Monday, December 14, 2009

(Un)Happy Holidays!


It has been almost 12 days since my last run -- a 10.83 km training run along my usual BHS-Lawton Ave.-McKinley Hill route. I played some pick-up basketball games two days after that, and I woke up the following day with a swollen and puffy right knee. I found this really strange -- and totally unexpected -- because I could not recall ever hurting my knee during any of the three games I played in.

I have reluctantly stayed off the road since then. The rest seems to be helping, as the swelling on my knee has somehow subsided. Last Saturday, I attempted an easy 5k run on a flat course to test the creaky joint. I was forced to abort my run after doing only a little over half a kilometer because I could not push off my right knee. Each time I pushed off it, I felt a mild sharp pain on the right portion above the kneecap. I then decided that the prudent thing to do would be to stop running and give my knee the rest that it probably needs.

For the past few weeks now, I have been training for what I hope would be my first full mary -- the 2010 Condura Run. This injury is definitely a setback that forces me to rethink my plans and, quite possibly, postpone doing my first full marathon. I am scheduled to run the Philstar Christmas Celebrity Run 21k on the 20th (and do an extra 8 kms after that to complete 29k), and even that is in serious jeopardy. It's very likely that I'll be laying off running for the rest of the year to allow my knee to heal properly.

The goal for now is simply to return to perfect health and be ready for the endless running and racing that awaits me in 2010 and beyond. In the meantime, posting blogs such as this one is probably the closest I can get to getting that runner's high.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Running in the City of Dreams

I got back just a few days ago from a week-long vacation in Hong Kong with wifey and some very good friends. We organized this little junket back in May, and the agenda for this trip was to simply let go -- eat, drink, shop, and be merry. The stage was set, and the cast was absolutely perfect.

THE HK GANG TAKES MACAU: Me, Apit Chang, Wifey, Migs Galvez, Alvin Lee, Roy Pineda,
Macy Yambao-Galvez, Nikki Cabilao-Chang, PJ Pilares, Fats Regalado.

Among my purchases during the trip was one complete set of running gear -- an Adidas running top, Adidas running shorts, NikePro compression top, and my third pair of running shoes, the Adidas Optiq. I bought these at the Adidas and Nike outlet stores in Tung Chung.

Our trip included an overnight stay in Macau. We spent the night at the Venetian, which was located right in the middle of the City of Dreams at Macau’s Cotai District. The immediate vicinity of the Venetian reminded me of Bonifacio Global City. Only, the City of Dreams is about five times nicer. Well-paved streets, very little traffic, wonderful scenery, and the chilly late-November climate. The perfect backdrop for – what else? – a run! It was the perfect opportunity for me to break-in my new kicks and run for the first time ever in a foreign land.

Two of my buddies were supposed to join me on the road: Alvin “Maximus” Lee – a non-runner ultra gym rat, and "Party Boy" PJ Pilares – a freshly-minted running enthusiast.

"Party Boy" PJ doing his thing in Lan Kwai Fong

Alvin "Maximus" Lee showing some skin -- and lots of fur! -- at below zero degrees
in Balalaika Russian Bar

Unfortunately, Party Boy PJ backed out because he ended up drinking the night away at the Venetian casino ‘til the wee hours of the morning. Alvin, on the other hand, lasted one lap and had to pull out of the run because he had, shall we say, an “accident.”

While my friends whiled the night away at the Venetian’s legendary casino, I went to bed early (if you can call 2 a.m. early) in preparation for my run. By 8:30 a.m. the next morning, I was all geared up and feasting on a breakfast of cavendish bananas, some bread, and Gatorade. At exactly 9 a.m., I was already doing my pre-run stretching routine in Macau’s cool morning breeze. Fifteen minutes later, I was off. There were two other runners who were plying that route, and one of them looked Filipino. We acknowledged each other the first time we crossed paths – a cordial display of good running etiquette.

I was not really sure how far I could go because I had been runless for the past five days. I told myself that I’d play it by ear and just listen to my body. Surprisingly, I felt strong all throughout my run and ended up doing five laps around the Venetian – Four Seasons complex. One lap was approximately three kilometers, so I ended up doing 15k in 1:33. The Adidas Optiq passed with flying colors. I never felt any pain or discomfort, and they gave me a well-cushioned and bouncy ride. It felt as though I ran in my Nike Lunarglides. Definitely GREAT value for money – I got them for only HK$325 (approximately PhP2,000.).

I finished my 15k run alone. As I pounded the streets of the City of Dreams, I took some souvenir pics of my route. I’ve posted some of them below. Pardon the poor quality. I took these myself while I was running.

To this day, I still regret ditching the UNICEF Run in Hong Kong. However, my 15k training run in Macau was a priceless consolation prize. It may not have been an organized race, but it still is my first-ever run on foreign soil, and is one of my running "firsts" that I will never ever forget.