Friday, April 23, 2010

Brew City Run

After three days here in Milwaukee, I finally found time to run. It was really cold yesterday - about 4°C at the time of my run - but I decided to head out anyway because the weather forecast says there will be some rain in the coming days. I also figured that I better do it because my workload next week might be heavy, and I'll be flying to California next weekend to visit my brother. It was a boneheaded move on my part because of the weather, but I'm glad I did it anyway.

The atmosphere was great - I encountered countless other runners along the way. It seems to me that, since there's not much to do here, people just run. Everyday. Some were bundled up just like me, while others were in running attire that seemed better suited for running in tropical climate. Amazingly, my running tights and the long-sleeved compression top that I bought here somewhat held up against the cold.

I originally planned to do at least 10k but the cold was just too much for me to handle. I ended up logging only 8.46k in 1:08:52, with a very easy pace of 8:08 min/k. The temp was at 4°C, but each time the wind blew, it felt as if the temp had even dropped several degrees. And trust me, it was VERY windy yesterday.  It was so cold that, when I got back to the hotel, I was coughing and wheezing, and I had red rashes all over my torso. 

I started my run outside my hotel's driveway and I headed straight for the path fronting Lake Michigan. The lakefront featured a very nice running path that stretched almost endlessly.  The Milwaukee skyline was majestic. The scenery was magnificent.

The path also included some trails, which are part of Veterans Park.

The lakefront also featured several landmarks. The one that clearly stood out was the Milwaukee Museum of Art. This building was designed by the same architectural firm behind the Opera House in Sydney, Australia. It was truly a sight to behold.


On the way to the lake, I ran through several blocks that were lined with very regal buildings that were attractions in themselves. The architecture made it feel as if I was running not just in another country, but in another era.

Do I prefer running in extremely cold weather over doing so under the scalding heat of the Manila sun? Yes and no. Yes, because the cool temperature kept me strong. It felt as if I never got tired, and that I could have gone on for a much longer distance. I also did not feel thirsty during and even after my run.  I guess this is because I hardly broke a sweat.  This brings us to the reason why I also don't like running in extremely cold weather.  Can you imagine running without breaking a sweat? It was so hard to get into some kind of flow, some kind of rhythm.  But then again, it's probably because I was not properly attired.  That said, running in cold weather forces one to wear layer upon layer of clothing - to the point that running doesn't feel "natural" anymore.  I have recently taken to running with only the "essentials" on - base layer clothing, a moisture-wicking top, shorts, socks, shoes (ok, plus my usual cap and watch). Yesterday, however, I was forced to wear three layers of clothing and a beanie. Believe you me, I was in awe of the runners who wore only shorts and a shirt despite yesterday's weather condition.

The details of my run are posted here and in my Last Run page.  I also have some pictures I took during the run.  Weather permitting, I will do a 30k LSD this Sunday. And then I'll have some material for another post.

I hope I did not bore you with this utterly long post and numerous pictures.  I actually think I'm doing you guys a service because, really now, does anybody ever go to Milwaukee? :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

From Brew City

I'm writing this post from my hotel room in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I'll be here for work for the next three weeks.  There's really nothing much to do here.  As in, nothing. I'm trying to get a ticket for Game 3 or 4 of the Bucks-Hawks first round playoff series, but it looks like I'll have a hard time getting my hands on one. So, for the next three weeks, it looks like I'll just be working, working, working, and running.

As soon as I got to my hotel room and dropped off my luggage, I went for a walk around the area to see if the surroundings are suitable for running.  Turns out downtown Milwaukee is actually a runner's haven.  Wide, traffic-free streets with well-paved and equally-wide sidewalks, fresh air, nice cityscape and architecture that exude a somewhat old English feel, and daylight until well past 7 p.m.  As a matter of fact, during my brief walk, I saw lots of people doing a late-afternoon run.  Good thing I brought some running gear -- three sets, actually.  The temperature hovers between a low 6 to 12° Celsius, though, so I'll have to buy a top that can somehow keep me warm. 

Aside from the city grounds, other possible running venues that I can reach by foot include the Marquette University campus and the Lake Michigan LakeWalk. 

It's almost midnight here, and I'm exhausted from the very long trip.  I have to get some rest now because I have a full day ahead of me tomorrow.  I probably won't get to run until later this week, though. Good thing our office is just a couple of blocks away from my hotel.  I can probably run in the afternoons.  Let's see how my schedule would play out. 

Can't wait to explore Brew City -- in running shoes!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Never Settle

My first-ever road race was the Kenny Rogers Urbanite Run 15K held back in August 2009.  Back then, I was, for all practical intents and purposes,  your standard-issue running and racing newbie.  I have been "running" for fitness and weight loss (i.e., jogging) since my law school days back in the late '90s, but it was confined almost exclusively to loops around the Ateneo campus and the UP Academic Oval, as well as endless sessions on the treadmills of Fitness First.

