Thursday, February 25, 2010

CenturyTuna RunRio Leg1: A Perfect Race (Part 2)

Gear setup

It's no doubt that RunRio singlets are very nice. But my running-form just produces painful chaffing just below my shoulders near my armpits when I tried it on a 10mile run the weekend before. I finally decided the day before race day to wear the Adidas 2009 singlet instead.

I had a longer time deciding if I needed to wear my hydration belt. Prior to RunRio1, I've been wearing it whenever I run 21k. Knowing that this was a RunRio race, I entrusted my faith in the organizers that sufficient water stations will be available. Hence, I decided not to wear the belt.

For nutrition, I brought along the usual Milo wafer bar and 2 instead of my normal 1 Hammer Gel.

I arrived around 4:40am at BHS (a 1-2km walk from the house made good for a warmup). I jogged for about 400m back and forth at the tailend of the starting gate. Note to self: I really have to do a light jog warmup before races to, well, get me warmed-up.

One can't fail to notice 2 things on the way to the starting corral: the big crowd and the fantastic start/finish arc. Unlike the 5k and 10k events, the half-marathon hosted the least number of participants (around 1,000+) so overcrowding at the start and along the route would not be a problem. I was able to meet and greet Sir Jovie and Anton who were both running 21k as well.

I did some final stretching and set my 305 to 6:30 mpk target-pace. A sub-2:20 finish was all I could think of.

The 30-second countdown started.

I was ready.

Here we go

We were off running. Except for some areas of pitch darkness, the first 8kms were fine (I saw Roselle from km2-6 btw). My average speed at this point was at a surprising 6:22 mpk. It could've been partly due to the 1st Hammer Gel that I took along km2. I wanted to slow down but my over eager self who's watched Josh Cox tempo-run videos over-and-over again didn't want to. My 305 recorded 31:26 for the 1st 5k, well under the target time of my set 32mins cutoff. Km4 was recorded at a "halimaw-ish" 6:03?!?!?!!!!

If this was a 10k race, I would've achieved a PR since I clocked in at 1:03:38 (my PR is at 1:04:55) approaching Mckinley Hills. Still under the 1:05 cutoff time for my sub-2:20. As I passed by Magneto, I was glad we won't be passing those damn hills that day. Amazingly btw, you have to admire RunRio since the distance markers (almost per km I think) was very precise when compared to my Garmin (good work Coach!).

Km11-14 almost went the same way: 6:27, 6:30, 6:18, 6:32. Average mpk was at 6:23 ---mighty-fast!


Things started to go wrong going into km15 after leaving Heritage Park, i.e. I started to fade in pace. It was most probably due to the inclined part of the course going back up to Lawton. I felt several runners, probably the negative-splitters, caught up with me passing left and right. Runpix stats would later confirm this as it showed 61 runners passed me from km14.7 to the finish line.

Still, I was able to set my second "PR" of the day for a 10-miler: 1:43:51 (my PR is at 1:49). A big confidence-booster that made my way back towards Lawton to the Trion Towers turnaround. Btw, it's good to mention that Hammer Gels (yes you read that right) were given away by marshals inside Heritage Park (nice!). The other reason for my slowing-down could've probably been my overconfidence seeing the 6:23 average mpk on my 305, I thought that the sub-2:20 was already in the bag. What was required of me was to conserve my energy for the last 5km.

But still, pace was going from bad to worse:

15 0:07:13
16 0:07:13
17 0:07:34
18 0:07:32
19 0:08:01


After the Trion Towers turnaround, I decided to pick up speed. For just above 500meters from there, a brief respite awaited: it was my wife and two sons waiting for me in front of the condo with my leftover Gatorade. I waved gladly as I was about 100m from them, with my wife pointing my kids towards the direction of their dad. In all my races since I started March 2009, this was the very first time I saw someone who really cheered for me. It was a sight for sore eyes.

I took a sip of the Gatorade (since I had a lot to drink already thanks to RunRio's ampfully-placed water stations ---with ICE COLD water pa!), kissed her and my 2 kids and went on my way to turn right to 5th avenue.

It was a good break from all the running.

Last hurrah

With 2kms left, that previous stop had put a boost as I got rejuvenated in pace (6:18 at km20). Sub-2:20 was right there in front of my face as I made my way onto 5th avenue, then 32nd, then 7th.

