Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Set the 10km bar!

I am quite happy when I saw my results in the recently concluded Li- Ning 10km race.

Didn't expect to have a high ranking in this race.  (And to think I was questioning on getting to the finish line in one piece.)

Praise God for this unexpected surprise.

Hopefully, this sets the bar for me to go faster and be stronger in this Sunday's Fit Buddy Run at Bonifacio Global City (BGC).

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Race Review : Li Ning 10km

I just realized last night (and hours before the race) that this was my first 10km for the year!

I guess I kept on joining the longer ones that I overlooked the short but heart pumping distances.

So I guess this is an automatic PR for the year. Haha!

The reasons I wanted to join this race were:

1) I heard that the singlet was really nice so that alone was worth the registration fee. This reminded me of the Adidas King of the Road and Nike races where we were after the singlets/ shirts more than the finisher medals.

2) Finisher medals for all caregories.  When they say it this way and with no other details, you would know that it's a generic medal for all race categories.

So what's the added benefit for doing the 21km race? The finisher shirts!

But I was quite happy with the singlet and the medal so I registered for the 10km category.

There were only a few hundreds of us for this race but it was short and fun.  The sun wasn't out yet so we had a little bit of leeway before it got really hot.

There were ample water stations all throughout the race which was enough for the 10km runners.

My problem here was more of a personal one as I was acidic the entire morning before the race. Even when the race started, the acidity didn't disappear and at certain parts, it even got worse.

Rather than be discouraged and walk, that got me a little more motivated to finish as quickly as possible so that I can go home and eat properly.

I stopped at every water station with the hopes that the water will flush away the acidity from my body.  But no, it was still there.

The pain lessened and I was able to go a bit faster, going below 7 minutes for the second part of rhe race.  Deep breathing all throughout and lots of water.

I managed to cross the finish line at 1:06:53 which was a lot better than I expected (my target was around 1:30). 

So I was quite happy with that. Obviously.

Best of all, after getting the large medal, I can rest and eat at home!

Praise God for giving me the strength to finish this race.  Without You, this would have been hard or even impossible.  This race is for You Lord! Amen

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Race Review: World Vision Run 21km

I am starting to join more races as it serves as a motivation to train a bit more and to exercise as well.  Without races, I would be too lazy to run.  It also helps to assess my fitness level.

For this race, I was hoping for a sub 2:30 time like what I did three months ago.  I was optimistic that the 32km Run United 2 race I ran two weeks ago was enough for me to get to the finish line at this pace.

With a gun start of 4am, I was awake by 2:15am and prepared my breakfast meal for this race.  I was sleepy once again as just had two hours of sleep but made sure that I will drink just one cup of coffee so it won't be a repeat of the last race where I had acid reflux for the first 10km!

I was positive with the time as figured it was 11km shorter than my last race but that wasn't enough.  I ended up consuming two GU gels (one at 9km and second at 16km) but even these weren't sufficient for me and by 19km, I was slowing down and even walking at some parts of the race.  Getting a 2:30 finish time meant an average pace of 7 minutes per kilometer.  Clearly, I lacked speedwork as none of my kilometer runs were at 7 minutes! Ha ha. 

I ended up crossing the finish line at a time of 2:48 with an average pace of 7:50, tired, exhausted and having sore legs and back.  Clearly, I was short of training (mileage and speed) for this race.

The race route is quite different from all other races from the same venue (Mall of Asia starting ground).  We never ran on Roxas Blvd except for that one point where we would cross it to head toward Buendia Avenue.  So that was something new. 

I also liked the Pocari sports drinks offered at various parts of the race but too bad, they didn't have any banana stations, which I thought was a regular thing for a race with this distance.

In the end, I am happy I survived the race with a quick lesson that I need to train more to perform better and finish well in the succeeding races.  Finisher medal was awesome and added that to my collection.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Race Review: Run United 2 32km (2015)

Once in a while, there is a race that you think you are ready for and quite prepared for it that you set high goals for it:  A new Personal Best, A sub whatever target time, etc.

This for me, isn't one of those races!  Haha!

With only one or two runs in a week and at a very slow pace, my goal for this race was simply to finish it safe and sound.

