Saturday, June 26, 2010

Runrio Trilogy Leg 2: Nature Valley Run

One Runner = One Tree. This is the tagline of the Nature Valley Run, Leg 2 of the Runrio Trilogy. I already blogged about my planned progression on the course of the trilogy - 10k, 21k then 32k for the final leg. However, getting injured in between the legs was never part of the plan. I registered for the 21k race category, long before I got injured in NatGeo. Back then, I was targetting to beat my 21k PR last Condura Run, but that would never solidify at this event, not with this ankle condition, no. That would have to wait.

Good thing my personal therapy sessions at Makati Med two weeks before the Nature Valley Run were already taking effect - I was able to remove the limping and can already walk at a faster pace. (Thanks to my therapists Daisy and Brian, if by chance you read this.) The problem is, I didn't get to do any practice runs, and had to cut my gym visits at a minimum.

May 30, 2010 - Race day. Four of us will be running 21k - Mils, Eugene, Earl and myself, wearing the orange race bibs. All of them are virgin half-marathoners.

I decided to run with Mils throughout the race course, sort of acting as a pacer for her as well. The plan was to do a 6-1 Galloway method (that would be alternating 6-minute run, 1-minute walk). But the plan did not even materialize, as Mils was not in a good running condition that day. She easily went out of breath within the first 5 kilometers. We would run a couple of minutes, and walk for a longer time. I did not complain though, and I was just enjoying our chats while walking, and I was also able to appreciate the views along the race route. Besides, walking with Mils prevented me from pushing myself again to the capabilities of my legs, which is a good thing.

It took us a long 3 hours, 34 minutes and 53 seconds to reach the finish line. As we were greeted by the race marshalls, putting on our 21k medals, I forgot how tired I was and I was just thankful to God that I survived my 2nd half-mary. There'll be plenty more opportunities to run a better 21k anyway.

We all made it - Earl, Mils, Eugene and myself. Aside from the medals and the finisher shirts given to 21k finishers, we also received a pint of Haagen Dazs ice cream each. I devoured my ice cream in record time.

Leg 3 will take place on November. 32k, or the Afroman challenge, will be the race category highlight of that event. There's nothing more I'm praying for right now but to be injury-free for the rest of the year and be able to be in tip-top shape come November.

Julio and Julia "Chased the Sun" at the Neutrogena Run

After having successfully organized the Skyathon run at Boracay, my sister wanted to join the bandwagon and experience running herself. I was surprised when she told me she wanted to register at the Neutrogena Run, but just on the shortest distance category possible. We registered for 3k, and I was excited because it's my first time running that distance, and with my sister too!

May 16, 2010 - Race day. I was in a company of a different set of people this time (Pic below from L-R: Armin, my sister Enchie, Jen, Me).

I knew this race is gonna be quick. On my uninjured state, I would normally run 5 minutes per kilometer, so that would just be 15 minutes on a 3k race. However, I have not yet fully recovered from my ankle injury, so I was just planning to take it easy again. I told my sister I'm going to be her pacer (again a first for me), and we ran all the way to the finish line together (Photovendo pic below). Of course there were a couple of moments when my sister wanted to give up and just walk, but part of a pacer's job is to push whoever the person is he's pacing to continue running. So that's what I did, and we finished with a solid 22 minutes and 5 seconds. Great time for my sister's first run! I'm a proud pacer!

We collected our loot bags early, and while everyone else was resting, I decided to walk around the race village to see some familiar faces. I brought a camera with me, just in case. Guess who I've spotted with my eagle eyes - Jaymie Pizarro aka The Bull Runner. She's the official Neutrogena Run model and endorser. She has such a happy aura around her.

Hopefully, this is just a start of more running events with my sister. To family and good health!

Asian Hospital's RUNew: My Birthday Run!

Runners celebrate different occasions by joining running events, which they deem special and memorable - may it be their birthday, running anniversary or even when they just reach a particular mileage. In my case, I'm lucky enough that a Rio-organized event was scheduled just a day before my birthday, Asian Hospital's RUNew, which was held at Filinvest Alabang. A race in the south, what more can a runner from Paranaque wish for?

