Running Kit Of Thomas Combisen @ The 2020 HK4TUC

4 02 2020

Running Kit Of Thomas Combisen @ 2020 HK4TUC

The running kit of Thomas in last year’s (2019) HK4TUC did not change in this year’s edition except for his Hydration Vest and Shoes. Even for his nutrition and hydration, they had been the same but there are some things that we need to add.

Thomas decided not to use the Salomon S-Lab Sense 5-Liter Hydration Vest that he used in last year’s HK4TUC because it was already loose for him and wanted to use the one he always used in his trail and road ultras in the past which is the Mountain Hardwear Fuel 3-Liter Hydration Vest/Pack. If I remember right, I bought the same Hydration Vest three years ago at the Columbia Store in SM Megamall and it is still with me except that the zippers in the pockets are stuck and non-operational already. As I googled this item while writing this post, this particular model is no longer in the market and the brand had already stopped making them.

As compared to the Hydration Vests and Packs that the other runners used in this event, Thomas hydration pack/vest was very small in capacity but I was surprised that it was able to accommodate the Salomon Waterproof Jacket, his food, cellphone, a Windbreaker Jacket, Hydration bottles, handy water filtration unit, Headlights, and other miscellaneous things that Thomas needed in every trail leg. It is surprising to see the big back pocket with zipper could expand to accommodate everything. Since the hydration pack/vest has two mid-rib belts which are not stretchable, Thomas can tighten them to be always snugged on his body. Thomas did not use those Race Belts with pockets which is very popular among trail runners nowadays.

Thomas With His Mountain Hardwear Fuel 3-Liter Hydration Vest/Pack (Photo By Photo Guava)

Thomas shirts during the event are our PAU Shirts By Bluprint (Imported Brand) but the Logo is printed locally. He used 3 PAU shirts (white, dark gray, & black) during the event and a shirt from Kalenji/Decathlon. He did not change his NIKE Running Shorts with PAU Logo Patch and RP Flag Patch throughout the event but he always change his underwear with the Decathlon’s Kalenji’s Under Shorts every time he starts a new trail leg. Throughout the event, he was consistently using the Injinji Socks and changed them every time he starts a new trail leg.

The day before the event, Rowell Campos brought us to Cam2Sports Store in Mongkok to buy a new pair of running shoes for Thomas. He was looking for an ALTRA Lone Peak 3.0 which he intends to use for the event. Thomas was lucky to find the remaining one pair of ALTRA Lone Peak 3.0 shoes  available in the store which was ON SALE at 50% discount. This is the shoes that Thomas used for the 2 Trail Legs of the event (MacLehose & Wilson Trails). It was only in the Hong Kong and Lantau Trails that he used his old ALTRA Lone Peak 3.0 shoes. It was at the Hong Kong and Lantau Trails that Thomas started using his Compressport Compression Calf Sleeves. He did not use any shoe gaiters along the course.

Thomas With His New ALTRA Lone Peak 3.0 Shoes, Kalenji Shirt, & Salomon Jacket

As for his headlamp, Thomas was using a LedLenser Headlamp and another extra one which I could guess to be a regular Black Diamond Headlamp. He used his headlamp at the MacLehose, Wilson, and Hong Kong Trails. In his Lantau Trail, I gave him my Lupine Headlamp which he wore from the start until he reached the lighted portion of Mui Wo Road, near the Finish Line. The rechargeable battery was drained when Thomas gave it back to me. He could have used its High Beam which is 700 Lumens throughout his run/hike along the Lantau Trail. Thomas did not have any negative feedback on the use of his headlamps during those nights that he was on the trails.

Water Dispenser Near Public Comfort Rooms/Country Park

As for his hydration needs, Thomas did not have any problem where to replenish his hydration needs, in terms of water or sports/cola drinks. He used his portable filtration unit in places where he can get water in streams in the mountains and in Public Comfort Rooms/Toilets’ faucets. He uses also his Octopus Card to get or buy what he wanted in those Vending Machines available in the vicinity of the Comfort Rooms in each Country Park Facility that he passes. There are also Free Source of Drinking Water which he observed as new additional structure within the vicinity of each Comfort Rooms/Toilets along the trail. And there are commercial establishments in the villages along the trail that Thomas can stop and order some hot food. Thomas can also stop to buy or order some solid foods in commercial establishments in the MTR Stations. There is always a 7-11 Store or Convenience Store in these MTR Stations. It is necessary that a runner in this race has some some Cash and Octopus Card with him during the event.

Picture I Took With Thomas & Photo Guava Before The Start Of Lantau Trail

His food in his pack consisted of “Tikoy” (Rice Cake) from Bicol which we personally ordered for him, “Rice Cakes” (Chinese) from the 7-11 Store, Sky Flakes, Snickers, Yakult, Springs Gels, and Apples. All of these were packed inside the Hydration Pack of Thomas!

Thomas had been alternately using a Visor Cap (during day time) and a Running Cap (during nighttime) to cover his head. However, I have never seen him use any Buff/Neck Gaiter in all his runs in the past and in this event, to include last year’s HK4TUC. 

Before he started the Lantau Trail, I gave him my GIRO Cycling Gloves which I know will give him warmth for his palms/fingers during the night and as he approaches the freezing winds of the Lantau Peak and Sunset Peak.

After the event, Thomas and I discussed the things that we should improve on and the things we should learn from his experience this year. He told me that he slowed down significantly at the Hong Kong Trail due drowsiness that brought him “hallucination” moments and the cold/freezing winds during the night. The strong, cold and freezing winds at the Lantau Trail had also slowed him down that he had to stop and take a nap, only to be awaken that he was already lying on the floor in one of the Pagodas/Rest Huts along the trail.

After a thorough discussion, I recommended him some solutions for his problems and we will use them in next year’s Thomas participation in the 10th edition of the HK4TUC.





