Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March19-25: Training Week 1 of 16

So I've started with my training for marathon #4 using the program from FIRST. Last week was week #1 which went as below:

Key-workout #1: warmup, 3x1mile with 1min rest, cooldown
Key-workout #2: warmup, 3k @ short-tempo pace (6:04/km target), cooldown
UP Oval run with the wifey: 5.6km walk-run
Key-workout #3: 21km long run with 7:04/km target pace (actual = 7:45/km)

TOTAL KM: 43.68

I had no problems with #1 and #2 as I was at or near the target pace most of the time. The problem, as expected, was the long run (#3). I missed the target pace big time by 41secs per km average (7:45).


I was doing well from km1-12 (on target pace), in which I traced the FIC 10k route in BGC. Don't worry I didn't bandit this one since I started late (I was at the backend of the race group and I carried my own hydration). I took my lone pack of GU at km 8, while alternating Gatorade and water for my liquids.

By the start of the 2nd loop of the FIC race route, I was somehow "not there" mentally, probably because of the fatigue trying to maintain 7:04/km. Without other runners by my side to keep me preoccupied, I slowed down. I took short walk breaks at first, but after 400 meters from Market Market (going towards the call center areas with a church nearby), I just lost it. I sat down by the sidewalk and was already wondering of going back home. It took me about 10 minutes before I got myself up again, negotiating with myself that I just finish 16km instead. It was alternating walk-runs by then.

I started a feeling a little better (the road along the British school was a downhill which put off the pressure) from then on but as I turned right on 8th avenue, I felt zoned out again. I saw Dennis "Running Fatboy" coming up as I trudged down the road (we would bump into each other again along 5th avenue). As I came up to the crest (near the Lexus building), I just surrendered and sat by the roadside again.

Time to throw in the towel, I thought. It was soooo difficult to keep pace. I decided then and there to shorten my 21km plan to 16km and head back home...walking.

I think it was fate when I passed by Mercato and thought of buying Coke, which I've read in Macca's "I'm Here To Win" as a great source of energy during triathlon races. I bought a can of Pepsi Light (since I was still on diet mode, hehe) and a bottle of water.

I was able to consume about half of the can, with the remainder I placed into one of my hydration flasks (the cover was partially open to allow pressure to freely leave the container). About 2-4 minutes after that, I felt a sort of Zing! that I started to run.

Pace was still slow, but at least I wasn't walking. I then concluded that, since I only had one pack of GU and that my Gatorade supply ran out, my glycogen level might've been depleted as well. This caused me to slow down considerably after km12.

I was then able to pass by a 7-11 store and bought myself one of those medium-sized bananas. Felt a little better after eating that. Then, as I was making my way along Rizal Avenue, I remembered the Ministop just before the McDonalds there. I went in and got myself a P14.00 pack of Cream-O chocolate-flavored. I ate the contents and just about 2 minutes after that, I felt a whole a lot better.

By "a whole lot better" would mean being able to clock 7:04/km (and even sub that) to close the remaining 4km of my run!

I finished the run at Mckinley Hill (where my car was parked) with the final lap registering 6:55-ish/km. The run itself is forgettable since I didn't meet my target pace but the lessons I learned on how important a fueling strategy is for a full marathon was precious.

I never have such issues during 21km races but for the 3 full marathons that I ran, I was like a zombie into the last 10-20kms of the race. GU alone won't help and I doubt that the race organizers will start filling aid stations with Coke/Pepsi. I must be able to find other possible ways to find a nutrition strategy which I can practice in my long runs.

It could be salt capsules, or even carrying a pack of Cream-O (since that obviously worked for me).

This week (week #2) calls for a 24km long run which I'll probably do this Saturday. I hope to be able to have the right fuel plan by then.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Tokyo Marathoner's Tale

(Note: The following is a contribution by my college mate and good friend, Edesel Guevarra, who may have been one of those who's had a hand in inspiring me to take up running last 2009 until now. During the hey days of Friendster, I chanced upon reading one of his blog posts on taking on the Tokyo Marathon. I was awed by this amazing feat of human endurance and willpower at the time and could never have imagined that I will be tackling the same sport/distance years later. Based in Tokyo, Edesel takes on the mighty 42km journey for the 4th time. Below is a recap of that eventful day last Feb 26th.)

