About Me

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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

March 18, 2012


I am very happy to have survived the 2012 BDM 102Km Ultra (Please visit http://www.lopezlink.ph/lifelong-wellness/2593-de-lima-completes-3rd-ultramarathon.html for related story).  My feeling is that I am very fortunate to have been able to gut out a finish within  the 18-hour cutoff time. 

I was down and out at Km 60 but found a way to persevere and cross the finish line at Km 102.  I am now an ultrarunner, in the truest pinoy sense of the word. 

The critical support of our crew – Ed and Orly, and the pacing from Fards in the first 50 kms  have a lot to do with my good fortune.  The generosity  of fellow BDM participants Jonel Mendoza, Cris dela Cruz, Vicky Ras and June Villamor in guiding me and keeping me company  in the long, dry and hot Dinalupihan-Lubao highway stretch I consider manna from heaven. And the good fortune I got from above I attribute to the power of the rosary.

I am indeed a  fortunate survivor of the 2012 BDM.

But in the interest of improving my running experience the next time I tackle an ultramarathon, I have to do a postscript analysis of what went wrong and what went right in my 2012 BDM 102km ultra.  Also, what can be improved?

Here are a few items:

1. Why did I experience cramps on both my calves at Km 60? And how does one avoid and/or deal with cramps? 

It was my first time to experience cramps in a long distance running event.  Thus, I don’t have much knowledge on the subject.  Luckily, I received an email last March 7, 2012 from Runner’s World about the subject.  Attached to the email was a Runner’s World  article (April 2011) by Adam Bean    entitled “Cramping Out : How to thwart – and put an end to – muscle spasms.”  It is a treasure trove of info on cramps.


According to  Dr. Kevin Miller PhD., an exercise scientist of North Dakota State University who works full time studying it, cramps are caused by dehydration and exhaustion.

At Km 60, I feel I was not dehydrated.  I was regularly taking water and Powerade in my stops with the support vehicle.  I guess exhaustion would have been more the culprit at Km 60.  I was exerting more than I was used to so I got exhausted.  Instead of taking it a bit easier, I was pushing for more kilometres before the sun heats up.  I even ditched the Galloway 4:2 I was familiar with.  Instead,  from Km 7 to Km 60, I was running strong with walk break  after every kilometer marker, which I did not utilize in any of my test runs.

Lesson learned:  Stick with the Galloway 4:2 which I am familiar with.  Loyalty has its rewards.  

What do you do when you have cramps while running?

The Runner’s World Article advices that you move to the side of the road and stretch.  

What kind of stretch?  Calf stretch, quad stretch and hamstring stretch.

What can one do to prevent/avoid cramps?

Jumping and hopping drills, called plyometrics , help keep muscle spindles from tiring.  Cramps can occur when these spindles  get fatigued.  Examples of exercises that condition the spindles are Two-Way Hops and Box Jump plus hop.

2.       What caused my blisters at Km 85?

The good thing about this  modern age of google is that one can get information easy and fast.  Type the subject “blisters” and voila I have 17,000,000 results to choose from.  The first one is by Christine Luff, a health and fitness writer with stints at Reader’s Digest and Sports Illustrated,  and I find it very informative about the subject.

According to Ms. Luff, “blisters on the feet are caused by friction, typically between skin and sock. Excessive moisture due to sweaty feet or wet conditions can also lead to blisters. Wearing running shoes that are too small or tied way too tight can also cause blisters.

To prevent blisters altogether, make sure your shoes fit properly. Your running shoe should be at least 1/2 a size bigger than your street shoe size, since your feet swell when you run. You should have a little room in your toebox.

Buy socks specifically made for running Look for socks made of synthetic fabrics (not cotton!) such as Teflon or CoolMax, which wick moisture away from your feet, preventing the sock from bunching up and causing blisters. Also, buy socks with no seams and a  smooth surface. Some runners wear double-layer socks created to deter blisters. The idea with those socks is that any friction occurs between the two sock layers instead of your skin and the sock. 

You can also spread BodyGlide or Vaseline on problem areas. But go easy: Too much and you'll be sliding around in your shoes.

