Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: The Start of My Fitness Journey

Year 2009 indeed was a very memorable and active year for me both in my professional and personal life. I am happy about the outcome as this year has given me a sense of accomplishment in both worlds. This year, I can say that I managed to balance work and play. I was able to focus in achieving some of my key goals and objectives. As a result, I got two promotions at work and I was able to finish a full marathon this year, and I lost 11 lbs.

In 2008, I was not able to focus on my fitness activity, I was on and off in the gym and don’t have a clear focus and discipline to pursue it. This year, I was able to focus on two activities – biking and running. I started to ride again in February and used that as my main fitness activity. In March, I joined the Condura Run, which was my first official race doing a 10k run. From then on I enjoyed running and included that in my fitness regimen. I run at least 4 times a week, and rode every Saturday. My total mileage for running was 646.21 km and 1035.30 km for biking. Too many injuries for me this year and both knees had it. I have learned from my mistakes, and hopefully, I stay injury free next year.

A lot of “My First” this year, that was joining the following distances in running: 10k, 21k, 42k, and joining one MTB race. Together with my friends, we created the Gone Running Club, we thought of putting up one so that we can all motivate each other to continue what we started. We ended the year with a total mileage of 10,178.73 km.

I am grateful with all the friends I met in running, I was surprised to learn that it was a big community already here in the Philippines. Thanks to people who were very supportive to all of us who were new to running. I learned a lot from their experiences which they have written in their blogs and that also encouraged me to create my own blog site. I was able to make friends with some of their members, and hopefully I meet more of them in the future runs. Thanks again.

For next year, I have set my goals already here they are:

1. To achieve a sub 50 for a 10k run.
2. To achieve a sub 2 hrs for a 21k run.
3. To achieve a sub 4:30 hours for a 42k run.
4. To do my first duathlon.
5. To lose 16 lbs.
6. and to stay injury-free.

Most of this are aggressive goals for me, I just hope I can keep up with it.

This year was a start of my fitness journey and both running and biking has become a way of life. I hope to continue this and that I may be able to share my experiences to everyone and encourage others to start living a healthy life. Happy New Year to all and God Bless you!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Keep on Running

Last week was a no run week for me as I opted to give my left leg more rest. Problem was, last week was filled with Christmas parties and I had more calories stored that were unused and I ended up gaining 4 lbs (that was fast!). This week, I started to run again, I ran a slow 5k last Monday at 7:01 min/km pace finishing at 35 min. Still have some pain on my inner left knee and a muscle tear on my hamstring. I got this injury after my marathon in BKK last November. Wednesday, I ran 6k with an improved pace of 6:22 min/km, I felt good in this run, there was slight pain but manageable. I was surprised that I was able to maintain a good pace. In the past, I have been running at 7:00 to 7:30. I got motivated, but mindful not to rush as I am just recuperating and don’t want the injury to come back.

Today (Thursday), I went for an afternoon run after visiting my sister’s house. My brother in law prepared an Ethiopian coffee and had one prior to my run. I went to UPLB campus and as I parked, I saw Dante, a batch mate since grade school who is a triathlete and a member of the UP Trantados. He joined me in my run and as we took off, we saw his friend (Anthony – “Tonio”) who was training for the Condura Run in February, he will be running a 42km. Our pace was between 6:00 – 6:40 and it was a conversation pace for them while for me, I focused on my breathing in order to last the planned 8k route at a maintained pace. At the 7th km, Dante and Tonio started to pick up the pace and saw Dante sprinting his last 300m while Tonio maintained his pace as he planned to run 24km. As for me, I ended up completing a 9km run at an average pace of 6:33 finishing in 59 min. No major pains, and I was happy with the result.

It’s Christmas Season and a lot of parties, a lot of calories to burn. Let us keep on running and stay fit! Merry Christmas to Everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gone Running in Makiling

Two weeks ago, I invited the GRC group to join the Makiling Nature Run in UP Los Banos in Dec 13, 2009. We have decided to join this event since some of us missed the Makiling Challenge ’09 in September. The race started a bit late, If I recall it right the 16k runners started 15 minutes late from the planned start time at 6:00 am, followed by the 10k runners and 5 k runners with an interval of 15 minutes. The course was challenging since the route will go up to Jamboree Road, Pook ni Maria Makiling, and National Art Center. On the way back, though you expect all downhill, there was a last uphill climb going to forestry with turnaround after the Infirmary hospital going down to women’s dormitory.

