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

8 08 2018

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

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

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

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

By Corrine Malcolm
CTS Coach and Exercise Physiologist

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

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

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

heat index

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

Body’s Response to Heat Exposure

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

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

Levels of Heat Illness

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

Heat Edema and Heat Rash

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

Heat Syncope

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

Heat Cramps

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

Heat Exhaustion

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

Heat Stroke

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

heat illness criteria

THE CONTINUUM OF HEAT ILLNESS (3).

Risk factors for developing heat illness

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

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

Treatment of Heat Illness

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

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

Preventing Heat Illness

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

Heat Acclimation

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

Hydration

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

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

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

Cooling Practices

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

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

wet bulb temperature

ASSESS YOUR RISK BEFORE YOU GO. (1)

Waiting For My Runner @ Mesquite Dunes In Death Valley Park

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2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 7/Conclusion)

9 07 2018

2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 7/Conclusion)

Recommendations To Next Pinoy Runners:

  1. National Flag of the Philippines: I have observed that there is NO National Flag of the Philippines displayed at the upper walls of the Ice Olympic Stadium despite the fact that there had been four (4) Filipino Runners who have finished the race or for the the fact that our country was always represented in this event for the past four (4) years. If there is a way, I will ask one of the future runners for this event to bring one flag of our country and I will buy one for this purpose. The flag should be given to the Race Director/Organizer to be displayed at the Expo and Start & Finish Area.
  2. Local Bus Schedule: It is highly advisable to know the schedule of the local Dolomiti Bus through their website or through the Schedule of Trips posted at the Town’s Bus Terminal. An iPhone or Google Application can be downloaded to one’s cellphone to find out their daily trip schedule and buy a ticket Online or simply go to the Bus Terminal to buy ones ticket at the counter.
  3. Visit Tri Cime Di Lavaredo: The bus that leaves to the popular destination in the Dolomites leaves the city early in the morning (usually 7:00 to 7:30 AM) to be able to return back to the city in the afternoon. Prepare 20 Euros for the Ticket to enter the Park at Tri Cime Di Lavaredo (separate from your Bus Ticket/Fare). It is highly recommended to visit this place if a runner has the time.

    Lavaredo’s Tri Cime (Photo From Facebook)

  4. Hotel Accommodation: I highly recommend the Dependance Hotel Corona, the place where I stayed, as Stefano, the Hotel’s Manager and its Staff are very friendly and accommodating. Most of the runners stayed in this Hotel. You only have to make your reservation ahead of time, preferably, once you are picked in the lottery and have paid your registration fee.
  5. Carry Some Rice From The Philippines: If ever I would go back to Cortina and run the Lavaredo, I would bring my Camping Cooking Gear and and maybe, 1-2 Kilos of Rice in my Check-In Luggage. I have observed that “Rice Balls” as my main source of Nutrition is very appropriate in this event. I can not live without Rice as part of my meal even if I brought with me lots of Lucky Me Instant Noodles to Italy. For 12 days of my stay in Italy, I was eating bread, pasta, spaghetti, and fruits but nothing beats Rice as my main source of Carbohydrate. I was able to reduce my weight despite my daily Breakfast Buffet at the Hotel to about 5 pounds which is maintained up to this day.
  6. Flight Carrier: I have been traveling to Europe, since last year, through Qatar Airways. The fare is cheap as compared to the other Airlines if you buy your tickets ahead of time. The trip to the Marco Polo International Airport in Venice, Italy would take a maximum of 22-23 hours with a stop-over at the Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar. The round-trip ticket costs me P 35,000.00 more or less. (Note: Do not depart from the Clark International Airport, it collects a Terminal Fee which is supposed to be FREE or had been paid once you buy your airline flight ticket fare).

    Qatar Airways

  7. Bus Transfer From Marco Polo Airport To Cortina & Back: There are so many Buses to choose from as posted in the Event’s Website. You can book and buy ticket through Online at Cortina Express; FLIX Bus; or ATVO. I booked and bought my ticket through FLIX Bus in going to Cortina but I ended riding the Cortina Express. On my way back from Cortina to Venice, I took the ATVO Bus. Always remember that there is only One Trip in the morning and One Trip in the late afternoon in going to Cortina; and the same trip from Cortina to Venice. I suggest that you should buy your tickets On Line as early as possible. Each Bus ticket (One Way) costs from 14-18 Euros.
  8. Tourist In Venice: If you intend to spend a day or two in Venice after the event and walk around at St Mark Square (San Marco Park), there is NO need to book for your Hotel accommodation within the vicinity of the said place. Simply, book a Hotel in Mestre, the railway and bus hub/terminal in Venice (about one hour travel to San Marco Park), and take the train to Santa Lucia (2.30 Euros) and from Santa Lucia Port, take the Public Boat to San Marco (about 6-7 Euros), and you can tour/walk (recovery) around the place and be back to your Hotel in the evening. Tickets are available in vending machines scattered in the Bus/Trail Stations and Sea Port Terminal. (Note: Looking for your Hotel Accommodation within the vicinity of St Mark Park is very hard and tricky. GPS signal is a failure if you are in between big buildings and structures in the Canals of Venice!)

