Race Report: 2014 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (Last Part)


Race Report: 2014 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (Last Part)

What Went Wrong?

5. Gout Attack——Just when I finished my last long run in preparation for this event, I had a gout attack and the joint on my big toe was inflamed and sore. My first gout attack was in March 2008 and since that time my choice of food was limited to those with no uric acid. For the past 6 years and a half, I was on a diet and I was able to control my uric acid intake. However, for the month of October, I was not able to control my diet and craving for boiled peanuts & beans and native chicken & goat’s meat! Actually, on those days and weeks that my toe was inflamed, I forced myself to hike on the mountains. On race day, I was still feeling some pain on my toes but I was able to endure even if I was able to ingest my ALEVE tablets before the start of the race.

Very Accurate Depiction Of My Gout (Picture Taken From Google
Very Accurate Depiction Of My Gout (Picture Taken From Google)

What Went Right?

1. Lesser Mileage, Healthier Knees——I am scared to think that reality is setting in—I am getting older and I need to take care of my knees. With the lesser mileage on every week in my training, I was able to preserve the good condition of my knees. Plus, the addition of a recovery day aside from my usual Monday rest had also added the stability of my knees during the race. I did a lot of strengthening exercises which were focused on my legs and core muscles but most of these exercises were geared to strengthen the muscles surrounding my knees. I did these exercises at least three times a week. If you are wondering what are these exercises, they are very simple! I did body squats, lunges, 100-ups, push-ups; exercises that strengthen my hip flexor using an elastic band; and Pilates exercises that strengthen the core.

2. Taper Properly——This is the most violated training principle among the younger ultra runners whom I know. They think that tapering for one week is enough for them to have fresh legs and body ready to tackle this very challenging race. For the two to three months that I was focused on the training for this race, I had my longest run on the seventh week, which is three weeks before Race Day. My longest run was a 26-mile (42K) mountain trail run which lasted for 8-9 hours and I was able to finish strong and my knees were able to hold on with the course where I had my training. After this long run, I made a steady reduction of my mileage on the coming weeks leading to Race Day until I was running 4-5 miles on my last week and got rested and slept well two-three days before Race Day. This is one of the reasons why I decided to postpone the inaugural edition of the General Aguinaldo Historic Trail Run which I intended to join as one of the participants. This race was scheduled two weeks before the CM 50 Race Day. I was able to monitor the younger runners who joined a trail running event one week before Race Day and I had the observation that they did not perform well in this event. Some of these younger runners would tell me that they have not recovered well after the race they have joined 7 days ago.

3. Nutrition——This is the second time in a running race event that I used VESPA. I’ve used this before in my long runs and I find them effective and working well with my body system. At this time, it was more effective when I started using Udo’s Oil as part of my supplementary nutrition. I usually mix at least two spoonful of this oil once a day in one of my viands/food either in my lunch or dinner for the three weeks that I was on tapering mode. I could feel that I was gaining a little weight which I would thought will be a source of my stored energy in my body to be used during the race. I took one pack of VESPA after eating my meal before the race and for the next 4-5 hours I was full of energy, taking only two (2) pieces of GU Gel, and hydrating with water every 30 minutes. I was not feeling “thirsty” because I was putting a Dynamite Candy in my mouth every time I ingest a VESPA Pack. I suspect that my slow pace made my stored fats as the source of energy and not from the carbohydrates that are available in my body. After 4-4 1/2 hours, I would feel hungry and that’s the time that I would eat my PB & J sandwiches, take another VESPA pack + GU Gels + Dynamite Candy and continue with my run. For the whole duration of the race, I was able to consume 4 packs of VESPA. From AS4 on my way to the peak, I started mixing my 2 MILO Packs with 1 GU Gel in my water bottle which is equivalent to almost 300 calories and I would ingest the whole liquid mix in one bottle within one hour. This mixing of MILO Packs + GU Gel was repeatedly done all the way to the finish line. Last year, I used Perpetuem Powder mixed with water as my source of nutrition and some solid foods (sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, and boiled bananas).

