Posts Tagged ‘running’

Hello! I’m back now. And I guess I owe you guys an apology for being out for so long . Let’s just say I have a bit of a year-long soul-searching. Still got a lot of decision to make but we will get there. I need your prayers. But I kind of miss writing and sharing parts of my life so I needed to write this one down.

This weekend I was in Davao for the Milo Marathon Davao leg. This is actually my second trip to Davao this year because I attended a week-long convention out there last summer. I had a great time in the city and fell in love with her charm so it did not take another soul-searching to decide when to go back. As soon as Milo published the 2015 Regional eliminations schedule I booked a flight for Davao. It fell in the very day  Yolanda visited the country 2 years ago.

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Last Summer!

Let me be honest, I trained the wrong way. Yes, I’m under-trained that’s a given because one has to pay for the trip and survive. But I focused on the speed part of training. I did not have any long runs at all in the months leading up to the race. I only took some 4k and 6k on the road whenever I can get out of office in the afternoon. Most of the time I ramp up my speed so I can get to work sooner at night. And it’s all in flat cement roads.. just like all the Milos I’ve joined. I only have to let my youth and adrenaline carry me through 21 kilometers in Davao.

Idiot.

race route

Come’s race weekend. Imagine my surprise when I learned (the day before the race) that the organizers of the Davao leg actually changed their route for this year. Gone are the flat course and hello uphills! By 4:30am at SM Lanang they fired the gun start and off we, the brave 300-something runners, attacked that punishing course. It was a relatively smaller headcount than I expected but by the seventh kilometer I knew the reason why. It really is a tough uphill-heavy course.

So for a happy-go-lucky tourist and not-so-trained runner what are the odds of surviving finishing 21 kilometers of rolling roads under the mandatory 2 hours and 30 minutes cut-off? I’d say it was pretty slim, or as they call it an uphill battle. By the time I traversed the first uphill portion my legs were already starting to fail. My body is simply just tired. What caused this premature breakdown? Ah the whole week I was lacking in sleep due to overtime and travel times days before the race.

photo from: (c) Wilmer Mostrales

Look at that elevation gain. Sheyt. Photos from: (c) Wilmer Mostrales.

I could have just quit right there and surrender.  But hey did I just traveled all the way from Southern Leyte to become a quitter? What kind of face will I show to my family? To the Yolanda survivors commemorating today? Somehow I need to survive this fatigue and this goddamn uphill course.

So I budgetted my time and decided to just enjoy the race. I’m lucky I can still run at all. It’s a 21 kilometer course and I have exactly 150 mins to complete it to take home the bling. So I have to run each K at a pace of at least 7 minutes/km. I know that’s slow by most standards but I cant afford to go overboard with those crazy hills all throughout.

I run the flats, jog-walk the climb, and steamroll on the descent. Drink in every station. Eat bananas sparingly. Sip half-a-GU gel for every 7 kilometers. Check the GPS to make sure I don’t go above the 7 pace. And by all means never ever stop. And believe it or not. I finished it two (2) minutes before cut-off!! #happy #survivor

Only shot I had of the race. Blurry but happy!

Only shot I had of the race. Blurry but happy! (c) Jun Guerrero

I am happy I made it. Thank you Lord! But the most important thing is truly enjoyed the race. Yes it was painful and tough but it was very rewarding. I finally saw the bliss Davao runners are blessed to have: Beautiful city, clean air, disciplined people and a working local government. Most cities are lucky to have one of those. I want to live in a city like that. Ultimately my reason to run in Davao is to give thanks to this  city that helped Leyte a lot after Yolanda. I was a volunteer too that time and I saw first-hand how much Davao offered to the affected communities. Gratitude, that is how I commemorated Yolanda.

I even wore a Milo Marathon singlet as volunter in Tacloban. And a lot of Davaoenios were there too.

November 2013. I even wore a Milo Marathon singlet as a volunter in Tacloban. And a lot of volunteers from Davao were there too.

Thank you Davao and congratulations to the organizers of the fantastic race! You guys just crafted a masterpiece, preserve that course so people like us will go there for the challenge. And special mention to my good friend sir Jun Guerrero for the warm hospitality and friendship. Congrats on your fifth Milo Marathon medal and yes, dozens more to come!

Breakfast of Champions/survivors.

Breakfast of Champions/survivors.

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June 23, 2016

To my 21 year-old self,

It’s kind of weird writing to you but hey this is like a scene of Days of Future Past! So where were we six years ago? Ah you just graduated from college and you’re in CPAR Manila for your review! I’m so jealous of you because you’re so full of life, carefree of all the pressures in life and surrounded by friends; the old and the new ones. Please do send my regards to the Power Rangers and to your manyakis roommates at Room 205 in Glodenco Dormitory… I miss those guys! (Isama mo na rin sila Jean, Jen at Ginny..hehe). Don’t worry in my timeline all your friends are doing very well in the profession and we’re still friends!

