Friday, November 27, 2009

2nd year of RUNNING! - my top 10 races

It has been two years already for this RUNNING FATBOY! Has it been this long? As they say, time flies when you're having fun!

FROM NOV 2008 – OCT 2009


The top 10 races isn’t categorized based on which is the best race in terms of starting on time, having kilometer markers, having sufficient water stations and marshals, having good gift packs, quick race results, accurate course distance etc. but rather it is ranked on which races are most memorable for me as a person first and as a runner second. So here it is, in NO PARTICULAR ORDER, my top 10 races from Nov 2008 to Oct 2009

November 16, 2008 – Clark 25k (Php 550) – 3 hour 03 minutes 26 seconds (25km PR)
This was Janine and my longest distance race when we joined it. I had a big phobia of burning out here as that was what happened to me a month ago for a race that was 4kilometers shorter. Good thing I was more careful this time around. I survived the race and got my second finisher medal. More importantly, this was a race where a lot of our friends tried their hand at running. They did the 5km on a Saturday with us supporting them. On our race itself the cool weather, out-of-town experience, accurate distance and the very nice singlet and medal made this an automatic favorite for all of us!

March 22, 2009 – Condura 21km (P500), 2:15:09, 21.1km (Half marathon PR)
First run on the Skyway. That alone was unforgettable! It was an exciting race with very nice shirts and finisher medal. The shirt was even better for me as this year I went to see the whale sharks in Donsol. Condura made it to my top 10 years two years in a row!!! That shows the quality and commitment they gave to the annual Condura race. I also got a half marathon PR (and up to now, still unbeatable)!

April 19, 2009 – Greenfield Sta Rosa, 21km (P 500) - 2:17:28
Kudos to Coach Rio and Vince for putting an out of town race with free shuttle bus service for those people who have no access to Sta. Rosa. Registration is easy as well, as runners can do it via the internet. The torched route, the surprise finisher medal and lots of water for that hot day made this an experience worth doing again. Photovendo service was a nice addition to this race too!

May 30, 2009 – Adidas Night Marathon 42k, Singapore (Php 1,938), (New 42k PR - 6:31:34)
Although I had a very, very bad experience here, it still made it to the list because I am happy to have survived it. It was my first full marathon and the course passed through trail roads, lakes, overpass bridges, and had a lot of people doing the full or the ultra marathon. They also had a movie marathon for the supporters of the race that ran from midnight till 7AM. I super loved the finisher medal because of its massive size and because I worked really hard to earn it (not just for the race but for all the long runs I did to train for it). The finisher shirt was something I can wear proudly too. Of course, I also ordered the photo certificate and had it framed as a memory of this very tiring 24-hour episode in Singapore (finally slept after 26 hours of being awake! - Darn that shopping!).

July 19, 2009 – Globe Run, 21km (Php 300): 3:09:17 – new couple 21k PR
Good chip timer. Nice free photovendo photos. New course as it passed through Ayala Avenue. But what made this race extra special for me was that it was the first 21km race for Per. She, with no training whatsoever. She, who promised before not to run anything longer than 15km and just go back to 10km again. She, who joined this race out of impulse (2 days before) and had a super strong finish. I was proud of her and she amazed me by her endurance. After this race, the possibilities for her became endless.

Close to this was July 12, 2009 - Robinsons Fit Buddy Run 10k (Php 700 for two): 1:14:54 - new couple 10k PR

It was great joining this race but the best part was when it was over and our names were announced as we crossed the finish line. We got a new 10k Couple PR that time, some free photos and a mega sized gift pack from the Robinson Group. We felt like champions after bringing home said gift pack! Well Done!

August 15, 2009 – Kenny Run 15k (Php 600): 1:39:14
Last day as a bachelor run! “Crazy!” “Seriously??” “What is wrong with you?” These were just some of the reactions I got when I first mentioned it to my friends. But they weren’t my “running” friends. The running friends gave these answers “Hell yah!” “I’m Game!” “Put me in 15km.” and these are people who have a role in my wedding! Unfortunately, one runner was injured after the race (note the word AFTER!). Ahem. Good thing said person was able to walk down the aisle the following day (not the bride at least...Phew). Hehe. First Philippine night race. Nice black and white singlet material. Good food at Kenny’s. Free surprise photos at Photovendo (surprise because none of us saw where the cameras were).