More Carbohydrates @ AS3 (Photo Courtesy Of Team Ayala Triads)
More Carbohydrates @ AS3 (Photo Courtesy Rovelyn Dimaala Of Team Ayala Triads)

Because of the hotter condition of the day as compared to last year, I might have used the stored fats in my body faster than what I’ve experienced before and I felt weak and exhausted once I returned to AS4 after coming from the Peak/turn-around point. It was an “accident” that I impulsively asked for a Sprite Drink and such “sugar-rush” to my body jolted me to be on a faster mode in my pace from AS4 to the Falls and back to AS4! I suspect also that from this point, my body needed more carbohydrates to propel me all the way to the finish line. This is the reason why I had to ingest some rice and solid food and more Sprite Drinks at AS3 and every hour after this, I was already using my remaining Gels up to the Finish Line.

4. Knowledge of the Course——This is the only year that I was not able to run the CM42 race in preparation for the CM50. Also, I did not had any runs or visits or recon runs along the course. From the past CM42 and CM50 races that I joined and finished, I was able to know what to expect along the course, from the Start to every Aid Station up to the Peak and back to the Finish Line. I was confident on what to expect in every turn and particular place along the route. Such knowledge of the course made me more confident that I will be able to finish the course within the prescribed cut-off time of 18 hours.

5. Having Fun——With the lack of mileage, sickness/diarrhea , condition of my knees, gout attack, and of course, my age, I tried to condition my mind to have a better performance on this race. Such positive thinking pushed me to endure everything and reminded me about my race strategy to focus more on my nutrition and that I would be healthy & injury-free to finish the race. This reminded me of the practice or tip of which I adopted from my Coach——placing one piece of GU Gel inside my cycling gloves/one GU Gel in each glove! This practice would remind me that I need to take a Gel every time I would swing my arms while running. Once I use one Gel, I would replace it with another one from my Belt Pouch and place the litter in one of my shoulder pockets of my hydration pack. I was also having fun when I outrun the younger runners and sometimes would scare them when they see me that I am nearing them or about to overtake them. Counting my strides when fatigue and heat of the sun would be very hard to the body gave me more fun as I gained some distance getting nearer to each of the Aid Stations.

Cycling Gloves & INOV-8 X-Talon Trail Shoes (2013 CM50)
Cycling Gloves & INOV-8 X-Talon Trail Shoes (2013 CM50)

6. Evaluation Run——I did not join this race to earn some points for the UTMB and I don’t have any future plans of going to Chamonix, France to join such race. This race is an evaluation run for the training program that was given to me in preparation for this race. It is also an evaluation run to determine my strengths and weaknesses as I prepare for my future races in the next year to come. I have learned (again) a lot of lessons that I need to make some adjustments in my race tactics, strategy and nutrition needs. I have also personally evaluated that my knees are getting stronger if I give them the much needed rest and recovery. I have learned also that I could run in a slow pace for me to use my fats as the source of energy and I could easily switch to a faster pace mode if I consistently add more carbohydrates to my body system. Lastly, taper mode on the last three weeks leading to Race Day and getting a lot of rest and sleep on the last week made a lot of difference.

How Much Did I Spend?

Coaching Services——P 13,000.00
Training Expenses (Travel & Food + Supplements)——P 3,000.00
Nutrition & Hydration Needs (During The Race)——P 2,500.00
Registration Fee——P 2,500.00
Transportation Costs (Gasoline + Highway Toll Fees)——P 2,000.00
New Gear (Ultimate Direction Belt Pouch + SALOMON Cap)——P 2,500.00

TOTAL——P 25,500.00

Was The Event Finish Worth For The Expenses?

Of course, setting an Event Record in the history of this race as the Oldest Runner to have finished the course in two consecutive years within the cut-off time of 18 hours is more than enough to compensate for what I’ve spent financially in this event. I would not regret spending my spare time in the mountains and trails just to prepare for this event. In the course of my training, I was able to meet a lot of people and make friends with the people in the mountains and being able to learn of how these people live in the mountains and know their problems. In the race, I was able to meet new runners and find time to talk to the “usual suspects” in ultra running in the country whom I only meet in person during such events even if we regularly communicate through the social media. Some of them are participants in the race and some of them served as “volunteers and marshals” in the Aid Stations, turn-around point and in the Lahar Area. As you might have observed, I don’t show or brag my Finisher’s Medal or wear those Finisher’s Shirts as they are not important every time I finish a race. It is the experience and the journey in finishing the race that count most.

