Sunday, October 26, 2008

Running in Sydney

G'day Mate!!!
I was interested in trying a run in Sydney after seeing a picture of it in Runner's World Magazine for that issue's Rave Run feature and just in time too as my family ventured to Australia for two weeks, with main focus in Hobart Tasmania.
First thing I noticed was that there are a lot of runners here!  Maybe it was because I also run that I become more sensitive to this but on my first day alone, I saw probably 20-30 different runners at the Sydney Opera house, which made me green with envy.  And that was about 1PM!  A deadly scorching time for us Filipinos but obviously not for the Aussies as  the weather was cool and windy here even at this time.  
I gave in to my urge to run and decided to wake up a little bit early the next day to try my hand at it.  Of course, I am a tourist first before I am a runner so I decided to bring my camera along.  I also stuffed some cash and a city map page in my shoe wallet in case I get lost, then strapped on my Ipod and started playing the songs to keep the boredom away.
My goal would be to cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge to bring this thing to full circle after having done the Bridge Climb some 9-10  years ago  but to reach this place is a challenge in itself as I will start from the Apartment of my dad's friend (on Elizabeth Bay Road), run to the streets to get to the Harbour Dock with the parked Navy ships, run inside Sydney's Botanical Gardens, head out to the Sydney Opera House, run to Clark Quay, The Rocks and finally to Sydney Harbour Bridge where I would cross to the other side, run down the bridge stairs and make a U-Turn to head back to the Apartment.  Not an easy task especially with no water with me and having the extra burden of carrying my camera with me.  Fortunately, I found a water fountain at Clark Quay so that helped relieved some of my thirsts.  There were also a lot of clean public toilets here so very good environment for the runner.  Good windy weather was an added bonus as well.  And of course the view was something I can never forget!!
But there were still some problems as at the beginning of the run, I already got lost trying to find my way out of the Apartment area and into the Botanical Gardens.  The second time I got lost was trying to find a way to go on top of the Harbour Bridge.  It wasn't as easy as it looks and I had to go around a few times before finding the right entrance for me (the other entrance was for cyclists).  Running on the bridge was nice and felt like being on the set of Cloverfield, but safer of course.  :)  There were a lot of security cameras here and some guards as well to ensure safety of the runner.  At the base of the bridge on the opposite side of the Harbour was a weekend market where food, trinkets,  clothes, books and all sorts of stuffs were  being sold by various people.  I didn't buy anything but on the run back, I was feeling the hunger and really wanted to stop somewhere for a quick breakfast.
Luckily, Harry's Pies was on the course back to the apartment and so I bought one of his specialty meat pies and a can of Coke for breakfast.  This place is quite famous and had pictures of famous people buying from this stand.  I sat next to a picture of the biker in American Chopper and figured what's good for him should be good for me too.  The meat pie was quite heavy that I ended up walking the last 10 minutes back to the apartment, take a quick shower and do the real tour of the city.
An unforgettable long run for me as it is done in such a picturesque city.  I hope that I have time to do another one before I leave this place.  This time minus my camera as I let go of the tourist aspect and focus more on the running side of me.  I took lots of pictures here but since I didn't bring the cable to link camera to the computer, posting of pictures will be done upon my return.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Please Don't Stop the Music" - Botak Run

Running Fatboy is back in his home town and is sporting some new gears!

First and foremost is a pair of sunglasses I bought a week ago in scorching hot Borneo. First time I wore sunglasses in a race as always afraid it would come off while running and be stepped on by another fellow runner. YIKES! Another thing is that some races start quite early with no sun yet so it will be too dark to wear a pair of these babies. But what's the point of buying sport sunglasses if you don't use it in your sport? So here was my first try. And I looooovvee it! The sweat didn't even get into my eyes!

