Race Report: 2015 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Ultra Trail Run (CM50)

25 11 2015

There are three (3) important things or information that I would like to report on this challenging ultra trail run here in the Philippines: First, I finished this race with a faster time as compared to my last year’s performance; Second, This is my third consecutive finish and I am on my way of getting the most coveted Baddest Ass Award for this event with two more editions to finish; and Third, I am still the Defending Oldest Finisher for three consecutive years for this Event.

Even if there is no specific award for the Oldest Finisher for this race, I am sure that I will be the First Senior Citizen to have coveted the Baddest Badass Award before the end of 2017. And maybe, it will mark my “retirement” from ultra trail running. Just maybe!

As compared to my last year’s five-month training preparation, I have a shorter training period for this year which are mostly done on the road, oval track, and hiking in the mountains on the first month of my 4-month training period. However, on the last six weeks/peak period, almost all my training long runs were done on the road, specifically on the road races that I have Race Directed since the middle of September. My Mt Batolusong 25K Trail Run participation was a test to validate my new nutrition strategy and narrow down the things that I need in a hot environment. However, I had more time to work on on my core and to rest/sleep as recovery for my running on the pavement.

Last year’s Race Report on my second time finish on this event was very detailed and it was divided into four (4) parts and I believe that this is now considered as the number one resource or reference material for those “newbies”/”first-timers” for the CM50-Mile Event. I will not go through to the detailed description of the course and the usual “section-by-section” narrative of my experience on this Race Report but rather state or tell those significant things that made me faster and more efficient in my finish this time. The following are the things that I’ve considered and applied during the race:

  1. Simplicity and Being Light—One week before the race, I’ve decided to use my two-year old New Balance MT  Minimus 1010v2 Trail Shoes which is very light (240 grams per shoe) and it proved to be the best shoes for this kind of trail running. Believe me, there was no grain of lahar that penetrated its upper mesh and therefore, its lightness did not change throughout the race. I did not use any Hydration Vest but I’ve used three (3) Simple Hydration Bottles with only one bottle filled with my nutrient mix (Carbo Pro) diluted with water; one bottle of Carbo Pro Powder only; and one empty bottle as my previsionary “Water Cup”. It was only from the AS4 to the Peak that the three (3) Simple Hydration Bottles were filled with Carbo Pro Mix and Water. On my way back to the Finish Line from AS3, I have one bottle filled with Carbo Pro mixed with water and one bottle filled with Water Only. Stashed in my UD Waist Belt Pockets are two (2) Clif Meal Bars & Whistle. I was not wearing a pair of Calf Sleeves.
  2. Familiarity of the Route—One month before Race Day, I went up to the “peak” and Miyamit Falls for a training run. It was on this run that I was able to “program” and plan for my hydration and nutrition requirements. I was able to register also my Average Pace on this part of the course in order for me to determine the “timeline” on each part of the course (from Km #24 to Km #56). I found out that I must be able to leave AS3 on my way to the Finish Line not later than 2:00 PM (13 hours elapsed time) so that I have enough “buffer time” before the cut-off time of 18 hours.
  3. Simple/Light Nutrition—-Eating a Full Meal (Rice & Meat “Adobo”/Beef Steak) before the Start of the Race (30 minutes before) with hydration (water + Carbo Pro), proved that I could last for the first 3 hours without any hydration or food intake. I took two (2) packs of Clif Bloks and One Meal Bar for the whole duration of the race. I would place a Coffee Candy in my mouth regularly in order to maintain a little sugar to my saliva. In every Aid Station, I would drink a lot of water and Coke/Sprite and ingest a number of watermelon bites. I never used the two (2) Sports Gels stashed in my gloves during the race. I did not have any Drop Bags, instead, I used a “FlipBelt” where I stashed my CarboPro Powder Mix and Clif Bloks.
  4. Heat Training & Hydration Strategy Training—One month before the Race Day, I’ve conditioned myself to start drinking my water after running 10 miles (16 kilometres) under the heat of the sun. Yes, I would carry a lot of water on my vest and waist during my training runs but I would finish my workout with only one-third being consumed. I suspect that my practice of ingesting Succeed Salt Capsules (it started last August this year) during my training runs had helped conditioned my body to take in a limited amount of water even if I was sweating profusely without having a “bonking” feeling/situation.
  5. Focused On Moving Forward—I did not spend a lot of time staying on the Checkpoints and Aid Stations. I guess, two minutes of stay was my longest and it could be when I asked one of my running friends to take a picture of me at the “Turn-around” Point at Km #40 and another picture taking at the Miyamit Falls’ Checkpoint. The rest of my brief stops in the Aid Stations were purely on refilling my hydration bottles and mixing my nutrition powder. Instead of stopping in sari-sari stores for ice cold sodas along the populated areas, I opted to take a “quick shower” in a place where the locals were washing their clothes and it made my core and body to be more relaxed.

There are also things that made me slow down during the run. First, I’ve experienced “muscle cramps” on the groin area of my legs along the section AS4 to the Peak that I needed to slow down and hiked on this section. I expected this to happen as I knew I lacked the necessary total elevation gain in my training. This experience never happened in my previous two editions. Second, The heat of the sun slowed me down on the section from the Miyamit Falls to AS4 that I spent almost one hour for a section that is ONE MILE long, instead of power hiking it for about 25 minutes during my recon run. And of course, I carried all my gear down to the Falls from AS4 and back. From AS4 to AS3, I “power hiked” alone on the trail and started running downhill when another runner from behind was trying to pass me.

Looking at my Suunto GPS Watch once I arrived at AS3, I began to be in a “panic” mode knowing that I was registering an Average Pace of 3.0 miles per hour. I knew that it will take me five (5) hours to reach the Finish Line from this point. So, I started to run, jog and power hike until I was able to pass runners who were either lost, simply walking, resting on the side of the trail, or those who would stop in each of the Aid Stations or Convenience Stores along the way.

Finally, I finished the race with a time of 16:43:58 hours, faster than the time I had last year (17:50+), with a ranking of #87 among the 132 finishers within the cut-off time of 18 hours. I am still the Oldest Finisher of this race and I have the intention of defending this title for the next two years. Hopefully, I will get the most coveted Baddest Ass Award of this Event.

