Monday, February 28, 2011


One thing I like about running a full marathon is the reward. Yes, the joy of finishing 26.2 miles or 42.195km is a feat that can be considered very rewarding in itself, but, for me, there should always be that extra something to keep me motivated, especially when I'm hurdling the last 10k of the full mary homestretch.

Finishing my 2nd full marathon only meant one thing: I get to buy a new running shoe! It's a just reward for all those hours waking up early in the morning and engage in those miles and miles of training.

Well, I just bought my reward shoe. A review will definitely be posted in the coming weeks.

All I can say for now is, "YOU are the technology!"

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My 1st Tagaytay Run

My love for Tagaytay all started when I was in high school. Every year, being in a Catholic school, we were required to have spiritual retreats which often had Tagaytay as the venue. With the view of the Taal Lake and the cool morning/evening breeze, meditating and reflecting for all things good and holy has been the essence of my trips to Tagaytay. This went on until college (yup, still in a Catholic school).

"If I ever had the money, I would build a rest house here," I'd often say to myself.

That is still a dream up to now. But hotels have been making up for those brief, once-in-a-while weekend opportunities for me and my family to go up and enjoy the cool weather.

This weekend was extra special since this was the first time I stayed overnight in Tagaytay as a runner. Yes, I packed my running gear for the trip. I've just finished a 5km easy run Saturday morning to end my 2-week layoff from Condura and I wanted to run again this morning ---in Tagaytay.

I was so excited this early morning that I woke up several times: 2am, 4am, 5am, and 6am, for fear that I might oversleep and miss this once in a lifetime opportunity. Finally, around 6:30am, I got up and got myself ready.

When I got outside of our hotel (Hotel Kimberly, btw), the cool, chilly morning greeted me as I stretched. My goal for the day is still easy pace and complete 60mins or 8kms. Of course, the main goal was to ENJOY this run for I don't get to run in Tagaytay that often.

I started off on Amadeo Road trudging up to the Tagaytay police station intersection. The road was about 2km up until the intersection. This was all uphill so pace was pretty on the easy side (7:53, 7:22).

The next 2km was from the intersection all the way up to the crest ---still uphill (7:12, 7:09). As I looked on my right, I just had to take a picture. The view was majestic and serene at the same time. Since it was still early, there were not much cars plying this main road so the view was just spectacular. Good thing that I've almost hit 30mins so I decided to turnaround and stop, get my phonecam, and clicked this wonderful view.

I then proceeded back to our hotel which was all downhill from here, of course, since it's an out-and-back route. Pace was fast but I opted to walk on some portions so as not to kill my knees.

2nd half laps: 7:07, 7:03, 7:08, 6:33.

Total distance: 8.11km

Total time: 58:12 (7:10/km ave).

Yup, I would want to do this again. I'm more in love with Tagaytay now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Petiks Mode

I haven't ran for 8 days now.

It's a test of self-control, really, as I try to force myself back to sleep at dawn. Waking up at 5-6am every other day was pretty typical for me for 16-weeks prior to Condura 2011 as I go out for my morning run. But, for the last 8 days, I'm forcing myself to enjoy the recovery period.

Yup, cold turkey since my last run (a full marathon).

An article I read on RunnersWorld recommends 7-10 days completely off after running a marathon. I understand the benefits of the recovery stage since my body needs it: my quads were aching for three days after Condura!

The last time I had a "sem-break" like this was last Feb 2010 after RunRio1 when I decided to have my left knee checked. Doc Randy recommended to build my mileage after some rest so I was below my average mileage for about 2 weeks.

This was actually better (or worse?) since there was no running mileage recorded whatsoever.

Yup, I'm enjoying this part of the process now. I get to spend more time with my 2 sons (aged 4 and 2) in the morning. We actually go out of the neighborhood for short walks before I get myself ready for the office. I estimate these short walks to be around 300m (yeah, I was even thinking of bringing a Garmin but I didn't, hehe).

I'm still minding my weight. I would still get up around 7am and do strengthening and VMO exercises (a lot of squats actually!) for my knees. At 37, I need all the help I can get to have stronger knees. I want to be in this sport forever!

I'll be building my weekly mileage probably in the next 2 weeks. Slowly this time, as I would like to race the rest of 2011 injury-free.

Next race? I'm pondering on the Baguio 21km on April 10. I ran the 10k version last year and it was a killer! I'm still undecided so I just have to wait and see.

