January 2009: A Great Start

I can’t believe that it’s now the end of the month. January blew by so fast. Looking back, it has been a very good running month for me. My approach for the new year and this month was to take things slowly and conservatively. It was the best way to go, especially after coming back from an injury and from a month-long running lay-off.

And I’m so glad that the approach paid off. I found myelf running consistently every week and I think I am on course to run a 21K by March 2009. I credit this to the training at the Nike Running Clinic. As much as possible, I try to attend the weekly sessions. And if I am not able to attend, I somehow try to compensate by running at the treadmill or elsewhere (e.g. UP, Fort).

Aside from my 2009 goals, I have also set some monthly goals (although I was not able to blog about it), such as:

  • Run 80 km. this month
  • Run at least 20 km. per week
  • Attend the Nike Running Clinic every week
  • Finish the Happy Run within 1h25m to 1h30m

Fortunately, I was able to accomplish most of my goals:

  • I ran a total of 103 km. this month. (Captured the screenshots at my Nike+ and Daily Mile pages).
  • I was able to run at least 20 km. for the first 3 weeks of January. The last week of January was a recovery week based from the Nike Running Clinic program.
  • I was able to finish the Happy Run with an official time of 1h23m.
  • As a bonus, I was able to join at The North Face Thrill of the Trail Run run (10K). This was my very first trail run and it was a fantastic experience.
Run 80KM (from my Nike+ page)

January Goal: Run 80KM (from my Nike+ page)

103KM (From my Daily Mile page)

January Total: 103KM (From my Daily Mile page)

Needs Improvement (I also need to improve on some goals):

  • Consistently attend the Nike Running Clinic. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend 4 sessions this month due to work-related and personal reasons. Hopefully, I can improve my attendance and participation in the clinic.
  • Don’t forget cross-training activities. When I got back to running this month, I try to do cross-training activities (e.g. bike, glidex, combat classes at the gym) at least once per week. Due to my own shortcomings (read: laziness), I skipped cross-training for 2 weeks (2nd & 3rd week of January). Knowing how important cross-traning is, I got back to it during the 4th week of January. I should improve on this for February.

I’ve got lots of ways to go and I’m just very happy that this month was a great start!

Cheers and Happy Running!

Upcoming Run: The Men’s Health 10,000 KM Miracle Run

This is one race that I cannot and will not miss, the Men’s Health 10,000 KM Miracle Run. Interested runners, please mark the date: March 29, 2009, 6:00 am at UP Diliman.
MH 10,000 KM Miracle Run

MH 10,000 KM Miracle Run

I first saw the ad for this run event during the TNF Thrill of the Trail Run. As I was getting the free back issue of Men’s Health, I saw a flyer about the MH Miracle Run. During The Happy Run, there was also a banner about this run event. This is about 2 months away but I just felt the urge and excitement to give advance information.  

Banner at The Happy Run

Banner at The Happy Run

 Where It All Began

 

This is where it all began for me. The very first run event that I attended last August 2008; the run that gave me the confidence to pursue and make running a habit. I guess, any runner would remember and look back at their first run – the nervousness of going into something new, the newbie feeling, the struggle to finish and the lessons and experiences learned from it.

 

I was fortunate that the events that transpired during my first run, led me to enjoy running. Quite similar from a phrase in the book “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho: “If you really want something, the whole world will conspire for you to have it.”

 

Run for a Cause

 

Aside from the satisfaction of running, you also get to support Tahanang Walang Hagdang’s Gulong sa Pagsulong mobility aid assistance program. Similar to last year’s event, Men’s Health will donate Php 200 for every finisher.

 

Registration

  • Registration starts Feb. 15, 2009 at ROX. Fee is Php 350/individual.
  • Similar to last year’s mechanics, a runner may choose from 2 options: (1) Run individually the entire 10K course or (2) Run with a partner and split the 10K (5K each).
  • A 10% registration fee discount is given if you present the February/March issue of Men’s Health (applicable to pre-registrants).

Happy Running!

