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Taking a cue from good friend and Team PowerPuff Boys teammate Ronnel Go, I will be running the 2012 BDM 160 km ultramarathon race on January 28 & 29, 2012 from Mariveles, Bataan to Capaz, Tarlac as a charity fundraiser that will benefit the Sendong survivors of Mindanao. Finishing the country’s longest solo race is a very daunting task but with the added incentive of helping our calamity stricken brothers and sisters down South, I will be more than motivated to go as far as I can and hopefully cross the finish line.

For those who’d like to help, please like this post and I will get in touch with you. Or better yet, type in a comment indicating your pledge/donation in the form of #peso/s per km of the distance I will be able to finish. For example, if you pledge 2 pesos per km, that will be a 320 (=2 x 160)peso donation if I finish the race or 200 (=2 x 100) if I can go as far as the 100 km marker. 1 peso / km or any fixed amount you can donate is of course welcome and will go a long way.

Thank you!

(With special thanks to Maj. Gen Jovie Narcise for allowing us to use this historic race to raise funds for charity)

Last year, I completed two ultramarathon distances and two full marathons en route to an unbelievable and miraculous Bataan Death March 102k Ultra finish during the first quarter.  Second quarter gave me the opportunity to meet the other 14 finalists who were all amazing and inspiring people then later on humbly received the Fitness First Sports Category New You Achievement Award.

In the months of July, August and September, I joined three Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU) races (60, 65 and 50 km, respectively, from northern to southern Luzon) and was lucky to finish in the top 5 in all three runs!

Western Pangasinan 65k Top 3 (Thanks Junrox for the photo!)

Also unforgettable was when I qualified for the Milo National Finals for the second time.

The last quarter proved to be memorable as well when I became part of Team Powerpuff Boys’ strong showing in the Octoberun team championships with a new 21k PR which was more than two minutes faster than the one I set two years before.  

Traversing the Transcentral highway for the 65k Ultra and running to the clouds of Baguio in the 50k race both of Front Runner were experiences I will never forget.  As if I wasn’t blessed enough, I was able to improve my erstwhile 42k best by 13 minutes in the Milo Nationals!

While grateful for all these, I can’t help but be excited for the new year.  2011 may be a tough act to follow but, who knows, lightning just might strike twice!  🙂

Happy new year!

As I set out last night to do my one hour recovery run after my second slowest full marathon in five tries, I was asking myself if I’ll be able to do better next time…

4:00 to 4:10

…”Due to the sheer number of 5k runners, the 42k race will now start at 4:10…”  I did not mind the ten-minute delay but during a Milo/Rudy Biscocho race?  Little did I know that the delayed gun start was just a tip of the iceberg of the day’s surprises (as if finding out a few weeks before race day that the organizers chose to make the runners do three loops instead of the tried and tested route were not surprising enough).

I started my recovery run after I had come home from work, late afternoon-early evening rush hour traffic, fumes and all.  Busy like the scene a few minutes after gun start at Milo Marathon last Sunday where runners were aiming to finish strong and healthy and qualify for the Milo Finals in December (I was praying that LK-RA, left knee and right ankle, which bothered me in varying degrees in previous road races, would not add to the already long list of excuses I had even before the race).  My goal last night was to run for an hour, clear my mind in hope of sorting out my thoughts about what just happened some thirty or so hours ago.

Fireflies and friends

Doing the loops with i2runner Natz

It was almost 6pm and darkness was setting in.  The road for the most part was paved and lined with street lamps save for some parts where urbanization was just starting to make its presence felt.  There were times I had to slow down due to darkness but the sight of fireflies brightening up the pitch black bushes encouraged me to continue running.  Not so different from when I was buoyed by the presence of constant running buddy Junrox et al during the earlier part of the race and then Natz during the two loops of the “experimental” Milo 42k route.

Weather or not

I had heard a lot of grumblings about how hot it was that fateful morning.  While I did see the motionless trees along the Macapagal Ave., I was feeling okay the whole time unaffected by heat.  Or so I thought.  After reading the kilometer marking that said 4.5km to go and knowing that it was still possible to qualify (if I did not go below the 5:00/km pace) or at least salvage a sub-4 finish, I started feeling dizzy.  Each blinked seemed forever so I did three 1 minute breaks and then continued running as best I could after regaining my bearing.  Looking back, this was the most crucial part of the race where I may have lost my chances but at the same time averted a near fatal mishap.

