Saturday, December 12, 2009

Some Vacation Pictures

Brought enough running clothes for me to run every day, but guess what, ran 3 times in 12 days, total mileage - no more than 25 k.

It was nice to have a vacation in countries with the same tropical climate as the Philippines. Some of them beaches remind me of our beaches, except ours are more pristine and beautiful specially the white sands of Boracay. Missed fixing the date on my camera though, it was more than 2 weeks behind (the date).

The hot and humid air always reminded me of the home country. I used to avoid the sun and opted to stay in the shade back then, but now, I relish the warmth of the sun, even only for a week or so, knowing that winter weather here in Ontario does not end till April.

Did snorkeling in deep water ( 20-25 feet deep)for the first time. Never thought that my "langoy aso" swimming style would work until I was thrown into the water and had no choice but to try to stay afloat.

My friend and his loving wife feeling the heat of the sun, I started with 2 friends, ended with more than a dozen, including Filipino workers and crew. I always get excited meeting fellow Pinoys and I took the initiative (as I always do in all my vacations) trying to be friendly with them, whether they're vacationers like us or workers/crew/entertainers. Love to hear their stories, about their families back home they support, their dreams and hopes, the same ones I (and millions of other Filipinos working outside the home country)nurtured when I was younger and trying to make it in a foreign land.

My Runningroom watch was just perfect for swimming, snorkeling as it is water proof. The Garmin is supposed to be waterproof too, but it's too much of a risk to use it underwater.

Tanned , looking more Pinoy than Chinese again, a few pounds heavier, it's time to get back to my old running routine (better said than done). With the snow , rain , the cold temperature, and slippery roads we're having here in Ontario, I would have to rely on my old but reliable treadmill instead of running outdoors, until the roads are clear of snow and ice and safe enough to run on.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Whitby 10k In Pictures

It's been a while since I last wrote in my blog. The historical achievements of two of our living heroes, Manny and Efren I followed very closely and with pride and hope that they inspire us specially the younger generation to follow their good examples.

I also closely follow the the most popular Filipino past time, the soap opera that is - politics, with the May 10 , 2010 presidential elections 6 months away. It was quite a surprise for me to hear about Chiz leaving the NPC and deciding not to run for election either as president of vice-president. More surprising was Manny Villar's accepting and including Bongbong Marcos in the NPs senatorial slate. With some senatoriables of the NP coming from the left, and Pia too, who admires the late Cory Aquino so much, having a Marcos in the same stage seems to be an odd sight.

Running wise, I had very few training runs before I did the Whitby 10k run last Sunday, November 22. I did 1:00:14 for the race , my fastest ever on a 10k but still short of breaking the 1 hour barrier. I thank Isaac, my 10k clinic instructor and friend for the pictures.

I'll be out of the country for a vacation with Jojo for 12 days, will try to get some mileage on the ship. I pray for the situation in Maguindanao to improve and justice and the rule of law prevail.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On Being Sick And Not Being Able To Run

Always felt strong, fast, sleek, unstoppable in my twenties... (yabang, no :), He was probably saying, don't be too proud my son, you'd be a humbler man in your old days) )

And truly, now in my fifties, I am humbled because inspite of all the hardwork and training I've been doing I still am a slow runner.

I am down with the flu, luckily the mild ordinary one, not the strong swine flu that killed so many around the world in the last few months. I remember my last run last Thursday was supposed to be a 10k but after a little more than just 5k into it, I had to stop and return back home because of some breathing difficulty and feeling extraordinaly cold even though I was dressed warm. By the evening I started coughing, felt cold, and took the first of many tylenols. I called in sick and stayed at home, rested the whole day but the fever, coughing continued.

A visit to my family doctor the next morning confirmed what I feared of, the influenza. The doctor gave me strong medication for the flu, cough syrup, a puffer to relieve breathing difficulties and recommended for me to stay away from work till Friday the 13th ( woohoo! free vacation days for once). Except it sucks to be very very ill, 'cause I couldn't do anything else but rest in bed or the couch, and even sitting and facing the computer to read my favorite blogs for a longer period made me dizzy. So, had to use the couch in semi-lying down flat on your back position.

The other thing that I hate about being sick here is nobody takes care of you unless you're seriously sick enough to be in a hospital. Oh, how I miss my late mother, who used to baby me even when I was already an adult whenever I was very sick. She'd prepare me the best food and served me home made soup, sinigang, tinola or tahong with luya and sabaw, while wiping my face and arms with cold wet face towel every now and then. She was like Florence Nitingale personified. When I say nobody takes care of me, I mean nobody like my mother. My wife and daughter just go about their business once food, medicine and my basic needs are within my reach.

