Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Colours

After working this weekend, it was time for a well deserved day off for me today. Slept long last night. Walked Yuki in the morning with parts of the pedestrian walkway and the grass in the park still wet from 2 days of rain. Did some catch up reading of newspapers from the home country and then had a $15 haircut. After a hearty lunch of sinigang na baka with white rice, went to play chess on the internet. Won more than half of my games. By around 1, was tired playing and felt sleepy. Went upstairs for a nap with Yuki following me. Woke up at 5 with Yuki still snuggled beside me. An ideal day except for one more thing lacking. A run.

As I laced up my running shoes Yuki was looking at me pleading to take her, but not this time . The weather was perfect for running, around 16 degrees, breezy, cool but comfortable. Just wore shorts, short sleeved shirt and carried as usual my camera and a plastic bottle of water.

A few steps from my place, some of the shrubs are starting to change color from green to red.

I passed by my favorite trail and found that most trees were bare of leaves and the pathways were just covered by dry leaves.

"Yellow" trees. Their leaves are green during late spring and summer but turn to yellow during fall before they finally fall off making these trees bare of leaves in late fall.

It was so quiet and peaceful running late afternoon in my neighborhood. So different from the noise, traffic, people in the streets of GSIs Village in Quezon City where I grew up. For the more than 5 kilometers I ran, was lucky to see more than a dozen people total walking the streets.

Another part of my neighborhood. My walk break. Had to take a sip of water and snap some pictures. This time, I was sweating despite the cool breeze, but overall, felt good, relaxed, serene, happy.

We can find beauty in the simplest of God's creations, like these reddish colored trees starting to shed off their leaves.
I ran on a winding pathway close to a pond, I was all alone, it was so quiet all I could hear was my breathing and the sound of my shuffling feet.

On solitary runs like this, I always feel a oneness with my surroundings, a closeness to the Creator, a peaceful feeling, living in the moment, forgetting about everything other than my being the center of the universe . I wonder if every runner experiences the same feelings on his solitary runs.

On the way back home, it was starting to get dark.

I could see the sun slowly setting in the horizon as I increased my pace in the last 2ks. I try to ran faster the last 2 kilometers of my training runs to simulate that of an actual race. I still don't know if it is a smart thing to do. All I know is I haven't been injured running slower during training and then faster the last few ks.
Arrived home safe, sound and happy. Took a shower, took Yuki, my baby for her last walk of the day around the block.
I think I'm ready for a 7k run on Wednesday. :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Walking 101

After more than a week of rest and medication (and not running at all), I think I'm well enough (the coughing is almost gone) to go back to training again for my next road race.

So, this morning and the next couple of days, I will try to do 30 minute walks at the least to get the feet and leg muscles working again. After this, I intend to walk run,
and then by the weekend, a 5k run should be easily doable.

Missed running the Scotiabank Toronto half marathon on September 26, but these road races are always there, and my running life goes on.

Thinking about running the 5k race at the Toronto Marathon weekend in October or the 10k Zoo run. The shorter distance races should get me into the groove again.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kuya Freddie

Kuya Freddie with Ate Chi and his sisters Jeric and Jojo in his favorite part of his house, the kitchen

Today, I was supposed to be preparing my running shorts, shoes, socks, shirt, Garmin 305, hydration belt, gatorade/water and containers, bib number, timing chip, gels for tomorrow morning's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront half marathon race. I entered this race about 2 months in advance and did my homework, I mean did enough training runs, rest. I was ready for it and was actually tapering from 10 days ago. Instead, I am home resting with a cough, runny nose, , too sick even to do anything physical, much less run. I am also very sad and grieving because of the untimely death of my brother-in-law and friend Kuya Freddie. His funeral service was held this morning at the St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Markham.

Before my family left the home country for Canada, I was a struggling young lawyer with a low paying government job. Previous to that,I had the chance to practice. I remember my first client was a poor bus driver who brought me a live but very thin and sickly looking chicken in my father-in-law's house. My father-in-law, also a lawyer who is a succesful practitioner in his own right, let the man in and with a grin in his face called me from inside his house to meet my client. Another time, another poor client handed me an old,dirty, crumpled 50 pesos bill during his trial, but come court recess, I asked him to join me for lunch, but he wouldn't because he didn't have money. I ended up giving back to him the 50 pesos and also paying for his lunch. After similar episodes where instead of earning a living I was giving charity, I knew my career as a practicing lawyer was over. I joined the Department of Justice but the pay was not much. So, Jojo and I agreed to give it a try in Canada.

