Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Manuel Vismanos: One amazing runner

Even before Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run was published and made waves in the worldwide running community prompting interest in barefoot running, Manuel Vismanos of Toril, Davao City has been running unshod.

With his flowing white hair and beard, it would be easy to imagine him as the original Pinoy barefoot runner. He took up running in the 60's, inspired by the site of a group of young athletes at a local school, and has never worn running shoes since. In a short write-up accompanying her photo of 'Nong Maning finishing the 27th Davao Finisher's Marathon last December 5,  businesswoman and writer-photographer Ms. Joanna Christina Lizares Co, who is a runner herself, said the 63-year old retired policeman "just felt that going with bare feet made him move better and faster. He tried running with shoes but he felt restricted and uncomfortable."

And just how hardcore as a barefoot runner is Manuel Vismanos? Ms. Joanna says 'Nong Maning doesn't consider running in Vibram Five Fingers barefoot running because the VFF's are shoes just the same.

'Nong Maning is a revered icon in the Davao running circle, and I would say more than just because he runs barefoot. Four decades of running is undoubtedly a testament to the man's passion and commitment to the sport, and all the time running barefoot at that. And while he is no spring chicken, there is a lot of strength and power in those calloused feet and sinewy legs.

I recall two occasions of running pace for pace with 'Nong Maning. One was at the 34th Milo Marathon Davao City Regional 21k Elimination Race last August 29. 'Nong Maning and I exchanged paces and leads for several times going into the Sasa turnaround point. That part of the race definitely taxed me.

Again we ran side by side from Matina to Toril in the 27th Davao Finisher's Marathon December 5. We went beyond trading paces and leads that day. Some guys from the Davao Sunday Runners' Club doing the 21k handed 'Nong Maning a bottle of Pocari Sweat. He took a swig, then looked back and handed me the bottle, insisting that I take a drink myself as we are still less than halfway into the race. Further ahead, as we ran side by side, a couple providing support to another group or runners trained their camera on 'Nong Maning for a picture. He swiftly put his arm on my shoulders, told me to smile, and together we made the thumbs up sign as the camera clicked.

'Nong Maning topped the 60-64 age category in the 34th Milo Marathon Davao Elimination Race last August clocking 2:00:49 good for 70th place overall. Sadly, financial constraints kept him from running in the national finals. He finished the 27th Davao Finishers' Marathon in 4:30:04, running into the finish amid the cheers of fellow runners who have no less than awe, admiration and respect for him.

'Nong Maning is not the only one who runs and races barefoot in Davao. His younger brother Bonifacio does the same. Jun Biroy from the island city of Samal who works in Davao as a salesman-marketing agent also runs and races unshod.

Another runner from Toril, Aldo Pecson, is following the footsteps of his friend and idol, and will be joining 'Nong Maning, Boni, and 'Nong Maning's close friend and neighbor Jonifer Bagayo on January 30, 2011 at the Run for Healthy Living, a charity event of Holiday Gym and Spa and the Davao Medical School Foundation. All four of them will go barefoot. Those who want to try barefoot running are welcome to join them and experience running with Davao City's amazing Manuel Vismanos.

Note: Registration for the Run for Healthy Living is ongoing at Holiday Gym and Spa, DMSF and Run Club Davao. A very nice singlet awaits the first 500 registrants.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

42@55: Going full circle

March 3, 1996. The Pilipinas "Shell to Shell" 2nd Midnight Marathon runners raced the clock and each other through the mercury lighted streets of Davao City. I and others like me raced against ourselves and our limitations to conquer 42.195 kilometers on foot. It was my first marathon.

Flagged off at 12 midnight, we tested our mettle against the challenge of what is considered the crown jewel of running. While others were off to Neverland in the comforts of their beds, we were like night watchmen roaming the streets on a duty call. Workers on the graveyard shift were on jeeps bound either for work or home. We were on our feet aiming to get to a finish line a long way away.

This was truly a race of firsts for me. It was the first time I tasted Gatorade which was handed to us in one of several refreshment stops, the first time I ate a banana on the run, and the first time I vomited on a race (courtesy of the Gatorade, I suppose).

2nd Midnight Marathon finisher's certificate from my 1st 42k

But the first time to finish a marathon beats everything else. When I first tried to run the distance two years before, I learned that there really is truth in the saying that you have to respect the marathon. I had several 5k and 10k races by then, even topping my age group in some small local races. I thought I was ready. I was wrong. My running legs gave up on me past the 25 km mark and I started walking. An ambulance checking on the condition of the runners on the road picked me up at the 28 km mark.

I still walked parts of the later kilometers on my first 42k. But I had learned my lessons enough to get myself a finisher's certificate. I crossed the finish line in the early hours of morning shortly before 5 o'clock, more than 4 hours and a half after we started.

I had three other marathons after my first one. I ran the 13th Davao Finishers' Marathon in December that same year, did the 3rd Midnight Marathon on April 1997 and again the 14th Davao Finishers' Marathon-1st BIMP EAGA Friendship Marathon on December 1997.