In case I do reg for Baguio, yup, I need to do more squats, hills, and running around breathing only through a straw.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Condura 2011 42km Part 2: Battling The Beast

“10! 9! 8! 7!.....”

We all cheered with the host as he asked us to count the last 10 seconds with him. I made the sign of the Cross and made the same prayer I’ve been praying the whole week before: “Please God help me finish this race safely….”

“6! 5! 4!....”

“….And if you can squeeze in a sub-5 finish for me, that would really be great. Amen!”

“3! 2! 1! Gooooooo!”

And we were off.

The first section of the course was within BGC. I’ve been familiar with this route, except for 8th Avenue which I believe is the first time this road has been used for races (do correct me if I’m wrong). But I was still able to run the said road in several BGC long runs I’ve scheduled 4-5 weeks before the race. Thus, it’s safe to say that during this part of the race, pace went according to plan. Km1 to 5 was done in 35mins or a little over 7:00/km pace.

I had the same condition after tackling the Kalayaan flyover and Buendia avenue, amidst the horn-hammering of drivers getting pissed off by the unfortunate traffic that they were in (sorry fellas). I took my first GU after km9 which was a little over an hour. Sips from the Gatorade bottle I was holding (aside from the Gatorade-packed Nathan 1.5 that I was wearing) served as my hydration. I would eventually take 4 more GUs (one packet every hour).

My 305 clocked me at 1:09:29 after km10. 6:57/km average pace. Doing good, I told myself.


I felt excited as I ran over the railroad tracks and turned left. For just above me, the Skyway which I will now fondly call as The Beast, waited for battle. I ran the 2010 edition of the Condura 21km and I still felt the same excitement as I ran up the Buendia ramp. As my family and I were frequenting my parents’ place every Sunday, there would be times that I would take any chance I get to drive the Skyway to observe the rise and fall of the elevation. I actually made the whole Skyway trip from Sucat to Magallanes exit just after the New Year (Toll fees were lifted during that time).

As it was still minutes past 4:30am, it still looked as though it were night as the Skyway lamp-posts lit our path. I didn’t recognize the man on the scooter at first when he said “Good morning runners!” until he passed me. Had I known it was RunRio head-huncho Rio dela Cruz, I would’ve greeted him back. Probably because of the helmet he was wearing that covered his patented Afro-locks made him unrecognizable in the dark.

The 42k runners had spread out by this time and it was getting rather lonely. But as I was approaching Magallanes it was a welcome sight to see the tail-end of the 21km runners. I made several hi’s, good luck’s, and fist pumps to friends I came across with there ---officemates and a highschool batchmate to be specific. Man, there were a lot of 21k runners! Would it be safe to say that the 21km is the new 10k?

I reached the 10-mile (16km) mark at 1:51:54 or a flat 7:00/km average pace. I had actually set cutoff times for this race to keep my pace in check:

10km – 1:10
21km – sub-2:30
32km – 3:40
42km – sub-5 (hopefully)

By the time I reached the halfway mark, I was glad to see I was still in pace: 2:27:49 (7:02/km ave). A sub-5 is still doable!


As mentioned previously, my worry was bonking at the 3-hour mark. True enough, as I passed the Sucat turnaround and clocked 3:04 after km26, I started to slow down then after. Tried as I might to keep up with my target pace, I could only see the ave pace on my 305 dropping considerably. The mind can play tricks on you once you’re in this bonked state, forcing most athletes to go to the side and call it quits. But at that point I kept remembering my mantras. Love running! Don’t put to waste the 16 weeks of training you’ve done! But it was just not there. The most I could was run a sub-8:00 pace with my eyes closed for probably a km or so, trying to get my groove back.

I reached km32 at 3:50 (7:13km ave pace) which was 10 minutes off target. If for consolation, it was a 1min 50second improvement from my RunRio3 32km PR.

By this time I was walking and running alternately, probably more of the former. I even had an idea that if I ran 6:30/km for the last 10k, a sub-5 would still be possible. I tried to pickup the pace, but my body, specifically my right calf muscle and left glute, would cramp in defiance. Cramping was something totally unheard of in my vocabulary until this race. It may have been the loss of continous electrolytes or the continous climbs and descents that The Beast presented, but I was definitely cramping. It would immediately subside once I succumbed to a walk or a gingerly-slow jog.