Another gear is using the Ipod Nano that Per gave to me. I usually use the Ipod for long road trips and it was my first use in a race given I found a nifty arm band for it (with a very feminine pink color). It had a clip at its back so I can also attach it to my shorts if I wanted to. Unfortunately, the arm band's quality wasn't nice as lots of loose threads so I was afraid of chafing in this race. So I improvised my ancient arm band from my more ancient and broken down Ipod Mini to fix this device. And it worked! And the music came into my ears! Rihanna, U2, Foo Fighters, Gwen Stefani, Fergie, American Idols, and of course my favorite: FATBOY Slim. It's like the Fatboy band is pushing this Fatboy to keep on running to the finish line!!! RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!!

These two gears will be part of my regular races especially the upcoming Nov 9 15km and Nov 16 25km where I need some music to keep the boredom away.

As Rihanna would sing, "Please don't stop the music"! And the music didn't stopped until I crossed the finish line at 59 minutes 28 seconds. No P.R. but still good time for me given it's supposed to be a recovery run. Incidentally, Rihanna is coming here the day that I will run my first 25km so I really hope I have enough energy for this once in a lifetime concert. :)

Girls modeling their preferred sports band: Janine in her Mizuno shirt, Jeanne in Botak, and Per in Nike. Which is the best brand?

Bloggers unite! Vener (Run unlimited), Me (Running Fatboy), Taki (Tech Spec). Also met Brother J (J Running) and Charles (Schlagger Returns)...

Missed out on taking photo with the Stormtroopers but got the next best thing: UP's running superhero!

Till the next run!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

How I Relaxed After My 21km

1. Breakfast Buffet style. Yes we were pigging out right after the race. Each having 2-3 plates of hot Asian and Intercontinental dishes! We were there till they had to close off the Breakfast at 10:30AM. This was part of our hotel package so at least we didn't spend more for this.

2. Lying in Bed. I had one hour sleep and just watched TV or read for the next two hours. I didn't want to move anymore after running for more than 2 hours.

3. Go to the Pool. For a dip and to cool off. I also used this area to stretch some more and did a little bit swimming so my muscles will be back in shape by tomorrow. Not that I am running or anything! Sitting on my room balcony with this view calms the mind as well.

4. Hot Shower. I admit it took me a while to finally shower as was really drained by the run but by the time I did, I welcomed it. :)

5. Booze. Drinking cold beer on a hot day definitely makes my day!

6. Buffet Dinner. Again we all had buffet dinner at Hyatt Hotel in Kota Kinabalu. I skipped lunch so was hungry again by the time we got here. I didn't feel any guilt on this because of the xxx number of calories I burned this morning.

7. Foot Massage. To end off the day, all 6 of us had a very nice one hour foot massage near our hotel. It helps relieve some of the muscle pains around the thigh area.

8. Go Shopping. To reward yourself for the hard work you did in the run. 6 people = 6 Oakley Shades! Price was significantly lower than in the Philippines so quite a good deal. Mine was at least 25% off from retail prices here. A lot of them got the Ducati one but being a runner, I opted immediately for the Livestrong one.
This was done the next day at 1Borneo Mall, 20 minutes away from Pacific Sutera Resort

9. Prayer. Most important of all for me for thanking God that He protected me from harm in this race and all my previous races.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Borneo Marathon (post- race)

This is it! The race I have been planning for a couple of months now. My very First 21k. Kota Kinabalu's very First 21k and it is finally happening on this day, October 12, 2008, Sunday at 6:00AM at Likas Stadium Complex.

Rewind to the night before at the Pasta Party at the same place where I saw two women seated in front of me with the Sabah shirts "Are You Tough Enough?". It made me wonder then if I am tough enough to finish race and at that time, I thought to myself, "Yes, I would think so. I have done my long runs except for the last two - three weeks so I can taper for this race. I would eat well tonight to prepare for tomorrow. I have done a 15km and a 16km race before and finished all at good time with no or very little pain so this is just 5km more. I am prepared for this race and excited for it!"

I may have been too excited as couldn't get to sleep the night. I was in bed by 10pm but was just restless the whole time. Just counting the hours till it was time to wake up at 3:30AM. Shuttle was going to pick Benny and me up at 4:20AM. Ben was at the lobby by the time I got there and a few minutes later, the bus came along to get us. Inside were already two runners: a Singaporean girl and a European guy. We picked up a few more runners before we all headed to the stadium.

