Posted in City Run, Gear Review, GPS watch, half-marathon, Marathon, Review, running, running event, Trail run, trail running, Valley Trail Challenge

Accuracy or Fu*K-uracy: A non-professional observation and analysis of GPS devices for running…

In the early days, runners use the stopwatch feature of their watches to check their Finish Time and it is assumed that the distance of the race route is accurately measured by the event organizers. Today’s generation of runners rely on the GPS functionality of smartphones and watches making it an essential feature. But, how accurate are the GPS of these devices? are they reliable?

I am not an electronics expert or engineer, I don’t know how GPS works technically, so don’t expect me to explain everything with scientific detail. I’m just a runner who relies on my GPS watch and smartphone app to record my performance and this observation and analysis is based on my experience in using them during training runs and running events. I use a Soleus GPS One watch and Samsung S7 Edge for tracking my runs.

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The race course was said to be 5 kilometers. My GPS watch said it’s 4.88 kilometers.

Which is more accurate, a GPS watch or a smartphone app?

–  Starting both devices and standing still, my S7 Edge using Nike Run Club app connects faster to GPS satellites than my GPS One. It usually takes less than a minute for the S7 to get a good signal, whilst the GPS One can take as long as 1-3 minutes to find a signal. The GPS One may also receive an unstable connection and deliver very unbelievable results like a running speed of 40-70 kilometers per hour which is impossible considering that Usain Bolt can run at a top speed of 44 km/h. The GPS One also has a tendency to lose signal in places where only a few tall buildings surround the area. There are times that the GPS One can yield better results than the smartphone like the time I ran the 2nd Philippine Marine Corp Marathon. When I entered the famous Kaybiang Tunnel, both devices lost connection, but the watch re-connected faster and delivered a more accurate distance. It should be noted that I was using a mid-range smartphone at the time, an Alcatel Flash 2, and not the S7 Edge that I’m using now. I mentioned this because high-end smartphones and GPS watches with superior hardware may be able to deliver more accurate results than entry-level like the GPS One and mid-range devices.

UPDATE (07-23-2017): I accidentally activated the mobile data of my S7 Edge instead of the GPS. Nike Run Club app relied on internet connection and due to the weak signal and speed, it resulted to a big miscalculation, counting 600-800 meters as 1 kilometer.

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According to my GPS One, I ran a maximum speed of 72.9 km/h some time during my run. Wow! Good thing Usain Bolt is retired. I should probably go after Eliud Kipchoge then.

Distance Discrepancy?

–   Distance discrepancy between the two devices is not unusual. Sometimes it can be as short as 100 meters to as long as 2 kilometers with the GPS watch very likely to be inaccurate. One example of this was during Run United Exceed half-marathon last April, GPS One recorded the total distance of 23.45 kilometers, whilst the S7 showed 22.5 kilometers. The race route in Bonifacio Global City is surrounded by tall buildings and locking on to the satellites takes time, but I was able to get a signal for both devices before the gunstart. But, I’m very sure that the GPS One was inaccurate because it showed me that I passed the first kilometer in 4+ minutes whilst the smartphone app told me that I ran it at 5 minutes and 45 seconds. I’ve also seen social media posts from runners and most of them also covered 22+ kilometers. Others got results of less than 21 kilometers, but it’s very likely that they started their devices while it was still trying to get a signal and only got one after several kilometers (i.e. 18 kilometers of total distance was likely the result the device receiving a signal after 3 kilometers of running). During my usual Wednesday and Friday morning runs, it’s often that I get distance discrepancies and most of the time, the GPS One delivered inaccuracy.

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3 minutes and 15 seconds in the first kilometer. If only I can really run this pace. I know for a fact that when I run below 4 minutes and 30 seconds, I start feeling cramps about to hit me. So, yeah I have never ran a 3-minute per kilometer pace before.

GPS devices or just trust the Organizer’s Race Route?

–   What you see in your GPS devices can also match the race course distance if you get a very good signal. But, the race route can be more or less of the total distance as advertised. It depends on how the organizer of the event measured the race route and there are some instances that could force the organizer to shorten distance like unfavorable weather or last minute changes due to traffic and other road-related incidents that is beyond their control. Other organizers will add extra kilometers as a bonus  or a slight change in the race route. If you really want a distance accurate race route, then look for an event sanctioned by an athletics organization like Philippine Athletics Track And Field Association (PATAFA).

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It was supposed to be only 34 kilometers, but a small change in the race route added 3 extra kilometers.

Comparison with Car Odometer (FINAL UPDATE)

I did an experiment to compare if the distance displayed on a car’s odometer will yield the same or close results with the GPS devices. I did a quick google search and found out that GPS is much more accurate than car speedometers when it comes to measuring speed because it is affected by tire size and condition. But, I’m measuring the distance and disregarded speed, so we focus on the odometer. Stopping the car at 1, 3, and 5 kilometers, the distance difference is somewhere between 30 to 200+ meters.

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Trial 1: Stopping at 1 kilometer with the GPS devices connected with good signal, the Nike app recorded a 40-meter difference, while the GPS watch showed a much bigger number at 110 (or more) meters.
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Trial 2: I reset the odometer and stopped at 3 kilometers. Similar results from the 1 kilometer run with 30-meter difference on the app and 110+ meters on the GPS watch.
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And just for comparisons sake, I did keep the car’s speed at 40+ km/h most of the time and sped up to 80+ km/h once to overtake a vehicle. I think the GPS watch got it right with the average (41 km/h) and maximum speed (83.2 km/h) reading.

This experiment should be taken with a grain of salt since gps reading is affected by the position and availability of the satellites (take note that the experiment took place on a road devoid of tall buildings). It’s likely that distance discrepancy will increase if I travelled farther.

The verdict: Accurate or Fu*k-urate?

–   So, are GPS devices like smartphones and GPS watches accurate when it comes to measuring distance and pace? the answer is yesbut, only if you get a good and stable signal. The advance technology in these devices assures you accuracy, but not always. There will be times that you will get unstable signal and even lose the signal especially in places surrounded by tall building or trees and that guarantees fu*ked up results. The reason why I use both a GPS watch and smartphone app is for cases when one fails, the other won’t (hopefully). A small distance discrepancy (like 100-300 meters) between both devices is acceptable, 500 meters or more is where you start to question accuracy and pick the one with less distance. In my usual training routes, I can tell which one is giving me the likely accurate distance because of the numerous times I ran on that place. Even if that devices failed to connect with the satellites, I remember where the kilometer points are.

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My Personal Bests in Nike Run Club app. Guess which ones are fu*k-urate. Hint: I can’t run an elite marathoner pace.
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Posted in 42.195 kilometers, 42k, Marathon, running, running event

What Marathon Dreams May Come (TBR Dream Marathon 2017)

When I join marathons, there are thousands of participants, and it’s the usual do your best for a PR, cross the finish line, and you’re done. A marathon is not a fun run, it’s painful, exhausting, and will test your mental and physical limits. It’s all about finishing strong. Or is it? maybe I just forgot that a marathon isn’t always about running fast or being competitive, it can also be a relaxing, laid back run just to have fun. That is exactly what I realized as a spectator at this year’s TBR Sunlife Dream Marathon.

Unlike other marathon events, TBR Dream Marathon focuses on the development of runners who want to run a marathon for the first time. It’s about helping people achieve their dreams of running a marathon in ways that don’t involve the torture of excessive and unguided training. Running 42 kilometers is an intimidating thought, but the TBR program seemed to be effective in encouraging and motivating the runners that finishing a marathon is achievable with little or nothing to worry about.

The event is only limited to 800 participants. The reason for this is to make it easier to prepare the runners and focus on their progress. And because the event does not have a large volume of marathoners, every one can have their near-the-finish-line moments like running with family, friends, pets, and finally, their own finish line victory pose. Runners like me, those who join competitive marathons with thousands of participants are usually deprived of moments like that. We can’t have our loved ones waiting for us near the finish line to run with us to glory because of restrictions and there’s just too many runners around you. And it’s very rare that we get excellent race photos because there’s a big chance that the photographers will miss you (it’s hard to shoot when there’s thousands of people running and approaching even if you have a fast camera). And this is why TBR Dream Marathon is a special event, it gives the runners the moment and fun. Most of the runners who run towards then finish line with their kids, loved ones, friends, or even pets have bigger smiles and off-the-roof runner’s high than most of us who just made a new PR. There’s just too much good vibes, feel good and happy moments in the event, that I enjoyed taking photos and witnessing the joy of these new marathoners. Congratulations to the marathon graduates of TBR Batch 2017.

Here are some heart-warming photos I took at the event. (Apologies for the quality of the photos. They’re taken with my camera phone and cropped because I couldn’t get near enough to take better up-close photos.)

