Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dead frogs and a watermelon.

Bebeng's fury trickled down to a drizzle and woke me up on Tuesday morning. The lure of running in cool weather was all I could think of when I laced up and set out for an easy 10k run. I opted to run the 1.6km stretch near the village (my very own loop) than going to higher ground for the uphills - less I wanted to be runnernapped.

I had a feeling I would be the only runner on the road that day because it was still a bit chilly and foggy at 6am and I bet everyone was still in dreamland, kissing frogs. Speaking of frogs, I met a couple of them on the road. Some were already flat out on their backs like drunken fools and some had the misfortune of being run over by a vehicle. On my second loop up, a small, green and orange, thin frog tried to hop away when I passed by. Thanks for the company guys, at least there was something to keep my mind off a bit. I kept thinking where the bikers were. Usually, there's already a pack of them going uphill during that time and it was already late - 630 am. There was just the usual folks on pedicabs with their wares, some locals in motorcycles on their way to work (oops, dead frog with huge stomach), and a few kids scavenging on a pile of waste near the other end of my loop (yes dearies, I'm owning it).

On my last loop, I continued to a jog on the way down to the market to buy something to eat. I bought 3 pcs of tomatoes, 1 saba, 2 pharmaton capsules and 1 watermelon which was staring at me with a huge Buy Me tag on it. I was planning to walk all the way back to the village to cool down and didn't realize how heavy the watermelon was when the weight was unbearable at 50 meters. So, imagine me lifting the watermelon on the other hand, eating the saba on the other and walking back to a whole 1.3km stretch back to the house. Stupid me had to think of carrying it in front as if I'm carrying a baby. Then, putting it on my shoulder, then carrying it by the sides again. Repeat. All the way home...

When at last, I got home and devoured rice, veggies, and spam and of course, slices of the watermelon. On my second slice, I was telling yaya Vi how I took the watermelon home by walking for 1.3kms after a 10k run. All she had to say, "in the province, we had to carry what we bought from the market, carrying 2 baskets for 2kms and going uphill for another 2kms to the nearest tricycle ride." Aaahh...I'm not worthy!..

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's Hamster Time!

Weeks in the hospital kept me from the asphalt for a very long time - longer than my QCIM half mary, which was my worst time ever at 3:34. I knew I had to do something about the lull or my thighs and core area will grow celluloids and I will turn into a pear! The old man is now back at home and recuperating. It was a real miracle that Papa overcame the ICU episode and hopefully he will recover soon. I have been telling him to get back on his feet so he can run with me. I told him that he should be running with the other 70-year olds in the pack, he just gave me a thoughful look - he must be wondering what I'm talking about.

So, it's back to square one for me. It is always safe to take it slowly - just like anything else that you do on a first time. Although technically, this is not my first time to train. This week (April 25) is the first week back to training and Monday found me on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I must make sure the pounds whittle away before I can pound on the road again. On Tuesday evening, I did another 30 minutes plus 100 leg exercises and 2 push ups - yup, you read it right - two! Last night (Wednesday), I did another 30 minute treadmill workout.

Now, I'm wondering why my weight is at 140 this morning! Maybe it was the soda and halo-halo galore. Or the mini nestle coffee cups in the morning that I gulp down more than twice. Or the cheesesticks. Whatever it was, I am 15 pounds heavier now and I must do something about it! Some say the weighing scale is a good motivation to start trimming down and running is the best and cheapest way to do it. So tonight, I hit the oval again and ran off those kilos away, covering 12 rounds and a 400m walk. It's hamster time!...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Trails anyone?

The gods must be crazy when they invented the word, ‘trail’. And they must have been crazier when they invented the words, ‘trail run’. Heck, I must have been the craziest of them all, when I decided to try what they meant, not knowing that I will be coming back for more!

Sta Rosa, Laguna

With only three trail runs under my belt (and counting…), but a number of treks up my spine, I may not be your best authority when it comes to this passion. But I will tell you my encounters nonetheless - with no other than the stones, dirt roads, pits, hanging bridges, enormous roots, river crossings, boulders, slippery uphill, hungry cattle, ridges, leaping frogs, enchanted pathways, streams, fornicating crickets, tall grasses, wild horses, cliffs, mammoth millipedes, and clouds as my witnesses.


Notwithstanding the heat that summer brings or the flood, wind, and storms during the rainy season, my two feet still finds “stubborn me” hiking up a mountain or running through a trail. What is it about the trails that keep me coming back unrelentingly? If not for the list above, then it must be the absolute thrill that one gets from sheer exhaustion. Now where did I get that?

Mariveles, Bataan

Sta. Rosa, Laguna

What is the first thing you must know before you go crazy? Have yourself checked by the doctor – I mean it! And yes, include a visit to the psychiatrist as well because your decision to join a trail run or a trek might be due to the need to forget a painful memory. And diverting it towards something more painful which could eventually become a lasting memory was all you could think of. Oh well, that’s one of the definitions of madness!

After the doctor's appointment, get the proper gear. The thing about trails is you don’t have to care about how good you must look because by the end of the day y’all look alike!

