The ‘Not So’ Long Road to TNF100 – 50K: My First TRAIL Ultramarathon

I have been running on the roads for five years and joining ultramarathon races from 50k to 200+K for four years.  May 2009 is actually the month that I first joined a 10K race and May 2010 was my first ultramarathon.

I can run free on the road for hours (or days) just thinking my thoughts and letting my legs just roll through it which is not the case when you are on the trails.

I thought this is called sunog (dark) back then.

I thought this is called sunog (dark) back then.

Most of my friends in the running community, especially in PUMAG facebook group, have been joining trail runs.  I was never convinced I should. I was peer pressured but I never really gave in. I have only done one 10K in January 2011  (Highlands) and one 5K (Nuvalli) in October 2012. What I felt about it – it’s dirty!

I’ve been asked a couple of times, why have you been running on the trails these days….Let me try to answer

  • Because I know I can’t and I have to prove to myself I can by giving it a try….
  • Because I hate the thought of slowing down, getting dirty and not knowing where to go….and maybe I have to embrace the things I hate…
  • Because most of the top ultramarathon races locally that is of international standards are on the trails and those have stayed on my bucket list for a long time…
  • Because they said I can’t and I don’t want to believe them ….

To be honest, it was pride that took me to the foot of the mountain.  But it was leaving my ego on the foot of the mountain that allowed me to get to its peak.  And I just found myself registering for my first trail ultramarathon before ROX BGC closes and TNF registration ends last march 31.


I am not the type who’ll just register and run it.  I did my homework, asked help from friends and planned my January to May.  It was fun journey, nothing that structured, too short of a prep but that’s how it is!  I ensured I get immersed to trail running (or hiking, crawling, rolling), got enough strength training, had maintenance runs and complete recovery.

Trail Training

It is very important to have specific trail training especially for someone like me. It took some time for me to comfortably run on those unpredictable surfaces up and down the mountains; going over rocks, dirt and tree roots. The first climb is always the hardest, the second is still hard, the third is the hardest….Well, everything was hard!   It was humbling but reaching the peak was fulfilling and going down from the peak is —- it sucks, I suck!  I shared my first five trail runs in my previous post. After these training sessions, I took the courage to run my first trail race which I successfully finished.  I registered for TNF 50K the day after this race which leaves me with another month to prepare. Sounds easy, plus 8 more kilometers!  But those additional 8 always hurts.   I sort of crammed into my trail exposure but made sure each weekend I am on the trails. With tax season and lots of family and friends affair happening in this month, mileage was a bit short for the race but I’ll take it. The fun I had during these trainings made the journey worth it! Believe me, it’s a lot of sacrifice as the trails are all outside Manila and it always takes away more than half a day from your weekends. On days that I have commitments, I incorporated stairs workout instead of doing long runs on the road.

  • UP to Purra – 26K
  • Shotgun to Wawa – 32K
  • Balagbag – 24K
  • Tanay – 32K
  • Batulao – 12 K
  • Ugo Marathon – 42K
  • Baras – 23K
  • Timberland to Wawa – 28K
  • Batulao – 12K


Selfie on a solo exploration.  I can't believe I went on my own.

Selfie on a solo exploration. I can’t believe I went on my own.

Strength Training/Crossfit

I know the race would take hours and that those uphills and downhills could trash my quads and legs. I spent three days a week for my Crossfit Endurance workouts. The sessions hurt but if it doesn’t then maybe I am not gaining any strength from it at all. It took a lot of discipline as I do my own programming with consultations from a CFE coach. I have no excuse though as the weight room is just 50 steps from my room.


Pistol Squats with weights. This hurts but sure do strengthen and mobilizes everything...

Pistol Squats with weights. This hurts but sure do strengthen and mobilizes everything…


I always do Yoga by following an online program of David Kim. For this training block, I attended Yoga classes at Urban Ashram as part of recovery and to gain strengthening with less toll on the body. The stretch it gives me is the best! I feel like I saved on massage sessions just by attending Restorative Yoga sessions with them. It was a blessing I got those trial sessions timely. (I’ll share about Urban Ashram in a separate post soon.)

Not so flexible here...Stretch at Urban Ashram's FNR Athletics Yoga Class with Lasse

Not so flexible here…Stretch at Urban Ashram’s FNR Athletics Yoga Class with Lasse

The swim sessions 2x or 3x a week helped with recovery and gave me enough cardio workout also.

Tempo and Speed Intervals

I do short runs on weekdays, not exceeding 10 mile. I would sometimes join friends in running for some easy pace runs, run with Wilnar if I feel a bit suicidal for a tempo run or join my newbie runner friends to log in more mileage. Nothing too structured. I just go by feel on what my schedule permits me.

One of those suicidal morning runs with BDM 160 record holder Wilnar and friend Mel

One of those suicidal morning runs with BDM 160 record holder Wilnar and friend Mel

Paleo Diet

Honestly, I used to eat three cups of rice and don’t get fat with my running. I don’t really need to ditch it in my diet but I still did. I followed the paleo diet and avoided processed foods by cooking my own food and bringing pack lunch. I still indulge when I want to but always in moderation. At some point, your body will tell you I don’t like it even if there’s a pint of Carmen’s best Salted Caramel ice cream in front of you. I have to tell myself, eat it, especially when it’s free! Why I do it? Because it makes me less sore and it allows me to recover faster.


They say if you can’t perform, japorms! Seriously, I chose and tested what I’ll wear and use for the race. Okay, I admit, I sort of try and match the colors still.

Since it will be in Baguio and it can be very cold but can be hot during mid-day, I decided to wear the Compressport tri-shirt and my black shorts/uniform from Hydrococo.  True to what it profess, it helped me manage sweating when it was hot and chilling during the early part of the race.  I used my R2 Calf , Quad and Arm sleeves from Compressport also to protect me from all sorts of elements (and scratches whenever I slip – I did, several times!).  The calf and quad sleeves helped lessen soreness and tiredness during the race and ensured I have no DOMS after.  This one, I’ve proven and tested for several ultramarathon races.  I had Chica bands on my hair and a Chiller bandana.  Timely, Ultraspire product arrived in the country thru Bobby Go, its distributor.  I got an Ultraspire Surge bag as the one I am using is very heavy.  I like this model as it can hold everything I need and I can place them strategically; making it easy to access even when I am running by the ridge and it’s time to eat or hydrate.  I carried and tucked two Simple Hydration bottles on my bag – one for my Hydrococo and the other one for water that I can use to easily douse myself when it gets hot.  Not to forget, since this would take almost a day of sweating, hygiene is important so got stash of Adidas Body Care with me to Baguio.  I borrowed my trekking pole from Michi which I failed to test.  I actually realized, I forgot to remove the covering cap of the pole when I was on the last 10k of the race.  I used a New Balance M1010V shoes which has to retire after less than 200K of mileage as the lugs at the back are already detached.

For nutrition, I tested everything in my trail trainings.  I used 1) two Sponser Liquid Gel and one Activator; 2) 5 Homemade Paleo Bars from my friend George of Empire Macaron; 3) 3 – 250 ml Hydrococo, 4)  3 sachets of Royale Richarge; 5) Some chips and nuts in tiny packs.

Thanks as most of the brands I prefer to use have been supporting my adventures!


Ready or not, let’s go to Baguio.  I’m not ready but I’ve prepared for anything…




Categories: Race Reports

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