Race Report: 8th Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Ultra Trail Run (CM50)
The score is now 3-2! For the past six years since 2012, I finished successfully the Clark Miyamit 50-Mile Race for three consecutive years, starting when I just turned 60 years old. I was lost on the last 3 kilometers to the Finish Line in the 2016 edition missing the cut-off time where I could had finished it easily. And then I volunteered as the Aid Station Marshal at AS3 in last year’s edition as my way of giving back to the trail running community in the country.
In my past Race Reports of this event, I made sure my story to be detailed as I can remember so that future trail runners who would like to join and challenge themselves with this event had some background on what to expect along the route and get some lessons and tips about my training/preparation; nutrition and hydration strategy; and those detailed things on what to do if things would go wrong. Until this time, I would re-read and review all my previous posts about my Race Reports whenever I have plans of joining this event. The RD, Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale is a very good friend who would readily accepts me to run his event in a short notice.
As everybody knows, I posted on Facebook that I finished the race but beyond the cut-off time of 9+minutes and I am considered as an Official DNF of the event. Out of 205 starters, I could had been the last finisher at #162 ranking and would had defended my self-imposed title as the Oldest Finisher of this Badass Event. And I was devastated and frustrated once I crossed the finish line for not being able to implement on my Race Plan—reach the turn-around point/Peak before 9:00AM; leave AS 4 after coming from the Miyamit Falls on or before 12 Noon; reach AS3 at 1:30PM; and a “go-for-broke” and “survival” mode on the last 4:30 hours for a distance of 22+kilometers to the Finish Line.
I failed “big time” on the last section of the plan where I had 4:30 hours of time to run a distance of 22+kilometers. If I finished the race within the prescribed cut-off time of 18 hours, I would not be here explaining those things that went wrong during the run. I would have easily said that everything went right and mentioned some “glitches” that challenged me to endure in order to reach the finish line. The runners who were with me on our descent from AS4 and AS3 towards the Finish Line were surprised that I faltered on the last 19 kilometers (AS2) up to the last last 8 kilometers (AS1). With those who were with me “fighting for the last golden minutes” (I think there were 5-6 of them whom I passed on the last kilometers, who are younger), I am sorry for giving them a false expectation or hope of telling them that we could still make it before 6:00PM. What I was trying to instill in them was to fight for their last strength and breathe in order to cross the finish line….they should have the “do or die” attitude to reach and cross the finish line, end their suffering, and of course, collect their deposit of P500.00!
You might say that I am “sour-graping” or looking for some excuses for not being able to finish this race as what I had planned for. But this is me, I had been a runner throughout my life and a fighter and passionate in this sport. It is in my brain, blood, and my body system. Whether I fail or succeed, I will still be a runner. And this is what really happened…..
My Coach prepared a Training Schedule for me after finishing the Salomon Cappadocia 63K Medium Race (in the middle of October) in preparation for the MILO Finals Marathon which will be held on December 9, 2018 in Laoag City. I told him that I would like to finish my BQ time of 4:10 or faster for my age of 66 years old in the said race. So, since then, everything on my workout was for a Marathon distance. However, two weeks ago, I told him that I will be joining a 50-miler trail run and just be able to finish the event as an LSD. I lied on the reason! Actually, I was trying to earn my UTMB/ITRA Points in this event and maybe, improve on my ITRA Performance Index. He told me not to join the event but I could have the option to choose a lesser distance and I told him that I could downgrade to the 60K event. He replied that 60K was too much for me and he was against it. So, the only choice I had was for the 10-miler event which I did not mention to my Coach. For the past days, I just kept silent and followed my prescribed training every day but on two weekends before the CM50, I would increase the number of hours of hiking in the mountains with my trekking poles in the company of one of my ultra running friends who joined and successfully finished the 60K course. My Coach silently knew that I was “hard-headed” and he would see my posts on Facebook that I am going for the CM50. This was my first mistake…not following the advise of the Coach whom I am paying for his services. Lesson learned: Let the experts do their work and strictly follow their advise!
2. For the first time, I decided to use a HOKA One One Speedgoat2 for this race, instead of my New Balance or ASICS Racing Flats or my Salomon Speedcross 4 which I’ve been using before. At Kilometer #8, while approaching PUNING’s RESORT my left foot hit a small rock imbedded on the road and I tripped, making my left knee hit the ground first, and then my right knee, and then followed with my two hands which acted as my brace to protect my face from hitting the ground! It was a hard fall as the ground was hard and solid, not a sandy ground! Shit! This tripping/falling to the ground was happening again early in the race with a pair of HOKAs on my feet. This thing happens to me all the time whenever I wear these HOKAS! I knew it was going to happen because I am natural “shuffler” when I run! Even if I was wearing the brightest headlamp available in the market, Lupine Lighting System, at that time, a sloppy “shuffler” runner like me should not wear HOKAS in a trail race. The impact of the fall on my knees would bring back havoc and pain as I descended from the peak down to Barangay Sapang Uwak. Lesson learned: I should have used my Salomon Speedcross 4 or Speedcross PRO or my new NB Racing Flats!
3. I bought the most expensive Trekking Poles in the market——GIPRON Trekking Poles and they are the lightest! I used them once or twice in my short runs and they were fine. But during my ascent and descent to and from the Peak (during the race), they gave me some “pain in the ass” as the string would loosen its hold on the different segments of the pole. Instead of the usual 3 segments in the Black Diamond and Leki Poles, GIPRON are folded in 4 segments. I would stop whenever the segments would loosen as both poles create a weird sound as they hit the ground. I would tighten the string only to find it loosen again after a few meters. It was stop and go for me fixing on this problem. Because of this problem, it slowed me down and just distracted my focus to maintain my speed/pace. A lot of runners had passed me on my way down from the Peak to the Falls because of this predicament. After a day since the race, I sent a message to an ultra running friend in Hongkong and sent him a picture of the locking system of the GIPRON Trekking Pole and told him my experience during the race. He told me that the trekking poles were not LOCKED when I used them during the race. He instructed me to pull the string harder until I could see a small knot on the string and let that knot to be anchored on the slot at the top end part of the handle! Another SHIT again!!! I saw the small knot as I pulled the string harder away from the handle! I was cursing and laughing when my friend told me that “I was not the FIRST one who experienced this SHIT on these trekking poles!” Lesson learned: Ask the manufacturer of this expensive trekking poles to enclose some written instructions on the package whenever they ship out to their buyer! Not even the video on YouTube would tell you about the presence of this small knot (on the string) on these trekking poles!