And what a stadium! It was like the Beijing Olympics or the FIFA World Cup as very well lit and huge (at least for me). Runners were slowly coming in and place was getting filled up.

At that time, it was only the half marathon runners who were here as the full marathon had already started at 4:30AM and the 10k race will still start at 7:00AM. Half marathon race will start at 6:00AM and we arrived there around 5:20AM to check in our bags, do some stretches and warm ups and hydrate ourselves for the big race.

A runner checking the chip timer blue mat. Your official time begins when you step on this thing so got to step hard to make sure your time registers. Haha!

The instant photo booth with a lot of photographers.
5 minutes before race official time of 6:00AM, we were all at the starting line waiting for the Go Signal. Catwoman was there and also this girl in a pink wig. There were also a lot of AirAsia runners here too. The race was divided into three segments: those who think they can finish in 2 hours or less, those who finish in between 2 to 2 and a half hour and those who think they can finish at a latter time. Naturally, the Kenyan group went off to the very first line. Ben slowly went to the front as well while I was comfortable at the back part.
Then the 10 second countdown began and the race started! At that time, the sun was up already but nothing we can do about it. I was just glad it didn't rain hard like that of the previous night or I will get a lot of blisters before my run is finished.
The runners took off almost immediately and we ran out of the stadium and into the city. It was very tight at first as we shared one lane only and shouldn't cross to the next lane. Pink plastic cups serve as markers for our run. Pretty soon, the roads got wider and there were better sceneries as there were trees and parks and we ran beside the harbour too. I pretty much realize how fun it is to run in an unfamiliar territory with unfamiliar faces vs doing the same run over and over again. I was curious in all the places we ran on, never setting sight on them till this morning only. We ran to the slightly stinky market and we ran to the shopping area of Centerpoint before we headed off to Sutera Harbour Resort.
At that time, I was pretty much comfortable with my pace and foresee finishing the race at a good time. I eventually passed by my hotel and went along the road for another chip timer mat marker. Wow, I wasn't used to the chip timer mat and was expecting ribbons or straws to be handed out to me by the marshals to prove to race organizers that I didn't cheat. This is technology at work!
There were ample water stations here and I even had a banana at the half leg of race. Too bad I couldn't get a hold of a Powergel as guy watching over it said it is for the full marathon runners only. My 10km was at 1 hour and 4 minutes. Not bad actually but then I hit a snag on the 2nd half.
The sun was fully out and it was extremely hot! I am used to running in Philippine hot weather but this was worse. I push myself to run more and more just so that I can finish this race and get it over with but the heat just took the energy out of me. By 15km, I was walking most of the way doing only 2-3 minute runs before I had to walk again. My runs became shorter and my walks longer. I felt every step I made was like walking in the desert as my feet felt like they were on fire. There were a couple of times where I thought I should completely stop from the run, sit down, remove my shoes and see if my feet were burning or not. It was that bad!! But I always put that thought behind me as I know if I acted on it, then I won't run anymore and will just quit from the race. So I push on with a fear on what is happening to my feet and always on a look out for a water station nearby.
It was a long road back to the stadium with limited shade and sun blasting fully on me. I was sure I was sun burnt already. Or maybe it was my mind playing games on me. Either way, I wanted this to end so badly and couldn't imagine doing a full marathon in my lifetime. At last, the stadium was in sight and even then I couldn't run all the way there. I was so glad when I finally entered it but then I saw that I had to run a half loop around the track to cross the finish line. With it just 200 meters away I pushed myself to run all the way there.
It was a blur crossing the finish line as I stopped my timer watch, had a finisher medal put around my neck and asked immediately for a chair to sit on. Once seated, I immediately took off my shoes and socks and took a look at my pounded feet. No blisters, no injury,no cuts, nothing! And I was so glad for that! I just sat there the whole time watching runners enter the stadium and cross the finish line. I just didn't want to move at all. I was thirsty too but prefer to just sit rather than look for water. I had to constantly blink my eyes to clear my vision, always afraid that I would faint from the heat and collapse right in front of everyone. That didn't happen as my pride wouldn't let me.
A few minutes later, Ben came to me and said there was a Milo booth nearby and I could just lie on the grass there to rest myself. That was enticing enough to leave my sanctuary chair! The Milo was very good and after having a few cups I was back to normal again. I count myself lucky not only for finishing this race but for surviving it.
Which brings me back to the original question : ARE YOU TOUGH ENOUGH?
I guess I am but just barely...

