Monday, October 14, 2013

A bittersweet 37th Milo Marathon Davao Elimination Race

I went into the 37th Milo Marathon Davao 21K Elimination Race last Sunday, October 13, hoping for only one thing - break my personal best for the distance. While I was having doubts I would, given the circumstances I am in now in comparison to 2011, I still harbored the thought. Dreaming was free after all.

Qualifying was an easier thing to do. Modesty aside, it was already a given.

My age group qualifying time was set at two hours and I was doing my weekend 20K training runs in lesser time than that. Barring any untoward incidents that would prevent it from happening, I was already sure of finishing within the qualifying time.

My best 21K time was set in 2011. I ran the Araw ng Dabaw Phoenix Run 21K in March that year clocking 1:41:31, finishing at the top of my age group and bagging a medal for the effort. Run on the same route of the 34th Milo Marathon Davao Elimination Race the year before, I considered it sweet revenge. I was only good for a 1:51:27 clocking then and failed to qualify for the Manila finals. The time improvement of almost 10 minutes elated me more than getting the top finisher's medal for my age group.  Thinking that I could finally beat the qualifying time in the 35th Milo Marathon Davao Elimination Race set in November made me even more excited. I might even set a new PR.

It didn't happen. I did qualify, topping my age group yet again, but on a new route that included no less than 4 no-nonsense climbs to the halfway mark outside the Davao International Airport the best I could clock was 1:42:04.

With a relatively flatter route this year, I was hoping I could set a new PR or a time closer to my 2011 Milo Elimination Race finish. But looking back, I could say it was a long shot right from the start.

I couldn't say I wasn't prepared. I trained, putting in running hours early in the morning before I report for work my at the radio station. I did several doubles, doing short afternoon runs after work. The weekends were for the long runs. I did quite a good number of 20K's. All that paid off.

I set off comfortably at the bark of the gun, got into my rhythm in no time, and was soon passing other runners left and right. I was running strong as I always did going closer into the halfway point. I traded paces with a couple or so of younger runners until a kilometer or two past the turnaround. All that just wasn't good enough.

My legs didn't feel more fatigued than they should be, but there was that now familiar burning sensation at the sole of my right foot that stings when it hits exposed gravel on the now deteriorated concrete road paving. I can run through the pain but on a much slower pace until it subsided. It was frustrating not to mention energy sapping. I don't know if it has something to do with my metatarsal stress fracture last year but it sure wasn’t there before that injury. The thin soles of my racing flats could also have been a factor.

My last kilometer going to the finish seemed the longest I ever ran in a race. Two other younger runners passed me back. Turning the final corner and seeing the race banner ahead, I mustered whatever strength I had and went for my fastest sprint. The race clock said 1:47 something.

I crossed the line, received my finisher's medal, certificate and goody bag. I didn't stay long at the finish area, and went back to the hotel less than a block away for a shower and fresh clothes. I went back to the finish area just in time to hear the winners of the men's 21K race being called out.

I have done what I came to do. Run and beat the qualifying time for my age group. With no new PR and not much else left to do, I headed out to silence my now grumbling stomach.

So what did I learn from this race?

I run better with high mileage tucked well in the elastic band of my running shorts. Training for the December 2011 Davao Finishers' Marathon, I put in several 100-kilometer weeks before that year's 35th Milo Marathon Elimination Race.  My weekend long runs by the time I did the elimination race were already beyond 20 kilometers. That made me stronger over the distance and helped me hold whatever limited speed I had longer.

I might need to switch back to racing flats with a bit more sole for 21K and the marathon.

Another year, another race. I'll train, and dream, and run and hopefully qualify again with a PR.

P.S. The 37th Milo Marathon official site for the Davao Elimination Race results had me finishing with a gun time of 1:47:55, good for third in my age group. I was 55th of 444 finishers overall.

55th of 444 21K finishers overall

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Milo Marathon on my mind

My race kit for the Milo Marathon 21K regional elimination race in Davao City on Sunday, October 13, arrived Friday last week.

This will be the 4th time that I will run this yearly event since I came back into running in 2008 after a brief hiatus. I failed to do the event in 2009 due to work schedules. Last year, I opted out of the race because I felt I wasn't physically and psychologically ready to take on it four months after I have recovered from a metatarsal stress fracture earlier in the year.