But the one thing I miss most is doing my training runs, solitary at least twice in the weekdays and with my running partner Nette on the Sunday long runs. I missed 2 training runs so far. How I wish I get well enough to once again feel the cool breeze, smell the scent of fallen leaves on the ground, and hear the quack quack of migrating geese flying overhead and see the mists created by my heavy breathing as I plod along during these runs. The last few days, I was just feeling like s__t, excuse me for the language, couldn't come up with the appropriate word.

Until this morning. I woke up at around 8 feeling a lot better than the previous days. I slept well enough last night and didn't remember coughing that much. Was strong enough to make my own breakfast and enjoyed a 30 minute slow walk in the park with Yuki on a beautiful, cool, sunny autumn morning. I even had a chance to walk Yuki in the woods where I used to run in the spring and summer, noticed trees bare and fallen leaves covering the pathways. Hmmmnnn... the sweet smell of autumn .

At home, took advantage to visit and catch up with reading my favorite blogs and commenting on some of them. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the stories about their experiences in the PIM , Jovie,the Baldrunner, never thought that he'd ever post a slow time in a marathon, very brave for him to finish despite a calf muscle strain. Sam, the Ninjarunner, who walked the last few ks of the marathon due to cramps, who finished with Jovie, and Ronnie, I mean Super Ronnie for running and finishing all these races despite injuries and many more. And I almost forgot, this young guy, Jayson, aka Kastilyong Lapis, whose story of his first marathon was like watching a movie, who posted a sub 4 hours time despite a bad knee. We Pinoys, never run out of heroes. It was really a very inspiring day and productive of course to read all these feel good stories about Pinoy runners.

It's been more than 3 years, if I remember right when I last had been sick this bad. And running to a great degree contributed to my being healthy and not being sickly all these last few years.

Running in the meantime will have to wait until I am completely well. The weekend is a reasonable bet for me to resume running again. I miss it so much I hope I don't come across any runners while I walk Yuki in the park in 2 minutes. Pray that I recover from this illness soon enough for my 10k race on November 22.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A 10K Race A Day After Halloween

Trick or treat! 6 days before Halloween Yuki tried on this Minimouse dress that she wore last night. :)

I'm here at home just relaxing after running the Angus Glen 10k , a day after Halloween. My left knee (just below the kneecap) is sore and so is my left foot, and I don't know the reason why. I am one runner who always has something in my body hurting after a race, unlike other"natural"runners I know who could run another marathon a week after running one. Just like all my other 10k races, I went all out again to break the elusive 1 hour barrier. I failed again. I was however very much contented and happy with the result.

The last few days, I've been reading other runner bloggers' posts on their recent race experiences. I was very much touched by runners' accounts of poor organization in one supposedly international marathon in the home country and their courage, perseverance, resourcefulness to survive and finish despite the darkness, lack of marshalls and volunteers to guide runners and the absence of water/drinks in some water stations at the crucial distances of the race. I heard that some support vehicles for individual runners had to share their supplies to runners without support crew but others had to literally beg water from kind hearted spectators along the way. They ( the people who went out of their way helping the runners)deserve praise and admiration for being angels to our suffering runners. For a marathon, which generally has a cut off time of 6 and a half to 7 hours, hydration is very necessary and important. Lack of hydration to replace lost water in our system could lead to dehydration which in turn could lead to serious injury or death in more serious cases. Organizers of marathon races should understand this as basic in the sport of long distance running.

To go back to my race this morning, I woke up at 8 am after entertaining last night my nephew, his wife and their young children , who by the way just arrived from the home country a month ago to live here as immigrants permanently. The children have not experienced trick or treating on Halloween, so my daughters Marie and Denise accompanied the children around the neighborhood to knock on doors on Halloween night. The practice here is for every home to prepare candies, chocolates, chips, toys, children's books, other goodies and give them all away to children visiting your home on Halloween night. The children and even some parents or adult companions accompanying who watch over the kids dress in Halloween costumes. My nephews kids dressed as a pirate, Cleopatra, and a ninja (there were 3 of them). My pet Yuki joined them dressed as Mini mouse :). I stayed with them as a good host should be until 10pm when I said my good night, have to sleep early coz of my race tomorrow. Jojo took over and I could overhear the laughter of the kids and the adults downstairs as the kids checked their shopping bags overflowing with goodies. I slept like a log.

Back to this morning, I had breakfast with Jojo, Denise and Marie and in between sipping coffee and munching on my toasted whole wheat pita bread with cheese, we all looked at Denise's pictures of her travel to Istanbul and other parts of Turkey.

By 9:30 am, was thru with all the pre race preparations. Checked the temperature, plus 6 Celsius, so changed to shorts, one undershirt, one long sleeved technical shirt and a wind breaker vest. Decided at the last minute not to carry any water/gatorade bottles and hydration belt. Picked up smallest plastic drink container and filled it with gatorade. Then drove to the site.

