Monday, February 12, 2018

2018 New Balance Power Run 25km

After skipping 2017 for its Power Run edition, New Balance is back again this year stronger than ever.  There are multiple race categories for this race - from 8km to 16km and ending with its popular distance of 25km.  It also included its other race of 5km (+1km) for this event as well.

For its past editions, the starting line was usually situated at Bonifacio Global City (BGC).  For this year, they decided to make it different by moving the starting line to McKinley West.  As I am not familiar with the parking area here and worried that it might be a problem for us, I decided that we leave the house earlier than usual.  Doing so turned out to be a good decision as I was able to find a parking almost immediately on the road.  Should we arrived a little later, this place would be filled already.  Our parking was conveniently located near the starting line and it was free!  Only worry Alvin had (which became my worry) was if there would be any break ins as no security here.  But I figured that with a 4:00am gun start, we should be able to finish quickly as well (before any thieves were awake).

Having come off Hong Kong Marathon, I didn't feel like racing and just wanted to take it easy.  But knew that I also had to be prepared for it distance wise and not just take it for granted.  25km is still a long race and a daunting task especially to one who underestimates it.  So for my training runs, I would run two 10km during the week, preferably at 7:30 pace and the weekend prior to this, I logged in a 20km run via the treadmill.  This should be enough to help me survive  this year's Power Run, survive at least till the finish line.

My target for this race was at worst a 7:30 minute pace, which was what my pace was for the training runs.  But it was a hilly route so I wasn't that sure on how well I would perform come race day.

New 25km route
 This race was definitely one of the hilliest ones I have ran in the Philippines!  The only part that was relatively flat was after Kalayaan Bridge and along Buendia Avenue.  It was here that I spotted some celebrities running the same distance that I was - Kim Atienza and Anne Curtis.

As Buendia Ave was the only flat place in the race, it was here that I sped a little faster knowing that later on, I had to slow down again once I get back to Kalayaan Bridge.

My back and shoulders were sore but legs were still strong so I kept running, just wanting this race to end.  I was envious of the 16km runners and silently wishing I had joined that race category instead.

I kept going, counting down the distance to the finish line and now having a target runner for me to keep going - none other than Anne Curtis, whom I felt was slowing down as our distances were getting nearer.

I finally saw her back in BGC, and overtook her there.  It was about 23km into the race and an uphill climb again going to Bayani Road.  I didn't want to slow down for fear she might catch up to me.  And went faster instead.  This was hard, but I knew that pain would soon end and I could finally stop running and sit down.

A right turn to McKinley West was made and it was a downhill one to the finish line!  Thank God for that.  I saw John shout my name, then Alvin who seemed happy near the finish line.  I sped the last 200 meters, overtaking another runner as I crossed the finish line!

Final time of 2:57:00 with pace of 6:58!  Wow!  Thank YOU LORD for this.  Truly unexpected!

A few minutes later, Anne crossed finish line with a lot of people bringing out their cellphones and doing selfies with her.

Cindy crossed finish line too afterwards, quite happy as this was her farthest distance and she didn't burn out!

Happy 25km finishers
 No more loot bag at finish line, just the finisher medal.  So that felt a little anti-climatic although they did have a really nice shirt that we got upon registration.

Celebration afterwards at Mcdonalds BGC (our usual post race breakfast place) where my wife also came over to join us to eat.

Thank YOU JESUS for everything! 

Note:  I had two GU gels for this race, and one banana plus water and Pocari Sweat throughout the race.  One toilet break as well.  Lord's prayers were made every time I reach another kilometer which has become a standard to my long races.

Weather was a little humid at the beginning as well and I started to sweat a lot.  But it became cooler as the day progressed.  Witnessed a very nice sunrise on top of Kalayaan Bridge and a lot of runners took out their cellphones to take pictures of it.

Races are now over for the first quarter of 2018.  Will see when the next one will be!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Virtual Races in the Philippines !

Aside from the regular road races, there is also a virtual race and it has now hit the Philippines as well. 

For a virtual race, it would essentially mean logging your running miles whenever you run and uploading it at their website.  So you could be running in the gym, out on the roads, on the mountains and all of these would count as long as they would fall within the validity dates of the rules and regulations of the virtual race.

