Archive for January, 2009

I’ll Miss You, Annie

January 31, 2009

This evening, my bestest running buddy, Annie, will be on a flight to Singapore to start a new job there.  As much as I want to be happy for her, I can’t help but feel otherwise.  My running soulmate and partner-in-crime is leaving.  And, I am completely devastated.  

We met way back in the summer of 2007.  Two young mothers who had a deep interest in running.  We would run every other day, no fail, rain or shine.  More often than not, we would run side by side, but there were times when she would run ahead of me (as she was much stronger) while I slowly improved trying my best to keep up with her. We had great fun talking and laughing during runs, but during tough climbs or tempo runs, we would be serious training partners, pushing each other to perform better.  By the time summer ended and our Coach had deserted us, we had already forged a bond built around—what turned out to be—not just an interest, but an obsession for running.  

ANNIE2007

October came and we decided to train for our first marathon together: Pasig Marathon 2008.  We ran our Saturday long runs together, but they didn’t feel long at all;  two hours would fly by so fast.  We learned more about each other, how we were alike in so many ways: that our birthdays are only a day apart, that our husbands are so extraordinarily patient and supportive, that running is not just a hobby for us, but a huge part of our lives.  We talked about our marathon dream and we could completely relate with each other.  Unfortunately, I got injured while Annie went on to finish Pasig Marathon at 4:07 in February 2008. 

In the summer of 2008, we signed up with another coach, Coach Jo-Ar, and started training in Ultra together.  From the roads, we moved to the track and, together, we had even more fun climbing up those stairs, racing up the hills with kids half our age, or hanging out with the legendary Elma Muros.  Still, we continued our regular Saturday long runs on the road as if it was a sacred tradition, a special day that we both looked forward to at the end of each hectic week.

By mid-year, we both decided to embark on our craziest running adventure yet: Singapore Marathon in December 2008, just the two of us pursuing our dream to run abroad for the first time.  We prepared for this together, and we did it.  Annie ran a 3:59 marathon, while I finished 2:08 for my half.  It was an amazing, unforgettable event that we were only too glad to have experienced together.

ANNIE2008

Finding the perfect running buddy is like finding a needle in a haystack.  It’s finding that partner that you have a certain chemistry with: one you can talk to for hours to make you forget about the distance or the pain in your legs, one who will adjust his/her pace according to the needs of the day, one you can trust to be there for you when the going gets tough in a run…or in life.  That was Annie for me.  And, I’d like to think I was the same for her.

Now, the sad reality.  She’s leaving tonight.  I am losing a running buddy, a sister, a dear friend.  I burst into tears just thinking about our laughable conversations about thongs, tampons, or men who waved at us on the road.  I worry who will be there to remind me to take it easy when I’m injured or to accompany me when I embark on a new cross training activity.  And, worst of all, I choke at the thought of Saturday long runs and Sunday races without her. With Annie’s departure, running for me will never ever be the same.

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The Happy Run – Part 2

January 26, 2009

And here are more happy photos…

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– Sen. Pia after her 15k –

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– One of the most passionate runners around, Patrick C. (Running Shield) –

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– Good friend, Jay (Prometheus Cometh). Miss running long with you, Jay! –

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– Birthday girl Princess Tiffin looking for her Frog Prince, Mark VO2 –

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– Happy couple: Mukhang Guilty and Happy. Congrats to Happy on her first 5k. Congrats to Harry for successfully recruiting his girlfriend into running! –

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– See, Hector can’t possibly be a “Fat Gay Guy” if he has girls (Zinnia & Marga) swooning over him –

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– Who would’ve thought so many Southridge Parents run? –

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– Ex-La Salle track team member and ex-team mate of Mark Parco, Francis M. (not Magalona), and hubby. Watching Mark & Francis race should make events more exciting. Place your bets!  –

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– Once upon a time, a completely clueless newbie runner emailed Star Columnist Tanya Lara requesting for more info about races in Manila. That runner was me in 2007 before I created TBR. Tanya and I met for the first time yesterday

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– with Team Super’s Jody, Javy (Tri N Hard) & Hannah –

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– Drew A.’s Kuya, Gelo, with kids –

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– with Rene (Jazz Runner) of Runnex. Thanks for the shirts, Rene! –

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– Hubby with #1 Pinoy blogger, Anton (Our Awesome Planet) –

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– with Nicole, future sub-3 marathoner –

