Race Report: 2017 Miyamit Falls 42K Trail Run (4th Edition)
I was one of the “pioneers” of this trail race and I published a Race Report about it. That was four years ago and had been a trail runner for two years when this event was conducted.
I did not have any plans of joining this year’s edition but I thought of exposing my running buddy and training partner for a race, for the first time, which is very near my Playground. It was still within the Registration Period when I sent a message to the Race Director, Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale, of my intention to join in this year’s edition of the event with another runner. He gladly accommodated my request and I informed my training partner (aka Official Kodaker) that I have registered him to compete in a Trail Marathon.
Whatever my training for the day is the same training that we had to do and run together. For the past months and weeks since the middle of June of this year, my training partner was exposed to the training program/schedule that I got from my Professional Coaching Services. If the schedule calls for “hill repeats”, he would do so but with a faster speed/pace than me. If my schedule calls for a “tempo run repeats”, he would stay with me for the first repetition and ask him to just hold my camera and take pictures of me while doing my intense and hard “tempo repeats” in the mountain. If I do my “strides”, he would quicken his pace as he is always positioned behind me in my runs.
Knowing that he has the strength and speed for the race, I taught and advised him on tactics and race strategy during a race. I advised him to position himself on the 3rd or 4th guy from the front, with his eyes on the leading runner on the first half of the race. If he has still the strength and speed on the second half, that is the time to make a move. On a final advise, I told him not to talk or engage in any conversation with those guys in front of him or to anybody. He should be focused on getting in front by all means before reaching the finish line. However, if he can not keep up with the pace of the top runners, I advised him to conserve his energy on the first half (climb to the peak/turn-around) and then go as fast as he can on the downhill going to the Finish Line. And that was what he did! He finished #6 Overall and he was happy. And the Coach is happy, too!
Four years had passed when I joined the First Edition of this event and I finished #36 out of 115 finishers with a time of 7:58+hours then at the age of 61 years old and two years after I’ve transformed myself from a road runner to a trail runner. It is not bad to condition my mind that I would improve my time in this year’s edition. I announced on my Facebook Wall that I will try to improve my time in this event, even for some few minutes! I was wrong!
At exactly 5:30 AM of Sunday, October 1, the race started at the Alviera Recreational Center in Porac, Pampanga and the runners were combination of those doing the 42K and 26K distances. I call the 42K runners as the “bravest ones” in this event! As for me, running without “trekking poles”, is again my “bravest and dumbest” decision in this race! It should be noted that I finished the CM50 for four times without the aid of trekking poles because I was simply “hard-headed”! I guess, as I become older in this kind of sports of Trail Running, it is already a mandatory on my part to bring trekking poles with me if the event allows the runners to have them as a running gear.
From the Starting Line, I jogged and ran comfortably, making the flat and downhill sections going to Barangay Sapang Uwak (1.5 to 2 kilometers) as my “warm-up” run which is equivalent to my 20-minute of “warm-up” runs during my daily workouts. As I approached the center of the Barangay, I was still running comfortably as the road became steeper. I am glad that we took the original route where almost one kilometer of the steepest portion after the Barangay Hall had been cemented/paved. But the steepness of the road was still brutal to the runners’ legs! A Lady Runner would curse and shout the F-word as I passed her. I really don’t know if she was cursing me or cursing herself or cursing the road! There was no need to look back to see her face or engage in a conversation with her!
There was a lot of new faces in this event and most of them were my first time to see them. I saw some of the “usual suspects” and I know by their names and most of them are “loyalists” to this event. It was also a good observation that I saw a lot of runners wearing the Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 but I was glad I was wearing a different shoes! The color of the my Speedgoat 2 does not match with the color of my Running Kit! Hahaha!
I tried hard to reach the Miyamit Falls within two hours but I failed! I reached the falls at 2:28+hours and went back to AS3 where I filled my hydration bottle before proceeding to the Peak/Turn-around point which is another 10 kilometers! It took me another 2:30+ hours to reach the Peak/Turn-Around point. On my way back to AS3, I have to stop and eat my Pack Meal on a flowing stream where I have to sit on a rock and drink some water. I think I was able to rest for about 20 minutes just to regain my strength and rehydrate my tired body. I even went to extent of pouring cold water from the stream to my head and whole body to cool off and dip my legs to the flowing water. My decision to rest, re-hydrating, taking a dip to the cold water, and eating my packed meal gave me the strength to run all the way to the AS3. It took me another two hours to reach AS3 from the Peak/Turn-Around Point.