Journal Of “Team Thomas” @ 2020 HK4TUC (Third & Last Day)

28 01 2020

Journal Of “Team Thomas” @ 2020 HK4TUC (Third & Last Day)

There is a big difference between Thomas performance last year and this year’s HK4TUC. Last year, Thomas started the Hongkong Trail at about 9:30 AM on the third day of the event. This year, Thomas started Hongkong Trail at 9:05 PM on the second day, a big 12-hour difference earlier than last year.

After Thomas left Shek O Road, we went back to the place we are staying to monitor his movement through the Racemap App. After one hour, Thomas called us to confirm if he was following the correct track along the Hongkong Trail and we confirmed that he is in the right track. As compared from last year, Thomas did not have any problems in locating or seeing the Trail Markers because it was daylight. Compounded with the colder temperature and darkness along the trail, Thomas took time to confirm the location of the said Markers. After midnight, we went to bed as we were confident that Thomas will finish the Hongkong Trail and be able to catch up the 7:00 AM Ferry ride to Lantau Island the following day.

We expected Thomas to be approaching the end of Hongkong Trail at 5:00 AM and set our alarm clock at 4:00 AM. Before leaving our place at 5:00 AM, we called Thomas to confirm his position and we found out that he had “acid reflux” and he had to rest and take some sleep for his stomach to settle. He slowed down due his stomach condition and the cold temperature during the night and early morning. We estimated that he could not make it on the 5:00 AM Ferry trip and adjusted our schedule to leave our place. We expected that an early arrival at Victoria Peak/Finish Line of the Hongkong Trail will expose us to the cold wind in the early morning. We estimated that Thomas could not make it in the 5:00 AM Ferry trip and delayed our ride towards the Finish Line of the Hongkong Trail.

Thomas At The Finish Line Of Hongkong Trail

We finally left our place at 8:00 AM to the Victoria Peak. The wind was cold when we arrived at the said place and they were few people around as the business establishments were still closed. We entered a small enclosed space at an entrance in one of the buildings in the area to prevents us from the cold winds. I decided to jog and walk along the Hongkong Trail to meet Thomas along the way. After running for 1.6 kilometers, I saw Thomas walking. I called him, took a picture and turned around, jogged ahead of Thomas of about 20-meter distance towards the Finish Line. I immediately called my companion to warn them that Thomas has only 1.5 kilometers to the Finish Line. In a few minutes, Thomas crossed the Finish Line at the end of the Hongkong Trail at 8:42 AM, almost 48 hours after the Start of the Event. We immediately boarded Thomas to our waiting Taxi for our short trip to the Central Pier to catch our 9:00 AM Ferry trip to Lantau Island. During our 13-minute ride in the Taxi, Thomas was able to eat the Rice Porridge with Chicken we prepared and drink some Hot Ginger Tea. 

Thomas Sleeping Inside The Ferry Boat To Lantau

After a lot of Red Light Stops along the way, we were able to board the Ferry at 8:55 AM, barely 5 minutes before the departure time. Once we settled and locate some seats for a space to let Thomas sleep and lie on his back, the Ferry Boat left the Pier. Thomas went immediately to sleep even with the loud noise of the boat’s engine and the loud conversation of a group of Filipino Ladies seated near us.

After 50 minutes of Ferry Boat ride, we arrived at the Lantau Island’s Silvermine Beach Ferry Pier in Moi Wu. We established our “pit stop” under a tree near the McDonalds and immediately prepared to resupply him and change his attire. He again ate a Hamburger from McDonalds and drink a hot coffee before leaving the place.

Thomas was able to recover immediately from his brief sleep during the Ferry Boat ride and the food/drink he ingested during his “pit stop”. Some of the local runners and volunteers approached Thomas offering him a Hot Bath and some Massage at the Lantau Base Camp  Store but he declined such offers as he was decided to leave the place immediately. Photo Guava of Hongkong, one of the Official Photographers of the Event, took a lot of pictures of Thomas en route to the Start of the Lantau Trail. He even asked me to take a picture of Thomas and him during the short hike to the Trail. At 10:25 AM Monday, January 27, 2020, Thomas started his run at the Lantau Trail Marker #139.

Thomas At The Start Of The Lantau Trail

Thomas finished the Hongkong Trail in 11:36 hours which is too slow as compared to his Finish Time last year of 8:30 hours which was considered as the 2nd fastest time to finish the said leg. If not for the “acid reflux”, darkness along the route, and the extreme cold temperature during the night, Thomas could have finished a faster time or equaled his time last year.

2020 HK4TUC “Retired” Runners

During the day, more runners were declared as “Retired” or in simple runner’s term as “DNF” (Did Not Finish). After a total of 15 runners who were “retired” on the 1st and 2nd day, another 5 runners “retired” on the third day. At present, a total of 20 runners were declared as “Retired” in the afternoon of the Third Day and only 13 runners remain along the Lantau Trail with the hope that some of them will be declared as “Finishers” and the others as “Survivors”.

As we left our place to ride the Ferry Boat to Lantau, 7 runners have already finished as “Finishers”, with a time of sub-60 hours. It is just a waiting game on what time will Thomas reach and kiss the Mui Wo Mail Post and be declared as “Survivor”. 

Official Mugshot Of Thomas (Picture From HK4TUC FB Page)

We met Jurg, our original member of Team Thomas and husband of Irene from the Philippines whose family resides in Hongkong, at the Central Pier and joined us for the final push, support and cheer to Thomas. We arrived at Mui Wo’s Silvermine Beach Ferry Pier in Lantau at 11:00 PM with the expectation that Thomas would arrive at 1:00 AM on the fourth day, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. We initially stayed at the Pier and within the vicinity of the Mui Wo Green Mail Post due to the cold winds. We finally settled at China Bear Resto/Pub near the Pier where we comfortably waited as the place was heated. After the establishment closed at 1:00 AM, we transferred to the 7-11 Store where we were accommodated by the Cashier who is a Senior Citizen. We bought food and drinks while waiting for Thomas. We  also stayed at the Base Camp Sports Store to monitor the progress through the Racemap Application of Thomas’ movement towards the Finish Line. 

