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I had been doing yoga with some friends for several months until our teacher got pregnant so we had to stop the lessons for the time being.  I’m not even sure now if that’s the reason but thanks to good friend Sumie, I’ve now been introduced to the world of Pilates.  Stott Pilates to be exact.  Sumie enrolled for a class and then for her practical training, she is teaching me and a few other friends starting from the very basic.

I’ve tried some pilates at the gym before and I really liked it but because Sumie gives a more personalized class, she teaches the basic principles and then guides us in our breathing and every move as we progress and try other moves.

Light moment before the session with Reina and Mark

Sharing a light moment before the session with Reina and Mark

So what is Stott Pilates?  According to its website, it is a contemporary approach to the original method pioneered by the late Joseph Pilates and includes modern principles of exercise science and spinal rehabilitation, making it one of the safest and effective methods available.  It’s used by rehab and prenatal clients, athletes, celebrities and everyone in between.

The benefits range from improving postural problems and having longer and leaner muscles to preventing injury and balancing strength and flexibility.

Sumie teaches the pelvic placement.

Sumie teaches about the pelvic placement.

On the first day, I learned about the 5 basic principles which focused on:

  • breathing
  • pelvic placement
  • rib cage placement
  • scapular movement, and
  • head and cervical spine placement

And on the second session yesterday, teacher Sumie noticed that my body looked more relaxed particularly my shoulders during and after doing some movements.  I also found last night’s session more challenging.  We are all excited to come back for more!

Group picture after an hour and a half of Stott Pilates

Group picture after an hour and a half of Stott Pilates

I plan to continue (for as long as Sumie will allow me) doing Pilates and I’ll try to share some points in this blog hoping to encourage other runners (and of course even non-runners) to at least give it a try.

After my long run yesterday and two sets of tennis, I was really excited to catch the live broadcast of the Women’t marathon of the 12th IAAF World Championsips in Athletics on tv.

I had been too busy to watch previous telecasts because of work but I was following how Jamaica’s Usain Bolt completed a 100m and 200m double in record times.  I also heard on the news how Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva lost for the first time in five years in the women’s pole vault.

After Kenya finished 1-2 in the men’s marathon with Kirui and Mutai finishing in 2:06:54 and 2:07:48, respectively, and 3 Japanese finishing in the top 20, the last day saw marathon actions over at the distaff side.

I caught the race nearing the halfway mark at the scenic Berlin course that included the site of what was formerly the Berlin Wall.  At this point there were about 20 women in the lead pack with none about to give in.  It got more interesting after a few more kilometers when that number went down to 10 and after kilometer 30, the battle was now being fought by runners from Russia, Ethiopia, Japan and China.

Nailya Yulamanova of Russia started to fade later which left the race to the other three frontrunners.  But in the last 2 km, it was Xue Bai who increased her speed and saw no more challenges from Japan’s Yoshimi Ozaki and Ethiopia’s Aselefech Mergia.

Joy, was how Bai described how she felt after her triumph--Photo Belga

"Joy" was how Bai described her emotions in one word after her historic triumph. (Photo Belga)

Bai, who at 20 has run 11 marathons and says she still has a lot to improve considering marathon heavyweights were absent for this year’s staging of the biennial competition, claimed her country’s first World marathon championship by registering a season best 2:25:15.  Ozaki crossed the Brandenberg Gate finish line next 10 seconds later, followed by the first Ethiopian marathon podium finisher Mergia.

There were about 10 entries who did not finish so the crowd and the camera crew followed experienced Romanian marathoner Nuta Olaru, who earlier was part of the lead pack but was obviously hurting, being approached by a medical team on one occasion to check if she would quit or finish.  She finished last in just over 3 hours but many admired her fighting spirit.

China, with its 1-4-5 finish, won the team gold, followed by Japan (who had 2 other finishers in the top 15) and then Russia.  As an Asian, I am so proud of these Chinese and Japanese runners.  I hope the day I see  someone from the Philippines run among them will soon come.

