Thursday, December 29, 2011

Running... elsewhere


A taste of ultrarunning
I made sure my Philippine stay ended on a high in July as I broke through the hell of an ultra (story here). Because by the following month, we'd be moving to a different country-- a different continent.

I should have been more excited about new challenges ahead but the first thing I did on arriving Down Under was look for suitable running grounds. Sounds like anybody I know who loves running.

Within hours of arriving first in Melbourne, I wanted to log a run but struggled against the cold winter breeze that stuffed my nostrils as I stepped out. The temperature was in single digits! Try running with the air conditioner full blast against your face and it's like that.

Sydney promised to be more forgiving. But winter is still winter wherever you are, I guess. No wonder I didn't find that many runners on the road.

Freezing in Melbourne
Spring that came in September was a lot better. We had a new place on the hill. It had plenty of parks and reserves with barefoot-friendly footpaths. Runners were beginning to come about. I was able to log some decent runs. Dogs here were mostly kept to a tight noose and a pedestrian always have right of way. I wonder why this isn't so back home where you play ten pin bowling with a guy on 4 wheels.

In October, I ventured farther out. With no race in sight, my weekend long runs varied from 12 to 16 km. But the month ended on a high when in the middle of a 10-miler, I decided to do a half marathon-- my first 21k in Australia. I followed this up with another the following week.

November. This is where it gets exciting. My friend and elementary classmate TTB Ironman Jo invited me to a race, specifically the Sydney Marathon Clinic Road Race Series, a series of monthly 5, 10, 21, 25 and 30k races beginning October to June in preparation for the Sydney Marathon in September. Race 3 was scheduled on the 3rd Sunday of December. I signed up for a 10k as I needed to break my age-old official record of 77 minutes. I knew that if I needed to be fast on this one, speedwork was the key. Read one time about this particular type of workout so a lot of weekly Yasso 800s I did.

By December, I knew I could run at least an 8k at 5:30 min/km pace. That would probably make my 10k in 55 min. But I have never done it before. I tapered my runs about a week before the race.

Race day 18 December, Sunday, was D-Day. Jo promised to break his 52-min PB while another friend of ours, Allan, a bike enthusiast, will be running his first 10k. 

At the starting line with our race bibs and timing tags attached (I placed mine in my right calf sleeve since my VFF didn't have any laces for the tag to attach to), we counted around 50 runners for the 10k and when the gun fired, we were immediately off to a quick start. I knew Jo was a fast runner so I was really proud to say I overtook him in the first 10 meters of the race (haha!) before he upped his pace and said, "See you later, mate!"

Mihkelson Reserve in Quakers Hill

Allan and I were running comfortably during the first 2 kilometers before we separated as we headed for the first of 2 water stations. I was neck and neck with a blonde 30-something before I realized she must have thought I was a stalker as I drafted behind her.


With an Ironman for the SMC Road Race Series 10k

On the industrial parts of Fairfield heading downhill, I raced ahead and forgot about the blonde (yeah right!). This being an industrial part of town, trucks and semis were a common occurrence but thankfully not today.


and with a bandit on his maiden 10k (59:25)
I crossed the 5k mark at 28+ min, a PB for me. I was on my way to breaking 60 minutes then.  I was running at around 5:25 - 5:40 min/km and by km 7, I knew I would break 60.

SMC Race Route (click to enlarge)
The last kilometer was a sprint. I gave it all at 5:11 pace crossing the finish line officially at 55:45 with an average pace of 5:32 min/km. Not only did I cut 22 minutes from my previous 10k back in Cebu, but I finally broke 60 minutes as well in my second official 10k race on my first international race. 

I couldn't wipe the smile of my face! But I was just amused to find out days later that I ranked 20th out of 21 runners for my age group 30-39 years. These guys were a competitive bunch! God help me in my 21k.

No matter, the year ended on a high. An ultramarathon done and a PB for a 10k accomplished. What the next year will bring is anyone's guess. A mid-year marathon though is in my sights, injury-free and a better time.

See you on the road then, runners!