I was not supposed to run since I declined 3 days before the event due to my muscle tear in my left calf. I intended to just provide morale support to the group. However, when I got to the site Sunday morning, I felt the urge to join and do a 10km. I was just so stubborn to ignore the pain and didn’t mind what will happen at the end of the race. After the 1st km, I was seriously thinking of stopping and getting out of the race due to the pain on my left calf and shin and that it might aggravate it further. I took a walk break to shake it off on the first uphill climb at Kanluran Road, after a while the pain has become bearable so I decided to continue.

The event was not as big in terms of participants as compared to the races at the Fort, but I must say that the organizers has done a good job in carrying out their task during the event.

Some of the good points were:

1. Sufficient water aid stations,.
2. Marshalls were assigned on designated area to guide runners on the right direction.
3. Marshalls on bike were there to monitor runners and provide support as needed.
4. The route was good since runners get to run at Mt Makiling. 16k runners were able to go to National Arts Center.
5. Distribution of singlets were orderly, sorted per sizes.

Negative points

1. Late start
2. No km markers
3. The distance was short of 1km for 10k, and around 1.5km for the 16k runners.
4. Race bib was made of oslo paper/thick bond paper. It easily tear off as it gets wet. At the finish line, the runners need to shout their number as the time recorder manually record the result.

The event was good, I think attendance reached around 1,000 runners or less. The weather was good and everybody seem to enjoy their run. I hope more races are held in UPLB and try different routes.

Some Photos during the event.

Waiting for gun start: Ronald (16k), Greg (10k), Jun (10k), Raymond (10k), Jay (16k)

About to start

Jun (finishing 10th) and Greg (finishing 5th)

Raymond Canta

Knight Runner

Jay Chavez

Ronald Valdez

What an inspiration! Nothing is impossible with strong will and determination. This man finished his 10k run. At the last 25m stretch, he hopped until he reaches the finish line.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Work and Play

It was an early morning ride from Manila to Baguio for our 2010 strategic planning which was held at Baguio Country Club in Dec 2-5, 2009. We had a late lunch as soon as we arrived and immediately after we proceeded to the conference room to start the planning session. It was an outright presentation of objectives and directions to guide everyone on the proceedings of the session. It was an activity full of interaction and I myself have engaged in some discussions related to Sales and Marketing, when I am in fact in the field of Supply Chain. Well, that was the point of it all, to be engaged in the discussions and plans of other Business Unit (BU) as it was not intended for BU heads to present their plans only but to engage themselves in the different strategies of different BUs for alignment.

First day was a long day, but Me and Mike D. (the Transformer) planned for a morning run in the cold and beautiful city of Baguio. Given the busy schedule, we took a time off to go out and do our morning runs. We slept around 12 mn the and woke up at 5:00 am, got up and geared up and took off at 5:30am. We did a very slow pace (conversational pace) and have talked about a lot of stuff (work, life, insights, and even personal stuff). It was a recovery run for me since I just finished another half marathon (21km) last Nov. 29 and my legs were a bit stiff, that after finishing my full marathon a week before (Nov. 22).

We finished a good 6 km jog enough to energize ourselves for the day’s activity. We took our breakfast, cleaned up, and got ready in time for Day 2’s session. The morning run felt good and it kept us energized for the day’s activity. We were active the whole day and stayed engaged the whole time. The meeting lasted a bit later around 9pm and had late dinner, but the long hours didn’t matter to us as we came prepared both physically and mentally.

A long day indeed, but I was programmed to run the following day. Me and Mike planned for a 10km run this time and invited some of the guys to join us (those who failed to join the first day run). Same routine, woke up at 5am, and took off at 5:30 am. I used a different route, we started at Camp John Hay and went around in some portions of the City. I was measuring the distance in such a way that we will be back in the club at exactly 10km. I texted Ric (EHS Manager-Sales & Distribution) before we took off, and asked if they will join, but He replied to me when we were 2km away already. Good thing, they still continued with their run. He was with Jomel (EHS Manager-Factory). It was a non conversational run supposedly for me and Mike so that we can run our pace, the first 3km was uphill and was difficult really to set a faster pace. I just took it lightly as my hamstring was feeling some pain so I just did a gradual pace and took some walk breaks. It was not intended to be a tempo run or a race pace, enough to keep the mileage.