At the Angus Glen clubhouse by 9:55 am where I picked up my timing chip. Noticed free Tim Hortons hot coffee, timbits on 2 long tables and about 20 pitchers of iced water on another side with disposable cups on the side (and the race had not even started for us yet). Julia, my 5 k clinic teacher from more than 2 years ago said hi. I shook hands with Francois and hugged Sylvia, 2 other runner friends. Had a chat with Jason (Boston qualifier) about his last ironman race and noticed his unique black casual Rockport shoes (which looked more like dress shoes)that he said he and a dozen other runners were to run with. He said he got the shoes for free and tried it on an 11k run and it felt comfortable. Shoes must be alright because Jason finished 13th out of 623 in 40:35. Greeted Keri and Deborah, ex-half marathon clinicmates, then Nette (Hanneli)(my running partner, who beat me by 25 minutes in our last marathon, got her this time around by a minute more or less, babaw ng kaligayahan no, :) joined us with her husband Fidel who was to run the race too.

10 minutes before the race, Nette, Fidel and I did a warm up run at the back of the clubhouse. Visited the washroom one last time as Nette and Fidel proceeded to the start area. Gulped in a cup of cold water as I saw by the clubhouse window runners already running after the start gun had fired. ran to the back of the field of runners and the race was on.

Ran the first 2ks in 11:45, 5k at 29:05 and faded (again) around the 7k mark. Water stations with plenty of provisions and volunteers were strategically located in the entire race course. Did not need to carry a bottle of gatorade. Ended up finishing in 1:01:21, another failed attempt to break the one hour barrier. High fived Deborah (51 minutes and change) and Fidel (59:58) and gave away my bib number to Nette for another friend to use for free lunch as I had to pass and go straight back home to have lunch with Denise, who was just staying with us till the afternoon.

Disappointed initially, but at the same time happy to improve my time over my last 10k race (the Francorun 10k) which I did in 1:05:59. Contented to better my time on my second Angus Glen 10k. My first was on a time of 1:02:42. We runners could always twist a failure into a triumph, ha ha.

My next race is the Whitby Waterfront 10k on November 22, 2009.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A 10K Run And Random Pictures Of Our City And Autumn

With the temperature close to 0 degrees Celsius, 10k Franco Run runners lined up to receive their bibs or register as early as 9:00 am at High Park, Toronto. I arrived past 9, big toe still sore, but after taking 2 advils , I was ready to go for a PR.

High Park, in the center of Toronto provides residents, visitors, nature and sports lovers a venue for picnics, rollerblading, biking, running or leisure walking with its hilly terrain and well maintained gardens, trees, lawns and trails.

I took some pictures of the beautiful surroundings, while looking for a portalet as I had to pee, but there was none, and the nearest washroom was a mile away, so did what runners are famous for in times of adversity/emergency, followed some other runners to the bush and did our thing.

With my co-worker friends Sarah,Shanna and Khalid, all running their first 10k race 7 minutes before the start. Missing in the picture is my friend and mentor, Monty who came and ran with his loving wife after a long lay off from running due to an achilles heel injury.

Running is a great equalizer, young or old, rich or poor, male or female, short or tall (Haile, the world record holder in the marathon is vertically challenged), everybody enjoys it's benefits, a healthy lifestyle, a fitter body and mind, the appreciation and enjoyment of nature and the friendship of good people with the same passion for the sport.
Toronto our main city in Ontario is a melting pot of races, on the drive home took a picture of a corner Mexican taco restaurant with a red tree on the right, only in Toronto.
Stopped by a traffic light at Bloor Street West, took a picture of two pedestrian ladies wearing different autumn attires.
Some Toronto buildings kept and restored their unique older architectural designs.

Another "old" building in Toronto.
Skyscrapers in the background while teams play soccer in a Toronto park. notice some trees starting to change colors.

Another part of the same park with big trees, thick vegetation, trails between it and the downtown Toronto skyline. We need one like this in the center of Manila so running enthusiasts, walkers, picnickers and nature lovers could de-stress themselves after the hectic, fast and stressful work week in the city. Central Park in New York City serves this purpose.

Finally got out of downtown Toronto, and while driving along Don Valley Parkway took some pictures of trees and vegetation changing into fall colors.

A relaxing and easy drive on the hi-way after an intense 10k run is a bonus plus of course listening to easy rock music from the 60's, 70's and 80's.

Residents of these condo buildings must be enjoying nature as these woods and trails are just right in front of their doorste

Enjoyed the sights and sounds of Toronto but Markham, my small but beautiful town is still my home and haven.