Ready to rumble for the next series!
Happy New Year! 2012 bring it on!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

CBR

You see us around Ayala's Cebu Business Park. We run Monday nights on recovery to the beeping of a metronome's 180 beat. 

5.3
We are a motley group of runners, strangers in fact, yet we share the same passion. Pre runs at Terra Plana we talk about running most of the time admiring great athletes like Anton, Jason, and a little Mexican named Arnulfo. We discuss running terminologies like heel drop, footstrike, pronation and supination with the enthusiasm of a school boy yet mid run we talk about something else-- our families, our work... and the latest in showbiz. 

Post run we talk about running once again.

I didn't personally know anybody then when I decided to check this group out yet I was met with enthusiasm by fellows who extended their arms in handshake... and looked at your feet.

Seemed odd then but when you run with this group, we make our feet our most prized possession. That's why we run in them.

Barefoot.

Well, not actually barefoot but the closest thing to being barefoot-- minimalism.

We are the Cebuano Barefoot Runners. 

We run in Evos, Vibram Five Fingers, Merrells, other minimalist shoes and even barefoot. 

But the majority run in huaraches, Cebuano-crafted by a master himself named Jacob.

All week I run in VFFs yet on Monday nights I make it a point to run tarahumara style, the greatest ultra distance runners on Earth.

Along the way I have made new friends. That is why I will miss running with this group.

5th Page Barefoot Run, my first with CBR, 14 Mar 2011.

6th Page Barefoot Run, 21 Mar 2011.

7th Page Barefoot Run, 28 Mar 2011.


14th Page Barefoot Run, cancelled on account of bad weather, 6 June 2011.

...and me in my maiden marathon, barefoot.  9 Jan 2011.
Keep on running, barefoot[ER]s! 

(CBR photos from the group's Facebook page admin and barefoot runner, Anthony.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

All against Seb

Mid season. 9 races to go. 

Yet "The Finger" still leads by 4 races.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing

A glimmer of hope. Everybody is catching up.

A red car scored the most points in the last 3 races.

A silver car took Germany. 

A glimmer of hope indeed as a Spaniard hitches a ride with an Australian in an English-based team owned by an Austrian and powered by a French V8.

(image from f1fanatic.co.uk)
All against Seb.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My CDO-Dahilayan 55k Trail Ultramarathon

CDO City Hall
“Congratulations, pre! Ultramarathon virgin no more,” this text I received from my good friend Gifford, an ultrarunner, uplifted me as I was traversing the long stretch of gradual inclined trail leading to Dahilayan. I was already way past the ‘wall’ of the marathon distance of 42.195 km. Where I am was in the ‘death grip’ of the ultra. 

I had registered a month before for the Cagayan de Oro-Dahilayan (in Bukidnon) 55k Trail Ultramarathon, the first and longest to be held in Northern Mindanao and the first to use timing chips.

Pre-breakfast Pastel
I started the run in the back of the pack with 10 or so runners behind me. The bulk of the participants easily climbed the first of unending uphill climbs starting at km 2. My strategy was to finish the race within the cut-off time of 12 hours by running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute. At this rate, I could arrive within 10 hours with 2 hours to spare for any eventualities. I walked all the uphill climbs and ran downhill as planned.

I was also taking in the scenic route. Taking pictures along sleepy towns and barangays as my support vehicle leaped frog me every 3-5 km or so in between aid stations.

Brgy Kil-og
There were downhill trails I could not run lest I sprain an ankle this early as my headlamp provided only little illumination along the path.

Massage midway through an uphill
When the sun rose, I was at a mountain barangay where people greeted me and children gave me high fives.

I stopped often to take in the view. There was one stretch of trail where there was not a whimper of a ghost. I had heard that Bukidnon was a rebel infested area so I ran this course as fast as I could. I did not know that barangay tanods and policemen were strategically placed nearby.

The Municipality of Libona, Camp 09 and Camp Philips were just a glimpse. A spectator in the race in a small town called Agusan Canyon asked me in tagalog if I was from Manila. “Taga Agusan pod ko, manang. Pero Agusan del Sur”. That elicited laughter from her friends.

