Monday, February 1, 2016

New Routes

When training for a race (be it a fast 10km, a half marathon or a marathon), we tend to have routes that we are used to running in and are comfortable with it.  With these old routes, we would know where the toilets are, the convenience stores and fast food joints in case we need to buy food and drinks to replenish ourselves.  We would know where the turn around point will be, how far we should go to cover distance and basically anything we may need from a run, whether a long, slow one to a tempo one.  It makes it easier too as you won't have to think of the directions you are going so in that way, it makes your run more efficient.  You will know the best route as well (that tends to avoid the many stoplights on the streets, the smoking area, the congested roads from traffic).

Same goes with races where the routes are ones you are familiar with.  You would know where to conserve your speed, where the steep climbs are and where the descents will be, where the toilets are in case of emergencies, etc. and all thse factors that could help you in attaining a new PR.

But... sometimes you need a change in scenery, something that makes you wonder at the new sights and make you forget about training hard.  These are for the easy days in your training or even the LSDs, where instead of focusing on time, you look around you instead and enjoy the sights.

That is why I enjoy joining races where I hardly run in, be it international races like New York (which I super love) to Berlin to Disneyworld Orlando.  It can also be local races like Cebu, Baguio, Subic where I never run in as well!  But it doesn't have to be races when running at new places. 

When we went to Japan last year, I made it a point to run in most cities we visited: from Tokyo's Imperial Gardens, to Hiroshima's Peace Park to Kyoto's temple city, it made exploring the city that more special for me and at the same time, as I ran in certain parts of city, I would know which areas will be interesting for us to visit in.  So that also help save time.

For Metro Manila, I ran on EDSA on Dec 31 where there were hardly any cars on the street and did a big loop, which took me to C-5 and back to Makati.  It wasn't part of my regular route but decided I wanted a change in my route.

Yesterday, I ran from Tagaytay Midlands to Tagaytay Highlands, well "ran" in a very loose definition as walked most of the way due to the very steep and long inclines. It was tiring, it was horrible and my legs were tightening up the entire time. But it was also something I had never done before.  And when we drove to Tagaytay Highlands to have lunch and passed by the same route, I was enjoying the scenery and how I survived that run.  I will never look at it the same way again as I knew how hard it was to get to Point B from Point A and back again.

So it's good to do your routines and that should still be the core of your workouts. But don't be limited by it.  

The world is one big road.  Keep exploring it.  Keep running it.  Keep expanding your experiences!  Be open to new surprises!


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Race: The Labelled Green Fun Run 10km

This race was supposed to be held last November 2015 but race organizers changed its race date to January 24, 2016.  Luckily, our schedule was free that day so rather return the race kits and get refunds, we decided to run it instead, making it our first 10km for 2016.

This was definitely a new route for us as the starting line was inside La Salle Greenhills  campus and route was pretty much straightforward: two loops along Ortigas Avenue with first loop taking us to EDSA via Ortigas Avenue flyover!

Going up the flyover was a pretty awesome experience but once was enough for me given its steep incline!  I was sooooo glad that we didn't have to do it again on our second loop!!

I was winded at halfway mark and had a hard time keeping my pace.  The goal was simple to finish this race as didn't do any sort of training for it (unless you consider one super slow 6km run as "training").

My pace started at 6:30 and pretty soon it was at 6:15 average pace (my fastest pace for 2015's 10km race).  All I had to do was go faster a bit to have a faster pace than last year.

It wasn't easy especially since I had to stop twice at the water stations to drink some water.  There was a sudden downpour of rain too making it a little harder to run given the slippery road.  But I kept going, coughing and wheezing the entire time like a sick, old man! Haha!

The last 3km felt like forever but I was glad I was able to maintain the below 6:15 pace.  But I couldn't go faster than the speed I was running. I was spent and hopefully had enough strength to cover the last remaining distance. 

"Don't stop to walk", I reminded myself.  "Don't put your pace to waste by slowing down", I tried to convince myself.

