Posted in 10k, fun run, obstacle run

The Rogue Rebel UrbanAthlete… (Men’s Health UrbanAthlon & Festival 2014)

Arrived at the activity area and starting line around 5:21am.
Arrived at the activity area and starting line around 5:21am.

Like I’ve said before, i love obstacle runs/races as it mixes running on pavement, trails, and getting past obstacles. Men’s Health Urbanthlon 2014 was my last obstacle run for this year and a is strong candidate for my ‘Running event of the Year.’ This event is one that I look forward to especially after the ‘not-so-much’ satisfaction I had from this year’s Rexona Run To Your Beat. They got the best location (Nuvali is my favorite running grounds), nice race kit inclusions, and it’s an obstacle run, need I say more?

The adventure starts with a 5km run (I was running in the 10k category) around the beautiful estates of Nuvali with houses that cost probably north of 4 million pesos. It was a relaxing run, we get to pass by a bridge with a scenic river below and the houses around the place are beautiful.I decided to run the 5km road at a regulated pace to reserve my stamina for the obstacles.

After the 5th kilometer is where the fun starts, the Nuvali trails. he 1st obstacle before entering the trails was the scaffolding maze. Quite easy, just keep low to avoid hitting your head. The trails are grassy, muddy, and slippery. You passed by a small man-made tunnel that looks nice before passing through a small river.

Passing through a small river. There was a slow queue because of the mud and slippery grounds.
Passing through a small river. There was a slow queue because of the mud and slippery grounds.

After the 1st obstacle and the river pass, more trail running on the grassy parts of Nuvali. Though the tall grass can block the view of the surroundings, some parts of the area can still be seen from a distance.

up and down, uneven ground. tall grass surround the trails, but scenic view can still be seen in some parts of the area.
up and down, uneven ground. tall grass surround the trails, but scenic view can still be seen in some parts of the area.

After the trails, the 2nd obstacle was the Monkey Bars. It looks easy, but when you’re actually doing it, it’s harder than it looks. What made it even harder was the slippery bars, it was wet, probably from a drizzle or the sweat from the participants’ hands. Runners may choose to skip an obstacle and just have their name or bib number listed by a marshal for not being able to complete the obstacle (in The Guerilla Race, you are penalized and have to do 30 burpees), but where’s the fun or the sense of achievement if you don’t try hard to succeed? The monkey bars was so tough, my hands keep slipping just when I was about to make it to the other side. At one point I stopped midway and got a cramped leg when it was accidentally stretched while hanging on. I had to repeat it 4 (or maybe it was 5) times before I finally completed it.

This was the hardest obstacle of the run for me. The bars are wet and slippery. Dunno if it was from a drizzle or sweaty hands of the participants. photo credit: Leadpack facebook page.
This was the hardest obstacle of the run for me. The bars are wet and slippery. Dunno if it was from a drizzle or sweaty hands of the participants. photo credit: Leadpack facebook page.
It took me 4 (I can't remember exactly, maybe 5 or even 6) tries before I completed this. I hands slips and I fall just before I was about to make it to the other side. I figured out that you have to move quickly whilst tightening your grip, and don't stop midway, so your hands won't slip.
It took me 4 (I can’t remember exactly, maybe 5 or even 6) tries before I completed this. I hands slips and I fall just before I was about to make it to the other side. I figured out that you have to move quickly whilst tightening your grip, and don’t stop midway, so your hands won’t slip. Photo credit: Leadpack facebook page.

After the monkey Bar was the Cargo/Container wall. It wasn’t hard and you have the option to ask for the marshal assistance to pull you up. I made up and down the wall without assistance.

The wall is created with huge containers seen in harbors or seaports. Photo credit: Running Photographers.
The wall is created with huge containers seen in harbors or seaports. Photo credit: Running Photographers.
the cargo/container wall isn't hard as long as you still have the stamina to push yourself up.
the cargo/container wall isn’t hard as long as you still have the stamina to push yourself up. Photo credit: Running Photographers.
A view of the Cargo Wall from a distance.
A view of the Cargo Wall from a distance.

