Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The road to May 1st. Week 5.

The race frontRUNNER's Labor Day Coast to Coast Ultra-marathon 'ONLY THE STRONG' is only about 10 weeks away. To be honest, I'm kind of getting a little nervous now. I'm still not at 100% sure that I will be able to make it. So, I made a drastic change to my training plan. From this time on, I will be doing 2 long runs per week, plus 1 workout that will either be a Tempo or an Intervals training. Emphasis for the training plan will now be towards the long runs as I think I need it more.

So, my first workout for the week. I did 23k, hamster mode around IT Park. This was supposed to be a morning workout, as all the workouts in my training plan should be, but the heavy rain did not allow it. However, this is already the 3rd day since my last run, so I needed to do this. I was trying to maintain a 5:30 pace for this workout, but I was only able to maintain this pace until about halfway through. I must admit I was gassed out, and by the second half, I was already at a 6:00 pace. Many thanks to Coleen D. for running and pacing with me in the last 4km, I was able to finish the workout strong and reached my 1000th km with this run!

On Friday, I did another long run to Busay with Joel C., and a friend from DM, Johnny F. This time, the weather was perfect! Going up, it was impossible to maintain a fast pace, but we tried to pick it up on our way down, maintaining a pace of 4:30 to 5:00.

I lack one workout this week, but it's okay, I will make up for it next week. To week 6...

Friday, February 18, 2011

The road to May 1st. Week 4.

This is the 4th week into my preparation for the coming frontRUNNER's Labor Day Coast to Coast Ultra-marathon 'ONLY THE STRONG' which will be happening on May 1, 2011. With this week, I think I have further strayed away from my training plan. I need to do something about this. Anyways, in training perspective, here is how this week was for me...

On Tuesday, I did a 10k Tempo run. Tuesdays were supposed to be rest days since Mondays were supposed to be my Intervals day. But this Monday the bed got the better of me, so I felt like I needed to do this workout on a Tuesday. On top of that, I was too lazy to do the Intervals workout planned for this week, so I substituted it with a Tempo - this Tempo run. I was scheduled for an 8k Tempo at my Short Tempo pace this week, but, to redeem myself, I thought I should push a little more, so I did a 10k Tempo run at my Short Tempo pace. After the workout, it actually felt great that I was hitting the road again because I was actually out for 4 days!

Then, another Tempo run! This was on Thursday which, by the way, is supposed to be another rest day. Now, this is what I meant when I said I was straying farther away from my training plan. Anyways, this time I did 14k at my Long Tempo pace. My body was really heavy during this run, though I'm pretty sure I didn't gain any weight. I'm not really sure if this was due to the fact that I was absent for a long time, or due to my body being overworked, or due to the fact that I am not following my plan. That, I will have to see.

Friday. Fridays, were supposed to be Long runs, but since I was running the SM2SM Run Half - Marathon race on Sunday, I decided to have that as my Long run for this week. Instead, I run with my Ungo family - the usual Ungo Night Run. I was pacing with my friends the entire time, except for when I did some short sprints on the hill along UP. Then I did some extra rounds around IT Park for a total of 8k.

On Sunday, I topped this week off with a race - the SM2SM Run Half - Marathon race. It was an awesome race. A very well - organized race. I wasn't able to hit my target, but it was okay, I think I still finished strong on that race.

So, total mileage? 53. Not bad for a week gone astray. Still, I think I need to do something about following my training plan. It's almost 10 weeks to the event and I am still nowhere near ready.

Now, on to week 5.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My first 21k experience.

Photo by: Norwin Detalla
It's been ages since my last post! No, actually it's only been a week, but it feels like this one is already overdue. Sorry about that. I haven't had the time nor the words lately. But, this is my first ever official half - mary, so this is something I have to blog about.