I read your journal entries during those years and I remembered you really didn’t have much of a summer vacation at all. You stayed in the boarding house right after graduation to devote in studying subjects for the board exams, all summer long. You did not even come home to celebrate you psychotic idiot! That was our summers in college; full of sacrifices, eternal studies and perseverance because you want to become a CPA. Or is it because you want to go to Manila to see her? Hey you just went out with her right? Four years in business school all for that one fateful night with her… was it worth it? Hhmm, universe happened and it’s the last for the two of you and colorful people like cartoon characters will come pouring into your life. (She was hot and gorgeous though, then you fade away)

It gave you a new appreciation for The Smiths.

(c) popsugar.com

Well I have news for you, you will fall in love with a movie called “(500) Days of Summer” it should come out in a few months (btw don’t ask Jean, watch it with the boys instead!). But here’s the thing, the next few summers ahead of you will be, well, uneventful. It’s work, work, work. That’s why I’m writing to you that I finally got to experience a decent summer where I got to do the following stuffs:

1. TRAVEL – well, in between our timelines there’s going to be a lot of traveling on the road. I think you haven’t discovered the joy of travelling yet. But it’s in you because you were born to explore: you are young, hungry, brave and an adventurous bastard. I will not tell where I’ve been to all these years because you have to explore and experience it yourself. But I cant contain myself but to indulge you to two of the many places I’ve been to this past summer:

a. Davao City – Hurrah! I finally managed to visit Davao because I attended a convention, as to what sector I cant tell because you’d probably freak out. Just promise me you’ll stay focus and committed in your review and God will do the rest. I finally met Mayor Duterte, he still runs the city and still kickass than ever! The place was beautiful and peaceful. I was able to met up with my colleagues in the profession and we explored the city. First on the list was of course the museums and I was so inspired by the art scene in Davao  and the richness of their history. I also meet a lot of people there. And we made sure to see the tourist spots.

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b. Dapitan City– Yup, it’s not a joke. I’ve been to that town where our beloved Dr. Jose Rizal spent the last years of his life. I retraced our greatest hero’s footsteps out there; I stood at the very spot when he went to Church, I climbed the ‘lover’s rock’, I saw the replica of his old house and the water system he installed. And would you believe me that I’m planning to visit his old place in Hong Kong? Don’t freak out. And oh boy, I got to visit the Dakak Resort which was really awesome

 

2. ART – You still have it in you. I know we decided to kill our artistic side because we failed our plan, we flunk the UPCAT where we could have took FA in Cebu as scholars. We were damned  and forced to chose the fine art of Accounting because it’s cheap, challenging, and lots of jobs opportunities. But, as they say, old habits die-hard. Through the years it’s been an on and off love affair with the Art side because it’s going to be a frustrating yet exciting journey, without a mentor I was lost, but people kept coming as they unconsciously inspired me to create. It only took one “I love your Art” to start it all, full steam ahead. I’ve taught myself some crafts from sketching, portraiture, painting in watercolors, coffee and recently acrylics on canvass. Im doing well in the Art side, I love it. And most of my stuffs are for my friends, and I never charged a dime because we’re just sharing our blessings the same way they are to us.

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And oh, do you remember that cute girl from Davao, Patricia Santos, in the Miss Palarong Pambansa you were crushing on? You really have to keep an eye on her. She’ll eventually become a popular volleybelle and hot like this:

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3. RUN – Don’t be shocked but somehow you’ll become a runner in your near future and I’ve been doing it for some time now. I believe people recognizes me more as a runner than anything (i.e. writer, artist, blogger etc). I’m not fast, but I am a strong one and with a big heart to it. Trust me the sport of running is going to explode in Manila while you are burning candles at the review. Soon you’ll be joining races for a cause starting in 5k, then 10k, 15k, to half marathons and yes, you’ll become a marathoner! And you’ll write about them and get to know many people in the running community.  This summer though I became an Ultra-marathoner and did a slow half-marathon in Matalom. You’ll realize you’re a stronger person than you thought (and more hardheaded and stubborn than you can imagine). You’ll go to places because you run. It will be a lot of fun. And oh, Bad News: you wont be able to play baseball again nyahaha (evil laugh).

 

4. DATES – Yes, you’ll be dating quite a few girls in the years to come. Be proud isa kang tunay na lalaki! But remember to respect the women you go out with the way you love and cared for your mom and you big sister. At this point in my timeline I have to be honest I am not exactly a lucky guy when it comes to matters of heart and in loving someone. This is one of the main reason I’m writing to you because I think I  made a mistake on the way we approach the subject.

After the board exam, whatever the result, you are going to ask God for a good woman to love and to spoil with your great big heart. He heard you and He will sent you someone the next day. What comes next is a great love story I’m sure I’ll be able to write into into a novel someday. But then He will take her away in a manner that will perhaps damage you, beyond repair. You wont look for love and relationship for a long time until you will  suddenly meet this really amazing lady suddenly appearing out of nowhere and at wrong time and at the wrong place. You’ll get to know her enough to realize she’s someone too precious and too fragile for me to handle. This year, including this summer, I started dating a few ladies perhaps for all the wrong reasons. I was really hoping that if I go out with other girls I’d be able to take her charms off me and that I’ll find other ‘right wrong person’ to love. It backfired anyway, it felt so bad. The charm got stronger. Now I’m ready to give her up than risk hurting her badly. I have to protect her because she does not deserve a half-baked love from a half-hearted person. Some people simply deserves more.

