Boracay Beach Run

Ever since the running bug bit me a year ago, I’ve been trying to find new places to run in and different people to run with. During the TM 2011 district convention in Manila, I got a couple of Toastmasters to run an easy 5k on Roxas Boulevard. See http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150172880323402.314288.690398401&type=1

Running on the sun-kissed beaches of Boracay was wayyy too hard to resist. Even though I left Manila with a sprain that left me bedridden for a couple of days, I still packed running gear hoping I’d be ok by the time I checked into the convention hotel.

Unfortunately, I was still limping throughout the convention. I had painkillers with me but it was still not enough. I had all but given up on crossing the beaches of Boracay off my “Places To Run” list.

Then, someone told me to try Biofreeze. I had my doubts. But miraculously, in one afternoon, the pain disappeared.

It rained really hard the night the convention ended. The heavy rain continued on to the following morning. I was pissed because there’s little point of being on the beach without sunshine, right? It was still overcast after lunch and it didn’t feel right hitting the water in those conditions. I decided to run instead.

The toastmasters I ran with were not available this time. Cathy went home and Jorjames did not attend the Boracay midcon. I laced up my Supernovas, took a swig of water and went on my merry way.

I started on the beach path. After a couple of minutes, I found that my running GPS was not able to acquire a satellite signal. Ended up walking towards the beach and under an unobstructed sky to get a signal. While waiting for a couple of minutes for signal lock, I noticed that the sand was firm due to that morning’s heavy downpour. Firm enough to run on more safely than on loose sand.

This was a slow run. I had no hydration and there were no stores selling Gatorade or water after a certain part of the beach. Even though the sand was firm, I had to be really careful with the uneven surface since I just recovered from that sprain. Stopped here and there to take in the scenery and take pictures. It was just too bad that I didn’t bring an SLR. Was just too heavy and I didn’t have a bag to bring it along.

I was about to turn back at the edge of Station 1 when I stumbled onto the path into Nami Beach. A shame that there was no way of going beyond without getting my sneakers really wet. Had about 3km to run back. Running in wet socks and sneakers would’ve been very uncomfortable.

Turned back to refuel at Real Coffee. A group of us tried to have dessert here the previous night after dinner at Aria. It was closed by the time we got here. The place was known for Kalamansi Muffins. Ended up having a really nice fuel stop. Met Lee Rosaio, the owner/proprietor of Real Coffee. Had a nice chat about Boracay, how it was my first time there, how it’s changed over the years. Did the touristy thing and had a picture with Ms. Rosaio. Also ended up ordering some muffins to take home.

Went through d’mall and finally gallowayed back to the hotel. The sun was shining when I got back. Walked back into the hotel drenched in sweat. Dressed down and attacked the beach.

There’s nothing like floating in the ocean as a reward for a run. This made this extraordinary session into a extraordinarily memorable session. I will come back to Bora to run from Station 3 to Station 1 and beyond. Maybe do the SkyCable run one day.

I hope there’s a nice safe running route in Samal Island. Would love to run there come April 2012. 😉

Go run and watch “Thelma”

I unabashedly admit that I watched Thelma because it’s a movie about running. I was  feeling pretty down when I saw this but came out of the theater having a little more hope for local cinema.

Thelma is loosely based on the story of Elma Muros. The first act is set around Thelma’s life in the simple but poverty stricken fields of Ilocos Norte. Certain events force Thelma out of school and join a 5k “marathon” <cringe> to win some money for the family. She wins by a mile and is discovered by the local track coach. We follow her journey from being a newbie barefoot athlete to one of the elite runners in the country.

Some of the shots in this movie took my breath away. The last 500m of the first 5k “marathon” <cringe> was jaw-droppingly amazing to watch. Vigan, Pagudpud, the twilight streets of Manila and the University of Makati Running Oval were  beautiful backdrops for the movie. I’d say that the locations even became supporting characters.