The Happy Run – Part 1

January 26, 2009

TBR RACE REVIEW: THE HAPPY RUN 5k/ 15k

Organizer: Rio de la Cruz
Overall rating (5 highest): 4

WOOHOO, HIGH FIVE!:
– very well organized (Coach Rio has perfected the template of his BHS races)
– great entertainment (Chinese dragon dancers and ati atihan dancers at certain points)
– fun, happy atmosphere
– early release of results (Click here to view)

GOOD JOB:
– ample supply of water at water stations
– good number of race marshalls at certain areas
– accurate mile markers at every kilometer
– pretty accurate race course measurement
– convenient registration at ROX

AW, BETTER JOB NEXT TIME:
– wrong route map provided for 15k
– predictable course (same course for previous races of Coach Rio)
– no finisher’s certificate

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This was a race that lived up to its name.  The Happy Run was yet another perfectly organized road race by Coach Rio which left majority of the runners content with the race organization.  There were a few surprises to liven up the mood, such as bands and dancers on the road, games after the race, and great hosting by Unang Hirit & Team Super’s Drew Arellano, the man behind the entire race.

IMG_0608 – Bianca Gonzales and Drew Arellano hosting the event –

Boy did I need some happy dust to rub off on me.  Still feeling some soreness in my left patella, I had earlier decided to downgrade my 15k registration to 5k.  Grrr…this bull wasn’t so pleased with the idea.  On the other hand, my hubby joined his first 15k.  Yahoo for him!

There I stood at the starting line with JunC, my running buddy, who is suffering from practically the same injury as I am.  (May God help us both!)  I think we were both unsure of what we were doing: Was it worth it to risk aggravating the injury?  Why run if we’ll be so slow anyway?  Will we be able to swallow our pride (gulp) as other runners swept past us?  Before I could think of answers, the race began.

We agreed on maintaining 6:15 pace.  Easy.  We were chatting and laughing while one by one the faster runners would pass us by.  In the beginning, this was acceptable.  After all, we were injured!   After 1km, more and more runners started to overtake us.  Runners who I used to outpace were now way ahead of me. Ouch.  Sob sob sob.  It was obvious in Jun’s face that he wasn’t happy either.  That is, of course, until Iza Calzado ran by his side and they exchanged hellos! Hah!

As we neared the 2.5k turnaround, we chuckled because it felt so short.  I don’t think we were even sweating yet.  As soon as we started climbing our way back up Lawton Ave., Jun and I asked each other how our knees were faring.  Both of our knees were holding up.  It was then that I asked him “Negative?”  He nodded with a smile, “Sige, negative.”  We picked up the pace and went for a negative split.  That’s where the fun began.

We ran faster, we stopped talking, and we found our rhythm.  Nearing the end, we both asked each other the knee question again.  And, both of us answered, there’s some slight pain, but hey we survived.  I finished at 5.15km at 30:08 mins with an average pace of 5:52.  

Then, the party started.  I say this because, as I waited for hubby to return from his 15k, I got to chat and spend time with so many of my running friends.  Photos were forever being taken.  Laughter was in the air.  Happiness was in abundance.  As the show ended (yes, we stayed until the very end) and hubby and I made our way to the parking lot, I only had one question in mind:  Where was Dingdong Dantes?

IMG_0611 – with hubby who finished his first 15k…wooohooo! –

IMG_0594 – with my best running buddies, JunC and Annie –

IMG_0590 – with Kulit Runner and The Changeling Children –

IMG_0596 – with young TBR readers who make me feel way too old: Carlos, Anton, Miggy, LJ (?), and Wacky.  Wacky, don’t be so shy next time! –

IMG_0619 – with Pinoy Ultra Runner head Neville Manaois. Congrats on the successful TNF! –

IMG_0587 – Now, how often do you see two heroes together: Optimus Prime & Zorro! –

IMG_0615 – Annie wins 3rd place for 15km –

More pics of Happy Run in next post…

Spinning For Runners

January 24, 2009

“People think running is just about getting out there, but it’s all of the other factors—sleep, proper nutrition, and cross training—that allow you to get the most out of the sport.”

– Deena Kastor

I have a confession to make, Deena. The only time I take cross-training seriously is when I am injured.  Do you think that’s why I am, uhm, always injured?

Injury has been a major curse in my running life, but I’ve realized—just as I was writing this—that it’s been a blessing as well.  The curse of the runner’s knee forced me to take up TI last year (which started a whole new love affair with swimming) and now, with the respite from running, I tried spinning. 

