Back again

I have two goals that I want to achieve within the year.  Break my 21K record of 2:05:52 and break my marathon record of 5:53:03. I am eyeing the upcoming Manila Milo Marathon to break my 21K record and the Run United Philippine Marathon to break my marathon record. I thought I’d chronicle that pursuit.  Who knows? Maybe somebody out there can learn from an aging (I’m close to 50 years old) runner.

The Milo Marathon is July 28. That gives me 8 weeks of training ahead of me.  Given that I am not sedentary and have been running consistently for several weeks, I suppose I can jump into one of these training plans midway.

(Photo courtesy of Nicole Cho)

Ripping the road

I haven’t posted in this site for a long time. I thought I’d break the hiatus by writing about my experience with Leg 3 of Rip The Road, a race I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend to those wanting to race a 10K.

My friends have recently caught the running bug and are now joining 10K events. I’m happy for them—we need to maintain our health and fitness as we approach our 50s—and to spice things up, we entered into a wager with a simple breakfast at stake.  Because our fitness levels vary, we decided to implement a handicap system.  I’ve been the more consistent runner, joining half-marathons and full-marathons here and there, so obviously I am the one that has to be given the greatest handicap.  The problem is I haven’t been running 10Ks for more than two years.

So last week I joined the Rebisco Run to get myself into the groove of things.  And I chose the Rip the Road to establish my “real” 10K time. Then, to liven things up,  one of my friends decided to join.  He, too, wanted to find out his “real” time.

The Rip The Road is the ideal venue for 10K runners to determine their personal best.  The mechanics of the run, where the top 1000 finishers get to run the Championship run—encourage competitive behaviour. There are no other distances in the event, so the field is not packed with 3K or 5K runners.  All runners are 10K runners, so if you overtake a runner, you know you aren’t overtaking some runner who is running slower because he is covering a longer distance.  There are practically no freebies—no lootbag, no medals—so the participants tend to be the “purist” runners, those who run for time and to push themselves. You can feel that the runners are there to run, not just to join or to be seen. Save for the uphill climb at the Kalayaan flyover, the course is relatively flat with none of the twists and turns one finds in the Bonifacio Global City routes.

The RTR run re-introduced me to the beauty of the 10K.  The 10K is a good way to measure one’s fitness.  Training for a 10K does not require two-hour long runs.  It is a distance that doesn’t tax your body as much as the longer distances, but it still leaves you gasping for air.

Rain running


It rained heavily on Tuesday, July 3.  It wasn’t the rain that one would associate with a typhoon, but it was an incessant downpour nonetheless.  Despite that downpour, I decided to do a run.

People probably think I’m crazy.

This was a rain that resulted in floods over Metro Manila and caused school officials to call off classes.  There were deep puddles of water in our subdivision and when cars would splash water on me as they passed me by.   But I was on the road, my music player strapped to my arm in a waterproof housing, and all I had was a cap to protect me from the drencher.  Dark clouds loomed over the horizon. The air was cool.  The rain drops were refreshing.

I love running in the rain.

I don’t know why people believe in that running in the rain results in colds.  My mother would strike the fear of God in me by saying that getting wet in the rain leads to pneumonia.   When I was in college, we would run in the rain and would hardly get sick.  Years ago, in my mountain biking days, we would get drenched by heavy downpours and would hardly get a sniffle.

So unless there is a thunderstorm, or the roads are flooded, I am not going to let rain stop me.

Long run

Yesterday I did my weekend long run, long being something around the vicinity of 20 kilometers. Running experts say that the long, slow distance run is crucial for any marathon run.  It has something to do with improving the body’s ability to utilize fat as an energy source as well as strengthening one’s mental fortitude to run for long hours.

I figured that I’d run for 25 kilometers.  That’s the farthest distance I’ve ever run in training mode.  I did a 32K in last year’s Run United 3, but that’s a running event and it’s easy to get swept by crowds and the festive, competitive atmosphere.  This LSD run would be a solo run and it had the potential to be a boring, tedious run.

One challenge in doing a long run is finding the appropriate route.  I could go around the park over and over again, but I’d probably want to shoot myself after the fifth lap.  I could venture outside my subdivision—at 5:30 am traffic should be light—but if I venture out too far I risk getting side-swiped by jeepneys and reckless drivers.    One tip to runners who run in busy streets: run against the traffic.  You really need to see the oncoming vehicles.  A few milliseconds of reaction time can spell the difference between life and death.