After 30- 45 minutes of crossing finish line, I got my strength back to take my finisher photo.

The grand prize for me! And I am so happy for this because of the difficulty in getting it!

A very exhausted Running Fatboy (less his shoes) drinking his secret stash of Gatorade!
On a final note, the race was very organized as there were really a lot of water stations and energy drinks all throughout the race. But I guess the heat was just too strong for me even with that benefit.
I ranked 63rd out of the 117 runners for the Male Open Category, about mid-point area. I managed to finish race just below 2 hours 30 minutes so still quite pleased with my time as my goal was between 2 and a half to 3 hours.
Ben, on the other hand, had a very fast finish of 2 hour 7 minutes! He ranked 36th out of 85 runners in his category.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bormeo Marathon - Pasta Party

The Pasta Party was held as Likas Stadium on October 11, 2008. This would be the starting point for full, half and 10km race the following day. It was also at this site where we picked up our race kits.

We got here around 730pm and immediately went to look for the registration area. They were very organized and our names were already on their lists. It took just 5-10 minutes to collect all our kits and proceed to the badminton court for the free dinner.

Registration Area

At the indoor area, the place was already filled with runners, most noticeable was a group of Kenyans seated in one section. A lot of runners were wearing their finisher singlet that night. I saw one wore Singapore Marathon Finisher shirt, another who wore HK Marathon Singlet, and two more runners who wore the Singapore Night Marathon Shirt. It seemed like a good place to show to other people where you ran in already. I am in awe of all these people who have completed a full marathon and hope I can be one of them as well in the future.

There was a short speech by the organizers after which dinner was started. On one side of the room is the Eastern cuisine which had rice, noodles and Asian dishes while on the other side was the Western section with pasta and pizza. Benny and I went to the pasta section after having our fill of Malaysian food for two days now.

Part of the buffet...

.... And the line leading to it!

Running FatBoy's carbo loading time! Good food and bottomless drinks as well ! Yummy!

The most photographed runner that night is this woman in Catwoman costume from SingaPURR (Sorry, couldn't resist) !! She will also do the half marathon race.

There was a cultural dance show on stage so we can see some traditional dances. After enjoying the food and the show, Ben and I tried to get back home. Problem was that there were no taxis in this area !! In the end, we ended up hitching a ride with one of the organizer and she was kind enough to drop us off at our hotel. Phew! Lucky us and big thanks to the good samaritan!

In my hotel room, I checked what's included in my kit.
I got the following things: Adidas discount coupon, two bib numbers, chip timer and Adidas singlet. This is the best singlet I ever got in any race ! So happy with it and will be sure to wear it in my future runs ! :)

Final task for the night was attaching the chip timer to my shoe...

And I am ready for my very first 21K race! GRRRRRRR !!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Top 10 reasons to join Borneo Marathon

10. Food stalls and shops at stadium: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf., Adidas, Photography Stall, Haagen Dazs Ice Cream, Nestle and Stadium snack/cafe selling local dishes. Makes you want to stay longer after the race with all these things to keep you busy (and your tummy full) !

9. Photos: All runners will be photographed at the finish line and photo (4 x 6) will be available for sale for MYR 10 in a special Borneo International Marathon picture frame. I am definitely getting this product!
Avicraft will also be taking pictures during the race and all their pictures will be uploaded in their Facebook account for general viewing pleasure. If you have Facebook account, you can even tag yourself for your friends to see your running picture.
There is also a photo contest that you can do after the race or your non-running friends can do as part of competition.
8. Pre-race Food party. Best of is that it is free for all runners! Yippee! Friends and family can also join but will be charged for it (but an affordable rate). There are pizzas, pasta, rice, noodles so plenty for carbo loading!