It was the final left turn when I saw the finish arc. It was a very welcome sight. With all the energy left that I could muster, I went for it and sprinted to the finish amidst the throngs of people who were making their way around BHS and back to their cars to go home. Suddenly, I felt a strong cramp acting up on my right calf. It was starting to get painful but I was only about 20-30 meters from the finish.

I decided to ignore it and sprinted my way to the finish arc and mat. Km21 would later go down in my book as my fastest race kilometer (so far). It was a mind-blowing 5:11.

This was the 7th half-marathon that I've finished in less than a year since I started running. In all my races, I have never shed a tear when I reached the finish line. But seeing all that training and motivation to a desired goal AND achieve it was just overwhelming for me. This race was special coz it was perfect (in my terms). I was slightly teary-eyed (you won't see it coz of the shades I was wearing) as I looked at my 305 to confirm what I saw seconds ago at the finish arc:

2 hours, 18 minutes, and 36 seconds!!!!

It was, for all terms and purposes, mission accomplished. It was a perfect race. I was able to break 3 PRs (10k, 10miles, and 21k). A big big THANKS goes out to RunRio and their partners for coming up with a well-organized race. Accurate race-markers, ice-cold water at the water stations served by "inspirational" female Superbods, accurate and fast race results, organized marshals, loot bags (which I often miss out on when I run half-marathons), photovendo, a nice finisher's shirt, and, last but definitely not the least, the RunRio finisher's medal.

What's next?

Well it's Thursday already as I'm ending this post and I've yet to see LA. He knows about my finish time already via FB and he replied, "Good job!" I believe he's egging himself now to "unretire" himself to try to beat my new PR. Honestly, I don't think he ever will. ;-)

I'm still basking in the glory of my new PR so I'll be relaxing from running and racing from now until end-March. Running is something I love to do and since Lent calls for sacrificing something you love, I would like to see if I can control the urge to run this Lent. Further, my left knee has been acting up again (runner's knee?) so the rest period is a good welcome. I'll probably do swimming while I let it heal.

My next race will be the Mizuno 10k which I've already registered for. My 2009 was a 1:08 so I have a good feeling that I could beat that in this year's Infinity Run. After that, it will be my planned 13-weeks of training.

Yup, I've finally decided to go up a notch. 42.195kms to be exact on July 4, 2010.

The urban everest awaits.

Monday, February 22, 2010

CenturyTuna RunRio Leg1: Recipe for Revenge

The numerous good reviews that I read from last year's Timex Run had encouraged me (even prior to Condura) to register for RunRio Leg1. The chip timing, the towel and medal at the finish line, and the overall thumbs-up reviews of the race-organizing were big factors in letting me set-aside the high registration cost to experience for myself how good RunRio races are. That was my first reason.

The other reason was more brought about by revenge:

Two weeks have passed since Condura 2010 and LA, my officemate, has been smirking like the devil everytime we'd bump into each other. He had beaten me in his 21k debut in Condura, 2:24 against my 2:36. This is despite my explaining to him that I had to change my plans to pace a football buddy in his own debut.

"Puro ka excuse!" or "Winner (ako)!" was what he'd often shout when we'd meet among a crowd in the office. I'd just give a smile but deep inside I was longing to prove him wrong. Too bad though that he said he'll "retire" from running indefinitely so Condura was probably his last run since he enjoys biking more (snicker).

Still, I wanted to prove him wrong even if he won't run. The fastest Condura 21k in the office ran a 2:08 but he's been running since he was a kid. The next fastest was a 2:21. LA was 2:24. My best 21k was 2:26 (official EcoDash time).

I wanted to prove to LA that I can beat his time and more. So, I've set myself a target a day after Condura 2010: I will target a sub-2:20 21k on RunRio Leg1.

Thus began my 2-week training leading to Feb21:

Feb8 (Mon) - 5km @ 7:00 mpk
Feb10(Wed)- 10km hard tempo (1k rest, 5k @ 6:20, repeat)
Feb12(Fri) - 5km @ 7:00 mpk
Feb13(Sat) - 16km long run @ 7:11 mpk
Feb15(Mon) - 5km @ 7:00mpk
Feb18(Thu) - 7km tempo @ 6:30 mpk

I was bothered by my last run (Feb18) since I suddenly faded in pace after 4kms (found myself walking). I was somehow relieved when I analyzed that the reason for the fade was that I didn't have dinner the night before: Ash Wednesday.