I liked the product placements. Kudos to adidas for supporting the movie. Though the rival bitchy runner’s “swooshed” >:) runner’s singlet was a tad too obvious among a sea of three-striped attired athletes. I could expect a Milo tent on the track, but Yellow Cab Pizza? <scratching head>

What I really loved about this movie is that the filmmaker’s respect for running really shone through. I have to give them a big pat on the back to have a minute of Maja Salvador running in super slo-mo at the end showing very good (if not perfect) running form.

Highly recommended. Go watch this in the theater and support Philippine cinema!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1oGnYihAHo&w=560&h=315]

Run For Brooks

Brooks Adrenaline X's - 276km and counting!
My tortured Adrenalin Xs.Virtually no heel wear!

I was 90 pounds overweight when I started running. Because of this, I was really careful, bordering on paranoid, on choosing equipment.

Particularly with shoes. It took me a long time to finally decide what running shoes to get.  I did my homework by getting my foot analyzed at RUNNR. The internet is a godsend for looking for proper equipment. I scoured the Runner’s World websites for shoe reviews. Turns out that best brands (according to them at least) were Asics, Newtons, Brooks and Saucony. Besides being really expensive, Newtons had no stability shoes so that took them out of my shortlist. I knew that Asics shoes were wayyy beyond my budget. I knew that Saucony and Brooks didn’t have distributors in Manila (then) and just delayed getting them. A couple of months later, Brooks finally showed up in Manila. And I proceeded to get a pair of Adrenaline Xs.

I’m very happy with them. I’ve logged 276km on them since getting them late last year. No knee pain or major running injuries.

I ran 15k in the Brooks Run Happy event. It was my first 15k in memory of our Toastmaster’s mentor, Brooks Loomis. The eerie thing about this run was that it was announced right after the day he was cremated. I thought it a sign to do something special for this run. It was nice that the rest of the Makati Toastmasters Club took me up on the offer to run this event too. Some running their first ever 3ks or 5ks.

POST-EVENT:

First time to see a personalized STRIDER RFID chip. Cute.

I personally was not in good shape for this run.  I didn’t train enough. Longest run was 11-12k during a training run 3 weeks before the race. I thought I could compensate for the lack of training by getting some quality sleep before the run. Talk about Murphy’s law! I was in bed by 8pm only to be woken up at 10pm for some really trivial matter. I couldn’t get back to sleep after that due to irritation.

Yes, foolish me. I ran my first 15k without any sleep the previous night. If this wasn’t a special run, I woulda just not left the house and proceeded with my late appointment with the sandman.

My target was 2hrs for my first 15km. In my condition, I thought I’d be lucky to go below 2hrs 10min. Ended up 2hrs 8min. (Chip time was 2hrs 13m. Still bad.) I was one of the last people to cross the finish line.

Just a coupla problems with the run:

  • The run started late. Since I got no sleep the night before, I was at the venue very early. It was a bad omen that at 5am, the sun was already peeking over the horizon. At 5:30 am, the sun was really high up in the sky. For a run during a really hot summer, this became a really big problem particularly for 15k runners because the latter part of the  route was largely open and unshaded. I heard that this was because the 15k water stations were not set up yet. It’s just a good thing that they didn’t push the pre-race warm-ups.
  • Compounding the overheating problem at the mid part of the 15k route, the water stations were spaced wayyy too far apart after the 7.5 k mark. Water station was after the 7.5k mark was at 10.25k. There was one at around the     I had a hydration pack with me and I didn’t load up when I got to the stations before this. And then the cramps started
  • While it was nice that they had medals for all the finishers. There really should have been different medals for each distance. Getting my first 15k medal only to find out my other friends got the SAME medal for finishing their first 3k kinda took something out of the achievement.
  • The results took some time to publish. RFID tags are supposed to make result publishing instantaneous. I thought that the results could have been better formatted. The names could have been been included with the bib numbers. Another important piece of data which was not included (though I’m sorta glad it wasn’t published because of my pathetic performance) was finish order. There also could have been an option to sort the results since they were published from a database driven site.
  • Lastly, I heard that there was a route problem with the 3k run. There was no signage along the route and the 3k became a 1.5k. I think this problem could have been averted by including the route map in the kit. If the route maps were not final yet when the kits were given out, the maps could also have been included with the singlets when they were distributed the week before the race.

