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 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.