Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Botak Baguio 10k: Elevation

High, higher than the sun
You shoot me from a gun
I need you to elevate me here
At the corner of your lips
As the orbit of your hips
You elevate my soul


It was probably less than 20 degrees Celsius as I woke up at 4am last Sunday to get ready. I looked at the missus and my youngest son, still in a deep slumber under the comforter on a king size bed at the hotel that we were checked-in.

SIGH, it would've been better to have dozed off instead.

Nevertheless, running amidst pine trees and under cool (as in ginaaaaaw) temperatures is a refreshing change from someone like me who regularly races in Manila wherein the smell of carbon monoxide and hot temperatures are the norm.

From the race map that I got when I registered, I knew immediately that this was going to be a knee-breaking race. Why does one sign-up for such outrageous challenges? Baguio is a place to relax, smell the pine trees, eat at Star Cafe, ride a boat at Burnham Park, take a picture with one of the locals at the Botanical Gardens, etc etc. It's not a place for someone to loose one's breath and run the risk of reinjury, right?

The answer could be very simple: because it's there.

So off we go

The starting line was at Lake Drive, Burnham Park. I estimated the total participants to be around less than 400. Gun time was supposed to be 5:30am for the 21k event but it went off at about 5:45-5:50am (I saw Roselle the RunningDiva btw joining the half marathon event). I think there were about less than 100 warriors who ran 21km that day. Man, running all the way up to MinesView is no joke! Botak finisher medals for these runners is definitely a great prize for such an enduring run.

An interesting note btw. The guest-of-honor, after wishing all the runners good luck, briefly made his election campaign ("I howp you bot por mih!"). Ayus manong! :)

Up next was me and about a hundred other runners in the 10k event which will be joined in by the 5k runners. I took a sachet of HammerGel a few minutes after the 21k runners sped off. The 5k/10k gun went off at about 6:14am. Unlike in the Manila races, take note that I'm not complaining of the late gun time here. Idling one's time away at a cool place such as Burnham Park while being kissed by the morning sun is a pleasant welcome. The gun would've went off at 8am and I still would not have cared.


There was only about 600 meters of flat road for the entire 10k course: 300meters from the starting line and then 300meters when you're on the way back to the finish line (which is where you actually started). Needless to say, this was not for the faint of heart (and knees).

Stupidly enough, I zoomed at the first 300 meters and ended up looking dazed after a 20 meter climb which I estimate to be about the same incline as the bottom of McKinley Hill. This 20m incline sort of acted as a first-pass filter, if you will, to separate unprepared runners. It was a preview of things to come.

The next 4.68 kilometers would be hill, hill, hill, and more hills. My km lap times attested to this:

km1 = 6:27
km2 = 7:02
km3 = 6:42
km4 = 7:09
km5 = 7:31

Even before the start of the race, looking at the race route, beating my 1:04 PR would be laughingly impossible. I recalled that again by the 5km turnaround point, totalling 34:51 for the first half of the race.


It's true: whatever goes up, must come down. By the 5km turnaround everything was downhill. I took advantage of it, spiraling down like an avalanche. Forget the brakes! Hehehe...

km6 = 6:04
km7 = 7:04
km8 = 6:30
km9 = 6:41
km10 = 6:06

I had already entered Burnham Park by the time my 305 beeped 10km. It was 1:07+ at this point. I sprinted off the remaining flat road and reached the finish line at 1:09:15 (Garmin 305 time). At least I did a sub-Aga. Hehe.

Elevation Gain

I compared the elevation gain of the hill-run I made the previous week in Taguig versus this race and they came up exactly the same (353 meters). But what made these two routes different was the elevation itself. The hill-run was -48 to 91 meters while Botak Baguio measured 1447 to 1559 meters! That could've been the reason why I was always gasping for air even though my pace didn't seem all out. I guess that's why elite runners (like Ryan Hall, Josh Cox, Team Baldrunner, and Rio dela Cruz) train at high elevations to condition their lungs so that when they come down flatland for the races, it seems like it's a piece of cake to them. But that's just me over-analyzing.

Good job!

The race organizers did a good job. Kilometer-markers were accurate, race marshals were there at every intersection, on-the-dot water/Gatorade stations, and of course, a superb Botak singlet. I have 3 Botak singlets, all of them made with good quality. A local brand such as Botak, should they want to launch internationally, could give Adidas and Nike a run for their money (pun intended).

There was no showbiz personality nor fireworks for this race. But I guess any race organized in Baguio is something special. I highly recommend any running enthusiast who hasn't gone racing in Baguio to do so in their lifetime. You'll definitely look differently at a pine tree (and your car's first gear) after running there.

