Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Full Marathon Training Plan - 6 Weeks Done!

I'm currently following a 16-week training plan for my upcoming HongKong Marathon on Feb 2012. The training plan is for a sub-4 marathon, which I'm not really targeting. I'll faint if I even finish in sub-4:30. Haha! However, I just like to follow a training program, to the best of my ability, given a number of factors which would make me miss some training days - work, illness, or just simple laziness.

I track my progress in a simple MS Excel worksheet. So far I've logged an approximate 225km in 6 weeks, versus the 290km recommended by the program. Sigh. That's just 77.6% of the needed mileage.

The next 10 weeks will only get tougher.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Running Tagaytay Highlands: EPIC!

Nathan Ridge Run's tagline: We'll REDEFINE road races. They didn't disappoint.

Last November 20, I and a few (suicidal) Team Alpha1 members joined what could be our most memorable race for the year - Nathan Ridge Run, at Tagaytay Highlands. As the day's designated driver (LOL!), I picked-up Coyote, FFS and Rocky at Speedygiant's Paranaque residence, where they stayed for the night. We left for the long drive around 3am in the morning.

We were greeted by race marshals at the Highlands gate, with our race bibs as entrance passes to this exclusive destination.

"Welcome Runners" banner

One of the marshals handed us a map to the location of the starting line. My navigators ensured we were on the right path by following closely the directions on the map.

The controversial map.

We arrived at Midlands, quite surprised that we were the first one to arrive. Not a single soul was in sight (shudders...). I parked my car at this very dark and creepy parking lot. Martin was even joking of a man sitting at a far bench, looking at us. Someone got scared, but I won't divulge who.

A security guard on a motorcycle arrived (whew!) and told us we were on the wrong location. The starting line of the race is at the Highlands, not Midlands. We showed him our map and he pointed us to the correct location. It turned out that the map is one directing to a church for the Del Rosario-Tan wedding which happened October 22! We were laughing our asses off upon realizing what a big booboo we had.

On top of this series of comedic events, the race kits of Eugene and Maddy were in my car, and they should be presenting their race bibs at the gate to be able to enter, so we had to drive all the way back to the gate. It was already 4:20am and we lost all the free time we should have had been enjoying before the race start.

Finally we have arrived at Highlands! The buses carrying most of the runners were now arriving. I parked my car at the designated area, and we had to walk an uphill path going to the clubhouse, where the start arc is located.

FFS, Coyote, Maddy, Eugenator, Rocky, Deemen - the suicidal bunch

Team pic with the very pink Sweet Life Runner

We had a few minutes to prepare (and for some photo ops). The 21k runners were asked to assemble at the starting line, with some words of warning from the race director that what we joined in is no ordinary race. And with that, we were off!

I thought that Martin, Rocky and I could run the race together. I was wrong! The start of the race was already an uphill (or uphell, as they say), and it was so difficult to pace with another runner given we have different running styles in this type of terrain. We got separated very early in the race.

Enough of the rants. I now present to you a set of pictures highlighting my Nathan Ridge Run experience:

The crazy fog during an uphill (running) battle

I love their kilometer markers but I only had the chance to take a pic of the 7km marker.
It's an additional effort to stop and take a picture with my trembling hands. :p

Look at the background downhill path!

Guys, this is no camera trick!

Met Aldrin, who was running the same pace as I am. We ran-walked-talked until the finish line.
Merry Christmas colors!

Even walking was a struggle at the final kilometer of the race! I can't even force a smile!

After 2 hours and 43 minutes, it was all over. The grueling race was worth it - I managed to finish it injury-free!

My hardest-to-earn 21k medal (so far)

Team Picture!

21k finishers and proud!

What else comes after the hardships of a long run? A well-deserved post-race breakfast of course! We went to Leslie's Tagaytay for bulalo, sisig and crispy pata! Calories lost, calories gained. Haha!

Hungry boars.