    Train Station @ Mestre

    San Marco Square, Venice

    Venice Canal

  9. Food & Accommodation In Cortina: Because I have a Free Breakfast Buffet in the Hotel, I only eat one meal outside of the Hotel for my early Dinner which would cost me, at least, 6 Euros (Panini) or 9-11 Euros (Hamburger without French Fries) or 9-11 Euros (Whole 8-inch Pizza). Extra food intake would be some fruits (bought from the grocery); Instant Noodles I brought from Manila; 3-in-1 Instant Coffee and SkyFlakes from Manila.
  10. Shopping For Running Gear/s: You can buy some of the Mandatory Gear at the Expo after your Race Packet Pick-Up at the Ice Olympic Stadium. Always ask for discount from the Sales Person. I was able to buy my Salomon Bonatti Waterproof Pants with a 50% discount! After the event, there are sports brands and Sports Stores that are very popular in Europe but unknown in Asia and USA which are on Sale for 20% discount on most of their products. If you look closely on their material and quality of work, they are much better than the popular brands. I must admit, I bought some of these unpopular brands and be able to use them in my next year’s adventures in Europe.
  11. Engage With The Locals & Other Runners: I always make it a point to smile and start a conversation with the people at the Hotel while having my breakfast or while relaxing at the Lobby or at the Porch/Terrace of the Hotel. You may never know that the one beside you had travelled a lot of countries and had joined a lot of ultra trail ultras in the past. They are very good source of A-1 experiences in these events. During the race, it is nice also to talk to a runner which is the same pace with you in the course. It starts with a simple smile and a greetings or a positive remarks. It is already a bonus if they have a Facebook account. (They will gladly give you their FB account if you ask while giving yours to them). Always remember that you are not competing with your fellow runner BUT you are in the event to compete with the course/nature and most of all, to YOURSELF! So, enjoy the company of the other runners, get to know about the capabilities of your body (strengths & weaknesses) and have fun with your journey. (Note: I will devote a separate post for those persons I’ve met in Cortina in this blog)
  12. Training & Preparation: Trail runners who would try to participate in this kind of event must have the necessary ITRA points, which means, that a runner should have the experience to run in mountain trail events. I prepared for this event for 6 months through the Coaching Services of the CTS and I am satisfied of what my body is capable of. My old age is taking its toll to my overall performance as compared in my past running events where I have participated but I feel like I am healthier and more rested this time. As my Coach would say, the races that I’ve selected to join for this year are not the “EASY” ones but they are categorized as one of the hardest ones in the international ultra trail events and this is one of the reasons why such races are considered as part of the “Ultra Trail World Tour” Series. However, it would had been different if I’ve done these races when I was ten years younger. It is through perseverance, patience, discipline, and dedication that in the future, I will be able to finish these races.

    Carmichael Training System Coaching Services

Whether I have DNFd or had succeeded to finish this event, this is just a part of the process of becoming a better and healthy mountain trail runner (which I may never know would prepare me to a more challenging trail running event). I travel to other countries to experience their trail races and be able to enjoy life to the fullest! But in the end, it gives me the best satisfaction if I could share these information and tips to those who are planning to experience joining these trail races outside of the country in the future. As what I’ve been saying, “If BR can do it, you can do it, too!” The experience is really priceless!

Keep on running!!! Thank you for reading my 2018 TNF Lavaredo experience. God’s willing, I will be back to Lavaredo!





2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 6)

3 07 2018

2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 6)

Post Evaluation: TNF 120K Ultra Trail Race

What Went Right?

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

Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 5 Liters

What Did I Do To Make It Right?

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

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

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

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

Last Message Of My CTS Coach

What was NOT quite right during the race?

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

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

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

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

At The Peak Of Lavaredo

What is the best-case scenario?

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

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

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

What steps can you take to improve?

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

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

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

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

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

The Intense Look @ The Dolomites

To be continued…





2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 1)

26 06 2018

2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 1)

I applied for the lottery to join this year’s The North Face Lavaredo 120K Ultra Trail Race in Cortina D’ Ampezzo, Italy once the application for lottery was opened last October 2017. I was not hoping to be picked up in the lottery as I am always on bad luck with regards to Race Lotteries. Then I was surprised that I was included among the 1,500 runners who were picked up in the lottery. I just laughed it out when I knew the results as I wasn’t sure if I will continue or not because I was registered for the Madeira Island Ultra Trail (MIUT) Race in Portugal in the month of April 2018 due to some budgetary constraints. Moreso, when I was informed and requested by Ms Tess Leono to be her Chief, Support Crew for his participation in the 2018 Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Race on last weekend of July 2018. It came as a double surprise to me that I will be going to the US after one month or less from my participation at the TNF Lavaredo in Italy on the last weekend of June.

It was a hard decision for me to continue or not with my TNF Lavaredo and instead focus my financial resources for my trip to the US to be as the Lead Support Crew in her 2nd attendance/participation to the Badwater Ultramarathon. But there are things that are unexpected and things that I’ve forgotten where I could source such financial resources for my trips. I was just a matter of proper planning and programming or some resourcefulness that I was able to solve the problem. God has its mysterious ways when you believe in him through prayers and good positive deeds to other people in need!

The registered with the amount of 120 Euros (almost P 7,500.00) for the 120K Trail Race through my postpaid Credit Card. Through “Trip Advisor” and booking.com, I was able to select my hotel accommodation and bus reservations. I was able to select the Dependance Hotel Cortina which was the cheapest during the time that I made my booking/hotel reservation. It was only a week before my departure for Italy that I made my reservations for my bus tickets from Venice to Cortina and back to venice for my flight back to Manila.

