Training & Preparation:
I started my serious training on this event in the month of December of last year (2015). Monday in every week was my Rest Day and almost everyday was devoted to running on flat and hilly terrains. My average mileage for my easy runs and tempo runs was 7-8 miles. My longest run in the mountains would be 7-8 miles during the months of December and January and followed by hikes with the same route the following day. However, in my weekends or Saturdays, I would run a distance of 50-60 kilometres on flat & paved roads for my endurance runs. And on the following day, Sunday, I would go out for a hike in the mountains for a distance of 7 miles. I did this LSDs for 4 consecutive weeks. My tempo runs would be included in my flat long runs on Saturdays and lots of faster downhill running from the peak of the mountain where I usually do my recovery or daily runs. I never visited any oval tracks and do some speed intervals during the period of my training but I did a lot of hill repeats of 1 kilometer distance (run in going up and then easily jog or hike in gong down) with repetitions ranging from 10-15 repetitions, at least once a week!
My participation in last month’s Condura Skyway Marathon was also a part of my training as my gauge if my previous ultra distance LSDs were making me a stronger runner but not necessarily a faster one. I was happy that I did not encounter any “cramping/bonking” issues during the said race.
On the last 4 weeks before the event, I did at least 3 sessions of double-traverse in the mountain that I used as my training ground/playground and in every session, I would register a total of elevation gain of 4,250+ feet within a distance of 14 miles (22.4 kilometres) which I usually finish in 5:45-6:00 hours. In these 4 weeks, I was already using my trekking poles during the runs as well as practiced on how to tie or untie them from my hydration pack while on the move. I would also practice on how to hold them with my hand while on the run. I discovered that I was more comfortable in holding both the trekking poles with my left hand rather than holding the each pole on each hand while on the run on flats and downhills. In this way, my right hand is free to grab my food or hydration bottle from the pockets of my pack.
Using My Trekking Poles In My Playground
Two weeks before the race, I had my last double-traverse in my mountain with my best effort; without any “pit stops” and eating/drinking on the move, using my trekking poles, and with a faster pace. This workout registered my fastest time of 4:58+ hours for the course! One week before the race, I joined my race, 5th edition of the Fort Magsaysay To Dingalan 65K Ultra Marathon Race, and finished it in 9:19+ hours. Since the elevation profile of the course is hilly, I knew I would get a lot of leg speed and strength on the ascents and descents and be able to fine tune my nutrition/hydration strategy. On the rest of the days before the event, I just did easy 8K and 5K on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. However, I got so much time to sleep and recover before my flight to Hongkong.
Comparing my training this year’s event and that with last year’s, my training in the 2015 edition was more in volume and intensity. But in this year’s edition, I had more rest and recovery days and the use of trekking poles were contributory to my faster splits in the different Checkpoints. Additionally, I improved on my nutrition with the use of CarboPro, instead of using GU/Energy Gels every hour during the run. Being smart of not staying long in Aid Stations and by-passing the earlier ones had also contributed to my faster splits in the different Checkpoints.
Nutrition & Hydration
During my training and preparation, I’ve never used my stash of CarboPro since I only use them in my races. Instead, I used only water; Succeed Salt Tablets; SkyFlakes Crackers; and Coke which I buy at the turnaround of my double-traverse located in a populated area.
During the race, I brought and stashed 14 servings of CarboPro in my Salomon Hydration Pack which I intend to use one serving in one Simple Hydration Bottle filled with water within two hours of running/hiking. I would drink it with my Clif Blok Chews or Clif Meal Bar or with the foods available in the Aid Stations.
At Km 22 Along Sham Wat Road In Ngong Ping (5:00-6:00 AM Saturday (Photo By Ying Chai)
I was consistent during the race of consuming one serving of CarPro in between Checkpoints. I would leave the Checkpoint with one bottle mixed with water while the other bottle is filled with the CarboPro Powder without water. As I reached the next Aid Station, I would bring out the bottle with CarboPro powder and ask the volunteers to fill it with water. Once it is done, I would leave the Aid Station immediately and walk while getting one serving of CarboPro from my pack and have the powder fill in the other empty bottle. This drill was done regularly in every Checkpoint in the course.
I brought also Jack N Jill X.O. White Coffee Candies stashed in my Ultimate Direction Race Belt that has two zippered pockets. I would place two candies in my mouth and play them with my tongue while on the run. This would provide me with continuous supply of sugar to my nutritional needs aside from my CarboPro and Chews. One of the pockets of my ASICS shorts was designated as my trash pocket for the wrappers of these candies and the ziploc plastic bags for my CarboPro Mix.
I forgot to bring SkyFlakes from the Philippines but I was lucky to find out that there were crackers being served in the Aid Stations. So, every time I would reach the Aid Station, I would get two packs of crackers and put them in my shorts’ pockets and I would eat them during my run. But I advise you to be careful when you eat their crackers because it made me choked during the run. I stopped choking and coughing when I drank most of my CarboPro Mix!
When there is a chance to eat their Hot Noodles in the Aid Stations, I would mix them with Salami slices and they gave me the much needed fats and salt to my diet. I would also pick-up their Nutella Sandwiches, Raisins, and Chocolate bites as I leave the Checkpoints. I started drinking Coke at Km #44 and every Aid Station thereafter.
