Tuesday, October 20, 2009
On Tuesday morning, I got this from the mail. Inside was an invitation to run the 2010 Standard Chartered Hongkong Marathon.
No, I'm not that special, it's just that the HKAA has a mailing list of all previous entrants and they have budget for invites sent the old school way.
This pack contains a race map as big as a cartolina and in full color. The 2010 edition of the HK marathon will still include two tunnels (one of which below sea level), the same flyovers, but instead of just two bridges, it will now feature three. In addition to the Tsing Ma and the Ting Kau bridges, runners will have to go through the Stonecutter's bridge.
The cut-off time remains the same -- 5:30.
There's plenty of time between now and February. If I really work hard at it, I can probably make it to the cut-off time. It's really tempting. I have this strong need to redeem myself, after showing up in 2009 ill-prepared with a total disrespect for the marathon distance. I want to go back to Hongkong a stronger, better and smarter runner. I want my HK Marathon redux to end in a blaze of glory. Hongkong can wait.
In the meantime, training starts again. This time, for the Cebu City Marathon on 01-10-10 where I hope to significantly improve my QCIM time. There's really nothing like running in your own backyard.
Speaking of training, there are those who say that if you want to improve your time, there must be specificity of training. Meaning no swimming, no biking. On the other hand, Leica Carpo became fast (enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon) in just two years by incorporating triathlon (White Rock) training into her regimen.
Hmmm. What to do?
Marathon day started just like all the other long run Sundays. My two alarm clocks went off at exactly 2:30 in the morning and with rote precision I did my routine – wash up, dress-up, tape the feet, put petroleum jelly on the toes and elsewhere where seams touch the skin, wear socks with toes, wear shoes with chip, put on the race number, eat whole wheat pan de sal with peanut butter chased with isotonic water, wear cap after eating.
By 3AM the big bad city was still fast asleep, but the Marathon Foodie was ready to go. I locked Eugene’s house and walked to where the cabbies were waiting. In my best neutral Tagalog, I gave firm directions for the driver to take me to the Quezon City Hall or at least up to where the road blocks were.
When I arrived at the starting area, the other Cebuano runners were already there. We were all in high spirits and took lots of photos. At exactly 4:30 AM the starting gun went off and there was no turning back. This is it. The culmination of three months of hard-work and sacrifice.
By the time we reached KM2 inside UP, I was running 6:30min/km. This was a full minute and a half too fast. I slowed down and enjoyed the route. The academic oval looked surreal in the dark as I ran to "Police On My Back" by The Clash.
As we exited towards Commonwealth Avenue, I was amazed at what I saw. All eight lanes of the north-bound side were closed to vehicular traffic. Commonwealth had turned from the country's most dangerous highway to a runner's playground.
There was plenty of water and 100 Plus on this part of the route, I stopped for a sip or two on each one of them. We made our way to Batasan, which literally smelled of uncollected garbage, but the people on the side of the road were cheerful and encouraging. I joined the 5:15 pacers. Yeah right. I knew I was being over optimistic.
Then the hills began rolling. I said OK ra. I run the hills of Banawa three times a week, this should be no problem. Just as we were entering a quiet village called East Fairview, we saw the lead pack with the Kenyan runners and Cris Sabal making their way back to the QC Memorial Circle.
I soon discovered that East Fairview Village connected to the La Mesa Eco Park, where the hills just kept coming. This was no Banawa. This was like running in Nivel Hills towards Busay, which I've only done once. Then I felt a slight twitch on my right leg. It wasn't painful, but I knew what it was. This was a prelude to a leg cramp.
I took off my earphones and listened to my body. No pain. I leaned and shifted my weight forward to ease the pressure on my legs as I landed. It worked. The legs felt easy, but I was much slower. The soldiers patrolling the park told me -- "Primera lang ma'am paakyat kaya mo yan".