Kissing The Mui Wo Mail Post (Picture From HK4TUC Facebook Page)

Our waiting time was too fast that in a few hours, Thomas was already on his last 2.5 kilometers to the Finish Line. Finally at 5:50 AM on the 4th day, January 28, 2020, Tuesday, Thomas kissed the Mui Wo Mail Post at 68:50 hours and he was declared as the “3rd Survivor” for this year’s edition of the HK4TUC. Andre Blumberg, the RD/RO of the event, congratulated Thomas and he was impressed on the transformation on the performance of Thomas as compared last year. After the traditional Champagne shower on Thomas, and as a parting statement, Andre Blumberg announced his personal invitation for Thomas to join the 10th Edition of the HK4TUC next year which Thomas immediately accepted.

Training for Thomas for the 2021 HK4TUC will start next week!





Journal Of “Team Thomas” @ 2020 HK4TUC (Second Day)

27 01 2020

Journal Of “Team Thomas” @ 2020 HK4TUC (Second Day)

Thomas started the 2nd Leg of the event at Wilson Trail at 16:25 Hours, which was 1:25 AM of January 26, 2020, Sunday Morning. Ahead of him was a 78-kilometer distance during a cold and rainy night. Thomas was feeling cold at the start but having eaten a lot of food and keeping himself on the move, he will surely regain his pace and tempo during the run. After Thomas left, we immediately fixed our things, packed the used clothes/attire of Thomas and threw the trash at the Trash Bins at the Starting Area. We immediately took the Taxi which was waiting for us to bring us back to the place where we are staying. As we arrived in our place, we immediately checked the Racemap Application to find out if Thomas was on the right track. We were glad that Thomas was on the right track and we immediately rested for the day at 3:00 AM on the second day. Last year, after 1-2 kilometers from the Starting point, Thomas got lost and we had a sleepless on the first night at that time when more additional “lost moments” had to be corrected.

I woke up at 8:00 AM on the second day and immediately checked on the tracker of Thomas and he was doing fine without any “lost moments” as compared to his experience last year. Our monitoring team advised Thomas to call us once he reaches the MTR Station at Lam Tin and once he crosses the Quarry Bay and reaches the MTR Station at Tai Koo on the Hongkong Island side. From these calls, we would be able to estimate the time we would meet Thomas at the Finish Line of the Wilson Trail Leg. But with the lagging time as depicted by Thomas tracker, we decided to give an ample buffer time to wait at the said place before Thomas arrives.

We arrived at the end of the Wilson Trail Leg at the Tai Tam Country Park in Stanley Gap Road at 5:00 PM with the hope that Thomas would be arriving in 30-45 minutes. In a few seconds, we witnessed the arrival of the 4th Runner Abimanyu from Singapore and since Thomas was ranked as the 8th or 9th runner as seen on the tracker, we prepared ourselves to wait for some more time in the said place.

Thomas Along The Wilson Trail (Photo From Facebook)

Thomas Along The Wilson Trail (Photo From Facebook)

The cold wind from the sea was blowing on our faces as we waited for Thomas but our Team was entertained by two Pinay runners who are working in Hongkong with their stories about the race and what they have prepared in terms of food for Thomas and to the rest of the Pinoy Runners. They even mentioned to me that Christian Villoria from Pangasinan, also a worker in Hongkong, is waiting at the Bus Station at Shek O Road for more food and drinks for the Pinoy Runners. We had a lot conversations with Tha Na and Josephine and they entertained us while waiting for Thomas. I decided later to hike the 1,000+ steps or the last 600 meters of the trail and tried to wait for the arrival of Thomas. Instead, the #5 Runner Chiang from South Korea came out from the vegetated portion of the trail and he was running at an easy pace going downhill. I greeted and congratulated and told him that he is only 500 meters to the end of the trail.

Thomas After Crossing Victoria Bay (Photo By Lloyd Belcher)

After almost 3 hours of waiting, the #9 Runner Karen from Hongkong, the leading Lady Runner of the event, arrived at the Finish Line and we knew that in a few minutes, Thomas will be arriving next. Finally, Thomas arrived at the Finish Line of the Wilson Trail Leg at exactly 8:00 PM of Sunday, January 26, 2020 with a time of 18:30 Hours to finish the whole Wilson Trail.

Thomas Finishing The Wilson Trail

At 8:10 PM, we left immediately the end of Wilson Trail to the Shek O Road for Thomas to start the Hongkong Trail Third Leg. It took us a 22-minute ride on a Taxi to the Bus Stop at Shek O Road which is officially the Starting Area of the Hongkong Trail. Upon arrival, Thomas checked-in with Andre Blumberg and we set-up for the “pit stop” for Thomas. Thomas ate his dinner with the food we cooked for him and the food brought by Christian Villoria. Christian was there to meet us once we alighted from our Taxi ride. The NHK Japanese TV Network guys were also there to meet us with their Video Camera and Lights. They even interviewed Thomas while he was eating his dinner and focused their video camera on the food prepared for him. They were interested to see Fried Tuyo (fried salted sardines), Pork Adobo, and Sinigang Salmon Head (Sour Soup with Salmon Head) as Thomas food for dinner.

Thomas At The “Pit Stop”

Thomas With Christian Viloria

After eating, refilling his hydration vest with water and food, and changing his socks and attire, Thomas was ready to start the Hongkong Trail which has a distance of 50 kilometers. Before he left the starting point, Tomokazu “Tomo” Ihara, a sub-60 Finisher in last year’s HK4TUC and also a classmate of Thomas in last year’s event, advised Thomas that he is in the halfway (in terms of time elapsed) of the event and he needs to complete the remaining 120 kilometers in less than 24 hours to be able to be declared as a Finisher of the Event. Tomo said that it will be an easy task for Thomas to take the 7:00 AM Ferry trip to Lantau Island and be able to finish the Lantau Trail before the 60-hour cut-off time. Tomo was surprised to see how Thomas improved on his performance this time as compared to last year. In a conversation with Tomo, I told him about Thomas “lost moments” on the beaches of MacLehose Trail, lots of intersections at the Wilson Trail & mistake of going to the MacLehose Trail, and delays for looking the right MRT Platforms at the Lam Tin and Tai Koo Stations. 