4. Whether I apply Anti-Chafing Stick or “thing” on my Red Salomon S-LAB Sense Shorts or not, they still give me chafing on my groin areas! Yes, I have my chafing already as early when I was at Km 19 and it became worst when I was on my way back from the Peak. After the race, I could see the chafed areas as big as the size of a 10-Peso Coin on my left and right groin areas. When I finished the Salomon Cappadocia Ultra, I had the same chafed areas but they were not as deep and big; and did not give me so much pain during the race. Lesson learned: I should always bring an Anti-Chafing Stick as part of my Mandatory Gear for 50K and up races.
I did not have any problems with my nutrition and hydration strategy during the race. I had enough water, electrolytes, and “solid” foods with me stashed in my hydration vest’s pockets and inside the pockets of my AMIHAN GoLite Belt. My Ice Bandana was always full of ice whenever I stopped at the Aid Station. I don’t think I stayed so long in the Aid Stations as I would eat the prepared solid foods most specially at AS4 and 3 (on my way back to the Finish Line) which were manned by special friends in the ultra running community.
The Race Organization; Trail Markings; Aid Station Services; and the prevailing Weather during the race were the BEST, so far, in the history of this race. Thanks to Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale for this International Standard Badass Event and for his Outstanding Leadership to make this yet another successful event.
Congratulations to all the Runners! Hopefully, I will be strong enough to join in next year’s edition!
Since it is the first PAU-sponsored event in Zamboanga City and being the one who suggested this event to be conducted, I have to join this race as one of the participants. It is also a part of my “evaluation runs” to test if my training program is working and to determine some feedback on the improvements of my speed, endurance, and nutrition. Lastly, it is also a way of sharing my experience to my readers, hoping that one day they will be a part of this race.
The following are the things that went right (nothing went wrong) during my race:
Nutrition & Hydration——It is the most important thing that one have to plan and have a strategy to be strictly followed. Although there are Aid Stations along the route, I was not well-informed on the details and what kind of drinks and food that are available in the race. Although, I have a general idea of what to expect in those Aid Stations. So, I brought my own “mini-nutrition pack” stashed in my Ultimate Direction (UD) Belt. I had 2 Packs of Clif Bloks (one pack in the UD Belt & one pack in my shorts front pocket); one Meal Bar (in my UD Belt); and two (2) GU Gels stashed in my shorts back pockets. I have also a CarboPro mix (with water) in my Simple Hydration Bottle and 2 Packs of it in my other Simple Hydration Bottle and in a tiny 3-oz bottle (without liquid). I brought with me two (2) Simple Hydration Bottles where one of it is filled with CarboPro Mix without water and the other one with water mixed with CarboPro. Both bottles were clipped with my UD Belt and placed on the back of my waist. A reserve CarboPro powder was inside a 3-oz bottle which is stashed in one of the pockets of my UD Belt.
My Nutrition & Hydration Strategy went this way: Eat 3 pieces of Clif Bloks every hour or when I feel hungry; sip my Carbo Pro mix every time my GPS watch makes a “beep” sound which tells me that I just finished one mile which is approximately equivalent to 14-16 minutes; drink at least 16-oz of cold water in each of the Aid Stations; eat something solid and fruits in the Aid Stations; take one Succeed S-Cap Capsule every 1.5 hours; and then mix the remaining CarboPro mix with Gatorade Drinks. The routine was repetitive and boring but it was the key for having successfully finished the race without any issues or problems.
2. Run Light——I did not use a hydration vest in this race and I only used my UD Belt where I stashed my IPhone and my food/mix powder. I was practically running with one Simple Hydration Bottle with liquid in it entire the race. I would have been lighter if I did not bring my Clif Protein Bar and two (2) GU Gel Packs but these food were my “reserves” just in case of any “bonking” during the race. I was using my Hoka One One Huaka which is more of Road Shoe but it is the lightest shoes that I can use for this race. No need for Calf Sleeves; Arm Sleeves; or Gaiters for this run.
3. Metronome——For the past months, whether it is a trail run workout or speed workout on the flat paved roads, I would use the Metronome Application stored/downloaded in my iPhone. This is the very reason why I had my IPhone with me with only one earbud on either on my right or left ear during the race. Metronome Application is now available Free for download and it is very useful in my making sure I was consistent in my running cadence. My Metronome is set at 180 steps per minute and the “tick-tock” sound could be easily followed every time I step each foot on the ground. Since my steps are short, quick and fast, I could easily keep in step with the beat. In the early 70s whenever I join Marathon Races, I’ve been using a metronome which was installed in earlier models of TIMEX/CASIO Running watches where there was no need for earphones. The continuous beat would remind or motivate you to keep up with your cadence during the run. Try it in your training runs and you will be surprised on how fast you can keep up with your pace. Additionally, it will generate constant reminder and at the same time distract the pain and suffering you are experiencing during the run. Whether I am the in the ascending or descending parts of the route, the metronome reminded me to maintain my cadence even if I was power hiking on the ascents.
4. Heart Rate Monitor——As soon as I reached the first peak of the course (Km #7), my HR reached its highest Average Record of 163 beats per minute (bpm) which happens to be my Maximum Heart Rate as shown by my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak GPS Watch. I made a quick stop and rest at AS 1 by drinking some water and eating a suman (rice cake). It was a quick stop just to lower my HR and after about a minute, I continued the race by walking and only started to jog again when my HR was lowered to 150 bpm. Throughout the race, I was monitoring HR every mile and I was satisfied that I was able to maintain an average of 150 beats per minute and would not exceed my Maximum Heart Rate of 163 bpm in the steep ascents. Through my HR Monitor, I did not feel any tiring moments even when I was hiking up the “Gulod de Medyo” area.
5. Electrolytes & Salt Tablets——Aside from the CarboPro mix, I used one tablet of GU Electrolyte Tablet every bottle of mixed drinks and constantly orally had taken Succeed S-Caps Capsule every 1.5 hours throughout the race. While my drink mix maintain the continuous replenishment of electrolyte loss through excessive sweating, the S-Cap Capsules made me pee regularly and try to give some feedback on the color of my urine if I am dehydrated or not. This combination of Electrolyte Tablets and S-Caps had been very effective to me in my training for the past 2 months.
