Category Archives: ultra runner

Starstruck with Scott Jurek

Prior to the Event

Who would have known I would meet one of the great ultramarathon runners in flesh?  To me, Scott Jurek (SJ) is only one of the characters in the book, “Born to Run”. It never crossed my mind the day would come when I could finally meet this runner in person.  Thanks to Jonel Mendoza and the FrontRunner Magazine team for bringing this jaunty fellow to the country.

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                                              Receiving the prize won from Scott Jurek himself

Boggling with notion on how I started counting the remaining days for the meet up and the great event, when an unprecedented travel assignment and run training schedules two weeks prior to the occasion were extremely tight and it was not possible to do a personal errand such as purchasing the ticket for the SJ Live. Rap on it having a muddled mind and excitement all at the same time that I got the dates fogged up.   Yes, I was at the venue two days earlier thinking that December 10 was a Monday instead of a Wednesday.   Can you conjure how flustering it was to ascertain my cognomen is nowhere to be found in the list because the event is still yet to happen? Whew! What a blooper! Looking back, I realized that I needed to roar at myself for this befuddlement.

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                                                                            The fuel belt I won
During the Scott Jurek Live!

The talk started with a video montage about him and how he came about as an accomplished runner. The presentation showed practical inputs on running: having the right attitude, getting out of the comfort zone, to be informed, getting good nutrition, keep pushing and testing your limits, to stay humble, turning setbacks into advantages, and be passionate about what you loved most—running. 

                                                                   One of the winning tickets

 It was really awesome grinning at this perky guy while listening to his pep talk during a run with the Tarahumara Indians, with the late Caballo Blanco in the book Born to Run, and great races such as the Badwater, Spartathlon in Greece among others… it was a surreal moment.  SJ is not only a gigantic ultra distance runner but also an academic icon.  He graduated in secondary school as class valedictorian and completed a Masters Degree in Physical Therapy.  Can you beat that?  One word: starstruck.  An open forum followed after.

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                                               Got his autograph. Super thanks, Scott Jurek!

When my ticket number was called during the raffle, I think it was redemption. What happened two days earlier, was in fact, a blessing in disguise.  Yeah, I won a fuel belt awarded by SJ himself plus a photo taken with him.  To top it off, each got an autograph and a photo op with him again.  I could not ask for more.

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                                                                    Scott Jurek, author of Eat and Run, in action

A Chock-full and Colorful Tidbits Taken from Born to Run Book

I kept notes while reading the Born to Run book, and also wrote down some of its interesting things, line of thoughts, facts, quotes, etc. in my journal.   I’d encourage you to read this book.  It’s a fantastic read! 

Here’s a list of those, mostly to let you see a glimpse of what it is all about:
Tarahumara Indians and Caballo Blanco

Tarahumara, a near-mythical tribe of Stone Age superathletes.  Pronounced Spanish-style by swallowing the “h”: Tara-oo-mara.  Tarahumara alias Rarámuri—the Running People, healthiest, most serene people on earth, greatest runners of all time.

Caballo way of running:  Lesson 1: Get behind me — Lesson 2: Think easy, light, smooth, and fast—start easy because if that what’s you get, that’s not so bad.  Then work on light [meaning effortless] like you don’t give a [damn] how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go.  When you’ve practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smooth.  You won’t have to worry about the last one—you get those three, and you’ll be fast.

All About Running

We were born to run; we were born because we run.

Runners are assembly-line workers; they become good at one thing—moving straight ahead at an steady pace.  Athletes are Tarzans—swim, wrestle, jump, swing, strong, explosive.

Running wasn’t about winning.

The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other but to be with each other.

The real mutants are the runners who don’t get injured.  8 out of 10 runners are hurt every year.

Running is tough on your legs.

You don’t stop running because you get old.  You get old because you stopped running. — DD

Everyone thinks they know how to run, but it’s really as nuanced as any other activity.  Inefficiency is guaranteed and injury is inevitable.

Kenyans have super-quick foot turnover.

It takes eight years until you run your best time—eight years up, eight years down (true for both genders).