Bottomline, I did not have any nutrition or stomach issues during the race. It could be the prevailing cold temperature or cold weather of the day that contributed from having no problems with my digestive system. However, there was only ONE Problem that I’ve encountered during the race…
Peeing During The Race
After leaving the Starting Line and about to enter to the trailhead, a distance of about 1 kilometre, I was already irritated that I need to pee immediately! There was no amount of controlling it that I had to urinate on the side of the street near a fence while the rest of the runners were waiting for their turn to enter the narrow trail. For the rest of the course, I would pee in every 3-4 kilometres!
There are times that I would enter their Public Toilets situated along the popular and visited trails but most of the time, I would just pee beside the trail most specially in the mountains. There was a time that I did not know that a lady runner was running behind me when I just decided to side-step and just pee beside the trail without any cover.
Surprisingly, I did not have the urge to pee when I was battling with the strong winds and fog as I was ascending to the Sunset Peak as well as when I was going down to the Checkpoint in Pak Mong (Km 85).
On hindsight, my regular peeing was a sign that I was regularly hydrated and did not have a feeling that I was “bonking”. Actually, I only ingested two Succeed Salt Tablets during the run.
I could have peed for almost 20-25 times during the race and if it took me 30 seconds to pee, then I would have spent a total stop time of 10-12 minutes and if I would enter a Public Toilet, each pee time would be longer than 30 seconds! I am not sure how I will solve the problem of not peeing so many times in a cold weather environment during a race. I am an expert already in peeing while on the run or on the move but I only do such thing during night running. I did this thing in last year’s participation in this race though where I would here laughter from the runners behind me upon seeing the traces of moisture drops on the dry trail ground as their lights would see them.
On Apparel and Running Kit
During my training in the mountains, I was using alternately, the ALTRA Superior 2.0 and INOV-8 Race Ultra 270 trail shoes. I have observed that the ALTRA shoes was giving me more comfort and cushioning but less in sole traction with the muddy trail/ground/slippery rocks. On the other hand, the INOV-8 Race Ultra’s soles are very aggressive to muddy trails and slippery rocks and there is comfort on my feet in the toe box section but lacking in cushioning. With the help of a weighing scale, I finally decided to use the ALTRA Superior 2.0 because it was lighter than the INOV-8 Race Ultra by 53 grams!
My gray-colored ASICS running shorts had been my favorite shorts since I bought it before the 2015 CM50. It has a side pocket on the left side that fits with my IPhone; a big zippered back pocket; and big slanting pockets on both leg portions of the shorts. I usually use it with my Under Armour Compression Shorts as my underwear/brief and it never gave me any rashes on my groin and butt.
The same as last year, I was using a compression shirt/muscle shirt without arm sleeves (by Adidas) and a white PAU long-sleeved shirt as my Uppers. I brought two Jackets (Uniqlo Water Repellant Down Jacket & Columbia Water Repellant Windbreaker with Hood). I used the Uniqlo Jacket on the 1st half of the course and the Columbia Jacket on the 2nd half which was proven to be very effective against the strong winds in the mountains and maintained my body heat temperature despite of the cold condition of the night. I was using my old Shenza Compression Calf Sleeves; Drymax Trail Socks; and Dirty Girl Gaiters. To protect my ears from getting cold, I used the Mission Buff (Blue-colored) which is thicker and longer in size than the other buffs in the market. For my cap, I used my old white Under Armour Runner’s Cap.
Along The Cable Car Trail In Ngong Ping @ Km 62 (Photo By Freebird)
My trekking pole is made by Black Diamond which is the old version of the Ultra Distance Z-poles which is 120 cm. long. It is always partnered with my old and trusted Specialized Cycling Gloves!
I bought the new version of the Salomon S-LAB 5-Liter Hydration Pack on the mid-part of last year and it was my 2nd time to use it in a race. Instead of using the Salomon plastic bottles that go with it, I replaced them with Simple Hydration Bottles with the reason that they have bigger openings where I could easily pour my Powder Mix from the Ziplocs containers that I use. What I like in this hydration pack is that it has a lot of expanding zippered pockets as well as back main compartments which can accommodate my jacket and my nutrition needs. I could easily tie and untie my trekking poles while on the run or on the move without removing my pack from my body. The same is true when trying to reach for my nutritional needs.
I’ve been using a Mission Buff for the past two years and I’ve selected it for the Hongkong event because it is thicker and longer and it is advertised to maintain coolness to the body but for the prevailing situation during the race I’ve used it as a cover to my ears from the cold temperature and at the same time absorb the sweat coming from my head. The buff did its work and it was very useful for me during the race.
Medication & Drugs
Once I ingested the Hopias (Chinese Bread), which I brought from Manila, few minutes before the start of the race, I took 2 pieces of Aleve tablets and one capsule of Immodium. After eating my egg sandwich (Km 55) before trekking the Ngong Ping 360 Emergency Rescue Trail, I took another 2 pieces of Aleve Tablets.
To be continued…