“It was 85 degrees and 90% relative humidity. I remember trying to stay with Bill Rodgers but being unable…feeling funny…then I woke up in a tub of ice. I lost 20 or 30 minutes. My body temperature was over 108.” – 1994 Comrades Marathon Champion Alberto Salazar discussing his life threatening heat stroke episode at the 1980 Falmouth Road Race.

I tried reading about dizziness and heat stroke and felt lucky later that I was able to finish my fifth full and didn’t have to be carried on a stretcher.  I was constantly pouring water over my head during the race but the experience just taught me to be more aware of my environment and body condition at all times.

But that night, I was loving the cool breeze against my face and the soft cries of the nocturnal insects in the silhouettes of trees and houses almost competing with the sound of cars passing by occasionally.

The finish

(Thanks to Irene Ong and Rodel Cuaton for the other photos)

Without looking at the splits, I knew that it was one of my slowest last 5 kilometers.  I was disappointed.  Distraught.  Defeated.  I was looking for answers to many questions but none were readily available.  Except that I almost fainted and my quads almost gave up on me.  Fortunately though, LK-RA cooperated and up to now are still friends with me.

Next time, I will train harder no matter how busy my schedule gets (run 3 to 4 times a week like before and not skip runs even on weekdays, especially on weekdays).  I will see to it that I rest and not travel 30 km and back 12 hours before gun start.  I will set high goals but will weigh things, be realistic and not be disappointed if I did not accomplish my target time during that particular race.  I will continue to run because I cannot imagine life without doing it.

After the run last night, my list of excuses became part of my to-do list for my next runs.

After the recovery run, I knew I will do better next time.

Tigerboy Junrox had earlier secured a spot as a Dream Chaser in the just concluded The Bull Runner Dream Marathon when I emailed Edward Kho and signed up myself responding to the pay-it–forward call.  I still fully remember what my first full marathon experience was like so I thought if there could only be a way for me to contribute in my own little way to at least help one runner’s quest for his or her first bite at the 42km challenge, I would say my work would be done.

Dream Chasers Pre-race Briefing

So there we were, listening to Edward’s words on how positive and cheerful a Dream Chaser has to be on marathon day and I was taking note of our duties–why, I didn’t want to mess up the first time I would be a volunteer in a race of any kind!  The instruction was actually simple:  Just look for and pace with a runner whom I think would need my help and ask for anything I could do to help him or her finish the race.

As excited as the marathoner

With the runners I was least worried about, Kitty and JB (who finished 24th and 20th overall, respectively)

Call time was 1 am but we were told that Dream Chasers would not be deployed until after 4 am or two hours after gun start, at which time some runners would definitely need some cheering up or whatever assistance from  us pacers.  With hardly any sleep, off I went from our house in Sta. Rosa almost as excited as the participants I would meet along the way.

Meeting the other Chasers and the Dreamers

With the other Chasers Vangie, Bobby and Junrox at the Dream Chasers station

Instead of waiting for 4 am, Junrox and I started to walk and jog to the Dream Chaser stations.  It was still very dark when two more Dream Chasers, Vangie and Bobby came to where we were stationed carrying “our” banner.

It was about 4 am when the first batch of runners went past us almost completing the first loop.  Up until that time, the four of us where sharing running stories in between cheering up and applauding the passing marathoners.  But then about an hour later, Junrox had to bring out his “magic”  spray much to the relief of some runners who needed it badly.

It was around this time too that I started seeing runners who were having some difficulties–injured knee and hips, hydration problem, some other issues or pain in some parts of their bodies or some who just needed someone to run with.

I asked any runner whom I thought needed help and tried to offer words of encouragement even to those who were still very strong even after the proverbial “wall.”  I only realized that I kept on doing this for about 4 hours (and running much more than the maximum prescribed 5k limit for each Dream Chaser) when I crossed the finish line with one runner several minutes after 9 am!  Vangie and the other Chasers agreed that it was a lot of fun and we couldn’t wait to do it again.  If we were able to help make their first full marathon experience a little more bearable, then we could rest assured that we did our job.

