Broken at TCU 105 (My Initiation to Ultramarathon)

KM 50 Aide Station.  Upon reaching Toledo City, I’ll be running 15 Kms more before reaching KM50 Aide station, and rest as planned.  I have good memory of the race route as I have been driving along these roads for almost five years now.  But while running those 15 Kms, I felt mentally spent and unable to run even at a comfortable pace.  Was it because I ran the first 35 Kms at a pace faster than what I trained for?  I checked out my checklist:  running form; fuel; hydration; electrolytes; pace?  Yes, pace… I did not paced my self to run 105Km!   A mistake veteran runners always tell as a warning to ultrarunning neophytes like me.  At 35 Kms I’m already spent.  I encouraged myself, 15 Kms more and you’ll have your much needed rest.  And so at KM50, I stripped off my shirt and took much time resting, hoping to recover and be able to run the more difficult half of the course.

Running too fast, from Naga to Telodo... I paid dearly for this pace  (photo courtesy of Paksitphotos)

Running too fast, from Naga to Telodo… I paid dearly for this pace (photo courtesy of Paksitphotos)

KM 72 Aide Station.  Test of Physical Strength.  Before reaching this Aide Station you have to climb the dreaded Cansomoroy climb, around 800 meters gain in elevation in as short as 3 kms.  And for the equally punishing climb to Mt. Manunggal, one of the highlights of this race, a visit to the crash site of the late President Ramon Magsaysay in 1957 aboard a Douglas C-47 Army plane (this is where the route for TCU 105 got its inspiration, and I hope TCU will retain this route in its future races).  I have slowed down to a very slow hike upon reaching KM 72.  My left calf muscles was already cramped and hardened despite my occasional rest and massage.  I have reached this far.  I played the remaining 33 Kms route on my head and dreaded If I could still muster enough strength to finish this race.  While seated and contemplating at KM 72, RD Blue passed by checking out Aide Stations, he asked if I’m alright, and with a forced smile I gave him a thumb up.  Words of encouragement, I learned in this sports of human endurance, are very powerful and effective in pushing a runner to go beyond his/her breaking points.  I was already broken at KM 72, standing up on my feet was already a struggle how much more to cover the remaining distance.  But with those kind words of encouragement from other runners, support crews, and organizers, I forced one step ahead of the other and found my self managing a hike and a jog looking forward not for the finish line but for the next Aide Station at KM 82.

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Climb up Cansomoroy… I was already in pain

KM 82 Aide Station.  Test of Spirit.  Slumping on a monobloc chair provided by kind volunteers at the Aide Station, my left leg was already in too much pain and my spirit was already broken.  I can’t see this race to its end.  I’m done.  I’m about to throw in the towel and declare DNF.  I took my drop bag, drank my comfort drink and took a bite from an energy bar.  It took me awhile to notice my ultra-running neighbor Ms. Cora.  She volunteered to assist for this race.  She has been present and awake all the time from the pre-race briefing to the starting line, Aide Station KM 50, and there she was again at Aide Station KM 82.  I remembered her encouraging me to move on. But my mind was refusing.  I brought out my phone and dialed my father, who was then staying at my brothers house at Mactan waiting for me and my kids to spend a dinner before he goes back home to Baguio the following day after more than a month stay here in Cebu.  My father was a veteran marathoner with a 3:15 marathon time in his mid forties.  He is sidelined in running now because of a hip injury he suffered around five years ago.  As a disciplined athlete, he still goes out for a regular walk.  I am hopeful to see my father run again someday.  He answered.  I could have told him that I’m already quitting the race, that I’m already done and cant move anymore further because of injury.  I know he would understand, he is a runner himself.  Looking at Ms. Cora, an accomplished runner who have finished her own 100km ultra; hearing my father on the phone waiting for what I was going to say; and after sighing a short prayer to my God, I told my father I’m not yet done with the race.  I checked the time on my phone and it was just around noon time and cut off time for this race will be at 9:00PM.  I’m going to make it, I told my father that I’ll be on the road for 5 – 6 hours more to finish the race.  I took off the Aide Station, not with renewed strength nor with a revived spirit, these were already broken, but with the still flickering desire to accomplish this race.  I was praying hard that my God will honor this desire and allow me to finish.