The big question is, with the Nathan Ridge Run becoming an annual event, will I give it another try next year? Right now, the answer is no, even though it's one of my favorite races for the year. What I'm feeling right now is that it's sort of a once-in-a-lifetime race experience. It's fun yet traumatic. But we'll see. It would be a good target to set a new PR on this race, kinda lets you assess if you're getting stronger on hills.

Hard-earned medal.

Runner 0318 helped redefine a road race.

Friday, November 25, 2011

New 32k PR at Unilab Run 2011

I promised myself I'll be having a new PR at the 32k Afroman distance the next race opportunity. Last 2010 at the Unilab Run United 2, I finished in 4 hours, 2 minutes and 19 seconds. This year in Unilab Run United 3, I slashed 35 minutes off that time and clocked in at a strong 3 hours, 26 minutes and 50 seconds!

Thanks to the weekend long runs and weekly trainings at McKinley hill, I've managed to increase my endurance on long distance running. The 25k run the previous week at the NB Power Run event worked to my advantage, as I have a gauge already of how I need to conserve energy at the latter part of the race.

I paced with two Team Alpha1 teammates - Martin (Coyote) and our new member Byron (Achilles). We were targeting for a sub 3:30 finish, with a need to sustain a 6:15 to 6:20 minutes per kilometer pace. The plan was also to do a steady start, pick-up speed at the middle and finish strong.

By kilometer 22, Coyote declared a "walk break" which I did not want to entertain. I knew that if I walked with 10 kilometers to go, fatigue will set-in. I decided to go ahead; I wanted to keep my legs moving. At around 7:30am, I started to feel the heat. It was not particularly helpful that we were running in Roxas boulevard area where there's very little shade. Hunger also started to kick-in, with no banana stations and no Powerade drinks in hydration stations. I just managed to be content on small sips of water at every hydration station I pass through.

At the final curve with the finish line in sight, I was elated to see 3:26 on the digital timer display. With a bit of a sprint, I crossed the 32km arc in 3:26:50. I did it! I performed above target!

Deemen, FFS, Rocknrolly, Achilles, Bandit

A few more meters to the finish line!

Post-race breakfast at Dennis the Grill Boy, Mall of Asia (Welcome, TA1 Byron!);
Watched the Pacquiao-Marquez controversial match after

"You passed 134 runners!" Oh yeah!

Next year, I'd probably eye for a sub 3:10 finish. Well it doesn't hurt to dream anyway.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Run, Rain and Pain: 25k at the New Balance Power Run

I'm not a fan of the rain. I miss gym workout sessions when it rains. I miss my running training program when it rains. I'd rather stay home and keep dry.

All that changed on a rainy, Sunday morning of November 6, when I forced myself to go out of bed, and attend the NB Power Run event. I didn't want my money to go to waste; I paid 1000 bucks as registration fee for this! Hehe!

Good thing I'm all geared-up for the downpour. I had my running jacket on as well as a cap to protect my eyes from the rain. My pair of shoes helps keep out water as well. Puddles of water were everywhere, and there was a particular area in the race route were flood waters were about an ankle high. Runners had no choice but to submerge their running feet. Wet shoes... Wet socks... Blisters!

Luckily, I had running company with me, my teammates from Team Alpha1 Coyote and FFS. FFS graciously offered to pace me and Martin. No pressure for me though, as this is my first 25k event, with a sure PR as long as I finish. I appreciated how FFS controlled our pace at the first few kilometers - making us slow down on road bends, advising us to keep steady on uphills, and on top of that, running ahead of us when we're approaching hydration stations and handing us cups of water as soon as we reach the water station. Now that's good pacer service!

We picked up pace at the final 10 kilometers, and by this time, we were overtaking a lot of runners who weren't able to manage to balance their energy reserves well. FFS' strategy worked! We managed to finish in 2 hours, 36 minutes and 59 seconds. Given the weather condition, that's a great time.

Almost at the finish line!

Team Alpha1 25k Finishers

Post-race breakfast at Pancake House

Runpix Analysis - Notice the negative split at the final 11k!

Now the only problem I had with this race is why the heck the finisher's medallion given during registration? If there's any rationale to that, I'd like to know.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Online Raffle Winner! Woot!

