It was a pretty stressful week as preparations for the BDM test run were in full swing.
After intermittent training sessions in December, I was finally getting some regular runs the past weeks. Upon Jonel‘s suggestion, I was using the Runner’s World Ultimate Ultramarathon Training Plan. Although, because the program was meant for a 50-mile (80 km) race, I tweaked the distances and times a little to suit my goal race. However, I needed 16 weeks to complete it and I only had 10 at best which meant I would have to skip the 3rd week of each cycle and hope for the best.
What I lacked in training, I needed to make up for in preparation and strategy. While scanning for articles on ultra running, I pored over the site of the toughest ultramarathon in the world, Badwater, and found some useful advice on what the support crew should bring to the run, choosing a support vehicle and setting it up. I had already made a list of items I planned to bring supplemented with suggestions from those who had run BDM last year but the articles gave me a lot of practical tips which would definitely help in finishing (and surviving) BDM.
For this trip my support crew would be a driver, my brother Joey, and Jun C (who would be running 25 km that day). A few days before the run I briefed each one on the race rules and their responsibilities. They needed to be familiar with the route and to take notes on the course and available resources (i.e. gas stations, convenience stores, etc.). What we learn from the test run in terms of nutrition, hydration, acclimatization, and terrain would depend on simulating a run as close to a BDM experience as possible and our observations.
As for my strategy, I remember reading somewhere that to finish an ultramarathon, I should divide it into three parts; I should not feel the first third, the second third should be comfortably hard, and the final third should be the struggle. For a 13-14 hour finish, I needed to maintain an even 8 min/km pace but instead of focusing on pace I would watch my heart rate. For the first 30 kms, I would keep my HR at below 130. After, I would try to limit it to below 145 if I could. I wanted to finish the test run with something left in the tank otherwise I would have to seriously assess my ability to finish BDM in March.
We left Manila at 2:20 a.m. for Mariveles, Bataan. On the way, we bought 5 bags of ice for our drinks and Jollibee burgers, hotdogs, and spaghetti for breakfast, picked up Vener who was also joining the test run, and met up with Jonel at Petron Lakeshore just before the SCTEX exit. Together with the vehicles of Kim, Arman, and Junrox, we headed towards Dinalupihan while Jonel and Jay C picked up Mari from Clark. During the whole drive, I was constantly stuffing food in my mouth. It would be a long day and I wanted to be sure I had plenty of carbs for it.