Crossing The Finish Line

Crossing The Finish Line With RD Jonnifer Lacanlale

Congratulations To All The Finishers and Thanks to RD Jonnifer Lacanlale and his staff/marshals/volunteers for a successful event.

The training for the next year’s edition will start next week. Keep on running!


Key Lessons On Ultrarunning From Ann Trason

2 10 2015

If you don’t know Ann Trason, then you are not an Ultrarunner. Before you type her name on Google, I would like to briefly mention that she was the Lady Champion of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run for 14 times after failing to finish the race on her first two attempts. She has also broken twenty (20) World Records On Ultrarunning during her career.

She is now a Running Coach of a Middle School in Berkeley, California; coach for a High School Track Team; a Race Director; and an On Line Ultrarunning Coach. She is also a columnist/writer for the Ultrarunning Magazine where this post was taken/copied. The following is the complete copy of the “Ask Ann” Column in the said magazine.

Ann Trason

Ann Trason

Dear Ann,
Now that you’re a coach, are there some, key lessons you pass down from your own coaches?

Dear Michael,

I have always loved being a student of the sport—reading, asking questions, trying new things and learning what worked for me. I have been fortunate to have had several coaches who helped fill in gaps in the complex puzzle we call ultrarunning. Your question gets me thinking about the one who did the most to make me the runner and coach I am. Here are 17 lessons I learned from my favorite coach.

Consistency My coach made sure I would get out and do something every day, every week, every month, year after year. Sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little, occasionally fast, often very slow. Consistent training yields consistent racing.

Smile Happiness is infectious. She taught me that no matter how tough the day, there is always something to smile about. How can I mope about something going wrong when it makes such a great story to tell my friends?!

Passion I learned that a good coach must be as passionate as her runner. She made it obvious that she shared my passion for running.

Adaptability I always admired her instinctive ability to accept and instantly adapt as situations changed. We all have that ability buried inside us. I’ve worked hard to let it out.

Running is play, not work I have no idea how many miles I’ve run in my career. I can thank my coach for that. She viewed running as a chance to play. For her, there was no focus on checking the pace, tracking the miles, counting the hills. A good run was being out there having fun.

Positive attitude My coach never scolded me, never barked orders. She did give me a sly look occasionally when I did something wrong, but it was always to encourage me to do something better.

Relax let yourself run free. My coach had a naturally beautiful running form. Just watching her glide along, no tension, no unnecessary motion, made me a better runner.

Keep it simple My coach was always about simplicity. She was not into fancy gear. It was simple running.

Don’t overthink things She taught me to never overthink my running.

A steady trot is the fastest way to cover ground I’ve never been the fastest runner, nor the most talented. My coach helped me learn to run steady, mile after mile, never worrying about the other runners or the terrain ahead.

Enjoy the journey For my coach, it was always about the journey, not the destination.

Explore new places My coach made sure we searched for new trails, trotted across green meadows and bounded up hills just because they were there.

Stop to sniff the flowers My coach taught me to look around, smell the fresh air and feel the breeze blowing my hair. No matter how long or hard a run I had scheduled, there was always time to take in the unexpected view.

Get wet Every stream, every lake is a chance to refresh yourself with a quick dip.

Enjoy the moment There are times in life when we need to run long and hard. There are other times when the best thing to do is sit quietly at the edge of a meadow. In either case, enjoy the moment.

Passing the torch Seeing her love of running increased my desire to give back to the sport by mentoring and coaching others.

Unleash your potential There are times to hold back, but there comes the moment when you need to take off the leash and let yourself run free.

Things That Went Right During The Zamboanga 50K Run

1 10 2015

Since it is the first PAU-sponsored event in Zamboanga City and being the one who suggested this event to be conducted, I have to join this race as one of the participants. It is also a part of my “evaluation runs” to test if my training program is working and to determine some feedback on the improvements of my speed, endurance, and nutrition. Lastly, it is also a way of sharing my experience to my readers, hoping that one day they will be a part of this race.

The following are the things that went right (nothing went wrong) during my race:

  1. Nutrition & Hydration——It is the most important thing that one have to plan and have a strategy to be strictly followed. Although there are Aid Stations along the route, I was not well-informed on the details and what kind of drinks and food that are available in the race. Although, I have a general idea of what to expect in those Aid Stations. So, I brought my own “mini-nutrition pack” stashed in my Ultimate Direction (UD) Belt. I had 2 Packs of Clif Bloks (one pack in the UD Belt & one pack in my shorts front pocket); one Meal Bar (in my UD Belt); and two (2) GU Gels stashed in my shorts back pockets. I have also a CarboPro mix (with water) in my Simple Hydration Bottle and 2 Packs of it in my other Simple Hydration Bottle and in a tiny 3-oz bottle (without liquid). I brought with me two (2) Simple Hydration Bottles where one of it is filled with CarboPro Mix without water and the other one with water mixed with CarboPro. Both bottles were clipped with my UD Belt and placed on the back of my waist. A reserve CarboPro powder was inside a 3-oz bottle which is stashed in one of the pockets of my UD Belt.

My Nutrition & Hydration Strategy went this way: Eat 3 pieces of Clif Bloks every hour or when I feel hungry; sip my Carbo Pro mix every time my GPS watch makes a “beep” sound which tells me that I just finished one mile which is approximately equivalent to 14-16 minutes; drink at least 16-oz of cold water in each of the Aid Stations; eat something solid and fruits in the Aid Stations; take one Succeed S-Cap Capsule every 1.5 hours; and then mix the remaining CarboPro mix with Gatorade Drinks. The routine was repetitive and boring but it was the key for having successfully finished the race without any issues or problems.

CarboPro Powder Mix

CarboPro Powder Mix

2. Run Light——I did not use a hydration vest in this race and I only used my UD Belt where I stashed my IPhone and my food/mix powder. I was practically running with one Simple Hydration Bottle with liquid in it entire the race. I would have been lighter if I did not bring my Clif Protein Bar and two (2) GU Gel Packs but these food were my “reserves” just in case of any “bonking” during the race. I was using my Hoka One One Huaka which is more of Road Shoe but it is the lightest shoes that I can use for this race. No need for Calf Sleeves; Arm Sleeves; or Gaiters for this run.