Then I heard at the starting line that there was a cut-off time of 5 hours 30 minutes but I wasn't worried as that would be a conservative pace for a runner to get to that level.

The starting time for this race was at 3AM, which for me was pretty good in that you would be running more in the darkness than in the sun (and we all know how hard it is to run along Roxas Boulevard with the sun burning you up).  Kudos also to race organizer for tweaking the route in such a way that we would run toward both ends of Roxas Blvd. FIRST before heading out to Buendia Avenue.  This is pretty good planning in that we would be in Roxas Blvd. during the cool weather and when it gets hot, then we will be in shady Buendia Avenue.  I can't count the number of times I suffered in the past on Roxas Blvd., wanting to stop running due to the heat in that area.

But since it started at 3am, then my wake up call was at 1am and I was super groggy!! It felt too soon to be woken up my phone's alarm clock.  To get rid off the sleepiness, I made and drank two cups of brewed coffee and ate two muesli bars.  BAD CHOICE!

Once the race started, I had a very difficult time running as my tummy was acidic (figured later on that it was probably the two cups of coffee that did that)!  I would run for a bit but needed to stop and walk or I would vomit!  By 3km I was walking already!  How am I going to complete the last 29km!  My legs felt tight too.  Everything was working against me.  The distance was just too far to be in this kind of situation and I was contemplating quitting too.

I stopped at every water station and drank Gatorade to try to compensate for the acid reflux.  At that time, I was thinking that it could be hunger.  By 5km, I took my first GU gel.  I am so glad I packed extra gels!  I definitely didn't expect taking my first one at such an early part of the race!

By 9km, aside from the acid reflux and tight legs, I needed to go to the toilet and do the nasty!  Oh man!  Just two days ago, I read from Unilab's facebook account that 60% of runners needed to go to a toilet in a race and to take Diatabs (of course it was an ad for Diatabs).  That was a very clear sign for me back then to which I obviously didn't follow!

Luckily, being on Roxas Blvd. at that time, I had my pick of nice hotel toilets.  But even with that I was suffering from acid reflux.  I didn't know what else I could do as I was far, far away from the finish line and no matter what remedy I did, the acid reflux and tight legs were still there.

That's when I surrendered.  I gave up.

But I didn't surrendered or give up on the race.  Rather, I surrendered it to the Lord.  I gave up the race to Him.  And I started praying.  A lot.  Every five minutes, I would say the Lord's prayer.  And I would continue doing that every kilometer.

Amazing how things change once You surrender it to Him.  The tight legs disappeared and I could run longer and faster.  The acid reflux disappeared too and I didn't need to walk that much anymore.  I slowly overtook more runners.  My average pace of 9:10 at first 10km (!!!!) went down to 8:55, then to 8:50, then to 8:45!

GOD is loving and He took me to the finish line.  I can definitely say that by myself, I would have quit even before reaching 1/3 of this race.  And I didn't mind if that happened.  I even convinced myself that there wasn't anything to prove as I completed the Trilogy last year.

But GOD helped me have a better victory by leading me towards the finish line happy, strong and injury free with a reasonable time of 4:43:17 (my goal pre-race was just to finish but hoping it wasn't more than 5 hours) and a significant reduction of average pace to 8:38.  Total distance conquered was at 32.76km (via Garmin).

 Second medal completed (but not by doing it alone).

Praise God!

2 Tim 4:7

nice breakfast reward after - BULALO!!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Race Review: LEZGO Run 21km 2015

When I heard about this race, I laughed to myself, thinking, "what a cheezy but funny name for a race!".  It just sounded funny (especially if you said it out loud). 

I looked if there were any other races during that same weekend.  There was, which was the 7-11 race, which got me more interested in it as I did it last year too.  But with a 2am gun start for a 21km race, I decided not to register for it as felt that it was just toooooo early for me!!!

"I might as well just do a long run by myself", I thought to myself.  But somehow this Lezgo run just kept coming back to me!  I started exploring the route map (okay Roxas Blvd is generally flat except for the flyovers) and the gun start (okay 4am is waaayyy better than 2am!). 

