Just like in my participation to the Pagsanjan To Majayjay 50K Road Ultra last September 1, Clark-Miyamit 42K Trail Marathon was not a part of my training as an intermediate race in preparation for my target race but knowing that all the known fast trail runners and “hardcore” ultra runners that I know of are going in the event, I finally decided to join the said event barely one week before the scheduled date.
The Race Director, Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale was kind enough to accept my request to join the event together with one of my elite runners, Danin Arenzana, who happens to have won in last year’s CM60K Trail Run. Danin had been my training partner for the past 3 months in my training ground and running after him during the race served as my target-competitor to force me to keep on moving relentlessly from start to finish.
Due to my numerous visits to the Miyamit Falls and recon runs previous to this event, I was confident of finishing this race better than those times that I had visited and trained in this place.
I was prepared to arrive at the starting area at 3:30 AM last Sunday, September 22, 2013 but due to a text message from Jonel Mendoza of frontrunner Magazine that the race start time will be delayed for a hour due to the inclement weather in the area and some problems with the transport of the volunteers/marshals to the peak of the mountain, I took my time to travel and prepare the things/logistics I will be needing in the race.
At 4:30 AM, I arrived at the assembly area and got processed where I was able to sign some papers and got my race bib. It was raining and the temperature was cold and refreshing. I was able to talk to some of the runners and it was some sort of reunion among ultra runners and trail runners. They jokingly told me that I was so serious to say in my blog that I will be on a Race Mode, thus, I will not have any time to talk or “socialize” to any of the runners during the race. I just smiled to them and wished them good luck and have fun during the race.
All the runners were called under the Start/Finish Arc for the final briefing by the Race Director 15 minutes before the start time. There were some pointers and warnings issued by the RD for the runners to know due to the weather condition of the day. I positioned myself at the back of the runners while listening to the briefing. At exactly 5:30 AM, the race started and I was with Jonel as the two of us were last runners to leave the Starting Line.
My race strategy was to position myself at the back of the pack at the start and then slowly pick-up the pace as the race progresses. The first two kilometers were made as my warm-up period with a slow and easy jog as this part of the course is flat and slightly going down. Most of the runners picked-up their pace immediately on the 1-2 kilometers of the route. As soon as I hit the first uphill of the course, I was already sweating, though I was hiking briskly.
On this very challenging trail race, I always see to it that I “brisk-walk” or power hike the uphills and once I reach the top, I force myself to jog and run on the flat and downhill parts of the course. This drill is being repeated from start to finish. However, if the uphill is not too steep, I would attempt to jog over it by taking small gaits/steps but with faster cadence. In order to be consistent in this, I would briskly pump my arms, over swing them and breath faster. Of course, I would do this in my training runs and comfortably apply this in my races.
At the back of my mind, I would like to register a “negative split” of my time in this race by being slower on the first half and then going faster on the last half of the race. Obviously, that will happen because the first half is an uphill climb to Mt Miyamit/turn-around point which has an elevation of about 1,150 meters above sea level and then the last half will all be generally downhill. But such conditioning to the mind did not happen because of the weather condition that brought about with those slippery, muddy, and water-soaked trails.
On the second half or downhill part of the course, the trail was so slippery that most of the runners would look for the sides of the trail where they would land their feet without falling on their butts or worse, on their faces. The muddy condition of the ground had also slowed down most of the runners. But all these were part of the challenge and I really enjoyed running on these muddy, slippery, loose, and water-covered trails.
After the Km #10/AS 3 as I was going up to the peak/turn-around point, I was trying to count the number of runners that I would meet in order to find out my ranking among the runners. It was fun to see these faster runners as they go back to the finish line. I would not be surprised to see these top runners as they see me going up to the turn-around point. But I could see in their faces how surprised they are when they see me as I get nearer to the turn-around point! They are also surprised that they have a few meters gap from me from their backs! As I reached the turn-around point, I was able to count 47 runners that I met along the way which makes me as the 49th runner (Danin was the 48th runner).
Everything that happened in this race was so fast, except when I was going up from the checkpoint at the foot of Miyamit Falls up to the Aid Station #3. I practically walked this uphill stretch of about a mile/1.5 kilometers and it took me 31 minutes! I was not sure if I was exhausted or needed some “sugar” to my body system. I took this opportune time to eat more solid foods (hard-boiled eggs with salt) and take in a GU Gel.
On the last 10 Kilometers to the Finish Line, I tried my best to run and jog all the way except for some delay on those steep downhill slippery parts of the route where I have to walk slowly. I maintained a steady pace and Ultra Runner Jon Borbon kept me company as he was tailing me throughout the said distance.
I finally reached the Finish Line with an Official Time of 7:57:58 hours with a rank of 36th runner among the 115 Finishers. The RD was at the Finish Line to award the Finisher’s Medal and congratulate me for finishing the race.
Finishing at 36th place was more than a success to me since I have targeted a conservative goal for this race to place on the top 50% of the runners. As a result, I landed among the upper 31% of the finishers!
I would attribute such accomplishment on the following:
1. Consistency—I have followed a structured training program for the past 3 months + one week leading to the race where I have completed a total distance of 1,627 Kilometers or 1,017 Miles. Since this mileage was done in 85-90% of mountain trails, I can roughly estimate my total workout for about 325 hours (1,627 kilometers X 12 minutes/kilometer).
