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.

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