Tuesday, October 09, 2012

It is about the run

And so we run
toiling daily
unknown to most
devoid of attention
early in the morning
before the fog has faded
before the sun has laid
it's mantle of light
because it is
not about the limelight
not about being in the news.
It is about being a runner
about running
about the run.

                                                                                                                  (photo from Chris' Film Blog)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Running is alive and well in General Santos City

It has been the venue of several Milo Marathon regional elimination races these past few years and I see one big reason why that is so. General Santos City has a vibrant and growing running community.

I had the opportunity of getting in touch with General Santos runners when I was invited by Gensan Run Club's John Apollo Bautista to give a talk on running basics May 18. There was a good sized crowd that night at the lecture, runners of different abilities coming from different clubs. I counted at least four - Mason Runners, Rotary Runners, Tampakan Runners and Gensan Run Club which seems to serve as a group that brings all these clubs together.

The next morning's group run at Robinson's showed me more. People of all shapes, sizes, gender and ages were walking or running at the mall grounds, some even going barefoot. People who were not at the lecture the night before joined us in doing warm-up exercises and ran a few rounds with us. It was both elating and inspiring.

Even the number of races that are organized locally shows how much running is picking up in this premiere city of Central Mindanao's SOCCSKSARGEN region.

On June 17, the Masons of Dadiangas Lodge No. 225 is holding the Wheels of Hope Run, a charity event to raise funds for a project that provides wheelchairs to indigent persons with disabilities. The 3k, 5K and 10K event which starts and ends at the East Asia Royale Hotel Parking Grounds hopes to gather quite a crowd with participants coming from all over the region.

On  June 23, the EnviRUNment Takbo Para Sa Kalikasan takes center stage with its 1.5K, 3K and 5K runs which start and end at the Mindanao State University High School Campus.

I'm sure more will be coming and more people will be joining with such a vibrant running community keeping the sport alive and well in Gensan. And with new-found running friends in this city to inspire and motivate me, maybe my dream of running a race in Gensan's relatively flat fast course will now come true.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Team Davao Runners charity run 3: it's for schoolchildren this time

Once again Team Davao Runners is organizing a charity run, its first for this year and the third since the practice was started on December 20 last year with a 12k charity run for victims of Typhoon Sendong in Cagayan de Oro.

This time, beneficiaries of the 12k charity run are the children of  Tibulao Elementary School in Carmen, Davao del Norte and Datu Manlangan Elementary School at Sitio Kinse-Kinse, Brgy. Salapawan in Davao City's Paquibato District who need help with their school supplies for the coming school year.

As it did in the first two charity runs, TDR is asking runners who are joining this 12k run on May 24 to donate at least PhP100 worth of school supplies like notebooks, pencils, paper, and school bags. Cash donations will be converted to school supplies.

This will again be a raw run with no runner support, no water stations, and no food. Runners who will join are encouraged to bring their own hydration.

The run will start at 5:00 am from McDonald's Bajada, go all the way to Motolite at Lanang and back.

As with its two previous charity runs, TDR is optimistic that a good number of runners will again join and share their school-opening gifts for the needy children of Tibulao Elementary School and Datu Manlangan Elementary School. Runners after all have big hearts, and there are a lot of them in Davao City.

"A good exercise for the heart is to bend down and help another up." 
(from The Best Giving Quotes on www.boardofwisdom.com)

School children of Datu Manlangan Elementary School
Photo courtesy of Arn Sandoval Enobio 

For more information about this event, please visit the Davao Runners Facebook page.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

My run, my song of praise

Feet touching ground
romancing dew-kissed grass
Heart pumping blood 
warming veins 
Lungs expanding
as air rushes in and out
through flaring nostrils
slightly open mouth
Arms swing 
back and forth
Eyes fixed 
I run

The pounding in my breast
the burn of oxygen debt
tell me
I am alive

I am blessed

I am grateful
and I forever 

My run is my song of praise
It is when I feel God's goodness the most
It is how I best proclaim His greatness
in creation.

(Photo: Sun Runner by Banaski)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Running the Twitter Road Race

The Twitter Road Race came to my attention in January this year - via Twitter of course - while I was looking forward to running a 17k race for a radio stations where I used to work.