I knew already at this point that I could no longer improve my previous time of sub-8 hours! Instead, I took some time to talk with my friend, Joma Sison, who was manning the AS3, and eat some food served at the Aid Station and drank the Sprite soft drinks he reserved for me! Thank you, Joma for being there despite the inclement weather and slippery/muddy road! At this point, I was already raining and my feet would compete with the flowing water on the trail as I ran down towards Barangay Sapang Uwak. I have to stop and refill my hydration bottle for the next two Aid Stations and pour some water to my head and face! There are also sections of the trail that I would run through some deep and shallow muds. And that is part of the fun and challenge in trail running.
From the second to the last Aid Station to the Finish, I knew that my quads will be challenged on those steep downhill road towards Barangay Sapang Uwak and I was prepared for the beating! I continued to run and took some small successive steps on those steep portions of the road until I reached the flatter sections at the center of the Barangay. From the steel bridge, I knew that I have at least 1.5 kilometers to the Finish Line!
I finally crossed the Finish Line in 8:58:30 hours, which is One Hour slower than my previous time! My performance is still on passing grade, considering that the cut-off time for the event is 10 hours! Aside from the inclement weather; muddy and slippery condition of the trail; extended rests on the stream; and staying more time in the Aid Stations, I think my age is catching up on me! However, I am happy that I finished this race; served as one of my training runs for a longer race in the future; and being the Oldest Finisher in this Badass Trail Running Event!
I highly recommend this trail running event to everybody but there is a need for a race-specific training schedule and workout for this event. A 3-month trail running schedule/training preparation with lots of elevation gain and downhill running would best prepare anybody to finish this event within the prescribed cut-off time of 10 hours.
Congratulations to Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale and his Team for coming up on this yearly Badass Trail Running Event. It is one of the well-organized trail races that we have in the country today!
The North Face Orange Shirt; The North Face Cap; The North Face Trail Shorts; AMIHAN Go Lite Race Belt; Taiwan’s Beast Hydration Bottle; The North Face Compression Socks; New Balance Vazee Summit Trail Shoes; Adidas Gloves; 2017 UTMB Buff; San Diego 100-Mile Endurance Run Buff; Miami Sunglass; and IPhone5
Nutrition: XO Coffee Candies; Cloud9 Chocolate; SkyFlakes Condensada; Goya Chocolate Pops; and Meal Pack
I am not fond of Blogs whose topics are about Politics. Since this blog is safely categorized as Health and Lifestyle, a part of being a Sports Blog on Running, and had always been a personal journal of my running adventures, opinion on running about my personal experiences, and my Ultra Races under the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU), such kind of writing will be continuously followed in this blog.
This blog has never been involved in advertising and promoting other running events except for BR’s Events and PAU Events. As for the other running events, I usually post Race Reports in Running Events where I finished or Did Not Finish. I even post Running Events which I intend to join for the year to the point that I would also publish my weekly training schedule and workouts as my preparation for the said events.
My opinions about running are geared towards my personal experiences and the things that I have observed in my participation to running events. There nothing fake about my opinions and experiences as they are taken from my first-hand/personal experience.
There are times that I feature Runners or Ultrarunners who have shown exemplary performance as they serve as inspiration to other runners. These runners are considered as “trailblazers” or “pioneers” to running events where no one have dared to join before, most specially, in international races. To some, they have set a National Record in Ultra Running Events and best performance in International Ultra Running Events.
As I reckon the new birth of ultra marathon/ultrarunning in the country from the time I thought of the idea of conducting the 1st Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race, ten years had passed and I predict that more ultra marathon runners will join us to promote the sports and experience what our body is capable of after the Marathon distance.
Race Report: 25th Edition Of Jungfrau Marathon Race
I did not know about the existence of this event not until I bought a New Zealand Trail Running Magazine at the Auckland International Airport on my way back to Manila after finishing the 2017 Tarawera 100K Ultra Marathon Race. The registration period was scheduled to be opened on the day of my arrival in Manila which was in the middle of February this year. I immediately signed in on the very first day of registration period and I was surprised that there were 800+ runners who have registered already!
