Condura: THE RACE That Almost Got Away

February 12, 2011

This post is a bit delayed, but as the saying goes, “better late than never.”   After all the negative things I had written about the registration booboo that saw me miss the boat for the 21k , I owe it to the organizers of the Condura Skyway Marathon to commend them for a job well done.  After all, this is, by far, the best race I have participated in.  

As intimated in a previous post, I joined the 16k event for a host of reasons.  However, I never did really explain why I decided to sign up only in the last few days of the registration period.   

The day that I signed up for the 16k event was the day that RunRio came out with the announcement that Run United will be held on 6 March 2011.  I had been waiting anxiously for a good 21k race and I felt that Run United was it – the race that would finally banish my 21k demons.  Thus, I signed up for the 16k event of the Condura to simulate my race pace for my 21k at Run United.  So there you have it – the  Condura 16k was meant to be a training run of sorts, nothing more.  Little did I know that I’d get so much more out of it.

Apart from the basics that you’d expect from a`good race – timing and distance accuracy, as well as adequate hydration – the Condura Skyway Marathon offered much more.  The race was very well-planned – down to the most minute of details.  From gun start times, race routes, traffic flow, spacing of hydration stations, to the mobile generators that provided much-needed lighting in the wee hours of the morning, it seems that Condura left no stone unturned in making the Condura Skyway Marathon the premier running event in the country. 

I guess with a team like RunRio behind the event, working on a sizeable budget at that (the reg fees weren’t exactly spare change), such good things are to be expected.  But for me, more than the perfect logistics, more than the exemplary handling of the event, more than the extraordinary fanfare, what made this race truly unforgettable was the way it brought out the best runner in me – that never say die attitude, that constant quest for excellence, which, in the vernacular is exemplified by the phrase “pwede pa,” as opposed to the mediocre “pwede na.”  And for this, I pay tribute to runner # 41470, whose name I came to know as Straad Clement Abalde when the official results were finally released.  

Straad and I were both in Wave C, which started some 4 minutes after the first wave of 16k runners set off into the direction of Amorsolo.   I didn’t see him until after kilometer 2, which was after we had already made our way to the Skyway.  I made the mistake of going too fast on my first kilometer (4:30), so I took it slow on the second (5:28).  Maybe the steep incline of the ramp leading to the Skyway contributed a number of seconds more to my 2nd k.  By the time I reached the Skyway, I had already caught up with most of the Wave A and Wave B runners. Likewise, most of those in Wave C who foolishly started the race fast like I did were already nowhere to be seen.  Then I saw Straad.  After 10 more minutes, he was still there.  Right there and then, I determined that Straad would make for a good pacer.  I told myself that for as long as he did not stray too far from my race pace, I should not let him get out of my sight. 

It seems that Straad had not done much hills training as I would almost always leave him behind on the uphill portions of the Skyway.  However, he would almost always come back strong from those inclines and overtake me as soon as the course turned flat or went on a downslope.  However, I was always never too far behind.  This pattern continued all the way to the Buendia Flyover when I thought I had lost him for good, only for him to pop out of nowhere and overtake me once more on the downslope.  As we made the turn on the final corner leading to the finish line, he was about three stridelengths ahead of me.  I quickened the pace a bit, but not too fast, seeing that the finish line was still about 300 meters away.  I had just overtaken him when this photo was taken:

That's me in Blue; Straad's the one in white shirt and white shoes.

True to form, Straad did not allow my lead to last long.  As soon as we reached the cobblestoned portion, he made a move and overtook me once again. 

Straad (in the white shirt and shoes) about to make his move

Just like in life, when you’ve gone a long way, feeling spent, it’s so easy to give up or just coast along.  But sometimes, just sometimes, you click into a higher gear.  In the last 70 meters, I launched into a sprint that saw me reclaim the lead for good. 

Sprinting towards the finish line

The end result – 1:23:13, which was good enough for 22nd place over-all.

I was three minutes off my target time (according to my Garmin I ran an extra 167 meters) but I was more than happy with the way I ran this race.  Straad, I know I already told you this as I  shook your hand shortly after crossing the finish line, but just the same, “thanks for pushing me, man.” 