Finally, Alvin and I reached the end of Ortigas Avenue and we took a left turn to go inside the school campus and crossed the line!  Yay, we finished this race!  Thank You God!!

I received a finisher medal and a loot bag, which had vitamins, junk food and tomato sauce and Milo sachets.

Pretty much a good race and had fun running it!  Moreover, I was glad that I was able to go faster than my 2015 10km race so this set a new standard for me to beat :)  Thank You LORD!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

First Race for 2016: PSE Bull Run 21km

We should start the year right by getting more conscious of what we eat and by exercising more.

But this was wrong for me on so many levels:

1)  I was unprepared for running a Half Marathon!  What was I thinking?  I didn't have enough mileage and took this race for granted.  In panic, I did one long 16.5km last December 01 around the city with the hopes that it would be enough for me to get through the Half Marathon. In between I was able to run another 12km and a 10km.  But I felt like it wasn't enough and that I was cramming for this race.

2) I arrived from Hong Kong Saturday night!  With the race at 4AM on Sunday morning, I would be lucky if I got three hours sleep!  (I wasn't as due to delay in baggage claim, I got home late and was able to sleep for just 1 hour or so).

Too late for me to back out at this point and I was comforted by the fact that there was no cut-off time for this race, so worst case scenario, I should be able to  finish race by walking the last part.  My target goal was just to finish, but hopefully under 3 hours. Alvin, who went with me, had a target goal of below 2 hours!

The race started promptly at 4am and we were about 4 minutes late when we got there.  Not that bad as eventually I was able to catch up with some runners a few minutes later.  Alvin, obviously, was long gone by then.

The route was hard as it goes through Kalayaan bridge to Buendia and U Turn at the South Super Hi-way and back to BGC where this time, we would run to Bayani Road and to Lawton Avenue.  So safe to say that it was a hilly race!

Although I felt 4am gun start was just too early for a Half Marathon race, I reaped its benefits as well as I didn't feel the heat of the sun until the last few kilometers to the finish line.  There were ample water stations and very few Pocari Sweat drinks given out in this race.

The finisher shirt I liked as well due to the very nice design and materials used in making it.

Some improvements:

1) They ran out of finisher medals for 21km race! What the hell? This is unacceptable as they already know how many runners joined this category so they should have ample time in the preparation of said medals.  There were a lot of angry people when they found out about this.  A lot more who were disappointed especially since this was their main goal for the race.  I hope the organizers rectify this by making more medals and allowing those who have the 21km bibs to claim at their registration areas!

2) The chaos in getting finisher kits.  There were no orderly lines, no marshals manning the people.  It was a state of panic here.

3) No bananas for 21km and very few Pocari Sweat stations.  For a race this long, runners need fuel and not just water for their bodies.

4) I heard that the 5km route was at 7km and 16km route was at 17km.  Thankfully the 21km route was exactly 21.1km.

In spite of these shortcomings from the race organizers, I had a good time as kept pace steady at 7:50 minutes/km throughout the race.  On the last 3km, I felt strong so was able to speed up to the following pace:

19km - 6:46 pace
20km - 6:18 pace
21km - 5:45 pace

Thank You God for your protection.  I finished the race with a big smile on my face.  A runner's high indeed with negative split as well.

Maybe lack of sleep boosted my adrenalin? Haha!  First time I used 3 GU gels for this but I was glad to have bought it with me as it definitely helped me in this race.

Alvin was successful in his goal too, finishing his race at 1 hour 59 minutes and came back to me at last 3km to add some more mileage.

This was my final time and pace, more than what I expected and I am really grateful for it. 

We rewarded ourselves by having Bulalo at Dayrits Magallanes.

A good start for the year where a lot of things came out wrong but still gave me a strong finish.

Thank You Lord!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Run United Recovery Run

I almost didn't make it as it had a gun start of 6am at Filinvest and I woke up at 5:20am!

Now that was a wake up call! In 10 minutes I was out of the house and driving on the road to Alabang.  The horrible traffic in Sucat area didn't help me in this situation.