I remember reading somewhere that a short fast run is a good indicator of how fit you are, and I thought being able to do good in this virtual road race organized by runner and blogger Doug Casarro would be a great confidence booster.

I ran that inaugural Twitter Road Race on January 21, 2012 at 00:23:57 (4.47/km pace) and was 64th out of a total of 376 participants, 57th out 174 male runners. I recorded the best time among the 15 participants coming from the Philippines, and also had the 2nd fastest time among 17 male runners aged 50-59. Not really impressive but runners like us, mere mortals in comparison to the running gods lining the elite ranks, take our little victories and find great pleasure in them.

Doug set the Spring Twitter Road Race for today, April 28, and again I ran it. This one was not like the first though. While I was in great condition going into that one, I am in return-from-injury mode this time.

While doing my final speed session last January 31, six days before my race, I suffered a metatarsal stress fracture in my right foot. I missed my race, spent a month with my right foot in a cast, and missed running altogether for two months.

My run this morning was only the 6th straight run I have done since coming back through four weeks of walking followed by walk-run intervals. My time of 00:26:13 (5:24/km pace) was nowhere close to my time in the inaugural Twitter Road Race. But hey, I'm running again after a metatarsal stress fracture. I can't be happier at this point.

P.S. I actually ran 7 kilometers this morning. I did easy an 2k then picked up the pace a bit and held it through the remaining 5k for my Twitter Road Race.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Meant to run

We were meant to run.

We do not need to read a book or a scientific treatise to tell us that, though both are there to confirm the fact so that we can perhaps be more comfortable with what we are doing. It could after all sound and look crazy to the rest of the world who would rather find solace in the soft comfort of their couches and lounging chairs. I remember a runner friend who was once asked by his father just what it is that he keeps chasing in the wind.

For me, the simple truth that we humans find joy in running was revealed when I chanced upon a mother and her two kids while I was on my way home from a run. The mother and her older child, a girl of about 5, were slowly running side by side. Behind them was a little kid of 3, chasing and laughing his heart out in joy.

There is perhaps no other natural activity that gives children as much joy as running. They learn to pick up things and throw them or use them to hit other things, but you seldom hear them ecstatically laughing doing that. But let them run, whether they are chasing you,  chasing each other or chasing the dog. The wide grin, the sparkling eyes, the excited laughter. These would almost always be there.

When I was a kid, I remember a game I, my cousins and other kids in our neighborhood enjoyed playing. The game was called batin. It was a game of tag. Players were divided into two teams with a minimum of four or five kids each. Each team had a camp. Members of each team tried to catch members of the other team until the entire camp is captured and the game is won. Members of a group who were caught were kept guarded in the camp until they were touched and saved by a teammate. The game could last for hours without being won. And there was all the running - to chase and catch opponents, to avoid getting caught, to save a captured teammate. We ran unmindful of the distance or the time, conscious only of the fact that what we were doing was fun.

Yes, there is no doubt in my mind that we were meant to run. We were meant to be happy doing it. And not only as children. For where is it written in the rule book of nature that we can't be like kids at play even as we have moved up in age if the joy we find in that keeps us healthy and happily satisfied with life?

The photo above of children running and playing in the rain is from Zara Alexis: The Bibliotaphe's Closet.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Touching ground

I have told running friends several times that I didn't think I was ready to run barefoot just yet. I tried it once on a dirt road and my feet cringed at the feeling of sharp pointy limestone pebbles hitting my bare soles. Forget the five fingers. I'm no believer. If I would run barefoot, I've always told friends, I would do it the only way I believe it should be done - unshod. I find the idea of a barefoot shoe a total anomaly. Minimalist shoes, yes - extremely minimalist even if you will - but a  barefoot shoe? Come on. Same goes for running in sandals.

That being said, it took a metatarsal stress fracture and the desire to check how well my right foot has recovered after nearly two months of not running to make me rethink running barefoot. What indeed was a much better way of checking if my injured right foot has recovered fine than running barefoot. So one afternoon last week, several days after starting my walk-run comeback routine, I took a few turns on the grassy ground around the house. It wasn't really much given that our house stood on a hundred-something square meter lot. That didn't really matter. What did was the satisfaction I felt when no complaint came from my right foot. The feel of the cool grass on my bare soles was also stimulating.

