Sunday, October 26, 2008

OctobeRun and some tough lovin!

Better late and dead than never!

So got tied-up at work and didn't have time to post an article about the last OctobeRun a few weeks ago at the Fort. Almost two week late so this post is getting a bit dated but will try to make it up.

OctobeRun was organized by Fort Striders (one of the local elite - really serious about their running group, hope to join you guys after my first ultramarathon :-)). It was a good race, well organized and well provision. The route was the usual Lawton/Heritage route that seems to be favored by race organizers. Considering that it was not hosted by corporate big names, it was well attended. Big kudos to race organizers!

Prior to the race, I was in downtime and wasn't really in racing form. It looks like the sneezing 'cold' season is in full swing, everybody seems to have it, at work people take turn in spreading some 'cold' loving and I've been dodging bullets and laway sprays. Wasn't really in shape for race, but this one is bit special (and I don't mean just the race), no way am I gonna miss it!

So woke up early and head to the Fort to meet the gorgeous girls of T2 (Mesh, Vicky, Bards), Dingdong, Jay. A quarter before the race, we head out for warm-up jog (precursor of things to come). Then head back to the starting line for the race. Hey gentle boys and girls, here's something interesting, it did happen and I kid you not. Saw a couple of high society icons there. I saw Fernando Zobel and other society-page folks. I've seen the man couple of times but normally from a distance, the guy is already running close to elite level so out of my league. So pray what's different or interesting about this one? Well stranger things have happen but because of our shared passion in running, would you believe na naging mag-close kami ni Fernando Zobel? That's right mga kapatid, I was standing just a few feet away from the man :-) Good, no?

Anyways, no time to rub elbows with famous people, at the pop of the gun, runners were off. For the first 5km, it was steady as she goes, since my legs were pretty fresh, the ascent at the Heritage wasn't really a big deal. It was the ascent going back that was pure purgatory. I've been meaning to train in rolling hills to build better endurance, but never got around to it, so come race day I always ended up ruing it :-( There is no lamer sight than a guy walking at the race while some chicks run by. But as always I console myself with a resolute "next time".

50 meters from the finish line some dude tried to race me, was already wasted from those ascent but real men don't use skin whitener and they don't take kindly to manhood challenges, so I gave it my best run and resoundingly and unequivocally beat the guy to the finish line. I turn around and was about tell the guy "who's your Daddee?" but turns out the guy's bigger and wider, so I told him "Man! that was good run" and shook his hand for good measure.

By my watch, I clocked 0:55:02 for the 10Km race.

After the race, met up with guys. Every one had their post-race-run plan out, I didn't have one so I thought tagged along with Mesh and Dingdong. Hindsight being 20/20, I now realize why discretion is the better part of valor (Mesh is on full-on marathon training and Dingdong is a sub-50 10K guy - but had to fade because of cramps). Up until this time, I've gotten by on my sunny disposition and "can do" spirit but once we turn at McKinley hills, the route where few runners few runner have gone before, all bets were off. I know Mesh the running machine is not trying to run me to death, but by Jove! almost died there and become an angel scaling those darn hills! All I kept repeating to myself was "Lord, wag mo muna akong kunin". But I'm game, bring it on and I'll chugged along!

And so it came to pass that yours truly, the intrepid runner from the block, have scaled the hills of McKinley... whew! Then it's a run to well-deserve breakfast buffet at Paul Calvin's.

Here are the pics!

Dingdong and the T2 girls!

Didn't realized at the time, but this is the only pic I'm in of the OctobeRUN.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Gettin Garmin

Mga Kapatid,
(Brothers and sisters in running)

I've been grappling with some hard choices, share naman your love, thoughts and 2 cents.

After my run at Adidas KOTR, I've finally decided to splurge on those GPS gadgets for a well-earned, well-deserved Garmin. My Timex Ironman watch has served me well for the longest time but after my 21K, just doesn't cut it anymore :-( So I've done my Garmin homework, checked specs and the reviews and have narrowed down my choices to either Garmin 305 or 405.