For recreational runners like me, this is what running’s all about.


To Condura, It Is

February 5, 2011

To Condura or not to Condura?  That was the question that kept nagging at me a couple of weeks back.  After much soul-searching and for lack of anything better to do at 5:00 a.m. on February 6, I decided to afflict myself with the Condura Skyway Marathon fever by signing up for the 16k event.  For those of you who read my last article, I hereby confirm that, yes, I swallowed my pride.  🙂

C is for Consiglieri, it's good enough for me. 🙂

Why 16k?  Hmmm, lemme see.  Here are my top 10 answers.

  • I am not blessed with fast-twitch muscles.  Moreover, my 37  year-old knees might not appreciate being subjected to high impact forces over 3 km.  Better reserve such runs for the track.  Logic dictates that I stay away from short runs like the 3k.     
  • Spending almost a thousand bucks to run for 20 minutes didn’t seem like a good investment.  I wouldn’t even be able to partake of any of the sports drinks that would surely fill the hydration stations.  OK, I admit.  I’m such a cheapskate.  🙂  So 5k was out of the question.   
  • I want a new PR.  The Condura 10k route has to go through two steep ramps – first, the access ramp leading to the Skyway then, second, the Buendia flyover.  Not exactly a PR-friendly race route.
  • I ran out of slots for the 21k.  While special delivery slots were subsequently made available, I could not get myself to pay an extra couple of hundred bucks for something that foresight on the part of the organizers could have prevented.  Again, I’m a cheapskate.  🙂
  • Got so turned off by this comment:


  • I sort of slacked off in my 21k training after I found out that the regular slots had been filled.  Was not too confident that I’d be able to make up for it in a short span of time.  Like I said in a previous post, nothing but a 1:45 will exorcise my 21k demons.
  • Ran out of slots for the FM
  • Wouldn’t have run the FM anyway.
  • This will be my first time to race a 16k or 10-miler.  It’s nice to try new things every now and then.
  • Since it’s my first 16k race, whatever my time will be, for sure it’s going to be a PR.  🙂

See you at the starting line.

To Condura Or Not To Condura

January 24, 2011

After my failed attempt (yet again) at a sub-1:50 half-marathon at the 2nd QCIM (see previous article), I knew that my 3rd half-mary was going to be just around the corner. The 2011 Condura Skyway Marathon on February 6, 2011 seemed to be the obvious venue for my record-setting HM. For starters, the Condura Run is one of the biggest and most popular races in the country. Also, the timing was just perfect. It would afford me at least six weeks’ training to boost my chances of running a 1:45 HM (yup, I upped the ante). That Condura enlisted the services of Coach Rio for this race sealed the deal for me.

Unfortunately, due to my hectic December schedule, I wasn’t able to register for the Condura Run right away. I figured that I’d just register in the first week of January. After all, as advertised, the registration will close in the third week of January.

Much to my dismay, on January 5, Condura announced in its Facebook page that the 21k and 42k slots had been filled up. I was resigned to sitting the race out as the other race distances did not appeal to me. Then, on January 9, a ray of hope:

As can be seen from the above, the announcement was made shortly before 10 a.m. I promised myself that I wouldn’t miss the boat this time around, so at about 2:50 p.m. I was already standing by the official Condura Skyway Marathon website, with my credit card close by. I decided to check out the registration page, just in case the organizers decided to get things going early. Then, something caught my attention. I noticed that the online registration for the full marathon was already open, while the HM was not. By then, I was already in a state of panic so I went back to Condura’s Facebook page and this is what greeted me: “21k on line Reg closed. 261 slots of 21k almost wiped out. A few slots remaining in Greenbelt 3 on site registration on a first come first served basis.”

Imagine my consternation. So I let my feelings known to the administrator. After seeing the administrator’s reply, the consternation that I felt initially turned into anger and then into disbelief. After a while, I just found it hilarious. You be the judge:

The people I work with know that I have zero tolerance for idiocy. That comment totally spoiled my appetite to run for the dolphins. Maybe I’ll just mail my check to the environmental group concerned.