On Friday morning, while walking my dog, I noticed a dirt clearing just before the basketball court inside the old church compound close to the subdivision where we lived. I checked it out a bit before taking a turn with my dog around the next two adjoining subdivisions, and then we came back. I hitched my dog's leash to a post of a bamboo hut next to the clearing, took off my thong sandals, and went off unshod for a few rounds. I went for about five minutes before I stopped. My feet felt good. I felt good. And I saw no reason why I shouldn't do it again.

I did this morning, running barefoot the way I believe barefoot running should be done - unshod. The reddish packed dirt was still wet from the downpour late yesterday afternoon, and I got mud clinging to the soles of my feet even before I finished one round. I didn't mind, not in a single minute of the entire ten minutes that I, like a child at play, savored the feeling of my bare feet touching ground.

Would I do it again? Definitely, longer and more often, on days when I need to give my feet a break from the rigors of running fast and furious on pavement. When I ran barefoot the first time on that packed dirt Friday morning, I told myself I could learn to love doing it. I think I already do.

"Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair."
~ Khalil Gibran

My bare feet after my 10-minute barefoot run. Happy to be dirty. Happy to be touching ground. 

My playground. A clearing inside the old church site close to where we live. I still need to measure it's circumference but I think it's somewhere around 300 meters.

My tracks. They make a good impression on the wet dirt. I apparently have a midfoot or, as runner and blogger Peter Larson put it once, a fullfoot strike. Looks good.

More tracks on the wet dirt. My feet love touching ground. 

I thought skipping through the bamboo poles while I ran would do my feet good. 

I'm not so sure but there seems to be a more forefoot oriented landing after I skip the poles. 

My buddy. Dog was eagerly waiting at the bamboo hut when I came back. I didn't let him run with me this time. He seemed to be struggling to keep pace the last time. I don't know exactly how old he really is, but tenish or thereabouts would be like it.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Starting over

"Just like starting over..."

That line from the 1980 John Lennon song could  very well be my mantra these days when my body is relearning running after 8 weeks of inactivity due to a metatarsal stress fracture on my right foot.

After a series of walks last week, I started doing run-walk intervals  this week, and sure enough, my body's negative reaction to the stress immediately manifested itself when I took the first few steps of a 5-minute jog early Monday morning. I felt pain on my knees and my ankles. It was not the sharp stabbing kind that tells you something is wrong and forces you to slow down or totally stop. Rather, it was the kind that tells you your body has somewhat forgotten how it feels to do this and is complaining from the stress. But the body is a wonderfully intelligent machine, one that relearns and adapts quickly, and my knees and ankles are soon at ease with the movement.

My five-minute slow runs interspersed with five-minute brisk walks on Thursday were even better. No complaints from the knees, the ankles, and most of all from my right foot. It was like they were more comfortable than they were on that first day. I easily went into a rhythm in the run segments.

This morning, I started much later than I did in my two previous workouts. I attended early Easter Sunday mass with my wife, and had to move my run to 7 a.m. Being summer, the sun was already shining quite intensely when I went out. The walks were shorter today at 3 minutes, and the runs longer at 7 minutes. I felt something new this time. Starting my first 7-minute run, I felt a familiar burning sensation in my upper arms, the same discomforting one that you feel at the starting of most short races. It is a feeling that tells you you are pushing you body and it has yet to adapt to the workload. I also noticed that I was breathing more heavily.

Perhaps it was the late start. I always seemed to unconsciously push myself more when I started my runs later in the morning, and maybe I was again unconsciously pushing it just a wee bit more today than I did in the first two days. Whatever the reason, how I felt during the early part of today's first 7-minute run segment showed me how out of shape I have become. But I'm not worried.  I know I'll get back the form I had before I was sidelined by injury in due time.

Right now I feel like I can't wait for Tuesday to do those 2min walk - 8min run intervals.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Call me a crazy, stubborn old dog if you will, but...

I was out on a walk with my dog again this morning, taking the direction towards the next town, till we were on that very same spot where that stabbing pain hit my right foot eight weeks ago. That pain sent me home limping, not really finishing my fartlek, and eventually passing on a weekend race that would have been my first for this year. That pain, which I thought at first was only due to a pinched nerve but which an x-ray later showed was from a stress fracture on a metatarsal in my right foot, had me sidelined pretty good - foot in a cast for four weeks, unable to do the thing I loved doing most: running.

