My Second Wind by Eric Rivas

FlatFoot’s Note: Last November 1, 2009, Eric, my officemate and friend, successfully and proudly finished the “2009 ING New York City Marathon.” He is among the 42,000 runners who mustered enough courage and determination to run in one of the most celebrated and toughest marathons in the world. Here, he chronicles his triumph that will leave us inspired and determined to finish our own marathon. To Eric, many congratulations once again and thank you for agreeing to have your story be published in this blog. Cheers and Happy Running to more marathons and, perhaps, another round of NYCM!
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My Second Wind   

 42 @ 40       

A hundred meters or so from the bright blue arch, I almost burst into tears as I choked on my emotions. But my body was too tired so I had to do without the drama. My legs would get whatever strength I had left for the purpose of bringing me across the finish line and when I did, raising my arms would burn whatever few calories I had left in my system.       

I was spent. But I was happy. Extremely happy. For there I was in beautiful Central Park in the middle of autumn. I had completed the New York City Marathon in less than five and a half hours and no one can keep me from claiming my prize, the finisher’s medal.       

What started out as a simple game of chance, a minor gamble if you will, has paid off big time. Early 2009, Valee and I were planning to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary in New York. We decided to do it in November so I can also celebrate my big ‘four-oh’ in style. Two of my very good friends (and bros), Jam Mariquit & Jay Tambunting, were joining the 40th running of the NYC Marathon around the same time and the suggestion for me to run with them was hatched. I had been running for about a year but never going beyond 5kms (or roughly 3 miles). Running a full marathon (42.195 kilometers) was just not in my to-do-before-I-die list. Or so I thought.       

To join the run, one had to participate in a lottery. What the heck, I had nothing to lose. I thought back then that I probably wouldn’t get chosen anyway. My application was sent second week of April. A month later, the running gods would smile upon me and I was accepted. Out of the 58 applicants from the Philippines, 52 were accepted. I dreaded getting the congratulatory email, but welcomed the challenge (I had no choice!) set before me. First order of business, find a running coach and commence training.       

The Preparation       

What followed were weeks of active training, doing drills, perfecting my form, strengthening the core, building endurance and participating in organized runs. Twice a week, I would don my running shoes and head off to the track in ULTRA or the perimeter of High Street. Investments were made on gear and supplements. New friends were won in the running community. Sundays were reserved for long runs around the Fort and the villages straddling it. There are days I just wanted to give up and get a massage instead but the discipline was slowly growing within me and I started looking forward to pushing my physical boundaries. One perk was the continued weight loss despite the endless binges. For the most part, getting started was more than half the battle and looking back, I can honestly say that those days spent in training gave me great joy.       

Pre-race ‘Jitters’       

Four and a half months later (and more than 10 pounds lighter), I was filled with so much hope going into New York that I can finish this race. I had never done the full distance during training and the farthest ‘long run’ I have done was 32kms. But I knew I was ready. I had a week to overcome jet lag and acclimatize. It was just too cold in NY and I got tired of converting Fahrenheit to Celsius watching the weather forecasts. Bottom-line, we runners from warm, sunny Manila would be freezing our asses off come race day. One pre-race highlight was the Expo. It was like Disneyland for runners. A mecca for fun-runners, weekend warriors and sub-elite runners alike. Anything and everything related to running was there. If you couldn’t find it in the Expo, it probably doesn’t exist. After claiming my race kit and getting a souvenir shirt, I was ready for one last condition run prior to the marathon. Central Park beckoned.       

Running ‘Saints’ From All Nations       

The night before the run, we attended the Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral. It was packed. My guess was that a lot of the would-be-marathoners were there with their friends and families. The priest’s sermon centered on the celebration of All Saints’ Day and he talked about how in the book of revelation, 144,000 saints from all corners of the world would converge and stand with Jesus. We had runners from all corners of the world in attendance and it was more than enough reason to celebrate. A special blessing before the run would be nice, I thought to myself.       