In 2008, on a relatively flat out-and-back route from Rizal Park to Sasa, I finished the race in 1:49:45. I hoped to improve on that in 2010 and hurdle the 1 hour and 50 minutes qualifying time set for my age group to get into the 42K national finals. Even if I wasn't sure of running in Manila, qualifying would be an achievement. The race took on a new route with a moderate climb to the old airport in Sasa thrown in making it a bit more difficult than the 2008 route. I could do no better than 1:51:27.

The following year, 2011, my hope of finishing within the qualifying time for my age group was boosted by a 1:41:31 finish at the Araw ng Dabaw Phoenix Run 21K. The race, held in March, was run on the very same route of the 2010 Milo Marathon regional elimination. The organizers however decided to put more challenge in the 2011 edition of the regional elimination race in November and had it climb all the way to the Diversion Road with more hills coming before the turnaround point just a few meters past the Davao International Airport. It was a killer. I finished in 1:42:04, not a personal best, but more than enough to make me the top finisher for my age group.

I had earlier planned to run in last year's qualifier. After nursing a metatarsal stress fracture for two months, four weeks of those wearing a cast on my right foot, I had slowly walked and jogged myself back to recovery. By race month, I had already run a couple of 10K races and a relatively fast 5K. But I was not ready for just another finish. I knew deep inside I would only be ending up frustrated if I did the regional elimination and didn't finish very close to my 2011 time if not surpass it. I finally decided against doing the race.

Now comes another opportunity to qualify for the nationals and break my PR.

Time hasn't been as available this year as it was when I trained for the 2011 edition. Partially employed with a lot of idle hours on my hands, I didn't only have the luxury of ample training time but also more than enough time to rest and recover after. I was in fact having the best year of my second running life - my second wind. While work hasn't robbed me much of training time, gone now are the long resting hours I used to have. Job-related tasks have taken over.

As I finished my easy 8K run this morning, I thought about how I felt. My breathing was good, my body relaxed, and there was that spring in my stride going into my final stretch. My training times tell me that a finish below the qualifying time for my age group, more relaxed this year at 2 hours, is very likely. The PR is another matter.

There is simply no predicting what will happen on race day. All you can really do is run your best and hope that it is good enough to bring you where you want to be. That is the simple truth of racing.

These you get easy.

This you have to earn.
(Photo from Kamote Biker)

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Each other's inspiration, that's what we runners are

We runners run mostly for ourselves.

We give various reasons when asked why we run - to keep fit, to stay healthy, to relieve stress, to socialize, to feel good about ourselves. Seldom, if ever, do we say that we run to inspire others. But in reality, it does happen. We in the solitariness of our run, oftentimes if not always totally absorbed in our love-hate relationship with the road or the trail, unconsciously serve as a beacon, an encouragement, an influence to others, even those who are totally unknown to us.

While in Makati for a job-related training, I visited a bookstore near the hotel where we were billeted to check out some running books. I was browsing through the pages of Rich Ellott's "Runners on Running" when I heard a tall guy standing a few feet away call out my name. It was Din, a runner I got connected with through Dailymile, a social networking site for runners and other fitness enthusiasts. We exchanged pleasantries and was soon joined by his wife Carrie.

This was actually the second time we met. The first time was at a restaurant in Greenbelt, more of a "hi, hello, nice meeting you" thing. They noticed me by the running shoes I was wearing. This second meeting gave us more time to talk running, and had both sharing to me how they started and a few stories of what they have experienced. What struck me really was how they said I have provided them motivation through my posts on Dailymile.

Today on Dailymile, I got a message from another online runner friend, Abet. She thanked me for keeping her spirits high while she is recovering from a serious bike accident. I am not sure what I particularly did or said. It could only be one or two of the workouts or pictures I posted that made her send me that message. But that doesn't really matter as much as having been able to provide motivation and inspiration in my own little way without me even knowing.

Runners on Facebook, on Twitter, and everywhere else where I am present online say that at one time or another - I inspire them.

I am no extraordinary runner. I am just another one among the multitude who embraced and continue to love this sport, eking out whatever little accomplishment we can from ourselves, getting high on any little victory achieved. Compared to the elite, the gods of the sport, I am a mere mortal. I even refuse to be addressed as coach. I have not been technically trained as a runner or properly educated to provide professional advice to runners. All I can do is share whatever practical knowledge I got through years of running.

Perhaps that is the beauty of this sport we love - how we find encouragement in each other's everyday achievements. In the same way that they say I inspire them, so can I say that my running friends motivate me to keep on doing what I do. I owe it to them that I continue to lace up my shoes and run every single day I can, even during those days when I didn't feel like running, especially during those days.

