Monday, November 30, 2009

New Balance 21k Power Run: The Hills Have Eyes

Postponed for several weeks, finally, the NB Power Run had its way yesterday morning. I have to say that this was a very organized race so this post begins with a big “CONGRATULATIONS!!!” to the race organizers for doing a terrific job.

The Training

My training for this race (courtesy of RunnersWorld’s Smart Coach) consisted of 6 weeks of easy short/long runs, tempo runs, and speedwork. I wasn’t able to do the latter since, well, I was too lazy to do it (parang complicated naman yung 1600m sukatin tapos may 400m jogs pa, hehe). I modified the easy runs such that the 1st half of it were in easy pace while the latter half would be RTYP (run til you puke) pace.

The 21k race route will be done entirely inside Taguig so the dreaded Kalayaan Flyover will not take part. However, the last leg of the route, McKinley Hills, would prove decisive for any half-marathoner who participated that day ---including myself. Although my weekend long run included the Horseshoe Village hills, it was NOTHING compared to McKinley which I last trekked during the Autoreview 10k months ago.

Even with the knowledge of Mckinley Hills in the route, I still didn’t have enough hill-training for those 6 weeks. Eventually, all that training (and non-training) will show come race day.

The Plan

The plan was to treat this as any other weekend long run: 1st half easy, 2nd half all-out. I was egging myself to beat my 2:26 PR on my maiden half-mary at EcoDash. Seeing that I’ve improved on my training and in-race nutrition habits, I was hoping I would beat it this time around.

The Race

I warmed up with an easy jog for about 400-500meters around BHS and did some stretching when I got into the corral ---somehow a 1st for me for 21k (I wished I did it more often, hmmm. Dapat pala maaga dumating lagi, hehe). Before I entered the corral I managed to see Men’s Health Mag’s model Pio warming up. Yup, he’s running 5k again. I was able to see some of my office friends and known bloggers Pojie and Bull Runner waiting inside the 21k corral as I checked in. Btw, I ate ½ of the Milo bar just before the race.

The race started at exactly 5.30am with the usual gun-start. Too bad there was no 10-second countdown so my stopwatch and Nokia GPS tracker weren’t in sync with the official time. It was probably off by about 10seconds.

The first 10k went well as planned. For nutrition, I ate ¼ of the Milo Bar at km6, then ¾ serving of Hammer Gel in the middle of km9. Well, if easy pace was supposed to be at 7:00mpk, I did more than well as I clocked 1:05 after 10k (my 10k PR is 1:04 so this really WAS good). Surprisingly, at this pace I was feeling good, no pains whatsoever. The only downside at this point was that my Nokia GPS tracker conked out as early as km1.46 (ahhhhggghhhh!!!!). I had to rely on the km-markers to calculate my current pace. Well at least it helped my brain get busy with all that subtraction, multiplication and division.

At the 10.5km mark, I shifted up a bit as planned and still felt good. Looking at my pace around km13 as I left Bayani Road towards Lawton, I was 4minutes ahead of the 2:27 total time, averaging about a little less than 7:00mpk. It was very tight, but I felt good that a new 21k PR was on sight. Or so I thought.

The Hills Have Eyes

I would like to christen Mckinley Hills with a new name: Magneto. It grabs you in, and you won’t be able to get out of it with the same energy as you came in. It will suck out every ill-prepared runner of his/her running strength just before you leave it.

At this mind-bending, strength-zapping part of the race, I have to admit, the Buendia-Kalayaan flyover is ‘peanuts’ compared to Magneto. I’ve seen many of the runners succumbed to walking, even stopping for a while.

Fortunately for me, I didn’t walk. But on that last leg, that final incline that even my 45x45 or 30x60 high school drafting triangles won’t be able to measure, I was running so slowly that the walkers next to me seemed to be at the same pace. It was VERRRRY tempting to walk (I saw and greeted Sam who walked just before he left Bayani around km12 so this added to the temptation. He walked, so why can’t I? I also saw and greeted Pojie inside Mckinley Hills just before the descent to the Japanese embassy and he was walking too) but I just psyched myself to keep on running. It was killing my thighs but not my mind. I left Magneto alive and hopped on back at Lawton avenue with a lot of precious time eaten up. Could that 2:26 PR be beaten today, I thought?