As we were heading back, I saw Gilbert (Service Manager) doing his own morning walk, I was glad that at least there were 5 of us awake in the early morning doing our exercise. Moving on, I figured that we were short by 800 m reaching the club house. So I immediately told Mike and told him that we were short, and that we have to complete it. So off we went for an extra km and met up with Ric, Jomel, and Gilbert. It was a good feeling to see more of us running, I then took the opportunity to indoctrinate the 3 (Ric, Jomel, and Gilbert) that they are now part of the official runners of CCAC (Concepcion Carrier Airconditioning Company). They have the challenge to run the 10k in the Condura Run in February 2010. Let’s see their progress by then. We did have fun and off we went to face Day 3 activities.

Some Key Learnings:

1. It can be done – most of us think that time is a problem to start any fitness activity because of work, priority, and other activities. By accepting the fact that a healthy living entails some fitness activities, then you will make time for it. A 30 min or an hour of your time each day will not hurt. Try it, you may find yourself permanently putting fitness into your daily schedule.

2. A healthy body, a healthy mind – starting the day with a good exercise provides an extra kick in the day ahead. Have you experienced feeling ready to take the day’s challenges because you are energized? You become attentive, mentally stimulated and engaged the whole day and not letting any problem pass unresolved.

3. Running friends – it surely motivates a person to engage in fitness activities especially if you have friends to train or exercise with. Find a group or a friend to run or exercise with. You need a boost once in a while. Keep track of your progress as well it will help you to become conscious of your fitness program.
4. Work, Life, Balance – for us professionals and busy bodies, we are sometimes caught up with the busy schedule at work, but this should not stop us to make time for our personal activities. Don’t be a slave of your work, but instead, try to find time to stay fit and healthy. At the end of the day this will help you perform better at work.

Knight Runner leading the way..

Downhill with Jomel, Mike, and Gilbert

Fun moment with Jomel, Ric, and Gilbert.

Ready for the day's activities. With Mike, Gilbert, Jomel, and Ric.

Friday, December 4, 2009

How I Finished my First Marathon

To me it was such an achievement to have completed my first Marathon. Looking back (as I engage in being active again in my fitness activities), there were times that I struggled in every event that I took such as my first Mountain Bike Trail, my first 10km and my first half marathon. Struggled in the sense that I have felt so stressed out that I “hit the wall”, gasped for air, and the numerous knee and leg pains after each event. I knew that as a beginner, I was bound to experience those pains since my body needed to adjust to the level of physical activities that I am getting into. Plus of course the lack of understanding on how to prepare for such event. As I learn new things in every event that I joined, I had my own share on the pie of those athletes who gets injured due to improper training, and running too fast too soon, and among other things.

Preparation and proper training is key in every event. Especially in joining a full marathon, it is important that you gain enough mileage and follow a sound training plan to help you finish your goal. However in some cases, there are certain constraints (injury, illness, time to train, weather, lack of motivation, etc..) that hinders you from following your training plan to the letter. Most of the time people would just stop and forego their plans to proceed on what they intended to do in the first place. But how can you overcome these constraints and maintain focus in achieving your goal? Here are some thoughts that helped me overcome my own problems prior to my first Marathon.

1. Defining your goals – This sets the foundation on why you want to train. It allows you to focus and get back to this goal whenever you are doubting yourself in your preparation. You must not only set a date on your first marathon but also come up with an objective on why you want to finish one. This will remind you later on during your run and will keep you motivated to complete your task.

2. Have your injury checked – one way or another you will end up getting an injury during your training probably due to lack of discipline or simply an accident. This will definitely stop you or slow you down in your training. I have been nursing my injury for almost two months prior to my first marathon, and as I mentioned in my other blog, I went to see a doctor specializing in sports medicine to get his professional opinion and to be guided on what to do for it to completely heal and recuperate. It is important that you attend to your injury for fast recovery. I underwent a physical therapy.

3. Cross training – if you can’t run due to an injury, do cross training on bike or swimming to keep you in good shape. In my case I did a bike cross train and rode an equivalent distance of my planned run. For every 1km of run, I was doing 3.5km of bike. Staying fit to improve endurance despite of an injury will help you finish that extra mile.