Apart from the above practice runs I've included strength training (well it was only twice during those two weeks, can it count?), and back-and-forth analysis of the 21k race route: studying the elevations, learning the 5k, 10k, 15k, 10mile, 18k, 20k race-points with my projected cutoff times to reach sub-2:20.

Add to that was my constant recall of the Chi Running technique during my maintenance runs. Well, to be honest, sobrang dami kelangang tandaan so I only remembered some of it. At least, I believe, that I've made some headway in running injury-free.

I even planned out my target pace. To achieve a sub-2:20, I had to run an average 6:31 mpk based on the plotting of 21.42km of the race-course. I was only allowed to run 6:45 mpk on two kilometers which I've layed-out on km1 and km6. The rest had to be 6:30 mpk. Otherwise, bye-bye sub-2:20. My fastest half-marathon was at 6:58 average mpk. This was going to be tough, I thought. But then I'd imagine LA grinning at me and it just makes me want to do a sub-2:20 more and more.

All that training and planning will come out (or not) on race day. Like what Freddie Roach said of his greatest boxer, the outcome on fight night is a result of all the training and planning that they've done previously.

Funny how someone cooks up a recipe for motivation and revenge, don't you think? Coz I've never been that serious for a race before.

To be continued...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mabuhay Haile!

Unless you're living under a rock, Haile Gebrselassie is one of the most well-known names in the sport of running. The Ethiopian has achieved major wins in the 1500meters and marathon categories, with the latter set with a triumphant 2:03:59 finish in the 2008 Berlin Marathon when he was already 35 years old which is still unbeaten to this day. Recently, he won the Dubai marathon which he won last year as well.

I've been following the man (and American Ryan Hall) on my twitter account for a few weeks now and I was very excited this morning when I read his latest tweet:

Anybody knows the details of this G4S program? Where is it? I would really like to meet the Michael Jordan of running in person so if you know anything about his visit here, do let me know.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sayo na Chi

I've been learning a lot from reading this book. Stressing on improving one's running form to run more efficiently and to prevent injury, it's remarkable to see how the pointers I absorbed from reading it have taken effect in my morning runs.

You just need to be very patient with it ---improving your running form, that is--- since there are many key points from head to toe that needs to be considered.

I'm only on page 90 as of this blog post but I can see the improvements when I remember to do these things:

1. slight forward lean
2. foot strike just below your center of gravity, thus reducing impact to the knees
3. your 'chi' is located from your head to the tail of your spine. it should always be straight but relaxed

And many others.

This is a good read for those like me who want to run more efficiently and who'd like to reduce injuries incurred when running.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Condura 2010 21k: Among virgins

As I mentioned in my last post, the original plan for this race was to pace a sub 2:30 for a group of 21k-virgin officemates. They've followed a 7-week RunnersWorld plan (that I've slightly modified in terms of the weekend long run ---which I've stretched, hehe) to the letter and I was confident that they would be able to finish. The plan:

km1-5: 7:30/km
km5-17: 7:00/km
km117-21: 6:45/km
TOTAL - roughly 2hrs, 28mins

It was a good plan....

...until I bumped into Obet (after meeting Elvis along km1).

Obet is my high-school batchmate whom I played regular Saturday football with during my alumni years. Having started racing last year as well with a string of 5 and 10k races (sub-30 and sub-60, mind you), Condura was going to be his maiden half-mary. Since he'd often see my FB status updated with my latest half-mary results last year, he always commented that he would like to debut in the half with me as his pacer.

So, with me on lead, I paced Obet and my group of virgins until reaching the foot of the Skyway. Except for km1 (we were all squeezed in due to the large 21k contingency coming out of the starting corral), the group was doing well ok.

Until everybody just zoomed out. Except me and Obet.

LA and PC, a duathlete and triathlete respectively, decided to move ahead as we climbed the Buendia off-ramp. MP left us around km 8. I knew that if I paced with MP (a 1:39 15k finisher in last year's Slimmerun) I would've finished around 2:23-2:24. But, call it stupidity or plain concern for Obet who was panting heavily as we made our way over Magallanes interchange, I stayed with him. This wasn't part of my 7-week plan but I knew I couldn't leave him alone. At first I thought I would still be able to chase LA, PC, and MP since I was certain that mauubusan sila by the last 5kms. By the turnaround point, strangely enough, I didn't care about my time anymore (I was at 1:12 when we reached km10) as I tried to keep his mind away from the onsetting fatigue by exchanging stories. Amazingly, I myself wasn't tired at all after km16. Siguro it really is true that running with a buddy can ease a run.