Yesterday morning, Jun and I joined Annie’s spinning class at Fitness First.  Jun, my running buddy, and I accepted Annie’s invitation as we our both currently suffering from knee injuries.  

Cycling is a great alternative to running as it develops lower body strength without the hard impact on the knee.  Experts say that cycling works out your leg muscles even more thoroughly than running since the quads and calves are strengthened with every pedal rotation.

Spinning is a great alternative for those who wish to bike, but don’t have bikes yet (ehem).  It’s also safer and easily accessible to the gym rats.  

For Jun and I, we also thought it would be fun to watch Annie transform from our crazy, barok friend into serious instructor in a snap. We thought we would get a good laugh out of it (although, by the end of the class, I think it was Annie who got the last laugh!)

By the time I arrived, the class was already warming up.  I stepped into the spinning room, all four walls in black with the milky way galaxy painted on them, as if to remind me that I was venturing into uncharted territory.  I hopped unto the bike beside Jun’s and—3…2…1—blast off!  I started pedalling away!

The first 5 minutes were easy.  Just a warm-up.  The rest of the 55 minutes were excruciating.  Whatever mountain it was we were climbing, it sure was high, and long, and not for newbie bikers like me!  

The first spinning instructor guided us through the first half of the workout.  There was never a dull moment as we increased and decreased tension and speed at varied intervals.  The music was loud and intense so it helped to keep me pedaling on despite the weary leg muscles.  More than once, I could feel my heart pumping and, had it not been for those recovery portions, it would have leapt out of my chest.  By 30 minutes, I was beat. I thought my poor ol’ running legs couldn’t take any more.

Then, as we continued spinning, Annie steps out for a couple of minutes and returns with a CD in hand.  She puts it on and takes over from the first instructor.  Suddenly, she’s not the Annie that I know.  This Annie raises her arms up and commands the class to step it up.  Drenched in sweat as we all are, she raises her arms up in a fury and pushes us to climb that steep hill, pedal faster, or go up to standing position.  Gawd, who is this alien Annie and what did she do with my friend?!

We ended the session with the first instructor taking us through the cool down and Annie leading the stretches.  Needless to say, I survived the whole out-of-this-world experience.  It was tough on the quads (something my patella needs for realignment), it was utterly exhausting (my type of workout), it was humbling (just because you’ve run long distances, it doesn’t mean your legs are strong) and it was fun (although not as enjoyable as a run).

I’ve decided to add spinning to my list of cross training activities.  Hopefully, I get to practice it not only when I’m injured, but even when I’ve fully recovered already.  This would make Deena and that alien Annie proud!

Save the Date: October 24, 2009

January 21, 2009

Let it be known that on the 24th of October in the year 2009, a major running event shall take place (as whispered to me by Coach Rio.)  What it is, where it shall be, and who will be present cannot be disclosed as of the moment.

TO RUNNERS:  Mark the date on your running journals.  Make sure you are 1) in town, 2) injure-free, and 3) in peak performance.

TO RACE ORGANIZERS: Please avoid scheduling a race on this day to ensure that the running community can participate as one, and not be forced to choose between two events yet again.  

Feel free to guess what this event will be.  But, whether you get it right or not, I’m not telling…er…unless you deliver Skins compression tights to my door 🙂

Sick Leave

January 20, 2009

Just when I thought I could start training again, I was struck by a slight fever, achy bones, and a tummy ache yesterday.  I spent the entire day in bed consumed by an overall feeling of blahness, thinking about 1) the near perfect weather for swimming, 2) missed gym visit that day, 3) downgrading my 15k Happy Run registration to a 5k (arggh, I hate the idea, but I think a sick, recently-injured runner like me has got to bite the bullet and accept her sad fate), and last but not the least, 4) how Rustom (or Bebe Gandanghari) was able to gain his/her new waif-like figure in three months time through Pilates!

Yes, I know, I had too much idle time on my hands yesterday.  Thanks to Tylenol, I’m feeling much better now.  Today is still rest/ recovery day.  Hopefully, I’m strong enough for a short run and yoga tomorrow.

The Bull RAN

January 19, 2009

It was The Bull Run yesterday and this bull missed it.  

No whining nor complaining from me though.  This 2009, the brand new bull is choosing her races wisely.  And, this Bull Run, despite winning best race name in my book (heehee), was one that I knew I could skip with a smile.  

