Condura Run 2010: FlatFoot’s Continuing Cramps Debacle

Five 21K races, five cases of leg cramps! That is the sorry and sad tale that yours truly has experienced in each of his 21K races. A little refresher:

  • QCIM – cramps at KM 20 (21K debut)
  • Adidas KOTR – cramps at KM 18
  • Timex Run – Cramps at KM 18
  • Philstar Run – Cramps at KM 17
  • Condura Run – Cramps at about KM 18

A five-for-five batting average is good for most sports, but not in a case like this. Time and again, I’ve been humbled – and embarrassed – by cramps. One minute, I’m running a pretty good pace; the next minute, I’m wobbling and agonizing in pain. I can’t seem to complete a 21K without yielding to cramps. The frustration just keeps building up.

I was running at a comfortable and good pace. At the 16K marker, I had it at 1 hour 33 minutes. I felt I was on-course to finish within 2hours 5 minutes. Then, at about the KM 18 mark, cramps suddenly got in the way and it completely caught me off-guard. My previous cramps started with a bit of a ‘warning’ – some muscle tightening and fatigue. This time around, it just happened!

My leg cramps at the recently concluded Condura Run 2010 was the bitterest pill to swallow – physically and emotionally – as I trained well and hard for it (or so I thought?!). Physically, it was so painful that it seemed I didn’t train at all. Emotionally, it left a psychological trauma that bothered me for so many days. “Why, oh why?” was the only question I had.

As frustrating and depressing as it is, I know that I’m back to the drawing board. I need to go back and see what I did wrong in training. Already, I think Natz (i2runner) has a very good point – that I run ‘on-pace’ in my long runs. That is, instead of doing an LSD, I should train to run long within my 21K pace and not in a slow pace. He may be right as I can complete a 21K LSD without cramping.

And so, after feeling down a few days, my resolve is as strong as ever. I’m confident I can get this monkey off my back. Time to train again and time to train more wisely and effectively.

By the way, FlatFoot’s Better Late than Never Condura Run 2010 Review

OVERALL RATING

I’ll be using a scale of 1 to 5 defined as: 1-Poor, 2-Fair, 3-Good, 4-Very Good, 5-Excellent.

I would rate this run event as a 4.5/5 – Almost Excellent! Congratulations to Mr. Ton and Mr. Patrick Concepcion for staging a successful 2010 Condura Run. Here’s me wishing that we all get to run along Skyway again next year.

THE HIGHS

Organized race kit distribution. It wasn’t perfect but it was a remarkable improvement from last year’s race kit redemption mishaps. There were many tents manned by friendly and accommodating volunteers. The tents were also labeled accordingly to direct runners where to claim their kits.

The Skyway experience. It is the only running event that takes 21K and 42K runners to the Skyway.

Race started early and on time. With fireworks at that too! With the heat, I’m sure glad the race started that early.

Adequate water stations with abundant supply. Water and 100Plus sports drinks were properly segregated. There were also people handing out cups of water to make it easier for runners.

Finisher’s Medals for all distance categories. Most races only give medals to 21K or 42K finishers.

Safety and Security of runners were ensured. There were enough traffic aides and marshals along the race route.

Presence of KM markers. I don’t have a way of telling its accuracy, but it’s greatly welcome that the markers were there.

Runners helping runners. When I succumbed to cramps during the last 3 kms., there were some runners who asked if I was okay and some even offered to run with me and pace me to the finish. I wasn’t able to get their names but I owe them big time! Thank you!

Other positives: Many portalets in the start/finish area and some along the race route; Cold sponges; Water tanks to spray cool water to runners; Bananas being given to runners; Motivators and bands along the route; Nice commemorative T-Shirts; Philippine Star Condura Run supplement section; Lots of freebies (ice cream, beer, MH & WH back issues); Race results for 10K/21K/42K were released within 12 hours.

THE LOWS

Missing bar codes for 21K & 42K race bibs. It was highly commendable, though, that it was addressed immediately. The organizers sent information via email, blogs and SMS on what to do.

Unlit areas along Kalayaan flyover and Skyway. I almost tripped in a pothole along Kalayaan flyover.