Three is to One

With The Bull Runner herself after the race (Thanks to PhotoJunrox)

I once read that a runner has to do some volunteer work–at the aid station, as a marshal, pacer, etc.–after every three races he or she runs.  Many thanks to Jaymie and the rest of her team for the opportunity of a lifetime to finally pay it forward.  I am looking forward to doing a lot more volunteer work at the races in the future!  🙂

It has been exactly one year since I ran my first full marathon and started this blog.  I can’t help but feel nostalgic when I look back at what happened in between, after 30 plus races and 3,000 plus kilometers.

Meeting the other runners

The most important thing this blog has ever given me has to be the opportunity to meet the other people who share the same interest/passion.  As my blogroll and the number of runners I have been fortunate enough to know grow day by day, I become more inspired and encouraged to train and race more.

Skipping races

When I had to drop out of the Cebu marathon and first thought of skipping Condura and the BDM ultra, it was very hard to accept at the beginning but knowing what I know now and undergoing everything I have been through, while it may seem trivial to some, in the end I realized that every little event seemed like little pieces of a puzzle that I had to figure out and solve by myself in order to be a better person and runner.  I now cherish this bit of experience as I feel this eventually has made me stronger and wiser.

Too much traffic

At the starting line of the 1st PAU 50k run

After coming back to racing at Globe and RUNew, I set out a goal to slowly but surely build my mileage and join more runs, while being conscious of not pushing it too hard.  My comeback of sorts may have been derailed by the traffic jam one afternoon in Sta. Rosa, but I knew it’s just a matter of time until I am back in the groove again.

Dreaming of an Ultra

Having missed the BDM 102km ultramarathon in March, I was still in search for my first ultramarathon.  Thinking that 50 kilometers is not that mathematically different from a 42 kilometer race, I signed up for the 1st PAU 50k run.  Little did I know then that the race would take me to the paved roads of Sierra Madre.  Which means a roller coaster ride, both literally and figuratively.

A friend in need

Big thanks to Tigerboy Junrox and his brother who gave the much needed support before, during and after the race, the guys from Takbo.ph and all the other support crews who offered food, hydration, ice and words of encouragement, and of course the other runners whom I met along the way and who were always ready with a smile.  I could not have done it without you guys.

In the end, it became clearer to me that no matter how lonely you may feel in your battles sometimes, friends will usually show up around the bend.  Or they could be there all along.  You just have to look harder.

Sometimes you just have to pray harder.

And above all, enjoy the journey to more milestones ahead.

Running the Sierra Madre (thanks Junrox for the photos)

Dear R,

I meant to write sooner but I just had a thousand reasons (okay, excuses if you want to call them that) for putting off the inevitable.

After being away from you after my injury in early January, I had the opportunity to confront my “other battles” and at the same time tried my best to make the depressing separation only temporary. 

It was discouraging not knowing why it was not possible to spend time with you.  Was I feeling emotionally defeated because of not being able to run?  Or was not being able to run the result of having a morale which was at an all-time low?  The ensuing events seemed like a vicious cycle.

Other times I would at least feel much better no matter the problems besetting me because I could just get my running shoes and just focus on the things about me and all the challenges I was facing.  This time was different because the trials seemed to come all at once and at a time I could not seek solace from enjoying quality time with you.

What to me at the beginning was my biggest fear of not being able to join the first quarter races I was looking forward to became only secondary to the struggle to come out of the “situation” in one piece.

Buoyed by the support I got from friends both in and out of your circle, I slowly inched my way out of the bottomless pit.  And, by mid-February, I was able to start getting back to my running routine slowly.  Very slowly.

I missed the Skyway marathon and the BDM the following month in the process but because I was able to be with you, if only for 5 and 10k distances, I was at least “surviving.”

These recent events only made my feelings for you stronger even without the absence of big running events.  Sure I would still love to join those in order to satisfy the competitive side of me.  But running, be it at the oval track, my favorite running route or just around the neighborhood, is more than enough for me to get by.  I’ve known that all along but I am constantly reminded now thanks to this experience.