7. Power gel/ fruit station: The Power Gel station is located at 11km mark for half marathon race while the banana station is located at the 15km mark for half marathon race. In between are various water stations, isotonic drink station, toilets and first aid stations. Don't think there will be a problem with dehydration in this race.

6. Kilometre markers: Are positioned every 1km of the course with the last 10km showing "Km to go" signs. Very nice! Especially like the last 10km signs to motivate myself!

5. Helicopter ride at finish line. With a fee of course but at a special price. Basically, it is a 10-minute copter ride on top of Kota Kinabalu city. Perfect to take loads of pictures and can take shots of where you ran on.

4. Chip Timer. To find out your real race time instead of gun fire time.
3. Massage Service: A free 10 minute foot massage for all half and full marathon finishers via coupon given out at finish line. I pity the massagers who have to massage our dirty smelly feet though...

2. Instead of Borneo International Marathon Singlet given to half marathon racers, an Adidas singlet (originally reserved for Full Marathon runners) will be given out to all racers. Yippee! It's like being part of Philippine's Adidas KOTR race.

1. The finisher medal for half and full marathon finishers. To prove to others that yes, you did finish this race.

So excited for this race!! :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Takbo Breast Friend - Post Run

I am back in my old pair of New Balance shoes and old Adidas watch in a race that I have done before (but throug a different organizer). I am back in my competitive mode, after a month of easy runs. I am back with a goal in hand, to beat my personal best ULTRA time of 1 hour and 4 minutes and to find out if I still have what it takes to do it or if I have gotten slower as I do fewer practices these days.

One of the good things of being in an Ultra race is how late I can wake up for it as my house is just a 10 minute away from the area. We got there around 5:45AM but the race started late at 6:30AM, as the organizers had to clean off the road works along Meralco Ave., so that it will be safer for the runners passing through it. The 3k, 5k, and 10k races started at the same time and almost immediately, there was some uphill climb aswe head out of Ultra Race Trace and into the city streets of Ortigas City. There were two ambulances waiting nearby as well and lots of water stations (though not enough attendants as at certain stations, I had to fill up the cups myself). There were no Km markers and only way to gauge how far you've run is when 3km runners turned right at one point making me assume that was the 1.5km mark, and also at the 5km mark at Ultra entrace as we had to do two loops to finish the race.

There was no pain in my legs in this race and I was glad for that. The uphill was hard as expected but I managed to run–walk till I reached the top and make a right turn heading to Ultra. The part I wanted to finish the fastest was along C-5 as it was terribly hot there, having no shade at all and with the sun hitting you on your left side. The air was also polluted in this area given that a lot of jeepneys pass by here.

In the end, I finished the race at 1 hour 3 minutes 55 seconds. It was just a few seconds shorter from my 1 hour 4 minutes target but a Personal Best is still a Personal Best! It gave me enough confidence for my long race next week. No official time too for runners after the 10th fastest one and even the first 10 people to finish, there were some complaints with regards to their finish time. Host kept saying that all complaints will be honored 1 hour after the race but we didn't stick around anymore for that, choosing instead to fill up our empty stomachs with warm yummy food c/o Next Door Restaurant on J. Vargas Avenue.

This morning, there were some pain in my calves and shoulder area but that’s about it. This is a big improvement versus my first race here, where I had to really struggle going down the staircase and was in pain for the next two to three days. It is nice to know that this Fat body is slowing adapting to running.

Till the next run!

General happy mood now that our race is over.

A very hungry RFB doesn't want to let go of his pandesal and even eyeing the ones held by the girl in front of him..

Siblings Jeanne & Janine's 1 year Anniversary Run!

Ultra Race Track: where race began and ended. Good thing we didn't have to run the 4oo meter loop to cross the finish line!