Days after my trip from Bolinao, Pangasinan to coordinate in the conduct of the PAU’s COCOS To Sual 65K Run on the second week of July, there was “discussion” among my friends at Facebook about coming up with our First Pinoy to join the Badwater Ultra Marathon in California, USA. The discussion consisted of Joe Matias of ARC Los Angeles/Manila; Benjamin Gaetos; Tess Geddes; Rick Gaston, and myself. Joe Matias had just witnessed the conduct of the Badwater Ultra Marathon a few days after where he supported one of the runners in the name of his store in Los Angeles and he had an idea of suggesting Ben Gaetos or Rick Gaston to be the 1st Pinoy to join the said prestigious race.
It was a very interesting idea to ponder and discuss among Pinoy Ultra Friends at Facebook with Ben Gaetos as the most likely candidate for the said race. I even volunteered as one of the support crew of the team just in case Ben Gaetos is amenable with the idea. However, Ben gave his word that he could not make it due to financial reasons. And the the very interesting discussion just ended from there.
Idea Was Born
That discussion gave me the idea of coming up with a possibility of a “one stage” road race which is longer than the Badwater Ultra Marathon (135 miles) to even up the lack of elevation in the Philippines but the heat and humidity could be worse than the real event if done during the summer months of April or May.
Why go to Badwater, California when I (or anybody) can create a “Badwater Route” in the Philippines which is more scenic and refreshing to the eyes of the runners? And there is no need to pay for at least $ 1,000.00 for the registration fee and that is excluding expenses to be incurred for travel, accommodation, rent of support vehicles, and logistics for the runner and the members of the support crew. Yes, it takes a lot of fortune and resources to join the said event aside from the fact that you should have completed some of the well-known 100-mile endurance races!
The plan was the route from Bolinao, Pangasinan to Subic Freeport’s Remy Field Oval Track along the Olangapo-Bugallon Highway which is approximately 240 kilometers. Since I had the experience of running the Bolinao-Alaminos route during my “West To East” Adventure Run, I planned to try to run the distance of 200 kilometers from the Subic’s Remy Field Oval Track to Alaminos, Pangasinan.
However, if things will materialize in the planning of this race that will replicate the Badwater Ultra Marathon, the route will cover a distance of 240 Kilometers from the Subic Freeport’s Remy Field Oval Track to Bolinao, Pangasinan. Or the other possible option is to have the finish line at the Provincial Oval Track/Stadium at the vicinity of the Lingayen Gulf in Lingayen, Pangasinan. The significance of this option is that a runner starts from a former US Navy Seaport Facility, passing along the Birthplace/Province of the Former President Ramon Magsaysay (dubbed as the “President of the Masses”), a view of the lahar formations brought about by the eruption of Mt Pinatubo in Botolan, Zambalaes, a view of the Masinloc Coal Plant, a glimpse of Potipot Island, seeing the salt beds in Dasol, Pangasinan on both sides of the road, and finishing at the very exact location where the Battle of Lingayen Gulf happened in World War II when the US Forces returned to the Philippines to liberate us from the Japanese occupation. At least, there is history and tourism explanation of this route.
The only person who knew about my plan to run a 200-kilometer distance in one stage was Joe Matias of A Runners Circle (ARC) Specialty Store and I asked him to sponsor my run and explained to him that “I am creating a Badwater Route in the Philippines” and be able to “test run” it within two (2) months. He immediately gave his word to support my run and within a few weeks, he sent me load of “logistics” all the way from Los Angeles to include Gu Gels, ARC Shirts, ASICS Cap, Salt Caps, and Mix Drinks. Thanks, Joe for that superb and wonderful generosity!
Other solid foods and additional special drinks were bought at the Puregold Warehouse Store inside Subic Freeport to include Loaf Breads, Peanut Butter, Instant Noodles, Ensure Drinks, Nescafe Latte & Espresso Canned Drinks, Sports Drinks, Bottled Water and others. Emergency medicines were also bought at the Mercury Drug Store located within the compound. The usual boiled bananas and eggs were also prepared for the event.
I spent the following days and weeks on building my base-endurance by the number of hours I placed my feet on the ground. I had some daily runs at the ULTRA Oval Track and at the Philippine Army Grandstand & Parade Ground’s Jogging Lane with a minimum of 1.5 to 2 hours per workout. Whenever I have the chance, I could be in Subic Freeport’s roads and Remy Field’s Oval Track for more of my endurance runs lasting to 2 hours or more. My regular visits and “test runs” on the Taklang Damulag’s trail route in Fort Magsaysay had also added my training for this run where I was able to run for almost eight (8) hours under the heat of the sun and intermittent rains in one of my workouts. Speed was not a part of the training. Everything was purely on endurance with the use of the Heart Monitor.
