Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Alternate Routes

After my experience at the Condura Skyway Marathon last February - cramps on my left calf and right thigh from Km 31 onwards - I resolved to store more miles in my legs and devote my Sundays to long runs.  Nowadays, I do most of my weekday runs on the tartan track of the ULTRA oval (kinder to the knees), and I head out for the road only on Sundays.  I'm hoping that the mileage build-up (and the speedwork!) will prepare me for the marathons that I plan to join this year, and, ultimately, my first stab at an ultramarathon. 

Fortunately for me, since Condura, a half-mary has been held every other week. 21 February gave us the Century Tuna Run, 7 March had the Unilab Run, and 21 March served up the Globe Run.  Race Sundays are my "problem-free" Sundays - those Sundays when I don't have to worry about where to run.  The tricky part are those days when I'm not signed up for any race.  Unlike before when a few loops around BHS or an easy 10k around Bonifacio Global City would do, I am now constrained to explore other alternative running routes in order to attain my desired distance.  So far, my efforts have yielded two of my better long Sunday runs.

The first was the 20k run I did on 14 March, a week after the Unilab Run.  I started my run in front of Tiendesitas at the Frontera Verde complex.  From there, I proceeded to C-5 and headed for Katipunan Avenue.  My turnaround point was the Manila Water complex near Balara.  On my way back, I decided to take the White Plains-Temple Drive-Ortigas Avenue route, and ended my run right outside the entrance to our village.  The highlight of the run was the stretch inside my old stomping ground - the Ateneo campus - and the trips up and down the Katipunan flyover.  Good thing there were no MMDA boys around, or else I would've been booked for jaywalking hahaha. It was a very challenging run.  The course was filled with uphills, and I wouldn't recommend running on the Katipunan flyover to the faint-hearted.  Including stops at convenience stores for hydration, I finished my 20k run in 2:22:59.  Here's my Pasig-Katipunan-Pasig route:

Check out the details of my run here.

The second run, which I did last Sunday, was somewhat inspired by the Globe route and spanned 25 kms.  I started my run in front of Forbeswood Heights along 3rd Avenue in Bonifacio Global City.  From there, I headed towards McKinley Road.  I then crossed EDSA via the footbridge and went onto Ayala Avenue and all the way to the Makati Med area.  I then "toured" the Legaspi and Salcedo sides of Makati before heading back to BGC again via Ayala and McKinley Road.  From there, I went down Lawton Avenue and headed towards McKinley Hill.  My turnaround point was the C5 Service Road.  On my way back to 3rd Avenue, I made a detour towards the American Cemetery complex.  The highlight of this route was the stretch inside Makati CBD.  It's amazing how the the Makati financial district turns into a runner's haven on Sundays - hardly any cars, well-paved asphalt roads, a convenience store in almost every corner, and that unmistakeable urban feel.  I finished my 25k run in 3:00:20.  My plan was originally to head towards Heritage Park and extend my run to 30k, but I had to cut my run short because wifey and I still had to go grocery shopping.  Here's my BGC-Makati CBD-BGC route:

Details of my run here.

My next race will be on April 11 (Mizuno), and it will only be a 15k run.  Looks like it's time to get busy and explore alternate routes once again - on foot.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Fifteen Seconds

Andy Warhol once said that, in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. Well, I think I finally got my 15 minutes last night. Ok, I never quite got to 15 minutes, but I think I did crack 15 seconds. My 15 seconds of fame.

I was in ULTRA last night for an evening run. While I was doing my cool-down routine, two female runners walked up to me and asked politely: "Sir, 'di ba kayo po yung sa blog na Life is a Highway?"

I was blown away. It was the first time that I had ever been approached by complete strangers who actually had an idea who I was. I didn't know what to say, and the only words that came out of my mouth were "Ah, oo, ako 'yon. Paano niyo naman ako nakilala?" They said they recognized me from the pictures posted in this blog. They also said they like reading running blogs, and that Life is a Highway is one of the blogs they regularly read. I was so flattered (and embarrassed!) that all I came up with was a smile and a very meek "Thank you." The two girls thanked me also, apologized for interrupting my routine, shook my hand, and resumed their run. It was a very humbling (and strange!) experience for me.

To the two runners, I'm sorry I never got your names, but you know who you are. If you happen to read this, thank you. I meant for this blog to simply be a personal journal, and I am flattered that you actually take time to read my ramblings and mundane posts every so often. You didn't have to walk up to me, but you did, and I appreciate the effort. Thank you.

Keep on running, you two!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

There's Always A First Time: Globe Run for Home 2010

I had a great time this morning at the 2010 Globe Run For Home. Except for the arrogant bouncers, the discrepancy between the actual race distance and my 305's reading, and the absence of a 21k finisher's medal, everything about the race lived up to what I've come to expect from a race organized by Finishline and Coach Rio. Interesting route, overflowing hydration, plenty of marshalls, plentiful km markers. World-class. 