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So nice of you to ‘Grace’ us with your presence.
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Happy Mommy of Three.
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Photographer, check. Cheer Leader/Motivator, check. Sweeper, check.
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Now that’s just cheating… nah, just the photographer
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Finish line is so close, he can almost taste it.
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It rained during the event, but the big smiles made it go away.
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The dedicated video/camera man
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Marathon Graduation Day!
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Running with your daughter to the finish line is more fun than a walk to the aisle.
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More fun than running alone.
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My favorite photo from the event. So much smiles, too much happiness.
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Waiting for mommy.
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Blazing, Blitzing Blue team.
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Smooth (camera) Operator…. Smooooooth (camera) Operator…
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Will she make it to a Sub-6 finish?….
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… She didn’t. But, it doesn’t matter because she finished her first marathon and 6 hours isn’t so bad.
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This kid is a hero, a Runner’s Hero! =)
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I’m happy because you’re happy =)
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My money’s on the dog.
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Mexi-CAN finish a marathon.
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The Runner Family. There’s Daddy Runner, Kid Runner, and Mommy Runner.
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Tee off!
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Yellow vs Blue.
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Supporting Tito… Sportito!
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Race signs to boost motivation. “Run Like You Stole Something” very good motivation, indeed.
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Three-way!
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Drag Me To …
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Leeeeeeerrrrooooooooy…. Jenkins!
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High Five for a boost in Runner’s High.
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Man’s best pacer.
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Runner’s Hero finally spotted mom and he’s finally unleashed
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And off he goes to run the day!
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Smile a little… then smile big at the finish line.
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It made me smile to see a runner’s entourage trying to catch up with their runner.
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The guy on the left’s sign reads iRUN because #YuanIsLove.
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BlazBlues
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Let’s dash to the finish line. But first, let me take a #selfie.
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When you’re so happy that you don’t care about PR anymore.
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Most of the runner dads here have a daughter or two.
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Run With Me is sweeter than those trending “Follow Me” instagram photos.
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A pacer and spectators encouraging an exhausted and injured runner towards the finish line (just a few meters away).
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Ignore the pain and keep going. Smiling Guy’s got your back.
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Wave and say hello to WINNER.
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Like a dog parade in a running event.
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Baby girl is experiencing her first run without actually touching the ground and running.
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Fight the pain or walk with loved ones, just keep going.
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Let’s try to beat Dad.
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Grandma is one of the most cheerful spectator. She cheers for everyone especially when she found their runner. A few seconds off your PR is worth it for a photo with a wonderful person and loved one.
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PR doesn’t always matter. You all did it. That’s all that matters.
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Mom’s best escorts.
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Jesse Quick! A marathoner in the making right there.
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When the gang’s got your back.
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Running for Mr. RUNiverse 2017!
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You don’t have to finish strong, just finish happy. And when you’re happy and smiling, even the spectators are happy and smiling. It’s infectious.
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Game face still on. Go Jen!
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It rained several times that day, but it didn’t stop the runners from making their marathon dreams a reality.
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GoPRO Hero got nothing on GoPAPA Hero.
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As a 3-time marathoner, I will never have the chance to join TBR Dream Marathon. But, I will always be happy to watch it every year to feel the good vibes and see the joy of the new marathoners.
Posted in 21k, 42.195 kilometers, 42k, 7-Eleven Run Series, City Run, Marathon, running event

Fun and Competition rolled into one… (7-Eleven Run 2017)

Running events these days can be classified into two categories, a fun run and a competitive race. For those who just want a good and fun time with friends without the need to worry about being athletic or fast, a fun run is the most popular choice. For fast and elite runners who want to test themselves and compete for prizes, competitive races is the serious choice. A lot of organizers made a good effort to combine both, a running event that can be fun and competitive at the same time. But, none has reached the level of achievement that 7-Eleven Philippines and their partners has done. By creating a race that can still be fun even after you crossed the finish line and entered the activity area. It is the absolute definition of a ‘fun’ run for everyone.

Before I share my opinion about this year’s 7-Eleven Run, I wanna tell the competitive side of the event, the experience of running my 3rd marathon. This is the third time I joined the 7-Eleven Run series and for the first time, I joined the 42k category (I ran the half-marathon categories of the previous events, Run 1500 and Run 2016) to celebrate my first anniversary of running a marathon. My first marathon experience was joining last year’s Condura Skyway Marathon and since CSM is not available this year, 7-Eleven Run got their traditional first weekend of February date. And I’m very thankful for their presence so I can run a marathon handled by a different organizer for a different and better experience (because to be honest, last year’s Condura Marathon was just average at best).

Hours before the event, I was very excited. I have 3 objectives that day, make a new PR, break the Sub-5 hour PR, and come close to Anne Curtis’ New York Marathon PR (which has been an inspiration and motivation for this PR quest). I tried to sleep, but I can’t because my mind kept thinking about the race, what I’ll do, and what could happen. My only focus was the run and I’m so focused that I made a mistake of entering the RFID lane of the toll booth in Filinvest City. The guard/enforcer was about to give me a ticket, but he probably sensed that I’m in a hurry and just let me off with a warning.

I arrived at the event site before 10 pm and had some spare time to walk around and check out the sights and sounds of the activity area.

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A look at one the booths before the arrival of the huge crowd.
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At 10 pm, the activity area is mostly populated by over a thousand marathoners.
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Like any big event, security is very important for the safety of the participants and guests.
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Beach-themed booth done right.
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The Slurpee Truck before it gets mobbed.
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The road that I walked on daily as an employee going to the office. That night, it’s the road that marathoners walked on to the starting line.
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Waiting for our wave to be released at 11:05 pm.

The race started on time at 11 pm with the Elite Wave leading the pack. There was no warm-up and most runners are ready to rip the road anyway. I’m on Wave B and set for release 5 minutes later. As planned, I initiated the run at a manageable pace, not too fast and not too slow whilst setting up the the music player of my smartphone.

I ran the first 5 kilometers in 29 minutes. It wasn’t slow enough as planned because I was trying to imitate Anne Curtis’ pace at the NYC Marathon which should be 33 minutes, 52 seconds for the first 5k. I probably got carried away and tried to slow down a bit more to conserve my stamina and as a result, I reached the 10k mark in an hour. I didn’t hit Sub-1 for the 10k and that means I’m on the right pace as planned, but still not slow enough to match Anne’s 1 hour, 6 minutes. I slowed down at kilometer 12 to walk a bit more and re-hydrate. At kilometer 13 to 20, I kept the pace within 6-7 minutes per kilometer which is still not slow enough and could affect my running efficiency in the 2nd half of the race. But, I feel fine, I can even run the uphill segments of the Skyway continuously, and just kept going. And that is why I had the opportunity to break my 21k (half-marathon) record. Looking at my GPS watch, there was a possibility to cross 21 kilometers at 2 hours, 10 minutes or lower to break my 2 hour, 13 minutes 21k PR (from 7-Eleven Run 1500) if I speed up. But, I hesitated because I know that I have to be patient and follow the game plan if I want to be successful in breaking the Sub-5 barrier. I decided to keep moving at a manageable pace and enjoy running with the beat of my music player (which helped a lot by distracting me from exhaustion). It’s worth noting that in this year’s race route, the uphill road going to NAIA Terminal 3 was not used because it was under renovation, so the U-turn going back to Makati was extended. Some time between kilometer 25-28, my body started heating up. A bit dizzy and starting to feel like I’m about to have a headache and fever, I slowed down and walked, using the time to eat, re-hydrate, and let my body cool down. Then speed up a bit at kilometer 29, taking advantage of downhills, only to slow down again at kilometer 30 because of exhaustion and the stress of running uphill. From kilometer 30 to 36, my pace dropped to 7-8 minutes per kilometer, with the slowest time close to 9 minutes per kilometer. My body finally started to break down, I managed to avoid calf cramps and blisters, but I feel pain on my thighs, just above the knee when I run uphill and slow down to walk. This prevented me from regaining momentum and the pace I ran earlier, so I had to walk and re-hydrate a lot (though I wasted a lot of Pocari Sweat because I had to take a sip only and not a whole cup to avoid the heavy, bloated feeling). Seeing the ‘Last 2 Kilometers’ sign, I had a renewed vigor (especially after taking a leak for the third time and drinking a cup of cool Del Monte Pineapple juice) and gave little bit of push to cover the distance faster. But, I was so exhausted that the thigh pain comes back and I can only do short bursts. The last 2 kilometers doesn’t feel that short at all, I feel dizzy again, feeling weak, and had to walk.

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A selfie before running down the last 300 meters of the Skyway.

With less than 800 meters left, I managed to run 300 meters down the Skyway, but slowed down to walk again because the pain on my legs and foot are preventing me to keep up the pace. I want to assure myself that I can cross the finish line safely and knowing that I will accomplish the objectives, I accepted the slow ascend to victory.

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It had to be like this, the last 300 meters to the finish line has to be an uphill. Playing it safe by walking.

With the Finish Line seen just a hundred meters away, I shifted to a slow jogging speed for one final charge to glory. The timer for the 42k doesn’t seem to be displaying properly, I can’t see the time, so I just kept going until my foot hits the finish line. I hit the stop button on my GPS watch and see that my unofficial time is 04 hours, 50 minutes, 46 seconds (42.34 kilometers). And that’s it, not only were the 3 objectives met, the 3rd objective of coming close to Anne Curtis’ PR (4 hours, 56 minutes, 58 seconds) was even better, I actually bested it.

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The official results from myrunti.me is even better. 04 hours, 48 minutes, and 31 seconds is my official PR.
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Rushing to the finish line. (slow kind of rush, really) Photo credit: MyRunTime
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All smiles for the new PR. Photo Credit: MyRunTime.
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ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Sub-5 Marathon PR. Photo Credit: Phillip BF.

Running a marathon is hard, it’s not fun, it’s painful. But, completing your objectives made it a painful good feeling, crossing the finish line is like having fun with pain without being a masochist. And that is why I have a paradoxical love with running a marathon.