I was enjoying the run.

Km 20 spectators
But at km 48 and almost 10 hours of running and hiking, I was feeling rather fatigued, down and sleepy. The crunching sound of gravel and stone underneath my running shoes were becoming a sickening thud. I could see nothing but rows and rows of pineapple fields under the heat of the noontime sun. 

Hours earlier at km 40, my Garmin (GPS watch) had run out of battery. I had no idea now how far to go and how much time had elapsed. That disappointed me a lot. We were only using my support vehicle’s odometer reading to get an estimate and it said 48.

Trails!
At one point, I told my crew I was going to take a nap for 5 minutes but then they let me sleep for 10. When I woke, I was energized once again.

I reached aid station 50 at the end of the field. 5 more to go, I thought. I gathered my strength and power hiked the rest of the way as I could no longer run for more than 20 seconds at most due to fatigue.

After what seemed like forever, I asked a local on horseback how far yet to Dahilayan Adventure Zone and her answer was around 5-6 km. What the…! I could not believe it! A fellow runner came up to me and said they made a mistake in the sign posts. Tough luck!

Downhill portion of Camp 09
More trails!
After more walks, lunch and rest, I came around a bend and saw km 55. Yes 55! But I was nowhere near Dahilayan yet or where the party was. I hiked for more. Another sign said “850 m to Dahilayan”.

Pineapple fields of Del Monte
That was probably the longest hike I have ever felt. Rain poured down on me and mud cakes were forming everywhere. It was quite slippery to run and my shoes were carrying mud, excess weight to a tired runner. My support vehicle was slipping and sliding as it went past.

At Km 55 with 2.5 more to go
I persisted and climbed on fours as the rain intensified. Finally at the top of the hill, I saw the big letters of the word “FINISH”. I raised my arms, stood for a few moments underneath and contemplated how I managed 55 as I heard the clicks of SLRs everywhere.

I made it! Yes, ultramarathon virgin no more!

Click to enlarge ultrarunner :-)
The advantage of finishing at the back of the pack is that everybody else is lined up to see you arrive.
Elevation profile 40 of 55 km
Map from my Garmin up to km 40

I’m thankful to my support crew for staying up with me. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to make it.
F1 (Ultra)Runner

To my families and friends who kept texting me words of encouragement that I can make it;

To my fellow runners and adiks in dailymile and Facebook who motivated me all those months during my training runs;

Thanks a lot! See you on the road… and on the trails, my friends! 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Running and others

I haven't written as of late. I'll make the pictures do the talking.

In February, we revisited the Lion City...

...and enjoyed what Universal had to offer.

Took a trip to a village in March half submerged by flooding...

...to give away what small things we have.

By April, I stared in awe at a wonder yet undiscovered.
Then I went home in May...
...to gaze once more at the island a stone throw away.

Visited old folks with friends in a remote village...

...fed some kids...

...comforted a child with special needs...

...and sat down to admire the setting sun.

In June, we organized a half and paced a friend...

...to bring home his badge.

I captured a lumad to place 2nd...

...and jump for joy...

...at an islet facing the Pacific.

And this July...

...I journey to a trail ultramarathon
to test the perseverance of the human spirit.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Formula 1: Red Bull flies in Malaysia!

The RB7 in practice, Malaysia. (YallaF1.com)

What is it about the RB7 that seems to have baffled big teams like Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes? 

2010 Champion Sebastian Vettel drove to an impressive victory of the season in the Malaysian Grand Prix. 2 in a row as the season starts! 

McLaren and Ferrari are left collecting scraps. 

The Adrian Newey-designed Formula 1 is incredibly ahead of its rivals no one knows exactly how fast they go. 

Not since the Schumacher-Ferrari era of 2000-2004 has fans seen an overt advantage in raw pace. 

While Schumacher had the power of Ferrari, today's Red Bull relies less on engine power but more on aerodynamics. 

Already there are talks of McLaren and Ferrari following suit in the wake of a 'flexi-wing' front end design of the RB7. 

Hurry up, guys. Before the season ends.