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!

It was my last race of the year.  And the first time in almost two years that I’ve been joining road races that I was late for one due to an early morning (as in 4:30 am) accident along the Alabang-Sucat highway (South SUFFER highway to some).

When I got to the still very dark Camp Aguinaldo grandstand (at around 5:35 am, didn’t check the exact time), I only saw a few people and was told by the guards that the race had already started of course.  I met Mark (Mark’s VO2) at the starting line.  We did the check-in and then made our way to the race route praying we wouldn’t get lost.  After making the first turn, we saw the sweeper vehicle’s lights and followed that.  Mark told me it would be his first run in that distance so he let me go ahead.

It took me a couple more minutes to get past that vehicle and catch up with the runners.  It was a strange feeling to be late in the race to make up for lost time.  As I didn’t know exactly how late I was, I just tried to run alternately in my half- and full-marathon paces being very careful not to use all my energy in all that catching up.

After the first of four laps of the course and when the sun was finally up, I started seeing familiar faces and tried to relax and have a nice chat with them.  Afte the short talks, I would speed a little and continued looking for usual race partner Tigerboy Junrox.

As promised by Jovie-san in his site, the aid stations were one of a kind, complete with water, gatorade, fruits, crackers etc!  These definitely made waking up very early and deciding to still run after being stuck in traffic for half an hour all worth it.

Playing catch up... (Photo by Brando Losaria, tagged by Argonaut in Facebook)

I finally caught up with the Tigerboy in the last kilometer!  I myself was quite surprised I still had some energy speeding up to the finish line after all that chasing in two hours and fifty minutes.

Crossing the finish line (thanks to Brando Losaria for the photo)

The post-race eating/drinking was almost as eventful as the run itself what with the seemingly endless supply of beer, water, ice cream and, to my total surprise, lechon!  I also enjoyed the photo ops and conversations with fellow finishers later.

Junrox enjoying the beer

Junrox enjoying the beer

Jonel caught red handed at the lechon table

So this is Wilnar's secret to his speed: ice drop and lechon!

Chillin' with "celebrity" finishers

Congratulations to the Bald Runner for the last and definitely one of the most memorable races of the year!  Can’t wait for the 2010 Rizal Day Run!

With speed monster Chris, consistent marathon finisher Junrox and blogosphere (and soon radio) favorite Luis

This run officially brought my busiest running calendar year to a close which included 8 half marathon and 4 full marathon finishes.  I hope I’ll also be healthy enough to run more this 2010!

Happy New Year!

Well, if you’re planning to join this March, you should be training by now. Or have a game plan in mind at least.

When I signed up for my first full marathon in May of this year, never did I imagine that I would be entertaining the thought of joining an ultramarathon.  And then I chanced upon an ultra runner’s blog and was “cautioned:”  Don’t let the ultra bug bite you.

Fast forward to December 2009 and then I actually did it.  Signed up as hopeful number 122 on the BDM 102km site.  Well, just in case I do make it to the final list, I’ve started the following training plan I came across on an ultra running site:

100km Training Programme

Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 Rest 15km, including 4 x 1.5km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 15km, middle 5km at marathon pace Rest 90-minute run 3-hour run (or about 30km)
2 Rest 15km, including 4 x 1.5km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 15km, middle 5km at marathon pace Rest 90-minute run 3 hour run
3 Rest 15km, including 2 x 3km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 15km, middle 5km at marathon pace Rest 90-minute run 3 hour run
4 Rest 12km, including 3 x 1.5km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 10km, middle 3km at marathon pace Rest 90-minute run 2 hour run
5 Rest 15km, including 6 x 1.5km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 15km, middle 5km at marathon pace Rest 4 hour run(or about 35km) 3 hour run
6 Rest 15km, including 6 x 1.5km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 15km, middle 5km at marathon pace Rest 4 hour run(or about 35km) 3 hour run
7 Rest 15km, including 6 x 1.5km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 15km, middle 5km at marathon pace Rest 4 hour run(or about 35km) 3 hour run, last hour at marathon pace
8 Rest 15km, including 3 x 3km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 15km, middle 5km at marathon pace Rest 2 hour run 2.5 hour run
9 Rest 15km, including 6 x 1.5km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 15km, middle 5km at marathon pace Rest 4 hour run(or about 35km) 3 hour run, last hour at marathon pace
10 Rest 15km, including 6 x 1.5km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 15km, middle 5km at marathon pace Rest 4 hour run(or about 35km) 3.5 hour run, last hour at marathon pace
11 Rest 15km, including 3 x 3km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 15km, middle 5km at marathon pace Rest 2.5 hour run 3 hour run
12 Rest 15km, including 6 x 1.5km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 15km, middle 5km at marathon pace Rest 4 hour run 5 hour run (or about 45km)
13 Rest 15km, including 6 x 1.5km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 15km, middle 5km at marathon pace Rest 4 hour run 5 hour run
14 Rest 15km, including 4 x 1.5km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 15km, middle 5km at marathon pace Rest 2 hour run 2 hour run
15 Rest 12km, including 3 x 1.5km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog 12km, middle 5km at marathon pace Rest 1.5 hour run Easy 1 hour jog
16 Rest 10km, including 5km at half-marathon pace Easy 8km jog Easy 5km jog Rest   RACE  