A Heart’s Tale: Sinus Bradycardia and Right Bundle Branch Block

During my month-long sabbatical from running (due to an injury) last December 2008, I also decided to have a complete blood work-up. I had a hunch that I had high levels of uric acid. I consulted the company doctor and after reviewing my medical history, she recommended that I also take an ElectroCardioGram (ECG). (Fortunately, I can have all those tests for free courtesy of the health insurance benefit in the office).

 

True enough, I had high levels of uric acid, which can be treated by a prescription drug. What got me really worried was the result of my ECG. I was intimidated by the diagnosis: Severe Sinus Bradycardia and Incomplete Right Bundle Branch Block. I sat for a while and pondered what those things mean. I guess, anyone would get nervous when the “heart” is associated to the words “severe,” “incomplete” and “block.”

 

I immediately called my brother, a doctor at Medical Center Manila. His explanation was that I had a low resting heart rate but the beat or rhythm was regular (which is good). The reading in my ECG was 45 beats/minute (bpm), below the normal of about 70 bpm. He did mention that it is also common to those who exercise (or run) regularly and may indicate a healthy heart.

 

I then informed my wife of the result and mentioned to her the explanation of my brother. After several minutes, she sent me an email that also gave a comforting explanation. An excerpt of it read (from a Q&A article from The American Running Association website):

 

“In general terms, the presence of a mild sinus arrhythmia is really a finding of increased vagal tone. This can be a feature of athletes’ hearts.”

 

“Incomplete right bundle branch block is a common normal variant found on electrocardiogram and is also another finding that is often associated with an athletic heart and is of no consequence.”

 

“Overall, the findings of an incomplete right bundle branch block and mild sinus arrhythmia are signs of an athletic heart, and they are not likely to develop into an unhealthy condition. I believe you should forget about it and continue with your excellent running.”

 

Just the same, and upon advice from my wife and brother, I took a half-day off from work the following day and went to my cardiologist. This visit proved to be very comforting and reassuring. He said:

  • That I have nothing to worry about because, like my brother said, it is a sign of a healthy heart.
  • That my condition also allows me exercise and do long-distance and endurance runs because it takes longer for me to reach my maximum heart rate (MHR).
  • He advised me to continue going to the gym and with running.
  • However, he also said that once I feel any dizziness and/or chest pains, I should immediately see him. That while there are advantages, there are also some symptoms to watch out for that may cause me to faint.

Looking back, I am glad that I made the decision to have that check-up. It seems pretty intimidating but, at least, I now know my limits and I know how to go about it. From now on, I will make it a point to have this kind of checkup at least twice a year. I guess, it’s always better to be on the safe side.

 

PS: Sharing some articles I’ve read about the topic:

 

http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=19707

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/760220-overview

http://www.merck.com/pubs/mmanual_ha/sec3/ch47/ch47f.html

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/894927-overview

http://www.merck.com/mmhe/print/sec03/ch027/ch027k.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_bundle_branch_block

 

Happy Running!

A Happy Run Indeed

 

True to its name, The 3K/5K/15K Happy Run was indeed a very Happy Run. There was a huge turnout for this run; in fact, registration was closed on Jan. 22 as it reached the maximum limit of 2,500 participants.

Start with a blast -- START HAPPY

Start with a blast -- START HAPPY

We arrived at the venue around 5:15am. Plenty of time to spare for the 15K start of 5:45am. In about 10 minutes, we were greeted by the happy voices of Drew Arellano and Bianca Gonzales, the event hosts. They successfully cheered and motivated all of us runners and they gave out final instructions. Then, at exactly 5:45 am, close to 700 runners (as Drew announced) for the 15K category started (5K and 3K started 5:55 am and 6:00 am respectively).

Off we go to tackle the challenging, tricky and punishing 15K route (NBC tent-5th Ave.-Lawton Ave.-Bayani Road-inside Heritage Park-entire stretch of McKinley Hill). I started slowly at a pace of 6:15 to warm-up a bit. Guided by the downward slope approaching Essensa, I was able to pick up my pace to about 4:50 before settling at a pace of 5:40 at Lawton Ave. Turning at Bayani Road, I maintained the same 5:40 pace except when there’s an opportunity to run faster on downhills.