As we neared the end of the Skyway (which was a nice route btw. Thanks Concepcion brothers!), we were expecting his neighbor, a last-minute requested bike support, to join us. I thought that since Obet will have someone to be with him in the last 5km, I can start speeding up.

So, just after hopping on back to Buendia, I left Obet. I felt that he'll be able to finish and that finishing the last 5km by himself would make it more special on his debut.

By km16 my average was at 7:11/km. Veeeeery slow in my history of half-marys. A sub-2:30 could still be achieved I thought. It might still be possible to chase my officemate virgins before the finish. And so, I zoomed.

km17: 6:26/km
km18: 6:32/km
km19: 7:09/km

I couldn't keep up with the sub-7:00 pace by km19. Blame that on cheating on my speedwork/tempo runs during training. By km20 I overtook 3 people I knew (including our company CEO who was screaming, "ang sakit na ng tuhod ko!" as I passed him). But there was no sign of LA, PC, or MP.

They may have already finished. As I descended the Buendia flyover return-route (with no problems on the challenging incline) my 305 beeped 21km.

My time was 2:31 with still meters to go. The route will exceed the 21.0975 distance (21.7kms as recorded by my 305). But I didn't mind since this was a Rudy Biscocho race. Should it exceed, it will not be as long as the 2009 Celebrity Run (22+ kms).

As I reached the finish arc, the timer above it signaled 2:36.

I was off target. I wasn't as fatigued as my previous races, but still off sub-2:30.

MP, PC, and LA finished in that order around 2:24.

I can only blame myself as I decided to stay with Obet until km16. I could've left him around km10 and still managed to eek out a sub 2:30 but I didn't. Thoughts of "why? why? why?!" entered my head as I lined up for my medal.

The feeling was gloomy. 7-weeks of training, scrapped by a last-minute request by a virgin to be paced. Stupid right?

That feeling changed somewhat as I checked my FB. I was mentioned in Obet's post:

It truly was a great opportunity to be able to guide a newbie to his first half-mary. As I write this post, I feel better that I stayed with him most of the way. Runners are always in a race for a better finish-time, including myself pre-Condura. But I had to scrap the plan in favor of not letting my teammate down. Right now, as I write this post, I'm glad I did.


The Condura run is something I would like to join again next year (oh please you got to have one again next year, right?! Baka mag-full na ako nun! hehehe). Rudy B was at his best again. I've no complaints whatsoever (the racebib barcode issue? Come on! You know how to write numbers, right? So, stop whining. Hehe).

Thanks as well to the Aid station (saw Jinoe and Sir Amado) as I tried to zoom off on my way back to BHS. You were all great!


Looking back at my km-splits (this Garmin Connect on the web-thingy is so helpful), I feel that I need to improve more on my tempo runs. If I did it longer, I would've managed to cruise to a sub-7:00 mpk pace from km16 to the finish line. Well, I *think* I could.

I'll revise the usual warmup-tempo-cooldown program of Runnersworld to a recommended tempo run for half-marathon as mentioned in another Runnersworld article. I hope (I hope!) to follow it this time.

Why? Well, Century Run is coming up. I've registered for the 21km event as early as two weeks ago. This time, I'll be begging-off from virgin-pacer duty. A sub-2:20 is a hopeful target come Feb21.

How serious am I on a sub-2:20 aim? Well, as not what I do 24hours after a race, I ran 5km Monday morning. Yup, that's how serious it is.


On a side note, I'm glad the missus encouraged (more on "sales talked") me on buying a condo along 5th avenue 2 years ago. We've been sleeping there during weekends recently so there's no need to wake up that early for races). Just a 1-km walk to BHS is a good warmup/cooldown in itself.

I'm not a fan of condos, but I just could not resist the need to wade my tired post-race body into that ice-cold swimming pool with my kid after I arrived from Condura.

Sarrraaaap! ;-)

Thursday, February 4, 2010


My Condura2009 blogpost had put a smile on my face as I recalled that first step I took into running and racing. How I had second-thoughts of registering for it on the last day, how I lost my breath and jog-walked after 4km, how I set-up my song-list, and how glad I was to finish it in 33+ minutes.