Mariveles, Bataan

Before you run on trails, learn everything about the terrain. Will your running shoes hold enough pebbles from the river crossing? Will your CWX bear the cuts? Will your dri-fit singlet protect your arms from the thorns? Are you wearing enough sun block to protect yourself? Can your hydration pack provide enough liquids to last every 10 kms? Remember, trail running is a test of survival. Not just endurance. Not just speed. Not just strategy. You must know the real meaning of “self-contained.”

After the shopping galore, the registration fee, the blog declaration of your craziness, and the physical and lingo training, the next best thing to do is set your goal on the finish line and you’re all set!

Mariveles, Bataan

Be it a trail run or a trek, when it comes to the word ‘summit’, I may have different definitions from the next but this word is the only motivation that keeps me going. And just when I thought that I have had enough trail vocabulary to last a dayhike, a friend had just asked me to pronounce “acclimatization.”


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Race to Remember

My mom may not know it but she has been constantly teaching me three things in life. Strength, perseverance, and the power of prayer. And although she is miles away from us and all alone by herself in New York, Mama continues to guide me through my journeys of ups and downs. My Condura experience last Sunday, Feb 7, 5 am at the Fort and through the Skyway took me to great lengths of holding on to these three things. Sometimes one by one. At times, altogether. That morning, I was about to take a journey on my own, without a pacer or a friend to keep me grounded and I was fidgety, nervous, agitated, excited, anxious, apprehensive on a challenge that is towering high above me. My first 21k was with the very patient coach, who kept his peace beside me. I tapped out on my second one because of dysmenorrhea. This time, I promised myself that I will finish this race no matter what. I will finish this not for myself, but for Mama. I never thought that those same words looped inside my head for the nth time during my run.

Strength. I did not train for this run. My last run was the midnight run the Sunday before, which only took me 3 hours around the UP oval. Tuesday morning was a mere 30 minute run near the village before I went to work and an hour at the cross-trainer machine after office. And Wednesday evening was a date with the treadmill for only 30 minutes. No more, no less. Friday and Saturday were carboloading days, as advised by friends. It was a struggle to sleep Saturday night as thoughts of tapping out again gave me a significant increase in my heart rate. In short, I was utterly worried.

Perseverance. So while I was stretching and going around the coral 40 minutes before we took off, I tried to convince myself over and over again that I can do it. That I have done it before, what is there to lose this time. That I am not the only one with the same feelings. That I should just enjoy the run and it will be over sooner than I thought. So when the countdown marked 1, I breathed in and gazed at the cheerers on both sides to keep my mind off the anxious runners moving fast by me. I treaded up 32nd street on an easy pace, all the while reminding myself that I was there to enjoy every step and that there are more roads to conquer in a few more minutes. The darkness reminded me of my pace at the UP oval and how I kept my sanity intact then. The thought of singing “hit the road jack” in my head again didn’t falter and helped me on my way up to the Kalayaan flyover. Once up there, I inched in a one minute walk break so I can catch my breath and to bite into a piece of Goya chocolate as I was already getting hungry. A minute after, I ran off again until I reached the aid station and was glad to listen to the army band playing at the back. It was just the thing I needed.

It was a good thing I studied the route beforehand. This way, it was easier for me to gauge my strength and stamina on how much I need to preserve and how much more I need to give out as needed. I wasn’t at all thinking about my pace, although I know I was slow, because I was enjoying every minute of the run. It was a totally different experience when I got to the Skyway. It was still a bit dark but dawn was beginning to inch its way through when I reached the part of the Skyway near the Alphaland Southgate (I remember this building because I was trying hard to read through the word after ‘south’ because it was still a bit dark). I could not explain the feeling, it felt something like when you fall in love, or when your dad told you that you’re going on an airplane ride, or when you’re just lying in bed, under the sheets, while the rain is tapping on your windows outside and you have the whole day to stay in bed, or when you received a call from a loved one that you’ve been expecting the whole day, or when you’ve got your feet on the grass the morning after the rain. It was exhilirating to see the runners all around you and the morning smog hovering above the Skyway with the airplanes flying in and out in the distance. It was priceless.

Power of Prayer. As I reached the turnaround, I had to struggle for the cliff shot out of the arm band. It sliced off 7 minutes from my time from taking the cliff shot out of the arm band, slipping the contents into my mouth, and drinking one and a half cup of water. The way back was a bit more daunting but I kept the 5 minute run and 1 minute walk battle plan as far as I can. I thought of Mama and how she must have been going through similar stages of struggles and sacrifices every day on her own. And each time I do, I was hoping that she has someone with her who can give her the same inspiring markers on the road that I read and kept my mind off the pain. When I saw the last marker, “Congratulations! You have conquered the Skyway!” – I went, yes! Just a few more kilometers! I can do this! Passing through Buendia took a bit more time than I imagined. I had to walk most of the time as fatigue was already gaining its way ahead of me. After the last aid station at the foot of the Kalayaan flyover, I knew then that I have conquered not only the Skyway but my fears and made it through the challenge. I rejoiced silently when I crossed the finish line and breathed a moment of gratitude for the big man, who kept his promise to watch over me throughout this journey. At that moment, I could not believe that I survived and finished on my own. And while everyone else was caught up in their own moments of glory, I cried.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Losing my religion

While everyone was on "sabado night" mood, I was busy prepping up for the midnight run at the UP academic oval that Jonel aka bugobugo85 cooked up. Although I was 2 hours late from "gun start", I was hyped up by some familiar faces who were already grinding the miles around the oval.