Tokyo Marathon 2012: There were 35,000 runners for this year's marathon

"You will run what?" an officemate told me when she heard I was picked to run the Tokyo Marathon this year. She could not believe it.

Another friend told me, "My boyfriend was wondering how you will be able to run a FULL marathon? (insert laugh track here)

Still, another friend's husband told me, "Really??? You will run a marathon? That's 42 kilometers!" I replied meekly, "Uhm, yeah this is actually my fourth one", to which he said "well, you DON'T LOOK like a runner."

At 38 years old and at least 15 kgs overweight, I cannot blame them for thinking this way. The eye sees what they see and makes the judgment accordingly. They just call it as they see it. I would make the same judgment on myself, but with a dose of maniacal cackling laughter.

This is the year that I have struggled with keeping myself in shape (understatement of the year, I know). I have had a very difficult time eating right. Despite my active lifestyle which includes playing basketball at least once a week, running and hitting the gym at least twice a week, it seems I could not drop my weight. My weekly "appointments" at Midori Sushi, Tenkaipin Ramen shop, and Bangkok Kitchen may have something to do with that.

I also noticed that even though I exercised the same way in previous years and ate the same way, I still gained weight. This is probably the age factor, i.e the metabolism slowing down. I do realize I need to exercise more and eat a balanced diet (hello veggies and fruits, goodbye steaks, pasta and Krispy Kreme!).

Only trouble with this resolution is that today is Tuesday. Tokyo Marathon 2012 was ONE MONTH ago.

So how did an overweight 38 year old food lover, donut and coffee addict, runner/athlete wannabe did in the marathon? Below is a running diary of what happened.

7:00 AM, Shinjuku station.

My sister Maricar and I met with my friends Jun, Alvin, and Elvis. All of them are running their first marathon. Maricar, Jun, and myself have been training for several months now and running together. I tell them to focus. Relax.

"We have trained for this. We are going to be fine," I said. They are laughing and joking. I try to put my game face on and encouraged them to do the same, to no avail. In seconds, I crack a couple of lame jokes, and laughed with them silly. This helps me to relax. I am the Derek Fisher of marathon. The grizzly veteran, guiding the rookies.

The Pinoy smile! Starting the marathon: Maricar, Elvis, Alvin and Jun. The "rookies" of Tokyo Marathon 2012.

9:00 AM

There's about 35,000 people running the marathon this year. The start point is congested and it takes at least 20 minutes to reach the starting line. We belong to the "K block," which is the last block of runners. The elite runners such as Olympians and record holders are in block "A."

Elvis, wearing a bright green windbreaker, sprints out. He seems determined to get a fast time. I also lose sight of Alvin, who is trying to zigzag his way out of the crowd. I look around and I see Jun and Maricar beside me. I tell them to stay close, keep eye contact, and relax. The past few weekends, we ran an average of 20 km together around the Imperial Palace so we pretty much knew what to expect in the first few kilometers. After a few minutes, Jun sees the 2km marker, and he yells out, "40 km more!"

10:20 AM

We are almost near the 10km mark and Maricar tells me that we need to stretch. This was a good plan and I agreed. I tell Jun who is a few meters ahead "STRETCH at 10km mark!" He nods back.

So far so good. No fatigue and my legs seem to be ok. We stretch a bit. I take a couple of bites from my Power Bar and hydrate. The Tokyo Marathon is very well organized with lots of drink stations along the way. Food and water will not be the problem. After a minute, we resume running.

11:34 AM

Jun is running a good rhythm, about 100 meters ahead. Maricar as well seems to be relaxed and has no signs of fatigue at this point (19km). Jun sends me a text message to meet up at 20km. I pass the message to my sister and she nods. She runs a bit faster and is now about 20 meters ahead of me.

I start to feel some tightness on my left calf. Uh oh.

12:10 PM

I am lying on my back on the concrete, trying to stretch. Well, not really. I am starting to feel exhaustion creeping in, with the road like a bed to me. Maricar and Jun are laughing. They know what I am up to. It is the 20 km mark, and they are stretching while I am lying down. We eat our Power Bars and I take a gulp from my water bottle. Jun looks at his watch and says, "Time to go!".

