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

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Letter to Ninang Cory

Dearest Ninang Cory,

Much has been said about you, your character, your legacy and the difference that you have made for this country and the world. They will always be a source of inspiration to all of us Filipinos.

We are very fortunate that we also had the opportunity to meet you up close when you agreed to stand as our ninang in our wedding. We remember best your advice to “always bring out the best in each other”. And so we could better appreciate this message, you shared with us how you brought out the best in Ninoy and how Ninoy brought out the best in you. Your life was a testament to how you lived up to this ideal. We will do our best to live up to that standard and impart those same lessons to our children, as well as be an example to other couples. You may have passed from this world but your memory will always live on.

Your inaanak,
Dindo and Malou

wedding

Good Luck and Happy Birthday to Workaholic Runner!

On the eve of his 37th birthday, Workaholic Runner will be running the San Francisco Marathon. Good luck and happy birthday dude! Don’t work too hard!

I’ve known Workaholic Runner for around 28 years, here’s proof:

workaholic

After being away for almost 20 years, WR is finally visiting Manila later this year. See you around and hope to run with you.

Back to the Drawing Board

Now that the euphoria over Milo has died down and I’m about to resume regular training, it’s time to reassess my performance and strategy in order to do better in the next marathon. My only goal in Milo was to cross the finish line but next time, I will have a time goal.

I graphed my Milo pace, my last long run prior, and a 5-hour target pace. I thought I went out too fast in the first half, as can be seen in the graph. I was running 15-20 seconds faster per kilometer than a 5-hour goal pace. I think that contributed to my bonking on the latter half, as can be clearly seen from kilometer 26 onwards when I walked a lot. I could’ve done better from km 26-30 but I was sandbagging for the uncharted territory beyond km 32. Obviously, I needed all the extra energy I could use.

marathon pace

I can’t help but think that if I ran the first 25 km slower, I would’ve probably done better the 2nd half of my run. In my next few long runs, I’ll experiment with running a consistent slow pace the 1st half and see how much energy I’ll have in the last few kilometers to come up with some negative splits. I was able to accomplish this in my last 32k long run when I gave it my all in the last 2k. This of course presupposes that I can avoid hitting the wall at around km. 30. The strategy is easier said than done, I have a long way to go in building endurance to execute to the plan.

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!

Milo Countdown

I’m getting ready, getting readddyyy!!!
Oh boy, what a day it’s gonna be!!!

It’s just a little over a week before Milo and I can’t wait. I’ve completed all my training runs and I only have a couple of easy 5k runs left to do next week and a relatively short 8 mile easy run this Sunday. If I were a rice cooker, I’d just be on Keep Warm mode until the big day.

milo

I can’t help but feel a little nervous though, like the student who feels he hasn’t studied hard enough for the final exams the following day. During my long runs, I usually felt quite exhausted so I’m not sure how I’m going to fare when I run the last 10k on July 5 purely on adrenaline. It doesn’t help that I belatedly realized that there’s a 5 hour cut-off in order for my name to appear in the finisher’s list.

Oh well, I just take comfort that more experienced runners say it’s better to be under- than overtrained going into the marathon. I’d be happy just to complete 42k, no matter what the time.

Botak 42K: Matira Matibay

A few weeks ago, Bards texted me if I wanted to do a 42K long run in the Botak Paa-tibayan marathon. I thought it was a crazy idea since I had just then started my 16-week training program for the July Milo marathon and I felt I wouldn’t be ready. Just when I convinced myself to give it a try, I realized that the run would fall on a Mother’s Day and I would have to be in Pampanga for a Mother’s Day lunch. I checked my training schedule and my Smart Coach said I was to do a 20 mile run that day anyway and so I planned at least that distance for that morning and end my run at Rockwell.

At 4:32AM, runners were still assembling and there was no sign of any starting program whatsoever. No music from the loudspeakers, no announcer to signal the start of the race, nothing. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that the emcee came up on stage to introduce the race organizer who described the route for us. Up this point I had my doubts about the kind of water support and marshals for the race since the route had a lot of turns, but the organizer promised water stations every 2 kms for the first 25 kms and every 1 km thereafter. He also promised a lot of marshals and enumerated a long list of organizations that were supporting the race, including the MMDA, Makati Police and several other volunteer groups. The starting gun was finally fired at 4:58AM.

Starting Line

Starting Line

I kept pace with Bards and Ria throughout the whole run, except a section where minutes after taking 2 bites of my Snickers bar, I felt stomach cramps and I had to find a bathroom super fast. It was a good thing that my support car was nearby and I had to ride the car up to McKinley Hill to find the nearest fastfood store. Before riding the car though, I took off my race bib should anyone spot me and report me as a “cheater”. After relieving myself of my tension, I spotted Bards and Ria again coming up Lawton and we ran together again.

Tight group after the first 5k

Tight group after the first 5k

Around km. 25 along Buendia, we came across a “36 km” sign and the guy manning the spot insisted it really was 36km. The funny thing is less than a kilometer after that was the 26km turnaround point at the intersection of Pasong Tamo. We expected we should’ve turned right towards Ayala Ave. towards Makati Ave., as printed on the race map but instead, we were directed to turn left to Ayala Ave. extension instead and towards South Ave. then right to Kalayaan Ave. heading to Rockwell. The last water station we encountered was at Buendia and there were no cups at that point. Fortunately, the support vehicle of the Fort Striders offered water and ice to all the runners along Kalayaan Ave. and they were a huge lifesaver as many had been without water for several kilometers already and it was already quite hot.

Energetic Bards at around km. 22

Energetic Bards at around km. 22

When we finally got to Rockwell, it was already well beyond my personal cut-off time of 8:30AM since I had to get home and get ready for a Mother’s Day lunch at Pampanga. With the 32km reading on my Garmin, I decided to call it a day. I actually was disappointed that I didn’t have time to run anymore since I noticed that I didn’t feel as tired as I usually would when I’d run close to this distance in the past. That must be a sign that my training is starting to pay off. However, I will need to experiment with different foods on a run to find a type that won’t give me stomach cramps. Anyhow, I’ve got another 20-miler in my schedule 2 weeks from now and I can’t wait to get out on the road again.

Special thanks to Bards and the T2 gang especially Harry and Vince for sharing their vehicles for the support crew. It would have been next to impossible to run that distance without you guys.

Congratulations also to Bards for beating her Singapore marathon time by close to an hour! Way to go Bards, ang tibay mo!

What I liked:
– Good quality personalized singlet, although I didn’t get to claim mine at R.O.X. and unfortunately I will never wear it since I didn’t finish the race.

What could be improved:
– Start on time
– A clearer and more detailed race map, given the many turns
– Deliver on the basics: Water stations with cups and water and marshals to guide runners
– A route that doesn’t pass through a busy highway like C-5