Hey, it’s not easy to apply for a visa in any country for that matter if it requires that you have some source/s of income; some savings in the bank; some investments; and some real estate properties that you personally own. I think being old, retiree, and pensioner (and lots of visas outside the Southeast Asian Region) gave me more edge or advantage to have my visa approved in other continents like Europe, North & South Americas and Iceland!

The application of visa for a visit in Italy is totally different than the other Schengen Nations as they have their own VIA (Visa Italy Application) and as compared from applying through VFS where most of the European countries contract the acceptance Visa Applications for their countries. Most of my Visa Applications through VFS were approved in 3 days (the fastest) and 5 days (the longest wait). My Visa Application for Italy was approved in 9 days without even informing me that my application and supporting papers were submitted already to the Italian Embassy in Manila. Plus the fact that the Parking Area at the VIA is very limited as compared to the building where the VFS is located. Be prepared to pay P100.00 for 3 hours at the VFS and P50.00 for 3 hours at the VIA. VIA and VFS offices are located at the Pasong Tamo Extension Street in Makati City. If you have the money to spare, one could get their Premium Service where a staff of the office would attend to you personally with coffee and snacks but be prepared to pay double for the visa application. For my Italy Visa Application Premium Service, I paid P6,000+ and I had to pick-up my visa at their office within a designated time of the day.

Departure At The Clark International Airport

Air Transport/Flight, Accommodation and Bus Transport Arrangements

It was already when I arrived from Madeira, Portugal that I finally decided to push through with my trip to Italy and that was before the end of April. I asked Mon Beleno and Jerome Bautista about their flight arrangements and accommodation bookings to include on how to finally arrive at Cortina D’Ampezzo as they were the two Pinoy runners who participated and finished in last year’s edition. The hotel accommodation was very expensive in Cortina D’Ampezzo and I was surprised! 1,000 Euros for 6 days stay in Cortina is really very expensive! But I was able to book my hotel stay for 600+ Euros for 6 days which is about 5-minute walk to the City Center. I was able to get a cheap Flight Ticket via Qatar Airways saving me at least $250 for the Round Trip Ticket with my Flight Departure at the Clark International Airport (on the early evening of Monday, June 18) and arrival at the Manila International Airport on the 29th of June. My flight was from Clark to Doha, Qater (for 9.5 hours) and then Doha, Qatar to Marco Polo International Airport in Venice, Italy (for 5.5 hours) but with a lay-over of about 7 hours in Hamad International Airport (from 12 Midnight to 7:00 AM the following day). My lay-over period served as my training for the sleepless nights for the race! As for the Bus Transport to Cortina D’Ampezzo which is 2-hour trip from the Marco Polo International Airport, costs from 12-18 Euros, depending on the Company name of the Bus. The selection of bus service transports are available at the website of the event. I took the FLIXBUS from Marco Polo International Airport to Cortina D’Ampezzo which I scheduled at least 3 hours after my scheduled arrival in Venice. I made this right decision as the line before the Border Police Booth (Immigration Bureau) was congested where three airline flights (Emirates, Turkey Airlines and Qatar Airlines) arrived at the same time. It took me 1.5 hours to exit the Airport from the time I left the door of the plane and getting my check-in baggage at the luggage conveyor. The traffic of passengers was worse than what we usually have at the Maila International Airport! I had a lot of buffer time to wander around the airport and eat my first authentic vegan Italian Pizza in one of the restaurants inside the Airport.

At The Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar

Traffic Before The Border Police Of Italy @ Marco Polo International Airport

It was already 3:30 PM in the afternoon of Tuesday, June 19 when I tried to get out of the Airport Building to locate where the Bus Terminal was located. The FLIXBUS Terminal (Bus Terminal for all the Buses at the Airport going outside Venice) is located at the left side of the Airport Building (if you are facing the building) and it is about 150 meters from the Exit Door of the building. From the Exit Door turn right and follow the Pedestrian Lane with a Shade on the side of the Road and then another turn right to cross a street and you could see a big vacant lot where buses are waiting. The lot has only one waiting shed with a limited seating capacity.

On my way back from Cortina D’Ampezzo to Mestre or Marco Polo International Airport, I took the ATVO Bus Service. These Bus Services only caters to passengers who made their Seat Reservations through ONLINE or through the INTERNET. These Bus Services don’t allow walk-in passengers or have Ticketing Offices at the Marco Polo International Airport. (Note: Mestre is the Main Terminal of Bus/Train in Venice)

The weather during my arrival in Venice was hot and clear skies, the same temperature and sunny skies that we we usually have in Manila. If I am not mistaken, it was 27-28 degrees Celsius.

The FLIXBUS that would be our transport service from the Marco Polo International Airport to Cortina was late for 30 minutes and when the bus arrived, we were surprised that the bus was a Cortina Express Bus! The bus was almost full when it picked us up at the Airport and my Reserved Seat was no longer applicable in the Cortina Express and I just took a sit in one the vacant ones at the 2nd row from the Driver. I was surprised that two of my Pinoy companions who are also participating in the said event were also riding in the said bus as they boarded at Mestre Station.

