Advertisements

Heat Illness and Endurance Athletes: The Science of Staying Safe When It Gets Hot

8 08 2018

Being a CTS athlete, I regularly receive in my e-mail articles written by CTS Coaches of articles related to the Sports of Ultrarunning and other Endurance Sports. The following article is very timely for those athletes and runners who will joining ultra marathon events in the months of July up to the later part of October in the United States as most of these events happen during extreme heat temperatures.Personally, this had been my problem through the years on why I failed to finish 100-mile trail races in California, Utah and Nevada in the past years. However, with my Support Crew and Pacing experience in last month’s Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon, I was able to solve my problem on my hydration and heat prevention. Through the help of my CTS Coach John Fitzgerald, I was able to correct my electrolyte imbalance whenever I run in an environment that is too hot during my training in my Playground in the Philippines. For the past three months, I had been weighing my body before and after my runs in order to determine my body sweat loss within a period of time of running. As a result, I would determine how much liters of water and electrolytes I would carry depending on how many hours I would be out for my run, whether in the early morning or late in the afternoon.

As I continue to write and post my 2018 Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon, I will mention something on the later part of my blog on how I was able to manage the extreme heat during the time that I paced Tess Leono for almost 32 miles (50 kilometers) under the heat of the sun.

Without much further ado, I am now reposting this article and I hope that those who are planning to do ultramarathon races in hot environment will learn a lot and be able to apply the preventive measures stated in this article. Let this be a reference to all ultra runners out there.

Heat Illness and Endurance Athletes: The Science of Staying Safe When It Gets Hot

By Corrine Malcolm
CTS Coach and Exercise Physiologist

Human beings are inherently inefficient. Only a fraction of the work athletes do ends up propelling them down the road, up the mountain or through the water. The rest just of that work generates heat, which has to go somewhere. Normally, the body is reasonably good at dissipating heat, until the environment is also hot and/or humid. Heat illnesses develop when you can’t adequately dissipate heat to the environment, and involves an incredibly complex relationship between your thermal physiology (all that heat you are producing), environmental heat strain, and your clothing (2). Many experienced endurance athletes are well versed in hydration and cooling strategies, but as a community it is crucial for all athletes to understand the signs and symptoms of heat illness, how to prevent it, and how to help athletes suffering from it.

Heat illness doesn’t care how much you know about hydration and cooling. Despite all the right preparations, even experts and experienced athletes can end up with heat illness when things go wrong during training or competition.

There are two main types of heat illness: classic and exertional. Classic heat illness is directly related to the environment and how the environment is effecting one’s ability to dissipate heat. These factors include high temperature and humidity, strong direct sun exposure, and still air. Exertional heat illness on the other hand is primarily caused by your own heat production, which is why exertional heat illness can occur in all types of weather (3). It should be noted that the treatment and identification does not change between classic and exertional heat illness, but illustrates the fact athletes should be aware of the signs of heat illness even in cooler and less humid environments.

heat index

UNDERSTANDING YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL RISK BEFORE A RUN, RIDE, OR RACE CAN BE CRITICAL FOR SUCCESS AND YOUR HEALTH (4).

Body’s Response to Heat Exposure

Although 98.6 F (37 C) is generally accepted norm for human body temperature, it is normal for core temperature to fluctuate within a small range of 97-99 F (36.1-37.2 C). When your body increases much above or below this “set” temperature you can experience hyperthermia or hypothermia as your body tries valiantly to bring your body back to homeostasis. When you get too hot your one of the best way your body can cool itself down is to shift more blood flow to the capillaries that lie immediately underneath your skin. What this allows your body to offload some of the heat into the environment and in turn send cooled blood back deep into your body. The second way your body combats the likely rise in core body temperature is by increasing your sweat rate. This allows you to utilize evaporative cooling, which cools the body by creating a temperature gradient as sweat (or other water) evaporates from your skin surface into the air. The neat thing about the increase in your sweat rate per hour during the heat is that your sweat becomes more dilute than usual which makes it even easier for your sweat to evaporate from your skin into the air.

Additionally, there are three environmental mechanisms that can both prevent your core body temperature from increasing and also increase your core body temperature. Those mechanisms are radiation, convection, and conduction. All three rely on temperature gradients where the heat goes from the warmer environment to the cooler environment. In an ideal world that means your body is the hot environment and you are able to dissipate heat into the surrounding environment (5). While you exercise and race your body relies on these thermoregulatory adjustments because during exercise you produce 15-20 times more heat than you do at rest. Without these crucial adjustments, either physiological, environmental, or behavioral changes, your core body temperature will rise 1.8 F (1C) for every 5 minutes of exercise (3).

Levels of Heat Illness

Heat-related illnesses start out mildly uncomfortable and progress all the way to life threatening. The conditions are, from least serious to most serious: heat edema, heat rash, heat syncope, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke (3,4).

Heat Edema and Heat Rash

Heat edema and heat rash are both the mildest forms of heat illness you might experience. Heat edema can occur as your body tries to dissipate heat by vasodilation and a shift of blood flow to your skin. This most commonly happens in the lower extremities as fluid creates inflammation in your feet and ankles. Heat rash (also called prickly heat or miliaria rubra) is a pinpoint red rash that forms on the skin that was covered by clothing. This generally happens in areas that have a higher concentration of heat glands, like your trunk and groin, and is caused by the increase in sweat saturating the clothing and your skin surface clogging sweat ducts.

Heat Syncope

Heat syncope, or fainting caused by heat, may happen during heat exposure because blood is being shunted to your skin and extremities. Rapid changes in body position (commonly sitting to standing, or bending over and standing back up) can lead to a temporary change in blood pressure that causes a person to faint. Most athletes recover quickly once laid flat, which allows blood flow to normalize. That being said, falling due to a rapid loss of consciousness could lead to a concussion, and an athlete who faints due to heat should be evaluated before being allowed to continue training or competing.

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps or muscle spasms have been notoriously linked with dehydration and electrolyte imbalances over the year. However, we now know exercise associated muscle cramps are more commonly associated with a wider range of variables such as fatigue and muscular imbalances. Although harmful to performance, exercise associated muscle cramps are generally harmless to your health and most commonly occur on one side of your body (i.e. your left quad or your right calf). If you are experiencing bilateral, or both sides, cramping or full body cramping, this is often linked to a more serious condition such as extreme dehydration or hyponatremia (depleted electrolytes from excessive water consumption) and should be immediately addressed by your physician or the medical team at your event.

Heat Exhaustion

As we move up the scale in severity we come to heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion should be taken seriously and treated quickly, as it can advance to more serious and potentially life-threatening conditions like heat stroke. Heat exhaustion generally presents with fatigue, dizziness, heavy sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache, fainting, weakness, and cold clammy skin. A person with exhaustion typically still has normal cognitive and neurological function. They should be able to answer questions about their condition, where they are, who they are, etc.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is characterized by a core body temperature greater than 104 F and altered central nervous system function, including irritability, confusion, combativeness, or even worse, loss of consciousness. Hot and dry skin is a sign of heat stroke, but it is important to realize a person can be sweating and still have heat stroke. Altered central nervous system function is the hallmark difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but when in doubt, treat the situation as if the athlete has heat stroke. Athletes showing signs of heat stroke need to be treated by medical professionals as soon as possible. It should be stressed that heat stroke is incredibly serious and can lead to death if not treated quickly.

heat illness criteria

THE CONTINUUM OF HEAT ILLNESS (3).

