Race Report: Clark-Miyamit 42K Trail Marathon

Just like in my participation to the Pagsanjan To Majayjay 50K Road Ultra last September 1, Clark-Miyamit 42K Trail Marathon was not a part of my training as an intermediate race in preparation for my target race but knowing that all the known fast trail runners and “hardcore” ultra runners that I know of are going in the event, I finally decided to join the said event barely one week before the scheduled date.

CM42 Logo
CM42 Logo

The Race Director, Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale was kind enough to accept my request to join the event together with one of my elite runners, Danin Arenzana, who happens to have won in last year’s CM60K Trail Run. Danin had been my training partner for the past 3 months in my training ground and running after him during the race served as my target-competitor to force me to keep on moving relentlessly from start to finish.

Due to my numerous visits to the Miyamit Falls and recon runs previous to this event, I was confident of finishing this race better than those times that I had visited and trained in this place.

Clark-Miyamit 42K Elevation Profile (Courtesy of Rey jimenez)
Clark-Miyamit 42K Elevation Profile (Courtesy of Rey jimenez)

I was prepared to arrive at the starting area at 3:30 AM last Sunday, September 22, 2013 but due to a text message from Jonel Mendoza of frontrunner Magazine that the race start time will be delayed for a hour due to the inclement weather in the area and some problems with the transport of the volunteers/marshals to the peak of the mountain, I took my time to travel and prepare the things/logistics  I will be needing in the race.

At 4:30 AM, I arrived at the assembly area and got processed where I was able to sign some papers and got my race bib. It was raining and the temperature was cold and refreshing. I was able to talk to some of the runners and it was some sort of reunion among ultra runners and trail runners. They jokingly told me that I was so serious to say in my blog that I will be on a Race Mode, thus, I will not have any time to talk or “socialize” to any of the runners during the race. I just smiled to them and wished them good luck and have fun during the race.

All the runners were called under the Start/Finish Arc for the final briefing by the Race Director 15 minutes before the start time. There were some pointers and warnings issued by the RD for the runners to know due to the weather condition of the day. I positioned myself at the back of the runners while listening to the briefing. At exactly 5:30 AM, the race started and I was with Jonel as the two of us were last runners to leave the Starting Line.

Final Briefing By RD Jon Lacanlale
Final Briefing By RD Jon Lacanlale
Still Dry & Looking Fresh @ The Starting Area
Still Dry & Looking Fresh @ The Starting Area
The Gun Was Fired And We Were Off!
The Gun Was Fired And We Were Off!

My race strategy was to position myself at the back of the pack at the start and then slowly pick-up the pace as the race progresses. The first two kilometers were made as my warm-up period with a slow and easy jog as this part of the course is flat and slightly going down. Most of the runners picked-up their pace immediately on the 1-2 kilometers of the route. As soon as I hit the first uphill of the course, I was already sweating, though I was hiking briskly.

On this very challenging trail race, I always see to it that I “brisk-walk” or power hike the uphills and once I reach the top, I force myself to jog and run on the flat and downhill parts of the course. This drill is being repeated from start to finish. However, if the uphill is not too steep, I would attempt to jog over it by taking small gaits/steps but with faster cadence. In order to be consistent in this, I would briskly pump my arms, over swing them and breath faster. Of course, I would do this in my training runs and comfortably apply this in my races.

Jonel & I Were The Last Runners To Leave The RD
Jonel & I Were The Last Runners To Leave The RD

At the back of my mind, I would like to register a “negative split” of my time in this race by being slower on the first half and then going faster on the last half of the race. Obviously, that will happen because the first half is an uphill climb to Mt Miyamit/turn-around point  which has an elevation of about 1,150 meters above sea level and then the last half will all be generally downhill. But such conditioning to the mind did not happen because of the weather condition that brought about with those slippery, muddy, and water-soaked trails.

On the second half or downhill part of the course, the trail was so slippery that most of the runners would look for the sides of the trail where they would land their feet without falling on their butts or worse, on their faces. The muddy condition of the ground had also slowed down most of the runners. But all these were part of the challenge and I really enjoyed running on these muddy, slippery, loose, and water-covered trails.

Runner Falling On His Butt To The Ground Due To Muddy & Slippery Trail
Runner Falling On His Butt To The Ground Due To Muddy & Slippery Trail (Picture Courtesy of CJ “Miles” Escandor)

After the Km #10/AS 3 as I was going up to the peak/turn-around point, I was trying to count the number of runners that I would meet in order to find out my ranking among the runners. It was fun to see these faster runners as they go back to the finish line. I would not be surprised to see these top runners as they see me going up to the turn-around point. But I could see in their faces how surprised they are when they see me as I get nearer to the turn-around point! They are also surprised that they have a few meters gap from me from their backs! As I reached the turn-around point, I was able to count 47 runners that I met along the way which makes me as the 49th runner (Danin was the 48th runner).

A Part Of The Easier Sections Of The Course
A Part Of The Easier Sections Of The Course

Everything that happened in this race was so fast, except when I was going up from the checkpoint at the foot of Miyamit Falls up to the Aid Station #3. I practically walked this uphill stretch of about a mile/1.5 kilometers and it took me 31 minutes! I was not sure if I was exhausted or needed some “sugar” to my body system. I took this opportune time to eat more solid foods (hard-boiled eggs with salt) and take in a GU Gel.

On the last 10 Kilometers to the Finish Line, I tried my best to run and jog all the way except for some delay on those steep downhill slippery parts of the route where I have to walk slowly. I maintained a steady pace and Ultra Runner Jon Borbon kept me company as he was tailing me throughout the said distance.

Wet, Dirty, & Tired But Still Smiling Towards The Finish Line (Picture By Photo Ops)
Wet, Dirty, & Tired But Still Smiling Towards The Finish Line (Picture By Photo Ops)

I finally reached the Finish Line with an Official Time of 7:57:58 hours with a rank of 36th runner among the 115 Finishers. The RD was at the Finish Line to award the Finisher’s Medal and congratulate me for finishing the race.

