Category Archives: ultramarathon

Bataan Freedom 68.9 Ultramarathon Run: A Podium Finish

It has been almost a month since my last marathon.   Though Sundays in March were filled with races after another, the second Sunday was the longest so far having finished back to back races in one weekend, a first for me–a marathon with special distance for SAF 44 and a half marathon in Corregidor lsland.

Weeks after, how could I say no to an invite from a fellow runner and Race Director Ian Alacar? Sixty-eight point nine (68.9K) is still more than 60 kilometers considering I had my last ultramarathon race two years ago. Daunting distance.  I wasn’t so sure how would I perform.  As what he told me, “Do the veteran’s move.”  Deep inside, I knew I could only bank on my Corregidor mileage.  This invite, which came from out of the blue, was such a temptation knowing that it would be staged in the place where I had run the longest distance I have experienced as a runner, the Bataan Death March 102K Ultramarathon four years ago.  In this race, just a portion of the infamous “Death March” route is used.

The invitation to run is extended to bring a friend.  With no hesitation at all, I invited a fellow ultra runner, who readily said YES to the challenge even on such short notice.

Though Ian graciously offered I go with his team on Friday, I declined as I had to finish work first.  Besides, I had to meet my friend who will be joining me in this trip.  Buses can be crowded on Friday night.  Finally, at past 10 PM, by pure luck, we were able to board.  Arrived quite late in Bataan after travelling for almost three hours and was very grateful for the extra effort (accommodation has been booked) that Ian and his team took in helping us settle in.

Like any other event, say a marathon, swimming, you name it, to finish strong and do well, it would be helpful to check out the race course and familiarize yourself with the terrain.  At least get a good idea of the distance you will need to cover.  It was for this reason why l wanted to visit Dambana ng Kagitingan (Altar/Shrine of Valor) on Mt. Samat again—to check its terrain via tricycle or on foot.

We had enough time to at least hit the city, make the trip worthwhile, and get enough rest hours before the race.  But I couldn’t sleep and relax.  I lay in bed waiting for sleep to come, but I had been getting up to go to the bathroom much more than normal.  It had to be just nerves.

After our pre-race meal, we all loaded in the car of Ian and headed to Mariveles, Bataan, an almost hour ride from the hotel.  We were fortunate enough for an impromptu route orientation by the race director himself.  I marveled at the thought, “I have run this very same road in 2011 and I’m back in this place once again.”

Since we arrived a bit early at the race venue, I took full advantage of the moment to grab a short nap while waiting for gun start. Minutes before 1AM, race started promptly with photo ops, followed by a short  prayer, then the playing of the national anthem, a short welcome message from the City Mayor, a race briefing, and some stretching/warm-up exercises.

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At KM00 Mariveles, Bataan.  (Photo by Tong Pascua)
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Warm-up exercises for ultra runners. (Photo by Tong Pascua)

Aid stations are generally 10 kilometers apart.  Runners are required the card given to them stamped by an aid station staff to ensure that they don’t cheat nor cut course.  At the same time, a runner having incomplete stamps would mean disqualification from winning.  Tough!  On a positive note, a special finisher’s shirt and a trophy for  those who could finish in the top 30.  Nice!  One good thing about this race, apart from being paced by a friend, members of the REACT Team, the police and military, even the barangays were mobilized to take care of us, runners.  Lead drivers and roving patrols were there to guide.  During the initial stage, I could hear them radioing to watch over us.  Love it! Roving patrol services provided a safe and secure running environment. What an initiative coming from the Local Government Unit (LGU) and Provincial Government of Bataan. Admirable!  Personally, as a runner, I felt good being greeted by military and police personnel, and seeing them cheering on you.

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37 runners at the starting line. (Photo by Tong Pascua)

Since the first seven kilometers would be mostly uphill, I had to just take it easy.  It was in this course that I had run with a lady Kenyan runner, Perris Poywo, who told me that she recently finished an ultramarathon race. Whoa!  What a strong runner!  Anyhow, I was glad to note that at least in my lifetime I had the chance to run with (at times outpaced) her during the first few kilometers. Many thanks to photographer/runner Rafael aka KB Runner for his vote of confidence in my capability.  He wanted me to outrun the lead runner.  Hahaha!  To maintain the second place up to KM35, to me, in itself, was already an achievement.   Hands down, I was a no match to a Kenyan’s running prowess.