If you already have a blister and it's not painful, just leave it alone, since the skin serves as protection. It will eventually break and the fluid will drain. If the blister is painful, then you should boil a needle for 5-10 minutes in water and once cool, carefully pierce the blister. Press the fluid out and use an antiseptic cream on it. Cover the area with a product such Band-Aid Blister Block or moleskin to protect against infection and provide cushioning.

If you're running in a race, such as a marathon, and you develop a painful blister, stop at one of the medical stations. They'll be able to treat your blister and hopefully get you back in the race, running pain-free.”

Given this info on blisters, I am inclined to attribute my blisters to a combination of 2 things:

One has to do with the Asics Cumulus 13  I was wearing.  They are Size 9 but the width is normal.  I have a relatively wide foot.  The Cumulus has a wonderfully soft cushioning but there is slightly less toe box space which can lead to blisters.   Solution is, next time I buy a new pair, the width should be 2E. Problem is here in the Philippine market, the width is normal (N).  Gotta order it perhaps abroad.

Second has to do with the application of Vaseline. I did apply  petroleum jelly before the start of the   race, at around 9pm of March 3.  Problem is I did not anymore apply Vaseline at the midpoint of the race .  The prudent thing to do would have been to apply the petroleum jelly when I changed socks and running shoes at Km 50.   

3.       How were the compression sleeves?

During the 50-km test run last January and the 52-km bootleg run last February,  I noticed that my calves were a bit loose and my strides were  dragging.  At these two long runs, I noticed my fellow 83nean runners (Fards, Bob and Ernie) using compression sleeves on their calves and they were running stronger than I.  I thought perhaps I could try it out.

So I did purchase a pair from Secondwind. It is the SLS Compression Race Sleeves (visit www.slstri.com).

SLS Compression Race Sleeves
I tried it out in a 21-km training run with Fards, Bob and Ernie in February and it felt good.  The snug feel of the compression sleeves seemed to stabilize my lower legs. I was able to keep pace with my fellow 83nean runners in the run, which I rarely am I able to do before.

So feeling good about it, I decided to wear them on my BDM 102km ultra.  

What was the performance?  I think for the 1st 50-kms of the BDM, the compression sleeves were helpful in making me run stronger.  However, at the 2nd half, especially when I had my cramps at km 60, I decided to remove it as I felt the compression sleeves were adding to the pain of the cramps.  I felt it was constricting my muscles and after more than 9 hours of wearing it, I did not anymore like the “sakal” feeling.

What is the literature on this issue?   Again, thru the help of google, I got to stumble on an article entitled “Owner’s Manual: Do Compression Socks Work?”  by Brian Metzler in the May 2008 issue of Running Times Magazine.  And again, I will quote liberally: 

“At first glance, they appear to be a statement of retro style. But a closer look reveals the knee-high tube socks many elite distance runners race in are anything but rekindled 1970s apparel.

They're graduated compression socks -- snug-fitting, over-the-calf socks (some of which start at the ankle) aimed at improving oxygen delivery to muscles, speeding lactic acid removal and stabilizing the lower leg for greater muscle efficiency. A handful of front-of-the-pack road runners swear by them, including Lornah Kiplagat and Gete Wami. Women's marathon world-record holder Paula Radcliff e has also worn them in the past, although not in the BUPA Great North Run Half Marathon or the ING New York City Marathon in 2007.

But do they work? Compression socks and wraps have been widely accepted in clinical and post-surgical settings for the treatment of edema, lymph edema, phlebitis, varicose veins, spider veins and deep vein thrombosis. Most theories about how the socks can improve running performance focus on the physiological and biomechanical support of the lower extremities.

The primary rationale behind wearing compression socks in a race is that they may enhance venous return to the heart through a more efficient calf muscle pump, leading to increased endurance capacity. And there is the notion that because muscles are kept more compact, balance and proprioception are improved and muscle fatigue is minimized.