I returned to the activity area (walking another 100+ meters) where a Pocari Sweat booth greeted the finishers with their first taste of re-hydration. I went to the claiming booth to get my medal, finisher shirt, and loot bag (which is heavy and full of nice freebies). I decided to go to the car to rest, relax, and savor the moment. My whole body is in pain, I was having thoughts of just going home and forget about grabbing free stuff at the activity area. But, it won’t be a complete experience if I skipped the ‘grocery run’ part of the 7-Eleven Run series. After 30+ minutes of rest, I got up and prepared myself for the next fun part of the event. Then I realized I made one big mistake, I forgot to bring a grocery bag or any container to use for the free stuff. I went back to the activity area hoping that I can find something I can use to store my groceries. Luckily, the ATC Healthcare Corp. still have enough carton bags and I was able to get one. Roaming around the area, I saw what other people use for their loot, some would use empty stock boxes laying around the booths, others use a garbage bag, and I even saw a baby stroller used as a shopping cart. It’s how people become creative in times of ‘free stuff’ needs.

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The best way to store your freebies, find a box and carry it around.
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Though the 16k and 10k categories started and most runners are still on the Skyway, the activity area is already crowded at 4:30 am.
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This 7-Eleven booth was giving away Batman v Superman tumblers and zombie-theme straws. Take as many as you want,they seem to have thousands in stock.
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The Dole booth is the coolest (literally) booth with mist sprayed all over the place and ambient lights for a relaxing environment. Games booth offers the chance to win free stuff, free massage, and free hugs?
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Still crowded at sun rise.
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Premiere and Trust Condoms booth never ran out of grabbers.
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Bottomless ice cream at the Selecta booth.
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They’re giving away free samples of ‘man’ supplements for endurance and enhanced performance in bed. Not that I need it though <_< . But, it’s free so…
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I think one of the problems in the event was the queue in the medal and loot bag claiming area. This affects the lower distance categories like 3k because of the high volume of participants and the majority of runners finishing close to each other or at the same time.
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My loot. I could’ve grabbed more, but I wasn’t in full strength after running 42 kilometers. I’ve seen other people’s loot and they’re much much more, almost 3 times more than this.
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The contents of the 7-Eleven Run loot bag. It was quite heavy.
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The new gold-plated medal design. Looks good and a nice addition a nice addition to my collection.
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I like the new 7-Eleven logo design. The shirt is still cotton though.

It was another great event from 7-Eleven Philippines, it’s bigger and better than last year. It’s also the most competitive event as seen in the marathon and half-marathon results, there are new winners with faster finishing times. I think this is the result of some elite runners, regular participants of Condura Marathon, joining the event (the total number of participation in the 42k category doubled).

I once asked my office mates why they don’t join running events and they all have the same reason and that is because they would have to pay just to get tired. I can explain in a lengthy conversation why they should even if they have to pay. But now, all I have to say is two words, “7-Eleven Run.” The 7-Eleven Run series brings both the fun factor and competitiveness of a running event in the highest level. No other run series has come close to what they have achieved. The spirit of competition is felt during the race where runners can do their best to go for the cash prize and the chance to race in an international event (fully sponsored by 7-Eleven Philippines). And even if you don’t win the race, you will still be rewarded in the form of grabbing all the stuff you can at the activity area. Not only do you get more than your money’s worth, you will feel great after knowing that you did your best in the race for a PR and got something extra for your efforts. Whoever said that you can’t have the best of both worlds (fun and competition) in a running event probably never joined a 7-Eleven Run.

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RUNdom NOTES:

  • In preparation for the event, my training consists of 3 to 4 minute planks (which includes different variations), burpees, push-ups, 24-27 minutes 5k speed runs once a week (Wednesday or Friday morning), a slow 5-7 kilometer run once a week (Wednesday or Friday), and a long run on Sunday mornings. I also joined training run sessions by AHC Mentor Carly (who joined the 16k category of 7-Eleven Run) and participated in a flip the bottle challenge game at the office with punishments for the loser include clap push-ups, 300 jumping jacks, and push-up burpees. For a tune-up run, I joined Resolution Run 2017‘s 34k category.
  • In a strange easter egg-like setting, there are tables along the race route that have a bottle of Booster C (my favorite energy shot) in the middle. I thought it was an advertising gimmick that goes along with the product’s tag line “One Shot Energy” hence the single bottle on the table. No one was grabbing it, so I did while running (I actually dropped it instead of a perfect grab) and found it empty. It was one of my ‘sucker’ moments in recent times.
  • Like last year, Bacchus is not the sponsor of the 42k category (had to mention this because the cold Bacchus drink gave me a boost in Run 1500). The honor of the 42k sponsorship still goes to Summit Drinking Water. Also absent this year is Gatorade, last year’s 16k sponsor. This is probably because they have their own running series now and probably don’t like the presence of competitor Powerade (it’s like having DC comics and Marvel Comics in one event). Dole took over the 16k sponsorship this year.
  • Celebrities spotted at the event: Robi Domingo, Valerie Concepcion (ran 10k), Gretchen Fullido (ran 16k), Rovilson Fernandez (ran 16k), Bubbles Paraiso.
  • The race route was measured and certified by Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA). No wonder both my GPS watch and Nike Run Club app measured it at 42 kilometers with only little discrepancy.
  • While going home, I was still having a hang over from the success of making a new PR and the fun of grabbing free stuff, I accidentally entered the wrong lane and ended up taking the Manila bound road. I took a U-turn at the Sucat Exit. So, like drinking and driving, extended runner’s high will mess with your focus on the road.
Posted in 10 kilometers, 10k, 15 kilometers, 21k, 5k, 5km, 711, 7eleven, adventure, backpacking, best moments, City Run, Duo Race, Expo and Events, fun run, half-marathon, Marathon, Milo Marathon, Photo Shoot, Photography, run for a cause, running, running event, running locales, Running Photography, travel, ultramarathon, Valley Trail Challenge

2016 Bests!

It has been more than 3 years since I started joining the running scene. Some events never change, some got better, and some end their series run (pun intended). The most important thing for me last year is that I evolved and ran to the next level, by joining my first marathon and ultramarathon. Aside from running, I started blogging about the other things that I love to do like photography, video games, and traveling. I started this blog in late 2014 as a journal of my fitness journey, the chronicles of my running adventure. 2016 thought me that blogging can be a tool for even more experiences and can even be a source of awesome benefits. I received invitations from organizers to attend their events or press conference to write an article or cover the event and in return, I got backstage pass, some nice tokens, and even won prizes from raffles. So, I revamped the design of my page, new look for 2017, and will try to run, travel, and do more interesting stuff and activities worthy of blogging. For now, here’s the best of 2016.

======   BEST MOMENT   ======

Finishing my first Marathon (Condura Skyway Marathon 2016)

Condura Skyway Marathon 2016
You will never forget your first marathon. Photo Credit: Pinoy Fitness.

Though the event itself was just average, it’s the moment of crossing the finish line of your first marathon that makes it one of the most memorable and best feeling of your life. Running the marathon distance (42.195 kilometers) is the ultimate goal for serious runners. It’s like the last level of a video game, the last round in boxing, the grand finale of a concert, it’s the culmination of your fitness and running journey. And the bonus for me is that I became the first marathoner in the family (both father and mother side). I started it and hopefully, the future generations of the family tree will follow.

Honorable Mentions:

Running my first international run (11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon)

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One of the biggest surprises in my life. Me, running my first international run in Phuket, Thailand.

Never saw it coming, never expected it to happen, it was a surprise that I ran my first out-of-country run in 2016. A surprise delivered by 7-Eleven Philippines. It was my blog article/race report that got me the ticket for an all-expense paid trip to Phuket, Thailand for the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon to cover the event as our country’s representatives give their best performances to win the race. I was also given the opportunity to run the 10.5 category of the race (my first international run and first out-of-country trip) and we all had a rewarding tour around Phuket. We returned home victorious and had a great time, and that is the reason why this is so memorable to me.

Canyoneering in Cebu (Thanksgiving vacation in Cebu)

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Glory of Love?… Loving what we’re doing in Cebu!

To set foot in Cebu for the first time is memorable enough, jumping 40+ feet off a cliff is just epic and unforgettable. It’s all about conquering your fear (especially if you have some degree of acrophobia and can’t swim) and the adrenaline rush that made it one of the best things I’ve done in 2016.

Finishing my first Ultramarathon (Altra Speed50 Tagaytay)

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All smiles for another milestone. Photo Credit: albertthebackpacker.com

For all its shortcomings or failures, the event is below average (I love the first half of the race route though and the trophy and medal is good), but finishing a race that goes beyond the marathon distance is another milestone in my running life. Ultramarathons don’t have the flair of a marathon event nor does it focus on elite-level speed, it’s the experience and the validation that your body can endure and go the longer distance that makes it a special experience.

======   BEST MEDAL   ======

40th Milo Marathon Medal

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This year’s Milo Marathon medal is bigger and looks better than the previous years medals.

It’s gold in color, well-designed, big, and heavy. Should there be any other reason why this isn’t the best?

Honorable Mentions:

Batman V Superman Run Medal

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Like a shiny Batarang.

The only way that a Batman v Superman medal could be better is if it was designed like a batarang with the S symbol in the middle instead of a round medal. But, this still looks very good, I like the cut of the BvS symbol and there was also an option to have your finishing time engraved behind the medal for a small fee.

Valley Trail Challenge VI Medal

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It’s a Moo-dal!

It’s a cute medal and it’s not made of metal, so it’s one of the lightest medal I earned. I like the cow head design, it fits the theme of the trail run and it really looks unique compared to my metal medals.

