For the first time in this blog I will be featuring an article (based from my own view and opinion) on Pinoys who excelled in running or those who have shown the true spirit of an outstanding runner, whether they are based locally or abroad for the year 2017. I will limit my story for the Marathon and Ultra Marathon distances.
Top Award For Best Performance: Mary Joy Tabal was our First Gold Medalist in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in the Marathon event with a finish time of 2:48:26 hours beating the second runner by seven (7) minutes. Her personal best time in the Marathon distance was 2:43:31 hours at the Ottawa Marathon Race in 2016, which qualified her to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. In the local races, Mary Joy Tabal has in her name a record in the history of running as the First Female Champion of the MILO Marathon for five (5) successive years. Last December, she won the MILO Marathon in Cebu City with a time of 2:58:01 hours, the day after his father died.
Ultra Marathon Distance (Road)
Top Award For Best Performance: Rolando Espina is now the Filipino Record Holder for the 24-Hour Run finishing a distance of 210.798 kilometers (130.99 miles) in the July 2017 IAU Belfast 24-Hour World Championship held in Belfast, Ireland. He is also the Overall Champion in the 9th Edition (2017) of the Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race with a time of 9:26:39 hours, the second best time finish in the history of the event. He is the first and only Filipino who have finished the Spartathlon in Greece in two consecutive years, 2016 & 2017, with finish times of 33:19:33 hours and 32:30:03 hours, respectively. He is also the Overall Champion and New Course Record Holder in this year’s PAU’s West Coast 200K Ultra Marathon Race with a time of 26:45:18 hours.
Ultra Marathon Distance (Trail)
Top Award For Best Performance (Male): Hermogines “Gene” Olvis outstanding performance at the 2017 UTMB Race makes him as the Best Male Performer in Ultra Trail Running for 2017 for finishing the race with a record finish time (among the local runners) of 35:33:54 hours. He also finished Overall 2nd Runner-Up in the 2017 edition of the KOTM’s Hardcore 100-Mile Trail Run with a time of 30:17:29 hours.
Top Award For Best Performance (Female): Sandi Menchi Abahan outstanding performance at the 2017 TDS Race (118K) @ UTMB makes her as the Best Female Performer in Ultra Trail Running for 2017 for finishing 21st Overall in the Female Category and 9th Overall in her Age Category with a record finish time (First Female Local Finisher in the TDS & Record Holder) of 23:27:16 hours. Being a member of the Philippine Skyrunning Association Elite Team, she won as the Female Champion for two successive years, 2016 & 2017, in the Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon Race with these finish times, 2:58:48 hours and 3:04:30 hours, respectively.
Having known an event which was experienced and finished by an ultra running friend in one of his trips/visits in the United States, I thought of the idea that local Pinoy runners can also do such an event without even going out of the country. What is really important in this kind of event is to have a period of 4 days which are declared non-working holidays and the place where one can have a varied routes for four marathons in four days. Of course, there is also the need to have some runners who are brave enough to try and experience what it is like to run one marathon distance each day for four consecutive days.
I though of my birthplace, Laoag City, as the place to conduct this event because it has a lot of road networks that converge to the center of the city. Having been familiar to the road networks in the place, I decided to have this event held in the city. There is no harm in taking the risk of conducting this event even if there is only one or two runners.
A simple Facebook Event Page was created just to inform the “Public” and my FB friends about this event. And I did not personally contact each and every ultra running friend to be invited to join this event. As I said before, I create an event and I let runners join my event in their personal volition. It is inherent that most of my friends were excited to find out that this Quad Marathons is a new event and most of them signified to join or simply clicked the button “Interested”. But knowing the real attitude of the Local Runners and even PAU Members, who are really good friends, I did not expect much that most of these people will be joining this event. The bottom line here is, I really don’t care!
After a simple coordination with the LGU of Ilocos Norte and the Provincial PNP of Ilocos Norte, the event was a GO! And the rest is history!
It has proven once again that Local Pinoy Runners can match the endurance and stamina of other runners in other countries. The Quad Marathons can be done even in simple logistics and needs for the runners. Additionally, it is proven once again that I don’t need Corporate Sponsorship if I want an idea to be implemented and put into action. To prove a point, the Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon, the event that started all these “craziness” in ultra running in the country, had survived for almost 10 years without any Corporate Sponsorship!