Garmin actually had its own virtual challenges and I would run against fellow running friends in the hopes of getting in the most distance within that time period.  It serves as a motivational tool for our marathon training and it makes us aware if we start to slack and other runners keep adding miles.  There are no prizes at the end of these challenges, only bragging rights from the winner.

For the Paris Marathon 2017, they also had their own running App where there were a series of challenges in it to encourage you to keep running for your marathon training.  This can be a series of 10km tasks that needed to be accomplished within a week's time, or it can be a required one 25km distance that needed to be done over the weekend.  Once done, you will get a virtual badge from the App.  Once a certain number of badges were completed, it would unlock new levels and new challenges.  For anyone who completes all badges, they get a chance to win one pair of Asics running shoes, which can be claimed during the Marathon Expo. 

So there are a lot of ways for these virtual challenges and races.  Recently via my Facebook feed, I stumbled on two virtual races in the Philippines.  The premise for both are quite similar:  get a total distance done for the entire month of January and if you do, you will get a finisher shirt and medal. 

Total distances to conquer  for the month ranges from 25km to that of 200km.  The loot is the same regardless of the distance but the shirt and medal would display the distance you joined so the higher the distance, the higher the bragging right provided of course that you reach it before January 31st.

As I had a full marathon race in January and a half marathon race also in January, I would be able to lock in 63km already from these two races.  It would also be a consolation prize for me should something happen to me and I won't be able to finish the Hong Kong marathon within the cut-off time.  So I joined for two races, one from and the other from Go Run Sketchers.

Both cost about the same of Php 950 to Php 1,000, which can easily be paid via bank deposits and uploading the deposit slips to their respective websites as proof of payment.  Runs made during the month will be uploaded in the same websites by taking a picture of it using your phones, and each run will be verified by the site's moderator and added to your total miles. 

So I have been running and logging in miles, and uploading them almost immediately to the websites as a sign of my accomplishments.  I finished the PSE Half Marathon and logged that in.  By God's grace, I also finished the Hong Kong Marathon and logged that in too.  And I kept running still.  I kept uploading screen shots of my runs and pretty soon I exceeded my target goals of 100km for the month. 

I had hoped they would have a 150km challenge but there was only a 200km after the 100km and I wasn't that confident that I could accomplish that.

At the end of the challenges, I have logged in about 175km for the month and almost immediately, I received the finisher kits from the mail:

Sketchers Go Run 100km Virtual Race 100km Virtual Race

No problems encountered with delivery of finishers kit (and kids had a blast trying to guess what was in the packages).  Shirts were of nice material and medals were pretty too.  So because of the HK Marathon, I ended up with three medals instead of one!  Ha Ha!

Good motivation tool as well to keep running.  Will definitely join future virtual races.  Maybe the 200km would be more challenging next time!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Hong Kong Marathon 2018

Third time to run this race and all three are for the Full Marathon distance!  What is wrong with me?!

But since I already booked tickets and hotel for the same dates for this race, why not make the most out of this trip?  It was the first time I joined any race via the charity entry, as didn't get in via the normal lottery entry.  Fee was more expensive at HKD 1,500 but they are all for good causes, and still a lot cheaper vs other Charity entry International Marathons (with minimum amount to collect from USD 2,000 - 5,000).

Nice medallion included in race pack!

Out of the three HK Marathons I have done, this will be the first time that I will be staying in Causeway Bay (Regal Hotel), which is where the finish line is located (Victoria Park).  For the other two Marathons I have done, our hotel of choice had always been Benito Hotel as it was near the Starting Line.

This was also my first Marathon outside the Philippines where I didn't have Per with me for this race, so it was kinda different this time around.

But Alvin and first timer John also got into this race (via the normal method of registering) so at least I had some company going to the starting line.  We were all checked in at the same hotel and on race day Sunday, we all met at the lobby around 5:45am to head to Tsim Sha Tsui via the MTR.  We all opted not to leave anything at the baggage counters and just had with us some cash (for Alvin at least), subway cards with enough load, and hotel room key cards.  As weather was cold early in the morning, both Alvin and I were wearing some fashionable garbage bags.  Haha!

Going to the starting line was quite easy and we were there by 6:20am, still quite early for the 7:00am gun start!  Bathroom is an issue due to the big crowds that day but we were able to manage it (via key card from nearby hotel).  Did some stretching before we all walked together to the starting line.