The distance from Venice to Cortina is almost 160 kilometers and it would take at least two hours to travel the said distance aboard a bus. The two Pinoy runners, Arwin Sta Clara and Rodell Castillo who came from the Middle East, alighted from the bus in a town, 20 kilometers before reaching Cortina. They greeted me and they said that they are booked in one of the hotels in the said town. They promised me that we would meet on Friday at Cortina at the Race Pick-Up/Exposition site which is the Ice Olympic Stadium.

TNF Lavaredo 120K Ultra Logo

To be continued…

(Note: I will try my best to document my experience in this race, as detailed as possible, so that other local runners as well as other subscribers of this blog will be informed on what to do to prepare for the said race)





Race Report: 2017 Miyamit Falls 42K Trail Run (4th Edition)

13 10 2017

Race Report: 2017 Miyamit Falls 42K Trail Run (4th Edition)

I was one of the “pioneers” of this trail race and I published a Race Report about it. That was four years ago and had been a trail runner for two years when this event was conducted.

I did not have any plans of joining this year’s edition but I thought of exposing my running buddy and training partner for a race, for the first time, which is very near my Playground. It was still within the Registration Period when I sent a message to the Race Director, Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale, of my intention to join in this year’s edition of the event with another runner. He gladly accommodated my request and I informed my training partner (aka Official Kodaker) that I have registered him to compete in a Trail Marathon.

Whatever my training for the day is the same training that we had to do and run together. For the past months and weeks since the middle of June of this year, my training partner was exposed to the training program/schedule that I got from my Professional Coaching Services. If the schedule calls for “hill repeats”, he would do so but with a faster speed/pace than me. If my schedule calls for a “tempo run repeats”, he would stay with me for the first repetition and ask him to just hold my camera and take pictures of me while doing my intense and hard “tempo repeats” in the mountain. If I do my “strides”, he would quicken his pace as he is always positioned behind me in my runs.

Knowing that he has the strength and speed for the race, I taught and advised him on tactics and race strategy during a race. I advised him to position himself on the 3rd or 4th guy from the front, with his eyes on the leading runner on the first half of the race. If he has still the strength and speed on the second half, that is the time to make a move. On a final advise, I told him not to talk or engage in any conversation with those guys in front of him or to anybody. He should be focused on getting in front by all means before reaching the finish line. However, if he can not keep up with the pace of the top runners, I advised him to conserve his energy on the first half (climb to the peak/turn-around) and then go as fast as he can on the downhill going to the Finish Line. And that was what he did! He finished #6 Overall and he was happy. And the Coach is happy, too!

Leo 02

Leo Taruc, My Training Partner & Kodaker (Photo By Glairold Recella)

Four years had passed when I joined the First Edition of this event and I finished #36 out of 115 finishers with a time of 7:58+hours then at the age of 61 years old and two years after I’ve transformed myself from a road runner to a trail runner. It is not bad to condition my mind that I would improve my time in this year’s edition. I announced on my Facebook Wall that I will try to improve my time in this event, even for some few minutes! I was wrong!

At exactly 5:30 AM of Sunday, October 1, the race started at the Alviera Recreational Center in Porac, Pampanga and the runners were combination of those doing the 42K and 26K distances. I call the 42K runners as the “bravest ones” in this event! As for me, running without “trekking poles”, is again my “bravest and dumbest” decision in this race! It should be noted that I finished the CM50 for four times without the aid of trekking poles because I was simply “hard-headed”! I guess, as I become older in this kind of sports of Trail Running, it is already a mandatory on my part to bring trekking poles with me if the event allows the runners to have them as a running gear.

From the Starting Line, I jogged and ran comfortably, making the flat and downhill sections going to Barangay Sapang Uwak (1.5 to 2 kilometers) as my “warm-up” run which is equivalent to my 20-minute of “warm-up” runs during my daily workouts. As I approached the center of the Barangay, I was still running comfortably as the road became steeper. I am glad that we took the original route where almost one kilometer of the steepest portion after the Barangay Hall had been cemented/paved. But the steepness of the road was still brutal to the runners’ legs! A Lady Runner would curse and shout the F-word as I passed her. I really don’t know if she was cursing me or cursing herself or cursing the road! There was no need to look back to see her face or engage in a conversation with her!

There was a lot of new faces in this event and most of them were my first time to see them. I saw some of the “usual suspects” and I know by their names and most of them are “loyalists” to this event. It was also a good observation that I saw a lot of runners wearing the Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 but I was glad I was wearing a different shoes! The color of the my Speedgoat 2 does not match with the color of my Running Kit! Hahaha!

2017 Miyamit 42K Profile

Miyamit Falls 42K Elevation Profile (From Training Peaks)

I tried hard to reach the Miyamit Falls within two hours but I failed! I reached the falls at 2:28+hours and went back to AS3 where I filled my hydration bottle before proceeding to the Peak/Turn-around point which is another 10 kilometers! It took me another 2:30+ hours to reach the Peak/Turn-Around point. On my way back to AS3, I have to stop and eat my Pack Meal on a flowing stream where I have to sit on a rock and drink some water. I think I was able to rest for about 20 minutes just to regain my strength and rehydrate my tired body. I even went to extent of pouring cold water from the stream to my head and whole body to cool off and dip my legs to the flowing water. My decision to rest, re-hydrating, taking a dip to the cold water, and eating my packed meal gave me the strength to run all the way to the AS3. It took me another two hours to reach AS3 from the Peak/Turn-Around Point.