The way to activate your fat-burning furnace is by staying below your aerobic threshold—your hard-breathing point during your endurance runs.

Endurance is all about conserving energy—the brain’s department.

Only go as fast as you can while holding a conversation.  

The faster you can run comfortably, the less energy you’ll need.

Speed means less time on your feet.

“… so focused on speed and couldn’t understand how endurance could be an advantage”

What good is endurance on a battlefield built on speed?

All About Distance Running—Marathon, Ultramarathon

Know why people run marathons? Because running is rooted in our collective imagination, and our imagination is rooted in running.  Why do so many people hate it?

Distance running is an outrageous threat to the integrity of the knee.” — American Association of Orthopedic Surgeon report conclusion

Ultrarunners had no reasons to cheat because they had nothing to gain; no fame, no wealth, no medals, they don’t even get the prize money; all you get from winning an ultra is the same belt buckle as the guy who comes in last.

Advanced ultrarunner weapon: instead of cringing from fatigue, you embrace it.  You refuse to let it go.  You get to know it so well, you’re not afraid of it anymore.

Shoes and Barefoot Running

Shoes block pain, not impact! Pain teaches us to run comfortable!  

From the moment you start going barefoot, you’ll change the way you run.

Good Luck to All Bataan Death March 102KM Ultramarathon Warriors!

Nearly a year had passed when I had the chance to run this prestigious ultramarathon event.  And on Sunday, March 4, another batch of Bataan Death March runners will brave the same path to honor the memory of our WWII brave fallen soldiers. 
To all ultra marathon runners in this race, I wish you all well. 
Be safe and reach the finish line!

What Happens After an Ultramarathon?

I felt so fine right after I finished running an ultramarathon. In fact, I walked and could even go up and down the stairs (without limping) like as if I didn’t run quite a long distance one weekend.

Not been into running like what I used to. Well, except for a slow 6.5K, just two days after the race. That was it. Last month’s mileage was only that distance. I didn’t even register for any race. Running a 5K or a 10K seemed to be so easy. If you’ve been running a 21K or a 25K per night, not as a race, but as part of your training program, then you would understand what I’m trying to say.
What I’ve experienced, I don’t consider as burnout as I still love to run. I believe it’s my body’s way of telling me, “Hey, I deserve to rest after working so hard.”
What I have been up to lately? Living like a normal being. Getting enough rest and sleep. A rare treat for me. Why? Well, my weeks for the past years, since I’ve been addicted to running, were normally about running, running, running, and racing.
Been swimming though as cross training. But no matter how much I like to swim, running is still what I love to do. And so, right before writing this post, I decided to run around Bonifacio High Street. And I was glad to have reached at least 10K.
How long really is recovery time? In my opinion, it depends really. Some runners can recover quickly that they’re off to another race again. For some it takes time. Others would even hibernate for a while. I came across a site on Ultramarathon 101. Some of the tips posted are interesting.
Here’s a sample with my comments: Recovery from the Big Race (Source: http://www.wny-ultra.org)
~ If your legs are sore (i.e., it hurts to run), then don’t resume running until you are pretty much free of pain. Typically this takes 3-4 days if you have, for instance, trashed your quads. – I ran after two days. I could walk with no limping, no soreness at all.
~ While your legs hurt, do something else for active recovery. Walk if you can do that with tolerable pain or ride a bike. Avoid impact exercise until the legs stop hurting. – Even if it didn’t hurt, I took a swim for active recovery. I could swim more than a kilometer with no rest. I tell you, I was even surprised of myself.


~ When you can resume running, go easy and give your body a chance to repair any lingering damage. – Yeah, it was an easy run for me that I even employed walk breaks.

~ As you resume training, you should find your short runs will feel good within a week or two at most. You may even be able to run a decent 5K after two weeks recovery. – I didn’t run for a month. I rested.

~ If you try a long run only a couple weeks after a hard ultra, you will probably feel very tired and sluggish after 10-15 miles. I have found my endurance comes back slower after an ultra than my short race speed (what little speed I have, anyway). It usually takes about 4 weeks before a long run feels comfortable to do. – I agree.