Thomas left the Shek O Road at 9:05 PM of Sunday, January 26, 2020 and we expect him to finish the Hongkong Trail in 8 hours or at 5:00 AM of Monday January 27, 2020.

Thomas At The Start Of The Hongkong Trail

To be continued.





My Playground’s Trail Loop

3 09 2019

My Playground’s Trail Loop

After I arrived from the United States to join the 123rd Boston Marathon this year, I immediately created a dirt, single track trail inside my Playground Lot which has a total area of about One Hectare. With the help of an assistant to cut/clear the path from weeds, roots, and protruding stones and rocks; and an engineer’s distance measuring cycle which I asked my friend, Rowell Ramos, to buy from Amazon, I was able to measure a distance of 400 meters for one loop. It is not as perfect as an Oval Track in shape but it suits the purpose of a single track trail path.

Since then, I’ve been running along this loop on a regular basis . I always change the direction of my run every time I finish One Mile, which is equivalent to 4 loops. Sometimes, I would change the direction of run after Two Miles or sometimes, I consider the elapsed time like changing the direction after running for 30 minutes. You can say that running in a loop is boring but I make sure to make some speed drills or “strides” in some of the sections. However, hearing my music playlist solves everything in terms of maintaining my pace, rhythm, and trying to be more focused on my leg speed/turn-over on the trail. 

Ground Distance Measurement With My Dog Anton

The loop is not completely a flat one. It has some minimal ascents and descents which are short in distance but I could play or vary my pace and speed depending on what type of workout that I would do for the day. During my easy runs, I would register an average speed of 3.5-3.8 miles per hour with an initial one or two loops of hiking as my warm-up. During my tempo runs, I would try to reach my average speed from 3.8-4.2 miles per hour after doing some drills and stretching exercises. Lately, I would combine easy running on the first half of my workout and then do a tempo run on the last half. If my workout calls for a two-hour run, I would run the first hour with an easy average speed of 3.5 miles per hour and then the last hour with a tempo average speed of 4.2 miles per hour. My last one mile (4 loops) would be my cool-down jog.

With this Playground Loop, I could do my runs anytime of the day. I could also run half-naked if the weather is hot or if I do my runs in the middle of the day. Most sections of the loop are covered with fruit trees (mangoes), coconuts, and ornamental plants  and I don’t worry about the heat of the sun as I have a shade throughout the course. I also run during nighttime to test my headlamps if they are still working and  trying to improve my pace and speed during night running. Most of all, I pre-position two water stations along the loop and take in some of my nutrition and hydration depending on the time or distance I have covered. I have been experimenting which one is more effective; taking in my food and hydration by the number of minutes or by the distance I have covered. Lately, I have concentrated my nutrition and hydration frequency by the number of miles I have covered. The alarm from my Garmin GPS Watch once I cover one mile, warns me to take in a bite of my food (rice cake, fruit, power bars, or biscuits) followed with 1/4 water from my 20 oz water bottle. And this practice is repeated every mile along the course. I have observed that I have maintained my speed through this method. However, in the end, I would still be lighter in weight by 2-3 pounds once I step into the weighing scale after my workout. Hopefully, I would be able to solve this situation in my future runs.

Hydration Vest & Belt Filled With Frozen Water

Another Hydration Vest Used To Fill My Frozen Water

After months of running in this loop, I have observed that my Garmin GPS Watch would register a longer distance from what I have measured through the engineer’s distance cycle meter. I think the vegetation and the trees that cover the trail would impede the accurate reading of the GPS satellites with my Watch. The GPS distance would be longer by 30-50 meters depending on the time of the day and the prevailing weather. The GPS distance is longer in the later afternoon, evening, and when it is cloudy. Sometimes, my Strava distance would be shorter than what is registered in my Garmin GPS Watch.

Sample Of My Strava Data In My Playground Loop

When I prepared for an ultra trail event like the Cortina 48K Trail Race in Italy this summer, almost all my running workouts were done on this loop without my trekking poles but I would carry 20 pounds of frozen water in my hydration bottles with my hydration vest. Whether I would hike or jog during day or night, I would be slogging it out along this loop up to three hours or more. I could only count with my fingers on how many times did I peak and “double-traverse” Mt Roosevelt (highest mountain in my neighborhood) by slowly hiking up on the ascents and “power hiking” on the descents with 20 pounds of water and food in my vest and belt at the middle of the day. Combined with these hikes in the mountain and runs along my Playground Loop, I was able to finish the said race even though I was the last runner to arrive within the prescribed cut-off time of twelve hours.

The Joy Of Running Alone

Since I have been training alone in my runs, I feel safe and secured within the confines of my Playground Loop anytime of the day. I can do whatever I want. I could make a video of my runs. I could dance after my runs. I could shout. I could sing with my Playlist. I could think clearly while running. I could wear any running outfit that I like. And simply enjoy running alone in my Playground. At this time, my Playground Loop is still not ready to receive some visitors, even if they are my running friends. I will keep this place as sacred and private.





“Running In A Suit” @ The Manila MILO Half-Marathon Race

26 08 2019

“Running In A Suit” @ The Manila MILO Half-Marathon Race

I have seen a runner dressed as a Butler/Waiter when I accompanied and cheered my Son during the time when he joined the New York City Marathon few years ago. I was impressed about him and I was more impressed when one of my running friends informed me that he had been a yearly participant in the said event for the past 10 years or more. Later years had passed, I saw a picture of the Japanese Runner Champion of 2018 Boston Marathon, Yuki Kawauchi, dressed in a Business Suit while running one of the Marathon Races in Japan to show or send a message that he is an elite runner who has no Corporate Sponsor but I am not sure if he is complaining or asking the corporate world of Japan to sponsor him in his participation to marathon events and support for his training. But more than that, I have seen news reports and stories in popular Running Magazines about the Guinness Record for the Fastest Runner In Business Suit.

