dioxide that you breath out from your lungs! Sometimes, cold winds from the mountains and the sea would hit your body and the feeling is something that is invigorating! Our lungs would be happy to have fresh air to our body. Being away from the populated areas and busy highways/streets, you have a bigger chances of breathing better quality of air. The more you run in the mountains, you have better air to breath. And once you reach the forest, the air is cooler and you have the best air quality in the area. Sometimes, there are places where it is hot and humid but simply hydrating oneself regularly would solve the problem. There are also creeks and streams where you one can douse cold water to your hot body.

2. Strengthens Joints Up To The Smallest Muscles, Cartilages, and Tendons—Due to the varied condition of the ground, our feet would land to the ground in different and varied positions and this condition would have a “domino effect” on how our muscles, joints, tendons and cartilages would react on how we run. Instead of being “on the zone” when you are in a road running event, your body is always on alert on the varied conditions of the terrain where you are running. I have observed that my feet and the muscles of my legs had become stronger and I no longer experience any cramps on my calves. Surprisingly, my problem with my right achilles tendonitis just disappeared. As for my knees, I would be able to manage the pain better if I run on the trails because of the softer feeling as my feet would strike the ground.

3. Exercise For The Brain For Quick Decisions—Trail Running makes you aware on what to expect on the 3-10 meters in front of you. Due to the variation of elevation and contour of the trail, whether it is ascending or descending, your thinking process is very active. You have to make quick decisions on how you manage the uphills and downhills depending on your capability. If there are rocks or debris (branches; twigs; and leaves on the ground), one should be quick to decide if you have to jump over or just simply step on them. In crossing rivers, creeks, and streams, one has to quickly see and determine the exposed rocks where one could land ones feet in order to keep ones shoes from being wet. I’ve seen a lot of runners who slipped on muddy trails or tripped on dry trails due to poor or lack of decision.

4. Commune With Nature—If you are running the whole trail course, this reason is a flimsy one as you don’t have the time to appreciate your environment. You don’t have time to look around as your concentration and focus will be the trail in front of you. However, it is suggested that you should rest and sit for awhile on a vantage position where one can observe the surroundings. A camera from ones phone would be appropriate to record and journalize the things that you want to capture as a remembrance on the trail that you have been. Appreciate the surrounding mountains, hills, trees, grasses, and the birds in the area. Take time to breath the air as one would rest within the trail route. One should avoid picking edible fruits along the way; picking some flowers; or bringing home some orchids or ornamental plants from the mountains. It’s enough that one should clean the trails from grasses; thorny vines; and branches of plants. At all costs, we have to preserve the environment if we really dedicated to commune with nature.

5. Gain More Information—With the aid of my Garmin Watch, I would be able to pinpoint and establish prominent features in order to establish kilometer markers along the way. By talking to persons I meet along the trail, I would be able to know the name of the place; what direction the trail would lead me or find out where I can get water resupply from the creeks and streams within the area. It is automatic for me to greet the persons I meet along the trail and tell them what I am doing in the area and where I came from. Don’t let the people within the area come up with some suspicion about your intention in the area, it is much better if you talk to them and hear your purpose in the area. If you drop by a hut/house in the area for your water resupply, find time to talk to the owner or anybody staying in the place. There is a big chance that you will be dropping by that place again in the future.

6. Immersion With The Mountain People-–For many instances, I have requested the mountain people/Aetas to act as guide/s in my trail running adventures. I have known how they live in the mountains and how they earn a living. These Aetas were resettled in the area as a result of the eruption of Mt Pinatubo and most of them  came from Zambales. Through my immersion with them for those long hours that I would hike on the mountain trails, I was able to find out how they clean some patches of forested areas in the mountains where they can plant bananas, root crops and vegetables. They cut trees and make them as charcoal in the deep forested areas and carry them in sacks for them to be delivered in their respective resettlement areas where merchants would buy and bring these sacks of charcoal on trucks or vehicles. They would also hunt for wild pigs, monkeys, big lizards (bayawak), wild chicken, and bats for their meat. And during summer, they would look for beehives and gather raw honey from them. And worse, they are free to cut any trees in the forest (without any permit from the local DENR) in the guise that the said lumber will be used to construct or repair of their huts/house in the resettlement areas. How I wish the local government would have the time to immerse themselves with these mountain people for them to know what is happening to the environment and our natural resources. I doubt if these mountain people have any activity to reforest or bring back the vegetation in the mountains. (Note: It had been my habit to bring packs of cigarettes and/or cans of sardines to be given to my friends in the mountains during my regular training runs)