I would like to thank the following ultra running friends: Dondon Talosig from Tuguegarao, Cagayan; Gibo Malvar from Piddig/Sarrat, Ilocos Norte/Paranaque, Metro Manila; Rod Losabia from Metro Manila; Tess Leono from Metro Manila; Rose Betonio from Metro Manila; Kathleen Piñero from Metro Manila; and Laurice Rogel from Metro Manila who were the “Pioneers” of this event. These runner-finishers will receive appropriate Awards & Commendations for their feat during the 2018 BDM & PAU Get Together Party. I would also thank May Santos from Marikina, Metro Manila for being the Recorder/Marshal/Official Photographer of the event. I would like also to give thanks and commend the support given by Numeriano De La Cruz and Joaquin Bordado of Team Kimat Running Club of Ilocos Norte. Lastly, to my Personal Staff and the Support Crew of each runner who made sure that all the Logistics/Administrative needs were made available during the event.
As a runner-participant of this event, I was able to prove my running philosophy in order to inspire others to run—“If I can do it, then, you can do it, too!” If want to create an idea, make sure you can do it so that you are a reliable and consistent person!
As per my observation on the runner-participants, I could see that each of us have that tendency to be competitive with one another even if we were having fun, enjoying the environment & scenery of the route, having a “bonding time” among friends, and with the experience of being attacked by street dogs in some of the populated areas along the route. Each runner has a different style of dealing with these street dogs—some would shout back at the barking dogs; some would simply run faster away from the attacking dogs; some would bring a stick to ward off the dogs; and some would just blind the dogs with their powerful handheld lights. However, I would simply ignore and never looked at the dogs when I would pass infront of them. But the most effective way to prevent the dogs from biting you is to NEVER use any headphone or play your music/ playlist during this kind of event. I should know because in one of my adventure runs, I was bitten by a street dog while listening to my playlist on my iPod! Also, one of the runners have learned some lessons in marathon racing where one should be light and simple if you want to have a faster time in a marathon race!
Oh, yes, I was the official “sweeper” of the event to make sure that all my runners would be able to finish each event within the cut-off time of 6 hours and 30 minutes. I am glad all the runners had successfully finished the race! I guess, in my races, that is one of the duties of the Race Director!
Personally, this is how I felt during the period of four days. I think the rest of the runners would have to agree with me on my feelings. Before the start of the event, I was not sure if I would be able to have the stamina and endurance to finish the whole event. After I finished the first day Marathon, I was exhausted due to the hot and humid weather even if it was then in the evening and early morning. I was already thinking of a reason or alibi where I would simply sit back in my car and supervise the runners for the remaining 3 marathon races. But I though that ones personality is being tested here in this event. So, I was not at all excited for the 2nd day event. However, after 1-2 kilometers of running on the 2nd day’s route, we were met by cold air and winds coming from the mountains east of Laoag City and it was very refreshing. The cooler temperature made us faster to finish the event on the 2nd day. On the start of the 3rd day, I was silent and apprehensive as I told to the runners that the course will be darker due to the absence of street lights along the route and some portions have road constructions. But the runners did not complain and they registered a faster time, too!
After we finished the third marathon, I brought all the runners for a day tour along the last day marathon course and they were able to familiarize some locations and the overall elevation profile of the route. Aside from being the last event, knowing the course on a walk/drive-through boosted their morale to finally get things done immediately! The experience running in the rain for about 10-12 minutes at Km 5-6 was really exhilarating and enjoyable! There were no complaints from the runners and we finished the event with a much faster time.
For the first two days, we used the front portion of the Provincial Capitol of Ilocos Norte as the Start/Finish area since we did not cross the Laoag/Padsan Bridge or River. But for the two remaining days,we changed the location of the Start & Finish at the LAOAG Landmark at the foot of the Laoag City Bridge. The variety of the locations of the Start and Finish gave a very nice documentation on the exposure of Laoag City and the Province of Ilocos Norte.
These are my assessment and conclusion on this event: First, it takes a veteran marathoner or an ultra runner to finish this event. Two, even considering the difficulty of the elevation on each course, the tendency of the human body to be faster and stronger as the event progresses from day one to day four. Three, since the Aid Stations are the Support Vehicles of the runners which are mobile that “leap-frog” ahead of the runners, one has to be very good in his/her nutrition and hydration strategy. And lastly, our human body is a wonderful God-given “machine” that has a way of recovering from pain & exhaustion through proper nutrition and rest & recovery within a span of 24 hours.
Next edition will the same schedule as we had this year where the last day event culminates with the Independence Day of the country.
Once again, congratulations to all the runners, support crew & staff, and to our volunteers/marshals.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.