The said “challenge” about setting the record of the fastest runner in a business suit inspired me to attempt and experience what it is like to run in a suit with a necktie. It is far from my mind to be the fastest in this attire. I just wanted to experience the feeling of running with the said attire knowing that I am already old for this feat. Actually, it had been months before that I planned to do this after I have bought the necessary pants, white shirt, necktie, and jacket/suit. I bought those things that are cheap and readily available to be worn, in short, ready made. I was not too technical and scientific about the materials used in my attire and I did not have to find out if my attire are appropriate by doing some training runs. 

It is not my intention to send the message or have the goal to be in the Guinness World of Records for being the Fastest or Oldest Runner in Business Suit or have the intention for my feat to featured in the traditional media, thereby, making me a popular topic among the runners and the public. I just wanted to experience what it is like to be running with a suit in a half- marathon and through my Facebook account and in this blog, I could encourage those in the Corporate World to embrace and start running as a form of exercise or part of a routine to make everybody healthier and more active.

After I finished the Cortina Trail 48K Ultra in Cortina D’Ampezzo, I decided to join the MILO Marathon Manila Elimination Race Half-Marathon distance. I could have joined the Marathon distance but I felt that my body was still weak after I had a flu after I finished my trail running event. Actually, I was still recovering from the run and flu when I ran the half-marathon race.

On Race Day, I purposely entered the starting area few minutes before the start of the race and tried not to be noticed by most of the runners as I was the only one who was not in the usual running attire. I positioned myself at the back of the pack and waited a few minutes for the usual pre-start activities before the race started. It took me almost two minutes to cross the Starting RFID pad to activate my start time.

I walked about a few meters as I crossed the Start Line and Andrew Neri of RunRio Events saw me in my attire and he was surprise. When the runners in front of me thinned out, I started to jog and made sure to maintain a running space all around me. After we left the MOA Complex, the road was very dark that I was not easily noticed by the runners. It was when I was running along the Roxas Boulevard that somebody shouted at me with the word “Attorney” and I just waved my right hand at him.

After running for about one kilometer, I started to feel the hard feeling of breathing through my nose and mouth because of the restriction made by the uppermost button of my white long-sleeved shirt and the necktie. The neck button and necktie were not too tight but as I breath harder with my faster pace, I felt that somebody is trying to grip his hand around my neck and sometimes I felt like I was choking. I have also maintained my suit to be buttoned with my Race Bib being pinned on top of my buttoned suit just to make sure I would not accidentally or have the urge to unbuttoned my suit/jacket. Once my visor was wet with my sweat/perspiration from my head, my sweat went down to my shirt and jacket/suit. In addition of the sweat coming from my upper body and arms, I felt I was running slowly despite the effort that I was increasing my pace.

I was able to finish 10K in 70 minutes and I thought I could maintain the pace until I finish the race even if it was far from my mind that I would be able to finish the race in 2:15 hours. After 12K, I felt that all my attire to include my socks and shoes were already wet and became heavier. My pace slowed down tremendously as if I was running uphill along a trail in the mountains. Once I reached Km 15, I was already mixing walking and jogging just to be able to reach from One Water Station to another for the much needed hydration to replenish my sweat. At Km 18, I was feeling the start of cramping on my calves that I had to stop jogging. And just walked until the cramping would disappear.

On the last two kilometers as it was already sunrise, most of the faster Marathon runners would pass me and greet me. They are surprised that I was wearing a suit during the race. One Kilometer before the Finish Line, I started to walk due to exhaustion and cramping of my calf muscles. On hindsight, I was too confident to finish the race without any problem that I brought only 4 pieces of Power Gels as my source of nutrition during the race. I should have brought twice the number of Power Gels to be able to sustain my pace and try to offset the heavy weight of my suit once they are wet from my perspiration. I crossed the Finish Line at 2:45 Hours and my legs were cramping that I had to stop and stand still for a few seconds.

With the proper training and nutrition, I will be able to pull it off again this stunt in the next running event even if I will be using a dress shoes as my running shoes. There is no need to have a “high-tech” suit to finish a Marathon or Half-Marathon Race  as I am not attempting the goal of having the fastest finish time. Who knows, there might be an Award for the Oldest Runner Finishing The Fastest Marathon Race Wearing A Suit.

As of now, I am the First Runner In A Suit who have finished the MILO Half-Marathon…and also the Oldest One!

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On Intermittent Fasting (IF)

5 02 2019

I have learned about Intermittent Fasting (IF) from my ultra running friends living in California, USA. In my hikes and trail runs with them, we discussed about nutrition and our respective training in trail running and most of them have been practicing IF in their daily and weekly routines. This leads to gain more information from them until I would “google” the topic with more results of articles to read about it. Since then (almost one year already), I would do my own version of Intermittent Fasting which is fitted to my lifestyle as a Senior Citizen and part of my training as for the 2019 Boston Marathon Race.

I am reposting an article which I read in one of the articles of Training Peaks. I hope you can gain some information from it. Thank you!

Can Intermittent Fasting (IF) Improve Your Performance?

JANUARY 24, 2019 · BY ZACH NEHR

Simply limiting your calorie consumption to a specific window every day could give you performance and health benefits.

Can fasting make you faster? Some studies have suggested that intermittent fasting (IF) help you gain strength, burn fat, and ultimately improve your performance.

What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?

Here’s the key: IF isn’t about eating less, but rather eating within a specific time window. Simply limiting your calorie intake to a specific period every day can kick off a cascade of physiological adaptations that can improve your health.

