The year 2015 was my 2nd year in the running scene and experience has brought me to new heights and going even more distance. Even though I missed some very good running events, I had 12 runs and 2 mountain treks (We also had a Taal Crater tour, but it’s not a mountain) last year, so, it’s not so bad and I had a lot of fun. Here’s the look back at the best of 2015.
*** BEST MOMENT ***
FINISHING MY FIRST FULL TRAIL RUN (Valley Trail Challenge 2015)
Nothing can beat the experience of running on an all-terrain race route at 3 am in the morning. It has that spooky vibe, the dead silence, the cool temperature, and all you have is your headlamp to guide you. Finishing my very first, long distance, full trail run is the best moment last year. I almost got lost twice, almost tripped and fall, had to go through the heat of the morning sun and battle exhaustion just to survive the 30 kilometer (confirmed actual distance was 32 kilometer) Nuvali trail. I loved the experience so much that joining and finishing the 50k category this year’s Valley Trail Challenge has become one of my top running priorities this year. And that means, this year, I’m running my 1st trail ultramarathon.
CRAMPS!!! (Resolution Run 2015, 7-Eleven Run 1500, PinoyFitness 21k Challenge)
Ok, I know, having cramps while running is not a good moment, it’s an awful experience. But, I included this as a best moment honorable mention because, for the first time that I experienced it, I was reminded of one of the most important thing in running, “ENDURANCE.” The capability to ignore pain and keep going, endure the suffering, is what defines a good runner. The most painful was during Resolution Run after a downhill stretch during the last 4 kilometers, I experienced the most painful cramps. It was so bad, that I slowed down to walking because I can’t even jog. The worst came in the last 2 kilometers, when the pain intensified when I stupidly bent my knee in annoyance, unbeknownst to me at the time that will only cause more pain. I almost screamed because of the pain and I did a full stop just to recover. Cramps, specifically on my calves, had a recurring role in some of my races, notably in 7-Eleven Run 1500 and PinoyFitness 21k Challenge and it is a big issue when it comes to performance. But, there are some races where they didn’t even occur when I expect them to (especially on long distance races like Valley Trail Challenge, Subaru Marathon, and PNPA Uphill Challenge), so I’m still trying to figure out the most assuring way to avoid cramps. So, the cramps are part of the best moments because it taught me a valuable lesson about endurance and to learn more about the other aspects of running (training, injury prevention, etc.), so, I’m glad I experienced them.
COMPLETING THE PINOYFITNESS CHALLENGES (Pinoyfitness Sub1 10k Challenge and 21k Challenge)
Before joining the PinoyFitness Challenges, I am very capable of running a Sub 1 hour 10k and a Sub 2 1/2 hour 21k. I just need the validation by joining a race with a time limit to get the medal. I’ve done my current fastest 10k PR at Sub 1 10k Challenge as you can see with that teeth out, dimple visible smile. Unfortunately, such is not the case with 21k Challenge. See that sad-looking face, I ran my worst Sub 2:30 21k PR, with only a couple of minutes left on the clock. I struggled during the run, had cramps and felt very exhausted. It’s amazing that I still survived and got that medal. Just happy to have completed both challenges.
DISCOVERING MY FAVORITE MOUNTAIN (Mount Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas)
I’ve joined mountain hikes with friends in Pico De Loro, Mt Buntis + Mt Nagpatong, but, Mount Batulao is the best. I just love the trail despite being too exposed to the sun and too much dirt road. The scenery is just amazing, you can see almost everything around you because you’re on elevated grounds and not surrounded by trees. This is best for trail runners and day hikers especially on cool and windy season.
**** BEST MEDAL ****
PinoyFitness Sub1 10k Challenge 2015 Medal
Aside from having excellent overall design (love that runner on the medal), the medal is special because you can only get it if you can run 10 kilometers under an hour. It’s an achievement medal, proof that you have improved as a runner.
7-Eleven RUN 1500 Medal
Subaru Marathon 21k medal
***** BEST FREEBIES *****
SPONSOR FREEBIES from RUN 1500 (7-Eleven Run 1500)
Nothing beats the stuff you can grab from the sponsors of 7-Eleven Run 1500. Aside from the usual finisher’s kit, you can get energy drinks, fruits, ice cream, boxes of condoms (oh yeah!), chocolates, tumblers, Saucony discount vouchers, personal hygiene products, etc. If you’re very patient, you can fall in line again to haul even more stuff. It’s a hoarder’s delight and very rewarding indeed after that long, exhausting run.