Race incline posted at Nike store, Causeway Bay

The route for this race was the same as that of last year.  I paid attention to the steep hills again.  First 19km should be taken slow as it was a climb most of the way, then just go faster (if possible) on second half.  There will be bridges and tunnels again just like in the previous years.

Getting ready for the race!
Weather was a little warmer at 16 -20 degrees vs the one I ran last year at just 7-8 degrees.  But weather was still nice and a lot colder than in the Philippines.

My weapon for this race are 6 GU gels, 8 salt tablets and Kinesio tape on my back (both upper and lower) and both knees.  (I ended up using 4 GU gels and 6 salt tablets by alternating them at the water stations).

For this race, I also took three bananas for fear of conking out.  My breakfast was lighter vs before as had only two slices of bread with peanut butter (vs three slices last year) and an UCC instant cold coffee, which I bought at 7-11 store the day before.

I also stopped for two toilet breaks during the race- one at Mcdonalds before 4km and along Nathan Road, and the second time at the halfway mark via one of the few portalets they had on the course that didn't have any lines on it.

Here are some of the shots taken on the route courtesy of John, who was doing his first full marathon:

There were some problems for me during this race - at 10km the Kinesio tape on my left knee unraveled so I kinda panicked that it was coming off.  I decided to just leave it hanging there like a half torn band-aid as figured at least some small part of the knee was still being protected!  Haha!

And my right foot was in pain as well at 15km.  That was too early!  And I had to do toe bends while running and land on my right foot differently.  When pain was gone, I would go back to my normal landing.

Shoulders were also tight but didn't pose that much of a problem for me.  I just had to loosen my arms and neck from time to time.

My initial goal for this race was just to finish it.  Haha!  But then they had a Progressive Award certificate given to runners who can beat their previous time record.  So that kinda drew me in and gave me a target - to beat my 2017 HK Marathon time!

Last year, my pace was at 7:31 average pace with a total time of 5:16:56.  So I should try for a below 7:30 pace and total time of below 5:16 to get this certificate.

My pace and time for the first half was quite good for this target at 7:33 average and time of around 2:41.   Given it was the hard part of this race and average pace wasn't that far from my target of 7:30, I was quite optimistic for it.

But it was hard maintaining a lower pace and then keeping it for the second half.  I kept praying throughout the race and hoped for a safe finish, never mind the goal.

Luckily through answered prayers, the sun never came out!  And I was happy for that.

Finally after more than 5 hours of running, I was near Causeway Bay area.  I looked at my pace and it was hovering at 7:30 pace but time wasn't enough to make it to below 5:16.  I kept looking at my Garmin as the time slowly moved towards 5:16, and I was no way near finish line.  I was exhausted, tired and drained and just wanted to sit down somewhere and rest.

As Per didn't join for me in my HK trip, I didn't expect to see anyone near the finish line.  But amazingly someone was jumping up and down and screaming my name!  It was my sister with her husband and daughter and they were all cheering for me.  Wow, that was awesome.  It gave me a big smile as I waved to them, forever thankful that they were there cheering and smiling at me.

It was just 1km to go or less but my Garmin had surpassed the 5:16 mark!  Oh well, I won't let this one thing ruin my race.  Given the boost in morale from seeing my sister, I ran faster all the way to the finish line and finally crossed it!

My final time was at 5:18:20 with an average pace of 7:29.  I have achieved target pace!  But unfortunately due to the bathroom break at Mcdonald's my total distance was longer from last year and I didn't beat last year's time!

I cried a bit after crossing finish line as I was emotionally drained and was just so happy to have finally finished the race.  It took everything from me but I was glad that I crossed the finish line with a good time.


I met Alvin at the finish line who said that he won't run this race again as it was just too hard!  Haha!

We went back to our hotel nearby to await for John to finish his race, and finish he did.

After a quick rest and shower, we all celebrated at Delicious Kitchen followed by a visit to Nike Store.

the coveted finisher medal!

all happy now that race is over (and eating our two meals each!)

The next day, with my legs still quite sore, I went back to the Nike Store in Causeway Bay and got the finisher shirt there.  Nice thing about this shirt is that it comes with a bag and you can put your gun time on both shirt and bag with a marker that also comes with the price.

What a nice souvenir of the race!

Thank YOU LORD for YOUR strength!  Thank YOU family and friends for your prayers! :)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


This race is starting to turn into an annual thing! 