The wish would be granted as the priest called on all the runners to come to the sanctuary for the final blessing. People started to flood the aisles and it didn’t take long before the altar was crowded with runners in every shape and form. It gave me goose bumps as I imagined myself in medieval times gathering with other soldiers before the bishop for a final sprinkling of holy water prior to going into battle. Reality was way better so I snapped out of my fantasy and marveled at the moment unfolding before my eyes. Then as a final word, the priest cited my guiding verse from the second book of Timothy. Wow.       

Race Day       

It would be an early start at 5:30 as we boarded the bus that would bring us to the starting line. We had a few hours more before gun start so after coffee and a bagel, it was time to find our spot inside the runners’ tent and catch a nap. We would then share stories with other runners as we waited for the call to proceed to the designated corral. As expected, it was freezing and the wind chill added to the ‘suffering’. Excitement was building and before we knew it, the starting gun (or cannon more like it) signaled the start of the first wave of runners… then the second wave… and finally, our group, the third and final wave.       

Enjoying It

The run was just surreal. Going through the five boroughs of NY with thousands of other runners and thousands more on the sidelines cheering you on, it was simply thrilling. My end-goal was simple; to finish the race. This was broken down further into bite-sized strategies so I don’t feel overwhelmed;        

  1. Dedicate the first 10 kilometers to my wife, Valee – something that proved relatively simple and joyful as I savored and loved the experience. A lot like our ten years’ worth of togetherness and married bliss.
  2. Dedicate kilometers 11 to 20 to Raine, our 8 year old daughter – again quite enjoyable with moments of minor discomfort as my muscles started to show signs of tiring. She’s a good kid, I thought to myself and as my muscles strained, I recalled the challenges Valee and I went through as first time parents.
  3. Dedicate kilometers 21 – 30 to our 14 month old son, Raco – whew, this is the part where things started getting complicated (perhaps a preview of things to come with my energetic and strong-willed boy?). Call of nature, fatigue, wind chill, cramps in my upper thighs and side stitches. This can’t be happening to me. I had barely gone past the halfway point. Luckily, Valee was waiting just after the 27km mark and she was a sight for sore eyes (and aching muscles!). After giving her a kiss, I get a boost and I was off to the last stage.
  4. Final 12 kilometers would be my run time with God – I whispered, “Lord, this is it, just You and me”. I was certain He’d bring me home, but this turned out to be the most difficult portion of the run. Constant cramps in my thighs, bloating from too much fluid intake, my body salt depleted, and exhaustion creeping in. Every mile marker seemed farther and farther away. Walk, run, stop, stretch, run, walk, stop, stretch… Are we there yet?!!

Entering Central Park

And then finally, it was over…       

Running the Race       

The back of my race shirt bore the text from 2 Timothy 4 verse 7, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”. Runners behind me may have read the verse but all I needed was one (out of the more than forty two thousand who participated) to acknowledge it and my goal to be His messenger would be complete. A young lady came from behind and ran alongside of me and uttered four simple words, “I like your shirt.”. I smiled at her. Mission accomplished.       

From what I observed, people who joined the marathon ran for different reasons. Some dedicated the run to departed loved ones while others to promote or support a cause. There were those who came in silly costumes and those who proudly wore the colors of their country’s flag. I also saw men and women who conquered their disabilities and to them goes my utmost admiration. As for myself, the actual run was the crowning glory to the weeks and months of preparation I had committed to realizing this goal. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life and it wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for;          

–          the torment of bringing my heart close to bursting during speed workouts         

–          the difficulty of waking up ridiculously early on Sunday mornings         

–          the misery of going up the flight of steps when I do stairs training         

–          the agony of the last crunch doing sit-ups for my core         

–          the exhaustion and dehydration while doing long runs    

But it wasn’t all pain and suffering. I could always count on my loving wife and supportive family and friends to provide the encouragement and cheer. There were others who trained with me and helped make the experience lighter. There was also a coach who gave me guidance and pushed me when I doubted myself. The pre and post run carbo-loads were always a treat. The physical transformation and the feeling of being healthy were just priceless.      