3. Metronome——For the past months, whether it is a trail run workout or speed workout on the flat paved roads, I would use the Metronome Application stored/downloaded in my iPhone. This is the very reason why I had my IPhone with me with only one earbud on either on my right or left ear during the race. Metronome Application is now available Free for download and it is very useful in my making sure I was consistent in my running cadence. My Metronome is set at 180 steps per minute and the “tick-tock” sound could be easily followed every time I step each foot on the ground. Since my steps are short, quick and fast, I could easily keep in step with the beat. In the early 70s whenever I join Marathon Races, I’ve been using a metronome which was installed in earlier models of TIMEX/CASIO Running watches where there was no need for earphones. The continuous beat would remind or motivate you to keep up with your cadence during the run. Try it in your training runs and you will be surprised on how fast you can keep up with your pace. Additionally, it will generate constant reminder and at the same time distract the pain and suffering you are experiencing during the run. Whether I am the in the ascending or descending parts of the route, the metronome reminded me to maintain my cadence even if I was power hiking on the ascents.

The Actual Metronome

The Actual Metronome

4. Heart Rate Monitor——As soon as I reached the first peak of the course (Km #7), my HR reached its highest Average Record of 163 beats per minute (bpm) which happens to be my Maximum Heart Rate as shown by my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak GPS Watch. I made a quick stop and rest at AS 1 by drinking some water and eating a suman (rice cake). It was a quick stop just to lower my HR and after about a minute, I continued the race by walking and only started to jog again when my HR was lowered to 150 bpm. Throughout the race, I was monitoring HR every mile and I was satisfied that I was able to maintain an average of 150 beats per minute and would not exceed my Maximum Heart Rate of 163 bpm in the steep ascents. Through my HR Monitor, I did not feel any tiring moments even when I was hiking up the “Gulod de Medyo” area.

5. Electrolytes & Salt Tablets——Aside from the CarboPro mix, I used one tablet of GU Electrolyte Tablet every bottle of mixed drinks and constantly orally had taken Succeed S-Caps Capsule every 1.5 hours throughout the race. While my drink mix maintain the continuous replenishment of electrolyte loss through excessive sweating, the S-Cap Capsules made me pee regularly and try to give some feedback on the color of my urine if I am dehydrated or not. This combination of Electrolyte Tablets and S-Caps had been very effective to me in my training for the past 2 months.

6. Quick & Short Stops In The Aid Station——Except for the “turn-around” points where I refilled my bottles (with the CarboPro & Electrolyte Tablet inside) with Gatorade, ate some foods, and drink at least one bottle of 16-oz mineral water and some Cola drinks, where I would spend at least 3 minutes, the rest of the Aid Stations were short and quick to pick-up some bottled water to drink and then leave to continue the race. I think I spent not more than 2 minutes in these remaining Aid Stations during the race. I ate my Clif Bloks and then drinking my CarboPro mix while I was hiking the ascents.

7. No “Selfies” & Unnecessary Picture Taking——Taking some pictures with ones camera or IPhone is very cumbersome and very irritating sometimes as you have to bring out and bring in your camera to your race belt’s pocket or hydration pocket. If it is wrapped with Ziploc or some plastic pouch, the opening and closing of this protection from being wet and damped would entail some unnecessary movements that result to being not focused to the main task of running efficiently. Even if it takes a few seconds to “point and shout” ones camera, if these seconds are totaled or accumulated, it would add up to more minutes of delay on the course. Since there are members of the Running Photographers in the race, I just let them, as the experts with better cameras, take my pictures and just wait for them to post their pictures on Facebook.

In a nutshell, proper training/preparation where one has to test his apparel, hydration system, nutrition & hydration strategy and positive mental attitude is the key to a successful finish in an ultra running event. Although, running is an experiment of one, I hope my experience will guide you or test the above mentioned factors if you can adopt them or incorporate them in your running style or manner of finishing an ultra running event/race.


Round Trip Ticket (Cebu Pacific)——P 1,200.00 (Promo Fare/Sponsored By ZRC)

Hotel Accommodation & Meal——P 4,000.00 (2 Days)

Gratuitous Expenses (Tips)—-P 500.00

Total Expenses——P 5,700.00

My Running Kit (Picture By Running Photographers @ Km #17)

My Running Kit (Picture By Running Photographers @ Km #17)

Even if I am not an sponsored athlete, I would mention the things that I’ve used during the event:

Running Shorts & Shirt——ASICS

Running Shoes——Hoka One One Huaka

Runner’s Cap & Compression Shorts——Under Armour


Buff/Neck Sleeves——BUFF

GPS Watch——SUUNTO Ambit 3 Peak

Hydration Bottles——Simple Hydration Bottles

Race Belt & Pouch——Ultimate Direction


Nutrition——CarboPro Powder Mix; Succeed S-Caps; GU Electrolyte Tablets; Clif Bloks; Water & Gatorade (@Aid Station); Rice Cake (Suman), Boiled Banana, Ripe Bananas, Watermelon, & Hotdog Sandwich (@Aid Station)

My training continues…Go out and run!

Four Weeks

4 09 2015

I did not realize that I’ve been through with four weeks of my training since I’ve started for the 2015-16 Ultra Trail Running Season. I started my training on August 3, 2015 and the first day was a Rest Day with some stretching exercises.

I am still following a training schedule program which I’ve been using for the past two years with a little adjustment on my weekly training volume which I’ve increased within the range of 5-10 miles per week which are mostly done in my weekend LSDs. Before, I was doing an average of 50-55 miles per week but for the past weeks, I’ve have reached a peak of 66-67 miles per week. I feel okey, healthy, and pain-free from my knees and legs and had no bouts of leg cramps or “bonking”. I guess, there must a lot of good reasons why at my age of 63, my knees are still holding up and I could still hike some steep mountains.

Surprisingly, the bottle of Aleve that I bought lately have not been opened yet and for the past four months, I’ve never taken any pain-killer tablet in my races and trail running workouts.