I knew already at this point that I could no longer improve my previous time of sub-8 hours! Instead, I took some time to talk with my friend, Joma Sison, who was manning the AS3, and eat some food served at the Aid Station and drank the Sprite soft drinks he reserved for me! Thank you, Joma for being there despite the inclement weather and slippery/muddy road! At this point, I was already raining and my feet would compete with the flowing water on the trail as I ran down towards Barangay Sapang Uwak. I have to stop and refill my hydration bottle for the next two Aid Stations and pour some water to my head and face! There are also sections of the trail that I would run through some deep and shallow muds. And that is part of the fun and challenge in trail running.

From the second to the last Aid Station to the Finish, I knew that my quads will be challenged on those steep downhill road towards Barangay Sapang Uwak and I was prepared for the beating! I continued to run and took some small successive steps on those steep portions of the road until I reached the flatter sections at the center of the Barangay. From the steel bridge, I knew that I have at least 1.5 kilometers to the Finish Line!

MF 42 06

Approaching The Finish Line! (Photo By Glairold Recella)

I finally crossed the Finish Line in 8:58:30 hours, which is One Hour slower that my previous time! My performance is still on passing grade, considering that the cut-off time for the event is 10 hours! Aside from the inclement weather; muddy and slippery condition of the trail; extended rests on the stream; and staying more time in the Aid Stations, I think my age is catching up on me! However, I am happy that I finished this race; served as one of my training runs for a longer race in the future; and being the Oldest Finisher in this Badass Trail Running Event!

I highly recommend this trail running event to everybody but there is a need for a race-specific training schedule and workout for this event. A 3-month trail running schedule/training preparation with lots of elevation gain and downhill running would best prepare anybody to finish this event within the prescribed cut-off time of 10 hours.

Congratulations to Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale and his Team for coming up on this yearly Badass Trail Running Event. It is one of the well-organized trail races that we have in the country today!

Running Gears:

The North Face Orange Shirt; The North Face Cap; The North Face Trail Shorts; AMIHAN Go Lite Race Belt; Taiwan’s Beast Hydration Bottle; The North Face Compression Socks; New Balance Vazee Summit Trail Shoes; Adidas Gloves; 2017 UTMB Buff; San Diego 100-Mile Endurance Run Buff; Miami Sunglass; and IPhone5

Nutrition: XO Coffee Candies; Cloud9 Chocolate; SkyFlakes Condensada; Goya Chocolate Pops; and Meal Pack





Race Report: 25th Jungfrau Marathon Race

21 09 2017

Race Report: 25th Edition Of Jungfrau Marathon Race

I did not know about the existence of this event not until I bought a New Zealand Trail Running Magazine at the Auckland International Airport on my way back to Manila after finishing the 2017 Tarawera 100K Ultra Marathon Race. The registration period was scheduled to be opened on the day of my arrival in Manila which was in the middle of February this year. I immediately signed in on the very first day of registration period and I was surprised that there were 800+ runners who have registered already!

I was accepted immediately as there was no lottery and the registration would be closed once the number of registered runners would reach to 5,000 runners. After 3 days, the registration was closed and it appeared in the entry list that I am the only runner from the Philippines to be registered and accepted for this year’s edition which happens to be its 25th edition. Having been not so lucky to be accepted for the CCC of the UTMB Races, I found this race to be an opportunity for me to visit, for the first time, the Europe Continent!

After a month, I registered also for the 80th edition of the Mt Fuji Mountain Race (which I saw an article also in the same New Zealand Trail Magazine I bought at the Auckland International Airport) which only takes only the first 50 registered runners from other countries. The reason why I registered in this race was also an opportunity to visit Japan for the first time!

Research & Planning

I found out that a Pinoy Runner had finished in last year’s edition of the event and I was able to read a news article on Cebu Daily News Online Edition about the feat of Dr. Yong Larrazabal, a low-key Pinoy Marathoner who goes to international cities to join marathon races and a fast runner at that. He was able to finish the race in less than five hours, having been a consistent sub-4-hour finisher in flatter marathon races. Through Messenger, I sent him some questions on how he was able to reach Interlaken, Switzerland coming from Manila. He told me that his point of entry in Switzerland was in Zurich and drove a car to Interlaken. That was all, I did not ask him about the details of the race as every information related to the event is on the English version of the Event’s Website, to include the Route Map, Elevation Profile, Cut-Off Times, and Aid Stations. From their Website, any runner would conclude that this is a well-organized marathon race. The only problems that a runner would solve would be his/her travel/trip arrangements; accommodation; and availability of money…and be healthy and prepared to finish the event.

Jungfrau Marathon Route

Jungfrau Marathon Route

Jungfrau Marathon Elevation Profile

Jungfrau Marathon Elevation Profile

Training & Preparation

On the last quarter of last year (2016), I decided to enjoy my retirement and be more focused to joining international running events in countries/continents where I’ve never been to. This was the reason why I decided to join the Tarawera 100 Ultra in Rotoura, New Zealand, a reason to visit New Zealand for the first time! After I was accepted at the Mt Fuji Mountain Race, I immediately made a scheduled plan where I would be joining these international race up to the 3rd quarter of 2017. I will still be joining local races but they will be considered as my training and evaluation races to find out if I am improving or not or if I am making good with my training and not “slacking” on my fitness condition. I maybe old at 65 years old but I know I could still find out some potentials on where and how my body strength is still capable of doing.

