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“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!

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Official Logos Of PAU & IAU

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!





Mental (Training) Preparation

23 03 2017

For a serious marathoner or ultra runner, the physical training in preparation for an event needs a lot of time, effort, dedication, patience, money, and hard work just be able to attain those number of miles, hours of training, and comply to the scheduled training one has to follow. It is already ingrained in us the importance of the following: Long Slow Distance running to develop our endurance; Interval Training and Hill Repeats to develop our power, strength, and speed; Tempo Running to develop a sustained pace for a certain period of time; and Recovery Runs to allow our muscles to recover after a certain more intense workout or after a block of weekly training. And most important of all, Rest, for our muscles and the whole body to recuperate and rebuild as a result of the stress the body had been exposed to.

Even if we think that our physical preparation is perfectly done, there is still a great possibility that we fail to cross the finish line. There are outside factors that will try to challenge our physical training. It could be the weather, the difficulty of the terrain (high altitude), injury, or if not, accidents! But what is most important during the race is how your brain works before and during the race.

Mental attitude during the race is the key to a successful finish in a race and it plays a lot in all my successful finish in the past.

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“Train Heavy, Race Light”

For a runner to have a positive mental attitude during the race, he/she should have done his/her assignment on mental training/preparation before and during his/her physical training preparation for the event. Only few of our elite or average ultra runners who would tell us in their respective blogs on how they mentally prepared themselves to podium finish or simply finish the event. Or maybe, they don’t know about mental attitude as it is already ingrained in their body system without them knowing it.

Here are my suggestions for anybody on how to mentally prepare for a certain running event, either you are a “newbie” runner or a hardcore ultra runner:

  1. Create a Blog——It is now very easy to create a blog or personal website where a runner can use it as a Daily Dairy. Just make sure that all your stories or entries are true and accurate. This is where you describe your physical training and the place where the training is done on a daily basis. In short, this is your Runner’s Logbook where you include what you think about your training for the day and how your body feels before, during and after the workout. Do not fabricate or manufacture your daily entry. If you missed a daily workout, say so! Nowadays, you can have your blog on Facebook! This “diary” will become your reference in your future races. And please don’t think that you will be “sharing” your “secrets” to your readers by showing to the world how you are preparing for your next running event. The key word in the present world of Social Media is “SHARE”. The more you share your experience, the more you inspire others!
  2. Shout It To The World——If you are dreaming a certain event for you to join, announce it to the world. If you are intending to Register to a certain event, announce it to the world through your Social Media accounts. If you have successfully registered to an event, announce it to the world. Announcing your intention to the World is too easy to be done nowadays. You can announce it to your Blog/Website, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. The key here is that as early as possible, announce to the world that you are participating a certain event and you announce it that you will finish the event. Announcing your participation to a race makes you accountable of the things you would do to finish this race. You are also accountable to your family, relatives and friends.
  3. Make A Bet——As if you are gambling, make a bet on yourself. If you finish the event, you must be able to reward yourself with something that is very significant and reminds you of your accomplishment. It could be something physical (object—-new shoes or new running gear/apparel or a trip to a place where you can rest and relax. If you fail in your event, think of of something that will penalise or punish you! Maybe, you could take a rest or simply do another sports which you hate most! Or maybe, punish yourself by volunteering to a race where you hate the Race Director! The key here is that you should challenge yourself to be the best you could be!
  4. Ask Somebody To Make A Bet——It could be your close friend or Friends on Facebook whom you would challenge to gamble with you. If you win, you get something from them and if you lose, you give something to them. Just simple as that! Challenge your friends to gamble with you!
  5. Ask for Sponsorship and Donations——If you are very good in convincing other people, most specially to your friends, in helping you finance your trip or provide you some of the needed support like water, sports drinks and food, you can ask for sponsorship or donations. In this way, you are adding accountability to your success (or failure) among those who have donated your needs for the race.
  6. Be transparent——Post anything on your Blog those evidence that you are dedicated in your training and in your quest to finish your event. It could be coming from your workout/s on Strava, Dailymile, Training Peaks, or any pictures of you doing your homework for the event.
  7. Read Race Reports of Finishers——Most of the runners abroad have their own blog and most of them are elite runners but most of them are average ultra runners. They would share their experiences and lessons learned during their race. These blogs would provide all the detailed information about the Race. However, do not try to attain their finish time and their split times on the different Checkpoints along the route. What is important is that you can pick-up and learn some details about their attitude and sometimes, their strengths and weaknesses (mistakes) during the race.
  8. Try to Mimic or Train In A Place Similar to the Event’s Course——By studying the Elevation Profile of a certain race, you can easily determine or locate a place where you can do your training. As I said in my previous posts, you have to compute the elevation gain in every 10 kilometres of the race and then find a place where you can train with the same total of elevation gain. If it is not possible, do mountain “repeats” or multi-loop runs in a course where it is hilly or in a rugged terrain. Make sure also to be observant on your time as some of the checkpoints have a very tight cut-off times in some sections of the course.
  9. Do “Brainstorming” Sessions——In the military, we do “brainstorming” sessions during the planning stage of a military operation. We write down the possible scenario that will lead to a successful attainment of the mission/objective and in the same manner, write down the scenario that will lead to the failure of the mission. In running an ultra, you have to do this also. As of this time, you know already your strengths and weaknesses in running an ultra race. Write them down and review them as you recall them in your successes and failures in your past events. Write down also your “time-tested” remedies/solutions when you hit some “issues” along the run. From all these data, you can now write a chronological list of things to do and/or things that you experience in your body in every section of the course or in every certain period of time that you are running in an event. Hopefully, you will create a very long list and while you are reviewing them every day, you will be able to compress them and come up with an outline or a shorter version. Remember that the things on the list are the things that you are EXPECTED to do and the things that your body would react or expect to experience, considering the weather, your pace, and the terrain of the course during the race. If there is a need to have a back-up Plan, then do so! Read these plans as often as possible!
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Do Your Homework Diligently