Running 5 kilometers inside the Eco Park and the La Mesa Dam was a truly beautiful experience. But it was also the most difficult. Aside from the hills, there was no water throughout this portion of the route. There was water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. As I negotiated the last kilometer towards the park's exit, I met a bunch of gentlemen in their 50's who asked me if it was my first marathon. I said -- "Opo." Then the one whom everyone addressed as Dr. told me it's all in the mind hija. "I'll see you at the finish line", he said. Then he and his friends sped away.
I was counting on drinking water at the water station just beyond KM 22 as we exited the park, but there was none. I told myself it's all in the mind, water will miraculously appear. But still there was none, not even chunks of ice to suck on and I was really, really thirsty after running more than 5KM sans water. The need to conserve my energy, prevented me from getting mad.
At this point I lost the 5:15 pacers. I decided not to join the 5:30 or the 5:45. I thought it was better to run the race alone. No pressure.
I saw another water station just before SM Fairview, but the runner ahead of me just got the last cup of water. I begged the marshal for water. There was a shed nearby with a gallon of mystery water. It belonged to uniformed MMDA personell I think. I drank a cup and said "Thank you Manong MMDA." Beggars can't be choosy.
After SM Fairview, I really didn't know where I was. I've never been to this place before. I just knew the general area to be Fairview, which on the QC map looked like a really big chunk of land. I was hoping to see a road sign that would say Commonwealth because I knew that meant the road towards the Circle where the finish line was. Frankly, as a promdi in the big city, I was more afraid of getting lost than running out of water. Thankfully, the race marshals with QCIM shirts whether on foot, mounted on bikes and motorcycles were everywhere.
Finally, I reached the start of Commonwealth Avenue and the unforgiving hills coming one after the other began again. I tricked my mind to thinking that I was running in Cebu and not on those unfamiliar hills. I kept thinking, if I were running my LSD from Capitol to Danao Cebu, where would I be at this point? It made all those lonely miles seem easier. When I reached KM 29 to 32, I imagined that I was running in the roads of Danao with the Camotes Sea to my right. I couldn't hear the buses and cars stuck in traffic on the other side of Commonwealth, all I could hear was the sound of the sea in my head.
Now what's the Marathon Foodie to do after crossing 32KM? My mental picture was up to KM 32 in Danao City only. With no more mind tricks and imagery to occupy me I started noticing the pain on my left chest, my thighs and the left side of my back. Coach Precing once told me that from KM 32 to the finish line, I will feel pain everywhere, even the nails and the hair will seem painful. Coach told me "It will be the longest 10K of your life. But no matter what happens, do not stop running bahala na ug hinay, or your legs will lock."
So I turned to power words and phrases. Words like courage, strength, and don't stop believing. I also thought of reserving a little for the final 300 meters. I wanted to sprint and not hobble towards the finish line. So reserve, reserve, reserva troncal! What?!? Anyway, that went on until I reached North Avenue towards Trinoma.
As the time elapsed ticked away from 5:00 to 5:15 to 5:20, I kept thinking there's no way I could run faster than Katie Holmes' 5:30 NY marathon time, but I'll be damned if I finish my first full mary at 6:00. I thought that would be a real letdown.
So power words and the need to finish with pride propelled me towards the home stretch. After exiting North Avenue, I saw that the elliptical road was already opened to vehicles. Oh no! How do I cross this thing? Thankfully there were two other male runners struggling to cross eight lanes of traffic and we made it together. As I saw a crowd 250 meters away, I knew this was it. Irene Kara's "Fame" was playing on my MP3 and with everything I had left, I lifted my legs and sprinted at a 4:15min/km pace and crossed the finish line at 5:47:53 (unofficial Garmin time).
It was proudest I had ever felt in a really long time.
For now, I'm happy with the way I performed. I'm glad I made my own race not about targeting a specific time, but all about endurance, mental toughness and chutzpah. I know now, without any doubt in my mind that as far as mental toughness goes, I have it in me to finish a marathon. Hopefully, I'm able to translate this new-found power to real world situations that I deal with everyday.
I know there's plenty of room for improvement. I know I've to shed 10 pounds and strengthen my core muscles and lower extremeties. My speed needs serious work and my legs have miles and miles to go.