Tight work schedules and a growing fascination with cycling started taking my time away from my running. I was soon racing less and less until I totally stopped from being involved in road races. My second wind came in 2006 with my 26k run at the 23rd Davao Finishers' Marathon on December 3 as my first official comeback race.

I have always considered my December races in Davao as my birthday races. Coming at more or less a month from my birthday, they are sort of yearly graduation runs where I transition from one running year to another.

My 27th Davao Finishers' Marathon 42k last December 5 was similar yet special. It was my comeback marathon, my first in 13 years. I was doing it 14 years after my first 42k finish in 1996 at the age of 41.

I did 26, 28 and 30 km long runs a month going into the race. I had run two 21k races within a month of each other earlier and had been doing some 20-24 km long runs. I felt I was ready. Back to back 20k's in two successive days two weeks before the race told me I was prepared enough to finish.

I ran a conservative pace tucked in a group of younger runners going into the marathon halfway mark. I felt strong going to the turnaround at Toril and kept a steady pace on my run back to Victoria Plaza.

It was past the 32 km mark that my mind and my legs began arguing. My mind was telling me to run. My legs were saying "walk". With less than 10 kilometers to go, my legs won and I switched to run-walk mode. Feeling better with 5 kilometers more to go, I started running longer than I walked until at 2 kilometers to the finish, feeling much better than I did about 7 kilometers back, I went on a full run. I crossed the finish line at 4:23:17 and later received my finisher's medal.

Finisher's medal and race bib from the 27th Davao Finishers's Marathon

Finding a photo and a video of me crossing the finish line was more than an added bonus. Both were unexpected gifts from online running friends. I couldn't be happier.

Finish line photo from Ms. Joanna Christina Lizares Co
Video (below) courtesy of Ms. Leah Jacobe  

In a post on my Facebook account, another runner friend told me it was time to go for an ultramarathon. Not just yet. I feel there is a sub-4 marathon in this ageing body waiting to be unleashed. I believe that should be my priority for the next phase of my running life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

All praises for RunClub-New Balance Challenge 2010

In less than 6 moths since it opened in Davao City, RunClub has become more than just another shoe store for runners and other fitness enthusiasts in Davao City and nearby locales.

RunClub, through its Facebook account, has become an information hub for Davao City road races. It has served as a registration center for these races, and last Sunday, it went a notch higher by organizing its own event -RunClub-New Balance Challenge 2010- with New Balance as its main partner and Vantage Sports under Kenneth Sai handling race management.

I would have wanted to join this debut event of what has now become my favorite running specialty store, except that November 14 was my son's birthday and family activity was on top of the agenda for that day. I guess that was more than enough reason to forego having what fellow runners have described as one of the best-ever made singlets for a Davao City road race.

It was also more than a valid enough reason to miss experiencing a first in Davao City road racing - having a group of ladies cheer you on at the final water station as you run towards the finish about a kilometer or so away. I can only wonder what that would have felt like reading the comments at the RunClub FB page.

Fellow runners said hydration was also tops throughout the race course.

Following the successful staging of the RunClub-New Balance Challenge 2010, RunClub is already considering organizing another road race come January. Runners over here are already getting excited. If ever it does push through, this is one road race I would not want to miss.

Race results? Davao City's top running bets grabbed all podium honors. My writer friend Lito Delos Reyes of Scoop Davao filed this story:

