Category Archives: running

Was the Globe 21k Route Long?

Yes. And no.

While running the Globe 21k yesterday, I thought my Garmin reading was off when my distance reading was consistently longer by more than 600 meters everytime I’d reach a kilometer marker. I initially thought that I had problems with the GPS satellite signal due to the tall buildings in the Makati CBD and the short tunnel we crossed at the early part of the race. I later learned most people measured the course anywhere between 21.6 to 22 km on their GPS devices.

Upon checking the Globe website, I’ve concluded that the 21k route actually was 21k. However, the route that we were directed to was really longer by close to 700 meters.

Below is the route from km 2 to km 3: coming from Makati Ave. going towards the Kalayaan flyover, runners should have been directed to turn right to Paseo de Roxas then right to Buendia.

Globe planned race route

Instead, we went straight and turned right to Buendia from Makati Ave. Distance added: 213 meters.

Actual route

Inside Heritage Park, based on Globe’s route map, we were just supposed to loop around Filipinas Drive.

Planned route through Heritage Park

Instead, runners turned right to Bontoc and doubled back going back to Filipinas Drive. Distance added: 465 meters.

Actual route through Heritage Park

The distance added by the two route deviations totalled 678 meters. I measured the course at 21.73 km. If we deduct the 678 meters, the distance would’ve been 21.05 km, a perfect half marathon distance.

Although the race organizers planned for an exact 21k route, it seems that the marshals that were responsible for directing the runners along those crucial instersections didn’t do their job properly. It didn’t help either that the route was changed at the last minute.

Unfortunately for me, I was trying to meet a certain finish time which I almost hit at the 21km mark, I was just off by less than a minute. With the added distance though, my time was off already by 5 minutes. I still got a PR, but not the time I wanted. I’ll just have to try again in the next half marathon.

Condura 42k: Finally an Official Finisher!

I haven’t been blogging the past couple of months but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been running. I was hard at work all this time preparing for Condura. Condura was my second full marathon but it would have been my first time to appear in the finisher’s list, since I didn’t make the cut-off time the first time.

I actually had quite a case of performance anxiety for Condura, since my 2 previous Condura races in 2008 and 2009 didn’t go too well. I think I have a tendency to get too performance-conscious in the bigger races like Condura and end up not pacing properly, unlike in smaller races that I treat as a training run but end up setting PRs.

The Plan
My initial intention was to run by target pace in order to meet my goal time but 2 days before the race, I checked my Milo stats and realized that even though I was running at an easy pace from km 7-22 during Milo, my heart rate was way too high, close to redline, and that probably explained why I hit the wall as early as km 23 and I had to run-walk to the finish and endured cramps the last 10 km.

This time around, my plan was to make sure that my heart rate would not exceed the low 150s the first 32k and push hard only from that point on.

The Run
I made sure I didn’t exceed my heart rate target and to make sure, I walked through every water station I passed. I resisted the temptation to keep up with friends who passed me to make sure I had energy all the way to the end. I kept a good pace going until km 26 when I reached the NAIA exit ramp. I pass the skyway everyday and the ramp looks like any ordinary exit ramp but that morning, it looked like a huge mountain with the runners looking like ants trudging uphill. I decided to walk up the ramp since it didn’t make sense to exert all the extra effort to gain a few seconds.

I survived km 32 near the end of the skyway with energy to spare and luckily, Que was around to capture the moment.

Photo by Quennie Gavan

Now this is where the real marathon begins, at km 32. I tried to increase my effort but I couldn’t sustain the pace and I had to take walk breaks from this point on. At Buendia near Pasong Tamo, I finally reached the much-awaited Takbo.ph – Reiner aid station. A volunteer offered liniment spray and a leg massage which I gratefully accepted. I really wanted to linger around the station but I had to give way to other runners who were also in need of such treatment. I grabbed a banana and I was on my way again. By the time I reached Kalayaan flyover, it was close to 9AM and it was getting quite hot but I had to make one last loop around the International School area. I was tired and wasn’t thinking straight, and there were no marshals in the area to guide runners, so that from 38th Street, I almost made the mistake of running against the oncoming runners emerging from 10th Avenue, when I should be running counter-clockwise along Triangle Drive. I even saw a couple of runners make a left turn along 11th Avenue, when they should have run all the way to 10th Ave.