I was able to achieve my modest goal in the first running event I joined in a while.  I have also been doing longer weekend runs now and the 2 to 3 times a week I now get to spend with you is definitely a welcome development to say the least.  I will again start reading my favorite blogs devoted to you and try to write some stuff myself.

And so, having said the things that had been bottled up inside me and having done what I had to do to get to where I am right now, I say these three words that I have been meaning to tell you:

I.  AM.  BACK.

And I hope I’ll never have to say goodbye to you again.  Ever.

Love,

A/EK

After the Bald Runner‘s Rizal Day Run, the last race of the calendar year, I decided to look back at the year that was.  It was after all no less than Jose Rizal who said, ” Those who do not know how to look back at where they came from will never get to their destination.”

Flashback

Rewind to 2009.  Number of races finished (from the My Races page):

  • Full-marathon:  4
  • Half-marathon:  8
  • 30k run:  1
  • 15k run:  2
  • 8 mile run:  1
  • 10k run:  4
  • 5k run:  1

Before my first full in May, I was optimistic but honestly had some doubts whether I could finish a 42.195 km race.

Daunting task ahead

Fast forward to 2010.  Biggest goal:  finish the 2nd Bataan Death March 102 km Ultramarathon.  No matter how long it takes me.  Just finish.  More than the supplies of energy drinks and other nutrition, I know achieving this goal will demand all the will, guts and determination I can muster so I need to respect the distance and train hard for this.  On the way to the March 6-7 battle, I will also try to finish two full marathons, one in Cebu and one along the Skyway.

During a Saturday 35km long run

During a Saturday 35km long run

With Knight Runner Mark and Tigerboy Junrox in Sta. Rosa

Big scare

Three days before my Cebu flight, I was in the middle of a 15 k run when a pain around my right ankle bothered me.  So much so that I had to cut the run short to 12 k.  I was reminded of an injury I had almost forgotten.  One I suffered when I was studying in Japan seven years ago. 

I was playing basketball with my classmates when I jumped for a rebound and had an awkward landing.  I shook it off and continued playing.  And then  I went on to play volleyball and soccer later.  The result:  I had a ruptured ligament and had to stay away from sports for about two months.

Although there was no major swelling this time, hypochondriac me thought that was it.  No more Cebu.  No more Condura.  And worst, no more BDM!!!  I haven’t even replied to the BDM letter of invitation I had received a few days ago.  I thought oh no!  My 2010 season was over even before it took off  😦 

The Titus factor

I contacted the Bald Runner, got Coach Titus’s number and arranged an appointment the following night.  Coach was kind enough to wait for me for 30 minutes as I made my way through EDSA traffic from Makati (I wanted to take the MRT but walking was just too painful).

He ruled out the recurrence of the old injury as there was no pain in the lower part of my ankle.  Instead there was terrible pain (for someone who has a high pain threshold, the word terrible is even an understatement) at the lower part of my shin (tibia) bone when he put pressure on it. 

Coach said he didn’t even consider it as an injury for I would be able to run 2 or 3 days later.  The ligament on my lower shin bone had been strained according to him but R. I. C. E. (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) would do the trick.  Plus Cataflam.

Relieved

After the excruciatingly painful but evidently effective massage,  he said I was good to go.  I was like doubting Thomas because before the session, any slight movement caused major pain but when he asked me to walk, I was able to do so with more ease and comfort.  I had never been more relieved in my whole life.

Even if I got his go signal for Cebu, I promised myself I would still observe the pain, get in touch with him through text messages or phone calls and see him after five days.

Interesting start

Plus, after losing my wallet with my credit cards, ATM card and other IDs and my work computer being infected by a virus all in the same week,  I think I’m all set to face all the challenges this year may bring. 

While stopping to smell the roses from time to time, of course.

Happy new year, everyone!

I have been following the 25th SEA Games with interest especially the athletics.  While there have been disappointments–from the sad story of a female cyclist “urged” to join her male teammates to protest a ruling barring them from competition to the gold medal drought in diving allegedly due to poor judging favoring atheletes from another Southeast Asian country–the triumphs of Eduardo Buenavista and Jho-an Banayag are definitely sight for sore eyes.