The entrance to my secret running trail in the nearby woods was very inviting but, have to be home for Jojo's sinigang, lumpiang sariwa and fried fish with chopped green mango, tomatoes, and onion waiting for me at the dining table.
I finished the race in 1:05:59, my slowest ever in a 10k race (this is my 4th). No, not because of my sore left big toe. Can't give that for an excuse. I felt a little pain but not enough to affect my time. The steep hills did it. The route was quite "easy" and simple . Run the same 5k route twice, that was it. The only problem was the first 2 and a half ks were steep downhill, and I ran them in less than 6 minute pace per k. The next 2 and a half ks were brutal, just continuously steep uphill climbs. I finished my first 5ks at 31 minutes and change. From then on, I knew that a PR was next to impossible, so just ran the best I could. Happy, contented, fulfilled, blessed, after finishing another race and seeing the joy in my friends' eyes for finishing their first 10k race.
My next race is on November 1, the Angus Glen 10K in Markham.

Monday, September 28, 2009

After My First Marathon, What's Next?

Some of the 17,000 runners congregating at Nathan Philips Square in downtown Toronto before the start of the 5k, half-marathon and marathon races

Thousands of runners, relatives and friends in front of the twin Toronto City hall buildings

Excitedly confident with 13 minutes to the start gun

Made a last ditch effort to beat to the finish line the bald, fat and shirtless runner in front of me but missed by 2 seconds .

Happy to earn my first marathon finisher medal with wife Jojo and daughter Denise in the picture.

Finally at age 55, a marathoner. What's next?

As I sit down here and think about what to write on this post, my whole body is aching, the most pain that I've had since the all night hazing I received on my initiation night for membership to the Tau Lambda Kappa Fraternity of the UE College of Law more than 2 decades ago. It was even worse yesterday, after the race. I could hardly walk, occasionally had thigh muscle cramps, felt so weak, without any appetite, felt like throwing up and just slept like a log when I got home.

All morning also today, Jojo and I have been watching the Filipino Channel for news about Typhoon Ondoy, the floods in Metro Manila and other areas, the casualties, devastation and the return of Bayanihan spirit among all Filipinos, living in the Philippines and outside. Although in the past weeks, it seemed like the soap opera that is politics in the Philippines was the favorite topic in our homes and in the news, the sad aftermath of Ondoy saw all Pinoys irrespective of different and opposing partisan views and persuasions all come together and help each other in dealing with rescue operations, providing victims with the very basics like food, clothing, drinking water, shelter, and collecting relief goods and donations . There is still a lot of work to be done to rescue people trapped in their homes in flooded areas and making sure relief supplies, food and medicine reach needy people in time. The bad news is, there is another typhoon brewing close to the Philippines that may pass the country in the next few days. May God save us from another strong typhoon.

Below is the story of my first marathon.

Felt strong and confident at the start. Did 5k in 34 minutes, 10k at 1:14; half marathon mark (21k) at 2:42, and then as always slowed down in the second half, reached the 30k mark in 4:01. After passing the 32nd k, I was on unchartered territory. Begun to entertain negative thoughts because of pain on my left toes, left hip joint, quads. Chanted instinctively quietly, Tau ! Lambda! Kappa! to make me oblivious of all the pain. Thought of Rick, Mark (Tanaka), Jerry, Ronnie, Jovie, Jo-Lynn, all ultra runners, and said to myself , 42k is nothing.Passed a middleaged white male runner massaging his right thigh and gave him an e-load capsule (for electrolytes). At 33rd k passed another Asian looking middleaged runner who was limping while walking, offered and gave him an e-load capsule.

Felt weaker and weaker by the 34th k, (ran out of gels ,shotbloks, e-load by this time) and decided to stop by a variety (sari sari) store and bought a Cadburys nuts and raisins chocolate bar which I munched and finished in no time. I was so hungry. Where were Vener's saging na saba or Rico's hopia cubes when you needed them. A kindly resident offered fresh red watermelon on a tray and I picked one, and oh was it ever sweet. At the 35k heard my name being called, and saw my sports doctor, Dr. Natalie Labelle, a marathoner herself cheering on the side with her husband holding a poster with names and pointing at one name - Bong.. Stopped for a few seconds to shake their hands. She told me "you can do it Bong!"

By this time, I think I was walking more than I was running. All the runners who I passed, who passed me or were within my sight were either limping, stopping and stretching or massaging a thigh or leg, puking, walking, trying to move forward in what barely looked like a running motion. Negative thoughts came back and for a second the words quit and rest came to my mind. I prayed.

At the 37th k, just as I was walking and at my lowest low (physically and mentally) in the entire race, I heard a fat runner behind me yelling (what I thought of then as swear words), and ran pass me. The guy was no lighter than 260 lbs, I bet. He was shirtless, with his shirt tied around his big belly. This middle-aged, fat, foul-mouthed (I was mistaken here, I learned later), big bellied guy would never beat me, I told myself then. :)

From then on it became a chasing game between a used-to-be fat 55 year old wannabe marathoner trying to catch up with this shirtless, big bellied, bald guy. :)

With 400 meters to go he was still ahead of me by 100 meters as I tried to pick up speed to catch him. This time, all of a sudden a female spectator came out of the crowd of spectators to hug him (must be the wife) and he stopped for a moment. This gave me the oppurtunity to close the gap between us, and then he started running again. I was about ten feet behind him with 100 meters to the finish line and could hear him yell something like Go! Scott (his name) go! (not swear words that I thought I heard before). Gave it my all to catch and pass him before the finish line but missed by a few feet.