Having said the foregoing, I must admit that there is still a part of me that wants to run the Condura. Lately, I’ve been doing my mile and 800m intervals, as well as my tempo runs, at paces that are far better than my pre-Century Tuna Run training paces. I feel that a 5k or 10k PR is in the offing. Moreover, I scoured the 2011 race calendar and I have yet to see a race that would come close to the Condura in terms of quality, prestige and popularity. Ergo, to Condura or not to Condura. That is the question.

Garmin Forerunner 110: Value for Money

January 5, 2011

I started using a GPS device after my not-so-good performance at the PhilStar Celebrity Run in December 2009. I ran the 5k event with my brah who was then vacationing in Manila. As was the case in almost all the races that I join, the goal was to set a new PR, in my case, a sub-22:40.

I wasn’t that well-prepared for the race. My training was so-so and I didn’t even scout the race route. Without a GPS device, I’d be running purely by feel. Although my brah had a Garmin 310XT, I determined early on that I couldn’t use him as a pacer because, according to him, his race pace would be 1:40 per 400m.

When the race started, we went our own separate ways. All along, I thought he was ahead of me so I just focused on my own pace. But a few minutes into the race, he appeared from behind me, telling me that I was going too fast. Since I figured that he was doing 1:40 per 400m, I slowed down a bit to make sure that I’d be able to finish strong. Unfortunately, with nothing to go by to calculate my pace, I went far below my target race pace. I realized this when I hit 22 minutes and saw that the finish line was still a long ways off. I finished in 24:24, but the real downer was that my brah finished in 23:00. Had I known that his finish time would be within my range I would have run alongside him (okay, you can lower your eyebrows now brah). Anyway, according to him, the course was long by a couple of hundred meters.

That same evening, I had dinner with some friends at Serendra. Before going home, I browsed the shops along BHS and, lo and behold, I saw that there was a GPS watch for sale. It was a Timex Ironman GPS with Bodylink.

According to the lady at the counter, that day was the last of their 3-day sale. Without thinking twice, I got myself the watch and have been training with it ever since, well, until last month, that is.

I love the Timex Ironman, but there were two things about it that, to me, could be improved. First is the fact that its GPS device is not built into the watch. It could be cumbersome at times. In fact, during my 2010 KOTR, the GPS device almost fell off after the strap loosened up. The second flaw lies in its GPS signal receiver – it goes haywire whenever there are tall buildings around. Hence, it’s not of much use whenever you’re in the CBD of Makati. Thus, whenever a race route has to go through Buendia, I’d have to run purely by feel.

Since my Timex was turning a year old, I decided that it was time to get a replacement. I didn’t want to get anything uber high tech or flashy, I just wanted something that would address the two aforementioned concerns. Not wanting to make a repeat of my Timex impulse-buy, I researched my next purchase this time around. After checking out the available GPS units, I decided to get the Garmin Forerunner 110. Our firm was going to hold its partners’ meeting in Singapore in late December so I figured that I’d wait a couple of weeks and just get my Garmin at the Sim Lim Square, which is known for good bargains on electronic equipment. It was a good call as I was able to get my Garmin FR 110 at about 4,500 bucks cheaper than distributors’ prices here in Manila. In fact, It was almost half the price of my Timex Ironman.

The same afternoon I got my Garmin, I took it for a spin at the Bedok Reservoir with my Brah. The Bedok Reservoir boasts of a 4.5k scenic loop that is popular with SG runners. Of course, a photo op before the run was in order.

At the Bedok Reservoir with my brah and my nephew, before our tempo run.

We were supposed to do a 9k tempo at 5mpk. As my heartrate was higher than usual, I stopped at 5k, while Brah went on another loop to complete his 9k.

The Garmin FR 110 performed quite well. It is lightweight, easy to use and has a sensitive GPS receiver. That it looks like an ordinary sports watch greatly appealed to me as well (as with the Timex Ironman). The beauty of the Garmin FR 110 lies in its simplicity. Just press the start button, do your run and press the stop button as soon as you finish. Clicking on the reset button will automatically save your workout (It can save up to 110 workouts). You can view a summary of your workout or any past workout for that matter by accessing the history menu. However, the summary will only show you the distance of your run, the total time, average pace, average heartarte and the amount of calories burned. If you want to access more details about your workout such as split times, elevation changes, etc., you’d have to upload your data to GarminConnect first and view it from there.