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Ahead of the Kenyan lady runner … really. (Photo by Tong Pascua)

ln ultra-distance running, generally, it would only be just you and the road—at times well-lighted, at times dark.   While running outdoors, frightful enemies especially in the wee hours of the morning like stray dogs make it difficult for you when they start barking and behave aggressively. Thanks to Norvs, a fellow runner, for not leaving me behind.  Chatting with him about anything made the distance seem much shorter.  We even played the distance by targeting trees or by counting steps.  It was at this point where a couple of runners passed us after we had settled in our pace.  It was me who left him at KM35 so I could make up for lost time.  I had to target a runner ahead of me.  It motivated me to go as fast as I could. Reaching the base of Mt. Samat was a relief.  When I finally caught up with the runner, I settled in and eased off my pace again.   But walking uphill forced me to work with more effort.   My quads are a bit painful now.  Rey, the runner who I caught up with, was so efficient in his walking.  I learned some basic techniques from him on how to tackle the Mt. Samat roads.  We outpaced four more runners who were way, way  ahead of us.  At one point, I had to tell Rey to go ahead and not wait for me.  Almost reaching the base of the Cross now, I heard someone behind me shouting cheerfully.  It was Norvs who is fast walking barefoot.  WOW!  This motivated me more to do well despite the pain on my quads after endless uphill walking on Mt. Samat.  Rested for a while and ate two pieces of bread filled with peanut butter given by Rey’s friend who is there to support their team.

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Power walking with a newfound friend, Rey.
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Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor), a 302-foot Memorial Cross located on Mount Samat

I had more than ten kilometers to go before reaching the finish line.  Running downhill may be easy, but it can be very taxing on the quadriceps muscles.  I was real careful not to brake and kill my quads as I had a long way to go.  The sun had been shining  endlessly.  A cloudless day could be extremely hot.  I needed to change my running attire.  Reaching the base, I saw some family members near a van waiting for their runner to come down Mt. Samat.  Little did I know that the van was at the same time where our stuff are stored.  Learning this, I did a quick change and run as fast as I could again.  In my hurry, I forgot to refill my bottle with water at the aid station.  Also, forgot to bring some cash.  Holding an empty bottle now, I did a run-walk strategy and prayed all along some locals would give me water.  True enough, I saw these guys along the road, and without any hesitation, I asked one of them for water.  The guy was kind enough to fill it with ice-cold water.  What a relief!

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With runner/photographer Rafael aka KB Runner.  (Photo by Tong Pascua)

With more than a few kilometers left to go, I finally saw the arch sign going to Balanga City.  I called the attention of one of the REACT members on motorcycle as she was about to pass me by.  I needed liniment to ease the pain on my quads.  Miss REACT member radioed and voila an ambulance came by.  The staff asked me to board.  I said, “No. What I needed is liniment or ice to soothe the pain on my quads.”  Since the ambulance ran out of supplies, l just continued to slowly run.  To my surprise, the ambulance came by again and the medical staff handed me a neckerchief with a small block of ice.  This I put immediately on my sore muscles.  Partially relieved and not throwing the ice, I placed it securely in the cloth and tied it the around my neck. This cooled me down.  Meanwhile, KB and his friend Tong stopped by to offer water to drink and something to eat. Really nice of them!  It was at this time, participant Beep Beep passed me by.  I started running again under the intense heat of the sun at 39ºC.

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Running under the scorching heat of the sun. The neckerchief with ice helps.

Ian, on motorcycle, drove by to ask how we are as he excitedly announced that finish line is pretty near.  I managed to cross the finish line with Norvs, who earlier finished ahead of me. Then l heard the host announcing my finish for second place. I received a glass of water from a young volunteer, got my finisher’s medal, some finisher’s kit, a trophy for finishing in the top 30, a finisher’s shirt with long sleeves, and a well-deserved meal.  Awarding ceremony for the top 3 (women’s division) and some photo ops followed.   A race worth running.

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Race Director Ian Alacar of Without Limits Philippines in action.
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Almost there! Being welcomed and paced by fellow runner, Norvs.
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L-R: Bataan Tourism Officer Christina Banzon; Sheryl (3rd place); Perris (1st place); RUNNINGDIVA Roselle (2nd place); and, Race Director Ian Alacar (Photo by Sheryl Quimosing)
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Awards received
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Fellow runner Norvs of the Soleus Team ranked 16th in the Top 30 Ultramarathon Finishers

I was told that there were 47 participants who signed up for this race, but only 37 showed up at the starting line with only five brave lady runners or a mere 13.5% against the number of gentlemen in this inaugural distance for the second edition of the Bataan Freedom Ultramarathon Run.  Later, five runners DNFed (did not finish).