Finishing at 36th place was more than a success to me since I have targeted a conservative goal for this race to place on the top 50% of the runners. As a result, I landed among the upper 31% of the finishers!

I would attribute such accomplishment on the following:

1. Consistency—I have followed a structured training program for the past 3 months + one week leading to the race where I have completed a total distance of 1,627 Kilometers or 1,017 Miles. Since this mileage was done in 85-90% of mountain trails, I can roughly estimate my total workout for about 325 hours (1,627 kilometers X 12 minutes/kilometer).

2. Specificity of Training—As shown above, almost all my training was done in the mountain trails where my 61-year old body slowly adapted to the challenges of the environment. Speed was put behind and more focus was concentrated on endurance and proper footing/feet-landing techniques on different kinds or situations on the mountain trails. The more slippery or muddier the train is, the better for me!

3. Nutrition & Hydration—In my training, I have experimented on my nutrition and hydration, most specially on my weekend long runs. Such experimentation was applied during the race. For the race, I ate a simple breakfast of steamed rice + 2 pieces of hotdog + hot coffee, 45 minutes before start time. Some runners who greeted me at the Starting Line saw me eating this stuff. I took in some water with the food. Twenty (20) minutes before start time, I took in my first Espresso Love GU Gel. From the start up to the finish, I took this GU Gel every 40-45 minutes and hydrating with Perpetuem Mix and Water every 20 minutes in an alternate manner. At the turn-around point, I started eating my Hopia as my solid food. On my way from Miyamit Falls to the Finish Line, I was able to eat 2 pieces of hard-boiled eggs with salt. I have also six pieces of Butterscotch from Biscocho Haus of Iloilo City in my pack as my reserve food. At the end of the race, I was able to consume eight (8) GU Gels; 4 pieces of Hopia;  2 pieces of hard-boiled eggs; 40 oz. of Perpetuem Mix; and 40 oz of Water. This nutrition & hydration strategy was strictly followed to keep me from “bonking” and reacting to it and as a result, I was being proactive to the needs of my body during the race. It is like being attached with an Intra-Venous (IV) fluid where every drop of  fluid enters the body every second.

One Pack Of Hopia
Two Packs Of Hopia

4. Running Kit & Apparel—-My Patagonia Shorts kept my iPhone on its back pocket with 6 GU Gels (3 pieces on each side pocket). My Patagonia shirt was very light even if it was damp/wet the whole race. The Ultimate Direction AK Vest which I use in my training kept my 2 bottles  for hydration and food at the back pack; my tiny Nikon Camera on my right shoulder pocket; and two GU Gels on my left shoulder pockets which I used also to keep my trash during the run. I was wearing my favorite Giro Cycling Gloves which was very useful during the run (I guess, I need to post  a separate story for this!). Calf sleeves were used to protect my legs from the sharp leaves of wild grasses along the trails. I also used Gaiters to protect debris and other dirt from entering my shoes. I’ve chosen my ASICS Gel-Mt Fuji Racer Trail Shoes instead of Inov-8 Mudroc 290 due to its lightness and easy drainage of water entering the shoes and it gave me the much needed confidence to paddle through water-soaked, muddy, and slippery trails. My Under Armour running cap and Buff which were damp and wet were also useful in maintaining a lower body temperature on my head and nape.

ASICS Mt Fuji Racer Trail Shoes
ASICS Mt Fuji Racer Trail Shoes

5. Rest, Recovery, Taper—-From Wednesday up to Friday before the race, I had full sleep during nighttime of not less than 8 hours per night. On Saturday night, I was able to sneak in at least 5 hours of sleep. During my training period, I have to fully rest (without any runs) on Mondays—it’s the day when I eat my favorite food, walk and watch a movie in the malls, and/or read some books. One day before the race, it was completely a rest day for me.

6. Knowledge of the Terrain and Be Able To Acclimatize with the Environment—-Having been to the route at least one month before the race with the same weather condition, I already knew what to expect and I even tried to locate for points/places along the route where I could slow down or speed up or where I would take in my nutrition. I was able to test and find out what would be my running apparel/kit for the race during my last recon run to the place. I was able to test also the amount of fluid and food I would need for the race proper, thus, it would lead to the next factor to consider as stated next to this.

7. Not Stopping At The Aid Stations—–It is enough to hear the cheers and greetings from the volunteers and then for me saying, “Thank you for being here for us” to them as I continue my run and pass every Aid Station along the route. It is either I slowed down with my run or simply hiked/walked as I reached the Aid Stations to greet the volunteers. For the Aid Station on the wider road, I would just wave my hand or give them a “thumb-up” sign to acknowledge their presence on the trails even with the rainy weather condition. The cooler atmosphere and rainy condition contributed for my body not to perspire so much and I was able to conserve my intake of hydration fluid. It was only at the place where the 4 X 4 vehicles were parked where I was able to ask for water refilling on my way back to the finish line.

8. Listening To My Body—My HR Monitor was my basis to get feedback why I would breath heavily during the run. I would see to it that I was maintaining an Average HR of not more than 150 beats per minute. There was only one instance where my Average HR reached to 152 bpm and I had to slow down with my power hike on a steep trail. I would feel some pain on my knees and quads on the second half of the race and that I would slow down and observe if such pain would disappear or not. Generally, I did not experience any severe pains/injury or muscle cramps in any parts of my body up to the end of the race.

Success and being able to reach one’s goal in any race is not developed and attained overnight or for a short time even if one has had finished harder and more challenging races in the past. It takes a lot of planning, attitude, determination, patience and handwork.

In short, this is in my own words is called, “discipline”!

Congratulations to RD Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale for a successful race and my special thanks to those volunteers who braved the inclement weather in the mountains to make sure the safety and well-being of all the runners on the night before the race as well as, after the last runner had crossed the finish line. Good job, guys!

Lace up, go out of the door and run!