Years ago, I would not have had the patience of sitting through a televised marathon race with this interest and excitement.  But after running the marathon myself, I now have greater respect for these women and all the runners of the distance in giving their best in training for and running the marathon.

When I decided to train for the full marathon early this year, I wasn’t sure if there would be a full marathon event by the time I would have completed my training.  One friend called me nuts to do it since it was to him like reviewing for an exam only there was really no test to study for.

It was January and part of my to-do list for the year (I don’t remember the others… :-)) is to complete a full marathon.  Late last year, I even asked my friends to join me and join the 2009 Honolulu Marathon in December.  I thought if I had Honolulu in mind, I would be really motivated to train for the 42.195 km race.  Little did I know that only six months after making the list, I would have been able to accomplish that goal.  And more. 

So far, I have finished two full marathons and maybe I’ll do one or two more before the year ends.  I may not be able to take time off and go all the way to Hawaii this year but it will be one of my future marathon destinations.  Two years ago, good friend Reina was telling me about her Japanese friend who would go to different places to travel and join a marathon race.  It sounded very exciting at that time but I didn’t have any idea that I would be that excited, so much so that I’m contemplating on doing the same!

Condura 21k March 22

Condura 21k March 22

But that’s for the future (the near future I hope).  Back to January of this year and the start of my training.  The only full marathon (re)scheduled at that time was the Philippine Marathon in March, which unfortunately in the end had to be put off.  So I continued to join 10, 15 and 21k races before my first 42k.

L-R, Happy Run 15k Jan. 25, Airspeed 10k April 5, Greenfield City April 19 (Photos from photovendo.ph)

L-R, Happy Run 15k Jan. 25, Airspeed 10k April 5, Greenfield City 21k April 19 (Photos from photovendo.ph)

Using the Smart Coach of Runner’s World, I tried to wake up earlier at 5 am (sometimes 4:30) to be able to do the strength and speed trainings, tempo runs and the long runs before going to work day in, day out. 

Then came the May 10 Botak marathon which has been both controversial and memorable, depending on whom you talk to.  Well, it was both for me.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  But for me, it’s just the beginning.  Next stop was the Milo Manila eliminations on July 5.

Having finished both gave me more than what I bargained for really.  Now I have the following races to think about.  I’m sure I will be joining the full on the first one but still have to think if I’ll run half or the other events at the succeeding ones:

Now why did they all have to bunch up in the last quarter of the year? Drum and Run blogger Caloy says that’s what competition is all about.  Probably.  Whatever the reason, it sure gives me a headache trying not to miss any of these high caliber races despite my heavy work load.  Then there’s also the Singapore Marathon on December 6.  Argh!!!

If only I could join all of them…

Yellow RibbonI always say that I reserve this blog to anything about running so I try not to put in opinions and thoughts about other things as best I can.  But the passing of former Pres. Cory Aquino early morning today, August 1, 20 days before the death anniversary of another icon Ninoy Aquino, couldn’t stop me from putting in some words for one of the most conscientious leaders we’ve had.

I was getting ready for my Mandarin class this morning when I heard the news and was told by my bureau chief to report for work.  And I must say this to me has been one of the most difficult stories to cover.  Many times this morning, my emotions got the better of me because I grew up looking at Tita Cory not only as my president but also as an aunt, even a mother.  I was 12 and just starting to form my own opinion about politics when I saw her flashing the “Laban” sign on TV.

I’m sure we’ve all read and heard so many things about her, both good and bad, but no one can argue the fact that she wasn’t corrupt and that she never tried to desperately cling to power even when she had the chance and the Constitution would have allowed her.

Today, our readers in Japan will also remember Tita Cory as our Manila bureau publishes a series of articles about her.

When I attended the Edsa celebration in De La Salle Taft earlier this year, it was my first and last time to see her up close, addressing an intimate crowd.  It had almost been one year since the family announced she was suffering from colon cancer but on that day, she chose to talk about how she dealt bravely with the so-called political machos of the country before, during and after the historic People Power revolution that catapulted her to Philippine presidency.

Tita Cory, maraming salamat.

Today the Filipinos lost a leader, an icon and a mother.

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