Honestly, the race organizer really did Brooks a disservice with this run. Brooks is up there as one of THE running brands abroad. Mistakes like these really won’t contribute to the brand’s gaining footing in a country dominated by Nike and Adidas.

Nitpicking aside, I was also sleepless (even sick!) when I ran my first 10k during the Condura Skyway run early February. A first 15k IS a first 15k (or 14.31k). I think Brooks is the only shoe brand along with Adidas who gave out original singlets (not rebranded knock-offs, you know who you are :p) for their runs. The singlet was really nice and was really comfortable. The run was reasonably priced costing about half of the retail price of the singlet alone. Singlet was correctly sized at 2XL (2XL means 2XL. NOT L, NOT M. But that’s for another blog entry.)

Sadly, I was wayyyy too slow to enjoy the post race festivities though I heard from my first time runner friends that they did enjoy themselves. Brooks Distributor, Sports Resources Inc was out in full force with booths for all their run related products (what?? no PRINCE rackets? 😀 )

I hope there’ll be a Brooks event next year.  It wasn’t a perfect run but just like my performance, I do hope we’ll all do better next time. I do hope I’ll be using Adrenaline XII’s by then too. 🙂

Around The Walled City and Through History…

A run around the Walled City instead of the Global City? Awesome! Sign me up!

KAISA, the Filipino-Chinese civic group who put this thing together ought to be congratulated for putting up one hell of a run. The Intramuros Heritage Run really should be an annual event. Aside from the really cheap fee (350 bucks) which included a singlet and some really awesome freebies (more on this later). The route was unique and the organization was not lacking. Water stations were abundant though the water wasn’t cold.

Loved the scenery, went past the Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, Luneta, the Manila Hotel, the old customs house and the Lyceum and Mapua inside Intramuros. Wish they’d do this again next year. They need a longer route so that they don’t need to do 2 laps for the 10k. Perhaps they can include the Luneta Grandstand in next year’s route.

POST RUN:

My only gripe about this run was that it started 20 minutes late. The sun was already high up in the sky at 5:30am. It was a really hot morning and there was just no wind that day. There were some stretches were there was no shade which took away some minutes from my time. Was worried about the short stretch of cobblestones but turned out they were already smoothened out and there was no way they can cause a foot injury.

Still, the heat dashed any hope of a PB. I was expecting a PR here because I was setting a pace 30 seconds faster than my usual 8-7:30 for the first 2.5k. Then that stretch in front of the Manila Hotel where runners had to contend with no shade and diesel fumes from jeepneys, trucks and buses.

Was sort of disappointed seeing my time knowing I was way slower than my PB. The route was 5.51km, though. Half a km longer than advertised. Looking at the telemetry later on. Was relieved to see that I wasn’t that much slower than the pace I set for my PB run.

Oh yeah, before I forget. The awesome post race freebies. That deserves another blog’s blog entry altogether.

TM Manila Convention 2011 Sunday Run (aka The Jorjames Sajulla Run 2011)

During the 2011 Toastmasters District convention in Manila, Division C (as in CEBU) governor Jorjames casually told me he brought running gear and wanted to run while he was in Manila.

So we did what any good host would do and closed down Roxas Boulevard just for this running addict to run. Not only did we close down Roxas Boulevard, we also had  Pocari Sweat stations to make sure James was well hydrated during his morning run.

I met Cathy (of Executive TMC) at Hotel h2O at around 6am. I did not realize that at 6am, the sun was high up in the sky and it was HOT. James met us near the Museo Pambata and we proceeded to do a pleasant 5.55k run thorough Roxas Boulevard up to CCP then back to the Quirino Grandstand.