Garmin Forerunner 305 gets the job done for what I need in GPS, namely, track my long distance run, and as importantly, it's within my budget. That said, Garmin 305 is pretty much at the end of it's product life cycle (it's a great product mind you, but in dire need of an upgrade in both form and function). This is a GPS watch that in a year or so would probably sport the 'retro' look (it does now, but hey, it's just me :-)). But since it covers my two major checkpoints, it does make sense to choose to 305.

Garmin Forerunner 405? How the heck do people afford this watch? It's retail price is effin ridiculous! If I ever buy this watch I'd be sorely piss if I don't look suave or gwapo wearing it (hehe kidding!) at very least my running karma should be huge if I ever get this one! Ironshoes mentioned something about 405 acting up when used in the rain, so I can't even use it at the pool like my trusty old Timex. But it does have it's points and this baby absolutely rock! Or as Borat would say, "Beri nice!"

So now I'm in impasse, the wise thing to do is get the 305, no fuss, no muss. Garmin 405? Well, I could try holding up a bank, or go into politics or sell my soul... or just forget about it and just die each day longing, every time some babe with with 405 and great legs in short shorts pass me on the road.

I have to finalize it soon, mga kapatid, 'appreciate it if you can share naman your love, affection, and thoughts on Garmin. Something I could mull over and tossed in my brain while on the run ... if only those ridiculously expensive 405 comes with those gorgeous salesladies, life choices wouldn't be so difficult.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Adidas KOTR Race - First 21K

It another weekend of blockbuster race at the Metro. Half Marathon... CHECK! 21K is the new 10K!

First, some of the challenges:
Woke up early and did my pre-run stretch and warm-ups. Since it's the weekend and still early in the morning and race starts at 5:30am, I thought I'd head out at exactly five... bad idea :-( By the time I got at the Fort it was already 5:15am, should still be plenty of time but parking was horrendous. Once parked, I did quick sprint to the starting area which is good 200m away, was bit winded when I got there. I then tried to slide in unobtrusively at the back... only to find out that this is 10K category and that the 21K has already been off a few minutes ago! Watta! Did the race just started ahead of time?

At the Race:
So off I ran after the main group, all that well-thought off strategies just went haywire. Prior to the race, my elaborate master plan was to run my usual pace, slow and easy until Finish Line is within sight then make a break for it. But life happens so you just make the best of it. It was a good 14 minutes before I caught up with the main body. After that I settled into my running rhythm. At Buendia avenue, it was steady as she goes. Also at Buendia, there was traffic congestions at various intersections, drivers honking impatiently. Tried to alleviate their frustration by cheerily waving at all the honky drivers.

The grueling climb at Buendia flyover (twice) wasn't so bad, I even sprint at the 26th ave, what killed me was the inclined at the Bayani/Heritage route. My training runs has mostly been on even pavement, so by the time I reached Heritage I was trying not to die. At the final turnaround I had stop at water station, my will is strong but finally had to give in to the voice. After my pit stop, I had to walk-rest for a few kilometers, 1 hour and 30 minutes is the longest I've run and was about to call it quits. But after getting back my breathing, and in a more proper frame of mind, I tried to soldiered on and just concentrate on my steps and breathing. And before I knew it, it was light at the end of the tunnel. Hallelujah! I've finished my 21k. <THE CROWD GOES WILD, CLAP, CLAP, CLAP>

Things that could have improved my run:
- For long distance running, a Garmin is a necessity, you need to gauge your distance. For most part of the race, I was pretty much guessing my distance so couldn't really make the appropriate adjustment in my pace. On the way back from Buendia and climbing the EDSA flyover, I thought the finish line was just a 'few' kilometers away so went into my strong-run-finishing-mode, only to sputter and choke at the 5th avenue when race marshals directed 21k runner to turn right going to Heritage. Moral? If you don't have garmin, check the next best thing... a race map.

- Prior to the race, I was debating if I need to get a water/fuel belt for 21K, but in the end decided against it. I was concerned with changing my game mid-stride (even as slight as carrying additional water belt) than getting dehydrated.

