Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Plan B: The "2010 Tsim Sha Tsui Oceanview Run"

I'll be in Hong Kong over the weekend for a little R&R with wifey and my mom.  Of course, I plan to squeeze in at least one easy run while I'm there.  Thanks to, I was able to find a neat running route near the hotel where we'll be staying.  The route author calls it the "Tsim Sha Tsui Oceanview Course," and the highlight of the route is the stretch traversing the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade.  It's a very short run, only 6.9k. If our schedule would permit, I will stretch the route to cover the Avenue of Stars, HK's version of Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Hopefully, I can get the route up to my usual 10k training distance.  I plan to run at a very easy 6:30-7:30 mpk pace because I'll be having my trusty point-and-shoot camera with me.  I expect it to be a chilly run as well -- according to Yahoo! Weather, the temperature during our four-day stay in HK will range from a cool 19 to 22°C.  Good luck warming up! I'll probably have to run in my tights.

Here's the route map, taken from

Click picture for a larger view.

I'll do my run on Saturday because, on Sunday, 28 February, I hope to catch a glimpse of the start line of the 2010 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon.  I plan to do the SCHKM next year.  For now, I'll only be a mere spectator, and I'll have to console myself by doing my very own one-man "2010 Tsim Sha Tsui Oceanview Run."  Definitely not a bad consolation prize.  Coincidentally, the starting point of my run will be within the vicinity of the start line for the SCHKM.

I'll post pictures of my Oceanview Run and the SCHKM when I get back.  Man, it's going to be a great trip!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Strong Finish at the Run of the Century


It's amazing what a single marathon finish can do for an average recreational runner's confidence. Still stoked from my recent Condura marathon experience, I came into the Century Tuna Superbods Run unusually confident that I could improve on my dismal 2:31 finish at my last half-mary, the 2009 Timex Run. As it turned out, confidence bred determination, determination spawned effort, and the result was my strongest showing to date in a road race.

I crashed and burned in my two previous stabs at a half-marathon. During my first half-marathon at SIM 2009, I think I was way too tense and cautious, and I ended up with a mediocre 2:23 finish.  At Timex 2009, I was totally unprepared, both physically and mentally.  I bore these shortcomings in mind, and, aided by the new-found confidence I gained from my recent conquest of the Skyway, I approached the Century half-mary with every intention of setting a personal best.

One thing I had for this race that I never had during any of my previous half-marys was a clear plan, a technique.  In my previous 21k runs, I did my best to avoid walk breaks and resisted stopping at hydration stations for fear of losing precious time -- only to falter miserably at the homestretch due to debilitating fatigue and dehydration.  Consequently, as I trained for Condura, I finally conceded that my physical limitations would never allow me to finish strong on a 21k run without taking walk breaks.  I also learned that, for long distances, observing a good hydration plan is key. And so, I resolved to do the Century 21k Galloway-style with a 6:1 run-walk ratio, and to make it a point to make a pit stop at every single hydration station along the route.

The plan worked to perfection.  It took a lot of EQ to stop for walk breaks at the start of the run and allow sprinting newbie runners in basketball shorts and high-cut sneakers to smugly pass me by.  It also didn't help that I positioned myself somewhere towards the tail-end of the 21k pack at the start line. However, I knew I was doing the right thing when, beginning at Km. 13, I started overtaking a lot of the runners that passed me early on.  I also noticed that I was still sweating profusely up until I crossed the finish line  - a good sign that I had remained well-hydrated.  Because I was still feeling great as I entered the homestretch, I decided to take my last walk-break and  have my last water stop somewhere in Km. 19.  I still had a lot left in the tank, so I decided to do a light sprint for the last two kilometers.  For the first time ever in a 21k run, I finished strong.  According to my 305, I completed the Century Tuna half-mary in 2:13:45, with an average pace of 6:22 min/k - by far a new 21k PR that bests my previous one by over 9 minutes.  My chip time, on the other hand, was 2:14:38.  This indeed, by my modest recreational standards, was a special run.