Nerza, Ambasa dominate RunClub-New Balance run
LOCAL favorites Anthony Nerza and Monaliza Ambasa lived up to their top billing by ruling the RunClub-New Balance Challenge 2010 held Sunday in an out-and-back course at RunClub Davao this city.
Nerza of Brokenshire College clocked 32 minutes and one second to win the men’s open in the 10-kilometer foot race. He was followed in second by Tagum’s Junel Boncit at 32:45 while Joselito Dugos of Holy Cross of Davao College placed third with a flat time of 33 minutes.
Ambasa, now a resident of Toril, had a time of 39:53 to win the distaff side and also earned a gift certificate worth P5,000 plus an all-expenses paid trip to the Cebu City Marathon set on January 9.
“We will shoulder Nerza and Ambasa’s round trip air fare, entry fee and hotel accommodation in Cebu,” said organizer Monchit Mackay of Runclub Davao.
April Rose Diaz of Catalunan Pequeno settled for second at 42:16 followed in third by Toril’s May Love Briones (43:43).
Diaz and Briones went home with gift certificates worth P4,000 and P3,000, respectively.
In the 5K event, HCDC’s Brian Lupio (16:36) won the men’s category followed by Brokenshire’s Michael Ian Constantino (17:05) and Marco Polo’s Arnel Ambayon (23:07), while the top three female finishers were Brokenshire’s Cynthia Jaro (27:49), Holy Trinity-GenSan’s Evangeline Villanueva (28:40) and Beefit Gym aerobics instructor Vicky Javier (30:09).
The complete results of the race managed by Vantage Sports under Kenneth Sai were:
(men) 1. Anthony Nerza (32:01) 2. Junel Boncit (32:45) 3. Joselito Dugos (33:00) 4. Gilbert Maluyo (33:17) 5. Arvie Macaneras (34:27) 6. Mario Ecalner (34:40) 7. Nolie Fabroa (35:14) 8. Philip Ocon (36:38) 9. Ronald Dagaang (37:38) 10. Jessie Lumansoc (38:06).
(women) 1. Monalisa Ambasa (39:53) 2. April Rose Diaz (42:16) 3. May Love Briones (43:43) 4. Emily Avegonzado (43:45) 5. Criselyn Jaro (44:46) 6. Maureen Kimbrough (48:16) 7. Joy Mawalic (52:11) 8. Michelle Tomaroy (52:32) 9. Keilah Rodriguez (52:34) 10. Tiny Buenaventura (53:33).
(men) 1. B. Lupio (16:36) 2. M. Constantino (17:05) 3. A. Ambayon (23:07) 4. Reynaldo Dagohoy (23:23) 5. Adonis de Guzman (23:49)
(women) – 1. C. Jaro (27:49) 2. E. Villanueva (28:40) 3. V. Javier (30:09) 4. Melanie Penaflor (31:04) 5. Regina Reyes (31:07)
(male) 1. Willy James Itoc (22:42) 2. Jomar Rasay (23:02) 3. John Nicholes Salguero (23:18); (female) 1. Cellie Rose Jaro (22:29) 2. Gabrielle Castillo (28:05)

                                                                                                                                 (Photos from RunClub Davao, Joey Y. Fernandez)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sad reality

Davao's pride, Jho-an Banayag, the country's top female marathon runner, will not be representing the Philippines in the 42.195-kilometer footrace at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.

The move to drop Jho-an from the roster of athletes bound for the 16th Asian Games came after she competed in the CamSur International Marathon last September 24 where she was the top Filipina finisher with a time of 2:58:35.

The Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA) said Jho-an violated a ruling that bars national athletes from joining competitions three months before the Asian Games. PATAFA president Go Teng Kok was quoted by GMA News as saying he talked to Jho-an before the Camsur race and that she gave the assurance she was not going to compete.

Go told GMA News: "All our athletes must follow our rules and regulations."

Rules are rules. Even if Jho-an ran her way to a gold medal in last year's Southeast Asian Games marathon in Laos with a 2:46:34 finish, she is not exempted from these rules. She has to abide by them.

Jho-an's story again brings to the fore the sad reality of the Filpino athlete - insufficient financial allowances, as Pinoymiler's Blog so straightforwardly puts it.

Interviewed by the Joey Villar of the Philippine Star after the CamSur marathon awarding ceremony, Jho-an, who was apparently well aware of the consequences of her action, said: “I’m the breadwinner of my family, I’m here to provide for them. We really need the money that’s why I competed here.”

Her sixth-place finish earned Jho-an P125,000. She receives P15,000 monthly allowance from the Philippine Sports Commission.

In the same interview, Jho-an said she would run in the Milo Marathon finals in December if she doesn’t get a slot in the Asiad. This will give her a crack at the premiere marathon's top purse of P300,000.

Jho-an's story is an oft-repeated one. She is not the only national athlete that has been suspended by the PATAFA for joining unsanctioned races, and neither is she the only athlete that has broken the rules mainly because there was a family to support that needed the money.

Most athletes, especially the ones in track and field, come from poor provincial families. They made their way through high school and college by way of athletic scholarships. They see their athletic abilities as a means to help support their families by landing a slot in the national team or getting a crack at enlistment in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

This very real need to support their families is the primary underlying reason why they run, why they push themselves to their limits to be at the top. This is the main reason why the increasingly lucrative purse in road races like CamSur and Milo is always more inviting, even worth risking one's inclusion in the prestigious list of athletes carrying the country's flag in an international competition, where the chances of a podium finish -and the corresponding financial reward- becomes slimmer as the level goes higher.

Pinoymiler, in his blog, urged the PSC "to review the monthly allowance of our athletes, as some of them are complaining that a major chunk of their allowances are being spent in their vitamins/supplement and training gears." He also suggested looking into the possibility of entering into tie-ups with companies who are manufacturing these kind of products to help our athletes.

Perhaps they can go a step further. They can completely adopt and sponsor our track and field athletes so that they could be given much better means to support their families while carrying the country's colors in international competitions.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Personal Best: My St. Peter Life Run

I had it all in my mind. Take it easy from the gun to the climb up the Dacudao flyover, pick-up the pace and hold it all the way to the turnaround at the diversion road in Buhangin, then go for a faster second half going to the finish at Davao Victoria Plaza. Hopefully, that would be good for a time just a bit faster than my 47:08.38 for the Merco 63rd Anniversary Run 10k a year ago.