You see, by now, I already know that there are only two types of races in the country:

  1. Races you absolutely cannot miss such as Adidas King of the Road or New Balance
  2. Typical, garden variety road races that you can pass up because they’ll have the exact type of race next weekend, only in a different name  

For me, The Bull Run fell under Category 2.  With news of inconvenient registration procedures, I could barely muster up the energy to pick up a pen and fill in a reg form.  Besides, my knee and I decided to rest and strengthen instead in hopes that I can run an easy 15k at next week’s Happy Run.

So, while most runners were at the not-so-very-well-organized PSE Bull Run (little birdies told me), I was out in the polo field running easy on oooh-la-la soft, green grass.  My knees loved it so much that they didn’t complain at all, not a whimper.  It was the first time I ran completely pain-free since Singapore Half!  Woohoo!  Now, that’s what I call a great Bull Run!

Philippine Marathon Postponed to November?

January 14, 2009

Word is going around that the much-awaited Philippine Marathon targeted for March 8 will be postponed to November.  No confirmation yet from the organizers but the source is pretty credible.

The news has left many Pinoy runners in confusion and frustration.  Quite a large number of runners have raked in the miles feeling ready for the ultimate performance on March 8.  Suddenly, there’s no goal to work for.  

With the postponement of the only scheduled local marathon for the 1st half of the year, what’s a Pinoy runner to do?  Here are my suggestions:

  1. Run Hong Kong, Feb 8.  There’s onsite registration for foreigners.  Read Ronnie’s comment here.
  2. Run Sundown in Singapore, May 30.
  3. Run Phuket, June 14.  
  4. Focus training for a strong Condura Skyway Half Marathon while deciding on the next marathon goal.
  5. Continue to build mileage with 4Q 2009 Marathon in mind: QC in Oct, Phil. Marathon in Nov., or Clark in Dec.  Click here for race scheds.

Meeting Mike: Fastest Pinoy at NYC Marathon

January 14, 2009

Not too many people knew that, during the Nike Clinic at Ultra last night, the fastest Pinoy runner at the recently held NYC Marathon was in their midst. No surprise, because this guy silently arrived with just a couple of his friends, clad in the most unassuming attire one could choose: a white shirt and black shorts, and disappeared into the small crowd of runners.

His name is Mike Mesina and I interviewed him via email soon after he ran his 3:12 NYC Marathon, missing the Boston qualifications by just a minute and a half. (Click here for full interview.)  And, last night, I had the pleasure of finally meeting him as he chose to run in Ultra before leaving for NY the following day.

withMike

Funny that when first saw each other it was like seeing an old friend.  He’s a simple, friendly, down-to-earth, and painfully modest guy considering his speedy legs.  Upon meeting him, one would even think he’s a newbie runner.  He didn’t brag about his time nor his runs abroad, and  neither did I see him show off his talent for speed at the track. In fact, when Coach Jo-Ar told him he’d be in Group A (the fastest of the bunch), he even seemed embarrassed.

I hoped we could run together (with me probably crawling and panting meters behind him) but, with my knee pain, I thought I’d bore him death with my ultra slow pace.  I sure hope he enjoyed last night’s clinic and his brief time with the Pinoy runners.

Mike, keep in touch.  As I said, I hope we can run again in the future—whether it’s in New York or Manila—even for just a few minutes before you leave me eating your dust 🙂

Thanks to Wilbert for the photo!

Goodbye Double Knots!

January 13, 2009

For the past 30 years of my life, I have known only one way to tie my shoelaces.  My mother passed this knowledge unto me, as her mother had passed it on to her and so on and so forth.

It was very simple, really.  She taught me to tie a ribbon, then to knot the two “bunny ears” once again to avoid them from coming untied in school or the playground.  It was ugly, but it did it’s job well.  

Then, it happened.  In the January 2009 issue of Runner’s World, I came upon an article (Knot Perfect) that woke me up to the awful truth: I had been tying my shoelaces the wrong way for practically my entire life.  That there was a much better and prettier alternative to the double knot. That, in my naivete, I had also taught my son the wrong way to lace up.

However, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  The article provided step-by-step instructions for the Reef Knot: the recommended way to lace up using a balanced knot that would hold throughout a run. I realized soon enough that it was not too late to relearn the lacing system and move forward.

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I sat down on my stool in the bathroom and tried the knot. It was amazing! Just subtle changes in my old lacing ways created a completely different ribbon, one that was tight and perfect. Better yet, after running 10km that day, it remained secure and strong!

That same day, I showed the article to hubby. And, within the week, I taught my son how to do it. Mom, you’re next!