Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Milo 2012 42km Elims: Into The Right Direction

As I write this post with painful quads (especially when going up and down the stairs) which I've been accustomed to experience after running a full marathon, I feel a mixed sense of relief and half-baked joy. Relief since I've finally finished (another) 16 weeks of training. My body has gone thru a lot of workouts since April and I know that its thankful of the rest and recovery that its receiving now. I'll probably give it a few more days before I start running again. Easy pace, of course.

Now for the half-baked joy part.

It had been raining days before the race and I was glad that the weather was runner-friendly last Sunday. I parked at MOA at about 20mins before gun time, got myself ready, and walked to the starting corral with 3 minutes to spare. I stood near the end as the 2,000-strong marathoners were sent off at 3am.

After days of debate, I decided to stick with a comfortable 6:50-7:00/km pace plan for the entire race. At least get myself within sub-5hr target by km32. If I'm still standing by then, I'll push hard for the last 10k.

Km1-10 = 1:11 (took first gel at 00:50)

Along Roxas Blvd I managed to caught sight of takbo.ph big boss Jinoe Gavan, whom I read in the past that he's looking into a sub5 finish as well. I'm guessing that he was doing the Galloway walk-run method at this time so it was good to see a fellow runner with the same time goal. Thus I decided to work with him silently by trying to keep up with him as long as possible since I know he was gunning for a sub5 finish too.

Km11-20 = 1:10 (second gel at 1:40, third at 2:20)
Halfway mark (km21) = 2:28:42

The halfway mark was along Buendia avenue, just before the Quirino H-way intersection. I was hoping to reach it at around 2:27 but I was still a happy camper since overall pace and effort was still comfortable. Adding to the comfort was that Jinoe was just about 200meters ahead of me.

Km21-30 = 1:12 (fourth gel at 3:00)

I approached the Buendia flyover with caution, alternating 20sec walks with runs as I climbed the leg from Makati to BGC. The hilly Rizal Avenue and 5th avenue climb to Mckinley was a task but I was able to recover the way back, much thanks to the presence of beauty Jennelyn Mercado waiting at the Lawton Avenue turn around point (hehehe).

Km32 = 3:49

I reached the 20mile mark in a disappointing 3:49 (although looking back now it seems that I made a 2min PR on that distance!) since I had hoped to finish 3:40 ---a time that would give me a comfortable 1:19 left so I can relax at a 8:00/km pace and still meet sub5. I had past "pace partner" Jinoe on the way back from 5th avenue so it was all up to me now to keep my pace up.

I was still in the game but I needed to do 7:00/km pace for 10k more. I started out well, logging 6:46 in km33 but things started crumbling pace-wise after that. I'm not sure what this is, but my running succumbed to walks everytime I felt heaviness on my chest. Not sure if it was my heart rate or my lungs working over time, but it definitely caused me to stop running. I can only look at my Garmin in frustration as my average pace dropped out of 7:09/km ---the average pace needed for a sub5.

Km34 to 42 (Buendia, Roxas, then MOA) was a battle of wills. I was out of the sub5 game but beating my 5:23 PR was still possible (as in my last post, beating my PR was more realistic based on the feedback given to me by my training logs versus a sub5). Average pace was still dropping, no thanks to longer walk breaks and probably 1 or 2 aid stations that ran out of water (I even doused myself with 100PLUS instead of water just to cool my core temp! Talk about desperate huh?). Everyone along side me was walking too so I guess they were having a hard time passing thru the wall.

Tired but still a happy camper

Along Sunset road(?) in MOA with about 400meters left, I looked for my support group: my family. My first full marathon, Milo 2010, I finished it with my then 4-year old Lucas running towards the finish line. Milo 2012 had to be finished with the same fashion: this time with 6-year old Lucas and 3-year old Matteo.

I ran towards the finish line with my 2 sons on each hand, with my Garmin clocking at 5:13 and change.

Approaching the finish line with my support crew

A 10 minute PR!!!

There will be a lot of post-race analysis that needs to be done, but I'll leave that for my next post. There was no sub5, but I believe I'm in the right direction towards it. I'll definitely savor this 5:13 (or 5:11 if my estimated chip time is correct).

And yes, despite aching quads, I'm ready to climb the Urban Everest known as the 42km marathon once again.

But not anytime soon. ;-)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hay Is In The Barn

This week is the last of a 16-week training cycle, penultimately ending with the Milo Marathon Manila Elims leg on Sunday morning.