The Bridgestone Tire Field comes next. It looks easy, but if you try to move through it quickly, there’s a chance that your foot might get stuck and pull you down. It happened to me twice, a smaller tire got me off balance and was pulled down.

The Bridgestone Tire Field. Easy and fun to run on, but it can pull you down if you're not careful.
The Bridgestone Tire Field. Easy and fun to run on, but it can pull you down if you’re not careful.

The Cargo or Spider Net is not hard, but there are times that you have to move slowly to avoid getting a foot slip through the net. There’s a technique where you can lie down and roll downwards for a faster way of passing through, but you still have to be careful as there are other participants around you.

The Cargo Net.
The Cargo Net. There are techniques in getting pass it quickly, but it requires fewer to no participants around you for it to work safely.

Next was the Asics Hurdle Walls. It’s another easy obstacle as long as you can push yourself up and over the walls. The wall heights get higher, the 3rd wall can be done by either crawling low or pushing up, and the 4th one has a window.

The Asics Hurdle Walls. As long as you still have the stamina, this will be easy for you.
The Asics Hurdle Walls. As long as you still have the stamina, this will be easy for you.
The 3rd Asics Wall (behind me) can be accomplished by going low or up (that was the highest wall). The 4th one  has a window.
The 3rd Asics Wall (behind me) can be accomplished by going low or up (that was the highest wall). The 4th one has a window. Photo credit: Running Photographers.
My signature left-handed 'Fight Fear' pose.
My signature left-handed ‘Fight Fear’ pose. Photo credit: Running Photographers.

After the Asics Hurdles was a few hundred meters of running towards the last 2 obstacles of the race, the Low Crawl and the Gatorade Wall. For the Low Crawl you just have to, stay low and crawl. Stay low because there is a chance the your head might hit the metal bars.

Get Low. Stay Low.
Get Low. Stay Low.

The last obstacle, the Gatorade Wall, offers 2 options, push your self up or use the ropes. Like the Cargo Wall, Marshal assistance is also an option here. I could push myself up, but a marshal approached me and offered a helping hand and, as the saying goes, ‘it is wise to accept the goodwill of others’ and I was shy to turn down the offer, so I accepted the helping hand.

The Gatorade Wall. Push yourself up or use the rope. Marshal assistance is an option here.
The Gatorade Wall. Push yourself up or use the rope. Marshal assistance is an option here.

Once you get pass the Gatorade Wall, it’s just a few meters of running towards the finish line.

My actual chip time is 01:28:16.
My actual chip time is 01:28:16.

And the Industrial design, Bronze medal is the fruit of the hardships you went through.

According to a 1995 psychological study on the effects of counterfactual thinking on the Olympics, athletes who won the bronze medal were significantly happier with their winning than those athletes who won the silver medal. The silver medalists were more frustrated because they had missed the gold medal, while the bronze medalists were simply happy to have received any honors at all (instead of no medal for fourth place). source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze_medal
According to a 1995 psychological study on the effects of counterfactual thinking on the Olympics, athletes who won the bronze medal were significantly happier with their winning than those athletes who won the silver medal. The silver medalists were more frustrated because they had missed the gold medal, while the bronze medalists were simply happy to have received any honors at all (instead of no medal for fourth place). source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze_medal

After finishing the race, participants can still walk around the activity area and enjoy freebies from the sponsors. I got free samples of Quantum Plus Vitamins, but I missed the other awesome freebies.

Some sponsor freebies run out before you can even get one because there's so many people lining up. Early bird gets the worm indeed...
Some sponsor freebies run out before you can even get one because there’s so many people lining up. Early bird gets the worm indeed…

Men’s Health Urbanathlon 2014 was a great running event, I was smiling and singing as I drove home. Like I’ve said before, they’ve got the best location, good race kit inclusions (aside from the medal, everyone gets a finisher shirt, and for 21k runners, an additional MH cap for that extra distance), the marshals are very nice and attentive, and they delivered a well-organized event (excellent hydration stations and medic) and a memorable experience. I had another great obstacle run before the year’s end and this is definitely in my top 3 best running events this year. The only reasons that kept the event from being perfect was the advertised obstacles, the vertical ramp and the shimney rope, didn’t make it to event, but there was probably a good reason for it probably because of the mud or other safety concerns. For next year, I’m preparing myself for more obstacle and trails runs, Men’s Health Urbanathlon has been included in my ‘Runs I shouldn’t miss’ list and I will make it a tradition to join the event every year. Kudos to the organizer LeadPack for organizing an excellent event.