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This Summer I realize the finer details of my life. Yes it was really good one and very refreshing after all those years of hardwork. But somehow, somewhere in between our timelines I lost the capacity to fully love another person. I’m sorry and I don’t take pride on it. It’s either I got too selfish, too contented being alone and too in love with myself; or I learned to protect myself from another heartbreak. Or both. Let’s just accept the fact that this time our awesomeness have failed and your twenty-seven year-old self is simply Not Worth of something.

Perhaps you’ll ask me why am I saying this things to you? What’s the point since you’ll have to live every moment of it anyway? To tell you the truth, I don’t know either. I lost so much this past year my friend, even the drive to write. So please believe every word I say in this letter because they will eventually happen, the good ones and the nasty ones. I love you my dear younger self because you’re a good man with strong conviction with God (things I’m not sure applies to me nowadays),and I want you to know that I’m very proud of what you’ve achieved and the many great things you’ll accomplish in the future. I only wish to spare you from all the major heartbreaks and depressions that will come along. I can only Hope that should this letter finds you, you’ll be able to correct my mistakes and change the course of my timeline. This is how the X-men: Days of Future Past works in the movie adaptation. There’s no fvckg time machine in it (not even Cable) so I have to send this part of my consciousness and the secrets it holds. Learn from them, OK?

It makes downtown LA look romantic and beautiful.

(c) PopSugar.com

Whatever the outcome, you have to live and be of good courage!

Your twenty-seven year-old self,

Lapiskamay
(now that’s a really weird pseudo-name, isn’t it?)

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I don’t know if I can make this race recap shorter than what my title implies otherwise. For some months I actually lost the will to write so I will be rusty and boring in this post. But hey 50k is running 50-Im-not-kidding-kilometers! It’s an awesome experience I wanna cry, as if running it isn’t a tear-jearker that MMK can only dream of.
The Samar Runners’ Club’s 50/50 50k++ Ultramarathon is an intense ultramarathon challenge in the heart of Samar in Catbalogan City. I am not new to the running terrains out there since I already did (and struggled) a 32k prior to CCM 2014. But there’s a saying that when you run there you won’t need any marathon training plans. Samar simply got  tough and brutal roads, yeah pretty much makalag-lag kneecaps. I did have my reservations in joining this event especially with my general lack of preparations. But when I saw what’s in store for the finishers: well designed drifit tees, narra obelisk for trophies (Im a fan of symbolism), certificates as big as paintings (I’ll use that frame for a painting soon) and medals. And oh, heavy meals. I wondered why I even had second thoughts.

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Fast forward to post-race: I should have trained like hell! TAGAM part! Hahaha. But seriously, its not much of a choice, since I was coming off an already overstaying injury on my right knee after CCM. I rested for two months and came back running again by summertime. I thought my half-assed trainings in Davao and Dapitan would help and prevent it from coming back but my laag modus fired back anyway. Nganong mi.enterLami man jud. So yes, injured or not, 6-packs or daddybods, I offer no excuse to my performance.

I finished in 9 hours and with one knee on ‘autopilot’ mode. Not exactly a strong performance for a consistent 5-hour marathoner. I’m blessed enough to finish it within cut.off time. Also I developed an ITB on that same problematic knee. Apparently, ITB, is the new girlfriend I have to take care of on the next few weeks. “That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.”   Some lessons are just learned the hard way. I disrespected (again) the distance and the terrain so this time I have to pay for the consequences. What matters now are I’m still in prime for position to make a great comeback, with sufficient training and enough sunburn and knee pain to remind to work harder and train smarter. So the question is how many hours I can shave from that 9 hours (Hey btw: 9 hours is a pretty descent time, I have some friends circling that time on 50ks. No offenses are meant.)

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So now that I’ve share with you the uglier side of the story. It’s time to reward the readers about the good things I’ve experienced in this maiden ultramarathon journey. I actually love the whole experience. No amount of pain or injuries (or pricetags) can keep my love for running. For a guy who spent two months of recovery on dates I mean OTs at the office, the 50/50 was simply my ticket away from those dark days. Murag bag-o gisugot. hehe

So why did I really chose to join the a 50k Ultramarathon? It actually depends on where you look at. The short reason is, it’s already time for me to level up, though this summer was not really the right time based on my fitness level haha. Gara-garaon lage. If you want the borderline version, it’s because I do admire the Samar Runner’s Club from an organizational standpoint. I am connected with a few organizations in running art, business and in the accounting profession so I can distinguish a bullshit group from a great one. SRC, I believe, is a well-oiled organization of professionals and businessmen with an actual sense of mission for the sport and passionate leaders and yeah well designed uniforms hehe. That’s rare nowadays. The long version is my ultra running journey actually has an end game. I just want to do the 102 Bataan Death March as my own humble gesture to my fallen grandfather who died in that notorious Death March during WWII. BDM is something personal. After that, unfortunately, the plan is to quit ultra running because my lifestyle and the amount of training to prepare for an ultra is not really in good terms. Besides, I love painting and half-marathons too.