My past failures to finish a 100-mile mountain trail run were caused by nutritional and hydration problems on my part. It took me two or more years to experiment what is good for my body. I really don’t have any problems with 50Ks, 50-milers, and 100K trail races with regards to nutrition but when I join 100-milers in higher elevations, my nutrition just put me down on the last 30 miles of the race. Following my experiences in the 100Ks that I’ve finished, I would only take in Energy Gels and Water and some solid foods offered at the Aid Stations and I would finish the course without any problem. I bought some nutrition books for endurance athletes and made some researches on the Internet. In addition, I was able to get some suggestions and advise from the Filipino veteran ultra runners residing in the United States. These suggestions from them confirms the studies and researches that I’ve read on books and on the Internet.

On this new training season, I’ve concentrated on my nutrition, not only before during, after my workout, but completely observed my daily nutritional intake to my body. I don’t count the calories of the food that I ingest but I make sure that I have Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, and Vegetables/Fruits in my 3 meals a day. Snacks in between meals would be anything, whether it is a fruit juice, milk, fruits, yogurt, or snack bars. I’ve never drink milk when I was in the military up to 2 months ago. Lately, by accident, I found out that Organic Fresh Milk does not give me stomach trouble caused by lactose intolerance. I’ve indulged myself in eating avocado as part of my meal or snacks and ate more foods rich in fats.

On my nutrition before my runs, I would have a breakfast of coffee, oatmeal or cereal with milk, avocado with milk & sugar, yogurt or fruit juice.

During my runs, I would hydrate every time my GPS watch would beep to indicate that I’ve covered a mile and have to strictly do the said “drill” every time I hear a beep. For my runs less than 8-9 miles, I would just drink water and ingest one 1 capsule of S’Cap every hour and after the workout. But for my LSDs on weekends which are more than 9 miles, I would carry with me a Tailwind Mixed with water in two bottles and purely Water in my 1.5-liter hydrapak on my backpack. I would alternately, drink Tailwind and water every other mile. I would also ingest 1 capsule of S’Caps every hour. At the turn-around or after finishing the first half of my run, I would eat any solid food I brought with me like, boiled potatoes, power bars, dried fruits, and some baby foods (fruit/vegetable).

I’ve stopped using Energy Gels in my runs since the start of this training but I still carry at least two packs just in case of emergency. I’ve have observed in my past races that Gels, after ingesting about 10 pieces, I would end up throwing up even if I use different flavors and flavors that I liked that didn’t give nauseated feeling in my past ultra runs.

My post-nutrition intake would be immediately after the workout——lots of water, one can of coke or one bottle of Ensure and a Power Bar. Once I arrive home, I would eat a complete meal. For the rest of the day, I would continuously hydrate myself with water, sometime consuming 1.5 gallons of water, and strictly adhering to my complete meals—carbohydrates, fats, protein, vegetable and fruits.

I have also incorporated “speed” workouts in my weekly program. Wednesday is usually my “speed” day where I do it on a flatter ground and paved road. This is the only time that I don’t go to the trails and mountains. Since there is no oval track near my place, I would go to a Public Park (Echo Lake Park) where the streets that surround it has a total loop distance of exactly one mile. I would do 1 mile X 5-6 repetitions or 2 miles X 3 repetitions with at least 5-6 minutes rest/jog intervals in between repetitions. In the mountains/trails, I usually do some “strides” or fast & quick leg-turn-overs on flatter portions within a distance of 50-100 meters just to give some “wake-up” drill to my tired leg muscles.

Once or twice a week, I would go to a mountain which has an “up and down” route where I have measured on each way (2.5 miles up & 2.5 miles down). I would wear my hydration vest full of 2 water bottles and 1.5-liter of hydra pack on my back with solid foods. I would practice “power-hiking” on the UP portion of the course and never attempt to do any run or jog. I would register the time from the start up to the time I reach the peak of the mountain. I have observed that I had been improving my time to reach the peak every week. The 2.5-mile distance has a vertical distance of 1,280 feet and my best time so far is 43 minutes for the power hiking in the UP direction.

On the ridge of the mountain, I would continue jogging and hiking for about 2 to 3 miles. On my way back, I would start my fast “downhill run” on the measured portion where I had my “power-hiking” workout. My attitude here in the fast downhill run is a “go for broke” one! A fast and continuous downhill hill run for 2.5 miles would “thrash” my legs! I am surprised that my old knees can still withstand the hard pounding of my feet on the ground. Every week, I would improve on my time on this downhill run! My fastest time for the downhill run is 20 minutes!

Power Hiking and Fast Downhill Running made me register a faster pace and speed for my daily runs!

Two years ago when I shifted to trail running, I did not give any attention to the vertical distance (total ascent/descent) in my workouts but it was later last year that I have concentrated more on the vertical distance of the trails I’ve been into. However, since I’ve started this new training season, I made sure that my weekly totals on the vertical distance will not be lower than 6,000 feet.

On Mondays and Fridays, I would do some stretching and calisthenics/core strengthening exercises. I would also do “foam rolling” to my legs for about an hour with more concentration to my calves, hamstrings, quads, and butt muscles. I stopped my lap swimming for the past weeks and by the end of the 7th or 8th week, I would incorporate (stationary) cycling in my weekly workouts.

On my weekend LSDs, I don’t eat a heavy breakfast (ingesting only coffee) as I want to simulate how I would apply my nutrition and hydration strategy when I am about to reach my “bonking” period which is about 1-2 hours after the start of my run. This is where I would observe how my body would react to any food or fluids that I take in, whether it is water, Tailwind, S’Caps, solid foods (power bars/baby foods/power bars/dried fruits), electrolyte mix, or Clif Bloks. So far, my maximum LSD distance was 20 miles in 6 hours, carrying a heavy load of water in my hydration vest (2-20 oz of water bottle & 1.5-liter hydrapak on my backpack + solid foods). However, if I use my 2-16 oz Simple Hydration bottles (tucked in my race belt with power bars) and one hand-held 12 oz handheld water, that same distance of 20 miles is usually done in 5 hours or less!

On the technical aspect and the monitoring of my body’s feedback on my performance every workout, my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak GPS Watch, had been very useful in monitoring my Heart Rate, VO2, Cadence, Calories Consumed/Burned, and Recovery Period. From these data, I would be able to know on what to do for my rest and recovery for the next workout. My daily workouts are properly recorded in a notebook/journal that I would religiously write every time I finish a workout, to include, what I feel before, during , and after the workout.