Most of my running friends reside in the Northern part of Metro Manila. Good thing, two of my original running buddies, Ying and Geoff, are both from the south, and agreed to register with me. Ying came from an injury as well (but has completely recovered), so we all chose to register for the 5k category only. I, on the other hand, was supposed to be recovering and resting my injured ankle.

May 2, 2010 - Pre-birthday race day. I was still limping but I was stubborn. I wanted to run. I drove to Filinvest wearing my favorite singlet from Skyathon.

After gun start, I let Ying and Geoff go ahead and not wait for me; I planned to run slow. A bit faster though, than my pace last Skyathon. I targetted a sub-1 finish this time. My Photovendo pic shows how serious I am (and feeling a bit of pain too).

I was happy to finish in the official time of 43 minutes and 11 seconds, way above my expected finish goal.

RUNew was a small running event compared to the others I've joined so far. I would estimate around 3000 participants ran. With this small number, I knew it was easy to spot Coach Rio and have a picture taken with him. Here's me and my running idol, fresh from the Boston Marathon. "It's not a RACE, it's a STATE OF MIND." Nice shirt, Coach!

We also spotted Patrick Concepcion (Runningshield in the running blog community), after his strong 16k finish. We had a good chat with him on his plans for the upcoming Condura Run 2011. He hinted a possible Alabang starting line, should the Skyway construction finish within the year. Woohoo!

It was a refreshing experience! I just wish more race events would happen in the south.

Skyathon Boracay Beach and Surf Run (or Walk?)

Now who would pass on a great running opportunity like this? Running along the beach of Boracay during summer? And to top it all, a race event organized by my sister! Show the love!

Unfortunately, if you have read about my NatGeo injury, it'll leave you with a feeling of pity. The NatGeo run happened on the 18th of April. The Skyathon beach run happened 6 days after that. Everything was set months ahead - flight schedule and hotel booking. There was no way I would back-out just because of my injury. I waited in eager anticipation for this Boracay vacation.

April 24, 2010 - Race Day. We arrived 6am at the assembly area, just in front of Guilly's island. The event didn't start on time, but who cares? It was cloudy, just perfect for an early morning run. Here's a pic of me and my busy sister:

Me and my running friends opted not to wear rubber shoes and just run barefoot. For me, I decided to just walk the entire 5k route. I know it'll take a while, but a real runner never quits a race. Mils, as well as some Sky Cable friends, accompanied me on that long 5k walk. Here's a pic of me taking the walk of shame, LOL! Notice I still had my ankle bandage-wrapped.

It took me a long time to get to the finish line (1 hour, 8 minutes and 43 seconds to be exact), but still proud to have finished. I noticed some runners clapping their hands; they knew I was injured but still had the courage (or probably stupidity, as the TRAP host said) to finish 5k.

What's Bora without celebrity sightings? And with it, cam-whoring!
Here's me with Cherie Gil. I heard this was her first time to join a running event. She's one hot momma!

Eugene and I had a picture taken with Noelle De Guzman (known as the famous Kikayrunner in the running community). She placed first in 5k women's category, finishing in 24 minutes and 20 seconds. That's my time when I run on pavements; she had the same time running on difficult sand!

During the beach clean-up activity, we saw Sam Oh helping out on the clean-up. She did not run though. If she ran on those two-piece suit it would have been an epic wardrobe malfunction.

JC Cuadrado hosted the event. Cool dude.

Finally went back to our hotel at the Pearl of the Pacific. We had breakfast again (there was already a free breakfast at Guilly's after the run). Here are my Bora buddies:

We're really looking forward to next year's Skyathon. Hopefully I could be able to redeem myself already and finish strong.

My Worst Nightmare: Injury during the NatGeo Earth Day Run

It's every runner's nightmare to get injured during a race. I never imagined it happening to me, having been doing a lot of practice runs and gym workouts. But it did. And it hit me bigtime.

There are a number of factors that I consider before joining a particular race event. There's no doubt Runrio-organized ones are the best, so I usually join those. The advocacy behind the event would be another point I'd look at (a good sample of this is running to save the dolphins last Condura Run). And of course, the price of the registration fee. This is probably a wrong conclusion, but I usually equate high fees with high quality races - caused a lot of debate among runners (if you read various blog sites and forums), but it's something I believe in. That's the reason why I joined the National Geographic Earth Day Run, held at the Mall of Asia, over another Earth Day Run which was held at the Fort. Without timing chips or any race freebies, the reg fee was at P700 for the 10k category. This is the most expensive 10k race I've joined in to date. Well, it's National Geographic anyway, and they're giving away "technical shirts", for whatever reason they're called that way I don't want to know.