Usually the first race of the year, it can be used to measure your fitness level at that point in time and since it's the first race, you are garnered the best time record for the new year, as long as you finish the race within the cut off time.

Having Runrio be its organizer adds credit to the race in that you know you will be taken care of here in terms of marshals, sufficient water stations and other logistics with regards to the race.

As with the race of 2017, the route is the same, which is to say it is not easy.  There are a lot of hills here from the start all the way to the finish line.  From Kalayaan Bridge, which you have to do two times as the route makes a U Turn on Buendia Avenue, you proceed to the next hilly part which is the Lawton Avenue and Bayani Road segment of the race.  To make this part even more difficult, you pass by the short but steep McKinley West.    Second and final U Turn made on Bayani Road for another hilly climb back to Bonifacio Global City.  And even here there were some inclines as well. 

Hilly route

So it's not really a fast race but our group was able to achieve all their goals here.  Lots of PRs made and everyone finished their 21km with a big smile on their faces!

21km runners before gun start

The loot bag is pretty awesome this year.  We even got a popcorn pillow from it.  For a fee of Php 950 for a half marathon and having it in BGC is just a good and affordable race for me.

My goal for this race is try to go sub 2:30.  That's it.  More of how I feel during the race as did only one work out for the week which was an easy 6km the day before at they gym so I wasn't that confident joining this race.  Hopefully on a worst case basis, I could still make it for the 3 hour race cut off time for the Half Marathon.

But God was there with me, and I happily crossed the finish time at a time of 2:23:00.  Praise be to GOD!

One final race before I fly out to Hong Kong on Thursday for the Marathon (my third time to run this course).  To God be all the glory!

Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 First Quarter Races

There are a lot of races I signed up for first Quarter 2018.

First of course would be the PSE BULL RUN 2018.  This will be held this Sunday at BGC, which is a place that seldom have race events so when they do have one, I try to grab the chance and join it.  I have been running PSE Bull Run for some years now and enjoyed it as first race of the year.  Route is usually the same as it goes up Kalayaan Bridge and heads out to Bayani Road and Lawton Avenue.  Obviously not a flat race but gives indication on ones fitness levels especially on the hills.

They would also have a 25km Race category but because of the bigger price difference for it vs the half marathon, it just doesn't justify me joining it so it is back to the 21km race for me.  This should be a well managed race as organizer is RunRio Inc.

My Second race for the year would be one of the hardest for this year as it is a full marathon.  Held in Hong Kong (on January 21st) as will be there at the same time event is to be held.  I wasn't lucky enough to get in via the lottery process but with Alvin's help (and his aunt), I got in via the charity category.  I shall be running the full marathon after just doing it in 2017.  Quite excited for it because the weather and the view had always been nice here.  Only difference now for me is that I will be staying near the Finish Line instead of the Starting Line so that's something I had to prepare for early in the morning.

Hopefully weather will be as nice as the one we had in 2017 for it.

Then there is the 7-11 Race (Feb 04, 2018):

Another hilly race!  This time on the SKYWAY!  I also did this in 2017 as the last race before HK Marathon.  With the moving of the HK Marathon to an earlier date for 2018, this race becomes the race AFTER HK marathon and my third race for the year. 

As legs should still be tired from running (and hopefully finishing) HK Marathon, this will be more of a relaxed and enjoy the scenery kind of race.  But as it is two weeks after HK Marathon, maybe legs will be strong by that time as well.  Let's see!

Fourth race registered is the New Balance Power Run 25km on Feb 11th. 

This one I just registered for yesterday at New Balance Glorietta.  The shirt is really nice and reminded me of the shirts in one of the earlier editions of Nike Run Manila.  Unfortunately, it won't be an easy race again and will once again be hilly as venue will be held at McKinley West, Taguig.

No information yet on the route of this race but thinking it goes to BGC and Bayani Avenue.

In between all these hard (as all hilly and at least 21km distanced ones) is this LITTLE (Pony) one:

This was postponed last year as it rained the night before and it became dangerous to push through as mostly kids joining it.  I shall be doing this with my two daughters for a distance of 1km.  It should be a fun race for them!

So a total of five races for just the first two months of 2018 and all at different venues (BGC, Hong Kong, Alabang Skyway, McKinley West, Mall of Asia).  Hopefully I can join more races this year and be injury free.