Since this post is for one’s mental preparation and training before a running event, I leave it at that and more to come on how we can sustain a positive mental attitude during the race. If you have any suggestions, feel free to make a comment/suggestion on this blog.

Thank you!





Race Report Tarawera 102K Ultra Marathon Race (Part 3)

15 03 2017

The Day Before The Race (Friday)

If it is your first time to visit New Zealand, three days before the Race Day is a nice period of time to tour around the City of Rotorua to buy some groceries and souvenirs; look and try some places to eat; and have a brief recon of the place of the event. However, if I will go back to join this race again, I would prefer to arrive on Thursday, join the Welcome Ceremony and Race Briefing on Friday, and be ready for the Race on Saturday.

On the day before Race Day (Friday), I decided not to join the Powhiri Welcome Ceremony in Te Puia (about 300+meters from Rotorua Holiday Inn) which was scheduled at 8:30 in the morning and instead joined the Race Briefing at 11:00 AM at the Rotorua Holiday Inn. After taking the Bus at Route 10 from the house, I have to transfer to another Bus for Route 11 from the Town Center and then alighted at a street corner about 100 meters to the Holiday Inn. I was late for a few minutes as Tim Day, the Race Director has already started the Race Briefing. Once I’ve settled on the edge of the Hall, I was able to see the Pinoy Runners among the audience and saw some familiar faces whom I saw while on tour at the Town Center for the past days.

Tarawera Briefing

Tarawera 102K Briefing By Tim Day, Race Director

The weather forecast for the weekend was perfect and there was no rain. I was happy and maybe, most of the runners too, that there was NO Mandatory Gear for the race. It will be hot and humid but I was confident that my heat training in my Playground would never compare with the heat to be expected during the race. A sample of the ribbons as trail markers was shown to us and they would stand-out in the forest even if it is nighttime because it has a reflectorized ribbon. All the other details of the race route and their rules and regulations are clearly stated on the PDF file that anybody could read on the event’s website. The RD had mentioned that the Aid Stations would strictly implement the Cut-Off times. The Race Briefing did not take long and it was followed by a Question & Answer Interview Among the Elite Athletes.

Tarawera Numbers

Tarawera 102 Ultra Marathon In Numbers

Tarawera Cut-Off Times

Tarawera 102K Checkpoints & Cut-Off Times (Saved On My IPhone)

After the Q & A Session, the Emcee encouraged the Audience to have a “Selfie” with the Elite Athletes. I have only 3 “selfies” on my iPhone and they are from: Jim Walmsley; Yassine Diboun; Camille Herron; and Meghan Hicks.

