I remember those days when I was doing my speed training in preparation for my half-marathon & marathon races in 2009. I had a structured training program which was supervised by two running coaches of the Elite Team Bald Runner. Before I was given a speed training program, I was asked by my running coaches to have an evaluation run first. The evaluation run was done on an oval track.
I was made to run on the oval track for thirty (30) minutes with my best effort and from the result of the distance I could cover, my coach would be able to determine my target pace for an intense interval training, threshold/tempo run, and easy run in order to make me run faster in a marathon race.
Last Monday, January 6, I did exactly what I did 4 years ago with the purpose of developing more lifts and number of cadence to my knees and feet. I started my run at 8:00 AM when the sun was already high above the horizon. The weather was cool with a moderate strong cold breeze coming from the west which is the location of the sea.
I used the lightest shoe from my arsenal of trail shoes, the Helios of La Sportiva. And running outfit were my regular running shirt and Adidas Running Shorts.
Without much fast runners on the oval track, I positioned myself on the most inner lane of the oval track. I finished my first lap in 2:10 minutes; second lap in 4:11 minutes; and after 4 laps (one mile/1,600 meters), I clocked a time of 8:43 minutes! Not bad!
I started to slow down after I finished 10 laps and fought the need to hydrate myself. At exactly 30 minutes of running, I was able to run 13 laps and 300 meters. I had to walk for another lap for my rest and recovery. The total distance that I was able to cover within 30 minutes was 5,500 meters or 5.5 kilometers. My Average Pace was 5:27 minutes per kilometer.
Four years ago, I could run 15 laps plus some change/extra meters. My older age (plus 4 years) had greatly diminished my speed/average pace plus the fact that I’ve concentrated so much in my ultra distance runs and trail running. It is my plan now to make myself to run faster this time by using the result of my evaluation run.
There is a need to incorporate more interval speed training and tempo runs in my ultra trail running. In the meantime, I will have to visit the oval track once a week and do my tempo runs on the trails of my playground. I hope I would be able to lower down my average pace to 5:10 minutes per kilometer in 4 weeks! Of course, I would also tell you what speed training I will do in order to improve my average pace in this blog.
My evaluation run last Monday officially started my training program for my 2014 Ultra Racing Season.
I suggest you can do this evaluation run if you want to know where you want to start to make yourself run faster, whether in trails or in road.
9:30 AM September 21, 2011 to 4:00 AM September 22, 2011
One week after I was bitten by an astray dog in San Narciso, Zambales during my first attempt on this adventure run, I was back where I started at the Remy Field’s Oval Track inside the Subic Freeport. I started the run at 9:30 AM which is 30 minutes earlier than the targetted 10:00 AM start time. As I was about to enter the Oval Track, I met some triathletes, Melvin Fausto and two others on their bikes who just had their running workout at the Oval Track. I told them about my event to start a run from the Oval Track all the way to Pangasinan. These guys wished me good luck and shaked my hand before I finally started the run.
After a brief photo-ops and one lap around the oval track, I was on my way for my second attempt to finish what I’ve started. Initially the sky was clear from clouds but I could feel a colder wind coming from the sea. I walked the first 2 kilometers until I reached the Kalaklan Gate & Bridge and turned left as I entered the Olongapo-Bugallon Highway. You would notice in my picture that I was wearing the red ARC (Los Angeles) shirt and red Zhensa calf sleeves. I thought this color would mean “luck” for me on this attempt. It was also my attempt to run with my Hoka One One Bondi B (courtesy of Joe Matias of ARC) and find out its comfortability in road runs. I’ll make a separate shoe review on this pair of shoes later in my future posts.
I was already confident and familiar with the terrain from the Olongapo City Public Cemetery all the way to San Narciso, Zambales. I became faster this time as I limited my “pit stops” and shortened my time to rest and eat solid foods. I never attempted to update my blog or opened my laptop as I wanted to cover much more distance this time.
It started to rain after I left the town of Subic and as I was approaching the town of Castillejos, Zambales. I had to bring out my The North Face “Venture” Waterproof Jacket and used it to protect my body from the cold feeling brought about by a damp shirt on my body. I’ve observed that even if my shirt was wet from my own perspiration, I could still feel a comfortable temperature that is being maintained on my body using the TNF Waterproof Jacket. The body heat that is trapped by the jacket balances the cold feeling that is brought by the damp shirt to my body. The jacket gave me the much-needed comfort during the downpour of rain.