I positioned myself well in the front end of the pack assembled at the start line, and pressed the start button on my Timex Ironman at the sound of the gun.

It was a mad dash for most from there, with a number of guys wheezing past me in pursuit of running buddies who were up ahead. I stuck to my pace. I was far from comfortable, my upper arms burned and my lungs were shouting, but it was like that in every race. I knew it would be gone soon. Indeed, by the time I was approaching the Dacudao flyover, the discomfort was gone.

I passed the 3k turnaround point at the top of the flyover and set my sight on the runners ahead. I picked up the pace as I had planned and had soon passed 4 other runners before entering the diversion road at the Buhangin junction. Then I had a race in my hands.

One younger runner I caught up to kept pace with me, asking if he could run alongside me just as long as he can. I just smiled my approval.

He lagged a bit as we climbed the first hill from Buhangin junction, but was soon beside me again. On the downhill, he picked up the pace and surged ahead. I thought of chasing but held back. The hills will be coming back again after the 10k turnaround and I could burn out even before that. I held my pace.

On the hill approaching the Buhangin junction I caught up with him. I kept my pace while he faded. I caught up with still another runner and traded paces with a runner in army fatigue-colored running shorts before finally breaking away going down the flyover.

The recreational 3k and 5k participants were all over the road leading to the finish. I was dodging people as I tried to hold my pace. It wasn't easy at all. The final few meters going into the finishing chutes was less crowded. I headed for the 10k chute and pressed the button on my watch as I crossed the line. My race was over.

My Timex Ironman recorded my finishing time at 47:31.91, more than 23 seconds faster than my Merco time last year. But I can live with that knowing this was a hilly course where PR's are hard to come by compared to the relatively flatter Merco run  course.

John Wooden said "Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." I take that as truth.

I gave this run my best and discovered what I had me. A friend told me once that I was afraid to run fast and was prone to holding myself back. It was true, I guess. I always had this fear of burning out and shaming myself with a bad finish. But in my speed training sessions going into this race, I found that fear fading.

And looking back at this run, I remember Hal Higdon:  "Even when you have gone as far as you can, and everything hurts, and you are staring at the specter of self-doubt, you can find a bit more strength deep inside you, if you look closely enough." 

But I would say this was my best run experience ever not only because of what I gave it but also because of what I got from running it - meeting new friends. There's Joan and her husband from General Santos, NJ who posted a comment on an earlier entry in this blog, his girlfriend who did 5k, Jay of Davao Runners who kept pace with me going towards the Dacudao flyover, and Jette who helped me keep a great pace at the Buhangin diversion road.

They all made this one memorable running experience.

"Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week. It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too." 
--Richard O'Brien

Friday, September 10, 2010

MetroLifetsyle Davao presents Run Fur Fun

Runners take to the streets again in Davao on September 19, this time with their furry friends.

MetroLifestyle Fitness Center and Spa, is organizing the Run Fur Fun featuring a 1.5k and 3k run for runners and their pets. There is also a 3k run for those who would rather be running alone their furry buddies.

While dubbed Run Fur Fun, the event goes beyond the fun aspect. Proceeds of the run will benefit the Rescue-A-Child Foundation Rescue-A-Child, an outreach program founded by Light in Asia Stiftung Hope in Davao City's Bucana area, with a mission to assist impoverished families in feeding their children.  MetroLifestyle gives a corresponding meal to a child for every participant in the fun run. The more runners, the more food for the poor children.

Registration fee for the 1.5k and 3k run for runners with pets is P200.00 inclusive of a t-shirt and bandawa. Runners without pets will get a t-shirt with their P150 registration fee.

Interested runners and pet-owners who would like to have a fun weekend bonding time with their four-legged pals can get in touch with MetroLifestyle Fitness Center and Spa at F. Torres corner Jacinto Extension, Davao City, tel. no. (082) 228-6182. You can also visit MetroLifestyle's Facebook page.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Running the Milo Marathon Davao Leg: Taking it as it is

I really didn't know what to feel after my 34th Milo Marathon 21k elimination run in Davao City last Sunday.

I was gunning for an improvement of my 1:48:15  finish in the Kadayawan Festival Run 21k August 8, and at the same time submit a clocking within the 1 hour and 50 minutes qualifying time for my age group for the Milo Marathon National Finals. Although I wasn't sure of running the finals in Manila if I did make it, it would be good to know that I was capable of breaking into that group of qualifiers. In the Philippine context, that would be like qualifying for the prestigious Boston Marathon, a runner's dream.

The Kadayawan 21k was run on the course that has been advertised as the Milo Marathon race course. The race map uploaded by Milo and the race organizers on the Milo Facebook fan page showed exactly the same route that was used for the Kadayawan run, an out and back course starting and finishing at Roxas Street with a turnaround point at the old Davao airport at Sasa. Nothing more, nothing less.