I first met Kuya Freddie when my family arrived in Canada in the late 80s. He and his family immigrated to Canada in the early seventies. He was a tall, handsome, meztizo looking guy who looked physically strong and fit with well toned arms and upper body. He was into basketball , fishing, camping, and golf. He was also a handy man who did most home repairs, plumbing, electrical, carpentry work himself. I found him genuinely friendly, hospitable, cheerful and helpful with us. He was a happy fellow with a good sense of humor. He was fairly succesful professionally, working then as a junior manager in a bank. He went to work always looking sharp in a business suit. He was also an outdoors type of guy who owned a trailer and a boat.

He went out of his way to help Jojo and I find jobs. He enrolled my kids to a nearby Catholic school. When we finally found jobs, after staying for free for a month in his Markham home ,we decided to move out and rent a cheap apartment in Toronto. We ended up inheriting his old sofa and love seat. When one of his friends bought a new living room set, he asked for the sofa (which was to be thrown away) and delivered it to us.

Nevertheless, after one year of working odd, low paying jobs , I was ready to call it quits here in Canada and go back to the home country where my old job was still waiting for me ( I only took a leave of absence for a year). He convinced me to wait another year before making a final decision of going back home. A few months after, I luckily got a government job, which I still hold up to the present.

Kuya Freddie's helping me to adapt here never stopped there. He included me to join his basketball team, recruited and sponsored me to be accepted in his religious/service organization. He taught me how to play golf. He made sure Jojo and I joined him and Ate Chi in social gatherings where we were introduced to his friends who then became our friends. In golf tournaments where his golf buddies became mine .

His house became the center of all family gatherings, where he would tirelessly man the barbecue, cook Chinese cuisine and made sure everybody took home left over food. Made us all laugh to tears with his jokes. He would embrace and carry on his lap grandnephews and nieces, affectionately called his adult daughters, my nieces, as his babies. He would terrorize the younger children with pranks, jokes. He would discipline (with words of wisdom)his children, nephews and nieces including my children when they needed to be. He'd answer our calls jokingly with "Pizza, pizza, how can I help you." He arbitrated and settled fights, misunderstandings between and among his siblings (3 sisters and 1 brother), Jojo included. He installed new light fixtures and did needed repairs in our house. He fixed my screen door. Helped me put up new kitchen cabinets . Gave us an electric drill. Put up flower pots holders and planted plants in our front porch with Ate Chi.

He liked telling stories , funny, inspirational and amusing about his struggles, like selling bras for a living to support his family early into his marriage. About his love for and being protective of younger brother Art, who when they were teenagers went home crying after getting bullied by bigger guys. Freddie took his father's gun in the storage place, went back with Art to confront the bullies, who seeing Freddie with the weapon all scampered away scared. About standing up to and challenging a group of bullies to a fight in a Toronto bar when the latter made fun of his Pinoy group.

Last Sunday, September 19, Kuya Freddie and Ate Chi came to visit us at home. He brought Jojo a gift of a kitchen knife set for no reason or occasion. He just said he saw it on sale so he bought it for Jojo. We shared a hearty lunch of Peking duck (which Kuya Freddie cooked and prepared with lettuce and hoisin sauce), sinigang, fried plapla, fried shrimp. We then had a scoop each of Selecta queso ice cream and then just relaxed in the family room and watched ASAP on the Filipino Channel. He joked and laughed with his niece Tin, my daughter. He told us of his excitement to see the new condo they bought in the home country which will be completed and be ready for occupancy in December this year.

As I watched Kuya Freddie walking to his car as they were leaving our home , I saw him smile and greet my neighbor who was tending her garden in her front yard. She smiled back at him.

Later that same afternoon Kuya Freddie had a heart attack in his home. He passed away at a young age of 57.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Major Major Improvement.

Today is the sixth day of my one week vacation leave. I should have been in Paris or London today doing last minute shopping before our flight back home. That was the plan, a European vacation this week, until Jojo talked me into buying new furniture, a flat screen LED TV, dining set 2 months ago. Pooff!! there went our European vacation. So instead, the last few days we've been busy fixing things in the house, painting our front door and garage door, replacing the humidifier filter, cleaning the electrical air filter, mowing the lawn, gardening, walking Yuki. Not the typical things somebody on vacation would enjoy doing.