I was accepted immediately as there was no lottery and the registration would be closed once the number of registered runners would reach to 5,000 runners. After 3 days, the registration was closed and it appeared in the entry list that I am the only runner from the Philippines to be registered and accepted for this year’s edition which happens to be its 25th edition. Having been not so lucky to be accepted for the CCC of the UTMB Races, I found this race to be an opportunity for me to visit, for the first time, the Europe Continent!
After a month, I registered also for the 80th edition of the Mt Fuji Mountain Race (which I saw an article also in the same New Zealand Trail Magazine I bought at the Auckland International Airport) which only takes only the first 50 registered runners from other countries. The reason why I registered in this race was also an opportunity to visit Japan for the first time!
Research & Planning
I found out that a Pinoy Runner had finished in last year’s edition of the event and I was able to read a news article on Cebu Daily News Online Edition about the feat of Dr. Yong Larrazabal, a low-key Pinoy Marathoner who goes to international cities to join marathon races and a fast runner at that. He was able to finish the race in less than five hours, having been a consistent sub-4-hour finisher in flatter marathon races. Through Messenger, I sent him some questions on how he was able to reach Interlaken, Switzerland coming from Manila. He told me that his point of entry in Switzerland was in Zurich and drove a car to Interlaken. That was all, I did not ask him about the details of the race as every information related to the event is on the English version of the Event’s Website, to include the Route Map, Elevation Profile, Cut-Off Times, and Aid Stations. From their Website, any runner would conclude that this is a well-organized marathon race. The only problems that a runner would solve would be his/her travel/trip arrangements; accommodation; and availability of money…and be healthy and prepared to finish the event.
Training & Preparation
On the last quarter of last year (2016), I decided to enjoy my retirement and be more focused to joining international running events in countries/continents where I’ve never been to. This was the reason why I decided to join the Tarawera 100 Ultra in Rotoura, New Zealand, a reason to visit New Zealand for the first time! After I was accepted at the Mt Fuji Mountain Race, I immediately made a scheduled plan where I would be joining these international race up to the 3rd quarter of 2017. I will still be joining local races but they will be considered as my training and evaluation races to find out if I am improving or not or if I am making good with my training and not “slacking” on my fitness condition. I maybe old at 65 years old but I know I could still find out some potentials on where and how my body strength is still capable of doing.
I decided to get the services of a Professional Coach on Ultrarunning and I started my training in the middle of June of this year. The first two weeks were more on developing my endurance but with better recovery as compared from my previous training schedules. I started to be exposed on quality training with more elevation and intensity on the 3 weeks of training leading to the Mt Fuji Mountain Race through “hill repeats” and tempo runs in my Playground. I have observed that I was getting stronger on my uphill runs and climbs and I am beginning to love faster running in some sections of my route. I may have been short of the time allocated in one of the checkpoints at the Mt Fuji Mountain Race, thus, I declared myself as DNF but I have observed a great improvement in my running on uphills and climbs! I am still in awe and surprised how I was able to continuously run an elevation gain of 4,000 feet for a distance of 10 kilometers in 1 hour & 30 minutes. Before, I would be hiking already after covering a distance of 3-4 kilometers. I knew that my preparation and training for the Mt Fuji Mountain Race was short from being perfect. But I considered my first race after being Coached by a Professional as a part of my training for my future races.
My training for the Jungfrau Marathon was very specific on the 4 weeks after the Mt Fuji Mountain Race, leading to the first weekend of September. I was again exposed to more “hill repeats” and “tempo runs” which were done on steep climbs in my Playground. And in one of my 20-minute tempo runs on a rolling terrain, I have observed that I was getting faster on my pace per mile for few seconds, little increments of improvement, but this is a good result of my training. On my peak training, I would go to Kennon Road (Zigzag Road to Baguio City) and run continuously the last 17 kilometers before reaching Baguio City which I covered in 2.5 hours. Aside from that, I spent my weekend back-to-back runs in Mt Tapulao, Palauig, Zambales and Mt Roosevelt where I would be running under the rain and cold temperature of Mt Tapulao. On my taper week towards the race, I had my one-hour recovery runs each day and fully-charged sleeps every night (7-8 hours of sleep).
