Archive for January, 2010

29
Jan
10

Get Ready for an Epic Relay

I was casually browsing through the pages of a fitness magazine when I stumbled upon this:

You and 9 of your closest friends running day and night, relay-style, through some of the most scenic terrain North Luzon could muster.  Add in local foods, inside jokes and a mild case of sleep deprivation. The result?  Some call it a slumber party without sleep, pillows or deodorant.  We call it Epic Relay…

  • 10 teammates
  • Subic base to Zambales towns to Bataan Mt. Samat, 250 km in total, more or less…
  • Two days and one night in a van… with intermittent bursts of running
  • World War 2 landmarks, gorgeous countryside and a fantastic coastline, the monuments of Mt. Samat and a great new finish line!

Your relay team will consist of 10 members.  During the relay, each team member runs three legs, each leg ranging from 4 – 12K and varying in difficulty.

Each team is responsible for providing two support vehicles, with five runners in each vehicle.  The first vehicle will drop off the first runner, drive ahead a few kilometer, cheer the runner on, and provide them with water, snacks, and plenty of love.  That vehicle will then drive ahead to the first exchange point to drop off the second runner, and pick up the first runner when that leg is complete.  They will repeat this pattern for five legs until they hand off to their second vehicle.  This leapfrogging pattern will continue all the way to the finish line.

More information about this event is available at http://site.epicrelay.info/.  Anyone up for this epic relay? 😀

25
Jan
10

Bataan Chronicles: The Test Run

Friday night, I was all set for my first trip to Bataan and while my things are ready I still was anxious about this test run since I had no decent run since returning from Singapore.

Evangelion

Bataan Death March (BDM) 102 Ultramarathon was a dream race for me since it started last year.  I was running for only a few months then so I had to wait for another year for my turn.  Now that it’s finally here, I was in ruins—I just lost all urges to run!

For some weird reason, the invitation letter I got from Baldrunner about the registration and the test run “kicked in” and spurred some sense onto me.  The “old” me that signed me up for the BDM was speaking to the lazy “new” me, and I realized that there were only a select few that are willing and able to do this, and I was one of them.  It’s not instantaneous as I still wasn’t running as much, but the “fire” is back.  The test run would mark my return to running—this is my evangelion (rebirth).

Wouldn’t you be inspired to run an historic route like the Bataan Death March?

A Family of Runners

Up until the last day I was clueless how to get a support vehicle for this test run.  Fortunately I was in a family of runners known collectively as takbo.ph, and they made what I thought was impossible, possible!  Who needs Santa Claus if you have a family like this?  Not only did we who’d be running have our support vehicle, we also had supplies, pacers, and morale boosters!  Thank you Gail, Marga, and Tere for all these!  You’re all Godsend to us “test runners.”  Thank you as well Carina for accommodating me before our trip to Bataan, and of course our “ultra-drivers” Angel and Kuya Eric.

Takbo.ph (courtesy Carina)

Bataan-bound

At around 2AM I and the rest of my running family were off for Bataan.  It was a good chance to meet new faces, and re-acquainted with old ones.  Not before long we were all dozing off and before we knew it we were in Bataan.

Cool and very windy, that’s how Bataan greeted us early dawn.  It was much cooler than Metro Manila even though it was practically just on the other side of Manila Bay, and the strong winds made sure that we felt it.

The BDM Test Runners (courtesy Vener)

Pre-Run

One by one, as the sun slowly rises, runners gradually arrived.  We were in the presence of veteran ultramarathoners which was a bit humbling as a newbie (to BDM at least).

Great views from Mariveles, Bataan

We were assembled in front of +Km00 (I’ll be prefixing a “+” sign to reference the Death March’s marker) and after some important instructions we were off at around 6:35AM.

Bataan Death March Marker Km00

The Test

As a BDM newbie I had no idea what to expect but I did have an idea on where we’d be heading as we passed Death March markers on our way to +Km00 in Mariveles, Bataan—and it wasn’t good!

The start of the ascent

The first 7K was pure steep climbs on zigzag roads which was really challenging.  After reaching the top, the strong winds were the challenge as it blows against us forcing us to slow down.  What a test! Afterwards it was gradually downhill and alternating rising and declining elevation.  While the wind had gone by that time, a stronger element, the sun, replaced it.  Despite being still in January the sun of Bataan was unforgiving.  Bataan was showing its other side—while it was pleasantly much cooler than the Metro at night, it was much hotter at daytime!  Suddenly I wasn’t a fan of blue skies.

The most difficult segment of the test run

Look for the Ribbon!

For the sake of first time BDM participants who weren’t able to join the test run, there are three critical places to watch out for: +Km14, +Km23, and +Km32.  At these points runners must turn right, and at these points ribbons will be placed (as with the test run) and marshals on race day.

Unbelievable Markers

As part of our lessons learned, don’t rely too much on the Death March markers as many of which is inaccurate, starting particularly with +Km21 which was actually +Km24 or 3K off (based on both GPS and odometer readings).  Most markers following it are at least 1K off but at +Km45 it gets corrected (only a few hundred meters off) and at +Km50 it is incredibly GPS-exact.  I had asked for my support at “+Km23” based on my GF405 as no markers were in sight.  My support was actually “there” but we didn’t saw each other and to my surprise I passed by +Km21!  Looking at my GF405 it was +Km23.98 already and thankfully my support also realized this based on their odometer so they returned for me.  If you were to ask your support to wait for you with certain intervals it would probably be best to use your odometer/GPS devices as reference.

A very challenging terrain

Sodaman

I can safely say that this test run for me was soda-powered.  Because of the heat anything cold is a pleasure, and since ice cold bottled water are a rarity in rural areas the next best thing that’s widely available would be sodas (a.k.a. softdrinks).  I consumed eight bottles of sodas for this run, both the typical and the clear from the two leading brands—all of which having an “interview” portion before I was able to get my change, the most common were “from where did you start?” and “where are you headed?”.  You can just imagine how much time I spent for each one, and that didn’t include “futile” attempts.

Last Two

The last two kilometers of this race was one of my longest—it was hot, I was hungry, and it was lunchtime!  I was thankful that there wasn’t any fastfood during this segment or I may have stopped to eat!  My motivation was simple—“get it over with so I may have lunch!”

+Km50

Markers from +Km45 were about 300 meters off so I was surprised to see +Km50 at exactly where it should be.  I was planning to sprint the last hundred or so meters but since it came early I didn’t finish as I wanted (but was instead seen walking hehe).

Sir Jovie “Baldrunner” with some of the gang at +Km50 (courtesy Carina)

Conclusion

Doing the test run brought me back to my senses, and it gave us first timers useful lessons how well to survive the “Death March.”  It may not be the real thing but it’s anything but easy.  I was glad to have joined as it was fun, at the same time dreadful.  I was able to witness the veterans and hardcores in action, and it also gave me a glimpse of our past.  With Sir Jovie’s guidance I know that this would be an exciting and memorable race.

With some of our loving support crew (courtesy Gail)

Observations

I noticed that most Death March route markers are not well preserved and some are really dilapidated (not to mention off-distance).  I sure hope that there would be good Samaritans out there that will help improve these reminders of our heritage, particularly +Km00, +Km50, and +Km102 (which I haven’t seen yet but is possibly in the same situation).  We need these markers so we won’t forget our history, or do we want to repeat it?

Not even halfway of the full 102K! Hanging out at +Km50 (courtesy Vener)

Special thanks to Carina, Vener, and Gail for some of the photos featured here.

24
Jan
10

Bataan Death March Test Run News Flash

Just a quickie post about the great adventure we had with Bataan Death March Test Run last Saturday, January 23, 2010.  There were 70 participating runners, 54 of which successfully completing the 50K test run from Mariveles to Abucay, Bataan.  Surprisingly I was able to finish 16th overall despite the heat (beginner’s luck?).  The complete test run results can be found here.

BDM Test Run Route: Mariveles to Abucay, Bataan (50K)

BDM Test Run elevation profiles

My partake on this adventure coming up shortly. 🙂

24
Jan
10

TNF Thrill of the Trail 2010 Updates

Thrill of the Trail is The North Face’s trail running series event and now it comes much closer to the Metro by being staged in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.  This year it would be held on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2010 and as such a new category, Couple’s Run has been introduced.  Here are further details:

Categories and Fees
22K, 11K*: P450
11K Couple’s Run* (Not exclusive to couples, teams of same gender allowed): P700 (for 2 persons)

* All open categories (no age groups)

Registration
Registration at TNF (Shangri-La Mall, SM Megamall, Glorietta 4, SM North Edsa Annex, SM Mall of Asia), ROX, and ResToeRun (Gateway Mall, Trinoma, Robinsons Galleria, Robinsons Ermita) until January 28, 2010.  There will be no on-site registration.

Race kits can be claimed on February 1–13, 2010 at respective points of registration which includes a bib number, singlet, race map and other detailed information.

Parking
22K runners can park near the Montecito gate (22K start line) and will be ferried back via bus after they finish at Evoliving while 11K runners can park in designated areas within the base camp.

Transportation
Limited number of bus seats courtesy of Nuvali will be available from ROX and Balibago Terminal during the event date.  Detailed schedule shall be announced in a few days.

Accommodations
El Cielito Inn will be offering 20% discount on published rates.  Other hotel partners will be announced as soon as arrangements have been finalized.

Notes

  • There will be a race briefing on Thursday, February 11, 2010, 7:30PM at ROX
  • There will be river crossings but there would be facilities to wash-up or take showers afterwards

To have some ideas on what you might expect, read my chronicles of last year’s event here (pre-race and race start) and here (race and post-race).  You may send your inquiries to inquiry@thrillofthetrail.ph.  For more details visit http://www.thrillofthetrail.ph/.

19
Jan
10

Guide to an Eight-Hour 50K Ultramarathon

On Saturday, January 23, 2010, the second running of Bataan Death March (BDM) 102 Kilometer Ultramarathon will be having its “test run” for participants to familiarize themselves with the first half of the infamous route which will be faced on D-Day in darkness.   The route will be from Km 0 in Mariveles, Bataan to Km 50 in Abucay, Bataan and the run to start at 6:30AM.

For those who are a little concerned about finishing the 50K Ultramarathon within eight hours, I made a time of arrival list that should be adhered to strictly to make it at the said target time.   An eight hour 50K run has an average pace of nine minutes and 36 seconds per kilometer (9:36) so there’s so much room to do walk-runs (often referred to as the Galloway Method).  At this pace you should complete a marathon in about six hours and 45 minutes.  Here is the list:

K ETA
1 0:09:36
2 0:19:12
3 0:28:48
4 0:38:24
5 0:48:00
6 0:57:36
7 1:07:12
8 1:16:48
9 1:26:24
10 1:36:00
15 2:24:00
20 3:12:00
21 3:21:36
25 4:00:00
30 4:48:00
35 5:36:00
40 6:24:00
42 6:43:12
45 7:12:00
46 7:21:36
47 7:31:12
48 7:40:48
49 7:50:24
50 8:00:00

To make this plan successful the time listed under ETA should be the latest time of arrival. A faster arrival time would of course result in a much faster finish time but if you want to take it easy you can wait to just before the ETA to reach your target.

To the participants, please refer to the guidelines of the test run.

18
Jan
10

Me and My GF’s First Running Anniversary

Exactly one year ago (January 18, 2009), my GF (405) and I had our first run together, on a perfect location, in a great race.  It was during The North Face Thrill of the Trail in Nasugbu, Batangas that we got to know each other well, and what an idyllic setting it was.

First Run

The trails were the perfect settings for our maiden race together because there aren’t many obstructions to obscure GPS signals, and as such I was able to get a pretty accurate elevation measure of the area.  Add that to the already accurate aerial distance measurement and you have a virtual 3D plot of your activity—something that I’ve never enjoyed before which my then barely-out-of-the-box Garmin Forerunner 405 gave me the pleasure of having.  Here was my first actual race readings from TNF Thrill of the Trail 2009:

My first GPS-tracked race: TNF Thrill of the Trail (2009); route and elevation information via GF405

That was the start of a great relationship, and so they say the rest was history.

Caring for your GFs

Not all runners were lucky to have a long withstanding bond with their Garmin Forerunners.  Here are some tips I can share:

Battery
Personally I follow this charge-cycle: As much as possible do not let the battery drain completely and when charging make sure to charge it fully—never do partial charging!  Batteries have a “point-of-no-return” and when your battery reaches this point it will never charge!  Full charging also helps reduce certain “memory” issues with batteries.

Water
As much as possible keep your GFs dry.  For 405s it causes the bezel and buttons to temporarily malfunction but for 305s it causes internal corrosion.

More Tips
For more tips and guide on using your GF405 read my review here.

Warning: Fatal Software Issue

There is a serious flaw in GF405 software version 2.50 wherein your lap data will NOT be saved.  If suddenly you find your GF405’s memory is full during your run and your Auto Lap is turned ON it will keep notifying you that your lap memory is full.  The notification will keep popping up rendering the device practically unusable, until you STOP your activity.  This software version does NOT automatically delete old lap data so your current lap data have no room to be saved and thus would be lost forever—frustrating indeed.  The GPS routes though seem to be unaffected but it yields trivial distance/lap data ratio.  This event unfortunately happened to me during my Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, below are my kilometer splits:

Of course a marathon is 42.195K long but in the splits I only had barely 31K on file, the rest was gone, but the GPS route seems to be complete.  Viewing it on the player is more confusing as it displays a complete plot for 42K whereas it only has 31K worth of data (notice the details towards the end).

Prevention
To avoid this trouble, make sure to delete your old lap data whenever your GF405 is warning you that your lap memory is almost full.  The Delete › Old Activities option conveniently deletes all activities that are older than a month permanently so make sure to save on your computer (via Garmin Training Center) or upload online (to Garmin Connect) your lap data first.

Cure
As of January, 2010 no new software updates have been released.

Nobody’s perfect and definitely everything that is man-made has its flaws, but regardless of its flaws I still am glad that I got a reliable partner whenever and wherever I run.  I do hope that this partnership continues for many more years and miles to come.  Miles.  Starting this year I’m also logging in miles!  This would definitely make things more interesting.

08
Jan
10

TNF Thrill of the Trail 2010

From the inbox, courtesy TNF:

Experience a different Valentine’s Day as The North Face brings you to the heart of Nuvali for another leg of the Thrill of the Trail running series on February 14, 2010.  11K, 22K, and an 11K Couple’s Trail Run categories are available to test Your love’s endurance!  Register at TNF stores in North EDSA, Megamall, Shangri-la, G4, and SM Mall of Asia, ROX and ResToeRun stores in Metro Manila.  See you on the trails and Never Stop Exploring.

Last year’s TNF Thrill of the Trail introduced me to my current favorite running event, trail running and I’m sure many out there can relate.  This year, new location, new trails.  Here are updates about this race.




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The MIRACLE isn’t that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the COURAGE to START
– John “The Penguin Runner” Bingham

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