In summary, I attribute my faster and better performance in my 4 weeks of trail running due to the following: (1) Better nutrition before, during , and after every workout; (2) Constant hydration with water every mile with Tailwind every other mile; (3) Speed workouts on Wednesdays and incorporation of “strides” in my daily runs; (4) Adapting my body to ingest S’Caps/Salt Sticks during the run on hotter days without any negative reaction to my body; (5) More vertical distance and higher altitude hiking/downhill running would acclimatize my respiratory system; and (6) “Foam Rolling” & Stretching with Core Exercises twice a week.

I’ve been using my Hoka One One “Speedgoat” Trail Shoes for my LSDs and most of my daily runs while my Inov-8 Race Ultra 270 Trail Shoes and Hoka One One Challenger ATR would be used in my recovery and tempo runs.

Monthly Mileage (August 2015): 238.65 Miles or 381.84 Kilometers

Monthly Vertical Distance (August 2015): 41,605 feet

"Leave No Trace"

“Leave No Trace”

Los Angeles Trail #1: Griffith Park Trail #1 (“Merry-Go-Round” To Dante’s View/Peak & Back)

24 08 2015

Griffith Park is the Pride and Most Popular Outdoor Park of Los Angeles City. It is one of the world’s biggest city parks with a total area of 4,467 acres, about five times bigger than the size of the New York’s City Central Park, and considered as the biggest municipal park completely surrounded by urban areas.

There are so many access roads/streets that lead to the park depending on your purpose of visit or activity. There is Greek Theater which is a popular venue for music concerts and stage plays; an 18-hole Golf Course & Driving Range; a Museum; The Griffith Observatory; The HOLLYWOOD Sign; a Horse Back Riding Facility; Carousel/”Merry-Go-Round”; Old Train & Railroad Museum; more than 50 miles of Fire Roads & Trails; and 20+ miles of paved roads for cycling. Griffith Park is the city’s “People’s Park” where its residents would enjoy the outdoor and its trails for free. The Fire Roads and Trails are strictly for hiking; running; and horse-back riding as MTBs or mountain trail cycling is not allowed.

The “Merry-Go-Round” Parking Lot #1 to Dante’s View/Peak Trail Route is my favorite trail running route which has a “one-way” distance of 4.5 miles, making it a total of 9 miles in going back to the Parking Lot retracing the route on the first half.

In order to go to Griffith Park and to experience running or hiking this trail route, one has to take the Golden State Freeway 5 North and Exit at Crystal Spring Drive (Exit 141B), turn Right at Crystal Spring Drive and after 1/4 mile turn left on the first intersection. The ascending paved road goes to the “Merry-Go-Round” Parking Lot #1. The toilet is located near the Merry-Go-Round facility.

“Merry-Go-Round” Parking Lot #1

I usually start from the place where I park my car. Across the paved road from the Parking Lot #1 are two fire roads; one that goes south and the other that goes east. I usually take the fire road that goes to the east (it’s called the Coolidge Trail) that has an abrupt ascent until it levels up for about 15 yards. Follow this fire road as it goes up immediately after a right turn. From this trail you would see on your left shoulder the Crystal Spring Road and the Golden State Freeway 5 and this will be the sight on your first mile with the uphill and winding trail ahead of you. The 2nd mile will be a gradual uphill climb where one will be passing a Golf Driving Range on your left. Do not turn left on the fire trail that goes back to Crystal Spring Road. One should be turning RIGHT on every trail intersection along this 2nd mile section. There is only way but UP to the peak of the hill.

Trailhead. Take the Trail On The Left (Coolidge Trail)

Trailhead. Take the Trail On The Left (Coolidge Trail)

Golf Academy's Driving Range

Golf Academy’s Driving Range

5-Way Trail Intersection

5-Way Trail Intersection

Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill

At the 2.5-mile point, the route shall level off and one will encounter a 5-way trail intersection. I usually turn right from this point and go to a peak which is popularly known before as Beacon Hill. As I reached the peak, I would turn around and back to the 5-way intersection. I would continue my run by going to the fire road that goes up and there is only one fire road that leads you to a ascending direction. After about 50-60 meters of uphill climb, you will see a marker that says, “Joe Klass Water Stop”. The water fountain is located on a clearing on your right. Don’t pay attention to the bees that “guard” the said fountain, they are always there the whole year round. If you need to drink, just drink or refill your bottles and then immediately leave the place. Don’t mess up with those bees!

Signage Of The Joe Klass Water Source

Signage Of The Joe Klass Water Stop

The Water Fountain (Bees Are Not Visible In The Picture)

The Water Fountain (Bees Are Not Visible In The Picture)

Vista Del Valle Drive

Vista Del Valle Drive

Once you get out from the water fountain clearing, you will hit a paved road (it’s called Vista Del Valle Drive). After about 50 meters running on this paved road, you have covered already 3 miles! Follow this road and on your left is a paved flat area which is a popular site for photo-ops overlooking the city and sometimes, it is being used as a helipad or location for movie shootings. As you passed this flat paved area, you can see ahead of you two fire roads on your left: one that goes down and one that goes up. Go to the fire road that goes up! This fire road splits from Vista Del Valle Drive and it has a closed wooden hut beside the start of the trail.

Griffith Park Helipad Area

Griffith Park Helipad Area

Uphill Trail Beside The Hut

Uphill Trail Beside The Hut (Left Side Of The Hut)

After two or three turns, you will see a wooden bridge and a higher hill where the fire road is leading to. You are now approaching the dreaded Hogback Trail. This trail is too steep on some sections and make sure that you have a good traction on your trail running shoes. Before the last climb of this trail, you must have covered 4 miles. I always have the urge to drink a lot of water from my hydration bottle before the last climb. Once you finish the last climb on the Hogback Trail, there is a water source (a water fountain and a faucet) and you can make your water refill here.

Wooden Bridge & Hogback Trail

Wooden Bridge & Hogback Trail

From the water source, follow the fire road as it continuously go on a higher elevation (don’t turn left on the trail that goes down after the faucet/water source). In about 30 meters from the faucet, there is a three-way intersection, turn left on the fire road and in about 100 meters, you can now see some concrete tables and benches inside a corral on the Dante’s View/Peak and the Hollywood Sign can be seen on your right. The Dante’s View/Peak is usually the resting place of those who hike and jog. One could see the City, the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Sign and the trails/fire roads that snake within the perimeter of the park. But for me, I just get inside the corral and touch the biggest rock where the Survey Marker is located and immediately turn-around. The distance covered is 4.5 miles at this point!

