My MF42 Story (Part 1 of 2): Km0 to Km26

A bunch of Cebu Trail Runners (CTR) decided to join the Clark-Miyamit Falls Trail Ultramarathon 50 Miles (CM50) in Pampanga this November, and I thought I’d hop in as well. Dubbed as one of the most, if not the most, difficult 50-mile trail race in the Philippines, I figured having some fellow “bisdaks” preparing and running by your side (in principle, most of the time, because I usually train alone) will add extra boost and confidence on our part. In most of my races, especially trail, I would try to make some sort of reconnaissance to get a feel on running the route. Thus, I chose to join the Miyamit Falls Trail Marathon (MF42) last Oct 4 2015, which is part of the CM50 Trail Race Series. I inserted the event to become part of my training.

I rode the Shuttle’s Best van from Quezon City and arrived at the starting line in Alviera, Porac, Pampanga at around 2:30am. The race will start at 5:30am. During those three (3) hours, I made sure I get some sleep, visited the comfort room, claimed my race kit, prepared my gears and socialize with the other runners. I went there knowing nobody, but went home gaining many friends – the beauty of ultramarathons!

That mandatory(?) gears picture before every race.
That mandatory(?) gears picture before every race.

A short race briefing was given by the Race Director (RD) Atty. Jon Lacanlale, sighting that because of the typhoon that hit the area during the week, the course is expected to be slippery with some portion soak in rain for days, and that the cut-off time is extended by an hour (11 hours for 42km) because of it.

MF42 runners at the starting line. (Photo grabbed from CM50 FB page)
MF42 runners at the starting line. (Photo grabbed from CM Trail Races FB page)

I started the race at a comfortable running pace, around 7:00/km, hydrating myself after a mile as I passed by the bridge crossing Sapang Uwak. My hydration plan is to drink water after every mile or 15 minutes, whichever comes first, and occasionally gulp some drinks familiar to me in the aid stations. I also brought about 100ml of Intra Juice, half is to be consumed at the peak (Km19), and half after climbing back from Miyamit Falls (Km30). I reached AS1-Km3 after 23mins and ate some watermelon there, before proceeding to climb the steep rocky portion.

The steep rocky uphill portion after AS1. (Photo grabbed from CM Trail Races FB page)
The steep rocky uphill portion after AS1. (Photo grabbed from CM Trail Races FB page)

An hour has passed since gun start and my stomach began to feel weird. We passed by some Aeta homes and I asked if they have a comfort room I can use (so stupid and ignorant of me to ask), and of course, they would reply they have none. They pointed me, instead, to an area across their homes with tall grasses. So before I reach AS2-Km7, I’d unload on the bushes. Good thing, I always bring wet wipes, dry tissue and alcohol as my sanitary kit when trail running. I’d gulp a GU Gel afterwards. My nutrition plan is to alternately take a GU Gel or eat a Nature Valley granola bar every hour, and occasionally eat some food familiar to me on aid stations.

But my stomach never got better. In fact, it grew more painful. I began to wonder if it’s the Jollibee spaghetti that I ate before traveling to Pampanga, or was it the lechon that I brought and shared dinner with my Tita Susan and cousin Allan in their Quezon City home where I stayed, or was it the snacks I took at the bus station. I was currently on a muddy and uphill section around Km10 when I can’t bear the pain anymore and had to unload for the second time. The problem is there’s no bushes to hide because this portion is a side-of-the-mountain trail, where the left side is cliff-like and the right side is wall-like. I looked behind and saw no runner near, so I quickly unload beside the trail and cleaned myself up. I’m beginning to feel weak at this point.

To make matters worse, about 500 meters before AS3-Km12, I’d discharge again, this time back in the bushes. I’d use up all of my sanitary kit and felt deficient while walking towards AS3. I asked the marshals if they have medicine, but unfortunately, they have none. I requested for some liniment instead and rubbed it on my stomach. I sat down and thought about discontinuing from the race after running 12 kilometers in 2hrs30mins. I felt sick and dehydrated already. I prayed and asked God to guide me in making my decision.