I finally emerged from 38th Street after what seemed like forever and pushed on for the last few hundred meters. Finally, I crossed the finish line in 5:28, besting my Milo time by 24 minutes, and finally earning my place in the finisher’s list.

I chatted for a few minutes with Vener, Cristy and Janine at the finish line, afterwhich my legs were so wobbly so I decided to walk to the car a few hundred meters away and go home. I was already headed out the parking lot when I realized I didn’t get my finisher’s medal! I didn’t have the energy to go back to the race area and decided to worry about it when I got home.

POST SCRIPT: The Finisher’s Medal

After asking around, I learned that you had to line up somewhere to get the medal, and something went wrong so even Ton Concepcion was personally handing out the medals.

By Monday, I read Pat Concepsion’s email in the egroups explaining the security lapse that happened that day and that if we emailed the secretariat our info, they would mail the medals to us. Lo and behold, I received a packet sent via courier by Wednesday! The packet included Monday’s copy of the Philippine Star that featured a front page shot of the Condura skyway run and a personally signed letter of apology and explanation from Ton Concepion explaining the medal incident. Condura showed a classy response by going out of its way to get medals to the runners as quickly and conveniently as possible and they diffused a situation where we might have heard runners griping through the blogs and e-groups about the “lack of medals”.

Congratulations are in order for Patrick and Ton Concepcion and the rest of the Condura team that made this race truly memorable and worthwhile!

T – 16 weeks

Today marks the start of another 16-week countdown to the first ever Condura full marathon scheduled on February 7, 2010.

I’ve printed out my new training program from Runner’s World Smart Coach and I’m ready to go. Smart Coach now conveniently allows you to select distance and pace in metric system so I don’t need to convert these manually anymore. The paces that Smart Coach crunched out seem reasonable, especially now that weather is a bit cooler in the morning. I’m just wary of the long runs I’ll need to do around the Christmas holidays, when I’m sure it will be a mental struggle to get out of bed and hit the road.

See you all at the Condura starting line!

A different PR

I recently completed my 3rd executive check-up in as many years. My executive check-up in 2007 was significant to me since that was my wake up call to start exercising; eventually, that led to my running and racing.

I don’t realy look forward to getting poked and probed all over but I like doing the stress test, more commonly called the “treadmill test”.

The particular test the clinic makes me perform is is called the modified Bruce protocol stress test. The test consists of 3-minute stages on a treadmill where each stage becomes exponentially more difficult as the treadmill speeds up and the incline increases. The test is stopped when the patient cannot go further or hits the maximum heart rate. The heart functions, blood pressure, heart rate are all monitored throughout the test.

mod Bruce

Basing on the speeds indicated above, it may not seem very fast but the 20% incline was pretty steep, comparable maybe to the steepest inclines at Maarat and nothing like the hills I’d normally encounter. Stage 6 felt like 10k race pace and Stage 7 felt like running 400m at maximum effort.

In 2007, I was able to complete half of stage 6, before I started running. Last year, I did half of stage 7 and the other weekend, I completed stage 7, a new PR! I actually felt I could go on to stage 8 for a bit more but I’m sandbagging for next year’s check-up 🙂

Double Race Weekend

SATURDAY: THE RESCUE RUN

I’ve never run back to back races before but last weekend I was faced with 2 races that I both wanted to join. I was already set to run Milo but I couldn’t ignore the Rescue Run, given that its a charity run that will help out the Ondoy victims. Plus, I’ve never run in MOA and I was curious about the flat course by the sea. I signed up to do the 10K.

I was planning to do a tempo paced run but I didn’t pay enough attention during the route briefing so when the race started, I realized I didn’t know where to go so I had to run faster to keep sight of the pace car.

A bit past halfway into the race, Vener, who was a marshal, encouraged me that I was in 11th place so I upped my pace a bit and I managed to overtake some runners. I ended up running faster than expected, although it was slightly short of my PR. I was conscious of saving enough strength for Milo the following day.

All in all, the Rescue Run was a new and enjoyable experience but more importantly, there was a good turnout of runners who all contributed to a good cause.

SUNDAY: MILO 21K

I had my doubts about starting in Milo. I didn’t get to rest after the Rescue Run and I was tired from being up and about the rest of Saturday, and besides, I ended up with a 10k bib, although I was really looking to do a 21k training run. To top it all, I also didn’t know what time the race would start. I thought these were signs that I shouldn’t even bother showing up but I knew that if I didn’t push myself, I’d never get a training run in that day and I’d hate myself for it.