I attempted to apply a Shengen Visa with the French Embassy but I was asked to apply, instead to the Swiss Embassy since I will be staying more days in Switzerland. Since I did not bring any Passbook of my Bank accounts when I applied for the Swiss Visa (I only submitted a Bank Certificate), I was asked to submit a Bank Statement for the last 6 months. Unfortunately, my Bank could only issue me my 3 months of Bank Statement and I have to request to their Main Office and wait for 1 week for the said documents. Instead of waiting for one to two weeks, I went to AFPSLAI to get whatever the Swiss Embassy would require in order to tell them that I am capable of paying my trip and stay in Switzerland. In less than 15 minutes, I was able to get a Bank Statement for the past 15 years in only ONE page!
As of this time, I have not yet received my Bank Statement from the local commercial bank which caters to my banking needs for the past 30 years! And come to think of it, this is the oldest bank of the Philippines!
I found out that the Swiss Embassy is very strict on trying to monitor my movements/trips within their country to the point that they would like to know where I will stay for the duration of my visit in their country. I just realized the reason why when I was finally in front of the Swiss Immigration Officer when I landed in Geneva, Switzerland. The Swiss Immigration do not require their visitors to submit or fill-up an Immigration Card. They simply check your visa and mark it with a stamp indicating your date of entry in the country!
I made reservation for my flight arrangements with the Travel Agency that had been very helpful to me for the past 17 years and I was booked with the Qatar Airways with a stop-over in Doha, Qatar for 2.5 hours. My hotel accommodations reservations were personally made by me through OnLine on booking.com. And used the Google to its fullest for the trip/land travel arrangements.
I did not ask for any sponsors or made any requests from my friends in the corporate and government offices or came up with a running event to raise funds in order to support my logistical needs for this event. Joining this event is a personal choice and endeavor and I don’t want anybody to have the burden in supporting me.
Even if I am the ONLY Filipino runner in this year’s edition of the event, there is no need to brag about it. This is the reason why I don’t wave or display the RP Flag whenever I finish an international running event. I am just an ordinary and private Filipino runner enjoying my retired life!
My hotel, Hotel Central Continental, is 50 meters away from the Interlaken West Train Station and about one kilometer away from the Starting Area of the Race and Das Zelt, the place where the Race Exposition and Race Packet Kit Claiming Area is located, is just on the Public Park adjacent to the Starting Area. After checking-in at my Hotel, I immediately went to the Race Packet Kit Claiming area where it is located and I was able to get my Race Bib, Drop Bag at the Finish Line Tag, Event’s Magazine, and an ASICS Hydration Pack (Black).
The 5,000 runners in this race were divided into 6 groups——Elite Runners & 1st Wave and 2nd Wave to the 6th Wave. The Elite Runner and 1st Wave would start at 8:30 AM and my group, which is the 6th and last group would start at 8:55 AM. Each group would be released every 5 minutes of which was done for the first time in this event.
I was on my way to the Starting Line when the 1st Wave was released at exactly 8:30 AM. I entered my corral when the 2nd Wave was released and I had enough time to position myself with the rest of the runners in my Wave. Every time a Wave was released we would move forward nearer to the Starting Line. It was time to check my AMIHAN Go Light Race Belt for my IPod Touch, gels, light jacket, and power bars and they were all properly stashed on my waist.
At exactly 8:55 AM, all the runners in my Wave which were easily identifiable by their race bib numbers beginning with the number 6 and myself started to jog and easily claimed my spot a few meters away from the Starting Line. The runners were not crowded at the start and I simply relaxed and imagined that my first 15-20 minutes were my warm-up runs during my training. After two miles, I started to increase my pace as the course would be flat and paved. As we left the center of the City of Interlaken, it started to drizzle and the announcement before the race started that it will be rainy and cold during the course was becoming a reality. It is even anticipated that it will be foggy and very cold once we will be reaching the last 15K towards the Finish Line.
Before reaching Mile 4, I was already passing the tail-end of those runners on Wave 5 and I was surprised. Such observation inspired me to maintain my pace and steadily move forward. There are portions of the flat sections which are wide dirt road with crushed gravel which you might think that the event is a trail running event. I have observed that I would pass some runners on the uphills but some of them would pass me on the downhill. It was a no big deal on my part since these runners would look like they are half younger than my age!
