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

23 02 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digging Deep @ Amelong Labeng (Photo By GlairoldRecella Photography)

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

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

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

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

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BR’s Podcast

15 02 2018

Starting this week, I have created a Podcast where anybody could listen to anything about my experiences in running, most specially in Ultra Running/Ultra Marathon, whether they are about my training workouts or races. It will be a mixture of road running and trail running experiences.

I hope listening to my Podcast’s Episodes will be informative and entertaining to everybody. Thank you!

http://baldrunner.buzzsprout.com

Initial episodes are all in the Filipino Dialect to cater to runners within the Philippines and to those Filipino runners abroad. BR will try his best to publish some Podcast in English in the future for the understanding of non-Filipino runners.

BR's Podcast

BR’s Podcast Website





Best Running Performance Of Pinoys For The Year 2017

20 01 2018

For the first time in this blog I will be featuring an article (based from my own view and opinion) on Pinoys who excelled in running or those who have shown the true spirit of an outstanding runner, whether they are based locally or abroad for the year 2017. I will limit my story for the Marathon and Ultra Marathon distances.

Marathon Distance:

Top Award For Best Performance: Mary Joy Tabal was our First Gold Medalist in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in the Marathon event with a finish time of 2:48:26 hours beating the second runner by seven (7) minutes. Her personal best time in the Marathon distance was 2:43:31 hours at the Ottawa Marathon Race in 2016, which qualified her to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. In the local races, Mary Joy Tabal has in her name a record in the history of running as the First Female Champion of the MILO Marathon for five (5) successive years. Last December, she won the MILO Marathon in Cebu City with a time of 2:58:01 hours, the day after his father died.

Mary Joy Tabal

Mary Joy Tabal From Cebu City (Photo From Facebook)

Ultra Marathon Distance (Road)

Top Award For Best Performance: Rolando Espina is now the Filipino Record Holder for the 24-Hour Run finishing a distance of 210.798 kilometers (130.99 miles) in the July 2017 IAU Belfast 24-Hour World Championship held in Belfast, Ireland. He is also the Overall Champion in the 9th Edition (2017) of the Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race with a time of 9:26:39 hours, the second best time finish in the history of the event. He is the first and only Filipino who have finished the Spartathlon in Greece in two consecutive years, 2016 & 2017, with finish times of 33:19:33 hours and 32:30:03 hours, respectively. He is also the Overall Champion and New Course Record Holder in this year’s PAU’s West Coast 200K Ultra Marathon Race with a time of 26:45:18 hours.

Rolando Espina

Rolando Espina From Bacolod City & Based In Ireland (Photo From Facebook)

Ultra Marathon Distance (Trail)

Top Award For Best Performance (Male): Hermogines “Gene” Olvis outstanding performance at the 2017 UTMB Race makes him as the Best Male Performer in Ultra Trail Running for 2017 for finishing the race with a record finish time (among the local runners) of 35:33:54 hours. He also finished Overall 2nd Runner-Up in the 2017 edition of the KOTM’s Hardcore 100-Mile Trail Run with a time of 30:17:29 hours.

Gene Olvis

Gene Olvis (Photo from Facebook/Jajaferrer.com)

Top Award For Best Performance (Female): Sandi Menchi Abahan outstanding performance at the 2017 TDS Race (118K) @ UTMB makes her as the Best Female Performer in Ultra Trail Running for 2017 for finishing 21st Overall in the Female Category and 9th Overall in her Age Category with a record finish time (First Female Local Finisher in the TDS & Record Holder) of 23:27:16 hours. Being a member of the Philippine Skyrunning Association Elite Team, she won as the Female Champion for two successive years, 2016 & 2017, in the Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon Race with these finish times, 2:58:48 hours and 3:04:30 hours, respectively.

Sandi Menchi Mar Yoo

Sandi Menchi Abahan @ TDS Finish Line (Photo from Facebook)

Congratulations For Your Outstanding Performance!