All in all, I’d recommend the Garmin FR 110 to any runner who’d be happy with the basics – a good GPS receiver (by the way, I’ve tested it in Makati CBD and it works!), heart rate monitor and good looks (it actually looks like a watch). I guarantee that you’d get your money’s worth.

Exorcising My 21k Demons (Part 2)

December 16, 2010

Unfortunately, my running suffered a major setback after the Century Tuna Run when I got hit by a spate of injuries. I had to take a leave from running for a couple of months. In June, I started training again for the 10k event of the Runfest scheduled on July 25. However, things were just not the same. I found myself wanting in fitness and motivation. In fact, as disclosed in a previous article, I almost did not race the Runfest.

As it turned out, it’s a good thing I raced it. The Runfest woke up the competitor in me and I started craving for more challenges. I decided that it was time for me to move up to the next race distance – the half-marathon. After all, were it not for my injuries, I would have run my first half-mary at the Nature Valley Run back in May.

The obvious choice for my half-mary debut was the 2010 KOTR on October 24, which is my anniversary race. It also helped that it was more than 10 weeks away, thus affording me plenty of time to get back into shape.

To kick-off my program, I made a quick trip, not to the track, but to the mall. At the time, there were rumors going around that the 2010 KOTR singlet would be orange/black. Thus, I trooped to the nearest Adidas Store to get myself this:

Imagine my frustration when Adidas finally announced that the 2010 KOTR singlet would be black/white, and not orange/black as the rumor mills reported. Maybe I can blot out the orange lining with correction fluid? 🙂

Well, as they say, “it’s the Indian and not the pana.” But there’s also the saying that goes, “if you can’t play, then just display.” Was my subconscious telling me to just display? Maybe. But I was determined to grind out a good result.

My preparations for the 2010 KOTR was pretty decent. A few missed training runs here and there, but, on the whole, it was decent. However, as I reviewed my running log for the year, it dawned on me that my fitness was not yet back to my pre-Century Tuna Run levels. For one, I logged more kilometers on a weekly basis during my 10k training than my half-mary training. Also, there were workouts that I could no longer complete; workouts that I used to do on a regular basis. Hence, I knew that I had to scale back on my expectations for my first half-mary. I added 15 seconds to my program-dictated target race pace.

Come race day, I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and had a bowl of oatmeal. I think I also had a Granola Bar. This was my usual pre-race fare. For some reason, it did not occur to me that unlike before, I would be running for almost two hours. Obviously, a bowl of oatmeal and a granola bar would not be enough to see me through. And this was exactly what happened. At kilometer 16, I was still 45 seconds ahead of my target time based on a race pace of 5:15 mpk. Then, all of a sudden, I just lost it. It’s just as if my body didn’t want to run anymore. So I stopped. And walked. My first time ever to walk in a race.

A quick glance at my watch showed that my heartrate was in the low 170’s, which to me should have been comfortable enough. I couldn’t understand what had just happened and just decided to walk a substantial portion of the last 4k. It was only when I realized that I was at risk of not breaking two hours that I started running again. And that was in the last 400 meters or so. My time was 1:58:32.

The Agony of Defeat

I couldn’t believe that I was almost 10 minutes off my target time. Post-race analysis by my running brothers pointed to glycogen depletion as the culprit. The oatmeal and granola bar simply were not enough. I should have taken something during the race itself.

I knew that I had to redeem myself soonest. Just my luck, there was another half-marathon on December 5, the 2nd QCIM. I had 5 additional weeks to train. And this time, I wanted it to count. In fact, I purchased a hydration belt and a number of Hammer Gels, which I planned on experimenting with during my training.

I must say that I was more serious with my race preparations this time around. I stuck to my program and nailed all my workouts. In fact, a week before the race, I ran an easy 18k at 5:30 mpk. At that EASY pace, I would have beaten my KOTR half-mary time by a couple of minutes. My confidence was running high once again.