Whatever I've done for the past 15 weeks will have to do to help me achieve that ever-elusive sub5 hour goal. Will I make it? As per my training logs, the average weekly miles will not be enough although my 21k race times have been the fastest (sub-2:20) that I've run since I started joining races last 2009. Based on the McMillan calculator predictions, a sub5 is possible. A hopeful target is still sub-5 although a more realistic one would be to improve my 5:23 PR set Feb last year.

I believe I've trained better now compared to my past marathons. Just waking up before 6am to do my scheduled workout, and almost always doing them to the letter. Just going thru the intervals, not stopping at the latter part of tempos, and just going thru the long run at a better pace, helped me to believe that I did enough to make me ready for Sunday.

I have learned to prepare myself mentally for the challenges that will come after 21k. "HTFU!" was such a battlecry for me during this training cycle that I will surely use it on race day, especially in those moments when I'm tempted to lose my pace or walk. I'm even contemplating on getting a (henna) tattoo on the inside of my left arm just to remind me of it during the race. Hmmmm.....

But a sub5 finish? I really can't say at this point. But I will be damn sure to give my all.

To all the other participants on Sunday's full marathon, let's run our best. There's a bigger prize aside from the humongous medal waiting for us after traversing 42.195km of pavement:


Friday, July 13, 2012

Training update for Marathon #4

July 29 is a little over 2 weeks away and I can't wait to toe the starting line for my 4th full marathon which is the Milo Manila leg.

For those who follow this blog (are there? hehehe...), the most important question would be this:

After 3 unsuccessful attempts, will I be able to finish under 5 hours in marathon #4?

My heart says yes but in my past 3 marathons, I too was convinced prior to race day that I can finish below 5 hours. On race day, however, the marathon gods had handed out a different judgment:

Milo 2010 - 5:53 (debut PR on a hot, humid, waterless day)
Condura 2011 - 5:23 (PR)
QCIM 2011 - 5:35


Finishing a 42km race is a feat in itself ---for first time marathoners. But I've done this 3 times already. A sub-5 finish, IMHO, proves that you're made of something else. It sets you apart from the average marathoner and puts you into a higher level that makes others know that you take running and all the suffering and training (with stress on s-p-e-e-d) pretty seriously. It's like being a sub30 5k or a sub60 10k runner.

Above average, basically.


Being a stats freak (don't you just luuuuv Excel? hehe), I was able to compare marathons 2 to 4 to see how my training for weeks 1-14 have been versus these two other marathons:

Based on the above stats from my training logs, the results are very encouraging that I can finish better than my 5:23 PR. But can I finish below 5 hours? That is a question that I can only answer after the Milo race.


My training has been a hybrid concoction of the F.I.R.S.T. advanced marathon program and the Brooks-Hanson training program. That is, I took the speedwork and tempo training from F.I.R.S.T. and opted for the back-to-back weekend long runs that do not exceed 2 hours and 30 minutes from Brooks-Hanson's. I read somewhere that the 20-mile (32km) long run is overrated (Google it!) and that a run of 2:30 max provides the same physical and mental benefits as that of a 3 hour or 4 hour long run. This approach to the long run has helped me concentrate more on being "at home" with my planned marathon pace which often ends up between 20 to 21km at 7:00/km pace which is just outside my planned 6:45/km race pace.


After cutting the NAV-band of my Brooks Pureflow right shoe, I am now loving my long runs again. I was thinking initially of using my K-Swiss K-Ruuz for the marathon but I don't think my feet will like it after 21km. The K-Ruuz is a very fast racing flat which made me finish 3 sub-2:20 21k finishes this year but I don't think it will have the cushioning that I may need when I go further than 13.1 miles. As I said, I'm in love with my Pureflows again, especially during my long runs. I'm not only able to keep my pace below 7:00/km for these long runs, but I'm running in them SOCKLESS as well! I love this shoe so much that I'll probably buy another one once this pair wears out.


Well I still have two weeks left to taper before the race. I need to maintain the effort and follow the prescribed paces in my training runs ---although with less miles for the week (which is good for a family man like me!). All the hard work for the past 14 weeks has been put in. 2 weeks from now, I hope to write my race update on a positive note, i.e. with a sub-5 hour finish!

Wish me luck!

Monday, July 9, 2012

So, what's your excuse?

That's Arnel Aba out of the water alongside a stunned Noy Jopson (middle) and Fred Uytengsu during the 5150 Triathlon in Subic held the other week.

Read the full story here.