 

One more exciting event to look forward to is the test run simulating the final 52 km of the race.  It would be interesting to see how traffic, fatigue and all the elements of the actual race at about the same time would affect the last half of the run.

Doug Rennie writes in Runner’s World:  You don’t have to be crazy to run an ultramarathon.  You just have to be ready.

Hope to see you in Bataan!  🙂

Starting this week, I’ve been following this training program I found online for 100 km ultra which I think would prepare me for the BDM 102 km run in March.  Looking at the schedule, the glaring difference from the usual one I would use for a 42 km marathon training is that for the ultra, there are two consecutive, long runs–usually a 4 hour run (about 35 km) on a Saturday and a 3 hour run (about 30 km) on a Sunday.

So I did the calculations:  if I run at an average pace of 6:30 min per km, I would be able to complete the 35 km in less than four hours.  Easier said than done I know but knowing that my average pace was 5:20 minpkm in my last full, I was expecting a nice run.  I even brought along a camera for the first time.  I would follow the kilometer markers along the national highway and when I hit 17 or 18k somewhere near Greenfield City, I would turn around and run home.  At least that was the plan.

Sunrise from outside where I live in Sta. Rosa, a little past six

I started  a little past 6 am just as the sun was rising as it would be my first time to run along that highway.  I didn’t want to run in the dark and be in danger of being hit by the speeding jeepneys.  The weather was glorious with a bit of chill in the air.  It was after all a day after Christmas so I would say temperature was around low to mid 20’s when I started.

Nice day, nice runA few kilometers after running across the SLEX and along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay road, I was impressed with the newly and evenly asphalted road and the space at the shoulder where runners can run safely.  I was running on the left side of the road so the only danger was when a speeding vehicle would overtake from behind me, which rarely happened.  I would stop running to take pictures and quickly buy drinks along the way but other than that, there were no more breaks.

Should I turn around or go straight to Tagaytay? It was a no-brainer.

I was at km 18 when I saw the road marker at the other side of the road, a countdown from Tagaytay.  It said 19 km to go.  I took a photo and thought for a while.  What if I just continue running towards Tagaytay and just take the jeepney on the way back?  Or, since the route was mostly uphill, just go as far as I could and run downhill from there?

The beauty of running alone is that only you make the decision and there is no room for debate should other people’s opinions not agree with yours.  Of course, you alone would have to suffer the consequences, too, if the decision you make doesn’t yield positive results.  But it was the day after Christmas and I was feeling good.  Worse comes to worst, a jeepney will take me back home.

The sun was up but since the air was still a bit cool, I didn't have any problem--nothing that I couldn't handle at least

So I went ahead with my run taking only breaks when I needed to buy sports drink or water from the stores along the road and to take photos.  I was hoping that my fresh-from-gorging-holiday-food body would be able to take me all the way to one of the highest points of the city and my finish line–Tagaytay Junction.

The smiles of the locals and the exhilarating view definitely kept me entertained and in high spirits all the way.  The cars coming from Tagaytay were all nice to give me space to run on the road but when I thought it was getting crowded, I would run on the grass or dirt road.  It was just a perfect, nice run I thought.

And the best part is, there are no buts.  After two gel shots, one granola bar, one gatorade, one bottle of tropicana and coke (there was no bottled water at a certain part of Tagaytay, all sold out I was told on Christmas day), I finally was at the famous viewing deck to see the Taal volcano and lake in all its glory.  Around three more kilometers and I would reach the junction.  Ah, downhill finally!