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Haruki Murakami one’s said that when you’re out there running you’re either thinking about nothing or about everything. I’m on the latter category because I really think straight and clearly when I run. Last Sunday was not an exemption and given the long period of time I walked and run I can’t help but think about these five people:

5. The Mothers – last Sunday was the Mothers’ Day celebration and I’m very very blessed to have a loving and caring mother who is absolutely nothing short of great at raising the four metahumans for children, thus the Fantastic Four.  Mom doesn’t really knew I was joining an ultra marathon in Samar because I never told anyone. I dont want them to worry and I dont want to travel and run with a heavy heart because I defied my parents, again. Lying is better this time. I believe she does not really approve of me being an ‘adis-adis’ on the road and I have long given up hope of making my parents understand why I do it and spend some spectacular amount of money for running. But difference is good. I love my Nanay no matter what.

4. CPA Examinees – last Sunday was also the start of the brain-busting May 2015 CPA Board exam. I’ve been there a long time ago and it was a good battle but never an easy one. Yeah with eight (8!) crazy demanding subjects that’s worth tons of books to study finally culminating into an epic 4-day 2-weekend exams, I actually have a reason why I’m crazy sometimes. That was fun though. Goodluck future CPAs and I really hope to meet you on the road and let’s share those experiences.

3. To her – OK this is mandatory (whether you guys admit it or not haha). Everyone loves to run for someone, I’m no different. Though some souls are better left alone and some hearts are just too broken beyond repair but sometimes accidents happens and someone will just come uninvited and wipe away that notions. It still a little early and there’s a good chance this is going to be an unrequited love but hey this one’s for her too. I am not sure if I can win her heart but I just prayed for her that she be continually be awesome, to not get sick and hopefully be strong enough to move out of the dark.

2. The Organizers – I wish they know how much I hated them out there haha. With that scorching summer heat and those torturing uphells and downhill suffering one will surely attest SRC are mad and sir Griv, the race Director, is really an evil man. Nganong mi.enter lage. But anyways I did enjoy the race. Hating is good during times of duress. I love SRC oi, they never really left us alone out there.

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What really amazed me is that the organizers made the initiative to come up with a real-time tracking app! It’s innovative but not everyone sees it that way. Someone said upfront that it’s invasion of privacy. How immature. I never saw that technology used in the country. I remember Dalagan Tacloban used timing chips before and, boy, for a bloated fee it failed miserably and I’ll never know my time of my first half-mary. Major international marathons uses tracking and timing technology and I’ve got to experienced in its glorious form during the Singapore Marathon. My sister just tracked me using her phone to saved her precious hours of sleep because she knows where I am on the course when she woke up (and realized how freakin’ slow her brother is haha). Kudos to SRC for that innovation and may they forgive me because I’d rather not have nobody tracking my fatass, especially that day haha.

1. Fellow Road Warriors – this is a dedication to my fellow running buddies who shared the road with me on that fateful Sunday morning. To my TOES brothers and running friends wow walangya kayo after a 107 kilometer the previous weekend you still have the face and strength to run a 50k hehe. Recovery run, apparently, and I cant even chase them. To sir Sidney, who never left me all throughout especially when I lost the ability to run at kilometer 28 due to that damn injury. Thanks for tagging along with me, you’re a good brother. To the Jotojot couple: Aduana Pacer and Violet Runner, who came all the way from Cavite just to run the event, thanks for sharing the road with us. I know the travel time took a massive toll on your performances but hey we meet and finished together! I will never forget your resiliency and friendliness. Congratz and see you again.

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Overall the race is a tough one, unforgettable in both levels of pain and fond memories. Oh of course I’ll be coming back again next year (or sooner). I really want to come back prepared and stronger. Again, big kudos to the no-mercy group SRC for one hell of a race! Not bad for a first time ultramarathon experience.

 

 

Photos courtesy from Samar Runners Club.

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I believe that the best stories are written on the stars and things happen through a grand scheme of plans. We may be divided to this idea but we do agree that we are destined for something greater, right? Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why we look up at night to see the stars. It has the power to make you think, to meditate and to plan for grander scheme of things our souls want.  But Last Sunday morning, before the great John Pages fired the starting gun I saw the stars and thought “How on Earth am I going to finish this race?”

Preparation (or the lack of it)
                The stars made a sick joke out of my decision to back out of the race.  I registered in the 42k catergory because I was eager to break the Sub5 barrier and that chamba PR of mine in last year’s CCM. But no I wasn’t really supposed to run that one.  However things got complicated when I joined the Singapore Marathon (or SCMS) last December 7th where I hurt my feet and broke my eternally-invincible-kaya-ko-yan persona. To be  honest I was busted and toasted out there, by KM34 I found myself lying on the ground exhausted and depleted. Super init grabe. After SCMS, I knew I hurt my legs that after three weeks of rest I still can’t run beyond 15k without grimacing in pain.  I have to give up CCM. It’s the most logical thing for me to do. No run, no training, no gym.  Apparently my running career ended in Singapore, well, almost!