"stretching" at the 20 km mark. I am ready to go to sleep

12:46 PM

I just crossed the 23.5km mark. Call the ambulance! My left leg has completely tightened up and I can no longer run! This is the first time this has happened to me in a full marathon.

I think about quitting and going home. I start to tell myself that I was NOT prepared for the marathon this year and should just text Maricar and Jun that I am out. They are at least 1km ahead of me now. The cutoff time for the 25 km mark is 1:18 PM. I look at my watch, and decide to drag my leg for two more kilometers and see how it goes.

I can walk 1.5 km in 28 minutes, right?

12:50 PM

I get this text message from Maricar: "Retire na daw sina Alvin and Elvis." Looks like Alvin and Elvis have left the race. I find out later that both suffered minor injuries and hit with fatigue as well. I feel bad for those guys.

I look at my left leg helplessly and say out loud to no one in particular, "This is impossible!"

I say a short prayer, asking God to give me strength and mental toughness.

Agony creeping in: I am amazed at my sister's love for photos. She captured my pain.
Haha! Yes, I am just "walking" by this time

1:01 PM

I cross the 25 km mark. I have instructed Jun and Maricar to go ahead and meet up at the 30km mark. I told them that I cramped up and need not wait for me.

I run some calculations in my head. It seems that I can "combine" brisk walking and some semblance of running and finish 1 kilometer within 10 minutes. The cut off time for the 30k mark is 1:56 pm. At that pace of 10 min/km, I can be at the 30 km mark with 5 minutes to spare! Maybe this is POSSIBLE!

Crossing the 25 km mark. Sure I have a minute to pose for a pic!

1:45 PM

The crowd at the Tokyo marathon is great. People cheering you on, offering drinks, chocolates, fruits and even providing Salonpas spray for ailing joints. I smile as I receive encouragement and cheers of "Ganbarre...ganbatte kudasai!" (you can do it, work harder!).

I cross the 30 km mark with 10 mins to spare! Five minutes later, I get a text from Maricar: "At 30km mark, wait for me."

I could not believe it. I thought my sister was ahead of me the whole time. It turns out her knee gave her trouble and she received first aid. We meet up at around the 33km mark, and start to walk together. She too, can barely run. I tell her that if we beat the 35 km mark before 2:37 pm, then we should be fine and able to finish the marathon! All we needed to do was keep the pace of 1km in 10 minutes or less. She nods in agreement.

Meanwhile, we get a text message from Jun: "Where are you? I am at 38km now. Let's go!" I begin to hate that guy. Hahaha...

3:05 PM

We are now at the 37 km mark! My sister and I are having a great time talking while walking. We try to insert a bit of running bursts for like 30 seconds, then start walking again. At this point, we know we can finish the marathon. My left leg feels like its made of concrete, body is aching all over, but I feel great overall.

Jun sends a text message: "I passed 39. Will start to walk."

Jun, my sister Maricar and myself. Running buddies! It was a blessing to run with these guys.

3:55 PM

Me and my sister Maricar cross the finish line (with 5 minutes to spare)! Jun is there to welcome us and cheer us on. He has finished the race at least 30 minutes ahead of us. I feel happy for him as this is his first marathon. Minutes earlier, our friend Emma took our pictures while cheering us on and offering encouragement. I had to yank my sister away and tell her, "Uhm c'mon, lets cross the finish line first, ok?"

We cross the finish line and share huge cheers and high fives. Jun and Maricar are grinning wildly and are ecstatic at finishing their first marathon. I am almost sure this won't be their last. We take pictures and congratulate each other. This is an awesome moment for me since I am able to finish this race with my sister.

This is the toughest marathon I have ever done, having had to walk most of it, but it was also the most special by far. I say a prayer of thanks to God for giving me the strength to finish. I reflect on my run, and my performance. Maybe if I was 5 kg lighter, it would not have been this tough. I take a mental note to cut down on the Krispy Kreme donuts and the sushi. 

Well, maybe just the donuts.

Or maybe just eat less Krispy Kreme.

Just a balanced diet, you know? 

We are the champions: posing with our Tokyo Marathon 2012 Finisher medals.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Here We Go

If my assumption that the Milo Manila elims will fall on July 8 is correct, then my 16 week plan for marathon #4 should start this week.