 

 





Official Results: 2017 Taklang Damulag 100-Mile & 50-Mile Endurance Races

12 12 2017

7th Edition: Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Ultra Race

5:00 AM December 9, 2017 to 3:00 PM December 10, 2017

SOCOM Headquarters, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City (Nueva Ecija)

Course Cut-Off Time: 34 Hours

Number of Starters: 17 Runners

Number of Finishers: 5 Runners

Percentage of Finish: 29.4%

2017 Takla Starters

17 Runners Started For The 100-Mile Race & 3 Runners For The 50-Mile Race

RANK            NAME                  TIME (Hrs)

  1. Thomas Combisen (Overall Champion) —30:22:45
  2. Gibo Malvar (1st Runner-Up, Overall) —33:40:37
  3. Graciáno Santos (2nd Runner-Up, Overall) —33:40:38
  4. Elmar Bob Tolete ———33:41:35
  5. Badong Sietereales ——33:50:25

***Unofficial Finisher: Jovencio Luspian — 34:17:25

2017 Takla Champ

Overall Champion Thomas Combisen

2017 Takla 1st RunnerUp

Overall 1st Runner-Up Gibo Malvar

2017 Takla 2nd RunnerUp

Overall 2nd Runner-Up Graciano Santos

2017 Takla Finishers

Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Race Finishers


 

7th Edition: Taklang Damulag 50-Mile Endurance Ultra Race

5:00 AM to 9:00 PM December 9, 2017

SOCOM Headquarters, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City (Nueva Ecija)

Course Cut-Off Time: 16 Hours

Number of Starters: 3 Runners

Number of Finishers: 3 Runners

Percentage of Finish: 100%

RANK     NAME                 TIME (Hrs)

  1. Joey Odhuno (Overall Champion) — 13:33:45
  2. JC Igos (1st Runner-Up, Overall) — 15:06:30
  3. Frederick Espinosa (2nd Runner-Up, Overall) — 15:31:54
2017 Takla 50Milers

Taklang Damulag 50-Mile Podium & Finishers

Congratulations To All The Finishers!

 





“Mortal Sins” Of Pinoy Ultrarunners

6 07 2017

In my nine years as a Race Organizer and Race Director of Ultrarunning events in the Philippines, I have observed two distinct “mortal sins” of our local ultrarunners. I have mentioned these sins/concerns in my Race Reports as I am also guilty on these in my previous races, whether they are road or trail races.

First “mortal sin” is starting too fast on the course. Most of the runners are too excited to start the race and due to such excitement, the race strategy that one had prepared to be followed is completely lost and gone from the mind of the runner. Aside from the excitement, the fact that you are still running as a group among the starters adds the idea that you are better and faster than the runners in front of you! Your mind thinks that the race is just another 10K or a half-marathon distance or a marathon distance where you can easily finish the race without hiking or walking along the course.

A fast start on a race makes the runner to be uncontrollable even if his/her support crew would advise him/her to slow down. The sight of another runner, whether he is located in front or behind, gives a feeling of insecurity to the runner. Most of the time, it is that “macho” attitude that you can easily pass the runner in front of you to the point that you would observe every movement of the runner trying to find signs if the runner is slowing down. On the other hand, you have also that “fear” that you would be passed by the other runner behind you, knowing that the runner is weaker than you from your past running events with him. As much as possible, you would not like to be overtaken by that runner.

There is also the thinking or misconception that you are trying to be fast at the beginning or early phase of the race so that you have enough “buffer” or “miles on the bank” as spare if ever you will be walking or hiking on the later stage of the race. Most often, such “buffer” could be easily squandered or wasted by the second “mortal sin”.

Second and most abused “mortal sin” is staying too long for rest and “refueling” in a “pit stop”. Which means that if, in event that a Road Ultrarunner sees his/her Support Vehicle, the tendency of the runner is to stop the run (still far from the Vehicle) and then walk for a few meters to reach the Support Vehicle. Once the runner reaches the Support Vehicle, he/she can not decide which one to do first: drink, refill the bottles, or eat some food. More often, runners would forget to refill their bottles even if they stayed too long in their “pit stop”. Sometimes, they would simply sit if there is a chair being offered by their Support Crew. Even if their bottles are still filled with water and there is no need to stop, the mere sight of their Support Vehicle gives an excuse for the runner to stop and approach the vehicle. Even if they have still food stashed in their hydration pack, the runner would still ask for some food from their Support Crew.