December 28, 2008 – Kappa 10k Run, Hong Kong (HK$ 160 = Php 1,025.60) – 1 hour, 1 minutes, 48 seconds (Foreign run)
Hong Kong run! Nice shirt. Nice view! Very cold weather as running in the mountains. First time running in Hong Kong too so it was a memorable experience running on unfamiliar terrain.

December 7, 2008 – Yakult 10 Miler (Php 150) – 1 hour 36 minutes 23 seconds (10 miler PR and 15km PR too)
Simple but efficient. Loved the flat route. Happy that this even beat my existing 15km PR to think its 1 km longer! Price is super cheap too for a long race and lots of water stations here.
Similar to this would be the Milo 21km (Php 150 + Milo packs) as used the same route, had cheap price and lots of drinks too!

Oct 18, 2009 – QC Half Marathon 21k (Php 500) – 2:29:21
As it is another race by Rio, I know there won’t be a problem with regards to water stations here. The finisher medal was huge! The new route is fantastic and took us to Commonwealth Avenue where there were 4-5 open lanes reserved for runners only. Plus, the unbelievable fast Kenyans added to the attraction of this race. You will definitely run where the Kenyans run!

Oct 25, 2009 – Adidas Half Marathon 21k (Php 500) – 2:18:11 (Foreign Run)
Finally, we were able to join this race after missing it last year and it was wonderful. Aside from the great looking Adidas yellow shirt, it was very festive with 7,000 runners for the race. The route was wonderful as it headed towards Buendia and there were a lot of cheerleaders motivating you to keep going forward. That they were from my Alma Mater did not hurt too.

Pictures below on some of the Top 10 races we joined for the year:

For my first year of running and top 10 races for that time, copy and paste the link below to another webpage:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Men's Health Urbanathon Race - Nov 22, 2009

I try not to miss any Men's Health races as they usually guarantee a good time, with the nice shirts and lots of freebies. There is the Urbanathon series, the Miracle Run series and the Trail Running series, each happening only once in a year.

This race was more significant as it was the first race that I joined that got me hooked into the sport of running. Back then (some two years ago), Janine and I did the 10km while Per and Jeanne stayed on the sideline and acted as our support crew. How things change! Now, both ladies have joined the 5km race and tried their hand at the famous obstacle course too.

And what an obstacle course!! Aside from the trademark 8-foot wall right before the finish line (so close and yet so far!), there were hurdles to climb over, structures to crawl underneath and the hardest challenge (at least for me) - going inside a building and climbing 6 floors, cross to the other side and run down the 6 floors and out of the said building. This happened at our 3km mark and by the time I got out, I was dead tired! And I just finished 30% of the race!

I did some walk breaks at the steep Mckinley Hills as we head out of the area. Outside, we ran into runners from another event - the Botak run series. They had part of the same route we did and rather view it negatively, I liked it even more. It was more festive with more runners, more water stations (as coming from two race organizations) and more familiar faces (saw Neil and Marina).

Got my groove back after a few km and able to run again at a comfortable pace. The final leg was going back into McKinley Hill, running on its grass area to crawl for a few meters, run to the wall, climb over it (with the help of Coach Rio from the other side), jump off (a no-no but who cares) and run to the finish line!

Fantastic! Best of all, for the P450 fee, aside from the singlet and latest Menshealth Nov 2009 issue, we got a breakfast from Kenny Rogers too. A great deal!

Per was happy too and even happier two days later when we found out she finished 19th place out of 191 female 5km racers. Good job!

Per and Jeanne's first Urbanathon. Definitely not their last!

The Killer Wall

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Post Marathon Activities

For my First Marathon in Singapore last May 2009, the first thing I did (after eating and taking a shower) was to fall asleep for a few hours. I have been awake for more than 24 hours as my race started at midnight and given we were in Singapore for a few days only, we decided to use the time there as much as possible (a big no-no) by shopping the entire day. So by the time my race started, I was tired from walking around Orchard Road already. The humidity didn't help too. But I did finish the race and that was the important thing. Never mind the limping and can't-stand-up-from-taxi situation. I got the medal and finisher shirt and glad it was over. So going back, after sleeping, I had a very painful massage but it worked as no body pains the next day and for that I was glad.

