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.