Basic IF guidelines say that you should fast for at least 12 hours every day — that is, eating only within a 12-hour window, and fasting for the other 12 hours of the day. Dr. Satchin Panda, Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, recommends upping that window to a 14-16 hour daily fast in order to maximize benefits, especially when it comes to improved muscular endurance.

12 hours might sound like a long time, but consider that on average, most of us get about 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you eat a relatively early dinner and do a fasted workout first thing in the morning, you’ll most likely find it easy to hit that fasting window with minimal adjustments to your schedule. T

INCREASE FAT OXIDATION

Exercising in the fasted state forces the body to use its energy systems more efficiently, since carbohydrate stores are nearly depleted after a 12-16 hour fast.

Fasting also activates the body’s sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which is responsible for our fight-or-flight response. When the SNS is activated, heart rate increases, digestion slows, and muscle tension increases. During fasted exercise, the activation of the SNS causes an increased breakdown of fat for energy (Varady et al. 2013).

Fat oxidation also increases for 24 hours following a fasted workout (i.e. an easy aerobic exercise session done first-thing in the morning following an 8-12 hour overnight fast). Essentially, fasting helps your body become better at metabolizing fat rather than relying on the carbohydrates that are readily available in a non-fasted state.

DECREASE INSULIN RESISTANCE

Many endurance athletes will eat little meals or snacks every couple of hours (while awake) to give the body a continuous source of energy throughout the day. However, perpetual food intake also requires a constant release of insulin to help maintain stable blood sugar, which over time can cause the body stress. Worse, if insulin is constantly present in the bloodstream, the body can develop resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes.

Much like a muscle’s response to exercise stress, your digestive system needs time to recover so it can respond efficiently to the next stimulus. Fasting allows the body’s digestive, endocrine, and inflammatory system to repair and reset (Sutton et al., 2018).

While overnight fasting generally provides the body with sufficient time to rest, it is the challenge of a fasted morning workout that puts the body’s physiological systems (and subsequent endurance benefits) into overdrive. After completing a workout in a state of glycogen depletion, the body’s growth hormone and testosterone responses are stronger compared to athletes who fuel more constantly (Greenfield 2018).

How to Incorporate IF Into Your Training

Fasted exercise doesn’t need to be hard, in fact, most of the benefits of fasted exercise can be attained by performing a light, aerobic workout in a state of glycogen depletion. It could be a 30-minute walk or hike, an easy swim, or even just a sauna session — the key is to get moving and get your heart rate up for at least 20-30 minutes (Greenfield, 2018).

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is much more difficult to perform while fasted. HIIT (>70% Max heart rate) requires the use of glycogen as a fuel source, and attempting a HIIT workout in a fasted state will likely result in poor performance due to low energy availability. However, the ability to perform high-intensity workouts in a fasted state seems to vary greatly among individuals, so talk to your coach before attempting such workouts.

It is also important to remember that refueling is paramount after a fasted morning workout — the body readily absorbs carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and micronutrients quickly and efficiently in the 1-2 hour window following fasted exercise. My favorite post-fasted workout meal is a big bowl of oatmeal, nuts, dried fruit, and whey protein powder.

How to Fast

Traditional fasting allows you to drink only water during the fast. That means no calories, flavoring, salt, sugar, etc. Fortunately, most experts agree that you can have your morning coffee without technically breaking your fast — just skip the cream and sugar (Panda, 2018).

Your success in intermittent fasting for endurance performance depends on finding an eating window that works for you. If you are a night owl, for example, try making your eating window 12PM-9PM – followed by a 15-hour fast. If you’re a morning person like me, try a 9AM-6PM window – which still makes for a 15-hour fast.

When it comes to IF, the most important thing about maintaining your daily fast is that it is consistent and sustainable. Try different windows, meals, and timing to see what works best for you.

REFERENCES

Greenfield, Ben. 2018. The Benefits of Fasted Exercise.

Panda, Satchin. 2019. Circadian Fasting

Sutton, Elizabeth et al. 2018. “Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes.“ Cell Metabolism, Volume 27, Issue 6, 5 June 2018, Pages 1212-1221.e3

Varady, Krista A. et al. 2013. “Alternate day fasting for weight loss in normal weight and overweight subjects: a randomized controlled trial.” Nutrition Journal, 2013, 12:146





Conrado Bermudez, Jr: The FIRST Filipino To Finish The US Grand Slam Of Ultrarunning

21 11 2018

Sometime in August 2015, I featured Conrado “Jun” Bermudez, Jr in this blog as the First Filipino Runner/Ultrarunner to have finished a 200-Mile Mountain Trail Single-Stage Endurance Race at the Bigfoot 200-Mile Endurance Race in Washington State, USA. It was in the post in this blog where I wrote about his background and running accomplishments since he became a passionate runner. For this year, 2018, he finished the Ultimate Award in Ultrarunning in the United States which is the “Grand Slam of Ultrarunning” Eagle Award and I was able to send him an e-mail to congratulate him on this inspiring feat which is considered as a “dream” to be accomplished among the best ultarrunners in the world. I also sent him some questions to answer of which I am now publishing his answers in this blog.

BR: Congratulations on your 2018 US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning finish! That’s a huge accomplishment and biggest pride for being the First Filipino to receive the Eagle Award in Ultrarunning. You are now Finisher #354 out of the 363 Finishers of the GSU since this award was created in 1986.

As usual, hoping that you will have the time, I am sending you some questions for you to answer which I will publish in my blog. There is no deadline though as I know you are still resting and recovering.

Jun: Thank you for this opportunity to be included on your blog, sir. Thank you also for mentoring me when I started my ultrarunning way back in 2013. As a Filipino citizen, it is  a great pleasure and honor to represent our country in this sporting event. My heartfelt gratitude to all the support!

As a 45 year-old runner, joining the Grand Slam was a no-brainer. There was no shadow of doubt not to join. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and this chance may not be available to me in the future. If it is going to happen by that time, I may not be physically that capable anymore for the challenge due to old age.