KM 92 Aide Station.  A step into the world of Ultramarathon.  After I took those steps from KM 82 Aide Station, I can say, each step after it were entirely new to me.  It was and is the world of ultramarathon!   An experience every long distance runners revisits in ultra distances.  I heard and read of these experiences from veteran ultra runners.  These are points in long distance races where even when you are cramped, exhausted, even injured, or with a broken spirit, you can still dig so deep within for those unknown and untapped energy source that would enable an ultra runner not just to finish but even to pick up a faster pace to win a race.  Towards KM 92, I was already digging and praying.  An answer to my prayer, perhaps to other runners too, was a short refreshing cold down pour of rain.  I had to don my disposable raincoat though because my body was not warm enough due to lack of movement to ward off the chilling rain.  I reached KM 92, now more determined to finish this race.

KM 100 Aid Station.   Test of the heart.  In any sports or in real life, finishing what you have started is of great import.  I experienced a number of times in my early life quitting from something that I started.  Specially when I am faced with difficulties, I gave up.  I tried learning from those experiences and built my self to be more committed to the things I do.  I tried to erase the word “quitting” from my vocabulary and I was successful to some extent.  Not until a few hours ago that the word “quitting” came to my conscious mind giving all possible justifications for me to give up this race.  But that was 18 long kilometers ago.  I have reached KM 100 and my heart was telling me that I am bound to accomplish this, no quitting.  KM 100 Aid Station was Team Lingam’s Aide station, and Prince was there.  An avid race organizer and supporter of this sport, and by just his presence at the last 5 Kms was enough encouragement specially to runners who knew him.  I could add, every word and every gesture I’ve heard, seen and experienced all through out the race were given to encourage.  Amazing!  I hope that more people could see our life to be like an utra distance race, where we experience hardships and difficulties forcing us to quit along the way, but there would be people encouraging us, caring for us, helping us up back to our feet and start moving again.

Last five kilometers... even mustered a smile and a two thumbs up despite pain and fatigue

Last five kilometers… even mustered a smile and a two thumbs up despite pain and fatigue

KM 105 Finish Line.  Glory time.  Yes, I like the trophy, the medal and the bracelet.  These would be displayed as tangible testaments of how great my God is in my life as, now, a certified ultramarathoner!  This glory belongs to Him!

Surely this race will gain more popularity in the years to come...

Surely this race will gain more popularity in the years to come…

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Unbroken @ Danasan 60

Running on a tight budget, I need to choose wisely the races that I have to run.  Choose?  Yup! you read it right.  Here in Cebu and nearby Island provinces proliferates a number of races from fun run to trail and road ultras.  Almost every month there are official races organized for any avid runner to run all or choose from.  For my case, I dropped one race on my list last April to chose Danasan 60 last May 10.

My objective with this race was to run “UNBROKEN”, that is, to run at max effort without suffering injuries and to recover on a shorter period of time.  To accomplish this, I need a bit of preparation.  Training.

Training for this run I only got to run twice every week.  One 10K date run with my wife over the weekdays and if schedules are open,  I do my long run on Saturdays.  We live now in Mactan where the terrain is relatively flat offering no inclines to train from except perhaps the two bridges that connect Mactan Island to mainland Cebu.  And yes, I did one session last February running for a number of loops going up and down the older bridge.  However, the elevation gains were not enough so my training brought me to the hilly climbs of Baranggay Busay.

At turning point, 10k Date Run with my running mate

At turning point, 10k Date Run with my running mate

To run UNBROKEN, I planned to run minimalist.

I got my running sandals last February as my way of avoiding running injuries.  Based on materials I have read from different views of running, I learned that running is as simple as putting your one foot ahead of the other in a forward motion.  With such simplicity comes the simple footwear, a strip of rubber to protect the sole of the feet with an upper material as protection from elements.  Due to limited resources, I opted for the sandals over minimalist shoes.

KAI Running Sandals, 4mm thin Cherry Vibram Rubber Sole

KAI Running Sandals, 4mm thin Cherry Vibram Rubber Sole

Running with flats did helped in correcting my running posture compared to running with shoes that has elevated heels. Just imagine your body tipped forward because of the elevated heel platform of your shoes, and when ever you are standing, your body corrects the tipped angle by leaning backwards straining unnecessarily your backbones and muscles.  A good natural standing posture is foundation to a good running form, and you can only achieve this form while standing barefoot or with flat shoes.