Last Sunday, February 13, 2011, I joined my first official 21k race - the SM2SM Run Half Marathon. I have to say, this was the best fun run that I have ever joined in, although I haven't really joined a lot of fun runs for that matter. But it was really well - organized, the hydration stops were at the right places with more than enough for all the runners, and the route was PR conducive. Also, this was the first race I'd been to where an energy gel was given to the runners halfway up the course. Plus, the weather was perfect! There were also other notable things, although not race related, such as the parking space was huge and I never had a hard time parking even if I didn't arrive so early at the site, the venue for the awarding ceremony being the SM North Wing (which was nice because the venue was big enough with lots of chairs, plus, it was air - conditioned!), the souvenirs included discount coupons and a shirt from Island Souvenirs (a shirt which I actually liked, if not for it being too big for me, I got a Large size shirt!), and the raffles (if only I won that Bravia!).

I arrived at the site at around 410am. I was actually thinking that the gun time for 21k was at 530am. It was at 5am. Yes, I wasn't late, but I could have been. Damn me for not reading the paper that went with the singlet. Anyways, it was a good thing that the parking lot was huge and that I had no trouble looking for a spot. I then put on my new pair of calf compression sleeves, my running footwear, my race bib, and went to a relatively open area near the holding pen to warm up. After some slow very easy rounds, I went on to the holding pen, ready for the race. I positioned myself somewhere near the front lines. I was thinking that since this one doesn't include timing chips, I should be starting when the go signal is given. I was standing in the sideline so that I wont be a hindrance to the elites competing in this race. Then, the countdown...

When the race finally started, I was running at a relatively slower pace. I tried maintaining a 5:00 pace for the first 2 kilometers, then went on to pick up the pace thereafter. I was criusing at an average of 4:30 to 4:40 pace up to until halfway of the race. I still take a pause on each of the water stops though. Hydration to me is very important, as it should be to everyone. And, eventhough some parts of SRP are still dark, I enjoyed running the entire stretch.

I brought with me 2 bars of snickers. I was planning to eat one of it halfway and the other when I reach the finish line. But, halfway up the course, I was surprised to receive an energy gel from one of the pit stops. I have never tried taking in any of those gels in any of my runs, but you know, there is always a first time. This time, it's for free! So I took the gel instead, saving the snickers for later. I didn't really take any time to look at the brand nor the flavor, but there was a hint of coffee in it. It actually tastes good to me. And I think it was effective, too. After about 15 minutes, it felt like I had a renewed energy source.

The scenes along the boardwalk was awesome. This was the second time that I ran SRP, but this was the first time that I ran closer to the sea along the boardwalk. I was able to witness the first hints of a very beautiful sunrise on my way to Sugbu.

From there, it was back to the finish line. I was already tired and was slowing down. My pace dropped to about 4:45 to 5:00 on the average. Still I was determined to finish the race strong. I passed along many familiar faces whose Hi's and Hello's were added motivations. I was still getting occassional stares, or should I say, my feet and footwear were still getting a fair share of stares.

When I finally made my turn to the finish line, I looked at the watch. I missed my target time by a little more than 1 minute. I wasn't sad though. I was happy. I gave it all I got. I clocked in at 01:41:23. And, I got myself a nice new medal!

As always, I would like to thank my ever supportive and beautiful wife and my son who were waiting for me at the finish line.
And, God, for the gift of life, love, and good health, I thank You!

Lastly, I would like to mention one of my inspirations, someone without whom I would not be who I am today - my Nanay. This one goes out to you. I wish you could see what I have become, and I hope I made you proud. God knows how much I miss you. Rest in peace, Nanay. You will always be remembered.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The road to May 1st. Week 3.