Dante's View/Peak

Dante’s View/Peak

From the turn-around, I retrace my route as I go back to where I started, to include going to the peak of the Beacon Hill. One has to be very careful in going down along the Hogback Trail as there is great possibility that one makes a mistake of slipping from the trail which is purely a rock.

My Fastest Time to complete this trail running route is 2 hours. It has a total ascent of 1,857 feet and total descent of 1,837 feet. Dante’s Peak/View has an elevation of 1,608 feet above sea level. Allocate at least 3 hours for an average hiking with picture/hydration stops for this route.

A Runner’s Circle (ARC) Specialty Store is only 1 Mile away from the “Merry-Go-Round” Parking Lot. From the Parking Lot, turn right to Crystal Spring Road towards the Los Feliz Avenue Entrance to Griffith Park. Turn Left on Los Feliz Avenue and immediately after crossing the bridge, the ARC Store will be on your Right.

More trail routes to come within Griffith Park and other parts in the Los Angeles Area and its Suburbs in my future posts.

2015-16 Trail Running Season: 2nd Week

20 08 2015

Total Distance: 66 miles/105.6 kilometers

Total Time: 16:53:02 hours

Total Ascent: 12,783 feet

Total Descent 12,834 feet

Average Pace: 17:00 minutes/mile

Average Speed: 4.33 miles per hour

Average Heart Rate: 135 bpm

Total Calories: 7,139 kcal

Shoes: Hoka One One Speedgoat

Cucamonga Wilderness Peak

Cucamonga Wilderness Peak

Conrado Bermudez Jr: The FIRST Filipino Finisher Of A 200-Mile Mountain Ultra Marathon Trail Single Stage Run

17 08 2015

My friends and contemporaries would always tell me that I am CRAZY to be running ultra marathon distances in the mountains in the country as well as in Asia and the United States. I just smile because that is the best description we (as ultra runners) could get to those who have not yet experienced our sports. But now, more ultra runners have extended their body limits and endurance by introducing a 200-mile endurance mountain trail event which has doubled the famous 100-mile distance which is now being accepted as the NEW Marathon Distance in Ultra Running. The runners of this new event could be the CRAZIEST of them all and since it was introduced only last year in the first edition of the Lake Tahoe 200-Mile Endurance Run, three of these events had been scheduled for this year and called the Grand Slam of 200-Milers (it was supposed to be 4 races: Colorado 200; Arizona 200; Lake Tahoe 200; and Bigfoot 200 but the Arizona 200 was cancelled).

Let me introduce to you the CRAZIEST Ultra Runner who just recently finished the 1st edition of the Bigfoot 200-Mile Endurance Run——Conrado Bermudez Jr! Being the FIRST Pinoy to have finished this mountain ultra trail running event, it would be proper and fitting to have his story in running to be published here as one of the main highlights of this blog with the hope of inspiring others and telling to the world that we, Filipinos, are very strong and resilient in nature.

Bigfoot 200-Mile Endurance Race Picture Collage

Bigfoot 200-Mile Endurance Race Picture Collage

Conrado Bermudez Jr, or fondly called as “Jun”, finished the 200-Mile Race in 94 hours, 26 minutes, and 30 seconds, placing himself as #40 among the 59 finishers where 80 runners started in the morning of Friday, August 7, 2015 at the Mt Helens National Monument in Washington State. The race has a cut-off time of 108 hours which is equivalent to 4 1/2 days, forcing the runners to complete 45 miles per day during the race. The following is the general description of the race as taken from its Website:

“The Bigfoot 200 is a trail running event in the Washington State that seeks to give back to the trails by inspiring preservation of the wild lands and donating money to trail building in the Pacific Northwest. The race is a point to point traverse of some of the most stunning, wild, and scenic trails in the Cascade Mountain range of Washington State. The Race ends in Randle, WA after traversing the Cascade Mountains from Mt St Helens to Mt Adams and along ridge lines with views of Mt Rainier, Mt Hood, and more!

The race will bring together people from all over the world to tackle this incredible challenge. With over 50,000 feet of ascent and more than 96,000 feet of elevation change in 2015 miles, this non-stop event is one of a kind in both its enormous challenge and unparalleled scenery. The race is not a stage race nor it is a relay. Athletes will complete the route solo in 108 hours or less, some without sleeping.”

Jun finished the race with barely 6 hours of sleep during the race! He was supported by his wife, Kat, their daughter and running friends who would meet him in Aid Stations where there is vehicular access. For more details of the race, one can visit the following link:


Finish Line Of The Bigfoot 200-Mile Race

Finish Line Of The Bigfoot 200-Mile Race With The Race Director (Photo From Facebook)

Jun is a native of General Santos City, graduate of the Philippine Military Academy belonging to Class 1996, a Special Forces Airborne, and Scout Ranger of the Philippine Army before his family migrated to the United States.

In my interview with him on the later part of last year after he finished the other 3 100-Milers in the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (except Western States 100); he recollected that he first personally met me when he was the Aide-De-Camp of the Commander of the Southern Command in Zamboanga City and I was then the Commander of the Task Force Zamboanga. The year was 2000 and he was barely 4 years in the military service. He went further to tell me that he got inspired by my blogs and photo running galore through my posts in our PMA Bugo-bugo Facebook Page.

Jun finished the prestigious Boston Marathon Race in 3:11:14 hours.

The following are the some of the data about Jun and the answer to the questions I’ve asked him:

1. Home Province-Gen. Santos City; Age-42 ; Height- 5’9″; Present Body Weight-146 lbs ; Schools Attended (Elementary to Graduate Schools)-Notre Dame of Mlang, Noth Cotabato (Elem), Notre Dame of Dadiangas College-High School Dept; PMA Class-1996 and Special Training in the Military-Scout Ranger, Airborne.

2. Places of Assignments and Positions held in the Military/Philippine Army:

Platoon Leader-  Alpha Coy, 25IB, PA as Ready Deployment Force (striker battalion) of 6ID in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato Province. My platoon was also involved in capturing Camp Rajamuda in Pikit, Cotabato Province in 1997.