Tipped forward when wearing shoes with elevated heels

Tipped forward when wearing shoes with elevated heels

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Good standing form achieved when on flats or barefoot

Coming for the race, I was able to logged a mileage of around 45K wearing sandals.  I learned how to ride it on different road conditions from flat surfaces to steep ascents and descents.  Interesting to note however was the way I run on steep descents, I can’t run down as fast as I used to  when wearing shoes.

Race day.  I was able to grab little bit of sleep compared to none during my first marathon.  Getting the hang of it, I guess.  I prepared my self some pre race meal of boiled sweet potatoes (camote) mashed with margarine.  Good fuel combo of fat and sugar.  Fixed some brewed coffee and an extra on-the-go cup to sip before race starts.

pose with fellow warriors and with my pre-race coffee

pose with fellow warriors and with my pre-race coffee

Kai runner.  Hey, I was really elated to see another runner wearing Kai sandals!  I approached him and introduced my self.  His name is Marlon, some short hand shake, exchange of name and that’s it.  It was already after the race that we spend time exchanging notes on our experiences running with sandals.

With Marlon, another runner on sandals after the race

With Marlon, another runner on sandals after the race

Gun start.  I saw my Ranger buddy Ed Eduria speed off on the lead, followed by a very young runner named Charlie.  I tag along behind them and surveyed behind if there are any other who will join the lead pack.  After the first two kilometers, none so far.  So the lead pack were just me my buddy Ed and the young gun Charlie.

We hit the climb.  Slowly Charlie and I widen our gap from Ed.  For the next 20 kilometers or so, it was just me and Charlie running upfront for the grueling climb.  We took turn pacing each other.  Pacing?  I believe it was more of pushing each other as we raced to gain the lead and put on some distance.  I did managed to gain the lead from Charlie only to be chased by another runner, Jessie.

Turning point.  I reached the turning point with Jessie just a few steps behind.  Our time were just under 3:30 for a 30km climb to Danasan.  I grabbed a very quick bite, gulped some fluids, stashed some sweets and went ahead of Jessie from the Turning Point Aide Station.  However, after just a kilometer from the turning point Jessie was already at my heel and just like that, he had taken the lead.

Jessie from team Igat taking the lead

Jessie from team Igat taking the lead

To run UNBROKEN, I must run the race and not any other runner.  I tried keeping at pace with him but when we hit the downhills, I found out that I can’t over stride fast enough with my sandals to keep up with Jessie.  At this point, I reminded my self of my objective, to run UNBROKEN.  And so I slowed down to my own pace negotiating those steep down hills.

Temperature rising.  I learned to do this with my shirt in Ranger School to ventilate chest area and avoid overheating

Temperature rising. I learned to do this with my shirt in Ranger School to ventilate chest area and avoid overheating

Support crews and marshals.  I was very grateful to the support crews of other runners who extended their care and support to other runners.  The massage with omega offered before the last climb was great, I was able to push those massaged legs to power-hike the last steep ascent.  The marshals on motorcycles were patient enough to endure the searing heat of the sun going from one runner to another making sure everyone is accompanied up to the finish line.

Race Course.  Amazingly beautiful.  Scenic of pristine mountains.  If the steep climbs wont take your breath away, the views will.  Though the race was road, traffic was limited to a few motorcycles, passenger jeeps, and private vehicles allowing the runners to enjoy fresh mountain air usually experienced only on trails.  The course was challenging enough to make accomplishing the race more rewarding.

Terrain and Elevation Profile of the race course as recorded using my mobile phone app Strava

Terrain and Elevation Profile of the race course as recorded using my mobile phone app (check out my Strava Profile)

Unbroken at the finish line.  I thank the Lord for allowing me and all the runners of this amazing race to finish.  Everyone made it!  Yes, tough races does not necessarily mean high percentage of DNFed.  This was just one of those races well organized and attending enough to enable all runners make it through the finish line in one piece, injury-free and unbroken.