Needless to say, the result of that race (and my outfit back then - check out the pic) wasn't pretty.  I covered 15k with a chip time of 1:52:31, good for 538th out of 727 runners.  My average pace was 7:29/K. I recall that, towards the last five kilometers of that race, I was already huffing and puffing badly, and my legs hurt really bad.  I also thought back then that one way for me to finish the race faster was for me not  to take water breaks.  By the end of the race, I was a tired wreck.  Fifteen kilometers in almost two hours.  I knew right away that if I wanted to improve, I definitely had my work cut out for me.  Still, I felt proud and had a sense of accomplishment.  After all, I had just finished my first race - and it wasn't a 5K.

So many things have gone down since that fateful night more than eight months ago.  I have grown as a runner and I have taken part in one 10-miler, three 10Ks, five half-marathons, and one full marathon. I have so far logged an accumulated mileage of over 1,000 kilometers.  I am looking to complete at least three full marathons this year, and am applying for the 2011 edition of the BDM 102K Ultramarathon Race.  However, since Urbanite, I have NEVER ran another 15K.  And so, my 1:52:31 finish at Urbanite has stood as my 15K "personal best" for the last eight months.

Admittedly, I had almost forgotten about the result of that 15K race. You see, I never grew fond (and I'm still not fond) of the 15K distance.  I have even stopped taking on 10K races and have grown most comfortable at distances of 21K or longer.  But still, I knew in my heart that I had an axe to grind.  That 15K finish has always been a chip on my shoulder, and I wanted to make up for it.  I just don't know why I never joined another 15K race after Urbanite. 

Never Settle. The tag line of the Mizuno Infinity Run series could not have been more apt. I joined the 2010 Mizuno Infinity Run because I wanted to "beat my time" - my time for my first and only 15K race to date, Urbanite '09. Eight months after I crashed and burned at the 15K distance, I grew tired of settling and felt it was finally time to raise the bar. I know I've grown to become a stronger and faster runner, a much improved runner, and it's about time I proved this at the 15K distance.

Up until the night before the Mizuno Infinity Run, I had a dilemma regarding my race-day strategy. Do I go Galloway, like I've done  for my last four races (a full marathon and three halves)? Do I run all the way and not take walk breaks? Do I go Galloway but use longer run intervals and take less-frequent walk breaks? Do I push hard early on and cruise at the latter kilometers, or do I cruise first and push late? My unfamiliarity with the distance was in full display.

Race day finally came, and I was still unsure of how I was going to run this particular race.  All I knew was that I wanted to beat my time very badly.  And so, I decided to simply play it by ear and just RUN with all my heart. No Galloway method this time around. No strategy, no science, no fancy technique.  No glancing at the Garmin every so often.  No iPod. Just run until my lungs and legs give out.  Gradually, the plan evolved into simply running with the pure, relentless, and unbridled focus and passion of a newbie

And so, off I went.  3K, 5K, 7K.  I was relying solely on the kilometer markers.  No glancing at the Garmin.  I had no sense of time whatsoever, much less my pace.  All I knew was that my legs still felt strong, I was not gasping for air, and that I could still keep going.  I just kept on running, and I think I was making very good time. 9K, 11K.  Did I just pass the Kalayaan flyover? 13K. I think I had more or less maintained my pace, whatever it was.  Finally, 15K.  When I finally checked my 305, I realized that I had just bettered my previous "PR" by 26 minutes and spare change. I crossed the finish line with a Garmin time of 1:26:09 and an average pace of 5:40K/min. This is the farthest I've ever gone while sustaining such a pace.   At long last, a "legitimate"  personal best for the 15K distance.  Details of my run here.

As July draws near and I prepare to redeem myself at the full marathon distance, I shall keep in mind all the lessons I learned and the goal I accomplished during the Mizuno Infinity Run.  It shouldn't be too difficult for me to remember.  After all, it can be summed up in two very simple words: Never Settle.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Shoe Review: New Balance 760

My "homeboy" PJ Pilares, National Sales Head of Planet Sports, has been convincing me for some time now to try out a pair of New Balance running shoes.  Don't get me wrong, though.  It's not as if I have anything against NB as a brand.  I (and probably around 10 million other hardened runners) know for a fact that NB makes some of the finest and technically sound running shoes out there.  I've been resisting PJ's overtures because I already have four pairs of running shoes, and all of them are still in good running condition (pun intended, of course).  I have the Nike Lunarglide+, the Nike Zoom Structure Triax 12, the Adidas Optiq, and my absolute favorite, the Adidas adizero Tempo.  I just didn't think I needed to get yet another pair.

Last weekend, however, I finally gave in and got my first pair of NBs - the New Balance 760.