Week 3. My training for the frontRUNNER's Labor Day Coast to Coast Ultra-marathon 'ONLY THE STRONG' race had been going well until this week. I had to forgo my scheduled Monday Intervals workout because I felt like I needed to rest. There was a little pain in my left foot, kind of like a bruise, somewhere between my middle and 4th toe (yes, that's what they are called). I was also a feeling a bruise under the balls (yes, that's what it is called) of my right foot. So, I had to. I'm wondering though as to what caused these. It must be my landing, or my foot strike, or the pebble I happened to step on during one of my workouts last week. I don't really know. This is something I must study and experiment on in my future runs. But, the good news is, it's healing, and I was able to do my remaining workouts for the week. Albeit, a little slower and with extra care.

So, Tempo Wednesday. It was drizzling when I woke up and I was actually thinking of postponing this workout later in the evening, after work. You see, there was a forecast about a tropical storm coming our way which was the reason for the rainy days this week. Good thing my wife reminded me on that. She said, if anything, the rain would only get worse. So I changed into my running outfit, laced on my Kai Sandals, and hit the road. Doing my workout in the rain, with the strong headwind felt like this was a strength training! Still I was glad I was able to do this workout. I did 1.5k Easy Tempo, 7k in my Mid Tempo, and then another 1.5k in my Easy Tempo pace with the following times: 00:08:56, 00:35:06, and 00:08:20.

On Friday, I did my usual LSD. Although this time, I traded my planned Busay route for the city streets. I was tracing the CCM route when I remembered the cross route that Coach Boying posted in DM, so I decided to run that, too. I also passed by Ling's Heart Break Hill (that's the hill along UP Lahug) which was nice because, no matter how short, at least I was able to do a little strength training. Upon reaching the access road to the Cebu Business Park area, I was still 4km short of 20, so I decided to rounds around my good DM friend Ondoy's usual running route. This was a good run for me, 20k in 01:41:45!

On Friday evening, I joing the Ungo Night Run as a recovery. I had a nice, slow, and easy jog-walk, a very nice recovery run. We ran the usual route from Sunstar in P. del Rosario, passing through Jones Ave., Escario, then on to I.T. Park. Again, It's always nice to run with the Ungo!

This week is a low one for me. I am about 15k short of my target. But, as least I was able to do 2 out of the 3 workouts I planned, and I have that to thank God for. I hope next week will be better.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The road to May 1st. Week 2.

Another week into my training for the frontRUNNER's Labor Day Coast to Coast Ultra-marathon 'ONLY THE STRONG' race this coming May 1. The weather gods must have thought I had too much favors thrown my way last week because, in total contrast to last week's weather, this week's rains seemed to pour, and poured heavily, on my scheduled days of training. But, even with that, I managed to squeeze in some considerable mileage. Thank God!

So, Monday. This is another one of those days when you wake up in the morning  with a bed-over-road dilemma. Most of the time, for me at least, the road always wins. But this time? Anyway... In the evening... After work... Yeah, well, the bed won in the morning! Now, on to training. In the evening, after work, I did my usual Intervals workout. This time, it's 1200m, 1000m, 800m, 600m, 400m, and 200m with 200m rest. Plus, the usual 20 - minute warm up and 10 - minute cool down easy runs.

It rained on Wednesday morning so I decided to postpone my workout in the evening. I was hoping it wont rain, and I was actually hesitant to run after work because the sky was still gloomy and it looked like it was going to rain. Nevertheless, I did my Tempo workout that evening. It was windy and it was very cold. Plus, it rained, and it rained hard, in the middle of my workout! My plan was to do a 1.5km Easy Tempo, 9km at Marathon Pace, then another 1.5km Easy, but I was a little hard headed that day, and I ignored shouts from my Garmin telling me to slow down.

On Friday, the plan was to do another LSD to Busay with Joel, Boying, and Axl, but it rained hard in the morning so the planned run was cancelled.

To make up for the cancelled long run, I decided to run to Cebu City from my hometown in Danao City. Since our bosses from Oslo came to visit us here in Cebu with very limited time, it was decided that we needed to report to the office on Saturday. I was gonna meet Joel in Consolacion, but I was not able to start early so I messaged him to go ahead of me. I was taking it easy and running slow that when I reached Mandaue City, near A.C Cortes Ave., it was already 920am, and I have to be in the office before 10am! So, I decided to cut my run short and took the jeepney to our apartment.