2. Specificity of Training—As shown above, almost all my training was done in the mountain trails where my 61-year old body slowly adapted to the challenges of the environment. Speed was put behind and more focus was concentrated on endurance and proper footing/feet-landing techniques on different kinds or situations on the mountain trails. The more slippery or muddier the train is, the better for me!
3. Nutrition & Hydration—In my training, I have experimented on my nutrition and hydration, most specially on my weekend long runs. Such experimentation was applied during the race. For the race, I ate a simple breakfast of steamed rice + 2 pieces of hotdog + hot coffee, 45 minutes before start time. Some runners who greeted me at the Starting Line saw me eating this stuff. I took in some water with the food. Twenty (20) minutes before start time, I took in my first Espresso Love GU Gel. From the start up to the finish, I took this GU Gel every 40-45 minutes and hydrating with Perpetuem Mix and Water every 20 minutes in an alternate manner. At the turn-around point, I started eating my Hopia as my solid food. On my way from Miyamit Falls to the Finish Line, I was able to eat 2 pieces of hard-boiled eggs with salt. I have also six pieces of Butterscotch from Biscocho Haus of Iloilo City in my pack as my reserve food. At the end of the race, I was able to consume eight (8) GU Gels; 4 pieces of Hopia; 2 pieces of hard-boiled eggs; 40 oz. of Perpetuem Mix; and 40 oz of Water. This nutrition & hydration strategy was strictly followed to keep me from “bonking” and reacting to it and as a result, I was being proactive to the needs of my body during the race. It is like being attached with an Intra-Venous (IV) fluid where every drop of fluid enters the body every second.
4. Running Kit & Apparel—-My Patagonia Shorts kept my iPhone on its back pocket with 6 GU Gels (3 pieces on each side pocket). My Patagonia shirt was very light even if it was damp/wet the whole race. The Ultimate Direction AK Vest which I use in my training kept my 2 bottles for hydration and food at the back pack; my tiny Nikon Camera on my right shoulder pocket; and two GU Gels on my left shoulder pockets which I used also to keep my trash during the run. I was wearing my favorite Giro Cycling Gloves which was very useful during the run (I guess, I need to post a separate story for this!). Calf sleeves were used to protect my legs from the sharp leaves of wild grasses along the trails. I also used Gaiters to protect debris and other dirt from entering my shoes. I’ve chosen my ASICS Gel-Mt Fuji Racer Trail Shoes instead of Inov-8 Mudroc 290 due to its lightness and easy drainage of water entering the shoes and it gave me the much needed confidence to paddle through water-soaked, muddy, and slippery trails. My Under Armour running cap and Buff which were damp and wet were also useful in maintaining a lower body temperature on my head and nape.
5. Rest, Recovery, Taper—-From Wednesday up to Friday before the race, I had full sleep during nighttime of not less than 8 hours per night. On Saturday night, I was able to sneak in at least 5 hours of sleep. During my training period, I have to fully rest (without any runs) on Mondays—it’s the day when I eat my favorite food, walk and watch a movie in the malls, and/or read some books. One day before the race, it was completely a rest day for me.
6. Knowledge of the Terrain and Be Able To Acclimatize with the Environment—-Having been to the route at least one month before the race with the same weather condition, I already knew what to expect and I even tried to locate for points/places along the route where I could slow down or speed up or where I would take in my nutrition. I was able to test and find out what would be my running apparel/kit for the race during my last recon run to the place. I was able to test also the amount of fluid and food I would need for the race proper, thus, it would lead to the next factor to consider as stated next to this.
7. Not Stopping At The Aid Stations—–It is enough to hear the cheers and greetings from the volunteers and then for me saying, “Thank you for being here for us” to them as I continue my run and pass every Aid Station along the route. It is either I slowed down with my run or simply hiked/walked as I reached the Aid Stations to greet the volunteers. For the Aid Station on the wider road, I would just wave my hand or give them a “thumb-up” sign to acknowledge their presence on the trails even with the rainy weather condition. The cooler atmosphere and rainy condition contributed for my body not to perspire so much and I was able to conserve my intake of hydration fluid. It was only at the place where the 4 X 4 vehicles were parked where I was able to ask for water refilling on my way back to the finish line.
8. Listening To My Body—My HR Monitor was my basis to get feedback why I would breath heavily during the run. I would see to it that I was maintaining an Average HR of not more than 150 beats per minute. There was only one instance where my Average HR reached to 152 bpm and I had to slow down with my power hike on a steep trail. I would feel some pain on my knees and quads on the second half of the race and that I would slow down and observe if such pain would disappear or not. Generally, I did not experience any severe pains/injury or muscle cramps in any parts of my body up to the end of the race.
Success and being able to reach one’s goal in any race is not developed and attained overnight or for a short time even if one has had finished harder and more challenging races in the past. It takes a lot of planning, attitude, determination, patience and handwork.
In short, this is in my own words is called, “discipline”!
Congratulations to RD Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale for a successful race and my special thanks to those volunteers who braved the inclement weather in the mountains to make sure the safety and well-being of all the runners on the night before the race as well as, after the last runner had crossed the finish line. Good job, guys!
Lace up, go out of the door and run!
(Note: For more details & data of my run, please check on this link: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/380094060)