Time:  4 hrs 15 mins; distance covered:  at least 35 km

Bird house store

I have officially run from Sta. Rosa to Tagaytay!

Fresh fruits never fail to attract visitors and locals alike

With all the scenery, nice people, and the spontaneity of the run, I would say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!

Taken at the viewing deck of the Tagaytay Econo Hotel

Finish line--the Tagaytay Junction

 After my second breakfast, I decided to walk back for three more kilometers and then took the jeepney back to Sta. Rosa–full and happy and with a great experience I can’t wait to tell all my friends!  🙂

Breakfast after SLR! 🙂

I dropped in the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Immaculate Heart Convent on my way back and said a little prayer for being able to enjoy the run.

One for the road--I have discovered that it is just a long run away 🙂

Well, if Mayweather can come out of retirement to challenge Pacquiao, I think I can run another half marathon after my supposedly last one at the last week of November. I didn’t originally intend to join and I wasn’t even paying attention to the extended registration after the run had been postponed for a later date. But three days before race day, Junrox sent a message asking me if I would join the said race. Then, what was planned to be a week of mostly tennis for me (I had already played three straight days at Makati Sports and was planning to do a long run at Camp Vicente Lim on Sunday and then another game of tennis), I couldn’t resist the tempation.

With my mixed doubles partner Jen

Lack of sleep + Not enough mileage ≠ PR
 
 

 

Well it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that statement of inequality but I was just hoping for a decent time at least.  Although at the back of my head, I knew not getting enough shuteye and being somewhat lackadaisical in putting in those needed kilometers prior to a half-marathon race would kick me in the face in the end.

It didn’t help either that I had nasal congestion a couple of days before Sunday and that the season for Christmas get togethers made it even more difficult to follow my usual traning regimen.  In spite of all that, I still went to Glorietta and signed up 4 hours before the registration closed.  In local parlance, Bahala na si Batman!

Tigerboy and El Kyoshi

After leaving my bag at the counter (which later on would be full of mud because of the rain), I went near the starting line and one by one, the familiar faces of the local running scene appeared, those who know me gave me a smile, some short talk and the others well-wishes for a nice run.

It was our third half marathon together for the year and since both of us lacked the training, we were quite realistic not to hope for a record breaking run.  I was thinking more in the line of doing a combination of speed training, tempo run and long run all in one day during the race 🙂

The Curse of McKinley Hill

I was doing my pre-race stretching after a quick warm-up when I heard from the runners that the original route had been changed and McKinley Hill would now be part of the run!  It made me imagine Macaulay Culkin screaming with his mouth and eyes wide open after patting aftershave onto his face!!!  That was probably my reaction, the not-so-fond memories, albeit full of lessons, the New Balance Run left in my head.   I know I should have started doing hill training after that but some things I really have to learn the hard way.

Perfect weather for running

A soft drizzle greeted the runners going into the now famous Buendia-Kalayaan flyover.  We were running a little under the 5 minperkm pace at that time up until about the first half of the run.  The lack of training definitely was starting to show as we hit km 12 but the weather was still encouraging. 

My “mini-wall” came as I made my way towards the Heritage Park.  Some runners were starting to overtake me.  And then, the shocker I was fearing!  No more going past Heritage Park near C-5.  A surprise early turn-around greeted us just after negotiating the uphilll portion of Bayani Road.  I knew then that before the end of the race, McKinley Hill would again torment us runners.

It’s a Beautiful Life

That’s what the McKinley Hill website says.  So despite the challenges the residential, commercial and educational community offered, I faced them all–downhills, uphills, curves, including the absence of marshals, and a headache in the middle of the race–and kept running.  And running.  And soon enough, I saw a rainbow after the storm.  Quite literally, there was this glorious refraction of sun’s rays just after that very exhausting leg.  And my figurative rainbow is that  there was only 2 kilometers (based on Junrox’s Garmin) and 3 kilometers (if you were reading those kilometer markers) left.

Life is indeed beautiful.  What if there weren’t enough marshals to guide the runners?  Or adding to the route THE Hill and an extra 1.2 km for good measure?  I should be more thankful for being healthy and able to enjoy the MANY benefits of running. 

I was surprised I still had the energy to do a fast final kilometer and overtake one runner before crossing the finish line.   A little bit disappointed at first to see 1:52 at the clock but when Junrox and the other runners confirmed the extra 1.0+ km, I thought it was an overall OK run.