(Note: For more details & data of my run, please check on this link: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/380094060)


Shoe Reviews: New Balance MT 101 & INOV-8 Mudroc 290

New Balance MT 101 Trail Shoes

I bought this pair of trail shoes from Zombie Runner Store in November 2010 and I am still using them in my trail running. This pair of shoes might have reached more than 800 kilometers for almost 3 years that I’ve been using them. However, I am not sure if this kind of model is still available in the market.

This trail shoe is durable and it is only today, after running 28 kilometers of trails,  that I’ve seen the glue of the sole to the uppers starting to open up at the right toe box. For the price of $85.00 then, it is worth using it where I did not have any injuries or any problems with my feet and legs.

The shoe is very light, for a weight of 7.2 ounces in size 9.5 inches, and considered as “minimalist” trail running shoes. Even if it is soaked with my sweat or wet due to river/stream crossings, the shoes is still very light. The water that would enter the shoes could be easily extracted or dried up due to the porous nylon upper mesh. Due to its lightness, I would usually use it for my speed interval workouts at the oval track and tempo runs over paved roads.

New Balance MT 101 Trail Shoes
New Balance MT 101 Trail Shoes

The elite ultra trail runner who designed this particular model uses it without socks. However, I never tried using this shoe without any socks. Even if I used socks with it, the toe box is very wide and it gives a plenty of room with my toes which is the most that I like with this model. As compared with the other trails shoes that I have, this has the widest toe box.

Sole Of NB MT 101
Sole Of NB MT 101

The treads on the soles are not suitable for the muddy and sticky trails in the country, although they are good in running on rocks.  The treads are very durable and they are responsive in hardened and dried trails. The shoe has a toe-heel drop of 10 mm according to its manufacturer’s specifications but when I use it, I feel that the drop is less than what is stated.

Since it has a wider toe box than the other trail shoes that I have, I usually tighten the laces to feel a well-snugged fit to my feet. In doing so, the lace would still be very long after doing double-knot tie. To keep it from “flying” on the sides of the shoe, I would insert the exposed lace under two criss-crossed laces over the tongue of the shoes.

My plan is to have the sole and uppers to be stitched with one of the local shoe repair shops and have it handed down to one of my elite runners who have wider toes.

This particular trail running shoe model is highly recommendable.

INOV8 Mudroc 290 Trail Shoes

I bought this pair of trail running shoe in one of the local shoe stores, Athlete’s Foot Store, which was sold On Sale last February of this year. I bought it in less than P 3,000 and it was the only one left in their inventory. Buying it was a good decision.

It was my first time to use this brand of shoes and it was only when I bought it when I started to browse in the Internet trying to find out about the specifications of the said model. Mudroc 290 is tagged as the Original Mountain Trail Shoes and it is really true!

INOV8 Mudroc 290
INOV8 Mudroc 290

The first thing that strike me was the color. It’s black and I liked it. Second is the lacing system where there are no holes on the uppers but nylon strip sewed on the sides of the shoes and it has two holes/slots on top of the tongue where the laces would pass through. I guess, it is a breakthrough in a new kind of lacing system where it keeps the uppers and tongue in a snugged fit to the fit and keep the debris from entering the shoes while running.

Sole & Tread Of INOV8 Mudroc 290
Sole & Tread Of INOV8 Mudroc 290

Third revelation for this trail shoes are the treads on their soles. They are much thicker and more aggressive/pronounced than the New Balance MT 101.

It weighs 10.2 ounces/290 grams (thus, the numbers attached to the mode’s name) and has a toe-heel drop of 6 mm. It is also considered as a “minimalist” trail shoes but is far heavier than the NB MT 101. Additional weight is put into the shoes when it is wet after crossing some streams/rivers and it takes time to make it drier while running which is the only negative observation I had with this pair of shoes.

I immediately put on lots of mileage on this shoes when I prepared/trained for the 2013 TNF 100K but on the first few times that I used it, I would loosen the tightness of the shoe laces as the back portion of the shoe would rub on my right achilles tendon which resulted to some pain most specially on steep ascending portions of the course. However, after using it for some time, the heel counter’s cushioning had loosen up and it did not bother my right achilles tendon.

As the name of the model would imply and describe, the shoes is really perfect for wet, muddy, and sticky trails. I never had any experience of slipping or dropping on my butt on slippery trails using this shoes. This shoes really rocks on mud!

As compared with the New Balance MT 101, the toe box is very narrow but it fits well with my feet as I want my trail shoes to be well-snugged to prevent debris from entering the shoes.

In conclusion, these two trail shoes are very good choices where one would use in different environment conditions—if the trail is wet and do your workout during inclement weather, the INOV8 Mudroc 290 is the best choice; and if you want to run faster on dried or sun-baked trails, the New Balance MT 101 is the lightest shoes for your run.

Keep on running!

New Balance Minimus Ionix 3090 Review

NB Minimus Ionix 3090
NB Minimus Ionix 3090

I think it has been years and months that I missed doing some shoe reviews in this blog. Since nobody from the Shoe Companies in the Philippines is asking me to conduct reviews on their products by giving me free shoes to use, almost all my running shoes were bought from the stores here and abroad. Except for my HOKA One One Shoes (Bondi B and Stinson EVO) which were given as complimentary by Joe Matias of A Runner’s Circle of Los Angeles, all my shoes were bought from my own money.

I bought my New Balance Minimus Ionix 3090 at the Athlete’s Foot Store in Glendale Galleria in Los Angeles last December 2012 as they were marked as On Sale for a price of $59.00 from the original price of $90.00. I was excited of the material and structure of the soles as I could feel with my fingers the soft cushioning on its soles; very light in weight; nice color combination and I thought it would be good for my road runs as a racing flat and daily running workout shoes.

I used it in my 10K daily runs while I was in Los Angeles on the first two weeks of December and I was happy of its performance. It is very light, comfortable, and with cushion plus the fact that I considered it as flat racing shoes. I think I was able to register almost 100 kilometers using the said shoes while I was in Los Angeles.