This time, the situation is different for my Second Marathon. The weather was cold. The race started early in the morning and I rested well the day before. All proper pre-marathon training (at least I learned from my first experience). My feet were sore again and I was a little bit limping but at a manageable level.

First activity was trying to get a free body massage post-race. That did not work as lines were just too long at the finisher tent.

So, next activity to try to do was a heavy lunch. I was famished so went to a good place that serves heafty portion:

It was good! But was hungry again after a few hours.

The day after, legs felt fine so we drove to Yosemite and did four hour hike to see the waterfalls there. Tiring but perfect for post marathon activity.

Back in Manila, 2 hours after landing, we went to Timex Run to see how the event went. Saw a lot of friends there and seem to be a successful event. Our time wasn't wasted either as registered for Men's Health Urbanathon race for the following Sunday.

Now, it's back to running again after more than a week of hiatus. Easy run for 10km tonight at Fort Bonifacio.

See you soon!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Marathon No.2 - Fresno CA Marathon!

My second marathon coincides with the Pasig International Marathon but due to the time difference I was able to read on the race via an email from Alvin, my pro-bono coach.

Anxiety made me check, double check and triple check everything and I did the same thing with the alarm (set up three different ones having the same wake up call). It was quite easy going to the race venue as there was a hotel shuttle that would take the runners there every 10-15 minutes. The weather was even COLDER than in San Francisco. I was shivering and had to use socks to cover my ears as they are the only exposed skin area. Per will wait for me for the entire race and will be my emergency contact as well. We went to the race together and got there a few minutes before the start of the Half Marathon race.

The Full Marathon began 30 minutes later and divided into four corrals. When I registered for this race in June, I was just targetting a 6 hour time and therefore put that in my application. Which lead me to corral D, the final and slowest group of all. Elite runners (including our very own RunRio) were at corral A to compete for the top prizes. But I didn't mind. Actually, I prefer it. This way, I won't go out too fast and be at an easy pace. I dread the wall and do not want to encounter it in any part of the 42.2km race!

Some more photos were taken between me and Per before I finally went to my area and got ready for the race to commence. At 7:30am, the gun fired, I said goodbye to Per and I walked slowly to where the chip timer mat was.


My original goal when I first registered for this race was to have a new PR. That is, to beat 6.5 hours! I aimed for below 6 with a best effort at 5.5hours. I know that this is my limit as I always burn out from my long runs and avoided it whenever I could. I also wasn't training properly. My 3-week honeymoon lowered my endurance performance even more (NOT that I'm complaining). I seriously contemplated switching to a half marathon due to lack of running. Per was afraid for me. My siblings warned me against a 3-day week run only (not sufficient). I was afraid for myself!

All this before I met Alvin again at Mizuno Run Club. He told me to run with him that night and that is where our friendship began. Twice a week we would meet and he would make me do tempo runs. He was confident I would reach sub-5 hours. Per and I laughed in his face. It was a nice dream but this is reality. That worked for slim, athletic people. Not for this running fatboy. Every session, he would use his positive energy to say 5 hours was easy for me. I laughed it off again. Eventually, Per also told Alvin that although she believed I could finish a race, under 5 hours is definitely out of the question for me. Alvin only smiled, shook his head and just gave two words to end the discussion "Trust me". This scenario kept on repeating over and over again. We were negative all that time. He was always positive and had no doubts about it. CRAZY!!!

But I kept going to his sessions. It was free after all and I needed somebody to push me. Besides, it was much more fun running it with a friend than by myself. So I continued to meet him for two months till the time I had to leave for the USA. Just two short months made up of three runs a week. But during that period, I slowly started to belive Alvin that maybe it was possible. Maybe not sub-5 hours but at least 5:15. That would cut off an additional 15 minutes from my target. Per started believing too....


At the start, I was running slowly at a comfortable pace. I immediately prayed to God to protect me and to help me finish this race. I prayed that everybody will finish the race and to be safe here. I repeated the Lord's Prayer over and over again. It helped give me the confidence I need to finish the race.