MF42 Aid Station 3. See those Nutella? (Photo by CJ Paran)
MF42 Aid Station 3. See those Nutella? (Photo by CJ Paran)

Then a fellow runner, Ian Pabatao, who’s running with Lex Cusay, gave me his Loperamide. I met both of them earlier because we rode the same shuttle van. I overtook them at about Km8 and informed them about the stomach pain I’m experiencing. I went ahead of them, but they reached AS3 first. When Ian saw me, he jokingly hinted that I did something back there in the bushes, to which I acknowledged and told him my circumstance. I took the medicine and continued resting while they proceeded. After about 20mins, I felt better and started to feel hungry. I drank Gatorade and ate some bread and Nutella (yes, Nutella!) from AS3. I sensed some energy back in my body, and before I knew it, I’m ready to go! The Lord sent Good Samaritans and His message to me was very clear, “Don’t quit! Go and finish the race!”.

The Good Samaritans, Ian Pabatao and Lex Cusay, at Miyamit Falls. (Photo by Lex Cusay)
The Good Samaritans, Ian Pabatao and Lex Cusay, at Miyamit Falls. (Photo by Lex Cusay)

The next seven (7) kilometers was an uphill assault on single track towards the peak, which is near the caldera of Mt. Pinatubo and the highest point of the route at 1,079mASL according to Garmin. The peak is the first turning point. There are no aid or water station along this portion, so I loaded up my three (3) water bottles before tackling the climb. I got my first ribbon after exactly four (4) hours, becoming the 74th runner to reach the peak.

Going back to AS3, I had my very first encounter with a snake in all my trail runs. A black snake, about the size of my thumb and about 3 feet long, crawled fast along the trails and into the bushes. I just observed it from a distance, then ran away from it. I made it back to AS3 (Km26) after 5hrs30mins. I ate another round of bread and Nutella and drank Mountain Dew before going down to the second turning point, which is the Miyamit Falls.

Please click here for the continuation of my MF42 story…

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Sept 2015: Chute-Chute First 30 Days

Given a very limited time because I’m a full-time husband with a full-time job, I hope to squeeze in more quality because I can never have the quantity of time and kilometers that most training plans suggest. It’s of great help and I will forever be grateful that some veteran runners are actually posting blogs about how they prepare for trail ultramarathon races and write race reports afterwards. I sort of learn from them and use their experiences to educate me in training. To mention a few, I would like thank these Filipino trail runners/bloggers, whom I never knew or met in person yet, for their inspiring write-ups — The Bald Runner, Atty. Jonnifer Lacanlale and Atty. Aldean Philip Lim. And, of course, my love for the trails will never be enhanced without my Cebu Trail Runners family, founded by “The Master” Meyux. These guys are unselfish in sharing everything, from training guides, training tips, actual race experiences, routes, gears, and most of all, friendship.

With some of the Cebu Trail Runners. 4th from left is Master Meyux. (Photo: Rheb Regis)
Some of the Cebu Trail Runners (from left) me, AJ, Richard, Meyux, Lyra, Johnny and Teody. (Photo by Rheb Regis)

Below is the summary of the first 30 days of my self-prepared 80-day training program, as monitored from my Garmin fenix3 and FR405 watches. I hope I can execute everything and stand a chance of finishing a difficult 50-mile trail event in 18 hours or less.

Running

Total Time: 34 hours 8 minutes

Total Distance: 198 kilometers

Total Ascent: 21,523 feet

Average Pace: 10:18/kilometer

Mountain Biking (cross training)

Total Time: 3 hours 33 minutes

Total Distance: 41 kilometers

Total Ascent: 1,731 feet

Average Speed: 11.56 km/hour

Core/Weights/Yoga

Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Cebu City 360° 72K Ultramarathon: An Up-and-Down Struggle

Cebu City 360° 72K Ultramarathon race route and elevation profile as plotted on Garmin Connect.
Cebu City 360° 72K Ultramarathon race route and elevation profile as plotted on Garmin Connect.

For the past three (3) months, I’ve been running and mountain biking almost exclusively on trails and hills in Consolacion and Liloan. I even participated in my first ever duathlon event via the 2nd Ilaya Duathlon Race Challenge last May 17, finishing the 5km run-25km bike-5km run off-road course in 2hrs50mins19secs. I also tried improving my overall core strength to the point of enrolling in a nearby gym to seek assistance from trainers. Although my training took a long halt during the start of June because of a viral disease, I really felt some betterment in my body. This is actually in preparation for a second attempt of finishing a trail ultramarathon within cut-off time later this year.