I crossed the finish line 2 seconds behind Scott (thebald, fat shirtless runner) in 5 hours 51 minutes.

So, what's next for me, if I'm asked today. No more marathon! I'd probably take up power walking or concentrate on the shorter distances, the 5k and 10k at the most. Or maybe just be content with walking Yuki in the park.

P.S. My running friend Nette recovered in time from her glutes injury to finish the same race, her first too, in 5 hours 26 minutes. Congrats Nette!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

7 Days To My First Marathon

Thirty years ago, I ran regularly at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City to help me get better at playing my sport then, basketball. Never crossed my mind that 30 years after, I would be a runner and try to finish my first marathon 7 days from today.

My first try to finish a full marathon is just 7 days away .

I am excited, anxious but confident at the same time.

I think I've done everything physically and mentally possible to prepare for this race.

Today is the first day of the 18th and last week of my marathon training program. Yesterday was my last LSD training run, just 16k in 2:03:45, that was part of tapering period. The last 4 Sundays before today, I did weekend long runs of 30k, 30k, 32k, and 23k successively, the most mileage I'd done since I took up running seriously in 2007. I did a slow 6k recovery run this morning, and would be running 10k on Tuesday, 10k on Thursday, 3k on Saturday and then the big day on Sunday.

In all my long runs 30k or more I felt like I had nothing left in the tank the last few ks. I know that the real test would be from the 32k mark on because that would be new territory to me, I've never run longer than 32k. I read that most runners with a DNF result in a marathon were unable to continue because they "hit the wall" after the 32k mark but before the finish line. I pray that I be given the physical and mental strength to cover the last 10k and achieve my goal of finishing my first marathon.

I also hope and pray that my friend and running partner Nette, who'd been with me through thick and thin in most of the past 17 training weeks of the marathon clinic, heals and recovers from her glutes injury so she could still run the race with me on Sunday.

So, the next few days would be time to rest, relax, take it easy, try not to get injured.

What one helpful advise would a marathoner or an ultra runner give to a first timer like myself?

My next post will be my race report after the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday. I wonder what the title to my post would be?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

An Ankle Sprain 14 Days Before My First Marathon?

Are you walking me to the park today?

Yuki sleeping and using my foot as pillow

Yuki, my pet puppy, looking more confident now.

It was 8.70 kilometers into our long Sunday run this morning when it happened so unexpectedly. Nette, Sandra and I were running on a narrow asphalted walkway in a nearby trail when we saw an overweight man walking in our direction. We did a single file, and continued running, and as I was trying to move to my right trying to avoid colliding with a fat guy like myself, half my right foot landed on the edge of the walkway and the other half on grass that was too soft and gave way. Before I knew what happened I was down on the grass, holding on to my right ankle. I was understandably worried and angry at myself at the same time for being so careless so close (14 days to be exact) to my first marathon race.

I stood up, put some weight on my right foot, and thankfully, on a scale of 10 the pain or discomfort was only a one. I told my lady friends I would try running and see how it was, and lo and behold, the pain gradually disappeared as we covered more and more mileage.

Finished 23ks in a slow time of 3:12:17.

Took 2 advils when I got home iced it and took a 3 hour nap.

Woke up around 4pm , took my puppy Yuki to the park , tested my ankle by playing a chase game with her and found out that the supposed injury was nothing but a mild ankle twist and not a sprain as I initially thought.

Thank God, it's still a go in two weeks.

Also, my puppy Yuki (snow in Japanese) is with us for exactly one month now. Yuki is a bichon frise that we got from a dog adoption agency. She was with the breeder for 6 months living in a cage most of the time until a foster home got her to live there with 6 other bigger dogs. My daughter Marie got her from the foster home for a few hundred dollars donation.

Yuki was a pitiful dog at first. She was thin. Scared of people, her tail was always between her legs and her ears were always down. She got startled by any kind of noise, the closing of the door, turning on the computer or the TV. Coming home, I would see her hiding in one corner cowering in fear. My wife, Jojo even suggested for us to take her back to the dog adoption agency. This was Yuki a month ago.

Now, Yuki is a different puppy. She's getting more comfortable with people and she actually greets us cheerfully with her tail wagging. We used the services of a dog trainer who gave us some helpful information on how to potty and crate train her. We enrolled her to obedience school and every now and then take her to a dog care centre. A dog walker comes every now and then on days when all of us are at work. We exposed her to people by taking her to the park whenever we could. I'm reading a book by Cesar Millan titled A Member of the Family, Guide to a Lifetime of Fulfillment with Your Dog which I think could help me be a good dog owner.