Once I got back to the Philippines, I used it again for a 20+K run in Baguio City when I peak bagged Mts. Kabuyao and Santo Tomas for the first time in December. While I was staying inside the compound of Fort Del Pilar/PMA, I used it again for my daily runs thereat.

My Shoes
My Shoes

On my first adventure run for this year, I went to the province of Siquijor in the Visayas. I was able to run around the island using the same shoes in 14.5 hours covering a distance of 75 kilometers. However, after the said run, I was able to observe severe signs of wear and tear on the “circles” or rounded portions of the soles. I have the shoes washed for the first time in order to find out the actual damage to its sole. More wear and tear parts were seen, most especially on the sole where the color is orange.

For the next weeks, I did not use the shoes and opted to use my HOKA One One Stinson EVO.

Last March 23, 2013, during the conduct of the 1st SIQUIJOR 75K Run Around The Island, I used it to join the rest of the 32 runners in the said race. I finished the race from start to finish in 13:20+ hours. During the race, I have observed that the cushioning effect of the shoes just simply nowhere to be found and felt my feet pounding so hard on the road during the run. Because of the warm and hot temperature in the early afternoon, I felt a hot sensation on my both feet that I had to walk along the course. I knew that I was not getting enough protection from the heat of the road. The soles did not give me the necessary cushioning and protection.

"Wear & Tear" At The Heel Section
“Wear & Tear”

I didn’t have any problems with the upper structures of the shoes. The material is light and porous that some air would enter to my feet for the needed ventilation. I could “shuffle” easily when my legs are tired because of its lightness and that is a great plus and advantage for this shoes.

After the race, I inspected again the soles and the damage had increased. So, after this race, I declared this shoes as “RETIRED” from my Shoe Arsenal. I think the shoes were able to reach 300 kilometers as its usage/mileage which is I think a poor performance for a running shoes.

"Wear & Tear" On Both Shoes
“Wear & Tear” On Both Shoes

I am highly recommending that runners should avoid buying this kind/model of New Balance shoes even if it is being sold On Sale in local running/sports stores.

“High Peak” @ Mt Tapulao

“High Peak” was the name/title of the Event Page as posted on Facebook by Bong Alindada.

One day after my “Run For Peace” in Negros Island, I was on my way to the Dampay Salaza Resettlement in Palauig, Zambales to experience peak bagging to Mount Tapulao, the highest moiuntain peak in Central Luzon!

I was invited by Bong Alindada and the rest of the Team Maligno whose members are seasoned ultrarunners and peak baggers. Even if I knew I will be directly involved in the “Run For Peace” and will be running a distance of 87 kilometers, joining these ultrarunners will be fun and worth the experience. I would not miss the camaraderie of this team/group.

Planning and Schedule were duly published and discussed on Facebook’s Event Page and the details of the event was set. All was needed was for me to rest the whole day of the 22nd of September (Saturday) and travel early to Palauig, Zambales on the next day.

Dampay Salaza Resettlement Area is the trailhead to the peak of Mt Tapulao. It is a resettlemt area for those families affected by the eruption of Mt Pinatubo in 2001 whose houses were buried by lahar. Most of the families are Aeta tribe and residents in most of the barangays of San Marcelino, Zambales.

If one has a personal vehicle, it can be reached through the Olongapo-Alaminos Highway going north. After passing the Poblacion of Palauig, Zambales, there is a road crossing going east from the Highway before reaching the town of Candelaria, Zambales. An appropriate directional board of the Resettlement Area can be seen along the said Highway. For those who would like to commute by bus, they can take the Victory Liner Bus up to Iba, Zambales and then hire those tricycles at the Bus Station. Although it is more expensive, hiring one tricycle would cost P400 which could accommodate 4 persons. The distance from the Highway Crossing to the Resettlement Area is 7.8 Kilometers.

Team Maligno/Runners To The Peak Of Mt Tapulao (Minus the Photographer)

I met the Team at Dampay Salaza Resettlement Area at 6:30 AM of Sunday, 23 September and with a few minutes of preparation and picture-taking, we were off to the peak of Mt Tapulao.

Mt Tapulao is very popular among Mountaineers. The trek to the peak of this mountain and camping overnight serves as the Initiation Climb for the new mountaineers in almost all the famous Mountaineering Clubs in Luzon & Metro Manila.

Entry To The Trail Is Full Of Rocks Already

A gradual and non-stop incline awaited us as soon as we left the Barangay Hall of Barangay Dampay Salaza which serves also as the Office of the Barangay’s Tourism Office. I think we paid Twenty Pesos per Climber for the Registration Fee and each climber has to register at the said office before he/she climbs the mountain.

What is very distinct and different among the other mountains that I peaked is that this mountain’s trail is full of small, medium, and large rocks. The trail is wide for a 4 X 4 jeep or truck to traverse or travel. I have the suspicion that the PNOC had constructed the trail for their heavy equipment to reach the peak of the mountain. The trail’s construction has a similitarity with that of Mt Natib’s trail to its peak. The PNOC could have been exploring for possible source of energy as these mountains are considered as volcanoes.

These Are The Small Rocks!

I was in the company of my ultra friends from Team Maligno. We had 9 males and one female. I brought two of my men who served as the official photographer and “mule” for our food and water provisions not knowing that there are many sources of water along the trail. Not only I had running friends but also mountaineers as well and those who I have influenced in peak bagging. Bong Alindada served as our guide as he became the “talk of the folks in the barangay” for having registered the fastest time to reach the peak of the mountain a month ago! Team Maligno was in good hands and there was no chance for anybody of us to get lost on the “assualt stage” towards the peak of the mountain.

The people at the Barangay could not believe when we said to them that we would be back before sunset when they noticed that we did not bring any heavy backpacks for our camping needs and extra food & water provisions.

Our ascending pace was very fast! I was left behind with my two men and for having ran a 87 kilometers two days ago gave my leg muscles and knees a “recovery” workout! It’s weird but I think I considered this peak bagging event as my “after ultra recovery workout”. I tried to keep in pace with the last man of the front group making sure that the main group was always on my sight!