Several 10K's and 5 half-marathons (and a Garmin 305) later, I am as excited as I was back then. It's only a few days left until I'll be waiting for the Condura 21k starting gun to set us off.

This race is going to be special since I'll be leading a pack of 21k virgins including LA who was mentioned in my Condura2009 post as the one who convinced (more like forced) me to join that race. He had raced 15k in last year's Mizuno Infinity Run but after that he swore that he'll never race anything further than 10k as he was screaming in pain as his thigh muscles ached. That was then. I guess he didn't want to miss a chance of running up the Skyway, hehe.

PC, a triathlete, had never raced beyond 10k. His best 10k was 58mins. He's pumped up as I am to run this race too.

FP, a bodybuilder, also a 10k finisher.

MP, who I'd often see in races, had never gone beyond 15k (best time 1:39).

PG, an officemate who outran me in the Condura 2009 5k, is also making his 21k debut but with another group.

LA, who had convinced me to join running, has now become my student. "The coach is now the student, the pupil is now the master," he kidded one time.

I've given them a 7-week training sked courtesy of RunnersWorld. It consisted of the usuals: maintenance runs, tempos, speedwork, and Saturday long group runs including an 18k. Except for MP (who regularly plays basketball), the rest of the group was able to follow the sked religiously.

I hope the whole group finishes the race without injury. Our group goal is to finish below 3hrs (enough buffer na yun I think) but my secret goal is to try to go sub-2:20 (my "unofficial" best is 2:23:43 in last year's 22.2k Celebrity run). If I see and feel that they can finish the whole distance, I'll try to increase the pace a bit from our 7:30 mpk flat-out strategy and see if they'll respond (or complain? hehe). I'll let you know the outcome after this Sunday's race.

I'm not really disappointed not to join the full-mary in this year's Condura. It would've been my first. But I thought marami pa namang full marathons scheduled this year (Milo Elims, wink wink). I'm more excited of running up the Skyway which I've driven thru countless times. Yup, it's more of going up the Skyway rather than beating my time. I'll be relishing the moment as we all take that off-ramp in Buendia trudging up to see the sky, just a little nearer than usual.

Let me end with this excerpt from my post last year as I was looking for a 21k training plan to do my first half-mary. I can't believe how much I've accomplished since then, and how much I'm going to accomplish more this year.

"My long-term goal for running is to at least have finished a half-marathon. In particular, I would like to run (and finish) a half-marathon by next year's Condura Run which I hope would have an exciting route similar to last March wherein the runners traversed the Skyway. It was truly an amazing site to see 21k runners approaching the finish line and being given their finisher's medal (not a shirt, mind you, but a medal).

I would like to be one of those (elite) runners come Condura Run 2010, hopefully to conquer the Skyway as well. No need to chase a PR since finishing the whole 21k will be a major feat in itself. Something to add on my "been there, done that" list."

Elite runner daw oh?! Hehehe. Sigh, how time has changed. :)

See you on Feb7!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Help: Lost wedding ring at BHS

I'm hoping that this post will reach the kindness of the running community and those who frequent BHS. I hope you would be able to help me in my predicament.

You see, during or after my last long 15km group run yesterday morning (Jan30) at BHS before Condura, I lost my wedding ring.

Yes, that very symbol of commitment for all married partners, my wedding ring, is now lost. I am fairly sure that I slipped it on my zipped back pocket of my running shorts when we started (or was it inside my hydration belt pocket?). Either way, I wasn't able to find it when I remembered that I felt naked with my bare ring finger after the run. Believe me, I looked everywhere, even coming back to the BHS parking lot next to ROX and Seattle's Best to make a 2nd pass.

My wife is taking it calmly but I know that you know that she knows that I lost something very very very important. I feel guilty even more coz it felt like 'running,' my new passion, seemed to have taken it away like a selfish mistress.

I think all you married people out there can imagine what I'm going through right now. I really feel bad losing it.

So here's the thing. I am hoping and praying that probably one of you good people was able to accidentally find it during his/her BHS-loop run or while strolling around. It has "Pauline 04-17-04" engraved inside the ring.

If you or someone you know did find it, please feel free to reply to this post and leave your email/number so I can contact you. I will be forever grateful of your kindness.

If it's of any worth, our 15k lasted for 1:54. Chillax pace.