Risk factors for developing heat illness

The most recent estimate is that heat related illnesses cause 695 deaths per year in the United States, but they are the 3rd highest cause of death amongst athletes. There are two main categories of risk factors: environmental (external) factors and physiological (internal) factors.

Environmental factors include how hard you are working, clothing choices, insufficient shade during activity, lack of access to water, ambient air temperature, and humidity. Internal factors include age (people under the age of 15 or over the age of 65 are more susceptible to heat illness), recent alcohol consumption, acute or chronic dehydration, history of heat-related illness, medication or supplement interactions, recent illness that included a fever, recent head injury, sunburn, skin conditions (eczema or psoriasis), or insufficient heat acclimation (3).

Treatment of Heat Illness

As with many medical emergencies, time is an extremely important factor in treatment of heat-related illnesses. The goal is to get core body temperature down to an acceptable level (below 38C or 100.4 F) as quickly as possible. It’s important to note that although fevers generally present at similar temperatures to what we call hyperthermia (temperatures above 100.9 F) the underlying mechanism is different. In general, our thermal max is a narrow range from 106.8 -107.6 F. Sustained core temperature at this level for anywhere from 45 minutes to 8 hours can be lethal, and one of the factors for predicting the outcome for a person with heat stroke is how long they are hyperthermic. Body temperature of 106.8 – 107.6 F may seem awfully high, but when you are exerting yourself in hot conditions, it is not uncommon for body temperature to reach 102-103 F for short periods of time. Adverse conditions, either internal or external, can cause core body temperature to stay elevated or rise to higher, more dangerous, levels.

The key takeaway from research institutes, such as the Korey Stringer Institute, that focus on heat-related illnesses is to cool the athlete down as quickly as possible to protect the athlete’s brain and vital organs. To do that, the critical first step is to recognize you or another athlete is in trouble. This step is often missed, which allows heat illness to progress to dangerous levels. Get out of direct sunlight and into a shaded, cooler environment. Finally, use whatever you have to cool off. This can include dousing with cold water from a hose or shower, wrapping in cold towels, applying ice packs or immersion in an ice bath, and having them ingest cold fluids. Athletes experiencing heat stroke need medical care immediately, with the goal of lowering body temperature to below 104 F within 30 minutes.

Preventing Heat Illness

The best ways for athletes to avoid heat-related illness are to heat acclimatize before training hard or racing in a hot environment, monitor and manage your hydration needs, and utilize cooling techniques to help manage your core body temperature. Doing these three things well will reduce the physiological strain of training and racing in the heat and optimize performance.

Heat Acclimation

The most important of these three is heat acclimatization because it not only improves thermal comfort, or your psychological tolerance to the heat, but also it improves your physiological thermal tolerance, which is your body’s ability to tolerate heat exposure for an extended period of time. The physiological benefits of heat acclimatization include increased skin blood flow and increased sweat rate, both of which help to dissipate heat quickly and efficiently. During heat acclimation you also have an increase in your blood plasma volume, which allows you to better sustain your blood pressure and work capacity (1). These adaptations take roughly 7-14 days to fully manifest. Because of this, it is important to monitor your level of exertion as your body makes these adaptations. During this time you will naturally have a change in threshold pace, power output, and both maximal and submaximal heart rate. Don’t force it.

Hydration

Dehydration is one of the key precursors to developing a heat-related illness. Although dehydration generally occurs from an inadequate intake of fluids, it can be made worse by an excessive amount of fluid loss through sweating, putting you in a state of hypohydration (Howe et al). Regardless of whether you’re putting too little in the tank or losing to much from sweating, from an athletic standpoint it has been shown that your heart rate will rise 3-5 beats/min for every 1% of bodyweight loss due to dehydration (Coris et al). When dehydration occurs your blood plasma volume shrinks, which not only effects your heart’s ability to do its job, but also decreases blood flow to the skin and sweat rate. As a result, performance declines and the chances of developing heat illness increase.

What this means is that you should monitor not only your during-activity hydration but also your pre-exercise and post-exercise hydration when temperatures begin to rise. It is recommended that you start your exercise or race euhydrated, which just means starting at a normal level of hydration and not getting to the start line dehydrated or hyperhydrated. Adjusting your day-to-day hydration status takes some time, and guzzling fluid isn’t helpful. Rather, try the WUT method and make appropriate adjustments to daily fluid intake.

When it comes to hydration during exercise the idea is to minimize losses in total body water mass. During strenuous exercise in the heat, sweat rates can reach 1.5 liters per hour, and sometimes higher. General recommendations are to consume 16 – 24 ounces of fluid an hour, but endurance athletes in hot environments often need to consume 2-3 times that much. You can figure out your approximate sweat rate by weighing yourself pre- and post-workout. When it comes to post race or activity hydration the old staple was to try and replace 150% of body mass losses during the first hour of your exercise stopping (6). For many athletes this simply wasn’t practical and caused some GI discomfort, and because of this the most realistic guideline is to try and replace 100-120% of body mass lost in the first hour after you stop exercising (1) and continue consuming fluids in the hours after that. CTS has long recommended athletes aim to consume 150% of fluid losses within 4 hours after exercise.

Cooling Practices

The final components to avoiding heat-related illnesses are the little things you can do to work with your environment and not set yourself up for failure. You can choose to wear light colored and loose fitting clothes. Additionally, you can utilize two different methods of managing heat exposure by either continuous cooling methods or pre-cooling techniques. Continuous cooling methods utilize both external and internal cooling methods. Some external cooling methods include the application of iced/cooled down clothing, towels, water immersion or dousing, or packing ice onto athlete via ice bandanas, ice socks, or into clothing and hydration vests. Internal cooling methods generally rely on the ingestion of cold fluids or ice slurries to try to maintain a lower core body temperature. When it comes to endurance activity in particular, pre-cooling methods have been shown to be effective in both improving performance and delaying the inevitable rise in the core body temperature. What this means is that an athlete getting ready to compete in a warm environment can benefit from starting their event with a lower core body temperature. This can be accomplished by ingesting cold ice slurries, or now the use of a commercial ice vest (or more simply cold iced down towels around your trunk and shoulders) during your warmup. It’s been shown that these crucial minutes of cooling down before you hit the start line or the start button on your watch can prolong your body’s ability to maintain a lower core body temperature (1).