I must say, this week didn't exactly went as good as I planned, but at least I was able to get the mileage in. I hope training will be better next week.

I have a message for those running minimalist or barefoot, please be extra careful when running at night, especially after a heavy rain. I happened to step on a marble - size pebble while doing my Tempo run on Wednesday, and it was so painful I had to limp for about 20 to 30 seconds.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The road to May 1st. Week 1.

After running the marathon last January 9, 2011, I finally felt like I was ready to start again. Training, that is. I have had my share of rest, you know, to recover, for about a week, and then I thought, I cannot do this any longer. Resting, that is.

As you may already know, I registered myself for an Ultra-marathon the very day that I finished my first marathon. This one is being organized by Jonel Mendoza and is titled “frontRUNNER’s Labor Day Coast to Coast Ultra-marathon ‘ONLY THE STRONG’”. It’s a race starting from Balamban, Cebu and ending at the Cebu Provincial Capitol, via Transcentral Highway. The time of the race is May 1, 2011, 4am to 2pm. Yes, about 60KM in 10 hours!

With barely 15 weeks to race day, I was in the search for a suitable training plan. I browsed the Internet for one that would be best for me. But, I was out of luck. I could not find any for the 60KM distance. And then I thought, how about if I would just use my old one? Yes, the one that I used for the marathon. So I did. I am using it now. I made some modifications to it though. I added 50% more to the Long Run distances. Now, I think I am ready. To train, that is.

I do Intervals on Mondays, Tempo on Wednesdays, and Long Runs on Fridays or Saturdays. When I was training for the marathon, I found it to be effective to train only 3 times in a week. So, I thought I’d do the same this time.

Last Monday, I did 1600m warm-up, 4 sets of 800m runs with 2-minute rest intervals, then 10 minutes of easy cool down. I did it in the night, after work, because I was too lazy to get up and hit the road in the morning. You know, those days when the bed just get the better of us runners. It was one of those. But, the bed may have won the battle at 5am that day, at least I was able to redeem myself in the evening!

Wednesday, I did 1.5KM of Easy Tempo, 9KM of Long Tempo, and ended it with another 1.5KM Easy. I must say I must still have a little hangover from my last race as I had difficulty maintaining my pace during this workout.

On Friday, I topped the first week with a Long Run to Busay. It’s been so long since the last time I was in this route, and I must say I missed the feeling of going up and running down this hill - or mountain. I met with Ultraman Joel C., Coach Boying M., and TurboAx at JY before heading up. I enjoyed this run very much and I consider it a privilege to train with these awesome elite runners. Later that day, I joined the Ungo Night Run as a recovery, which was a very nice experience for me. It was the first time that I joined such, and I must say I very much enjoyed it. All in all, I logged in a total of 26KM that day, which was below my target of 28KM, but I thought it was okay for starters.

Now, I would like to mention and thank my wife for being so kind and for understanding my passion for running, for letting me join these kind of races when even the thought of it would be insanity for some. You and our son are my inspiration. I will run and finish this race for you. But of course, I will keep the same promise I did during my last race.

I also must thank Mr. Sun for being so kind, and showing up on my scheduled days of training.

And, as always, I thank God for all the blessings, especially for good health.

Now, on to the next week of training...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tying huaraches... My alternative way.

As you may already know, I use Kai Running Sandals when I run. I have nothing against conventional running shoes, shods as some of you might call them, and nothing against other minimalist shoes - VVFs, Evos, Neos, etc., if they were free, or come with price tags Php500 or less. Anyways...

Tying. The product page itself has a very good guide on a very good way of tying the sandals. Here though, I present my own way of doing it. Call it an alternative way. Warning: Lots of feet photos. Oh and, people with feet fetishes, please please please stay away! Okay. So here it is...