Not all received the finisher’s medals. From the Condura Run website, it is said that there was “an attempt to take the box containing several medals.” As such, if you registered on or before Jan. 24 and you didn’t receive the finisher’s medal, just send an email to: secretariat@condura.com

See you all at next year’s Condura Run. Cheers and Happy Running!

Race Review: RotaRun 09

We were all back to the dreaded and treacherous McKinley Hill route as the Rota Run 2009 was held there yesterday morning. This is one of my favorite race routes, no matter how daunting it can be. It also marked the first race that Takbo.ph managed and facilitated. Let’s now see how the race went.

THE HIGHS

Race started on time. As mentioned in my previous race review (eco dash), I always prefer that races start on time. This way, runners can calculate the time they need to warm-up and go to the starting line.

Adequate aid stations with abundant supply. I like the part where there are people handing out water and Vitwater to runners. This way, one does not have to completely walk or stop to get fluids. This also lessens the queuing at the aid stations. (Although, after reading Baldrunner’s blog about hydration stations, I have to recommend to organizers that they should have longer tables)

Safety and the presence of marshals. What more can you say if you see military people stationed at different sections of the route? I felt as if I had a bodyguard.

Presence of directional markers. One would not get lost due to the presence and visibility of directional markers telling runners whether to go straight, turn right or turn left. Plus, you have marshals ensuring that you go to the right direction.

McKinley Hill. The hills…those barbaric McKinley hills! One year of running and I still don’t have an answer to these hills. But I do enjoy running at McKinley and I make it a point to join races if it passes through McKinley.

Nice singlets. It may not be as good as the Kenny’s Urbanite singlets but it still has a great and comfortable feel.

Value for money. Nowadays, seldom do we see registration fees below Php 300. This is value for money at its best. For Php 200, you get a nice singlet, medals for 21K finishers, some freebies from sponsors and get to run in a safe, scenic and enjoyable race.

THE LOWS

No KM markers. I hope that KM markers become a standard during races. Runners without the aid of Garmins or Polars rely on the KM markers.

Not a 21K. Runners with Garmin watches have it at 18K. The 3K difference is really big, especially for those aiming for a PR or for those training for a full marathon. At the moment, I also don’t know the reason behind the distance disparity. We can only hope that there is an explanation for this.

Robbery at McKinley Parking. This is really a very unfortunate incident. We can only hope that the McKinley administration improve their surveillance and security procedures. And dare I say that the Php 50 parking fee is too much for – what – a short 2-3 hour stay? Yeah, Php 50 seems small but you don’t get value from their end. Put CCTV cameras there and beef up security and then we can agree that the Php 50 fee is reasonable (For example, SM megamall and MOA have those sensors to direct you where to park – red means a car is parked and green means you can park there. Plus, you see 2-3 security guards who tirelessly roam around using their motorbikes. Now, that’s a “sulit” Php 50 parking!)

MY 15K RUN

No doubt, this was a better 15K run than at Kenny’s in terms of time and overall experience. In fact, my only goal for the race was to eclipse the 1h 38m (chip time) I had set at Kenny’s.

For the first time in a long while, we arrived early. Got a good parking (2nd floor) and walked leisurely to the race grounds. I’ve had so many close calls where I thought I’d be late for a race. But not on this Rota Run morning (partly because I knew that parking would be difficult).

So, for a change, I had the chance to do some warm-ups and stretching. I did around 3 sets of sprints after a comfortable jog. I lined up at the start-finish area with around 5 minutes to spare.

My plan for this race is to take it easy while in McKinley and take advantage of the flat roads along Lawton Ave. I knew that I lacked hill training and pushing hard in the beginning would be stubborn on my part.

The race started on time and, immediately, we were greeted by a mild uphill run. I followed my plan and navigated the uphills slowly but easily. I let the momentum from the downhills carry over and use the added speed to run faster on the few flat roads of McKinley. Approaching Blue Leaf I slowed down again for the final long uphill leading to Lawton Ave.

It was like heaven at Lawton Ave. Finally, no more uphills! This is where I picked up the pace and made up for lost time. It was the first time for me to run almost the entire length of Lawton Ave, with the u-turn at gate 3. In previous races, the direction is usually to turn left at Bayani Road. It was pretty straightforward (some uphills, some downhills, some flats) along Bayani Road leading to the U-turn outside Heritage Park.