I reached the 6.2 Mile Mark (10K) in 56:22 minutes in the town of Wilderswil where there was an Aid Station. I took one of my GU Gels and then took at least two cups of water as I was sweating a lot even if it was drizzling. I was too nervous that I might be cut-off in this Checkpoint, thus, I was running faster than what I have planned. The cut-off time here is 9:55 AM or one hour from our Wave 6 start. So, I have less than 4 minutes as cushion as I passed this checkpoint. Based from my recorded split, I was ranked #2,832. At Kilometer #15, where the cut-off time is 10:25 AM or 1:30 hour elapsed time, I was able to gain one minute as additional cushion time where I timed at 1:25:47 hours but my rank decreased to #3,031. It could be that I slowed down or the other runners who started slower are starting to pick-up their pace at this point.
After I passed the beautiful town of Lauterbrunnen and reached the checkpoint at Km #21, my time registered at 2:11:34 and my rank decreased to #3,244 and it was due to brief walking at the Aid Station to grab some water, take in some bananas and GU Gel. But I was able to gain another almost one minute as cushion from the cut-off time of 2:17:00. From Km #21 to Km #25, it was slight uphill at the start but once you cross a river, it is almost slight flat and downhill. However, after reaching Km #25 where I timed in in 2:40:23 hours and placed #3,279, it was now the start of a steep switchbacks which are more than 15 turns going up to the mountain. However, I was able to gain a total of cushion time here for almost 8 minutes! It was raining harder at this point and I was starting to feel the air to be thin and cold that my hands were starting to get numb. I brought out my Patagonia Light Jacket (Waterproof) from my AMIHAN Race “Go Lite” Belt and zippered it all the way to my chin to keep my body warm. I would hide my palms from the sleeves of my Jacket just to keep them warm!
Before reaching the next checkpoint at Km #30, I had the urge to pee and I decided to just approach one of the trees beside the road and took my time to unload my urine. This is where I had been overtaken or passed by 50 runners! But once I reached the checkpoint, my time was 3:39:57 hours and I was ranked #3,329! But I was able to gain a total cushion time of 13 minutes!
From Km #35, it was the start of the steep uphill climb to the peak of the mountain, it was still raining and the temperature was going down to freezing cold. This is where I remember my training in Kennon Road leading up to Baguio (17 kilometers) and my uphill climb in Mt Tapulao (14 kilometers) during a rainy and inclement weather! I started to hike strongly and then jog from time to time on those steep ascents and flat portions of the course. At checkpoint Km #38, my time was 5:12:18 hours and I was ranked #3,325, an improvement of 4 slots and have a cushion time of 15 minutes. At this point, it was already a “conga line” of runners on the steepest part of the course and it was raining, foggy, and with muddy single-track trail.
I got to make my move as the other runners in front of me were too slow in their hike towards the peak. I would start to jog, get out of the trail to pass the slower ones, one at a time, until I reached the peak of the mountain. The last one kilometer was downhill and I started to run, braving the cold wind, thick fog, rain, and thin air! Finally, I crossed the finish line together with some of the runners with an official time of 6:14:17 hours!
I was surprised to find out that I was able to pass 64 runners on the steepest part of the course even if it was cold, building up a cushion time of almost 16 minutes before the the cut-off time of 6:30 hours. However, as I reviewed the official result, I found out that the Race Organizer decided to adjust the course cut-off time to 7:00 hours! Maybe, it was due to the inclement weather during the race. I am glad the race was not stopped even when it was raining hard on the last few hours of the event.
Out of 95 starters on my Age Category of 65 years old and above, I placed/ranked #60. Out of the almost 5,000 runners, I was ranked #3,261.
The Marathon Race has an elevation gain of 8,406 feet and elevation loss of 3,386 feet.
Not bad for an old 65 years old runner from a tropical country finishing a marathon race in the Swiss Alps!
2017 MILO Half-Marathon (21K) Qualifying Race In Tarlac City/August 13, 2017
I was supposed to have an scheduled 5-hour LSD/Hike in the mountain trails on this day but I asked my Coach if I could join and qualify for the MILO Marathon Race to be held this coming December 2017 in a Half-Marathon Race to be held on a Sunday. My Coach gave his approval with the condition that I have the option to continue my hike later in the afternoon to complete the 5-hour LSD/Hike for the day. However, after the race, I decided to completely rest.
My OnLine Registration 10 days before the race did not push through as the Local Race Organizer could not open the e-mail that I sent to them. However, I was given the assurance that I would be allowed to join the race as long as I will be early at the Race Packet Pick-Up Booth on Race Day. Two hours before the start of the race, I was already at the site making some effort to be included in the list of qualifiers for the race. The local race organizer was very helpful to arrange with the MILO staff/personnel coming from Manila to have me included in the 21K race after accomplishing my registration form and submitting the required Medical/Doctor’s Certificate and MILO Pack.