I found out one day that Yuki, with her boundless energy was a great runner. I happened to be walking Yuki close to a nearby football field when I met a friendly lady with her pet Maltese. She suggested to me to let Yuki off leash and let her play with her dog. I did, and what a joy to see Yuki running fast chasing after the other dog (who is an adult dog) .

In all the days that I took Yuki to the park since then, we'd run and run in the grass until I could continue no more due to fatigue.

Yuki is my newly discovered running partner, baw waw waw!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My Longest Run Ever!

This morning, Sunday, September 6, 2009 was the first day of the 16th week of my marathon clinic program. The distance for this morning's long run was 32 ks the longest training run in the marathon program. It's only 21 days to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, my (and six others in the clinic) first marathon, and the excitement of every runner in our run club entered in the event could be felt during our clinic sessions and right after the training runs.

I ran again with my running buddy Nette, this time around, I had with me tissue paper (toilet paper) inside a ziplock bag just in case of emergency. I got lucky the previous Sunday when I had to rely on Nette to provide me with tissue paper when I had to relieve myself in the woods for the first time also in my running career.

Unlike the previous Sunday when I kept up with Nette till the 22nd k, this morning, she started pulling away from me by the 14th k. And this was not because I was running slower, it was because she's getting stronger and stronger as we get closer to the race. So proud of her.

Reached the 21st k in 2:49. Started feeling tired, legs heavy the next few ks. By the 27th k, was in pain everywhere, my feet, leg and thigh muscles, my right pelvic joint, as if all parts of my running body were conspiring to make me quit. This was the time when I asked myself, why am I doing this? Why am I punishing my body like this? Is it worth all this pain?

The good thing about blogging is you get to know the accomplishments of other runners and athletes that far surpassed in a great way the best you've ever accomplished. When I was beginning to doubt myself and all these negative questions popped up in my mind, all I had to do was think of Ronnie, Jerry, Sir Jovie and everybody that finished the BDM 102k ultra in the heat of summer (blistered feet and all), Rick Gaston being tossed like a rag doll in the mountain trails in his 100 mile races, Iron ladies Pia and Ani doing their hours and hours of swim, bike ride, plus a full marathon. All these great athletes compete in events that require them to test their physical and mental limits in more than 10 hours some closer to 24 hours in difficult and sometimes extreme conditions. What is a 32 k? A piece of cake.

I completed 32ks in a slow time of 4:28:58, the last 3ks at close to 9 minutes per k average.

Next 3 weeks is tapering period, the next Sunday long run at 23 ks, the Sunday after next at 6 ks and then marathon race day on the 27th.

With my longest run ever under my belt, I now believe I can.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Three Napkins, Priceless!

First time this ever happened to me in my more than 2 years and a half of serious running.

Last night, I ate a big serving of spaghetti with meat balls to carboload for this morning's long run.

I woke up late at 6 this morning, had to eat breakfast quick (had whole grain pita with peanut butter, some cherries, a cup of coffee, and a glass of lactose free milk). Took a quick shower, tried to use the washroom with no success (however hard I tried :)), got dressed and drove to the Runningroom homebase to meet my running buddy, Nette on the agreed upon time of 7am.

We were to run 29 ks this morning, in this the 14th Sunday long run of our 18 week marathon training program. This morning, I had 4 energy gels, 2 bars of shotbloks, gatorade , and 500 ml spring water, enough I thought for a 29k run. I also brought $10 cash just in case.

Nette and I agreed again to run the route that our clinicmates were to run and started off 30 minutes ahead of them. The morning temperature was cool, about 15 degrees Celsius, the sky was cloudy, hardly any breeze or wind, ideal for a long run. That was what I thought at the start of our run.

It soon became obvious 3ks into our run that this was nothing but an ideal long run, when I started to have a stomach ache. I kept quiet and hoped it would go away. By the
6th kilometer we passed the last public building , the Markham Stoufville Hospital, and we continued on with my stomach still grumbling. At this point, we would be running along a wooded area and then miles and miles of farmlands and vacant space until we stop at Tim Horton's on the 17th k.

At the 7th k, I knew the inevitable. I wouldn't be able to hold it any longer. I would have to go to the woods and relieve my self (simply, poo :)). Was so embarrassed to tell Nette, that she must have been wondering why I was so quiet the last few ks. Now I know how it felt when Paula Radcliffe had to pee in public at the 2005 London marathon which she won, and our own distance runner PC who crossed the finish line in a marathon sockless after he used his socks for a good and natural purpose.