Twelve months ago, the notion of finishing a marathon would have been unthinkable. And I can’t help but reflect on this Christian journey I find myself on with the goal of reaching heaven as my finish line. I realize now that God has set for me a mission that is not impossible. But there is a need to prepare and train hard for it; to love people in our lives with all our heart, to make sacrifices when things seem to go beyond our control, to look up to Him and persevere as difficulties challenge us, to be prepared to get hurt for reasons we may not immediately understand, to carry on in times of spiritual dryness and to fix our eyes on the reward that awaits those who choose to run the race.      

At the Finish

I feel immense happiness in having been able to finish this marathon. Imagine the great joy in store for those who finish HIS …

Pick A Race, Any Race

Such is the case for all of the weekends of September, October and November. They are fully booked with races. We even have some opportunities to join back-to-back races (Saturday-Sunday races).

So, where will you be on the coming weekends? Let’s all plan ahead and pick a race. Here are my preferences (with the distance of choice):

  • 20 Sept. 2009 — Rota Run | McKinley Hill | 15K
  • 27 Sept. 2009 — New Balance Power Race 2009 | Fort Bonifacio | 10K
  • 03 Oct. 2009 — Run for CHILD | Fort Bonifacio | 5K
  • 04 Oct. 2009 — 5th OctoberRUN Festival | Fort Bonifacio | 5K
  • 10 Oct. 2009 — Race for Life 2009 | Fort Bonifacio | 15K
  • 11 Oct. 2009 — Still undecided – Milo National Finals or Celebrity Run |5K
  • 18 Oct. 2009 — QC International Marathon | QC Circle | 21K (debut)
  • 25 Oct. 2009 — Adidas KOTR 2009 | Fort Bonifacio | 21K
  • 30 Oct 2009 — Shake, Rattle & Run 2009 | Fort Bonifacio | 5K
  • 15 Nov. 2009 — Yes Run | UP Diliman | 10K
  • 22 Nov. 2009 — Botak Paa-Bilisan Road Race | 10K
  • 06 Dec. 2009 — Run Rio Trilogy | 21K

There you have it. Wheeew!!! It seems like sprinting from one weekend to another. I’m back in the groove now – call it my ‘second wind’ – and I’m inspired and motivated more than ever.

Postscripts:

Hoping for additional races. Based from last year’s races, we might see some additional races come November or December. Some notable races that I hope would be scheduled are the following: Men’s Health Urbanathlon, Unicef Walk on the Child’s Side and Yakult 10 Miler.

Sorry and sad to pass on Smart SIM. I would have wanted to join the Smart Subic International Marathon. I had an opportunity to do a practice run there (once) and I enjoyed it a lot. At first, I wanted to run my first 21K there. However, after careful consideration, we decided to pass up for this year’s event due to budget constraints. Hopefully, we can join the run at Subic next year. To my friends at Smart, I apologize that I won’t be able to join you there. I’m sure this will be a grand and wonderful event. Thanks for sending updates. I appreciate it. Good luck and happy running!

Condura Run: 21K or 10K?

This is the dilemma that I am going through right now — will I run 21K or 10K for the 2009 Condura Run?

I have been on a sabbatical from running since Feb. 23 due to Quadriceps Tendonitis (QT). That’s 3 weeks of no running. The most that I have done was to cross-train using the stationary bike for 3 times a week at an easy to moderate intensity. And just last week, at least I was able to use the glidex for 3 days.

I did try ro run once last week at the treadmill. I ran 1 km. and I felt good. There was a bit of pain when I was starting to run but it eventually went away. More importantly, there was no pain after my run and there was no pain the day after. Furthermore, my legs felt strong and I think I could have continued but decided not to.

I have various concerns right now about running 21K. One, with 3 weeks of no running I might not have enough endurance to finish it. Two, I think there is a high probability of me having leg cramps. Three, and most important, it might not be good to run that long with the injury I just had. I might end up being injured again and endure some more weeks of no running. I certainly don’t want that to happen.

So, going back — 21K or 10K? Actually, I have not yet registered for 10K, so it’s still 21K right now. But I will try to register for the 10K just in case I cannot really run 21K. Tomorrow, I will run and see how my legs respond and take it from there. Whatever it is, I just don’t want to miss this run event.