In road or trail ultras, there are runners who would not like to sleep in the Aid Stations or near their Support Vehicle. Others would take it easy, compute their “buffer” time, and then simply take a nap or sleep. There is nothing wrong with sleeping or taking a nap during the event but this habit takes a lot of wasted time for the runners. If you have properly trained yourself for the expected night runs and did your assignment, then there is no need for you to have an extended sleep during the night run. I know of seasoned ultra runners who have trained for their night runs and made used of their training during the actual event. The result is that they have better finish times!

To some, their rest is coupled or combined with unnecessary change of outfits, change of shoes, and/or change of socks! In most of my ultra races where I’ve joined, the outfit that I have on the start of the race is the same outfit that I have once I cross the finish line. I am very fortunate that I’ve never experienced any blisters on my feet or chaffing on any part of my body during my races. I sweat a lot during races but I don’t change my outfit when they are wet even if I have extra dry outfit in my drop bags waiting at the Aid Stations!

There are some runners who would take a shower while the event is on-going. I have observed a lot of runners in my BDM Races who find time to have their shower at the halfway mark! I am not sure if they are doing this ritual when they are training for it. It is fine with me as long as they finish the race within the cut-off time of the event.

When the runner reaches and crosses the finish line, he/she is very happy and emotional that he/she had finished the race. However, once the Official Result is posted and published, the runner would scan on the list of finishers and look for the ranking of the other runners. Most of the time, the runner could not believe that another runner had a faster time than what he made in the event. That’s the only time that he/she would think of those times squandered or wasted because of these two “mortal sins” of every ultra runner had experienced.

The challenge now is to have a better time for the next edition! And this is the “third mortal sin” of every ultra runner! However, there are so many ways to avoid this “third mortal sin”. If you have a problem of controlling your pace or speed once the race starts, you have to relax and remember those training days you have put in preparation for this race. Start slow to warm-up your muscles and then slowly increasing your pace during the run. Listen to your body and gauge your pace on the effort you are exerting during the run. That is only half of the story. The other half is to be able to maintain your hydration and nutrition strategy to fuel up your body as you increase your pace. Whether it is a road or trail ultra race, I always start behind the pack of runners and slowly inching my way to the middle pack or among the upper 50% of the runners or sometimes finishing on the upper 20% of the runners.

With regards to being “hard-headed” in expecting comfort from the sight of your Support Vehicle or the location of the Aid Station, there are so many things that you should remember. First, do not stop and refill your bottles with water if you haven’t consumed anything from your bottles or hydration pack. If you want to eat, consume first the food you have stashed in your hydration pockets before you get refills from your Support Crew. Second, if you intend to refill your bottles and get some foods, make it fast and systematic! You should be back on the road and continue your run in less than 1-2 minutes! Third, for those would like to take a “nap”, make it short and ask your Support Crew to force you to wake up after the agreed number of minutes of “nap” time! Fourth, there is no need for showers, change of outfit, change of shoes and socks, and “selfies” during the race. Everybody smells the same once a runner is drenched by his/her sweat! As for the outfit, whatever worked comfortably with you during your LSDs in your training, use them! Fifth, train your self to eat and drink while you are power-hiking as this would minimize your time in the Aid Stations. Sixth, whether it is road or trail ultra, organize your needs in plastic containers with markings on what point or Kilometer point where you need such items stored inside them (placed inside the Support Vehicle in Road Ultras). In ultra trail races, make sure you know the items you placed inside your Drop Bags or better yet, have a list with you in your pocket as to which items you have in those Drop Bags.

If you commit these “mortal sins” repeatedly or had committed them and you want to improve on your performance, practice my advise during your runs as they are not hard to follow.