Being passionate about something does get you into trouble sometimes. I wanted to do well in that weekend 17k which some close friends asked me to run. They got me registered and all, and I wanted to give back by doing well. Winning was way out of the question of course, but a great finish is a good way of showing gratitude. I put in the fartlek as a final speed workout, and on that last fast stretch before I end with an easy final kilometer, BAM!

Walking on that very same stretch of road this morning, I told myself it most probably was the combination of my speed, the downhill, and the banked road that caused that stress fracture. I pushed myself, my fatigued foot muscles faltered under the pressure, the bone gave in.

I remember the doctor telling me, "We sometimes forget we are not as young anymore." I heard the same thing from a few others who learned of my injury.

I know. At 56, I don't have a body as fresh and as strong as it was two decades ago. But at 56, I had just experienced the best year so far of my second wind as a runner. A year that was perhaps even better than any single year I had in my whole running life. I posted PR after PR in almost all races I did. I ran my 5th marathon with close to half a dozen killer hills without walking for the first time, breaking my previous best by 30 minutes, topping my age group by finishing 10th among male runners. And I was able to do all of those because I didn't let my age hold me back from pushing myself. I faced my fear of going fast and conquered it. I learned to live with the discomfort of oxygen debt and the difficulty of going against gravity when running up hills and made these my friends, the same way I befriended the fatigue that came with every single long run and just went the distance. It would have been easier and less stressful to my ageing body if I stayed within my comfort zone. But I wouldn't have discovered a better me, I wouldn't have felt more alive, and I wouldn't have been happier.

I don't have any regrets for doing that fartlek. The injury would have happened on any other day if it indeed was bound to happen. It would have happened on that weekend race if it was meant to. And when I am finally able to really run again, I wouldn't be totally throwing caution to the wind, but I don't think I would be losing even just a wee bit of the passion and the desire to always do better either.

Call me a crazy, stubborn old dog if you will, but I wouldn't want to be any less happier.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Getting back in stride

When I started running a little more than two decades ago, it wasn't in a slow and programmed manner.

Two packs-a-day smoker me got bit by the bug, decided to run, went out into the street early the next morning, and went off. I walked after about 500 meters, turned around, and started running again back to where I started. The rest as they say was history, which I wouldn't go into in detail, because that is not the point in this post.

This one is about getting back in stride. It's about starting to run again after being sidelined by an injury, the first -and hopefully the only serious one that ever happens- in my far from illustrious running career.

A stress fracture of a metatarsal bone is definitely not something a runner would welcome. Mine had me sidelined since January 31, and put my right foot in a cast for almost a month. The cast came off March 17, I gave my right foot another week of rest, and then came this morning. I started my journey back to running fitness.

I woke up at 5 a.m., got off the bed, and went through my usual pre-run rituals. There wasn't going to be a run for me though. I was scheduled for a walk, and I decided my trusty old friend, Dog (that's how I call my dog; every single dog I've ever had in fact), should join me.

The walk took Dog and me all of 45 minutes and covered just a little less than 3 kilometers. My right foot wasn't really painful, at least not in that specific spot where it did when I limped my way back home without really finishing my interval session that morning of January 31. I take that as a good sign. My forefoot though, the area just where the toes connected to the foot, felt a bit stressed. Perhaps it is because my right foot has been immobile for quite a time. I wore that cast close to four weeks. Even my ankle was complaining a bit. I wasn't though. It felt good to be out there again.

It was unlike the day I started running, this first day in my quest to get back my stride. This day is part of a more programmed approach, one that starts with walking and, over a month or more, gradually builds up to running again. I felt the urge to try a short jog, but I held back. Better just be patient, stick to the plan, and be better rewarded for it.

I didn't savor my injury, or the days I was sidelined. Not a bit. But I wouldn't say I didn't learn anything from it all. Relaxing more and giving my ageing body a longer time to recover, strengthening my feet more as I stress them less, I learned those things. But more that those perhaps, I learned that I wouldn't go crazy like I thought I would when my doctor told me I had to have my foot in a cast for 4 weeks. I really had no choice, yes, but it still wasn't easy.