Re-energizing kit from Valley Trail Challenge
Doesn’t even compare from the stuff you can get from the 7-Eleven Run, but it’s not about what you can hoard, it’s about getting back all the energy you’ve lost during the run. And what you get from Valley Trail Challenge does the job, with a rice meal for breakfast and some deserts and hydration, and they also serve pineapples and bananas. I was so exhausted after my longest run of 2015, but hours later, after eating, re-hydrating and resting, I feel fine again. Oh, and pre-race, you also get Pharmaton vitamins, the ideal supplement to power you up before hitting the long trails. Thanks, FrontRunner for serving the right stuff.
****** BEST SINGLET and FINISHER SHIRT ******
Aside from the time pressure challenges and some of the best designed medals, one of the best reasons to join PinoyFitness events are the singlets and finisher shirts. Like the medals, they are designed to look good and give you the pride of participating in two of the most challenging running events in the country. The best singlet of 2015 for me was the 21k Challenge singlet, whilst the best finisher shirts was the one from Sub1 10k Challenge.
******* BEST RUNNING EVENT LOCATION*******
In 2014, Nuvali was my favorite and overall, the best running event location. Last year, it still is. Having a vast area of road and trail is enough to make it the undisputed best racing and training grounds for outdoor events. Recently, I did a training run from outside our home in Mayapa, Calamba City to Solenad in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa and I’ve seen some of the connecting roads of Mayapa, Canlubang, Cabuyao, and Nuvali which is 12+ kilometers in total and is just fine for those who want to do LSD training. Having discovered even more of Nuvali’s trail and scenic places nearby, made it my choice again as the best running event location. Because of Resolution Run 2015, I discovered the beautiful uphill area of Casile, Cabuyao overlooking Canlubang Golf and Country Club and the Marcos Twin Mansion. And because of Valley Trail Challenge 2015, I’ve seen and experience even more of the Nuvali trails, especially the scenic and famous “New Zealand trail.”
For the first time, I experienced running on the SkyWay last year. I ran twice, a 6k at The Condura Skyway Marathon and a 21k at 7-Eleven Run 1500. It was a great experience. I love the pollution-free road and it was a cool night and it helped with body temperature regulation. The sights of the city also looks nice, the city lights create their own scenic environment. I’ll be running again on the Skyway twice this year, first a half-marathon at 7-Eleven Run 2016 and then my very first full marathon at The Condura SkyWay Marathon.
*******RUNNING EVENT RANKINGS*******
Last year, I participated in 12 running events. Some of them are so good that that they instantly became a favorite and should not be missed next year. Whilst some runs are just okay, there are others that are just not worth it and you’re better off to do a training run instead. Here are the running events as ranked from worst to best.
12. PaRUN ng COWBOY
I joined this run because of the reasonable price of 650 php for the 10k category and you get a nice two-tone black and red singlet, a cowboy hat, a red handkerchief, and a sheriff star medal to complete the cowboy look. It turned out to be a dud for me. The race started way passed the proposed 5am gunstart (maybe I should be thankful because I got there late) and because of the delayed start, by the time the 10k runners passed half of the running distance, it was already hot and the aid stations rarely have ice water. But, likely the reason I did not enjoy the run is because I ran at Filinvest City hours ago, it was Color Manila: Black Light Edition which was actually a more energetic and ‘fun’ run than this. It’s like you just ate the most delicious meal (CM: Black Light) moments ago and then the dessert (this run) tastes bitter. At least, it was a run for a cause, so even if I didn’t like the run, I contributed for a good cause.
11. Laguna RUN
This run seemed good as advertised, for only 650 php, you get to run the cheapest 21k category in recent times, plus you get a finisher shirt, a medal, and a trophy. Even better is you get to run in Nuvali, one of the best and my current favorite running grounds. Then it turns out to be another case of good advertising, bad execution. The was obviously not organized by an experienced running event organizer. The run just started all of a sudden without warm up or introduction, they ran out of the right size finisher shirts (what’s the point of indicating your preferred shirts size if you’re not gonna get them anyway?), trophies are only for top 10 finishers (something they didn’t point out on the ad posters), the medal is low quality (it now has some rust), and why the hell do we have a politician’s name and logo behind our singlet? if it was a free, politician-sponsored run, that’s okay, but we paid for this. The singlet color scheme (pink, blue, and white for 21k) alone was bad, a politician’s name and logo only made it worst. There were also no official or volunteer photographers (except for the 5k category where the politician ran). The only good thing about this run was the location, but I could’ve just done a training run and used my 650 php for other runs or things instead. Never again for this run.