6. Quick & Short Stops In The Aid Station——Except for the “turn-around” points where I refilled my bottles (with the CarboPro & Electrolyte Tablet inside) with Gatorade, ate some foods, and drink at least one bottle of 16-oz mineral water and some Cola drinks, where I would spend at least 3 minutes, the rest of the Aid Stations were short and quick to pick-up some bottled water to drink and then leave to continue the race. I think I spent not more than 2 minutes in these remaining Aid Stations during the race. I ate my Clif Bloks and then drinking my CarboPro mix while I was hiking the ascents.
7. No “Selfies” & Unnecessary Picture Taking——Taking some pictures with ones camera or IPhone is very cumbersome and very irritating sometimes as you have to bring out and bring in your camera to your race belt’s pocket or hydration pocket. If it is wrapped with Ziploc or some plastic pouch, the opening and closing of this protection from being wet and damped would entail some unnecessary movements that result to being not focused to the main task of running efficiently. Even if it takes a few seconds to “point and shout” ones camera, if these seconds are totaled or accumulated, it would add up to more minutes of delay on the course. Since there are members of the Running Photographers in the race, I just let them, as the experts with better cameras, take my pictures and just wait for them to post their pictures on Facebook.
In a nutshell, proper training/preparation where one has to test his apparel, hydration system, nutrition & hydration strategy and positive mental attitude is the key to a successful finish in an ultra running event. Although, running is an experiment of one, I hope my experience will guide you or test the above mentioned factors if you can adopt them or incorporate them in your running style or manner of finishing an ultra running event/race.
Round Trip Ticket (Cebu Pacific)——P 1,200.00 (Promo Fare/Sponsored By ZRC)
Hotel Accommodation & Meal——P 4,000.00 (2 Days)
Gratuitous Expenses (Tips)—-P 500.00
Total Expenses——P 5,700.00
Even if I am not an sponsored athlete, I would mention the things that I’ve used during the event:
I did not realize that I’ve been through with four weeks of my training since I’ve started for the 2015-16 Ultra Trail Running Season. I started my training on August 3, 2015 and the first day was a Rest Day with some stretching exercises.
I am still following a training schedule program which I’ve been using for the past two years with a little adjustment on my weekly training volume which I’ve increased within the range of 5-10 miles per week which are mostly done in my weekend LSDs. Before, I was doing an average of 50-55 miles per week but for the past weeks, I’ve have reached a peak of 66-67 miles per week. I feel okey, healthy, and pain-free from my knees and legs and had no bouts of leg cramps or “bonking”. I guess, there must a lot of good reasons why at my age of 63, my knees are still holding up and I could still hike some steep mountains.
Surprisingly, the bottle of Aleve that I bought lately have not been opened yet and for the past four months, I’ve never taken any pain-killer tablet in my races and trail running workouts.
My past failures to finish a 100-mile mountain trail run were caused by nutritional and hydration problems on my part. It took me two or more years to experiment what is good for my body. I really don’t have any problems with 50Ks, 50-milers, and 100K trail races with regards to nutrition but when I join 100-milers in higher elevations, my nutrition just put me down on the last 30 miles of the race. Following my experiences in the 100Ks that I’ve finished, I would only take in Energy Gels and Water and some solid foods offered at the Aid Stations and I would finish the course without any problem. I bought some nutrition books for endurance athletes and made some researches on the Internet. In addition, I was able to get some suggestions and advise from the Filipino veteran ultra runners residing in the United States. These suggestions from them confirms the studies and researches that I’ve read on books and on the Internet.
On this new training season, I’ve concentrated on my nutrition, not only before during, after my workout, but completely observed my daily nutritional intake to my body. I don’t count the calories of the food that I ingest but I make sure that I have Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, and Vegetables/Fruits in my 3 meals a day. Snacks in between meals would be anything, whether it is a fruit juice, milk, fruits, yogurt, or snack bars. I’ve never drink milk when I was in the military up to 2 months ago. Lately, by accident, I found out that Organic Fresh Milk does not give me stomach trouble caused by lactose intolerance. I’ve indulged myself in eating avocado as part of my meal or snacks and ate more foods rich in fats.
On my nutrition before my runs, I would have a breakfast of coffee, oatmeal or cereal with milk, avocado with milk & sugar, yogurt or fruit juice.
During my runs, I would hydrate every time my GPS watch would beep to indicate that I’ve covered a mile and have to strictly do the said “drill” every time I hear a beep. For my runs less than 8-9 miles, I would just drink water and ingest one 1 capsule of S’Cap every hour and after the workout. But for my LSDs on weekends which are more than 9 miles, I would carry with me a Tailwind Mixed with water in two bottles and purely Water in my 1.5-liter hydrapak on my backpack. I would alternately, drink Tailwind and water every other mile. I would also ingest 1 capsule of S’Caps every hour. At the turn-around or after finishing the first half of my run, I would eat any solid food I brought with me like, boiled potatoes, power bars, dried fruits, and some baby foods (fruit/vegetable).
I’ve stopped using Energy Gels in my runs since the start of this training but I still carry at least two packs just in case of emergency. I’ve have observed in my past races that Gels, after ingesting about 10 pieces, I would end up throwing up even if I use different flavors and flavors that I liked that didn’t give nauseated feeling in my past ultra runs.
My post-nutrition intake would be immediately after the workout——lots of water, one can of coke or one bottle of Ensure and a Power Bar. Once I arrive home, I would eat a complete meal. For the rest of the day, I would continuously hydrate myself with water, sometime consuming 1.5 gallons of water, and strictly adhering to my complete meals—carbohydrates, fats, protein, vegetable and fruits.
I have also incorporated “speed” workouts in my weekly program. Wednesday is usually my “speed” day where I do it on a flatter ground and paved road. This is the only time that I don’t go to the trails and mountains. Since there is no oval track near my place, I would go to a Public Park (Echo Lake Park) where the streets that surround it has a total loop distance of exactly one mile. I would do 1 mile X 5-6 repetitions or 2 miles X 3 repetitions with at least 5-6 minutes rest/jog intervals in between repetitions. In the mountains/trails, I usually do some “strides” or fast & quick leg-turn-overs on flatter portions within a distance of 50-100 meters just to give some “wake-up” drill to my tired leg muscles.