That beautiful, warm Sunday morning sun at Nuvali.
That beautiful, warm Sunday morning sun at Nuvali.
A moment of reflection. A great run on a great day.
A moment of reflection. A great run on a great day.
A beautiful Sunday morning at Nuvali.
A beautiful Sunday morning at Nuvali.

HIGHLIGHT of the Run:

I was walking around the activity area after finishing the race and I heard cheering and clapping from a crowd around the low crawl area. I checked it out and saw this guy who just emerged from the low crawl. With encouragement from the crowd, including yours truly, the guy even push through the Gatorade Wall. With help from the marshals and fueled by motivation, he made it. A big salute and respect to this guy and people like him who have the courage to start something life-changing, finding a way to work around their limitations, and for getting out there and doing what he can. That’s better than sitting at home and on the couch all day long.

'The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.' - John Bingham
‘The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.’ – John Bingham

EPILOGUE:

The next morning, my whole body hurts. A pain I’ve never felt before, not even my previous Guerilla Race run (which had tougher obstacles) gave me body pains of such intensity. It was probably caused by the monkey bars. I didn’t feel pain during and after the race, just the morning after. Still, the fun I had at the event overcomes the painful experience.

Posted in backpacking, hiking, trekking

The Rogue Rebel Trekker… (my 1st mountain backpacking at Mt. Pico De Loro)

Here we go!
Here we go! Photo by JanErik Ramos.
The 1st timer and the veterans
The 1st timer and the veterans. (from left to right clockwise: Errol, JP, David, Ian, Apple, Prem, Bok, Mae, Reggie, Yael, Kent, Me, Jan, Tian, Mhai, Koko, and RJ.

In a quest to level up my stamina and endurance to prepare me for my dream marathon, I decided to go mountain trekking (or backpacking as they call it in the U.S.) with my officemates. I finished 2 Guerilla Races this year and my 1st half-marathon, walking through a mountain trail shouldn’t be that hard. I was advised to bring a lot of water for hydration, but, when I do long distance running, I usually drink water after the 10th kilometer, so I only brought a 500ml water bottle because I know that would be enough and it was. So, after the last day of the work week, we got out of the office around 7am and wasted more than 2 hours because our ride to DENR Cavite was late. So, we arrived at DENR office, rested as we wait for the others, and then off to the trails.

a long walk in the woods
a long walk in the woods (photo credit: RJ Rico)
The base trail is an easy path, best for sight seeing and a relaxing walk
The base trail is an easy path, best for sight seeing and a relaxing walk. (photo credit: RJ Rico)
For the sake of photography, this is how you pretend to be tired.
For the sake of photography, this is how you pretend to be tired. Photo by RJ Rico.

The base trail isn’t a hard trail, it’s a relaxing walk from there to the pit stop. We rested at the pit stop and listened to a seminar about the rules, the dos and don’ts while hiking and camping at the mountain. On the move again, we got mixed up with other groups, me and my officemate, RJ we’re at the back with another group. We stumbled upon some of our group who were resting and the two of us decided to go on as the others will try to catch up. At some point during the trek, RJ got exhausted and had mild cramps. We rested and we spotted the others coming, but he stayed with the others, I carried his DSLR camera, and since I still have a lot of stamina in me, I pushed through alone, following another group. There are times when I caught up with some of our group members leading the trek and then miss them again, so I followed another group since I don’t know the routes and trails. Sometimes, when the group I’m following stopped and rest, I will go on to follow another group. I even encountered a former colleague and his group already making their way down.