When it comes to exercising and racing in the heat, prepare yourself for the demands of the environment, manage your fluids, and utilize physical methods of cooling yourself off. Taking a moment to cool off now might slow you down temporarily but cannot only save your race or workout in the long run, but also your life.

wet bulb temperature

ASSESS YOUR RISK BEFORE YOU GO. (1)

Waiting For My Runner @ Mesquite Dunes In Death Valley Park

Advertisements




2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 6)

3 07 2018

2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 6)

Post Evaluation: TNF 120K Ultra Trail Race

What Went Right?

  1. Clothing & Gear: I think I used the best clothing gear, from trail shoes to my headlamp lighting system. My “layering” of my upper garment was perfect with a sleeveless Uniqlo shirt inside my Red PAU short-sleeved shirt with my Patagonia “Houdini” Windbreaker Light Jacket. I feel warm with my MIUT Buff/neck Gaiters; Compressport Headband and Salomon Running Cap. I had Giro Cycling Gloves with my LEKI Carbon Trekking Poles. My Salomon Speedcross 4 was perfect for the trail in Lavaredo which I used for two months in my training leading to the event. I was using a Salomon EXO Twinskin Short (Red) which was light, comfortable, and provided me with warm feeling during the night run.
  2. Salomon 5L Sense Ultra Hydration Vest & Pulse Belt: My Salomon Vest carried all the Mandatory Gear and Nutrition Needs for the whole course/event as I opted not to have any Drop Bag at Km 66/Cimabanche Aid Station. My Salomon Pulse Belt was perfect for my Trekking Poles; additional nutrition (Skyflakes) and Cellphone.
  3. Training: My “mountain and hill repeats” were very effective for the uphills and downhill runs for short duration/distance along the course.
  4. Nutrition & Hydration: I only have 5 pieces of Power Gels for emergency situation; 6 pieces of KIND Power Bar; 4 packs of SkyFlakes Crackers (Condensada); NUUN tablets: and two pieces of empty Ziplock.
  5. Pacing & Average Speed During The Race: I have a lot of lessons learned from my early DNF at MIUT in Madeira, Portugal. I needed to be very light during the race and trained for heavy loads (3 Liters of Water + Food) in my daily long runs in my Playground. I was satisfied with my average speed/pacing during my run at the TNF Lavaredo until I was slowed down with dizziness and pain on my knees.

Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 5 Liters

What Did I Do To Make It Right?

My frustration in MIUT last April gave me a lot of lesson learned and I was able to adjust things during my training. My early arrival in Cortina gave me the time to adjust with the weather and the altitude. However, I should have visited Tri Cime and other higher elevations of the course by Bus but with my lack of knowledge of the area, I was limited in trying to find the first and last few kilometers of the course. My CTS Coach John Fitzgerald sent me his last guidance with the gist/bottomline of focusing on the things that I could control during the race (nutrition, pacing, and mindset) with hiking with purpose and positive attitude. I learned a lot of variations on how to use the trekking poles during my training leading to this race. I really wanted to hike the uphills more efficiently with the trekking poles. I had more “push-ups” repetitions during my training days in order to make my shoulders stronger than what I had during MIUT.

Bringing lesser gels, bars, drink mix, and lighter mandatory gear (Salomon Bonatti Waterproof Jacket & Pants and Columbia Long-Sleeved Shirt) made my weight lighter during the run. I also carried lesser volume of water from the start to lighten my load but also carried an extra collapsible Salomon Foldable Bottle just in case I needed more water during the hotter part of the day.

After hiking the uphills, I would run at an easy pace on flatter and downhill portions of the course which gave me enough time to reach the First Cut-Off Time Checkpoint and put in more buffer time at the Check Point in Rifugio Di Auronzo.

Bring at least two empty Ziplocks in your pocket (easily accessible) for obvious reason.

Last Message Of My CTS Coach

What was NOT quite right during the race?

I opted to run the downhills on the early part of the course without using my trekking poles, most specially, on the seemingly flatter sections but they are actually gradual descents. I was thinking that I would be faster in running the downhills by not using the trekking poles but I was wrong. If only I have used my trekking poles on all the descents, I could have saved my quads and my knees from having pain even if I was slower by a few minutes. My old knees and legs need some cushioning when running the descents to preserve them for the last half of the course which has more descents.

I should have started to ingest my solid food on the start of the uphill climb from Lake Misurina to Rifugio Di Auronzo while on the move and not at the middle of the climb with a 3-5 minutes short stop and rest.

I should have NOT stayed so long at the Aid Station in Rifugio Di Auronzo and spent a lot of time sitting and talking with the Indonesian guy. I should have limited my stay there by simply eating the soup pasta, drinking my Coca Cola, and refilling my bottles while I was standing. I could have shaved at least 10-12 minutes of my stay here.

I really could not understand why I did not take the risk of taking some Aleve tablets to relieve the pain on my knees after the first switchback from Tri Cime/Peak of Lavaredo. I usually take these pain relievers on the middle of my race just to anticipate the pain on my knees which was very effective in solving the situation I am in in my past finishes.

At The Peak Of Lavaredo

What is the best-case scenario?

1. With a buffer time of 40+ minutes from Rifugio Di Auronzo, I should have maintained it up to the next Cut-Off Time Checkpoint in Cimabanche and gambled any remaining buffer time in every Checkpoint up to the last Cut-Off Time Checkpoint before the Finish Line.

2. I could have used my trekking poles more on the downhill/descents to save my knees/legs and be able to hike relentlessly with purpose up to the Finish Line. The time that made me faster to run or hike on the flatter and downhill sections without the trekking poles was nothing if I could have saved my legs and knees and be able to pass the Cut-Off Time Checkpoints.

3. From the start, one bottle of water/electrolyte mix (500 ml) is enough up to Km 33 to make my load lighter from midnight up to early morning due to the colder air/weather. One bottle filled with liquid in one bottle and another 1/2 bottle of liquid, totaling to 750 ml is needed from Km 33 up to the Aid Station in Rifugio Di Auronzo (Km 50). Carrying just the right amount of water on my vest could significantly reduce the weight I was carrying. Which translates to lighter load to my knees and legs.

What steps can you take to improve?

1. More strengthening exercises to my leg muscles. More push-ups and core exercises for my upper body.

2. More time to train for very LONG downhill running or hiking with the use of trekking poles. Downhill running/hiking distance should be at least 10 up to 20 kilometers straight down, whether they are steep and technical or not. (Note: Never stop using the trekking poles once they are deployed; in uphills, flats, and the downhills.)

3. More Mountain Downhill Repeats! Simply, the reverse of Hill/Mountain Repeats where one has to run or hike the downhill faster than going up to the mountain. This time, using my trekking poles!

4. Bring a lot of BUFF. One for the Ear Cover; one for the Mouth & Nose for the absorption of fluids due to “running nose”; and one for the neck. In addition, I can bring an extra BUFF to be looped on my wrist just in case I need a cloth to absorb some cold water from the streams to douse my head and neck during hotter part of the day.

5. If I have the time, I could have visited/recon by Bus or Car the highest peak or highest location along the course in order to acclimatize or take a brief hike.