Bike leg of the 2nd Ilaya Duathlon Race Challenge. (Photo by Allan Magdalaga)
Bike leg of the 2nd Ilaya Duathlon Race Challenge. (Photo by Allan Magdalaga)
Approaching the finish line at the 2nd Ilaya Duathlon Race Challenge. (Photo by Allan Magdalaga)
Approaching the finish line at the 2nd Ilaya Duathlon Race Challenge. (Photo by Allan Magdalaga)

When Prince Multisport and Team Lingam Events announced that they will host a new race called Cebu City 360° 72K Ultramarathon, which will pass through the mountain barangays of the city and having a total elevation gain of 4,400 feet, I figured this could be a venue to test if what I perceived as improvement in my overall fitness would translate into improvement in performance. The last time I participated in a road ultramarathon was the CUC 100K Ultramarathon Leg 3 some two (2) years ago, where my knees and calves were completely thrashed.

At the starting line with fellow G6 Runners. (Photo by Selfeet)
At the starting line with fellow G6 Runners. (Photo by Selfeet)

Before the race started at 12:00 midnight of July 19 2015, my very supportive wife Espie texted me to beat my personal best because she will prepare food for me at the finish line, which stirred motivation inside of me. I comfortably ran the relatively flat first 21km of the route, pacing myself at 7:17/km. I see to it that I drink fluids every mile & take some calories every hour, stopping by the aid station of Kevin Hacey Camacho and the Talisay City Runners Club (TCRC).

Around km4 at AS Fortuna. (Photo by Selfeet)
Around km4 at AS Fortuna. (Photo by Selfeet)

It helped that I have my Free Runner-mates Romy, Joseph & Carl as vehicle support crew. This was actually my first time to have a vehicle support crew, but our arrangement was that they will only support me up to km21. Then I would just carry all my food and water in my vest from thereon. But after experiencing the excitement and camaraderie amongst the runner participants, the aid stations and the other supporters, they told me that they changed their mind and wanted to tag along until the finish line. That’s good news for me!

Approaching the first aid station at km10. (Photo by Skimfreak Sports Photography)
Approaching the first aid station at km10. (Photo by Skimfreak Sports Photography)

I tackled the very dark road and continuous ascent from Lagtang to Manipis, reaching the junction at km32 in 4hrs24mins. It was on this stretch that I felt my training was really paying off, especially on the roads without concrete. It’s like I’m running on hard-packed rocky trails, one of my favorites.

Around km25, still running comfortably. (Photo by Team Lingam Events)
Around km23, still running comfortably. (Photo by Team Lingam Events)

After eating watermelon from the Toledo Adik og Dagan (TAD) aid station, I proceeded running. In my mind, I’ll target to reach the Sudlon II exit to the Transcentral Highway (TCH) at 6:30am. I was running the downhill portion of km36 (5hrs4mins) quite fast when suddenly I came crashing down really hard! Boom! I looked around and there was no one in sight. I sat down, assessed myself for any injuries and examined the area where the accident happened. Unfortunately, I tripped on an unpainted road hump resulting into a lacerated left big toe as I’m using my newly-rehabilitated 800km-old Kai Maka Running Sandals which lacked upper foot protection. I also got several wounds on my feet, knees, hands and elbows. I never saw the hump because my headlamp is fading. I remembered I haven’t changed batteries for my headlamp since it was purchased last December. Lesson learned… the hard way.

Negotiating the tough uphills, around km35. (Photo by Selfeet)
Negotiating the tough uphills, around km35. (Photo by Selfeet)

I rested for a while, contemplating if I can handle the pain and continue, or just call it quits. I prayed and asked for God’s guidance on what to decide. A marshal riding a motorcycle passed by me and offered me a ride back to the nearest aid station so that I can be treated. I told him, instead, to look for and inform my support vehicle about my mishap. I was carrying a first aid kit in my vest, which is inside the car. I gathered myself and slowly walked until I came to a house where the owner is already awake. You see, it’s still 5:20am and almost all residents in the area are still asleep, I assume. I knocked and told him about my circumstance, and asked if I can have some soap and water to clean up by wounds. I’m very thankful that he obliged. As I washed my lesions, my support vehicle arrived and gave me my first aid kit. I also asked for a nail cutter from another resident so that I can cut the torn skin in my left big toe. The experience was bloody, but somehow and I managed to sanitize my wounds. Surely the Lord sends angels whenever we call to Him for help!

Some of the wounds I got from my accident in km36 (Photo by Ulachicka's Snapshots)
Some of the wounds I got from my accident in km36. (Photo by Ulachicka’s Snapshots)

My support crew was hesitant to leave me but I told them I can manage. I walked the next 3km, passing by the TCRC support vehicle, who offered me breakfast. It’s a welcome sight as I needed something to relax my mind after what happened, and almost always, food relaxes me ahahaha!