Surprise, surprise! On race morning, minutes before the starting gun was fired they tell everyone that there will be changes in the 21k race course. We would have to go through two turning points, one at the center of Sasa before we run back, turn right towards the old airport where the second turnaround point is located. By my estimates, that would roughly be an additional kilometer or something close to it.

Immediately I had second thoughts about being able to improve on my 1:48:15 Kadayawan 21k. And in all probability, I would also have to kiss my dream of qualifying for the Milo Marathon National Finals goodbye.

Still, I thought, I was feeling good. Who knows? I just might be able to make 1:50:00. I kept track of my time, glancing at my Timex Ironman whenever I can. I noted running some of the early kilometers in the lower 5-minute range. I exchanged paces with a number of runners I was able to catch up with before leaving them behind for good going into the Sasa turnaround. By the time I glanced again at my watch after I passed the second turnaround at the old airport, it already indicated 56:59. My goal of improving on my Kadayawan run was already down the drain, and I needed to run the remaining distance to the finish in 53 minutes if I was to make 1 hour and 50 minutes.

My effort wasn't good enough for that. My Timex Ironman showed 1:51:27 when I stopped at the finish line.

Even with that, I would say it was a good run for me. I was able to catch up with and pass a seasoned age category runner who always finished ahead of me in previous races. I traded paces with a couple of younger runners who caught up with me after the old airport turnaround before finally leaving them about three kilometers from the finish line. At the finish, another seasoned category runner said he was trying to catch up to me but I was too strong for him today. In previous races, he easily breezed past me. I wasn't as tired as I was in the Kadayawan run going into the finish. I did good. Not good enough for 1 hour 50 minutes maybe, but still good.

When I told my son about my race, he said my 1:51:27 finish wasn't bad at all. If the organizers added a kilometer to that course, I still ran it faster per kilometer than I did at the Kadayawan 21k. Who was I to disagree?

We are runners. We are given a route to run, a distance to tackle, and we take it as it is. Conquering it and conquering our limitations in the process make us winners, even if someone else has reached the finish line ahead of us.

My Milo race bib, finisher's certificate and medal

Monday, August 23, 2010

A shoe and shoe shop story

The last time I bought running shoes was in March last year.

I got the Nike Air Zoom Limitless primarily because of the weight. I was looking for a racing shoe but couldn't find one. The lightweight trainer was the best alternative there was.

I didn't regret the purchase. The Limitless served me well as a second shoe for faster training runs and races. My New Balance MR902's bought in 2007, also lightweight trainers, served as my staple training shoes for both road and trail runs. Until two weeks ago.

Three years of use on and off road, to include a number of times up to the peak of Mt. Apo and back down, are definitely more than enough for my trusty NB 902's. It was time I retired their well-worn soles and get myself a new pair of shoes.

I was doing the Kadayawan Festival Run in Davao City and that gave me the chance to shop around for a new pair of second shoes for faster training runs and races. I was going to use my still "relatively new" Limitless as my staple running shoes this time.

It took a little asking around before I and the taxi driver found our destination, Davao's newest running shoe store - Run Club Davao. It was definitely the best shoe store I've been to in Davao.

The store staff were very courteous, friendly and accommodating. The gait analysis I took was very helpful and confirmed that I indeed have a neutral gait. That, and weighing 50 kilos at the heaviest on a 5'2'' frame, means I can practically get away with wearing less cumbersome lightweight shoes, like the Adidas Adizero Rocket.

My Adizero Rocket from Run Club Davao, Nice shoes, nice store.

ProductWiki describes the Adizero Rocket as "a performance running shoe that is designed for long-distance and competitive runners."

The shoe features Adidas' TORSION system which stabilizes the foot and provides light arch support and has a molded respoEVA sockliner for a comfortable fit.   It includes adiPRENE+ cushioning in the forefoot and adiPRENE cushioning under the heel for comfort and shock absorption.  The adiZero Rocket is designed with a durable adiWEAR outsole that has flex grooves to provide flexibility and good traction.  It also features an asymmetrical air mesh upper to provide good ventilation and has internal non-slip lining for better performance.

RunBlogger's Guide to Minimalist Running Shoes lists the Adizero Rocket among "reduced shoes" that are "extremely lightweight and ride very close to the ground, making them good options for someone interested in migrating downward from a modern cushioned training shoe" and therefore allows the feet more flexibility and movement.

I have been running 10 to 16 kilometers on my Adizero Rockets for the past two weeks now, and I definitely have no complaints.

Neither do I have complaints about Run Club Davao. It's definitely one of the best things that ever happened to running hereabouts.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Running the Kadayawan Festival Run 21K: No complaints

No expectations. Treat this as just another long run and finish.

That was what I was telling myself going into the Kadayawan Festival Run 21K in Davao City this morning. And with enough reason.

The Milo Marathon Davao City elimination race is on August 29. I have already decided on running that. A new course has been mapped out by the guys at Vantage Sports Promotions led by Kenneth Sai, Milo Marathon's partners in Davao, for the race, and the Kadayawan Festival Run will be held on that very same course.