Initially, I thought I should lie and tell Nette that I'd stop and go to the woods to take a piss. But, had to change my mind knowing I'd have to use leaves or twigs or even my socks and instead asked her if she brought with her some tissue paper, napkin, anything. When she said yes, (I shouted in my mind Woohoo!!), and when she asked why I was asking, I had to confess that I had to go poo (with a red face :)) . She, trying not to laugh, handed me a clear plastic bag with three white napkins. So embarrassing. Thank God I was running with a female friend.

Anxious while at the woods that my faster clinicmates may catch up with us and find me sitting and with my pants down, bum showing, while answering the call of nature in the woods. But the sidetrip to the woods was a complete success,with only squirrels, rabbits, skunks as likely witnesses, thanks to Nette's 3 napkins. A few pounds lighter, I felt much better and it translated into a faster more comfortable pace from then on.

The first 5 of our faster clinicmates caught up with us at the 10th k. Nette and I stopped over at Tim Hortons for water refill at the 17th k. More caught up with us at the 22k mark. At this time, like our previous long runs, had to decrease my pace and Nette had to go ahead, as she gradually disappeared in the distance. By the 24th k, everyone from my clinic passed me. Was a solitary runner once again. Decided to add one more kilometer to the 29 to psyche me up. Very tired at the finish and so thankful to Him for another good day and safe long run.

Completed 30 ks in 4:09:48.

Next Sunday's long run is for 32k.

28 days to my first marathon. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Shhhhh, Please Don't Tell The Wife.

From the time I woke up this morning till now, all I've been thinking of is my 30k race tomorrow. I am excited like a kid playing his first game in a basketball tournament. As my faster runner friend once told me, he felt like a race horse nervously waiting for the start gun at the starting line, just before a race. With me, I feel like a donkey among race horses aiming not to win but just to cross the finish line. Just the same, I've been continuously thinking (more like imagining) of myself running a strong, fast, and PR breaking race. And I've also been massaging my leg and thigh muscles every few minutes (like a trainer massaging his boxer before a title fight) in addition to stretching every now and then. My co-worker partner has been eyeing me with a questioning look maybe thinking if I'm going crazy or if I took some speed medication today :) .

The other thing that bothered me earlier this morning was tomorrow's date, August 22. I just couldn't stop thinking about August 22. My wife's birthday is August 16. My daughter, Marie is August 10. But what is it about August 22 that is too important that I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Until, I finally recalled that when I was 17 years old, my childhood girlfriend Ina, on her own made the day as our "anniversay day". That is it. That was the day she said yes to me. Did any of you guys have this anniversary day with your childhood girlfriend or boyfriend, or is it just me?

Please don't tell the wife, I beg you. I love her more than 100 Inas. I don't want to be turfed out of the bedroom and sleep in the couch with my pet dog, Yuki, after a 30k run :) .

Sunday, August 16, 2009

6 Days To Midsummer's Night 30k

It's just 6 days away from my next race, the Midsummer's Night 30k Run to be held in Toronto on August 22, Saturday at the historical Old Distillery Area and the streets along Lake Ontario. the race is to start in the evening, at 5:30 pm. Cut off time is 4 hours and incidentally, my best time in this distance (I only ran one 30k race, the Around the Bay 30k in March this year) is 4:00:16. So simply, I have to shave off 16 seconds off my best time to even see my name in the official result. What pressure, eh?

This morning I joined my running buddy, Nette at 7am on our long Sunday run. Our run club group was supposed to start at 7:30 am and the 2 of us decided to start earlier due to the hot weather forecast for the day. So, we actually had a 30 minute headstart from our other clinicmates. Nette did a total of 32ks while I did 25.27ks with a time of 3:32:48. At the 15th k, Paul (whose a Boston finisher) passed us, then Edward and Ric Kong (6 minutes off Boston qualifying time) passed us close to the 16th k. By the 21st k everybody from my run club passed me (Nette was way in front of me by this time). Overall, I was happy with my run. A lot of positives. My calf muscle held good. Except for my middle toes that bothered me at the 21st k, didn't have any pains. It was just too hot and humid, had to drink lots of sports drink and water.

I was initially thinking to run this coming race as a regular Sunday LSD (Long Slow Distance) run in preparation for my first marathon in September, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, but with the 4 hour cut off time, I have to be aware of my pace and make sure I don't run too slow and end up finishing in more than 4 hours.

I ice bathe my legs, thighs, feet after the long run and the next 6 days is tapering down, 20ks at the most divided into 3 training sessions, the last around Thursday. It'll be a good test for sure on how I will fare in my first marathon.

It's a happy time here at home tonight with my wife's birthday party ongoing now, with the karaoke machine at full blast, my wife's siblings , friends dancing and getting tipsy, my daughters and their cousins joking around and laughing out loud, and here I am typing away at what topic - running. While most people here are drinking wine or beer, I am content with cold water, lots and lots of it to replace all the water I lost in my more than 3 hours morning run.