Company Commander- Bravo Coy, 25IB, PA , mostly deployed in Maguindanao. My company was also deployed in the front lines of Matanog and Buldon and was very instrumental in capturing Camp Abubakar.

3. Present Job & Working Hours-Security Officer in the United Nations Headquarters in NYC and works on day shift; City of Residence in the US-Jersey City, New Jersey; Wife’s Job- ER Nurse; Gender & Number of Children- one daughter

4. Brief Background of Running (during Childhood up to College and as Cadet of the PMA)

I started running when I was 7 years old. I grew-up in a farm and the only playground we had was an open field and trails where we would run and tag each other. In elementary and high school, I was so engrossed on soccer games than any other ballgames. This is why when I joined the PMA, I discovered that I was a decent runner because I was always in the lead pack when we had our 2-mile run as part of our physical fitness test. I also represented my company (PMA) in various races but most of the time I bonked because I usually go all out at the start and faint halfway through, which resulted to my ER visits. My style of running then was with a “do or die” mentality; no technique, no proper hydration and nutrition. It was just a plain “old-school” way and lots of brute force.

5. Best time in 5K- 19:22; 10K-42:08 ; Half-Marathon-1:26:52 ; and Marathon-3:11:14 All were done in 2013.

6. Brief story on your exposure to ultra distance running events—-first 50K; first 50-miler; first 100K; and first 100-miler.

I started joining races in 2012. That year I only finished 2 marathons. I was following your blogs and postings about the Bataan Death March 102 and 160 and the other races you directed and I got inspired by the spirit of the running community, and it was that I got curious about ultrarunning, especially the 100-mile distance.

To start my ultrarunning quest, I signed-up for a local flat, out-and-back, looped course. Thinking that 50km was just over a marathon, and 50 miles was just 2 marathons, I signed-up for a 100k, which was held in March 2013 in New Jersey. I’m glad that I met some new good friends there, who are now like a family. I was so proud that I finished in that muddy, swampy, and cold course third place. My wife and daughter were there for my first ultra. As a solitary person, running alone for a day was not such a big deal. The feeling of finishing a long distance further boosted my spirit… I got hooked. Then I signed-up for my first 100 miler scheduled three months after. It was in June in the inaugural Trail Animal Running Club (TARC) 100-Mile Endurance Run and the first 100-mile run in Massachusetts. The race started at 7 pm Friday with a cut-off of 30 hours. The course was in a 25-mile flat trails with some creeks spread along the way. I was very enthusiastic to train knowing that some of my friends are also running the race. As part of my preparation, I was reading some blogs and race reports, and I even asked your advice on how to deal with the distance. You discussed to me the proper nutrition and hydration and also incorporating hike into running. The course got indescribably muddy, with most sections in knee-deep mud in every mile, but with my grit and determination, I was able to finish despite a big number of DNF in the race. I felt reborn and my spirit was so high. It took me a week to recover from the pain.

In November, I did my first 50-mile race as  a finale for the year. The JFK 50 Mile is the oldest and the largest ultramarathon in the US. The course is a combination of road and trail. It passes through the Appalachian Trail and C&O Canal Towpath then ends in an 8-mile paved road in Maryland. The course was pretty easy and fast. This is where I met some new hardcore ultrarunners from the Virginia Happy Trails Club.

After running all long distances, I signed-up for my first 50k as part of my back-to-back training for my incoming six 100’s. The Febapple Fifty was held on Saturday of February 2014. Then the next day, I ran the Central Park Marathon. The Febapple race was fun. The course was filled mostly with knee-high ice and snow in a rolling hills of South Mountain Reservation in New Jersey. It was quite a tough race because the ice turned slushy and it was a bit hard to run. I still managed to finish in the top ten.

All of my first attempts of these distances were mostly to get me into groove to venture and discover ultrarunning. I realized the 100-mile distance is my favorite.

7. Training Preparation in your 100-Miler Races and Nutrition Strategy in your Races. How do you balance your training with your work and family? (*I will discuss my training in item # 9).

In short ultra races, I carry a handheld bottle or belt hydration system. They are lighter that I could run faster. I take one salt tablet every hour but if I sweat a lot, I take two every hour and nothing at night when it’s cold. In aid stations, I eat potato, banana, watermelon, and PB & J aside from the Ensure that I carry as my basic load. I make sure I take more nutrition at the early stage of the race. I also drink ginger ale and Coke/Pepsi to refresh my mind from the lows.

I come home from work around 8pm and do my chores and help my daughter do her homework. If all is done, I relax for awhile and train. It usually takes me an hour or two to finish my training. I sleep around midnight and wake-up at 6am. I am fortunate that my wife is also supportive of my passion as she herself is an ultrarunner. And our daughter is also our number one cheerer. So far, everyone is in sync in the family.

Jun Bermudez @ Leadville 100-Mile Race

Jun Bermudez @ Leadville 100-Mile Race (Photo From UltraSignUp)

8. Were you aware of the US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning? Since you missed the Western States 100 this year, do you intend to take a shot on the 2015 US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning?

I did not have my qualifier for Western States  last year. I was already aware of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, so to get the feel of it, I tried to sign-up for six 100-mile races. I put my name in Massanutten Mountain Trail 100 and Wasatch Front 100 for lottery and fortunately, I was accepted. Since I have proven that I could finish multiple races in a gap of 3-5 weeks, I have more confidence now to challenge myself in GS in the future. There’s only a slim chance for me to get into Western States with one ticket but I will make sure I will apply every year to increase my chances. If not, I am planning to do more challenging 100-mile mountain races next year. It just sank-in that what I did was insane. Every time I finished, I cursed myself for signing-up and promised myself not to do 100’s anymore. But a couple of days after, I feel that I am ready to go again. Thus, if ever I am accepted in Western States in the future, I won’t hesitate to join the Grand Slam.

9. Knowing that you are a “lowlander”, how did you train for the 100-mile mountain races that you finished? How did you cope up with the possibility of encountering “high altitude” sickness in your latest two 100-milers?