Hand-held Hydration Bottles (2013 CM50)
Hand-held Hydration Bottles (2013 CM50)

Future Plan On This Event

Definitely, I will be back for the 2015 edition and train harder as long as my knees and body are healthy and injury-free. I need to bring back my INOV-8 X-Talon Trail Shoes and my hand-held bottles which I used last year and try to train for more speed on the trails. I am not shifting to any kind of diet but I will have to be more disciplined and selective on my food, making sure that they are uric acid-free and won’t cause diarrhea.

Suggestions/Advise To “New” Runners For This Event

1. Know your Ideal Racing Weight—-If you think you are heavy and way above your BMI, you should reduce—with more calories to burn and lessen your intake of unnecessary foods. Such weight that you can shave off from your body will compensate for the hydration and foods/nutrition needs that you will carry on your vest or belt/pockets.

2. Start going to the Trails—-I mean, mountain trails! And start your training NOW! Start with some hiking in the mountains along dirt roads or single-track trails and feel how your body responds to the ground, elevation, and the scenery. If you have the time do your trail hiking on a daily basis, then do it! If not, make sure you hike on your weekends or off-duty days. Be patient on this as you make your progress from a 30-minute hike up to 8-9 hours of running/jogging/hiking in the mountains on your peak training period. Once you progress and adjusted to trail running, look for a place that has the same elevation profile with that of the race and do more of your training in the said place. If you can have access to the actual route, by all means, spend your weekend runs thereat. If you are afraid to go to the mountains, then you can do it with the “Philippine Army’s Scout Ranger” way! (Note: This will be discussed in my future post featuring one of my Ultra Running friends)

3. Be selective in your Races—-It is not on the quantity of races that you have finished that defines you as a good runner. It is the quality of your performance in finishing your selected races. If you have decided to join this race as your A-priority race, then start your training as early as possible, save some money for your registration fee and training costs, register early and abide by the race/RD’s requirements, and treat your other running races as your training and evaluation runs. Make sure that you have to make some space or period of recovery in between these running events so that you will come out stronger and smarter in the process. Not because you are still young and strong that you don’t need to taper and have more rest before the Race Day, it is always you and only you will be the one responsible for your success or unsuccessful finish in this race.

Eat While You Are At Rest (Photo By Rovelyn Dimaala)
Eat While You Are At Rest (Photo By Rovelyn Dimaala of Ayala TRIADS)

4. Nutrition is the Key—-In every race, I keep on learning about my nutritional needs. “Fat-Burning” and Carbohydrates as sources of my energy work well with me in ultras. But it took me a lot of time and experience to try what is best for me. It is also worth to know that I have to fully stop and take a rest if I need to ingest solid foods to my system. In the past, I would take in some solid foods while on the move but it gave me more problems like choking and coughing, most specially in high altitude races that I have joined in the past. However, I don’t have any problems ingesting my Gels as I have to suck them quickly and followed with a sip of water from my bottle. Once my taste for the Gel would become uncomfortable for me to swallow, I would start mixing them in my water with my powdered drinks like MILO Packs and just the same, they give me the much-needed calories for my body. As the experts would always advise, fuel up early in the race while your pace is slow and then progressively pick-up the pace while maintaining your food intake and hydration. It is easily said but it needs a lot of practice and discipline.

Thanks for reading my longest Race Report! Keep on running and see you on the mountain trails!

See You Next Year!!!
See You Next Year!!!

Race Report: 2014 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (Part 2)


2013 CM50 Experience

I finished my first Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (CM50) with a ranking of #28 among the 120+ starters and I am proud to have registered a finish time of 15:30:20 hours. I did not publish or post on this blog a Race Report about such accomplishment but I was able to post a Race Report of a shorter version of the event which was the Miyamit Falls 42K Trail Run. More or less, my Race Report on this short trail run (which is one-half of the CM50) covers those significant points that brought my successful finish in this event.

My success in my first CM50 can be summarized by the following factors or reasons:

1. I finally decided to get the services of a reliable mountain trail ultra Coach.

2. My training program was done consistently on mountain trails. Monday is my Rest Day. The rest of the days of the week were running days where recovery or hard/easy runs were strictly followed. My training started in the middle of June of last year, making it to five (5) months as my training/preparation for this event.