No, I did not set a new PR. I had my sights set on a 2:05 finish, but I totally forgot that the route featured a run on the Kalayaan Flyover, a.k.a the PR Buster.  The brutal course and the apparently inaccurate route distance (my 305 showed 21.81kms.) conspired to hand me a 2:14:58 finish. Still  not bad. This actually is my best time for a 21k race that features the flyover.  I also hit the 21k mark at 2:09:58, just 14 seconds behind my official 21k PR of 2:09:44. Check out my splits here. So, it wasn't a total loss after all. Go 6:1 Galloway!

Details of my run from Garmin Connect

The race marked several "firsts" for me. For one, it was my first time to start and finish a race at the Makati CBD.  The atmosphere at the start line along Ayala was great, and the atmosphere at the finish line along Paseo de Roxas was even better.  It almost felt like I was in another country. The set-up had a "Hong Kong-y" and "Singapore-y" feel to it. Nice touch.

For the first time, I ran without music blaring in my ears. I forgot to charge my iPod the night before, thus forcing me to race without music for the first time ever. And you know what? It felt GREAT. I ran faster because I wasn't running to the tempo of a song that would've been playing in my ears had I brought along my iPod.  It was a new experience, hearing my breathing and the conversations of other runners around me.  I overheard a 21k runner tell another 21k runner: "'Pare, wag kang uminom ng tubig. Bibigat ang tiyan mo. Kaya 'to ng walang tubig!" Genius!

And the highlight of the race? Wifey FINALLY ran her first ever road race. She did 3k with an officemate, and she was actually complaining that it was bitin! She has agreed to do 5k next time around. Oh boy, I must have done something good last week. My prayer has been answered!

His & Hers

In addition to these firsts, I also reached a personal running milestone: 1,000 kms. Since I started logging my runs on 13 July 2009, I have already ran a distance of 1,005.64 kms. I'm looking forward to the next 1,000 kms with great anticipation, hopefully with wifey running alongside me. Hey, stranger things have happened! :) 

Here are other snapshots from Globe Run For Home 2010: 

At the 21k start corral

Crossing the finish line, turning off my timer - 2:14:58

With our friends Javi, PJ, and Fats

With our friends Raymond and Adele, who finished her first 15k race

Post-race breakfast at Flapjacks. Killer omelette and french toast! 

Another running goal done. Two more to go - BDM 102 and NYC!

Next up for me will be the Mizuno Infinity Run on April 11 - only my second 15k race ever. The goal is to finish at 1:20 -- and to erase the rookie mistakes committed during Urbanite Run 2009. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Running vs. Reality

On Monday, 15 March, I will officially be joining the regional legal team of one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world.  This will mark the first time in my almost eight years in law practice that I will be employed by a company, and a Fortune 100 company at that, and not by a law firm.  Eight years and three law firms after my admission to the Philippine Bar, I have finally discerned that I do not wish to remain in a law firm setting for the rest of my productive professional life.  And so, here I am, just  two days away from the next phase of my continuing evolution as a legal practitioner.

To say that my new job will entail a huge adjustment on my part is an understatement.  The responsibilities will be greater, the workload will be heavier, and the hours will be longer.  I expect my schedule to be erratic and unpredictable because I will be working with people located in other time zones.  I've also been told that I'll be doing a lot of traveling.  And it's not like I'll be away just for days at a time.  We're talking weeks here, maybe even months.  I knew all of these coming in, and I considered these factors when I decided to pursue the job.  I knew all of these, and still, I agreed to take on the job.  I can't later on say that I want out because "it's too hard."  The legal profession has a term for situations such as this - estoppel.     

Although I am very grateful and excited for this new opportunity, I couldn't help but think how it would affect the other aspects of my daily life.  I'd like to make it clear, however, that I am not worried about my job having a negative effect on my family life.  I know my priorities, and that precisely is the reason why I landed in this situation in the first place.  I am confident that, if necessary, I can and I will make time for family.  What concerns me more is my new job's potential impact on a now-integral part of my daily life -- my running.  For the past year, I have been blessed with a very comfortable work schedule that allowed me to run as often as four to five times a week.  If you think that was great, the past two weeks have been even better.  I have been on vacation since 26 February and I've been running almost everyday.  In a couple of days, however, all these will change.  On Monday, I'm going back to reality. 

To people who don't know me and/or have not made running an integral part of their way of life, my concern (I refuse to call it apprehension) might seen mundane, petty, trivial, selfish, or even downright silly.  For me, however, it is a real and pressing concern because running is one of those things that give me balance. Running does so many things for me -- it relaxes me, keeps me healthy, gives me time to think and reflect, provides me another outlet for my emotions, gives me an added sense of accomplishment, satisfies my craving for competition, keeps me disciplined, gives me an excuse to shop and travel, trains me to wake up early, inspires me to cut down on drinking and smoking -- oh boy, I can go on and on.  Still, although I simply can't afford to give up on running, I recognize that I will have to make sacrifices.  Despite all the personal benefits I derive from running, I accept (albeit reluctantly) that it does not rank that high in the "hierarchy of things."  I know that there are more important matters that I must attend to, such as my family's welfare, my professional and other personal endeavors, and the countless obligations that are inextricably linked with these.  And so, as I take on this new challenge, time management will be key -- on the assumption, of course, that I will still be left with some time to manage.