 

 

Kidding aside, we lucked out on the World Youth Day run. It started from the CCP complex and looped to the US Embassy and back. We caught the tail end of the run. There were a few stragglers on the road, but aside from that, Roxas Boulevard was ours.

This was a dream run. It’s always nice when two life passions find some way to converge. It was just about three Toastmasters bonding while pounding pavement with the requisite photo-ops along the way. (Apologies to Mr. Sajulla, the media did not arrive on time. :p )

Gudjab Cathy and James (and me!) We should do this every convention! And may be find more fellow runners to join us on the road. Boracay and Samal Island run, anyone? 🙂

Running For The Land Of The Rising Sun

When GREENTENNIAL RUN announced the RUN FOR JAPAN, I just knew I was going to run in that event.

I was a photographer with the PIJazzFest crew when they did the JAM FOR JAPAN early April at the Ayala Museum. A benefit concert for our Japanese Kindred that raised 13Million Pesos. It was a cause  that was worthy of support.

I liked that RunnersRunner took on registration duties to help out the organizers making use of their system at no cost to the runners (except for delivery). I heard the response was overwhelming when they announced the run.

For 350 bucks, the organization was not bad. They ran out of singlet sizes early on. But then, this was a run for a cause. The singlet was more of a bonus than part of the race pack.

It was a bare bones run. No timing chip. No fancy schmanzy giveaways. But it worked. I thought they could use more hydration stations, but it was still ok.

One thing about Greentennial Run’s runs (duhh) is that they have certain gimmicks that make the races really their own. They had jump zones where runners do jump shots with waiting photographers. (they didn’t catch me though 🙁 ) I liked their Japanese post race backdrops where instead of having the distance and race route, they had the distance and Japanese scenery for runners. And that awesome COSPLAY contest where they had runners dressed like Ragnarok, Naruto and Tsubasa chronicles characters. Hats off to the peeps in the Tsubasa Chronicles outfits. Awesome!

It’s both a plus and a minus. But I liked that they didn’t shoo away the runners in front of the finish line taking group pictures. Was thinking that this was a cheap run and there were probably a lot of first timers getting their photo ops. The atmosphere in front of that finish line was nice. So nice that I didn’t mind weaving through the crowd to get to the finish line. The organizers might want to clear a lane or two for runners finishing though.

AFTERMATH:

I beat my PB by 3 minutes. The 10k was actually 9.75k which was done sub 1hr 20m. Considering that Condura was 1hr 29m. BIIIGG improvement.

I should NOT have jumped at the jump zone 1km from the finish. Instant cramps! I asked one of the organizers why the Jump Zones were at the end of the run instead of at the start or midway. Would have made more sense since runners were not too worn out. He said that it would be too dark and that the runners would be too clustered together and might make the jump zones more dangerous. Come to think of it, he’s right.

Overall, I enjoyed that run. Now where’d I put my Akatsuki cap?

HYUNDAI RUN FOR A CAUSE 2011 – The Best Runs In Life Are Free!

You can’t get more inexpensive than the HYUNDAI Run. It was FREE! It was organized to celebrate Hyundai’s 10th year anniversary here in the Philippines. As expected, runners from all over joined in droves.

For a run with no entry fee, the organization was kick-ass. First, the singlet sizes were correct. Most runs would size their singlets one or even two sizes below. Thus an L would actually be an M or even S. (C’mon guys who the hell are you kidding?) They had a timing chip.

The organization on the day itself was impressive. Waved starts. Marshalls every 50 or so meters. Ever present first aid stations. Generous water stations with Hyundai Branded water bottles. Photographers everywhere. Unlimited water at the finish line.

I also liked the route. The 10k route started near the Quirino Grandstand. Right at Roxas Boulevard until EDSA than back through Luneta and back to the Grandstand.

One nitpick may be that the bottles were sealed and not opened for the runners and it was a hassle opening it for people who were chasing down a PB. The distance was a bit longer than the advertised 10k (about 11k). The extra couple of hundred meters was going through Luneta to go past Manila Hotel on the way to the Finish Line. The scenery was well worth the extra effort.