I need to run at a certain pace at each kilometer to make sure I reach my target time. I started at a faster pace. It may be a good thing but I was afraid that I might be going too quickly and burn out at the last part. I tried to slow down and it worked. I continue running, feeling the cool breeze to my face and feeling good about this. So far so good (but it is just 2km so far!).


I have gotten dependent with my Garmin watch so I made sure its' battery was full before the race. What I didn't do was erase the old data so at 4km, it stopped moving. I had to stop and try to find some way to free up space so it can record this race. Problem was that I had to stop the timer too so by the time I finished fixing it, I didn't know how much time I wasted. I was in panic mode and ran fast to recover the time I missed. But knew that was wrong and slowed back to my normal pace. I did not know my normal time but just estimated an additional 2 minutes for that chore.


Back to running again. I'm always behind this old gentleman running in a straw hat. There are times I would catch up with him but he would just overtake me again. I designate him my target and keep a watchful eye on him.

Goodbye gloves! You've served your purpose and for that I am glad you were there to help me. It's time to leave you by the hedges and may someone else find you useful. There were discarded jackets and sweaters too. I couldn't throw away my new jacket (bought at SF Expo) so stuck to it the entire time. It was light anyway and protected me from the wind.

There were rock bands here and it was nice listening to music again while I'm running. They perform without any jackets on in this cold weather and I applaud them for that. The music boosted my spirits and I keep running at a steady pace.

There were timers: people who hold stop watches and shout out your time as you pass by them. That way you would know how near or far you are to your target time.

I LOVE GATORADE! I don't care what flavor it is. I just love the sweet flavor compared to plain water. But I make sure to alternate it with water just the same. GU I take every 45 minutes or so. I hope the Philippine organizers can emulate the organizers in Fresno, that is lots and lots of water and sports drink being given out by volunteers to runners to save time.

I'm at old town Clovis. Now, I can safely say I ran the Two Cities marathon. Lots of people cheering. Strangers shouting out my name. In an effort to be nice, I sometimes wave at them and at other times, whisper "thanks". If I am too tired, I just grunt to show my appreciation. They somehow understood.

No pain yet but so much more to gain! Darn it!

I love running inside tunnels and there were about 3-4 here so I ran inside them twice (back and forth)! What a nice photo to take here (if I had a camera)! I see dog prints on the sand and for some weird reason, thought of T-Rex prints from Jurassic Park movie. I loosen my shoulders from time to time. Pain already there and still far from finish line.

21km - halfway mark. Good time, even better was that I don't feel tired or hurt yet. I keep on running, praying for confidence and humility and inner strength to finish the race. I thought of Per and said to myself, "I'm ready to see my wife again". She will be waiting at 26km mark and I use her image to focus myself for the last 5km.

Back to Fresno! I see Per in her green jacket waving from afar. I am soooo happy! It's like I finished the race already. Sheer joy! I drank from the water she gave me and half hugged her. Some bystanders smiled when they saw I stopped there. We talked for a few seconds before I ran off again. She said she will see me at the finish line. I hold her to her promise.

I overtake the guy in the straw hat. He does not come near me again. Thanks dude. You helped me keep going at a good pace. I overtake some walkers. I keep running. I keep drinking water and Gatorade. I push myself to 30km mark with a thought "if I reach it, I reward myself with a GU". I do reach it but didn't take the GU until 32km as realized its the 20-miler that most people hit the wall. I made sure that that doesn't happen to me.

A surprise steep hill at 22-mile! Of all places, it was placed here! My slowest time but I do not stop running. I overtake more people. I push myself thinking, "Just a few more meters, then it's downhill. Be patient and keep going".

I'm still on target but realize that this is going to be tight and know that there can't be room for errors. At 23-mile, I overtake a guy and he said that I still had a lot of energy in me. I honestly replied that I just wanted to finish this race as quickly as possible and get it over with. He laughed and wished me luck. I kept going.