Once or twice a week, I would go to a mountain which has an “up and down” route where I have measured on each way (2.5 miles up & 2.5 miles down). I would wear my hydration vest full of 2 water bottles and 1.5-liter of hydra pack on my back with solid foods. I would practice “power-hiking” on the UP portion of the course and never attempt to do any run or jog. I would register the time from the start up to the time I reach the peak of the mountain. I have observed that I had been improving my time to reach the peak every week. The 2.5-mile distance has a vertical distance of 1,280 feet and my best time so far is 43 minutes for the power hiking in the UP direction.
On the ridge of the mountain, I would continue jogging and hiking for about 2 to 3 miles. On my way back, I would start my fast “downhill run” on the measured portion where I had my “power-hiking” workout. My attitude here in the fast downhill run is a “go for broke” one! A fast and continuous downhill hill run for 2.5 miles would “thrash” my legs! I am surprised that my old knees can still withstand the hard pounding of my feet on the ground. Every week, I would improve on my time on this downhill run! My fastest time for the downhill run is 20 minutes!
Power Hiking and Fast Downhill Running made me register a faster pace and speed for my daily runs!
Two years ago when I shifted to trail running, I did not give any attention to the vertical distance (total ascent/descent) in my workouts but it was later last year that I have concentrated more on the vertical distance of the trails I’ve been into. However, since I’ve started this new training season, I made sure that my weekly totals on the vertical distance will not be lower than 6,000 feet.
On Mondays and Fridays, I would do some stretching and calisthenics/core strengthening exercises. I would also do “foam rolling” to my legs for about an hour with more concentration to my calves, hamstrings, quads, and butt muscles. I stopped my lap swimming for the past weeks and by the end of the 7th or 8th week, I would incorporate (stationary) cycling in my weekly workouts.
On my weekend LSDs, I don’t eat a heavy breakfast (ingesting only coffee) as I want to simulate how I would apply my nutrition and hydration strategy when I am about to reach my “bonking” period which is about 1-2 hours after the start of my run. This is where I would observe how my body would react to any food or fluids that I take in, whether it is water, Tailwind, S’Caps, solid foods (power bars/baby foods/power bars/dried fruits), electrolyte mix, or Clif Bloks. So far, my maximum LSD distance was 20 miles in 6 hours, carrying a heavy load of water in my hydration vest (2-20 oz of water bottle & 1.5-liter hydrapak on my backpack + solid foods). However, if I use my 2-16 oz Simple Hydration bottles (tucked in my race belt with power bars) and one hand-held 12 oz handheld water, that same distance of 20 miles is usually done in 5 hours or less!
On the technical aspect and the monitoring of my body’s feedback on my performance every workout, my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak GPS Watch, had been very useful in monitoring my Heart Rate, VO2, Cadence, Calories Consumed/Burned, and Recovery Period. From these data, I would be able to know on what to do for my rest and recovery for the next workout. My daily workouts are properly recorded in a notebook/journal that I would religiously write every time I finish a workout, to include, what I feel before, during , and after the workout.
In summary, I attribute my faster and better performance in my 4 weeks of trail running due to the following: (1) Better nutrition before, during , and after every workout; (2) Constant hydration with water every mile with Tailwind every other mile; (3) Speed workouts on Wednesdays and incorporation of “strides” in my daily runs; (4) Adapting my body to ingest S’Caps/Salt Sticks during the run on hotter days without any negative reaction to my body; (5) More vertical distance and higher altitude hiking/downhill running would acclimatize my respiratory system; and (6) “Foam Rolling” & Stretching with Core Exercises twice a week.
I’ve been using my Hoka One One “Speedgoat” Trail Shoes for my LSDs and most of my daily runs while my Inov-8 Race Ultra 270 Trail Shoes and Hoka One One Challenger ATR would be used in my recovery and tempo runs.
Monthly Mileage (August 2015): 238.65 Miles or 381.84 Kilometers
My friends and contemporaries would always tell me that I am CRAZY to be running ultra marathon distances in the mountains in the country as well as in Asia and the United States. I just smile because that is the best description we (as ultra runners) could get to those who have not yet experienced our sports. But now, more ultra runners have extended their body limits and endurance by introducing a 200-mile endurance mountain trail event which has doubled the famous 100-mile distance which is now being accepted as the NEW Marathon Distance in Ultra Running. The runners of this new event could be the CRAZIEST of them all and since it was introduced only last year in the first edition of the Lake Tahoe 200-Mile Endurance Run, three of these events had been scheduled for this year and called the Grand Slam of 200-Milers (it was supposed to be 4 races: Colorado 200; Arizona 200; Lake Tahoe 200; and Bigfoot 200 but the Arizona 200 was cancelled).
Let me introduce to you the CRAZIEST Ultra Runner who just recently finished the 1st edition of the Bigfoot 200-Mile Endurance Run——Conrado Bermudez Jr! Being the FIRST Pinoy to have finished this mountain ultra trail running event, it would be proper and fitting to have his story in running to be published here as one of the main highlights of this blog with the hope of inspiring others and telling to the world that we, Filipinos, are very strong and resilient in nature.
Conrado Bermudez Jr, or fondly called as “Jun”, finished the 200-Mile Race in 94 hours, 26 minutes, and 30 seconds, placing himself as #40 among the 59 finishers where 80 runners started in the morning of Friday, August 7, 2015 at the Mt Helens National Monument in Washington State. The race has a cut-off time of 108 hours which is equivalent to 4 1/2 days, forcing the runners to complete 45 miles per day during the race. The following is the general description of the race as taken from its Website:
“The Bigfoot 200 is a trail running event in the Washington State that seeks to give back to the trails by inspiring preservation of the wild lands and donating money to trail building in the Pacific Northwest. The race is a point to point traverse of some of the most stunning, wild, and scenic trails in the Cascade Mountain range of Washington State. The Race ends in Randle, WA after traversing the Cascade Mountains from Mt St Helens to Mt Adams and along ridge lines with views of Mt Rainier, Mt Hood, and more!