Luckily, I found the race start and secured myself a nice parking slot right when the race had started.  But no worries, I could still catch up with them. And pretty soon I was running with then.

As race was at Filinvest, it was sort of a new route for me and I enjoyed doing the 10km as the last race for the year.

I was slow at first but by the second half, I got my second wind and was able to go faster.  

Goals for this race kept improving as well- from 6:30 average pace ( just to finish), to 6:21 (which was my pace in last week's race) to 6:19 ( which was my 10k PR for this year. As more disance gets covered, the pace went down as well.

I kept changing the goal and had strength to keep going. Final two turns before I crossed the finish line.

God is truly awesome!! Thank You for a wonderful year -ender run.  This wasn't just a recovery run but it was also a redemption run!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Burned out?

After doing Subaru Marathon, I felt defeated.  I was glad to have finished the race but it was below what I expected to do.

Since then, I haven't quite recovered yet. 

Legs still feel tired.  I get lazy in runs and finish them but end up walking a significant portion of them.  The excitement has all but disappeared too.

Both mind and body were defeated in Subaru.  So how do I get up from the bottom and run again?

How do I finish another Marathon, that isn't a few months away, but just in a matter of days?

How do I push myself to keep going till the end?

My goal of 5:40 has gone out the window.  Now, it is most likely past the 6 hours.  I hope it doesn't become worse than Subaru Marathon but there is a chance that it might be.

Will see how it goes.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Running in Japan

The hard part about training for a marathon is that when there is a vacation during the training schedule, you can't take a vacation from that either!

Of course it will be harder as it will be busier in terms of travel schedule.  For our 11-day trip in Japan, we ended up taking all sorts of transportations (train, subway, tram, ferry, bus) to get to the various cities.

I would schedule my runs on days where we would just go around the city.  No runs on days we need to travel to another city as we might end up missing the trains!

For Kyoto City I was able to do two 7.5km runs on two consecutive days.  Our hotel was located near Kyoto Train Station and although the weather was hot during the day, in the morning it had a nice and cool weather.  Japan had a lot of vendo machines so just bring a few bills or coins and you are all set in your run.  For Kyoto, I was able to discover a 4km loop around the city, which passed through two big city temples, for which I entered one on first day and the second on the second day.  So some sightseeing done in the city too!

The 4km loop passes through the quiet area of the city so that was a good place to observe their day to day activities too.

The scheduled long run for the week fell on the day when we were in Hiroshima,
which was a perfect place to do it as
city felt solemn as I was reminded of what happened to the city during World War II.

There were countless monuments to commemorate this fateful day.  My route took me to the Peace Memorial Park, around A-Dome and towards Hiroshima Castle, wherein I did 4 loops around its perimeter.  Went out again and this time I followed the river to the more rural section of the city.  In this part there are more runners and the road is more cushioned and quite similar to a 400-meter track.  It seems I have discovered where they secretly run in this city.  I wasn't able to finish the required 24.5km and did only 21.5km as our hotel stay included Japanese breakfast buffet and I had to get back before 9:30am to avail of it.

The next run was in Tokyo City, where the only place I could think of to run where it wasn't that busy in terms of traffic, people in the streets, countless traffic lights, etc. was around the Imperial Gardens.  From our hotel near Tokyo Station, it was a relative straight path to the Imperial Gardens, where one loop is equal to 5km distance.  This was bigger than Kyoto Castle but both routes are good for runners.

I planned to run inside the Gardens as well but unfortunately, they close the Gardens on certain days of the week.  Just my luck that Friday was one of those days.  But I was able to see the famous bridge nearby and also run around the perimeter 1.5 times.

The final run for our Japan trip was at Nikko, where we stayed in an Onsen, which overlooked A big lake.  a five minute walk nearby is one of the largest water falls in Japan.  

This was also a good place to run as it had a nice scenic view of the lake.  I passed two temples around here.  The path was more of trail kind so had to be careful in where I would run.  But good experience nevertheless.

All in all, even though I had to wake up early to do the runs in our vacation, it was still a fun experience and through these things I was able to discover Japan more.