Final few miles but instead of speeding up, I slow down. There was no way I could run fast anymore. All the speed has burned out of me. I'm ahead of my mark but there is a small fear as to whether my calculations were correct or not. I do know that I will finish this race. I DO KNOW I WILL GET A PR from it.

A lot of people cheering me on. Saying how close I was. Some were spectators. Some had the medals around their necks. I wonder whether they finished the full or half marathon (only 600+ full marathon runners vs 2,000++ half marathon runners). I move on.

I still could not run fast but didn't care as Per was there at 25.5mile again with her camera. I smiled at her (or maybe I didn't) and kept on running. I hope to see the finish line at every turn and corner but it always eludes me. Finally, I see it! But still could not run fast!

I cross it! It's over! It's all over! I can relax now.

To God be the Glory of this run!

Thanks to...

God for answering my prayers, for protecting me and for showing me a very small sample of everything You created during the time I ran in Fresno.

Alvin for believing in me even if I didn't believe in myself. If there is one other good thing that would come from my first marathon in Singapore, it's that I got a chance to meet you and do a redemption run for my second marathon.

Per, my loving wife for your support, especially for those long long Sunday mornings when you had to wait for me to finish my runs. Thanks for the patience!

Running buddies whom I run with on and off race. This includes my siblings and friends from Nike run clinic. You know who you are!

As for my new marathon finish time? Well, that was something I saved the best for last:

Clock Time: 4:53:38
Chip Time : 4:52:54

Goodbye 6:31, goodbye sub-6, goodbye 5:30, goodbye 5:15, goodbye 5:00! Hello, 4:52!


I guess Alvin had the last laugh in this! Welcome to the new "reality". It really is POSSIBLE! Best of all, no blisters, cramps or Wall in this race. Cold weather helped too!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fresno USA Runner's Expo - Nov 7th, 2009

Any runner can tell you that the best thing about a race is not the race itself. No, that is the pure torture part - wherein you push your body to the limit, your legs get sore and tired, you can't breathe, you get blisters, cramps, or a sidestitch. Ironically, the best part of a race is when it is finally over. When you've crossed the finish line and get it over with. When you can get on with your lives and be normal again. That is until you registered for the next race and the whole cycle begins again.

This is the case for running in the Philippines. Of course, there are some races where the run itself was memorable - running on Skyway via Condura, on trail paths of MensHealth Urbanathon series, or the famous New Balance race in Clark last year. But these things you would most likely think about when the run is over. When you start having your breakfast with your friends and talk about the race you just finished.

For other countries, the best part of running may not only be finishing a race and getting a new personal distance or time record but it is also the expo held the day before the actual race.

For my second marathon, that is the case here. The expo was very nice but since we bought pasta dinner buffet tickets, we decided to go there in the afternoon. Rio, full of excitement, went there in the morning with his cousin, to get their race packs.

Immediately, I noticed the difference here vs. those in the Philippines. First of course, is that we RARELY had an expo and when we did, it was virtually empty of booths and events (case in point: the recently concluded Adidas King of the Road run).

Here, it was very organized. You would look for your name on a master list on a billboard, printed alphabetically and get your race number. After which, you would go to the designated area to claim your race kit. Said area is assorted by race numbers to avoid long lines. Once you've gotten your bib, you would move down the lane where they would next give you your race pack, then your race cap, race jacket and finally, pasta buffet tickets.

There is also a small seating area where an organizer would explain the entire half marathon or full marathon course in terms of: 1) at exactly what point the water station, GU station, or portalets will be; 2) where the course would take the runner - if it is an uphill or downhill climb, if through tunnels, if through dirt road or concrete road, if roads are open to traffic or closed; 3) what the weather and temperature will be like on race day; 4)what to expect after crossing the finish line, 5) where to park your cars, where your family can cheer for you, where to leave your bags, etc. Every inch of the race map is described so that the runner can prepare for it MENTALLY and be ready the next day! This is a very good idea that I hope we could emulate soon (as soon as we fix the basic problems of water shortages in marathons!)

There are also booths selling caps, GU, running outfits and running charms.