======   BEST EVENT SHIRT/SINGLET   ======

Batman v Superman singlet

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Feels like Batman on his non-brooding days.

This singlet is so good it makes you look like you have Batman’s abs. Color and design is modeled after the Batffleck costume, and I like it so much that I used it in 2 running events.

Honorable Mentions

Team 7-Eleven ASICS Motion Dry

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Blue is the Coolest Color

I got this from 7-Eleven Philippines as our official team shirt at the 11th Laguna Phuket Marathon. I like it because of the nice design, the fabric, the light weight, and skin tight feel. Also worn this on my first ultramarathon.

Condura SkyWay Marathon 2016 Tech Shirt

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According to sports studies and statistics, those who wear read in competitions and matches are likely to win. Not me though.

With ASICS as one of the major sponsors, this is just as light and comfortable as the Team 7-Eleven ASICS Motion Dry shirt (doesn’t have the skin tight feeling though). No wonder the registration fee of Condura Skyway Marathon is expensive, the quality of the tech shirt and finisher shirt is very good.

======   BEST FINISHER SHIRT   ====== 

Condura Skyway Marathon 2016 Finisher Shirt

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If the red tech shirt is fire, the blue finisher shirt is ice.

It’s quite clever that the finisher shirt of the 2016 Condura Skyway Marathon is blue in contrast with the red tech shirt. It’s like fire and ice or the yin and the yang. Like the tech shirt, the fabric is nice and comfortable. The back of the shirt also illustrates the race route, the map of the Skyway.

Honorable Mentions:

Financial Fitness Run 2016 Finisher Shirt

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Purple Power!

The shirt has the right mix of colors, white on the body with purple on the sides and lime green on the back. And that running man on the front completes a visually appealing design.

40th Milo Marathon Finisher Shirt

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Milo Marathon is like the Philippine equivalent of the Boston Marathon. The theme color is green (because of the Milo products) like the Boston Celtics.

This finisher shirt is very similar to the Condura Skyway Marathon finisher shirt. The fabric feels the same and it also has the route map printed at the back.

======   BEST FREEBIES   ======

All the stuff I got from 7-Eleven Philippines

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My loot from the 7-Eleven Run 2016.
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The Team 7-Eleven Philippines jacket and ASICS Motion Dry shirt.

Aside from all the free stuff (or should I say, grocery) that I grabbed from 7-Eleven Run 2016, 7-Eleven Philippines gave us a team jacket and ASICS Motion Dry shirt for the Phuket trip. Nothing can top that.

Honorable Mentions

Saucony Kinvara 7

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For that green-minded runs

Not a freebie from a running event, I got this by joining a Saucony facebook contest. a free pair of running shoes means I was able to save money this year.

Stuff I got from the Special Force Online Press Conference

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Contents of the loot bag include a Special Force T-shirt, mouse pad, and Starbucks Card.
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Just got lucky and won this awesome Razer Network Hoodie from the raffle. I checked razerzone.com for the price and it’s worth $79.99

I was invited by PlayPark to attend the press conference of the returning Special Force Online. So glad that I did. PlayPark is a very generous company, they provided us with good food, fun games, and a preview of Special Force Online before the closed beta test. I though the good stuff ended their, until they’ve given us the loot bags that included a Special Force T-shirt, mouse pad, and a Starbucks card loaded with 500 php. And I also got lucky and won a Razer ‘Network’ Hoodie. It was an awesome night, so awesome.

======   RUNNING EVENTS RANKING   ======

This is it, the running events as ranked from worst to best. I joined 11 running events this year and this is how I rate them based on the experience and how the organizers handled their events.

11. Altra Speed 50 Ultramarathon Tagaytay

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My first ultramarathon finish is memorable, the event itself is forgettable.

I joined this event because I really wanted to complete my objective of finishing my first ultramarathon this year and as the substitute for not being able to join the 50k category of Valley Trail Challenge. It was the ideal run for me because of the race route in Tagaytay, and the trophy and medal looks good. But, the event itself is below average because of the organizer’s shortcomings. The failure of the organizer to arrive early (before the participants) and prepare the event on time is their biggest mistake. The messy bib number (and the lack of it) distribution, the scarce supplies of the Palace in the Sky aid station, the absence of marshals and lighting/guide on the pitch dark part of the route going to Nasugbu, and the lack of trophies and finisher shirts for those who crossed the finish line at a later time (but still made it to the cutoff) all adds up to this disappointing event.

10. Manila Great Run Duo Road Race Challenge

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10k run first and then 5k run after an hour. hmm….

The concept of Manila Great Run Duo Road Race is unique. It is a 15k run, but your first run is a 10-kilometer race. After finishing the 10k, there’s a 1-hour break before you start the 2nd round, the 5k run. Sounds simple, right? but it confused a lot of the participants resulting to an organized event with messy results. Some of the 5k runners started to run with the 15k runners because they were not reminded of their respective gunstart. A lot of the participants thought that they only signed up for a 10k run, unaware of the 5k run on the 2nd round. Some runners didn’t want to run the 5k run (because it was already hot at 7 am), so they just claimed their medal even without participating in the 2nd round (think about it, you got a medal for running just half of the race). Despite the mistakes of both organizer and participants, the event is at least well-organized with a lot of freebies and nice activities.

09. Eggciting Family Adventure Fun Run

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It’s the November Easter Egg Hunt. Photo credit: Bicolano Runner

I was very interested about joining this event, but I was a bit low on resources (funding again) at the time (after joining Valley Trail Challenge and registering for Philippine Marine Corp Marathon 2). Luckily, I got a free race kit from the organizer for attending their media and bloggers conference and blogging their event. This is one of the most fun, family-oriented event I joined with lots of activities for the kids and giveaways for everyone. And the concept of searching for easter eggs along the race route for a prize is a nice addition to the fun of just running.

08. 40th Milo Marathon

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Feels like I’m running the local version of the Boston Marathon. Photo Credit: Photo-Ops

Running the Milo Marathon is a must for most serious and seasoned runners. It is the longest running (pun intended) marathon event in the country. The best runners of the country run the Milo Marathon every year. It is a very special event and I want to be a part of it. Though my performance was quite disappointing compared to my first marathon, I enjoyed the experience of finally running in the biggest marathon event of the country.

07. Financial Fitness Run 2016

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One is a rogue, Two is company, Three’s a crowd. Photo Credit: Active Pinas

I was able to join this event because to of my office mates finally decided to join and the registration fee is reasonable. I like the plaque for 21k finishers and the finisher shirt looks festive and good enough to be included in my best list this year. And another bonus is finally running on Bonifacio Global City grounds for the first time (because BGC is one of the most popular running event venues, so finally).

06. Batman v Superman Run

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I am the day. Photo credit: Running Photographers

I only joined this run because of the singlet and medal. Little did I know that there’s so much more in store. It was fun to see cosplayers and runners wearing symbols of their favorite DC superheroes. This run is also memorable for my super delayed start (more than 20 minutes had passed when I started running) because I got caught in traffic and cramped like a sardine in a bus full of passengers at 5 am on a Saturday morning (first time experience).

05. Condura Skyway Marathon 2016

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Achievement Unlocked: Reach Marathon Level. Photo Credit: Team Foot-Ah

Last year’s Condura Skyway Marathon is so much better (except for the tech shirt and finisher shirt), they have better presentation, more photographers, more runners (even creating a record for the highest number of participants in 42k category), and better medal. But, I joined this for the experience of running a marathon for the first time. It was the culmination of everything since the day I started running, when I become serious about it, and when I finally decided that it’s time. I planned it for a year and it finally happened, I’m a marathoner now. It feels so good to finally reach this level, to finally run the benchmark distance for runners, and to finally say that I have done it rather than just thinking about doing it or just ponder if I could have done it.

04. 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon

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The non-elite runners of Team 7-Eleven Philippines.

This run I never saw coming, it’s a big surprise. Because of my race report of the 7-Eleven Runs, I got an invitation to join Team 7-Eleven Philippines as the blogger (and photographer). The winners of the 7-Eleven Run will compete at the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon and I was also given the opportunity to run the 10.5k category to experience the event as a runner. This is my first international run and I really liked it. It was a sunset run, but the weather at the time was very hot (kinda like summer in the Philippines). I like the race route is scenic and the event is so good there’s a lot of foreign runners (even pinoys) joining this race every year. The event is better organized than some of our local events, there’s even a buffet at the activity area. It’s a good thing my first international run was fun, because it’s memorable in a good way (compared to the other events I joined this year).

03. 7-Eleven Run 2016

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Highway to the safer zone.

Anyone who read my previous 7-Eleven race report/review already knows why the 7-Eleven Run series is one of the best in the country. The freebies alone speak for itself. But, it is worth noting the uniqueness of the race, it’s the only race where you can hydrate with the best brands of drinks in the market. Tired of drinking just Gatorade or water? don’t worry, there’s also Pocari Sweat, Powerade, Summit, and along the way. And after the race, why not help yourself with the overload of freebies at the activity area, supplements, food, hygiene products, just go and grab stuff. There’s even free unlimited ice cream at the Selecta booth, so I didn’t bother going to the nearest fast food restaurant to eat. That’s how good 7-Eleven Run, it’s very rewarding to get so much stuff after a run and with all the freebies, it feels like you just got your registration money back. Let’s see if 7-Eleven can even do better this year, they don’t have to improve because their event it already great, but it would be awesome if they have some surprises under wraps.