Glad to have avoided the pooping sensation, but if I did have it, I'll do it like this.
Glad to have avoided the pooping sensation, but if I did have it, I’ll do it like this. Photo by RJ Rico.
This could be the best pooping stance ever!
This could be the best pooping stance ever! Photo by RJ Rico.
There are times that I walk alone following other groups to the campsite. Sometimes, I catch up with the our leading group members.
There are times that I walk alone, leaving the slower group members and living up to my Rogue Rebel moniker. At times like these, I follow other groups’ route to the campsite. (photo credit: RJ Rico)

The mid part of the trail varies from hard to confusing, there are times that you have to grab on to a trees, branches, or rocks to climb up. I caught up with Koko, Ian, and Reggie, the 2nd leading batch of our group and from that point we were probably under an hour away from the camp site. By the time we reached the camp site, the best grounds were already full, we had to set up our tents near the sari-sari store and the campsite entrance/exit, and the weather wasn’t the best (I was expecting a nice sunset view, but instead a dim cast by the cloudy weather delivered a dull view of the summit).

The view of the summit, the monolith, and the groto at time we arrived at the campsite.
The view of the summit, the monolith, and the groto at time we arrived at the campsite.

By the time the last batch of our group arrived, it was already dark and there was nothing much to do, but to prepare food and rest. A side quest of this adventure was to locate and assist the hired porter. Bok hired a porter, a kid, for 1500php to carry a heavy backpack and some of the food and drinks. Since it was so dark and the porter was way behind (probably an hour or more behind the the time last batch reached the camp site), David decided to go down and search for the porter to help him. I volunteered and the two of us rushed down, met some groups of trekkers and asked if they’ve seen our porter. It was quite an experience trekking in the dark with only the lights of our headlamps guiding us, it’s kinda spooky like the movie The Blair Witch Project. We found the porter (my estimate was 1.6-2 km away from the camp site), took some of his load, and rushed back to the site. At some point, David got exhausted because of the heavy backpack and tent, we switched load and I carried the heavy backpack to the site.

I think The Flash passed by that night.
I think The Flash passed by that night. Photo by RJ Rico

Nothing much to do that night, they cooked, we ate, and some of us slept while others had a brief drinking session.

Day 2. It was a cold, foggy, rainy, Sunday morning.
Day 2. It was a cold, foggy, rainy, Sunday morning.
We had to deal with a hostage-taking situation in the early morning of day 2... kidding! that's Kent and Mhai having fun. I think this was the start of something going on between the two....
A wild robber appeared! We had to deal with a hostage-taking situation in the early morning of day 2… kidding! that’s Kent and Mhai having fun. I think this was the start of something going on between the two….

Most of us woke up early the next day, around 5am. It was foggy, cold, and raining. We explored the surroundings to check out the view and since the area is still as foggy as Silent Hill, we are limited to walking around the camp site, have some pictorials, and ate breakfast as we wait for the drizzle and fog to dissipate.

Our group photo during the foggy morning and before the climb to the summit. Photo credit: The witty guy who volunteered to take this photo.
Our group photo during the Silent Hill foggy morning and before the climb to the summit. Photo credit: The witty guy who volunteered to take this photo.

The route to the summit is shorter, but harder than the route to the campsite. The path was slippery and there are some steep climb where you have to hold on to rocks, branches, roots or whatever you can grab to pull yourself up. Near the summit is much easier, you only have to deal with dirt and grass.

After getting through the slippery, steep parts of the path, going up to the summit is easier.
After getting through the slippery, steep parts of the path, going up to the summit is easier.

And of course, reaching the top means you will be rewarded with a nice view of the mountainous region of Batangas and Cavite.

Because the view and the surroundings is so breathtaking, I had to sit down and relax. Breath the fresh air and enjoy the scenery.
Because the view and the surroundings is so breathtaking, I had to sit down and relax. Breath the fresh air and enjoy the scenery.

There’s a big rock next to the summit called ‘The Monolith.’ Six of us were tired and was satisfied with the scenery from the summit that we decided to stay, while the others went to the Monolith to do some rappelling.