However, a study presented at the 2007 American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting in New Orleans suggested there were no statistically significant differences in maximal oxygen consumption, heart rate or minute ventilation between treadmill runners who wore compression socks and those who did not. According to the study, conducted at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, subjects did, however, show a faster lactate recovery rate after exercise when wearing the compression socks, suggesting that compression socks might speed recovery after a strenuous workout or a race.

So wear them in a race if it suits you, but definitely wear them after the race.”

There you have it. Compression sleeves or socks are very much recommended for recovery, after the race.  As for during the race  itself, it must suit the runner first.  The compression sleeves  are suited for me, I think,   up to the first 40 to 50 kms of the ultra.  Beyond that distance, I am taking them off to allow my calves to breathe.   

4.       How about the arm coolers?

Another item I bought at  Secondwind  is the Zoot IceFil Arm Coolers.  It is a bit pricey compared to the regular arm sleeves but boy am I ever so thankful that the store attendant at Secondwind suggested this item.

Zoot Arm Coolers

This Zoot product did justice to its name.  It does cool off my skin and this was evidently clear when I was trudging thru the long highway connecting Dinalupihan to Lubao.  How does it do this? Thru the IceFil technology.  I will quote from the product brochure.

   Product Description

Zoot IceFil Arm Coolers Stay Cool with IceFil, a Multi Step Skin Cooling Technology, Xylitol. You will feel the cooling comfort in warm, humid weather conditions. IceFil works in three steps, it cools by up to 5%. It first blocks thermal radiation from I.R., then it discharges thermal radiation with Xylitol and controls moisture and sweat by the use of the fabric. The fabric is fast drying, has 2 way air circulations, it is anti-bacterial, and provides U.V. protection and is moisture absorbing and fast drying! So go out and ride and keep your arms protected and cooled down!

Additional Features

·         Ice-Fil fabric
·         Blocks Thermal Radiation from Infrared
·         Dischard Thermal Radiation w/Xylitol
·         Controls moisture and sweat
·         U.V. Protection
·         Moisture absorbing
·         2-way circulation
·         Anti-bacterial
·         Fast drying

I like this product very much.  I recommend this to my fellow ultrarunners.  It cools my arms while running under the heat of the sun.   

Two Zoot products I am looking forward to getting my hands on are Zoot Ultra Icefil Cap and Zoot Ultra Ice Run Tee.  With me covered by IceFil technology from my head to my arms to my body, I hope  to simulate nighttime cool temperature while running in broad daylight.

5.  How can support from support vehicle be improved?

My fellow 83nean runners and I are appreciative of our support vehicle(s) during the BDM.  Supporting the slower runners like me was the First Balfour Nissan Urvan driven by Orly Jacob and manned by Ed Balcueva.  Supporting the faster runners like Fards, Ernie and Bob was the Mitsubishi Adventure of Fards which was driven by Larry Escuro and manned by Fard’s wife and son.

The hydration and food provisions available from the support vehicle(s) are vital to our finishing the ultramarathon.  Plus, the emotional boosts we get in seeing our support crew cheering us cannot be discounted.

There is one area that I think our support crew(s) can help us runners improve our finish time(s) in the ultramarathon.  In the area of efficiency.  Imagine if our stops in the support vehicle can be reduced by 1 minute per stop.  The savings in time can be significant.

Let us do the math.  For the BDM 102km ultramarathon, I estimated that I did 34 stops in our support vehicle (102 kms divided by 3 kms).  Assuming, I am able to efficiently get provisions from the support vehicle by 1 minute, this means that I chop off 34 minutes in my finish time.  

How to improve our efficiency?

1. Thru better communications and planning .  Perhaps at the end of one stop, the runner can already tell his support crew what he needs in terms of hydration and food in the next stop.  Thus, when the runner approaches the support vehicle  at the next stop, the support crew can hand over the water and/or food to the runner without the runner breaking his running/walking stride.

2. Thru more experience of the support crew. In time, as the support crew gets exposed to more ultra event, the learning curve goes up.  Learning from past experiences and learning from other support crew are the way to go.

So there we have it.  Five lessons that can and will make our ultrarunning experience better.

Warriors don’t just do battle.  Warriors learn, too. 


  1. Thanks for sharing this useful info, Macky!