Thirty minutes before the start of the race, I was already at the Runner’s Corral and behind all the runners as some runners would request for Photo-Ops with me. In between those requests, I would do some quick stretching on my legs and arms. Some runners whom I’ve known and joined in some of my PAU/BR’s Events’ Races would greet me and wish them luck in the race, in return.
The race started at exactly 4:30 AM after a short program—Singing of the National Anthem; A Prayer; A Greetings to all the Runners; and a Good Video on the Reminders for the Runners For Us to have an organized and problem-free race. As soon as the Starting Gun went-off, I started to brisk walk and positioned myself at the back of the pack. As soon as the road became more spacious for me, I started to run and tried to keep pace with those runners on my sides and on my front.
I really wanted to run this race while observing my effort as based from my breathing and how high were my knees while I was running. The harder I could breath and the higher my knees are would indicate that I was forcing my pace really hard and with more speed. However, based from my training, I made my first 20 minutes of my run as my warm-up run which is I think within the Range of 6-7 effort with 10 as the Maximum Effort. After 20 minutes had lapsed, I started to have my tempo run which would last for 10 minutes (Effort Rate at 8-9) and then recover for 2-3 minutes at a Range of 6-7 effort. This kind of tempo run was repeated all throughout the race until I reached the turn-around point at 10.5K. I was surprised that my time was below one hour!
On my way back to the Finish Line, I started to run faster and tried 5-minute “strides” with 2-minute “recovery” run and then later reduced to 40-second “strides” with 20-second “recovery” run. I was happy that my time was sub-1:55-hour when I reached the 20-Km mark but suddenly, I felt a “cramping” sensation on my right calf that prevented me from maintaining my pace and be able to finish the race in less than 2 hours. The more I would keep my pace, the cramps would become more severe and painful that I could hardly lift my right leg. I decided to run slowly and walked later for a few meters and waited until the muscle/calf tightening was over. On the last kilometer to the finish line, I had my slowest pace in the race that almost all of the runners that I’ve passed in the last 2 kilometers had overtaken me.
No worries. I finished the race in 2:00:33 hours which is almost 15 minutes faster than my qualifying time for the age of 65-69 years old. Oh, well, my name is not listed in the published list of qualifiers in the MILO Tarlac City Leg but I know this will be corrected soon by the Race Organizer.
As a point of comparison and analysis of my performance in this race, I tried to look for my split times in last March’s Los Angeles Marathon where I registered a split time of 2:04:30 hours at Km 20 point and comparing it with my split time now of 1:54:++hours, it is clear that I’ve improved in my pace and speed for about 10 minutes for the said distance. Hopefully and at last, I will be able to attain my dream to try and find a race for me to qualify for the Boston Marathon. God willing!
On a personal note, this is the only race (for the past years) where I did not use a compression socks or calf sleeves. I’ve been running ultras with calf sleeves/compression socks and I never experienced any cramps on my calves and I personally believe that I should have used them on this race. With this experience, whether it will be a short race or an ultra running event, I will be using these compression socks and/or calf sleeves in my future races!
I will be happy to visit Cebu City this coming December 2017 to join in the 2017 MILO Marathon Finals.
Nutrition: One Power/Energy Bar Before The Race; One GU Gel on the last 4K; Water In Every Aid Station
Repost from the Blog of CTS (Carmichael Training System)/Jason Koop:
The 3 Things That Separate Failure From Success in Ultrarunning
We had a training blog ready to go for today, and then we got an email that changed everything:
I’ve been dreaming of finishing Leadville for over thirty years and I’ve failed seven times. That’s right… seven times. But then I came across your book, hired CTS and was connected with John Fitzgerald. I entered the race this year knowing it would likely be my last attempt, no matter the outcome.
My day at Leadville started slow and I was chasing cutoffs even at Winfield. Had John not been at Winfield, I would have been practicing my hitchhiking skills. John greeted me with a smile, watched over me like a protective parent and was the most perfect pacer God ever created. For the next seventeen hours I was cranky, often despondent, and I tried to bail a few more times. All the while, John just kept feeding me calories and repeating over and over that we were “going to get this done.” He told me to believe in myself and finally around Turquoise Lake, I did.
