05 March 2012

BDM102 RACE REPORT (Course Record)


During the 2nd edition of BDM102, I distinctly remember my training when I placed third (3rd) with a PB time of 11:01:47 (although my original goal was just to land in the top ten; was 11th place in the 1st edition). That race was preceded by an almost all-out effort at Condura as part of my tune-up race. It worked. On hindsight, I realized I walked a lot during the 2010 BDM102 so there could be a big chance of slicing off a few minutes from my PB.

That chance only presented itself this year because in 2011, it was just impossible to do it  because of the Grand Slam - back-to-back BDM160 and 102 one week apart. Racing a 100K after running, er, racing a 100 miler one week prior is nearly impossible for an average runner like me. Did I say I took a hiatus for several weeks after the Grand Slam just to get back the appetite for running?


Hills and more hills. Not only as part of my training for Western States 100 in June but it is no secret that there is no substitute for mountain/hill training. Training on flat ground gives you speed, fast turn over and also fluidity but it is hill training that elevates it to the next level. Hills harden your feet and legs like no other with one caveat - adjust accordingly. There is an interesting web article by Max King on this via Runningtimes. He stated that to be fast, he chose to train and race ultras on trails to give him that edge during the Olympic Trials.

So for the past several months, I have been doing both road and hills. Sometimes, hills in the morning when it was cooler and road after work. During weekends, I preferred hills because I got a different high. Imagine running shirtless and alone with only the animals (both seen and hidden) with you. The wind breezed through your hair and the smell of the air was fresh and pure. I noticed I got comfortable running hills for 2 hours or more with neither water nor food.  


There were two (2) races that helped me for BDM102. One was a road race - the HK Marathon on 05 February and the other was a mountain race - Philippine Skyrunning Association (PSA) International Skyrace at Mt. Ugo. So a month before was an all-out effort HK and 2 weeks before BDM102 was PSA. Both were hilly but PSA trumped HK of course. The sheer elevation of Mt. Ugo is nothing to sneer at being the third highest in Luzon. It was also in Mt. Ugo race I realized (more like drilled into my brain) the value of sleep. There is no room for athlete for "puyat". It robs you of your inner strength which is very important during a race. On the other hand, I raced HK really hard for that shock training for BDM102. Maybe my shock training was Mt. Ugo or both.

So after Mt. Ugo, I had DOMS which felt like I ran a fast hilly 50 miler. I wondered then whether it would affect my race condition since my recovery got in the way of my training for BDM102. I hardly ran/trained after Mt. Ugo. It was no surprise then whether I was overtrained for BDM102.


I bought a TNF Flight trail short with 3 useful mini back pockets for fuel like gels, etc. For its price, the fit was just perfect and it was very comfy. Above all, it is the only short that does not give me a raw inner thigh while running especially during PSA Mt. Ugo. So the choice of what shorts to wear for BDM102 was easy. As for shirt, I wanted to run shirtless but I am no "machete" so I chose the shirt with lightest weight and bigger porous for that outstanding breathability. My only worry was my armpits getting rubbed raw which was easily solved by regular re-application of anti-chafe cream (there is one brand Island Basics available in Secondwind stores which is proudly Philippine-made and very cheap. Smells good too!).

As for sports watch, I wore two (2) watches.  GF305 courtesy of Don (my GF405 is RIP now) to constantly remind me of ACTUAL pace, distance and time. The other was Timex to remind me of fuel intake of every 30 minutes or so. (TIDBIT: I noticed at the Finish Line that Peter Kennedy [2nd place] was wearing 2 watches too!).

