Simple Hydration Ultra Team Runner Mike Ambrose Reflects on First Ultra Win

Posted November 25th, 2013 by Brian Hock

In my first year racing competitively at ultra distances, I had done fairly well. I finished in the top 10 numerous times against some great runners from all over the country. A few minor setbacks came and went, but ultimately I was feeling really good about how the season went. My recovery from the Leadville 100 was speedier than I thought, and I started to work on getting more leg turnover throughout the month of October. As I was clicking along on the trails of Leadville, Colorado, it dawned on me that I should probably race one more time this season. I’ve been longing for my shot at a win.

I had heard great things about the California trail running scene so I glanced at some races in the Golden State over the next few weeks. It just so happened that the Folsom Lake 50k was happening right on a long weekend off from work. I entered the race and planned for a weekend in the sun, escaping the cold that was starting to consume Colorado.

Lining up at the start I went through every possible scenario in my head. This is a normal occurrence except I decided that I would attack the race from the start, feeling confident in my speed and endurance. Sure enough, that’s what I did – from the very beginning of the race I just went for it. At the first aid station just over 5k in, I was running with a speedy local racer who was doing the 35k option. We had both left our respected competition behind, and shared a few good laughs as the sun was rising. I figured I would just keep at my strong pace and see if anyone would catch up. I wouldn’t look behind, only just listen for the footsteps of an approaching racer. Sure enough I got to the second aid station about 10k in to the race and no one was behind me, I did take a quick look and no one was to be found. I used some extra time to pick up my Simple Hydration Bottle that was filled with Gatorade (my favorite way to use the bottle is to have a variety of fluids in each one). I then became more relaxed and just enjoyed what the beautiful trails of Folsom Lake had to offer.

Everything was going smoothly at 20k and into the 25k mark which I reached in 1:52. My legs felt great climbing and descending with my stomach cooperating accordingly. I switched to 2 Simple Hydration bottles as the heat became a little more intense. Out of the big climb from the 25k mark, I found the chase pack and they were only 7-9 minutes behind. In ultra distance racing, that isn’t much time at all. I decided to pick up the intensity and push on the last half, running every step of every climb, trying to create as much separation as possible. I knew the course record was in the 3:55 range, and I was on pace to get it.

Sure enough I stayed in front of the chase pack, receiving the encouragement of everyone else on the course, some who were working their way to the turnaround. I opted out of aid at the 40k mark, cruising with my 2 bottles comfortably. With just over 5k to go, a race volunteer told me I had close to 12 minutes on 2nd place. This was a huge relief and I just ran smooth and strong to the finish. A sense of accomplishment and bliss took away the feelings of fatigue as I could hear the finish line. I had done it, I had won an ultra!

Mike relaxing and enjoying his first ultra win.

It was pretty amazing to finally win an ultra. It’s just proof that hard work and persistence goes a long way. I am very grateful to receive the support that I do from Simple Hydration as they have been instrumental in making my running dreams come true – Thanks!

Q&A with Philippine Ultra Runner Christine Ferrera

Posted November 22nd, 2013 by Brian Hock

Christine Ferrera’s love of running is contagious. Even though she found running late in life she has continually increased her mileage and is now one of the top female ultra runners in the Philippines. So she understands what it takes to get from the start line to the finish line in a 5k up to a 200k race. In her quest to get to the finish line fast she discovered the Simple Hydration Bottle. She was so impressed with it that she brought the Simple Hydration Bottle to the Philippines as one of our distributors. Read our interview with Christine, or Tin as she is commonly known, to learn more about her as a person, her running and the impact of the recent typhoon.

Name: Christine “Tin” Ferrera
Age: 38
Height: 5’3”
Location: Quezon City, Philippines

Q. Where did you grow up and did it have any influence on your running?

A. I grew up in the province of Rizal which is an hour drive from Manila. Growing up, I only get exposed to running whenever we watch the SEA Games, Asian Games and the Olympics and watch the Athletics competition coverage on TV. The sports of softball, baseball, volleyball and basketball are the only ones being played regularly in a league in our town. When we’re on vacation breaks, me and my cousins would go jogging/walking to my grandfather’s house and play there.

I thought that was far enough of a jog because it’s a distance we would normally ride. I ran the same route recently and learned that was merely 600 meters!

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your family growing up?

A. I have two younger sisters. My parents are both educators and entrepreneurs. My father is a sports enthusiast; he coaches and manages teams in our town. He also plays in the Senior league for basketball and baseball. He just came from a provincial meet coaching and managing athletes in baseball when he passed away when I was still in College. I guess his influence and his genes manifested quite late on me.

Q. Did you play any sports or run in school?

A. I have never played any sports in school except for those required in Physical Education class. Except for a few games I played with my cousins and neighbors in our backyards, I grew up as a mere sports spectator. I got exposed to sports in College and started to play and represent our organization during sports fests for basketball. I also started playing tennis when I have time. I do it mostly for fun and socialization and would stop when I start getting sweaty so I would say back then I was too far from what I am like now.