I realize that finishing the QCIM isn't the be all and end all of my running "career". I'm only 32 and I'm just getting started. As the first woman to ever win the gold in the Olymic marathon Joan Benoit Samuelson once said -- "Running is a lifetime pursuit. Your paces may vary at different times, and you might have to walk sometimes. But if you set goals, and have passion, and believe in yourself, anything is possible. You only have to just do it."
P.S. I met Ray Abenojar on KM 39 and did not even know it. Thanks Ray for the ice candied Gatorade! You were an angel. And to all the strangers who were kind enough to pass on a banana from their cars on KM 37, and Kate the volunteer nurse and her Salonpas spray at KM 36, to Jazzrunner Rene Villarta and to the wonderful people of Quezon City who sacrificed a lot just so we could run this marathon-- THANK YOU!
Photo Credit: Lovena Guardo
On Thursday, carbo-loading day, I woke up with swollen lymph nodes and could barely swallow water let alone eat pasta. I also had the beginnings of a flu.
I knew immediately what it was. I had this condition once before on my wedding day when stress and anxiety also caused my lymph nodes to swell making it hard for me to swallow food and water. I could not even eat at my own wedding reception and spent part of my wedding night at the Chong Hua Hospital emergency room.
The marathon foodie panicked!
I drank bio-flu, overdosed on vitamin C, forced myself to drink liters of water using straw, went home from work before lunch, skipped reading the news that night, and slept hoping it would all go away in time.
When I woke up, Kris Aquino was being her usual annoying self on SNN. Thankfully, the swelling has subsided significantly and it was OK to chew and swallow food once again. I ate bread and left over pizza and went back to sleep.
On Friday I made arrangements with my BFF Mary Valero that should anything happen to me on race day, her husband Atty. John Lood, who is practicing in Manila, will have to take care of emergency arrangements. Mary, being Mary slapped me back to reality, told me I'd be perfectly fine and promptly treated me to all-you-can-eat pizza, pasta and potatoes.
Then there was nothing else to do. I had no pleadings that were due and my bag had been packed the week before. The only chore left was for marathon foodie to buy her race day bread -- wheat pandesal from Postrio and small tub of peanut butter. Not that there was no pandesal where I was going, except that my wheat bread pandesal has been with me through all of my race mornings and training runs and LSD's and I didn't want to change one bit of my training routine on marathon day.
On Friday night I cooked myself a big batch of pasta puttanesca with tofu and held my own carbo-loading party at home. As I cooked in my tiny kitchen not thinking about running, everything seemed right with the world. Although still not entirely sure whether I had it in me to finish all of those 42 kilometers, I felt calm knowing that I've done my best to prepare for the big day.
Suddenly, I couldn't wait for race morning to arrive.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Here's to all those running at the Quezon City International Marathon and the Amsterdam Marathon this weekend.
1. Make food and board reservations early
2. Run for a “cause”
3. No massage last five days before a marathon
4. Last week… add hours in bed.
5. Clip your toe nails.
6. Don’t spend more than 20 minutes at the race expo.
7. Be on your feet SPARINGLY the day before the race.
8. No spicy foods pre-race.
9. Eat pasta, run faster
10. Pack your bag (for check-in) the night before the race
11. Jot down what you put inside the bag to avoid constant re-checks
12. No new shoes
13. Wear running gear you’ve completed a long run in
14. Secure you chip plus race number the night before the race
15. Fill in emergency contact info on your bib
16. Set 2 alarm clocks
17. Go to bed at 9PM. Read a novel. No worries if you can’t sleep.
18. Eat carbs not fats on race morning
19. Before lacing, check inside shoes for foreign objects
20. Double knot laces
21. Take toilet paper, band aids, spare pins, Vaseline, spare socks, some money
22. Get to the start area early, sit down, rest
23. Take a bottle of water to the start line
24. Sip water, don’t gulp
25. Eat a small sachet of salt before the race
26. Nerves are normal
27. Take warm clothes for before and after the race
28. Have waterproof disposable outer garments
29. When the cannon sounds…RUN
30. Drink 2 to 4 ounces every 20 minutes
31. Avoid puddles
32. Run even splits
33. Humid weather = slower race pace against a headwind draft
34. When fatigue arrives, be proud. The race is tough. You are tougher.
35. Everyone feels pain the last 6 miles, suck it up!
Source: A Bold Pace -- Running for Our Lives
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Her name is Madelyn Carter and on Sunday October 11, she will make her fourth appearance at the Milo Finals.