The Intense Look @ The Dolomites

To be continued…





2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 5)

2 07 2018

2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 5)

Ride From Cimabanche to Cortina

After the Aid Station Marshal told me that I can no longer continue the race since I arrived at the Aid Station beyond the cut-off time of 1:30 PM of Saturday, I entered the Big Tent and ate some of the remaining food and drank some Ice Cold Coke. I was told to wait for the remaining runners on the road approaching the Aid Station before we could board the Bus waiting to bring us to Cortina. While waiting for the other runners, I brought out my dry long-sleeved Columbia Shirt from my Salomon Hydration Pack and removed my Patagonia Windbreaker and the rest of my upper clothing as they were wet from my perspiration. I was able to change my clothes and ready for the trip back to Cortina.

After about 40 minutes, all of the rest of the runners who were cut-off at the said station were accounted for. There were 3 ladies and 9 men, to include myself, and I have the impression that I am the oldest among the DNF runners.

The asphalted road from Cimabanche to Cortina seems to be a road that connects to all the mountains in the Dolomites. The road was not busy with traffic as I could not see or meet along the road big trucks and commercial buses. I could count with my fingers those private vehicles who were plying along this road. I slept for awhile until two of the younger runners (in their 40s) started talking to each other and they are Italians. They were comparing notes using the map on their Race Bibs on what went wrong with them. Although I could not understand what they were talking about, they were pointing on the descending portion from the Peak of Lavaredo to Landro as they talked to one another, the same section where I had my problem. I just smiled and tried to doze again.

After almost one hour, the Croatian/Polish lady was dropped in front of her Hotel which was along the highway, and 1.5 kilometers aways from Cortina. The bus finally stopped in front of the Olympic Ice Stadium and all of the remaining runners to include myself, alighted from the Bus. From there, I was limping while walking and carrying my things to reach my Hotel which about 650 meters from the Olympic Ice Stadium.

Sleep & Rest @ Hotel Cortina

I immediately had my hot shower and changed to my sleeping clothes. I ate whatever “left-over” food and fruits in the room and prepared instant noodles before I finally went to bed. At this time, it was already 5:00 PM of Saturday. I did not bother to check the Ultralive website about my personal data during the race and to those of the remaining Pinoy runners on the course. I was really tired and sleepy at this time.

View From My Room, The Morning After

I woke up at 6:30 AM of Sunday and I was happy that I was able to sleep more than 12 hours. I prepared a hot coffee and as I started to drink, I opened my Laptop to find out what happened to the rest of my Filipino friends. Since the cut-off time for the TNF Lavaredo is 5:00 AM of Sunday, I knew that the race was over already. I checked first on the LiveUltra page of Arwin and I was surprised that he DNFd somewhere in Km 90. I wonder what happened to him since I knew and was confident that he would be the one to finish the race with an impressive time because of what I’ve been reading and seeing on his training in Abu Dhabi, Dubai through his Facebook status. After looking at Arwin’s Page, I went to check if what happened to Rodel and I was surprised that he was able to finish the race in 29:23:10 hours. I was really happy that, at least, one of us in this year’s edition was able to finish the TNF Lavaredo 120K Ultra. I tried to review his time in every Cut-Off Time Checkpoint and I was impressed that he was able to make it in every checkpoint in a single digit number of minutes before the cut-off time in every checkpoint. I wonder what it was like for him to be catching up with the cut-off time in every checkpoint after the Cimabanche Aid Station (Km 66.9) and with those relentless uphill climbs on the second half of the course plus the cold weather during the second night.

Another View From My Room, The Morning After

Post-Race Meeting With Team Pilipinas

I have assumed that Arwin and Rodel had already left Cortina and took the Bus to their Accommodation place which is 20K from Cortina but after few minutes of browsing on Facebook and the results of the TNF Lavaredo on my Laptop, I received a Personal Message from Arwin asking me if we can meet at the Hotel to exchange notes and share our experiences with one another. Since I liked the idea of sharing ones experience with one another during the event, I asked them to proceed to the Hotel and I would wait for them at the Veranda/Main Porch of the Hotel overlooking the bridge and road leading to the town proper, the same place where we met and talked last Thursday.

Cortina’s Hotel Corona

I immediately came out of my Hotel room and went to the Hotel’s Porch to wait for Arwin and Rodel. After about 15 minutes, as I was going to the Hotel’s Porch, I saw them from the road leading to the Hotel walking slowly. I could understand and relate what these two gentlemen were feeling at that time looking how slowly they walked towards me. I immediately asked them if they need to have a shower as I offered my Hotel Room to them just in case they needed it. But they declined as they wanted just to share some stories with me. Arwin told me that that he had temporarily cleaned himself while he stayed at the Olympic Ice Stadium after he was transported from where he DNFd. Rodel also declined as he told me that he was able to change to dry clothes already and would be much better for him to take a shower in their place.

Dependance Hotel Corona/My 2nd Floor Room

We sat and we started to share our own experiences. I told them what happened to me at the switchback descent from the Peak of Lavaredo to Landro——twice experiencing dizziness and severe pain on my left knee that caused my slow pace. Arwin, on the other hand, shared his experience and he told us that at the same section where I had some dizziness, he was able inhale a “cold air” that went inside his lungs and made him feel weak on the uphill climbs after Cimabanche. As he struggled at the uphill climb from Km 80 to Malga Travenanzes, he said, that he was feeling weak and lots of hikers/runners had passed him at this section to include Rodel. He finally DNFd at Km 90+ at Rifugio Col Gallina. Rodel told us that he had almost been cut-off from Cimabanche (Km 66.9) up to the last Checkpoint of the course. He could not believe that he was able to run, non-stop, from Malga Ra Stua (Km 76) to Plan De Loa for about 3-4 kilometers just to be able pass the checkpoint and then at the Peak of Col Del Bos (Km 92) to Rifugio Col Gallina (Km 94). He told us that he was praying “non-stop calling all the saints”, his parents and his relatives while he was running and hiking to these Checkpoints.

Breakfast With Team Pilipinas

We talked for almost one hour and half at the Porch until I asked the Manager of the Hotel if I can invite my friends for the Breakfast Buffet and I will be willing to pay for their bill. The Manager said, “You can invite them for Breakfast and it’s FREE for them!” Wow! I was surprised to hear such generous words from him! Stefano, may the Good Lord bless you always! So, we continued sharing our stories while we had our Breakfast Buffet on the morning of Sunday.

Hotel’s Breakfast Buffet

We stayed at the Hotel’s Restaurant sharing lots of stories and observations during the race until the Breakfast Buffet was closed at 10:00 AM.

We parted ways later as I can see on the faces of Arwin and Rodel that they are about to doze. They left the Hotel and walked to the Bus Terminal which is just few meters away from the Hotel.

I really appreciate this kind of conversation and exchange of experiences among Filipino runners while joining an international running event abroad. These guys are real people who are very graceful in defeat and humble in victory.