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“Arang inita pre!” taken at the SCMS last month.

I sold my slot to one of Cebu’s most popular runners, DJ Fortz a.k.a. the Michael Jackson of Cebu!  I figure CCM will always be CCM with or without me, but it’s quite weird not to see Michael Jackson running the SRP!  But with only a few ‘days’ not even a week, the Joke came when I learned that DJ Fortz won a 42k slot from Aktib.Ph and RunRoo.com for the most viewed article in 2014. My 42k slot came back to me like a psychotic protégé raised from the dead, “Master I’m back!” And I have no way of selling it.

Good Lord, you’ve got to be kidding me. I have to run this marathon with practically next to nothing training! And by the way the feet was still injured.  Tabang Lord.

Lechon Pa More

                At the starting area I feel like a baboy aslonon surrounded by wolves in a pig pen. The Joke keeps getting better and nastier on my expense when I realized the Finisher’s Medal is, guess what, a lechon (roasted pig) ! I’ve only started running Marathon distances in 2014, completed three (CCM, RUPM, SCMS) and DNF-ed one (KFM). The way I disrespected the distance by putting up half-assed trainings in each of the listed races, I knew I set myself up for an epic suffering. Untrained, injured, and uninspired odds are likely going to be me declaring DNF at SRP.

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Hey you guy in blue.. you are so into trouble mate. Oink oink!

 

Tha Game of Life

But somehow when the starting gun fired, I heard a faint whisper which says: “Welcome to the Game of Life..” Either it’s just a random runner’s spoken mantra or another divine joke-slash-intervention, somehow things got better after that and the universe was finally cooperating. I felt strong, the pain on my foot was gone, adrenaline started to pump up and I was back on my old reckless self.
But before I narrate how my race went, let us analyze what a ‘Game of Life’ could have possibly meant? Is it a spin-off of the smash-hit TV series Game of Thrones where good guys lives and King Jeoffrey roasted on the iron throne? Or maybe it was just random words that somehow calmed my nerves and directed my consciousness to the stars above telling me.. Life is not a fairytale. It’s as hard like running a marathon. So man up and prove your worth.

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taken by sir Reynan Opada on a runner who literally have to crawl to the finish line. #respect

 

My running life is not easy either. My job takes a lot time and sanity to perform so it’s really hard to train as much as I love to. Then my CCM experience started in telling my parents  I’d  visit Cebu to look for a school for my Master’s degree (which is not a lie). Running is tolerated at home, but I don’t think it’s accepted. At least its not even a topic at the dinner table.  To them it’s just a child’s play made so small by repeating the root word “dagan-dagan”. Their son must just has a weird way of wasting his youth through dagan-dagan on marathons, perhaps equivalent to vices on drugs, drinking to death and pregnancy spree. Again, it’s tolerated but never accepted.  I pay for my trips, my registration fees and I usually go home like a dude from the beerhouse found guilty. All the medals, singlets and bibs I earned through the years, I keep them under my closet beside the socks on top of the shoe box, I guess for being the only runner in town that’s a worthy place for my spoils of war. Hidden away.

The Antonios

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With sir Antonio Valles from Catbalogan City.

By the time I reached SRP I was running with the two Antonios who both gave me important lessons on life. Sir Antonio Valles is a good friend of mine who is old enough to be my father from Catbalogan City, we were pacing each other in the first half of the race. He told me he is running CCM for the first time and to say thanks to God and Sto. Nino for being alive. By the time I conquered Singapore Marathon his home in Catbalogan was flooded waist deep to Typhoon Ruby and head-deep during Typhoon Senyang. When I sold my CCM slot to DJ Fortz, Catbalogan was struck by a landslide that killed 20 lives. He’s just glad to run CCM alive.

The other Antonio I met at the SRP is sir Antonio from Australia. Like the marathon distance, he is 42 years older than me. He arrived from Sidney the very previous night for a three-week vacation. And boy look at that, a man nearing his 70’s nursing a nasty jet-lag but there he is still kicking the road. He is so  amazing! I wonder if I’d still be running 42 years from now. We parted ways at the turning point as I have to outrun Sir Antonio Valles the same way Antonio from Australia have to outpace the rest of the pack. Life goes on.

Finish Line

I crossed the finish line on a calculated 5 hours and 53 minutes, by no means not a fast one but for something I had to suffer through 42 kilometers hey that’s incredible diba! I think I followed the classic formula for undertrained runners, strong first 21k, then a slowing steadily in the next 11kilometers and the last 10km a combination of power walks, short jogs and mighty runs if there’s a cameraman haha. It’s my 3rd marathon in 4 months. I’m thankful I did not aggravate my injury since I can still walk. I’m thankful for God’s loving strength He gave, to the never-give-up attitude throughout the course, to the opportunity to meet friends in the running community and most of all teaching all those valuable lessons in Life. My wish for a rainy race-day was not granted, instead it was one heavenly day to run a marathon. And of course I would like to congratulate sir John Pages, the Cebu Executive Runners Club and RunRio for bringing to us one successful marathon. We were entertained, we were fed and fully hydrated and we were challenged. It was fun! I’ve run so many races already and I’m happy to be a part of CCM, which I consider the best race in the country.

