Posts Tagged ‘Batangas



27
Feb
13

Sneak Peek at the Trails of Hamilo Coast (Salomon XTrail Run 2013)

Last February 23, 2013, yours truly alongside with other runner bloggers and the members of the media were invited by Salomon Philippines to have a sneak peak of the trails of the forthcoming Salomon XTrail Run to be held this March 23, 2013 in Hamilo Coast, Pico de Loro, Nasugbu, Batangas.  If you plan on joining this race, you absolutely must see this post before picking your distance!

Let’s just say that this year’s
Salomon XTrail Run has some “killer views”

[ More… ]

22
Feb
13

Rule the Road: Tame the Trail (Salomon Philippines holds X-Trail Run 2013 at Hamilo Coast, Nasugbu, Batangas City)

(Press Release) It is once again time to push the boundaries as the world’s number one trail running brand, Salomon, holds this year’s X-Trail Run.  Held annually since 2008, the gut-wrenching event has been held in different countries around the globe including Southeast-Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

[ More… ]

15
Jun
10

Life’s a Beach

A week after returning from the shores of Boracay I found myself back at the beach!  This time around though it was much closer to Manila, around 110 kilometers south at the beaches of Canyon Cove, Nasugbu, Batangas.

Bus route from Tagaytay City to Nasugbu

Batangas as far as I know isn’t really popular for white beaches but surprisingly Canyon Cove was, although disappointingly as well, it was very short!  At around 400 meters it was long enough, but not long enough for a run!  You know “those” crazy runners thinking of running first, swimming later when on the beach!

The beaches of Canyon Cove actually reminded me of Puca (Shell) beach in Boracay (where I was a week earlier, hehe) because of its color and the “sands” that never really compacts.  Normally sands on the beach becomes so compact that you hardly sink but like Puca I always sink deep whenever I step on its sands.  Only near the either ends of the beach are the sands fine enough to be truly compact and not sink so much.  (I placed quotes on “sands” because white beaches are normally composed of broken corals and shells, not sands.)

A view of the beach

Travel Tip: Canyon Cove isn’t the most practical beach resort to go into, but don’t expect it to be “exclusive” as we saw quite a lot of tourists, both local and foreign, that weekend.

The other side of the beach

Aside from swimming on the beach Canyon Cove also offers the typical banana boat, Jet Ski, and Kayak rentals, but if you’ve had enough salt their big pool is excellent.  At about five feet deep it makes for a great lap pool although its irregular shape and lots of swimmers you share it with makes it more challenging.

The pool of Canyon Cove courtesy Staphanie Madla (click to vote for SEA Awards for Photography)

Getting There (via Commute)

Canyon Cove is located south of Punta Fuego and is just a few minutes from the center of the municipality of Nasugbu, Batangas which is about 50 kilometers away from Tagaytay.  Nasugbu being a popular destination in itself is just about a three hours bus ride from Pasay bus terminal (near Taft Ave. Station of MRT-3 in EDSA) on an ideal day.  Ticket costs P155 (as of June 2010) but be warned though that the bus route passes through the most congested roads in the country crossing just about every choke point Cavite has to offer, so avoid travelling during peak hours.  You can take a tricycle ride from your bus terminal to Canyon Cove’s entrance, or if you know your directions you can opt to run (about 2K).

Canyon Cove

Barefoot Running, Again

Canyon Cove would be my third time to run barefoot and based on my observations it really does help a lot in teaching us the right landing.  The “right” landing or foot strike, be it forefoot, midfoot, or heel strike, really varies by individual so it is all about what works for you, although it is still encouraged to avoid heel striking.  The combination of practically no impact surface plus the difficulty of some loose sands teaches you on how you can improve your running by finding your most efficient foot strike.  Personally I’m learning how to further distribute (and reduce) the impact by finding that ideal landing spot for me.  Let’s just say that my knee isn’t back to normal yet so there’s practically zero run mileage for me for the past several weeks, but despite that I was able to run as long as 6K pain-free on the beach!  Sometimes I wonder if I should just fill my shoes with sands from the beach to simulate barefoot beach running. 🙂

Canyon Cove via Google Maps

Before any runner leaves the beach he’s sure to leave his mark there, and despite hating doing laps if it’s on the beach I have no qualms.  I made sure to leave a temporary 1K trail of my footprints at the beaches of Canyon Cove before leaving, very short (that I wouldn’t even log it on my dailymile) due to lack of time but at least I left my mark (runningpinoy was here!).  I also had a “strange” uncomfortable feeling of being stared at so two and a half laps of the beach would suffice to fulfill my cravings.  (I heard a lady singing a line “I’ll be there…” from the theme song of Baywatch as I ran in front of them and coincidentally I was in my red shorts. I hope I didn’t remind them of David Hasselhoff!)

14
Apr
10

Mt. Maculot Revisited (Part 2)

The challenges were going back up the trails and retrace our route from the summit to find the right way.  Luckily my teammates followed my suggestion of packing light so despite the crumbling ground, with teamwork they were able to pull through with relative difficulty.   I however didn’t with my weight training.  Mt. Maculot was having its revenge on me. I was practically unscathed the last time we met; now I was experiencing the runner up for the scariest moment of my life—hanging onto dear life as my arms were solely carrying my entire weight, clinging onto roots that I dug while the ground beneath me that offered little support was slowly eroding due to my weight!  I seriously felt like anytime the roots would give out, I’d slide down, and be unable to climb back up the eroded ground.   And I can’t keep carrying my entire weight for long!

The challenging part of the trail, courtesy Jairuz

Luckily our sweeper Allen did great at his duty and stayed with me (from stable grounds of course) during my struggle and lent a hand until I was able to pull through.   I was also lucky that the others didn’t saw what happened to me as it was really scary.

I climbed up and grab onto the root we originally used going down.  As the ground crumbled I had to expose more of the root and cling to it with both arms.   I had to think fast and dig for some more roots before the ground totally erodes, and eventually I found another on my left where there’s a more stable ground.   The problem was that a really thorny plant was blocking my path to transfer.   I was running out of time as the ground totally gave way so I just reached and grabbed that root and before I was able to successfully transfer to it I felt a lot of thorns gracing my face.   From there I don’t really remember how I managed to reach for the stable ground where Allen was staying.   All I know was that I got away from it all with some small holes in my upper lip area (no thorns were carried apparently) and an inch of cut on my left knee, aside from some minor scratches of course.  Thanks Allen for staying!

Dead end! (Jumping off a ravine isn’t part of the plan) Courtesy Carina

I wasn’t smiling right after that incident and I thought that “this isn’t fun anymore!”   I felt that my heart beat was really elevated and my right quads was throbbing—all muscles of it, ready to have cramps at any second.   Fortunately running thought me some lessons so after some rehydration and proper management of effort we were all going back to the summit to find the right trail down.  And of course the idea of finding the right way brought back my smile. 🙂

We were back on top and Mt. Maculot had already given us more adventure than we seek.   Eventually the right path made itself visible to us and so we were on our way to the campsite where the infamous store used to stand.  Of course going there still gave us some challenges as we encountered crumbling trails on the way down.

This is how the old store looks like now; well it’s no longer a store although you can still buy cold drinks in the area (Pinoy ingenuity, but sadly no more halo-halo) 🙂

From the camp site most of us went to view the Rockies but only two went to it due to laziness brought about by the heat.  After resting for quite a while and some cold drinks we started our descent just before 3PM.

The Rockies which I wanted to go to but I got a bit too lazy 😛

Our group just before our descent

Going down…

Sadly the numerous Buco (Coconut) juice vendors that frequent the trail a year ago were also gone but one still managed to stay completing my day.  Again, ingenuity.

This is where “tourists” normally start their trek

Climb Tip: The advantage of descending near the mountaineering store was the proximity of houses where you can take a bath, for a fee of course.  A tricycle terminal is also located nearby.

After our descent we opted for some nice bath, halo-halo, and barbecue, all of which in the vicinity of the mountaineering store.  From there our buses back to Manila are just a tricycle ride and P20 (per person) away.

Our trail route (via Google Earth): note that from the summit we were mislead by an established trail to a dead end so we went back to summit and found a way back to the camp site (Rockies), totaling at least 6K worth of trails

To those also planning to follow our path here’s the summary of our route: start at the jumpoff point (Grotto trail), climb to summit, head towards the camp site (Rockies), and descended to the mountaineering store area (descent from summit is approximate as my GF405 ran out of batteries).  But don’t forget to register first!

