Race Report: 2014 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (Last Part)
What Went Wrong?
5. Gout Attack——Just when I finished my last long run in preparation for this event, I had a gout attack and the joint on my big toe was inflamed and sore. My first gout attack was in March 2008 and since that time my choice of food was limited to those with no uric acid. For the past 6 years and a half, I was on a diet and I was able to control my uric acid intake. However, for the month of October, I was not able to control my diet and craving for boiled peanuts & beans and native chicken & goat’s meat! Actually, on those days and weeks that my toe was inflamed, I forced myself to hike on the mountains. On race day, I was still feeling some pain on my toes but I was able to endure even if I was able to ingest my ALEVE tablets before the start of the race.
What Went Right?
1. Lesser Mileage, Healthier Knees——I am scared to think that reality is setting in—I am getting older and I need to take care of my knees. With the lesser mileage on every week in my training, I was able to preserve the good condition of my knees. Plus, the addition of a recovery day aside from my usual Monday rest had also added the stability of my knees during the race. I did a lot of strengthening exercises which were focused on my legs and core muscles but most of these exercises were geared to strengthen the muscles surrounding my knees. I did these exercises at least three times a week. If you are wondering what are these exercises, they are very simple! I did body squats, lunges, 100-ups, push-ups; exercises that strengthen my hip flexor using an elastic band; and Pilates exercises that strengthen the core.
2. Taper Properly——This is the most violated training principle among the younger ultra runners whom I know. They think that tapering for one week is enough for them to have fresh legs and body ready to tackle this very challenging race. For the two to three months that I was focused on the training for this race, I had my longest run on the seventh week, which is three weeks before Race Day. My longest run was a 26-mile (42K) mountain trail run which lasted for 8-9 hours and I was able to finish strong and my knees were able to hold on with the course where I had my training. After this long run, I made a steady reduction of my mileage on the coming weeks leading to Race Day until I was running 4-5 miles on my last week and got rested and slept well two-three days before Race Day. This is one of the reasons why I decided to postpone the inaugural edition of the General Aguinaldo Historic Trail Run which I intended to join as one of the participants. This race was scheduled two weeks before the CM 50 Race Day. I was able to monitor the younger runners who joined a trail running event one week before Race Day and I had the observation that they did not perform well in this event. Some of these younger runners would tell me that they have not recovered well after the race they have joined 7 days ago.
3. Nutrition——This is the second time in a running race event that I used VESPA. I’ve used this before in my long runs and I find them effective and working well with my body system. At this time, it was more effective when I started using Udo’s Oil as part of my supplementary nutrition. I usually mix at least two spoonful of this oil once a day in one of my viands/food either in my lunch or dinner for the three weeks that I was on tapering mode. I could feel that I was gaining a little weight which I would thought will be a source of my stored energy in my body to be used during the race. I took one pack of VESPA after eating my meal before the race and for the next 4-5 hours I was full of energy, taking only two (2) pieces of GU Gel, and hydrating with water every 30 minutes. I was not feeling “thirsty” because I was putting a Dynamite Candy in my mouth every time I ingest a VESPA Pack. I suspect that my slow pace made my stored fats as the source of energy and not from the carbohydrates that are available in my body. After 4-4 1/2 hours, I would feel hungry and that’s the time that I would eat my PB & J sandwiches, take another VESPA pack + GU Gels + Dynamite Candy and continue with my run. For the whole duration of the race, I was able to consume 4 packs of VESPA. From AS4 on my way to the peak, I started mixing my 2 MILO Packs with 1 GU Gel in my water bottle which is equivalent to almost 300 calories and I would ingest the whole liquid mix in one bottle within one hour. This mixing of MILO Packs + GU Gel was repeatedly done all the way to the finish line. Last year, I used Perpetuem Powder mixed with water as my source of nutrition and some solid foods (sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, and boiled bananas).
Because of the hotter condition of the day as compared to last year, I might have used the stored fats in my body faster than what I’ve experienced before and I felt weak and exhausted once I returned to AS4 after coming from the Peak/turn-around point. It was an “accident” that I impulsively asked for a Sprite Drink and such “sugar-rush” to my body jolted me to be on a faster mode in my pace from AS4 to the Falls and back to AS4! I suspect also that from this point, my body needed more carbohydrates to propel me all the way to the finish line. This is the reason why I had to ingest some rice and solid food and more Sprite Drinks at AS3 and every hour after this, I was already using my remaining Gels up to the Finish Line.
4. Knowledge of the Course——This is the only year that I was not able to run the CM42 race in preparation for the CM50. Also, I did not had any runs or visits or recon runs along the course. From the past CM42 and CM50 races that I joined and finished, I was able to know what to expect along the course, from the Start to every Aid Station up to the Peak and back to the Finish Line. I was confident on what to expect in every turn and particular place along the route. Such knowledge of the course made me more confident that I will be able to finish the course within the prescribed cut-off time of 18 hours.
5. Having Fun——With the lack of mileage, sickness/diarrhea , condition of my knees, gout attack, and of course, my age, I tried to condition my mind to have a better performance on this race. Such positive thinking pushed me to endure everything and reminded me about my race strategy to focus more on my nutrition and that I would be healthy & injury-free to finish the race. This reminded me of the practice or tip of which I adopted from my Coach——placing one piece of GU Gel inside my cycling gloves/one GU Gel in each glove! This practice would remind me that I need to take a Gel every time I would swing my arms while running. Once I use one Gel, I would replace it with another one from my Belt Pouch and place the litter in one of my shoulder pockets of my hydration pack. I was also having fun when I outrun the younger runners and sometimes would scare them when they see me that I am nearing them or about to overtake them. Counting my strides when fatigue and heat of the sun would be very hard to the body gave me more fun as I gained some distance getting nearer to each of the Aid Stations.