 

Near the end of Bayani Road is one of my favorite routes and scenery, the Heritage Park. Runners were greeted with drumbeats of encouragement, as well as the lively music of the band. My run inside Heritage Park went smoothly, except on uphills where my pace dropped to about 6:10. As I exited the park, I was confident to know that I still had enough energy to finish the race. It seems that I had paced myself well enough.

But as I checked my time at the 10K mark, I found out that it was 57 minutes. ‘Here I go again,’ I said to myself. At the VSO run (with the same route), I clocked the same time at the 10K mark and eventually finished at 1h 31m as I was held back by the McKinley Hill route. I then became mindful that I may not be able to eclipse my previous time.

 

I decided to pick up the pace hoping that I can sustain it until the end. I really wanted to break my previous time. Going back, I ran along Bayani Road at a pace of 5:10 to 5:30 on flats, about 4:30 on downhills and 5:45 on uphills. When I reached Lawton, I ran at a sustained pace of 5:20.

 

Then came McKinley again. This is also one of my favorite routes despite its level of difficulty. I believe it gives a runner a great sense of accomplishment after finishing this route. Going back, the first part was quite good. I took advantage of the downhills and ran at a pace of 5:45 on uphills. But I felt my legs tiring before the U-turn. My pace dropped some more and I only recovered upon reaching a downhill stretch. Then, the final ascend was dreadful. It started near McDonald’s and ended at the intersection of McKinley & Lawton. My pace drastically dropped to about 7:20 during that uphill stretch. Upon reaching the flat roads of Lawton Ave., it took a while before I could pick up the pace. Fortunately, and I didn’t know at what point, I was able to shake off the heaviness on my legs. I began to increase my pace after Essensa and sustained it until the end. I crossed the finished line happy and contented that I eclipsed my previous time and finished with an official time of 1h 23m 03s, a PR for 15K.

Patrick, Running Pinoy, Me)

Mission Accomplished (L-R: Patrick, Running Pinoy, Me)

Ending Credits

It was a well-organized race, something that is expected for a run event organized by Coach Rio (RunRio). Even if there was huge turnout, you can still see the orderliness of the event. There were a lot of water stations that I was not able to finish one bottle from my hydration belt. The signages were also very visible to guide runners where to turn and proceed. I also liked the kilometer markers. This allowed me to check if the kilometer reading on my Nike+ Sportsband is close to the actual distance (fortunately, this time around, it was very close as my sportsband registered a total distance of 14.97 km.)

The Happy atmosphere was also evident all throughout the race. You see bands playing at major corners of the route. There was also the dragon dance to commemorate the Chinese New Year. You can really feel the festive mood of this event. At the end of the day, I am glad to have ran for a good cause.

Lastly, it was also a fitting birthday celebration for me to have participated in this run. This 15K run was a birthday gift for myself. Too bad though, I was not able to get a picture with Optimus Prime (Haha!).

 

Cheers and Happy Runninng! 

Upcoming Run: RUNew

Mark your calendar and Run for a New, Active and Healthy Lifestyle…and Save Lives!
Cool poster!

Cool poster!

Hmmm, no 10K event again (similar to the Happy Run). I’m not complaining though. Looks like there’d be more 15K runs this year. Perfect for increasing the mileage and for preparing for a 21K run.

I’m defitnitely joining this one. It’d be exciting to see the 15K route if it’s starting at McKinley Hill, one of my favorite routes.