Brief Meeting & Talk With “Jeffrey”

Our first “pit stop” is a water source (spring) at Km # 6.3 and we enjoyed our water and food. I shared hard boiled eggs which appeared to have their shells separated from the egg itself due to the jarring effect caused by eggs knocking each other inside a “tupperware” container! It wasn’t a problem, the egg is still an egg and it’s a nice food for endurance athletes if dipped with some salt! I offered some boiled sweet potatoes, too! The next water source is at Km # 9.

We received information from the Barangay Tourism Office that there are at least 75 persons who climbed the mountain the day before and they slept with their camping tents at the base of the peak. Some of the persons are with the DENR who are conducting some studies on the “birds’ habitat & presence” in the area.

Our Pit Stop!
Jeffrey With The Smiling Team Maligno

While we were resting in our first “pit stop”, an adult Aeta who appears to be taller than the usual height of the tribe, reached our resting place and he was carrying half sack of rice and other supplies for the DENR personnel at the peak. We invited him to join us, shared our food and tried to engage him in a conversation. He brought down to the ground the things that he was carrying and we had some conversation with him. I asked his name and he said that his name is Jeffrey. I immediately said that I am naming him as “Jeffrey Mutai”. He looks like he is from Kenya! He works as a porter for climbers and he is being paid P 300.00 per day with free food from his client-climber!

As we resumed our trek to the peak of the mountain, Jeffrey was left behind as he took some rest. However, after a few minutes, he was already on our tail. Jeffrey’s sight behind us became our gauge if we are dropping our pace during our trek!

Rocks Galore To The Peak

As we got nearer to the Bunkhouse and getting higher in elevation, we met some of the climbers who are already going back to the resettlement Area/Barangay’s Tourism Office after staying overnight at the peak. We usually greet them as we meet along the trail with the usual “Good Morning” greetings. However, one of the climbers going down was aked by one of us if there are many more of the climbers still at the peak and we got a different answer! He replied that we still have a few more kilometers to walk/trek before we reach the “bunkhouse” which is the last kilometer plus hundred meters before the peak of the mountain. Weird answer, ha?

Pine Trees Ala-Baguio City
Another Group Picture Near The Abandon Guardhouse

Getting nearer to the peak became positive as we started to see big pine trees, ala-Baguio City and the presence of lots of piles of chromites ores on the sides of the trail. This could be the reason why the trail is so wide and established that there is a local mining as cottage industry in the place! We could see the clouds enveloping the mountain and we felt cooler and more refreshed. We had smiles on our faces that finally, after running/jogging and brisk walking for 14 kilometers, we will be able to reach the Bunkhouse and be able to replenish our water ration from the spring thereat.

Chromite Ore…Pine Trees…Clouds
Abandoned Guardhouse

The sight of the Bunkhouse brought happiness in all of us. But it was a temporary one as we have to make the final assualt to the peak of the mountain. All of us knew already what to expect. It will be a very steep single track trail and some slippery ones, too! One Kilometer plus a change of 400 meters was the distance of the assualt climb which we targetted to be done in One Hour!

The Bunkhouse. On the Right Side of the Pine Tree is the Assualt Trail To The Peak

I was the one who led the group during the Assualt with Bong on my back! We could have made it to the peak in less than one hour but those DENR nets which acted as a BIG FENCE on the peak of the mountain (used to catch flying birds) prevented us from doing so. But we were blessed to have reached the peak with no clouds and the sight all around us was magnificent!

Group Picture Before The Assualt!

The group selected a place where we can lie down/sit or eat our light ration at the peak. I selected a place that was inclined and took a nap after eating some food. I did not mind the heat of the sun as I was totally tired from the trek. I think I was able to get a nap for about thirty minutes. I guess, it took us 4 hours plus to reach the top of the mountain from where we started, a distance of almost 16 kilometers!

Finally, At The Peak!
Foreground Is The Hole At The Peak

Our peak bagging was not complete without some pictures as evidence that we peaked the mountain. Bong selected the place with the big hole at the peak (where story abounds the digging of an object the hole and it was transported out of the mountain through a helicopter!) and later with the whole Team Maligno clinging on the branches of the ONLY Oak Tree at the Peak! Our picture on that tree was EPIC in proportion! It showed so much fun on the faces of each of the member!

I am The Photographer!
Best Picture Of The Team!

It was time to go down from the peak! Of course, it was faster but it started to drizzle and later, it would rain. Once we reached the Bunkhouse, we replenished our water supply and started our way back to the Resettlement Area.

Descending the mountain is very hard when it is raining! Why? The whole trail and the rocks are slippery. Being positioned from behind of the group, I was able to see members of the group falling down with their butt hitting the ground. I jokingly asked each member what was their score for the number of times that they slipped to the ground. Some had score up to 4X until they reached the starting area! Well, my score was zero!

Last Picture Shot Before Our Descent (Note: Birds’ Trap Nets On The Right).

We passed more of the campers who started to leave the peak earlier than us. And they are amazed to see that we hopped and jogged on those slippery ground and rocks! It was fun doing this on the first half of our descent from the Bunkhouse but it became harder when fatigue seeps in to our body with the rocks come in contact with our shoes. Pain on my feet and leg muscles were already becoming unbearable. Everything was mental postive attitude on my last 5 kilometers of the trek down to the Resettlement Area.

My The North Face Trail Shoes I used was a mess! The whole sole of both shoes just came off as we were ascending to the peak. On our way back, I removed those dangling soles and took extra careful on my footing and tried to be light. My trail shoes failed and this was my fourth shoes with the same brand that its soles gave up and got separated from the whole shoes! It’s time to cease from buying this kind of trail shoe brand!

My The North Face Shoes Before Reaching The Bunkhouse

Before it became dark, I finally reached the Resettlement Area with the “front group” cheering on me. I could not smile to them because I was already in pain and was simply exhausted! They knew the solution as I approached them—they offered me an ice-cold 1.5-liter bottle of Royal Tru-Orange! I was already smiling after I saw what they have prepared for me!