Oh well.  I'll probably need a few weeks to figure everything out.  Who knows, it might turn out that the schedule is not that bad after all.  In the meantime, I have no choice but to go back to being a "chance runner."  I will have to always keep a fresh set of running gear in my car, just in case.

Monday, March 8, 2010

No Raining On My Parade: Unilab Run For Wellness 2010

The local running community is still raving over last Sunday's Unilab Run United for Wellness.  The latest feather in Coach Rio's cap was one of the best - if not the best - road races I've ever joined.  It was impeccably organized and attention seemed to have been paid down to the minutest detail.  Gun start was on time, the tables at the water stations were loooong and were well-stocked with water and isotonic drinks, bananas were in abundance (for 21k runners), kilometer markers were accurate, directional signs were well-placed, plenty of marshalls that actually knew what they were doing, accurate race distance.  After the race, freebies generously rained upon everyone.  21k finishers were awarded their medals immediately upon crossing the finish line. Race results were released the day immediately following race day (i.e., today). All told, I would dare say that the Unilab Run may just set the bar for local races in terms of organization.  It was that good.

On a personal note, the Unilab Run was special because I was able to establish a new personal best for the 21k distance. After doing a 2:14 in my previous half-marathon, I had my sights set on a sub-2:10 finish this time around.  According to my 305, I finished the race in 2:09:45 and had an average pace of 6:08 min/k. I once again used the Galloway method (6:1 ratio). Mission accomplished!

It's unfortunate, however, that, when the official results came out, I could not find my name. I had already sent both RunRio and Finishline an e-mail regarding the matter and to request that they double-check (and update) the results.  In any case, regardless of the outcome of my request, nothing could diminish my pride in setting a new PR.  There simply would be no raining on my parade this time around.

Here's a screen shot of the details of my run from Garmin Connect:

Thank God for GPS devices!

To view the actual page, click here.  That ought to be sufficient documentation. :)

Next up for me is the Globe Run for Home 2010 on March 21.  I'll again be doing 21k, and the goal would be to finish in 2:05 or better. But with each passing half-mary, the longing for redemption at 42.195k only grows so much stronger...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Conquering Victoria Harbor

Just got back from a great 4-day vacation in Hong Kong with wifey and my mom.  It would have been a typical Pinoy HK trip (i.e., shopping, food tripping) had it not been for the very scenic 10k "chill run" that I did last Saturday. Instead of doing the "Tsim Sha Tsui Oceanview Course," which features the West KowloonWaterfront Promenade, I ran a course that featured the Avenue of the Stars, the Salisbury Garden, and the Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade.  Apparently, this route is quite popular among runners in HK.  A good number of runners of different nationalities were also doing their morning run. I even ran into our very own Eduardo "Vertek" Buenavista, who was doing a light jog presumably in preparation for the 2010 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon. It was a relatively short course so I ended up doing a couple of loops to complete my target 10k distance.  My route viewed from Garmin Connect:

Click image for a larger view.

It was my first time to run in Hong Kong, and it was an awesome experience.  The temperature was a very comfortable 22°C and the skies were overcast.  I started my run at 7:48 a.m., and it took me 1:14:41 to cover 10k.  The run was peppered with numerous "photo breaks" -- I either stopped to take pictures or to ask other tourists to take my picture. According to my 305, I had an average pace 7:27mpk, gained an elevation of 370m, and consumed  a total of 913 calories.

A late Saturday night-out kept me from waking up in time to catch the gun start of the SCHKM.  I also planned on running in Victoria Park last Monday, but some last-minute shopping (we flew back to Manila Monday evening) also kept me from doing that run.  And so, all I have are these -- some swell photos of what I would consider an early contender for my personal "Run of the Year."

I started my run at the back of the HK Museum of Art.
 Apparently, the Avenue of the Stars is a popular HK running route.

One of the markers along the Avenue of the Stars -- and my foot

More runners

Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade

 Runners along the promenade

 Photo taken by a security officer manning one of the coffee shops along the promenade
 This was supposed to be a random shot, but it turned out that the approaching
runner in white was actually Vertek Buenavista, doing a light jog.

 Thick fog enveloped the harbor all morning

 A money shot of the nearby Hung Hom Pier

A nice view of the Hong Kong side of Victoria Harbor

At one of the viewing decks along the promenade, taken by an
old Chinese man who had just finished his taichi exercise

Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower

 Another shot of the Hong Kong side of Victoria Harbor 

Salisbury Road

 Going up the on-ramp to the elevated walkway parallel to the
Hung Hom By-Pass, photo taken by a Japanese tourist

 On-ramp to Hung Hom By-Pass

 A birds' eye view of the West Kowloon Promenade,
taken atop the elevated walkway

 The fog cleared and revealed a great view of the other side of the harbor 

Another nice shot of the other side of the harbor

By 9 a.m., the Avenue of the Stars had once again turned into the
popular tourist attraction that it really is.  Time to end my run!

End of an awesome run. Modeling the RunRio Trilogy Leg 1 Finisher's Shirt in Kowloon.
Photo taken by a female tourist with an Australian accent.