Ironically, it’s not the cars nor the trucks that give me problems.  The two-wheeled vehicles—motorcycles and bicycles—are the ones that give me pause.   They weave and they don’t always follow a straight line.  They see you coming towards them and they don’t know if they should move right or left.  Some of them focus only a few meters beyond their front wheel and they get surprised when they see you running towards them!

I figured I keep my pace really slow.  Something like 7:30 to 8:00 per kilometer.  I know that’s really slow.  And after the first 5 kilometers I began to get bored.   I decided to speed up to about 7:15.   Still feeling good.  At the 11 kilometer mark I was up to 7:00.  Then,  with 10 kilometers left, I decided to move up to 6:50.  I remembered my long run of the week before, which was a 21 kilometer run, where I struggled in the final 10 kilometers.  I remember a quote of Jeff Galloway: “As you push a mile or three farther on each long one, you push back your endurance limit.”  I repeated that line over and over again as I pushed past 21 kilometers.  The thought in my head was “For every kilometer I take, I push back my endurance limit!”

I finished my 25 kilometer LSD run in 2:57.  My problem now is that most running experts say that I shouldn’t run more than 3 hours.  They say that there is no physical or aerobic benefit from running more than 3 hours.  Maybe my next weekend LSD will be a double run.  I have never in my lifetime done a double run.

But I’m really tempted to go for 30K.  Maybe I’ll do that in the 2nd week of July.  A 30K with a 7:30 pace means a 3 hour 45 minute run.  Gulp!  That probably means I have to wake up at 4 am!

Tempo runs


Part of my weekly training plan is to insert one day of speed-work so today I did a “tempo run.”  A tempo run is supposed to be a 20-minute run at a “comfortably hard” pace.  Running Times gives a good article on tempo running if you want to know more about “tempo runs.”

I opted to do a 10K run at my half-marathon goal pace, which is a 6 minute per kilometer pace.   It’s interesting how my fitness levels have progressed—I used to run a 10K race at that pace; now it’s my tempo training pace!  It’ll be interesting to see how fast I can run a 10K now.

I programmed my Garmin Forerunner to do a 1-kilometer warm up, followed by a 10-kilometer run at a pace of 5:45 to 6:00.  My first tempo kilometer was too fast; my Garmin watch beeped constantly to alert me that I was running faster than 5:45.  So I backed off.  Hmmm, I told myself, I’m comfortable running a 5:45?   But I wondered if I could sustain that pace.

For the first 1 to 2 kilometers, I was fumbling with the pace.  I would go too fast then too slow.  It was after the 2nd kilometer that my pace settled.  No longer was my Garmin watch beeping to alert me that I was off the pace.

But yes it was tough.  Not tough as in I wanted to quit, but tough in the sense that I was wondering if I could sustain that pace for an hour.  For sure it wasn’t an easy, comfortable run.  I was breathing heavily and my legs had a faster rhythm.   I focused on my form, trying to stay loose,  keeping my torso straight but relaxed, my head upright, eyes looking at just below the horizon, my arms swinging freely.   Once in a while I would inhale deeply, expanding my lungs as much as I could, and then I would forcibly exhale.  I don’t know if it truly worked or it was just psychological, but it did alleviate the fatigue and made the runs easier.  But it was still a laborious effort, and I wondered how in the world could I have managed this pace for 21 kilometers!

As I entered the last 5 kilometers, I was obvious to me that my fatigue level was nowhere near that of a 21-kilometer race.  In a half-mary, my legs weigh a ton, my mind is delirious with fatigue, and I would wage a mental battle to either quit or to push on.  I guess the tempo run also teaches the body to settle efficiently into a steady pace.

I’ll be doing this type of runs once a week until about mid-July, when I have to taper for the Milo Marathon.  I’m eager to see how all this affects my 42K run.

(Photo Credit)

Milo’s 21K is NOT 21K!

I was intrigued my several claims over at Pinoyfitness that the Milo Marathon’s 21K route is actually longer than 21K.

So I went over to MapMyRUN and plotted the route according to the route map.  Comes out that the 21K route is 25K!  Check it out here.