I decided to get the services of a Professional Coach on Ultrarunning and I started my training in the middle of June of this year. The first two weeks were more on developing my endurance but with better recovery as compared from my previous training schedules. I started to be exposed on quality training with more elevation and intensity on the 3 weeks of training leading to the Mt Fuji Mountain Race through “hill repeats” and tempo runs in my Playground. I have observed that I was getting stronger on my uphill runs and climbs and I am beginning to love faster running in some sections of my route. I may have been short of the time allocated in one of the checkpoints at the Mt Fuji Mountain Race, thus, I declared myself as DNF but I have observed a great improvement in my running on uphills and climbs! I am still in awe and surprised how I was able to continuously run an elevation gain of 4,000 feet for a distance of 10 kilometers in 1 hour & 30 minutes. Before, I would be hiking already after covering a distance of 3-4 kilometers. I knew that my preparation and training for the Mt Fuji Mountain Race was short from being perfect. But I considered my first race after being Coached by a Professional as a part of my training for my future races.

My training for the Jungfrau Marathon was very specific on the 4 weeks after the Mt Fuji Mountain Race, leading to the first weekend of September. I was again exposed to more “hill repeats” and “tempo runs” which were done on steep climbs in my Playground. And in one of my 20-minute tempo runs on a rolling terrain, I have observed that I was getting faster on my pace per mile for few seconds, little increments of improvement, but this is a good result of my training. On my peak training, I would go to Kennon Road (Zigzag Road to Baguio City) and run continuously the last 17 kilometers before reaching Baguio City which I covered in 2.5 hours. Aside from that, I spent my weekend back-to-back runs in Mt Tapulao, Palauig, Zambales and Mt Roosevelt where I would be running under the rain and cold temperature of Mt Tapulao. On my taper week towards the race, I had my one-hour recovery runs each day and fully-charged sleeps every night (7-8 hours of sleep).

Travel Arrangements

I attempted to apply a Shengen Visa with the French Embassy but I was asked to apply, instead to the Swiss Embassy since I will be staying more days in Switzerland. Since I did not bring any Passbook of my Bank accounts when I applied for the Swiss Visa (I only submitted a Bank Certificate), I was asked to submit a Bank Statement for the last 6 months. Unfortunately, my Bank could only issue me my 3 months of Bank Statement and I have to request to their Main Office and wait for 1 week for the said documents. Instead of waiting for one to two weeks, I went to AFPSLAI to get whatever the Swiss Embassy would require in order to tell them that I am capable of paying my trip and stay in Switzerland. In less than 15 minutes, I was able to get a Bank Statement for the past 15 years in only ONE page!

As of this time, I have not yet received my Bank Statement from the local commercial bank which caters to my banking needs for the past 30 years! And come to think of it, this is the oldest bank of the Philippines!

I found out that the Swiss Embassy is very strict on trying to monitor my movements/trips within their country to the point that they would like to know where I will stay for the duration of my visit in their country. I just realized the reason why when I was finally in front of the Swiss Immigration Officer when I landed in Geneva, Switzerland. The Swiss Immigration do not require their visitors to submit or fill-up an Immigration Card. They simply check your visa and mark it with a stamp indicating your date of entry in the country!

I made reservation for my flight arrangements with the Travel Agency that had been very helpful to me for the past 17 years and I was booked with the Qatar Airways with a stop-over in Doha, Qatar for 2.5 hours. My hotel accommodations reservations were personally made by me through OnLine on booking.com. And used the Google to its fullest for the trip/land travel arrangements.

I did not ask for any sponsors or made any requests from my friends in the corporate and government offices or came up with a running event to raise funds in order to support my logistical needs for this event. Joining this event is a personal choice and endeavor and I don’t want anybody to have the burden in supporting me.

Even if I am the ONLY Filipino runner in this year’s edition of the event, there is no need to brag about it. This is the reason why I don’t wave or display the RP Flag whenever I finish an international running event. I am just an ordinary and private Filipino runner enjoying my retired life!

Race Proper

My hotel, Hotel Central Continental, is 50 meters away from the Interlaken West Train Station and about one kilometer away from the Starting Area of the Race and Das Zelt, the place where the Race Exposition and Race Packet Kit Claiming Area is located, is just on the Public Park adjacent to the Starting Area. After checking-in at my Hotel, I immediately went to the Race Packet Kit Claiming area where it is located and I was able to get my Race Bib, Drop Bag at the Finish Line Tag, Event’s Magazine, and an ASICS Hydration Pack (Black).

DCIM100GOPRO

Jungfrau Mountain @ Far Background With Snow

The 5,000 runners in this race were divided into 6 groups——Elite Runners & 1st Wave and 2nd Wave to the 6th Wave. The Elite Runner and 1st Wave would start at 8:30 AM and my group, which is the 6th and last group would start at 8:55 AM. Each group would be released every 5 minutes of which was done for the first time in this event.