This is a long way away for someone who only started running almost four years ago hoping only to lose weight. "I never dreamed of becoming a competitive runner," says Madelyn. "I started running just to lose weight. Before that all the exercise I knew were house chores and farm work back home in Siargao. " But Madelyn's got natural talent. You don't run a sub-four in your first 42K sans training if you're not naturally gifted.
It all started in 2005, Madelyn was diagnosed with a thyroid condition which affected her metabolism and made her overweight. She took up walking as complement to her radiation therapy. "Sa una mag-walking ra ko sa Fuente circle ug sa Abellana, tuyok-tuyok lang. Hangtud wa ko kabalo nagsugod na diay kog dagan hinay-hinay lang." (At first I would just walk around Fuente circle and Abellana. Until one day, I don't know how it began, I just started running very slowly at first.)
Madelyn says she never had any training nor followed any running program. Everything she knows about running she picked up from varsity runners at the Abellana track. "Nakakat-on ko parti anang competition sa dagan sige chika-chika sa mga runners sa mga varsity dinha sa oval. Naamigo ra nako sila kay pirmi man ko naa sa Abellana." (I became friends with varsity runners at the oval because I was always at the Abellana. I learned about competetive running from them.)
I met Madelyn in June this year when she asked to be trained by Coach Precing Capangpangan. Madelyn says she wants to take her running to the next level and improve her time some more. Madelyn and I do intevals together at the Cebu City Sports Center on Thursdays from 4AM to 7AM, of course at different paces. Her easy run is my racing pace.
We became fast friends when on weekend races, she would finish her 10K and come back and pace me and the other slow runners so we'd run faster and beat the clock. I asked her once why she does it, then she tells the Marathon Foodie that in every race, regardless of pace we all have equal opportunities to turn from ordinary to extraordinary if we push ourselves hard enough. Madz says she likes being there to watch it happen to other runners too.
Good luck Madz! Maybe I can be as good as you some day. But in the meantime, I'll run my Milo finals vicariously through you.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Jopson, a triathlete and competitive runner for many years, will talk about his experiences and strategies in running. The other speakers in this seminar include Raffy Uytiepo, Dr. Renald Ramiro and Chris Aldeguer.
Uytiepo is known around Cebu as one of the top running and marathon coaches, having trained the likes of Filipino champion Roy Vence, among others. He will share with the public his expertise on the Do's and Don'ts of joining marathons.
Dr. Renald Ramiro is a well-respected rehabilitation doctor who will impart his knowledge on the common running injuries and how to prevent and treat them.
Chris Aldeguer, the youngest son of boxing manager Tony Aldeguer, was a competitive triathlete before focusing on marathon running the past two years. He has joined the Las Vegas and Hong Kong marathons and will share his various observations and tips on running.
This clinic is Part 2 of a series of talks organized by the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC) to prepare runners for the Cebu City Marathon, scheduled on Jan. 10, 2010. The first seminar, held last Sept. 19 at the Casino Español, attracted over 150 participants.
Open to beginners who have yet to run a 5K race as well as to seasoned 42K marathoners, this seminar is for free. All interested may call Marlin of ASAP Advertising at 232-8518/19.
After the success of last year's Run 2 the Max, Holiday Gym and Spa will hold another ten miler to mark HGS's 4th year anniversary.
Registration is at the HGS in Banilad, Cebu City or at the PSC Office at the Cebu City Sports Center or at Casa Ilonga at Robinsons Place Cebu. Last day of registration will be on Thursday.
The race will use the same route as last year. This race is directed by very good friend and running guru Mr. Raffy Uytiepo.