The truth of the matter is , I am enjoying it ( the vacation) so much, I wish our vacation were longer. Love the long afternoon naps after my chores. Love the time to connect with long lost friends thru the internet, again after finishing my chores. Enjoyed looking at our teenage pictures at FB found by a friend from a "lumang baul". Read my favorite running blogs. Enjoyed pictures of my favorite triathletes at Camsur Ironman. Finished reading a book.

Well, come this Monday, the worker ant (that's me) will be back at work again toiling and saving for the rainy day ( and a vacation in some exotic place in another continent).

At the Philippine front, felt pride in our own Venus for almost winning the Miss Universe title. Her "major major" Pinoy fans (the 4 friends on youtube), whose video of them celebrating was viewed by millions around the world, are typical of all Filipinos. We supported Venus with all our hearts and minds and prayers that it was like a whole country willing her to win. That is so true specially also with our boxing hero Manny Pacquiao during his fights or CNN Hero Of the Year Efren before he was announced the winner.

On the subject running, my next race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon is just 29 days away. This week gave me 3 quality training runs so far, the last was tonight, a "fast"
10k in 1:16:10. Previous to this, my last two 10k training runs were in almost identical times of 1:19 and change. Considering that my last 10k race (Vaughan 10k) was in a slow race time of 1:17, my time in tonight's run is a major major :) improvement.

This week, I did my solitary runs mostly at sunset, with the orange/pinkish sun gradually disappearing in the horizon. The weather this time of the year here is ideal for running , cool, breezy, serene, peaceful.

Everything is good.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Most Relaxing Sunday Run - the Acura 10 Miler

I just ran the Acura 10 Miler in the Distillery District of Toronto this morning, a most relaxing Sunday run . After backbreaking work to renovate our kitchen the whole day yesterday, Jojo suggested to me not to run the race so I could finish our project, including repainting the kitchen . As always, she was unsuccesful. My run day is never negotiable. Nobody can take it away from me (even under the threat of sleeping outside the kulambo, :)) , unless I give it up on my own. To keep the peace, I promised to complete everything after my run. As I am typing this post with my two fingers still dirty with paint, I just finished painting the whole kitchen. If I were back home in Quezon City, I would have just hired laborers to do the job for me. Here, their (carpenters/painters) services are too expensive.

The start area at the corner of Trinity and Front Streets in Toronto, the CN Tower in the background. The morning was sunny with the temperature just above 20 degrees Celsius, for me a bit too hot for comfort. This race also introduced a new thing in running, the timing chip on the bib numbers instead of placing the chip on the runner's shoe or around the ankle.

The yellow brigade of young volunteers were hard at work early preparing to assist runners in the race with hydration (gatorade or water).

A young and cheerful volunteer ready to answer all kinds of questions about the race from runners and their friends and loved ones.

Shortly before the 8:30 am start, more than 2,000 excited runners await the starting gun for the 10 miler and the 5k run.

The race is on, I ran at a leisurely pace of between 7 -8 minutes per k at the early part of the race, and after the warm up, ran even much slower. The winner finished in 48 minutes.

More runners, around 75% ran the 10 miler, those on the right and the 5kers on the left.

More volunteers serving the runners at the water stations,which were strategically located every 2k with more than enough cups of cold water and gatorade. Runners were also treated to tents with showers to cool them down.

It was a joy to see the the skyline of our beautiful city, Toronto basking in the sun this bright Sunday morning.

Another view of the Toronto skyline farther away just behind these yachts /boats in the lake.

Wild flowers and plants abound everywhere along the race route.
At the end of the run, a sight I always look forward to, the smiling faces of volunteers handing out the finisher medals.
My next long race is the Toronto Scotiabank half marathon in September.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Markham's Wild Flowers

Went out for a solitary run on Thursday at the nearby trail and woods. Carried my camera and took some pictures of wild plants and flowers that abound this time of the year among vegetation that grow along the trails and woods of Markham. While clicking my camera, I thought of blogger friends Lidj, and Caloy,, the former for her superb photographs of everything from flower to dew, and the latter for reminding me again that "the best things in life are free", for his post and pictures of his new running route.