3. Hydration and Nutrition were tried and experimented during my long runs.

4. Core Workouts and Strengthening Exercises were done regularly, at least, three times a week.

5. I joined the Miyamit Falls 42K Trail Run and was able to conduct a recon to the peak of Mt Miyamit.

6. The weather during the race was cooler and the sky was overcast.

CM50 Logo
CM50 Logo

2014 CM50 Experience

I finally decided to join this year’s edition in the middle of September of this year as I had some time to rest and recover from trail running for almost six weeks. This “rest & recovery” period was devoted to mostly mountain hiking at an easy and relaxing pace.

I had to make some adjustments to my training due to my recurring knee injury. My knee injury would be the result of getting older and “wear and tear” due to running. This is the reason why I had to run consistently on the trails for a softer impact to the ground. And whenever I try to run on the pavement for my long runs, my knees would be sore and aching.

I told my running coach about my recurring knee injury and my plan not to join the Chimera 100 in Corona, California on November 15. Instead, I told him that I will be attempting my second consecutive finish in the CM50 with a better time without being injured leading to race day.

My coach advised me to take an extra day off for me to recover and rest before my weekend long runs so that my knees will be well-rested before my long runs on trails. After back-to-back long runs on weekends, I would take my usual Monday rest day. By doing this on my weekly runs, I was able to sustain healthy knees and kept them from any soreness or pain. However, my speed did not improve but I was able to bring back my endurance without thinking of my recurring knee problem/injury.

A few days before Race Day, I told my Coach that my knees are holding up and ready to take the beating from the incoming race. He advised me to take it easy and slow on the first half with my pace. And most importantly, take in my nutrition as early within the race and maintain my hydration strategy. The “real race” on this course will start from AS4 back to the Finish Line.

Race Proper

Having been a “repeater” in this race, I knew the “drill” on what to prepare and do on Race Day. My nutrition was the key for me to finish this race and I concentrated much on it. I had PB & J sandwiches, a can of Tuna Paella, Stingers, Gels, MILO Packs, Candies, and Vespa. I’ve been consistently using these nutrition items in my weekend runs and I was confident that they will give me the much-needed energy to finish the race.

I had my mandatory gears checked by the RD before I was able to get my Race Bib. After I wore my running attire and shoes, I was ready for the race. I took a meal of rice and corned beef 30 minutes before the race started, took one Gel, and drank one pack of Vespa. I went to the starting area and wished my friends “good luck”.

CM50 & CM60K Start @ 1:00 AM of Sunday November 23, 2014 (Photo Courtesy Of AVAquino Photography)
CM50 & CM60K Start @ 1:00 AM of Sunday November 23, 2014 (Photo Courtesy Of AVAquino Photography)

The race started at exactly 1:00 AM of Sunday, November 23 from the Clark Parade Ground and the runners were off towards the direction on the Main Road going to the Southern Portion of the Camp/Facility which was a former US Air Force Base. The first 3 Kilometers is along a paved wide road with a rolling profile elevation where one would be pulled by the other faster runners. I was able to maintain a slower pace on this part of the course. It was too early to be racing with the other runners. As I looked around, I would see familiar faces but I did not know whether they are with me in the distance category where I was competing. I guess, at this point, I was almost on the tail-end of the runners of the 50-milers and 60K runners.

CM50 Course Map & Location of Aid Stations
CM50 Course Map & Location of Aid Stations

After 3 kilometers, I started to reach the trailhead with a single-track downhill trail leading to the bank of a river. The bank of the river was a dry bed of lahar-sand and after a few meters, my feet had their first taste of the flowing water of the river which is mixed with lahar-sand. I could feel that my shoes had been absorbing a lot of sand through its upper mesh while I was crossing the river. The flowing water was very shallow but the current was very fast! The river is called Sacobia River and I will be coming back on this wide river on my way back to the Finish Line.

I was using the same headlight that I used last year and it gave me the much needed illumination and it served me well during the race. The Icon Polar Headlight from Black Diamond is a heavy one on the head because it has 4 Double A Batteries as source of power. I don’t complain much on this because this lighting system is very reliable and long-lasting on its power.