Eating breakfast with the TCRC support vehicle. (Photo by Skimfreak Sports Photography)
Eating breakfast with the TCRC support vehicle. (Photo by Skimfreak Sports Photography)

I ran and walked and stopped twice to adjust the bandage in my left big toe, until I reached km47, the start of the TCH portion, after 7hrs12mins, way off my original target time of 6 1/2 hrs. I arrived at the next aid station, which is km50, after 7hrs42mins. At this point, I can feel fatigue is taking its toll on me, plus a nagging pain in my right hip as a result of utilizing my right leg more than my left leg to propel me forward, favoring my left big toe wound, which keeps on dripping blood. I gulped at least two (2) jiggers of Intra Juice to cope up with tiredness. I wore my vest and parted ways with my support vehicle, letting them wait for me at the Family Park in Talamban, the event’s start/finish line.

Sudlon II exit to TCH, around km47. (Photo by Selfeet)
Sudlon II exit to TCH, around km47. (Photo by Selfeet)
At km50, drinking Intra Juice. (Photo by Skimfreak Sports Photography)
At km50, drinking Intra Juice. (Photo by Skimfreak Sports Photography)

From thereon it was mostly downhill with only two (2) more major climbs, approaching Ayala Heights and approaching Tops. Initially, I thought it would be easier, but with my left big toe wound, it’s much harder – the more downhill, the more pounding, the more pain, the more blood it gushed. I had to stop by km57 again to re-dress the wound, 9hrs4mins into the race.

It's kinda hot, I have to take my shirt off at some point. (Photo by Selfeet)
It’s kinda hot, I have to take my shirt off at some point. (Photo by Selfeet)

Heat was also becoming a factor as the sun shone bright during the day. I slowly jogged the downhills, favoring my left foot, and power hiked the 2 uphills mentioned above. I stopped shortly for some eggs and Coke at the Ungo/G6 Runners aid station at km62.

Easy shuffling on the downhills. (Photo by Team Lingam Events)
Easy shuffling on the downhills. (Photo by Team Lingam Events)
Ungo/G6 Runners aid station at km62 (Photo by Team Lingam Events)
Ungo/G6 Runners aid station at km62 (Photo by Team Lingam Events)

Upon reaching Budlaan km66, fellow Free Runner Regz, supposedly also a member of my support crew, greeted me with his mountain bike. He said he will accompany me up to the finish line. As I was slowing down, getting exhausted and experiencing some lower abdomen cramps, Regz kept encouraging me to go for a strong sub-12hrs finish. I drank the rest of the Intra Juice I brought, gave Regz my vest to lighten up my load and ran with every strength that’s left of me on the last 3km, reaching the end line officially in 11hrs51mins10secs. I ranked 65th overall out of 191 starters. It was a delight to see Espie waiting for me at the finish line, together with my Free Runner-mates Yangyang and Xhian, as well as my support crew. My GPS watch recorded 73km and I did beat my previous fastest time of 13hrs for the same distance. To God be the glory!

Approaching the finish line, giving glory to where it's due. (Photo by Selfeet)
Approaching the finish line, giving glory to where it’s due. (Photo by Selfeet)

At the end of the race, I came to realize that:

1. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 10:17. When I crashed on the road, it also crushed my game plan, my target time, my ego. Little did I know that He allowed that to happen to remind me that my success is not because of myself, but because of Him who gave me the ability to succeed.

2. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” – Proverbs 19:21. I thought I had the perfect road map for the race, but when things got awry, I mulled over discontinuing the race. In every journey of our life, God allows detours to bring out the best in us. He brought out my innermost determination, perseverance and will to finish, making my journey not just memorable, but a meaningful one.

3. “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33. For whatever trouble we will face, we are comforted that we will never face it alone. If God is with, who can be against us?

Got my finisher's trophy and medal with Espie. (Photo by Selfeet)
Got my finisher’s trophy and medal with Espie. (Photo by Selfeet)


Eleven (11) days after my up-and-down struggle, I can still feel its effects, especially my left big toe. I’m worried about this Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 Triathlon (Mixed Relay category) because I tried running the other day and the toe still hurts. For now I’m resting and praying my feet will be ready come race day. God bless everyone!

All banged up after the race. (Photo by Selfeet)
All banged up after the race. (Photo by Selfeet)

Fight the good fight. Finish the race. Keep the faith.