~Allow 3-6 months between ultras to 1) adequately recover, and 2) adequately train for the next race. The longer the race and the harder the effort, the longer the gap between races should be for optimal performance. – Correct! But most of the ultra distance runners I know don’t wait for three to six months. After a week or so, they’re off running (and racing) again. Hmm… what kind of runners are they?

The Path to Ultramarathon Running: 2nd PAU P2P 65K++ Road Race in Ilocos Norte, August 29

Whaaat?!”
“That’s far!”
“Why are you doing it?”
“I don’t see myself running beyond 42K.”
“Wow, the farthest I’ve run is 21K.”
“I’ll support you but I won’t be there physically.”
“Good luck.”

Do the statements above sound familiar? Do you hear them from your friends or, may be, from your own family?

I get those reactions when I tell them I’m running an ultramarathon. Long pause. Period. Silence.

Sometimes I get a blank stare and in their eyes silently asking me, “What the heck are you talking about?” Even a friend of mine told me, “I support you but I can’t be there.” Some would even shake their heads as if I’ve lost my mind.

I couldn’t blame them for thinking so considering that a majority of people have never had the experience of running it in almost a day. At times, I get the support I need like seeing a couple of happy faces excited enough to tell me to just reach the finish line.

On Sunday, August 29, I took the challenge of running an ultramarathon dubbed as the 2nd Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU) P2P 65K Ultramarathon Road Race, held in Ilocos Norte. The race started in Pasuquin and ended in Pagudpud. Have you noticed why I placed the plus sign in the title? Well, the total distance we ran is not 65K but 70K. One of the big surprises in store for us.

The Day before Race Day: One Big Heart, One Community

Someone told me before that the best way to discover and learn the way of life of people is to visit either a church or a public market or both. Was I glad that part of our itinerary included a stopover in one of the churches in Laoag City. However, it never happened for we had to check in first at the resort in Pasuquin, which is more or less ten kilometers from the city proper of Laoag.

Since it was a Saturday, most of the runners I was with wanted to visit a church in the municipality hoping to attend an anticipated Mass. We got the surprise of our lives when the parish priest of Pasuquin, after discovering that we are some of those who would be competing in the next day’s race, offered to celebrate the Eucharist with us instead. What a generous heart!

In that instant, the runners became the church. Every one took part not only in the celebration but also served in the different ministries as well—liturgical music, collectors, lectors, and altar servers.

The priest, in his homily, shared something about the ultimate goal of a race. He gave us a glimpse of St. Augustine’s biography and his own race against life. And, he blessed all runners to have a safe and enjoyable experience in Ilocos Norte.

Race Day: Burgos Lighthouse, the Rock in Kapurpurawan, and Bangui Windmills as Kilometer Markers

The starting area is in front of Pasuquin Municipal Hall. Majority of the runners were already there and busy taking photos. There even was a long queue waiting for their turn to have a photo taken at the starting line under the Arch of Liberty. The race started as scheduled with the group singing the National Anthem first. It was followed by the reading of a Prayer for Ultramarathon Runners led by Doc Topher aka Doc T.

Ultramarathoners at the Starting Line (Photo courtesy of Dan Callanta)

This is, may be, the first time that the locals will witness an ultramarathon race in their province. At this time of the year, though it’s rainy season throughout the country, Ilocos Norte is still considered warm. But the weather cooperated that day. It wasn’t so hot even if the sun was up early. And, at times it played hide and seek with us.

I don’t have much to say about the initial part of the race up to twenty or so kilometers. One or two runners paced with me. Sometimes I conversed with them. At times, I joked with those around me. But the rest of the way, I just ran silently. I even calculated that at the rate I was going, I could, may be, finish the race in less than twelve hours. Maximum would be twelve hours. I crossed my fingers.