Then, an inexplicable act of madness. The Friday before the race, I attended a Christmas party. For the first three hours, I succeeded in staying away from alcohol. But as the party wore on, I gave in and had a bottle of beer. One bottle wouldn’t hurt right? Then one bottle became two. I figured that since it was almost midnight (the venue was reserved until midnight only) the two cases of beer that my friend prepared should have been consumed already. I was wrong, the beer kept on coming. And since it was midnight already, there was a sense of urgency to my drinking. Thanks to my good friend Bishop, I drank my next three bottles of San Mig light straight-up, one after the other. I had 5 bottles in less than an hour. All that hard work for 5 weeks wasted in less than an hour. Oh well, at least I had fun. 🙂

*Photo courtesy of Rafa Aquino

Saturday was spent hydrating and praying that not much damage was done the night before. I actually felt great on race day. I wasn’t able to warm-up as I wanted to get a good position at the starting line. For some strange reason, the 21k runners had to squeeze through what appeared to be a 5-meter starting area when we had the entire expanse of Philcoa at our service. Thus, the funnel that the runners had to go through forced us to practically walk for the first 60 meters or so.

This time around, I wanted to take it easy for the first few kilometers. I probably had my KOTR debacle at the back of my mind but I was more concerned about the fact that I wasn’t able to warm-up properly. OK, maybe all that alcohol that I consumed two nights prior was nagging at me as well. 200 meters into the run, I saw a familiar face. He was a regular at the Marikina Sports Center and I knew for a fact that he beat me by a couple of minutes in the 2010 KOTR. I figured that he could make for a good pacer for the first few kilometers. But as the minutes passed, I knew that there was something wrong. We were going too slow. I soon heard a beep from my watch and a quick glance confirmed my fears. My watch had my first kilometer at 6:03. Even my warm-up runs were faster than that. I kinda panicked and quickened my pace a bit, but not too fast as in my mind, I was still warming up. My 2nd kilometer was 5:32. I was ready to hit my target pace, which I did in the succeeding kilometers.

On the 8th kilometer, I noticed something terribly wrong again. The race marker I just passed indicated that I had just finished 6 kilometers. Yikes, the organizers got the distance wrong. I was hoping that it was just an error in the placement of the race marker, but as I reached the U-Turn point (it was a simple out and back course), I was sure that the course was long by more than 2 km. I thought to myself, “There goes my PR.”

Bye-bye PR

With a PR out of the question, my immediate goal was to finish the longest run of my life without walking. And this, I was able to do. I clocked in at 2:10:09 for a total of 23.411 km. As my immediate goal was to simply finish the race without walking, I didn’t really push myself. And it showed in my heartrate data. My average heartrate was only 166, way lower than my KOTR heartrate of 172 which involved a lot of walking.

Prior to the QCIM, I told myself that whatever happened, I would go back to racing 10k’s. Whom was I kidding? MUST. HAVE. MY. SUB. 1:50. HALF-MARATHON. I feel like a man possessed who needs some serious exorcising. No more Runners’ World SmartCoach for me. My demons require expert attention so I enlisted the help of my two revered friends – Jack and Brad.

Coach Rio, please, please, please, post your race calendar for 2011 already. MUST. HAVE. MY. SUB. 1:50. HALF-MARATHON.

Exorcising My 21k Demons (Part 1)

December 11, 2010

It’s been a little over a year since I started joining road races in October 2009. I have run 8 races so far, beginning with the 5k event of the 2009 Adidas KOTR. I just realized that there is a pattern to my racing – I would race a certain distance thrice before moving on to the next race distance. This, however, was not a conscious effort on my part. My goal really is to perform well at a certain race distance before moving on to the next. For me, a decent performance would entail a pace of 5mpk or better.

My first 5k wasn’t really a 5k; it was a whopping 6.4km. You can just imagine what damage an extra 1.4km can do to an eager-beaver greenhorn running his very first 5k. It was a complete disaster. It wasn’t so much the fact that I had my first 2k splits at 4:17 and 4:24, respectively (rookie mistake). It was the chilling realization midway into the race that the course was changed, thus making it a lot longer than the 4.7k indicated in the race maps (yes, the original race course was short), that simply broke my resolve. I do not recall my time anymore and I tried searching for the 5k results online but for some sinister reason there’s no record of the the 5k results ANYWHERE. However, I was pretty sure that I was unable to run it below 5mpk – with the extra 1.4km and all.