Lace up and go run!

pau-iau-logo

Official Logos Of PAU & IAU

 





1st Week of Training: Mt Fuji Mountain Race

21 06 2017

June 12-18, 2017

After I have finished the  4th & last Marathon Race of the BR’s Quad Marathon, I did not run for two days, Tuesday & Wednesday, to give rest to my tired body. I simply ate and slept for these two days with some stretching to my legs and body. These two days officially started my training for the Mt Fuji Mountain Race which will be held on July 28, 2017.

Starting on this week, I started to shift/change my training using the time duration of my workout as my goal/objective for every workout, instead of planning to run a certain distance. For the past training cycles, I have been concentrating on the number of miles I have covered every week and it is worth a try to be counting on the number of hours as the priority data for my workouts. Mileage will be secondary data to be considered and recorded.

On Thursday, I had a one hour recovery run on a flat paved road with an Average Pace of 12:09 minutes per mile. My GPS Watch registered a distance of 5.02 miles. It was a very relaxing pace where I would be running and talking with one of my former elite athletes with Team Bald Runner who happens to be a runner-soldier of the Philippine Army. I thought it was an easy and relaxing one hour run but the data in my GPS Watch registered otherwise. It appeared that I was exerting so much effort on the last half of my workout.

On Friday, I made sure to have a slower and more relaxing one hour recovery run where I registered a distance of 4.95 miles and with a slower Average Pace of 12:23 minutes per mile but the workout was done on the streets surrounding Fort Bonifacio with lots of rolling hills. The total elevation gain was 1,816 feet and was able to register an Average BPM of 132. I guess, I was too fast in this workout as a result of my deep-tissue massage the night before this workout.

On Saturday, the schedule was to run 1:30:00 hours on the trails. I had my run in my backyard/Playground’s Loop #1 which is an “out and back” route up to the distance where my GPS Watch registered a time of 46 minutes! This was my first trail run since I’ve finished my Quad Marathons. I call this workout as an “Endurance Run” which I am training for as my regular pace in all my trail running races/events. Having said that, these Endurance Runs will be the “bread and butter” in all my weekly workouts. I was able to finish a distance of 6.43 miles with an Average Pace of 14:14 minutes per mile. The total elevation gain is 2,011 feet with an elevation loss of 1,880 feet. My Average BPM is 150 with a Maximum of 161. I think I was running with a faster pace considering that the course has lots of steep hills.

loop-11.jpg

Saturday Run @ Backyard’s Loop #1

In the afternoon of Saturday, I had some strengthening exercises which I finished in 30 minutes which are geared towards my core!

On Sunday, I was invited by a friend to recon the proposed course of a new trail route where the event will be held later this year. It was supposed to be a 2-3-hour trail run but we finished the run in 5:05:07 hours covering a distance of 10.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 7,336 feet  and a elevation loss of 7,247 feet. We were running the first half of the course until we hiked towards the peak of Mt Mapait which has an elevation of 1,137 feet and power hiked the last half of the course. Due to the exposed nature of the trail from the heat of the sun, we were exhausted and had to make a lot of stops on flowing streams to cool off our bodies. The Average Pace in this workout was 28:26 minutes per mile (to include rests) with an Average BPM of 129.

Palayan 42.jpg

Sunday’s Recon Run & Hike In Palayan City/Fort Magsaysay

For four days, I was able to register 8 hours and 39 minutes duration of run, covering a distance of 27.1 miles. The total elevation gain is 11,176 feet. Which means that for every mile that I covered, I was able to get an elevation of 412 feet!

Week #1 Summary:

Number Of Hours: 8:39 hours

Distance: 27.1 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 11,176 feet

Elevation Gain Per Mile: 412 feet

This is just the beginning of my training cycle and I am happy that I am having fun without any “niggles” or extreme pain on my legs or body. I am hoping that I will be stronger and faster next week!

Lace up and go run!

 

 





Training = Stress + Recovery

19 06 2017

I really don’t know who started or formulated this formula on training. But in all the books and written publications that I have read, over and over, this formula is being mentioned repeatedly. In my own understanding of this formula is that, for me to keep on progressively and consistently improving on my running, I have to “use it or lose it” the God-given strength and endurance that I have developed through the years and mix it with the necessary rest and recovery so that my body would be stronger and better in my next period of training or running season or be “always ready” for the next race.

