09 March 2010

2010 BDM Ultramarathon - The Goal To The Top Ten

(me, Isko and Albert - all veterans)

I am sitting here at my office with sore/swollen feet, blisters, sore legs and achy shoulders and thinking I should be somewhere else. Bedroom is a far better option! Even walking is such a feat. I told Don this is the price we pay for racing under the hottest month so far on this side of the planet.

Even before the race started, Jay  commented how humid it was and it did not get any better later during the race. It was hot. Hotter than last year. It was reported that the day temperature reached a blistering 41 degrees Celsius. My race report last year can be read here and here.


A month before the race or exactly February 07, I ran the Condura Marathon hard as part of my speed training. Ray K once said that the best speed training for an ultra is a marathon. I agree.

For BDM, more hill repeats than I could safely handle. Even when doing long runs, I always included hilly course and avoided flat ones (that is why I sucked during the flat course of the route). I abandoned intervals in favor of tempo runs which meant running the majority of the distance in race pace. As for hill repeats and tempo, I am a firm believer that the pace should be way faster than your target pace during the race itself. Once your body gets used to this faster pace, the race pace becomes manageable. You can run then fast even on hilly course. Needless to say, there were times when it would be safe and okay to trot or jog instead. It is, thus, very important to listen to your body. After all, the purpose of training is to build your body; not to destroy it.

Running is an experiment of one. After all, we are all different. You have to find out what works for you in the scheme of things. 

Then 2 weeks after, this was followed with a 8-hour run from 6AM to 2PM to heat train and as long last run. With 2 weeks before BDM, it was comforting to think that there was enough time to rest and taper. On the contrary. Life happens indeed. My wife gave birth, I had to wake up early than usual to bring my son to school in the morning, had to drive around a lot, office-related job stresses, court hearings, deadlines, etc., etc. I almost got sick too. There was not enough time to recover.


(final adjustment on gears)

We reached KM00 at around 10PM in convoy of 3 vehicles. Don and Albert were with us. Bert and Shower were my crew and Boyet as our driver.

We saw familiar faces and new ones. Everybody seemed happy at least for now. My standing joke being - wait until you reach KM50 and up and all those smiles would turn into grimaces and frowns. It was dark (no illuminating lights installed again just like last year) at the start line as if it foreshadowed of things to come. 

Isko, Vener, Jay, Don, Albert and I congregated in one of the corners. It was Isko from whom I found out that Ed (last year's champ), the 2nd and 3rd place winners did not join this year's race. I was not sure what it was but I felt my heart quickened upon finding this out. Less competitors so to speak?  


My training was centered on beating my time last year so that I would get into the top 10 (was number 11). To do this, I must eliminate the poop incidents (geez, 3x last year, yuck! :). So no chocolate-flavored fuel and drinks this time. As for fuel, I only consumed gels to eliminate intestinal problems. Expensive but it worked absolutely fine. Walking was avoided and my pace of 5 minute running to 1 minute walking was totally abandoned. Gotta race!

Before the race, I even went to check the splits of 2009 winner and it was amazing. He ran an average pace of 5:22/KM! The other sneaky plan was to finish the race under 10 hours or specifically to run within the pace of 5:55/KM. Easy on paper but not when one is already running the course under the sun.

The race started at 11:30PM, thirty minutes earlier and we sped away. It was magical as the first few meters, there were "springs" under my feet. You know that light springy steps and I knew instantly my plan to make it to top ten was possible at leat at this time.  



There were two runners tailing me behind during the first few kilometers. Later on, I found out they were July Oconer and Hermogines Olvis, tied at 4th place.

The lead pack of 4 were runners from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Fast, young and nimble. Most likely 15 years or so younger than myself. 5th lead runner was "Saly"  Muhammad Sallehan Zainuddin from Singapore. Young, fast and slim too. I was content to be in 6th place. The goal, after all, was to make it to the top 10.

But you know there were rare occasions when everything worked in synchronicity as if all the stars aligned perfectly.  This was it.

As Rick Gaston once advised me before Condura: "Start slow and then let 'er rip!" and that was exactly what I did. Looking back, the first 50KM was exhilirating! I felt like flying and only wished I could maintain the strength all throughout the race. The first 50KM was ran in 4 hours, 50 mins or so or on pace to finish under 10 hours. (N.B. Garmin 405 conked out at KM62 with the time of 5 hours and 57 mins).

It was somewhere between 30 and 40 kilometers when I overtook Saly and the two other runners from AFP. Pesky dogs were all over the route as well and it was annoying to stop just to avoid being bitten. It sort of interfered with the momentum. Good thing the glare from the headlamp with matching growls scared them  away. 


Being at number 3, the next chase was number 2 position. I could see him (Randy Bumahit) from a distance and would often require my support crew to "recon" the road ahead and behind us. As they say, run smart. Running is not only physical but a battle of intelligence too. Most often than not, lead runners lose their lead because they often become complacent.

   (Sharing the narrow highways and roads with vehicles)

There were several kilometers were Randy and I were running close to each other. He served as my beacon of light ahead and my goal was not to lose sight of him. Sometimes, I overtook him just to lose the lead to him again. I have to hand it to him. He was strong and maintained his pace all throughout even as I shamelessly thought he would break down sooner or later before the finish line. I was wrong. 

    (One of the "time" marshals)

Everytime I passed a time station, I always asked for the lead time of the first and second runners ahead. Chasing the lead runner would be a folly. As the results would have it, he was ahead of me for more than 1 hour but he failed to break the course record of 9 hours, 9 minutes.