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I’m very happy I came back to Cebu where I can run with so many happy runners. Only now I realize my life has indeed revolved in Running. It has become a Life. Since running a marathon is after all a game to enjoy, to be free, to explore and to meet new friends.. I guess that’s whay it’s called the Game of Life. We all have our reasons and intensions on why we run and joined the CCM. We, the runners, all played the Game of Life. All of them written in the stars. How was yours?

 

Photo credits to: sir Rey Opada, sir Antonio Valles, Fotosmile and Paksit Photos.

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As a self-proclaimed traveller, it still haunts me that I am still yet to visit a foreign country. In our society, especially for a 26 year-old bachelor with a CPA license, “money” reasons seems to be no longer applicable no matter how low my paygrade really is, haha. Thanks to running I finally found something to fix that problem: to run an international marathon in 2014! The list of Asian cities was longer than expected but, ultimately, I decided for Singapore’s Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS 2014) because, well, I dream of visiting the Lion City for over a decade!

The  Travel
                The timing of the trip couldn’t be even more timely as my big sister, Gretchen, who is working in the Middle-East, will be spending the Holidays at home. So a 5–day trip to Singapore with her is perfect.  SCMS is only meant a leisure run for me w/o representing a group or any company I’m connected with since I wanted to make the trip a family adventure,  until we almost did not make it to travel. During the days leading up to the SCMS the Philippines faces once again a terrifying treat of a Super Typhoon named Hagupit, a year after our country suffered unspeakable devastation from Haiyan. Our home was only a 100km away from the eye of the storm and we were lucky to survive the storm last year.  This time we were given the uncomfortable options to either stay at home or pursue the trip and the marathon away from everyone.  We choose the latter. “Dad, it’s SCMS and we will regret it if we back out.”

Typhoon Hagupit on December 6th. Day before SCMS.

Typhoon Hagupit on December 6th. Day before SCMS.

By Saturday all Philippine races were cancelled, including the biggest one in the calendar, the 38th National Milo Marathon Finals. All runners have to brace for the typhoon Hagupit.

Pre-race/Race Kits
We arrived in Singapore the day before the marathon. What greeted us out of the airport is a beautiful city that seems to glow in the moonlight above, as down below on a taxi cab I knew I fell in love with Singapore.  Expectations were sky-high for the race and the way the organizer handled all the pre-race activities from social media, email updates, to community training camps and to the collection of race kits, everything looks fine and well organized. I was amazed by the sheer amount of volunteers in the race kit collection at the Singapore Expo that I got mine in less than 15 minutes amidst thousands of runners turning out that same time. And the Expo is terrific, everything was there from running gears, sponsors, pacers, freebies and some walls to vandalize (literally) haha.

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Just finished signing our autographs. haha

 

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Race Proper
                The race proper started at 5 AM, by Philippine standards it’s a very late time for a marathon gun-start. But I can’t complain, since the sunrise is also way too late to show up. I think it was at 8:30 AM when it got hot. The heat is not an issue, it was a challenge. By 9AM, it was scorching hot. Coming into the race, I knew I set myself up for a suffering of a lifetime. First, I’m out of shape and, nope, I won make my workloads an excuse. I have to save for months just to make this trip possible, it’s a necessary compromise. Which led to the Second reason, I lack training. So for my third marathon this year, I have to bank on my youthful strength to cross the finish line. I will be super slow but it has to be Fun!

And Fun I did have at the marathon! There were thousands of runners at the finish line. It’s the biggest crowd of runners I’ve seen. The starting line was festive at the Orchard Road highlighted by the Christmas lights all over the place. I positioned myself at the very tip of the first wave to take the pressure off. The first few kilometers were situated at the urban jungle, a large departure from the rice fields and shorelines I’m running at home. But somehow it felt home, I was relaxed and running my own race.

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SCMS is a picturesque marathon especially at the earlier parts as we saw the familiar landmarks like the Singapore Flyer, the floating football field, Marina Bay Sands, the Merlion and the places I only got to see on postcards and internet. That day I was running through those places and that, my friends, is already worth the registration fee! And volunteers were everywhere, my God we don’t have that number even in our marquee running events. They were friendly, cheerful and always smiling. One thing I really found cute is the way I heard the volunteers offering Active “muscle rub” as “masarap” it’s a Filipino word for sweet. I smiled and appreciated those tiny moments.

The hard part really came when we entered the East Coast Park at KM15. The road out there is just too tight and narrow to handle a big crowd of runners. It took lots of effort to navigate through thousands of runners who were running and walking. It was too crowded out there that I just can’t catch up on the 5-hour pacers no matter how I tried to increase my speed.

Don't be afraid to walk a little. Smile even if it hurts. haha. That's me with Ruel, a Filipino runner based on Singapore.

