Friday, February 26, 2010

Register, Register, Register !!!!

These are the races Per and I have signed up for:

Definitely want to do this again as quite happy when Per and I did it last year. Back then, it was our first 21km race together and although Per panicked at the start of the race, it still turned out great as she was all smiles at the last part of the race, and that for me was the most important thing! It didn't cause her any trauma (unlike her first 15km race) and allowed us to join some more 21km races together.

We joined this because:
1) Group discount making us pay about Php 500 instead of Php 700.
2) New route. We also enjoyed running on Ayala in last year's Globe Run
3) The new facebook feature. Still don't know how that works though..

4) Aiming for a new couple PR. Just have to think what our ultimate goal is... I enjoy running with Per and pushing her instead of pushing myself. Haha!

You may call it our bonding moments. She calls it my torture moments with her... until she crosses the finish line. Then she complains as to why I didn't push her harder! WHAT THE ???!!!

5) It's for charity!

We joined this race because:
1) It will be my first trail running for 2010! It will be Per's first trail running in the history of her... ummm... existence !
2) Early registration fee of just Php 350.
3) New experience as haven't done the Wawa Reservoir route! I expect to get wet!
4) Finisher medals if you meet the cut off time. Mild problem is that they still do not know what the cut-off time is to get the finisher medal!

We joined this race because:

1) 21km Finisher Medal. Yes, I admit that I was a singlet collector before but it became too much and gave most away (as filling up my closet space). I now chose the harder to attain finisher medal as a good remembrance of my past races!
2) Chip timer and Photovendo pictures
3) Awesome luggage tag included in the race kit
4) Re-usable Bag, sunblock lotions, multi-vitamins, Alaxan, etc. given as part of race kit

On a final note, I used to join every weekend race in Metro Manila. And had to push myself to run during the week to prepare myself for the 42kms.

Finally, after doing that routine since November 2009, I can finally relax and just run WHEN I feel like running and join races WHEN I feel like joining (and not do it as part of my long runs).

Therefore, I choose the races I join and the top criteria for me are
1) Giveaways - finisher medal will make me 90% sure to join it (I got 4 for 2010 alone)! Singlet isn't that important to me unless it is really nice like Adidas' King of the Road, Mizuno 2008 or the many Men's Health races
2) New Experiences - new route, new trails, etc.

And that's it! I can forego chip timer, celebrity runners, cheap registration fees, new PR goals, etc. and just hit the road on my own. At least doing so will not cost me a single centavo.

See you soon!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Century Tuna 21km Race - Feb 21, 2010

The Century Tuna 21km was to be our 3rd Half Marathon together as a couple. I don’t know how I was able to convince Per to join this race again but here we are again – me with my injured heel and Per with her lack of training.

The only times we ran was by doing a 10-km easy run last Monday and a 7-km easy run last Friday night. No running the week before as I was still recovering from my last race and Per will put off running as much as possible in favour of the latest episode of “Desperate Housewives”.

But with our good running last Friday and no water break in between, it seems we are ready for the first leg of RunRio Trilogy.


We left the house at 4:50am as expecting huge turn-out and heavy traffic given that there will be 11,000+ runners that day. It was traffic as early at 5am but we were still able to find a parking spot although it was a little far from where the race will commence.

We turned on our Garmins and walked slowly to the starting line as it was still early based on my time but lo and behold, there were a group of runners heading out of Fort Bonifacio. Who are they? They wore the same bib color as we were! They can’t be the 21km runners as we were early by 10 minutes! Unfortunately, my worst fear was confirmed when I asked a runner passing us by, and got his race category answer. Yes, it is the 21km runners! In a fit of panic, we started running to the starting line, opposite to the big stampede of runners. We definitely didn’t want to be left behind but neither did I want us to burn out so quickly into the race. So I told Per to calm down and just do a quick walk to the starting line as this is chip timer anyway. That way we can still run as planned – go slow and easy and gradually pick up speed as we lower the total distance we had to finish.

We met Alvin near the starting line and he joined us for most of the run here. Our plan was to do 8minute pace and go faster at the second part. First part of the race was easy as mostly downhill heading to the International Schools and all over Fort Bonifacio. We had to weave among honking cars and angry drivers but mostly, it went off without a hitch. We stopped at some of the water/ Gatorade stations and replenished ourselves.

We were still pretty strong after 10km but that was the easy part. The second part with the hilly Lawton, the hot Heritage Park and the burning morning sun was more of a challenge for us. Surprisingly, the challenge came and went quickly. I was surprised that Per was pushing though, pounding the pavement, running the hills and still looking strong! Looks like a potential good Personal Best for her!