I told them that I had posted already a Facebook status that says that I DNFd at the event stating directly the cause of my failure. I asked them also to do the same as most of our Facebook friends are eager to know our personal “drama” in the said event. I promised to these two gentlemen that I am going to document, through this blog, all the things that we experienced in this event and I told them that it will be a very detailed one which be used as a guide for future local Pinoy runners and other interested runners around the world.

Even if I was not able to finish this race, just a short glimpse and description of what I went through, would be able to provide a part of the puzzle of what makes TNF Lavaredo a race to experience and what makes the Dolomites as one of the best mountain scenery destinations worth visiting.

Recovery Walk @ Cortina

I went to bed once I got into my room after breakfast. I was able to sleep until after noon time and woke up at about 2:00 PM.

I decided to have my recovery walk in the afternoon to the Town Center, shop for some souvenirs and look for a place for my early dinner. As I left the Hotel, I met some of the runners, some who DNF also and some who finished the Ultra and shorter races. They were leaving the Hotel for the Bus Terminal and enrollee to their respective countries. I will post a separate blog for these runners whom I met during this event.

World War II US Military Jeep @ The Bus Terminal

As I was walking along the main road of the center of the town, I saw Hayden Hawks, the Champion of this year’s TNF Lavaredo 120K at the Event’s Arc. We had a picture and a brief conversation as he told me, after telling him my name and my country, that he has an Uncle who is a Filipino, married to his Auntie from Utah, USA. He asked me if there are Ultra Running Events in the Philippines and I told him that I am the Race Organizer/Director of the Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race. He told me that he had not yet visited the Philippines and he might consider visiting the country in the near future.

Meeting With Champion Hayden Hawks

Before dinner, I was able to really go around the town, getting inside the Cortina Church to pray which I found out to be a Minor Basilica, checking where the Bus terminal is located, looking for Sports Stores where I could buy some souvenirs, and just simply sitting on those benches along the main road of the town while looking at the people walking around. This was the time that I could also see a lot of runners wearing their Finisher’s Vest/Gilets as they are also doing their recovery walks. I felt envious with these runners wearing their Vests/Gilets and I really respect them for what they had done, whether they finished the TNF Lavaredo 120K or the shorter Cortina Trail 48K, they really conquered the Dolomites!

Inside The Cortina Basilica

As I was sitting on one of the benches, I saw Tess Geddes, a Filipino Ultrarunner who is now the Race Organizer and Director of the Grand To Grand Ultra Marathon Race in Utah, USA. She joined the shorter Cortina Trail 48K and we shared some stories while we were sitting on the bench. After about 30 minutes of conversation, we parted ways as I was trying to look for some running attire which I saw being used by some runners during the event.

Sitting Along The Cortina’s Main Street

Meeting With Grand2 Grand Ultra’s Tess Geddes

As most of the restaurants in Cortina opens at 6:30 PM for dinner, I tried to walk around some places farther from the town center as I waited for the opening of the eating places. Finally, I was able to find a restaurant that offers a fine dining cuisine and I rewarded myself with my last dinner in Cortina. The best steak in town!

Best Steak In Town

I continued my celebration in my Hotel Room with two bottles of local beer before going to bed on my last night in Cortina.

To be continued…





2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 4)

30 06 2018

2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 4)

@ Federavecchia (Km 33.5)/First Cut-Off Time Checkpoint

Reaching this First Cut-Off Time Checkpoint at Federavecchia within 6:30 hours was my primary concern and target just to redeem myself from my frustration on my previous performance at the MIUT in Madeira, Portugal on the last week of April this year. I was happy and excited that I was able to build-up a buffer time of 32 minutes. With my age of 66 years old, I could be the happiest person among the runners that reached the said Aid Station.

1st Cut-Off Time Checkpoint @ Km 33.5 in 6.5 Hours/Average Speed: 6.26 KPH

I immediately brought out my almost empty Salomon Bottle, drank the remaining liquid and had it filled up with water, dropped one tablet of NUUN, and placed it back on the vest. Brought out an empty Ziplock bag from my vest and immediately filled it with apple bite cuts and dried apricot and immediately left the Aid Station. It took me less than 2 minutes to do all these things. But as soon as I left the Aid Station, I was facing a straight steep uphill climb.

I started to eat what I took from the Aid Station while I was hiking up the uphill climb which is an asphalted road that can accommodate three runners abreast with each other. The uphill climb consisted of more switchbacks and it lasted for about 2.5 kilometers. It took me two times to eat the fruit bites from the ziplock and they provided me the much needed energy to reach the peak of the third climb of the course and was able to reach Plan Maccetto which is almost Km 39 from the Start. From this point, I started to run on a single track trail which was a soft ground with with lots of small grass around. Even if this place is still considered in a higher elevation, my “running nose” and numbing hands had stopped and the temperature was becoming warmer to my body. After about 3 kilometers of running downhill, I finally reached the edge of a body of water which is called the Lake Misurina!

Tip: You can master the art of filling the Aid Station’s food with an empty Ziplock Bag. It will save you some time, instead of standing while eating your food at the Aid Station. Keep moving while you are eating and hydrating.

Lake Misurina

Lake Misurina is a beautiful lake with very clear water. I was tempted to take a “selfie” and picture of the lake & the surrounding mountains but I promised myself not to bring out my cellphone during the course of my run. The three of us Pinoy runners had talked about not having pictures along the course since it will delay our run/hike from Aid Station/Checkpoint to the next one. Knowing that there are Professional Photographers along the course in different strategic locations, there was no need for “selfies” or picture-taking on the scenery. It was another 1.2 to 2 kilometers run on a wide dirt road surrounding the Lake before I reached a Lady Marshal who was holding a Time Scanner. She tagged me and I asked her how far was the next Cut-Off Time Checkpoint and she replied “10 kilometers”. But looking on the map/elevation profile on my Race Bib, it indicates a distance of only 7 kilometers! I wonder which is one telling the truth, the Lady Marshal or the Map printed on the Race Bib?

@Lake Misurina/Average Speed: 3.81 KPH

After I exited from the periphery of Lake Misurina, I was now following an asphalted road that was going up to the mountain but the runners were directed to run along the dirt path/trail beside the paved road as shown and depicted by the trail markings. It was doing an alternate hike on the paved road and then going back to the dirt track beside the road and back again to the paved road at this point using my trekking poles. I was able to pass by an Asian guy and I started to have a conversation with him. He told me that he is from Hongkong and he was busy looking at his cellphone. Thinking that he was checking on our route through his cellphone, I asked him about the actual distance (while hiking uphill) to the next Aid Station and he answered “I don’t know!” That’s it! That stopped my conversation with him and I just tread on with my fast hiking.

Tip: The main reason why a cellphone is an important mandatory gear is that for communication purposes to the Race Organizer in cases of emergency and not for photography!