Good luck to all runners joining the Condura Run this Sunday. Happy Running!

PS: Registration for the Condura Run is extended until Mar. 20, Friday. This is only applicable at Nike Bonifacio High Street.

The 2009 Condura Run: Run for 2 Causes

The most anticipated run event this March is just 3 weeks away. It seems to be a long wait but with the days flying by so fast, one wouldn’t even notice. We now have 3 more weeks to continue practicing — the intervals, the tempo runs, the easy runs. For 21K runners, that’s a lot of time to build up more mileage for the very exciting run along the stretch of Skyway. So, what are you waiting for? Register now, I already did!

Race Bibs

Race Bibs

Very Nice Shirt

Very Nice Shirt

 

Registration still open. You may sign-up at the following registration centers. (Please visit the 2009 Condura Run website for more details)

  1. Makati: Concepcion Industries Bldg., (beside Zuellig across Ospital ng Makati) 308 Gil Puyay Ave., Makati City | T: 391-0980; F: 818-3078; M: 0928-5207066
  2. Greenhills: 51 Annapolis St., Greenhills San Juan (near National Bookstore) | TeleFax: 727-9987; M: 0918-9158536 (Look for Rudy Biscocho)
  3. Participating Nike Stores: Bonifacio High Street, Glorietta 4, Greenbelt 3, Trinoma, Robinson’s Ermita, Festival Mall Alabang

Run for 2 Causes

When I registered at Nike BHS, I saw a poster about Operation Smile. For an additional Php 100 donation to Operation Smile, you can get a special edition racing bib that you can pin at the back of the singlet/shirt you’d wear for the run. The proceeds will “be used to fund the surgery needed to bring the smiles back to the children’s faces with cleft deformities.”

Operation Smile

Operation Smile

This is just another reason not to miss this event. An opportunity help and make a difference; an opportunity to run for 2 causes — for the Whale Sharks and for Operation Smile.

March Run Madness

Lace up those running shoes and get ready…It’s the March Run Madness!

This March runners are treated with 5 Sundays of running events. Plus, there are a lot of runs to choose from with some Sundays having 2 scheduled run events. Undoubtedly, the Condura Run for The Wahle Sharks is the most anticipated run event of the month. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s plan ahead…sign up…practice and, of course, RUN!

Here are the run events for the month of March:

Botak Paa-Bilisan Road Race Series (5K/10K) | NBC Tent, Fort Bonifacio | Mar. 1, Sunday

  • Registration is on-going
  • Reg. Fee: Php 300 (after Feb. 14); Php 350 (race week) — Includes Singlet
  • Register at: Botak Store — Kamuning QC (near Kamuning MRT station)
  • Website: www.botakphilippines.com.ph

2nd Doc Fit Run (5K/10K) | UP Diliman | Mar. 1, Sunday

  • Registration is on-going
  • Reg. Fee: Php 200 — Singlet will be given after the race
  • Register at: Nike BHS or at Philippine Heart Association
  • Event is limited to 800 participants
  • Website: www.RunRio.com

Takbo Para Sa Kalikasan Yr. 10 (3K/5K/10K) | Quirino Grandstand | Mar. 8, Sunday

  • Registration is on-going
  • Reg. Fee: Php 150 — Includes Singlet
  • Register at: Vasquez Madrigal Bldg., Annapolis St. Greenhills (near Promenade) or at DZMM Aksyon Center, Eugenio Lopez Drive
  • Registration time: 9:00am to 5:00pm
  • For the benefit of the continued rehabilitation of the La Mesa watershed

Botak sa Panagbenga (3K/5K) | Burnham Park Athletic Bowl | Mar. 8, Sunday

  • Reg. Fee: Php 250 — Includes Botak Sports shirt
  • Register at: Botak secretariat, SportsConnection HQ Japa Bldg. 2256 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City (Tel: 7031720) or at Baguio office (look for Jogin Tamayo: 09185990817/09063213832)

Women Rule (5K/10K/15K) | Manila Bay Side, SM MOA | Mar. 15, Sunday

  • Registration is on-going
  • Reg. Fee: 300 — Includes singlet with Velcro seal back pocket and Beverage loader
  • Register at: Unit S207 Ash Creek Center Ortigas Center Ortigas Ave., cor Madison St., Greenhills
  • In celebration of the International Women’s Month