7. Explore The Unknown-–Since I don’t carry any compass, GPS, or map, I just try to look at the horizon and ask my training partner to reach a certain feature on the ground or follow a trailhead and see for ourselves where the trail would lead us. If we are running in our usual trail loop/route and if we see an intersection, we had to explore where the new trail would lead us. This is where we would be surprised to see a more unique and better environment and sights to be seen as offered by the natural resources in the mountains. This is how we discovered our water resupply points and places where we could spend some rest and take our lunch. What surprised me most is the presence of gates and fences in the mountains. It means that somebody has already acquired such area bounded by the fences as a personal property. I wonder how could that be when these mountains are considered as Natural/National Parks.

8. Share One’s Experience To Others—Definitely, the end purpose of these trail running is to come up with a trail running course/route for a trail running event for everybody to experience. It would be best that my trail running events will not be sponsored by corporate brands and I want my events to be exclusively for those who trained and prepared for the event. I really don’t care if I have only four or three runner-participants in these events. The lesser number of participants, the better for the trails and the mountains. I would envision also that the populace within the route would also earn a living out of these events as they provide fresh produce from their orchard to the runners or act as guides/marshals in key intersections in the trail route. If I am training for a particular ultra trail event, I usually share my experiences and the sights I’ve been into in this blog or through Facebook through pictures and stories.

9. Faster Recovery-–This is the most kept secret among trail runners! Whether it is a 2-hour trail run or 12-hour trail hike, I could recover easily after a day or 24 hours! All I need is to stretch properly after the run; hydrate and replenish the fluids that I lost during the workout; take a shower; eat my dinner, and then sleep at least 8 hours. Sometimes, a massage before going to bed contributes to a faster recover but I seldom have that for the past two months of my training. With my age, if I do a 2-hour run on the road, it would take me another 48 hours to recover before I could run again.

10. Specificity Of Training—Obviously, if one is preparing for a trail running event, he/she  has to spend more time running in the trails. If you are preparing for a trail ultra, you have to do your training on the trail that has almost the same elevation profile with the race you are going to participate (and have registered). Since I’ve shifted my running races to ultra trail running, I had chosen to spend most of my training in the mountain trails.

My Snappy Salute To All Mountain Trail Runners!

My Snappy Salute To All Mountain Trail Runners!

Pictures: https://www.facebook.com/baldrunner/media_set?set=a.10203168797314451.1073741953.1043179758&type=1





Downhill Running

24 04 2014

For an old runner like me and had a history of running-related injury on my knees, I need to be extra careful and very deliberate on my steps when I am faced with a steep downhill part of the course. This contributed much in my ability to run slower in my races. How I wish I would turn back the clock when I did not have any fear and took advantage of those downhill parts of the course to gain more speed and regain the time that I have lost in the ascending parts of the route.

Easy Pace In Downhill Running

Easy Pace In Downhill Running

I could see my elite trail runners and training partners to be “flying” on the air and spreading their gait to the maximum in order to gain more distance in every step they make on the downhill. I could see that they just simply “float”; bend their upper body forward; swing their hands farther and stretch their legs with a wider stance as their feet barely touch the ground.  Only young and fast runners could do this kind of running downhill.