6. Evaluation Run——I did not join this race to earn some points for the UTMB and I don’t have any future plans of going to Chamonix, France to join such race. This race is an evaluation run for the training program that was given to me in preparation for this race. It is also an evaluation run to determine my strengths and weaknesses as I prepare for my future races in the next year to come. I have learned (again) a lot of lessons that I need to make some adjustments in my race tactics, strategy and nutrition needs. I have also personally evaluated that my knees are getting stronger if I give them the much needed rest and recovery. I have learned also that I could run in a slow pace for me to use my fats as the source of energy and I could easily switch to a faster pace mode if I consistently add more carbohydrates to my body system. Lastly, taper mode on the last three weeks leading to Race Day and getting a lot of rest and sleep on the last week made a lot of difference.
How Much Did I Spend?
Coaching Services——P 13,000.00
Training Expenses (Travel & Food + Supplements)——P 3,000.00
Nutrition & Hydration Needs (During The Race)——P 2,500.00
Registration Fee——P 2,500.00
Transportation Costs (Gasoline + Highway Toll Fees)——P 2,000.00
New Gear (Ultimate Direction Belt Pouch + SALOMON Cap)——P 2,500.00
Was The Event Finish Worth For The Expenses?
Of course, setting an Event Record in the history of this race as the Oldest Runner to have finished the course in two consecutive years within the cut-off time of 18 hours is more than enough to compensate for what I’ve spent financially in this event. I would not regret spending my spare time in the mountains and trails just to prepare for this event. In the course of my training, I was able to meet a lot of people and make friends with the people in the mountains and being able to learn of how these people live in the mountains and know their problems. In the race, I was able to meet new runners and find time to talk to the “usual suspects” in ultra running in the country whom I only meet in person during such events even if we regularly communicate through the social media. Some of them are participants in the race and some of them served as “volunteers and marshals” in the Aid Stations, turn-around point and in the Lahar Area. As you might have observed, I don’t show or brag my Finisher’s Medal or wear those Finisher’s Shirts as they are not important every time I finish a race. It is the experience and the journey in finishing the race that count most.
Future Plan On This Event
Definitely, I will be back for the 2015 edition and train harder as long as my knees and body are healthy and injury-free. I need to bring back my INOV-8 X-Talon Trail Shoes and my hand-held bottles which I used last year and try to train for more speed on the trails. I am not shifting to any kind of diet but I will have to be more disciplined and selective on my food, making sure that they are uric acid-free and won’t cause diarrhea.
Suggestions/Advise To “New” Runners For This Event
1. Know your Ideal Racing Weight—-If you think you are heavy and way above your BMI, you should reduce—with more calories to burn and lessen your intake of unnecessary foods. Such weight that you can shave off from your body will compensate for the hydration and foods/nutrition needs that you will carry on your vest or belt/pockets.
2. Start going to the Trails—-I mean, mountain trails! And start your training NOW! Start with some hiking in the mountains along dirt roads or single-track trails and feel how your body responds to the ground, elevation, and the scenery. If you have the time do your trail hiking on a daily basis, then do it! If not, make sure you hike on your weekends or off-duty days. Be patient on this as you make your progress from a 30-minute hike up to 8-9 hours of running/jogging/hiking in the mountains on your peak training period. Once you progress and adjusted to trail running, look for a place that has the same elevation profile with that of the race and do more of your training in the said place. If you can have access to the actual route, by all means, spend your weekend runs thereat. If you are afraid to go to the mountains, then you can do it with the “Philippine Army’s Scout Ranger” way! (Note: This will be discussed in my future post featuring one of my Ultra Running friends)
3. Be selective in your Races—-It is not on the quantity of races that you have finished that defines you as a good runner. It is the quality of your performance in finishing your selected races. If you have decided to join this race as your A-priority race, then start your training as early as possible, save some money for your registration fee and training costs, register early and abide by the race/RD’s requirements, and treat your other running races as your training and evaluation runs. Make sure that you have to make some space or period of recovery in between these running events so that you will come out stronger and smarter in the process. Not because you are still young and strong that you don’t need to taper and have more rest before the Race Day, it is always you and only you will be the one responsible for your success or unsuccessful finish in this race.
4. Nutrition is the Key—-In every race, I keep on learning about my nutritional needs. “Fat-Burning” and Carbohydrates as sources of my energy work well with me in ultras. But it took me a lot of time and experience to try what is best for me. It is also worth to know that I have to fully stop and take a rest if I need to ingest solid foods to my system. In the past, I would take in some solid foods while on the move but it gave me more problems like choking and coughing, most specially in high altitude races that I have joined in the past. However, I don’t have any problems ingesting my Gels as I have to suck them quickly and followed with a sip of water from my bottle. Once my taste for the Gel would become uncomfortable for me to swallow, I would start mixing them in my water with my powdered drinks like MILO Packs and just the same, they give me the much-needed calories for my body. As the experts would always advise, fuel up early in the race while your pace is slow and then progressively pick-up the pace while maintaining your food intake and hydration. It is easily said but it needs a lot of practice and discipline.
Thanks for reading my longest Race Report! Keep on running and see you on the mountain trails!