Kids, don’t try this at home.  Always train before a race.  🙂

I ended up signing up for DEFINITELY my last race of the year:  the Rizal Day Run!  See you there  🙂

With the Bald Runner and the Tigerboy after the race

My 1,000 km Club shirt, yay!

I started running about two years ago hoping to log in 1,000km. Now I'm almost at 3,000km with no signs of stopping anytime soon. (Thanks Junrox for the great shots!)

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!

All good things must come to end.
Every end is a new beginning.
It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

As I go through some quotes about things coming to an end as we enter the last month of 2009, I can’t help but (once again) feel nostalgic. I will definitely remember this year as I ran my first full marathon.  And then three more.  But more importantly, I’ve met a lot of interesting people through this blog. So when the New Balance Run was moved to the last Sunday of November and so far I haven’t signed up (don’t know if I will) for any race in December, it hit me for the very first time that I was at the homestretch of this busy yet productive year.

Photo grabbed from http://www.baldrunner.com

Junrox back from Japan

I got to the race area at least 30 minutes before start time so when I saw Anton, a former student, we decided to run part of the BHS block for our warm up and then made our way near the start arch where I met now regular race buddy Junrox.   He just came from a business trip in Japan and was lacking mileage prior to race day.  That was according to him.

Catching up with Junrox, reading the markers

For after the “horn,” or whatever start signal it was, was sounded,  Tigerboy didn’t show any sign of  “lack in training.”  I didn’t think I was remiss when it comes to putting in the kilometers regularly but I was chasing him for the first half of the race, sometimes even falling behind as much as 10 meters.

Aid stations were taken care of by the organizers although I felt that instead of bottled waters, cups should have been used to save water.  I particularly liked the road markers with “amusing” lines.  Kilometer 5 marker made me smile with “Running, the original friend with benefits.”  And even as I was trying my best to keep up with Junrox after 8 kilometers of running, I still had time to appreciate “XOXO Running.”  Then when I finally caught up, km 13 read, “Running will meet you anytime” (or something like that).

Turning points

I love those turn around points because they were opportunities to see friends who may have been running ahead or behind you and those points were the only chance for you to cheer or receive cheers from them or just say hi or call out their name as a sign of support. (But what’s with the tight turn around bands???)

I never thought that turning into and entering McKinley Hill would be the X factor of the race for me.  X because I’ve never run “around” it and, as I would learn painfully that morning, the experience from previously running “portions” of the 50 hectare project home to condos, international schools and a couple of embassies provided little help.  I think I should seriously consider doing a hill training now.   Although I saw some runners doing some walk breaks especially in the more hilly parts, I decided not to for fear of not being able to run anymore later.

The final turn

But surprisingly, I was still feeling strong even after that killer leg, and so I went on with the 5minpkm pace heading near the finish.  I did a mental note of the map (a big mistake since a friend later told me that I should have checked the “revised” map!) and accelerated a little thinking that the final turn before the finish was near the NBC tent.  But when I saw that the runners in front of me were directed to the Serendra area, I thought I could not go further anymore!  But somehow I was able to maintain the speed and gain some more as I made the “real” final turn to the finish line.

Accidents and finish lines

Relieved to finish this challenging race. Thanks Jovie-san for the photo!

I later learned from Junrox that the Bald Runner was taking photos near the finish line.  I wish I had seen him and talked to him about how I was in black after reading his post about the horrifying incident in the south.  As I crossed the finish line, I also paid tribute to the victims of the four powerful typhoons that hit the country in a span of about  a month, the first of which caused the postponement of this race.

It was a tough race to say the least but in the end, isn’t that what we need sometimes to push harder, go beyond 100 percent, be the best we want to be?  It reminded me of a line from a recent post by the The Bull Runner:  the tougher the challenge, the more rewarding it feels in the end.

Download race results at the New Balance website.

Good luck to all Pinoy runners in Singapore!!!

And one more final quote from Orson Welles:

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

Thanks SPEX runners for the breakfast! Yes, that's Kitty, Urbanathlon Women's 10K 2nd placer the week before

Photo op with the most famous Afro in the running world!

After the race with students at a group study complete with Christmas decor. Good luck on the test this Sunday!