Doing another half marathon distance run before Milo, and a preview of the race course at the same time, was a pretty neat idea. It would also be a chance to see if I could run this course within the set 1 hour and 50 minutes qualifying time for my age group.

That being decided, I registered for the race on July 28.

I timed my departure for Davao yesterday so I can be there before 5:00 in the afternoon and still have time to pick-up my race packet. Unfortunately, the Vantage guys have already left the Adidas store at Gaisano Mall as early as 4:30. I had to make do with getting my race bib and singlet early this morning at the race assembly area.

I was glad they decided to send off the 21K runners at 5:30. That meant the sun would not be as hot on our run back to the finish line. I have never been good at running in the heat.

At the starting line, I stood at the back, just before the first line of 10K runners that were assembled behind us. It didn't really bother me to be standing there and not at the front or at least nearer. Experience has taught me that I would be passing some guys who have started faster ahead of me as the race progressed.

At the bark of the starting gun, I started off on a what I felt was a nice and relaxed pace. No need to rush, I was telling myself. We had a long way ahead of us.

I steadily made my way through the line of runners ahead of me. A couple of runners I passed run back past me but I decided not to give chase. I just maintained my pace, eventually passing them again before we crested the first uphill. I felt good, and started picking up my pace a bit.

I passed several more runners on the way to the turnaround point in front of the old airport in Sasa. It was a fairly long climb going to the halfway point of the race, but I had run higher and longer ones. There is no scarcity of hills where I regularly run.

I glanced at my watch. The halfway split read 53.33 minutes. That was good for me.

I knew that there would be more downhills than uphills on the return route and perhaps I could come up with a faster second half. But after two younger runners passed me and I wasn't able to keep pace, I felt that was it. I haven't done enough long runs. I did only one 20K training run before this race and the tiger just wasn't in the cat. The best I could do was keep a steady pace.

A little more than a kilometer to the finish, another runner went past me. I tried to keep up again, but I did so only for a while. Still I was happy to have been able to pick up my pace a bit and pass yet another runner before I hit the finish line.

I pressed the stop button on my watch. 1:48:15, a little more than a minute faster than my last half marathon, the  32nd Milo Marathon Davao City 21k Elimination Race two years ago. And below the 1 hr 50 min 50-54 age group qualifying time for this year's Milo National Finals.

I cannot complain. I have earned myself a medal just finishing this race. Still, I am already thinking of doing a 10K tomorrow to start off my transition to longer runs starting this week - in my new shoes. But that's another story.

My Kadayawan Festival Run 21K bib, finisher's certificate and medal

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Motivation 101

It is not always that we are in the mood to run. We all get tired and eventually begin to feel too lazy to even dare a run around the block.

What to do?

Runner's World's Calvin Hennick has a list of what he calls "Kicks in the Butt." All 101 of them -  tips, inspiring quotes, and more to keep you motivated.

Hennick has a number of Good-To-Go Playlists for those who get a kick from pacing to music. Selections include classic rock ("Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen, "Break on Through" by The Doors, and "Come Together" the Beatles), country, hip-hop, and alternative rock. He even has a playlist of "guilty pleasures," which is honestly alien to me.

His list also includes movies to watch -  the 1981 Oscar winner for Best Picture Chariots of Fire (undoubtedly a classic film on running that can truly inspire), Saint Ralph (a 2005 Canadian film where a teenager sets out to win the 1954 Boston Marathon, thinking this is the "miracle" required to wake his mother from a coma), even Endurance, the 1999 docudrama on how Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie became one of the best distance runners of all time.

And there are the books to read for inspiration. Leading Hennick's list are two favorites among runners - The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, a short story by Alan Sillitoe tells the tale of a rebellious youth in a reformatory who runs in solitude and makes a stand against a system he doesn't believe in, and the cult classic Once a Runner, by talented runner John L. Parker JR., which captures the hard work and dedication required of fictional collegiate miler Quenton Cassidy.

After going through Hennick's list, I tried to come up with a short list of 10 "interesting" ones which I suppose would most likely be doldrum busters for many.

1. MAMA, GET A NEW PAIR OF SHOES. Two-time Olympian Shayne Culpepper puts new gear she receives as an elite athlete to good use. "It's fun to break in a new pair of shoes," she says. "Sometimes that's enough to get me excited."
2. EVERY MILE YOU RUN burns roughly 100 calories. Think of that next six-miler as two slices of pizza.
3. MAKE A MASSAGE APPOINTMENT for the day after your long run.
4. GET YOURSELF A HEARTY DOG who needs lots of exercise. You'll always have a reason for a daily jog. 
5. FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY: Consider taking a short break from running if you think you've got the beginning of an overuse injury or you're truly fatigued. A couple days of rest may be the thing to reinvigorate you. Call this one instant running motivation for three days from now. 
6. YOU'LL BE WEARING A BATHING SUIT in another month or so, won't you?
7. PAY YOURSELF. Set a price for attaining a certain weekly mileage goal. When you hit it, pay up. Keep your mileage money in a jar, and once it accumulates, buy yourself that new running jacket you've been ogling.
8. BUY A FULL-LENGTH MIRROR and make sure you look in it every day.
9. A HEALTHY RUNNER IS A HAPPY RUNNER. As soon as you feel like you might be coming down with something, pamper yourself: Eat more healthfully (think lots of fruits and veggies) and get extra rest. A little prevention today means you won't be debating next week whether you're too sick to run.
10. EXERCISE IMPROVES SEXUAL PERFORMANCE, according to research. Nuff said.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Du-aw ta sa Dabaw! Dagan ta sa Kadayawan!