02. Valley Trail Challenge 6

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Wet and Wild, the non-perverted way. Photo Credit: Active Pinas.

Trail Running is my favorite genre of running, so it’s a no-brainer that Valley Trail Challenge will always place high on my list. The original plan was to join this event as my first ultramarathon by running the 50k category. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, I had do pick the 25k category. It was the same route as last year but more than 4 kilometers shorter and with some difference on parts of the trail because of the current landscaping in Nuvali. What made it feel different from last year is that this time it rained hard and that added challenge as the trail became muddy and slippery. I enjoyed the experience of running the trail while raining, it’s challenging and refreshing. This year, I’ll try to join the 50k category and to finally explore the whole Nuvali trail.

01. Philippine Marine Corp. Marathon 2

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Tough x Rough?

I wanted to join the inaugural Philippine Marine Corp Marathon last year becuase of the interesting venue. But, I don’t wanna join it alone because it’s too far away from home. This year, I finally convinced 2 office mates to join, and it’s finally a reality. Unfortunately, one of us wasn’t able to join because of some circumstance we don’t know and it was only Alvin and I who pushed through (feels like the first time I joined a half-marathon, Alvin is my first running buddy and it’s the two of us again).  The race starts and ends at the Marine Base in Ternate, Cavite and the race route is around the part of Mounts Palay-Palay–Mataas-na-Gulod Protected Landscape. And the event did not disappoint, I love the race route, it’s the best running grounds for me this year. Sure, there’s like kilometers of uphills, but the beautiful scenery made the run enjoyable even if we just walk or jog slowly. We passed by the famous Kaybiang Tunnel, saw the wildlife (snakes, monkeys, hogs roaming free) and scenic side of Ternate, and it feels good to visit Boracay De Cavite again and finally take a dip at the beach. We only joined the 25k category, the full marathon is probably even more awesome and joining that category is already on my mind. Let’s wait and see if I can finally join again this year.

========

EPILOGUE:

The year 2016 has been a great year for me. So many surprises and got a lot of free stuff. I also had my first time for a lot of things. I ran my first marathon, first time to run on BGC, my first out-of-country trip, my first international run, first time to run in Ternate, first time to set foot in Cebu, and ran my first ultramarathon. Also had a few non-running, blogging activities that I enjoyed a lot. As for my view of the running scene, I feel like there has been a drop in participation compared to last year. Some running series that had 3 or more seasons like Energizer Night Run, Salomon City Trail, Rexona Run, Men’s Health Urbanathlon, Greenfield City Run, and Outbreak Manila did not have an event this year. For this year, I look forward to new running events, the first in a series like the highly anticipated arrival of the Spartan Race series in the Philippines as well as continue joining the events that I love as my yearly tradition. I will also try to renew my interest in photography, my first serious hobby, and join other activities that is related to the things interest me and like to do.

Posted in 42.195 kilometers, 42k, Marathon, Milo Marathon

Just an ordinary runner in a field of champions… 40th Milo Marathon Manila Eliminations

Milo Marathon, the oldest (since 1974) marathon event in the Philippines and considered by many as our version of the well-known Boston Marathon. This is the annual event where the fastest runners in the country gather and compete to become the very best like no one ever was. Okay, not really to become the very best like no one ever was, to be crowned the Milo Marathon King and Queen. Ever since I got seriously committed in running, I have always wondered what it would be like to run with the fastest, to be in the field of champions, to run on the same route. So, I joined Condura Skyway Marathon for my first marathon. The best of the best and the fastest non-elites in the running community also run that event, but it’s still does not have the same vibe as Milo Marathon. Finally, I had the chance to join a Milo Marathon event, my first one, the Manila eliminations. I prepared for it, trained properly, and even pondered the possibility of finally getting that sub-5 hour marathon PR that I want. I was very excited to run this event and when the day finally came, I was a bit confident and very eager to run.

This is a Rogue Rebel Run, I’m running alone and I did not bring a car to save money (because if I did, it would cost me at least 600 php compared to public transportation expenses of 200 php). I left home before 11 pm, rode a van to Ayala, and then a bus to SM Mall of Asia. It was still more than a couple of hours before the 42k gunstart and to be sure that I won’t get low on energy during the run, I ate a chicken fillet rice meal at the nearby  McDonald’s. En route to the activity area, a runner called me and started a conversation. His name is Rick Frias, he told me that he recognized me during my training runs in Batino and Ciudad De Calamba and he was also in the same van I rode. We parted ways as I explore the activity area and took pictures.

It was around 2:30 am when the marshals allowed the runners to approach the starting line. I was reunited with Rick and got separated after the marshal checkpoints (they’re very strict in checking the bibs of the participants). The long stretch of the road was occupied by thousands of marathoners, I positioned myself near the starting line, and the weather was humid, most of us were already sweating before the race even started. A few minutes before gunstart was the usual warm-up exercise as well as a send-off video (from a previous Milo Marathon) shown to motivate runners. Distracted by the video, I was unable to activate my new Soleus GPS One watch and when the race started, it was still searching for a satellite. Good thing I already started my Nike+ Running app as the timer counts down. After 100 meters or so, the watch finally locked on and started tracking, but I already crossed the starting line, so there’s a 100+ meter discrepancy between the watch and the smartphone app.

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Me, bib number 302, adjusting my earphones. Music is aids me in the long run. Photo Credit: Camiling Takboleros Photography.

The plan was to run a 6-7 minute per kilometer pace to conserve energy and starting re-hydrating on each stations after 6 kilometers. It was hard to overtake during the first kilometer because of the cramped space. It was around the CCP Complex area that most of the runners have sufficient space to run their intended pace. This is the same route as the previous Milo Marathons and Run United events, I like the mostly flat road from of Roxas Boulevard all the way to the Luneta U turn (in front of the Rizal statue) because it’s the right time to run fast and relaxed. But, the part going to Baclaran is what I disliked the most. It’s very dark and at one time, some of us hydrated on a water station at the wrong side of the road (it was for the runners heading back) and that prompted a runner to shout “ilawan nyo kasi” (get it properly lit) when the marshals told us to go to the other side. Who could blame him? most of us share the same sentiments because the area was poorly lit. There were also pedestrians crossing the road in the Baclaran area and all you can see of them are silhouettes that blend in the darkness. People could bump each other, some may trip and fall, and worse, the darkness can be the perfect opportunity for pickpockets.

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Somewhere between kilometer 14-16. This is where things started to get rough for me. Photo credit: Runaholic

By the time we passed City of Dreams and approaching the next U-Turn near the NAIA road-Coastal Mall intersection, a cool breeze of winds starts to blow by, a sign of the possible storm coming. It was a little worrying, so I sped up my pace a bit. Some time in the 18th kilometer, running in Sen Gil Puyat Avenue, I felt hunger at the worst possible time. I did not bring food with me, not even a small chocolate bar because I thought I ate enough before the race and will rely on just hydration and bananas. Unfortunately, there are no bananas on the hydration stations that I passed by. I slowed down significantly, my stomach aches like I’m having an ulcer attack or something. From that point of the Makati route, I started feeling bad, I feel a bit dizzy, weak, exhausted, and even had thoughts like saying to myself “Bakit ba ako sumali pa dito” (why did I even join this?) and “dapat nasa bahay nalang ako sa oras na ito at natutulog” (I should’ve been at home, sleeping at this time). I was even pondering if I should join another marathon or just stick to half-marathons after the race.

My condition seemed to normalize before going up Kalayaan flyover, I still feel exhausted, but stomach pain was waning. I got a bit of a boost going down the flyover, and then had more walks around BGC to regain stamina. It was still a jogging session with some walking in the Lawton Avenue area. I also poured cold water on my head and grabbed a cold sponge to keep my body cool. Finally, at the next U-Turn, Kilometer 28 at the area near the turn going to Bayani Road, I found the bananas. I consumed it quickly and continued re-hydrating with a cup of Gatorade and water. I feel much better and when Nike+ Running app notified me that I reached the 30th kilometer at 3 hours and 33 minutes, the possibility of getting a sub-5:00 marathon PR is within reach. I ran an average of 7m30s per kilometer from kilometer 32 to 38. There was a time when our pace faltered when the marshals decided to give the full stop to us instead of the motorists and that cost us precious seconds and affected our momentum (it’s hard to regain it when you rest). Returning to Makati, I started to lose speed again, I feel a tightening pain, like cramps, on my right thigh (It can be brushed off by walking properly). I also started feeling pain on my right ankle joint and under my right foot and that forced me to walk a lot, I’m back at a much slower pace of 8-9 minutes per kilometer. That along with the event’s kilometer markers not in sync with my GPS watch and smartphone app (more than a kilometer of discrepancy) was the moment that I decided to just finish the race without hope of the sub-5:00 finish. I still did short bursts of running, I tried to run before traffic lights run red, I still had thoughts of a second wind, but I just don’t have the same enthusiasm as before.

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I gave a small amount of energy to smile. At that time, my right thigh, ankle, and foot hurts, and I’m very exhausted. I walked and bowed my head after the photo was taken. Photo Credit: Running Photographers.

The last 3 kilometers of was the hardest, I walked longer, an re-hydrated too much making me feel bloated. I got myself showered by the fire truck volunteers and the sprinkler near the Mall of Asia area to cool my body.