Easy On The Old Knees

Easy On The Old Knees

Downhill running was my “weakness” and one of the main reasons why I did not finish in last year’s TNF 100-Kilometer Trail Run. Aside from the knee injury I had which was not yet fully healed prior to the race, I was surprised to be running within the part of the course which I was not able to recon or practice on it. The  11-12 kilometer distance of the Barangay Alang part of the course is a steep road consisting of paved/cemented road and hard dirt road. The steepness of the road gave some pain on my knees that I was forced to simply hike/walk throughout the distance. Coupled with the heat of the sun that went directly hitting the runners, I was sweating profusely and I was on the verge of being dehydrated. Simply put, this part of the course just simply put the “nails to my coffin”, so to speak, in order for me to be over exhausted and weak. Even if I was able to refuel, rest and re-hydrate myself at the Aid Station on the halfway mark of the course, I was able to spend so much of my time and I was already thinking of ending the race.

2013 TNF 100 Picture @ Barangay Alang Route

2013 TNF 100 Picture @ Barangay Alang Route

I tried to continue the race but after hiking for 500 meters, my knees and quads were not cooperating. It was time to preserve the weak body and prepare to recover as I decided to DNF in the race.

Running Form Will Do The Trick!

Running Form Will Do The Trick!

Aside from training for the downhill running along the trails for the past 11 months, I made sure to have a taste of running downhill on a cemented road in my playground, just like the road at Barangay Alang. Eleven months ago when I started training for my ultra trail runs, I discovered this place which is a part of my Playground “Bravo” 50K Trail Run course and I promised myself to train for hill repeats in this place in order for me to be properly prepared for the Alang portion of the TNF 100 course.

I was able to come up with a running technique on this steep cemented road which is appropriate for my old knees. I just have to shorten my strides, bend my legs from the knees, come up with a faster leg turn-over, bend my upper body slightly forward, swing my arms with a faster tempo, relax my shoulders, maintain a midfoot strike on the ground and make sure my eyes are focused at least 3-5 meters on the ground in front of me. I can not suggest this technique to the other runners as this is what I had experimented for my style of running. I was able to manage the pain on my knees and preserve them by following on this technique.

Hopefully, I would be able to reach the halfway point of the TNF 100 Race course without any issues or problems. If I reach the halfway point with some time to spare, I know I would be able to finish the race.

Wish me luck!





Mt Kalbo

22 04 2014

“Kalbo” means Bald.

Three years ago on my first trek to the peak of Mt Natib, the highest mountain in the Bataan Natural Park, I noticed a mountain peak without any trees or vegetation on it as seen on the right side from the trail going to a place called “Binutas”. The “peak” is located on a nearby mountain ridge and it is very noticeable because of its bare appearance.

Rounded Peak Of Mt Kalbo

Rounded Peak Of Mt Kalbo

Due to curiosity, I asked the guide if the peak has a name or something that would identify it among the local people in the area. The guide said that the mountain popularly known in the area as “Mount Kalbo”! I laughed and asked from the guide if he is really serious, and he said, “Yes”. The mountain peak is really called “Mount Kalbo” among the locals living in the area and I thought that someday I would be able to peakbag the said mountain.

After two years, I was able to trace a trail from my Playground to the peak of Mt Natib. But the trail is very challenging that it took us some time to really re-trace the trail which is being used by the hunters in the area. I brought some of my running friends to join me in trying to connect the trail from where I stopped with my training partner up to the place called “Binutas”. Due to the lack of time, we decided to turn-around and returned to where we started. It was a good 30K trail blazing experience among friends.

Finally, after starting very early in the morning, my training partner, Danin and I were able to reach “Binutas” after coming from the North side trail approach to Mt Natib, which means that we came from the Subic/SBMA area. It was a 40K total of “out and back” course and we came to know that we only had to trek for about 5 kilometers from the point we turned around with my running friends. On our first successful attempt, we had to deal with tall grasses; vines, and plants with thorns on those rarely-used trail.

To my surprise, on the last 1.5 kilometers before reaching the place called “Binutas”, we could see the peak of Mt Kalbo which is situated on the right side of the trail. I think my training partner and I would pass the foot of the peak for about 5-6 times already on our regular training runs to “Binutas” and Mt Natib since we discovered that Mt Kalbo was within our reach.