Afterwards, Per and I went to the buffet area, where in order for us not to be bored, we listened to a talk made by Dick Beardsley regarding his 1980's race with Alberto Salazar where he lost the Boston Marathon after running the entire marathon at pace with Alberto for the top prize. And the time difference between them at the finish line? A measly 1.6 seconds! The video of said race was also shown and it gave us goosebumps just watching the very tight race. I wanted to buy his book but he admitted after his talk that all the copies he brought with him got sold out even before he entered the buffet area! So I got a copy at Amazon and excited to get and read it soon!

The expo ended at 6:00pm and as promised to my wife, Per and I went to Target store to shop for a few hours. Per's promise to me was that we could go home at 8:00pm so I can have enough rest and prepare myself for my second marathon. And so we did that too.

My previous record for a 42.2km race was at 6:31++ in Sundown Marathon in Singapore (May 2009). I had a terrible time from the heat. Fresno will be the exact opposite from my first experience as it will be super cold (Mark remarked before that I should practice running in a cooler!)

I wonder how I will do tomorrow....

Runners start here! Next to the guy is the master list of all the runners arranged alphabetically.

Race kit includes chip timer, bib and lots and lots of goodies!

The food! This Running Fatboy had two servings! YUM!

And the goodies! Not shown were the cap and long sleeves technical shirt I also got at the expo. At the finish line, a runner would receive not only a medal but also a hooded sweatshirt! A very good deal!

Can imprint your bib to a technical shirt for a small fee. Hmmm, is this shirt a sign for our friend to do a full marathon soon? Only time will tell!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

San Francisco Half Marathon (Nov 1, 2009) - Post race

This was supposed to be Per and my first half marathon race together but with the impulse joining of Globe Half Marathon a few months ago, this will instead be our second half marathon together. But what set this apart from the other one, other than it being in a different country and time zone, was that it is our first half marathon as a married couple and that was evident by the names we put on our personalized bib numbers (reflecting our surnames).

My goal here is simply to help Per achieve a new PR for the 21km. I will accompany her again and will be bringing my camera with me to make this race even more memorable. To make this race more enjoyable, Rio, Wayne and Wilbert will all do the half marathon race too. Per mentioned it is like running in the Philippines due to the familiar faces. I could not disagree.

Race started on time and immediately it was a climb up. It was hard to run in this cold weather as it takes a longer time for the body to warm up for the race. Legs felt tight from the wind and the cold but after 2km, we were all running comfortably. Wilbert acccompanied us in this race, doing it as part of his weekend long run and that was great. After running for a few km, we finally headed to the most anticipated part of the race and that was the Golden Gate Bridge.

I have seen this Bridge before but never envisioned running on it. It was a surreal feeling and I was just glad I bought the camera with me. I just can't stop taking photos (by my count, about 120 photos were taken in this race!). There was a point where we craved for water as water stations here were situated every 2 to 2.5 miles (unlike in the Philippines which had water every 2.5 kms.) But the cold weather helped us not feel tired. Pretty soon, we've crossed the bridge and went on to the turning point. More hill climbing. More downhill rolling. And then it was back to the bridge for the three of us.

We were all doing a good pace and I felt a PR was achievable for Per. That in spite of all the stops we took for a good photo shot! Unfortunately, at one point, Wilbert started getting cramps on BOTH of his legs. I told Per to run ahead to the finish line and leave us be. I remained with Wilbert in case he needs help. I wanted to see him finish as much as I wanted Per to finish. So we did some run walk strategy and some leg stretching. It was just 5kms to go but I can see that it was the hardest 5km for Wilbert that day. The sandy trail did not help as harder to run in this terrain. One good thing out of this was that we saw two seals near the beach area and that was a rare sight.

At 19km point, Wilbert was confident enough to run the race to the finish line and told me to go ahead. I gave him my GU and power beans and wished him luck. And I ran the fastest that I can in the hopes that I could catch Per. I did reach her about 100 meters before the finish line (and therefore got a negative split) and we finished the race together at 2:50. A new couple PR! Wilbert came a few minutes later. Congrats dude! :)

We got a finisher medal each, some chocolate milk, water, food and took more photos. It was a great race and we will never look at Golden Gate Bridge the same way again!

Congrats also to Rio and Wayne for their fast finish times.

Onnwards to Fresno!

Below are a few samples of photos we took that day :)