My training was focused in strengthening my legs, ankles, and feet in battling the rigorous technical terrain. But 90% of my training was indoor because of my busy schedule, and  I have a child to watch that I could not leave at home if my wife is working or training for her ultra events. I usually do stairs workout, climbing up and down, up to 250 floors without rest every two weeks, which is a great way to improve my VO2max and giving me more mountain legs. Most of the time, I abuse my incline trainer/treadmill, which goes to 40%. I use it for incline hike/run with 10-15 lbs of rucksack together with my 2.5 pounder ankle weights. Although I hated speed workout, I still do my 5k in treadmill and this keeps my pace honest. Sometimes I do my trail long runs in the weekends with my friends but most of the time, I am stuck on my treadmill. Treadmill running is boring but it gives me more mental conditioning to tackle the distance. Aside from that, it also preserves my feet from the hard pounding of the pavement. I don’t really track my weekly mileage because I don’t have a proper training plan that I follow. I just listen to my body and do whatever I feel I need to work on. And to avoid injury, I do strength and core workout twice a week.

In an attempt to combat altitude sickness, I was taking  iron, B complex, and vitamin C supplements. But these didn’t really help much. I still got more vomitting in Leadville (12,600 ft highest altitude) after mile 60 and had some also after mile 70 in Wasatch.

10. How did you balance recovery and preparation in between those 100-milers for the 6-month duration of your ultra events?

I treat every race as my long run. After the race, I relax, stretch, and foam roll for 3-4 days to get rid of the pain. I also come back to work 2 days after the race. At work, I stand for 6 hours. I think standing at work and walking from home to train station and to work helps my fast recovery. At the end of the week, I start doing easy runs again. Then the next week, I go back to my usual training routine. My taper starts 2 weeks before the next race. I did this routine in my last four 100 milers. In fact, I was feeling fresh every time I start the next race and my spirit gets stronger. I was amazed that I was able to do sub 20 hours in 3 100 milers. Although I did not achieve my goal of finishing Leadville 100 in sub 25 and Wasatch Front 100 in sub 30, I am still ecstatic that I finished those races SOLO (no pacer, no crew) and without getting injured. When I finished Leadville 100, I focused more on recovery by just doing stretching, hiking and easy runs. It was in Leadville that I suffered much because of the altitude and my mistake of not hydrating properly. I had nausea and I threw up every time I ate and drank after mile 60, and I was also suffering from a bad stomach issue. Wasatch is harder than Leadville. But due to my proper hyrdation and nutrition, I felt better and stronger although I still had gastrointestinal issues around mile 70, but later I managed to cope with them by slowing down and taking my time at aid stations to recover.

11. What are your tips and advise to those who would venture to mountain ultra trail running events. What would be the things that you have to improve upon if ever you want to improve your performance in your previous 100-milers?

It takes a lot of discipline. Training involves time away from your family and it is important that no matter what, family comes first. It is helpful if your family is supportive, so that is paramount in your quest for ultrarunning and paramount in the list of things you have to make sure you obtain, foremost.

Never be afraid of the adventure. It is not always about the destination (aka finishing) but the journey. That is my advice to other runners.

Personally, I think I need to improve on certain strategies like hydration and nutrition. Also, not just to eliminate issues like GI problems that come with certain races, but— more importantly— how to perform well regardless of these problems because, lets face it, problems encountered during races MAY NOT ever go away. So it is a matter of pushing past these issues and finishing strong. Thats what I need to work on.

12. Aside from the 2015 US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning plan, what is in store for you in the coming ultra running years?

I want to venture into other Ultra races. The challenging ones, in particular. There are many races out there to explore with challenging course and beautiful sceneries. When they go hand in hand, they become priceless experiences, especially when you finish them. Like I said, mountain 100-milers are my favorite, but that is not to say I will not try to explore on distances beyond that. We’ll wait and see.

Jun could not stop wanting for more and he is now one of the few mountain ultra trail 200-mile single stage finishers entire the world. For the past two years, he has the following 100-miler mountain trail races with their corresponding finish time in his belt :

TARC 100-Miler in Westwood, Massachusetts (June 14, 2013) —-25:19:27 hours

New Jersey Ultra Trail Festival 100-Miler in Augusta, New Jersey (November 23, 2013)—-18:53:31 hours

Massanutten 100-Miler in Front Royal, Virginia (May 17, 2014)—-28:05:55 hours

Great New York City 100-Miler (June 21, 2014)—-19:33:14 hours

Vermont 100-Miler (July 19, 2014)—-19:10:51 hours

Leadville (Colorado) 100-Miler (August 16, 2014)—-29:19:11 hours

Wasatch Front (Utah) 100-Miler (September 5, 2014)—-32:18:26 hours

Massanutten 100-Miler (May 16, 2015)—-25:45:03 hours

San Diego (California) 100-Miler (June 6, 2015)—-22:16:27 hours

After his sub-24 hour finish at the San Diego 100-Mile Endurance Race, I told him that he has to rest and recover in between his races to let his body free from injuries brought about by over racing or over training in ultra distances. I even told him that he has to prepare for the possibility of being selected in the lottery for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race if ever he registers to join the race. I emphasized that I am betting on him that he will be the FIRST Pinoy Ultra Runner to be awarded the “One Day-24 Hour” Silver Buckle in the said race and I am sure that it will take another generation of Pinoy Ultra Runners to surpass such accomplishment.

My prediction on his ultra running career brought not a single word from his mouth but instead responded to me with a smile. Jun is a silent type guy and does not openly brag about his ultra running finishes on the Social Media and he does not even have a blog or journal where he can relate and share his stories in his ultra races. However, my interview with him has a lot of tips and advise for those who would like to embark on mountain ultra trail running, most specially to those who are in the lowlands and for those who don’t have access to the mountains or simply lazy to be in the outdoors.

BR & Jun @ Lake Cuyamaca

BR & Jun @ Lake Cuyamaca

Before we parted ways in Lake Cuyamaca in Mt Laguna, San Diego, California, he intimated to me that his ultra running career is not complete if he will not be able to finish the Grand Slam of the Bataan Death March 102/160 Ultra Marathon Race! Hopefully, that will be the day that Jun will be able to meet the whole Pinoy Ultra Running Community in his homeland.

This is what I said to Jun, “Get your Western States 100-Mile Silver Buckle first before coming home, Cavalier!”

(Note: Jun had been using HOKA ONE ONE Shoes in all his trail running races and training)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,514 other followers

%d bloggers like this: