Sunday, October 9, 2011

Summit Trail Ultra 60 Challenge

Ardua Non Timeo, Fear No Hardships. This sums up the challenge that was Summit Ultra Trail 60. It was truly the best that there is since ultra marathons came to Cebu. Honestly, I had my reservations to this event particularly because they had a short notice of about a month, not something pleasing to hear when you hear the other's announced as far as six months beforehand and when you would have wanted to train specific for the event, a trail for that matter and a first for an ultra marathon here in the island.. But a have to give in to the experience knowing that I have trained and have loved trail running for about a year already. This was to be my litmus test.

Friends at the starting line, Art, Jan and Siobe.

The route starts from lowlands of Talisay passing through the chaotic neighborhood of the city before passing through the mountains passes and trails of Campo4-7, then to the Sinsin, Loay, Campinsa before going down. All in all, we ran a total of 60% trails and 40% paved much of which was mostly uphill and downhills. I've never tried running in these places even though I have lived half my life in Talisay City. But that was before the running came to me though. I've trained now on places nearer to my place in Consolacion-Liloan where mountains are not as high as those in the central portions of the island but still offers a unique and great degree of difficulty like a trail should be.

Team effort-Team YYKredit

There were only a handful that joined, 61 individual and 7 relay teams. Its not exactly plenty for an ultra which could reach up to 200 participants for a race yet I could sense these runners were perhaps brave enough to face the challenge of the trail and the mountains or foolish enough to do so. Except for the chaotic Tabunok road, running the flats conservatively on a 7/1 run walk pace for the first 15k was enjoyable with the SRP being half closed and people cheering us up. There was a even a impromptu beer station by the roadside by some bystanders on a drinking session! The Mananga River showed its presence by the unending sound of the crashing water below us, a perfect way to cool our bodies for the road ahead. Here I was just getting the run slowly, not trying to push to hard, to conserve I guess for the mountains beyond and play safe with my knees which has been acting lately on the last marathon and ultra. It was a relief it never showed up the whole race. Maybe the glucosamine dosages works.

Km 16. Campo 4.Mananga River 

Km21, after passing the scenic Jaculpan Bridge, it was all uphill for the next 7k, not as terrible as the one in Cansomoroy but a little longer. Except for the not so average runner, most walked this part. There was beauty everywhere with waterfalls, rivers and nice town folks. Its easy to imagine that these roads where dreaded by motorist before for its sheer fall on the other side. I pretty enjoyed the time spent here.

Scenic Jaculpan Bridge with Mananga River-Mountain

Just enjoying the view with Raj

By the time we reach the small mountain town of Campo 7, the sun was high but the heat melted by the cool mountain breeze, we were greeted by the festive mood of the Summit-Ungo support station. This is the first transition phase for the ones running the relay and for us the start of the trails. I have considered the trails as my forte so after a quick respite, off I went on a faster pace leaving my group behind except for some members who went ahead of me. The roads seems to be all mud at first, dreaded by many days before as it rained heavily throughout the week. Fortunately it was not as bad as it was and I don't think anyone had problems with it.

Trail Running at Km 29.Off to Malubog Lake

Through Sinsin we passed through several villages, again punctuated by seesaw elevation until we turned on a fork towards Malubog lake which has all downhills. It was small but pristine and untouched. I would have loved to swim if we had pass by the side which was a bummer.

Malubog Lake. Two Thumbs Up!

After the lake, we turned towards the mines of Atlas Mining Corp. We passed by on the edges of the Biga Pit, one of the largest open pit copper mines in the world! It was 10am and it was hot! With so little vegetation, I started using my cap. Salt caps were taken though since the 1st hour. That was some place really, since there were a few of us, our spacing were longer and looking back while running you could see the road where you came from it seems for miles and miles beyond, you were the only one left. So lonely here except that for me I had Art tagging along who seems to be contended enjoying the scenery after getting lost for about 9k in the first part of the race. He was really game and we enjoyed our time taking photos with my brother on his MTB who also I presume had a great time too having been to the place for the first time despite having these areas as his training grounds for his biking skills. 

Lonely walk with Art. Hot!

We were greeted though by a huge man made lake from the entrails of the copper mine. That kept me from keeping my mind of from thinking too much about the race. We took some time taking photos of the scenery. 

Man Made Lake from Biga Mine Pit
Most areas here where again uphill, rocky and dry bone, difficult to run and had to contend walking. The support again was evident from the organizers by placing two wheeled vehicles to ferry water and supplies to us.  We reached the second summit, the highest of the route at km40. 

KM 40. The Summit with Art.

The scenery was to behold so their were more picture taking before resuming our run downhills this time, the steepest in the race. A quick stop over 2 bottles of coke rejuvenated me. It was around +6hours so we were calculating to arrive within 8 1/2 hours at best and 10 hours the max.  We reached the foothills of the mountain with the Loay Forest Reserve greeting us. Huge mahogany trees where there totally imposing. It was one of the most rave parts of the route.

Loay Forest Reserve

We reached the second transition point at km45 refueling again our supplies. Most though really that it was all downhills from here as advertised. It was not to be. We were told to follow another trail which by judging from what I saw was another uphill climb to another mountain peak. Whooah! Are you kidding me! But I guess they save the best for last. Here, we passed through forest upon forest, with great fauna and vegetation that it seems you were not in Cebu but somewhere in the Amazons. This was the Campinsa Forest Reserve. This had mostly uphills again but who could complain. I was able to catch up on 2 of my younger and faster staff runners here.

Bamboo Forest-Campinsa Forest Reserve

It was only in km55 that the paved roads of Maghaway beckons and it was all downhill from here to the finish line. Pick up the pace for good measure on the downhills and but ended up walking the last 2kms. to the finish line.

Downhills. Last 6km

Art was able to catch up with us after having problems with cramps in the transition area and we finish together with 2 of my staff. We finish the course at 9 hours and 25 minutes and placed 30th among the finishers. This was a most organized ultra marathon that I've participated so far. A huge success was only possible by the hard working organization headed by Bro. Carlo Bacalla, SDB, the race director, Joel Juarez, the technical director, TCRC, SURE, Ungo and the Government of Talisay City.

Happy Faces at the Finish Line. 9hr25mins. 30th Place with Art, Ellizar and Annirose

This was the toughest ultra marathon race so far that I've joined. Even Rick Gaston, the US based ultra marathoner and a veteran of 100 miles race including the Western States 100 who ran with us last Sunday calls it "hard and impressive route". Kudos to all finishers!

Last Sunday, I truly found my peace in the mountains. As Steve Jobs (who died a few days before the race) puts it, "You've got to find what you love." On that day I found one.    


Monday, September 5, 2011

There you go. A design teaser for the new menu 2011. Watch out for it in October!

My Prince and Princess

Noah is a year older while Pia is six.
Noah is strong while Pia is compassionate.
The Prince and the Princess. My inspirations.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cebu Ultrarunner's Club "Not Your Kindergarten' 50K Ultramarathon

Ngano ni enter! (translated: Why did I join this?) Those are the exact words I told myself and my staff while running the long stretch between the city of Danao to the northern town of Carmen, part of the route of the firs organized run by the new club of ultra runners here in Cebu. Who would have thought the day would be a sizzler when it was raining like hell for weeks already.

Well we got what we deserved, exactly not your kindergarten stuff. As one guy in the street told his companion after being told that we started running in Mandaue City, "Na unsa man na sila, nag lisod lisod ra jud sa kaugalingon! " The good thing about this run was it was free! No hefty registration fees to think about, no water stations, not even a medal. It reminds me of the ultra marathon races abroad when a handful of people would just clap their hands when you reach the finish line. The feeling, the same! The euphoria, the same!

I didn't actually trained hard for this thinking, hey I've ran 65k already so what's 50k? More like being arrogant. I could have sworn that I'll have been pretty screwed up if I took the pace higher. I didn't. I followed my ultra pace, steady and consistent. I ended up running up to the marathon distance before my knees showed signs of hurting again. Must be old age! Haaaay! So I just walked the remaining 7k to the finish and still ended up among the top 20% of the participants. Good thing about this run was there was no soreness the day after! I'm glad I made this run. I was a sort of camaraderie and friendship among fellow ultra marathoners. I hope the club would be ran well and soon would be able to organize on our own. A special thanks to all those benevolent runners who in their own way provided nourishments in their place!

I have high respect for the special idiots who ran that day. They just belong to a different level. Their is that passion burning just to run for the sake of enjoying the run and not competing. Congrats to all!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Food Marathon

And here's a taste of the good life (lol). Kidding aside, It's been a while since my last blog. Feels a little sluggish lately, my right brain must have suffered a concussion. Oh well, I have been running my butt off ever since I've been hooked. How ironic that life is a race and my runs are to enjoy, living life as it should be, eating notwithstanding! This was a shot when we had the season shoot with the new menu for the restaurant. A marathon of sorts, after three days of shooting it finally ended. The best part though comes after the shoot where the eat-all-you can portion comes. Thankfully, I've got running and the eating binges continues.

Here's some RAW photos I took. It may take two months before the new menu comes out making loyal customers anxious and anticipating.

Ok guys, this is far as it goes before your tummies would be screaming "I just love Spice Fusion!"

For those who doesn't know where the restaurant is, Its locate in SM Cebu Northwing and Banilad Town Center. Check it out!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kawasan Falls Marathon

This got to be the most fun I had with a marathon. I didn't mind traveling 130kms southwest of Cebu although I felt it was really far! Not as festive as the international marathons ones but the simplicity and the all out support from the town people of Badian, Alegria and Malabuyoc made up for it. Except for the route which most probably thought it was flat with a "few" rolling hills, everything was heaven sent from the cool weather, 99% cloud cover and little rains here and there, the very scenic route and the hospitality of the people.

This was to be my fourth marathon. Although I did trained for endurance, it was to be ran leisurely with lots of photo taking. I was bringing along my Lumix just like in HK. Here's 42k of running photos:

Arrived at our beach house in Lambo after a 3 hour ride. This was to be our home for the a day and a half. Bare but comfortable, I wouldn't complain especially if the beach was just in front of you.

Oh the beach! I haven't been to this side of Cebu but this one got to be one of the best. The white powdery sand and the crystal blue waters of Tanon Strait makes you wanna swim rather run the next day.

Off we ate an early dinner of Korean noodles, spaghetti and the famous Dumanjug native chicken. Salt caps were ready for distribution with the crew, half of them first time marathoners.

Marathon day and its the usual pre race photo ops! TTB, Team YYKredit, friends like Berput Queen Abby and Noy Adol, Jacob, Edward, Doc Willie and many more too many to mention.

5 minutes before gun time, roads filled up and everyone excited, it was going to be a long road ahead but nevertheless a road that shall end like never before, a waterfall as its background.

The crowd soon disperse, 400 runners taking his own race one step at a time.

It was to be a scenic marathon and it was it many ways. Old provincial bridges, one after another....

Coastal views 80% along the way!

Heritage churches to remind us to thank God that life is good...

and non stop high fives to kids and old alike!

The signs were there to remind us the journey ahead would be long and tiresome...

but also happy moment of bonding and camaraderie with fellow marathoners alike.

As the journey close to an end, we were all greeted with the sound of the river beside us and a trail that invigorated the trail runner in my heart. This is where I ran the fastest.

And so I finish my 4th marathon at 4:47:52, Rank No. 87 and barely 3 minutes slower than my PR, fresher legs and an injury that I didn't expect. Such is the life of the running enthusiast!

Every race never ends without the usual photo taking souvenirs all smiles and all saying that after the pain, life is good after all.

And so the journey ends where it started, the beach. Time to bask in the nature's wonderful creation and enjoy life. After all, Life is a beach!

Next Stop: Warrior 50 Ultramarathon. Crossing my fingers. Wink Wink.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Heaven and Hell: My 1st Ultra Marathon, frontRUNNER's Coast to Coast Labor Day Ultra 65k "Only the Strong"

I am the Captain of my Ship, the Master of my Soul. I have always been drawn to life's challenges since I was a kid. I don't know if its just me but these challenges, mental for some but mostly physical have come to criss cross my path every now and then. The good thing about it, if it really something you call good is that I've always taken them head on, somewhat that might have cause some worries to those near to me. I apologize for that. So it was not a surprise that I took on the challenge of the marathon and without even blinking, the challenge of the ultra marathon. Perhaps it was something I need to unload in my bucket list. So there I was being the second one to register for the race while everyone else was running the Cebu Marathon. An early birdie, they gave me the free choice to choose my bib number. I chose the number 8. Luck would be on my side, so I wish at that time.

Team YYK Ultra @ Aleus Pension House, Toledo City. 10 hours before race time

The Preparation. I was a man with a mission. Nope there was no gargantuan task to speak of, just to finish the race. To finish the race..many would have called us crazy for running such distance. They even say that its takes a special kind of idiot to do it. That is why for all the thousand of runners out there, only 226 registered and that number is even the biggest number of participant for an event. This ultra marathon has been considered as the toughest route in the country rising to a staggering 3,500 feet above sea level!

The training has always been the harder part for me and I guess for everyone else. It just takes some so much of my time, the time for the family that sometimes I wonder if it is all worth it. This whole craziness, the running passion though a big part of me is not my entirely my life. I owe my wife and my kids big time for this. They have been very supportive but I know they have been quietly complaining already yet they let me be. I am humbled.

I have to admit I have never trained so hard than ever before. The preparation took me to new highs. It took 3 months of training to completely say I was ready and it was absolutely crazy! The preparation included among else runs (four of them) of over the marathon distance including a festive run in Hong Kong, a fat ass style, hamster mode run in cempark and a test run over the actual route in the mountains. My weekly mileage ramp up so high, it took me by surprise how my knees and my body could hold it up with more runs on the hills. I ate the hills week after week. I have become a mixed African overnight. By April and after the last test run, I was completely aware that I was mentally ready, but had lingering doubts with my physical strength.

TTB Glenn, Christian, Me and Boying at the Starting Line. Photo by Pam Apuhin

The Race Strategy. I plan everything. Its my cup of tea and would be again put to test on this race. "This race would be won by conserving your strength and delaying the fatigue on hamstrings and quads" I kept telling my other (crazy) staff running with me while huddled over for lunch in the office. We got 12 hours to run this one. We just did the last test run over the actual route and saw the elevation profile for the first time from my watch. There were two segments of the race. One is a 20k flat route followed by 40 kilometers of climbs and descent. We were already particularly aware that most of these climbs (20K) cannot be ran and if walked would decently put us around 13-14min./km. pace. We were also aware that there were a lot of downhills (20k) and learning to run them with ease and comfort would help. We were particularly aware too that these route would thrash our quads and hamstrings just like when we did the test run. To compound the problem would be the heat of summer which was absolutely a scorcher at noon time. So in the end, I have decided to do the following: 1. Ran the Galloway for the first 21k flat route and to run them at a turtle pace 1kilometer/1min. walk strategy. 2. Walk all inclines no matter how easy they may seem. 3. Learn to be a downhill specialist and run them fast. and lastly 4. Suck on nutrition and hydration every 30 mins. and salt caps every hour.

Elevation Profile

The Race. At exactly 4am on May 1, after some hard prayers and fellow introduction, 214 brave runners were released. The athletes and most readied runners took off smoking us and by the 2nd kilometer we were already almost at the back of the pack. We were not worried. "Stick to the plan, stick to the plan" I kept saying. Runner after runner passed us. We wanted to run with the Masters but they had the same plan as we did and were actually behind us. Doing the Galloway 1kilometer/1minute walk at 7:oo-7:30min. pace seems like too boring for most but it was actually more fun. We enjoyed the walk breaks every time the watch beeps! By the time we reach the foothills before the dreaded Cansomoroy climb, we were as fresh as ever. Here, there were lots of chika running with fellow TTB Ultradaddy Christian and Doc Benj. From there, we started to gain hold with some of the front runners. We allotted 3 hours for the first 21k and actually arrived ahead by 20 minutes.

My TTB Family (Angels in Heaven)@ C-Highway, Cansomoroy, Balamban

Heaven. Oh Cansomoroy, you art thou high. This is were we felt so helpless (lol). The 5 km climb is so steep that looking up you'll get stiff neck! Walking is even hard. This is where I met my wacky running family, the TTB! I was so happy to meet them and they look like angels in heaven. I thought were in heaven with all the mist and the clouds until reality strikes back (lol). I was still following my nutrition every 30 minutes, Nature Valley bars, boiled egg, biscuits and banana. I also didn't forget to hydrate every now and then. Since we knew the route ahead, we just kept on walking despite having intermittent flatter portions to conserved our fatigue levels. I was walking faster than usual and my staff swear they had a hard time catching me on my walks.

Walk the Hills. Sub Hangak!

By the time we reached the top towards the first downhill portions, we shifted to high gear occasionally bumping up our pace to 5:30min/kilometer. Thanks to the downhill lessons we've learned from elite runner and a good friend of mine Joel Cuyos (7th placer) and Master Edward tan Ting, I was actually enjoying the downhill portions. I was constantly checking my not to over stride and kept my feet low without bouncing them. This enabled me to actually "glide" these portions at ease.