Already Smiling After A Shower At The Barangay Tourism Center

All the members of the Team Maligno reached the Resettlement Area safe and happy after reaching the Tourism Office! We proved to the Barangay folks that we can go up to the peak and be back to the Barangay for the period from sunrise to sunset!

I could no longer count how many mountain peaks I’ve bagged since I’ve started doing this kind of adventure!

Directional Sign Along The Olongapo-Alaminos Highway & Crossing To The Resettlement Center

Two weeks after, I was already in the Office of the Provincial Governor of Zambales telling the good Governor and his staff of my proposal to conduct a running event to the peak of Mt Tapulao as part of my FKT (Fastest Known Time) Mountain Runs to be scheduled for next year!

See you at the Starting Line!

(Note: Mt Tapulao’s Peak is 2,040 Meters Above Sea Level)


While most of the people who have something to share to the victims of the Flooding In Metro Manila are busy helping in the relief operations, I made my “very private and personal” experience to share the collections of slightly used running shoes and finishers’ shirts sent through Balikbayan Boxes from my ultrarunning friend, Benjamin Gaetos of Los Angeles, California to the Officers and Men of the Special Forces Regiment of the Philippine Army who are based in Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City.

These soldiers had been helping me in the conduct of the First 100-Mile Ultra Trail Run in the country dubbed as the “Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Trail Run” and the “Taklang Damulag 50-Mile/50K Trail Runs & Half-Marathon Races”.

More than 50 pairs of running shoes and more than the same number of Finisher’s Shirts were received by First Lieutenant Tony Abay, Commander of the Soecial Forces Regiment School and his men in a simple ceremony.

It was a very simple event but it was memorable to everybody.

1st Lieutenant Tony Abay Receiving The Shoes & Shirts
Explaining To The Soldiers About The Quality Of The Shirts
Telling The Soldiers That Helping Them Is My First Priority

Thanks to Benjamin Gaetos for his untiring efforts to pack and send these shoes through Balikbayan Boxes from Los Angeles, California! My snappy salute to you and to the rest of your ultrarunning friends out there in California, USA!

36th MILO Marathon Manila Elims

Last year, I ran the MILO Marathon Manila Eliminations but I DNFd at Km 23 because of my injury on my left knee.

This year, I did not have plans or intention of joining the MILO Marathon Manila Eliminations as I was out of the country when the media launching activity was held. However, my friend, Jonel, informed me through FB that he was able to register me to run the Half-Marathon distance which I thought to be a nice event for me to see the runners and at the same time to be seen by new runners after I’ve been busy going to the mountains and enjoying the beauty of trail running and hiking to the peak of mountains.

It was also a chance to expose one of my elite runners whom I’ve been training/coaching for ultra trail runs in the province. Danin Arenzana had been with me for 3 years and he has been consistently training for mountain runs. In his debut race at the Mt Ugo Trail Marathon Race (42K) by Jonel of FrontRunner Magazine last April of this year, he placed First Runner-Up, competing with the fast runners of Baguio City. I registered him for the MILO Half-Marathon distance as a test run on flat and paved surface.

Danin Arenzana At The Center, 2nd Place Overall in the FR Mag’s Mt Ugo Trail (42K) Marathon

As I said, I joined this race to be seen by other runners and also try to look for Marcelo and give him whatever I could receive from friends which they committed to be given to him. After giving some advice to Danin and making sure that he is positioned infront of the starters, I positioned myself at the back of the pack and find out how my body would perform without any structured training program as a preparation for this race.

The day before this race, I finished a 10K race in Fort Magsaysay where I finished in 1:02:15 hours. The course was relatively flat but there are hills to overcome which made the course very challenging. (Note: I will make a separate Race Report on this run). While traveling to Manila, I could feel some pain in my knees but with some massage, full sleep/rest and “voodoo” drinks, I was ready for a half-marathon race the following day.

On Race Day, I was surprised to find out that it took me almost one minute to cross the starting line from the back of the pack. It showed how many runners had registered and started for this race. I was informed that the number of runners had reached to 38,000+ making it the most attended running event in Metro Manila/in the country so far. This makes the MILO Marathon to be consistently called as the “most prestigious running event in the country”.

Crazy Old Guy Wearing A Trail Running Attire In A Half-Marathon Race

Well, going back to my performance. I was too slow and I understand that my age is slowly catching up with what is in my mind. My mind would say that I am still fast and strong as if I am 40 years old but my legs and my breathing were saying the reality—that I am already slow and getting older! On the first 10K, I was averaging a pace of 6:15-6:30 minutes per kilometer but on the 2nd half of the race, I began to slow down and had to walk before and after drinking water at the aid stations. My last 5 kilometers were really painful as I would experience some cramps on my calves. I had to walk on the last kilometer of the race.  I would finish the race in 2:25+ hours. My slowest finish time so far for a half-marathon distance!

Walking @ 200 Meters Before The Finish Line

There are no alibis or complaints about my performance. I simply did not prepare for this race. At least, I was able to gauge the level of my running fitness with this race. Which means, I lack the endurance and speed to sustain a consistent pace for the distance. Damn those swimming laps which I’ve done as cross-training to lessen the pain on my knees, hoping that I could improve my swimming endurance coming from a zero and a non-swimmer for the past months and weeks. I guess, I am a land animal and not a runner trying to glide like a fish in the water.

It’s a blessing in disguise that my road races last weekend (10K & 21K) have started again my focused training in running with the hope of joining more road and trail races in the coming months. Running and hiking to the peak of the mountains will still be a part of the training. My knees are still in pain but some adjustments in my training will have to be done for me to be back in consistent training.

Danin, my elite athlete, surprisingly landed #9 overall in the Half-Marathon Race with a time of 1:30+ hours. He performed well and he has the potential to run faster as I advised him to restructure and make some adjustments in his training program. We will see him more in trail running events!