The Monolith, also known as Parrot's Beak, is a tall, rock formation near the summit. Looks scary to climb especially for people with fear of heights.
The Monolith, also known as Parrot’s Beak, is a tall, rock formation near the summit. Looks scary to climb especially for people with fear of heights.
A view of the campsite from the summit.
A view of the campsite from the summit.
Another view of the campsite without the photobomber.
Another view of the campsite without the photobomber.
Panoramic view of the Monolith side.
Panoramic view of the Monolith side.

After more than an hour of relaxation, that soothing feeling, and since our friends haven’t started the rappelling yet (except for Ian who checked the rappelling gear and the environment by doing an awesome wall run down the Monolith that left viewers in awe and too bad I wan’t able to capture it on video because I wasn’t aware that he was gonna do a pants-$hitting epic move like that) because of the safety briefing, the six of us decided to go down and back to the campsite to rest.

Going down is just as fun as going up. Photo by Juanepri Tero.
Going down is just as fun as going up. Photo by Juanepri Tero.
En route to the campsite, we stopped by a significant rock formation called 'The Groto.'
En route to the campsite, we stopped by a significant rock formation called ‘The Groto.’ Photo by Christian Capapas.
The six people who didn't go rappelling and decided to go back early.
The six people who didn’t go rappelling and decided to go back early.

After their rappelling session, we packed up, and around 3pm, we started descending. It was a great experience, my 1st backpacking adventure, and my 1st overnight camping experience. It’s good that I didn’t had the sensation to dump my $hit during the 2-day adventure because I don’t wanna go digging anywhere, dump my crap, and bury it like cats do. I love the nature tripping and, being a runner, I like how my stamina and endurance adapted this kind of activity. Backpacking/Trekking is a new activity that I enjoy next to running and photography, I’m definitely joining another event like this next year, it’s good for the mind and the body.

Last group photo at the campsite before the descent.
Last group photo at the campsite before the descent.
Posted in fun run

The Rogue Rebel runs his 1st half-marathon… Rexona Run To Your Beat 2014

We arrive earlier than expected (some time between 12mn and 1am), and the 1st music tunnel was already shinning bright like a diamond.
We arrive earlier than expected (some time between 12mn and 1am), and the 1st music tunnel was already shinning bright like a diamond.

I’ve read a lot of blogs and articles about last year’s Rexona Run To Your Beat. It was said to be one of the best fun runs last year with speakers all over the route playing live music by 10 of the country’s popular bands and DJs. I’ve also seen the 21k medal and it was one of the most beautiful medal I have ever seen. And to get the runners even more pumped up at the starting line, there were fireworks initiating the race. It got me excited especially after seeing the event photos and that nice looking medal, so I decided to join the fun run this year and chose it to be my 1st half-marathon (21km) run.

With my colleague, Alvin, also making his 1st 21km run coming from a 3k run from years ago. I trained him in preparation for this.
With my colleague, Alvin, also making his 1st 21km run coming from a 3k run from years ago. I trained him in preparation for this.
Photo ops inside the EDM tunnel to kill time.
Photo ops inside the EDM tunnel to kill time.
Inside the 1st music tunnel, The EDM tunnel.
Inside the 1st music tunnel, The EDM tunnel.