The race will bring together people from all over the world to tackle this incredible challenge. With over 50,000 feet of ascent and more than 96,000 feet of elevation change in 2015 miles, this non-stop event is one of a kind in both its enormous challenge and unparalleled scenery. The race is not a stage race nor it is a relay. Athletes will complete the route solo in 108 hours or less, some without sleeping.”
Jun finished the race with barely 6 hours of sleep during the race! He was supported by his wife, Kat, their daughter and running friends who would meet him in Aid Stations where there is vehicular access. For more details of the race, one can visit the following link:
Jun is a native of General Santos City, graduate of the Philippine Military Academy belonging to Class 1996, a Special Forces Airborne, and Scout Ranger of the Philippine Army before his family migrated to the United States.
In my interview with him on the later part of last year after he finished the other 3 100-Milers in the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (except Western States 100); he recollected that he first personally met me when he was the Aide-De-Camp of the Commander of the Southern Command in Zamboanga City and I was then the Commander of the Task Force Zamboanga. The year was 2000 and he was barely 4 years in the military service. He went further to tell me that he got inspired by my blogs and photo running galore through my posts in our PMA Bugo-bugo Facebook Page.
Jun finished the prestigious Boston Marathon Race in 3:11:14 hours.
The following are the some of the data about Jun and the answer to the questions I’ve asked him:
1. Home Province-Gen. Santos City; Age-42 ; Height- 5’9″; Present Body Weight-146 lbs ; Schools Attended (Elementary to Graduate Schools)-Notre Dame of Mlang, Noth Cotabato (Elem), Notre Dame of Dadiangas College-High School Dept; PMA Class-1996 and Special Training in the Military-Scout Ranger, Airborne.
2. Places of Assignments and Positions held in the Military/Philippine Army:
Platoon Leader- Alpha Coy, 25IB, PA as Ready Deployment Force (striker battalion) of 6ID in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato Province. My platoon was also involved in capturing Camp Rajamuda in Pikit, Cotabato Province in 1997.
Company Commander- Bravo Coy, 25IB, PA , mostly deployed in Maguindanao. My company was also deployed in the front lines of Matanog and Buldon and was very instrumental in capturing Camp Abubakar.
3. Present Job & Working Hours-Security Officer in the United Nations Headquarters in NYC and works on day shift; City of Residence in the US-Jersey City, New Jersey; Wife’s Job- ER Nurse; Gender & Number of Children- one daughter
4. Brief Background of Running (during Childhood up to College and as Cadet of the PMA)
I started running when I was 7 years old. I grew-up in a farm and the only playground we had was an open field and trails where we would run and tag each other. In elementary and high school, I was so engrossed on soccer games than any other ballgames. This is why when I joined the PMA, I discovered that I was a decent runner because I was always in the lead pack when we had our 2-mile run as part of our physical fitness test. I also represented my company (PMA) in various races but most of the time I bonked because I usually go all out at the start and faint halfway through, which resulted to my ER visits. My style of running then was with a “do or die” mentality; no technique, no proper hydration and nutrition. It was just a plain “old-school” way and lots of brute force.
5. Best time in 5K- 19:22; 10K-42:08 ; Half-Marathon-1:26:52 ; and Marathon-3:11:14 All were done in 2013.
6. Brief story on your exposure to ultra distance running events—-first 50K; first 50-miler; first 100K; and first 100-miler.
I started joining races in 2012. That year I only finished 2 marathons. I was following your blogs and postings about the Bataan Death March 102 and 160 and the other races you directed and I got inspired by the spirit of the running community, and it was that I got curious about ultrarunning, especially the 100-mile distance.
To start my ultrarunning quest, I signed-up for a local flat, out-and-back, looped course. Thinking that 50km was just over a marathon, and 50 miles was just 2 marathons, I signed-up for a 100k, which was held in March 2013 in New Jersey. I’m glad that I met some new good friends there, who are now like a family. I was so proud that I finished in that muddy, swampy, and cold course third place. My wife and daughter were there for my first ultra. As a solitary person, running alone for a day was not such a big deal. The feeling of finishing a long distance further boosted my spirit… I got hooked. Then I signed-up for my first 100 miler scheduled three months after. It was in June in the inaugural Trail Animal Running Club (TARC) 100-Mile Endurance Run and the first 100-mile run in Massachusetts. The race started at 7 pm Friday with a cut-off of 30 hours. The course was in a 25-mile flat trails with some creeks spread along the way. I was very enthusiastic to train knowing that some of my friends are also running the race. As part of my preparation, I was reading some blogs and race reports, and I even asked your advice on how to deal with the distance. You discussed to me the proper nutrition and hydration and also incorporating hike into running. The course got indescribably muddy, with most sections in knee-deep mud in every mile, but with my grit and determination, I was able to finish despite a big number of DNF in the race. I felt reborn and my spirit was so high. It took me a week to recover from the pain.
In November, I did my first 50-mile race as a finale for the year. The JFK 50 Mile is the oldest and the largest ultramarathon in the US. The course is a combination of road and trail. It passes through the Appalachian Trail and C&O Canal Towpath then ends in an 8-mile paved road in Maryland. The course was pretty easy and fast. This is where I met some new hardcore ultrarunners from the Virginia Happy Trails Club.
After running all long distances, I signed-up for my first 50k as part of my back-to-back training for my incoming six 100’s. The Febapple Fifty was held on Saturday of February 2014. Then the next day, I ran the Central Park Marathon. The Febapple race was fun. The course was filled mostly with knee-high ice and snow in a rolling hills of South Mountain Reservation in New Jersey. It was quite a tough race because the ice turned slushy and it was a bit hard to run. I still managed to finish in the top ten.
All of my first attempts of these distances were mostly to get me into groove to venture and discover ultrarunning. I realized the 100-mile distance is my favorite.
7. Training Preparation in your 100-Miler Races and Nutrition Strategy in your Races. How do you balance your training with your work and family? (*I will discuss my training in item # 9).
In short ultra races, I carry a handheld bottle or belt hydration system. They are lighter that I could run faster. I take one salt tablet every hour but if I sweat a lot, I take two every hour and nothing at night when it’s cold. In aid stations, I eat potato, banana, watermelon, and PB & J aside from the Ensure that I carry as my basic load. I make sure I take more nutrition at the early stage of the race. I also drink ginger ale and Coke/Pepsi to refresh my mind from the lows.