10. National Geographic Run 2015
I joined the NatGeo Run because it is one of the most popular running events in the country. Just curious to see what it’s all about. I also managed to convince some of my office mates to join this run. All I can say is, it’s not a good experience for me, it’s not a bad running event, but compared to the runs I participated in before this, it’s just below average for me. The finisher’s kit and freebies is just frugal, something you don’t expect from the biggest running event organizer in the country. You get the finisher shirt, an eco bag, a small tube skin disease treatment (from a sponsor), pocari sweat, that’s it. And since this is a volume run (I heard 24,000+ participants in all categories), if you register late, you won’t get your preferred singlet and finisher shirt size (happened to us). At least the medal is of good quality. The event also became subject of runners’ etiquette as a photo of the road littered with plastic cups and the trash bin seemed like it wasn’t even half full circulated in social media (come on, guys, it only takes a second or two to put that cup inside the trash bin). Would I join this year’s NatGeo Run? I’m not sure yet. It will depend on the registration price and the location.
09. PinoyFitness 21k Challenge
After successfully finishing PinoyFitness 10k Challenge, I got excited and look forward to getting a Sub 2 hours and 30 minutes 21k medal. I know sub 2 is way too much in regards to my current physical condition, but sub 2:30 is something I can confidently say “easy work.” Four of the five 21k runs I did were all Sub 2:30, so I know that I can do it. Then I found out that the race consisted of 2 loops around Pasay and SM Mall of Asia area instead of the usual route going to Luneta and Baclaran then back to Mall of Asia. I’ve never done a looping 21k before, but I thought it was still going to be another easy run. I though wrong. I think the race route was repetitive and because of that, I lost motivation on the 12th kilometer onwards. I got cramps and feel very exhausted to the point that I don’t think I can make the time limit and even thought about going DNF. But, the runner in me reminded me that it’s better to finish than to quit. So, I did and still got my medal with only 2 minutes left on the clock. I did not enjoy the run especially because I felt like a newbie trying hard to achieve something that normally would’ve been easy. I was spent physically and mentally. I like what I got from the race, the singlet, finisher shirt, and more importantly, the medal. It is a symbol of achievement, reminding me of what I had to go through to get it and that alone was reason enough to place this higher than the other running events. Would I join this running event again? Probably, but it will depend on the event location and race route.
08. Condura SkyWay Marathon 2015
Like NatGeo Run, I wanted to see what Condura Skyway Marathon, one of the most popular and prestigious running event in the country, is like. The experience was better than NatGeo Run and since I only ran 6k (due to the high registration price), it was a preview of what it was like to run on the Skyway. The race also resulted with my unexpected 6k PR with an official chip time of 33 minutes and 03 seconds, and official rank number 35 out of 1381 runners. Overall, I was satisfied with the event, the only downside was like the NatGeo Run, it was also a big event by the biggest running event organizer in the country, but offers frugal post-race freebies (considering the high registration price of 900 php just for a 6k category).
07. PinoyFitness Sub1 10k Challenge
Back in 2014, I just started running 10k and it was really hard for me to hit a sub1 PR. It was in early 2015 that I started doing it properly on my training runs. So, all I need is to solidify my PR by getting an exclusive sub1 10k medal (a medal that can only be achieved by successfully finishing a 10 kilometer run in under an hour) and only PinoyFitness offers that challenge. I joined the race and even before it started, I was nervous, thinking ‘what if this is one of those runs where something could go wrong and I fail.’ I just ran my usual pace, slightly a bit faster than my training runs because I was very motivated, and successfully set my 10k PR. I enjoyed the race for being a real challenge, one that can only be achieved if you stepped up your game and ascended your fitness level. I got the best-looking medal and finisher shirt I got this year, so I’m very very satisfied.
06. Subaru Marathon
Subaru Marathon was my comeback run after a 2-month break from running events. It was also the very 1st Subaru run in the country, so it’s special to be part of the 1st in a series. I would say that this race got everything right, it was the right comeback run for me, it had right the weather, the right race kit (because blue is very appealing and the design is simple, but nice), and the right location (although I never really like the RunRio Mall of Asia race route, the city is the right race route for this kind of theme). I have nothing bad to say about this, just a lot of ‘rights’ and none of the ‘wrongs.’