To make a long story short, I was at the Rizal monument by 5:00 AM and it turns out that the start time for the 21k was 5:30. Surprisingly, my run went better than expected. My legs were not sore as they tend to be after a faster than usual run. I also met up with Jaymie at the start and I ran at a chika pace with her for the most part.

I particularly enjoyed the aid station of takbo.ph where I took an apple slice from Milo finals qualifier i2runner Natz. I thought the apple was particularly juicy and refreshing until I learned the day after that it was actually kept in pineapple juice to keep it from turning brown! Although I didn’t avail of the leg massage from the volunteers, the whiff of efficascent oil was stimulating enough to give me an extra push too.

Around the 17k mark, the sun was shining bright already and I was starting to feel worn down, and I was blaming it on my 10k the previous day. I told Jaymie to go ahead and push her pace, knowing how she was training for a marathon this December. On the other hand, I took it easy for a kilometer or two before I resumed my training pace.

I finished at an estimated 2:17, which is a guesstimate since I forgot to start my garmin immediately during the start of the race and I didn’t bother to run through the chutes, since I was wearing a 10k bib. It was a so-so racing time but a good training run for me. I didn’t expect that I could actually run two races over the weekend.

Thanks to Photovendo for the great pics!

Thanks to Photovendo for the great pics!

Nathan Speed 4 Review

I had been on the lookout for an alternative to my TNF Xenon waist pack and the Nathan Speed 4 was my top choice based on online reviews and storage capacity. The only problem was it wasn’t available in Manila. I visited several local stores in the past but they only had the 2-bottle version. I didn’t want to order this online since I couldn’t decide whether to get the small or medium size; I needed to fit this first before deciding.

Thankfully, I finally found the Speed 4 at that candy store for runners, Runnr. At Php1,595, the price is comparable to amazon.com, excluding delivery charges.

The Speed 4 is ideal for runs of 16km or longer. Its 4 bottles store up to 1.2 liters of water, more than my Xenon, but since the weight is distributed among 4 bottles, it actually feels lighter. The bottles fit snugly, didn’t bounce, and could easily slide in and out of the holster with one hand while running. With my Xenon, I had to tighten it quite a bit around my waist so the bottles wouldn’t bounce. The Nathan’s belt is wider compared to the Xenon and is made of stretch material so it felt a lot more comfortable. No more chafing around the waist!

The Nathan has 2 pockets: a small pocket in front that will fit your keys or a gel pack and a larger one in the rear that will fit a cell phone, money, ID, and a couple more gel packs. I like that the rear pocket had a divider to keep stuff organized. I once experienced powdered fig newtons in my Xenon that found its way into every nook and crevice of my cell phone- my car key bounced around in my pouch, punching a hole in the plastic bag where I kept my snack and slowly grinding my fig newtons. I found out too late many kilometers into my run! No chance of that happening with the Nathan though.

The only feature I would’ve wished for is a roomier rear pouch. Although there is sufficient space for most supplies, I sometimes bring along a camera separate from my cellphone, for you know, snapping pics at the races so I could post them in the blog.

Overall, I’m quite satisfied with the Nathan Speed 4 and I’m glad it’s finally available locally.

nathan speed 4

33rd Milo Marathon: My First

The idea of running a marathon first occurred to me late in 2007 when I had barely started running and I decided to sign up for a 10k race in early 2008. Since I could already complete a 10k, I thought it wouldn’t be much more difficult to complete a 42k. Fast forward more than 1 1/2 years later and I’ve realized what a foolish thought it was then and just how grueling a 42k really is.

Last July 5, 4:00 AM, I finally made it to the starting line of my first marathon. My only goal that day was to finish the race – I didn’t set time goals yet based on other runner’s first time marathon experiences where their finish times always seemed longer than what I thought they were capable of, given their 10k and 21k times.

With Harry, our Race Logistics Director and the awesome T2 ladies

With Harry, our Race Logistics Director and the awesome T2 ladies

With all the warm-up exercises, opening prayer and race course description, I thought that Mr. Biscocho would start the race “late” (meaning at exactly the scheduled time) but when the starting gun fired, I checked my watch and true to form, it was 5 minutes early at 4:25 AM. My plan was simple: pace with Bards as long as I can, run conservatively up to 32k, and give it all I’ve got the last 10k.