Thus, after my debut road race at the 2009 Adidas KOTR, I ran two other 5k races – Timex Run in November 2009 and the Philstar Celebrity Run in December 2010. I set a PR of 22:40 at the Timex Run (see related article) and would have run the 10k event of the Philstar Celebrity Run had my brah, who was in town for the holidays, agreed to race the 10k with me (I think he just wanted to make sure he would cream me at his preferred distance Hehe). At any rate, I still had a decent result at the Philstar Celebrity Run so I knew it was time to move on to 10k.

PRs are nice 🙂

I have to admit that, to date, nothing comes close to the dedication and hard work that I put into my 10k training. I almost never missed a workout. Whenever I had to go out of town for a hearing, I made sure that the hotel where I would be staying had a gym or even just a simple treadmill. I also followed my training program to the letter – no cutting corners, no slacking off.

My target race was the 10k event of the 2010 Condura Run for the Dolphins. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to run a sub-50 due to a stupid mistake (pardon the french) in the last few days of my training. I was then in the process of transforming myself from a heelstriker to a forefoot/midfoot striker. On the Thursday prior to the race, I purchased a pair of Newtons (which as most of you would know are designed for forefoot running) and ran a 5k tempo in them at the track that same night. After that tempo, my calves hurt as hell. I couldn’t even walk properly as I headed back to my car. My calves were still so painful the day before the race that I got two long massages. I don’t know if the massages had any effect, but on the day of the race, I had to limp and hobble all the way to the corral. It was no surprise that I wasn’t able to run under 50 minutes. My time was 50:53. I was more surprised that I was able to run at all.

Wanting to bounce back immediately, I signed up for the Century Tuna Run scheduled two weeks after. In the two weeks before the race, I tried to recover quickly and, at the same time, get the hang of my new footstrike. Apparently, I succeeded in my efforts. I clocked in at 48:29 notwithstanding the very early gunstart (it was early by more than 10 minutes), which (a) deprived me of any decent form of warm-up; (b) shattered my mental race preparations; (c) made me weave through a throng of 10k runners IN THE DARK for the first 5k or so; and (d) got me squeezed in with the 5k runners for the last two kilometers. To this day, I still believe that the early gunstrart cost me my sub-Piolo. 🙂

Navigating my way around the 5k runners on the way to the finishline

The Year That Was

November 22, 2010

Almost a month ago, I ran my very first half-marathon at the 2010 Adidas King of the Road.  It was a disaster of sorts as I walked a substantial portion of the last 4 kilometers.  It was the first time I ever walked in a road race.  I felt like such a disgrace.  In fact, I bowed my head down (in shame) the entire time, fearing that someone I knew would see me walking.  I finished the half-marathon in 1:58:34, almost 10 minutes off my target time.  

The 2010 KOTR was actually my anniversary race, my first ever road race being a 5k (which turned out to be 6.4k) at the 2009 edition of the KOTR.   My racing philosophy is simple – I should be able to run at 5mpk or faster before I dare move on to the next race distance.   This explains why my races are few and far between. I try to put in as much training as possible so that when I do join a race, 5mpk would be within reach.  This also explains why I was hugely disappointed with my performance at the 2010 KOTR. 

Anyway, my 2010 KOTR is already history.  Hence,  dwelling on my dismal performance would do me no good.  Instead, since the 2010 KOTR marked my first anniversary in racing, I should look back at the year that was – the ups, the downs and everything in between.  I would say that, all things considered, it’s been a good ride;  and long may it continue!  Meanwhile, here’s a collage of photomemories from my first year in racing.  See you at the 2nd QCIM half-mary.  Sub-1:50, who’s your daddy?!  🙂

20 Years On And Still Smoking the Competition

November 15, 2010

In one of my earlier articles in this blog, I mentioned that I come from a running family.  My dad and my two older brothers were part of the running boom in the 80’s.  As a kid, I would spend my Sunday mornings at the Quezon City Memorial Circle or UP, waiting with my mom in the car for my dad and kuya to finish their weekly runs with the Runnex or Band-Aid running clubs.  I tagged along for the congee or lugaw that we would always have at Ling Nam after.   But while my dad and eldest brother were serious and avid runners (I have yet to break my dad’s 10k PR and my kuya runs his marathons in the 3:30 range), none of them competed at a level as high as my other kuya, whom I fondly call Brah, did. You see, Brah represented my alma mater in the UAAP and even got a letter award from the university for his efforts.