(Credit to Danasan 60 FB page for the grabbed photos.  Almost DNFed completing this report, hehehe… till my next post, by God’s grace)

30K Finihers

30K Finishers

60K Finishers with love ones in support

60K Finishers with love ones 

Officially Breaking Pass the 42K Barrier

(written for Aktib.ph)

“Officially” in any racing events means an organized, sanctioned, public, regulated, recorded, and verifiable.  So any distances covered during training does not count as official.

Ultramarathon is any distance beyond 42K.

I unofficially broke pass my 42K mileage last January 31 when after being inspired by a runner-friend, Lester Glenn Tabada who was to run 44K as his salute for the fallen 44 SAF of the Mamasapano incident, I decided to extend my planned 20k run to 44K as a runner’s way of saluting our fallen heroes.

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I officially entered the “world of ultramarathon” (borrowing the words of my classmate Mon Quiocho, an ultrarunner) when I finished the 54K category of the Cebu50 Trail Ultramarathon last Saturday, March 28, 2015.  And it’s indeed a whole new world beyond 42K!

Yes, I did prepared for Cebu50, building up my mileage upto 49K before the race.  I also heeded the advice of the Race Organizers to have a base training for steep inclines/declines wherein they recommended for training the route from JY Square in Lahug going up to Zipline area near Cebu Tops.

I wanted to do a reconnaissance and a run through of the race route but due to limitations, it did not happen.

So with limited knowledge of the race route, I checked on the internet for writer stories about Cebu50 and feeling blessed, I found Boying Milan’s blog post reporting his run for this course last year.  For a bonus, he also have a video post showing some parts of the course.  These helped me very much in my preparations for the race.

After reading Boying’s race report, I formulated my plan.  I planned to tag along someone who already ran the course, especially during the first loop when it would still be dark.

Race day came and I saw one familiar face.  It was Boying from last year’s race!  Wow! my jitters has somehow calmed down.  I also met Rose, the runner who run after runners and their stories.  I also approached the oldest runner and introduced myself.  His name is Ed Eduria, 6o years old, wow! And what a surprise! Ed also was military man and a fellow scout ranger!

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Ed Eduria, ultrarunner at age 60… a fellow Scout Ranger!

 

Gun start! (no gun actually, no shot fired, heheh)

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Brave Warriors at the Starting Line

 

First loop.  There was immediately a strong lead group that was formed.  I attempted to chase them up but I was reminded to play my game plan.  So I scanned the runners and looked for Boying, found him, and I was glad that he was running a comfortable pace chatting along with other runners.  After negotiating the first downhill and uphill section of the course, a second lead group was formed, with Boying, Randy (Rolando), Eljun and me (doing my best not to lag behind).   After a while, Jodel from the lead group joined us.  We found out from him that the lead group took a wrong trail, and got lost.  However, with 7km more to complete the loop, the lead group that got lost was able to cope with our group, overtook us and regained the lead.

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View from one of the peaks of the course (photo from Marvin Lui Canada)

 

Finishing the first loop, I found out upon arriving at the main station that AJ from the lead group was running only for a single loop.

Second loop.  Two foreign runners and Randy went off from the station for their second loop.  I took time to rest and rid off my socks with pebbles.  I was not that confident yet to take on the course so I waited for Boying.  However, Jodel asked if I’m ready to go, I automatically said yes, I and went on with him for our second loop.  After navigating the down hill paved route and turning left, a local on motorcycle told us that he saw one of the runners, a foreigner, went ahead instead of turning left.  We asked him if he could go after the runner and help him back on the course, and he agreed.  We later found out that the foreign runner who got lost, withdrew from the race.  That leaves two runners ahead of us.

Jodel was very good navigating the course for us.  We chatted as we enjoyed every bit of what the trail has to offer.  I watched him, a veteran trail runner, how he managed the technical parts of the course and I learned by imitation.

Jodel on top of Kampar Hill (mountain range on his background is Mt. Manunggal where President Magsaysay’s plane crashed on March 17, 1957)

 

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me running down Kampar Hill (mountain range on the fore ground are part of the course)

 

We arrived at the main station and found out that Micheal from Switzerland, the remaining foreign runner ahead of us was only running for two loops.   So that there was only Randy on the lead, as he was no longer on the station.

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Micheal celebrating with friends at the finish line (photo from Marvin Lui Canada)

 

We took time taking our lunch.  I was elated to see Cora Quiamco, my ultrarunner neighbor together with some other runners supporting the event.  And yes, I even had a cup of coffee, courtesy of one of the lady runners who caringly fixed me one.