The choice of which marathon plan to use was between Hansons Distance Project (longest long run is 16 miles but with more runs per week) or the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) which promotes the Run Less, Run Faster motto (3 runs per week, with the long run reaching 20 miles 5 times!).

Well, the pinned marathon plan in my office cubicle shows that I've made a decision.

Following the sked, I've started with a 3x1mile workout yesterday which was fun since this was the first time I did 1 mile cruise intervals (used to eat cruise intervals at 1km max only). Good thing this plan shows variety in the different runs per week so boredom should not be an issue. The long runs, particularly running 20 miles 5 times during the course of the plan, will be a tough task. But that sub-5 is still there for the taking so I hope to follow this plan to the letter (barring any injury).

Here we go!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Race for Rage 16k: You better run, better run

There are race performances that you'd want to forget, and there are races that, like a song that you've become addicted to, you'd want to play over and over simply because it's good.

My performance in last Sunday's Race for Rage 16k, similar to my discovery of Foster The People's "Pumped Up Kicks," could be, personally, one of my most unforgettable performance to date.

I came into the race armed with 2 months of Maffetone-paced training, running at least a 16k long run once week, 2 or 3 tempo runs, and 2 interval sessions. The race was meant to measure how effective the 2 month Maffetone slow-paced, HR-based training was to my running, and obviously, to open my racing season for 2012.

I only finalized my strategy for the race probably the night before. The plan was to treat this as a long tempo run, starting the 1st kilometer at a comfortable easy pace, then try to keep at a constant 6:30/km effort up to the finish line. This would bring me, hopefully, below my 1:47 PR.

The race attendance was estimated to be at around 3,000 according to the race host, with many of them joining the 16k race although not as big as your usual big races like Run United or Condura.

By exactly 5:15am gun time, we the 16k runners were sent off.

The 1st km went off alright but in retrospect, I think I started a few seconds too fast (6:53/km). I was expecting to clock in at 7-7:30/km but I think the adrenalin rush pulled me to run faster than my target.

It would become evident by the 1st aid station that there'll be no sports drink for this race, only water. Thus it was good that I brought along a pack of GU which I consumed inside km5. I was hoping to reserve it at the 1hr mark but since my last meal was Saturday night (dinner at Chocolate Kiss in UP which is very good I might say) I had to take it early. It was a gamble since I wouldn't know if it'll last up to the finish line (thankfully it did!).

Kilometer 2-13 was where I became fully appreciative of that 2 month Maffetone training and my tempo runs. Not only was I cruising at an average of 6:25-6:30 lap after lap, but I was doing it at a very comfortable, easy effort. I could hear the other runners that I pass breathing heavily at a slightly slower pace so I was amazed at how effortless 6:30/km seemed to be for me. I was at PR pace and passing everyone left and right (including that fella who ran barefoot wearing a straight jacket, hehe).

By km14 my plantar fasciitis (PF) flared up, making every step of my right foot hurtful. I was struggling, but still on pace. This happened after the Buendia U-turn on the way back to BGC which had a slight uphill degree. Climbing the infamous flyover was an effort but not as heavy as my past races involving trudges up and down the Buendia monster. The PF was still there so by the time the flyover flattened I had to walk it off a bit, probably losing about 20-30 seconds. I had to numb the pain mentally and just push myself to finish the remaining 2 kilometers.

Thankfully, after Rizal Avenue it was all the way up to 32nd street towards the finish. I sprinted the last 200meters (amazed that I still had more left in the tank), lapping the final kilometer at sub-6:00.

Finish time: 1:42:30 (Garmin time).

A new 16k PR by 5 minutes and 25 seconds!!!

Whether it was Maffetone, my "nilalaban ang katamaran" long runs, tempo runs, or the mix of all three, I am very thankful that I was well-prepared for this race. I think training exclusively for a few races and not racing week after week suits me best based on this race performance so I think I will stick to this scheme for now.

Now if I could only replicate this performance to a full marathon....hmmm....