For this year, my successful finish at the 2017 Tarawera 100K Ultra Trail Marathon Race last February is a product of focused training since July of last year. After one month of recovery period of easy running and hiking the mountains of Los Angeles National Forest, I finished the 2017 Los Angeles Marathon with an impressive time of 4:24+ hours which surprised me, knowing that I did not have any focused speed training in preparation for this race. I guess, the stressed that I put in in my Tarawera 100K Race plus the rest & recovery that I did to my body prior to the Los Angeles Marathon, greatly helped for my body to breeze along and comfortably finished the event.

After I finished the LA Marathon, I went back to more trail running and hiking in my Playground on my own pace just to keep my body on the move on a daily basis except for Mondays which I consider as my Rest Day within the week. However, the first edition of the Lang-Ay Trail Marathon (42K) was already on my sight as my C-Race for the month of April with the objective/goal of simply finishing the race even if I am the last finisher. True enough, I was the last finisher and one of the “Pioneers” of this event which I consider as the hardest Marathon Trail Race in the country!

For the month of May, I registered for the Beast Trail 50K Run in Taiwan after I read a Race Report from one the runners who was a foreigner attending a conference in Taipei, Taiwan. I was just curious why most of the finishers had clocked in an average of 14-16 hours as finish times. And they had only 5 finishers in the 100K distance with a cut-off time of 30 hours! I trained a lot for the elevation in my Playground but I did not expect that I would face a lot of rock climbing, rope climbing, and rappelling plus the fact that it rained on the later part of the day that brought a very deep slippery mud on the trails. I still have two minutes to spare whether I would proceed to the 50K distance or shorten my race to 40K where I could still receive my Finisher’s Loot and get my UTMB points for the 50K distance. I opted to get the shorter route and took my time to finish the race. I even helped some of the local runners who got lost and asked for direction and another lady runner-participant of the 22K race to whom I helped in climbing those slippery uphill trails. Finally, on the last 4 kilometers, I lend her one of my trekking poles as I saw her trying to look for a branch of a tree/plant along the route to be used as her balance pole! The lady runner thought that I was from Japan! I finished the race in 14+hours just in time for the last bus to depart from the race venue to Taipei which is 1:15 hour ride. I was glad that I did not spend the whole day and night hiking and trekking in the mountains of Taiwan!

The Beast Trail in Taiwan had really put some beating on my body that I was not able to walk straight for two days! It was only after a week of rest & sleep, eating, and a 2-hour deep-tissue massage that made me back to my running and hiking form again!

Two weeks after the Beast Trail in Taiwan, I was one of the runner-participants/”sweeper” of my new running event which is the BR’s Quad Marathons. Though my finish times were slow, I and the rest of the runners are very proud that we all finished the event without any pain or injury. I guess, I would attribute the endurance and strength that I had in this event as a product of the “stress” I put in to my body during my participation in the Beast Trail Race in Taiwan.

Aulo Dam Mt Mapait

Training For The Mt Fuji Mountain Race In Nueva Ecija (Photo By Nel Valero)

After a two-day rest & recovery after the Quad Marathons, I am back again to start my training for the Mt Fuji Mountain Race (21K), A Race To The Peak which will be held on July 28, 2017!

I have six (6) weeks of training before my next race! I am sure there will be more “stress” on this one! Wish me luck! If ever I finish this race (or not), the recovery will come next…and the cycle continues!

However, in between those cycles of races that I join, I always make it a regular habit to have Mondays as my Rest Day. And every month or four weeks of training, the 4th week is my recovery week where I decrease the volume and intensity of my training workouts.

So, what is the message that I am driving at in this post? Keep on “stressing” yourself into something that you love and passionate to do and that you need to recover and find time to rest your body for you to get a better performance and full satisfaction for the work that you invested towards the attainment of your goal. In short, keep on moving forward because training makes us stronger and healthier person!

Lace up and go run!








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