My brah running for the State U in his maroon/black singlet.

I remember this particular race, the finals of the 800m event of the UAAP 1990-1991 season.  I was in 4th year highschool then and had just gotten my driver’s license.  Brah, who was afraid that driving his pawis-steering Toyota Corona all the way to Rizal Memorial Stadium would sap the energy out of him, requested me to be his chauffeur for the day.  Of course, I readily obliged and even offered to be the official photographer for the State U.

When we arrived at the Rizal Stadium, I positioned myself at one of the bleachers behind where the UP Track Team was congregated.  I wanted to get an unobstructed view of the track so I could take good photos.  I should have known better. 

As soon as the gun went off, I was out of my seat, screaming and cheering like a madman. Brah paced himself in the first lap but on the second, he overtook one runner after another until eventually, he was only a couple of stride lengths from the lead runner.  Unfortunately, Brah ran out of tartan and finished a close second; still, a podium finish.   The exciting finish got me so pumped up that I was yelling expletives and cuss words that would make a sailor blush.  I only realized this after race, when I felt the cold stares of the female members of the track team bearing down on me.  Ooops.  I slowly melted back into my seat.   It then dawned on me that I failed to take a single picture.     

Fast-forward to 2010.    Just last weekend, Brah competed at a masters track meet in Singapore and totally smoked the competition.  I so wanted to take the three hour flight to SG just to watch him race but it was not to be.  It’s a good thing my nephews were able to take a video of the race, complete with their cute commentaries (I shudder at the thought of having my swearing caught on video).  Brah clocked in at 2:32, around 30 seconds slower than his UAAP time, but still a mean feat for someone who’s in his 40’s and who has put on at least 40 pounds since his college racing days.  And, as he says, he was not pushed.  Watching the video, I’d have to agree with you on that one Brah.  🙂  Good job!

Talk is Cheap

September 29, 2010

I was roused from my blogging hibernation by a comment left by a fellow blogger on an article I wrote on July 25. That quick visit to my site made me realize that it’s been more than two months since my last post. I was trying to analyze the reason behind my prolonged silence and this is what I arrived at – talk is cheap.

My last article was about how I celebrated running at the Runfest last July 25. I remember saying there that it was indeed a fine day to celebrate running as I got a better-than-expected result and gained new running friends, among others. But after the adrenaline had worn off, the competitor in me took over and all I could think of was my disappointing time for the 10k. Yes, it was a good result considering the kind of preparation I had (or, rather the lack thereof) leading to the race, but deep inside, I was kicking myself for not being able to run even a sub-50 10k.

I knew there was only one way to deal with my frustrations – get back into training. And this is what I’ve been doing for the past several weeks. I have since witnessed a significant improvement in my fitness, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I’ll just stick to my training plan and see how it pans out at the 2010 Adidas KOTR, which, incidentally, will mark my first year in racing. I signed up for the 21k, my first race at this distance.

Rather than broadcast my preparations and target time for this race, I have decided to invoke my right to remain silent. With aplogies to Adidas, I’ll do a Nike and JUST DO IT. Hooah!

Celebrating Running

July 25, 2010

It has been almost two months since my last post. Well, the reason for my prolonged silence is simple – there was simply nothing to write about as far as my running was concerned.

As mentioned in my last article, I was supposed to embark on an 8-week training program for the 10k Runfest. Well, for various reasons (foremost among which was tamaritis), I simply couldn’t get myself to stay the course. I ran well below my prescribed weekly mileage, missed quality and speed workouts and, worst of all, went on regular drinking binges – a perfect recipe for disaster. As a matter of fact, instead of transforming myself into a lean, mean running machine, I gained at least 7 lbs during the 8-week training program.