Pacing with Don (Photo courtesy of John Jeffrey Avellanosa)

At KM23

(Photo courtesy of Pepsi, a fellow runner and one of our support volunteers)

Reaching Burgos town means seeing the Burgos Lighthouse, a structure on a hill made during the Spanish Colonial times and the highest in the country. If you’re strong and fast, then, you can run the uphill climb. But if you’re a bit conservative or unsure, you can either walk fast or run down it real quick. I didn’t stay long though to truly savor the view. Time spent up there was just enough to have a couple of photos taken and I ran back again.

(Photo courtesy of John Jeffrey Avellanosa)

At KM 30.3

I stopped at our support vehicle to change shirt and hydrate. When I was about to proceed, Dhenz aka Runningpinoy arrived from the Kapurpurawan trail. He warned me that the way going to it, aside from being a long one, is also quite tough. Each runner I bumped into along the trail would always say it’s difficult. Majority of them warned me to be exta careful with each step as the stones are sharp. I wondered what really lies ahead.

With Kapurpurawan Rock as background and flanked by newfound friends, Jeff and Mico, both from Team Ultra (Photo courtesy of Toto aka Run DMD)

The Kapurpurawan Rock (Photo courtesy of Michelle Logan)

Though the trail is indeed difficult, but the reward given by Mother Nature is breathtakingly beautiful. Again, I didn’t stay long enough. Coming down from the Rock, I passed by a marshal who gave me the necklace string. I walked the trail again.

On my way back, a runner named Rico caught up with me. Man, he can really walk fast! No wonder as he’s a mountaineer. To just be in sync with his steps, I had to hold on to his backpack. I heard footsteps behind us. Doc T came out and caught up with us. Both of them walked very fast and I was left behind.

Walking alone now, with only the tall grasses, the path, the sun and the clouds above me as my companions, I conversed with myself. I asked my muscles to cooperate since it’s still a long way to go.

I tried to run but the stones protruding along the path stopped me or else I would trip over. My soles started to ache. After all, I was wearing a pair of running shoes not fit for a trail.

And when I walk, I feel an occasional very sharp pain under my left kneecap. I think I’m fortunate not to have had any major, major injuries. But in long distance running, the knees received the shock equivalent to three times our weight every time our feet hit the ground.

The smartest thing to do in this case is walk. So, to date, it was the longest walk I’ve ever done so far.

For someone who’s not really used to walking in a race it was like a slap on my already wounded pride. And I can only smile about it. But again, I have to respect not only the distance but also my body, especially, my knees. After all, I’ve got only a pair of them. It can never be replaced. No matter how strong the will is, but physically, one is still dependent on what the body can do. It can only take as much.

It was a relief to finally reach the highway after a grueling eight-kilometer walk under the scorching heat of the sun.

At KM44.4

One more to go, Bangui Windmills here I come. With each kilometer marker conquered, I crossed it out and marked as “Mission Accomplished” in my mind. It’s as if I’m playing a computer game, when after an opponent is knocked down, it’s on to the next level.

I know how fast Carina is but when I saw her walking almost all the way, I couldn’t help but ask her about it. I even offered to finish with her. But at the back of my mind, I also aimed to finish at around 3PM but this, too, was not achieved. Carina told me to go ahead and I did. But I wasn’t too far from her. I waited for her up to an aid station where another marshal told us to hydrate and eat before leaving for Bangui Windmill area.

It was another unpaved trail. We had no recourse but to walk. The course was part trail and part concrete road.

The route, a steep road going down, can be very difficult, especially, for someone who’s feeling a nagging pain in the knees. I slowly maneuvered the downhill portion of the road by walking backward.

It was in that area where three runners caught up with us, Nonong aka CamoteQ, Doc Art, and Rey of Frontrunner. We just walked and shared stories. Also, I didn’t get to have a photo taken at the Bangui Windmill Project. Rey stopped in Bangui to meet some of his friends while we continued to walk. It was a welcome respite to see finally the highway marked “PAU this way”. We were on the right track.

At KM64.7 and the Last Kilometers Before Reaching the Finish Line

Everything seemed to be working out well. The pain in my knees has subsided. There was even help offered by other support vehicles. My mantra was reach the finish line before five o’clock.