Garmin 305 stats can be seen by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

12 months later

I was swamped with work today when I stopped and thought, "Wow! March 22 was two days ago!"

March 22 might be insignificant to you guys but for me, it means a lot. It was March 22, 2009 when I woke up early on a Sunday morning to drive all the way to BHS Makati to step on the Condura 2009 5k starting line. I could not contain my excitement and nervousness for this race....

....for this was my first ever race.

3 pairs of running shoes, a pile of singlets, racebibs, 3 finisher medals, and a Garmin later, I still could not believe what I've achieved these past twelve months:

3 5k fun runs
9 10k races
1 10-miler
7 half-marathons

which resulted to:

a 10-pound weight loss (although I still need to lose more)
a 30-point drop in cholesterol count
a 4-point increase in HDL
a 26-point drop in LDL
a 22-point drop in triglycerides
countless greetings of "hey! you lost weight ey?!"

I am glad to have found running, and I will continue to run as much as I can for the rest of my life. For in running I have found solace from the daily grind at work. It has become more than a hobby such that I've become passionate into learning everything about it to improve my running form, pace, and distance.

I enjoy reading all your running blogs (I really do!) and how it has changed your life. It fascinates me that there are other people out there like you who are as passionate with running as I am. The wonders of the Internet age has made me discover your posts on running. It really is a privilege for me to be reading your posts as I hope you do so with mine.

I still have lots to go, I'm afraid. There is still the urban Everest that I would like to conquer. The 26.2 mile journey that only 0.1-2% of the world's population have accomplished ---I want to be part of that. A marathoner. If not this year, hopefully before I reach 40.

"To describe the agony of a marathon to someone who's never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind." ---Jerome Drayton

For now, I'll take it one step at a time. Tomorrow night's another run. Sunday morning's another race. And so on and so on...

"I always loved was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs." ---Jesse Owens

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Magneto Run

If there's one part of running that I find challenging, it has to be hills. It's so difficult to climb coz it takes a lot of effort, and it wastes a lot of precious time coz it slows down my pace ---not exactly helpful if you're in search of a new PR.

But like all challenges, I have to get over them somehow, literally and figuratively. So, a few weeks ago I've decided to sign up for Botak Baguio 10k, an obviously hilly route with merciless elevation changes.

"Pare, ibang animal ang Baguio!" was what my officemate/triathlete PC said when I told him of my next race. Though scary was his description, the guy didn't seem to listen to himself as he's planning to do a 23km Baguio long run on the same Palm Sunday race day this week. I know, he's crazy. Hehe.

This morning was a good time for my scheduled long run which I've plotted out in advance. It called for revisiting two famous running hills in Taguig: Mckinley Hill a.k.a. Magneto, and Lawton-Bayani, both of which I've inserted neatly into the planned route.

Incidentally, today was also the Globe Run4Home II so I was expecting 10/15/21k runners coming in from 5th avenue as I stepped out of the condo. My planned route had to go from 5th avenue to Lawton to Bayani to HeritageParkFrontGate then back all the way to Lawton then McKinley Hill all the way down to C5 then all the way back up to Lawton then Old Lawton Avenue then left to 21st street back to the condo. Bottomline, I was going to be running alongside the Globe runners.

As a matter of courtesy to these paying registered runners, I didn't take a cup at any of the water stations. It was my hydration belt that served as my water source.

Planned pace was 7:42 mpk easy since the objective of this run was to prepare my legs to run through a hilly route.

The whole run was relaxing as I passed by some of the Globe runners that were familiar to me already by face and even by name. For once, I wasn't aiming to reach a certain time at any point of my run. I was, well, relaxed. Surprisingly, as I tackled McKinley Hill down to C5 and up by my lonesome I was still composed. It was probably because there was no pressure to run fast since this wasn't a race.

I finished the 10.17km run at 1:17:51 total time and at 7:39 average pace. It was a good easy run.

So will I be ready for Botak Baguio this coming Sunday? Hill-wise, probably yes. Change in elevation, I wouldn't exactly be sure. Mas manipis ang hangin dun, as what many might say. Like what PC said, Baguio's a very different animal.

All I can say for now is, bring it on!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


(This is a lame attempt to get the wifey, a showbiz fan, to join me in road running)

Here's a rundown on who's who in showbiz been racing lately:

Piolo Pascual. Good news to runner Gingerbreadman: Piolo's dropped in pace a bit in the recently concluded DZMM Takbo Para sa Kalikasan 10k run. His time? 49:37. Still, an excellent sub-50 finish.

Papa P with Papa R

Donna Larazzabal a.k.a. Donna Cruz. She's been running even before the boom started. Her recent CenturyTuna 21k finish time speaks for itself: 2:04:38.