Walking ra Ghapon!

Purgatory. KM39. By the time we reached the junction of barangay Cantipla and Sudlon, we were still at it. I allocated 6 1/2 hours to reach this portion and felt happy to have cut if off by an hour. I was already recalculating our finish time to 10 hours. Here I met idol Rodney Cabahug who was suffering ITBS on both knees. The warrior he is he prodded on. There were lots of talk too with fellow runner from TG Ryan Gonzaga. Master Jacob Ong soon caught us up and went ahead. The sun was beginning to be a scorcher at this time. At km45 going down from Leyson Peak and taking advantage of a cloudy portion, I took off and caught up with Jacob and did some pacing until we reached Ayala Heights. Like they all say that when you reach that portion, the race is on the bag. Big smile was on my face. This was the last checkpoint of the race and met race director Jonel Mendoza who gave us the thumbs up.

Rajahni, Me and Rodney at KM 41

Going Down towards Ayala Heights with Master Jacob Ong. Photo by Lorebelle Joy.

Hell. By the time I took off again on downhills, I lost Master Jacob. The heat has become tolerable to unbearable. It was noon time and they must be kidding us, the hottest day of the year so far! So far two of my staff was still with me, the rest fell off behind. Our two support crew vehicle also lost us and if not for the timely Ungo stations, we could have bonked out! This is where angels came to hell to save us. Team Waypaks supported us, as did Ungo. Richard Manila came several times to cool my body. There was unending support for all runners not just us! After finally making the last climb in Buak where I paced fellow TTB Boying Milan, it was all downhills from here. My left ITBS acted up a bit when I started to run again but didn't manifest when I ran faster so this is what I did for the next 8 km, ran the downhills fast!. I again met my fellow TTB but had to begged off to stop because of the injury.

Inita Oy!

The Ninja Turtle and Larry Aying towards JY. Photo by Jun Alicante

Heaven Once Again. When we reached JY, a sigh of relief was all over my face. I was 3km from finishing my first ultramarathon! I caught up with my idol Lolek Montalbo who was braved enough to run the course with an injury and was limping. I ask him if I could pace him and he asked back if its ok with me if we run-walk. I obliged. It was like a mutual respect for two brave, battered but unbroken warriors. We walked the last km to finish line and hugged each other after crossing the line.This day was ours. I was ranked no. 71 out of 191 finishers with an aggregate time of 9:25:22! I was happy with my time and wasn't expecting it. Just like in Hong Kong, this one will go to my books as one of the best run ever!

Walk of Fame. 100m to finish line

Mr mountain and Mr. Sun connived with each other to break our spirits, yet we never wavered till the end. This is a race I would never forget. I just sank me a now writing this that I did conquer the toughest ultra marathon route in the country!. Woot! Woot!

Proud finisher. 71st of 191 finishers. 9:25:22
Thank You. There are so many people to thank for, most of them nameless, strangers that I didn't know personally but like me shared a bond for the passion. I thank them with all my heart. Thank you Harold, my brother and Arnel for being our support crew. I would still loved to eat the lechon you ate while we were struggling at KM51 (lol). Thank you team Waypacks, Team Abbylicious for the unending support you gave us. Thank you Richard Manila who help me cool off and lend his support despite pulling out from the race. The biggest thanks to UNGO! Without you guys, I don't know. I don't want to know. You proved to me ever before that your the best group in town! Cheers! Thank you Mommy, Pia and Noah for bearing again what daddy loves to do. I don't know how to make it up with you guys but I will, I promise.

The Future. Would I ran an ultra again? Your guess is good as mine. Somehow I have been very "laagan" in the last 5 months. 2 international marathons and an ultra marathon, I couldn't ask for more. For now, its time to rest and indulge in everything I miss. I'll see you guys in the next race.

Tiger Look!

Before I go, I want to share something I read from a sign by the Aboitiz Group along the Transcentral Highway at KM37. This one sums it all. It says "Those who succeed are those who think they can."

Shoot and Run

Rumblings of a Cebuano on a pair of running shoes and a Nikon on one hand.

About Me

My photo
Photography is my hobby, a long distance runner and an avid blogger, I consider traveling a dream and my family as my number one inspiration.