It was a combination of factors, really.  For one, the shoes look great.  I was also thinking that my adizero Tempo, which I absolutely, madly in love with, are logging very heavy mileage.  I was thinking that I could conserve them by getting an alternate pair.  I'd use the Tempo as race day shoes and the 760 as trainers.  The clincher, however, was PJ's offer of a 40% discount.  This means I could get the shoes for only around P2,700.

And buy the shoes I did. I picked the shoes up at the NB store in Glorietta 4 on Easter Sunday.  I was told by Mark, the sales guy, that the New Balance 760 is built for speed and short distances (i.e., 5 to 10k runs).  Houston, we have a problem.  You see, I am not fast, and I like running relatively long distances. Mark suggested that I consider getting the New Balance 1064 instead.  I almost flinched and went for the 1064, but I stuck to the program and went with the 760.  I told myself I could just use them for my short weekday runs, which normally range from 8 to 10k.  I also told myself that, if the shoes don't work out for running, they'd still look great with jeans.  And with the 40% discount, I could NOT lose.

As soon as I got home, I went on-line searched for reviews and articles about the New Balance 760. Wait a minute. Shouldn't I have done this BEFORE buying the shoes?).  According to, "this highly responsive trainer has a performance fit and was developed for runners seeking premium cushioning and a moderate level of stability.  The successor to the popular 769, the lightweight 760 features the TS2 medial post, ABZORB® in the forefoot and advanced N-ergy cushioning in the heel to give serious runners an edge."  Some of its technical features are as follows: 
  • TS2 Transitional Support System helps create a smooth transition from heel strike to toe-off
  • Synthetic/Mesh upper provides lightweight comfort and support
  • Stability Web delivers midfoot support and reduces the weight of the shoe
  • Seamless PHANTOM LINER reduces the weight of the shoe plus enhances the comfort and fit
  • N-ergy in the heel provides NB's most advanced shock absorption and cushioning
  • Ndurance rubber compound for maximum outsole durability
  • LIGHTNING DRY liner keeps your feet dry and comfortable as you train
  • Removable full-length insert of ABZORB cushioning provides added comfort
  • Dual Density Collar uses both a softer density foam against the foot for cushioning, and a firmer density foam for support
  • Blown Rubber Forefoot for lightweight cushioning
  • ACTEVA LITE premium lightweight midsole provides optimal resistance to compression set - 24% lighter than standard foam
  • ABZORB Strobel Board runs full length of shoe to maximize shock absorption and comfort
  • ABZORB cushioning in the forefoot for exceptional shock absorption
  • 360 Degree Reflectivity for added safety

Just reading all the fine features and favorable reviews got my juices flowing, and before I knew it, I was already out the door and warming up for a long run.  I started my run outside the gate to our village, at St. Martin Street.  From there, I headed towards Lanuza St. and turned right at Julia Vargas.  I then entered Frontera Verde and went all the way to Ortigas Ave.  I made a left at C-5 and went all the way to Green Meadows Ave., where I turned left.  From there, I headed for Temple Drive and went straight to the Katipunan-White Plains area.  I made my u-turn just before hitting Santolan.  On my way back, I toured Ortigas Center and the UAP-Gold Loop area.  From Exchange Road, I headed back to St. Martin.  I ended my run at the 7-Eleven store in Silver City.  The run spanned 21.01k.  Check out my Last Run page for the details of the run.

The New Balance 760 was really light. As in, adizero-light.  No surprises there. What surprised me, however, was the fairly good amount of cushioning it provided.  The first few kilometers were a bit shaky, and I thought my feet would start aching by Km 10.  Surprisingly, however, the New Balance 760 held their own and gave me no problems throughout the route.  They provided great maneuverability and excellent response.  Apparently, the shoes, which are lightweight stability trainers, neutralized my mild over-pronation as I felt no aches or pains whatsoever on my feet, knees, and legs.  The New Balance 760 hurdled the half-marathon distance with flying colors.  

Now that the New Balance 760 had proven its mettle on the road, I wanted to find out how it would fare on a tartan track.  These shoes look bad-ass fast and are built for speed, so they should feel right at home in a "controlled environment" like the ULTRA track oval.  And so, decked in my new kicks, I went for a couple of 8k tempo runs last Tuesday and Wednesday.  At that distance and at tempo pace, the New Balance 760 felt awesome.  Mark (the New Balance guy) wasn't lying when he said that these shoes are perfect for distances of 5 to 10k.  And so, it is resolved.  I will use the New Balance 760 for short training runs, and I will still wear the adizero Tempo for races and longer runs.

To be honest, I'm not sure how the New Balance 760 will fare at distances greater than 25k.  I somehow get the feeling that, for longer runs, they would not feel as comfortable as, say, the adizero Tempo.  I guess I'll have to do a 25 or 30K LSD run one of these days and find out for myself.  But then again, the New Balance 760 were not made for long runs or even full marathons.  These shoes were built for short distances run at faster speeds.  All told, the New Balance 760 are excellent stability trainers that are well worth the full price tag. 