My Garmin registered eight more kilometers to finish. But at some point, before reaching the town of Pagudpud, it ran out of battery. To keep track of time, I asked some of the townspeople along the way.

During a stopover at the support vehicle I also asked Joy, one of the support volunteers, how far I was to the finish line. The only answer I’ve got was,”59K then down to go.” May be, I could beat the deadline I set for myself after all.

I already employed the run-walk-run method. But the town of Bangui and its highway seemed to be almost endless. And as I reached the town of Pagudpud, one by one, I passed each runner who had passed me. I couldn’t help it but I was bothered, bewitched, and bewildered to note that the time and distance I’ve run the past minutes seemed to be longer than I expected. I was a bit sad that I didn’t make it to the deadline. But when I’ve found out later what caused it, I was jubilant in the end. A whooping Yessss for finishing the 70-kilometer ultramarathon race!

Happy to reach the FINISH LINE (Photos courtesy of Michelle Logan)


The supposed-sixty-five-kilometer ultramarathon race from Pasuquin to Pagudpud, ended up as a 70-kilometer race instead. One of PAU’s big surprises again!

Many, Many Thanks

To the people who made this trip possible and fun at the same time–Tere aka El Capitana, Carina aka the Flying Boar, the Parish of Pasuquin, the townspeople of Ilocos Norte, the support volunteers namely Pepsi, Jai, Joy, Maan, and JR. Super thanks also to fellow ultramarathoners. You know who you are. There are no words to describe how grateful I am.

What An Ultra Runner Is …

While browsing the Net, I came across with Ultrunr.com, a site describing what an ultra runner is, in a funny way. Visit the site for the complete list. The distance is measured by miles (1 mile = 1.609 km).  Here are some of my favorites.

 

You Know You’re An Ultra Runner If …
By: Various Authors

You have more dirt on your shoes than in your garden.

You get more phone calls at 5:00 AM than at 5:00 PM.

You don’t recognize your friends with their clothes on.

You have more buckles than belts.

6AM is sleeping in.

Your feet look better without toenails.

Your idea of a fun date is a 30-mile training run.

You’re tempted to look for a bush when there’s a long line for the public restroom.

You don’t think twice about eating food you’ve picked up off the floor.

You can expound on the virtues of eating salt.

When you wake up without the alarm at 4AM, pop out of bed and think, “Let’s hit the trails.”

When you can recite the protein grams by heart of each energy bar.

Your ideal way to celebrate your birthday is to run at least your age in miles with some fellow crazies.

Your ideal way to have fun is to run as far as you can afford to with some fellow crazies.

You know the location of every 7-11, public restroom, and water fountain within a 25-mile radius of your house.

You run marathons for speed work.

You have more fanny packs and water bottles and flashlights than Imelda Marcos has shoes.

You visit a national park with your family and notice a thirty-mile trail connecting where you are with the place your family wants to visit next, which is a 100-mile drive away, and you think, “Hmmmm.”

Someone asks you how long your training run is going to be and you answer, “Seven or eight … hours.”

People at work think you’re in a whole lot better shape than you think you are.

You actually are in a whole lot better shape than you think you are.

Your weekend runs are limited by how much time you have, not by how far you can run.

You always have at least one black toenail.

You buy economy-sized jars of Vaseline on a regular basis.

You think of pavement as a necessary evil that connects trails.

Your friends recognize you[‘]r[e] better dressed in shorts than in long pants.

You really envied Tom Hanks’ long run as Forrest Gump.

You carry money around in a zip lock bag because store clerks complained that your money’s usually too sweaty.

Any time a plain old runner talks about her/[his] aches and pains, you can sympathize because you’ve already had that at least once.

You don’t need to paint your toenails; they’re already different colors.

You start planning the family vacation around races, and vice-versa.

When you start considering your next vacation location on the merits of its ultras only.

You spend you entire paycheck on running gear, ultrabars, and entry fees.

You become a quasi-expert on different detergents so as to not “hurt” your tee shirts.

You leave work early to hit the trails.