Third loop.  Rodel and I left the main station together, but after the first downhill section of the course Rodel let me go ahead as he paced himself down a bit nursing his quads.  We bid each other farewell just like good old buddies even if we have just known each other for 4 hours.  It’s just amazing what trails could do in forging bonds among runners!

I ran alone for the rest of the third loop.  It was equally exhilarating if not more than compared to running with a buddy.  I immersed my self with my surroundings; the spectacular mountain views; flower gardens, corn and other crops arrayed beautifully on mountain slopes; oblivious farm animals; and warm smiles of local folks; while negotiating the wonderful trails.

I was very happy when I finally reached the finish line!  Officially breaking pass 42K barrier! Finally an ultrarunner!

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Finally an Ultrarunner!

 

I am a God-believer and so I thanked God, who created the mountains with its peaks, ridges and slopes; and who created and designed us people with legs to climb these mountains.

I thanked God for the organizers for coming up with this event bringing people closer to nature,  where the mountains stand proud challenging brave warriors to experience the presence of God.

I thank God for the people whose paths He allowed me cross.  To Blue, Rose, Ed, Boying, Jodel, Randy, AJ, and Eljun thank you, it was a pleasure meeting you guys.

And syempre I thank the Lord for my wife Lovie, children Ren and Darah for their love and care.  They are my number 2 reason why I am running.

I have great admiration for runners who run races with long distances or increased difficulty continually pushing their limits.  These are warriors who already know what to expect and what to do in any eventualities during the race; either to bring themselves successfully to the finish line or know what point during the race to declare DNF.

And so, in whatever running event, I consider all runners winner the moment they took the first step from the starting line. DNFed to me is immaterial; what matters more is for a warrior-runner to survive and live to run another day.

To all CEBU50 Trail Ultrarunners 2015, congratulations!

To God be All the Glory!

 

Second to Running Bare… (Breaking In My KAI Running Sandals)

My running sandals has finally arrived!

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Kai Running Sandals

I tried it with slip-on strapping style…  nice!  And I was already excited to test-run it and do some break-ins.

It was our scheduled date run, and to our usual route,  home-marbeach-home with a total of  9.5K of road surface and with a beautiful beach sunrise view for a turning point.

Marigondon Beach; 4.25K turning point from our home

Marigondon Beach; 4.25K turning point from our home

I slipped on my sandals and started running with it.  All the way up to our turning point, my feet were so uncomfortable.  I tried to adjust it a couple of times along the way.  Upon reaching our turning point, I unstrapped the sandals and tried another way of strapping them back on.  I also inspected my feet and found small blisters in between my toes where the leather strap passes through.  I was not that happy though I was expecting to experience some discomforts especially that the sandals are new, the leather straps are not yet that smooth, and my feet are not yet accustomed with the sandals.

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Re-strapping my sandals on our turning point… (yup, that’s a man walking on water… :))

I made it back home with the return run pretty much the same as the first half – my feet were uncomfortable.

After a couple of days, I got the chance to check back on the strapping styles suggested by KAI itself .  I preferred using style number 1.

We went out on a date run again and I was able to run more comfortable with the sandals.  My wife was happy; my feet were happy; I was happy!

I’m now confident to take these sandals on my longer run.  I planned to wear it on my third climb to Cebu Tops. My first climb was last December 2015, on my way back home I stopped exhausted and just took a ride going home; I was able to log around 32K.  My second climb, I was able to complete it going all the way back home with a total distance of 46K.

My third climb, now wearing KAI sandals, I stopped over on our church along the way to attend our regular pre-dawn prayer every Saturday.  After our pre-dawn fellowship, I proceeded to attack the climb going up to Tops.  I made two stops along the way to re adjust the straps and give the sandals a snugger fit.

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View from Cebu Tops… far away from home (Mactan Island partly seen on the background)

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Far away from home… a view of Metro Cebu from Cebu Tops

On my way down, I reached Lahug area around 10:30am.  I was so hungry that I was no longer craving for the trail snacks that I brought but for a full meal.  I proceeded to I.T. park area across TESDA where there are a row of carinderias and ordered breakfast.