So last week, I went to New Balance Glorietta and registered for the 21km race.  There were no more singlets available for my size and I got the smallest one that they had (XS!!!).  But never mind that as priority was getting the race bib.  LEZGO for this race.

I was with Per at that time and when she saw the race, she laughed at it too.  LEZGO for this!!!  You got to admit, it was a catchy word and we spent the day using the word for all sorts of situations:  Want to have desserts?  LEZGO!  LEZGO home na?  Okay LEZGO Home! We were enjoying ourselves with it. Hehe

On race day, Per decided to join me in case there were problems with the parking.  Since she didn't register for the race, she volunteered to park our car and just wait for me at the finish line.  Alvin joined too as he wanted to run with me.  So LEZGO for the 21km race!!

We left the house a bit late a 3:30am and drove to Roxas Blvd and to Star City, where the starting line was.  Luckily, the line to the car park was short and I quickly parked there and Alvin and I walked to the starting line.  Per stayed behind to try to get some sleep.

This was my first solo race for the year as I usually ran with Per so it was sort of a self assessment race for me in terms of how strong or how fast I can finish this race.  I didn't have any big goals for this race as I didn't know what to expect from my own performance:  just a 2:35- 2:40 finish time.

My strategy was simply to take it easy on the first 10km, go a bit harder on the second half and try to go fastest on the last 5km.  Weather was nice and cold and not much cars yet at 4am so that was good too. 

Alvin and I proceeded to run at around 7:20- 7:30 pace and I ran more of how I felt and not how I wanted my pace to be.  I switched the view of my Garmin watch as I didn't want to look at the average pace for the entire distance.  Instead I looked at current pace and lap pace.  I felt good but didn't run faster as I was also cautious as things have a way of reversing quickly especially for a race this far!  Alvin was having a harder time as he didn't have anything to eat that morning and at 4km, we parted ways in the race. 

It was just me and the road and my more immediate goal was to reach the 10km mark so that I can take my first GU.  I was looking for any sports drink  at the water stations but all they served was water.  Good thing I thought about bringing two GU with me for this race as back up. 

Eventually, there was a banana station set up and I ate a piece of banana there as I was hungry.  There was also Gatorade served at the latter part of the course but at that time, I just drank water.

During this race, I make it a point to pray to God by saying the Lord's Prayer in various parts of the race.  It gave me strength and I lifted this race up to HIM.  Whatever happens, it is His Will and not mine. 

I kept going after taking my GU at 10km mark.  I didn't go faster though as figured it was still far from the finish line and more than having a good finish time, I wanted to finish strong in this race.  I wanted to finish with a happy look and not one of defeat.  So I controlled my pace and kept going.  I thanked God for making my legs strong and not tight.  But I was starting to get hungry too.  I was starting to feel pain for my feet as well.

I realized that I had to go faster before I became too hungry or feet became too painful that I would walk at the last part of the race. 

My next goal after surpassing 10km was to reach the 15km mark and to race the last 6km to the finish line.  I would keep the last GU as reservation and use if I felt I needed the extra push.  I continued praying.  By praying, I not only honor God but it also served to remind me if I was going out too fast or not.  Luckily, it was still at conversation pace and not out-of-breath pace when I silently prayed to God.

At 15km mark, I thought, okay, now is the time to go faster!  I pressed the button of my Garmin to see my average pace for the race.  It was at 7:15 pace/ kilometer.  In order to do a 2:30 finish time for a 21.1km race, I had to bring average pace down to 7:06 pace/ kilometer.  I had to run faster!!! LEZGO!!!

I pressed button of Garmin again to revert back to the lap pace and new goal for me was to bring all succeeding kilometer paces to below 7 minute if that was possible.  And it was!! Thank God!! 

My split time are as follows:  16km - 6:46, 17km - 6:43, 18km - 6:42.  With only 3km left to go, I took the last GU as it was now or never!  It helped me go faster again:  19km - 6:23, 20km - 6:22.

I had no idea what my average pace was for the entire race and I didn't want to know until I crossed the finish line.  That would be my ultimate assessment!  I had no idea if my last 5km was enough for me to cross the finish line at 2 hours 30 minutes.