Now, if you get them at 40% off, shame on you because it becomes stealing.  Somebody call the cops!

Friday, April 2, 2010

"Penitensiya" Run 2010

"Penitensiya," in english, means "penitence." In the spirit of the Lenten season, I did a "penitensiya" run yesterday, Maundy Thursday.  As the rest of the Metro was filing out of the city and heading to their Holy Week destinations, I went on another long run to atone for the previous three days that I went runless.  Because I thoroughly enjoyed the Fort-Makati CBD (vis McKinley) route that I did last Sunday, I decided to run that course again.

Once again, I started my run along 3rd Avenue in front of Forbeswood Heights.  From there, I headed towards 5th Avenue and turned right on McKinley Road.  I passed Santuario de San Antonio, where a lot of parishioners were doing their Stations of the Cross.  Upon hitting EDSA, I made my way up the foot bridge to get to Ayala Avenue.  I was back in Makati CBD.

Unlike last Sunday, I covered more of the financial district this time around.  I ran inside the deserted Glorietta and Greenbelt complexes. I made like the MAPSA and patrolled almost every street.  I couldn't believe I had these usually busy thoroughfares all to myself.  I ran on Buendia and even covered the Bel-Air side of the district.  The entire place was a ghost town. Man, running in Makati on Maundy Thursday is way better than running there on an ordinary Sunday.  Check out how much of the CBD I was able to cover this time around:

I was on such a high that, from Jupiter St., I decided to head for Rockwell.  Of course, the only way to reach Rockwell was to go through P. Burgos St. - Makati's infamous red light strip.  I got a kick out of watching the foreign sex tourists who were having afternoon brewskies at the roadside bars together with their pinay *ahem* "dates."  Some of them also "watched me back" and were probably thinking, "Holy crap, he's out running while I'm here sitting on my fat ass and torching my liver" hahaha.  From Burgos, I turned right at Kalayaan Ave., entered Rockwell Drive, and made a lap around Power Plant Mall.  Just like Glorietta and Green belt, the area was deserted - just the way I like it.  Here's the Rockwell leg of my run:

It was getting dark by the time I was done with Rockwell, and I decided I had to get back to the CBD fast.  It was then that an elementary principle of trigonometry came to mind - "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line."  I needed to get back to Buendia fast, and the "straight line" between Rockwell and Buendia is... EDSA.  Oh boy, this is going to be an adventure.

From Rockwell drive, I headed for Estrella Street and got onto EDSA.  The first few meters were fine as there was a paved sidewalk where I could run on.  Gradually, however, the sidewalk quickly narrowed and practically disappeared.  I was literally running on EDSA.  As in the hard concrete of EDSA. On several instances, I had to stop for fear of my life - to my left, the colorum buses were speeding like Mad Max and I could get sideswiped and instantly crushed to death.  This stretch went on for a little under a kilometer, but it sure as hell felt like 10k hahaha.  Just like running on the Katipunan Flyover, running along this part of EDSA is so NOT for the faint of heart, and neither is it for the faint of lung.  You could not imagine the relief I felt when I caught sight of the Shell station at the entrance to Buendia.  I cut through the gas station, resisted having a pitstop at Select, and headed for Jupiter St. I made it back in one piece. Here's the EDSA leg of my run:

From Jupiter, I turned left at Paseo de Roxas, left at Makati Ave., and then left at Ayala Ave.  I went up the foorbridge (NOT a pleasant experience after you've already been running for three hours) and I was back on McKinley Ave.  By this time, the Santuario area was already very crowded and traffic was bad.  My pace slowed down to 9:30/k.  I desperately needed a water break and had a pitstop at the nearby Mercury Drug.  From McKinley, I turned left at 5th Avenue, traversed the whole stretch and made a left at 32nd Street, and finally turned left at 3rd Avenue.  After cooling down, I rested at the 7-Eleven in Net Square, where I downed a liter of Propel vitamin water and had a cavendish banana.  It was already 7:30 pm, and it was time to go home.

I finished my run in 3:38:30 (inclusive of several pit stops).  According to Garmin Connect, I had a moving time of 3:17:02, which means I spent a total of 0:21:28 on pit stops.  Darn, I shouldn't have had that Choco Mucho break at Km 15 hahaha.  My average pace was 8:12k/min, but my average moving pace was an acceptable 7:23k/min (told you it's an LSD).  The skyscrapers obviously  screwed up the satellite reception,  because Garmin reports that my best pace was 0:57k/min. Who am I, Haile? Hahaha.  The full map of my entire run:

Check out the details of my run here, or at my Last Run page.

Time to plan for my next long run on Easter Sunday!