The lack of training and additional weight (which was probably a function of the lack of training) really took its toll on my running. Just last Thursday, I decided to test myself by doing a tempo run out on the track. It was supposed to be a 6k tempo run at 5mpk, sandwiched by 2km of warm-up and cool-down jogs. In my first kilometer, I tried to keep up with this guy who seemed to be doing his own quality workout. Apparently, he was doing intervals as I found out 800 meters later. Alas, I clocked in at 4:32 for my first kilometer. To make the long story short, that fast start ruined my programmed tempo run. I was able to run only 4.2km at 19:51, well short of the target 6km for the night. Not a good sign considering that the Runfest was just two days away.

To compound my training woes, I spent my Friday night at a bistro in Fort Bonifacio, chugging all night long on Chilean Cabernet. The next morning, with only a few hours of sleep, I trooped to NEGA for my 10:00 a.m. basketball game.

Strong drive to the basket.

When I got home, I took my kids to their piano lessons and treated them (or, rather, Citibank did) to a movie at Eastwood. By the time the movie finished at 8 p.m., I had such a nasty headache (most likely due to all the red grapes I consumed the previous night) that I was seriously considering not running the Runfest. As I was not in a racing mood, I just offered to pace my wife for her first-ever sub-1 hour 10k. She declined and just told me to run at my own pace and treat the race as a Sunday long run. Sage advice, but I wasn’t too convinced. I told myself that everything would depend on how I felt Sunday morning.

When I woke up at 4:40 a.m. this morning, I was glad to see that my headache was all gone. Thus, I decided to push myself and run hard; not gun for a PR (which was totally out of the question considering my current fitness level), but run hard nonetheless. All in the spirit of celebrating running.

I got to the venue with only a few minutes to spare so I wasn’t able to warm-up. In fact, I was only able to do a little stretching after I entered the corral. With my bib numer duly marked, I tried to relax by jogging in place. My plan was to run at 5:00 mpk and see how long I could hold it.

The weather was perfect and the atmosphere festive. Right before the gun went off, I looked around me and saw plenty of familiar faces and personalities, mostly from the blogging community. Being the shy person that I am, I couldn’t get myself to approach any of them and introduce myself. Maybe next time.

When the race finally started, I kept looking at my watch to make sure that I was running at the desired pace. No matter how hard I tried to slow down, I hit the 1km mark in 4:29, way faster than my target pace. Perhaps, my subconsious was telling me to keep up with the throng of runners who started the race like they were running a 5k. Sure enough, most of these runners faded away after a few kilometers. But the damage had been done. I ran my first kilometer too fast and I knew it would cost me later on.

Surprisingly, I was still on-pace up until the 8km mark. From there, however, things went south pretty fast. I looked at my watch and saw that I was already running at E-pace. If only I could transcribe my thoughts at that point, it would look like a laundry list of excuses for not finishing the race. Quitting, however, was not an option for me. I reminded myself that I was supposed to celebrate running, and not dishonor it. So I took it one step at a time and just willed myself to cross the finish line.

If my GPS device correctly measured my run, I had my 10km time at 50:29. My finish time, however, was 51:46, which, according to my watch, was for a total distance of 10.284 km. Not bad, all things considered.

As I was waiting for wifey to finish her run, I saw a group of runners who looked familiar. I recognized them to be the regulars at the Marikina Sports Center, where I normally do my track workouts. I approached them and introduced myself. They were quite a friendly bunch and I was wondering why I waited more than a year to make their acquaintance. As we were chatting, wifey came through the metal railings reserved for the 10k runners and a quick glance at the official time confirmed that she set a new 10k PR. I saw her pass through the checkpoint area at the 1:00:46 mark so she must have finished her race about 10 seconds before that. She had her time at 1:00:33, which would easily translate to a sub-1 hour 10k if my GPS device got the distance right.

Gaining new running friends, achieving a better-than-expected result, a PR for wifey and a very well-organized event made today a very fine day to celebrate running. Kudos to the peeps and the countless volunteers for making the Runfest a huge success.