John willed me to finish Leadville in under 30 hours. In doing so, I was able to keep a promise to my mother and fulfill a lifelong dream. Even more amazing: for a brief moment my preteen kids thought I was cool.
I’ll write a full report and circulate it to you in a few weeks. In the meantime, I had to drop you this note. I am not often at a loss for words but I am now. I am because of your book, all of CTS, and most of all because of the selfless act and inspiration of John Fitzgerald.
It was also great to spend time with Coach Corrine Malcolm and even see you and Adam St. Pierre on the backside of Hope Pass. I’m honored to be part of the CTS tribe.
Hope you and your team have a great time in a France and I look forward to jogging with you all again soon.
We have the greatest job on earth. Like any job it comes with its frustrations and not every day is sunshine and roses, but on some days… On some days we get to witness athletes achieve more than they thought possible. On some days we get to watch an athlete cross a finish line he failed to reach seven times. Those are the golden days.
For those of you who have repeatedly failed to achieve your dream, we want you to know there is a path to success. When it comes to epic endurance challenges there are three components that make the difference between failing time after time and finally succeeding: Preparation, Belief, and Support.
To succeed where you have previously failed you need to take an “all-in” approach to preparation. The time for half measures is over. Many times the reason athletes repeatedly fail is because their goals are so ambitious they stretch the limits of their physical capacity. That is often the very thing that makes those goals so enticing and fuels the passion to continue the pursuit. Never shrink from those goals.
In “Training Essentials for Ultrarunning”, Coach Jason Koop encouraged athletes to choose events they are emotionally invested in. Despite seven previous failures, Coach John Fitzgerald didn’t try to talk Jason Bousliman out of returning to Leadville. He didn’t suggest trying an ultra with less elevation gain or at a lower elevation. There are other events Jason could have finished without flirting with cutoffs, but Leadville was the event he was passionate about, and that emotional investment was crucial for the ability to go “all in” with preparation.
When everything has to go right in order for you to reach your goal, you have to train everything. This is where many athletes fall short. Superior fitness solves a lot of problems, but it’s not enough to just be fit. You also have to train your gut to handle a greater volume of food and fluids. You have to train your feet to handle the abuse of training and competition. You have to train toughness and the ability to cope with the unexpected and work through difficult problems. Sometimes the athlete who finally succeeds is no more fit than he or she was during all the failed attempts, but the successful athlete is always more prepared.
Coach Andy Jones-Wilkins gave an impassioned speech the night before the 2016 Western States Endurance Run, in which he told the many athletes before him that to reach the finish line they first had to stand on the start line with the unwavering belief they would finish. You go to the start knowing you’re going to finish. Not hoping to finish. Not trying to finish. Not playing it by ear. Start with the unwavering belief you will finish and you are already part of the way there.
Believing in yourself and that you will finish does not mean it will be easy or that you will not experience doubt or the desire to quit. But that underlying foundation of belief is necessary for getting through those rough patches. Belief in your preparation, in the work you’ve done, and the reason you are there are what build a foundation that won’t be washed away by a flood of doubt.
Though its exact origin is unknown there is great truth to the proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” The journey to the finish line of an ultramarathon is far longer than the race itself, and not even self-sufficient competitors (no crew, no pacers) can say they reach it alone.
Jason Bousliman made the 2017 Leadville 100 a family affair. Everyone was in on it. There was a team uniform and three generations of Bouslimans out at the aid stations. They were joined by CTS Coaches, including Jason Koop, Corrine Malcolm, and Adam St. Pierre. And then there was John Fitzgerald.
The role of a pacer is part pack mule, part counselor, part cheerleader, and part drill sergeant. In the back half of an ultramarathon athletes are on an emotional and nutritional roller coaster. Out in the darkness of the trail the baddest of bad asses sit down and cry, and when you fall to pieces the right pacer is essential for putting you back together. As such, the best pacer may not be the strongest runner, but rather the person you want by your side when you are your most vulnerable. Choose wisely. John Fitzgerald ran, walked, cajoled, and shepherded Jason Bousliman for 17 hours, not to claim his own Leadville buckle, but to see Jason earn his.
Jason Bousliman failed seven times. We have all failed at some point, and maybe several. But no number of past failures precludes you from future success. With Preparation, Belief, and Support, anything is possible.