Perhaps that's really how we thrive as runners, by feeding off each other's energy,  by being each other's inspiration.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Remembering beginnings and a romance

I don't quite remember where the urge to run came from. It was either a magazine article I read or a movie I watched. What's clear to me is one morning in 1981, I decided I would go for a run. Wearing denim shorts, a white cotton t-shirt, and my white rubber sneakers on my feet, I set out, intent on running from the cathedral close to where we lived to the center of town and back. It was less than a kilometer in distance, I learned much later, and I covered it in about 15 minutes or so, long walking breaks included.

I wasn't athletic in high school, much less in college. I wasn't into sports and physical education classes weren't exciting at all. But I remember running a lot when I was much younger, playing a game of tag called "batin" with my cousins. We ran after each other, trying to catch members of the opposing team while avoiding getting caught ourselves. The game usually lasted hours, and we enjoyed all that running. The only other time I remember running long again was during ROTC training in college. It was running in an entirely different context. Those runs were compulsory, part of a discipline, not a game that we chose to do willfully and enjoyed.

Somewhere in those years between playing "batin" and ROTC training, I saw this movie about the marathon. Set in the Olympic Games, its main character was an unknown barefoot runner who competed against scientifically trained top athletes. Somehow, that movie and the racing scenes made a lasting impression on me. Running did not only seem fascinating, but romantic.

Running has given me a lot. It made me quit smoking for one. I was a pack-a-day smoker when I started, and I still had the habit with me several years after. One day, trying to pick up speed while training for a race, I felt the burn in my lungs. Gasping, I told myself I needed to quit smoking. I threw away what remained of the last pack I had, and haven't smoked a cigarette since then. I have had my share of depressing times. Running was there to help me get through most of them. It gave me friends. It even awakened the writer in me.

It's been years, this romance between running and me. It hasn't been always a good one. Sometimes, on the road, burdened by the exhaustion and the thought that I still have several kilometers to go, I ask myself why I am doing this. I can be in bed, sleeping beneath the comfort of my blanket, cradled in the softness of my pillows. Yet, here I am... punishing myself, and for what?

But I run on, until in that final kilometer heading towards home, I feel my feet picking up the pace, the gentle wind touching my sweat-soaked body, seemingly comforting me and reminding me - you do this because, like you did in those "batin" days, you simply love to run.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Marathon lessons 2

After finally finding time to sit down and write, I am sharing this long-delayed second post on lessons I have learned from the marathons that I have run.

"Good things come slow - especially in distance running." 
Bill Dellinger 

Running and finishing a marathon is something you cannot hurry. This I learned from my failed first attempt at the distance.

Two years passed before I decided to go for the distance again. By then I have run a couple of half-marathons in addition to several 10K races, finishing comfortably without having to walk any portion of the runs.

It was at the finish line of my second 21K that I learned about the Davao Midnight Marathon. It was more of a fun race, I was told, one specifically intended for first time marathoners. It also had less of the heat that came with the Davao Finishers' Marathon which usually started at 4 am. A 5-hour marathoner could pretty well be running in the heat of the 8 o'clock sun in the final stretch of the event, not something a first-timer would savor. In contrast, the Midnight Marathon fired off - as the name itself says - at 12 midnight. At 5 a.m., the air is still much cooler and would somehow be a wee bit more forgiving if not comfortable.

Learning from my lack of long runs, I put in several runs of 30-32 kilometers. These became Sunday staples. They always left me tired and sore, but always more comfortable in dealing with distances beyond 20 kilometers. My confidence was also boosted by those long runs.

March 3, 1996. 12 midnight. I stood with other runners at the starting line of the "Shell to Shell" 2nd Midnight Marathon organized by the Davao Sunday Runners' Club. Ahead of us laid 42.195 kilometers of roads, a few going uphill, waiting to test our endurance and determination. I may have prepared myself for this with months of running, but nothing really seems to work against the nervousness that engulfs you as you stand there waiting for the bark of the gun that says the race has begun. Nothing other than, it seems, running itself.

Once we have been released and have settled down, each to his own comfortable pace, the nervousness eased until it was no longer there. What was left was excitement at being able to do this, at being able to run in pursuit of a dream. Not many can do this, I was telling myself, proud that I was here with this select group of people.