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Me on the right trying to make an effort in the last 1+ kilometer by jogging extremely slow. Photo Credit: Active Pinas

Walking in the Mall of Asia route in the last kilometer was one of the most unsatisfying feeling I ever had in a race. I’m not ashamed, just a little bit disappointed that things did not turn out the way I want them to be. A group of finishers from the shorter distance passed by and asked us, “42k kayo” (are you 42k runners?), saying yes and seeing their reaction gives you that thought that you’re doing great because you’re doing something a lot of people can’t do or doesn’t have the courage to do (yet).

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With photographers and some spectators cheering us, it was worth giving the last amount of energy we had. Photo Credit: Day Spotted Photography.

There were some cheers from the spectators in the last 500 meters. It helped a bit, we did run, using our last burst of energy to smile for the cameras, and seeing the finish line just a few strides away, makes you happy that it’s going to be over.

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Just happy that I made it this far. Photo Credit: Run LIPA
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Just happy that I’m going to finish the race without serious injuries. Photo Credit: Aphionymous Norly.
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Just happy that it’ll be over in a few seconds. Photo Credit: Photo-Ops.
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Just happy that I’m going to become a two-time marathoner. Photo Credit: Photo-Ops.

There comes a time when we want to give our all to get what we want. I did not promise a sub-5:00 marathon PR, but I want it. I don’t care it’s a 04:59:49, as long as it’s a sub 5, that’s all. The 4oth Milo Marathon Manila Elims was not the time to give my all. At the time, I was thinking, if I give this a push, ignore the pain, and give everything I have, who’s got my back after crossing that finish line? No one! I’m alone in this event, I don’t have someone to take care of me or drive me home after the race. I’m going home, riding public transportation and I need to be able to stand and walk. Given Milo Marathon’s track record of serious runner injuries and deaths (I even witnessed one of the fallen runner lying inside an ambulance in the BGC area), I decided to play it safe. With the thought, I finally accepted the fact that I can finish this within the time limit, I won’t be satisfied, but I get to go home without serious injuries and get to fight (I mean, run) another day.

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Just happy that I finished the race and can comeback stronger than before. Photo Credit: Photo-Ops.

I crossed the finish line with an official gun time of 05:21:54 (chip time 05:21:00), rank 1,004 out of 2,097 marathoners. I like my first Milo Marathon run, I wasn’t able to perform my best, but it was a great learning experience. Before the race I was prepared, I trained properly, and had the excitement of a runner ready to run his first race. After the race, I felt like a runner on his way to marathon retirement. Former U.S.A. President, George W. Bush, said in a Runner’s World interview, “I learned that running can make you feel 10 years younger the day of the race and 10 years older the day after the race.” That quote best described my first Milo Marathon experience.

I was very tired and in pain when I walked to the activity area, I even forgot to stop my GPS watch and Nike+ Running app, only noticed it when I was about to claim my finisher’s kit. I walked around a bit to see what more freebies I can get or what drinks I can get for free. Unfortunately, my favorite, the Milo Nutri Up drinks were served hot, and the regular Milo served cold. Rick found me at the baggage claim area, he told m e he finished at 05:34, not bad for a first time marathoner. He went back to the activity area to take some photos, I told him I will follow after changing clothes, but I also stopped by at a nearby Starbucks to freshen up. Never found him again when I went to the activity area. I will run a marathon again and I will still try to get that Sub-5 PR I always wanted. I’m just gonna take it easy for now and recover.

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Luckily, I was able to get a loot bag. I heard that some runners, including Rick, did not get a loot bag because they ran out. I dunno why, there should be enough for all 42k runners.

On a sadder note, my smartphone’s micro SD card got damaged when my phone got wet at the sprinklers area (or maybe from the fire truck), so all the photos at the event are gone, including my favorite photos.

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This year’s medal is one of the best-looking medals I ever had. It’s better than the Condura Skyway Marathon 2016 medal.
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The Finisher’s towel. Something I can use for future marathons and ultramarathons.
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My official finish time is 05:21, but my watch recorded 05:26 at 43.3 km. Take note that I stopped the timer at the finishers kit area, so I probably walked hundreds of meters, but there’s still a discrepancy between the event’s kilometer marker and my GPS watch.
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As with my GPS watch, I stopped my Nike+ Running app at the finisher’s kit area. According to the app, I finished 42 km at 05:05:53. I dunno why, but there’s always a 500m discrepancy between the race markers and the GPS watch and running app. Even in other places like the Skyway. At least the GPS watch and smartphone app yield close results with only 100 meter or less difference.
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The race route as recorder by Nike+ Running app.

The official Milo Marathon Manila Eliminations 42k results can be seen here: https://www.milo.com.ph/sites/milo_philippines2/files/media/40th%20National%20MILO%20Marathon%20Leg%203%20-%20Manila%20Overall%20Full%20Marathon.pdf

Posted in 10k, 21k, 42.195 kilometers, 42k, half-marathon, Marathon, Uncategorized

Paradise revisited: 7-Eleven Philippines made another successful run at the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon

In the past few years, 7-Eleven Philippines has created a stable of successful runners. In fact, the Milo Marathon Queen, Mary Joy Tabal, ran a half-marathon race for the team in Seoul and won. Since 2014, Team 7-Eleven Philippines’ runners has been winning races internationally and they’re winning it like it has become a yearly tradition.

In order to join the team, runners must first join the 7-Eleven Run series. The top 3 winners of the 21k and 42k categories will have the opportunity to run in Phuket. As for me, I was lucky enough that my 7-Eleven race report article in this blog was noticed and I was given the opportunity to join them as the blogger of the social media group. And aside from witnessing the race live, I was also given the chance to run the 10.5k category to experience the event. So, read on to know the full story, because it’s another good one to add to the record books.

INTRODUCING… TEAM 7-Eleven Philippines Batch 2016

This is the 2nd time 7-Eleven Philippines sent runners to Phuket (paradise revisited). This year’s batch consists of returning members, Mario Maglinao, Cristabel Martes, Eugine Postrado, Gregg Osorio, and Mark Anthony Oximar. And the new bloods, Richard Salaño, Argel Mendoza, Jho-ann Banayag, Lany Cardona, April Diaz, and Nhea Ann Barcena. It’s worth noting that Cristabel Martes was a former Milo Marathon Queen and the National Female Marathon record-holder, and Jho-ann Banayag was also a former Milo Marathon Queen and SEA Games Champion. How awesome is that? it’s like having living legends in your team line-up.

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Top (from left to right) Mario Maglinao, Argel Mendoza, Eugine Postrado, Gregg Osorio, Mark Anthony Oximar, and Richard Salaño. Bottom (from left to right) Jhoan Banayag, Lany Cardona, April Diaz, Nhea Ann Barcena, Cristabel Martes.

The runners were also joined by the 7-Eleven Philippines staff/support group/cheering squad, led by Project Head, Michelle Saludes and General Merchandise Division Head, Jose Ang jr. And the social media group, Jeff Lo of pinoyfitness.com, Paulo Fernandez and Kristian Encarnacion of Solar Sports, and blogger/runner, The Rogue Rebel, Gian Carlo Rodil.

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The runners with the 7-Eleven staff and the social media group.

RACE DAY 1 (June 4)

The first day of the event was for the 2km Kids Run, the 5km Run and Community Walk, and the 10.5k Run. Sir Jose, Sir Bernie, and Mam Joselle ran ran the 5k, and I ran 10.5k.

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The fun runners. We run for fun not to compete.
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Welcome to Laguna Phuket.
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The Start/Finish line as seen from a distance.
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A scenic view right beside the event site.

The event started at 5pm (6pm Manila time), it’s a sunset run, so it’s going to be a good run.

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A little bit of confident selfie at the starting line.
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Smiles and excitement minutes before the gun start.

Over 1,400 participants in the 10.5 category and everyone was excited to run, positive vibes emanate the starting line as the timer initiating the run was counting down. The run started slow and the road was congested, it took some time for the faster runners to overtake and make some breathing room.

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Slow and smooth start.

The only problem during the run was the weather, it’s hot and very similar to Manila temperature. Good thing that the event has proper hydration stations and ice-cold sponges are available for that much needed cool down. The race route is nice, some parts are scenic (I can even see the beach), and there are some long straight roads to make up for the loss momentum on the uphill segments of the route.

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The heat is on!
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Trees provide that much needed shade and fresh air.
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Coconut trees and a beach can be seen in this scenic part of the route.
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I’m not here to run fast or make a new PR. I’m here to enjoy my first international run. So, selfie time!

I finished the race at 01:04:12. It did cross my mind to do a Sub-1, but it was hot and I just decided to run a smooth pace, slow down to take some photos, and just enjoy the scenery. The event has an international appeal, the majority of the participants are foreigners, from countries like Singapore, China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, and more. It was a fun race and I enjoyed it a lot, truly fits the ‘run paradise’ theme, and I highly recommend it for first time runners.

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It was so well organized, they even serve post race meals instead of the usual drinks and light snacks we get in most local running events.
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5k (Sir Bernie) and 10.5k (Me) Finishers.
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Not fond of the medal design, but I enjoyed the run, so the medal is an afterthought.

 

RACE DAY 2 (June 5)

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A pre-race prayer led by Mam Rowena at the Chabana Hotel lobby.
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Our Team Jacket and ASICS Team Shirt.
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The official race venue of the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon.

The 2nd day is the main event, the Half-Marathon and the Full Marathon. This time around, I’m a spectator, part of the support team, and a photographer.

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Go Team 7-Eleven Philippines.