Q. How did you get into running?

A. I got into running when my cousin got bored during her vacation leave and asked me to accompany her run a few laps in the track in July 2009. I enjoyed the run and finished a few rounds that were good enough to compensate for the “lechon” we ate after. It was the first time I can claim that I really ran!

Running was starting to boom in the Philippines in 2009. A friend who works in marketing for a retail sports company started giving me free race kits for 5k. I will join these races, trusting my only training of walking around the malls.

Out of peer pressure, I joined my first 10K race in May 2009 and then my first half marathon in July 2009. After getting myself registered to these races, I started running at least twice a week to survive these races.

By the last quarter of 2009, I have already gained more friends in the running community and have started training with some. All of them registered for the 2010 Condura Marathon. I took the plunge and registered even though I’ve only had two half marathon in my belt then. I had 3 months to prepare! I finished the marathon in sub 5 hours and was happy I was unscathed. I actually enjoyed the marathon more than the short distance races I have finished before that.

I ran my first ultramarathon in May 2010 (out of peer pressure again). I thought it’s only an additional 8k from what I’ve already done. It was a 50K run in the hilly highways of Sierra Madre. I had fun struggling with friends and new found friends during the race. The podium finish was a bonus as well. The race made me realize I love conquering long distance running, not because of peer pressure, but because it is my idea of a fun run.

Q. What about ultra running do you love?

A. I always relate ultra running to sprinting. You will struggle, you will have fun, and you will feel the pain. Your will to finish will be challenged. Every time it gets challenging to reach the finish line, you have to out sprint your body, your mind, your heart and yourself.

Q. What it is like to run in the Philippines?

A. Hospitality is a trait we are known for. Join races in the Philippines, whether long distance or short distance, and you would see the lovely Filipino smile from fellow runners and spectators that would push you to give your best. Everyone lends a helping hand during races, you will feel at home.

There are races almost every week which offers variety for all types of runners. You can join road races in various cities which are held to race funds for charities; to offer different kinds of fun like color splash, costume run, among others; to challenge yourself with hard terrains or strict cut-offs.

There are various trail and road races in the provinces with various distances from short to 100 milers. You can have a tour of the Philippines on foot.

The races would offer you real-life views and scenic wonders. You will ascend and descend in the forest through majestic mountain ranges, witness a picture perfect sunrise and sunset, see historic structures, traverse through rivers, falls, white beach, commune with the locals who will cheer and offer you food and water. The terrains can go from steep climbs to insane downhill, rolling hills to flat and fast course.

Q. How do you fit running in around your job?

A. I am a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Management Accountant. I have a management consultancy firm that offers finance, human resource and marketing services. I also represent a financial institution to corporate and individual clients in offering financial planning and finding the best investment plan. Distributing Simple Hydration and other products related to hydration was born out of passion. I was looking for my own gear back then when I came across the Simple Hydration Bottle, the rest is history.

I always run early in the morning, Crossfit at lunchtime and swim after work.

Q. What are the important or big races in that region?

A. Runners can visit the following sites to learn more about the races in and around the Philippines: www.run.ph, www.pinoyfitness.com, www.takbo.ph, www.runrio.com For triathletes: www.swimbikerun.ph. The Condura Marathon is coming this February so if they want to run in our Skyway and challenge themselves, visit www.conduraskywaymarathon.com.

Q. Who inspires you?

A. I have so many inspirations in running from elite runners, running friends, coaches and some running bloggers. They have shared useful information that helped me grow to the runner that I am today.

What inspire me most are the stories people who are just starting to run. I love hearing stories of friends who cannot run a hundred meters but have conquered a mile after a few weeks after, or a marathon a few months after. I read posts of friends from facebook everyday and read their stories of weight loss and lifestyle change they get from running – that inspires me!

I know some friends who are prohibited from running due to their ailments; each day they fight for their lives. They inspire me, I run for them.

Q. What is your favorite race and why?

A. My favorite race was the most recent one, a 200 kilometer race. I was already on the 200th kilometer, 5 more kilometers to go to the finish line. I was supposed to be the first female finisher and 21st among the competitors when I was disqualified. I walked to the finish line and conquered the whole distance. It has made me stronger, not just as a runner but as a person.

Q. Is there any event or adventure that you would like to do one day?

A. I would like to race Badwater Ultramarathon. The thought of possibly surviving Death Valley and conquering 217 kilometers excites me. I am weird like that! But really, the challenge starts with qualifying for the race. The logistics and cost of racing Badwater is another challenge, especially that I live continents away. It might be every ultra runner’s dream race.

I also want to qualify for Boston Marathon but it would require a different type of training though. We’ll see. They say that long distance runners get stronger as they age. ( I hope.)