They gave me a medal for waking up early on a Sunday. :)

With my friend Javi Gonzalez - my running mate for BDM 2011!

Next up for me is another half-marathon - the Unilab Run 21k - and my goal for that one would be a sub-2:10 finish.  I am optimistic that all my experiences during my last two races would serve me in good stead, and, hopefully, yield yet another special Sunday.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

Better make that a "running" stone.

It's shaping up to be a very busy (and expensive!) racing year for me.  Just last week, I completed my first full marathon, the 2010 Condura Skyway Marathon.

Next Sunday, 21 February, I'll be running my third half-marathon - the Century Tuna Superbods Run 21k. This race will be special because wifey will also be running her very first road race.  She'll be doing 5k with our friends PJ and Fats Pilares.

On 7 March, I'll be doing another half-mary at the Unilab Run United for Wellness 21k.  I've already registered for this run.

After the Unilab Run, I'll be doing yet another half-mary at the 2010 Globe Run for Home on 21 March.  I will register for this run later today.

Next will be my first-ever Mizuno Infinity Run on 11 April.  I'll be doing the 15k time trials. I've also registered for this event already.

Later in the year, I also hope to join the second and third legs of the RunRio Trilogy (21k and 32k, respectively), the Anniversary Run, the New Balance Premiere Run 25k, and maybe another local marathon.  Adidas KOTR 2010 will also be in the mix, and maybe even the second staging of the Kenny Rogers Urbanite Run. Finally, I hope to end the year right by doing another full at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon in December (I hope I get a slot!).

And by 2011, who knows? I might finally summon enough guts to give ultrarunning a try.  Baldrunner's 2011 BDM 102 is the plan goal. 

With so many great races lined-up for this year and beyond, these are indeed exciting times for me and for the Philippine running community as a whole.  The sport is experiencing unprecedented growth as more and more people are beginning to advocate a healthier lifestyle. Corporate sponsors are feeding off the momentum and are themselves giving the sport an added boost.  Ultimately, however, this "thing" will only go as far as we runners are willing to take it. Here's hoping that this is only the start of bigger things to come, and that even better days are just around the next kilometer post.

See you on the road. Stay strong, be safe!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

GOING THE DISTANCE: Some Highlights From My Condura Marathon Weekend

I won't bore you with some long-winded story of how I prepared for my first marathon. By now, I’m sure you already know the routine --- months of training, mileage build-up, long runs, proper nutrition and hydration, the works.

I’ve also realized that I don’t really feel like writing about every little thing that went on during the five hours and forty-two minutes (my official finish time was 5:42: 37) that it took me to traverse Condura’s signature marathon route. Instead, I’ll just rattle off what I consider to be noteworthy tidbits:

+ I patiently stuck to the Galloway run-walk method until Km. 31. After that, I had to abandon the 5:1 run-walk ratio (i.e., five-minute run intervals followed by one-minute walk breaks) because my left calf, my right thigh, and even my shoulders started cramping up.  I would never have finished the marathon within the cut-off time had it not been for the Galloway method.

+ Condura Hill was a sight to behold, and, from a distance, looked quite intimidating. I thought Skyway was a cinch until I caught sight of the Hill, and all I could mutter (out loud, and not just to myself) as I approached it was a very emphatic “p_ t _ng i _ a.” It was, hands-down, the most challenging part of the 42k route, and made the Kalayaan Flyover feel like a walk in the park.

+ I was well-hydrated throughout my run, and I knew this because I was sweating until the end and my urine remained clear. The Condura hydration plan was executed well, except for that long stretch on Condura Hill when there was not a single hydration station in sight. Since I decided to run without my trusty Nathan hydration belt, I was forced to delay my intake of GU energy gel until I caught sight of the next hydration station.

+ The last three kilometers of the run were by far the longest three kilometers I’ve ever ran, and, under the sweltering heat of the 9 a.m. sun, it seemed to go on forever.  The sight of the finish line was like an oasis in the middle of an arid desert.