After the final ascend at Bayani Rd.-Lawton Ave. intersection, I felt that I still had some energy left. With 1 final sip of Gatorade from my hydration bottle, I ran faster towards McKinley. And as I used the momentum for the final downhill run, I sprinted to the finish line.

And as I was sprinting to the finish, I was carefully looking at my time at above the finish line. I really wanted to know if I eclipsed my Kenny’s time. Lo and behold, I was surprised and very happy to see that my official time was 1h 22m 30s, a new PR for me for the 15K distance. Wow! This is a great bonus for me…something to boost my confidence that I’m progressing with my training, that I’m on the right track for my first 21K at QCIM and that I am on the way to making a full recovery from injuries.

OVERALL RATING

I’ll be using a scale of 1 to 5 defined as: 1-Poor, 2-Fair, 3-Good, 4-Very Good, 5-Excellent.

I would rate this run event as a 3.5/5 – Almost Very Good.

On a somehow short notice, Takbo.ph and Ian Alacar did a good job on getting this event together. Congratulations to the race organizers for a good job. With all your hard work and dedication to the running community, I am inspired and motivated to contribute on my own and, if possible, try to volunteer for the next Takbo.ph-organized run event.

Race Review: Eco Dash Run

It’s the RAIN! It’s got to be the RAIN! That was some refreshing, cool and invigorating run.

Such was the tale of the Ayala Malls Eco-Dash Run. The rain poured…and it poured quite hard all throughout the race. The wind was blowing at all directions. But most, if not all, of the runners chatting at the finish line attest that the rain proved to be more of an asset than a liability.

THE HIGHS

The RAIN. It’s got to be the RAIN!

New race route. By now, the Kalayaan flyover route is a familiar territory to a lot of runners. This time around though, runners turned left to Paseo de Roxas, then left again to Makati Avenue, then around Landmark and Glorietta and back.

Adequate aid stations with abundant water & Gatorade supply. It helped that Gatorade drinks were in Gatorade cups and water was in white cups.

Security, safety and presence of marshals. The local police had it all under control. I saw this for myself when I was crossing the Makati Avenue-Ayala Avenue intersection. There were a lot of angry drivers. I even saw some drivers (mostly taxi drivers) going out of their vehicles to confront the police. Some were even giving us runners the dirty finger and shouting profanities. It can get quite scary but, like I said, it was kept under control.

Race delay for the better. This aspect can be a bit tricky as a late start time is usually a no-no for a run event. I must admit that, at first, I was not in favor of a delay in start time. It’s my pet peeve. I always want the race to start on time. But in hindsight, I realized that delaying the start times would benefit all the runners. It was better to delay it since running in the dark (still dark at 5:00-5:30 am) with the rain pouring can be dangerous. As such, I think the organizers made the right call on this matter.

THE LOWS

No KM markers. This is another one of my pet peeves for a race. I hope that this becomes a standard for all races being organized.

Not so nice singlets and race bibs. It looked more like a basketball jersey than a singlet.

The timing device at the finish line was not visible. I believe it was near the tent (right side if you are running towards the finish line) where the organizers are seated. It’s usually placed on the top and middle area of the start-finish line. And, if possible, it’s advisable to have separate timing devices for each of the distances.

MY 10K RUN

I did not know what to expect for this run as I lacked preparation. Prior to this race, I had been inactive from running for 5 days due to a big blister I got last Monday (Sept.7). I also ran in the rain that Monday morning. Unfortunately, I was wearing cotton socks and that caused the blister under the ball of my right foot. It completely bothered me and I even had difficulty walking. It was a blister that I cannot run with for the rest of the week.

It was comforting to know that by race day, the wound has somehow healed. I made sure to cover the wound properly with gauze and water-resistant tape.

It was already raining when the run started. As we turned left to 32nd street, the rain got harder and the wind blew stronger. This was also the time that I ran faster knowing that I will eventually taper off towards the ascend to Kalayaan flyover. I took advantage of the flat roads along the Makati leg of the race and ran at a consistent pace. There was no pain from the blisters. I was enjoying myself and a bit surprised that I can sustain the pace I was into. I was breathing well. I had a good and consistent stride. I was completely enjoying myself.