I threw up twice along the way, something I blame on taking too much of the free Gatorade (my first time to drink it), and I walked much of the second half. There's no particular shining moment I recall other than me crossing the finish line at about half past 5 in the morning. Many other runners have already changed into dry clothes. I was soaked in sweat, exhausted but fulfilled.

I have taken on the marathon again and survived this time. I was a winner.  


Two more marathons followed my first.

On April 19, 1997, I did the "Darkness to Light Run" 3rd Midnight Marathon. Then, on December 7 that same year, I finally took on the dreaded hills of the Davao Diversion Road again in the 14th Davao Finishers' Marathon. I finished it this time.

In total, I run the Davao Finishers' Marathon three times. My most recent two also had a couple of lessons for me. Every major run usually has one.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Marathon lessons

There have only been five marathons that I remember doing and finishing in my running lifetime until now. Looking at them in retrospect as I start another year of running following my first-ever, and hopefully my only, serious running injury, I remember the lessons that they taught me. 

I would like to share them in these series of posts.

"Respect the distance."
December 1994 - 11th Davao Finishers' Marathon

It was supposed to be my first marathon.

I had run several 5K's and 10K's and felt I was ready to go for the big 42. After all, I thought, I ruled my age group in some of those runs. What would be so difficult about running a marathon other than the longer distance?

I braced myself for the event. I put in as many 5K and 10K days in a week as my work schedule at a local radio station would allow. It meant waking up early so I could squeeze in my run before I went on board for the morning news and public affairs program. On weekends I ran 15 to 20 kilometers. It was a routine that I kept for three months leading up to my first marathon.

On race day, I nervously lined up at the start wearing the event singlet and my race bib. The starting gun barked and I joined the rush of runners out of the Victoria Plaza grounds to the streets of Davao City. It was 4 o'clock in the morning. There was a slight chill in the very early morning air. I felt good and kept a strong steady pace, running with a pack or another solo runner here and there, whichever comes along the route.

I was still feeling okay when we entered Ma-a Road on our way to the Diversion Road. That five kilometer stretch of road just steadily went up. I felt my steps and my breathing getting heavier as I trudged on. The sun was already out by then and I was already bathing in sweat when I hit the Diversion Road. And what would I find there but only more climbs. They were not as long as the one I just went through. They were a lot shorter by comparison, but also much steeper.

The series of climbs going towards Buhangin took its toll on my legs and feet. I went on walking breaks taking in as much water as I can at aid stations. I took some bananas at what could only have been the halfway point of the route. I was hoping all that could reenergize me. Sadly, it did not. Added to that, the sun steadily beat down on me. It felt like a bacon could fry at the back of my neck.

By the time I reached 28 kilometers, I was drained. I was walking empty. The event ambulance later pulled alongside me and the first aid staff asked if I was still okay or if I wanted a ride to the finish line. I don't remember giving any audible answer. Maybe I did, maybe I just nodded from sheer exhaustion. I just remember the ambulance door opening and me getting in for a ride to the finish.

I was not alone on board the ambulance; there were four of us. I tried to find consolation in that, but the frustration of not finishing what should have been my first marathon weighed heavier. It was the first time I ever ran a race and came up short. I was definitely wrong for me to believe that I can tackle the marathon with my limited training, and I had to learn that the hard way with a confidence-shattering DNF experience.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A late arrival and a twice undone shoelace: my 2013 PhilHealth Run story

I was set to run the first ever PhilHealth Nationwide Run in February last year when injury struck and made me a sure candidate for a DNS (did not start).

The metatarsal stress fracture I suffered while on my final speed workout a week before the race had me sidelined for three months, my foot encased in a cast for four straight weeks. The rest of my 2012 became a period for recovery, retraining and delving into some short local races.

When I learned that there would be a repeat of the PhilHealth Run this year, I promised I would make it my first race for this year. I squeezed in whatever high intensity workouts I could eke out of my ageing body in the limited time my early work hours as a news and public affairs anchor allowed. In the last four weeks I ran long (16K-20K) on weekends to prepare my lungs and legs for the 18K challenge. I have run longer distances, yes, but after that injury, my confidence was chipped. I wanted my Phil Health Run to be good. I wanted to be assured that I am indeed back.

I was told by co-workers in our FM station in Koronadal City that some 6,000 participants have registered for the race, a thousand runners more than the quota set by the PhilHealth national office to Phil Health Region XII. I wondered how many would be running 18K. I was sure majority of the participants would be doing the 5K and 10K runs. That would mean that there could be quite a crowd clogging the route just as I would be running closer, hopefully picking up pace as I do, to the finish line. Such a situation could sometimes mean you have to dodge people and break stride. Not so good.