For runners coming from the South, there's a race that's closer to home -- the Congressman Gullas Fun Run.
There's a 1K race exclusive for senior citizens of Talisay City and open categories for 3K, 5K and 10K
The registration fee for the Gullas Fun Run is pegged at P150.00.
Race Starts at 5:30 in the morning at the Talisay City Hall (please see photo). For those who don't know where it is, just drive through the South Coastal Road. Before you reach the Minglanilla exit, you should see the huge Talisay City Hall to your left.
Good luck to all the runners! Be safe on the road.
Friday, October 2, 2009
-Dan Browne, 2007 National Champion in the 5-K and 20-K
In July we first got wind that the Cebu Press Freedom Week will, for the first time, include a road racing event exclusive to media workers in
Renante Labrica and Carinne Asutilla
The reaction at the ABS newsroom was lukewarm at best, not because they didn't like running but because they were intimidated by the sport and made excuses ranging from -- "wala koy hangin" to "wala ko'y practice" to "duty ko ana".
The Marathon Foodie pleaded, cajoled and groveled, until a handful showed interest and signed up such as the boys at engineering and editing -- Joel, Gaddie, Odo and Jerome and our Sr. Reporter and Maayong Buntag Kapamilya host Vilma Andales.
Star Patroller and resident fashionista Kara Noveda planned on having the ABS girls run in identical outfits of running skirt and colored tights but she was called away for a story assignment in Biliran at the last minute.
There were two categories 5K and the 3K. Race director and The Freeman columnist Raffy Uytiepo fired the starting gun and off the runners went zooming at an average pace of 4:30 mins. per kilometer. The Marathon Foodie stayed at the end of the pack running only at a slow 6:00 mins./km pace and waited for the runners in front of me to slow down.
Marathon Foodie with John Pages of Cebu Sports Blog and SSD. John is also the president of the Sportswriters Association of Cebu.
The first half of the race route was a steady incline, and sure enough, by the time the lead pack reached the 1.5KM mark, the runners who sprinted at the the first 500 meters fell behind one by one. There were only two girls ahead of me – Marlen Limpag of Sunstar, who has taken up running just this year and was fast improving. I couldn’t recognize the other one from the back. As they became visibly tired, I increased my speed to 5:00 mins./km and zoomed past them. There was no turning back from there.
Sun Star Daily
As expected, Sun Star snagged all but one of the first place honors of the male and female categories of the 3K and 5K. John Pages of Cebu Sports Blog and SSD and a two-time full marathon runner breasted the tape at 21:51 minutes to win the male 5K category while Marathon Foodie took home the gold for ABS-CBN in the 5K female category with a time of 27 mins. 12 sec., which also happens to be my best time for 5K. This is my third first place finish this year after the STC alumnae run and the IBP run.
The other winners are as follows:
John Pages (SSD)
Edri Aznar (SSD)
Jorlito Montecillo (Wild FM)
Haide Acuna (ABS-CBN)
Marlen Limpag (SSD)
Charmy Sabigan (Bombo Radyo)
Jun Migallen (SSD/ Superbalita)
Ike Durano (DYRF)
Ariel Gomez (CDN)
Irenelou Llego (SSD)
Maridel Crecencio (DYRF)
Jovy Taghoy-Gerodias (SSD)
I know the real point of the media fun run was to foster camaraderie among colleagues in the media and at the same time encourage us jump-start our quest for healthy lifestyle through running. But, fun runs and road races that have exclusive competitive categories (such as the media run and the IBP run) are a great way of encouraging recreational runners train and get better at running and racing.
For someone who would otherwise be shut out from the winners circle in an open competition, there’s nothing like a podium finish to motivate a newbie to get better, fitter and faster. Who knows, maybe even fast enough to compete with the local top racers in the open category.
I really want my friends to win too. So next year, the Marathon Foodie will still join fun runs but will no longer race in the exclusive categories. I will instead pace Ate Vi in next year’s media run and maybe Negley at the IBP run and help my friends chase their own podium finish.