I’ve been quite busy with work the past few days so I was totally unmindful of the reactions, violent or otherwise, to the conduct of the Del Monte Fit ‘n Right Fun Run at MOA last Sunday. In fact, were it not for a text message from Marianne asking me if I enjoyed the run, I wouldn’t have taken note of the mostly negative comments from runners especially on their Facebook page. I also heard apologies had been made. Here’s my two cents’ worth.

What time will the race start?

Days before the fun run, I was looking for info on the start time because I could only recall that they put “Call time 4:00 am” and I forgot about the 6 am start time. I decided to go there around 5 to be safe and I was surprised to see men still busy putting up the Start/Finish arch. Jinoe said when they prepared for the RotaRun, as early as 11 or 12 pm the night before, they were already busy. A sign that start will be late, I told myself.

While I gave the announcer plus points for repeatedly giving instructions on how to put the bib with RFID properly (cheaper than the ChampionChip, but overall better? well, only time will tell…), I was waiting for them to announce the starting times for the different categories, which only came at around 6 am!

Stretch and Start

I squeezed my way to the area of the now completed arch and waited for the guy who led the stretching whose super positive and cheerful rapping and stretching (I couldn’t see what they were doing from where I was standing) did not stop the runners from cheering (and jeering) for the stretching to end and for the race to finally start.

After the start gun had been fired, eager runners went off.

Feeling lethargic

Maybe it’s because of the too many races I’ve been joining, or maybe the warm-up I was doing minutes before the supposedly start time of 6 was put to waste after standing too long while waiting for the official start, the first lap (5k runners will finish after 1 lap so 10k runners needed to do one more) was a difficult run for me as I was feeling a little lethargic. I kind of guessed there would be issues with hydration so I held on to my sports drink (One runner-blogger confessed he had to squeezed liquid from his singlet and sip it for hydration… :-))

Nearing the famous globe in front of the mall, our group found it very challenging and dangerous to zigzag our way and avoid traffic as marshals did a very poor job in controlling traffic. So I was happy to finish the first lap in 23+ minutes.

Celebrity cheerleaders

I think I kind of woke up going into the second leg after seeing the Bald Runner cheering for runners at the Finish area–this time I was more into the run and enjoying the experience. Fortunately, the marshalls guiding the cars did a much better job the second time around. But, alas, there were no more cups at the aid station.

Seeing familiar faces like Jason, Ronald and the Bull Runner during the race somehow provided an added boost to my tired legs. And as I made my last turn near the Archdiocesan Shrine of Jesus, I sped up for the first time in the race. And who’s at the finish line? The Bald Runner and Natz taking photos!

With THE coach Jim Saret after the race

It was also interesting to meet and talk to Jaymie The Bull Runner for the first time (too bad I didn’t have my camera yet at that time, no thanks to the adventures Natz and I had claiming our bags) and Coach Jim Saret, and later to Takbo.ph main man Jinoe, to exchange some views regarding the race. That no matter how an organizer plans to just have a “fun run,” they must not leave any stone unturned because there will always be “serious” runners joining each and every race.

Thanks, better luck next time

I wasn’t able to press the stop button of my watch when I finished so I couldn’t give an answer when asked about my time by some runners. I didn’t see the time at the Finish line either. The time posted on the official results is 46:43.

Congratulations to mi tocayo Jet for shaving 3 minutes off his previous PR!

Takbo hanggang may lupa! With Dhenz also with a new 5k PR!

Like how I feel afterevery run, I felt a lot more upbeat and positive and ready to meet my students for a group study for an upcoming exam.

What do I think about the race? I hope the organizers do better next time but still thank them for supporting an event that promotes health and fitness.

Good luck and see you next year guys!

When I signed up for this race, I was not sure if I would be able to join because I had been told that I might join a team of journalists to cover the APEC Summit in Singapore on the same weekend.  So a few days before the gathering of heads of states in the Lion City, when my bureau chief delivered the “sad” news, I accepted the fact that the time to see Barack Obama will have to wait.  And now I can focus on this race.

Two weeks after the KOTR and one week after the Pasig River Marathon, some friends told me that joining yet another half marathon was not a good idea.  I myself know fully well that I deserve a break but I welcomed it as another chance to improve.  But fresh from what I consider a big 4 minute improvement since the Globe run half marathon when I ran at Adidas and after another nice run at the PIM, I was wondering if I had some left to at least finish with a decent time.  A recent post by Wayne talking about his recent 1:39:50 half marathon finish made me silently wishing for a great run to duplicate his feat or even just get close.  In a way it was one of the things that sealed the deal that I am not passing up this opportunity.

