The attack of the Limatiks, that’s how Nuun Dirt School felt to us. Aside from the wild encounter with the blood sucking leeches, Mount Makiling was a great refresher on technical trails and a long ascent to build on my endurance.
Midway on the upper part of Mount Makiling, Coach Ige called us to show us a limatik on the palm of his hand. Later on, we had limatiks all over us and that was our first encounter with those blood sucking leeches. I was well covered for this one with Oakley compression but the thought of a creature just wiggling on your clothes still makes me panic. Well, at least for our first few encounters. I’m still puzzled how they suddenly appear on your clothes from out of nowhere.
Nuun Dirt School
Nuun Dirt School is a camp handled by mountaineer and triathlete Coach Ige Lopez. It has all you need to know about trail running and race preparation. I’ve been to many Dirt School already and it’s really effective. For one, I get my time on the trail and second, I practically get to relive all the lessons on my trails and races. This time it was not about to learn the lessons but apply it in a long distance course like Mount Makiling.
Makiling is an easy to remember course and yet it has all the challenges. It has long ascent, which is around 10 kilometer from the Botanical Garden to the summit with elevation gain of about 1,000 meters. Mount Makiling also has a share of technical course, which starts from the trail head at Agila Base until the summit and back. Yes, it’s not an easy course but it’s an excellent training ground.
The Makiling Trails
Dirt School has both a lecture type discussion and an actual trail run. Coach Ige gave us some tips in planning for a race and we also got a special appearance from Carina Dayondon, who’s on track to be the first Filipina to climb the World’s Seven Summits. It was a one hour lecture and since the Mount Makiling trails were mostly covered we didn’t have to worry about starting late. At first I was sleepy but after using my Young Living Peppermint oil, I was good to go on the trail part.
The first part of the trail was about 6 kilometers on ascending paved roads to Agila Base. Previously, this was half paved, half rough roads. First strategy, run walk on moderate ascent. Since we were fstill resh, we were able to do some run walk sets on the moderate ascent. It’s really difficult to do a full run on ascent this long. By the mid part of the course, I was pacing with Coach Ige and we were comparing notes on Hoka and Salomon Shoes. I guess, each one has its pros and cons depending on the trail surface.
Midway in the climb, I shifted to a fast hiking pace with runs on flat surfaces and short descent. I was sweating all over so I kept myself hydrated with Nuun. It’s really amusing how climbs keep your heart rate higher and lets you exert more effort resulting on more sweat. I like the long climb. It’s punishing but if you keep moving forward you eventually reach your destination. We’ve reached Agila Base in about an hour, which is a bit fast for a climbing course for me.
It was a good breather at Agila Base as we had cold Nuun drinks and a short rest. Nuun and trails are really a perfect match since you just have to find a water source and add Nuun to have your much-needed load of electrolytes. I always have a pack of Nuun tablets whenever I go on a remote trail. After a few minutes, we continued on the trail head. This is about 4 kilometers on technical trails.
We just went at a consistent pace and funny how we saw each tree trunk we had to cross as obstacles ala Spartan Race. We were on technical trails but we were also cautious to lean on rocks or tree trunks as its limatik infested. I guess that’s the challenge of keeping your balance on the trail yet keeping yourself aware of your surroundings. We did appreciate how cool it felt inside the covered Makiling trails and how we had the chirping birds and some shouting from limatik attacks as our music. The first part was manageable with slight ascents but it became more steep and technical on the higher part of the trail.
We’ve reached station 22 where we regrouped. There’s about 8 stations left. Since I reached my training goal already for the day, I decided to go back since I already reached the summit of Mount Makiling before. Jaymie also reached her training goal so we went back together. Lessons of the past dirt schools was floating on my head on the trails. There’s using 3 limbs on technical trails, either 2 feet are planted with one on the lookout for twigs, branches, etc to hang on to. Well, we were also on the look out for limatiks. There’s planning your steps like a chess game where you should be ready for the next few steps to ensure you’d keep your balance even when you slip.
We met Joey and Sitti on our way down, who later joined us at Agila Base. We then went on a easy run-walk set heading down and be able to finish our distance strong. I’m so happy that I’ve logged my needed mileage, learned a lot and had fun at the same time. That concludes this year’s edition of Nuun Dirt School. I really recommend that you try to experience it yourself. See you in the trails.