I never had a decent lunch this time as I ate some solid foods and tried to ingest some GU Gels in between my “pit stops”. In this manner, I was able to cover farther distance from my first attempt. As scheduled, I had again my decent dinner in the very same place where I had dinner in San Narciso, Zambales. This time, my crew and I stayed longer in the said “carinderia” and we had to engage them with some conversation. They were surprised to see us again for the second time and we told them about the dog bite incident. We later found out that the owner of the establishment is a retired Philippine Marines. Ultimately, they knew our purpose why we were there. However, we paid for our bill.
A short conversion with the owner of the carinderia spread like a wildfire that every people along the route in the Poblacion of San Narciso knew that I was on my way to Iba, Zambales which is still 43 kilometers away by running through the night. I could hear the conversations among the people along the road and among the tricycle drivers waiting for passengers from arriving buses and pointing at me that I was running towards the capital town of the province. At this point, I was already on my 8th hour of running for the day.
I brought out my headlight and my Surefire Flashlight and became wiser now from not using my Ipod during night run and for that matter, on this whole second attempt of this run! The highway was dark and I could only see some lights on the road in the center of each municipality. The road was silent and my support vehicle and crew were on my back “shadowing” me. There was no vehicle around except for the Victory Liner Buses that travel along the said Highway. I would observe that it’s the only Bus Transport Line that caters to the said route. I was already running on the right side of the road with my support vehicle on my back giving me more illumination on the road ahead of me.
My headlight served as my early warning light from incoming vehicles while my Surefire flashlight served as my weapon for barking dogs along the road, I have observed that the powerful illumunation from this special type of handheld flashlight is so strong that dogs would stop barking. I believe that this kind of flashlight is used among the police and military security forces to stun their targets through their stong and powerful illumination. So, for the whole stretch of the road, I was protected by this flashlight. However, from time to time, one of my escorts would come out from my support vehicle with a baseball bat just to be ready to use it if there is any brave dog who would attack me while I was running. Yes, I was well-armed and protected this time!
The next town was San Felipe after San Narciso, It was uneventful until I reached the Poblacion of Cabangan, Zambales. As I was about to take my “pit stop”, I was approached by one of the residents riding on his bike and a conversation started. I forgot to ask his name but I’ll just call him as “Cabangan Biker” (CB). Some portions of our conversation went this way: (Our converation was in Tagalog but I’ll have to translate it to English in this post)
Cabangan Biker (CB): It seems you are running through the night. Where did you start and where is your destination?
Bald Runner (BR): Yes, I’ve been running since 10:00 AM today and I started in Subic Base. I hope to reach Iba, Zambales before the day breaks.
CB: You are very strong! How old are you, Sir?
BR: I am already 59 years old. You are using a bike. Why are you still awake this time of the night?
CB: I have a small business which I own and operate. I am on my way home when I saw you running towards the Poblacion and I followed you and your support vehicle.
BR: You look very athletic. Do you run, too?
CB: I started running few months ago because a friend of mine invited me to run in one of the road races in Manila. I joined a 5K run and then a 10K run and lately, I just finished a half-marathon run in RunRio’s UNILAB Run. Now, we have a running club here among friends.
BR: That’s good! Congratulations on your first half-marathon finish!
CB: Our running club only join races in Manila when it is a Run Rio’s Event!
BR: Of course, you have to be selective in your races because it is very expensive on your part to be travelling from Cabangan, Zambales to Manila and back. Why do you like and prefer to run in Run Rio’s Events?
CB: Our group likes RunRio Events because there are more people/participants running the race. We find enjoyment if we see a lot of different people running along side with us. The more people to see, the better for us! However, I am a competitive cyclist and it is my favorite sports!
BR: So, you are a cyclist! Do you participate in cycling events, too? How often?
CB: We have cycling group/team here and we usually compete in Subic Cycling Events and to other provincial cycling events to include Duathlons!
BR: So you are very athletic and competitive also. That’s good! C’mon let’s eat!
The conversation went on as I consumed the hot noodles and boiled bananas prepared for me. I found out from CB, who is in his late 30s, that Cabangan Poblacion is the turn-around point for the cycling stage in the yearly White Rock 70.3 Triathlon. So, basically the route where I was running is the route of the White Rock 70.3 Triathlon. Very interesting!
After I finished with my “pit stop”, I resumed my run towards the next town—Botolan. CB was still looking at me as I left the Poblacion’s Public Park!
I could only see at least 10-15 meters ahead of me brought about by the light of my support vehicle and the rest on my sides was totally dark. From time to time , I had to check on my watch for my HR and I was surprised that I was having an average of 132 bpm during the run. I was running comfortably making sure to take a sip of water from my handheld Nathan “Sprint” bottle (bought from ARC Los Angeles). And everything was on “cruise control”. I would stop as I asked for my hydration bottle to be filled up with water. There are times also that I had to take some GU Gels every other hour. I was running an average of 6-7 kilometers per hour on this part of the route as I didn’t know if I was running uphill or downhill except when approaching on bridges. All the bridges on this part of the route have uphill approaches but as soon as you reach the end of the bridge, everything is downhill.