Running Buddies

Arriving at the starting line 10 minutes before gun time, I quickly looked for Junrox as we prepared for our third start together but first on a half marathon.  I only met him during the finalists’ dinner three days before the Milo National Finals last October but I already owe a lot of whatever success I’ve had to running with him.

We had a brief chat with TKO250 proponent Jonel and Prometheus Cometh blogger and DJ Jay about our race goals and the registration fee and race organization just before the run started.

The Kenyans are still here?

Well last time I checked it wasn’t called the Timex International Run but I guess to give an international flavor and maybe push our local bets to register a faster time, maybe they can stay a little longer.  Just a little more.  I was just thinking that local runners need those cash prizes, too.  But as expected, the Kenyans were just too strong and soon, eventual winner Kember Kiberess was way ahead of the pack and together with countryman Gilbert Kipkemoi went on a 1-3 finish.  Hats off to Alley Quisay for placing second and challenging the Kenyan juggernaut.

I was on my own battle when I accidentally pushed too many buttons on my watch thus relying solely on the time Junrox had from kilometer 5 until the finish line.  We thought that the long tables at the aid station were enough to make Bald Runner smile as he has been consistently advocating for a higher standard in local races.

Looking good

After the first turn around, I was feeling really great and hopeful for a 1:40 to 1:45 finish.  Consuming one gel shot 15 minutes before the start and another one after midway point on our way to Heritage Park, I was worried for a few seconds after hitting an uneven road with my right leg landing lower than the other.  After a few meters, I heaved a sigh of relief as I didn’t feel any pain and the incident didn’t stop me from my current pace of a little faster than 5 minutes per kilometer.

It was nice to see Natz running at the opposite side of the road.  I motioned for him to join us even for a few minutes.   We talked briefly before he said goodbye and went on with his run while Junrox and I negotiated the 2 km Heritage Park loop.

To push or not to push

It was at this stage that I doubted myself for the first time in the race.  Up until this point, Junrox and I would run side by side but one would go ahead and the other would catch up and follow especially whenever we passed by an aid station.  But inside the park, I found it a bit too challenging to catch up with him and maintain the pace.  Two runners overtook me in the process as we hit the 14 kilometer marker.

Those 2 runners became my motivation and challenge as I struggled but pushed a little more going to the Lawton Ave.-American Cemetery leg of the race.  I was able to keep up with them after a couple of kilometers only to lag behind Junrox again.  At this point, my mind was busy thinking about several possibilities:  I can just finish 1:45 and be happy with that time since I know this was my 3rd consecutive run in as many weeks; I will relax a little knowing fully well that I have built a considerable distance between me and the next runner so the ranking will not change anymore; or I can give it my all for a strong finish.

“This is my race, my time”

Apparently, my decision to do the last option worked like magic and when I made that final push in the final kilometer, while getting interesting looks from 5k and 10k runners/walkers, I made the final turn towards the finish line alone not knowing what my time was at this stage.  My jaw dropped in disbelief when I saw a 1:39+ in the clock so with every iota of whatever strength I had left in me, I ran my darnedest and crossed the finish line before the 39 could turn to 40!

With Junrox and 8th placer Chris

I waited for and congratulated Junrox who finished 16 seconds later.  He and I were both psyched and could not believe what we accomplished that morning.  Beating my two-week old KOTR PR (which I thought was very good for my standards and would hold for at least a few more months), landing in the top 20 of a 21k event for the first time and going under 1:40 in one race exhilarated me to no end.

I’m glad I decided to sign up for the race after giving it a lot of thought especially about how it was the most expensive registration fee I had to pay for.  Looking at how there were enough aid stations, safe and categorized baggage counters and portalets, and helpful marshals and ample kilometer markers all throughout the race, I congratulate Coach Rio and the rest of the team for putting up a great race.  Never mind that they did not give a real “Nike dry-fit finisher’s shirt” as promised in the race packet leaflet.  Extra pat on the shoulder for giving part of the proceeds to the construction of the Timex-Unicef School in Masbate and to the rehabilitation program of the Marikina City government for the recent flood victims.

While some runners will not forget this race because they were able to have their pictures taken with Piolo, I will always remember the 2009 Timex Run as my time to run my first sub-1:40 21k.

Chillin' with the Argonaut (with his own 21k PR) after the race

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