A couple of running books and a bunch of running movies helped get me through the boredom of inactivity. So did my running friends on the web. The biggest help of course is having a loving wife who was the one who really insisted I see a doctor, and still persistently keeps me from doing crazy things, and a son who doesn't fail to put joy and laughter into my life. I'm glad there's Dog, too, to keep me company as I start off in getting back my stride.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Reality bites

I thought it was just a pinched nerve. Or it was what I had myself believe as the reason for the pain in my right foot when I ran.

I did not want to hear something like "stress fracture" or anything that meant I would be unable to run for a long time. I already had my training plans and race schedules. I did pretty well in my races last year and I want to keep the momentum going. A long lay-off would keep me off track. I definitely didn't want that.

A day short of three weeks since I felt that shot of pain during my last training run, the foot still hurt there when I put pressure on it. The acupuncture and massage sessions helped reduce the swelling and the intensity of the pain I felt during the first week. The pain that lingered wasn't really killing me, but it was bothersome enough.

Today I finally gave in to my wife's persistent request that I see a doctor. The x-ray result showed that what I had was indeed a stress fracture in one of my right metatarsals. The doctor said my foot has to be in a cast for four weeks.

Now, it's not just no running for me. Even cycling, which I had been doing at least every two days for the past two weeks just to maintain the aerobic conditioning, was no longer possible.

Four weeks. On second thought, that's really not too long. I can start those upper body strength workouts with my dumbbells which I had long been planning to do. And there are those running books and running movies waiting to be read and watched.

I'll get by and will definitely be back. Stronger, I hope.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Just run

Never mind if your shoes are quite old.
Never mind if your shorts and shirt are a bit faded.
Never mind if you don't have GPS.
The old chronograph still works and it's just fine.

Just run,
chasing the dream of a faster time.
It is what really matters.
It is what really counts.

                                                           (Rediscovered today in an ageing folder of unpublished notes)

Saturday, February 04, 2012


An injury has kept me from running for the past four days, the first time this has ever happened. It will also be the first time I can't make it to the starting line of a race due to an injury. I guess us runners all have to face something like this at least once in our running lives.

This sucks. I would rather be on the road and sweating it out through a 10 kilometer run early in the morning than on a lounging chair worrying about the persistent pain in my right foot. But it has been like that since Wednesday this week.

I went for a run Tuesday, doing fartleks and some hills on a 12k route. Everything was going fine until the last downhill curve which was quite steeply banked. I didn't twist my ankle, but it was likely that my right foot hit the banked pavement in some awkward kind of way so that on the uphill surge going to the kilometer marker, I began feeling the pain, apparently from a pinched nerve. The pain became more pronounced on the last kilometer and had me limping through a slog home.

I had a chiropractor work on my feet twice. But the slight swelling and the pain persisted. The morning after the visits to the chiropractor, I tried to see if I could run. I can't. The pain in my right foot whenever it hit the pavement was too much. I would say now that I was in denial. Friends already had me registered for the 17k Philhealth Run in Koronadal on Febuary 5. I already had my race number and singlet. I have no plans of missing this one.  It can't really be that bad. I should be able to run at least by Friday. Reality told me otherwise.

This morning, I went to an acupuncture clinic and finally informed my friends who sponsored my registration that I just couldn't make it to the starting line in Koronadal. My right foot needs time to rest and heal. It's definitely frustrating not being able to race. I had put so much in training for a good finish. But things like this are part of our sport, and we just have to learn to live with them when they come.

Last night, I saw a tweet by American marathoner and US 50K record holder Josh Cox that said:
"God, grant me the serenity to accept when I cannot run; the courage to run when I can; & the wisdom to know the difference. #runnersprayer"

That is my prayer today.

Stubborn runner cartoon from Marathon Sweetheart

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Run for Kythe: Because children should be flying kites, not fighting cancer

"The best way to run is to run for a good cause."
 - RUNNR Store on Twitter

Runners from Davao and neighboring localities will again be given the opportunity to live their passion for running while giving hope to children afflicted with cancer when Run for Kythe fires off at Roxas Avenue, Davao City on February 18 at 5 am.

Presented by the Ateneo de Davao University Humanities Division and Plustix, Run for Kythe is a 3K/5K/10K run for a cause intended to benefit pediatric cancer patients being served by Kythe Foundation.