Her playlist includes: Kapag tumibok ang puuuso....

Carlos Agasi. I saw him along km19 in the recent Unilab 21k run. 2:22:41.

Sen. Pia Cayetano. I'd bet on her if there was a race for senators. She'll definitely top it. Her recent race was at the DZMM 10k run wherein she coasted to a sub-60 finish: 59:48. Oh, did I fail to mention that she's a triathlete as well?

Fernando Zobel. Representing the Ayala clan, this guy is just amazingly fast for his age. Condura 21k: 1:52:05. CenturyTuna 21k: 1:55:54. Galeng!

Lance Gokongwei. Not to be outdone is JG Summit's rep who had a decent 21k finish in the CenturyTuna run: 2:19:37.

Tessa Valdes. Don't be fooled by her eccentric running attire. She's fast! CenturyTuna 21k: 2:26 (chip time).

Derek Ramsay. He ran 5k in the CenturyTuna run. I couldn't find his race result but I saw on TV that he mentioned he got lost along the route. Hmmm....

puro pa-picture kase!

Aga Muhlach. Yup, even the former Bagets star has joined the fray, coasting to a 1:11:12 Unilab 10k finish.

Hmmm....BLC candidate?

For those avid Hollywood fans out there, here's a full list. Notable celebrities in last year's NYC Marathon:

Edward Norton. 2009 NYC Marathon. 3:48:01. Milo Elims panis!

"Where the hell do you think you're going?" (Primal Fear, 1996)

Alanis Morissette. 2009 NYC Marathon. 4:28:45.

...and I'm remind you...

For now, I can safely say that I can do a sub-Lance 21k and a sub-Aga 10k.

How about you?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Easy [Runs] Does It

Last Monday afternoon, I finally took it upon myself to visit a sports doctor recommended by an officemate. After two weeks of no running, my left knee still hurts when going up/down the stairs. Dr. Randy Molo was very accommodating as I relayed to him the circumstances that resulted to my left knee injury. The only words that I hoped he would not say were those words dreaded by any other runner:

"You have to stop running for X months."

Well I was hard-headed, still running since the pain started last October, couldn't shake off the exhilaration of a morning run or race. As I entered his office that day, I was expecting the worst.

After a few questions and his explanation of where I could possibly be injured, he made me lie down and lifted my left leg to inspect where does it hurt. "When I do this, does it hurt?" was the usual question as he made various movements of my left leg and knee. "No" was my reply to all (honest!).

We sat down again to confirm what he knew all along: patellar tendinitis. It's caused by imbalance of the patella going on one side of the lower leg instead of the middle, thus causing the inflammation on the muscle tissues holding it. He said that I need to do VMO strengthening exercises (he referred me to a blogsite which I found here), and that I should put a Piroxicam patch (much like salonpas but with time-release and a much longer use period) over the part of my knee that felt painful.

Then I had to ask the most important question: "Doc, can I still run?"

He smiled, as if saying...

"Ang kulit nito ah!"

Well I didn't really recall if he said YES, but he said that I should tone down on the pace and distance until the pain subsides completely. He even mentioned that I would want to try aquajogging which was probably how Michael Jordan rehabilitated himself when he got injured as well. I was really unsure when I went back home so that night I asked him again thru sms. This was his reply:

"yes....patellar tendon issues more or less gets aggravated with front of the knee may try to run--no strict distance and pace....start with "comfortable" then progress both"

Haaayyyyy salamat! You could've seen myself sleep that night, for I might've been smiling.

I still decided to give it a few more days until last Thursday morning, I woke up to put my running gear on. I think I took the advice of Doc Randy pretty well since I ran only 2kms in 20mins or roughly 10mpk pace. Now THAT'S comfortable!! :) Though the run was short and slow, I was still glad that I was able to run again.

This morning I ran 5km in 42mins or roughly 8+ mpk pace. Still slow by my usual runs, but in accordance to the doctor's orders. Btw, I've downloaded this patellofemoral exercises PDF file which included VMO strengthening exercises. All of the exercises therein needs to be done twice a day. Once the injury subsides, it still needs to be done but only once a day. It takes a lot of patience but I'm willing to do it so that I can heal the pain on my left knee.

Well kids, looks like I'm ok to run......easy pace and distance, that is! :-)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Unilab Run: A View from Km19

This was a whole different race for me since, well, I was watching from the sidelines. I purposely didn't register for this since (1) I was still on my self-imposed rest period, and (2) still enjoying on recalling my 21k PR set at CenturyTuna two weeks ago. Ayaw ko pa mapatungan. Hehe.