Even after refueling and some rest, the way back home was grueling.  It was hot but bearable thanks to the cool breeze the weather brings at this time of the year.  Nonetheless, from highway Mandaue City to our home in Mactan was a mixture of run, walk, rest.  I’m glad that there are plenty of Piso-piso water vending machines along the way.  I was also very thankful for the ice that I was able to buy in a store near the first Mactan bridge.

I was so thankful to the Lord when I finally arrived home.  I was greeted by my wife, with an ice-cold glass of fresh buko juice and a lunch ready at the table.  (She’s the only support I got when ever I run long distance.  She does not come along in a support vehicle but she monitors my whereabouts, my condition and standby for any emergency call I might make; and this is more than enough for me.)

Total distance for this run: 49.2Km with a moving time of 7:25 and total elapsed time of 9:33 (I paused my Running Apps while attending our pre-dawn prayer meet); Total elevation Gain: 1,094M.  You can view further details of this run on this link.

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Home sweet Home

The following day, I felt good with just the normal tired muscle pains.  As a creationist (someone who believes that we are created by the Creator-God), I believe  that there’s something in running barefoot or with the minimal support on our feet.  Among other benefits and advantages that other barefoot runners and minimalists testify, here are some from KAI:

KAI Running Sandals WILL NOT kill your toenails.

KAI Running Sandals WILL NOT provide you cushioning so that you will be light on your feet and not jar your joints on each stride.

KAI Running Sandals WILL NOT provide stability features so that you won’t be confused on how to change your running form just to please your shoes.

KAI Running Sandals WILL NOT restrict the movement of your foot muscles, bones, and tendons so that you will not put undue stress on them trying to bend your shoes.

KAI Running Sandals WILL NOT transform the sport of running into weight-lifting by letting your feet lift more than 10 ounces for the thousands of steps you take in your workout.

KAI Running Sandals WILL NOT feel like a sauna for the feet.

KAI Running Sandals WILL NOT burn a hole in your wallet.

(from KAI Blog Site)

And here are a few more from my own experience:

It dries up fast after getting it wet; (I dipped my sandals on the beach and it also got wet when it rained on my way up the mountains)

It’s easy to remove tiny pebbles, just shake it off; and

It allows ventilation preventing your feet to overheat during long runs.

Over all, my experience of running next to naked (that is, barefoot) was pretty much encouraging.  I now have a very good alternative running footwear instead of my regular running shoes whenever I am not going bare.

The Day I Started Running Naked (Barefoot, that is)

CCM 2015.  I ran my first official full marathon race at Cebu City Marathon (CCM) last January 11, 2015.  Though I finished the race with a good PR of sub 4:10, I suffered from terrible leg cramps that started at KM 30. BORN TO RUN.  On the following days after the race, I found my self surfing the web and reading just about anything related to preventing running injuries.  I found the articles of Christopher Mcdougall in his website where it talks mainly about barefoot running or running with the least of protection between the sole of the feet and the ground.  Christopher also wrote a book titled Born to Run which is about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyons running more than one hundred miles barefoot or with just sandals made from old tire rubber.  With no training regimen, the Tarahumarans reportedly are considered supper running athletes with almost no record of running injuries. Other articles I read speak about the topic of barefoot running from an evolutionist point of view;  where in, we human-beings have evolved to become runners.  Being bi-pedals, we are meant to run; we are born to run. CREATED TO RUN.  My view on the other hand does not argue with the proposition that we are born to run, being bi-pedals.  From the perspective of a creationist, I stand contrary to the statement that we have evolved to become runners.  My view is that, more than being born to run, we are created to run! I believe that we are created beings, as such we have a Creator and I believe this Creator is the Creator-God spoken in the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Bible.