Jun Bermudez Western States 100 Picture

BR: What is your feeling now that you have finished the US Grand Slam of Ultraruning with an impressive time of 106:52:09 hours and the First Filipino to have received the prestigious Eagle Award in Ultrarunning?

Jun:  I am deeply delighted and humbled to be part of this 32nd year of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, a special historical event in ultrarunning world. It still feels surreal that I was able to finish them and trace the footprints of the first finisher, Thomas Green, in 1986 and the grandfathers of the five 100 milers. These races are the oldest 100 milers in the US or probably in the world with the Old Dominion 100-Mille Cross Country Run for 40 years, Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run for 41 years (the oldest in the world), Vermont 100-Mile Endurance Run for 30 years, Leadville Trail 100 Run for 35 years, and the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run for 38 years. Just to be entered in the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning events, itself, is a privilege. It takes a lot of luck in the lotteries (Western States 100, Leadville 100, Wasatch 100) to get entered in the same year. All of the races, except Wasatch 100, do not give provisional entry anymore. For non-lottery events, the Vermont 100 is a first-come-first-served basis and the registration sold out in less than 15 minutes when it opened, and the Old Dominion 100 got filled up weeks before the event date which normally did not happen in previous years. My success was not possible without the support of my friends and, of course, the encouragement, the love and understanding of my wife and my daughter. 
BR: You are one of the few Eagle awardees who finished and completed the FIVE Races in a span of three months, what was your recovery in between these races?
Jun: The Grand Slam is arduous to complete. The three to four weeks of minimal time for recovery between races and the cumulative fatigue put so much toll on our body.
 
 I ran two road marathons in April (Boston and New Jersey) prior to the Old Dominion 100 (02 June). I started my taper three weeks before the race day so my body could fully recover. In between races, my first week of  recovery consisted of moderate stretching and no running, which were slow hiking and light spinning workout. For the first two days after the race, I was doing ice therapy on my feet to remove the inflammation. And mostly during the period, I was doing a dynamic compression of my legs  to  flush out waste and hasten muscular recovery. Also, I am sleeping with my legs elevated almost every night even when I am not on training because I spend so much time on my feet at work with the load (tactical gear) on my body. I was taking Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s) complex to include Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) to stop muscle tissue breakdown and reduce muscle soreness. It would take three to four days after the race for my legs to feel fresh and pain-free again. I was also consistent with my bodyweight strength workouts all throughout the Grand Slam.
 
In the second week and onwards, my recovery usually started with 30 minutes of easy running then alternated the next days with spinning and short tempo or intervals (controlled pace) on the treadmill. 
 
A week before  race day, I spent most of the days resting and sleeping. My routine was
taking two nights of having eight to ten hours of sleep two to three nights before the event so I would regain my energy and not be sleepy during the race. Although my recovery plan was not perfectly executed,  I was still able to prevent injury and was able bounce back to be prepared for another adventure, and nailed them one by one to enjoy the experience.
 
Below is the illustration of  events with their respective dates:
 
Old Dominion (02 June, Saturday) > 3 weeks >
Western States (23 June, Saturday) > 4 weeks >
Vermont (21 July,  Saturday) > 4 weeks >
Leadville (18 August, Saturday) > 3 weeks
Wasatch (07 September, Friday)
 
BR: It seems that you did not have any “issues or concerns/injury” in every race, how did you manage to fight the “demons” (heat, exhaustion, muscle cramps, if any, GI issues, altitude, and “bonking”) during these races? What was the “hardest race” in this series of race?
 
Jun:  My body held up very well. I do not have injuries since I started running ultras in 2013 except for my sprained ankle that I twisted during the HURT 100-Mile training in early December last year. I think my training on incline trainer/treadmill has preserved my legs to be stressed and injury-free. With my work schedule, at least 85% of my training was conducted indoor.
 
100 miles is a long journey but a manageable distance. For that long, I experienced nausea, vomiting, GI issue, and cramping during races. But I embraced them as my “normal”. I approached these races in a simple way, to control them by  avoiding mistakes.  As  my spiritual endeavor, I ran the five races solo (no pacer, no crew) and dug myself deeper and fighting the adversities alone. One key to success is I put my heart and soul in this endeavor.
 
In my training, I focused on the elements that could eventually hit me during races. Since these are summer series, heat is the biggest factor. The US west coast has a dry heat with extremely high temperatures while the east coast has high humidity that brings to higher heat index. Twice or Thrice a week I was doing heat training on my incline trainer from one hour to a maximum of five hours wearing a double layer of thermal gear and raising our room temperature to make it hotter. To complement my heat training, I was wearing my armored vest at work for the whole day even during the hottest days. During the race, I was wearing a hat, bandana, and arm sleeves where I placed ice cubes in them.  All of these help to neutralize my body temperature. So, for heat, I was really prepared and it did not bother me during the races.
 
Another element that  is quite difficult to prepare is altitude. It is the most dominant factor that resulted to a huge number of DNF (Did Not Finish). Shown are the high altitude races of the Grand Slam with their corresponding highest elevation:  Western States 100 (8,750 ft/2,667 masl), Leadville 100 (12,600 ft/3,840 masl), and Wasatch 100 (10,467 ft/3,190 masl). There are also significant sections of the courses that are above tree line. This is my weak point as a sea level flatlander. I incorporated speed work on my training since running on altitude is ran at slower pace. Although it does not really contribute on acclimation, it is still beneficial to run the race faster in order to have enough buffer from the cutoff and finish it with less pressure. 
 
Among the Grand Slam events, the Old Dominion 100 and Vermont 100 have the fastest courses with 66.27% and 79% finish rate, respectively. Old Dominion has a cutoff of 28 hours. They are a runner’s race since the climbs are not long and steep. But the Old Dominion could be surprising. The Sherman Gap section is a steep technical climb. These two courses are on low elevation but with high humidity. In Western States 100, I suffered a lot of cramping in most parts of my legs starting at the early miles until halfway. The second half was even worse when I had a stomach issue. The course is point to point mountainous terrain but it got easier in the second half with the course going more downhill than uphill. I felt that among these races, my body was beaten up the most here. Despite the heat, it has 81% of  finish rate. In Leadville 100, cramping was not that significant but I was nauseous the whole time. I did not have solid food intake all throughout the race. Every solid I took just went out. I went to Colorado 13 days before the race. But even with acclimation, breathing during a long climb in Hope Pass was a struggle. The air is just so thin that I could not push hard. The cutoff of 30 hours also made the race harder. The high altitude and fast cutoff contributed to a low finish rate of 57.9%.
 
The most difficult event for me is the Wasatch 100. It has a 62% finish rate. After four races, my body was  not primed to run anymore, especially that my legs felt sluggish. The nausea hit me after a quarter of the race and I could not take solid food again. The course has more climbing and it is on high elevation. It was also the second hottest temperature in the history of the race. This year a significant number of bees were scattered in different sections of the course, which was difficult to avoid. Some got stung 14 times. Fortunately, I was only hit twice. Although this is the most technical course of the Grand Slam, this also has the most beautiful scenery. During this race as I was to retrospect the past four races, and the long journey of trials and tribulations, I was feeling highly and spiritually rejuvenated since it is already the finale of my Grand Slam journey. 
 
I have some friends and compatriots who shared  the trails with me and it  lifted my spirit and energy. Thanks to Casey Fisher (Old Dominion, Western States, Leadville), Jovencio Luspian (Western States), Tim Aquino (Leadville), Kian Vicera(Leadville), Philip Pagdanganan (Leadville and Wasatch), and Ryan Espulgar (Wasatch) for friendship. The memories we have will be forever etched in my heart.
BR: What would you recommend or advise to Filipino Ultrarunners who would plan to complete or join this series of Ultrarunning Races?
 
Jun: The new system  of the Grand Slam (started two years ago), which includes four of the five events with Wasatch 100 as a mandatory race, has given more opportunities for runners to join without undergoing through the virtually impossible selection process of the Western States 100. 
 
The Grand Slam events per se involves time and  money. As a starter, if a runner can afford the financial and logistical burden, and manage the time schedule, non-running-wise, he is ready to tackle the series. We just live once anyway. Taking the Grand Slam challenge is a priceless opportunity and a big milestone.
 
In the Grand Slam, a runner can choose what series he wants to attempt. A total of 18 finished this year from 28 starters. These are the variations with the corresponding number of finishers:
 
1) original version: Old Dominion, Western States, Leadville, Wasatch Front. None (except the two who did five races)
2) pre 2017 version: Western States, Vermont, Leadville, Wasatch Front. Seven
3) Old Dominion, Western States, Vermont, Wasatch Front. Six
4) Old Dominion, Vermont, Leadville, Wasatch Front. Three
5) Old Dominion, Western States, Vermont, Leadville, Wasatch Front. Two
 
 In my personal point of view, the core of the Grand Slam are the Western States and the Leadville, aside from Wasatch Front which is mandatory. Missing either one of them could mean not a “complete” satisfaction for me. Leadville is known for being a grandslam-killer. And these two races are icons in the annals of the 100-mile races worldwide, especially the Grand Slam series.
 
Another step is to find a Western States 100 qualifying race that has more climbing and elevation in order to get used to the mountainous course. Applying for lottery every year gets a runner more chance to be picked. 
 
In Leadville 100, there’s a 50% chance to be selected in the lottery. In the essay part of the application/registration, a runner has to indicate his willingness to be entered into the Grand Slam and make a convincing story of his  running journey to get a better chance to be selected. Although it is a lottery, I still believe that the race organizer gives considerations to this special request. 
 
Wasatch Front 100 is the mandatory and final race of the Grand Slam. It is also a lottery and the chance of getting in is high. If in case a GS entrant will not get picked in the lottery, the race organizer gives a provisional entry, meaning the entrant has a chance to run Wasatch if he is successful on his third race.
 
Another aspect to consider is the physical and mental readiness of the runner. Experience is a huge factor. So, doing back to back races that have difficult terrain is a good test. This is also to develop the physical stamina as well as to harden the mental fortitude of the runner. Most of the time, it is the indomitable spirit that brings the runner  to the finish line.

US Grand Slam Of Ultrarunning Eagle Award & Finisher’s Buckles

 
BR: Having closely followed your Ultrarunning feats and accomplishments, you have only 2 DNFs, Barkley Marathons and UTMB. You redeem yourself in the 2017 UTMB and you finished in one of the coldest UTMB race. Do you have plans of going back to Barkley? What are your future races?
 
Jun: The Barkley is not in my thoughts right now. Being out there knowing the difficulty of the course, that five loops is an impossible feat. It is arguably the toughest race I ever experienced. I gave my all and had managed to finish one loop. I do not have a definite race for next year except for the Boston Marathon. I threw my name for  lotteries in Hardrock 100 (5th year application)  and Western States 100 (1st year application after getting in this year). There are some interesting races that I want to do in the future, maybe another mountain 200 miler and road ultramarathon. Some of the races that I did are also worth coming back. I love the electrifying spirit of UTMB, Leadville, and Western States, and also the old traditional and small community feel of  the Old Dominion.
BR: Lastly, Did you get the services of a Professional Coach in preparation for this year’s events and what shoes did you use in your Grand Slam Races? 
Jun: I did not get the services of a Professional Coach and I did my training on my own. I used the Hoka One One Mafate Speed 2 for Old Dominion and Western States and Hoka One One Mafate EVO for Vermont, Leadville and Wasatch Front.
 

Thank you, Jun for answering my questions. Your answers are considered as “Gold Mine” for those ultra runners, Filipinos or Non-Filipinos, dreaming to be a Finisher of the US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. Keep inspiring us and good luck on your future runs/races.








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