The most "innovation" I did was to modify my Saucony Kinvara road shoes which I bought at A Runners' Circle (ARC) store in Manila. Actually, I have been modifying my shoes since 2010 starting with Adidas Rockets by removing the hard plastic underneath called "torsion" or something. Lighter that way and above all, your feet will roll naturally. Going back to Saucony, I shaved off the heels to make it zero-differential meaning the height of the heel sole is the same as the forefoot. Also, I removed excess weight of the sole and removed other materials which irritate my feet. My cobbler who made the holders for my front-loading bottles for UTMB did another great job at it! Here are the pictures of the shoes before and after (NOTE: I further shaved the forefoot before BDM102):


Not much. More rest and sleep. Work got in the way sometimes. I ate healthy and no beer this time except that one bottle of SMB four days before BDM102 :) For food, I restricted my food intake so as not to gain weight. It might come as a surprise to most of you but I ate very few carbohydrates leading to the race. Please note that I do not recommend this to anyone. Definitely, no useless sugar of any kind. One thing I followed after all those years was to eat what food my body was craving for.

One thing I noticed was that I was kind of lethargic and not excited before the race. Don and some of my friends knew about it. Unlike last year for BDM160, I was fixated on the race. This time it was the opposite.  I was just mentally focused to RUN MY OWN RACE!


My continuing mantras were "race smart" "run your own race" "you are here to break the CR", "cruise", "engine humming", "right here, right now" and "don't mind your opponents". 


Mainly water and occasional sodas and for fuel, gels and a bit of pastillas from Magalang. That was it. One thing I noticed was that I used to survive on 200 calories per hour but during the last half of BDM102, I was ingesting around 250 or so calories and my tummy did not complain. I brought my favorite Snickers bars but I was too pre-occupied or tired to chew.


One has to pace properly during the first 20K. In particular, I took note of my cramps last year during BDM160 because of hard effort during this stretch. This time, I slowed down and did not bother being in the 10th or 12th place. Peter Kennedy, Max Espinosa, Graciano Santos and other runners flew fast. I knew all or most of them would not be able to maintain that pace and would eventually slow down. I was right. Some call it veteran's move. Perhaps.

So slowly, I started to reel them in one by one. I saw Peter on the roadside and when I asked if he was ok and he just said "I wish I had a support vehicle" or something to that effect. Was it Max when I saw him KM30 having cramps? I was polite when passing by making a hand signal. I was expecting the defending champion Carreon way up ahead. It was only later on when I was told that he did not join. 

So I was leading now and watched my pace very carefully. Downhill was like 4:30 or less minute per kilometer while uphill was 6:00 min/km maximum. This is where Garmin or any GPS watch shines. What I lost going uphill I tried to recover during downhill. The point is that I must maintain an average pace of 5:50 to break the CR and that was for the entire course. 

Around 17K, a drunk teenager in slippers ran with me for almost 1K until he finally gave up when a roving patrol called his attention. Dogs will be always a menace and so are the ego-bloated and/or drunk drivers whether on 2, 4 or more wheels. Heck even those bus and truck drivers from Dinalupihan to Lubao were a nightmare.

My suggestion to BR is to tap the barangay officials or LGUs in the areas where the runners pass through. This race could be our very own Comrades where people will expect this historical race year after year and to cheer on the runners with flags and all while they pass by in their respective area. Perhaps that is the only way to teach people to put their dogs on leash :)

31K to 80K

I was feeling comfortable running a conversational pace of 5:20 to 5:30 min/km. Marathon distance was reached at around 3:50 something while 50K at around 4:41. It was hard to maintain a target pace during the hilly or rolling terrain of the first half while always being aware of the importance of reserving enough energy to cover the last half due to fatigue factor. In other words, one cannot dilly dally during the first half at the risk of wasting time. So one should strike a balance of being fast enough but with enough kick to cover the remaining distance.

Don as my chief crew reminded me of my pace during this portion. Since I got to refuel every 2 kilometers, he told me I was covering 2 kilometers at an average time of 11 minutes. I told him that was the comfortable pace I could maintain. Neither slow nor fast. Some called it "cruising" or in fat-burning mode. 

81K to 90K

I could feel the fatigue now. Some muscle twitching here and there. I slowed down too but always mindful of the time and pace. Actually, one should mind his pace which takes care of the time eventually. I was eagerly waiting for the sun to rise. It was slowly peeking though the horizon. I was just hanging there.