Cancer ranks third in leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the Philippines according to the Department of Health.

75% of all cancers in the Philippines occur after age 50 years, and only about 3% occur at age 14 years and below. However, the problem of childhood cancer in the Philippines is more significant than in Western countries because of the relatively young Filipino population.

Childhood cancer strikes randomly, unexpectedly, regularly, sparing no age group, socioeconomic status, ethnic group or geographic region. Children as young as a few months, barely able to talk and walk, can already have cancer.

About 3,500 Filipino children fall victim to cancer every year. The most common pediatric cancer is acute lymphoblastic Leukemia with its classic symptoms of fatigue and paleness, fever and bruising or bleeding.

Children can survive cancer, with early diagnosis and prompt, adequate treatment. In developed countries, childhood cancer survival rate is as high as 95%. Sadly, it is only 10 to 30% in the Philippines. Of ten who are diagnosed, only two/three will most likely survive. They die because they are poor, unable to afford the high costs of medication and treatment.

Partnering with hospitals in various localities including the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, Kythe Foundation helps kids afflicted with cancer cope with the challenge of hospitalization.

If you are a runner with a free schedule on February 18 and ready to mix your love for running with a good cause, or simply someone who has a heart for children and believes that "children should be flying kites, not fighting cancer," Run for Kythe is for you.

You can register at the Humanities Division and Atenews at Ateneo de Davao University, and at RunClub at Plaza del Carmen, Loyola St., Bo. Obrero, Davao City. Registration fee is Php 250.00 inclusive of singlet, race bib, certificate and snacks.

                                                               Run for Kythe video by Nadia Lee Cien Shami

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Running for Hope

Late last year, I was invited by a close friend and former co-worker to be part of a group from the broadcast company I used to work with that will join the Philhealth Run in Koronadal City.

Dubbed the Mindanao Run for Hope, this is the first ever simultaneous run to be held in six different cities of Mindanao. Aside from Koronadal, the event will take place at the same time, 5 am, on the same day, February 5, in Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Marawi and Zamboanga.

Checking out information about the event, I later learned that I would not only be running for my former network but for children with cancer as well.

The simultaneous run which features 3K, 5K, 10K and 17K distances hopes to benefit kids with cancer through the Southern Philippines Medical Center Children's Cancer Center and Blood Disease Unit based in Davao City.

Southern Philippines Medical Center is the largest public tertiary hospital and serves as a referral center for Mindanao. Its 25-bed Children’s Cancer and Blood Diseases Unit has a 120% average occupancy rate or 30 admitted patients daily. It sees about 200 new cases of child cancer annually and has a dedicated multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses and support staff.

Approximately 1000 new cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed in Mindanao every year for children below 15 years old. But as the Run for Hope banner proclaims, "No Child Should Die in the Dawn of Life."

Proceeds of the Run for Hope will enable indigent children to have access to chemotherapy and supportive care, improved facilities and hopefully a Pediatric Cancer Center for Mindanao in the near future.

The run also hopes to raise funds for local beneficiaries of the different participating Philhealth offices.

Philhealth is targeting some 17,000 participants Mindanao-wide for this event in line with the agency's 17th anniversary celebration this year. Registration forms and information are available at Philhealth offices. You can also visit the Philhealth Run website at http://philhealthrun.org/ or the Philhealth Run page on Facebook.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My running dreams and schemes: Looking forward to 2012

I'm a man of few wishes, and that will probably stay pretty much the same this year when it comes to my running.

My major goal this year is to train better to run stronger and faster. It's best to keep it simple.

For the early part of the year, I have set my sights on two races. I have committed to run the Philhealth 17K race in Koronadal City on February 5 with friends from the broadcast company I used to work with. In March, God-willing, I will do the Araw ng Dabaw Phoenix Marathon where I hope I can improve my Davao Finisher's Marathon time of 3:52:52 last December.

I look forward to doing more races after these although I would remain selective. Included in the probable races in my list is the 36th Milo Marathon 21K regional elimination race in Davao. If it will be run on the same hilly route as last year, going for a finishing time faster than my 1:42:11 last November would be a very welcome challenge. Running in the 42K national finals later in the year if I qualify might be a long shot but is something I would definitely love to do. Running in a big race in Metro Manila has been a dream. What would be better than fulfilling that in the country's longest-running and most prestigious footrace?