Psalm 139:13-16  “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,  your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
With this mindset, I consider my feet created by God perfect and there’s nothing defective with it.  It does not need sophisticated running shoes with its support and cushioning technologies that claim protection and injury prevention caused by prolonged running.  With our set of feet, I believe that it could be trained to run and cover long distances with minimum protection between the sole of the feet and the ground being sufficient.
RUNNING NAKED.  And so, armed with this renewed mindset in running, on January 16, 2015, I ran naked!  Barefoot, that is.  I covered 10K on my first barefoot run.  Interestingly, it was a rebirth experience for me.  I felt that I discovered something hidden, something secret, and even something divine while running barefoot.  Could running barefoot or minimalist be the perfect running style that optimizes our legs to run long distances without the risk of running injuries?  This is the claim of the Tarahumarans, but I still have to personally experience it myself.
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without shoes I went straight ahead to the water at Marigondon beach, turning point for our usual morning date/prayer runs

RUNNING SANDALS.  I have not yet attempted running bare for more than 10K, though.  With my mother-in-law begging me not to run without shoes because of safety reasons, I am now seriously considering the next best thing to barefoot running and that is running with huaraches.  These are thin sandals made of hard rubber designed for running, patterned from the sandals used by the Tarahumarans.  I ordered my pair at KAI’s running sandals a couple of days ago and a couple of days more to wait before I could pick it up at their store.  Here’s their address should you decide to try a pair as well:
KAI Stickers
Villagracia Bldg (Across Cortes Hospital, behind Mercury Drug)
155 S.B. Cabahug St., Brgy Centro,
Mandaue City, Cebu
Philippines
The store is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm
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 LOVIE’S BAREFOOT RUN.  My wife also tried running barefoot with me during one of our morning date runs.  Feeling the ground with the sole of her foot is no longer strange to her for she usually wears very thin walking flat shoes.  And I’d like to think that she likes the experience though not more that she likes wearing running shoes for the protection it offer.
Lovie's happy feet after trying out running bare

Lovie’s happy feet after trying out running bare

RUNNING STYLE.  I still run once in awhile with my shoes on.  Don’t get me wrong.  With or without shoes I now run with a barefoot running style –  fore or mid foot strike, and running light with my legs allowing me to be more aware of the grounds underneath the soles of my feet.

MY DREAM OF RUNNING A MARATHON CAME TRUE AT CCM 2015

(this post was originally written and published for aktib.ph)

As a young child I was diagnosed with weak lungs. I was prone to respiratory ailments. The Doctor advised my parents to engage me in sports such as running to strengthen my lungs.

And so, once in a while, my father tag me along whenever he goes running.

My father was a military service man. Though running was part of his training, I like to imagine that my condition could have been the reason why he developed his passion for running.

He eventually became an elite marathoner, having run various 10s, 21s, 22s on top of his 3 42ks. His best PR for 42K was 3:15 when he was in his mid 40s.

3:15 back when gels were not yet popular and shoes were in it's simplest

My father’s 3rd 42K, back when gels were not yet popular and shoes were in it’s simplest

My father wanted me to follow his footsteps and join the military someday. I could say, this was also one of his motivation for bringing me along in his shorter runs.

I eventually started to enjoy running and thought of joining official races.

I desired joining Milo marathon races then in Baguio, but it never happened.

However, during my senior high school year, it so happened that my father cannot join their running club to go down to Manila for a 10K race. He called up his club if I could go instead, and they agreed.

It was my first ever official race.

I could not forget the joy of running that race and I arrived at the finish line clocking in at 45 minutes. I felt great!

However, that kindled joy for running was immediately watered down. Years went by and I forgot about running.

I lost my way into vices.

I entered the Philippine Military Academy. I was physically strong then to pass any running test, but was not fast and strong enough to be competitive in any running event.

After the academy and into my field assignments, running was once again forgotten.

I got deeper into vices.

I felt the joy of running again when I trained with the Scout Rangers where running was fundamental in its training regimen.

However, back to the field, I suffered from liver cirrhosis due to heavy drinking. I was also smoking very hard consuming around two packs of cigarettes per day that contributed to my deteriorated physical health.

In 2003, I was involved in the Oakwood incident where around 300 officers and men broke away from the chain of command and rebelled against the Arroyo Administration.

RENEGADE PHILIPPINE SOLDIERS FACE NEWSMEN IN MANILA

Red-banded Soldiers face Newsmen at Oakwood Hotel, July 27, 2003

We were incarcerated.

Inside detention, I experienced spiritual rebirth. I came to know Jesus Christ, and I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior.

By God’s help, I turned to a healthier and cleaner lifestyle. I went back to running again, even if it was only within our detention facility.

In 2008, I was released from detention and was discharged from the military service.