I come home from work around 8pm and do my chores and help my daughter do her homework. If all is done, I relax for awhile and train. It usually takes me an hour or two to finish my training. I sleep around midnight and wake-up at 6am. I am fortunate that my wife is also supportive of my passion as she herself is an ultrarunner. And our daughter is also our number one cheerer. So far, everyone is in sync in the family.
8. Were you aware of the US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning? Since you missed the Western States 100 this year, do you intend to take a shot on the 2015 US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning?
I did not have my qualifier for Western States last year. I was already aware of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, so to get the feel of it, I tried to sign-up for six 100-mile races. I put my name in Massanutten Mountain Trail 100 and Wasatch Front 100 for lottery and fortunately, I was accepted. Since I have proven that I could finish multiple races in a gap of 3-5 weeks, I have more confidence now to challenge myself in GS in the future. There’s only a slim chance for me to get into Western States with one ticket but I will make sure I will apply every year to increase my chances. If not, I am planning to do more challenging 100-mile mountain races next year. It just sank-in that what I did was insane. Every time I finished, I cursed myself for signing-up and promised myself not to do 100’s anymore. But a couple of days after, I feel that I am ready to go again. Thus, if ever I am accepted in Western States in the future, I won’t hesitate to join the Grand Slam.
9. Knowing that you are a “lowlander”, how did you train for the 100-mile mountain races that you finished? How did you cope up with the possibility of encountering “high altitude” sickness in your latest two 100-milers?
My training was focused in strengthening my legs, ankles, and feet in battling the rigorous technical terrain. But 90% of my training was indoor because of my busy schedule, and I have a child to watch that I could not leave at home if my wife is working or training for her ultra events. I usually do stairs workout, climbing up and down, up to 250 floors without rest every two weeks, which is a great way to improve my VO2max and giving me more mountain legs. Most of the time, I abuse my incline trainer/treadmill, which goes to 40%. I use it for incline hike/run with 10-15 lbs of rucksack together with my 2.5 pounder ankle weights. Although I hated speed workout, I still do my 5k in treadmill and this keeps my pace honest. Sometimes I do my trail long runs in the weekends with my friends but most of the time, I am stuck on my treadmill. Treadmill running is boring but it gives me more mental conditioning to tackle the distance. Aside from that, it also preserves my feet from the hard pounding of the pavement. I don’t really track my weekly mileage because I don’t have a proper training plan that I follow. I just listen to my body and do whatever I feel I need to work on. And to avoid injury, I do strength and core workout twice a week.
In an attempt to combat altitude sickness, I was taking iron, B complex, and vitamin C supplements. But these didn’t really help much. I still got more vomitting in Leadville (12,600 ft highest altitude) after mile 60 and had some also after mile 70 in Wasatch.
10. How did you balance recovery and preparation in between those 100-milers for the 6-month duration of your ultra events?
I treat every race as my long run. After the race, I relax, stretch, and foam roll for 3-4 days to get rid of the pain. I also come back to work 2 days after the race. At work, I stand for 6 hours. I think standing at work and walking from home to train station and to work helps my fast recovery. At the end of the week, I start doing easy runs again. Then the next week, I go back to my usual training routine. My taper starts 2 weeks before the next race. I did this routine in my last four 100 milers. In fact, I was feeling fresh every time I start the next race and my spirit gets stronger. I was amazed that I was able to do sub 20 hours in 3 100 milers. Although I did not achieve my goal of finishing Leadville 100 in sub 25 and Wasatch Front 100 in sub 30, I am still ecstatic that I finished those races SOLO (no pacer, no crew) and without getting injured. When I finished Leadville 100, I focused more on recovery by just doing stretching, hiking and easy runs. It was in Leadville that I suffered much because of the altitude and my mistake of not hydrating properly. I had nausea and I threw up every time I ate and drank after mile 60, and I was also suffering from a bad stomach issue. Wasatch is harder than Leadville. But due to my proper hyrdation and nutrition, I felt better and stronger although I still had gastrointestinal issues around mile 70, but later I managed to cope with them by slowing down and taking my time at aid stations to recover.
11. What are your tips and advise to those who would venture to mountain ultra trail running events. What would be the things that you have to improve upon if ever you want to improve your performance in your previous 100-milers?
It takes a lot of discipline. Training involves time away from your family and it is important that no matter what, family comes first. It is helpful if your family is supportive, so that is paramount in your quest for ultrarunning and paramount in the list of things you have to make sure you obtain, foremost.
Never be afraid of the adventure. It is not always about the destination (aka finishing) but the journey. That is my advice to other runners.
Personally, I think I need to improve on certain strategies like hydration and nutrition. Also, not just to eliminate issues like GI problems that come with certain races, but— more importantly— how to perform well regardless of these problems because, lets face it, problems encountered during races MAY NOT ever go away. So it is a matter of pushing past these issues and finishing strong. Thats what I need to work on.
12. Aside from the 2015 US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning plan, what is in store for you in the coming ultra running years?
I want to venture into other Ultra races. The challenging ones, in particular. There are many races out there to explore with challenging course and beautiful sceneries. When they go hand in hand, they become priceless experiences, especially when you finish them. Like I said, mountain 100-milers are my favorite, but that is not to say I will not try to explore on distances beyond that. We’ll wait and see.
Jun could not stop wanting for more and he is now one of the few mountain ultra trail 200-mile single stage finishers entire the world. For the past two years, he has the following 100-miler mountain trail races with their corresponding finish time in his belt :
TARC 100-Miler in Westwood, Massachusetts (June 14, 2013) —-25:19:27 hours
New Jersey Ultra Trail Festival 100-Miler in Augusta, New Jersey (November 23, 2013)—-18:53:31 hours
Massanutten 100-Miler in Front Royal, Virginia (May 17, 2014)—-28:05:55 hours
Great New York City 100-Miler (June 21, 2014)—-19:33:14 hours
San Diego (California) 100-Miler (June 6, 2015)—-22:16:27 hours
After his sub-24 hour finish at the San Diego 100-Mile Endurance Race, I told him that he has to rest and recover in between his races to let his body free from injuries brought about by over racing or over training in ultra distances. I even told him that he has to prepare for the possibility of being selected in the lottery for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race if ever he registers to join the race. I emphasized that I am betting on him that he will be the FIRST Pinoy Ultra Runner to be awarded the “One Day-24 Hour” Silver Buckle in the said race and I am sure that it will take another generation of Pinoy Ultra Runners to surpass such accomplishment.