If I don't make it to the Milo Marathon national finals, there's the 29th Davao Finisher's Marathon in December 2012 to look forward to. I would relish taking on that difficult course again and conquer it once more with an even faster finishing time. That would definitely make my running year.

Doing an ultra? A 50k trail race could be on my list if I can put in the mileage required to be ready for one. I know there are those who would say I could do it and I should do it. Maybe I can, but to then again to finish well is always better than to just finish, even on the first try.

As for running gear, I'm thinking of a pair of second shoes, maybe even another pair for third shoes. Those second shoes would definitely be racing flats that would help me continue with my foray into minimalist and more natural running. It is a choice between the Asics Piranha and the Mizuno Wave Universe.

Asics Piranha
Mizuno Wave Universe

As for third shoes, a pair of Innov8 F-Lite 230's for trail runs and races would be it.

Innov8 F-Lite 230
Finally, I guess it's not yet too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year and great running in 2012 so that's just what I'm doing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Looking back at my 2011

2011 has definitely been a good year for me. I had amazing race times from 10k to the marathon. My wife got me a new pair of racing flats for my birthday. My list of running friends more than doubled. To top all that, I got published on a nationally circulated running magazine.

My 2011 races

I have always picked my races. Weekly racing can not only be draining physically but financially as well for one who has to travel more than 100 kilometers by commuter van to a race venue and stay overnight at a hotel there. Choosing and scheduling my races could have also been a factor for my satisfactory performance in all of the 7 I ran last year.

Holiday Gym and Spa Run for Healthy Living 10k, 30 Jan 2011

The Holiday Gym and Spa Run for Healthy Living 10k was my first race for 2011. My last tempo run over 10k in my hilly home city of Kidapawan told me  that I have a 45-minute 10k in me, and that was what I gunned for going into the race.

I crossed the finish line with an official time of 43:25, good for 14th place. My own Timex Ironman Triathlon chronograph read 44:22.41. It was an improvement on my previous 10k best of 47:08.38 at the Merco 63rd Anniversary Run 10k in Oct 2009. Nothing could have been better for me that day.

RunClub Davao Asics Run 15k, 20 Feb 2011

The Diversion Road is one of Davao's most daunting running routes. Its hills just seem to come endlessly at you, with each climb seemingly higher than the one that just burned your lungs and legs. This was the route chosen by RunClub for its Asics Run 15k.

I finished the race in 1 hour 10 minutes 14 seconds (1:10:10 official race time). It's the best I've done for a 15k. Given a route with four (or was there one more?) freaking' climbs, I can't be happier with that time.

Araw ng Dabaw Phoenix Run 21K, 13 Mar 2011

I got my revenge on this 21k route, the same one used for the 34th Milo Marathon Davao Elimination Race in 2010. From a 1:51:27, I lowered my time for this course to 1:41:31. To top this, I finished first in my age group.

Going up that stage to receive my award was definitely sweet.

Araw ng Dabaw Phoenix Run finisher and age group medals

Nike Davao City Run 16.8K, 29 May 2011

A little more than 5 weeks before this race I shifted to a forefoot strike and it took its toll on my calf muscles. The soreness hit me for a number of weeks, even forcing me to give up a run a few days after I started the practice. The pain caused by the soreness was such that I felt it even when walking. I feared an injury until I started feeling better during and after runs two weeks after. By the final week going into the race, I had recovered. There was still that tiny pinch of soreness especially during and after speed sessions and hill workouts, but it was a lot more tolerable and didn't linger as much. It was totally gone by the time I did my last race distance trial run. My times have also gone back to usual.

My biggest concern as I lined up at the start was my calf muscles suddenly acting up during the race. That didn't happen. The wet roads brought by the rainy weather gave me blisters though and I was running with a burning sensation on my right forefoot just below the big toe going into the finish.

I checked in at 1:16:52. Definitely a good time, thanks to my persistence in training.