Danin Arenzana Along Roxas Boulevard

It worthy to note also that my Elite Team Bald Runner/Philippine Army runners, Elmer Sabal and Gerald Sabal placed 2nd and 3rd Overall in the Marathon (42K) Elimination Race, respectively. Elmer finished in 2:45+ hours while Gerald finished in 2:46+ hours. I hope these runners will train some more to be able to win in the MILO Marathon FINALS in December. Danin will run again the Half-Marathon Race in the Finals, hoping to improve his time and ranking.

Congratulations to MILO Philippines and to Coach Rio De La Cruz (RUNRIO) for the successful conduct of this year’s Manila Elimination Race. You did a splendid job! No doubt, this running event will stay consistently as the “most prestigious running event in the country” in the years to come. Plus the fact that you have provided more running shoes to more students and potential runners around the country through your “Donate A Shoe” Program!

See you at the FINALS!

Running Is Patience

This is the most important virtue that a runner must have, whether he/she is a beginner, average, or competitive one.

Patience is having more time to wait for things to unfold, as a result of your training program, before being reckless and do things the wrong way. As a result, you will regret for the things you have done. Your actions in running should be deliberate as there are NO “magic bullets” or “quick fix” in the sports we love.

In training, you need patience for you to develop your aerobic endurance and overall, improve on all the aspects of running. It does not take days or weeks to happen, but it would take months and years to develop your maximum potentials in the said sports. There are “ladders and steps” to overcome from one level to another level. Patience means you don’t have to go through a marathon (42K) training without experiencing what it takes to finish a simple 3K run. If you think you are good in 3K distance, you can go to the next step of trying a 5K run and so forth. However, there are training programs that you must follow in order to get the full potentials of your body’s capabilities if you want to excel in the distance you want. If you want to finish a marathon race, you need patience. Believe me if I tell you that I prepared for one year to experience what it takes to finish my first marathon. More patience is needed, if you desire to finish your first ultra marathon race.

Not adhering to patience by trying to do so much too soon in one’s mileage have always been the number one problem among runners. Not following the time-tested 10% rule of increasing one’s mileage on a weekly basis always brings runners to being injured and stale in their improvement. As a result, patience will always be the solution of this problem—patience to let the injury heals itself.

In races, runners would always forget what it takes to be patient. The tendency of most runners is to go out too fast once the gun is fired only to realize that mistake had been done when he/she is “crawling” to reach and cross the finish line. We always don’t have the patience to remember and stick to our race strategy and the training we have done in preparation for the race.

We need also patience in choosing our first running shoes and running attire. We have the tendency to look like the elite runners who are featured in “glossy” international runner’s magazine with the thought that we look “cool” and better runners than others. We have also the tendency to buy what we see for the first time not knowing that there are better fitting shoes with less cost if we waited and had time to look around. It is not the brand, color-combination, and the weight of the shoes that count most, but the proper fit to our feet. As for the running attire, you need patience to find out what is more comfortable for you considering our weather and humidity.

We need also patience in trying to find out what food and drinks that are good and work best for our performance.  Depending on the distance you want to race or run, you can experiment on what nutritional needs for your training, pre-race, during race, and recovery period.

We need patience to find out what races we want to join in the future and patience to prepare for these races.

We need patience to finish what we have started. Because finishing a race is what matters most!

Like life itself, we need patience. There are lots of options but we need to have smart choices and decisions.

In running and in the race called “Life”, always think and remember…PATIENCE.

See you at the Starting Line!

"Running Is Patience" (Photo By Ding Quinto/The Frontrunner Magazine)

3rd QCIM Half-Marathon

Last year, I finished the 2nd QCIM Marathon in 4:30+ hours and I liked the very challenging route where runners would experience running inside the UP Complex, on the wide and rolling terrain of Commonwealth Avenue and within the La Mesa Dam Area. I did not have much training in preparation for this event as I wanted to experience running through the whole course. You can read my Race Report here.

As a QCIM “loyalist”, I really wanted to join the Full Marathon but due to my rest and recovery after joining the 1st Bakersfield Ultra Marathon Madness (BUMM) 32-Mile Trail Run in Bakersfield, California, I had “zero” training for the said distance. Instead, I decided to join the Half-Marathon event. I treated this race as part of my “base endurance” training in preparation for future events in the coming year. This is an event that would “kick start” my incoming season of running. (Note: If you noticed in my pictures that I was wearing a Running Visor, that could be a hint for a serious training to come!)

The race started at 4:30 AM and I focused on my plan to treat this event as a LSD run. I always remind myself at the starting line to stay relaxed as much as possible during the race. My first 5 kilometers were very relaxing as I joined most of the average runners at the back. I was averaging a pace of 7:00+ minutes per kilometer on those first 5 kilometers and I was having fun!

Sometimes I break some time-tested “lessons learned” in running. Whenever, I run the QCIM, I always use newly-bought running shoes and most of the time, these shoes are not categorized as running shoes on paved roads. Last year, I used the New Balance MT 101 trail running shoes and it passed the test on my feet and legs. No soreness, blisters and injury using a light, thin-soled, and almost “zero-drop” trail shoes. Last Sunday, I used the New Balance XC 700 which is considered as a Cross Country Running Shoes. It has some rounded-tipped “spikes” on its sole which one could feel as it is being used for the first time. However, after a few pounding on the ground, the feet would be used to the feeling and it would eventually disappear.

Relaxed and Having Some Fun!

From Km 6 up to the Finish Line, I gradually increased my pace within the 6:20 minutes to 6:50 minutes, average pace per kilometer. I barely took a glance on my GF 305 watch as I was running on how my body feels during the run. Basically, I was having fun and tried to be relaxed as much as possible. My first two swimming lessons had greatly contributed on my ability to run on a more relaxed manner! For the first time, I was surprised to experience the feeling of being relaxed throughout the run. No pressure, no competition, no whining, no “target” time to think of, no cursing on the lack of water cups on the Aid Stations and no “target/s” infront to overtake. The feeling was just like running as if I was alone in a trail and enjoying the views around!