My next race is on July 11, 2010, the Acura Toronto 10 Miler.
Get inspired, visit and, two great posts on the San Diego 100Miler. These ultra runners are the toughest.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Alfie Shrubb 8K Classic- Running in the Rain

I woke up early this morning, around 5:30 only to find out that it was raining and the temperature was at 12 degrees Celsius, too cold for my race at 9 am, the 8th annual running of the Alfie Shrubb 8K Classic in Bowmanville, Ontario . Over breakfast and coffee, I thought that going back to the warmth of my bed would be the easier and more comfortable alternative to running on a Sunday. But ultimately, I decided to go for it (I adhere to my coach Isaac's teaching that running races in the worst weather conditions builds character) and drove 32 miles east to Bowmanville, population 80,000 plus, a small rural town east of Toronto. The race was to raise funds in support of the Claringdon Museum.

This race is named after an English runner, Alfred Shrubb (1879-1964) who at one point in his prime owned world records in running from 1,000 yards to 11 miles. His most famous rival was the native Canadian, Tom Longboat, winner of the 1907 Boston Marathon (2:24:24), whom he beat a number of times . Later in life , he made his home in Bowmanville, Ontario, until his death in 1904.

These records were accomplished by Shrubb without the help of modern technology, training techniques, cross training methods, technical shirts, non-blister socks, nor different types of modern running shoes (stability, motion control, trail, cross trainer, etc) that we runners of this generation enjoy. I stand to be corrected here, but I believe, when the official result of this race is released, none of the participants posted a faster time than the 24:33 he did in 1904.

I proceeded to the start area 5 minutes before the race hoping that the rain would stop. Most runners who were there wore jackets, some carried umbrellas, while some stayed under Runningroom tents. I wore a Lady of the Mist (from going on a boat under the Niagara Falls) rainbag which was handy as it protected me not only from the rain but the cold wind as well.

At almost start time, I positioned myself at the very back. The sky was still overcast, rain was still falling but no longer as hard as earlier in the morning. I was only wearing a shirt and shorts under my rainbag and the cold wind only made matters worse. My fault. When you train running in the winter, you become too cocky. Lesson learned, it's ok to be overdressed, never underdressed.

The one good thing about running big races (where participants number in the thousands) is you finish faster than a few hundred even if your time is slow. In small races , and in very bad weather too, I find that most participants are hardcore, seasoned runners with fewer slower runners participating. In this race, I saw the back pack thin to a few dozen runners in no time after the start. I entertained the thought of the possibility of finishing last in this race if I run this race like the Vaughan 10k the Sunday before.

From being last in the pack, I started to look at runners in front of me who looked out of rhythm, out of shape or just plain slow. I then aimed at catching up and then passing each runner I picked. First, I observed his/her leg turnover and then I made sure that mine was much faster and the strategy worked. When I experienced breathing difficulty or heaviness in my legs, I slowed down a bit and looked at the beautiful surroundings to distract me from it. I discovered and now know that one does not need to be elite to enjoy running. As I passed one runner after another, I felt a combination of joy and excitement, and looked ahead for the next one to pass. I finished strong as I passed about ten runners in the last k. Can't wait to see the official results to find out how many runners I passed.

At the small gym of MJ Hobbs School we congregated after the race for the award ceremonies. I was glad to see some oldies, in their 60's and seventies receive awards in their age groups. They inspire us to continue running, and also give us hope that someday, some where, God willing, any one of us could go up to that stage to receive our own.

A couple of runners were wearing 2010 Boston Athletic Club (Boston marathon) jackets. It turned out that both are elite as each won his age group.

God, please help and guide me to become a stronger and faster runner, so that someday, I may have the privilege of wearing a Boston Marathon jacket similar to what this young man in front of me was wearing.

Truly, I feel blessed being healthy, able to run (in the rain), and receiving this medal today. I thank and praise Him for another wonderful, memorable, and injury free race.
Can't wait to run the next one.

The winner of this race posted a time of 25 minutes plus, slower than Alfie Shrubb's 1904 time for the same distance.
I was 163rd out of 189 finishers, posting a turtlish (is there such a word?) time of 56 minutes and change. Yehey, I passed and beat 26 other runners! Babaw ng kaligayahan, no :)