Don’t be afraid to walk a little. Smile even if it hurts. haha. That’s me with Ruel, a Filipino runner based in Singapore.

The Decision at KM29
                By the time I reached the rear end of ECP at KM29, I was tired already and I needed more than the gels I brought, I have to eat bananas. Based on the map it should be the Banana station. But to my dismay there were NO Bananas around, not even seen a single gel. I only brought three gels for Kms 10, 20 & 32 but with the sun punishing us deadly I knew I was in trouble. Then I overheard an Italian runner begging to the volunteers for gels or bananas at the same station. He was pale and really looked exhausted and without thinking I gave my last gel to him. You can call me stupid for giving it up that gel (my last nutrition for the remaining 14 kilometers of intense heat), but I don’t think I can run with a clear conscience if I leave a brother guy behind when I have the means to help him. It’s really no big deal. Singapore was one of the first nations to respond to my country after Haiyan’s devastation and donated P250 Million pesos for the rehabilitation.

You can call me crazy, but I wanted to suffer as much as I can bare. Look, I’m already running in Singapore, it’s already a dream come true but I left my home country that is facing a dangerous threat of a typhoon. A heat wave is nothing compared to the frustration of my fellow Filipino runners who were forced to cancel their SCMS or the chance to compete at the Milo Marathon, or how about the fear of possibly losing their homes, livelihood and loved ones just like in Haiyan last year. Finishing the SCMS is The only thing I can do for them.

Death Valley
                And suffer I did at the “Death Valley” from the disappointment at KM29 came a really long stretch of construction valley that stretches for kilometers with no hydration and under the scorching heat of the Singaporean sun.  I tried as much as I could to keep up with the 5:15 pacers but by the time we finally reached the next water station I WAS DONE. It’s just too hot, too hungry and too tired. I counted my mistakes and lapses on my training (or the lack thereof) and the marathon so far. The list was long haha. But hey I’m an accountant, and I figured it’s only 9 kilometers to go. The worst case scenario other than a heatstroke is a 6-hour finish. Not bad. Cge push mo yan! Puso! Puso! So I run my heart out and chose to celebrate this beautiful life on those last kilometers.

Whoa KM34! just got past the Death Valley!

Whoa KM34! just got past the Death Valley!

SCMS have this meaningful tagline “Run For a Reason”.  I have so many reasons to run in SCMS. I run for my running buddies and family’s safety, for my country’s pride and most especially I run to thank Singapore. Failure was never an option. And my big sister, my biggest supporter, is waiting for me at the finish line, she’ll kill me if I gave up. 🙂 haha

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Post Race
I crossed the Finish Line at 5:59 on my watch! Big sister happily flagged me to pose for pictures 100 meters before the finish line. Click click! That’s my happiest moment of the marathon! I got my hard-earned medal and I felt massive relief that it’s over. Then I proceeded to take some victory pictures with my sister and checking up stuffs. Luckily (or shamelessly) I was able to take a picture with a cute 4-hour pacer, thanks Clarissa!

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Conclusion
The SCMS has been a memorable international marathon debut for me. It got all the drama, the surprises and the promised suffering. I had a lot of fun running the race, perhaps even more from touring the City (it comes with the package). I gained positive experiences, new friends and a lifetime worth of memories. Sure it’s not a perfect marathon and has encountered some controversies after the race, but no matter what others may say I still love #SCMS2014! I promise to come back on the near  future to race again, hopefully stronger and faster!  Thank you Singapore, Daghang Salamat #SCMS2014!

 

P.S.
Hopefully, next time the organizers will address these following issues to make a better race:
1.  Advance the gunstart an hour earlier (or at least make it clear in the ad that it can be a scorching hot marathon)
2. Provide lots of Bananas and Gel.  These stuffs could be lifelines to some runners.
3. Shorten the ECP part. The road there is too narrow.
4. No more Death Valley. We’re just mortals. 🙂
5. Install a courier option for runners especially those coming abroad. A few of my fellow Filipino runners, who stayed to face the typhoon, did not get their race kits.

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It is not rare to hear more and more celebrities are into running. Locally we have Anne Curtis, Piolo Pascual, Karylle, Kuya Kim Atienza and Matteo Guidicelli just to name a few. The sport is getting bigger and wider that crosses in all walks of life from billionaire to student-athletes, from superstars to fans, and from the obese to the anorexic. Life seems dull until you get infected by the running bug where all thing bright and wonderful especially on the road. But perhaps the biggest name that really took all my attention is the English singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding who ran a half-marathon in 1 hour and 41 mins. Now that’s a very fast time.

What’s even more impressive is that she made it looked so easy sporting this girly outfit on raceday, below:

Fitness fan: Ellie Goulding took part in the Royal Parks Foundation half marathon around central London on Sunday morning

Usually fans get to admire a singer by watching the performance on a music video or concert then get to appreciate the kind of lifestyle the artist leads. With Ellie Goulding it’s the opposite. I actually didn’t know Ellie Goulding or her  music until a few weeks ago when I read the race article. Right now, she’s one of my favorite artist. Haha. This one below is one of the many examples why:

No, seriously. She turns out to be a great singer with great voice, powerful lyrics and just sings beautiful music. Lots of massive hits for such an amazing voice. I’m loving her songs! The way I read her profile, I think she’s a superstar level in Europe and starting to invade the US. Sorry I’m not much into music. Hehe. The girl even has a Nike endorsement, she’s a running ambassador!