My plan was once my 1-yr old son woke up at 6am I'd put him on the stroller and walk towards BHS since we're just a kilometer or so away. The little guy seemed to be liking the condo bed so much that he overslept since it was already 6:40am when I looked at the clock. Yikes, the race had started already!

I hurriedly went down the front gate to see an ocean of runners occupying 5th avenue and 21st street both from the 21k and 5k events, respectively (although I saw two Kenyans zooming towards the finish line wearing 21k racebibs, presumably the 2nd and 3rd placers completing an all-Kenyan 1-2-3 in the half-marathon event).

There were a lot of walkers on the 5k event which made me recall my first ever race at Condura 2009 5k wherein I was running/walking as well by km4. The volume of 5k runners just showed increased interest of our countrymen into running which is good I believe.

Since I felt that the bulk of 21k runners were still on their way to Heritage Park, I went up again to our unit to check on my 1-yr old. Whoa! Still asleep?!?! Hmmm....

The sun was up already so I grabbed my shades and went down again. By this time I started seeing the 21k runners arriving from the Trion Towers turnaround point.

Km19, from my experience, is that point wherein you just give it your all, or as in my case in last year's Milo Finals 21k, succumbed to a run/walk/walk/walk stride to the finish due to loss of nutrition. It's really a make or break point though I've yet to see or hear a runner who succumbed to a DNF by km19.

It was really a sight to see runners from different walks of life and different running forms pass me by at the km19 marker. They either looked relaxed, worried, in pain, or focused to the goal. In appreciation of their efforts, I would cheer them on (yes, by my lonesome) and shout "2k na lang!!!" Some would pretend they didn't hear but most would look at me and smile with relief as if to say, "Hay salamat konti na lang!"

After around 15mins my wife and 2 sons were with me already. I grabbed my 1yr old and carried him to the middle of the road so that he could see the half-marathoners up close. I think this little guy of mine would be running someday as he seemed really interested, looking at EVERY runner who passed us, probably studying their running form? Hehe.

It was good to see familiar faces tackling the 21k event like's Pio(lo), Sir Rene a.k.a. Jazzrunner, Dennis a.k.a. Running Fatboy & Marvin, 3 of my officemates, and, surprisingly, actor Carlos Agassi who finished with a decent 2:22.

Bald Runner wanna-be? Hehehe...

A little later the roads were open to vehicles again so it was time for me to wrap up watching this race. We headed off to Rufo's Makati Avenue for a tapsilicious breakfast.

I had to admit: I was jealous of these runners for it was my 2nd week being run-less.

Hmmm, probably this week pwede na since Doc Randy gave me the go-ahead to run (yey!).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Itching To Run Again

It's been 11 days since I've cold-turkeyed myself from running.

My left knee has been aching after my previous runs and had difficulty walking up and down the stairs since Oct last year. The onslaught of race-packed weekends and the quest to achieve a PR was just too tempting for me to resist to register and train for those races, particularly in the 21k events.

So, after Century 21k when I got my 2:18 PR, I finally decided on zeroing out my mileage for the meantime. My left ITB has been acting up a teeny weeny bit as well so I've been surfing around the 'net looking for tips here and there. Single-leg squats are particularly painful to do on my left leg so that just proves how this injury has been aggravated by the continous pounding during my runs.

I think the root cause was that I've drastically increased my weekly mileage, more than the recommended 10% weekly increase. That feeling of invincibility, as my officemate PC said, may have let me think that I can take the jump from 20kms from one week to 30kms the following week. Possibly a case of too much (mileage) too soon.

I've channeled my itch to run in doing other things like swimming (once a week) and doing stretches to improve my knee and ITB and strength training in certain mornings. But still, it's not as satisfying as doing a morning (or even an evening BHS) run.

Two guys in the office are raring to go in this Sunday's United Run 10k by RunRio. I've looked at all the event race maps and they're all the same as that of Century's. Probably the race-org will be at par as that of the Century Run. But no finisher's medal for 21k (ay).

Most probably I'll be at the sidelines on that Sunday morning cheering them on and with digicam on hand to capture those Kodak moments. Hehe.

Hay, I'm really itching to run. Resisting Facebook and Twitter for Lent is peanuts compared to resisting to run. At least my level of withdrawal has not gone as far as those who made artistic fly and egg impressions. ;-)

Anyway, good thing we have this family vacation in Baguio planned out later this month to divert me from running. I think there'll be no race events there to tempt me.

A race in chilly pine-fresh Baguio with challenging inclines and descents?

A race on higher altitude?

Wala naman siguro.

Or is there?

Hmmmm.....very tempting....