Our first 21km race together was 2009’s Globe Run. We finished it at a time of 3:03 (pace 8:45). Then it was the 2009’s San Francisco Half Marathon with a time of 2:51 (pace 8:08). Our target for this race was just to maintain 8:00 pace throughout the entire time and that should be enough for a new Personal Best time.

By the time we got out of Lawton and back into Fort Bonifacio, I knew we had a new couple record but I didn’t know by how much (in terms of minutes). We were able to go for a negative split especially for the last 2km and crossed the finish time at 2:46:06 (and chip timer 2:41:09). Pace of 7:47 and shaved off 10 minutes from the last half marathon!


I definitely didn’t like the long line to get the gift bag and finisher medal but with the huge turn out of runners, I guess that was expected.

I liked the size of the finisher medal and since we got one each, that would be a welcome addition to our 2010 Xmas Tree Decors! The tuna meals were great for breakfast too! Yum yum!
Overall a good event for us as only problem was it starting early but we had the important things here, which were the following:

1. Accurate distance
2. Chip timer which matched what was reflected in our Garmin – new couple PR achieved
3. Lots of water and Gatorade. My favourite sports drink!
4. Models at the water stations!
5. Free breakfast
6. Huge finisher medal
7. Seeing so many familiar faces! Everyone was here

Some friends did report getting lost in the race while others reported inaccurate results. I hope this will be rectified for the 2nd leg of the Trilogy.

Hopefully Photovendo uploads race photos in their website soon and hope to see the Analysis report :)

Pictures I took while doing the 21km with Per:

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Marathon Experiences

To Date, I have completed 4 Full Marathons in a span of one year. I never imagined doing even a single one, much less four of these things. Most of my running friends and family have also completed their first full marathon either in 2009 or in 2010.

My Marathon Debut was in Singapore SunDown Marathon. Jason's debut was in Botak (to train for Singapore's Sundown). Benny's debut was in Milo Eliminations 2009. Sisters Natalie and Carolyn did their first in Big Sur, May 2009. Brother Edwin had his first in New York, November 2009 (with a certain Lance G. with his debut here too). Janine's debut was in Cebu Marathon 2010. Bullrunner had hers in QCIM 2009. Mark P. had his in Condura 2010. Same with Luis. Both had fast finish times. Wilbert had his debut in Seattle Full Marathon 2009. Cousin Stella had her debut in USA 2009. Anson and Vincent had their debut in Condura 2010. Jesy had his in Singapore 2009. Jinoe had his in Cebu 2010. Bro J did the Condura 2010.

It seems the 1 of 1% percentage marathon finishers do not apply in the Philippines! I know a lot more runners who have finished a 42.195km than those who haven't !

My finish times are as different as where I raced at. These are as follows:

1. Singapore Sundown Marathon, May 2009 - 6:31
2. Fresno, USA Full Marathon, Nov 2009 - 4:52
3. Cebu Full Marathon, Jan 2010 - 5:40
4. Condura Full Marathon, Feb 2010 - 5:13

If you plot it on a graph, it would look like a Big M (for Marathon).

In all these races, there are some common things that I experienced:

1. Fear - for the first, it was fear of the unknown and fear of dying. Yes, I have heard of the very small % of runners collapsing right after the finish line and not waking up again. I do not want to be part of that group! For the second, it was fear on whether I was ready for the race given the 2-month cramming for the race and new weather condition that I wasn't familiar with. For the third race, it was fear of DNF due to heel pain on my left side. Same with the Condura race.

2. Will - for all these races, I aim to finish! I aim to reach finish before the cutoff time. For the first, there was no pressure as it had an 11-hour cut off time. For the second, no pressure too given the 7-hour cut-off time. But I was afraid for the 3rd race because although it had the same cut-off time of 7-hours, I was sorely lacking in training due to the lingering injury in my heel. For the 4th race, it was much worst - a short cut off time of 6 hours and I still have the injury. Thank goodness, I had the will to survive these races.

3. Motivation - my motivation in all these races was to see Per at the finish line. She was my anchor and she was there all the time. Even better for the Fresno Marathon as I saw her at the 25km mark, hugged her, did a little chit chat before I went off running again. In Singapore, she was with Blanche when I finished the race. In Cebu, she was with Kervin. In Condura, she was with Dave and some of our other friends. In Fresno, she was by herself, waiting patiently for 5 hours with nobody to talk to.

4. Faith - prayers and talking to God worked for me. It kept me going. It helped me go the distance. It helped me ignore the pain, the heat and the bad feeling and just keep going, one step at a time to the finish line.