Sayang Moments:
- I was looking forward to meeting some of the runner bloggers, but didn't get the chance to meet one :-( I was especially keen to meet Nora and the lady blogger na may pinakamatibay na sapatos sa balat ng lupa! Next time, I guess :-)

So I just did the next best thing... head back to the nearby gym for a long hot shower, chat with fellow runners and swap stories of our running adventures. There's something understatedly kick-ass about sharing anecdotes with other runners and someone asking "Hey, what distance did you run?" and in your most modest, humblest self... "Oh, I did 21K". Rock-on beybe!

Pet Peeve:
- So many super chicks (and this is 21k) with killer legs (as in steady legs all through out hehe) at the race! I was pacing with one (with 30X bib) before she pulled ahead at the final turn-around. Caught up with her at the last kilometer but then this dude with Chihuahua dog pulled up and run interference ahead, cutting off my line of sight. Was gonna say hello at the finish line until this same dude pulled off his kung-fu boyfriend-move. Dude, crashing in on 21k race is uncool (and I'm not just saying that because I didn't get the chance to chat with your significant other and ask her number).

To wrap things up:
The route for the KOTR was pretty good (it was my first time to race beyond the Fort and UP). And as with Milo and other races, this race was a blast and I had rockin good time. Kudos to Adidas King of the Road and Mr. Biscocho for bringing out another kickass and well-organized race! As Borat would say, Beri Nice! Next stop 25K New Balance Power Race.

By my watch I clocked in 2:08:14 for my first 21k run. Timex Ironman, my beloved and trusty old watch of many years, you've served me well... but it's time to get you a GPS buddy. A well-deserved Garmin!

And now for some obligatory pics,

Post-race Addendum: 21K must have taken me a lot of energy more than what I've bargain on. When I got back home, I promptly slept for 2 hours and then had a early night at 9pm. And I have been on a food binge on my last 4 meals. But I did woke up feeling like a champ :-)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Things that work for my running

Gentile readers beware, this a long post! Making up for almost 3 weeks of hiatus. Here's to being back and proud in the blogging scene!

So been tied-up last few weeks, life happens and life-interrupted, so to speak :-) You know how it is, between life, work, running and blogging, something has to give. If only time-management is one of my strong suit, life would be a well-ordered bliss. But life being what it is, I'll just pine for a genie who'll magically solve all my personal challenges, help me see the light in spending time in Quadrant II (as defined to be important but not urgent activities) be time-management savvy guy and make me into a brooding-chick-magnet-rich-guy-who-ran-marathon-on-weekends (and superhero too if it's not too much to ask).

Anyways, being that I'm out for a while, thought I'd post long one. So I'm about to go for my first 21k race, and after 7 races and 6 months of semi-consistent running, I reckon I must be doing something right to consider it and make the attempt. So I thought I'd write down some of the things (and whatnot) that works for me and races I've been. Some of it are well-documented in other publications, some I've garnered in the course of my running. Obviously, it's not a one-size-fits-all list unless of course, you're my long lost twin.

That said, here's some of things in my list.

- Stretching before and after my run. This is something I'm fanatical about, especially on my long runs. If there's one thing I can credit for my being injury-free, it's being resolute in my warm-ups and cool-downs. And this is where all those asanas from my Ashtanga and Bikram days paid off. Incorporating those pose in my stretches made me into a more fluid, flexible, caring, thoughtful, loving, considerate runner that I am.

- Cross-training. I only run 3x a week at most. The rest of week I either go to the gym or go to the pool. Probably should go back to yoga (Ashtanga or Bikram) but not not those yoga-lite they have at the gym. I prefer Bikram but in Manila where it's already humid, might be an overkill. (I probably should post this separately but I wonder what women here in Manila wear in Bikram sessions, you know, conservative society that we are. I swear, you gotta be gay or saint or just someone of pure mind and heart not to check out those ladies 'sportswear' and still think yoga. Yep, I always wear my "sophisticated, world-weary, been there, done that, seen those, kunwari deadma" mien to those sessions.