The distance and the road from Cabangan to Botolan took me sometime to cover it. It could be a half-marathon distance with lots of uphill and downhill on the last 6 kilometers from the town’s Poblacion. The best part of this route was that I could hear the sound of the strong waves coming from the beach on my left side and it became good “music” to my ears for almost 8-10 kilometers! The worse part is that on the last 3 kilometers from the Poblacion of Botolan, there is a road construction and widening of the road being done and the road was full of mud and loose soil. The feeling was that as if I was running on a trail for about 2 kilometers. I thought it was better to be running on muddy and damp ground rather than running on a dusty road. It was good also that there were only one or two vehicles that passed me along this part of the route.
Finally, I reached the Poblacion of Botolan and it was about 3:30 AM of September 22 and I was on the road for the past 17 hours! I did a slow run once I passed the Municipal Hall and started to walk and be ready for a short “pit stop”. After eating boiled banana and eggs, I felt sleepy and it started to rain. I decided to get inside the vehicle and look for a decent place where I could change to dry clothes and sleep for awhile. From this point, I still have 6 kilometers to go before reaching Iba, Zambales!
The rain was so hard that I could hardly see the road while I was inside the vehicle. Moreso, it was harder to look for the names of the establishments on the sides of the road. It took us sometime to find a place as most of the resorts did not have a personnel to man their registration offices at 4:00 AM. Finally, we checked in to a new motel which has the amenities of a hotel. I guess, the name of the establishment is “Circles Inn” which is located in between Botolan and Iba, Zambales! I went immediately to bed once I changed to a drier clothes and my support crew just did that. We were all tired after 18+ hours on the road
The plan was to sleep for about 4 hours, take a bath, change to a new attire, have a decent meal, and we were ready to continue the journey for our second day! So far, everything went well and I was able to cover a distance of 73 kilometers!
1. I could run and walk as far as 73 kilometers in 18+ hours to include “pit stops”.
2. I could run on the run & bike legs of the White Rock 70.3 Triathlon Event and I am now familiar with it. It does not mean that I will try also to swim its swimming course at the Subic Bay in the future. But, who knows?
3. A simple conversation from the local residents creates a fast news to everybody along the road.
4. It is nice to engage to people along the road and find out more about the place and the people.
5. Local folks would like to run in Metro Manila (and Run Rio’s Event) for the fun of being part of a bigger crowd & running community.
6. All night running is very relaxing and silent. The cooler temperature made my Average HR to be in the lower 130’s and it kept me going without any muscle cramps or soreness on my legs.
7. And last, Surefire Flashlights are really good for barking/attacking dogs along the road!
Do not travel along the SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) from Subic to Clark or vice-versa during nighttime. There are unidentified persons along the expressway who throw stones at your car. If your car’s windshield or one of your window panels is broken, it creates shock and panic to the driver and to the passengers! The breaking of a glass of a car at a speed of 80-100 KPH is a horrible experience. It seems that somebody had shot you with a gun or a rifle. And the burst of those tiny glass fragments inside the car landing on your body seems that you were hit with shotgun pellets!
But what is worst is when you are shocked and get panic, it is either you suddenly stop your car or bump your car along the side railings of the expressway. Either way, you will end up as a casualty. There were reports that these unidentified persons who threw stones to passing vehicles are members of a “hold-up” syndicate. Once you stop your car at the shoulder of the highway, this is a chance for these persons to approach your vehicle and divest you with your things. In a few seconds, they could escape along the fields and trails leading to the hills beside the highway under the cover of darkness.
Last week, I was a victim of these “stone-throwers” but I did not stop along the expressway even if I was in the company of Mr Sig Sauer. It was 7:30 in the evening when I heard a loud explosion of a broken glass and knowing that my windshield was untouched, I continued driving until I reached the Clark Exit to NLEX. I found out that the quarter panel glass on the side of my car was broken and there was a trace that a stone had hit it. I am glad the stone did not hit my windshield or my window glass panels.
After the broken glass was replaced by the car company’s repair service, I went back to the place where I believe the incident happened. It is the place in between Dinalupihan & Floridablanca Exits. This was the very same place of the first 10K of last year’s Subic International Marathon! One of these days, I’ll have that hut/nipa house situated on a hill and the rock-crushing facility inspected by the soldiers during nighttime.
So, if you have plans of travelling along the SCTEX from Clark to Subic or vice-versa, do not do it during nighttime! Stay safe!