91K to 98K

While even maintaining my fuel and fluid intake, my body was almost at the edge of breaking down. My pit stops of every 2 kilometers were now every 1.5K and I fast walked a bit while fueling and hydrating. I was losing time but I knew I had to hang on. I did not come this far and fast to give up now. My legs were heavy and the demons in my head were celebrating my state of weakness egging me to walk and just take it easy since the next runner was 6 kilometers behind me. I had to steel myself.


The temptation to walk to the finish line was almost unbearable had it not for my crew who motivated me. I thought even if I ran to the finish line there was no way I could break the course record. Just the same, I sprinted and ignored the painful and onset of cramps on my quads and calves.

It was only when I made a left turn to the Finish Line that I realized I still had a few precious seconds to break the CR. It was the sprint of my life! Good thing BR's timer was huge enough to see it from afar. As they say, history repeats itself. Just like my BDM160 finish, I was sprawled on the road gasping for air. BR quipped about me missing the ceremonial hug.

The rest is history with DOMS galore afterwards :)


It is very easy to plan to break the CR but it is in the execution that makes or breaks it. Hours after the race, I was emotional because I still could not figure out how I did it. It was very hard to maintain the focus or pace when every single cell in your body was shouting "STOP IT!!!". I thought my years of ultra experience (GNW100 and UTMB to name a few) prepared me for this but I was wrong.

Funny thing is this is not a race with a cash prize which should have been a strong motivation. The motivation is inside the runner and it is intangible. Since it is intangible, it can dissipate easily when confronted with pain, discomfort and fatigue. How to maintain that motivation during the entire race is the question.

Given the same conditions (same start time and date and no cash prize), I predict that a runner will soon come under 10 hours. He/she must really want it so bad to do it. Less than that will not cut it. 9:30 to 9:40 is realistic for someone with talent. 8 hours is impossible. Even 9 hours to 9:20 is very difficult because of the raving pesky dogs and drunk, ego-stoking drivers are out there to disrupt your momentum. The inherent difficulty of the terrain is obviously something to contend with. The road condition in the wee hours of the morning from Dinalupihan war shine to Lubao is very difficult because even with headlamp, one cannot see the road properly because of the headlights from oncoming vehicles. So runners slow down on this part or risk getting side swiped or run over.

So what would it take to break the CR?

1. Years of experience running ultras (unless one is really talented unlike me in which case a few fast marathons will do, I guess. Years to develop your legs and feet to withstand that constant concrete pounding);

2. Motivation at the Richter scale of 10 (this is your best weapon);

3. Focus/determination like the beam of light;

4. Training which intensity (but not distance) is harder than the race itself;

5. Understanding of the importance of regular fuel and fluid intakes; and above all

6. Ability to shut down your brain from incessant perception of pain and discomfort. How do you shut down your brain? You cannot but some for some strange reason it happened to me during this race. 

Oh I forgot your choice of quality crew is indispensable. Without them, it is doubly difficult as it is. So thank you to my crew - the usual folks, Boyet as navigator, Boyet as crew member and above all, Don Ubaldo who was the chief crew. I owe you guys one. Also thank you to others who wished me well.

Jon (it never gets in my head)


  1. The sweetest icing on the cake this time. Congratulations again, that's huge.

  2. congrats ATTY!

    ang lakas mo!

    you deserved it! with that training and motivation...

    and as ALWAYS...still with HUMILITY on you despite of everything...

    see you on BDM party and on the roads...


  3. Don't rule out 8 hours. You may be around next time to break it.

  4. Brilliant blog Jon...love reading it all - keep it going...I am learning SO MUCH from you :) Congrats again!!
    Julie :)

  5. Congratulations for the great job. You are the first to finish in 2012 BDM 102. In terms of classroom seating arrangement, you are row 1. I am row 4. Yup. I got to finish too.

  6. congrats sir Atty! got some tips from you. just like the bicolano penguin said, i'm in row 4 too!:) thank you and mabuhay ka!

  7. congrats sir Atty! got some tips from you. just like the bicolano penguin said, i'm in row 4 too!:) thank you and mabuhay ka!