Since the Race Registration was scheduled at 3:00 PM, I decided to have my lunch at the Restaurant inside the Rotorua Holiday Inn. Before 3:00 PM, I was already on a line for the Race Registration. Every runner for the 102K & 82K were weighted from a scale before getting his/her Race Packet which consist of the Race Bib and Souvenir Programme. The Race Organizer Paul Charteris made an apology that the Commemorative Shirt for all the Registered Runners would not be available not until the following day because the Main Event Sponsor, Compressport, made a mistake in sending the cargo to the South Island. So, up to this time, I am still waiting for the arrival of my Commemorative Shirt through the mail as promised by the Race Organizer.

After I received my Race Packet, I went home but had to drop by the Town Center for a “Take-Out” Dinner. At 6:00 PM, I was already in the house ready to eat my dinner; prepare my running kit and go to bed at exactly 9:00 PM.

On Race Day

The main goal is to finish the 102K distance and be able to earn some UTMB points (even if I am no longer interested with the UTMB races).

The race strategy is to start slow; maintain my hydration and nutrition needs every mile or every hour; and be able to maintain a “buffer time” of at least 2 hours from the cut-off time in every checkpoint. If I still have the strength, I would finish strong!

On my running kit, I decided to use my old Patagonia Shorts, Compressport “On/Off” Trail Shirt with Uniqlo “Heat Tech” as Baselayer, Salomon Cap, FitBelt, Drymax Socks, Mission Buff, Two Simple Hydration Bottles, New Balance Vazee Summit Trail Shoes, Adidas Gloves, Oakley Sunglasses, AMG Headphone with an iPod Shuffle, Petzl Headlamp, and Patagonia Houdini Jacket tucked inside one of shorts’ pockets.

I decided not to have any Drop Bags for my additional food and clothes to change along the route as I would no longer have the time to pick them up the following day because of my trip to Wellington the following day. On hindsight, I should have those Drop Bags for my “comfort” food and extra headlight. Maybe, I will have to use “disposable” drop bags in my next race if I intend to just leave them for the Race Organizers to dispose.

I woke up at 3:30 AM, took a shower, drank a hot coffee and ate some hot noodles. And after one hour, I was already on the road to the starting area by walking but I was carrying a plastic bag with two cuts of Pizza, a Nutella sandwich and one piece of Banana. I could feel the coldness outside to be tolerable even if I have my Patagonia light jacket tucked in one of the pockets of my Patagonia Shorts. I just thought that the mild cold of the day will be advantageous to my body as I tend to sweat too much during races. At 5:00 AM, I was already at the Redwoods Park Visitors Center. While waiting, I started to eat the food inside the plastic bag that I carried from the house.

Tarawera 100 Map Elevation Profile

Course Map & Elevation Profile

I had enough time to relax and observe the arrival of the other runners. I even had the chance to meet the brother & sister Pinoy staff members of the Park; had a picture with Chris; and meet with the whole Pinoy group of runners.

15 Minutes before the Gun Start, I was already about 10-15 meters behind the Starting Arc and just waited there until I heard the announcement of the Emcee telling to the runners to just pee on the trees around and not go to the Toilets to fall in line! He said that the trees need everyone’s pee! And the usual Maori Ritual started at the front of the Starting Arc. I could not see the ritual but I could hear the chants and some music. And after the ritual, it was time for the countdown…

Tarawera Start

100 Feet Behind The Start Arc (Right Side With Red Cap)

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Starting To Jog From The Starting Line

At exactly 6:00 AM the race started and I began to move forward. I could feel that I was very light and comfortable with my slow pace with only one Simple Hydration Bottle filled with water and the other empty bottle as my cup/glass if I intend to drink sodas in the Aid Stations. I had one Clif Gel inserted in each of my hand gloves and 4 pieces of Fuel Bar in my Flip Belt. The race started with an asphalted road for about one kilometre and the road became a wide track of dirt road as the runners thinned up along the road. I controlled myself and preserved my strength even if I was confident that I can run the moderate ascents on the early part of the course. After running for about 40 minutes going up to a higher elevation, the sunlight started to shine but I opted to let my headlight on as it became too dark to be running inside the forest with roots exposed covering those single track trail. The ascent was not too difficult as I was entertained by the number of runners ahead of me and those faster runners who would overtake me along the wider part of the route.