You wear T-shirts based on if you’ve had good workouts when you’ve worn them before.

Have a trail shoe collection that would make Imelda Marcos envious.

You walk up the stairs and run down them.

Peeing in the toilet seems unnatural.

You start wearing running clothes to work so you’re prepared for afterwards.

When the start of a marathon feels like a 5K and you’re wondering, “Why is everyone in such a rush? Where the ##@@**!! is the fire?

You sign up for a 10K and you strap on your fanny pack because you never know where the aid stations are.

You bring your own drinks.

You are the only one walking the uphills.

You run it a second time because its not far enough to call a training run (and you were racing the first time through).

You are the only one around who is eyeing the bushes THAT way.

Your number of toes to toenails doesn’t match.

You drink from a water bottle at the dinner table.

You know you’re an ultra runner when a prospective employer asks for a photograph and all you have [are] race photos.

You know you’re an ultra runner when your crew tries to keep you motivated by saying, “You’re in second place and only 6 hours behind first with 25 miles to go!

You bother to argue about (discuss the meaning of) what an ultra runner is!

When you don’t finish on the same day as the winner.

When you meet the opposite sex you see:
A possible crew.
A possible pacer.
A possible search and rescue team.
A possible race director.
A possible source of race entry fees.

You ask advice of hundreds of people on a list, looking for answers you have already determined to be correct, taking hold of only those, and running with ’em.

Your wife asks you the morning after your first 50-miler if you’re still planning on that 100K in five weeks, and you say, “Sure!

bdm finish

You strap on your water bottles and walk the hills … in a 5K race and consider that your 10-minute pace is a blistering pace.

People praise you to the high heavens for being able to finish a marathon, and you feel insulted.

You do a triathlon and it is your RUN time that is slower than the years when you specialized in triathlon.

You are told *not* to run another marathon during the next few months (because that would be bad for your health), and you really follow that advice – by immediately sending off the entry form for your next 50/100-miler.

Somebody asks about the distance of an upcoming race and you, without thinking, say, “Oh, it’s just a 50K.”

You’re running a marathon and at mile 20 say to yourself, “Wow, only 6 more miles left, this is such a great training run!

You’re embarrassed that you’ve only done 50Ks…

You go down a flight of stairs, uh, backwards, after an ultra and everybody laughs.

No one believes you when you say, “Never again.”

You refer to certain 100-mile races as “low-key”.

You number your running shoes to distinguish old from new, since they all look dirty.

Prior to running a difficult race, you check to see if local hospitals and urgent care centers are in your PPO [preferred provider organization or health care provider].

The only time major household projects get done is in a taper or race recovery.

Everything in your life, everything, is organized in different sized Ziploc bags.

You call a 50-mile race “just another training run”.

You think a 100-mile race is easier than a 50-miler because you don’t have to go out as fast.

You say, “Taper? Who’s got time to taper? I have a race coming up this weekend.”

You have to rent a car to drive to a major event because you and your pacer own stick shifts and neither will be able to drive them on the return trip.

You actually DO drive a stick shift home with a severely pulled left hamstring.

You meet someone of the opposite sex on the trail of a 100 and all of conversation is about what color is your urine, can you drink? And were you able to dump?

Ya [You] know you’re and ultra runner when a girl changes her tank and her bra in front of you and all you do is take another drink of water, look at your watch, get up and tell your pacer, “Let’s hit the trail.”

On a long drive you see the road signs listing various mileages to different places and think of how long it would take to get there on foot rather than by the car you’re driving.

You’ve started a race in the dark, run all day, and finished in the dark (if you’re lucky).

Your non-ultrarunning running friends look at you strange[ly] when you tell them that 10:00/mile is a fast pace for a 100-mile race (not to mention most ultras).

You don’t hesitate to lie down in the trail (anywhere) when you are falling asleep on your feet during the early morning hours on the second day of a 100-miler; and it feels so comfortable.

Finally …

You know yo’re an ultrarunner when you actually sit down and read all of the postings about, “You Know You’re An Ultrarunner When …” and can laugh and relate to all of the comments.