April 18, 2010 - Race Day. I headed to MoA, sporting my new, green Nike singlet and Mizuno running cap. I didn't wear the race shirt since I'm not comfortable running on sleeved tops. As you can see on the picture below, we have two additions on our running group - Chaniel (leftmost) and Rappiboy (rightmost).

Now familiar with the MoA route, having just joined The Green Miles Run, I upped my race pace. By the 5k halfway-point, I was elated to beat my 5k personal record - 24 minutes, translating to a pace of 4 minutes and 48 seconds per kilometer! I was on my way to a new 10k PR (hint: Sub-Piolo). The photo below was taken by Tey, just before I hit the 5k mark.

The excitement didn't last long though. During the 7k mark, I felt there was something wrong with my left ankle. "This could not be happening to me", I keep telling myself. I slowed down, hoping the pain would subside. I then tried to increase my pace again, but I was not just imagining things. I had no choice but to say goodbye to my new PR dream. I did a 7 minute per kilometer pace on the final few kilometers, with runners overtaking me left and right.

After crossing the finish line, I continued to walk, assessing the feeling on my left ankle. It was still painful and I was already complaining about it to my running companions. But the drama needs to be forgotten for a while, photo opportunities await!

Rap and I saw Gladys while walking around the finish line area. Notice how Gladys covered her race bib on this photo. She didn't want anyone to know she only ran 3k. Oops!

I also met my elementary and high school classmate as well as college roommate Winsley (that's him on the right) and his friend Noel (yes, another Noel). These two are very strong runners.

Finally, we wouldn't miss doing the "superposition". I just couldn't help but laugh whenever I see Chaniel's chicken dance and Rap's armpit scratching. Maybe the superposition takes a lot of practice to perfect.

Mils, Rap, Chrissie, Paolo and I then had a yummy breakfast at Cafe Breton. During that time, I had to do some first-aid, so I was putting on ice to my injured ankle. By 9am, Mils, Rap and I attended Sunday mass at the nearby church. I was just leaning on the church wall throughout the mass, and by communion time, when I attempted to move from my position, I knew I can no longer walk on my own. The pain was already excruciating. I decided it was now time to go to the hospital. Rap had to go home already so only Mils was left to accompany me to Makati Med (Thank you Budeh!).

It was my first wheelchair experience. The nurse asked me my pain level on a scale of 1 to 10; I answered a definite 8! I was given a quick acting pain reliever, my ankle was bandage-wrapped and applied an ice pack. The hospital attendants also did an x-ray on the affected area to make sure I had no bone fractures. Thank God it was only a muscle sprain. I was advised to continue applying ice to my ankle, keep it wrapped in bandage, elevate it during rest, and take the prescribed pain reliever.

With this injury, I was devastated since I had a number of future race events I've already registered in. You'll definitely read more on the developments of this injury on my succeeding blogs.

Oh and by the way, I finished the race in 55 minutes and 49 seconds, still a sub-1, but a shattered new PR goal attempt.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Green Miles Run

I had three previous consecutive runs organized by the best race organizers in the country. I knew it was only a matter of time before I feel the disappointment of a sub-par race event.

Me and my running friends received an invite from Chrissie to join The Green Miles Run, the event having been organized by a batch from her alma mater UST. The Green Miles Run boasts of Piolo Pascual as an endorser, with his Hebreo Foundation as the recipient of the proceeds of the event.

Running addicts would know that Piolo set a record during 2009's Timex Run, introducing the term "sub-Piolo" - meaning you're better than Piolo if you beat his 10k time of 47 minutes and 54 seconds. On this event, he'll run 15k. It would be an ego boost for anyone who could beat him to the finish line. I wanted to earn that bragging right.

March 21, 2010 - Race Day. First 15k, first time to run at the Mall of Asia grounds. I heard a lot of feedback that experienced runners did not favor the flat route of MoA, with long distances just doing numerous loops around the mall area. Good thing the 15k route stretches out of Roxas boulevard until the U-turn at the US embassy.