Mario Maglinao, Eugine Postrado, Argel Mendoza, Lany Cardona, and April Diaz are the runners for Marathon which started at 4:30 am.

Richard Salaño, Mark Anthony Oximar, Gregg Osorio, Cristabel Martes, Jho-an Banayag, and Nhea Ann Barcena will be running the Half-Marathon an hour later (Jeff Lo also ran the half-marathon just for fun).

THE HALF-MARATHON (21k)

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The Half-Marathon starting line. See if you can spot the soon-to-be 21k overall champion.
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Is it possible that Mr. Salaño is foreseeing his victory? Look at those eyes, it’s like his warging.

Whilst the Marathon started on time, the Half-Marathon was delayed a little bit because the Princess of Thailand will be running and she probably got late  due to traffic. Everyone in the event, the spectators, runners, and event the event photographers were politely asked to not take photos of the Princess. As a sign of respect, everyone seemed to have complied. When the Princess finally arrived, she was joined by a few runners (probably some friends or family), a personal photographer, as the police escort them towards the starting line. She was then surrounded by personal bodyguards who will be running alongside (it’s quite a sight to see a VIP surrounded by guards, think King Joffrey and his Kingsguard, but without the intimidating armor, the bad-assery of medieval weapons, and Sandor Clegane).

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The Princess arrives. Unfortunately, everyone is not allowed to take photos of her.

The race started with the Princess having a few minutes head start and the announcer said the the runners don’t have to worry about passing her during the race (and if that was King Joffrey, he’ll probably shoot a crossbow bolt on your rear end).

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Richard Salaño on full blast!
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That speed though…

I had more than an hour to kill before the first runner crosses the finish line. So, I walked around the area nearby, just a quick stroll and sightseeing. I returned to the event site, near the finish line as the spectators await the first runner to arrive. Then came the announcement as the first runner from the half-marathon is only a few kilometers away from victory. The American announcer is enticing the crowd, creating suspense. And when the announcer finally said the leading runner is from the Philippines, followed by the word ‘maybe,’ (to stir up excitement and suspense) the 7-Eleven Philippines support/cheering squad erupted with joy, they started clapping and cheering louder, especially when the name Salaño was mentioned (even before the runner was on sight). I can hear and feel their excitement, they’re ecstatic. I’m excited too, knowing that one of us is just a few strides away from winning. Then I can hear their cheers getting louder and louder. They can see Salaño approaching, I can’t because the start/finish line arch is blocking my view. The best I can do is wait and capture his moment as he crosses the finish line. So, I’ll let my photos below tell you what I saw…

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Almost there….
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It’s going to be Legen… wait for it…. Dary!
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Legendary!

See that? it’s the moment! the stuff of legends, the result of hard work and dedication. Richard Salaño, the first runner to cross the finish line with an official time of 01:15:18. He is Laguna Phuket Internation Marathon 2016’s Half-Marathon Overall Champion.

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The runner who gives his all, is the runner who gets the sweetest victory.
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The face of Hard Work and Dedication.
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And the new half-marathon champion of LPIM 2016… from the Philippines…

After taking the photo above, I greeted and congratulated Richard. I also asked him if that amazing 1:15:18 time is a new PR. He said, no, his current PR is 1:10. How amazing is that? want to be more impressed? he actually beat 3 Kenyans at 7-Eleven Run 2016 to get here.

And the winning doesn’t stop there. Team members Gregg Osorio and Mark Anthony Oximar were right behind him, securing 3rd and 4th place respectively.

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Osorio finished at 1:19:05. 3rd place overall, 3rd place in male category, and 2nd place in his age group.
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Oximar finished at 1:20:23. 4th place overall, 4th in the male category, and 3rd place in his age group.

Moving to the Female category, the first woman to finish the half-marathon was Vivian Tang from Singapore who crossed the finish line at 1:27:11. The defending champion, our very own Cristabel Martes finished at 2nd place with an official time of 1:28:13.

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Martes finished the race at 1:28:13, placing her 10th overall, 2nd in the female category, and 1st in her age group.
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Still the National Record Holder, Cristabel Martes.

Just a minute behind her is another team member, Jho-An Banayag taking 3rd place.

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The former Milo Marathon Queen and SEA Games Champion, Jho-an Banayag. She finished the race at 1:29:17. She ranked 12th place overall, 3rd in the female category, and 2nd in her age group.

Triathlete and last year’s Run United 32k Champion, Nhea Ann Barcena, put up a noble effort and finished at 1:35:10, ranking 5th in the female category.

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That smile. Barcena finished at 1:35:10. She ranked 21st overall, 5th in the female category, and 4th in her age group.

THE MARATHON (42k)

Moving to the Marathon Category, there is a new champion. Koji Nishizawa from Japan finished the race at 2:37:53. Congratulations to the new champion.

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The new Marathon Champion, Nishizawa, finished the race at 2:37:53.
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Pain is temporary, glory is forever.

Our defending champion, ‘Super’ Mario Maglinao, fell to 3rd place overall with an official time of 2:49:54. He may not have won this time, but he put up a good fight and there’s always next year to look forward to.

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Nhea Ann Barcena congratulating our champion.
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Heart of a Champion.
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Maglinao finished 3rd place overall with an official time of 2:49:54. He ranks 3rd in the male category and 2nd in his age group.

Eugine Postrado and Argel Mendoza secured the 4th and 5th place, respectively. Mendoza finished the race at 3:08:50 and also ranked 1st in his age group, whilst Postrado finish at 2:55:36 and got 3rd place.

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Mendoza (left) ranked 5th overall, 5th in the male category, and 1st in his age group. Postrado (right) in 4th place overall, 4th in the male category, and 3rd in his age group.
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Argel, floating in the air while checking the time. It’s levitation, holmes!
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To the finish…

In the Female Marathon category, April Rose Diaz finished the race at 3:35:21. She ranked 23rd overall, 4th in the female category, and 2nd in her age group.

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I wasn’t able to take photos of April during the race because I couldn’t find her and the sidelines were getting crowded by spectators.

And finally, saving the best for last. This year’s Laguna Phuket International Marathon Female Champion, another newcomer to the team, Lany Cardona. This year’s Marathon Queen, Lany crossed the finish line at 3:23:00.

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The new Marathon Queen of Laguna Phuket International Marathon 2016.
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Cardona finished the race at 3:23:00. Ranking 10th overall, 1st in the female category, and 1st in her age group.

So, that it for the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon. All of the runners bagged awards. Our runners dominated the Half-Marathon category including the overall championship. We also won the Marathon female category. It’s very similar to last year’s sweep, just in reverse (our 42k champion is now a female and the 21k champ is now male). And if the trend continues next year, it’s gonna be another successful run (pun intended) for Team 7-Eleven Philippines again. If that’s the case, the team might as well be synonymous to the words consistency and winning streak.

The support from 7-Eleven Philippines staff is amazing, it’s part of the runners’ success. They take care of you, they cheer loudly for you to boost your morale, and most importantly, they make sure you have fun and a good time. Want to be part of the Team 7-Eleven Philippines? all you have to do is join the 7-Eleven Run series (usually scheduled on the first month every year), do your best to make it to the top 3 of the 21k and 42k categories, and you’re in. Bringing out the best in you is what the team encourages. Work hard, dedicate yourself to your passion, and give it your all. The next international half-marathon or marathon champion could be you.

Thanks to Philippine Seven Corporation (7-Eleven Philippines) and their major sponsors, Safeguard, Selecta, Pocari Sweat, Del Monte, Nature Spring, Gatorade, Powerade, and Summit Water for the all-expense-paid trip and for supporting our runners and giving them the chance to shine in the international marathon scene. See you on the next 7-Eleven Run.

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Thank you for the ample freebies, favorite refreshments, and the eye-catching, color-themed singlets.
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The 21k Champion.
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The 42k Female Champion.
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The Champions of the Univers… I, mean LPIM 2016.
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The runners and their awards. Everyone’s a winner. Even I feel like a winner with the presence of the great athletes.
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Numbah 1!…The runners and the 7-Eleven Philippines staff/support/cheering squad.

But, the story doesn’t end here. Part 2 of my blog will be the chronicles of the Phuket trip. What I saw, what we did, the whole experience. Just go here: https://theroguerebel.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/this-one-time-at-phuket/

Posted in 42.195 kilometers, 42k, Marathon

To 42.195 kilometers and beyond!!!… My first marathon at Condura Skyway Marathon 2016

To any serious runner, all roads lead to 42k. It is the culmination of everything, from the very day you decided to get your lazy a$s off the couch and start running, to your very first participation in a running event, to that point that you’re getting faster, stronger, and joined even more events, and to that very day you decided it’s time to run your first marathon. A lot of people know that running a marathon is hard and to most people, impossible. Even walking beyond 10 kilometers is an excruciating experience for the lazy ones. But, if you really work hard, train properly, and eat the right foods and supplements, it will be a much easier experience.