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But hey, I hope it’s not a bad thing to admire an artist not on her craft but on her type of exercise. Let’s get back to the 1hour 41 half-marathon: it’s a really really fast time. That is running 21 kilometers running non-stop on a pace where you could hardly speak with legs fully extended and strides maximized. I was able to catch the rankings on the best times for  Philippine women’s half-marathon in 2014, and Ellie’s time  will land on the top 25!

To summarize: My next goal is to run a half-marathon at that pace! C’mon my running friends are logging that time too nowadays. So yeah, it’s time to train. I’m targeting a March 2015 race date. Libre mangarap mga pre. haha

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I was able to run last weekend’s Run United Philippine Marathon (RUPM) held in Manila at the Mall of Asia grounds. And man it was tough and painful!

I greatly enjoyed last year’s edition where I ran on the half-marathon category and vowed return this year to take on the full M. I booked my tickets as early as April and barely registered for the race at the last line. This year’s race is designed to be a walk in the park and fun filled day of athletic awesomeness and meet ups with old friends. But after finishing the race, none seemed to mattered than the fact that I just survived one hell of a run in the metro. It was survival mode.

I trained for RUPM since late June, pushed the grind in the months of July and August implementing a low carb diet, easy runs twice on weedays, a tempo outing and one LSD per week. I felt strong and leaner and meaner. But I wished I never slacked on September, not that I could manage my workload. I guess this boring and uneventful life of an accountant got the better me. I prayed that those 2.5months of training will be enough for a strong finish in October.

It didn’t.

The Marathon Route Map.

The Marathon Route Map.

I was sluggish on race. I was weak and so goddamn slowly my only consolation is that I did not monitor the my progress during the race because I forgot my GPS watch. My plan is to go easy on the 1st 10k, build up some speed until the 32k before the sun comes up and the next 10k is as easy as pie. That’s the plan, but here is what happened. I was on great shape from start to 25k, I think I was going steady on a 6:30 min/km pace. But after those killer uphills on the flyovers, my knees started to cave in, my stomach starting to throw up at the site of Gatorade (but I kept drinking ’em anyway) and frankly I was dead tired.

They said the last 10 kilometers is the real battle in a marathon. Mine was the last seven-teen. Sun came up, uphill smiling, knees breaking and energy  dropping, I knew I set my self up for one painful running (if you call it running). I said to my self I should be running, for pete’s sake this a running event not a damn walking event. 😦

I miraculously finished on 5 hours and 29 minutes. A respectable time, only 20 minutes shy of my Cebu Marathon time but it can have been much much worse. I just hold on to the idea that this is no personal run, this is for my kababayan in Leyte. They survived Yolanda to rise up again, and there’s no way RUPM will make me quit (not when you’re running with 3,000 marathoners).  I thought I’d be swept past the cut-off time (the joy of not having a gps watch. But anyway, I’m not the type of runner who keep tabs on time. I measure a run not by hours and minutes but by the unwritten barometer called “awesomeness“. I grade my performance in RUPM  a “C+”  (for craziness), not good but not too bad. I’m just happy I managed to cross the finish in one piece. #bangonLEyte

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Epal Mode! allow me to spoil this awesome runner’s victory shot. hihihi

But RUPM as a whole is definitely a great race to take on. The fast course of the 21k last year didn’t prepared me for the hell we have to go in the full M category. I did not see those uphills and elevation coming. The sun was shining bright and pusnishing as expected. There were loops and exciting turn on the course around the Manila. The cities we went through the race were Pasay, Quezon City, Makati City and BGC (I thought of stopping by for a Starbucks). It was fun actually seeing the sites, the tall buildings and the general urban jungle-ness of RUPM.

Defnitely, I’ll be back stronger to seek redemption one day in the future. Afterall RUPM looks a lot like the marquee running Marathon event in the country’s capital. It was so damn well organized, grabe. Not too crowdy as Milo Marathon but just big enough and stylish enough to attract runners from the provinces (me!) and even abroad. With RunRio helming their brainchild event, they cant seem to make matters wrong.  The whole course is covered by lots of water stations complete with hydrations and medical teams. Traffic was controlled and some major streets were closed for the event. I had no major concern with the route. Kudos to the organizers! (and please more stuffs in the loot bags)

I guess to conclude this recap of the toughest race and definitely the toughest letter M in my running hobby, I have to list down the lessons I’ve learn in this race. One, never to underestimate a 42k no matter how hard you train because there will always be off-days. Second, I need to train more seriously. Third, I have to IMPROVE: get stronger on the lower body, master the core, do more long runs, heat training and I have to shed off lots of kilos. The next big M will be an even tougher, bigger and riskier  with a lot on the line. In short I have to exceed myself in  Singapore this December.

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