Then, misfortune struck. I felt some pain on my right foot as I was running up the flyover on the way back to the Fort. It was the blister. The bandage did not hold up due to my shoes and feet getting extremely wet. I knew better not to force the situation. I did not want to worsen the wound. I ran at moderate to slow pace from that point on.

I wasn’t wearing my Nike+ Sportsband so I was not able to log my time. I also couldn’t see my finish time as the timing device was being blocked by the tent and umbrellas. I’m hoping I got it under an hour.

SHOWER ANYONE?

After crossing the finish line, there was a Manila Water ‘water tank’ providing runners the opportunity to have a quick shower. Personally, I loved this. It was a cool and refreshing shower. The thing is, it was ironic to be wasting water when the run was all for advocating environmental responsibility and awareness. Well, just a thought bubble. I’m not complaining, just asking.

OVERALL RATING

I’ll be using a scale of 1 to 5 defined as: 1-Poor, 2-Fair, 3-Good, 4-Very Good, 5-Excellent.

I would rate this run event as a 3.5/5 – Almost Very Good.

The ‘lows’ that I mentioned were a contributing factor to the rating. Just the same, I congratulate the Ayala Malls for a good and organized race.

Race Review: The KRR Urbanite

The Kenny Rogers Roasters Urbanite Run was the most talked-about run event this August. Evidently, the concept of running at night created a lot of excitement and anticipation. This was my second night race; the first one being the 2008 Isuzu Shake, Rattle & Roll run. But the KRR Urbanite took running at night to another level. In a nutshell, here are my highs and lows for my 15K run.

THE HIGHS

Night race with a party atmosphere and a tough course. Organizing a night race is a unique idea in itself. Having a party and running at a tough course adds another dimension to it. The Isuzu night run can rightfully claim to be the first night run around the metro, but running 4 laps around BHS is clearly easy compared to running around Lawton Ave., Bayani Rd., Heritage Park and McKinley Hill.

Run, Eat & Donate. The registration fee of Php 600 is high compared to the other run events, but there is value for money in it with the run, eat and donate concept. The run, of course, is a given. The meal is very filling. And most importantly, we get to contribute to Hands On Manila Foundation.

Nice Singlet. I like the simple design and comfortable feel of the singlet. It’s like wearing a Nike dri-fit or an Adidas clima-cool.

Adequate hydration stations with abundant supply. This one is a no-brainer. This is typical of any Finishline organized run event. Then, there is an abundant supply of Powerade and Viva water. I was even able to get a cold bottle of Powerade from the McKinley Hill hydration station. Furthermore, there seems to be no control in claiming Viva water after finishing the race. Initially I got 2 bottles. After roaming around the party area, I was given another bottle as I made my way back to the parking (it was given to me without me asking, great!).

Security, safety and the presence of marshals. Again, this is typical of Finishline. This being a night race, safety & security is a foremost concern. And the organizers did not disappoint. They have always coordinated well with the local government to ensure the safety of runners. One lane is allotted for runners with the traffic cones serving as the boundary. There were also marshals all throughout the route. Some had flashlights to guide runners in some of the dark areas of the route.

KM markers. I have no way of telling the accuracy of KM markers but I do trust that Finishline has always been very close, if not accurate, of the actual distance (based from the Garmin data from my friends). Without my Nike+ Sportsband (display problem) for a month now, the markers help me a lot in determining how I pace myself during a run.

Disposable Timing Chips. The detailed results from the Globe Run for Home showed the capabilities and usefulness of the disposable timing chips. As of this writing, the results aren’t available yet. I do hope that more and more races make use of these timing chips.

THE LOWS

The race kit claiming process. We (me, my wife and brother) are fortunate that we did not encounter any hassles in claiming our kits. But the mishaps have been well documented in blogs and forums. Some of the complaints include: Race kits not being available even if they registered early; Only 1 venue for race kit redemption; Late announcement that last-minute registrants will be able to claim their kits on Aug 14; Being asked to return on a Saturday morning.