Near The Finish Line

With such experience and relaxed running, I did not know that I was already approaching the Finish Line! Finally, I crossed the Finish Line with an official time of 2:20:50 hours. It could be my slowest Half-Marathon Race but the feeling of running relaxed and following/focusing my race plan was a great experience.

Another Finisher's Medal in Running

Thank you, RUNNEX, SMDC and Quezon City for a successful conduct of the 3rd QCIM Marathon.

Note: Thanks to LeStSky Runner and Pinoy Fitness for the Pictures they posted at Facebook!

Review: Hoka One One Bondi B

It has been awhile that I posted a shoe review for the past months. So, this new pair of shoes that hit the market early this year is making a lot of “noise” in the Internet among ultra trail runners. This is the reason why I was able to know beforehand about the existence of this “weird-looking” running shoes.


Two of the top US ultra trail runners, Dave Mackey and Karl Meltzer, had been using this kind of shoes in their runs and races as they are the primary and top endorsers of this shoes even if these shoes were invented and conceptualized by two French ultrarunners. These guys had been winning their races using these shoes. I’ve seen with my own eyes how Dave Mackey ran and glided on those shoes during this year’s MIWOK 100K Trail Run in Marin Headlands which he won easily from other top US ultra runners. Looking at Dave Mackey (with a height of more than 6 feet), the Hoka One One looks like an ordinary trail shoes and it is not noticeable as a clunky & thick soled shoes.

My observation brought an interest to have one of this pair of shoes just to find out what is special in them as each of them carry a higher price as compared with other trail shoes. The initial price was $ 179+ which has almost the same level price with the ASICS’ top end Gel-Kinsei series. However, the price has now gone down to $ 159+ as per my latest research in the Internet.

Last June, a simple question to the ARC Los Angeles owner, Joe Matias, if their store carry such shoes led me to have a new pair of Hoka One One Bondi B. He even posted on Facebook that the Bald Runner is ready to experience a “Time To Fly” with the new pair of shoes with the appropriate pictures. Thanks, Joe!

First thing that I’ve observed when I tried to wear them was that their sizing is one-half size smaller. Which means that if I am size 9 1/2 in my regualr running shoes, I should have ordered size 10 for the Hoka One One. I tried to compensate this little issue by using thinner running socks. Second, I found the shoe string to be bulky as it uses those stiff round-type shoe laces which tend to put more pressure on the top of my feet when I tie my shoes tightly. I changed the shoe laces with those flat and lighter shoe laces and I observed a great improvement on the comfortability of the shoes.

For one month, I’ve used them everyday in my runs along the paved streets and they are very soft to the feet because of the thick and spongy sole. It was very comfortable to run with as I was recovering from my knee injury. The pain on my left knee would go away as soon as I ran with them. The spongy and bouncy feeling as my feet hit the ground is totally different from using my other running shoes.

I tried to use them in my trail runs and the shoes forced me to run at a faster speed and pace on the downhill which I was trying to avoid and minimize because I was still recovering from my knee injury. If only I was not being safety and conservative conscious on my trail workouts, I could have experienced the full potentials of this shoes in my downhill runs which most of the users have liked about using them.

However, I would reveal that the thick sole gave some problems with the way I run. Since I am a “shuffler” who could barely lift my knees during my “push-off” at a higher level, my tendency is to trip with the shoes on the ground. It does not happen all the time but there are times that my rythym would be disturbed. Sometimes, my leading shoes would hit the other one when my legs are showing that they are getting tired and weary.

Shoes More Noticeable With Average-Height Runners

I used them during my WC 200 run lately and they were nice shoes to start with my daily runs but after 30+ kilometers, I have to use the thinner-soled shoes for faster leg turn-overs. I am not saying that these shoes are not light, they are lighter than the ASICS Gel-Kayano & Kinsei but they simply don’t suit to my style of running on paved roads.

My Hoka One One, for the meantime, is being used as my recovery workout shoes and it is still waiting to be used in an ultra trail run or in a road race.

Now, if you ask me if I am recommending this one for you. Of course! Get one pair of this shoe and experience what is like to wear a different one and be a standout from the rest. Just take note of the shoe sizing and the price. I really don’t know yet if they are available in the local running stores. However, I’ll give you a tip. Ask Raul, Perkins, and Mario of ARC Manila if you can have it ordered from Joe Matias of ARC Los Angeles. I know Joe will give you a nice deal on these shoes.

The Running Sartorialist

This is not a joke but it is nice to start something new. Starting on my fifth year, I will be featuring pictures of me in my running attire and who knows other runners will be featured in this blog in their favorite “running kits”, too!

Very Loose and Relaxed Attire Good For 5K

Running Cap by ASICS

Sunglass by Oakley (Asian Fit)

White T-shirt From A Runner’s Circle (Los Angeles)

ADIDAS Soccer Shorts (without panty-liner, no pockets and very light!)

Running Socks by Drymax

Shoes: ASICS Gel-LyteRacer (Japan)

Watches: TIMEX With HR Monitor & Garmin Forerunner 305

You have to excuse me for being an amateur in my picture as this was taken from the self-timer of my old Canon IXUS Digital Camera with the backyard of our house in Los Angeles. I hope things will improve on the quality of the pictures to be published in the future posts.

Yes, this is a copycat of the popular “The Sartorialist” which is now considered as a multi-million dollar worth fashion blog in the Internet. I am not saying that this blog will be after the concept of showing pictures of runners with the ultimate purpose of raising some money. But who knows? This could be another option where one can raise funds to support our elite runners for international exposure. There is only one way to find out but to start and take the first step, so to speak!

Next time, the published pictures will just be pictures without any description. And there will be NO make-up or “photoshop” refinement of each picture. The more you are messed up with your sweat, the better!

If you can not make it with speed, finish your race and flaunt your nice running apparel!

Who will be the next model? You can  make a comment in this post if you are interested.

Good luck to those who will be joining the 2012 New York City Marathon this Sunday! Run Happy!