Appeal: I kept mentioning the word “tourists” in this post to refer to the sets of people that litter the mountain leaving all sorts of junk that they carry with them.  Unfortunately Mt. Maculot is in a very bad shape because of them and is in fact worse state now than my last visit a year ago.  Don’t be a tourist, be a responsible mountaineer by bringing all your trash with you on the way down! Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photos, kill nothing but time.  Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution!

Please keep our mountains clean

At the end of the day I was pretty satisfied with the way things turned out.  It didn’t go “according to plan” the same way our last visit did but the unanticipated moments of getting lost and finding our way back really made it into an adventure—the thrill of spontaneity.  If everything went “according to plan” we may not have enjoyed our climb as much, and even I who thought knew enough the trails of Mt. Maculot had new lessons learned.

Mt. Maculot adventure complete!

Congratulations to my group particularly the first timers for completing their first trek/traverse! Great job guys and I hope you learned some valuable things with our assault, and hope this is just the start of many more climbs to come!

11
Apr
10

Mt. Maculot Revisited (Part 1)

Stubborn as I am my injury wasn’t enough to keep me in one place—once again I’m out and about on an adventure, this time to revisit an “old friend” Mt. Maculot.  And what perfect date to set it but on another long weekend courtesy of Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor), the 9th of April.

It was almost a year ago when I last (and first) visited Cuenca, Batangas where the famous (and also infamous) mountain is located, south of Taal Lake.  This time I’m back to lead (or more like guide) new adventure-seekers in search for some crash-course on mountaineering for a bigger adventure that is TNF100.

This was my first time to lead anyone on a mountain.  The members of our previous group that assaulted Mt. Maculot were occupied, so as reluctant as I was I had no choice but to lead the group that was mostly comprised of women, many of which had absolutely no experience trekking.  I had promised that I’d take them on a trek before TNF100 for some training and so even if I was a little banged up I had to keep my word.  To make matters worse I don’t remember the trail we took before as we did our previous assault at night! Fortunately our group was joined with additional testosterone on the last minute so I was able to forget all my concerns.

Our group (clockwise from the left): Carina, Vicky, Tracy, Carly, Ric, Doc Art (which had to leave us early for a “doctor’s call”), Allen, Jai, Ellen, Me, and Glenn, courtesy Carina

I had originally planned for a 1AM departure from Manila but due to a sequence of unfortunate events we were able to leave Manila at 4AM.  Then there was a road accident en route further slowing our progress and it was way past 7AM when we finally got to Cuenca.  There goes my sunrise plan!

Travel Tip: Buses passing through Cuenca from Buendia/Taft don’t have a fixed departure time as we learned the hard way, better ask the bus company what time their buses are “scheduled” to leave and add an hour for waiting time.

Since we were already way behind schedule we decided to take the faster way by riding tricycles toward the registration site (P10/person), Barangay Hall (where we had our restroom break), and the jump-off point.  We were initially taken to the “traditional” jump-off point as I forgot to mention to our drivers that we were starting via Grotto trail and not the usual “tourist” trails, thus adding to our fare.  Tricycle cost: P30/person (five persons per tricycle) which was a little hefty in total but it’s a way of life called tourism!

Eating before taking on the Grotto trail, way past 8AM, courtesy Carina

Before: still clean shoes

A year hence, the dirt roads that we took before are now paved.  Uh oh!  Not much seems familiar!  Hiking in daylight does have the advantage of locals being awake and able to tell you the right way as I obviously am lost that time, so in summary we found the Grotto trail and everything was uneventful, except that I forgot how heart-pumping this trail was (great workout for the glutes).

Group shot at the base of the Grotto’s trail end, courtesy Ellen

Notice my huge 40L bag.  Aside from guiding friends I also was doing some weight training, also for TNF100.  I’ve no idea how heavy it was but it contains 3.5L of liquids, a 700g netbook, a pair of sandals, change clothes, etc.—no light packing today!  A year ago I was carrying a regular backpack and just wore a tee and a pair of denims—things have really changed!

With Vicky on our way to the summit: behind us are stores being dismantled (probably set up during the past holy week because of the Grotto), courtesy Carina

Our journey from the Grotto to the summit was uneventful and was surprisingly fast.  From our previous record of eight hours from Municipal Hall to summit we were able to reach summit from jump-off point in less than two and a half hours!

Vicky climbing a section of the trail I fondly call “the wall” because it seemed like one when I first saw it a year ago in the darkness of night (with glass bottles hanging on my backpack and our headlamps on). Looking at it in daylight it hardly seemed so. (Courtesy Carina)

Our “uneventful” series ran out on our first attempt to find a way to the Rockies.  I vaguely remember the details and the trail I remembered that we took were no longer that established.  With suggestions from my teammates we took the “obvious” route which spelled trouble for us.

The “obvious” trail eventually leads us to a very difficult location with a matching dead end.  Many of my teammates slid down the trail as the earth was loose—it crumbles beneath your feet, literally!  All of us get some challenge with that one, only to find out that we’re on a dead end (unless of course jumping off a ravine was part of the trail!).  I can’t believe that we’re lost! (Again?!)

(Continue to part 2)

16
Mar
10

TNF100 Philippines 2010: Prep Up

This year one of the region’s toughest ultramarathon race is back, The North Face 100.  For its 2010 edition it would be held in the Philippines’ summer capital, Baguio City (1,500 meters above sea level).  TNF100 is not your “typical” trails—the higher elevation should pose a greater challenge.

TNF100 holds a special place in my heart for being my first ever ultra.  BDM may be my longest distance-wise and fastest ultramarathon so far but TNF100 still holds my most difficult and longest race time-wise.  It’s not surprising that it comes with a 30-hour cutoff.  (TNF50 has an extended 18-hour cutoff, 22K with 4.5, and 11K with 3)

Categories

Unlike previous editions wherein the 100K can be taken as solo or relay, TNF100 now boasts a new category: 50K solo.  This should open the doors to new ultra-trail runners who want to “test” the trails but aren’t up to take on the full challenge that is TNF100.  For beginners there are also 11K and 22K categories.

Registration

Registration is ongoing at The North Face branches, ROX, and Res-Toe-Run branches but you better hurry as slots are limited: 11K and 22K with 40 slots each per branch; 50K and 100K with 10 slots each per branch.  Registration fees for 100K and 50K solo are P2,000 and P500 for 11K and 22K.  Don’t forget your provisional receipt (for race kit claiming) and 20% discount coupon upon registration.

Preparation

For those who would be joining (or considering joining) their first TNF100 (or TNF50) I can only advice based on my previous TNF100 experience in Sacobia, Clark as I am not familiar with this year’s route myself.  I’ve only been to Baguio City once and I know for a fact that the elevation may take a toll to “lowlanders,” especially to those who don’t climb.  I was running for only about half a year when I finished my first ultra (with only a 21K race to boast), and I’ve only had two major training sessions that prepared me for it:

  1. Km 0 – 56 (Manila to Tagaytay)

    View from Km 0

    This ultramarathon distance long run was where I had my first marathon distance and my first ultramarathon distance.  It was crash-course training for TNF100 that served as my test of endurance as it was a 56K worth of gradual uphill.

  2. Mt. Maculot Traverse

    Team Maculet

    Not intended to be part of my training, this recreational climb doubled as such when we encountered “surprises” during our climb.  It was supposed to be an “easy” climb which turned into a very challenging traverse.

Unexpectedly another recent climb of ours now served as my altitude training:

  • Suggested Climb: Mt. Pulag [1, 2]

    First light at Mt. Pulag

    The tallest peak in Luzon at 2,922 masl, acclimatizing at this altitude would make Baguio City feel like a lowland.

For those doing their first trail run (participants of 11K and 22K), I suggest that you read about my first trail run in Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas—TNF Thrill of the Trail 2009 [1, 2, 3, 4].

Shopping

It is highly likely that the mandatory gears of last year’s events are still mandatory this year so you may want to start from there.  It is also most likely that the “self-sufficient” rule still applies, so when it comes to it you may want to shop for something like this (note that I wasn’t able to consume it all and ended up hauling a lot of it back to Manila!).

Hungry?

Recollection

If you still feel uneasy about TNF100 or want to find out what you may expect during race day, here’s my 2009 TNF100 story:

Sunrise during 2009 TNF100

Unlike road ultramarathons you can’t really make a detailed plan on trails unless you’re quite familiar with the terrain of the route.  All you can do is take into account what is known and prepare for possible scenarios you might encounter along the way.  As what we’ve learned last year being a seasoned ultramarathoner doesn’t guarantee success and inversely even newbies can finish.  Believe, and you can achieve!  Brace yourself folks for yet another experience of a lifetime!  Stay tuned for further updates.

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.




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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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