Everbody here thinks I'm crazy and obsessed with running and running blogs.

I'm not ashamed to admit it, I actually am.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Just Earned My Badge Of Honor As A Runner

It was time to rest the sore feet, legs and thighs after completing 25.27 ks long run this morning in a time of 3:34:27 (washroom , water refill, walk breaks included). So happy and thankful that there was no sign of any discomfort or pain in the left calf that forced me to stop my training for a month when I had a muscle strain during one of my training runs. Thanks Lidia and my other friends for the prayers. Congratulate me for earning my badge of honor as a runner, as one of my toenails (the fourth toe on my left foot) finally turned black. I wonder if this is quite common among us runners. Have you had a black/dead toenail?

Early afternoon was the exact opposite of the start of our run at 7:00 am this morning, when it was cloudy and foggy/misty the first one and a half hours of our run. It rained lightly intermittently during the rest of our run and it refreshed as a bit, because the air was so humid. It turned sunny and nice this afternoon, just ideal for relaxing at my deck with my feet up . Sat on the bench, read my National Geographic, and just savored the beautiful sunny day (we haven't had much this summer, it's turning to be a rainy summer season here)

Right after the long run, I had a hearty lunch of paksiw na ulo and tiyan ng bangus, that my wife bought from a Filipino restaurant in Scarborough, the Golden Valley Restaurant. It was so good, with the talong and hot green pepper, I had to have a bowl of rice (no dieting today after the long run) with it. Then, to replenish the sugar I lost during the run, I had 2 pisngi of ripe sweet mango (we buy mangoes at a nearby Chinese store) and left over ube (from our family halo-halo gathering last weekend).

Before all of the above, I treated my tired feet, leg, thigh, butt muscles to ice bathing, something I learned from elite Pinoy ultrarunner Rick Gaston (365me). First, I filled my bath tub with cold water, high enough to reach my belly button when I sit on the tub. Then, I added about 10 big round blocks of ice just enough to get the water very very cold. Then I got myself a magazine to read and jumped in and sat on the bath tub. Brrrrrr. The trick was to have my legs, thighs and butt under the cold water, and it's supposed to aid in faster recovery of sore running muscles. It is amusing to note that as soon as I sat on that freezing cold water every part of me shrank! I mean my toes, feet, legs ,thighs . Wrapped my upper body with the dry towel to fight the cold feeling, all my sweat pores must have closed and had the immediate urge to jump outof the bath tub as my skin felt the freezing cold water. Stayed there for 10 minutes, out for 2, back again for 10, 3 repetitions total. Please try it and let me know if it works for you as well as me. :)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

21k With Sandra And Nette

I decided to run with my clinic group this morning under a cloudy and overcast sky with the forecast for some rain in the morning. The group was to run 33k for some and 29k for the others. I would be doing just 21k at the most, while Nette and Sandra were to do 29k.

Our clinic teacher Ray led around 25 of us to this long run. Out of all clinic participants only 7 have not completed a marathon yet, one of them is me.

Runners on our clinic run at different speeds. The elite, those who've qualified for or ran Boston started as usual in front, most were middle of the pack, and myself and a few others ran at the back of the group.

I joined my happy runner friends Nette and Sandra on a 7:30 to 8:00 minute per k pace.

It was still overcast almost an hour to our run. I prayed that it would not rain and it didn't.

After more than an hour on the busy streets of Markham, we headed to Reesor Road going northward where all we saw were vast farmlands and miles and miles of low vegetation and vacant space.
If you're wondering where your wheatbread and wheat cereals come from, this is a wheatfield, as far as the eye could see.

We passed by this beautiful stream that provides water to the farmland.

Saw an old buggy in front of an old farmhouse.

I love having a walk break to rest my tender left calf.

Priceless! Nette and Sandra had to take a washroom break and I could buy my donuts.

Felt guilty, so had to settle for timbits instead. Hmmm. the chocolate timbits were the best. Then, got nagged by the 2 ladies for eating "unhealthy". Reasoned, that I needed some sugar, ha ha, still they both snubbed my timbits. So, had to continue running with this box, no wonder I couldn't lose weight.

Took the 2 of them to my secret trail at the woods where we continued our run.

Since Nette and Sandra had to do 29k, we had to go on our own separate ways at the corner of Mccowan Road and Bur Oak Avenue. They continued west at Bur Oak while I turned left going southward to Mccowan towards homebase.

Completed exactly 21k in 2:58:58, after which I just walked for another 3ks to homebase.

I just could not avoid taking a picture of these fruits that look like our guayabano or atis.
Next Sunday's long run is for another 29 ks, I will try to do 25 ks. My target is to catch up with the marathon clinic training run schedule in 2 weeks. As Vener advised, "hinay hinay lang" (just take it easy).