A few meters to the finish line, I raised my right fist to heaven and uttered a short prayer. It was humbling and I was so thankful I survived the race in one piece.

I crossed the finish line in 11 hours and 1 minute and Rick Gaston was wondering why I did not make it under 11 hours. I did not care anymore because of fatigue. I could have pushed it during the last 2 kilometers but being assured of the  top 3 position was enough consolation. Perhaps, next year. Haha.

    (Race director BR and I were discussing about the weather)


This time, I planned to stick around a little while at the finish line to see my friends cross. I was glad I did.

Pampanga will always be a treacherous part of the course. Speeding buses, trucks and huge vehicles will always be a menace. Stray dogs as well.  Blisters having formed under the balls of my feet again, I could not run on the unpaved road side. The rocks under my racing flats would hit my blisters! There was no choice but to share the road with the vehicles and could care less if I got run over. Really!

The longer you stay on the road, the riskier. Hence the faster you finish the race, the safer and  better.

Heat training is absolutely imperative! So is proper hydration.

Sleep-loading a few days before the race is equally important as carbo-loading (which I don't believe in so much).

Seek and recruit crew who are runners also. They know what to do.

Have some mantras in your mind while running help you to achieve your goal. Last year, it was "one step at a time", "every second counts", "run intelligently", etc. worked for me. This year, it was "history", "glory", my son "Marcus" and above all, the prayer always thanking the Creator for giving us health, strong feet and legs, strength and endurance. Not all people have what we have.

Congratulations to all the finishers and BR for putting up this race! To my crew and race marshals, job well done! Friends, thanks as well.

See you next year!




  1. Congrats attorney!

  2. Congratulations Sir Jon! That was a great finish time no matter how you look at it. We can only admire from a distance :)

  3. ayos attorney. in my mind, you were of my top bets considering the absence of last year's top guns. next year is another story-longer! hahaha.see you!

  4. My premonition is correct...you'll make it at the top 3. Congrats! :)

  5. I knew you're into something the moment I saw you at the starting line. I have goosebumps when I saw you on that rocket, a modified one helluva racing flat. My big congratulations Jon, job well done.

  6. Congratulations Sir! What you've done is indeed remarkable...

  7. congrats, atty jon on your podium finish and best PR. see you at the awarding ceremony! good job!

  8. Congrats Atty. Jon! It seems like only yesterday when I joined you and Don for a drink and I decided to join this too! Thanks for everything.

  9. Congrats Sir that's an awesome run!

  10. caluguran ming joe, aduang maragul a bague, yng pamanganak nang ligtas ning quecang malugud a lanie at yng pamaniambut mu queng BDM. nanu pa mo yng buri mung acua ngening icua mu na ngan halos ing buri mu? pagpalan na la pin ning apung guinu deng manampalataya ca ya, ne? marayung mallari cana cu ita, balu mu na, haha. metung pa, yca yng pagmaragul mi quecatamung micacaluguran at makasigurado ca na maragul mu naman yng lugud mi queca, nanu pa ta at halos 30 banwa tanang mi-abe-abe. ana ping caluguran tamung oweng, mimingat!

  11. Congrats Atty Jon! The last time I saw you in the race was when you emerged from the uphills at km. 8 and you were really flying. I knew then that you would have a very strong finish.


  12. what can i say?

    isang malupet na congratulations, idol!

    isang tagay sa tagumpay naman jan!



  13. TO ALL:

    Thank you. Sometimes things happen for various reasons. With all the difficulties I experienced two weeks before BDM, I did not expect this to happen. After all, I am just like one of you - a family man with daytime job and certainly not a full-time athlete who can train twice a day and can afford the luxury of sleep in between. Maybe this is the reward or consolation? We can never know for sure.

    Folks, we all have our own lives beyond the start and finish lines.

    See you around!


  14. BR said it was equivalent to about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. That's hot especially with the humidity! I've raced in 107 but no humidity. I know humidity adds another layer of heat and very difficult to cool off.

    So you switched to a strictly liquid diet to avoid GI problems. I do that when it's hot, mostly gels and energy drinks - until I start wanting to throw up of course:) Thanks for the reminder, I will be taking my own advice for this weekends race. Nothing as hot or as long as your adventure however. You are looking leaner these days.

    I was merely wondering if it bothered you that you didn't come under 11 hours since you missed it by 1 minute. I'm the kind of person who would obsess with something like that days after the race. You can ask my crew chief from last year, nearly choked me to death at one point.

    So Pampanga is dangerous huh. Ben Gaetos mentioned about having a close call on his run. A bamboo stick for the dogs next time might not be a bad idea. As for the blisters. I duct tape the bottoms of my feet to avoid blisters in that area. I've had them down there, awful. Since the duct tape, none. Toes are another matter though. Can't duct tape those.

    Congratulations Jon. Next year's goal - 10:30! You are only getting started.

  15. simula ngayon hindi na kampanyero, attorney, jon, o lacanlale, ang itatawag ko sa'yo, kundi "IDOL" na..... ang luffeeeet mo!!!!!!


  16. Congrats attorney!

    You're my ultra idol!

    Sam TheRunningNinja

  17. Congrats Tretorns!

  18. Just saw the awards ceremony picture on BR's blog. Nice going man.

  19. Thanks guys! Goodluck on your upcoming races.

  20. Magnifico!!!!

    Next stop, TNF 100K hehehe. But this time, Ed Villanueva will join the race, mas maganda at "mainit" ang karera hahaha