5. Finisher Medal - this is a requisite for joining these races. No medal, no race for me. This was the reward for running 5 - 6 hours and something you will be able to cherish for the rest of your life. That is why I was saddened upon hearing that the Pasig Marathon 2009 did not give a finisher medal to its marathon runners! Please don't do this again for 2010!

6. Pre-race Panic! - similar to #1. I would second guess myself: "Can I run with an injury?" "Have I carbo load enough?" "Have I trained enough that I won't get cramps in the race?" "Will I hit the dreaded wall?" and the number one question "Why the $%#@ am I doing this again???"

Answers: "Apparently I can!" "Yes, think more than what is required!" "Yes pala" "No but surprisingly, I hit in my first half marathon" "Because I CAN!"

7. One Week Off! - yes, no running after these sort of races. It's time to have my body recover again and not abuse it too much. After one week, I become itchy and excited to hit the road again. In the meantime, I eat, sleep, read, and watch TV/ movies.

8. Every Race is different - yes, for me, it's because they are done in different cities and countries so had their own weather conditions and different organizers. There were flat routes (Fresno), routes with trail running and overpass bridge climbing (Sundown), and of course the very special Skyway route. But even doing the same race year on year, it will be different for the runner in terms of his pace, performance, ability and finish time. Two of the four races I finished strong thinking I could do some more. The other two left a bad taste in my mouth and I hated every minute of it.

9. Common Friends! - It's expected that running in Condura or Cebu, I will see a lot of familiar faces but who knew that even in such countries as Singapore and USA, there are still some Pinoys joining it! For Condura, everyone was there! Whether it was 10km, 21km or 42km race, we see each other at the finish line. For Cebu, aside from our group, was there too to run their different race categories (Gingerbreadman, Sheerwill, Jinoe & Que, Jason, etc). For Singapore, Jason ran it and it was there I first met Alvin who turned into my pro-bono coach when I saw him again in Fort Bonifacio. In Fresno of all places I saw Coach Rio do his fast race and made him qualify for Boston 2010!

10. Preparation - Don't just do a marathon.... train for it. Do your long runs, easy runs and tempo runs. Don't overdo it. Rest, stretch, sleep! Eat, eat, eat! Drink, drink, drink!

Now, get your shoes from the closet and hit the road again :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

MARATHON #4 - Condura Full Marathon (02.07.10)

How to begin this entry? I have no idea...

Shall I start with all the negative signals I got prior to this race? Sure, why not! Well, first of all, I am injured. I have a lingering heel pain that just won't go away. I went through massages, myotherapy, heel cups, ice therapy, compression, elevation, kensio tape but the one thing I couldn't really follow was ample rest. Yes, I was that addicted to running and not in a normal way. I had to go for the full marathons! 42.195km for Cebu Marathon and now another 42.195km for Condura Marathon.

Normally, it should be a 6 months period to do another marathon after completing the first. And that's with no injury. For me, I was crazy enough to register for two races that were less than a month apart..... 27 days to be exact. And the heel pain was getting worse!

Evidence No 1 - Last Sunday's 10km Book Run. It was supposed to be my last long run before the Condura race. The finisher medal doesn't hurt either. My target goal for that day was 21km but hopeful for a 25km distance to build up the confidence I needed to finish Condura. I woke up late, did 2km easy run, and a 10km tempo run (Book Run) and....

I was limp walking badly after the race. That ended my long run. That made me doubt myself and second guess whether I can finish the Condura race. Per said I looked so exhausted after the race. But I was happy with my medal. I was happy with my finish time and I was happy that I finished my first 10km race without stopping by at a single water station. Yes, I had to challenge myself again. Crazy!!! Total km for that day: 12! Mission not accomplished!

Evidence No 2 - I had an X-ray done on my left foot. Possible evidence show a bone spur. This was not good. Readings will come out on Saturday (the day before Condura) and they will recommend whether to still run the next day or not. (I did not tell them what race event I'm joining for fear of getting discouraged by the shocked reaction of their faces!)
Evidence No 3 - my left foot was swollen! Yikes! Per was getting afraid of it and suggested that I back out. I was thinking the same thing. Even super hyperactive coach Alvin was 50-50 on me doing Condura and he NEVER DISCOURAGES me to quit a race. Even Mr. Positive Energy become Neutral! Oh no!

But I had a way out: my sister Nats was registered for the 21km event and didn't mind switching with me. She had her weekly long runs (and they are LONG!) and completed two full marathons (both sub-5 finishes) so it shouldn't be a problem with her should she take up the 42.2km distance. But I still wanted to try Condura as there might be a chance I regret it if I didn't do it.