Super duper thanks to Ian Alacar and Without Limits Race Management Team  for having me in this event.  Another one for the books for me! Woot! Woot! Kudos to Bataan LGU, the Bataan Provincial Government, and Veterans Bank for the support. Overall, it wouldn’t have been made possible if not for the volunteers, the police and military personnel, the barangays, the Department of Tourism, and everyone who made this event a huge success!

The inaugural distance 68.9K (Mariveles-Mt. Samat-Balanga, Bataan) during the second edition of the Bataan Freedom Ultramarathon Run commemorates the 73rd Anniversary of Araw Ng Kagitingan and culminates the Veterans Week on 12 April 2015.  Race proceeds will be used for the restoration of World War ll historical markers.

Congratulations to all the participants of this race!

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Super duper happy! (Photo by  Sheryl Quimosing)

Ultra-distance running may not be for everyone, but there is something about finishing you didn’t think you could finish.  As what Scott Jurek, a world renowned ultramarathon world champion said, “Running Diva, dig deep.” 

Surprise yourself.   

You’re stronger than you think you are.   

My thoughts exactly.

Bataan Freedom Run 2015

Bataan Freedom Color Run is bigger and more colorful!

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This is presented by Veterans Bank, and proceeds from the event will be used to restore the World War II historical markers of Bataan.   Join  the 68.4K Ultramarathon, and the 10K, 5K, 1K Children and 1K Pets run on 12 April 2015. 

Venue:  Balanga Capitol, Bataan

 Registration Fees and Inclusions:

 68.4K – P 1,000

 10K – P 350

 5K – P 250

1K – P 250 (Children)

 1K – P 250 (Pets) *

*Please present latest vaccination record

Student Rate: APPLICABLE for 1K – 10K distances only. PLEASE GIVE A PHOTOCOPY OF YOUR STUDENT ID.

No singlet – P 50

 With singlet – P 150

Ultramarathon finishers will receive finisher’s shirt, medal, free breakfast and coffee at the finishline.

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Ultramarathon Finisher’s Shirt
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Ultramarathon Finisher’s Medal

Top 30 ultramarathon finishers will receive a trophy.  All runners have singlets and race bibs.  Top three runners of each category will receive winners’ medals and cash prize (except the 1K category).

 Cash Prize:

 68.4KM

 1st Place – P 10,000

 2nd Place – P 7,000

 3rd Place –  P 5,000

 10K

 1st Place – P 5,000

 2nd Place – P 3,000

 3rd Place –  P 2,000

 5K

 1st Place – P 3,000

 2nd Place – P 2,000

 3rd Place – P1,000

 Registration Sites:

 Chris Sports outlets (to be announced)

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Singlet Design

Balanga Capitol, Bataan Tourism Center, Anabel’s Pastries, Dinalupihan New Market

Register online at: https://regonline.activeglobal.com/bataanfreedomrun2015 or you may e-mail: secretariat@withoutlimits.ph or call +632 263.7768 (Landline) and 0937.372.6217 (Mobile)

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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

I Shall Return 50K Ultramarathon 2013 Finisher

Two years have passed since last ultramarathon race, which was the Bataan Death March (BDM) 102-km race.  I found myself wanting to go back and do another ultramarathon.  While searching online sometime in June, I chanced upon a link of an ultramarathon to be staged in Tacloban City.  I’ve never been to this part of the country since there never was any occasion to go there.  In fact, my only recollection of the place was from a photo of my late father with my older brother taken at the famous San Juanico Bridge.   I knew I’d love to visit it one day.   What better way to go back to long distance running than by joining the I Shall Return 50K Ultramarathon, a fitting race name for a returning long distance runner like me.    
Arrival in Tacloban City and Race Preparation
The good thing was the hotel’s location is pretty close to a mall so looking for a good place to eat and buying whatever I need in the race would be easy.  Though food and drinks are provided at the aid stations, I bought myself my own energy drinks. My rule of thumb: never try something new on race day.
I came back to the hotel as soon as I can and had each energy drink labeled with my name and aid station number as aid stations are spaced approximately every 10 km apart. I hadn’t been able to sleep so I had showered, prepared my race gear, and killed time and thought I could arrive early at the venue and still not appear too worried.  The reasons perhaps were not having enough long runs plus the extra weight I gained lately. My only consolation was I had the chance to train for three weeks focusing on core, endurance and speed exercises at the very least with the help of Coach John Lozada, my running coach.  But I knew the preparation was not enough.  Faced with these quandaries and crazy as it may sound, I literally conversed with my feet and body telling them not to get cramps and help me reach the finish line.  To lighten things up, my goals were (1) to finish within the 10-hour deadline; and (2) get to see the longest bridge in the country, the San Juanico Bridge.  
Hours before Gun Start and During the Race
Not one familiar face at the race venue when I arrived.  I just took a seat and waited for the race to start.  Few minutes later, I saw Jonel’s arrival, the Race Director and editor-in-chief of Frontrunner magazine, and the only recognizable face I could find in the crowd.  Distribution of race bibs and a briefing on the race route then followed.  During the briefing, we were informed that portion of the route would be in total darkness due to a power failure that was announced earlier.  Meaning, we would be running in the dark from 2am until 4am or 5am.  I could only expel a deep breath after learning this, silently praying I would make this better and not get lost going around the city and for my guardian angel to guide me as my eyesight isn’t that good.  The only game plan I could think of was to follow those in front of me.  The race started with a prayer led by no other than the Race Director himself and a group photo op ensued at the start/finish tarp.  It was almost 2am.
To my relief, I was not alone (the highway is reminiscent of BDM) on the road. Marshals, either riding in their cars or on tricycles, were there to light our way. Sometimes they stayed at the back and every now and then went past us to give directions to help ensure safety of runners. Glad there was a bike following with an extremely bright headlamp.  It turned out it wasn’t even what I thought it was when I heard male voices and a pair of running footsteps behind.   As minutes raced by, I started to feel dizzy from the headlight coming from one of the runners.  To solve the problem, I stopped and waited for them to overtake me then stayed following them.  
Immersed in deep thought and oblivious to everything else, I almost didn’t notice the shout and signals of the marshals at the rotunda near the 10km or 12km aid station.  In the next hours that followed, the two gentlemen became my instant guides and companions.  They were kind enough to offer me whatever supplies they have.  Took some and politely declined the next time I was offered.  In my estimation, the aid station, where I could take my own drink and food, couldn’t be that far. 

The many facets of ultra distance running in Leyte
(Photo courtesy of N. Fevidal)
Down the highway we came across with a support crew who eagerly offered us bananas, chocolates, water and soft drinks.  As the race progressed, one of the gentlemen who were running with me decided to proceed.    A few minutes later the other one followed suit.  But before leaving, he advised the driver of his support vehicle to escort me.   These people are my angels, an answered prayer. 
Left alone now I watched the early morning sun slowly creeping up the horizon, running steadily till I overtook two more runners.  I stopped for a while to exchange pleasantries with them afterward told them to slowly jog with me so we could reach the aid station together.  The small steps brought us to Magsaysay Boulevard near University of the Philippines, Tacloban.  I liked the place as the boulevard was lined with trees making it more pleasant for running.  There were joggers as we passed by the area.  

Running at the San Juanico Bridge with Noreen Fevidal
(Photo courtesy of N. Fevidal)
One of the main surprises running in this event was being supported by a stranger, a lady runner, who paced with me, offered me water to drink, and even encouraged me to at least finish fourth odds in women’s division.  This unexpected vote of confidence though warmed my heart all I could do was smile knowing there were other faster runners in attendance.  Anyhow, I think I did a good job finishing the race.  To top it off, crossing the San Juanico Bridge (Leyte to Samar, and vice versa) was a bonus indeed!   Not bad…  Not bad at all…

Congratulations to all of the finishers in this year’s I Shall Return edition

Super duper thanks to Noreen (for pacing me), Norman (for the photos), Jonel (for facilitating my registration), Jojo Yu of R8 Cycling and Stars Cafe and Bar (support), Brian (support), Glice, John, Edgar, Frederick, Nap Ocampo (distributing my foodstuff at each aid station), Mark, the marshals ( ensuring safety of runners) among others. 

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.

Magnolia Purewater Mayon 360° Albay Ultramarathon (2nd : 2012 )

The race around Mayon Volcano is back!