It was probably km19 when I left Magneto so my mind was all go-go-go. I ate the ¼ remaining Hammer Gel and cooled my head with water. I wanted to run harder but my thighs were still tired from all that hill-climbing. It took quite a long while, probably upon seeing the km20 marker, that I just threw everything out of the window and ran as fast as I could. Seeing my stopwatch at 2:20 and with an assumed calculated pace of a little under 7:00mpk, I just went for it.

I ran the last 100meters like there was no tomorrow but, as early as I made that final turn, I knew that the 2:26 PR would not be beaten this time.

My time: 2:27:40 (unofficial).

Ahhggghh, missed it. But still, it was a great time since I managed to beat my Adidas KOTR time of 2:29:55. It was STILL a big improvement, moreover that this route included Magneto. Maybe if Mckinley Hills were not part of the route, maybe I finished at 2:20 (naaaaks, sobrang bilib ba sa sarili? Hehehe). Probably yes, but still, it was a great finish time.

I decided to let go of my PR-failed thoughts when I ran to a lady-organizer who hanged this over my head:

My 1st ever finisher’s medal. Wow. After just having started running last March, this was just precious. It encapsulated all that training in the early mornings, all the money invested into my running gear, and that 12lbs (and counting) weight loss. The feeling was just…..beautiful. I’ll probably have all my 2009 race bibs put into one glass frame with this medal in the middle. Yup, bragging rights. ;-)

What I learned from this race was that I must train based on the race route. I should've done hill-training since I had prior knowledge of meeting Magneto. Kumbaga kay Coach Freddie Roach, I should've studied the tapes (in this case, the race route) and trained accordingly. Yup, there'll be another bout with Magneto in future races pero wag muna ngayon as my thighs are still aching, hehe.

What’s next?

It’ll be the closing ceremonies of our company sportsfest this Saturday at Heritage Park. Along with it is the fun run where I’m joining 10k. Four 2.5km rounds around Heritage Park as how Coach Rio’s group organized it last July. I finished it at 1:08 so I hope to improve on it this weekend. Hopefully, improve on my 1:04 10k PR as well.

Plus, between now and Saturday, I’ll find out how to use the contents of this box that had just arrived Sunday morning.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Hammer Gel versus Sport Beans

It was my 2nd Thursday evening last week at BHS doing a 6km run. I find the route refreshing since I'd often do my practice runs here in QC. Plus, I get to invite some of my officemates to join in and maybe my runner's high might leave a mark on them. So far, the dinner after those runs took us to Tapaking and then Rufo's the following week. Hmmm, maybe I should call my Thursday run my Tapsi runs, hehe.

Anyway, I finished a 6k easy run (5 rounds around BHS) at around 42mins last Thursday. Since my officemates were still running/jogging/walking around, I decided to drop by RUNNR and do some window-shopping. It's really amazing to see so many running stuff in one store. A testament to the current running boom that has hit our country.

On the cashier's counter I saw energy gels/beans displayed. Sport Beans, my fuel of choice for about several runs/races now, was there priced at P85.00, 20 bucks more expensive versus the ones being sold at Athlete's Foot in Galleria. I guess it's the high BHS rental fee that prompted the store owners to increase the price.

To the left of the Sport Beans, I saw the Hammer Gel display. Most of the blogs I've read have talked about Hammer Gels and GU(?) whenever they race. "So eto pala yun?!" I told myself. Priced at P75.00 each, the feel of the contents are well, gel-lish. Instructions were simple: take 1 serving (1pack) every 1-2 hours of activity.

I decided to give it a try since I'm scheduled for an 18km easy run on the coming weekend. I bought 1 pack (tropical flavor).

I packed the following "supplies" for yesterday's 18k run: the Hammer Gel I bought, 1 Milo wafer bar, and the remaining pack of my Sport Beans (about 3 beans left). Water was filled up on my Nathan 1.5 and 1/2 of another bottle which I left purposely near a tree when I reached km5. The latter served as my water supply in case I ran out by the return leg which is at around km13.

I've slightly modified my easy runs for the 21k program I downloaded from the 'net such that the 1st half ran at the assigned easy pace (7:13 mpk) then the second half was ran faster (not slower than 6:45 mpk ---well, at least I tried to make it at that pace, hehehe). If you've been reading my previous posts involving runs exceeding 15-16k including my 3 half-marys, I'd always find myself gasping at the last 3kms. Doing the slight modification I made (1st half easy, 2nd half at race pace), I feel that my speed and endurance has improved. I think they call this as a "negative split" run.