From the AS parking lot, which also served as our aid station, I started counting the cricket sounds amidst the crisp and chilly air as I pound on the black earth, lamppost by lamppost. The first 2.2 km loop was a bit daunting as the heavy darkness looms and teases me to hit the sheets instead. But after sipping a sports drink, went for another loop, hoping that the endorphins would kill the drowsiness. And it did, although insanity must have sneaked in after seven more loops when my interest in the photosensitive lighting was lost. I am not sure if my sanity also got lost to the eerie full moon creeping up above me or the white sheets over the tents near the sunken garden. But there were ways to keep the sanity intact and my mind occupied for the rest of the loops and I think I was successful. I read and compared the halls and every bit of tarp literature near them. Saw unbelievable photography shots that can take your breath away. Counted the lampposts, the leaves that crumpled underneath my NBs, the buildings that have lights on them and those that have none, the possible unlit areas where you can release all those sipped sports drinks, and the humps along the way. Hell, I even counted the cat’s eyes! And like a broken record, I played 'hit the road jack' for a number of times in my grays while doing this.

For whatever it’s worth, never thought that running around in "ovals" under a full moon and on a chilly early morning can be a true test of patience. And for whatever it’s worth, never thought I could run as much with no sleep nor mileage for a week! Yeah, I guess save for the sanity loss – which is an overstatement - the midnight run was worth more than a "sabado night" fever.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Can sports drinks replace h2O?

During my last race, I was conquered by a very challenging choice at the first aid station. Water or sports drink? I ended up drinking the sports drink and showering myself with water.

At the last stop, though, when I was already out of breath, I must have reversed the selection because someone breathed, “hey sweetie!” at the finish line.

And…going back to the title of this entry…

I was never the type who took the ‘8-glasses-of-water’ rule seriously because I hate feeling 'bloated'. Although mom always remind me to follow this simple rule to keep me on my toes the whole day, I was content with one glass for every meal.

But when the high-energy activities started to bug me, water has become my staple food – so to speak. And just when I thought that water was the only thing to keep me smiling all the way to the finish line, a wide array of sports drinks came into the picture, convincing me that they are all designed to give the boosted energy I need, or the sodium replacement I lost, or the sugar requirement that I will crave for, blah blah blah.

These drinks generally contain - as the label shouts it out - carbohydrates, electrolytes, minerals, vitamins, herbs, metabolites, and other less-proven ingredients which might as well get lost under the ‘best before’ numbers or the price tag.

For the purpose of this blog and to educate moi on whether the contents of these sports drinks will help boost my performance (and to avoid encountering another challenging choice on my next run), I head off to the nearest supermarket and chose 6 of the sports drinks that have managed to send off the 'marketing promises' unrelentingly.

And the battle begins…

According to a magazine article, the key to choosing a sports drink is to select the one you find most palatable. In short, if I like how it tastes, I buy.

For most of my treks, I have been used to the taste of Gatorate orange. In fact, my friends and I brought along powder Gatorade on our hike up to Mt. Apo. And the taste buds had quite a party. Ten races after though, the palates were having a mind of their own and took an inkling for Powerade. However, it became more of a ‘drink’ rather than a ‘hydration’. Then, Vitwater cut in the dance. The sugary taste kept me coming back for more of the blue stuff. Until they ran out of booths in races. So far, 100plus is keeping me company.

So, why this entry? I want to know if these drinks play key roles to my performance at all.

I guess the best way to check is to experiment. Testing the drinks will probably help me survive the next race and not just base on the theory (read: the promo pitch) that I need more than just H2O.

So do I really? Starting tomorrow, I will test Exhibit A (Powerade) for a week of training, then Exhibit B for the next week, and so forth. If one of these drinks are good enough (if not better) for a high-powered, high-energy activity such as running, I will keep you posted.

If not, I guess mom really knows best.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Hot Off The Press!

Read all about it! Read all about it!

I hope it's not too obvious that I miss the "old desk". But getting this teaser from my email got me excited to see what's in store for the runner (and the writer) in me. Can't wait!

Where have all the flowers gone?

I know it's been more than a month (or was it two?) since I tapped the keyboard for a fresh new entry in this blog. My bad! Like everyone else, the holidays kept me loaded (literally and figuratively!).

But I still kept my romance with the asphalt - so to speak. And I had quite a few mileages under my belt - although not something to be proud of as the next runner in line. Squeezed in a few uphills and trail runs, plus some speedwork during the yuletide gaga but still, it was not enough. I know I must keep a program at heart if I want to conquer the skyway come the love month.

So for 2010, no, I am not working on a resolution but I will bend some of my rules. Now I'm lost between keeping you posted and keeping it to myself ;P