The North Face Thrill of the Trail | January 18, 2009 | Evercrest Golf Club, Nasugbu, Batangas

 

 

I am still on a high for having joined the TNF 10K/20K Thrill of the Trail Run at Evercrest Gold Club, Nasugbu Batangas. I enjoyed, I savored and I felt the thrill of running the trail. It is a one-of-a-kind running experience for me. The kind of experience I had not imagined doing but ended up thirsting for more. 
I'm Runner 013 for the 10K category

I'm Runner 013 for the 10K category

What makes this more memorable was the fact that I almost did not make it to this event. I registered as early as December 2008 but something came up 1 week before the TNF trail run. All of a sudden, there was an announcement in the office that the badminton tournament is pushing through (it was supposed to be held last October 2008 but it got postponed). The leveling would have been on the 17th and practice was being scheduled on the 18th for the tournament proper on the 24th. I had actually cancelled my reservation at Evercrest and gave up hope of joining. Fortunately, good news came my way on the 16th as leveling was being postponed again. This paved the way for my participation to the TNF Trail Run.

I joined my officemates, Mitch and Dennis (Running Pinoy), at Evercrest at around 7:30 pm. It was very cold (winter-like cold) as I walked towards the clubhouse. I checked-in and we went to the restaurant for dinner. Our orders took longer than usual to arrive, but it was all okay. We all had a good chat about running (of course!) and some other stuff. We also noticed that it was getting colder and windier, giving us some dose of what to expect the following morning. We finished our food, headed back to the room and dosed off by 10:30 pm.

Race Day

We all had a good sleep. We made our way and got to the start-finish area with about 5 minutes before the start. It was festive and it was very cold. With the dark skies hovering above us, with the cold chill and with the gusty wind blowing, the race started on-time with the 10K runners (us included) going first.

We were greeted by a short uphill run at the Evercrest Driveway. This is an easy 500-meter run on a concrete road leading to the first station (MP01). This short run was the perfect warm-up to counter the cold breeze and the blowing wind. 

17 seconds to start

17 seconds to start

 We made our way to Evercrest Junction (MP01), the first stretch of the trail. This is a 2.1-km. narrow dirt road before the next station (MP02). This part of the trail is relatively flat. No uphills or downhills. I was very mindful of where I was running. It was still quite dark and the uneven and rocky surface could easily cause a newbie like me to slip. As the skies slowly cleared, we were greeted with an amazing view of the mountains and farms. The fresh air was invigorating; a welcome reprieve from the air we inhale in the city. 
Still dark when we started

Still dark when we started

We then approached the next station (MP02), Caylaway Elementary School. This stretch of the trail bends sharply to the right and slowly descends until the next station. With the trail becoming more visible and with the descending slope, we found ourselves running a bit faster in this stretch. We coasted along (even taking pictures) and reached the next station without any hassles. 

Fantastic View

Fantastic View

The next stop is the aid station situated in a basketball court. We got our bottled water and stopped for a while to take pictures. Departing from the aid station, we headed towards a narrow trail cutting across corn fields. This is about a 1.3-km. trail where overtaking is quite impossible. Faster runners would have to advice (even shout if needed) slower runners (me included) that they are either passing on the left or right side. Everyone was courteous and made way for faster runners to pass.

Water break

Water break

We then approached the next station (MP03), Bridge-taas. Upon reaching the station marker, the marshal advised us to be very careful as we are about to go down a deep slope. A few meters from the marker, you can see runners in single file preparing to go down the deep slope leading to the bridge. We all had to wait for the runners ahead of us to go down so as not to cause any accidents. It was slippery going down and I felt nervous because I was worried that my shoe wouldn’t hold up (I was not wearing trail shoes). Fortunately, there was a rope that we can hold on to. We carefully and slowly made our way down to the bridge and stopped for some more pictures. 

At the bridge after the steep descend

However, it does not stop there. After the bridge comes a steep uphill climb. We slowly climbed up and held on to the branches and rocks for support. There were also stairs/steps carved from the soil that made it easier for us to climb.

Fortunately, we survived that stretch of the trail run. That was the hardest stretch for me. It felt like my heart rate elevated way over its maximum. At the same time, it was encouraging to have gotten over it. 

After that short but difficult stretch, we made our way to the next station (MP04), the 10-Km. Junction/Loop. This is about a 1-km. narrow trail with a combination of uphills, downhills and flats. We also did a combination of running and walking, even taking pictures at some points.