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1st Kilometer

The first Aid Station is 16.7 kilometers from the Starting Line and once I came out from the forest, I could see a big Water Tank where beside it was a group of Marshal/volunteers asking if I would like to leave my headlight behind. I opted not to give me headlight as I know I will be needing it during nighttime. Once I passed the volunteers, it was another moderate uphill until we reached a wide road with lots of gravel and crushed rocks. You could see the blinding light of the sunrise ahead of you while you could see the dust coming from the road as a result of pounding on the ground by those faster runners ahead of you. More people would cheer us on this part of the route.

Tarawera Kilometer 2

First Climb Inside The Forest

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Inside The Forest

Even if we were running inside the forest, the trail was wide in most of the parts before the first Aid Station. I kept my headlight switched to On as it was hard to distinguish the roots from the black colour of the surface of the trail. I have observed that the single trail trail inside the forest are too soft and with cushion as I pound my feet on them. I could feel that there are piles of dry leaves mixed with the dirt on the trail. I was neither fast nor aggressive in my pace because I was too careful not to trip or fall down on my knees due to small protruding roots. I have read so many blogs from faster runners who joined the past editions and almost all of them had mentioned for having some wounds and scratches on their knees, legs and palms because they haphazardly fell down on the trail. It was time to be careful and deliberate in my steps on those single-track trail.

Tarawera Headlight Drop Off

Water Tank Where Headlights Can Be Dropped

Tarawera After Water Tank

Downhill & Uphill Climbs After The Water Tank

Tarawera Dirt Road

Wide Dirt Road Before Sunrise

Tarawera Dirt Dusty Road

Very Dusty Dirt Road With Runner In Front

Tarawera Blue Lake Aid Station

Approaching Blue Lake

The first Aid Station is at the shore of Blue Lake. The lake looks like blue in color from afar but you can see how clean the water is as you approached it. I refilled my hydration bottle with water and the other empty bottle was used as my cup where I could drink water as much as I could because I was feeling early on that the water I drank on those 16 kilometers were not enough. I had to arrest the seemingly start of being dehydrated because it was already hot at 8:00 AM, after 2 hours+ of continuous running and fast hiking. I grabbed some slices of watermelon and oranges and ingested some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I guess, I only stayed at the Aid Station in less than 3 minutes and I was back on the trail. I grabbed another two or three slices of watermelon bites and carried them with my hand as I waked away from the Aid Station.

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Still Running To The Next Aid Station

From the Lake we go back again to the Forest and it was becoming hotter. I realised that the temperature inside the forest is higher than the temperature once you get out from the forest. Even if the trail was shaded with trees and tall shrubs, the temperature feels like you are exposed directly to the sunlight. I was feeling okey as I trained in my Playground with this kind of situation. I was regularly taking my Salt Tablets every hour and drinking water, and always maintaining to have some candies (Coffee Candies) inside my mouth.

The cut-off time at Blue Lake Aid Station is 10:00 AM which means that I have a maximum time of 4 hours to reach and leave this place. However, I was able to reach this place in 2:14+ hours with a buffer time of 1:45+ hours. This distance to the 2nd Aid Station/Checkpoint would be almost 7 kilometres!

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Having Fun & Meeting New Friends

After a few minutes, I reached Miller Road, where the 65K runners had started one hour after we started. I could see the tire tracks of the Buses on a wide dirt road that transported the runners from the Greenwoods Park to the said place. There is no Aid Station or Marshal on this part of the route as the road would continue to be uphill. The next Aid Station would be almost 10 kilometres to the next one and there is an imposed cut-off time in it. On my time splits, it appeared that it took me to reach this place from Blue Lake in 59+ minutes which means that I was able to cover the distance of 23.5K in 3:14+ hours which I think not bad as I was gaining some buffer time.

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The Day Is Getting Hotter But I Need To Smile

The 2nd Aid Station is Okaitana which is Km 40 from the Start. This Aid Station is also a Checkpoint where the Cut-Off time is 1:50 PM or 7 hours & 50 minutes had elapsed from the Start. My Garmin Watch would register a time of 5:52+ hours and I became worried that I was able to decrease my buffer time to 1:08+ minutes. It was supposed to happen that way since I had more and more hiking as this section had the highest peak of the course. It was becoming hotter that I had to fill my two Simple Hydration Bottles with water in between Aid Stations. I started to eat Potato Chips at the Aid Station to include sandwiches and watermelon/orange bites. The watermelon and orange bites were very refreshing to my mouth. In terms of elevation gain, this section (Miller Road to Okaitana), is perceived to be the hardest part of the route where almost everybody had to hike the ascending portion. I power hiked the steeper sections and jogged the flatter portions of the route along this section but by the nature of the trail which is wide and clean, clearing or passing this section seemed to be easy on me as compared to my Playground. As I reached the highest peak of the course, it was all downhill up to the Okaitana Aid Station. However, the heat of the sun and the forest took a toll on most of the runners who are not used to hot condition.