Playground BRAVO 50K Trail Run Participants

Playground BRAVO 50K Trail Run Participants

@ "Binutas", Near Mt Natib During The Playground BRAVO Race

@ “Binutas”, Near Mt Natib During The Playground BRAVO Race

Two weeks ago, four (4) brave trail runners attempted to run the North Trail Course to Mt Natib in a trail race dubbed as “Playground BRAVO 50K Trail Run” which is actually a 51-Kilometer “out and back” course and only three (3) runners finished the course. Although they experienced the usual sharp blades of grasses, thorny vines and plants; and leaf-covered vines on the ground that traps ones feet, these runners were able to pass the tests of this trail with flying colors, not to mention the brutal elevation and the heat within the area.

In my desire to clean the trail from these grasses, vines, and thorny plants, I brought two of my men with their bolos and foods/drinks to once and for all clean the trail for easier running and trekking.

Cleaning Of The Trails

Cleaning Of The Trails

After one hour of cleaning the trail within the vicinity of the foot of Mt Kalbo, I finally decided to instruct my men that we have to “peakbag” it and trace whatever trail that can be seen towards its peak. From the trail where we were cleaning, everything was an assault towards the pointed part of the mountain.

More Cleaning In The Forest

More Cleaning In The Forest

We had to slowly put our foot one after the other as we go up the peak and hold whatever plant or growth as we pulled our bodies upward. It was a very slow and deliberate pace as we got higher in elevation. After about 350 meters of steep inclined approach, it leveled up and I started to see a lot of rocks surrounding the last assault to the peak. More rocks can be seen on the last 50 meters towards the peak of the mountain.

The Assault Trail To The Peak

The Assault Trail To The Peak

The Final Approach To The Peak

The Final Approach To The Peak

Finally, we were able to “peakbag” Mt Kalbo! It appears that the reason why there is no thick vegetation or trees on the peak is because of the presence of a lot of rocks. Only the cogon grasses thrive on the peak and it gives a semblance of its appearance as a bald mountain, most especially when the cogon grasses start to turn to brown and dried during summer.

Finally, A Pose At The Peak With Mt Natib In The Background

Finally, A Pose At The Peak With Mt Natib In The Background

More rocks can be seen on the flat portion of the peak but I have observed that the same vegetation that can be seen at the peak of Mt Natib is the same with that of Mt Kalbo. There are wild plants; cogon grasses; and orchids that can be seen at the peak.

There is a trace that an industrial drill had been used to bore a hole from the peak of the mountain and it has a cement marker that is almost disintegrating due to the elements. There is also a wooden pole which drilled to the ground that we could hardly pull from the ground. I guess, the wooden pole was placed beside the cement marker where one can place a flag or a cloth marker on top of the peak.

Cleaning The Peak & Exposing The Rocks

Cleaning The Peak & Exposing The Rocks

After some photo-ops, I instructed my men to clean the peak of the mountain and cut those tall grasses in order to expose the rocks on top of the peak. How I wish these rocks will not be vandalized by people who will be visiting this place.

Rocks At The Peak Of Mt Kalbo

Rocks At The Peak Of Mt Kalbo

My Men & Training Partners

My Men & Training Partners

Many thoughts and ideas came into my mind as I inspected every inch and foot on top of the peak of Mt Kalbo. I guess, Mt Kalbo Trail Run is coming soon as a challenge to trail runners.

After about 45 minutes at the peak, we decided to go back to the place where we started. It was a good 12 hours in the mountain and we finally reached our place at 9:45 PM.

My Garmin Watch registered an elevation of 930 meters at the peak. The whole 40K course also registered an Elevation Gain/Loss of 7,000 feet.

It was a good 40K “out and back” distance for the day! We officially “peakbagged” Mt Kalbo. And I am officially inviting bald trail runners/mountaineers to visit the place and I am also declaring it as the Official Mountain of the Baldies!

 








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