I was on my way to the Starting Line when the 1st Wave was released at exactly 8:30 AM. I entered my corral when the 2nd Wave was released and I had enough time to position myself with the rest of the runners in my Wave. Every time a Wave was released we would move forward nearer to the Starting Line. It was time to check my AMIHAN Go Light Race Belt for my IPod Touch, gels, light jacket, and power bars and they were all properly stashed on my waist.

At exactly 8:55 AM, all the runners in my Wave which were easily identifiable by their race bib numbers beginning with the number 6 and myself started to jog and easily claimed my spot a few meters away from the Starting Line. The runners were not crowded at the start and I simply relaxed and imagined that my first 15-20 minutes were my warm-up runs during my training. After two miles, I started to increase my pace as the course would be flat and paved. As we left the center of the City of Interlaken, it started to drizzle and the announcement before the race started that it will be rainy and cold during the course was becoming a reality. It is even anticipated that it will be foggy and very cold once we will be reaching the last 15K towards the Finish Line.

Before reaching Mile 4, I was already passing the tail-end of those runners on Wave 5 and I was surprised. Such observation inspired me to maintain my pace and steadily move forward. There are portions of the flat sections which are wide dirt road with crushed gravel which you might think that the event is a trail running event. I have observed that I would pass some runners on the uphills but some of them would pass me on the downhill. It was a no big deal on my part since these runners would look like they are half younger than my age!

Jungfrau 00

On The First Two Miles Of The Course

I reached the 6.2 Mile Mark (10K) in 56:22 minutes in the town of Wilderswil where there was an Aid Station. I took one of my GU Gels and then took at least two cups of water as I was sweating a lot even if it was drizzling. I was too nervous that I might be cut-off in this Checkpoint, thus, I was running faster than what I have planned. The cut-off time here is 9:55 AM or one hour from our Wave 6 start. So, I have less than 4 minutes as cushion as I passed this checkpoint. Based from my recorded split, I was ranked #2,832. At Kilometer #15, where the cut-off time is 10:25 AM or 1:30 hour elapsed time, I was able to gain one minute as additional cushion time where I timed at 1:25:47 hours but my rank decreased to #3,031. It could be that I slowed down or the other runners who started slower are starting to pick-up their pace at this point.

After I passed the beautiful town of Lauterbrunnen and reached the checkpoint at Km #21, my time registered at 2:11:34 and my rank decreased to #3,244 and it was due to brief walking at the Aid Station to grab some water, take in some bananas and GU Gel. But I was able to gain another almost one minute as cushion from the cut-off time of 2:17:00. From Km #21 to Km #25, it was slight uphill at the start but once you cross a river, it is almost slight flat and downhill. However, after reaching Km #25 where I timed in in 2:40:23 hours and placed #3,279, it was now the start of a steep switchbacks which are more than 15 turns going up to the mountain. However, I was able to gain a total of cushion time here for almost 8 minutes! It was raining harder at this point and I was starting to feel the air to be thin and cold that my hands were starting to get numb. I brought out my Patagonia Light Jacket (Waterproof) from my AMIHAN Race “Go Lite” Belt and zippered it all the way to my chin to keep my body warm. I would hide my palms from the sleeves of my Jacket just to keep them warm!

Junggrau Route

At The Town Of Lauterbrunnen

Before reaching the next checkpoint at Km #30, I had the urge to pee and I decided to just approach one of the trees beside the road and took my time to unload my urine. This is where I had been overtaken or passed by 50 runners! But once I reached the checkpoint, my time was 3:39:57 hours and I was ranked #3,329! But I was able to gain a total cushion time of 13 minutes!

From Km #35, it was the start of the steep uphill climb to the peak of the mountain, it was still raining and the temperature was going down to freezing cold. This is where I remember my training in Kennon Road leading up to Baguio (17 kilometers) and my uphill climb in Mt Tapulao (14 kilometers) during a rainy and inclement weather! I started to hike strongly and then jog from time to time on those steep ascents and flat portions of the course. At checkpoint Km #38, my time was 5:12:18 hours and I was ranked #3,325, an improvement of 4 slots and have a cushion time of 15 minutes. At this point, it was already a “conga line” of runners on the steepest part of the course and it was raining, foggy, and with muddy single-track trail.

Jungfrau 01

It Was Freezing Cold

I got to make my move as the other runners in front of me were too slow in their hike towards the peak. I would start to jog, get out of the trail to pass the slower ones, one at a time, until I reached the peak of the mountain. The last one kilometer was downhill and I started to run, braving the cold wind, thick fog, rain, and thin air! Finally, I crossed the finish line together with some of the runners with an official time of 6:14:17 hours!

I was surprised to find out that I was able to pass 64 runners on the steepest part of the course even if it was cold, building up a cushion time of almost 16 minutes before the the cut-off time of 6:30 hours. However, as I reviewed the official result, I found out that the Race Organizer decided to adjust the course cut-off time to 7:00 hours! Maybe, it was due to the inclement weather during the race. I am glad the race was not stopped even when it was raining hard on the last few hours of the event.

Out of 95 starters on my Age Category of 65 years old and above, I placed/ranked #60. Out of the almost 5,000 runners, I was ranked #3,261.

The Marathon Race has an elevation gain of 8,406 feet and elevation loss of 3,386 feet.

Not bad for an old 65 years old runner from a tropical country finishing a marathon race in the Swiss Alps!

To be continued.