- Over-hydrate a few hours before the race. Downside of course is that I had to pee like a horse before the race, but over-hydration has work wonders for me and more than made up for the downside. I get more mileage in my runs because [1] I don't have to stop at water station and [2] thirst being energy sponge, staying hydrated longer gives you additional boost. (I think I can still get away without water/fuel belt on my 21k).

- Carbo loading a day or two before the race. Conventional wisdom says it's a good thing. But this doesn't really work for me. Carbo loading before the race day actually makes feel bloated, bulging and sluggish on race day. I found out that eating light a day or two before the race and go slightly hungry (empty stomach really) on race day works better for me. During the race, I just wait for the adrenalin-rush to kick-in to sustain my run. All those endorphin in the brain makes you impervious to small inconvenience. Besides, slight hunger pangs never killed anyone (as far as I'm aware of). This is not to say I don't carbo load or pig out, I do but after. Bear in mind that there's downside to it and I do think it's generally not a good thing, but since I normally have light breakfast anyways (just tea and toast normally) it's not really a stretch for me to have light dinner and skip breakfast altogether before the race (except for bananas).

- Jostle for a position at the starting line. This doesn't really serve you unless got a decent shot at finishing in top 10. Last few races I've been into, I'm always jostling for position in front... yeah well a lot it did good to me. The difference in time between me and the top 10 runner is still a good 30 minutes away. So I don't know why I even try to elbow my way up front. The only thing I succeeded doing when jostling for a position is to force runners behind me expend precious energy to go around me and overtake and that seems unsportsman-like. If you're not running professionally or competitively, give way to others.

- Running sans any Ipod/mp3/listening paraphernalia. This works for me. I'm sure music strap on your ears have its benefits, I just don't get the same kick out of them. I like running free and eu naturelle and don't need the background music to enhance the experience. Strapping your ipod, your reason being for running just isn't apparent. Besides, it's a good time to spend some (quality) time with your self and psyche. It's the closest thing to meditation for me, I don't wish to mar with it with some pop or rock music piped-in to my head. I'd feel like running zombie if I have those to power my runs.

A wise man once said, "I am runner because I know what effort feels like...", among the many things he meant, I think this one of them. If not, well... life. Hehe, of course it's just me :-) I had to put that in so I sound deeply profound and philosophical, so what follows doesn't sound too inane... I have this really crazy idea (something that came to me while running) that a runner who couldn't run for 30 minutes or so without his ipod, couldn't or wouldn't be able to stand himself for a company. I'm crazy, I know :-)

- Running in treadmill or inside a village. Yeah, this doesn't work for me. For treadmill, I think this is true for every runner. For running inside the village, it beats running in treadmill of course... but barely. Running in a place that's devoid of trees or foliage just feel claustrophobic. Just my hyper imagination of course :-) but I would rather drive 15-20 minutes to the Fort than do my runs in a green-less, maze-like concrete-fence enclosure we call villages (that is if I weren't so doggone lazy to drive).

- Going barefoot when doing my cool down. Now this is fun! This was something I've picked up while I was in Australia, where it wasn't uncommon to see barefoot runners in race events. First time I saw it, I thought they were loco, but after a quick google, found out that there's some sense in it (for one thing, I'm stronger runner for it) and that it's not some loco, extreme sport. So tried it, felt good and so now am convert to the cause. Hallelujah beybe! So now after my long runs and it still not too late in the morning and I don't look too conspicuous (medyo mahiyain din naman tayo eh), I'll take off my shoes and do a 1k trot. It's not as crazy as it sounds (google it), but it's still hard core, so it's not for the faint of heart. And if you have one those feet that sweat profusely or gave off those sickly sweet smell, you'll be thankful that you tried it.

So if you ever bump into some Abebe Bikila-wannabe, coco-loco dude running barefoot early morning at the Fort trying not to look to conspicuous, that's me and my iron blisters :-)

Actually, there's still a couple on my list but they're the more mundane things, and this post is already way too long and I already spent half-day writing it :-)