(Gift voucher photo courtesy of Kulitrunner's site)

I love reading other runners' blogs. One site I frequently visit is Kulitrunner's site since she's almost always first in announcing details of Runrio races. Last October 30, she posted a blog entry, letting 5 lucky readers win a complimentary race kit in Run United 3. I seldom join raffles since I feel luck is not on my side, but when I read this particular contest, I really felt good so I gave it a try.

3 days later, the winners were announced. Snippet of the blog entry on the image below:
Thank you Ma'am Vimz for this great running gift! I have registered already in RU3 32k (did not want to rely on chance alone) but Ma'am Vimz told me the voucher is transferable (but should never be sold) so my Team Alpha1 teammate Speedygiant will be using it for the 15k category.

Time to join more online running contests! Haha!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Signed-up for my 2nd Full Marathon!

Hongkong, baby!

Flight - Check!
Hotel Booking - Check!
Full marathon training - Started last October 17!

I'm soooo excited since this is the first out of the country trip of Team Alpha 1. This will be my 3rd visit to HK. I love this city!

Hopefully my HK full marathon time significantly improves compared to my epic fail Singapore Marathon last year. Train, Noel, train!!!

Adobo Run - My First Official Night Race

Last October 29, Saturday, I officially ran my first night race at the Adobo Run After Dark race event. I did not consider Nike We Run Manila as a night race because a.) the gunstart was at 5pm and b.) I finished 10k even before sunset. (Can you just feel I'm such a Nike Run hater? :p)

I thought Team Alpha 1 would be well-represented in this race but it turned out that only myself and Bryan FFS ran the 15k category. Barefoot Daves participated in the 5k category but he had to continue on his 25-kilometer LSD so I wasn't able to see him post-race.

We met KB and Mish - they did a competitive 5k run with Mish having a 6-minute head start. (Mish eventually won.)
The gunstart was crazy - it was announced in posters and Facebook posts earlier that 3k gunstart was at 8:10pm, 5k gunstart at 8:20pm and 15k gunstart at 8:30pm. Well guess what happened on race night? It was completely reversed and on different times! 3k costume runners were surprised to have been given the go signal to run 7:50pm. 5k runners were released around 8:20pm and 15k runners were the last to start at around 8:50pm. None of the original gunstart times were followed. I wonder what caused this but it definitely pissed-off a number of runners. I saw a lot of confused runners' faces.

Still, I enjoyed the race. The route was nice even though 15k runners had to bear doing 3 loops. The route was vehicle-free, much to runners' delight, hydration was ample, and lighting was satisfactory. I still haven't recovered fully from sickness, but after recovering from the initial feeling of heaviness of my legs, I began enjoying the cool breeze and increased my running pace. While running, all I'm thinking about is making it to the first 500 finishers since I really wanted to receive one of the limited finishers' medals.

During the last loop, I felt I passed a lot of 15k runners and I was excited that I'm going to have a strong race finish. Here's a pic take just before I reached the finish line. Triumphant!
I got the medal! Yay! (Photo courtesy of Adobo Run After Dark Official FB Page)
Surprisingly, I placed 50th among 400+ 15k runners when the results were released:
BUT (there's always a but) - here's the catch: Race Director Edward Kho released an official statement:
To all adobo Run participants. All the 3 race categories were indeed short as there was a considerable distance that were truncated in favor of the safety of all runners and consideration of motorists (the run was originally supposed to go out to Macapagal, pass along EDSA and cross the intersections of Coral and Bradco). All of that were scrapped in view of a major traffic flow because of the long weekend rush. I will own up to that shortcoming. It was a decision I had to make. Runners' safety (which includes provision for hydration and marshaling) and enjoyment of running and consideration of other road users are my utmost concerns in putting executing a race. If anybody felt cheated I am conveying my apologies to them.
So in effect, I just ran 13.5 kilometers. I'm still happy though because with my time, I managed to maintain an average of 5:30 pace which is the fastest I've ran this year. I'm gradually building up speed again. Yeah!