I’m not complaining. Again, this was a free run!

Some stats from a friend:

  • Over 24,000 runners
  • 3 waves of 10K runners
  • 5 waves of 5K runners
  •  100 Professional Medics
  • 50 Roving Medics
  • Mobile Clinic
  • 14 Medic Stations
  • 14 Ambulances
  • 5 K9s
  • 75 Metro Aides
  • 200 Start/Finish Line Personnel
  • 500 Route Marshals
  • 150 Police Traffic Enforcement Officers
  • 2 Fire Trucks with 12 Fire Fighters
  • 126,000 bottled Hyundai water
  • 100 Portalets

Activemoments.net did race photography and I was happy with the pictures that day.

AFTERMATH:

Personally, I didn’t do too well. I was up until 3am doing covering the Jam For Japan the previous night. I started near the start of my wave and eneded up going wayyy too fast in the first couple of km. And thus cramped during the last 3 km. Coulda been a DNF but powered on to a slow 11km.

But, I enjoyed myself immensely.

Runners really shouldn’t shoulder the expenses of companies using runs as a marketing initiative. I wouldn’t mind shelling out money if there was some cause attached to the run. But then again, the Hyundai Run was for the benefit of 3 charities. I think that besides the expenses to organize the event, they still donated an amount per runner. This makes that case against the skyrocketing prices of runs. This was a well organized event AND it was a run for a cause. Will rant some more later.

Anyway, Good Job Hyundai! I heard there’s going to be a part 2. Sign me up!

Lactobacilli Shirota Strain!

My uncle mentioned in passing that he saw that there was a Yakult run in the papers. I love Yakult. And so I set out to find more.

Turns out that the main event was a 10-mile run and it was NOT going to be held at Bonifacio Global City. After several runs in BGC, I desperately wanted a change of atmosphere. At this point, I was only running 10k and I thought that 10 miles/16.8 km was still beyond my powers. I joined the 5km event  instead.

I was pleasantly surprised. For a 350 buck run, they had water stations every 1km. They had a singlet and they had a finisher’s singlet. Organization, though bare-bones, was top-notch.

I enjoyed this run because of the uncluttered feel to it. There was only one sponsor YAKULT and there were really no gimmicks. It was nice refreshing change from BGC. My only complaint were the parking robbers, errr, attendants of Star City. They were charging 50 bucks for parking ON A PUBLIC STREET! I wouldn’t have minded as much if they opened their parking lots and charged for the use of that. But they didn’t.

AFTERMATH:

5k PB. It was a nice route and this was my first 5k in a while. Should do more 5ks for speedwork.

Run United 1 2011 aka RunRio showing off

Runrio is the country’s premiere running organizer. Period. No Erase.

If there’s one thing that Run United 1 was, it was a showcase for RunRio’s bells and whistle that makes their runs totally stand out. World-Class even.

I almost forgot to register for this run. I ended up signing up on the last day and thus got stuck with a really small singlet. Even if this was going to be held in BGC, it would be my first 10k in that area.

Any runner who joins a runrio event has high expectations. A runner expects to be spoiled from registration to after crossing the finish line. Run United 1 did not only not disappoint, it exceeded my expectations that I was still going oooooh and aaaaah weeks after the event.

During the run, hydration and kilometer markers were aplenty. They were playing the runrio song which I kinda zoned out on preferring my own sounds. It was at the finish line where, if you weren’t too tired, you’d notice some interesting things.

It was nice that the announcer had a live feed to the finish line. Announcer would be shouting off encouragement to runners crossing the finish line like “Runner 4989 making a mad dash to the finish” or “Runner 1501, you can do it. Let’s finish strong.”  I also couldn’t miss the throng of paparazzi positioned before and after the finish line. (More on this later) There are usually photographers stationed here but not this many.

Claiming the loot bags was easy. No lines whatsoever. Then, conveniently from the lot bag claim area to the Unilab areas,  there were a bunch of people in runrio uniforms lugging around iPads. They approached me and nicely asked if I wanted to know my finish time and place. Wow. Immediately after the race. Asked for my Bib number and there were my race stats on the iPad.