Monday, March 12, 2012

Feb20-Mar11 Recap


Weekly totals as below:

Feb20-26 - 31km (16k long run in 1:58)
Feb27-Mar4 - 44km (19k long run in 2:27)
Mar5-11 - 34km (16k long run in 2:06)

Gradually putting in speedwork (10x400 last Feb21) and tempo (6k tempo last week) as training for marathon #4 starts next week. I've been playing basketball almost every week so I hope the fastbreak runs during the game count as speedwork(?).

I've ditched the heart rate monitor for the meantime as I'd like to try running by feel, especially on my easy days. My Garmin still controls the pace, but if I feel alright, I try to step on the gas a little, just to see the effort level. I've learned to condition myself after running a hill, just after it levels out. The heart is racing which would previously cause me to slow down to recover. Lately, I've prepared a mental note to tell myself, "hey, the hill's over. the road is flat again. your HR will recover so just continue this pace." Almost all the time, it works!


March18 will be my first bibbed race for the year (TwitterRoadRace 5k was my first race for 2012), a 10-miler under Race for Rage to be held in BGC. I'm quite familiar with the route so I'm hoping to have a good race here. 1:47:55 is the time to beat. Endurance-wise, I should be able to last the whole 10 miles. But with a target race pace of 6:30-6:40/km with minimal tempo and speed workouts, it will be a challenge. I'm looking at this race as a test on how improved (or not) my aerobic capacity is after over 2 months of exclusively running at Maffetone pace. It'll be an indicator as well on how near (or far) I am from being conditioned to run sub-5 (McMillan calculator says I should run a 1:41 16k to be able to finish a marathon under 5 hours).


I'm battling pain under my right heel now which I highly suspect to be Plantar Fasciitis. The toe flexing exercise that was recommended from the Internet has proven quite helpful in relieving it so I hope it will gradually subside in time for race day.


Unbelievably, I've lost 7lbs since the beginning of this year. It's been a challenge calorie-counting my daily food intake (and trying not to exceed that), but seeing the results on the weighing scale has made all that self-control worth it. I hope it translates to better race performances this year.


I was able to borrow "I'm Here To Win" by Chris McCormack, the 2010 Ironman Kona champ, from an officemate. So far the book has been both entertaining and interesting. I'm only halfway done, but one good advice I got was the section on Mental Folders. I think it'll prove helpful, especially in that section of the race where I tend to break down mentally (like in my last marathon, QCIM3). Macca is cocky in this book, but boy, he has the credentials (many 1st place and podium finishes in the triathlons he raced in) to back it up.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meant To Be

After an endless search for a racing flat to support my speedwork and tempo days, I ended up with my long time crush, the K-Swiss K-Ruuz:

I fell in love with the K-Ruuz back in 2010, seeing Raelert and Carfrae use these in the Ironman Kona Championships and, thanks to a sale price at SecondWind Store in Ortigas Home Depot, I finally got to bring them home last Friday.

The first run last Sunday was great. The lightness produced quick turnover as I roamed 7km around BGC (1km warmup walk, 6km run). I'm excited to see how much speed I can produce once I get more comfortable with them.

Yup, a review will be due once I accumulate more miles in these bad boys.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Rogin-E LMR2: Can You Go Another Round?

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the bloggers' launch party at TGIF BHS for Rogin-E's Last Man Running 2, an endurance race with 5+2k, 10+4k, and a 7-hour endurance event. Putting faces to familiar blogs that I'd often visit (Jazzrunner, KikayRunner, RunningEnthusiast, RunningAtom, etc.) was fun as we talked about running and racing ---of course.

The Last Man Running 2 (LMR2) will be held on March 24, 2012 at BGC. This race is unique since it seeks to push one's limits beyond the usual race distances since there's "free" extended kilometers for you to complete the course. For the 5k, you get to run another 2k then for the 10k, you can run an additional 4km.

For those die-hard runners out there, there's the 7-hour endurance event with the last man (or woman) standing gets a free entry to the Great Wall of China Marathon. There's a strict pacing per 7k-loop completed so I doubt that many (myself included) would be able to keep up in the succeeding loops. However, the race-organizer said that the runners who fail to meet the target pace can still run the 7km-loop (or 7 hours) as a long run (but are out of the running for the top prize). Too bad I can't log a sub-5:00 kilometer ---yet. ;-)

Singlet, race routes, and mechanics as below (click on the pics for a larger view).

Do visit the race website by clicking here.