To be continued…





Race Report: 2017 Tarawera 102K Ultramarathon Race (Part 1)

16 02 2017

Race Report: 2017 Tarawera 102K Ultramarathon Race (Part 1)

Introduction

Nine years ago when I was planning to conduct the first edition of the Bataan Death March 102K Ultramarathon Race (BDM 102), I found a list of Ultramarathon Races that was published in the Internet and one of them was the Tarawera 100 which was described to be an ultramarathon event on the beach and in the forests of Rotorua, New Zealand. Little did I realize that the said event was born on the same year that the BDM 102 had its first edition with the same distance, except for the fact that it was purely done on the trails and on the scenic spots of New Zealand.

I have read a few blogs and Race Reports about the event from international trail running elites since then and I was amazed how fast these runners would finish the race. Every year, I would also see pictures on Facebook of Pinoy Runners based in New Zealand finishing the event. And last year, I found out that some runners who joined my BDM Races and PAU trail races (Arlene Agulto and Jose Mina, Jr) have finished the race and I’ve read their respective Race Report on Facebook and on their blogs.

After I’ve read their blogs and posts on Facebook, I started to research more about the said Ultramarathon Event. Finally, in the month of July last year, I have decided to join the event. (The event usually starts to accept the registration of runners in the month of June).

While I was on vacation in the US in August 2016, I registered for the race and paid 320 New Zealand Dollars. My daily runs since then were geared towards finishing this race event even if it was six (6) months away which I think was the ideal length of period to train and prepare for this event.

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Hiking With Ultra Running Friends

Training & Preparation

I have started running on the paved roads for almost one month and going to the mountains for some hikes during weekends. I would work on a faster leg turn-over and tempo runs on my Tuesday to Friday runs with an average distance of 8-10 miles a day. After I have the confidence of building-up my endurance, I started to run on the trails which are runnable and made sure that I would gain at least 1,500 feet every 6-7 miles of distance. But on weekends, I would go on long hikes in the mountains for a period of 5-6 hours. These hikes would give me at least 5,000 to 6,000 feet of elevation per workout and this was where I would practice my hydration and nutrition strategy. On those long hikes, I would use my trekking poles to lessen the pain on my knees, most specially on the downhill hikes or runs.

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Over Acting (#OA)/The Most Abused Hashtag During My Training

These two months (July-August 2016) of training resulted to my satisfactory performance to finish the Zamboanga City 50K Mountain Run last September 2016 and the DBB Rockstar 50K Run which was held in the mountains of Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan in October 2016. After these two 50K runs, I continued my training and concentrated my daily running more in my Playground (mountains of Bataan). This was where I have increased my Vertical Gains in my daily as well as weekend LSD runs. I would typically run a distance of 14 miles with a vertical gain/loss of about 4,500 feet, by doing a “double-traverse” to a 2,000-foot high mountain (Mt Roosevelt) with very technical and steep trails. In every week, I would do 2-3 times of “double-traverse” workouts, in the middle of the day! I would start at 9:00 or 10:00AM and finish at 2:00 or 3:00PM. These “double-traverse” workouts prepared me for the Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run. I would consider myself to have finished the race within the cut-off time of 18 hours even if I was lost on the last 2 miles of the course. As per my endurance; nutrition and hydration strategy on these three ultra trail events (Zamboanga City 50K Mountain Run; DBB Rockstar 50K; & CM50), I was confident that I was on the right track of my training as I finished these three “evaluation races” without using any trekking poles.