Q. What is a typical week of training?

A. Run – 3 times a week which consist of intervals, tempo and an endurance run
Crossfit – 3 times a week. I follow the Crossfit endurance program for strength training and metabolic conditioning
Swim – 3 times a week. I do this to loosen up tight muscles and because I really suck when submerged in the water.
Yoga – minimum once a week

Q. How do you hydration on a run?

A. I hydrate every 2 kilometers. I alternate water and Coco juice.

Q. What was your reaction to the Simple Hydration Bottle when you first saw it?

A. It looks cool!

Q. What was your reaction to the Simple Hydration Bottle after using it?

A. It is the coolest thing ever! It was battle tested before we decided to bring it to the Philippines. I ran with it on the track, in long runs and on the trails.

Q. How do you use the bottle in your training/races?

A. For races 16k and below, I bring one bottle to minimize stops at water stations. For 21k races to marathon, I have two bottles. One is for water and the other one is for my source of electrolytes/nutrition. I always keep my body temperature low so I use the water in my bottle to keep my nape wet.

For ultramarathon, I carry one bottle. It can get extremely hot in these races so I always douse myself in water. I exchange my bottle to another one with cold ice in it at pit stops.

During training days, I always have two bottles frozen at night so I can just grab them in the morning when I head to work or to training.

Q. As a distributor of the Simple Hydration Bottle for the Philippines, what has been the reaction to bringing a new product to your country?

A. I am amazed at the response of the people in the product. It is fulfilling to bring something that the community needs. Every time I race, I can’t help but smile when I see a runner with a Simple Hydration Bottle.

Q. What races do you have left in 2013 and do you have any focus races for 2014 planned yet?

A. I will be joining a few short races for the rest of 2013 to keep fitness and enjoy the company of the running community. I have a long list of races for 2014! Perhaps, I’ll see more trails next year, a short triathlon, and a Crossfit competition. Clark to Miyamit 50 Mile Ultramarathon in November 2014 is my dream local race. I hope Simple Hydration users and team will consider racing it with me next year.

Q. Anything else you would like to add about yourself?

A. I blog at www.2timothy.com and has @xtineferrera on twitter and instagram. I love sharing my experience every day in a way that will inspire them to live the life we are called to, not just as a runner but as daughter of God, a mere trespasser on earth.

Q. Can you tell our readers about the impact of Typhoon Haiyan on the Philippines?

A. Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda) is the second-deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing about 4,00 people in our country. It has affected about 18 million families, most of them left homeless. Schools, infrastructure and businesses have been damaged as well.

Relief operations are ongoing, everyone is lending a hand. Families are provided with food and non-food necessities, shelter kits and life-saving assistance kits. Clearing and rebuilding operations are ongoing. Rehabilitation will soon start and might take some time.

Support keeps pouring in, not just by our countrymen but by the other nations. We are thankful!

The work is not done yet. It will take some time and no amount of help is too small to help unload the burden from the typhoon victims.

Here is one way to donate to the ongoing relief operations effort:
Account Name: Philippine Red Cross Rizal Chapter
Account Number: 8294-0301-59
SWIFT CODE: BOPIHMM
BANK: Philippine National Bank
Branch:: Shaw Blvd, Pasig City

Below are Christine’s race and podium finishes:
1. Botak 10 Mile Run – 3rd place- Age Group – November 2009
2. Assumption Run 21K – 2nd Place Female – January 2010
3. PAU Sierra Madre Run – 3rd Place Female – May 2010
4. Miles for Smiles – 1st Place (16K Team Division) August 2010
5. PAU P2P Run – 4th Place Female August 2010
6. PNB Fun Run – 1st Place Female / 5th Overall August 2010
7. Southridge 10K Run – 3rd Place Female – October 2010
8. PAU Tagaytay to Nasugbu Run – 4th Place Female – November 2010
9. Karunungan 10K Run – 5th Place Female – November 2010
10. Mighty Run 10K – 4th Place Female December 2010
11. Rizal Day Run – 2nd Place Female December 2010
12. Bataan Death March 102K – 3rd Place Female, March 2011
13. Forbes 10K Run – 3rd Place Female May 2011
14. St Lukes Run – 2nd Place Female June 2011
15. Camsur Marathon – 7th Place Female September 2011
16. Miles for Smiles 16K– 1st Place Group Category/1st Place Female Sept. 2011
17. Standard Charter Singapore – Top 9% for female. 54th – Open Category
18. Ateneo Run w/ME 21K – 3rd Place Female January 2012
19. Cortal SQR Run 15K – First Place Female June 2012
20. Rogin-E 14K Run – Top 5 Female March 2012
21. Rip the Road 1– 1st Place AG November 2012
22. West Coast 200K Ultramarathon – Multistage Run – 2nd Place Female Nov. 2012
23. Tagaytay to Nasugbu 50K Run – First Place Female December 2012
24. Rizal Day Run – Third Place Female December 2012
25. Amway 5K Run – 1st Place Female January 2013
26. Bataan Death March 160K – 2nd Place Female
27. Rip the Road 2- 1st Place AG February 2013
Competitor – CFMnl Open 2013 and CFMnl Throwdown 2012