Here's a pre-race photo of me and my running friends:

During the 15k assembly time, we decided to go in front of the starting line; we figured Piolo will be there right in front for publicity shots. When he arrived, the excitement of beating him started to kick-in. As you can see on the shot below, that's me and Earl just behind Papa P.

I followed Eugene's pace initially and it didn't take long before we overtook Piolo (if I remember correctly, this was when we passed the mall center's gigantic globe). Keeping up with Eugene's pace was difficult. I knew there will come a point when I had to slow down and let him go on his own. Between the 6k and 7k mark, I was on my own.
I continued with my own pace, enjoying the route which I consider as a breath of fresh air. I was confident that I was still doing a sub-Piolo. I didn't see him overtaking me but I was quite puzzled that I didn't see him when I was on my way back along Roxas Boulevard. When I got to the finish line, Eugene was already there, as well as my non-15k friends. Guess what? I received bad news that Piolo already crossed the finish line, ahead of me by 5 minutes. T_T

Later, I overheard from some runners that Piolo had his own 15k route. Most probably he just went around the MoA area, and for security purposes he did not take the Roxas Boulevard route. Unfair if you ask me, but if you're a celebrity you really get special treatment. This is sour-graping at its best.

The official race results were released a week later, with very poor accuracy. According to the results, my time was 1 hour, 15 minutes and 25 seconds. I believe this was around 3 to 5 minutes advanced from my actual time. That's what you get from manual barcodes. Piolo's time never got announced.

Bottomline, it was a wrong race choice. If I had learned about the Globe Ayala Run earlier, I would have joined that event. Oh the eternal battle between Globe and Smart! Did I mention Smart was Green Miles' major sponsor? Go figure.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Unilab Run United for Wellness

Now a certified Rio fan, I vowed to join every running event he'll organize. Every race event is as perfect as it can possibly be - from registration to the actual day itself (and for this event, even the post-race has had its perks).

My only regret is that I registered late, hence no singlet. They cut off a hundred bucks from the registration fee, but I still wish I could have laid my hands on that nice Unilab singlet. Frustrated, I just bought myself a new, red NB singlet, wishing those damn Photovendo photographers get to notice me better in a sea of runners wearing white. The singlet did not disappoint.

March 7, 2010 - Race Day. Our running team is growing! (From L-R: Earl, Carlo, Mils, Paolo, Chrissie, Me, Eugene) Told yah my singlet's catchy. I should have worn a pair of shorts just like Earl's.

Again, this is another 10k event so I won't delve on the boring details. The most I could remember from the race is the sprint I did towards the finish line. My Photovendo pic captured the moment so well. Notice the facial growl. And I was hovering.

The official race result: 50 minutes, 5 seconds (ranked 54th out of 1850 10k runners). I was gunning for a sub-50 but I'd take it. This is my personal best as of writing.

We had our post-race meal at McDo and since we missed doing the superposition at the race village, guess where we did it?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Runrio Trilogy Leg 1: Century Tuna Superbods Run

The famous Runrio Trilogy - Even running newbies dream of completing the three legs of this Rio-organized event. The first leg is sponsored by Century Tuna slated for February; second would be Nature Valley for May and the third and final leg would be Timex for November. The Timex Run boasts of the 32k category, wherein dream marathoners would be able to gauge their preparedness in running a full marathon. My plan is to run the trilogy in such a progression (10k, 21k then 32k), that by the end of the year, I can already say i am physically (and mentally) ready to do a 42k.

I have a series of firsts for Century Tuna Run: This is my first 10k running event. This is the first Rio-organized run I've joined in. This is also the first time I've tried to register online. It's very convenient since race packets are delivered to your doorsteps. The only problem is with sky-high registration fees nowadays, adding another hundred bucks for delivery fee is no longer practical. Store registration is still the best way to go.

February 21, 2010 - Race Day. I was excited to wear one of the best race singlets I've received so far (Each race category had a different singlet color by the way). Below's a group shot (from L-R: Cams, Earl, Mils, Chrissie, Charles, Me).