My prediction on his ultra running career brought not a single word from his mouth but instead responded to me with a smile. Jun is a silent type guy and does not openly brag about his ultra running finishes on the Social Media and he does not even have a blog or journal where he can relate and share his stories in his ultra races. However, my interview with him has a lot of tips and advise for those who would like to embark on mountain ultra trail running, most specially to those who are in the lowlands and for those who don’t have access to the mountains or simply lazy to be in the outdoors.
Before we parted ways in Lake Cuyamaca in Mt Laguna, San Diego, California, he intimated to me that his ultra running career is not complete if he will not be able to finish the Grand Slam of the Bataan Death March 102/160 Ultra Marathon Race! Hopefully, that will be the day that Jun will be able to meet the whole Pinoy Ultra Running Community in his homeland.
This is what I said to Jun, “Get your Western States 100-Mile Silver Buckle first before coming home, Cavalier!”
Speedgoat is the monicker of Karl Meltzer in the Ultra Running Community. He is an elite mountain trail ultrarunner and has the distinction of winning the most number of 100-Mile Ultra Running Events, a record of 36 Championship Awards and had been awarded the Ultrarunner of the Year. He is the Race Organizer and Director of the famous Speedgoat 50K Ultra Trail Run and other Vertical Trail Races in Snowbird, Utah. He also one of the most sought after Ultra Running Coaches. He is the first elite ultra runner in the USA who used and introduced the shoe brand HOKA ONE ONE and the rest is history. It is fitting that the shoe company honors him with a specific trail shoe model that speaks about the man. Thus, HOKA One One users around the world are excited to have a hand on the said shoes.
Attempts To Get The Shoes
As a one of his clients to his Coaching Services and having met him personally in last year’s edition of the Speedgoat 50K Trail Run (which I didn’t finish due to strict cut-off time at Mile 20), I sent him a request if I could buy directly to the shoe company of the earlier production of the shoes on the later part of May this year as I could see and read shoe reviews on the Internet about the shoes. I think my request was relayed by him to the company but I did not hear any response from them. So, I waited for the announced release to the distributors and sports stores on the first week of July but only to get the news that the release date will be sometime in August.
On the last week of July, I monitored almost everyday the availability of the shoes by visiting the Website of the HOKA ONE ONE (HOO). The availability of the shoes at Running Warehouse for my particular shoe size was scheduled on the 3rd week of August and then to September and lately to October this year. My patience bear fruit on the last few days of July when I got a “green light” with the advise that my shoe size and model is “On Stock” on the On Line Sales of Hoka One One. I immediately ordered one pair and the shoes was delivered after two days. I paid $140 + $12 (Sales Tax), with a total amount of $152.00 with Free Shipping Fee.
Finally, I was able to realize what I posted in our Facebook’s HOO Philippine Club Group Page three months ago, “I will be the first one to have this kind of shoes in this Club”.
Actual Review & Observations
Color Combination——The first thing that will attract ones attention is the combination of colors of the shoes. Yes, they are the colors of Red Bull (silver, red, and blue), one of the Sponsors of Karl’s Runs and Races and the usual colors of the Shoe Brand HOKA ONE ONE—-blue & yellow. The other Speedgoat model has the colors, red, black and blue! If you are not attracted with the name of the shoe model, then for sure, you will be attracted with the striking color-combination of the shoes. Most of the runners that I know have the impulse to buy any kind of running shoes due to the striking color combination.
Shoe Laces Holes——Obviously, these are the holes where one has to insert the shoe laces. As compared to the other HOO Shoes, this is the only model that has 5 holes, all the rest have 6 holes in one shoe. If you are not using the last uppermost hole of the Speedgoat (where it is used to lock the shoes with the foot), the shoes has only 4 holes! It means that it is easier and faster to tighten and tie the shoes and also to untie and remove the shoes from the foot. If you have the habit of changing your wet socks with dry ones in the Aid Stations in an ultra running event, the time on untying and tying your shoes would mean a lot if you are trying to catch up with those tight intermediate cut-off times in the different Checkpoints along the race route. Since I am always on the back of the pack in every race, this is a big advantage and useful for me!
From Flat to Round & Light Shoe Laces——Earlier model of this shoes have those flat shoe laces, the same shoe laces on my HOO Challenger ATR and I was surprised to see that my shoes have those rounded shoe laces which are smaller/thinner in size as compared to those rounded shoe laces of my old HOO Stinson EVO. I have observed that the rounded shoe laces have an average length as compared to the longer flat shoe laces of the Challenger ATR. Those flat shoe laces have the tendency to get longer and longer as the shoe is being used for more mileages. It appears that Speedgoat’s shoe laces will remain with their present length and size.
Observation about 1/2 size Bigger——In almost all those blogs and reviews that I’ve read from their sponsored elite athletes, they stated that the shoes is 1/2 size bigger. However, when I used them with my slightly thicker Drymax Trail Socks, I am surprised that they fit exactly with my feet with a little allowance (1/2 inch) from the tip of my big toes. This is exactly the same fit that I’ve experienced with my HOO Stinson Evo which I consider as my best road racing and training shoes so far. With the use of the regular Drymax socks, I have observed that there is more room for my forefoot and toes to splay on the toe box area of the shoes. It felt like I was using my Altra shoes! If it is too roomy for my feet if I use the ultra thin & light Drymax socks, I might try to use the additional insole of my HOO Challenger ATR (The Challenger ATR has two inserts/insole in each shoe). With my experience in using the HOO, I simply tighten the shoe laces more to prevent my feet and toes to be moving unnecessarily while I am running or hiking. After running with them for almost 100 kilometers (62 miles), I could feel that the shoes had stretched a little for more space for my toes and forefoot.