This is also the 1st time I joined a Runrio event, I have never joined to any of the Run United series before. We arrive more than a couple of hours early, the site is quite big as the event has an estimated 12,000+ runners. Let’s skip to the start of the race. I was nervous, this is the 1st time I joined a big running event, and as the countdown goes 3, 2, 1… boom! no fireworks like the one mentioned in a blog I’ve read. Excitement didn’t spike at that time, I was expecting the pyrotechnics to get everyone fired up. Starting with a walk then cruising at a steady pace, we entered the 1st music tunnel  after a kilometer and a half. It was nice, pumping music, nice disco lights, then we got out of the tunnel in a minute. After that, we jog for like 14km or more without music because the 2nd music tunnel is somewhere between 17 and 18 km. This the 2nd ‘bummer’ part of the run, since we were expecting speakers surrounding the route and let the ‘music push us farther’ as advertised, we did not bring music players or earphones. So, yeah it was a long cruise without music. It’s good that I have a running buddy with me, at least I have someone to talk to and share random thoughts during moments that we had to slow down and conserve stamina. On a positive note, it’s worth noting that hydration stations and portalets are well placed and bananas and sponges are available. There was one weird thing that I have to mention because it’s quite interesting, sometime between the 8th and 10th km, we encountered a drunk guy with a backpack running on the race route. Dunno how he got in, the marshals doesn’t seem to notice him because he blended with the crowd and it was one of the darker part of the route, so it’s hard to see if he has a bib number. He was harmless, he’s not harassing anyone, he was just running along with the runners and we haven’t seen him after passing the km 12. Back to the race, since this is our 1st time running a half-marathon, we started to slow down after 13 km, my partially recovered injury from The Guerilla Race the week before has taken its toll. I felt something like a nerve pain on my right knee that prevented me to run long distances. So, my buddy and I alternate our movement with jogging and walking. I got a renewed vigor after consuming Booster C somewhere between 15km and 16km. My stamina feels like it was refueled and I was starting leave my buddy behind. But, since the nerve pain is doing its best in slowing me down, I cannot run longer and I slow down every now and then to wait for my buddy. We reached the 2nd music tunnel, we walked and took some time to enjoy the music and lights. Then the 3rd and last music tunnel, The Hip Hop tunnel, my favorite especially with the modified cars parked inside. I tried taking photos, but my phone and fingers are wet, so we just decided to just move along. In the last 2-3 kilometers of the route, I still have a lot of stamina, but the right knee doesn’t allow me to run long distances. Still, I was outpacing my buddy even if it’s only for short distances, so he told me to just go ahead to the finish line and I did. I made a run for it in the last 1.5km, but still can’t run continuously because the knee injury is really hindering my progress. I finished the race at 2 hours and 53 minutes (2:51:31 according to official chip time). I wasn’t in peak form, but I’m glad to have finished my 1st half-marathon at under 3 hours while running with an injured knee. But, there’s another and last disappointing part of the race, the medal.

The medal looks nice, but the way it was made is disappointing...
The medal looks nice, but the way it was made is disappointing…

The medal looks cheap. It looks nice in photo, but the inscription seems like a sticker on metal, because it is. Feels like the medal was rushed and this is definitely not what the original medal design (that was advertised in various websites) looks like, it’s a last minute change for unknown reasons (I should also mention that the route and tunnel locations also had some minor changes, the original route shows that we will enter the vicinity of Luneta and a music tunnel was place within the same vicinity, the final race route didn’t include that). In summary, Run To Your Beat 2014 is the exact opposite of Run To Your Beat 2013. There were no fireworks before the start of the race, no music along the route (worth noting, there were 10 bands and DJs from last years event, this year’s event only has 6 DJs and Sponge Cola for the post race music performance), and the medal is inferior to the one offered last year. I had so much expectations for this run and that is why I chose it to be my 1st half-marathon, it wasn’t a bad event, it was just average. But, I still have good things to say, the event is well organized and the freebies is definitely better compared to other running events I had in the past.

I like the finisher shirt and freebies, it's definitely way better than some of the finisher stuff I got from my other runs
I like the finisher shirt and freebies, it’s definitely way better than some of the finisher stuff I got from my other runs. A bottle of Gatorade Green Fury was also included, but I already consumed it after the race.

Overall, despite its flaws or shortcomings, I still had a good run and the event is a milestone in my running life. Would I still join next year? only if it will be like the 2013 edition.

Despite the evet's flaws, I still had a good run and happy to have finished my 1st half-marathon
Despite the event’s flaws, I still had a good run and happy to have finished my 1st half-marathon
Had a chance to see coach Rio. He's a very nice and humble guy. As the Race Director, he's a hands on guy can be usually seen on the field before the start of the event checking and making sure that everything is running smoothly
Had a chance to see coach Rio. He’s a very nice and humble guy. As the Race Director, he’s a hands on guy can be usually seen on the field before the start of the event checking and making sure that everything is running smoothly
Alvin with Coach Rio
Alvin with Coach Rio
Would I join Run To Your Beat 2015? Only if they plan it to be as good as the 2013 edition.
Would I join Run To Your Beat 2015? Only if they plan it to be as good as the 2013 edition.