The rule of thumb in my Heart Monitor training is to be able to maintain a HR below 150 beats per minute! If my HR Monitor exceeds to more than 150 bpm, it is a signal that I should start on a “brisk walking” mode until it settles to 120 bpm in order to start running again. But maintaining HR with an average of 140-145 bpm was perfect to me.
Side Story on My Running Form
During my 8-hour “test run” at the Taklang Damulag’s route, I asked my elite runner to take my pictures from my back as I ran the trail route. He took some pictures on many occassions during the run. While we were having our “pit stop” before the last 10K of our run, he mentioned that something is “wrong” with my running form and stride! He explained everything what he observed about my leg movement, stride, and footwork. I know all along that something is wrong with my left leg (my latest injury is on my left knee) through the years and nobody cared to correct me! I’ve been with three (3) running coaches for so many years of running but they did not have the courage to tell me what was wrong with my footwork! What they cared was for me to become a faster runner!
So, my elite runner started to explain to me what I was doing and what should be done to correct my footwork and stride. The correction was immediately done after our “pit stop” and he observed my footwork and strides from my back. He constantly cautioned and warned me if I was going back to my old form during the run. In short, for the last 10K of my run, I was strictly observed by my elite runner on my proper footwork. Since then, I was aware of said correction whenever I do my runs. What was good about it is that the pain on my left knee just disappeared after a few workouts with the corrected form and footwork!
The correction was so simple. I had to point my left toe more outward as I run until it will be conditioned to be pointing directly forward in the long run. Before, my left foot points inward during the take-off and on landing on the ground and this movement put some added pressure to my left knee, thus, after years of running, the knee is already in pain absorbing such added pressure. My leg stride is not balanced. My left foot lands on the ground with more force than my right foot which means that my left foot is exerting more effort than my right foot. My elite runner suggested that I have to loosen my right hips and let my right leg exert some effort during the run. It seems that my right leg is “lazy” during my runs due to stiff hip muscles/flexors. I am still working on my hips to be loose and it was suggested to have more massage on my butt and hip muscles! And the last advise was to have my foot land on the ground on a flatter mode, not on a forefoot strike. Basically, it is flatter than a midfoot landing where tmy midfoot lands almost at the same time with my heel.
After weeks of corrective measures on my footwork and strides, it became natural to me and I could run effortless with higher and more consistent cadence of strides. Of course, I am still “shuffling” but I am more efficient and injury/pain-free during my runs as a result of such corrective measures. One of my running friends observed about the change in my running strides/form when I had my speed run at the ULTRA Oval Track just to apply the corrective measures I have to follow. I had 10 X 800-meter session at that time and I was happy that I did not have any pains on my left knee. However, that was my only “speed” session for the two months that I prepared for this run.
I prepared at least 5 pairs of shoes—Adidas Adizero Adios, Adidas Adizero Mana, Adidas Adizero Rocket, New Balance MT 101, and Hoka One One Bondi B (courtesy of ARC Store Los Angeles).
For my running apparel, ARC Store provided me with shirts (long-sleeves and short sleeves) and brought my ASICS Compression shorts; NIKE Running Shorts; and my ever-reliable ADIDAS Tech-Fit Compression Shorts.
Calf Sleeves: Zhensa (Red & Black)
Hydration System: Nathan’s “Sprint” 10 oz. Handheld Bottle
Running Socks: DryMax
Runner’s Cap: ASICS with cover on the nape (courtesy of ARC); NIKE cap; and Under Armor Cap
Waterproof Jacket/Windbreaker: The North Face: Men’s Venture Jacket (Hyvent DT)
Electronic Gadgets: Ipod Shuffle with Philips Earphones; TIMEX Watch with HR Monitor; Garmin Forerunner 305; Gymboss; SONY VAIO Laptop with SMART BRO Internet Mobile Connection.
Lights: Eddie Bauer Headlights and SureFire’s 6P Flashlight
Medicine: ALEVE Caplets (NSAID) 220 mg.
A telephone call was made to the Commander of the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) of the AFP and SMS to the Commander & Operations Officer of the 7th Infantry Division, Philippine Army requesting them for security and monitoring of my movement along the route by their intelligence operatives. These are military personnel in plain clothes who would mingle with the crowd along the route or stay in one area to watch what is infront and back of me and my support vehicle, most especially during my night runs.
Finally, I created a name for this event as the “West Coast 200K Endurance Run”, in short, WC200! My 3rd Adventure Run and my 2nd one for this year.
To be continued.