Run For Their Lives (3K/10K) | NBC Tent Fort Bonifacio | Mar. 22, Sunday

  • Registration is on-going
  • Reg. Fee: Php150 (3K); Php 250 (10K)
  • Register at: selected Planet Sports and New Balance Stores
  • Commemorative medals will be given to finishers
  • Website: www.extribe.com.ph/main.php?sctn=4&indx=3

The Condura Run for The Whale Sharks (3K/5K/10K/21K) | NBC Tent, Fort Bonifacio | Mar. 22, Sunday

  • Registration is on-going
  • Reg. Fee: Php 300 (3K/5K/10K); Php 500 (21K) — Includes a collectible Condura Run 2009 T-shirt
  • Register at: selected Nike stores or at 51 Annapolis St., Greenhills or at Concepcion Industries Bldg. 208 Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City (beside Zuellig)
  • Website: www.condurarun.com

Pinay In Action Annual All Women’s Run | SM MOA Grounds | Mar. 29, Sunday

2nd Men’s Health 10,000KM Miracle Run (2x5K/10K) | UP Diliman | Mar. 29, Sunday

  • Registration starts Mar. 16, 2009
  • Reg. Fee: Php 350
  • Register at: ROX Bonifacio High Street or at 6F Robinsons Cybergate 3 Pioneer St., Mandaluyong City
  • For the benefit of Tahanang Walang Hagdang’s Gulong sa Pagsulong (MH will donate Php 200 for every finisher)
  • Participants may register as an individual and complete the entire race course or register as a team of 2 (each to run 5 km.). Teams can be same of mixed gender.
  • Website: www.menshealth.com.ph/miraclerun

Please go the websites specified to know more about the run events. You may also go to Takbo.ph to download registration forms and race routes.

Happy Running!

On to RUNew

Another great running weekend is upon us. Another great fun of running at McKinley Hill. Time to practice more uphill and downhill runs for this weekend’s RUNew.
 
His & Hers
 
I am glad that Suzanne (wifey) is joining me for this run. I’ll be running 15K and she’ll be running 3K. This is her first step in joining more runs in the future and I surely hope that she enjoys her run at McKinley.
 

His & Hers
His & Hers

The 15K Route

Hats off to Coach Rio for giving us a very challenging (and intimidating? Gulp!) 15K route. There are hardly any flat roads in the route. Right off the bat, I can say that a PR is quite impossible. Just the same, I will certainly enjoy the route and beautiful scenery at Heritage Park.

The 3K and 5K routes are no easy picking either. It’s also mostly uphill and downhill. Looks like wifey will also have a challenging start to running.

You may download the 3K/5K/15K high-res routes at RunRio.

RUNew 15K Route

RUNew 15K Route

Registration Still Open

So hurry up and register at Nike Bonifacio High Street. Plus, I just found out that you may pay an additional Php 500 for the breakfast buffet after the run. Unfortunately I was not able to inquire about the menu. You may call Nike BHS (856-2586/87) for more info about the buffet.

Good luck, run safe and Happy Running!

Power Run Update: 5K/10K/15K Race Route

Just an update on the upcoming Power Run this Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009 at SM Mall of Asia grounds. Here are the race routes for 5K, 10K and 15K (thanks to Takbo.ph).
5K Route

5K Route

10K Route

10K Route

15K Route

15K Route

A few comments:

  • The 2 loops around PICC for the 10K/15K route may be confusing. I hope that there are enough marshalls to guide the runners.
  • I really think that the 6am start time for the 15K is a bit late. Perhaps, 5:30 am or 5:45 am would have been better. Then again, there might be a reasonable explanation for this.  So I hope the weather would cooperate. It’s been quite hot the past couple of mornings.
  • I’m looking forward to this race. It’s my first time to run around the MOA grounds. A friend told me that the route is mostly flat so I’m hoping to improve on my Happy Run time.

Good luck to all runners joining this event. Happy Running!