The Province of Albaywill host the second edition of Mayon 360° Ultramarathon on April 21, Saturday. This world-class race is an 80-kilometer ultramarathon around Mayon Volcano also known internationally as a 50-mile run around the world’s most perfect coned volcano. It is the first ultramarathon event in the Bicol Region, wherein an ultramarathon means running more than the traditional marathon distance of 26 miles or 42.195 kilometers.

Runners will be taken across the circumferential scenic mountain side of the Mayon Volcano through the Pan-Philippine Highway—Sabluyun Road—Karangahan Boulevard—Tabaco-Legazpi Highway crossing 7 municipalities, 3 cities, and 77 barangays (villages) of the province of Albay.
Mayon 360° Ultramarathon was conceptualized by the Junior Chamber International (Legazpi City Chapter) in partnership with the Liga Ng Mga Barangay (Albay Chapter), Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU), and through the leadership of Governor Joey Sarte Salceda that the project was funded and successfully implemented. The event was held to support the various tourism programs of the Provincial Government of Albay and considered as one of the highlights every month of April during the celebration of the Magayon Festival.
In its second year, the event is now dubbed as Magnolia Purewater Mayon 360° Albay Ultramarathon, which reflects the entry of a major corporate sponsor, Magnolia Purewater, signifying that Magayon Festival is gaining market traction!
Through the concerted efforts of the barangays, runners will be welcomed with aid stations every five kilometers. Local folks along the route will showcase their hospitality, provide information about their barangay, and give encouragement and support to runners. This same support at the grassroots barangay level, with close to 700 volunteers, made the 1st  edition of Mayon 360° Ultramarathon a resounding success and garnered the Philippines’ Best Sports Tourism Event award given by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines.
Magnolia Purewater Mayon 360° Albay Ultramarathon will be giving cash prizes of more than P230,000 with separate categories for local and international runners. The event is currently the cheapest ultramarathon (P850 only) in the country.  Said race is sanctioned by PAUas one its official races. A pre-race briefing will be held on April 20 at 5 PM at the Albay Provincial Capitol Building where the participants will be treated to a carbo-loading party. The race has a 15-hour cut off time and will start at 4AM on April 21 at the PeñarandaPark, Legazpi City.
For complete event information, please visit Mayon360.com.

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!

How I Prepared and Trained for BDM 102

I believe my preparation for BDM 102 started when I finally joined the 1st Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU) 50K race in Tanay, Rizal.  It was followed by running more PAU races, like the P2P 70K race (from Pasuquin to Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte) and T2N 50K race (from Tagaytay to Nasugbu, Batangas).  My performance as a runner during the (65+5) 70K race in Ilocos Norte was my gauge whether I would join BDM 102 or not. I felt fine after the race.  There were no major issues except for common soreness in the body and legs.  It was not an easy decision when I finally signed up for BDM.   I was afraid and apprehensive at the same time.  Receiving the official invite via e-mail from Sir Jovie a.k.a. Baldrunner, I knew then there was no room for postponing it. I had to dance to the music.
 
The first thing I did was to look for a 100-kilometer training program that would best suit my performance as a runner.  I’ve found one from an online source, http://ultrarunning.co.nz/content/100km-training-programme, and I personally customized it against my previous races as well as my available or remaining time before the BDM 102 race in March of 2011.  I got my invitation sometime in September 2010.  That would mean training would start on November 2010 and end on March of 2011 to complete the 16-week 100K program. 
 
Mondays and Fridays were REST periods.  Rest days I considered my free time to do stuffs other than running.  Training days included Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  Wednesdays would always be an eight-kilometer run, jog pace.  Tuesdays and Thursdays were intense in terms of repetitions.  It would always be a 15-kilometer distance either at a half or marathon pace.  Saturdays and Sundays were considered long runs ranging from 1 hour to 5 hours of back-to-back running.  It was really tiring, especially, that I’d do my training after work.   
 
Did I strictly follow the program?  My answer  would be a Yes and No.  Yes, in terms of being committed to it.  No, because there were times when I just couldn’t follow the program for some reason.  Well, one issue that women runners have to face with is, with all the changes in hormone levels that occur during menstrual cycle, you’d expect speed workouts to suffer.  Another No, when I lost my mother last year.  I was exhausted and kind of overwhelmed for a while.  I was back to running only sometime in January this year.  There were weekends when I couldn’t do the long runs because I was afraid to go out too early in the morning without any companion.  Most of my ultramarathon running friends was also busy preparing for their 100-mile race then so that left me running on my own most of the time.  
 
Sometimes there were times, I just couldn’t help it when you began to question why you are putting yourself under so much stress, that sometimes self pity would set in, especially, when you’d be running alone at the Mall of Asia grounds, seeing some people there having a good time, and here you are running back and forth because it’s part of your training.  But again, as a runner, to be focused is the main ingredient for one to be successful in his/her endeavor.  
 
I became more nervous as race day was getting closer.  I wasn’t sure whether my preparation was enough or not.  My failure to run on Saturdays or Sundays was usually compensated with swimming.  I would spend one to two hours at the Makati Aqua Sports Arena (MASA) swimming pool.   After running 2.5 to 3 hours on Sunday morning, I would then go swimming in the afternoon. 
 
Two meet ups with my support crew were also scheduled to discuss the route, strategy, hydration, food, supplies, among others.  It was a bonus that Dhenz a.k.a. Runningpinoy, 2010 BDM finisher, volunteered to offer his knowledge and experience in one of the meet ups.  
Indeed the spirit of voluntarism goes on and on in so far as BDM 102 is concerned.  Despite the short notice, Ziggy volunteered to bring the shirts as a surprise during the meet up.  
 
I just couldn’t let them down.  The shirt tells it all! Come race day, it would be my mantra, “102 all the way!”
 
What I also could bank on was my accumulated mileage based on my participation in PAU ultramarathon races for the past ten months, plus two marathons during the first quarter of the year.
 
Runners were also required to submit medical clearance.  Non-compliance means DQ or disqualified.  My cardiologist didn’t give me any clearance until I took another stress test. Thankfully, results showed good heart and blood pressure conditions. 
 
Weeks before the race, logistics wise, I was ready.  I met my support volunteers twice and discussed with them my food and hydration needs including coordination instructions during the race.  When all of these were settled, it was time to slow down.  I reduced my activities during the week, thus, getting to bed early to take some rest.  Two nights before the race, I relaxed my body and treated BDM weekend as if it was a non-race day.  I found it effective.  I got what I want, a sound sleep.  Both are considered equally important for an optimal performance.  This strategy worked for me. 
 
I used my Garmin Forerunner 305 during my training days for two reasons:  (1) to see my average pace; and (2) to log my mileage each week. On race day, however, I decided not to use my Garmin.  I didn’t want to feel pressured watching my pace from time to time so I used instead my Ironman Timex watch set its timer feature to 18 hours. 
 
I didn’t join any of the test runs for three reasons: (1) to save on expenses; (2) the schedule of the test runs didn’t fit my training plan; and (3) running back-to-back ultramarathon and full marathon not my cup of tea.  I’m not made of steel.  I believe that the body can only take as much.  Every runner is different.  If other runners can do it, well, I let them be.  As for me, it’s clear that my body couldn’t take that much stress. 
 
I was clueless what to expect of the route since I didn’t join any of the test runs.  I, together with my support crew, checked the route on race day itself.  We left Manila at around  9AM.  It was a rainy Saturday morning.  We arrived  at San Fernando, Pampanga around 11AM.  Our first stop was at the 102-kilometer marker, then, we followed the old road where one marker after another was placed along the road where the infamous death march took place.  
 
We had our second stop in Balanga, Bataan City.  We had our lunch there and made some last minute shopping for additional supplies needed.  
We arrived at the zero-kilometer marker in Mariveles, Bataan around four in the afternoon.  We took the long way down since a vehicular accident happened at the zigzag road hours before our arrival at KM 7.   I only saw the uphill course when the road was declared passable again. 
 
That left me with three or so hours (to rest or take a nap) before start of the race…    

On Foot from Tagaytay to Nasugbu, Batangas: 4th PAU 50K Ultramarathon, November 14

My aim for this year was to only complete Runrio Trilogy. And look where it brought me, not only one ultramarathon race, but three.

How did I make it possible? Oh well, there were key persons who influenced and never stopped egging me on to try one. I was the skeptic. But somehow their confidence in me gave me the courage to venture into ultra distance running.

Trying out the 50K race sometime in May, I would say, was never part of my plan, but some sort of a personal challenge to conquer fear of running beyond the 42K distance.

After I finished my first ultramarathon, I’ve come to realize that indeed it was possible as long as you put your heart to it. Even if training would never be that easy.  And where goals or reasons why run that distance, in the first place, were put to test.

Ultra distance running can be daunting with its physical and mental challenge.  I couldn’t agree more. The formula that worked for me every time when in a race was a personal mantra, “You’ve done 42K, a full marathon, what’s 8K added to it as warm up.  Reach the finish line!” Funny.  Strange.  Yet worked for me.

If you asked of my thoughts while running an ultramarathon, well, sometimes there were none.  Sometimes they were just random thoughts like “I prayed”, “I recalled experiences in the past, both good and bad”, “I enjoyed the view”, “I admired Mother Nature”, “I pondered on my experiences as a runner”, “I don’t know”, “Not sure.” And the list would go on and on.

Running an ultramarathon wouldn’t be easy but the reward, as you reached the finish line, ah, would be cherished forever.

Going back to my story, the Tagaytay-Nasugbu race, I opted to do it this time on my own sans any volunteer crew. The only support I had then was the drop bags I left with the race marshals at KM20 and KM40 aid stations. Since I hardly use hydration belt or fuel belt, I had only a bottle of water, hand held, and some GU gels, to last me until KM20.  One of the best things running an ultramarathon is, even when done guerilla running, support will always be there.

How I tackled the race? The only strategy I could think of then was to run the first thirty or so kilometers within the range of six to six thirty pace per kilometer.  I crossed my fingers.

I was doing alright but I got sidetrack with a series of kidney break and looked for a place to relieve myself. It was a good thing there were hotels and inns along the way.

The route wasn’t as difficult as Tanay, Rizal (my first 50K ultramarathon in May). Quite the exact opposite in terms of terrain, most of it was downhill. Plus, the weather that day cooperated.

As I reached Nasugbu, I couldn’t help but smile and felt like one of the brave persons in history as I saw the welcome arch with the inscription, “Maligayang Pagdating sa Lalawigan ng Magigiting” (Welcome to the Province of the Brave).

Within the twenty or so kilometers, it was here where I had to slow down and paced with Aaron or Aron, a member of Team Boring of Takbo.ph.  Aaron is a strong and fast runner. He was one of the finishers in the recently held PAU 70K Ultramarathon in Ilocos Norte.  I paced with him until he told me to run ahead.

I was somewhat confident I could finish the race within six or so hours, but as I was about to run past another runner, my attention was caught when he suddenly called me by my moniker, so I decided to slow down and chatted with him for a while. During our conversation, he made mention of some blog names, known in running community such as The Bullrunner, Jazzrunner, Baldrunner, among others. I learned he drew inspiration to run his first ultramarathon, the 4th PAU, also from blogs that he read and followed. I paced with Macky until at the bend, across Shell Gasoline Station in Nasugbu.  I ran ahead, supposed to hydrate, but opted to run the rest of the kilometers instead.

Running Diva, during the last two hundred meters, on her way to the finish line. Many thanks to Vener aka Run Unlimited for the photo below.

Did I reach my goals? My answer would be a YES and NO.

I failed to run the first 32K within the pace I set for myself. I didn’t finish within the number of hours I also set for myself, but I reached the finish line within the cut off time. I finished my third ultramarathon this year, beyond what I dreamed of.

I’ve met  friends along the way, thankful to those who followed this blog, and glad to have paced with fellow runners whose goal was same as mine: “to reach the finish line”. I was not able to use my drop bags in any of the aid stations.

Many thanks to Joy of Team Boring for the photo below (receiving the mug trophy at the finish line with Sir Jovie aka Baldrunner, PAU Race Director). Joy finished her first marathon at the recently held New York Marathon. Straight from the airport, she headed for Tagaytay to support to fellow runners and teammates of Team Boring.

Of course, I couldn’t have done it alone. Either guerilla running or with support crew, fellow runners, family, and friends would always be there.

Many, many thanks to the following persons who made it possible for me to reach the finish line. To the hotel staff who prepared my-so-early-requested-breakfast; to Chelly and Team CB for the bread with peanut butter; to Cindy of Team Boring for keeping my stuff safe and for checking in on me during the race; to Macky for the Omega pain killer and hydration, Aaron and Mar aka Forefoot Runner for accompanying me; to I Love Kamote Team for their cheers; support crew of other runners for handing out water in cups; to the children along the way who gave me water and high fives; to Sir Jovie aka Baldrunner and Team Baldrunner for the cheer and support and magic drink; to Pao for your support; Team Boring for the ride back to Manila, and to those whose names I failed to mention here.  Again, thank you so much!

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?