Rifuego Di Auronzo

From the paved road, I veered right from the highway and followed a single-track trail that seemed to be going flat and downhill but it was a short one. Looking up ahead of me, I could see from the distance, the iconic Rifuego Di Auronzo where the famous 3-rock mountain formation is located! The Tri Cime mountain formation is the LOGO of the TNF Lavaredo! By looking at the next Aid Station at the Tri Cime, I had a mixed feeling of delight and sadness as I need a lot of strength to reach the highest point of the course. The single track trail was a relentless uphill climb which is about 2-3 kilometers of steep winding uphill assault. As I was about to crest the last “false” peak, I stopped and ate two packs of Skyflakes Condensada and followed it with a Clif Power Gel. I was able to regain my strength after that and I was able to reach the Aid Station and Cut-Off Time Checkpoint at Rifugio Di Auronzo in 10:23 hours! I was able to accumulate a buffer time of almost one hour at this point.

It was an awesome sight to see the Tri Cime in Lavaredo, Dolomites and I became in love with the place! But before I could absorb what I was seeing and feeling at that moment in a place so beautiful to be at, I need to refill my bottles and ate some pasta soup with powdered cheese at the Aid Station. I was seated beside an Indonesian runner and we had a short conversation. The Indonesian happened to be in the same hotel where I was staying and he arrived later than me in Cortina. He is 54 years old and he looks like he is from their uniformed services. I think I was able to spend at least 15-20 minutes in this Aid Station. Finally, The Indonesian and I left the Aid Station at the same time. However, he was stronger and faster than me in hiking with his trekking poles.

Tip: Never, never, never stay at the Aid Station for more than 5 minutes if you need to eat and rest thereat.Never have the temptation to sit!

It was a flat downhill wide dirt road from the Aid Station which is about one and half kilometer and we had at least 3 kilometers more of uphill climb to reach the peak of the Lavaredo Mountain which is the highest point of the course. I could still keep in step with the Indonesian guy on the first 1.5 kilometers but when we turned left for the steep uphill climb, he made a considerable distance from me but I could still see him from afar. I think I was able to reach the highest point in almost one hour from the Aid Station. I think it was at this point where I was able to meet the Official Photographers of the Event. It was also at this point that at least 3 local runners, coming from behind me, tapped my shoulders and cheered me & congratulated me for reaching the said place!

Peak of Lavaredo Mountain

Finally, I reached the peak of the Lavaredo Mountain where I could see the North side face of the Tri Cime! As I hiked the first few meters going downhill, I was excited and happy to have reached at this point. Since my Garmin GPS Watch had been connected with my USB Charger, I could not see what was my actual distance at this point but on the Map/Elevation Profile as reference, it could be at Km 51.

@Rifugio Di Auronzo/Average Speed: 3.13 KPH

After hiking downhill for about 250 meters, I started to feel dizzy. The feeling was like I was drunk with Irish Whiskey and became sleepy! It was almost 10:00 AM (actual day time) and the weather was mild (but I was still wearing my Patagonia Windbreaker with the hood on my head). I panicked and I had to rest and lean on right side of the trail/dirt road. The left edge of the road is deep ravine. While resting and taking in some deep breath, I was tempted to bring out my cellphone and took the picture of the Tri Cime. After taking the picture and drinking some sip of my electrolytes, I resumed my hiking! However, after another 100 meters, I felt some dizziness again! Instead of stopping, I reduced my pace and went nearer to the right side of the trail just to anticipate that if I fell to the ground or pass out due to dizziness, I will not fall to the ravine. I became nervous as I hiked with the thought that I might pass out at this place and be air-lifted with a helicopter or just pass out to die while I am on this place of the earth. All of these things were in my mind, trying to figure out what could be the best to do in this kind of situation. I guess, a simple prayer did the trick and more deep breathing to remove the feeling of dizziness while I was hiking slowly towards the first switchback of the downhill course!

Tri Cime Of The Dolomites

Tip: If you think something is wrong with your body, STOP, take a rest, relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy the scenery. Re-assess yourself, PRAY and resume slowly.

The first switchback along this downhill course from the Tri Cime/Peak of Lavaredo is being guarded by Park Ranger or Polize (?) who were in Red Uniform. From this switchback, it was a steep, rocky and very technical single-track trail which is about 2-3 kilometers of more switchbacks. As I hiked and jogged this portion, I started to feel some pain on my left knee and my quads were already feeling to had been trashed. As I crossed a dry river bed on the bottom part of this trail, I could hardly lift my legs and my left knee pain became more painful. I tried to hike on the flatter section with my trekking poles to relieve the pain on my knees and rest my trashed quads.

My ONLY “Selfie” During The Event

I could feel already the warm air on the lower elevation of the course and I started to have some sweat/perspiration and tried to lessen my thoughts about my left knee pain. I did not remove my Patagonia Windbreaker and instead, just removed the hood from my head and I could still feel the cold breeze passing on my head.

Landro To Cimabanche

Finally, I was on the last 3 kilometers before the Aid Station/Cut-Off Time Checkpoint at Cimabanche (Km 66.9) and I started to do whatever “speed drills” and “strides” I did in my training in order to speed up my pace. The wide dirt road seemed to be flat but in reality, it is a gradual uphill climb up to the Checkpoint. I tried to do all my best to reach the Aid Station within the cut-off time in 12:30 hours but I was thinking already that my race was done once I reach at this point. My aching left knee could no longer withstand the next 53 kilometers of more challenging climbs and steep descents, thus, I could no longer accumulate some buffer time in every Checkpoint. I was envious of those local Italians who were cycling on this road with their nice jerseys and expensive Mountain Bikes, as they would pass or meet me along this road. I just entertained myself on looking on these young men and ladies biking on the said road.

The “sweepers” were able to reach and catch me on the last 50 meters before the Aid Station. One of the sweepers started a conversation with me after he saw on my Race Bib that I came from the Philippines. He told me that his wife is a Filipino and she is from Digos City, Davao Del Sur and they have some children (I forgot how many) and he showed me the pictures of his wife and children in his cellphone while we were jogging. He even asked with a “selfie” with me! Wow! These Italians are like Filipinos and they like/love Filipinos!

Cimabanche: The End Of The Line/Average Speed: 4.07 KPH

I missed the cut-off time by almost 13 minutes!

Tip: Listen to your body…always! Determine your limits and gracefully surrender in defeat. There will always be next time to redeem yourself. You can not fight against nature if you are already weak and injured. You will never win!

While we were in the bus going back to the Ice Olympic Stadium in Cortina, I counted the number of runners who DNFd in the Aid Station and I was able to count to 12 and I was the oldest, I think. I just smiled and one the ladies (from Croatia or Poland?) in the bus (who smiled and winked at me in one of the previous Aid Stations, I guess, in Rifugio Di Auronzo) was also there and she smiled at me, too before I was able to sleep during the ride!

To be continued…





Race Report: 1st Sarbay Festival 50K Ultra Marathon Race

4 06 2018

Race Report: 1st Sarbay Festival 50K Ultra Marathon Race

This is the second ultramarathon race in Mindanao that is requested by the Race Organizer to be sanctioned under the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU). The first one was the Zamboanga Ultra Mountain Race in Zamboanga City which had been sanctioned by PAU for the past three years. As promised to the Race Organizers, I have to join their events as a runner and be able to compete with the other participants. And fortunately, I just did what I wished with these ultra running events.