05. Color Manila: Black Light Edition
The luckiest moment for me last year was winning a race kit for Color Manila: Black Light Edition from a Filinvest City facebook page contest. I really wanted to join this run because of the race kit and the event location, but I had some funding troubles at the time, so I was very thankful for winning that contest. And the race didn’t disappoint, like any other Color Manila Run it was festive and energetic, it’s a real ‘fun run.’ The Black Light theme was really a great sight at night. The Color Festival party, the main highlight or the post-race concert/party of the Color Manila series was loud and fun as ever (too bad we didn’t stay long to finish it because I still have that paRUN ng Cowboy run hours later). It was definitely better than the ‘Glow Paint Edition’ we joined in 2014. And best of all, I got the cool Brother Ink pillow that I always wanted, which now rests inside our car. I hope Color Manila continues to make great concepts like this, they’re worth the money if you like to run and party with friends.
04. Resolution Run 2015
Resolution Run was the best way I started 2015, running on the 1st month of that year, at my favorite running location, and it introduced me to Runmania events, best known for organizing races with scenic routes. This run was also a surprise for me, I already know the race route, but I was surprised by how good it was. It was the first time I ran in total darkness with only a headlamp to guide me and the first time I ran on the other scenic places near Nuvali like the Bgy Casile uphill route where you can see the Canlubang Golf and Country Club and the famous Marcos Twin Mansion. The race also gave me a memorable experience of extreme pain because for the first time in running, I felt the most painful cramps ever. Still, the satisfaction of overcoming adversity and finishing the race is one that I will never forget from last year.
03. PNPA Uphill Challenge
I joined the PNPA Uphill Challenge as something of a revenge run to myself after the lackluster PinoyFitness 21k Challenge performance. I ran with relaxation in mind (as opposed to running with a PR in mind) and to find the right pace in preparation for my first marathon this year. It was a success, I finished the race injury-free and satisfied with closing a year with a good run. I also bumped into a long time running buddy along the way and I enjoyed the scenic route that organizer, Runmania, never fails to deliver.
02. 7-Eleven Run 1500
The 6k run from Condura Skyway Marathon 2015 was just the appetizer, the 21k run of 7-Eleven Run 1500 was the entrée (because the main course was the 42k). When I heard about the 7-Eleven Run series, the thing I hear people talk about the most is the overflowing hydration and the bag (or boxes) full of freebies. They weren’t kidding. When it comes to hydration, they are placed around the Skyway and you can drink almost all of the sports drink brands out there, you have a Gatorade, Powerade, Pocari Sweat, Bacchus, Red Bull, and more. And the freebies were truly like grabbing stuff from a grocery store, you can get personal hygiene products, ice cream, fruits, tumblers, boxes of condoms to name a few. This is the best value running event because aside from the experience of running on the skyway, the freebies you get is well worth the registration price. That is why I’m already registered for this year’s 7-Eleven Run.
and the best running event of 2015 for me is…
01. VALLEY TRAIL CHALLENGE 2015
The most memorable experience for me last year was running my first 30 kilometer (actual distance was 32 km) trail run. Nothing beats the thrills of running at 3 am in the morning on the trails, complete darkness with only a headlamp to help you navigate. The event is also one of the best organized race I’ve ever joined, gotta love the food and drinks at the aid stations and the race route is the best, love the fresh air, the scenic view, and the great weather at the time (cool at night, a bit hot at 7am). It also has a time limit (6 hours for 30k category), so you know that getting that medal is special, a great achievement because you worked hard for it. The run was so good that I already made the decision to run my first trail ultramarathon on this year’s Valley Trail Challenge. See you at the trails.
Last year was all about performance improvement while still having a great time. Back in 2014, I was struggling to even make a sub 30 minute 5k PR and it was only in the later part of the year that I was able to achieve it. In 2015, I was able to do a sub1 10k and a sub 2:30 21k at will and I was able to solidify it with the completion of the PinoyFitness challenges. I was also able to endure pain and learned more about how I can prevent them in the future. Running my first full trail run was the best, and that is why I plan to join more this year. I was very disappointed to have missed some good running events (especially obstacle runs) like the Guerilla Race series, TNF 100, Salomon City Trail, the Run United Trilogy, Outbreak Manila, and Men’s Health Urbanathlon due to limited budget or resources and other reasons, but I still had a great year with some of the races I participated in. This year, I’m looking forward to running my first marathon, my first trail ultramarathon, joining more obstacle runs, the return to Outbreak Manila, and finally completing the Run United trilogy. For now, I just have to keep training to be in the proper condition when race day comes.