Thank YOU LORD for all these opportunities.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2017 Good Evening Taipei Race 21.3km

When we booked our Christmas trip to Taipei, I didn't think to look for any road races held in the city and figured I would just do multiple loops around Da'an Park or just run on my own in the city.  Just my luck that I visited the blog of fellow runner Roelle ( and read that he is registered for a race in Taipei!  What?  There is a race?  I quickly looked into it as race date would be while we were still in Taiwan!  PERFECT!

Unfortunately, everything in that website was in Chinese!  I had to google translate everything just to be able to understand it.  And somehow got through the registration process for the 21.3km distanced category.  No idea why it was 100 meters longer than the standard half marathon but at least my long run in Taiwan was solved.

This was my first race in Taipei and it was one of the few night races that I have done in my lifetime (Singapore Sundown Marathon, Kenny Rogers Night Run, Outbreak 5km, and Energizer Night Race were some of the others).  There is a certain appeal to running at night or late afternoon.  You won't be hungry as you had breakfast and lunch.  You will be well rested as you don't have to wake up early for it.  Sometimes it is also cooler in the late afternoon than it is in the early mornings.  And the city lights add to the attraction to it.

Once I got in, I tried to register Per for the 8km as well but unfortunately it was sold out.  She did agree to accompany me to the race and wait for me to finish.  She had her IPAD and earphones ready with her so she can catch up on some of her TV shows.  The whole time we were assuming there would be coffee shops or restaurants near the area.  When we finally got to the race site (via a subway ride and then a bus ride from the organizers), place was devoid of any establishments or shelter!  Worst of all were the strong winds that day and Per had difficulty because of the cold.  I lent her my  bubble jacket as an added layer to help keep her warmer.

I hadn't ran fast for some time so figured I could do a 2:45 for this race at best but Per pleaded for me to finish below 2:30 as she was having a hard time with the wind and low air temperature.  Haha! So it was time for me to race this and see how well (or poorly) I do.

Our race started on time at 4:30pm and saw Roelle (or more correctly, he saw me) five minutes before gun start.  It was nice to see a familiar face in this race!

The race route was one big loop along the riverside.  I initially wanted to pace myself and run at 7 minute pace but the Taiwan runners were fast.  No one was slowing down and all were running at a constant pace.  I followed their pace and at the same time, remembered Per for me to finish this race as quickly as possible.

race map based on my Garmin

Only worry I had were my tight legs from all that walking in Taipei (as visited Taipei zoo with kids and did a lot of other touristy stuff here).  But tight legs loosened so I was able to maintain a below 7 minute pace.  Cold weather had me looking for a portalet and luckily found an unoccupied one under a bridge.  Cold weather helped too as didn't feel tired and kept me going at a good pace.

Had 3 Gu gels with me but ended up taking one only at halfway mark along with half a banana.  They also had sports drink at the water stations.

At 13km I decided to go faster a notch.  Yup I know, kinda too early for that!  Haha!  It should be at last 5km.  But figured it was time to go big or go home.  So I ran faster but cautiously anticipating hitting the wall at some point.  Then it was 3km to go.  No wall arrived thank GOD!  Then the finish line!  Praise God!

My garmin time was at 2:23:05 with pace at 6:38 for this race.  Quite happy with it as didn't expect it and wasn't as winded as I expected to be.  Spotted Per at the finish line and she assisted me on what to do next - get the loot bag, return the chip timer for NT 100 refund, and even get the certificate which they printed on the spot!  How's that for efficiency?!

loot at finish line.  Loved the medal and certificate!

Saw Roelle again and had a quick chat before Per and I headed back to the bus area all the while eating the two jumbo siopao given to me as part of the loot bag!

Pinoy pride!  21.3km (or 21.6km) conquered!

Thank YOU God for the year-ender race and for keeping me safe and injury free.  Thank YOU for this good race.  Thanks Roelle, if not for your blog, I wouldn't know about this event and thanks Per for waiting for me in the cold cold weather!  At least I made it sub 2:30 because of you! Haha!

Post note:  Before heading back to Manila, I did one super slow 10km in Taipei on New Year's Day that lead me to Taipei 101.  Pace at 7:55 per km with lots of stops and sitting down, a far cry from my pace in this race. Haha!

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone and here's to a healthier 2018!