Sarbay Festival 50K Logo

Introduction

Dionam Basco, Finisher of the 2nd Edition of the Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race (2010) and a good neighbor then in Manila while working in a Real Estate Company, contacted me on the first week of February this year informing me of organizing an ultra marathon event during the Sarbay Festival in Sarangani Province to be held on May 25-26, 2018 and inviting me to grace the event as a guest and runner. I immediately approved of it as I did not have any conflict of schedule of trips and races during those days. He informed me that this Festival is a project/tourism program under the Office of the Provincial Governor and his wife, Michelle Lopez Solon, as the Festival Organizer. There was a time also that a personal meeting in Manila was supposed to be scheduled with the Festival Organizers in February but due to my race, Manila To Baguio 250K Ultra Race, the meeting did not materialize. However, through Personal Messenger and Facebook, Dionam and I communicated each other even up to the details of the said event. And the rest is history.

Dionam Basco Finishing The 2nd Edition BDM 102

Few Days Leading To The Race

I just supervised being the RD of the North Coast 200-Mile Endurance Run from May 16-20 from Laoag City to Santa Ana, Cagayan and then returned to Manila on May 22 and had at least two days to rest before going to General Santos City on the early morning of May 25, Friday. With less than the amount of hours to sleep on the night of Thursday, I took a chance to sleep during the flight from Manila to General Santos City. Dionam was in the Airport waiting as it took so much time waiting for my luggage to get into the Airport’s Luggage carousel. Lesson learned: When travelling to General Santos City, your luggage should all be hand-carried!

General Santos City is already a totally different place since the first time that I visited the place. In 1976, when I was a Company Commander of an Infantry Unit of the Philippine Army located in Datu Piang, Maguindanao, I was tasked to “retrieve” one of my soldiers who was placed in a stockade of a Military Police Unit in Davao City due to indiscriminate firing under the influence of liquor. I was able to have my soldier released and gave him another 3-day leave before reporting back to my unit. He happens to be from one of the towns of Davao. With my driver and two security personnel aboard a Kennedy Jeep, we proceeded to General Santos City and slept overnight. I can still remember that my soldiers brought me to the only 4-story, white-painted Hotel along the ONLY road of the city. That’s all that I can remember about this city.

Wow! After 42 years, General Santos City is totally a different place! Knowing that this is the southernmost city of the country (1,600+ kilometers away from Luneta Park), this place is a lot better than some of the cities in Luzon, having wider roads and sidewalks, less traffic, lots commercial establishments/eateries, and better air quality. I was treated with a brunch at Dionam’s Resto, “Have Sam Thai” that offers a fusion of local and Thai cuisine! This is where I have tasted the best broiled Tuna Belly in the whole world! About 300 meters from his Resto was my accommodation at the Sun City Suites which has a nice restaurant (Free Breakfast Buffet) and strong free Wi-Fi. Just to prove how nice the hotel was? I was able to sleep for straight 6 hours after I dropped my luggage on the floor!

Sarangani Provincial Capitol

Race Proper

The race starts in front of the Sarangani Provincial Capitol which is located in Alabel, Sarangani, a few minutes drive from General Santos City. If I am not mistaken, a good 10 kilometers of wide paved road from GenSan City. At the Provincial Gymnasium, few meters from the Capitol Building, is the location of the Race Pick-up, Race Briefing, and CarboLoading activities.

Inside The Sarangani Capitol’s Gymnasium

When I arrived at the Gymnasium, everything was set already for the event’s pre-activities. I could see a lot of runners waiting for the CarboLoading and the Briefing. The Program started at 8:00 PM and everybody could eat what was served up to 10:00 PM. The variety of food served was a lot as compared of the usual Pancit & Fried Chicken combination/stuff that I am familiar of. The food served was too grand and excellent where you have a choice of pure carbo (Pasta dishes), pure protein (Fresh Tuna, Chicken, Beef) or pure fats (Two Whole Pork Lechon) and lots of fruits! Well, I cheated on my Whole Food Plant Based diet for tonight only! Hahaha!

Carbo Loading With All The Participants & Race Officials/Staff

I was requested by Dionam to talk on the Rules and Regulations of the Race. I emphasized on the importance of Integrity in joining/finishing the race, as I had bad experiences and personal observations (with my own eyes) of cheating among runners. Secondary to this is my emphasis on the Safety of each of the runner. I have observed that most of the runners were not using reflectorized vests during the race and I hope this will be one of the improvements we have to implement in the next editions. Since this event has Aid Stations in every 8-10 kilometers, I suggested Dionam to disallow the use of Support Vehicles and Motorcycles to “shadow” runners in the next editions, to minimize traffic along the road and remove the suspicion or temptation of runners riding on motorcycles in the dark places along the route.

Briefing On The Rules & Regulations

The race promptly started at exactly midnight of Friday with 200 starters in front of the Provincial Capitol of Sarangani. I was at the back of the pack and patiently warmed-up on the first few minutes of the race. Runners had to go around the Capitol until everybody goes out of the Gate of the Capitol Compound and turned left along the Highway going to Glan, Sarangani. After 20 minutes of warm-up, I started to pass some runners. The route felt like it was flat but there were portions which were hilly in nature that one could not see because my headlight could only illuminate what was in front of me. Based from my Garmin GPS Watch, I started passing runners when my speed was 8 kilometers per hour. Before I reached the Km #10 Aid Station, I was going on 9.8 kilometers per hour! That’s insane! I could not believe it. It could be because of the cooler air during the early morning plus the breeze coming from Sarangani Bay and of course, maybe from my training!

Prayer Before The Start Of The Race

Event’s Race Map Route

Event’s Elevation Profile

I tried to overtake or pass some of the faster and younger runners but they always asked me the same questions——How old are you? How many times have you finished an ultra distance race? I would be successful in passing some of them but they would pass me again when I refill my bottles at the Aid Stations. My pace did not change until I reached the 32K or more point. This is where successive small hills appeared and where some bridges are located. Moreso, when I reached the Marathon distance of 42.2 Kilometers in 5 hours and 11 minutes!

As warned by Dionam, the last 6 kilometers will be the “killer” signature of the route and it’s true! I had to refill my bottles and ate a lot of solid foods/fruits at the Km 45 Aid Station in order to have those strong legs for the ascents. I slowed a lot but I maintained to jog (not hike) these ascents until the descending portion towards the Finish Line.

Crossing The Finish Line

Finally, I crossed the Finish Line in 6:18+hours with RD Dionam meeting and congratulating me. This could be my fastest PR on a Road Ultra, better than my time at the Tagaytay To Nasugbu 50K which is almost 80% downhill five years ago in 6:35:38 hours! I was finisher #47 out of the 200 starters in this race.