Eduardo Buenavista

Jho-an Banayag after the Milo Marathon (from philstar.com)

Buenavista beat defending Men’s Indonesian champion Yahuza by 46 seconds with a time of 2:21:10.  In the distaff side, Banayag unseated another 2007 champion in the person of Sunisa Sailomyen of Thailand with a time of 2:46:34.

While the country will find it hard to duplicate its 2007 41 gold medal finish in the Laoatian capital Vientiane edition of the biennial meet, the Filipino runners certainly stamped their marathon class in dominating the event in the region.

Buenavista’s best time is 2:18:44 when he finished 14th overall in the Beppu Oita marathon in Japan while Banayag holds a 2:44:41 PR.

With proper support and exposure (and hopefully less politicking), I’m sure Filipino athletes, espcially long distance runners, can excel beyond southeast Asia.

Congratulations!

e-invite[1]
 
“On October 23, Friday 7 pm, Del Monte Fit ‘n Right will launch its newest campaign Dare to be Fit ‘N Right in Taste Asia at the SM Mall of Asia. The Dare to be Fit ‘N Right launch will be a bloggers event that features the revolutionary F.I.T workout by sports scientist and Master Coach Jim Saret…”
 
That’s what the document says in part which I received with the e-Invite.  I sometimes read of some bloggers being invited to the launch of running events and then they write about it and post it in their blogs.  Is that what a Bloggers’/Blogging Event is?
 
Well, I think it can also be a great opportunity to meet other bloggers.
 
I guess there’s only one way to find out.

Comments from Natz and Sam confirmed my suspicion that I was the tallest Milo runner two Sundays ago (if there’s anyone taller than 6’3″, please let me know so I can correct this entry).

While I see a number of tall runners in races of shorter distance, I didn’t see them in the three full marathon races I have joined so far.  I get very interesting comments from spectators while I run.  The most recent of which being, “Oy ang tangkad mo, bakit ka nagja-jogging?”, during the Milo finals.

I play tennis, too, but I don’t get a lot of questions as to what I am doing in a tennis court as much as I do when I run.  Is it because running is not a sport for “vertically endowed” individuals?

My curiosity on the subject matter has led me to several sites and articles relating height to running and speed.  And checking how tall some runners are:  Usain Bolt 6’5″, Haile Gebrselassie 5’5″, Ryan Hall 5’10”, Samuel Wanjiru 5’4″, Paula Radcliffe 5’8″, Deena Kastor 5’4″, Kara Goucher 5’7″, Craig Mottram 6’2″, Lydia de Vega 5’7″, Elma Muros 5’6″.

(from community.livejournal.com)

(from community.livejournal.com)

These are just names I thought of randomly and whose stats are readily available online.  But, the fact is, there are successful short AND tall runners.

In the Ask A Scientist website, Scientist Burr noted that runners of average height usually are more successful because very short or very tall runners will find it more challenging when it comes down to striding. 

Scientist Matt Voss attributes flexibility as key to both tall and short runners but because short runners just can’t grow tall as easily as a tall runner can be more flexible, tall runners have a greater “stride potential.” 

He went on to say that stride is not everything because strength, flexibility and endurance are equally important, if not more important.  Both scientists agree though that sprinters are more muscular and shorter (tell that to Usain) and distance runners are taller (not Haile) and lighter in weight, but both with low body fat.

A study from Michigan State University on the Effects of Physical and Training Characteristics on Marathon Performance after doing an online survey on 1,371 Detroit Marathon finishers in 2005 came up with the conclusion that to run faster marathons it helps to be a tall, thin male, and run lots of training miles.  Obviously, one can’t do anything about gender (okay, generally…) or height, but changing the way one trains can spell the difference.

So I don’t think I’m in the wrong sport after all. 

That, of course, still depends on whom you ask.  And even if people tell me otherwise, I just can’t ignore how fun, rewarding and fulfilling running is to me as a sport.

So I’ll just keep training for my next marathon.

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