So I prayed for guidance, for humility, and not to let ego/ pride get in the way. I hoped to get better and will look at the coming days leading to Condura to assess my situation.

To be fair, it's not all bad news...

1. I did an easy 5km run with Per a few days after Book Run. I felt great! I had minor heel pain and I figured if running at an easy pace (instead of running at tempo/ race pace), it won't stress my heel too much. But running at an easy pace for 42.2km is still running 42.2km so it's not really comparing apples to apples. More likely comparing apples to a lot of apple trees filled with a lot of apples!

2. I had massage done on my legs and had it checked. The person said it wasn't swollen anymore. That removed my fear and brought in some hope to me...

3. The day before Condura and X-ray analysis have not come out. I figured if no answer that day, then it's a good reason to run. (I know its illogical but better than an answer and telling me NOT to run).

4. I got the Condura race kit. I super liked the Philippine Star race edition and knew how much I wanted to do this race. So I decided to run it but still had reservations. Worst case scenario was I would quit early in the race, ride the ambulance to finish line and be a DNF record. But at least I tried and tested myself. I got motivated by the race kit and hope that willpower is enough for me to finish this race.


No hitch getting to race start. We were there by 3:40am and met a lot of friends. Saw some people who are doing their first full marathon. The first question they asked were, "But I thought you were injured?" (Yes I am). A variation of this question was repeated during the day. Janine would ask "How's your foot?" (Not good). Bullrunner would say "Aren't you injured?" (Yes). Jay N would ask "How are you doing?" (Okay).


Pray! Pray! Pray!

At the start of the race I prayed to God with the Lord's Prayer. I prayed to Mary. I praised God. I asked for strength. I ran for Him.

We (42.2km runners) ran in Fort Bonifacio first heading to the dreadful Lawton. Some slight heel pain but tolerable. I prayed again for strength. I saw the fast runners disappear. I got a pat from Vener, I ran side by side with Janine before she too went ahead of me. I saw Chito whom I met in Cebu Marathon. He also went ahead of me. I took it slow, promising to do it at an easy comfortable pace so I won't get the heel pain yet. So, I ran at 7 min/km pace. Coach friend Alvin came later and surprised to see me running. Same with Jay. Both were late for the race but quickly caught up with the fast runners.

We left Fort Bonifacio and I thanked God for achieving this part of the race. I prayed to conquer Buendia. I know I had to do my part too in this race so I took GU every hour, took water at most of the water stations and did some walking bits. But I knew I couldn't do this by myself so I continued talking to God.

"We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight" - 2 Corinthians 5:7

In this case, I was running by faith and not by sight. I was running not because I was strong or ready. I was actually weak from injury and from too much running. But I had faith that God would protect and take care of me and would give me a sign if I needed to quit. But that sign never came.

So I continued talking to God. It was my quiet time with Him. With all the distractions these days, it is nice spending the next 5 hours of my life talking to Him.

I thanked Him for getting me out of Buendia. I thanked Him for making me reach Skyway. I thanked Him for making me see the sunrise on top of the Skyway. I thanked Him for reaching 18km, 21km (halfway mark), 25km mark, 30km mark and I thanked Him for conquering Skyway.

My heel was still okay!!!

I praised Him, I asked for humility, forgiveness, strengths. I reach Fort Bonifacio. The heat was on and I was getting burned from it. But I continue running because I realize that I am not running for myself anymore but for His Glory.

I crossed the finish line at a time of 5:13:16 (pace of 7:28). It was the first time I crossed the finish line with a BIG SMILE on my face. Now you know why!

I beat my goal of a new Philippine PR time. I beat my goal of going under 5:30 and of going under 5:15. What a day!

Big thanks to my wife too who, although did not agree with my decision with regards to doing this race, supported me until the finish line.

Thanks to Conception brothers for doing a super cool race. This will forever be etched in my memory (especially the roller coaster road of Skyway) and I was glad to be a part of your first full marathon event!

The 42.2km came and went by quickly. I realized how much I enjoyed talking to God that everything else were zoned out of my mind. It was good talking to Him again and if it means doing a marathon to do it, then so be it.... but not this soon yet. I will do my rest, relaxation and recovery first.


A new marathon addict! 2nd marathon in less than a month!

Skyway, You were Conquered. That hill was nothing compared to the power of God.

Coach friend doing 60km that day! The man with so much energy!

The supportive wife and a 10km finisher. Wear that bling bling!

PS Xray finding show very small bone spur. No need for any surgery. PHEW!