Monday, August 1, 2011

Three Runs and a Birthday

Three runs and a birthday. That just about sums up the highlights of my five-week hiatus from keeping this blog updated. So now you know. Just because I don't blog doesn't mean I don't run.

June 26: Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2011

The last time I wrote an entry, I was in a hotel room in Kuala Lumpur, recovering from a spirited but thoroughly disappointing showing at the 2011 KL Standard Chartered Marathon. Hubris was the word of the day, and in Malaysia, I learned quite a few of things about myself as a distance runner. Emboldened by the KL route's reputation as a flat PR course, I thought I was already strong enough to nail a 4:20. That would have meant chopping off 15 minutes from my current personal best of 4:35 (Condura, February 2011). And I brazenly went after it, too. With only mileage build-up and no speed training to hang my hat on, I opened with splits of better than 6:15 mins/km. Heck, I even did a few kilometers under 6 minutes. The route was as good as advertised, and I kept the thing going until Kilometer 30. After that, everything went downhill - figuratively, that is. I ran head first into the wall at Kilometer 31, and survived the last 11 Kilometers via random turns of running and walking. Alright, it was mostly walking. As proof of my fine start, I still had a chance at a sub-5 finish up until Kilometer 40. It was not meant to be, though, and I finally made it back to the finish line at Dataran Merdeka after five hours and seven minutes. 

The 5:07 notwithstanding, I enjoyed the KL Marathon immensely. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed KL more than I did the Singapore Marathon, and I'll very likely do KL again next year. Sorry, no pics. I ran alone and do not want to over-pay to buy some off of Marathon Photos. No Garmin stats, either. Having a hard time transferring info from my 310XT to my notebook.

July 16:  PAU Fort Magsaysay 60k Ultra Marathon

Three weeks after KL, I was standing behind the starting line of the Fort Magsaysay 60k Ultra Marathon. This was the second offering of the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU) for 2011. I ran with my friend Din Cordero, and our support vehicle was very capably manned by our driver Mang Laynes (who also drove my support vehicle at BDM - so he does know his ultra support stuff), and Din's indefatigable wife Carrie. The route went from Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, all the way to Dingalan, Aurora. Let me say this about the Fort Magsaysay Ultra: If boxing has a pound-for-pound champ, Fort Magsaysay has got to be, kilometer-for-kilometer, the toughest local road ultra run. The route was mostly concrete, not asphalt, so harder on the knees and legs. Practically the entire route went uphill, and at a couple of points, the elevation reached nearly 1,000 feet. It was also extraordinarily hot that day, and the sun was already out full-blast at 7 a.m. Along the route, I had chats with fellow 2011 BDM 102 veterans, and we all agreed that it was not that hot when we did BDM.

Din and I were going for a sub-9 finish, but our hopes were dashed by the second highest climb that came during the last five kilometers. It was also unfortunate that Din's shin started bothering him somewhere along Kilometer 50. Still, I would have to say we finished strong. I was able to salvage a sub-10 finish (9:43:54) - good enough for 62nd out of 101 official finishers - while Din was just a few minutes behind at 10:01:32 (67th place). For our efforts, we each came away with a cotton finisher's shirt, a huge-ass medal that showed our finishing rank (typical Bald Runner), breath-taking sights, and memories that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. A few pictures from   that awesome run:

Posing before the 5 a.m gun start
Break of day
Yapping away
Long way back, long way to go
Coming in for a pit stop, somewhere in Laur
Check out the green backdrop
At the finish line with BR
Taking a breather before the drive back to Manila

July 21: Happy 36th Birthday to Me

A year older, and I'd like to believe also a year wiser, a year stronger. The best birthday gift I received this year? Check out this adizero Tempo and New York Marathon-themed birthday cake that my wife Bam surprised me with. Sweet!

July 31: 35th Milo National Marathon (Manila Eliminations)

Just two weeks after the Fort Magsaysay 60k Ultra, Din and I were at it again, this time at the 35th Milo National Marathon (Manila Eliminations). The plan was to run Milo at an easy ultra marathon pace. Neither Din nor I planned to chase personal bests, and we simply wanted to use this marathon as a training run that will form part of our build-up for the longer runs and ultras ahead. A sub-5 would be nice, we both agreed, but we weren't going to kill ourselves chasing it. Another reason why we had to conserve our energy was because we wanted to do another eight kilometers after we cross the finish line, so that we'd end the day with an even 50 Kilometers. Milo + 8k = Ultra Milo. Yummy.

I'm no longer hot about joining races in the city, but I joined Milo because I've never done the MOA-Roxas Boulevard-Buendia-Fort-Back route before. What's more, it was a chance to do another "supported" LSD. That it was raining for most of the run - my first full marathon under the rain - gave the race another unique twist. I was concerned, however, about my back. I was having lower back spasms just a couple of days back, and up until Saturday evening, I wasn't sure that my body was at 100%. I actually sent Din a message over BBM that at the first sign of trouble, I wouldn't hesitate to drop out and log a DNF. I ended up running with a stabbing pain in my lower back for most of the race, but thanks to two Ibuprofen capsules taken at Kilometer 23, the ordeal became bearable. Goodbye, Ultra Milo.

With Din suffering through a recurrence of shin splints and me battling back spasms, we weren't able to sustain our sub-5 pace and instead aimed for a modest 5:15. By Kilometer 39, though, I told Din to go ahead because my condition no longer allowed me to jog for more than a few meters at a time. Din went ahead and crossed the finish line at 5:21:36, and I made it barely two minutes later at 5:23:09. After bringing my time down for each of my first six marathons, my time has gone up in both my seventh and eighth. This would likely be my last Milo Marathon, as Condura is the only Metro Manila marathon that I will consider joining going forward.

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The past five weeks have been a blast, but I can't help but get even more excited about the days ahead. Next up are the PAU Bolinao to Sual (Pangasinan) 65k Ultra Marathon on August 20, and the Tagaytay to Nasugbu 50k Ultra Run on September 17. For October, there are talks of a 70k ultra from Bacolod to San Carlos City, and November has the New York Marathon. And hey - don't even get me started about next year!