Practically all roads lead to Davao come August. The reason? Kadawayan.

Kadayawan is a celebration of Good Harvest, writes philippinecountry.com. The term Kadayawan is derived from the Mandaya word “madayaw”, a warm and friendly greeting used to explain a thing that is valuable, superior, beautiful, good, or profitable.

Kadayawan in Mandaya means anything that brings fortune, a celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, the bounties of harvest and serenity of living. Ethnic tribes around Mt. Apo usually gathered during the harvest-time when they had a bountiful harvest to give thanks to their gods particularly the the Supreme Being "Manama." Singing, dancing and offerings to their divine protectors are the highlights of this ritual.

Colorful costumes and warm smiles at Kadayawan's Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan
(photos from Davao Traveller.com and Blogalicious)

The bountiful display of fresh flowers and fruits, and "indak-indak sa kadalanan" or street dancing in colorful costumes are reasons for many to spend a day or two in Davao during Kadayawan. Me? I'm going there for the Kadayawan Festival Run.

Running in Davao
(photo from Dabaw Pinoy)
Set August 8 on an out-and-back course at the Roxas Avenue near the Ateneo de Davao University, the Kadayawan Festival Run features 3K, 5k, 10k and 21K events. It is presented by Adidas Phils. with Motolite and Hi-Smart Vitamins as the major sponsors.

Hi-Smart in particular will sponsor the 3K run. All 3K finishers will receive Hi-Smart t-shirts and vitamins, said organizer Kenneth Sai of Vantage Promotions.

All the runners will get a free singlet and a certificate of participation. Cash prizes, medals and certificates will be awarded. The finishers of the 21K will also each get a finisher’s medal aside from the medals for the top three winners of the men and women’s open categories.

Well, I have always wanted a shiny medal of my own for a run. That would be motivation enough for me to finish 21K.

(Registration for the race is still on-going at the Adidas Store of Gaisano Mall in Bajada and at the newly-opened Run Club Davao located at the Plaza del Carmen in Loyola St.,Bo. Obrero. The registration fees are P150 for 3K and 5K, P200 for 10K and P250 for 21K.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fast times for women winners in Milo GenSan

It was the women's turn to register fast times in this year's edition of the Milo Marathon regional elimination race held last Sunday, July 25, in General Santos City.

Cebu’s running queen Mary Grace Delos Santos sliced some three minutes off her personal 21K record to top the race with a 1:21.15 finish. She came in 4th place overall.

Mary Grace delos Santos, her face bloodied after getting hit by a motorcycle in a road accident, finishes first in the women’s 21K race in the Mindanao eliminations of the Milo Marathon in 2008.( PHOTO FROM SUN.STAR CAGAYAN DE ORO, CEBURUNNING.COM)

Monaliza Ambasa was second at 1:30, faster than the 1:31:15 she turned in when she ruled last year's race, while Liza Jaro did a repeat of her third place finish last year but with a faster finishing time of 1:34:51. Jaro clocked 1:40:42 in last year's race.

The country's best time for 21K is held by two-time Milo national marathon champion Jho-an Banayag, who ran the half marathon distance in 1:20 in Davao City.

In contrast, the men's finishing times this year were slower than last year's. Davao City Joselito Dugos took first with a time of 1:13:07 while Elmer Bartolo, another prominent figure in Cebu’s running scene was second, clocking 1:13:53. Gerald Sabal came in third at 1:14:50.

Bartolo was also second in last year's Milo Marathon eliminator in the country's tuna capital but turned in a faster finishing time of 1:13:11. Junel Buncit of Tagum ruled the men's race last year with a blazing 1:11:11 finish. Brian Lupo who took third place also registered a fast 1:13:44.

Last year's race also saw 4th place finisher Gilbert Maluyo of Kidapawan City barge into the national finals after clocking 1:14:37 to beat the 1:15:00 qualifying time.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Milo Marathon in the Tuna Capital and in Durian Country

Mindanao regional eliminations for the 34th National Milo Marathon kick off tomorrow, July 25, with the General Santos elimination race.

GenSan News Online Mag reports 8,000 runners are set to answer the starting gun at the City Oval Plaza in the country's tuna capital.

As in past eliminations in this relatively flat course, fast times are expected from elite and sub-elite runners who are looking to finish within 1:15:00 for male runners and 1:35:00 for female runners to qualify for the 42.195-K National Finals.