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Wide Dirt Road @ Playground “Alpha”

Last December 2016, my training was not consistent because of the PAU Races that I’ve have to prepare and conduct on the said month. I was planning to run multi-loops of Taklang Damulag with the runners for the duration of two days as my “back-to-back” weekend runs but I was able to run only one loop with a distance of 12.5 kilometers. However, during the Christmas break (two weeks), I started to consistently do some intense stationary cycling and biking workouts on paved roads just to be able build some strength on my quadriceps. I guess, those cycling workouts developed some unused muscles during my runs and my quads started to appear more pronounced and distinct. On the last week of December, I made my first-ever “quadruple traverse” hike and run in my Playround which would take me 7-8 hours of hiking with an elevation gain of almost 8,000 feet and I would repeat the said workout again after a week. I was happy that my body would withstand those “torture and painful” workout and stress just for me to prepare for the Tarawera Ultramarathon. For the month of January, I put more mileage, vertical gains, more “mountain repeats”, and downhill running to my training plus a couple of workouts on longer rides on my MTB and more “heat” training on my daytime runs! I would no longer keep track or record the data/numbers of my daily workouts as long as I would comply and run the number of miles that is scheduled in my weekly training program.

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“Train Heavy, Race Light”

On these two months/8 weeks prior to the event, I practiced my training principle of “Train Heavy, Race Light” by wearing a Hydration Vest with 2 Liters of Bladder filled with water and with my nutrition stashed on the front pockets. On my tempo runs, I would only bring one or two Simple Hydration Bottles tucked on the back of my shorts and carry a number of Coffee Candies on the pockets of running shorts which would served as my source of sugar/nutrition for the workout. I would also do my hikes and runs without using my trekking poles to make sure that my legs and knees are holding up with those very technical steep ascents and descents in my playground. It was part of my race strategy not to bring my trekking poles for the race.

My last evaluation race for the Tarawera Ultramarathon was the Tarak Ridge 25K Trail Run. This is where I’ve proven that I was quick in climbing steep inclines due to my reduce weight and leg strength due to my “double-traverse” and “quadruple traverse” workouts in my Playground

For the months of December 2016 and January 2017, I limited my intake of carbohydrate (on mostly rice and sweet/cola drinks) for me to reduce my weight from 142 lbs to 132 lbs which I consider as my ideal racing weight for ultra distances. Before I left for New Zealand from Manila, I was 133 lbs but a day before the race (when the Volunteers were taking my Body Weight as I was about to receive my Race Packet) I registered a weight of 140 lbs! I was surprised that I was able to put some weight while I was on my way to New Zealand and for a few days of stay already in Rotorua. But I was not worried, I knew I needed those newly-accumulated body fats/weight because of the weather forecast on the day of the event. It will be hot and humid and it was playing in my mind that those not used to the heat will be on a “carnage”.

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Trekking Poles For My Recovery Hikes

In summary, I was consistently logging 55-65 miles per week for the months of December and January done on the mountains of my Playground. I was confident that for doing those “double-traverse” and “quadruple traverse” workouts at Playground “Charlie”/Mt Roosevelt would prepare my body for the challenge at Tarawera 102K, the same preparation I made for my successful finishes at the TransLantau 100K (Hongkong) for two successive years in 2015 & 2016.

Trip & Transportation To Rotorua, New Zealand

Last September 2016, I have already canvassed and asked for quotation for the possible flight and purchase of plane ticket to New Zealand from Manila. And also for the available land transportation from the Auckland International Airport to Rotorua. This is also to include for my accommodation or place to stay in Rotorua. I did not bother to contact the Race Organizer or the Race Director of the Event asking questions about directions, places to stay, and schedule for the event. One of the runners who joined the 2016 UTMB brought home a Souvenir Program of the 2016 Tarawera Ultramarathon Race with some posters given by my friend, Jason Schlarb and I reviewed all the things that are written about the said event. All the details, suggestions, and advice on how to reach Rotorua from Auckland International Airport are already there.

nz-visa

NZ Multiple Entry Visa Valid For One Year

It was a choice of a cheaper ticket with more stop-overs along the way which means more days of travel (3-4 days) or buying a more expensive ticket fare with less than 30 hours of travel. I got the more expensive one but the mileage I will get from my trip is added to my Frequent Flyer Privilege and a shorter trip would mean more time to visit more places in the place of my destination. In short, I bought the ticket way before I was issued a NZ Visa which was processed for only 3 working days. Being a Frequent Flyer of Korean Air, my trip has to pass first to Incheon International Airport and then transfer to the flight from Incheon to Auckland International Airport after 12 hours of layover. What is good was that I was given a Free Voucher to stay at the Incheon International Airport’s Transit Hotel with Free Meals. So, after 3.5 hours of flight from Manila to Incheon, I was able to rest/sleep until the scheduled boarding time for my connecting flight to Auckland. So, my total time of travel was only 26 hours!