I checked the 2011 route map.  The 42K route this year is the same as last year, but the 21K route is different.   Maybe the organizers changed it so that it coincides with the 42K route?

I think this is unfair.  If the run is advertised as 21K then it should be 21K!  I can tolerate a discrepancy of 100 meters but a discrepancy of more than 2K is atrocious!!  There are many individuals who are aiming for personal records and who are probably joining because they feel that, based on prior 21K runs, they can beat the cutoff time of 2 1/2 hours.   My goal pace in a 21K is around 6-minutes per kilometer give or take a few.  A 4K discrepancy means 24 minutes!

Runners deserve an explanation!

Have any of you plotted the route?  If so, please share.  And spread the word if you also notice the discrepancy!

Update #1:  I asked for clarification in Runrio’s Facebook page.  They were quick to point out that the 21K was also IAAF-certified.  And checking the AIMS calendar of events the 21K is indeed listed.   So I guess that means Google Maps and MapMyRUN are the ones that are wrong.

Update #2:  Confirmed also that the 21K route of 2011 is the same as the 21K route of 2012.  The 2011 route map attached is inaccurate.

What it means to be IAAF-certified

I am naturally a skeptic. If someone makes a hyped-up claim, accompanied by much hoopla, my tendency is to research such a claim to see if it is worth all the fanfare.

And I was curious about the claim that the Milo Marathon was AIMS and IAAF certified:

For the first time in more than three decades, the 35th National MILO Marathon this year will be certified by the Association of International Marathons (AIMS) and the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).”This will bring a new dimension in the country’s biggest and longest-running footrace,” said Rio dela Cruz, whose RunRio company will be managing all the 17 elimination races and the national finals set on December 11

This news item was reported by many news agencies. So why is this such a big thing?

Continue reading

My Milo Marathon race kit arrived!

Whenever I register online, my biggest worry is whether or not I have ACTUALLY registered. Yes I get email confirmation but nothing beats having the race kit in hand!

So now I can breathe a sigh of relief as my Milo Marathon race kit has arrived.

Interested in joining the Milo Marathon?  Sign up here.

Milo Marathon racing bib

Milo Marathon racing bib

Milo Marathon singlet (front)

Milo Marathon singlet (front)

Milo Marathon singlet (back)

Milo Marathon singlet (back)

Booklets included in the Milo Marathon race kit

Booklets included in the Milo Marathon race kit

Interval workouts on a Garmin Forerunner 610

Defining workouts through Garmin website

Here’s another reason why the Garmin Forerunner 610 is such a great workout and training tool!

I came across this article on improving one’s lactate clearance rate.  As you may all know, the buildup of lactic acid is the cause for muscle fatigue, so the goal is to train your body to run efficiently and facilitate the clearance of lactic acid.  The lactate clearance workout lets you run at a “fast pace” to spike the production of lactic acid then you ease into your desired pace to train your body to flush out the lactic acid at that pace.  I was eager to try out this workout.

I inputted the info into the Garmin Connect website, which is some personal portal where one can log and plan one’s individualized workout.   Once I entered the info, I clicked on the link at the upper right to send the info to my Forerunner 610.

Now the fun begins!

I selected the workout on my watch and started my run.  The screen changed to a two panel layout.  The top half showed my pace and the bottom half showed the number of kilometers left.  In one glance at my watch I can see if I am meeting my targeted pace and how many meters I still have to run.  As I near the end of an interval, the watch alerts me by a series of “countdown” beeps, and then, at the start of the next interval, it would display the interval info—“Run 1.5 kilometers 7:00-7:30 pace”—so I don’t have to struggle and remember if I have to do a fast or slow interval.  Plus, if I am running too fast or too slow, the watch vibrates and alerts me that I am off the pace.  “Speed up” it would display; or “slow down.”  I don’t even have to look at the watch—the vibration and the audible alerts me if I am off the pace and then it also alerts me if I am back at my desired pace!

If you couple this with a heart rate monitor, you can even tailor your workout based on your heart rate.  You can run a fast interval until your heart rate reaches a certain level (like 80% of your maximum threshold) and then ease down until you reach your “resting” heart rate and then repeat.  The watch will alert you as you meet your interval goals!

Great tool and it’s one purchase—albeit an expense one!—that I don’t regret.