It was bye-bye sub-5.


At this point I was glad to have set two goals for this race: an ideal sub-5:00 and an acceptable sub-5:30. Scrap the sub-5:00 I thought. There’ll be another day for that. I computed how I was doing in the last 6km pace-wise. A sub-5:30, or even a sub-5:20, was still possible! I was dousing myself with several cups of water at every aid station: on my head, my arms, my face. I was trying to keep myself as cool as possible even if the weather was still runner-friendly at that time (past 8am). I just felt the need to cool myself to keep me going. The banana at the Takbo.PH station really helped. I ran out of Gatorade by the 40km mark so I had to try the 100plus being served ---bleck! Sorry to 100plus fans out there, but I didn’t really like it.

I clocked in at 5:01:30 by km40. Just a little bit more, I said to myself. I couldn’t recall how the route was reflected on the racemap after trudging past the Kalayaan flyover. I was worried that what if the run (walk) from 32nd led all the way towards the end of BHS? That’s a slight uphill grade, but any uphill at this point was something that I didn’t need. Thankfully, I saw the runners ahead of me turning right at 9th Avenue.


I can’t exactly explain it, but after I made that final turn at 9th Avenue towards the finish arc, I had this wonderful feeling stirring up in me as I saw a huge crowd waiting on the sidelines. They were just standing/sitting there, as if been waiting for all of us marathoners to finish. Some were cheering, others were clapping as I made my way past them. “Good job!” said an unknown lady to me as I passed by while she sat in the sidewalk eating her breakfast. The clapping was just, man, wonderful!

I was still at a slow jog at that point, but I felt obliged to give something back to the crowd by making a last push for the last 50meters. I tried, really, but the cramp on my right calf acted up again. I eventually stopped to a walk, and raised my arms in thanksgiving as I walked past the finish arc.

Official finish time: 5:23:26 (gun). 5:22:35 (chip).

I had beaten my full-marathon PR by a whopping 30 minutes!


As I was recovering with my McDonalds reward meal: 2-piece chicken with rice, pineapple juice, and an apple pie, I couldn’t help but look out the condo’s window and see the Skyway, now being plied by buses and other vehicles, with utter amazement. Man, I just ran (and walked) the whole Skyway! A full-marathon to boot!

I have to admit that I’m partly disappointed on myself for not making a sub-5. But I’ll definitely take the 5:23. It’s still a (mighty good!) PR. 16 weeks of hard work really paid off, I guess.

The weather cooperated as well. I find myself extremely lucky for the weather that day since days after that, it seems summer has made an early entry to Manila.

I’m thankful to the Condura race committee for putting up such a great race. Except for the choice of 100plus as the sports drink, the hydration stations were setup beautifully. Water didn’t run out. Marshals were everywhere and took charge of vehicular traffic. The medal is so beautiful that I’m now thinking of looking for an engraver to put in my name and finish time at the back. The Condura Skyway Marathon is something that I’m not afraid to promote to my friends and readers to join should they consider running in a grade-A race.

Yes, count me in for the 2012 full-marathon edition. I want to battle The Beast again!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Condura 2011 42km Part 1: Worried But Ready


For the first time, I couldn’t sleep the night before the race. It was already past 10pm and I was still awake. I even replied to the tweet by @ConduraRun2011 about counting sheep: “Not working!”

This was my 2nd full marathon and my nth race, why am I so worried?

There were two possible answers.

First, I was worried about bonking. Based on the >21km weekend long runs that I’ve made, bonking at km24 (or around 3hrs) was pretty consistent during the 16-week training phase. The fault can only be blamed on myself, as I was too lazy to commit to my weekend long run schedule. This was best shown during my last long run prior to taper, supposedly a 32k, when I bonked at km23 and decided to call it quits and took the short-cut to walk home. That run ended up with 25km total only. Maybe it was a combination of fatigue and laziness that I couldn’t find myself running at my 7:30/km easy pace beyond km24 (or above 3hrs). That last long run would haunt me up until Saturday night. I’m very certain that I will hit the wall, so I thought of several mantras to coax myself should I reach that moment on race day:

“Love running” (as narrated in the book “Born to Run,” when two Tarahumaras ran against Ann Traison in the Leadville 100)

“You’ve trained 16 weeks for this! Don’t waste all that hard work for nothing!”