Unilab events are kinda expensive but with all the freebies, they really make up for it. I specially like the post race areas where they’ve got people checking cholesterol (dammit, shouldn’t have had that Krispy Kreme burger!), bone density, diets and more. One another side of the post-race area are tents where professionals can advise  runners on proper running form, cross training, training for longer distances, etc. It’s a really nice experience where participants are given the tools and motivation to run their next race.

So that was supposed to be it right? Wrong.

Turns out that runrio had a couple more tricks for participants.

The first surprise was the bazusports site. Posting times and place in age groups is not that different. But posting pictures and video of a runner crossing the finish line was AWESOME. My guess is that they took the runner’s finish time and found a way to sort the pictures taken by the paparazzi at the finish line. They correlated the finish time to the pictture’s time stamp. Not too difficult to do but it was really smart of runrio to implement this. For the video, they took 10-second “slices” of video then posted a link to the “slice” corresponding to the runner’s finish time. Again, pretty easy to automate on a computer but it was genius for them to go the extra mile and give it to the runners. <SLOW CLAP>

The second surprise was publishing results in runpix.com. It’s for people who just geek out to numbers and statistics. Wanna know how many people you passed and passed you in the last kilometer? Wanna know where you were when the first placer finished? Wanna know where you were struggling on the route when the average runner finished? Well, good news because now you can find out!

RunPix was actually depressing for me seeing how much faster I need to be to become average. But, on another note, it showed how conditioned the runners who join runrio events are. I finished behind 76% of the 10k runners. In others, I’d be somewhere in the middle.

In fairness, we really don’t need this many bells and whistles to have a good run. However, for the extra cost a runner pays for runrio events. It’s just nice to know that runners get these extra along with additional cost. There are other more expensive runs out there where the participant pays more for less. As a matter of fact, I wanted to join another 10k that had exactly the same route but backed out due to the cost. Pretty singlet though.

Oh yeah, goes without saying. But sign me up for Run United 2 and 3. Just hope they tweak the route a bit.

AFTERMATH:

First 10k after that semi-disastrous Condura run. Shave 3 minutes off my time there. Was happy crossing the finish line. The pictures are proof of that 😀

Running On EDSA was too good to be true

Running on EDSA was too good to be true. Well, it was too good to be true. I thought that this run would run a significant length of EDSA. White Plains to Robinson’s Galeria is NOT a significant length of EDSA!!!!

But still, any route outside of Bonifacio Global City is worth investigating. It ended up being a fun route!

I almost didn’t make this run. I thought of running 10k here but i felt I was still too wasted after the Condura run. Had visions of collapsing on the Temple Run uphill after seeing the route. Just ran 5k instead.

Anyway, the run was at 5:30am. I woke up at 4:50am. I still decided to try to make it to the starting line. One of the nice things about this run was that they wisely got Robinson’s Galeria to open up their parking spots to runners. They also had electric jeepneys shuttle runners from Galeria to the starting line. Nice touch.

Despite the short stretch of EDSA. It was still a  nice route. That long Ortigas downhill from Meralco to Valle Verde was a hoot to run. Hydration was adequate. Of course, where there’s a killer downhill, there’s a killer uphill. The uphill from Valle Verde up to Corinthian was torture and I ended up walking instead of running. After the uphill though, it was nice dash down White Plains avenue to the Finish.

I personally did not like the booths at the end of the race. The sponsors underestimated the number of runners and ended up running out of giveaways. Having runners line up for water at the end was also not cool. Having a SINGLE line for all runners was definitely not cool.

The end program with Bam Aquino was cute. Nice trivia contest about the EDSA revolution. I flubbed the “What was the theme song of the revolution” question. Dammit. Coulda walked away with a Mizuno GC.

AFTERMATH:

5k PB by a couple of seconds. Still ok. I want to run this again next year. Will run the full 10k down to Libis if they don’t change the route.