Top three finishers in the men's and women's categories of the 21-K regional elimination run will receive cash prizes and trophies, plus an all-expense paid round trip to Manila for the national finals where they get a shot at being crowned MILO® Marathon King and Queen and grabbing the PhP 300,000 cash prize at stake.

After General Santos, Milo goes to Davao City on August 29.

Kenneth Sai of Vantage Sports Promotions, Milo's local partner in Davao City, says this year's Davao elimination race will be bigger and better. For one, timing chips will be used in both the 10K side event and 21K elimination run, a first for Davao City footraces. The event will also be run on a new course starting and finishing at Roxas Avenue near Ateneno de Davao University.

Registration center for the Davao City elimination race is at 2nd Floor, Tamayo Bldg, Lapu-Lapu Ave., Agdao, Davao City.

Northern Mindanao will have its regional elimination races for the country's longest running and most prestigious marathon in November. The Butuan City elimination race is set on November 21 while the Cagayan de Oro edition is on November 28.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

"The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner," as a short story published in 1959 and again as a film in 1962, has undoubtedly cemented the image of the distance runner as a solitary soul in pursuit of his sport, consumed by thoughts unknown to the rest of the world.

He could as well be envisioning himself racing for the gold to the cheers of a thousand people on the stadium stands. Or perhaps moving like a deer effortlessly through the foliage and over twisted roots on a mountain trail. He alone knows. He alone runs.

Those who wield gutted rackets share a laugh or two with each other as they pair off, exchanging volleys on the court. Friends who run dribbling and passing the ball tease and call out jokes while sweating it out in a game. And cyclists share stories and not a few laughs on a group ride. There is truly more joy and fun in all these it seems than in long distance running.

But as I ran this morning on my 8k loop, I asked myself - is the distance runner really lonely in his solitary pursuit of his sport? Or is it just an image seen by those who do not see beyond the single, sweating, solitary figure chasing that invisible something in the wind?

I have almost always run alone, and I suppose most other runners do. I have ran in a group a number of times, enjoying the banter over a variety of distances and weather. We even ran in a downpour once. But I am mostly the lone wolf, burning the roads and the trails by my lonesome. There was joy in my runs with my friends, the same joy i found in my solitary runs.

Running isn't a happy endeavor. It wasn't meant to be. The heart beats fast, the lungs burn, the legs and feet ache after a while from the constant pounding, the arms grow tired too. But in my running I rediscover what I can do, I am reawakened to my capabilities, I experience freedom.

While running in the woods by his lonesome in the film, the rebellious main character Collin Smith is seen with an unquestionable aura of joy. Like an unshackled deer fully one with nature and the very essence of his being, he runs with jubilant abandon.

Colin was a solitary soul doing what he loves to do best, and he was far from lonely in his endeavour, just like any long runner distance runner.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another corner of my world

Changing residences can be stressful. There's no doubt about that. But it does have its benefits — a new atmosphere, a new surrounding, new running route options.

Moving to our new home, one we can now proudly call our own by the way, had me immediately experimenting with three new route options. One took me through the main road to the center of town and back, a second had me crossing the boundary to the next town, and a third one took me around three adjoining subdivisions.

I recently discovered a fourth one while on a short exploratory ride on my mountain bike.

Dirt roads abound in these parts, lined by rubber and fruit trees, and filled with the harmony of birdcalls mingling with insect sounds. Once in a while, one hears the sound of a distant mountain stream babbling as it makes its way through rocks and boulders smoothened by the rushing waters of yearly torrential floods.

The road isn't smooth as an asphalt highway is. Neither is the surface even as on a concrete highway. The sometimes sharp and sometimes smooth rocks that jut out of the packed dirt make for dangerously uneven footing. And there is the occasional mud pool which either makes you hop, skip and jump, go slow, or just walk altogether.

But that is what brings thrill to the one who runs this route. That is what gives him the feeling of oneness with nature, and that he was born to run.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Sweeping aside the cobwebs

Seven months to this day.

That's how long I haven't posted anything on this blog.

I've been busy with work, yes. But I was still able to squeeze in runs three to four days in a week. Having done that, I seem to see no valid reason why I couldn't update this running blog.

Perhaps times like these just come. We feel stale. Tired and unmotivated. I could get myself to do the runs, but not the writing. It was plain mental drought.

A lot of things have happened since seven months ago. We've moved to a new residence. I have been running a different route, a bit more difficult, I would say, than the one I used to run. I have also discovered a new back road route which takes me through a winding dirt road kept shady and cool by rubber trees on both sides. The excitement in tackling it almost every single running day hasn't rubbed off yet, and I hope it won't.

I need to do a lot more things. Catch up on my long runs, catch up on my speed work, and catch up on my writing.

I don't know if anybody would be reading this other than me, but let that be for now. Sweeping aside the cobwebs is the main concern right now.