Home with my wife (who was also my classmate in the academy, whom I shared the joys of running since we were cadets), it became our weekly routine to go out early in the morning once or twice a week and we call these as our date runs. I really treasure every kilometers I run with my wife.

2011, my wife and I, as part of their company’s social event involvement, joined the 35th Milo Marathon – Cebu Leg. We ran 5k and it was a divine experience. A childhood-dream-come-true of joining Milo running events.

35th Milo Marathon

35th Milo Marathon

I dreamed of running longer distance race in the following 36th Milo Marathon but it did not happened.

In 2012, I came to learn about CCM, and the dream of running it was born in my heart.

I tried preparing for the 2013 and 2014 CCM, however, I failed to take off with my preparation.

It was on January 2014 that I finally set my mind to prepare for the 2015 CCM. I started to run on a regular basis until I found my rhythm to an average of twice a week runs.

At times running with wife, we only averaged 5 km per run, tapering off at 6km, and maxing out at 10k.

Pushing myself on my solo runs for longer distance always daunted me. But I kept on pushing those mileage by God’s enabling grace.

Days before my birthday on June 24, 2014, I planned on running 39km for my 39th birthday. My mileage then was only at 20k and to immediately double that distance seems not a good idea.

I planned on starting in the late afternoon so that it would be cooler on the latter half of my run.

The day came for my 39@39 birthday run. The first 20k was bearable, but the next 19k was physically and mentally challenging. On the last half of my run I experienced deeper communion with God. I prayed, digging in deeper on my reasons for doing this. I clocked 5:59 for 39K.

39km @ 39 yo  Birthday Run

39km @ 39 yo Birthday Run

After finishing my 39@39 run, my heart for running gave birth to a new vision – to run 85km at 85 y.o.!

I dubbed this vision as CALEB 85@85, inspired by the life of Caleb (Joshua 14:7-12) who when he was 85 years old was as strong as when he was 40 years old for the service of his God… our God.

I signed up for the 39th Milo Marathon – Cebu (half marathon), already confident that I could finish with a good PR. I sincerely enjoyed the run and I was able to finish at 1:55, 5min shy from qualifying to the nationals.

Before the Gun Start with RD Rio

Before the Gun Start with RD Rio

And finally CCM 2015 came. I signed up for 42K.

The night before, I tried sleeping to have that needed rest, but sleep was elusive. Perhaps the excitement of a first timer got the better of me.

Before gun start, I felt gastric pains perhaps due to the coffee I took, the nerves, the empty stomach or perhaps all of the above.

I endured the abdominal pain for the first 10k until it subsided and running became more comfortable.

I might have run faster than I should, because at km30, with 12k more to go, I started to feel cramping on both of my calves. I slowed down my pace, increased my hydration along every aid stations, and rested a bit by walking. It worked, and I was able to cover the remaining distance managing my muscle cramps.

I clocked 4:09 at the finish line.

Finally a Marathoner!

Finally a Marathoner!

I can’t fully put into writing the mixed emotions I experienced crossing the finish line, but to put it simply, it was ecstatic!

They say running a full marathon is life changing. So true. However it is not finishing a marathon that actually changes a person; change has already set in a person’s life the moment he/she made the decision to run a marathon.

Thank be to God who made this dream finally come to pass; to Him be the honor and glory alone.

Vision Caleb 85 @ 85

This blog is about my journey towards my vision of running 85 kilometers ultra marathon at the age of 85.  A vision of growing fit for the service of God.

Hi, my name is Florentino “Pilo”  Somera Jr., a former army office in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

I was not able to finish my career as I was discharged from the service in 2008 due to my involvement in the 2003 Oakwood incident where around 300 officers and men from the various branches of service of the AFP rose up in arms against the then Arroyo Administration.

We were incarcerated.

While in detention for more than four years, I came to know God through His Son Jesus.  From a free-thinker, I became a follower of Christ.

In my free-thinker days, I pretty much lost my self to vices.  I reached consuming two packs of cigarettes per day; and even suffered from liver cirrhosis because of excessive drinking.  I was not in good shape.

My ending up behind bars was perhaps one of the greatest pivotal periods in my life.  I got to know the Lord, and was blessed with a wife and two children.

In 2004, with a renewed view in my life, I started to embark in a journey towards a healthier and cleaner lifestyle.

and so I started running.