The running period for a 4-kilometer of river-lahar with flowing water was so fast that I was seeing myself to be nearing the First Aid Station (Km #7) which was located before an ascending paved road towards a Spa & Wellness Resort. I did not stop at the 1st Aid Station! Once I reached the peak of the paved road by power walking/hiking, it was all downhill on a wide dirt road until it became another road with loose lahar-sand. It was so hard to run on the lahar-sand even if I was following the tracks of wheeled vehicles passing along this road. Because it was still dark, my sight was concentrated on the whitish-color of the lahar-sand as it was illuminated by my powerful headlight. It started to be boring and running to an endless sand!

The loose lahar-sand ultimately led us to a hardened wide dirt road with a high-walled fence on the right side of the road. Because it was still too dark to look around, I could sense that this is a populated village where 4 X 4 jeeps would park and where I would see children play along the road when I was on my way to the finish line in last year’s edition. I knew that after a few meters, I would be turning on a sharp right towards an uphill climb on a cemented stairs! Once I climbed on those stairs, I knew that after a few meters of winding trail, the next challenge will be a steep descent towards some trails of loose lahar-sand (again!).

CM 50-Mile Run Elevation Profile
CM 50-Mile Run Elevation Profile

Once I reached the steep descending trail, I saw a rope with some runners clinging on it while they were on their way down to the foot of the trail. It was my turn to use the rope in going down the trail and it was too easy for me to grasp the rope as I was using a cycling gloves. There were three (3) parts/portions of the rope towards the lowest level of the ground where each part is about 10 meters. I knew that after this descending part, another flowing river with lahar will be the next part of the course.

If there are parts with no marshals on this vast lahar-covered river, there are blinking lights and reflectorized strips that would indicate the correct direction of the course. It is very clear and easy to see those reflectorized strips on the right side of the trail on the first half of the course. There is no reason why a runner should be lost along the course. I guess, my headlight might have a very strong illumination that those reflectorized strips on the trail could be easily seen from afar. Last year, aside from my headlight, I was also using a handheld light which gave me more illumination to a specific direction/location while on the move.

Running on the river with lahar is a big problem for runners whether it is during the day or night. The first problem is that lahar-sand would enter ones shoes most specially when crossing the flowing river whether a runner is wearing a gaiter. The lahar-sand would accumulate in-between the insole and the socks and later on the space between the tips of the toes and the front tip of the inside part of the shoes. The second problem is for the runner to be careful in avoiding the rocks or if they choose to step on the rocks, they should land their foot lightly on them and avoid being “tripped” by them. The third problem, is the “heat” that comes out from the sand when the sun is hot. One should remember that these river-lahar crossing along the course are not covered and every runner is exposed to the heat of the sun, most specially on their way back to the Finish Line. Running on a lahar-sand environment should be a part of ones training if a runner would like to have a good finish time in this event.

After crossing the second river I knew I would be towards an uphill climb and starts running on the ridges of hills and edges of cultivated fields where most of them are sugar plantations. These part of the course is also exposed to the heat of the sun and the trail is loose and dusty! Since I was not particular with the exact time as to how long I’ve been running, I was surprised to see the Second Aid Station/AS2 (Km #16/17) before me! I passed the Aid Station without stopping and I knew I was about to reach the first “mini-tunnel” or “big culvert” of the SCTEX.

AS #2 @ Km #16/17 (Photo Taken From CM50 Facebook Page)
AS #2 @ Km #16/17 (Photo Taken From CM50 Facebook Page)

I was still using my headlight when I reached the second “mini-tunnel” which leads to the Security Checkpoint before reaching the steel bridge. As I reached the third Aid Station/AS3 (Km #23), the RD was there cheering the runners. The RD suggested us to drop by and I answered him that I will drop by on my way back to the Finish Line. I think I had to cover another 3-4 kilometers after passing the AS3 before I finally put off my headlight.

Two kilometers away from the Fourth Aid Station/AS4 (Km #32), I met the first runner of the CM 60K race and it was followed by the 2nd runner. Before reaching the AS4, I was able to meet the third runner of the CM 60K race. I have a “wild guess” that I could be at AS4 after running for the past five (5+) hours. The sun was about to rise from the east horizon!

So far, so good!

To be continued.