We easily made our way to the last station (MP05), the Summit Junction. This is about a 2.3-km. run leading to the caleruega church. After a few kilometers, we were back on the concrete road past the church. At this point, we were basically cruising (read: walking) and taking pictures. Some 20K runners were passing us, including Coach Rio (he was even encouraging us: “Let’s go!, Let’s go!” he said). 

An old house near caleruega

An old house near Caleruega

My friends, Mitch & Running Pinoy

My friends-Mitch & Running Pinoy

We eventually ran again when we saw the MP01 station as it indicated that we were near the finish. As we were running to the finish, I got another surprise as a fly made its way to my mouth. It felt like the force of the wind blew the fly in mouth and I eventually swallowed it. A yucky moment indeed! A bitter shot of protein, I suppose. That episode was soon forgotten as we crossed the finish line with the encouragement of having endured the TNF Thrill of the Trail. 

Run to the Finish!

Run to the Finish!

Yay! I'm a Finisher!

Yay! I'm a Finisher!

After the race, we took some more pictures and ate breakfast and we waited until the awarding ceremonies finished. I was salivating at the prizes being given away – TNF Jackets, bags, trail shoes and Timex watches. Wow! 

Kudos to TNF!

Kudos to TNF!

Posing at the stage

Posing at the stage

Beef Tapa for Breakfast

Reward: Beef Tapa for Breakfast

 

Ending Credits

Hats off to The North Face for coming up with this event and for tapping Pinoy Ultra Runners as trail run organizer. The event was well-organized and the marshals were very helpful. Thanks as well to the other sponsors who made the event possible and for giving away discounts and freebies namely, Timex, Men’s Health, Evercrest and Maynilad.

I had a wonderful and memorable experience from this trail run. Like my very first 10K run last year, it was more of overcoming the anxiety of what to expect and that I might not able to finish it. At the end of the day, this experience boosted my confidence. Like many other firsts, what matters is that I tried it, I started with it and I finished it…and that’s about the sure ways to overcome the fear and the jitters.

Question now is…when’s the next trail run?

Happy Running!

2009 Running Goals and Wish Lists

A new running year begins. A new running shoe (hopefully, to keep the injury away). A net sew of running goals to guide me for the rest of the year.

 

In a nutshell, all my 2009 running goals aim to eclipse my times last year, to follow an organized weekly schedule and to compete in new run events. I have some wish lists as well in case I get the opportunity to accomplish them.

 

Here’s a rundown of my 2009 running goals:

 

Run at least 20K a week and/or 80K a month. I plan to maximize the opportunity to attend the Nike Running Clinic. I was not able to attend any clinics last December due an injury and I hope to catch up and train consistently every week and every month.

 

Run a 10K between 45 to 50 minutes. I hope to be able to break the 50-minute mark. If I can do that in a lot of 10K runs, the better.

 

Run a 5K between 18-24 minutes. The ideal goal is to break the 20-minute mark. But the closest I have come last year is 24 minutes. So, I hope that I can surpass that.

 

Run a 21K and/or a 25K. This is foremost on my mind for this year. I want to finish a 21K regardless of the time. If there will be another 25K run similar to the New Balance run at Clark, then I want to finish a 25K as well.

 

Run outside Metro Manila. If there is another 25K New Balance run at Clark this year, then I can accomplish 2 goals altogether. Hopefully, there will also be other run events in nearby areas (driving distance) such as Laguna, Cavite, Subic Bay and some others. It doesn’t have to be a run event. A practice run will also qualify for my goal.

 

Some of my wish lists include:

 

Run at an international event. Hopefully, I have enough budget to join the Singapore marathon.

 

Run a 42K. I have read a lot of marathons being organized and planned for this year. If I get to prepare well for this, then I might make a go at it towards the second half of the year.

Buy a Garmin. Again, this is dependent on my budget. Hopefully, I can save enough to buy this most sought-after gadget.

 

There you have it. With the proper training, consistency and dedication, I am hopeful that I can attain these goals.

 

Come to think of it, this is the first step in achieving my running goals for the year. By writing it down, I know that I am more pressured to accomplish these goals.

Happy Running!