After the race, the Marathon Foodie went home and cooked her own victory breakfast -- rice, cheese-filled longanisa, cheese omelette, wheatgrass juice and brewed coffee, turned on the TV and watched Ondoy wreak havoc in the big bad city. Suddenly, winning that morning’s race wasn’t so important anymore.
Photo Credit: The first photograph is courtesy of Max Limpag. The rest of the photographs are by Marathon Foodie.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
The streets of Cebu City saw pink flood on Sunday morning of October 4. There was the Avon-sponsored walk for breast cancer from Capitol to the Cebu City Sports Center and the Pink October Run.
The fun run was a fund raising activity initiated by the Philippine College of Surgeons and I Can Serve Foundation. Proceeds from the Pink Run will be used for the groups’ breast cancer awareness projects as well as fund free mammograms and pap smear tests for marginalized women.
Winners, Doctors Category
The Pink Run which featured 1k, 3k, 5k and 10K categories provided on opportunity for couch potatoes and hard-core runners alike. Of course the Marathon Foodie ran 10K. Who could resist a climb up 6 flyovers (Ayala, Tesda and Banilad-Talamban all ran twice) and one extra hill (between Country Mall and BTC) on a perfect Sunday morning?
The Marathon Foodie likes to race other runners just when they’re huffing and puffing on an incline. I run hills thrice a week in Banawa where I live, and I’m mighty proud of what my chicken legs can do. But running hills when you’re all alone is tiring and monotonous. So when race routes feature inclines, the Marathon Foodie never passes up an opportunity to test my hill-trained legs (hehe).
Race Director Dr. Peter Mancao with cancer survivor and pink warrior Me'anne A. Solomon
The race route of this year’s Pink run was particularly interesting for runners who plan on joining the Cebu City marathon on January 10, 2010. The 3 flyovers form part of the last 12 KM of the 42KM race route. So the Pink Run afforded a preview of sorts of the most difficult part of the Cebu City Marathon.
The Marathon Foodie foresees possible problems when runners climb up the three flyovers on the last part of the marathon, for they are way too small and narrow (only two lanes with no shoulder) and therefore dangerous for runners.
The Cebu City Government which is a co-presentor of the marathon should close the 3 flyovers to vehicular traffic to ensure the safety of the runners, or at least dedicate one lane exclusively for runners. The Marathon Foodie saw several CERC members closely involved in the organization of the Cebu City Marathon at the Pink Run.
I’m sure this dry run of sorts has given them much thought as to the traffic arrangements or the possibility of modifying this portion of the marathon route.
Let’s keep posted for developments.
In the meantime, here are Top 10 Facts* you should know about breast cancer.
People Support Running Club
Fact # 1
All women are at risk. Approximately 70% of breast cancers occur in women with none of the known risk factors.
Fact # 2
Only about 5% of breast cancers are inherited. About 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer will be the first to be victims in their families.
Fact # 3
Breast cancer is the leading killer of women ages 35 to 54 worldwide. More than a million women develop breast cancer without knowing it and almost 500,000 die from it every year.
Fact # 4
One out of four who are diagnosed with breast cancer die within the first five years. No less than 40% die within ten years.
Lexmark Running Club
Fact # 5
The incidence of breast cancer has been rising for the past 30 years. And the supposed authorities and experts that should know, don't know why.
Fact # 6
Risk factors are not necessarily causes of breast cancer. Enough evidence exist linking environmental pollution and contamination to cause breast cancer.
Joy and Crestina
Fact # 7
Mammography fails to detect as much as 20% of all breast cancer and as much as 40% in women under the age of 50.
Fact # 8
Early detection does not prevent breast cancer. Avoiding and eliminating known causes will prevent breast cancer.
Fact # 9
One out of eight North American women will develop breast cancer. The San Francisco Bay Area has the highest incidence rate in the entire world.
Fact # 10
The Philippines has the highest incidence rate of breast cancer in Asia and is today considered to have the 9th highest incidence rate in the world today.
(*Source: Philippine Breast Cancer Network)