10th Shrine Hills Challenge 10K, 26 Jun 2011

If running hills in training is tough, more so is doing it in a race. And no race I have run is perhaps more hilly than the Shrine Hills Challenge in Davao City. In fact, I can't think of any other 10k in Davao more challenging except maybe some occasional trail runs. I ran the inaugural edition in 2002 and did the 6th running five years later in 2007. Last June 26, 9 years older than when I first did it, I again took on the Shrine Hills Challenge on its 10th running.

My Timex Ironman Triathlon recorded 44:24.63 at the end of this race. I improved on my finish 4 years earlier in this tough race by a little more than 5 minutes. To say that that made me feel great is an understatement.

Kadayawan Phoenix Run 32K, 21 Aug 2011

I went into the Kadayawan Phoenix Run 32k with a goal - determine whether I had a shot at running a sub 4-hour marathon in December.

I crossed the finish line at the end of the hellishly hilly out-and-back course in 2:37:05 (official - 2:37:04 gun time/2:37:00 chip time), 18th overall, 14th male, and 1st in the 50-59 age group.

Knowing that I was on track for a sub-4 hour marathon in December made me even happier.

Taking on the hellishly hilly route of the Kdayawan Phoenix Run

35th Milo Marathon Davao City Regional 21k Elimination Race, 6 Nov 2011

I joined the 35th National Milo Marathon Davao City 21k elimination race hoping to set a new personal record. It was perhaps the most trained I have been for a race. I was preparing for the Davao Finisher's Marathon in December, and have logged a series of 100-kilometer weeks before the Milo race. That much mileage with some pretty decent speed work mixed in will help ensure I can better my 1:41:31 21k best. The only question was will the new, more difficult race route allow it.

With Baguio out of the schedule, the Davao City route could easily be considered as 2011's toughest. From the start at Roxas Avenue, runners headed on a flat route until the slight incline at the Bajada-Buhangin junction. Past the 10K turning point in front of the Carmelite Church, participants turned left to Damosa where several hundred meters from the corner they were welcomed by a long steady uphill, one which seemed to become a bit steeper as it approached the Diversion Road. A slightly flat portion gave the runners a bit of comfort but it was really nothing less than the calm before a storm. Up ahead were two more hills, one after the other, before the 21k turnaround. The initial long climb saps you; the next two others just bleed you dry.

Playing chase throughout the race with my running buddy Cris Panerio who was running in the 50-54 age group, I crossed the finish line with only a split second between us. The final results had us both clocking 1:42:04. He was the top finisher in his age group as I was in mine (55-59). Topping that, I came in almost 18 minutes under the set age group qualifying time of 2 hours.

I didn't get my new PR. But given the killer route and the way I have raced, I would say that this was one of my best races.

28th Davao Finisher's Marathon 42k, 4 Dec 2010

I gunned for a sub-4 hour marathon and I got it. No walks for me in this 42k on what is perhaps one of the toughest routes for a marathon in the Philippines.

I finished the race in 3:52:52 (3:52:21 official time), good for 10th place.

At the 28th DFM awarding ceremonies, my 2nd time to be on stage last year

New running friends

I got invited to join Team Davao Runners late in 2010. I had traded paces with the group's leader and co-founder, Jette Roy Sanchez along the Buhangin Diversion Road section of the St. Peter Life Run 10k in October that year. We got in touch after through Facebook.

Jette and his brother Nico had earlier conceived Davao Runners as a Facebook page where Dabawenyos could be updated on running events in the city and eventually a tool for forming a group of runners who will encourage and support one another. TDR has metamorphosed into a full-fledge running group since and has also grown in number.

Being a part of Team Davao Runners not only made running in Davao a lot more fun. It gave me added motivation and inspiration to do better with every race.

Me on frontRUNNER

It is every running writer's dream to get published in a nationally circulated running magazine, and mine got fulfilled last year thanks to Team Davao Runners.

TDR got the attention of the people behind frontRUNNER Magazine and I was asked by the group to do the write-up. My running photo from the 10th Shrine Hills Challenge courtesy of TDR mate Joanna Lizares Co got published as well. I was euphoric to say the least.

Thank you TDR and Jonel Mendoza. You made that possible.

I also got the best birthday gift in years when I turned 56 last year - a pair of red Asics Hyperspeed 4 from my wife Vivien. Having a family who understands and supports my passion is perhaps the greatest thing I can be thankful for. I wouldn't have had a wonderful running year without it.