+ Throughout the run, I consumed a total of seven chocolate-flavored GU energy gels, two Energy Bars, one Gatorade Tiger, one cavendish banana, three-fourths of a bottle of 100 Plus, and God knows how many cups of water. Apparently, my in-race hydration and nutrition strategy worked. I never felt weak, famished, or dehydrated. What did me in was cramps on both legs (and even on my shoulders!), which I suppose can be attributed to a lack of mileage prior to the marathon.

+ As I crossed the finish line and caught a glimpse of wifey waiting for me at the sideline, my eyes swelled with tears (BUT I did not cry). It was really strange. I had read in the blogs of other runners that a lot of them cried after they crossed the finish line during their first marathon. I swear to God, I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. Again, good thing I was wearing shades.

+ I finally met and/or greeted a number of runners whom I had previously met only in the local running blogosphere.

+ I finished the marathon injury-free, and well within the cut-off time of six hours.

+ I had a great post-race meal at Café Juanita together with wifey, my niece Jym, and my nephew Jap.

In addition to these, what made my marathon weekend a great experience was my observation that, during races, even in the heat of competition, runners actually look out for each other. This just about sums up what I've come to love about the sport of running. You see, I’ve always believed that, in the final analysis, a runner competes only against time, the course, and himself. It's the only sport where one can finish dead last in a field of a thousand runners, and, with firm conviction, still consider himself a winner. And, because a runner does not have to beat anybody in order to be considered victorious, running possesses the unique and transformative power to bring out the best in runners. I've held on to this little "theory" of mine for quite some time now but have not witnessed this for myself until last Sunday at the Condura Skyway Marathon.

And lastly, let me say this: The son did not forget, and the son did not fail.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snapshots from My Marathon Weekend

No longer a virgin! : )

My first-ever marathon finish is an experience that I will never forget. I finished the Condura Skyway Marathon in 5:42:37 (official time), with an average pace of 8:10 k/min.

I'll need a little more time to finish my race account. I hope to have that up really soon. For now, I'll post some more pictures from the big day. Wow, I still can't believe I already have a marathon finish under my belt!
Newly-minted marathoner!

Posing with wifey at the finish line

With wifey at the post-race meal in Cafe Juanita

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Son Never Forgets

Almost eight months ago, my dad was diagnosed as being terminally ill with prostate cancer. As it turned out, the finding had come way too late. At the time of its discovery, the cancer was already in its fourth stage. A bone scan revealed further that the cancer had already metastasized to my dad's bones. Given my dad's advanced age (he's 72) and the fact that the cancer is no longer localized, both surgery and chemotherapy are no longer viable options. We were also told that the time will come when my father will experience unbearable pain, the sort that could be eased only by administering morphine. We asked the doctor how much time we have left with my dad, and he simply told us this: Henceforth, every single day that we get to spend with my dad is already a gift from Above, and we should pray for the Lord to lend us our dad for just a little while longer. Translation? My dad can go anytime.

Almost eight months after we first learned of my dad's condition, he miraculously remains strong. He goes about doing his daily activities, drives himself to work (he's also a lawyer and teaches law subjects to college students), and still takes brisk walks every morning. He feels no pain whatsoever, whether physical or otherwise. His spirit has never wavered, and he soldiers on everyday. If you see him and did not know that he had cancer, you would think that he's in the pink of health.

On Sunday, 7 February 2010, I will pay tribute to my dad's strength and fortitude by running my first-ever full marathon at the 2010 Condura Run for the Dolphins. I will offer my struggles and my triumph on Sunday as a prayer for my dad to continue beating his affliction. My first-ever marathon will be my personal celebration of my dad's life and times, and of my expectation that my dad will keep on amazing us by continuously beating the odds. My DIY race bib will simply read "A.S.N.F." - A Son Never Forgets - borrowed from the movie "Men of Honor" and a reminder of everything that my marathon run will stand for.

On Sunday, 7 February 2010, I know I will run my heart out, cross the finish line, complete the marathon, and earn that finisher's medal. I know these for a fact because, if my dad can beat cancer, I sure as hell can conquer 42.195 kms in six hours or less.