I sympathize to those who had a bad experience in claiming their kits. We all hope that it will be better next race. Certainly, the complaints and suggestions posted in blogs and forums would help the sponsor and organizer in creating a better claiming process.

Irresponsible motorcycle drivers. For some unexplained reason, the traffic cones of Finishline and the marshals and police along the route did not persuade some irresponsible motorcycle drivers from driving inside the designated lane for runners. I saw this as I was running along Lawton Avenue. The police was even shouting at the driver to get out of the lane. The motorcycle driver only got out of the lane when some other runners also asked him to move out.

MY 15K RACE

Without any doubt, this is my best run in 5 months. I did not set a new 15K PR but I really felt very good during and after the run. I ran at a moderate and consistent pace all throughout, tapering off a bit during uphills. I walked approaching hydration stations but I made it a point not to walk on uphills.

I have always loved any race route that passes through Heritage Park and McKinley Hill, no matter how difficult it can be. The thrill and challenge just adds up to the excitement of running.

Inside Heritage Park, we were greeted by the refreshing and cool wind. As expected, it was dark with only a few lampposts giving us light. I overheard a group of runners scaring each other and having a good laugh.

Going down McKinley Hill, I had a flashback of what happened to me last February at the RUNew event where I ran too fast on a downhill that caused my quadriceps tendinitis injury. This time around I was careful no matter how tempted I was to accelerate on a downhill. And during uphills, I made sure to run wisely – small strides, look up, upper body slightly tilted forward (no slouching) and breathe faster but consistently. This is probably the first time that I got out of McKinley not completely wasted. I ran casually the rest of the way and finished with an official time of 1h 39m 27s (chip time: 1h 38m 38s). With this run, I am glad to know that endurance training has been successful. I do need to get back and train for more pace.

OVERALL RATING

I’ll be using a scale of 1 to 5 defined as: 1-Poor, 2-Fair, 3-Good, 4-Very Good, 5-Excellent.

I would rate this run event as a 4/5 – Very Good.

Thank you Kenny Rogers, Finishline and all the other sponsors for a wonderfully organized run event.

Mixed Emotions at the Power Run

I have mixed emotions after having finished the Power Run. There is some sense of satisfaction for having finished the race (and running more than the 15K distance) and a sense of disappointment on how confusing the race turned out to be.

The Race

I have been looking forward to this run event for 2 reasons. One, it was my first time to run at SM MOA grounds/vicinity. Two, it would have been a good opportunity to set a PR considering the flat roads. My goal was to eclipse the time I had set at the Happy Run; perhaps a 1h. 20 m. was a good target.

The race started on time and the weather cooperated. Fortunately, the sky was still dark when we started at exactly 6:00 am (at least on my watch). The weather also cooperated with the cool morning breeze. Prior to the run, I had thought the 6:00 am start time was a bit late. But not in this case. All throughout the run, we were fortunate to have very good weather with the sun choosing to stay behind the clouds.

Mostly flat roads. True enough, my friend was right when he said that it was a mostly flat race course. Aside from trying to set a PR, it was also a very good opportunity to run at a sustained pace (without having to slow down on uphills). I surprisingly found myself running at a pace of 5:20 to 5:3o (until an unfortunate situation happened). It was my best pace so far this year and credit goes to the Nike running clinic.

Hydration stations. In think there is a sufficient number of hydration stations along the race course. I did hear some complaints that water ran out towards the end but I cannot validate this yet. Somehow, I have learned my lesson from previous runs and I make it a point to bring my hydration belt in cases of water supply running out. I was also able to get a 500 mL Pocari Sweat from the first station (along Macapagal Ave.) that I was able to maximize it up the 8 km. mark. But a complaint that I can validate is the lack of water supply at the finish line (when it clearly says in the race map that there is an H2O station).