 My final goal in that short distance was to try and break 6 minutes pace for the last km!  I had no idea for this one too as I was focused on reaching the finish line as quickly as possible.

I saw Per sitting at the sidewalk and I shouted her name right before I crossed the finish line, where I immediately stopped my watch.

game face on! hehe

The first thing I saw was the current pace, which was at 5:59!  Yes, goal achieved!
Then I pressed Garmin to see my finish time.  What came out was this:

TIME:  2:26:44
Pace:        7:03
Distance:    20.80km

Praise God!  The distance was short 300 meters but with my pace, it was for sure a sub-2:30 race.  I wasn't that out of breath and if the 300 meters was there, I felt I could have lowered my average pace further by 1-2 seconds.

I was so happy and thanked God for being there for me.

What was even surprising was when I got my LEZGO 21km medal and at the back, was inscribe this:

AMEN!  (It felt like God was talking to me directly!) Thank You Lord for the nice weather, strong legs and giving me strength to cross the finish line.

Congrats to the organizer for a well executed race.  Obviously I loved the medal but the finisher shirt was nice too!

Post note:  I wanted to check last time I ran sub 2:30 or pace faster than this and it seems that this did not happen for the year 2014 or 2013!  The last time I ran FASTER in a Half Marathon was in January 2012, more than 3 years ago!!!  God indeed surprised me with this race.  Thank You again Lord!!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

What I did with a customized Starbucks Tumbler

We got a blank Starbucks tumbler for Christmas from our runner friends and I immediately had an idea
on what to do with it (and the pen that comes with it). 

I decided to put there all the Marathon Races I have done the past 6 years.  They number 17 in total and some were good, some were bad and some were just downright ugly experiences for me.  But I finished them all.  I didn't quit although some circumstances dictated that I should have done so (sprained ankle, fever, knowing I won't make cut-off time).

I still presevered to do my best and reach each of the 17 finish lines!  

With Per's help in doing the writing, I now have the tumbler to commemorate each of my races here and abroad.

What an awesome gift.  I can't wait to use it!

Merry Christmas everyone!
God bless you and your families!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New York Marathon 2014 Experience Part 2!

near the Family and Friend Reunion Area.  Photo taken by Per

The New York Marathon is a point to point race, where runners would start at Staten Island, head toward the various areas of New York City (Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Manhattan) before finally finishing at Central Park (at Upper West Side).

My wave started at 10:55AM (with DST, it was more of 11:55AM) and I had a early race goal of finishing in less than 5 hours.  Well, that goal went out the window with my sprained ankle.  As I was part of the fast wave, I was left behind by 80% of the runners.  But I didn't mind as at least it wasn't crowded.  I ran on top of the Verrazano Bridge, which linked Staten Island with Brooklyn, and I felt the strong wind here.  It was strong enough that it pushed all runners from the middle or left side of the bridge to the far right side!  A guy who ran next to me was pushed by the wind, and said that he will just walk instead!

It was an extraordinary weather for this morning, so much so that the earlier race for the Wheelchair Division had to be moved from Staten Island starting line to AFTER the Verrazano Bridge by the race organizers for safety reasons!  That was more than 2 kilometers difference in distance! 

It also affected elite runners gunning for first place as both Men's and Women's Division Winners were slower by about 10 minutes compared to previous race editions.  Small difference for a regular runner like me but I think it was a big deal for them where every second counts!

Luckily, I liked the cold weather and preferred that to the hot weather.  I had to keep moving though as it was just too cold especially on top of the bridge where nothing was around it but water and wide open space.

Eventually I got out of the bridge and headed into Brooklyn where I saw the first of many, many spectators that cheered for us.  Crowd just got bigger and louder.  It was just awesome to see all these New Yorkers cheering for everyone in the race.  The atmosphere was indescribable and no race I had done in the past was able to duplicate the atmosphere from this event!

Distance was conquered easily from the very encouraging crowd.  There were areas in this race that had few people but those lasted for just one or two kilometers before the crowd came out again.  Bars were open along the race course and people were shouting with bottles of beer in their hands.