So, I was able to consume my food supply throughout the run as follows:

Weight before the run: 167.6lbs

- 1/2 of the Milo bar before stretching
- 1/4 of the Milo bar at km6
- finished the entire Hammer Gel (w/ water as advised) between kms 9-10
- total water consumed: 1/2 of my total water supply

- rest of the Milo bar (1/4) and a bottle of Gatorade upon reaching home
- Sport Beans were not eaten

Weight after the run: 165.0lbs (Haaay, yes. This a great benefit of a long run. 1,400kcal burned! Wow! Nokia GPS stats can be found here)

Going back to the Hammer Gel, well I have to admit: it was beneficial. Normally after km15, I'd start to get hungry. But since I finished the gel, I felt full after that. I even had to remind myself to take water since I seldom felt thirsty which was unusual for me when I'm in kms13-15 of a run.

First 9kms was timed at 1:04. Second 9kms was at 58:51(!). Total time was 2:02:55.

Well, I can't fully say the Hammer Gel alone helped since I also had the Milo bar ---and a more improved me as well(?) hehehehe. I guess I have to try it again on another long run to see if it alone will still produce good results which is next Sunday's NB 21k.

Comparing it to Sport Beans, the Hammer Gel can be taken in one shot whereas the Sport Beans you just need to consume 1-2 beans every now and then (30mins ideally). There are pros and cons of the latter since it spreads out the fuel but then you have to remind yourself to take it at a recommended time ---an additional chore that you don't need to do if you're in a race. The Sport Beans has no "kick-start" effect compared to the Hammer Gel probably since the latter has 25mg of caffeine (the Sport Beans has another flavor sold with caffeine as well which could prove comparable to Hammer Gel's kick. But I guess I have to try that some other time).

In terms of availability, I was only able to find Hammer Gel at RUNNR. Sport Beans are sold in RUNNR and Athlete's Foot. Sport Beans are cheaper by P10.00 as I've mentioned earlier. Both Hammer Gel and Sport Beans come in a variety of flavors.

I still have to try diced hopia which I read on another blog proved good as well.

So, what's YOUR fuel of choice?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The latest Celebrity with Runner's High

Running at an easy pace of approximately 8-10mins per km from Round 7-12, Miguel Cotto could've finished around 2kms trying to avoid Pacquiao.

Damn, running IS becoming a boom nowadays.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Run for C.H.I.L.D. 10k

This was a rescheduled race originally planned last Oct3 but had to be put off due to Ondoy. I was glad to find out that it was going to be done this morning via the updates earlier this week. I was excited as well for Francis, our family driver, who was making his race debut via the 5k event. I signed up for 10k since it fits nicely in my current 21k training schedule in preparation for this month's NB run (another rescheduled race).

I had a feeling that this was not going to be a high-standard organized race so I didn't keep my hopes up the moment I got the racekit last month. The tarpaulin bib, the so-so Barney-purple singlet, and the two 5km-loop race route were sure signs that this wasn't going to be organized by Rio, Rudy, nor Ian. I think that a group of mountaineers (well identified by their Jamaican style long hair) volunteered to help organized it since Habagat was one of the sponsors. It was all for charity particularly for those children being treated with cancer so I didn't mind the P350.00 reg-fee. "It's for a good cause," I told myself again and again. Further, I wanted to give Francis a feel of how a race "ambience" is compared to the usual weekday 5k morning runs that he does 3-4 times a week. With recent times of 25-28mins for a 5k practice run, he is no push-over. But still, maybe not enough to beat the elites joining this race.

We arrived at the venue at BHS 7th street (not the usual start/finish area of the usual TheFort races) at around 5am. The organizers were just about getting setup the "START/FINISH" banner at the starting arc. It was still a handful of participants at the time (less than 20?) so I kidded myself that I might just end up at the top 10. Hehe.

Guntime was originally set at 5.30am but from the looks of things, I guessed that this race won't start on time. I was able to pass the time by introducing myself and chatting to Pio, made famous by one of GBM's LSD posts and now the latest member of Men's-Health Magazine's Belly Off Club. Yes, this guy appears in the Nov 2009 issue of Men's Health. Damn, I should've brought my copy if I knew he'd be running this race for an autograph, hehe. Hmmm, ako kaya kelan mailalagay dun? Hay, onga pala, I still have to lose 15lbs more to get my BMI back to normal. Hayyyy....