I also find it odd that the guy stationed at the ‘Aktivade’ tent was refusing to give out Aktivade drinks to runners when there was still sufficient supply. When I finished the run, I was looking for a water station as I had finished the liquids I brought from my hydration belt. I asked one runner where he got his Aktivade drink and if it was being given for finishers. He said yes and he pointed where I can get it. I went to the tent and asked, ‘Sir, dito po ba kumukuha nung Aktivade?’ The guy said (pointing at the coolers), ‘Ubos na po.’ I looked at the coolers and I did see that there were no more drinks in there. But at the side of the tent, I saw plenty of Aktivade bottles. I asked him again, ‘Sir, kahit yung hindi malamig okay lang.’ Surprisingly he just looked away and did not say anything. And then, a few minutes after, a group runners were also looking for drinks at the tent. They found the bottles at the side of the tent and started to get bottles of Aktivade. The guys stationed at the tent moved quickly and started to transfer the stacks of Aktivade bottles to the package area so that the runners swarming the tent couldn’t get any more bottles. Hmmm, what could be the rationale behind this?!

Series of Unfortunate Events. It all started on our way back to Seaside Blvd. The 15K runners were supposed to turn left at the first turn. But that did not happen. Without any marshall directing runners, most went straight ahead and went through different directions thereafter (more on this confusion in a while). I back got to the right direction and ran comfortably at a sustained pace.

Then another unfortunate thing happened. As I was running along Coral Way (near SMX Convention Center), a runner suddenly stopped in front of me to walk and drink. It caught me off-guard and I had to quickly evade him. I hopped to his left and as soon as my left foot hit the ground, I instantly felt a sting at the side of my left knee. I went t the side of the road and walked a bit to feel if it’s anything serious. After some knee bending and shaking, I didn’t feel anything and started to run again. But about 5 minutes after, I felt my right thigh tighten a bit signalling that I might have cramps. I had no choice but to reduce my pace to about 6:15 to 6:40. It took me about 10 minutes to increase my pace again but the fastest I got was 5:4o (up until the last 1-km. where I ran 5:15).

Then, after finishing the run, my right thigh finally succumbed to cramps. After some stretching, I was able to shake it off. Then as I was walking around, I was starting to feel a bit of pain on my left knee. A few more stretching relieved me of the pain but the pain came back when I got home. Fortunately, when I woke up this morning there was no more pain and I hope it stays that way.

15 + 1.5 K. With the confusion on the race route, I ran a total of 16.5 km. with an unofficial time of 1h 24m 50s (as seen from the timing device at the finish line). A bit disappointed because I missed the chance for an official 15K PR. Then again, I’m also happy to have ran 16K to build up mileage for the ultimate goal of 21K this March.

Where the confusion lies

Confusion Point

Confusion Point

Based from my observation, I think that the confusion centered on the way back to Seaside Blvd., specifically at the first turn. (Please refer to the green shaded circle from the picture above.) When 15K runners (me included) passed by this point, there was no marshall directing us to turn left. All 15K runners went straight (Please refer to the green arrows on how the 15K runners proceeded) and made a U-turn at the end of Seaside Blvd. After the U-turn, some 15K runners made a right turn to Macapagal Ave. Some 15K runners made a right turn towards the specified direction (green shaded area) after a marshall was suddenly stationed there. This explains why some 15K runners ran about 18K, and some about 16K, and some the registered distance of 15K.

I feel bad for the marshall who was suddenly stationed there. A lot of runners were asking him why he wasn’t there earlier. To his credit, he did apologize repeatedly for what happened.

Here’s my take on this episode. Right from the get-go, a race marshall should have been there. A good example is the route around PICC. There were race marshalls there that instructed runners to run another loop or to run back to SM MOA area. Without any marshall there and with 15K runners going straight (instead of turning left), one would certainly follow where the pack is going. Who knows, the route could have suddenly changed? And when in the process of running, runners are certainly dependent on marshalls to guide them in the proper direction.

On a personal note, I also take responsibility for missing the right route. I got hold of the route several days before the race and I was not able to carefully remember the right directions.

Moving Forward

Certainly, a lot of things need to be reviewed in order to have a better and organized race the next time around. Aside from this being my first run at SM MOA, it was also my first to join a race organized by MX Sports. I hope that they can learn from this experience and move forward and organize a better race next month (I think they have another scheduled race next month). While there are some unfortunate things that happened, there are also some good things such as the race starting on time and some good marshalls (some were not very helpful actually).

So, there you have it. An eventful Power Run. Lots more running this year and see you all next weekend at the RUNew. Happy Running!

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!

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!