The instructions that came with my race packet said my race would start at 5:00 in the morning. All other races were to be released 15 minutes of each other. I thought leaving at 4:45 for the South Cotabato Sports Complex where the race will start and end was not such a bad idea. After all, it was not that far from our station, Happy FM. where we spent the night. I was wrong.

Just as I got out of our vehicle, I heard the voice on the public address telling 10K runners not to proceed yet to the starting area at the back of the sports complex. A really big crowd of runners occupied the field, apparently doing a group warm-up routine. I asked a race staff where the 18K runners where, and she said they had already left. Boom! Panic!

I asked which route they took and I was shown the path leading to the back gate of the sports complex. I joined another runner who also came late. We were lucky. The 18K runners were still lined at the starting area waiting for the gun start. "One minute to start," I heard on the public address as my race number was being checked. I lined close to the front. My heart was already racing from that sprint to get to the starting area. The gun barked, and we were off.

I ran my usual controlled pace at the start. My plan was to pick up the pace from the turnaround point for a negative split second half. I was able to pass several runners as I made my way to the 9K mark. When we met the lead runners who were already on their way back to the sports complex, I started counting how many runners were ahead of me. I hit the turnaround and noticed the seemingly downward slope on the road ahead of me. It seems we have been running a gradual uphill going to the 9K mark. I glanced at my watch. 45:58. I was within my target finish of 1 hour and 30 minutes. The gradual downhill helped me pick up the pace.

As we made our way back to the sports complex, we met the other runners who were still going towards the turnaround point. One told me I was in 21st place. I smiled at him and looked ahead. I saw a group of runners in a distance. I kept my pace, mentally chanting my mantra every now and then as I moved closer: "Run strong" alternating with "Hail Mary" every four steps. A little prayer for help doesn't hurt. I passed five more runners before I saw the 10K runners heading back to the sports complex.

Getting closer to the city center, I felt my left shoelace loosening. In a minute, they were undone. I was forced to stop and step aside to tie it back. I was soon back on my steady run to the finish with a couple more kilometers or so to go. I hit the turn leading to the finish. The start/finish banner beckoned a couple hundred meters away. I braced myself for a sprint when I again felt my left shoelace loosening. I chose not to stop this time. I ran straight ahead trying to pick up my pace even with my untied shoelaces flying with each step. A few meters before the finish, I felt like my shoe was just about to fly off my left foot. I slowed down. I saw the race clock tick past 1 hour and 30 minutes as I crossed the finish line at a pace slower than I had intended. I pressed the stop button on my stopwatch. It read 1:31:22.

I was handed my finisher's medal and certificate. I asked one of the staff how I ranked. 12th out of 170 runners was the answer I got. That was good enough for me today. My first race for the year was done, and I still have the rest of the year to get better, barring another injury of course.

And that finish line crowd? I didn't notice any disrupting my "aborted" dash to the finish. The PhilHealth Run was one of the most organized and orderly race I've run. The water stations were adequate enough and also well stocked. I have to get used to drinking from cups while running, though.

P.S. I ran the second half of my 18K in 45:24.

My PhilHealth Run race bling

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

A different way to see and experience Davao

80 kilometers of Davao City roads await you.
If you say yes, be at the starting line at Roxas Ave. at 10 pm on March 16, go through some of the most challenging streets you can run on in Davao City, until you finally climb that final stretch of road bringing you to the finish at Eden Nature Park some 3,000 ft asl.
The Team Davao Runners Ultramarathon. An entirely different way to see and experience Davao.
Are you in?
For registration and other details visit

Friday, February 01, 2013

Cotabato City? Running mecca? Why not?

I have never quite imagined Cotabato to be a running city or one with quite a number of fitness enthusiasts until one Saturday morning when I went out for a run at the ORG grounds.

It was not my first time to run there. I have done a number of afternoon runs at the place, and during those times it was just me, my shadow and the road romancing each other. The number of people I saw that Saturday morning was surprising.

The road around the buildings that housed the Office of the Regional Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the Shariff Kabungsuan Cultural Center was practically teeming with people – all genders, all ages, all shapes and sizes – either walking or doing a slow jog. I had to weave around the crowd and at times slow down or I would be bumping into someone.

Part of  the ORG Complex in Cotabato City.
This palace is teeming with runners and fitness enthusiasts Saturday mornings. 

Fun runs have also become more common.

Last year, the Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 celebrated the 62nd Activation Anniversary of the Philippine Marines with “Takbong Marino para sa Cotabato” on November 17. A week earlier, on November 11, the Cotabato RadTech Club had quite a large crowd joining their RadTech Fun Run.

The Philippine Air Force 3rd Air Division Tactical Operations Group 12’s “Power Up Run” last January 27 was this year’s kick-off running event in the city. And on Febuary 10, there would be not only one but two fun runs – the Million Volunteer Run 2 of the Philippine Red Cross and the Fun Run for Bahay Maria jointly organized by the Cotabato City Off-Road Bikers Association and the Grotto Trail Riders Organization in cooperation with the Archdiocese of Cotabato.

Only recently, some enthusiasts created the Facebook group Cotabato Runners to bring together, even if only online, those who have a common desire for fitness and love for the sport. Hopefully, this will lead to meet-ups, group runs, and maybe a Cotabato City runners’ club.

I would really love to see the day when Cotabato City becomes a running mecca in this part of Central Mindanao.

It would be fun to see a lot more people running not only at the ORG grounds but in other places as well. The People’s Palace grounds where the Cotabato City Hall is located looks like a great place for a run.

The Cotabato City Hall grounds. Definitely looks like a good place for a run.

And what about the challenge of a hill run right in the heart of the city?

A bird’s eye view of the city and its environs slowly being bathed in the light of the rising sun would definitely be an experience worth cherishing after an early morning run to the top of Cotabato City’s historic natural limestone fortress, Colina Hill. That sight can only be energizing.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Less is still something

"If you aim for a lifetime of running, you will hit bumps on the road. The challenges we each encounter are uniquely ours, but they will come. We all have good years and bad. Shift happens. Life requires us to make adjustments, to change course. Some years, when the waters of your life are calm and you feel a sense of control at the helm, you'll race hard, and hope for personal bests. Other years, beset by a perfect storm of turbulence, you'll have to settle for less. That's okay. Less is still something; just don't surrender and abandon ship."
-Amby Burfoot

Things happen in life that just change our usual routines.

That was what the metatarsal stress fracture on my right foot did early this year.

I was set to run a 17K race for the broadcasting company I used to work with when the injury hit me on a training run. The excruciating pain on my right foot whenever it hit the road told me I had to say goodbye to the race. I eventually had to say the same to all my runs when the doctor diagnosed my injury as a metatarsal stress fracture and had my right foot placed in a cast for 4 weeks.

It was another 4 weeks before I started a walk-to-run routine.

Another event changed my usual routine in June.

I got an offer to work again with the broadcast network where I had spent most of my employment years. I said yes - and that meant moving to another location, travelling a hundred kilometers by bus to be with my family weekly, and taking on early morning board work. Things which also meant I had to make changes in my running routine.

The time available for my morning runs became limited. I only had an hour on weekdays -4 to 5 am- to squeeze in a morning run. The most I could do was a 12K run at an easy pace. I had to squeeze in an afternoon run if I wanted to put in more mileage.

My training skeds got disrupted as well. As a result, I had to give up some races. I didn't do the two main races which I had been doing almost yearly since I started running again - the Milo Marathon regional elimination and the Davao Finishers' Marathon. I felt I wasn't a hundred percent for either race.

The truth is I could have just gone easy in both races, go for the finish and nothing more. But I knew I would be frustrated by the fact that I didn't do better than my previous runs. The decision not to run was no doubt disappointing, but I lived through the feeling telling myself it was for the better.

The year wasn't all bad, though. I had my little triumphs. I ran a local 10K in my hilly hometown in May. It wasn't much - a 48:05.36 good for 10th overall. But having ran with that time a month after I started my recovery program following my metatarsal stress fracture was something really worth savoring.

I ran the Wheels of Hope 10K in General Santos City in June. I finished a bit slower than my May race, 49:09.20 good for 11th place.

My last race for the year was the RadTech Run 5K in Cotabato City in November where I registered a 21:12.45 clocking good for a third place finish in the 50-59 age group.

This morning, after my first run of the year, an easy 13K, I sat down to record my run on dailymile. Checking my statistics, I noticed that I had logged a total of 1,981 kms for the past 12 months. With my injury and the schedule adjustments I had to make because of work, it was still pretty good mileage. What matters most I guess is that I continued to run.

Yes, less is still something. Hopefully, 2013 would give me more reason to celebrate my running.