Pio, fresh from his first full mary at the QCIM, told me he was lying-low for the moment by joining 5k races momentarily ---including this one. The chat helped ease the waiting time as it was already 6am. Still, no announcement for gunstart except for the endless loop of the "Wastong Pagkain" song sponsored by the Gov't (it will end up being my LSS for the morning up until I arrived home). Btw, we saw that guy from the Yakult commercial. "Ok ka ba tyan?" was running 3k.

Eventually, the racers were called in to the starting corral: 3k, 5k, and 10k with the latter runners at the front. At first, it was annonced that the 10k would be released first, 5k second, and 3k last in 5-minute intervals. However, at the last minute, the announcer said it was going to be one gunstart for all events (ngeh!). A fair estimate would be less than 150 runners in all. 10k runners made up of about maybe....30 or less? So for the first time I found myself just 1 meter from the starting line.

There was a final plea from the announcer that the winners of the race have the option to donate their race winnings to this particular charity. Yup, this race was primarily to collect money for charity and for a well-organized race as second priority. The elites up in front all laughed quietly. I knew that the money that any of them will win will be a big help for their daily needs so donating them is really out of the question. It just goes to show that runners AND charitable-institutions like the OneRopeProject need support.

On with the race

"Most mistakes in a race are made in the first two minutes, perhaps in the very first minute." ---Jack Daniels, Exercise Physiologist and Coach

At long last, the race gun fired at 6.20am with the morning sun rising with all its glory. My usual overeager self didn't remember the quote above as I zoomed, trying to catch up to the elites ---and Francis!

Pace after 1km = 5:18 mpk

Aside from the missing marshals that enabled us runners to play patintero with the passing vehicles, I was somehow worried about my pace ---it seemed too fast for my own good. It's only 10k, I thought, and the tempo runs I've been doing lately have been helping with my speed. But those runs were only 5kms long so will I endure a whole 10k? There was only one way to find out. Remembering my QCIM 10k, I just pushed everything in the 1st 5km loop. Total time after 1 loop was at 32mins according to my stopwatch. Hmmm, the distance could be longer than 5k, I thought. Francis was already done with his 5k so I handed him the car keys when I passed by the finish line.

My doubts on the ability of my body to maintain that sub-6:00mpk pace was finally answered when I started my 2nd loop: I started slowing down. Yup, a big NGEH?!?!

There was only 1 water station (at the 2.5km U-turn) so it was a good thing I was wearing my hydration brief errrr, hydration belt. Hehehe. Remember? The Nathan 1.5 that my officemates gave for my birthday? Yup, it finally made its race debut. Except for that moment when the 0.5 flask fell from its holster without my touching it, the belt was all ok.

Anyway, I still pushed during my 2nd loop but somehow, I felt that my strides were 20% less compared to my 1st loop effort. Needless to say, I ended the 2nd loop at a measly 35mins, totalling my 10k unofficial time to 1:07. Well, my QCIM 10k PR of 1:04 still stands. The Run4Child race had taught me a valuable lesson (YET AGAIN?!?!!!!) on proper pacing. Dapat talaga wag mag madali sa umpisa ---unless you're an elite.

Francis finished his maiden 5k at 24mins, about a minute or so ahead of Pio. Finishing 12th place, that's not bad at all! Hmmm, probably I'll try to scout for more Saturday races so I can have Francis join in.

As I got home, I plotted the route on The loop was 5.4kms long. Thus, an approximate total of 10.8kms for my 10k run. My Nokia GPS registered it at 11.5kms so averaging both measurements the whole distance could be somewhere around 11kms. Yup, the overshot distance might've been expected too, seeing that it could've been the reggae-men mountaineers that measured it ---car odometer style? Hehe.

But it's still my run that counts. Obviously I have to go back to my training (extend my tempo run distances probably?) and improve since I wasn't able to break my 10k 1:04 PR.

10k would have to take a backseat for now since my next focus is my 4th half-mary at the NB Run on the 29th. A 2:26 PR needs to be broken.

See you there!!!

NSTB race stats can be found here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Congrats Meb!

I was looking at Ryan Hall to make an impact on this one but, unfortunately, he ended up 4th overall.

But it was still a good day for the American runners.

Congrats Meb!!!

“You visualize it and visualize it and when reality hits, it’s pretty sweet” ---Meb