The 3 Things That Separate Failure From Success In Ultrarunning

25 08 2017

Repost from the Blog of CTS (Carmichael Training System)/Jason Koop:

The 3 Things That Separate Failure From Success in Ultrarunning

We had a training blog ready to go for today, and then we got an email that changed everything:

Koop,

I’ve been dreaming of finishing Leadville for over thirty years and I’ve failed seven times. That’s right… seven times. But then I came across your book, hired CTS and was connected with John Fitzgerald. I entered the race this year knowing it would likely be my last attempt, no matter the outcome.

My day at Leadville started slow and I was chasing cutoffs even at Winfield. Had John not been at Winfield, I would have been practicing my hitchhiking skills. John greeted me with a smile, watched over me like a protective parent and was the most perfect pacer God ever created. For the next seventeen hours I was cranky, often despondent, and I tried to bail a few more times. All the while, John just kept feeding me calories and repeating over and over that we were “going to get this done.” He told me to believe in myself and finally around Turquoise Lake, I did.

John willed me to finish Leadville in under 30 hours. In doing so, I was able to keep a promise to my mother and fulfill a lifelong dream. Even more amazing: for a brief moment my preteen kids thought I was cool.

I’ll write a full report and circulate it to you in a few weeks. In the meantime, I had to drop you this note. I am not often at a loss for words but I am now. I am because of your book, all of CTS, and most of all because of the selfless act and inspiration of John Fitzgerald.

It was also great to spend time with Coach Corrine Malcolm and even see you and Adam St. Pierre on the backside of Hope Pass. I’m honored to be part of the CTS tribe.

Hope you and your team have a great time in a France and I look forward to jogging with you all again soon.

Cheers.
Jason Bousliman

We have the greatest job on earth. Like any job it comes with its frustrations and not every day is sunshine and roses, but on some days… On some days we get to witness athletes achieve more than they thought possible. On some days we get to watch an athlete cross a finish line he failed to reach seven times. Those are the golden days.

For those of you who have repeatedly failed to achieve your dream, we want you to know there is a path to success. When it comes to epic endurance challenges there are three components that make the difference between failing time after time and finally succeeding: Preparation, Belief, and Support.

PREPARATION

To succeed where you have previously failed you need to take an “all-in” approach to preparation. The time for half measures is over. Many times the reason athletes repeatedly fail is because their goals are so ambitious they stretch the limits of their physical capacity. That is often the very thing that makes those goals so enticing and fuels the passion to continue the pursuit. Never shrink from those goals.

In “Training Essentials for Ultrarunning”, Coach Jason Koop encouraged athletes to choose events they are emotionally invested in. Despite seven previous failures, Coach John Fitzgerald didn’t try to talk Jason Bousliman out of returning to Leadville. He didn’t suggest trying an ultra with less elevation gain or at a lower elevation. There are other events Jason could have finished without flirting with cutoffs, but Leadville was the event he was passionate about, and that emotional investment was crucial for the ability to go “all in” with preparation.

When everything has to go right in order for you to reach your goal, you have to train everything. This is where many athletes fall short. Superior fitness solves a lot of problems, but it’s not enough to just be fit. You also have to train your gut to handle a greater volume of food and fluids. You have to train your feet to handle the abuse of training and competition. You have to train toughness and the ability to cope with the unexpected and work through difficult problems. Sometimes the athlete who finally succeeds is no more fit than he or she was during all the failed attempts, but the successful athlete is always more prepared.

BELIEF

Coach Andy Jones-Wilkins gave an impassioned speech the night before the 2016 Western States Endurance Run, in which he told the many athletes before him that to reach the finish line they first had to stand on the start line with the unwavering belief they would finish. You go to the start knowing you’re going to finish. Not hoping to finish. Not trying to finish. Not playing it by ear. Start with the unwavering belief you will finish and you are already part of the way there.

Believing in yourself and that you will finish does not mean it will be easy or that you will not experience doubt or the desire to quit. But that underlying foundation of belief is necessary for getting through those rough patches. Belief in your preparation, in the work you’ve done, and the reason you are there are what build a foundation that won’t be washed away by a flood of doubt.

SUPPORT

Though its exact origin is unknown there is great truth to the proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” The journey to the finish line of an ultramarathon is far longer than the race itself, and not even self-sufficient competitors (no crew, no pacers) can say they reach it alone.

Jason Bousliman made the 2017 Leadville 100 a family affair. Everyone was in on it. There was a team uniform and three generations of Bouslimans out at the aid stations. They were joined by CTS Coaches, including Jason Koop, Corrine Malcolm, and Adam St. Pierre. And then there was John Fitzgerald.

The role of a pacer is part pack mule, part counselor, part cheerleader, and part drill sergeant. In the back half of an ultramarathon athletes are on an emotional and nutritional roller coaster. Out in the darkness of the trail the baddest of bad asses sit down and cry, and when you fall to pieces the right pacer is essential for putting you back together. As such, the best pacer may not be the strongest runner, but rather the person you want by your side when you are your most vulnerable. Choose wisely. John Fitzgerald ran, walked, cajoled, and shepherded Jason Bousliman for 17 hours, not to claim his own Leadville buckle, but to see Jason earn his.

Jason Bousliman failed seven times. We have all failed at some point, and maybe several. But no number of past failures precludes you from future success. With Preparation, Belief, and Support, anything is possible.

(Note: I am a CTS Athlete








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