Road to 42k…

Some time last year, I started saving money to prepare for my first marathon. I’m proud to say that I am self-funded and never asked anyone for anything. I paid for my registration fee and for the equipment that I need. That is one of the special things in the decision to run a marathon, you chose to do it because you want to, nobody forced you to join, so you cover the expenses and train for it, no excuses. December 2015, the road to 42k training officially started in the PNPA Uphill Challenge. In that race, I tried to find a comfortable and stamina-efficient pace and avoid injuries, especially the cramps on my calves. During and after the race, I think that I found that pace I’ve been looking for. I continued training throughout December and January with 10-14 kilometer runs on Sundays, 8-10+ kilometer runs on Wednesdays, and some random short runs on a Monday or a Friday. Other training routines include 5-minute plank exercises daily (but, some times I can only do 3-6 of those exercises a week), dumbbell lifts at least once or twice a week, burpees and other leg exercises at least once a week. I also almost always take the stairs in the office, 6 floors, and that includes comfort room breaks 2-4 times a day from the 6th floor to the ground floor and back. I also ran the half-marathon of the 7-Eleven Run 2016 as an appetizer and I also attempted to beat my previous PR (which I unfortunately failed).

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One of my Wednesday morning training runs in Filinvest City. I actually use my 90 minute break time for this and return to work until 9am. I mostly run alone, but some times I have an officemate running buddy.
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My race gear: umbro running shorts, red bull arm sleeves, fitletic racing belt with two 16 oz bottle add-ons, avantree track pouch, sony mdr 200 earphones, runnr zero blister socks, Saucony Ride 7 Viziglo.

I was very confident with my training and preparation and I’m very fired up, like a hungry athlete who wanted to become world champion (or like a hungry cat eyeing that delicious tilapia dinner on top of the fridge… very much like that). And for my final preparation, I took a 3-day vacation leave for proper rest (sleep days before race day is very important) and also eat a lot, but not too much that I gain the unnecessary weight that’ll slow me down.

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My favorite breakfast. Good thing I burn calories easy.
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Leaving home as a runner….

When the day comes…

7th of February, 2016. The moment of truth. I was very excited and nervous at the same time. I was a bit overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the event. The who’s who and the best of the running community are here, the elites, triathletes, the fast recreational runners, and the veterans. There are also some celebrities and race directors of other race organizing firms in the event. This is how big the Condura Skyway Marathon is.

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The main stage. I arrived at the race village before 11 pm.

As the 42k runners are being called to approach the starting line, being the Rogue Rebel Runner (running alone) for this event only gives me the jitters.

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The crowded street of Spectrum Midway, road to Northgate Cyberzone.
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squeezing through the long waves of runners.
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The first wave.
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Walking towards the starting line.

When the clock hits midnight…

It was a long walk and squeezing through the waves of runners towards the starting line. Because of the thousands of runners, it’s hard to identify if I am standing and waiting along with the right wave. I just look around at the bib numbers of the runners. And then the first wave was released at 12 midnight. The wave I’m in, we crossed the starting line at 12:04 am, so, I started my Nike Running app at the time I crossed the starting line to match it closely with my chip time.

It was hard to overtake because of the cramped space and the uphill parts of the Skyway, but I’m fine with a slow start because I was targeting a stamina-efficient pace as planned. The road only got a wider by the time we pass by Sucat or around the 7-10th kilometer. By the time I reached the Bicutan area, it rained a bit, the temperature got a bit more chilly, but it’s a good thing because it cooled down our bodies. I was doing a rhythmic pace, since the 6th kilometer, alternating between brisk walking and running and using my smartphone’s music player as the timer. It was very effective because by the time I reached the 18th kilometer, my calf cramps never made its existence known. But, to be sure, I applied some Salonpas gel on my calves (which I also stupidly applied on my face because I forgot to wipe it off my hands) before climbing the uphill part of the Skyway going to the NAIA 3 road. I enjoyed the scenic city scape around the area of NAIA and Makati, it’s the first time I reached this point and you can see the beautiful lights of City of Dreams Manila from the horizon (it’s kinda like a very very small Las Vegas scene). There are also some planes taking off and landing in NAIA and you can feel the sound and vibration.  Around the kilometer 23, I started to slow down significantly. I feel very tired and exhausted, and couldn’t run at the same rhythm like before. I grew tired of listening to music (also because of the low volume and overall poor quality of the Sony MDR-AS200 earphones), so I turned it off.

Regret or Forget….

It was that time that I’m feeling the torturous part of running a marathon. I urinate frequently because I started to over hydrate myself with water and Gatorade. There was even one time that I pissed on a wall because I can’t hold it anymore. By the time I reached the 30th kilometer, I slowed down significantly. I can only run for a few hundred meters, even less most of the time, and had a feeling that I need to poop and urinate all the time. Cramps didn’t kick in (but to be sure, I also had my calves sprayed with liniment from the medics), but my soles started to hurt because of those hours of ground pounding and I feel pinching pain on my thighs. There was even a time where I stared at a stretcher near the medic stations and imagined that I just lie down and rest hard. That was the part where I once again questioned myself, “what the f*ck am I doing  here?” and “why did I join this?.”

Then I switch to a different strategy, I pick a sign board or some thing along the way that will initiate my run and slow down to a walk, then repeat the process. For example, I see a medic van in the distance and a speed limit sign. What I do is I start running by the time I align with the sign and then slow down to a walk by the time I reach the medic van. It worked, according to my running app, I had a surge of speed from kilometer 35-40. It’s wasn’t as fast the first half of the race, but it was good enough. It was also at the last 6 kilometers, when I saw my running app time is still under 4 1/2 hours, hence the motivation to speed up a bit. I did try my best to finish with a Sub-5 PR, but unfortunately, the last 2 kilometers felt like forever. The long stretch of road feels like an eternity to run, my whole body is tired, even my shoulders hurt. I even thought my running app stopped working because the distance numbers doesn’t seem to be counting anymore, but in reality, I was really moving slow.

All or nothing…. or something in-between

So, I just dropped the whole Sub-5 PR idea, and moved without risking my body. I didn’t even run much at the last hundreds of meters. I jogged all the way to the finish line. And that was it. I am officially a marathoner. Finished at 05:09:50, gun time. For PR, my chip time is 05:05:47. I felt the most painful beating ever. I was very tired and as I walk back to the race village, my feet hurts so much I even stopped and sit for a few minutes before walking again. I was in pain, but it felt good.

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That brief moment when I ignore the pain and smile for my victory. Photo credit: Team Foot-Ah
Condura Skyway Marathon 2016
Chip time: 05:05:47. Rank 853 out of 3,550 runners. Photo Credit: pinoyfitness.com

More than a feeling…

Finishing a marathon is unlike anything in the world of athletics. It’s all about you discovering and unleashing your very best, your peak performance, the very limits of your physical and mental conditioning. The saying “pain is temporary, glory is forever” is the one of the best way to describe the whole experience. I accomplished one of the best challenges in life. I even became the very first marathoner in my family history and I hope that someday, someone from the family will also run a marathon and break my record. Now, I’m ready for more marathons in the future, maybe break my PR, and ultramarathons are not that far from my mind as well.

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….Returned home as a marathoner
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The symbol of my achievement…

FALLEN HEROES…

It’s sad to hear that 2 fellow runners have died in the event. I haven’t witnessed it, but I heard several eyewitness accounts. Manases Alfon Jr. from Cebu, a 38-year old call center employee who ran the marathon, and 40 year-old,  Major Arnold Lubang who ran the half-marathon. Both were good men, achievers, and experienced runners. It’s unfortunate that they had to leave the world in a very untimely manner. They were laid to rest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. For more information about the live of the fallen heroes, go here: https://www.facebook.com/conduraskywaymarathon/photos/a.186035864745910.54301.182043201811843/1283062185043267/?type=3&theater

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R.I.P. fellow runners. Photo from The Condura Skyway Marathon FB page.

RUNdom NOTES:

  • The marathon experience was great, but the event itself is average at best compared to last year. Some runners said there were no fireworks before the race to fire up the runners’ excitement even more. The medals, especially the 42k medal, is smaller in size. One runner initiated a conversation with me and pointed out that fact. I agreed, one of the reasons I chose this event was to get one of the best marathon medals ever, it turned out to be inferior than the previous year’s medal. The event also lacks photographers and that is a big disappointment for first time marathoners like me because we want the moments of our very first marathon captured. Thanks for the efforts of the volunteer photographers, but there should also be official photographers like last year. And finally, one of the biggest complaints about the event was the 7-hour time limit. It was announced at a time when a lot of runners already registered for the 42k category and that pissed off a lot of people. This is probably the reason some runners to slip through and joined the earlier waves (which was already messy in the first place). I do hope that the organizers do better next time. This is one of the most recognized and expensive events in the country and people want to get their money’s worth.
  • For the official results (files are in .pdf format), go here: http://runrio.com/2016/02/condura-skyway-marathon-2016-official-overall-results/
  • My training and preparation worked well. I am proud of my first marathon PR. I’m even more proud that I was able to recover quickly. Sure, I walked slowly, like a limping zombie to our car which was parked in Festival Mall after the race. But, I was able to work the next day when I previously thought that I might need a sick leave for post-race pain or injuries. By Tuesday, I feel better and I was able to go for a Wednesday morning recovery run during my break. Unfortunately, one minor injury that is still visible, but less painful is this…

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    Just a small, hardened blister and a black right toe.
  • I know, it took two weeks, too long to write this race report. Why? because I want to enjoy my rest and recovery time and I also joined and ran for the first time, with my significant other in a pre-valentines and free running event. JUST IN LOVE, Calamba City Love Run 2016. No need for a timing chip here, but, they are giving away finisher shirts for the first 250 couples to cross the finish line. Unfortunately, we failed this city.

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    Slow run for me, but we’re together, so it doesn’t matter.
  • Supplements that I took  5 days before the race: Enervon C, Enervon Activ, Vitamin B Complex, and Ferrous Sulfate.