Thickness of Sole——All the shoe models of HOO have thick soles that is why they are fondly called as maximalist running shoes. However, this model is an exact copy of their Rapa-Nui 2 model which is also designed as a trail shoes. The Rapa-Nui has a stack height of 33 mm on the Heel portion and 28 mm on the Forefoot section. The 5mm difference, popularly known as “heel-to-toe drop”, gives a feeling of “rockered forefoot” which according to the HOO designers and engineers provide a more efficient gait, better running form and faster “heel-to-toe” transition of the foot during running. Whatever that statement means, I assume that it will make a runner faster by some milliseconds! The Speedgoat’s sole thickness has a stacked height of 34 mm on the heel and 29 mm, maintaining a difference of 5 mm, that looks to be deceivingly thicker than the Rapa-Nui 2 model. The bottom-line is that this shoe, just like the other HOO models, the thick soles will give you the best comfort to your feet on your runs on the road, as well as, along the trails whether they are technical or not. And to be more specific, I find more efficiency in running with all the HOO models when I land my foot deliberately with the heel first and letting it roll towards the forefoot. With the Speedgoat, I feel more cushion and comfort most specially in the downhill running as the “rocker” effect in ones gait is more pronounced and experienced. In ultra running distances, such comfort will give an edge to the runner for more sustained strength on the legs during the day and night running. And did I tell you that you have faster recovery after an ultra race if you used a Hoka One One Shoes? Well, it’s true!
Metagrip VIBRAM Outsole——From the HOO Bondi B, Bondi Speed, Stinson EVO, Huaka, and Challenger ATR (the shoe models that I’ve used for the past 5 years of running), the common denominator as a weakness of these models is the durability of their outsoles. After running for the first 100 kilometers of each of these models, you can already see a significant “wear and tear” on their outsoles which I never experienced from the other trail shoes in my arsenal. But the Speedgoat is some sort of a Redemption Shoe for all HOO “addicts” and loyal customers as they are fitted with the Metagrip VIBRAM Outsole. After running on single track trails, rocky trails, and fire roads for almost 100 kilometers, I could not see any signs of “wear and tear” from the Vibram outsole which is a big improvement from my old and ‘soon-to-be” retired other HOO models in my arsenal. This is the MOST significant feature and advantage of this model from the other trail shoes of HOO——the durability of the outsoles of the shoes!
Cushioned Tongue——Not only for being cushioned but they are also a little longer but does not affect ones efficiency in running and would not cause any abrasion on the front part of the ankle. One would notice that there are TWO slots on the tongue where the shoe laces coming from holes #2 and #3 would pass. I have observed that these slots would maintain the position of the tongue while on the run giving more comfort on the top part of the foot. Most of my trail shoes have only one slot on their tongues and after every run, I would observe that the tongue have the tendency to slide towards the outer side of the foot/shoes and this movement allows the tendency for the debris from the trail to get inside the shoes. I was even more surprised when I did not experience any small particles from the trail getting inside these shoes. I guess, it is time for me not to use gaiters for this shoes!
Cushioned Upper Part of Heel Counter——This is the yellow-colored portion at the heel counter of the shoes. I’ve noticed a big difference of this part of the shoes when compared to my HOO Challenger ATR as the Speedgoat has a more pronounced cushion that would be flashed closer and tight to the Achilles tendon and both sides of the ankles. I’ve observed that my Achilles tendon sits comfortably on the shoes even if I have the shoe laces tighten to the max.
Light and Porous Material On Its Uppers——Have I told you that this is one of the lightest shoes of HOO? Actually, it is the third lightest HOO model in my arsenal being the Challenger as the lightest and the Huaka as the 2nd lightest. The shoes has a weight of 9.7 ounces despite the fact that it has a Vibram outsole and more cushioned tongue. The light and porous material on its Uppers contributed to the lighter weight of the shoes. It also gives more breathability to the feet where air would enter in these porous holes during the run most especially in hot and humid conditions. However, in water/stream crossings, water would easily get inside making the the socks and lining of the shoes wet and damp but with the continuous pounding of the feet, these water would easily exit through these porous holes! Through my past experiences in running in the lahar areas and rivers in the Mt Pinatubo 50K Trail Run and Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile and Marathon Trail Races, these shoes would not prevent those abrasive lahar from entering the shoes. Did I say dust entering the shoes? Yes, the dust would enter through these porous holes and it is advisable not to use white socks in them. Surprisingly, there is also a Drymax “Speedgoat” Trail Socks available in the market that would match the goods looks and functional capability of the shoes and they come in black/gray color!
Thickness of the Lugs and Lug Pattern——Yes, the lugs on the outsole are thicker than any of the HOO trail shoes that I have and they are 5 mm thick! This is almost the same thickness of the outsole lugs of my Salomon Sense 3 (Soft Ground) and Inov-8 Roclites (but, they are NOT Vibram outsoles!). However, most significant improvement and advantage of the HOO Speedgoat from these other shoes is the pattern on how they are positioned on the outsole. The pattern of lugs on the sole would show a figure of number 8, as seen from the top view. The figure 8 is the space in-between the array of lugs and it looks like a loop course where the heel portion has a cave or depression on it. According to the designers and engineers at HOO, such pattern would result to a feeling of running with a “fully independent suspension system” (like a 4 X 4 truck) on the different parts of the outsole when running in a technical terrain or trail. It means that if you stepped on a root or rock, the specific part of outsole that contacts with the object will be the only one that compresses while the rest of the outsole remains without any deformation. I suspect that the “cave” or significant depression on the heel would allow better ride and cushioned feeling for those “supinator and pronator” runners.
Having been a HOO user for the past five years, I would say that this particular model will be my racing and training shoes for my ultra trail running events in the future. Everything is almost perfect with regards to its Comfort, Speed, Security of Fit, Durability, Agility and Responsiveness and Protection to the Feet. I could not see any major flaw or anything to be corrected or improved on the shoes without compromising its light weight and perfect fit on my feet.
After mentioning those significant changes and improvements on the shoes plus the fact that I have logged almost 100 kilometers (62 miles) with these shoes (to include 10+ miles on the paved road), the question is, “Will I highly recommend these shoes to everybody for them to buy as their trail running shoes?” Yes, of course! I am now in the process of ordering my 2nd pair of the Speedgoat (Red & Black Model) through the Running Warehouse website! So far, this is the best HOO trail shoes model in the market right now.
As Karl Meltzer would say, “100 Miles Is Not That Far”, and I would add to say, “100 Miles Is Not That Far With The Speedgoat Shoes On Your Feet!”