I have built enough confidence from my previous 21k run that I knew this 10k will just be a breeze. And as I'm writing this long-overdue blog, I just realized the race itself was really not that memorable. Well, I'm sure that's expected if you've just ran the Skyway previously. The Fort route is, well, the Fort route. I guess it's worth mentioning here that around 12,000 runners participated in this run. I wonder what percentage of that just joined to get a glimpse of Derek Ramsay though.

Another race first will be my Photovendo shot. There are a lot of photographers stationed throughout the race route, taking pictures of all the runners. Here's my favorite shot:

Cool right? Proves in this picture that I've already caught up with the 5k runners. I was that fast. Sorry, runners 5611 and 5208. :p

I clocked in 55 minutes and 12 seconds. A sub-1 hour on my first 10k attempt. Not bad, eh?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Condura Skyway Run for the Dolphins: My First 21k

Fresh from my first 5k run, an impulse-based, crazy idea came to mind: join my experienced running friends who signed up for their first 21k. I found out they joined one of the country's premier running events, the Condura Run 2010. I was a running newbie back then but at the back of my mind I was thinking, Condura plus Skyway would equate to something big.

A week after Takbo Para Kay Gibo, I found myself lining-up at the New Balance ATC registration booth. A few people ahead of me on queue had their registration forms ready. Curious at what they were signing-up for, I took quick glances at their forms: 5k, 10k, 5k, 5k. And then it was my turn and I handed out a registration form with the 21k checkbox marked. What the hell was I signing-up for?

I was now committed. I had to do some serious training and I had to do it fast. I only had less than 3 weeks left before the event. Good thing my running friends Geoff and Ying were not taking 21k lightly either. They planned regular running practices at the Fort, and I needed to go with them on every single practice. We were trying to build up mileage. And by the first week of February, a few days before the actual race, we were able to run 14k. That's 7k away from 21k, right? I had to convince myself I had the confidence to survive my first half-mary.

February 7, 2010 - Race day. I had trouble sleeping the night before, out of excitement and nervous anticipation perhaps. During the ride to the Fort, we already saw some 42k runners being paced by a guy with balloons on his back. I would have laughed looking at the scene on a regular day, but there was nothing particularly funny when you had the nerves to fight.

Arriving at the Fort, it was already assembly time for the 21k runners. Of course we had to capture our pre-race looks first.

The starting line feeling was intense. Adrenalin rush was starting to kick-in. Upon gun-start, coupled with fireworks and bands playing at the side, the race started. There was a lot of energy in me that I had to leave my running companions behind and run fast. I had my own pace and I was beginning to overtake a lot of runners along the way. Arriving at Buendia flyover, it was a test on who can endure the long, gradual incline better. A number of participants were just walking it out, but not me. I love running inclines; it makes me feel stronger conquering every hard step.

The next part I could remember is the part when we were already about to traverse the path to Skyway. At the base of flyover, race bandits were not being allowed to enter (Sorry guys, but you have to pay to experience this; that's just fair). Again it was a gradual and painful incline. The next thing I know, I was already running the Skyway path and it was worth it. The elite runners were already on their way back to the Fort, and I can only feel adoration for the passion these runners put on the sport. I also saw Coach Rio on his way back. He was alone but the runners beside me were shouting "Go Coach!". I had to shout too.

The U-turn was located at the Skyway toll gate. It was a great feeling to receive the race U-turn necklace. I wore it proudly around my neck and I knew it was now time to go back to the Fort. The sun was already up but the temperature's still perfect for running. I was very happy of my race position by this time. I knew I was kinda ahead; a lot of runners were still running the opposite direction when I was heading back and I even saw my race companions passing by.

By Buendia flyover, I was beginning to feel tired. For the first time during the race, I walked going up the flyover. I just knew that if I try to run during this point, I might not have enough energy to make it to the finish line. There were still a few kilometers to go. After the flyover, I kept a slow and steady pace until I saw what I was long anticipating to see: the final kilometer mark. By this point I ran fast again until the finish line arch. There, finishers were being greeted by race marshalls and being given their medals. The last medal I wore was back in high school, so receiving a medal at that moment was a bit nostalgic. The 21k medal was well-earned.

Later that day, the race results were released. I clocked in at 2 hours, 6 minutes and 55 seconds, placing 241st out of 1500 21k runners. This is an achievement that I will always treasure.