Initially, I planned to get the services of a Rent-A-Car once I land in Auckland but few days before my departure I cancelled my reservation/booking because of not being confident to drive a different traffic or road driving protocol from what I am used to. Right hand drive vehicles are new to my driving habit! I don’t want that “Shit Happens” before the running event which I prepared for the past 6 months and invested so much resources/money for it only to be distracted or would not push through because of a “stupid” vehicular accident on my part.

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Transit Hotel @ Incheon International Airport

My “host” for my accommodation provided me the necessary option for my land trip from Auckland to Rotorua. She advised me to take the Bus Service (for long distance trips) where she gave the names of the Bus Companies to choose from.There are 3 Bus Companies catering to long distance trips in New Zealand and they are: InterCity Bus, Naked Bus, and the Mana Bus. I selected the InterCity Bus and made my bookings through their Website and it was very easy using my “loaded” E-Card through Mastercard! (Next time, I will avail of the Mana Bus because they have toilet in their Coaches and they are “two-deckers” with cheaper price!)

As soon as I landed in Auckland, I had some time to walk-through the Airport, ate some meal, and sit, patiently waiting for my scheduled bus trip. Whether you are going to the North or South of the North Island of New Zealand, you have to take the Transporter 360 Bus to Manukau which is about 40-45 minutes drive. At Manukau City, you have to wait for the scheduled bus to Rotorua at the Bus Stop across the Westfield Mall. At the Westfield Mall, I would go around again to see the stores inside and then ate a good Burrito at the Food Court. From Manukau to Rotorua was a 3-hour drive with never-ending sight of farms and ranch full of lambs and cattles and vast fields planted with corn. The scenery was simply amazing as totally different as what one would see on a bus trip from Manila to Laoag or to the Bicol Provinces! New Zealand is a Paradise!!!

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Bus Stop @ Auckland International Airport

It was 7:00 PM when I arrived in Rotorua and there was still sunlight. A Taxi would be available at the Town Center’s Bus Drop-Off Area and the house where I would stay was only 3 kilometers from the Bus Station and 2 kilometers from the Redwoods Parks which is Starting Place of the Tarawera 102K Ultramarathon.

The Taxi ride from the Town Center to the House where I stayed was only a short 10-minute ride. I was met by my Host/Owner of the house and she showed my room. She gave me a tour of the house and told me what to use in my cooking while I will be in their house. She gave me additional information about the Bus/Commute System from the house to the Town Center and vice-versa and briefed me on the location of the Redwoods Park; the Holiday Inn; and the grocery stores in Downtown.

To be continued.





Official Results: 6th Taklang Damulag 100-Mile/50-Mile Endurance Runs (2016)

13 12 2016

2016 (6th) Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Run

5:00 AM December 10, 2016 To 3:00 PM December 11, 2016

Start & Finish Area: SOCOM Headquarters, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, Philippines

Course Cut-Off Time: 34 Hours

Number Of Starters: 10 Runners

Number Of Finishers: 2 Runners

Percentage Of Finish: 20%

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Starters Of Taklang Damulag 100 & 50-Mile Endurance Runs

RANK                           NAME                                    TIME (Hours)

  1. Gibo Malvar (Champion, Overall) ———–33:51:20
  2. Graciano Santos (1st Runner-Up, Overall)—-33:51:23
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Overall Champion Gibo Malvar

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Overall 1st Runner-Up Graciano Santos

——————————————————————–

2016 (6th) Taklang Damulag 50-Mile Endurance Run

Start & Finish Area: SOCOM Headquarters, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, Philippines

Number Of Starters: 6 Runners

Number Of Finishers: 4 Runners

Percentage Of Finish: 66.66%

RANK                 NAME                                      TIME (Hours)

  1. Thomas Combisen (Champion, Overall) ——–12:57:59
  2. Alfredo Peralta (1st Runner-Up, Overall)——–16:42:10
  3. Tess Leono (Champion, Female) —————16:43:20
  4. Kathleen Piñero (1st Runner-Up, Female) ——-17:52:47
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Overall Champion Thomas Combisen

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Female Champion Tess Leono

Congratulations To All The Finishers!

Note: Photos Courtesy Of Dhan Punzalan 

Pictures: https://www.facebook.com/dhae.punzalan/media_set?set=a.10154034637236975.1073742096.655141974&type=3&pnref=story








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