1. Place your foot in between the two straps. The one with the metal lock should go around your Achilles tendon, while the one without it should pass in between your big toe and your long toe or index toe.

2. Create a loop around the strap in front, passing over then under it.

3. Passing over the tail (for the lack of a better word) part, complete the loop in Step 2, and take the head (again, for the lack of a better word) to the lateral side of your feet. Then, insert the head under the strap that goes around your Achilles.

4. Now, insert the head again under the front strap, between the loop in Step 2 and the ear (you guessed it! for the lack of the better word) on the lateral side of the sandal. Then, take the head to the other side of your foot.

5. On the medial side of your foot, insert the head under the strap that passes around your Achilles.

6. Then, take it under the strap that you formed when you created the loop in Step 2.

7. Now, buckle it up.

That's it! You're done. Now, I'm not sure if you completely understood the narrated steps, but the pictures that go with each step should be clear enough. ^_^

Anyways, when you are done, it should look something like these.

Just make sure that the straps are snug fit, and that there are no twisted straps, and you should be good to go...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sweet 04:05:55 Mary

Last january, 9, 2011, I joined a life changing event. The Cebu City Marathon. 42.195 long kilometers of a mix of sweat (who doesn't in a marathon?), and pain (I did feel a little pain in my calves, oh and there's my wound, too, of course, it was little, and it was a little painful), laughters (yes, we were laughing at the start, I think everyone was), and tears (and yes, I cried when I reached the finish line, I couldnt help it, it was an emotional moment for me, so say whatever you want to say, I don't care). Now, let me recount the experience...

I ran from the house to IT Park so I arrived at the site a little late than I planned. I thought it would be a good warm up before the race. I immediately went to the Runner’s World PH booth to get my singlet, then headed on to the parking lot to change and leave my things in my friend’s (KamikazeRunner) car. By this time, we were already hearing the announcement calling all 42k runners because the race was about to start. After making sure that we already have everything that we needed, we then went on to the runner’s holding area. There I met some of my runner friends from dailymile who were all smiles and excited for the race. Pictures were taken, greetings and good lucks were exchanged. There were many comments about my sandals (Kai Running Sandals), some of them in disbelief, some wishing me luck on finishing the race in it, all of them my motivation. Then, another announcement… “The race will start in 2 minutes…” or something like that. Now, the runners were shaking their arms and legs in anticipation, getting ready to march out. And then, with a fireworks above, off we went… 1000 plus runners gunning for the 42.195k experience…

Some people would prefer to not have a time target for their first marathon to take away the pressure. Not me. I was thinking that a goal is a good motivation. Kind of like a force that will drag me to the finish line. In my training, I was able to run 42 kilometers in 4 hours and 19 minutes, so I thought shaving off some minutes from that is a good and realistic enough goal. So… 4 hours and 10 minutes to 4 hours and 15 minutes – that was my target for my debut. I did not aim for a sub – 4 because I thought that it was too ambitious a target for me – a noob.

In the first 12 kilometers of the race, I was taking it easy. I was running at a 6:00 to 5:40 pace. I was hydrating at every water station, and ate a pack of honey (many thanks to my wife for preparing those) at a 30 to 45 minutes interval. I caught up with what I thought was the sub – 4 pacers at kilometer 8 and decided to run with them. I got a little worried when we entered the SRP tunnel because suddenly I was sweating profusely. Good thing there was a water station in the middle which helped eased out my worries. I drank more in this water station than in any other during this race. Then, at kilometer 12, I had a shocking realization… I was with the wrong group! They were actually the sub – 4:30 pacers…