As it got warmer, runners started throwing their extra layers on the sidewalks.  I had on three layers of clothes and just at 5 or 6km, I threw away the jacket I bought at the expo just a couple of days ago.  I kept going with my light jacket and shirt on and a pair of running gloves that I bought at the expo as well.

Note:  It was revealed days after that race organizers were able to collect 6 tonnes of clothes from the race!  All will go to charity of course.  Good Job!

Once we were in Brooklyn, we also merged with the other waves and kept on going.  With 50,000 plus runners all doing the New York Marathon, it was a big surprise that there was never any moment where I felt it was crowded here.  No need to weave around runners.  No bottlenecks.  Nothing!  That is how it should be!

 Brooklyn took up a major part of the course but I didn't mind as there were people everywhere supporting us.  Lots of pizza places here (if only they offered those at the water stations!).

Next borough was Queens, which was quite short before we ran on Queensboro Bridge and headed towards Manhattan.  From 59th Street, we headed up towards 125th Street, crossed another bridge and hit Bronx.  Another bridge conquered, then we headed down on 5th Avenue towards Central Park.

There were portions here that were a bit hilly and I used that chance to walk.  It was mostly on the bridges when that occurred and pretty quiet in these areas as spectators aren't allowed to be here but once we passed them, local residents were there once again to motivate and keep us going.

Meanwhile, at the hotel, Per was watching how I was doing via the App she downloaded.  My finish time varied from 5 hours to 5:15 hours.  But at the halfway mark (where I had to walk for a bit), it went all the way up to 6:30 hours!  She got scared that I got injured again or my existing injury made it difficult for me to run!  Thank God that wasn't the case and she saw that my predicted finish time went down slowly to below 6 hours.

At 22.5 miles, I was at Upper East Side, and it was HILLY here!  I was tired but didn't want to stop.  I had to keep going.  As I saw Central Park, I got excited for this to be over.  But Central Park was a pretty big place and I still had a long way to go!  I kept going, knowing Per and Blanche were on the other end and I was excited to see them.

By this time, a lot of people were walking already but I didn't want to so close to the finish line.  I was tired though so had to walk for 1-2 minutes before I ran again.  I kept going.  I constantly prayed.

Eventually, I saw the place where I was the day before, where I waited for Per to finish her 5km race and knew that I only had 400 meters to go!  This was it!

I crossed the finish line at 5:39:39, a good time for me when my goal was initially at just below 6 hours (I found out later on that it was my fastest for the year in terms of pace!).  God is really good!

A finisher medal was placed around my neck and a Heatsheet was wrapped around me.  I was shivering from the cold and my legs were all jelly from this race.  I was tired and dizzy but I can't help but smile that I was able to complete this race because God was there for me.

Thank You Lord!

The Friends and Family Reunion was about 1-2 kilometers away from where I ended.  So no other choice but to walk slowly to that area.  As I didn't leave any baggage at the start of the race and chose the No Baggage Option, I received a very nice Poncho from the organizers.  The whole time, I was shivering from the cold and once the marshal wrapped this around me, I was on the verge of crying, as I finally felt comfortable and safe from the cold, cold weather.

I finally got to the Friends and Family Reunion area and slowly walked down the alphabets (starting from Z) as I looked for my surname letter.  After what seemed forever, I finally saw them!

I was happy to see my wife.  And it was when I saw her, that I felt accomplished for all that I did to get to that area and be united with her again.

Thank You God!

Happy to be reunited!  Thanks Blanche for the photo!

my split time on the App

email letter I received a week later

medal for God!  Thank You!

It was a very tiring race, with the weather, the hills, the injury and lack of training.  But Praise God for a good time but more so for getting me to the finish line in one piece.

We celebrated with some beer and burgers later on that night.

The next day, when I was sore all over, we walked back to Central Park, and not to relive the experience.  But they had MARATHON MONDAY there where finisher gears were sold to the public.  Of course I bought again!  Haha!

After all is said and done,  I would agree to anyone saying that this is the best marathon in the world.  IT REALLY IS!  And this should be in the bucket list of every runner out there, whether they are fast or slow, whether they run long or short, this is the race they should join!  A once in a lifetime experience!!!

So glad I was able to do it!  And yes, I definitely want to do this again!!!