Within the first few kilometers, Doc Joe ran up behind us and we were a running trio for 19 kilometers until he peeled off to meet up with Jonel.

Pacing with Bards and Doc Joe

Pacing with Bards and Doc Joe

My first 22km went well as Bards and I stayed on a pretty consistent pace. The weather was perfect since it wasn’t until 6:30AM when we first experienced our first peep of sunshine but that quickly changed when there was a downpour while we were in the Lawton / Bayani road area. On km. 23, I found that I needed to take a walk break already so I told Bards to go on ahead since I knew she was targetting to hit 5 hours and I didn’t want to keep her from meeting her goal. On hindsight when I was reviewing my Garmin data, I realized that my heart rate had been creeping up so even though I maintained an even pace, I was growing more weary with every kilometer. At km 23, my heart rate was at 10k race pace levels already.

I was conserving my strength for the last 10km so I practically walked the uphill back to Lawton. At the Bayani road area, RJ kept me company on his bike and paced with me for long stretches.

RJ kept me company along Bayani Road

RJ kept me company along Bayani Road

I approached the T2 aid station right before taking on the Kalayaan flyover again and I loaded up on banaba, Gu and fluids before I headed into uncharted territory.

Getting ready for Kalayaan flyover

Getting ready for Kalayaan flyover

As I hit kilometer 32 after Buendia – Paseo de Roxas, cramps started attacking my legs. As I stretched my hamstrings along the road, I could only watch as T2 runners Kathy and Beni passed me. By this time it was already 9AM and the weather had become quite hot and humid, around 31 degrees and the sun was shining bright. I pushed on and would periodically douse myself with water from my hydration pack.

When I stopped at the water station past South Super, to my horror my left knee suddenly locked up and I couldn’t bend it. I had to literally drag my foot for about a minute until the muscles loosened up again and I could resume walking then brief jogs. While jogging, cramps again attacked my right leg, beginning with my hamstring then spreading to my knees. I dragged my legs again as if I didn’t have any knees until they gradually loosened. I worried that if I attempted to stop at any water station again, my legs might cramp so much that I might not finish the race.

As I approached the Takbo.ph cheering squad at Buendia-Leveriza, runners ahead of me would get energized and speed up but I could only keep walking. Gene aka Barracuda Running approached me and asked if he could assist me in any way, if I needed a pacer. Without hesitating, I said yes, I’d appreciate a pacer up to the finish line!

Gene readily walked / jogged with me the last 5km at 10am in 30+ degree weather. He would run ahead to refill my water bottle so that I wouldn’t need to stop at the water stations since I was afraid of cramping again. Along the way he would encourage other runners that were exhausted also and were struggling just to get to the finish line.

Gene aka Barracuda Running paced me the last 5 km up to the finish line!

Gene aka Barracuda Running paced me the last 5 km up to the finish line!

Finally we passed the US Embassy and we started jogging again and I used my last ounce of strength to give one last sprint towards the finish line. I was just so relieved to have finally finished, and with satisfaction I saw my Garmin read 42.05 km, completed in 5:52. Que of Takbo.ph snapped my photo right after crossing and I apologetically told her I was so tired I could barely manage a smile. I felt like Pheidippides when he finally arrived at Athens!

I didn't make the 5-hr cutoff but I still got my finisher's certificate! Thanks to Vener and Cristy for the picture

I didn't make the 5-hr cutoff but I still got my finisher's certificate! Thanks to Vener for the picture

With Mr. & Mrs. Takbo.ph Jinoe and Que, Gene

With Mr. & Mrs. Takbo.ph Jinoe and Que, Gene

Gene, Beni, Kathy, Bards, Vicky, Tin and Mesh

Gene, Beni, Kathy, Bards, Vicky, Tin and Mesh

Congratulations again to all the finishers last Sunday, notably Jay who did a blazing 3:38, Mesh who finished 7th in the women’s division, Bards who just keeps improving her time by leaps and bounds, other T2 ladies Kathy, Beni, Tin, Kristine: your perserverance and endurance amazes me!

Special thanks to Gene who helped me endure the last few kilometers of the race. Bro, I hope to repay the favor by supporting you in your marathon debut in QC this October – I’ll be there!