From kilometer 12, I decided to speed up a little. I went ahead of the sub – 4:30 group to catch up on my target. I tried to maintain a 5:20 to 5:40 pace. I still hydrate at every water station, though. I promised my wife I will not get seriously injured, collapse, or die in this race, and I was making sure not to break that promise. There was only one incident somewere in kilometer 16 when I almost tripped because I hit a road reflector with my left foot. That’s how I got the wound in my left ankle. I hit it with my right sandal when I tried to recover my balance. But, it was nothing serious… so, promise still kept. I was able to get to the turning point in less than 2 hours…

Now, I was homeward bound. All the while, I had a smile on my face. You see, I also told my wife that there will be a lot of photographers along the route and I will make sure I will have good pictures. So, smile I did, all the way to the finish. I also noticed there were a lot of people looking at my footwear. Some of them must have thought I was crazy running in those sandals. While some of them shouted, “Go barefoot!” I smiled at them. I was thankful for the extra motivation, especially during this part of the race.

Entering the tunnel again, I was already feeling tired. Even before reaching it, a few kilometers before the tunnel, I was already having a hard time maintaining the 5:40 pace. I was slowing down. I was worried I wouldn't hit my target. When I reached the Colon area, I was positive I still have the chance. I thought if I could just maintain a 5:50 pace I might even be able to hit a sub – 4 finish. But, it was only wishful thinking. It was very hard to maintain even a 6:00 pace at that point in the race. So, I just did the best that I could, holding in my mind the only motivation that has kept me going – my wife and my son waiting for me at the finish line.

When I reached the UP area, I looked at my watch. 3 hours and 55 minutes had passed. The sub – 4 finish is already an impossibility, probably something to aim for in 2012, I thought. So, I eased out. I enjoyed the cheers, the motivation, and the smiling faces from the marshals, and the people along the route. Then, I saw the finish line…

I was a little emotional this time. I thought, looking back, what a great thing I have done! The immense sense of fulfillment from the whole gratifying experience, from the sweet victory of conquering 42.195 kilometers came pouring in. I couldn't help myself. My tears fell while I raised my hands when I reached the finish line.

Now, I have ran a marathon! Now, I thought, I will claim my prize – a kiss, yes, a kiss from my wife and a kiss to my son. A million times sweeter than the mangoes that I have on my neck… That was my prize.

Cheers to all of us who braved the 42.195 kilometers and reached the finish line!
Cheers to the organizers for a race that raised the bar a few knots higher!
Cheers to all of those we hold dear, whose support and love carried us through when we thought we couldn't make it anymore!
Lastly, cheers to God! To Him be the glory…

* Photo credit to Sydney Delos Reyes for the greatest photo that I have for this race.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My running blog... at last!

Yes. Finally, I'm in the bandwagon. No. Not the running bandwagon. The blogging bandwagon. Oh, and yes, this is a running blog. Since I started running, I have this urge, this itch to write about my experiences on the road. There is so much to say about it, it's just that I don't know how to write about it. Yes. I struggle with words, and I suck at writing. Anyway...

I started running back in 2010. July 20, 2010. I was training for the 5th CDU Run then, which was also my first official race. I ran in the CDU 10K category in preparation for another race the weekend after that - the Aboitiz Race to Reduce Challenge. In my frustration though, I was not able to join the Aboitiz race because I was late. I could never forget that experience. It wasn't that the organizers did not allow me to run, I opted not to run because I was ashamed of marching to the starting line late. Thoughts of people staring at me thinking who this lone, shameless noob walking to the starting line late were flashing through my mind that time. So I decided, I'd just turn around and save face. Still, it got me so frustrated that I registered right away for a race happening the weekend after that - the 1st Recoletos Run. Also, I made a promise to myself never to be late on any race event again.

Now, almost six months after I started running, with more than 700 kilometers of training logged to my account in dailymile (, oh and Php17K poorer from buying myself a GPS watch, here I am, excited, anticipating, and eagerly waiting for 4:00am of January 9, 2011 - the gun time for my very first official full marathon. Wish me luck, guys! And, see you on the road...