If you look closer on my blog’s title, I have changed my old tag line which had been there for the past five years. I have decided that I should have a new one and a more “focused” identity to this blog.
So, there you have it. The new tag line is, “My Journey In Ultra Running”.
I think it has been years and months that I missed doing some shoe reviews in this blog. Since nobody from the Shoe Companies in the Philippines is asking me to conduct reviews on their products by giving me free shoes to use, almost all my running shoes were bought from the stores here and abroad. Except for my HOKA One One Shoes (Bondi B and Stinson EVO) which were given as complimentary by Joe Matias of A Runner’s Circle of Los Angeles, all my shoes were bought from my own money.
I bought my New Balance Minimus Ionix 3090 at the Athlete’s Foot Store in Glendale Galleria in Los Angeles last December 2012 as they were marked as On Sale for a price of $59.00 from the original price of $90.00. I was excited of the material and structure of the soles as I could feel with my fingers the soft cushioning on its soles; very light in weight; nice color combination and I thought it would be good for my road runs as a racing flat and daily running workout shoes.
I used it in my 10K daily runs while I was in Los Angeles on the first two weeks of December and I was happy of its performance. It is very light, comfortable, and with cushion plus the fact that I considered it as flat racing shoes. I think I was able to register almost 100 kilometers using the said shoes while I was in Los Angeles.
Once I got back to the Philippines, I used it again for a 20+K run in Baguio City when I peak bagged Mts. Kabuyao and Santo Tomas for the first time in December. While I was staying inside the compound of Fort Del Pilar/PMA, I used it again for my daily runs thereat.
On my first adventure run for this year, I went to the province of Siquijor in the Visayas. I was able to run around the island using the same shoes in 14.5 hours covering a distance of 75 kilometers. However, after the said run, I was able to observe severe signs of wear and tear on the “circles” or rounded portions of the soles. I have the shoes washed for the first time in order to find out the actual damage to its sole. More wear and tear parts were seen, most especially on the sole where the color is orange.
For the next weeks, I did not use the shoes and opted to use my HOKA One One Stinson EVO.
Last March 23, 2013, during the conduct of the 1st SIQUIJOR 75K Run Around The Island, I used it to join the rest of the 32 runners in the said race. I finished the race from start to finish in 13:20+ hours. During the race, I have observed that the cushioning effect of the shoes just simply nowhere to be found and felt my feet pounding so hard on the road during the run. Because of the warm and hot temperature in the early afternoon, I felt a hot sensation on my both feet that I had to walk along the course. I knew that I was not getting enough protection from the heat of the road. The soles did not give me the necessary cushioning and protection.
I didn’t have any problems with the upper structures of the shoes. The material is light and porous that some air would enter to my feet for the needed ventilation. I could “shuffle” easily when my legs are tired because of its lightness and that is a great plus and advantage for this shoes.
After the race, I inspected again the soles and the damage had increased. So, after this race, I declared this shoes as “RETIRED” from my Shoe Arsenal. I think the shoes were able to reach 300 kilometers as its usage/mileage which is I think a poor performance for a running shoes.
I am highly recommending that runners should avoid buying this kind/model of New Balance shoes even if it is being sold On Sale in local running/sports stores.
You always hear the usual greetings, “ Welcome to the Dark World of Ultra Running”, when you finish an ultra race. The way I understand the greetings or statement is that an ultra runner needs to run and finish the race at all cost with his/her strength within the prescribed cut-off time which can last till night time or till the next day. It also means that an ultra runner should also come into reality that running in darkness is part and parcel of being an ultra runner.
As I progressed from 50K distance to 100+kilometer distance races and in my personal experiences in my multi-day adventure runs, I learned to appreciate running at nighttime or in darkness. It came to a point that I have to train and run more kilometers in my training during nighttime. Slowly, I am starting to appreciate the meaning of the said greetings.
In the ultra races that I organize and direct, most especially on the 100-miler distances, like the BDM 160 and TD100, I observed that runners have the fear of darkness, moreso, when they have almost completed one half of the course. This is where I received information of runners of declaring themselves as DNF in the race.
Despite the completeness of lighting equipment of the runners, the fear of running in the darkness comes into their minds. What could be the reason why runners have the tendency to quit the race when darkness comes? If you ask me, I really don’t know why!
Some runners are afraid of dogs on the streets and trails during nighttime and I could understand their predicament. But based from stories from ultra runners, running in darkness alone saps the strength and mental fortitude of an ultra runner. Could it be that this observaton is only applicable to Pinoy ultra runners? I personally don’t believe so. I firmly believe that Pinoy ultra runners are brave to run in darkness.
So, how do we deal with the fear of darkness in ultra running?
In my experience as past military commander, darkness is always a friend of the troops. Soldiers move silently under the cover of darkness in order to “surprise” the enemy and ultimately, defeating them. Some runners also adopt such stealth tactics in ultra races when they put-off their headlights to “surprise” their targets as they get nearer and pass them. Always think that darkness is your constant ally during the run. Don’t believe on ghosts or vampires roaming around you waiting to strike you. There are no such things or creatures! If somebody appears in darkness and it is moving, most likely, it is a human being like you or an animal roaming around the place.
In this age of high technology, there are lighting equipment, i.e. headlamps and hand-held flashlights which have high and powerful illumination with lesser use of power/batteries. There are also batteries which can give extended period of constancy for the illumination needed for these headlamps. Get these “high-tech” headlamps and flashlights and use them in your night runs. It is advisable to use them during your training runs in order to find out for yourself if the advertised capabilities of these equipment are true or not. Never use “new” lighting equipment on race day. And bring extra batteries for your headlamps and flashlights. For better illumination on the course, use both your headlamp and hand-held flashlight. The headlamp is focused on the road/trail (where the feet are leading to) and the hand-held flashlight is directed on a wider-angle in front of you covering both sides of the road/trail.
Most of the time, fear of darkness is attributed or caused by human beings or animals you meet on the course of your run. In my experience, I usually wave my hand and start a conversation by greeting the individual with the usual “Good Evening” or saying, “We are in a middle of a “Fun Run” or “I am jogging to this place and I started from this place”. Always start the conversation and try to look them on their faces. But most of all, simply smile at them and show on your face that you are having fun and enjoying the run. As for stray dogs, simply walk and observe the movement of the dogs. Directing the light of your flashlight to the face of the barking dogs could also “stun” them temporarily.
Gaining 100% confidence running in darkness is through running the course on nighttime. If the course is not available or accessible, you can find a place that resembles the elevation or terrain of the course. Try running alone on this course using your headlamp and/or flashlight not once but as many as you can. Repetition of such workout during nighttime conditions the mind to be relaxed and focused.
Sometimes, having a “buddy” who trains with you could also give confidence and solve your problem of the fear of darkness. Get somebody who would be your pacer or somebody who have the same pace and strength as with you. But you must be always prepared for the “worst” scenario if your “buddy” declares himself as DNF. Get somebody as your “reserve” pacer or “buddy” or wait for another runner to pass you and stick with the said runner as you continue your run. Make that runner as your “point man” along the course.
If you are preparing for a 100K or 100-mile trail ultra marathon, running at nighttime should be your friend and ally.