1) Intelligence (“Know The Enemy”)—I had the chance to run through the 22K distance (except the last 3K) for each loop of the trail run distance on two occassions; my first time one month before race day and the second time two weeks before the race day. These practice runs along the trail route starting at 9:30 AM and 7:30 AM on each run gave me the needed knowledge and information as to the overall profile and condition of the route. Through these practice runs, I was able to gain confidence and finally plan for my race strategy. Running through the trail route gave me 50% chance of finishing the race.
2) Do Your Homework—I had to make a research on the Internet and from books and magazines available in order to get as much information I could about running an ultramarathon. The book “The Ultramarathon Man” by Dean Karnazes had greatly influenced me to take my body what it feels to experience and finish the ultramarathon. Printed magazines on Ultra Trail Running and books about ultramarathon had also helped me by reading the experiences of ultramarathoners who were just like anybody else—they started too as beginners. “Tips” and words of encouragement from my blog visitors (Ben Gaetos aka Benwah, Quicksilver, and Eric aka Habang Tumatakbo) were very helpful. Thanks to these ultra friends!
3) “Think Time, Not Distance”—As a beginner/novice in ultramarathon, my main objective in this ultra event was to finish the race—not to be declared DNF or injured in an accident along the trail or subjected to body injuries due to wear & tear of my running leg muscles. I should be able to finish the race within the cut-off time of 9 hours. For a successful finish in an ultra event, follow this simple formula—Ultramarathon = running + hiking + Aid Stations + Postive Attitude
4) Endurance, Endurance, Endurance—This is the key for a successful long distance runner. I gradually build-up my mileage on a weekly and monthly basis where my long endurance runs covered at least 60% of my running workouts, 20% for my trail running, 10% for my gym workouts, 5% for my tempo runs, and another 5% for my speed runs. This is not the ideal training regimen of a runner who wants to improve his/her time but for my age and the short period/time I’ve spent to bring back running to my life (again) since October 2007, this schedule works fine with me where I am comfortable, injury-free and be able to recover faster after hard runs and road races.
5) Hydration & Food—Eating full breakfast before the ultramarathon was the wisest decision I’ve made. Bringing two water jugs (one for water & another for sports energy drinks) had helped me in my hydration. Although the Aid Stations were full with food, water and drinks, the distance of 8 to 8.5 kilometers in-between stations was too hard to run through without having a sip of fluids or eating something for my body to be energized. Maintaining a schedule/timing in taking my GUs and Energy Bars was very helpful.
6) Dream Big, Do With “Baby” Steps—This is true to running a marathon, finishing an ultramarathon, and running though our lives. If we dream to reach and attain something, do something about it with “baby” steps. What is important is to act something into your dream…slowly but surely! Be patient, focused and consistent to your dream.
7) Trail Running Etiquette—I have observed that there is familiarity and closeness among the ultramarathoners. If somebody stops or walks limping along the trail, the runner approaching/passing him would ask if there is any problem or if he/she is alright? Runners would talk to you for a while before making a pass and picking up his pace. Runners ahead of you would go towards to their right and give way to you if they sense that you are picking up your pace in a narrow trail and I would do the same too when I hear an approaching runner on my back. In the Aid Stations, the volunteers were very helpful and impressive as they are ultramarathoners, too! They know what you need by your looks alone once you enter the Aid Station. It is important that a runner should not be “greedy” in eating the displayed food while in the Aid Station or for the runner to refrain from carrying with him/her extra food into his pockets! A simple words of thanks & appreciation would be the nicest thing to say to these volunteers.
8) Positive Attitude—If you think you have prepared and trained properly for an ultramarathon, the last thing that you will need is a “positive attitude” to finish the race. During the race, I did not hear any “whining”/complaints from the runners around me and from the other runners at the finish line. I did not hear any complaints about the route, the weather, the Aid Stations, and the overall management of the race itself.
9) Reward Yourself—I am still thinking what to buy to reward myself for finishing my firts ultramarathon race. Maybe a new shoes (Newton vs. NIKE Lunar Trainer vs. ASICS Gel Kayano 14); an Oakley shades; an ASICS running apparel; a CW-X compression shorts; or maybe train for another 50K or 50-mile race for next year. We will see!
10) Running Inspiration or a “Bad Influence”—Immediately after I finished my run, I overheard my son and daughter talking of planning to run the trail route on the next year’s Bulldog 25K and they were impressed on the informality and closeness of the runners during and after the race. I guess, my kids are already bored with the LA Marathon and Half-Marathons they had been participating and they want a different experience in running. Such plan for my kids to shift to trail running is a nice exposure and training for them as my future “crew and pacers” in my ultramarathon races in the future.
11) Ultra Race Management & Organization—I’ve learned a lot of insights and experiences on how the race was organized and managed from the time my application to run the race was confirmed up to the time I received the race report and race results from the race organizer. Also, the support and management of the Aid Stations and friendly/supportive attitude of volunteers were worthy of emulating and applying them in local races in the Philippines.