Nutrition & Hydration: GU Power Gel in every one hour; One Tablet of NUUN mixed with 16 oz of water in my Simple Hydration Bottle in every Aid Station; and ate lots of bananas & watermelon bites in the Aid Stations.

Running Kit: Lupine Headlight; Hoka One One Headband; Eyecatcher Reflectorized Shirt; NIKE Challenger Shorts; Darn Tough Sports Socks; ADIDAS Adizero Boston 6; GARMIN GPS Watch Forerunner 310XT; and Compressport Race Belt.

Here is the Official Podium Result of the Event:

Sarbay Ultra Marathon

GLAN, Sarangani (May 26, 2018) – One of the highlights of this year’s Sarbay Festival is the 50K Ultra Marathon in which participants will begin their run from the Provincial Capitol in Alabel to the main venue in Gumasa, Glan. Arnie Macañares from Kapatagan, Digos City is the over-all champion and the first to finish the 50K run with a time of 3 hours and 52 minutes only. Next to him in the male category is Dante Baay with a time of 3 hours and 57 minutes, and Roberto Cain with a time of 4 hours and 9 minutes. In the female category on the other hand, Arriane Deocadez wins the 1st place with a time of 5 hours and 53 minutes, followed by Sheriel Balabat with 5 hours 57 minutes time, and Giegs Castillo with 6 hours and 4 minutes time. According to Arnie, his secret to winning the marathon is determination, perseverance, and courage. (From the Sarbay Communications Service)

Congratulations to all the finishers and see you next year!

BR With The Race Director Dionam Basco





Race Report: 2018 Old Spanish Trail (OST) 50K Trail Run

23 02 2018

I was registered to join the Four Lakes 100K Ultra Trail Race and I was ready and trained to finish this race within the cut-off time of 30 hours. I did finish this race two years ago with a time of 26+hours when the cut-off time was then 28 hours. Mentally and physically, I was prepared to finish this race as this was considered as one of my training races in preparation for the 2018 Madeira Island Ultra Trail (MIUT) Race in Madeira, Portugal to be held in April 28, 2018.

In addition to finishing the BDM 102 Ultra in 15:20+hours three weeks earlier, the Four Lakes 100 Race would be a follow-up training race for me leading to the MIUT Race. In between these two races, I had my daily recovery runs and a Mountain Repeats workout in my favorite Mt Roosevelt’s Loop #3 in my Playground two weeks before race day.

Halfway towards Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya, I received an information from one of my nieces that my Father died from his sleep in the morning of Friday, few hours before the start of the race. As I travel to the venue of the race, I called my brother and sisters and made some suggestion about the schedule of Viewing and Funeral for our Father as most of our plan, in case of his untimely death, had been finalized long before while he was still alive. The plan was immediately implemented hours after our Dad’s death and I just kept peace and silence to myself and focused mentally to finish race where I had registered.

The race promptly started at 3:00 AM of Saturday and I started the race at the back of the pack. Knowing that 100K is a very long race and that Four Lakes 100’s race route is new to myself and everybody, I thought of being conservative on the first half of the race with the intention/objective of arriving each Checkpoint/Aid Station within the prescribed cut-off time. My smart strategy for the first half is to conserve my legs’ energy by using my Trekking Poles on the first ascent of the course with the hope that I could still run on the descents of the 2nd half of the course.

I was happy to have reached the summit/peak of Mt Ugo earlier than the first time I joined this race. I would start to run on the descent from the peak of Mt Ugo and alternately, hike and jog until I reached the Domolpos Aid Station. I ate two pieces of local “Suman” and refilled my Hydration Bottles with water and electrolyte powdered mix which was enough to provide me the much energy to reach the first Checkpoint at Kayapa East Market. I took my time to eat some food and refill my bottles even if I still have 25 minutes of buffer time from the cut-off time of 8 hours.

I was not in a hurry to reach the dreaded ascent at Amelong Labeng as I made up my mind not to stop or take a very long rest in one of the 3 waiting sheds along the said route. On my first finish in this race, I had a lot of rests and stops along this route that I had to engage in a very long conversation with some of the runners then, not knowing that they are participants in the shorter Old Spanish 50K Trail Run. For this year, I had to maintain my slow trek on this route using my trekking poles with some 5-10-second rests to catch up my breath. On the last waiting shed, I had to sit and ate some rice balls stashed in my Race Belt but I did not stay long as more runners were seen coming up to my direction.

Digging Deep @ Amelong Labeng (Photo By GlairoldRecella Photography)

Finally, I reached the Elementary School where I had to refill my bottles and make my Electrolyte Mix drink. As the heat of the sun was too hot when I was in this area, I had to douse my head, neck, arms and upper body with the cold flowing water coming from the faucet and it was refreshing and invigorating. I had to leave the place immediately as most of the runners were approaching my position. It was a repeat of my first finish when going up to the Tower Antenna at Amelong Labeng with the intense heat coming from the sun. I had to persevere and trust my training at this point where I would “power hike” with the aid of my trekking poles until I reached the peak of the mountain where the Tower Antennas are located. I started to run and jog on my way down to the Highway but along the way, I would here some mysterious sounds behind me as if somebody was trying to pass me but I could not see anybody. As I ran faster on the descents, such sound would never leave and then suddenly, I hear somebody calling my name “Ben” as the wind blows behind my back. I could not believe experiencing this as I don’t believe in “ghosts” or paranormal activity throughout my life. I knew I was neither dehydrated nor “bonking” on my nutrition needs at this moment. As I continued my running, I remember those stories we shared each other with my brother about our Father on the early portions of the race. We were both laughing about these stories while were were running. (Note: My brother was one of the runners of the OST 50K Trail Run). I felt guilty that here I was in the mountains running a race while my Dad was being prepared for viewing. At this point, I started to think and decide to shorten my race and be with my Dad.

Having Fun @ The Old Spanish Trail (Photo By GlairoldRecella Photography)

Two kilometers before reaching the 2nd Checkpoint in Castillo, I called the RD and requested him that I am going to downgrade to the OST 50K Race because of the “paramdam” I’ve experienced on top of Amelong Labeng. The RD approved my request. I reached Castillo in 12:15 hours which is almost 2 hours ahead of the cut-off time in this Checkpoint for the Four Lakes 100 Trail Run. From Castillo, the route is all descending 4+kilometers to the finish line.

I finished the OST 50K Trail Run in 13:08+hours without any pain in my legs and body.





Race Report: 2017 MILO Half-Marathon Qualifying Race/Tarlac City

25 08 2017

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.

2017 MILO Half Marathon Tarlac 00

Focused & Determined To Qualify

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.

2017 MILO Half Marathon Tarlac

Easy Pace On The Last 200 Meters To The Finish Line

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

Runner’s Kit: BROOKS Koi (Launch 4); Surge Socks; BROOKS Racer’s Shorts; Outdoor Avenues Track & Field Shorts; PAU Shirt; Garmin Forerunner 310XT; Trail Asia Buff; Adidas Adizero Cap.

(Note: I am a CTS Athlete)

 








%d bloggers like this: