Trip To Hongkong (2nd Trip For 2019)

21 08 2019

Trip To Hongkong (2nd Trip For 2019) August 12-15, 2019

This is my second trip to Hongkong for this year (2019). I was in Hongkong during this year’s Chinese New Year to support the participation of Thomas Combisen in the Hongkong 4 Trails Ultra Challenge on the second week of February. Unfortunately, Thomas was not able to make the cut-off time for him to reach the last leg of the Lantau Trail during the race. I promised to Thomas to bring him back to Hongkong purposely to run the Lantau Trail which has a distance of 70 kilometers.

Weeks prior to our trip this month, news had been around about the Protests and Demonstrations that had been occuring in the different parts of Hongkong. Sine we have purchased and made our reservations for our accommodation weeks ahead, we decided to take the risk and continue with our scheduled plan for this trip.

It was supposed to be a trip for four trail runners, including myself, but two of our companions were not able to make it due to personal circumstances. The overall plan for the trip was to recon the Lantau Trail starting from Original Trailhead and from the End of the Trail going on a reverse route. We planned to do this in one day and the rest of the days will be devoted to food trip, shopping, and side trip to Macau.

We left Manila at 5:50 AM of Monday, August 12 and arrived in Hongkong at 8:00 AM. After loading some money into our Octopus Cards, we took the regular bus to Mongkok, where our regular hostel is located. We had been a regular client/customer in the said hostel since I have started joining trail running events in Hongkong. Although I have stayed in more expensive hotels in Tsim Tsai Tsui, Kennedy Town, and Jordan, I always prefer to stay in Mongkok for the authentic Chinese cuisine which are very cheap and lots of shopping in the nearby streets and Nathan Road.

Another interesting reason for this trip to Hongkong is for my new hobby of Seiko Watch Limited Edition Collection! Before this trip, I have been asking some of my FB friends who are residing in Hongkong as to where to buy these Seiko Watches and they gave me some tips. Earlier this year, I was fond of the Onitsuka Tiger sneakers and I had to look and buy a particular model in Causeway Bay. I am done already with the OT sneakers and now I am crazy with Seiko Limited Edition Watches!

Starting At The Trailhead LT Post 001

On Tuesday morning, Thomas and I took the MRT from Mongkok to Central and then walked to the Ferry Terminal Port #6 for our trip to Lantau. After one hour and half, we were at Mui Wo and walked along the Tun Chung Road going to the Trailhead of the Lantau Trail and it was already 9:30 AM. The distance from the Mui Wo Bus Terminal to the Trailhead is about 2 kilometers which is an uphill road. As we reached the trailhead, we were already sweating because of the hot/warm weather in the area. Thomas and I made an agreement for him to proceed and run the trail as fast as he can while I would hike and jog to the next trail camp and try to follow him. If in case he would determine if his target mileage for the day is done, he can just backtrack along the trail and try to find me. From there we could take the bus in going either to Tun Chung or back to Moi Wo Bus Terminal.

So, that was what we had done. From the trailhead, it was an uphill climb to Sunset Peak and then descend to the next trail camp/rest area and then cross the National Road in going to Lantau Peak. It was a very hard hike for me because of the heat and lack of training. I had to rest for three times before reaching the Sunset Peak and stopped every flowing stream to douse some cold water to my head and body. There is also a water reservoir where there was a faucet on its side that gave me lots of water to fill up my bottles and rehydrate myself. A white guy in trail shorts and shirt passed me on the first 2 kilometers of my ascent; I met two white guys and a lady going down from Sunset Peak; three white guys with big backpacks on my descent from Sunset Peak which I found later that they are from California, USA for some Para-Sailing activity in the area; and two local young guys who were taking selfies on my way down near the trail camp/rest area.

Descending From Sunset Peak

I attempted to start hiking the first kilometers towards Lantau Peak but I could no longer endure the heat of the sun and I was already exhausted due to lack of training. I went back to the waiting shed at the trail camp and wait for Thomas to arrive.

I really don’t know how many minutes I was able to doze off when Thomas arrived. Thomas was also complaining of the heat and humidity but he was happy to recon the place. He was longing for an ice cold Coke that we decided to walk towards the next village along the National Road. But to our surprise, the village was still too far that we decided to stop our hike in a Bus Stop and waited for our Bus Ride to Mui Wo.

In a few minutes, we took our Bus ride and immediately changed to dry clothes at the last row of seats inside the said bus. We went directly to the McDonalds at Mui Wo  for our first meal of the day with a Large Ice Cold Coke and Double Cheeseburger! 

After our McDo meal, we waited for our ferry ride back to Central. This time, the Ferry was an Air- Conditioned with higher fare BUT with NO Wi-Fi as compared with the slower one, cheap with Wi-Fi which we rode on our way to Lantau.

Thomas and I @ The First Resting Camp

It was good to be back to Lantau Island to run and hike after finishing the Translantau 100K for two times in the past. Well, I was then a younger and a stronger trail runner then!


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…

Race Report: KOTM’s Four Lakes 100K Mountain Trail Race (Part 2)

7 04 2016

In about one month, I will turn to a 64-year old mountain trail runner and I have accepted the reality that I am getting old and about to retire from ultra mountain trail running with the hope to leave some legacy to the next generation of runners, most especially to the local ultra runners. I also accepted the fact that I am becoming the “cut-off time chaser” in all my past international ultra races. But for the past months, I improved on my nutrition strategy; more rest and recovery in my training; and getting smarter during races. And because of these reasons, I became more confident to finish the ultra races that I intended or scheduled to join this year. I guess, I might not retire in the near future after all.

I was surprised with my performance in last month’s Translantau 100K in Hongkong even if I was stopped at Km 90 due to severe weather conditions in the mountains. If only the race was not stopped by the Race Organizer, I would have improved my previous finish time last year by one hour or more. Instead of earning 3 UTMB Points, all of us who were stopped along the course were considered as Official Finishers and were given 2 UTMB Points. Due to this setback to earn 9 UTMB Points in 3 Ultra Races, I decided to join the 2016 KOTM’s Four Lakes 100K (FL 100) Trail Run and earn 3 UTMB Points from it.

Here are the reasons why I did good in this race:

More Time To Recover & Rest—-The Translantau 90K that I’ve finished 2 weeks before the FL 100, became my “peak LSD” in preparation for the said race. And the last 50K LSD “heat training” that I did one week before the race was my taper run. Within those two weeks, I did two sessions of leg workouts and the rest were devoted to rest and more sleep. However, before the Translantau 100, I finished the Condura Skyway Marathon (42K) and my Fort Magsaysay To Dingalan 65K Ultra Marathon Race.

Total Elevation Gain——As a mountain trail runner, this is the most important factor to consider in one’s training and looking at the data gathered and recorded by my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak GPS Watch, I was able to satisfy the suggested Total Elevation Gain that I have to attain within a certain distance. For example, if the 100K trail course has a total elevation gain of 15,000 feet, one must be able to train in a course that has at least, a total elevation gain of 1.500 feet within a distance of 10 Kilometers, 3,000 feet in 20 Kilometers, and so on. My playground offers a Total Elevation Gain of 2,100 feet within a distance of 8 kilometers and if I extend it to 22 kilometers, I would attain a total elevation gain of 4,250 feet! This explains why I have the endurance to go up to the peak of any mountain during races.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 11.10.39 PM

Four Lakes 100 Elevation Profile From SUUNTO Ambit 3 Peak GPS Watch

Nutrition & Hydration Strategy——Don’t wait till you feel you are hungry or thirsty that you start ingesting your food or drink your water/hydration mix. To be safe, once my GPS Watch beeps to register that I have completed ONE MILE (1.6 Kilometers), it usually reminds that I have to eat a bite food or drink my hydration mix. If I have an average speed of 3 miles per hour, then I would hear 3 beeps within the hour which means that I ingest any solid food and drink my water 3 times within the hour. Drinking and Eating are done while on the move which I usually do during my training runs.

Train Heavy, Race Light——I usually bring a lot of water during my training runs but in my races, I only carry enough water to sustain me in between the Aid Stations. But I carry my CarboPro mix packs which I programmed to sustain me for the whole course in my pack. For this race, I carried 12 packs (1 pack/serving in every two hours of running/hiking) but in the end, I only used 7 packs for the whole course. The pack that I carried during the which consisted of the mandatory kits and extra solid foods which was lighter in weight than the pack that I carry in my training runs.

Running Kit——The ASICS Running Shorts that I’ve been using in my ultra trail races since last year’s CM50 is becoming my favourite and my best running shorts so far. The ALTRA Superior 2.0 which I used in Translantau 100 is becoming my favourite choice for my 100K trail races, too! My Salomon 5-liter Advance Skin 3 Pack with its accessible pockets had been also helpful that I could easily reach for my bite foods and candies while on the move. My reliable PETZL Tikka XP which is very light gave me more confidence to run during nighttime.

Reduction of Stop Time in the Aid Stations——It would have been smarter not to stay long in the Aid Stations but I committed some mistakes in having unnecessary “long breaks” in between Aid Stations to sit and eat my food. My experience in the FL 100 taught me some lessons and with the hope to improve on them in my next races.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 11.06.31 PM

SUUNTO Ambit 3 Peak Data

Looking at the data that had been recorded by my SUUNTO Ambit 3 Peak GPS Watch, I will have to improve on my average pace by eliminating some of the mistakes that I’ve committed in this race. I think I brought so many CarboPro Packs and bite foods in my pack. My lack of knowledge on the route from East Market Proper to Dayap made me slower during the race. I think I was also overdressed when the heat of the sun was at its strongest along this part of the route. Hopefully, I will be able to correct all these mistakes on my next race!

FL 100 Results

Ranked #109 Out Of 127 Finishers

I will be back to this race next year!

Shoe Review: ALTRA Lone Peak 1.5

16 05 2014

In November 2013, it was a choice of buying an ALTRA Lone Peak 1.5 and La Sportiva Vertical K and after reading some reviews and technical specifications, I opted to buy the La Sportiva Vertical K. The main thing that I considered without seeing yet the actual shoes is the WEIGHT. In their weight comparison, obviously, the La Sportiva Vertical is far lighter than the ALTRA Lone Peak 1.5.

Brand New, Out Of The Box

Brand New, Out Of The Box

In last year’s recon runs and actual race in the TNF 100 (up to Km #53), I used the La Sportiva Helios and I was satisfied with its performance. I never had any incident of slipping on the declines of the trail route and it is a very light shoes. Having experienced an excellent performance of La Sportiva Helios on my preparation in last year’s TNF 100, I decided to have the La Sportiva Vertical K as my race shoe for this yea’s TNF 100 which is a bit lighter than the Helios. (Note: In the actual race of 2014 TNF 100, I used the old La Sportiva Helios instead of the Vertical K).

Last November 2013, after I bought my La Sportiva Vertical K, I’ve read and heard testimonies about the ALTRA Lone Peak 1.5 which are positive, as well as, negative feedback. I forgot all of these things as I got busy with my trail running training and switched/interchanged one trail shoes to another on a daily basis.

Two months ago, I decided to order a pair of ALTRA Lone Peak 1.5 from a local distributor which I believed was “hand-carried” all the way from Singapore. I got a discounted price as a trail runner and a Race Director of local races. This shows that I don’t get a complimentary shoes for Shoe Review or Display on my workout so that my readers have the impression that I favor the use of a particular shoes.

After logging 250+ kilometers after two months of use and a chance to run them during rainy days, I have now a balanced shoe review on the said shoes. I will not be stating those technical specifications that anybody could read on the corporate website in this review. What is important is on how I could feel when I use it and my personal experience whenever I use them.

Wet Shoes After Workout!

Wet Shoes After Workout!

The “zero drop” thing was not noticeable when I run since I’ve been fond of using racing flats in my road runs, road races, and oval track workouts. I am basically a mid-foot strike runner and it was just natural for me not to notice the difference of the “zero drop” thing of the shoes.

The best feeling and experience of using the shoes is the wide toe box. My whole feet are relaxed and comfortable, thus, my toes are spread as if I am barefooted or using my “flip-flop” sandals. This a complete change from my experience of using ASICS, New Balance and ADIDAS shoes. However, my New Balance 101 Trail Shoes has the same “toe box” feeling with that of the ALTRA Lone Peak 1.5.

The next best feeling and experience is the comfort and support cushioning of the shoes. From the heel portion up to the front end of the toe box, the support and cushion are perfect and I never had any pain, sore or burning sensation on my feet’s sole even on hot days. Whether I run them on rocks and other technical terrains (loose gravels and trails covered with leaves, twigs and branches), I could not feel these “bumps” on my feet. It has also a good protection when my feet would bump on roots or rocks on the front part of the shoes.

Of course, the RED color is something that is a plus for the shoes. For me, it connotes, speed, being hot, and full of strength!

The third best thing on the shoes are the lugs on the sole on a dry trail, most especially on the steep descending ones. The lugs can prevent you from sliding on powdery and dusty trails. However, it is a different story if the trail is wet and muddy.

On the negative side, the shoes is heavy as compared from my other trail shoes. Since I would sweat a lot in my trail running workouts, my sweat would flow on my legs and to my socks and ultimately, to the shoes! Almost in my runs, the socks and shoes would be wet and it would place an additional weight to my legs. I have also the habit to cool off my body by submerging my body to a pool of water on a creek or river along the route without removing my shoes. And once I continue to run, the shoes could hardly extract the water it absorbed. This will result for the shoes to attract dust/powder of soil dirt from the trail which makes the shoes to become heavier.

After my workout, I would “air-dry” the whole shoes and it would take forever (at least, 2 days/48 hours) to let the shoes to dry without exposing them direct to the sunlight. As compared to my La Sportiva and ASICS Trail Shoes, they would dry up overnight, and that’s 12 hours!

"Mud Trap"

“Mud Trap”

For three times, I’ve used the shoes on a wet and rainy environment. The lugs on the sole are considered as “mud traps”, the mud would stick to the lugs and they are hard to be removed as one continues to run. The additional mud and wetness of the shoes would put more extra effort for the legs to lift the shoes. You have the feeling that your legs are lifting an addition weight of one pound per shoe! What is worse when the mud is trapped on the lugs, you don’t have any assurance anymore from your shoes to help you or prevent you from slipping from the mud. If you are not careful, your butt will have the tendency “to kiss” the ground. Obviously, this will result for you to stall on your speed and simply be deliberate on your steps on the muddy trails. (Note: I think I remember right when one of the runners in last year’s Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Run complained that the shoes could not handle slippery mud on the trails).

Heavy When Wet

Heavy When Wet

The shoes could be lighter if they use lighter materials for the uppers; use a thinner material for the shoe laces and make them a little shorter; remove the “rudder” at the back of the shoes; and come up with more drainage holes for sweat and water that could be absorbed by the shoes. There is no point also of placing a cover for the velcro at the back portion of the heel, let the velcro be exposed. Reduce the number of lugs on the sole and make sure that they are more aggressive for muddy conditions.

Rainy Days Are Here Again!

Rainy Days Are Here Again!

The shoes is highly recommended for dry trails, thus, this shoes should be used during dry season/summer. After testing the shoes during the rainy days, I would not bet a good performance on a race where the predicted weather is wet and rainy.

As of the moment, the ALTRA Lone Peak 1.5 is now one of my alternate trail running shoes when my “playground” is dry but they are my favorite trekking/hiking shoes in my regular mountain peak bagging adventures.

Pictures Of The Week #22: Colors Of ARC

18 01 2014







Fear Of Darkness

2 04 2013

You always hear the usual greetings, “ Welcome to the Dark World of Ultra Running”, when you finish an ultra race. The way I understand the greetings or statement is that an ultra runner needs to run and finish the race at all cost with his/her strength within the prescribed cut-off time which can last till night time or till the next day. It also means that an ultra runner should also come into reality that running in darkness is part and parcel of being an ultra runner.

As I progressed from 50K distance to 100+kilometer distance races and in my personal experiences in my multi-day adventure runs, I learned to appreciate running at nighttime or in darkness. It came to a point that I have to train and run more kilometers in my training during nighttime. Slowly, I am starting to appreciate the meaning of the said greetings.

In the ultra races that I organize and direct, most especially on the 100-miler distances, like the BDM 160 and TD100, I observed that runners have the fear of darkness, moreso, when they have almost completed one half of the course. This is where I received information of runners of declaring themselves as DNF in the race.

Despite the completeness of lighting equipment of the runners, the fear of running in the darkness comes into their minds. What could be the reason why runners have the tendency to quit the race when darkness comes? If you ask me, I really don’t know why!

Some runners are afraid of dogs on the streets and trails during nighttime and I could understand their predicament. But based from stories from ultra runners, running in darkness alone saps the strength and mental fortitude of an ultra runner. Could it be that this observaton is only applicable to Pinoy ultra runners? I personally don’t believe so. I firmly believe that Pinoy ultra runners are brave to run in darkness.

So, how do we deal with the fear of darkness in ultra running?

In my experience as past military commander, darkness is always a friend of the troops. Soldiers move silently under the cover of darkness in order to “surprise” the enemy and ultimately, defeating them. Some runners also adopt such stealth tactics in ultra races when they put-off their headlights to “surprise” their targets as they get nearer and pass them. Always think that darkness is your constant ally during the run. Don’t believe on ghosts or vampires roaming around you waiting to strike you. There are no such things or creatures! If somebody appears in darkness and it is moving, most likely, it is a human being like you or an animal roaming around the place.

In this age of high technology, there are lighting equipment, i.e. headlamps and hand-held flashlights which have high and powerful illumination with lesser use of power/batteries. There are also batteries which can give extended period of constancy for the illumination needed for these headlamps. Get these “high-tech” headlamps and flashlights and use them in your night runs. It is advisable to use them during your training runs in order to find out for yourself if the advertised capabilities of these equipment are true or not. Never use “new” lighting equipment on race day. And bring extra batteries for your headlamps and flashlights. For better illumination on the course, use both your headlamp and hand-held flashlight. The headlamp is focused on the road/trail (where the feet are leading to) and the hand-held flashlight is directed on a wider-angle in front of you covering both sides of the road/trail.

Most of the time, fear of darkness is attributed or caused by human beings or animals you meet on the course of your run. In my experience, I usually wave my hand and start a conversation by greeting the individual with the usual “Good Evening” or saying, “We are in a middle of a “Fun Run” or “I am jogging to this place and I started from this place”. Always start the conversation and try to look them on their faces. But most of all, simply smile at them and show on your face that you are having fun and enjoying the run. As for stray dogs, simply walk and observe the movement of the dogs. Directing the light of your flashlight to the face of the barking dogs could also “stun” them temporarily.

Gaining 100% confidence running in darkness is through running the course on nighttime. If the course is not available or accessible, you can find a place that resembles the elevation or terrain of the course. Try running alone on this course using your headlamp and/or flashlight not once but as many as you can. Repetition of such workout during nighttime conditions the mind to be relaxed and focused.

Sometimes, having a “buddy” who trains with you could also give confidence and solve your problem of the fear of darkness. Get somebody who would be your pacer or somebody who have the same pace and strength as with you. But you must be always prepared for the “worst” scenario if your “buddy” declares himself as DNF. Get somebody as your “reserve” pacer or “buddy” or wait for another runner to pass you and stick with the said runner as you continue your run. Make that runner as your “point man” along the course.

If you are preparing for a 100K or 100-mile trail ultra marathon, running at nighttime should be your friend and ally.

Next topic…Fear Of Coldness…soon!

@Mt Ugo Trail Marathon

@Mt Ugo Trail Marathon (Photo Courtesy of Darkroom Running Photographers)

“Run For Peace” In Negros Island

11 10 2012

I have never run for any political advocacy and for the five years that I have been blogging and running, I have maintained the simplicity of my purpose. I simply wanted to inspire others to run; challenge their physical and mental limits; and promote adherence to a healthy lifestyle.

In a spur of the moment decision, I think I did something for the good of everybody in the name of PEACE & UNITY.

The story goes this way.

After I have conducted my final coordination with the Governor of Guimaras, the Honorable Felipe Hilan Nava, in the conduct of the 1st PAU National Championship 110/50, I have decided to have a side trip to Bacolod City. With a telephone conversation with the Philippine Army Brigade Commander who is responsible for the province of Negros Occidental and telling him of my plan to visit his place, my side trip was set even if the lead time is only 12 hours.

The Super Ferry Boat plying Iloilo City and Bacolod City is a very convenient and cheap way to travel as one would take only 2 hours. The fare is P 620.00, one way, but I was able to get a 20% discount for being a Senior Citizen.

At the Bacolod City Port, I was met by a Driver (MSgt Arnel), a Security Aide (Sgt   Julius), and a Van. I was brought immediately to the Headquarters of the Philippine Army’s Infantry Brigade in Barangay Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental, a distance of about 25 kilometers southeast of Bacolod City.

The Commander and the Deputy Commander, who happened to have served under me when they were Captains, are now Colonels and about to be promoted to the One-Star General rank. They were waiting at the Commander’s Quarters where breakfast was prepared and served.

Both of my hosts are runners and sports enthusiasts. The Commander, Colonel Oscar Lactao, is the “Top Gun” of his Class in the Philippine Army, had scaled and peaked Mt Canlaon few weeks ago. The Deputy Commander, Colonel John Aying, had been a sprint runner and turned into a long distance runner because of my influence to him as he served directly under me for 5 years. These two Colonels are classmates in the Philippine Military Academy.

While we were having breakfast, I told them about my primary purpose for the visit—to soak my body in the hot spring water of the famous Mambukal Spring Resort which happens to be one kilometer away from the Headquarters. My secondary purpose for the visit is to request to the two senior officers for the road measurement of the route from San Carlos City to Bacolod City passing through the Don Salvador Benedicto Town. The two officers knew already what was in my mind when I asked them about the distance between these two cities. I told them that I missed doing these two things while I was the Division Commander in the area before I retired from the active military service—soaking my body at the Mambukal Resort & running an ultra distance in the area.

On My First Visit & Soaking At Mambukal Hot Spring

Anyway, I had 4 hours at the Mambukal (Mild) Hot Spring Pond and I enjoyed the water and the place. I had company of Balikbayans from Canada; foreigners from the Middle East; and from Southeast Asia. This place is very popular to the locals as well as from foreigners visiting Negros Island.

After 4 hours, I dropped by at the Headquarters of the Brigade and I was back in Bacolod City for my Super Ferry trip back to Iloilo City to catch up my flight back to Manila. I was completely relaxed as a result of my hot spring experience that I was able to sleep during the ferry trip.

In a few hours later, I was back in Manila.

A day after, I received a message from Colonel Aying telling me of the exact distance from San Carlos City to Bacolod City’s Provincial Capitol—it’s 87 Kilometers! I told him that I was asking for the distance up to the Old Bacolod Airport only which he replied that the distance would be shorter by 5-6 kilometers. And I said, it would be fine for me. I thought, 5-6 kilometers is just a “cool down” distance for an ultra runner. I was surprised with the immediate feedback.

After a week, I received a call and message from Colonel Lactao that he is officially inviting me to conduct a recon run and lead a group of runners from San Carlos City to Bacolod City as a part of a program to observe the Month For International Peace in the month of September and specifically stated that the event will be held on the 21st of September, in time for the 40th celebration of the Declaration of Martial Law. I immediately approved and accepted his invitation as he offered his outmost support for my accommodation and needs for the ultra run.

September As The Month For Peace

I immediately bought my round trip to Bacolod City the day after I received the invitation and started my training and preparation for the said run. I spent a lot of hours of swimming drills at the Philippine Army Swimming Pool reaching up to 2.5 hours and then another 1-2 hours of running at the Philippine Army Grandstand/Parade Ground Jogging Lane under the heat of the sun. I usually start my swimming drills at 9:00 AM and then go to running at 11:30 AM up to 1:30 PM. I did this routine for almost 3 weeks! I focused on my endurance to last for the distance of 87 kilometers and then hill workouts during weekends in my peak bagging activities. I knew I did not need so much speed on this run as I would be running with a group of pacers in a formation. This is the reason that you could see my legs to be almost black in color in my pictures for the actual run.

A lot of my running friends had observed that I am “burned” as seen from the color of my skin and had reduced to almost 136 pounds during the Guimaras PAU National Championship. But I did not mention anything about this run as I knew nobody would dare to spend a Friday with me running an 87 Kilometers in a very challenging terrain that crosses the Island of Negros from East to West. There will come a day that my ultra runners will have to experience this route in one of my future PAU Races.

From East To West (San Carlos City To Bacolod City)

As the days passed and the event getting nearer, I received specific and detailed planning instructions about my run in Negros. I have to finish the event in about 16 hours as depicted in a graph prepared by Colonels Lactao and Aying. It appears that this is a simultaneous run of THREE GROUPS; one group is coming from the North of Negros; one group is coming from the South; and one group (my group) is coming from the East and our group has the longest distance to run. The rest of the groups had to run 12-16 kilometers from a certain point and my group has the longest distance to run! As planned, all the groups would converge to the Pond/Capitol Grounds at exactly the same time (6:00 PM on D-Day) to offer a Torch of Peace to the Provincial Governor & Leaders of Peace Groups in the Area from each of the running groups. These 3 torches carried by each group will be made to light a Big Torch as a Symbol of Peace and Unity for the Island of Negros.

Schedule/Time Plan of my Run

What makes the event more meaningful is the reception of the schools and school children; the populace; and the local government units where the run would pass. Each of these institutions along the way had to commit themselves for peace in short program/ceremony in a brief stop in front of the municipal hall of every town that we passed.

Since my group will be running the farthest distance, the plan was to proceed to San Carlos City a day before D-Day and be able to start the run at exactly 2:00 AM on D-Day.

Knowing about the plan of the event, I instructed my host to prepare and make available the hydration and nutrition that I will be needing during the run—-boiled eggs, boiled bananas, Gatorade, Water and Coca-Cola/Mountain Dew. On my end, I prepared my running kit, equipment, and personal hydration mix and system. Additional nutrition consisting of Chocolate Bites (Cloud 9) and Butterscotch from Biscocho Haus will have to be personally procured at SM Bacolod City.

I prepared ASICS Gel-Tarther Racing Flats as my shoes; Drymax Socks; Salomon Running Shorts; Under Armour Compression Shirts (One Short Sleeve/White and One Long Sleeve/Red); Oakley Sunglass; Black Diamond Spot Headlight; 2XU Compression Calf Sleeves; “Sprint” Nathan Handheld Bottle; and ASICS Runner’s Cap. As for my electrolyte needs, I prepared 4 packs of my Succeed Amino Acid to be mixed with water.

After the Guimaras 110K PAU Nationals, for one week more to go, my preparations and strategy had been implemented and perfected. I made sure that I had enough sleep on every day of this last week prior to the event. Sometimes, my night sleep would average to 8-9 hours! I also did some “core exercises” and leg strengthening exercises at least twice a week. I knew my left knee pain will hold and would not bother me during the run, especially on the downhill part of the run, from Don Benedicto Salvador to Murcia. I was prepared to finish the run!

Fast Forward. I arrived in Bacolod City on the early morning of the 20th September, Thursday and I had a breakfast with Colonels Lactao and Aying in their Advance Post Headquarters in Bacolod City. Final Briefing was conducted after the breakfast and everything was ready. I asked my hosts that I need another 3-4 hours of body soaking at the Mambukal Hot Springs before lunch and finally for our trip to San Carlos City. It was granted and I enjoyed every minute of relaxation in the said hot spring pool.

At exactly 2:00 PM, we departed the Brigade Headquarters for San Carlos City. Before we reached Don Salvador Benedicto, I was already sleeping. I was glad I did not see the detailed description of the route I was about to climb from San Carlos City to the town of Don Salvador Benedicto (but I knew it already as I passed on this route when I visited this place while I was in the active military service). At 4:00 PM, we were already at the Hotel/Pension House/Inn where I would rest and sleep before the start of the run.

Pose With My Host, Colonel John Aying, Infront of the City Hall of San Carlos

We were invited by one of the City Board Members (Board Member Renato Bustillo) for dinner and a tour of the city before we went back to the hotel at 9:00 PM. Wake up time was set at 1:00 AM and departure from the hotel was at 1:45 AM. The scheduled time for us had been strictly followed! At 1:50 AM, I was in front of the Catholic Seminary where a group of soldiers, CAFGU, police, and volunteers were waiting for me.

Final Briefing Before The Start of the Run At 2:00 AM

The group of soldiers and police who would be running with me in a group were divided into 3 groups. These three groups would conduct a relay run in every 5 kilometers which means that after a group would run for 5 kilometers, they would be replaced by another group who would run with me for another 5 kilometers, and the 3rd group would replace the 2nd group after 5 kilometers. This rotation of runners would be done repeatedly until about 2 kilometers from each town where the whole 3 groups would be running behind me.

One Of the Groups Pictures With My Runners

And I was running the whole distance without any replacement!

So, in every 5 kilometers, I have to replenish and refill my hydration bottle and grab one egg or one boiled banana, while walking, to feed myself. This was done religiously throughout the course of the event. We had to brisk walk on steep inclines and later resume our run on plain and downhill roads. But what made this more enjoyable and refreshing was the continuous “chanting” of the soldiers while running. Oh, I missed this part of running! I could run forever if there is somebody leading a chant where I could follow the chant. This is one of the secrets of running, you should be able to chant on your own to bring out your hidden strength in you. If you are not a soldier or never had an experience in military training, you will not appreciate what it takes to run with a military chant.

Running In Formation

The run started at exactly 2:00 PM in front of the Catholic Seminary where the 1st group of soldiers, police and volunteers were behind me after we had a simple prayer led by one of the officers of the Brigade. The group has formed as a platoon with a 3-man frontage where I was positioned at the middle. On my right was a soldier who was holding a flaming torch which is the symbol of peace being carried throughout the run and whole distance of the route. I was the one who was controlling the pace.

Rear Portion of the Run

The next group who would relieve the group who were running with me would ride in an Army truck to “leap-frog” to the next 5 kilometers and wait for the running group. The third group would be aboard in an Army truck which was positioned at the back of the running group. The soldiers, police and volunteers who would run with me had a chance to drink their water and eat their food once they are aboard the truck that would carry them to the next 5 kilometers. However, once we reach the last 2 kilometers before the Poblacion of a certain municipality. The 3 groups of runners would join me until we finish the run to the Municipal Hall or Municipal Hall’s Plaza.

With our fans during the run!

As we reached the Municipal Hall, the Municipal Mayor and his staff would run with us for almost 1 kilometer and stop for a simple program/ceremony. The Municipal Mayor would talk about bringing peace and unity for the municipality and for the whole province. The program usually takes about 30 minutes. In Don Salvador Benedicto, we were received by the Municipal Mayor, Vice-Mayor, and some of its Councilors and some speeches were made. The same program was made in the Municipality of Murcia with the presence of the Municipal Mayor, Vice-Mayor and its Councilors.

School Children Are Lined Up Along The Highway Cheering Us

What was so touching to see was the overwhelming support of the people along the way who would greet us and to wave us. What was most touching and memorable was the presence of school children lined up along the street/highway fronting the school with their flaglets raised and waving to us, shouting “PEACE” on top of their voices! It would had been more memorable if the “enemies” of the government and the Armed Force/Police were running with us! How I wished they were there along the highway observing what was happening and could have seen the reaction of the local people and the children. The teachers were out also from their classrooms with their school children waving their hands and shouting “PEACE”. They even had a picture pose taken with me and the group of runners.

A schedule or time plan was made for my run. My group and I had to reach the Provincial Capitol, the finish line for the run, in 16.5 hours from the time we started the run. This is to include the ceremonies/programs that we made in every municipality and those brief rests that we had in changing the running groups. We arrived in Don Salvador Benedicto one hour ahead of schedule but we did not waste any time to spend this buffer time to rest some more. Even if the course was already downhill towards the Municipality of Murcia, we still managed to maintain our running pace where the group was intact.

Program/Ceremony Was Held In Every Municpality (In Don Salvador Benedicto)

Program & Ceremony At The Murcia Municipal Hall

After the Program & Ceremony at the Municipality Plaza of Murcia, we still have 30 minutes as our buffer time for our time plan. However, we still maintained our jogging and chanting. On the last 5 Kilometers as we entered the Poblacion of Bacolod City, we re-formed our group and allowed the three groups to run with me until we reached the Provincial Capitol.

From Murcia To Bacolod City

It appeared that our group was ahead of schedule than the two groups who started their respective runs from the South and from the North. Our group had to wait for about 20-30 minutes from a block away from the supposed meeting place in order to monitor the coming of the other two running groups. Finally, three groups entered the big compound/Pond Area of the Provincial Capitol with my group entering from the East; one group entering the North Gate; and the last group entering the South Gate.

Finally Entering the Premises of the Provincial Pond/Capitol in Bacolod City

I had the privilege to give the symbolic torch of peace which our running group carried to the Provincial Governor. The rest of the torches were given by the PNP Provincial Director and the Head of Peace Advocacy Group in the province to the rest of the VIPs in the ceremony. The rite culminated with the three torches (held by the Provincial Governor and the VIPs) lighting a big torch at the center of the stage symbolizing peace and unity for the whole province of Negros Occidental. The rites were followed by a program where all the stakeholders of peace and unity for the whole province had a chance to deliver their respective message.

My Last Few Moments In The Run For Peace Event

Provincial Governor of Negros Occidental Receiving My Group’s Symbolic Torch of Peace & Unity. Mission Accomplished!

As for me, as soon as I was able to hand in my group’s torch, I was out of the Provincial Capitol Grounds and on my way to the Mambukal Hot Spring for Dinner; a Cold Bath and Hot Body Soaking in the Hot Spring Pond, in that order. The Body Soaking for 2 hours after dinner was heavenly!

I did not realize the gravity and importance of what I’ve done for the 87-Kilometer Run For Peace in Negros Occidental not until I was back in Manila about to have my night sleep, a day after the run!

I received a lot of feedback from text messages and calls wherein I was the “talk of the town”, so to speak, from the Provincial Governor, the VIPs, the Municipal Mayors and their Staffs, Officers and Men of the Philippine Army Brigade and the Philippine National Police down to the people of the Municipalities we have passed, about the feat that a 60-year old retired Major General of the AFP and a Senior Citizen at that, for having been able to run the said distance of 87 kilometers, from Don Salvador Benedicto to Bacolod City, for 16 ½ hours.

The only words that I could say to reply to these feedbacks was, “Thank You”. It was a good ride, an experience of a lifetime, and a wonderful journey with the men in uniform and peace in the Province of Negros Occidental. My special thanks go to Colonel Oscar Lactao, Brigade Commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, Colonel John Aying, and to the rest of their staff. These guys were the organizers of this event and they did a very splendid job. My salute and congratulations to you for an amazing success of the event!

May peace and unity come to every province in the whole country!

To the people of Negros Occidental, I will be back!

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