Second, I was worried on the post-race recovery. How fast can I rehydrate and restore my normal sugar and other nutrient levels is something that I should constantly check after this one since I got worried when I felt weak after my 32km race last year (RunRio3). I was worried of tales of getting dehydrated like that one blogged by Anton of after his first Milo marathon. I definitely didn’t want to experience that. I decided to take Julius’ reco on my last blog post and bought a sachet of Hammer Recoverite (P165.00). This will be on-the-ready with my water bottle to mix immediately once I walk back to the car.

Amidst the worrying, by 11pm, (I think) I fell asleep.

I woke up 1:30am, just in time for my pre-race meal: a takeout order of a Taco Bell beef burrito. Yup, I’ve been munching on carbs since Thursday lunch (Sbarro), Friday lunch (Mexicali burrito), and Saturday dinner (Taco Bell burrito). The Thurs-Fri meals have been paired by a full-body massage during my Friday lunch break ---a ritual that I’ve recorded which, I personally believe, was part of race preparations that have made my 21k PR (2:14 last Dec on Milo) very successful.

Superstitious, I know, I know.


I was lingering on the thought of a constant 6:45/km pace. There was also a part of me thinking of doing 7:30/km in the 1st half, then increasing to 7:00/km in the 2nd. But that would be doubtful once fatigue sets in. Seeing how I bonked during RunRio3 2010, I decided that I’ll hold back to a more manageable 7:00/km all throughout which would have a finish time of sub-5hrs. But for how long will I be able to keep that pace is another question.

Since the hydration to be provided during the race was water and 100plus, I had no choice but to bring my hydration belt filled with Gatorade. I’m not a fan of 100plus and I’ve been training using Gatorade. Thus it would be prudent not to try 100plus during race day itself. With 5 GU gels and a NatureValley granola bar, I was at the BHS starting area by 3am.

16 weeks totalling 600kms of running easy, fast, short, and long.

Close to 60 days of waking up early to run.

Countless GU gels and Gatorade bottles consumed.

I've been waiting for this day to arrive. My 5:53 PR was about to go down.

I was ready.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

If I Ever Get Asked for Running Tips...

  1. Increase mileage up to a maximum of 10% per week. As I've experienced, doing more than that will result to overuse injuries in the knee, shins, and foot.
  2. Never try anything new on race day.
  3. Petroleum Jelly works, and is a lot cheaper.
  4. Do hill-repeats probably once every 3 weeks.
  5. Try to find your midfoot when you strike the ground. Your knees will thank you for it.
  6. Practice quick-leg turnover. You can count the steps you make on one leg per minute then multiply it by two. Steps per minute should be 180 or more.
  7. Carbo-load for races longer than 10km. Pasta is a good source of carbs.
  8. Practive hydration/nutrition strategies during long runs, taking careful consideration of the distance between water stations when you want to take a sip.
  9. "Train where your fitness is NOW, not where you want to be!" ---Scott Jurek
  10. Easy days should be run as easy as you can. Hard days should be run as hard as you can.
  11. When you feel a sudden pain during your run, stop running. Take a day off and let the pain subside. Prudence is the better part of valor.
  12. Stretch.
  13. If you feel lazy getting up from bed for your morning run, push yourself to get up. Once you're in the 1st kilometer, you'll thank yourself for waking up to run.
  14. Shoes only last for sometime. Check the outsole for wear. I can say from experience that injuries like ITBS are brought about by considerable outsole wear. If you have the money, buy 2 pairs so you can alternate between workouts. The shoes will last longer eventually.
  15. Do squats.
  16. You don't need to join a race every week. Believe me, you don't need to.
  17. When you do short easy runs, don't bring a watch (GPS-capable or otherwise)
  18. Remove the monotony by running on a different route every now and then.
  19. Read "Born To Run" by Chris McDougall.
  20. Make a log of your running workouts. Aside from the distance and duration, cite how you felt during/after the run. A string of feeling-low workouts should prompt you to hold back and take a few days off.
  21. Run in Baguio City whenever you're there.
  22. Setup 2 alarm clocks to wake you up on race day.
  23. A lighter shoe means a faster you.
  24. Running is just one part of your life. Learn to balance it with your other priorities like family, friends, or work.
  25. Running alone does not shed pounds. Unfortunately for you (and me), reducing food intake is still needed.