4. Mental preparation – it is equally important to prepare mentally for a marathon. With the injury, you would definitely lose a lot of running mileage which might lead you to think that you are not ready to conquer a full marathon. In my case, I had an on and off runs and my longest run was 21km. I have not reached a 1,000 km mileage and was really in doubt whether I can finish a full marathon. Based on what I read from magazines, blogs, and even experience of other runners, it is important to build mileage to help improve your foundation in long runs. With all this affecting your confidence, the arsenal that you can use is your mental ability to overcome all the obstructions that you had during your training. At the end of the day, mental focus is all that will matter.

5. Maintain focus in your objective – during my marathon, I only had one thing in my mind, to finish my first marathon without any injury. I accepted the fact that conquering it would be difficult and that I have to work hard for it and feel the pain if I really want to meet my objective. I have thought of all the reasons why I am doing it and that was all that matter to me. Even my doubts were all out, I did not bring it with me and made sure that it will not slow me down. I maintained my focus and it was effective.

6. Do not entertain negative thoughts - never entertain any negative thoughts during your run. For the whole week prior to the run, I stopped worrying about the lack of mileage and my injury. The moment you accept negative thoughts such as feeling the pain, or doubting if you can finish, and worry about any discomfort while you are running, you will lose the grip and would end up up quitting. So stay positive and BELIEVE that you can do it..

7. Enjoy the run – Simply enjoy and have fun. Meet new friends and enjoy the scenery and the environment.. You will be amazed that you will not even notice that you are almost near the finish line.

These are some of the key inputs that helped me finish my first marathon. There are a lot of experiences from other runners and I think some of you will agree to this. For non-runners, you may learn from this and apply to your daily life. It can be from your work, family, or anything that you are busy with right now. Set your goals, prepare, and believe that you can do it. It works!

Enjoy life, Enjoy Running!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Raising Hope for Cancer

The NB power race was an important race for me as it was a personal advocacy of mine to support any cause that raises hope for Cancer. This was supposed to be the race of my choice for this year (prior to the BKK marathon) and would have wanted to finish strong in this event and probably an improved 21km time. This event was postponed due to the typhoon Ondoy and was actually a blessing for me since I could have missed the event since I was injured at that time. I knew that this run will be more challenging since I was recovering from my first marathon a week prior to this event, and that the 21k course was very challenging as it will pass the Mckinley hill. But still, I thought of hitting a 2:30 finish as compared from my last run at QCIM where I finished at 2:48:11. Unfortunately, I struggled in this race which got me too exhausted after crossing the finish line.

Jay was also recovering from the BKK marathon and told me that he will pace with me and help me reach my target time. In the first 10km, we were still on target with our pace, but after that, I began to feel the stiffness in my left hamstring. It was hard for me to catch up with Jay as he was controlling the pace, I was practically slowing him down since I can’t keep up with the pace (to think that it was a slow pace). I was trying to psyche myself to avoid any negative thoughts during my run and focused on the advocacy for cancer patients. But “will power” is not enough if your physical strength is just not there. More walk breaks for me after the 13th km and found myself wondering why this was so difficult than the full marathon that I did. Was it fatigue? By this time, I was also feeling pain in my right hamstring. On uphills, I opted to walk as I don’t want to risk my ITB since it just got well after 2 months of healing. It was torture and I was just feeling so tired that I can’t motivate myself to move on. The only thing that was motivating me was to finish the race for the cause. If cancer patients can overcome the pain that they are going through, then this temporary hardship should not stop me from giving them hope. In km 19, I was beginning to have cramps in my right leg and can’t finish a whole km run. In the final stretch, I tried to jog until I reached the finish line and was limping already due to cramps. I finished at 2:47 together with Jay who decided to run along with me until the finish line.

I would also like to mention that this race was Kay’s (my fiancée) first official 3km run together with Tyrone. They finished the course in 27 min (unofficial time). Hopefully they get to run their first 5km in the Mizuno Run in January 2010.

Though I ended up exhausted in this race, I am glad to have been part of a cause that was meaningful to the beneficiaries of this event. May we all continue to bring hope to all cancer patients and that we become part of their healing process as they have become part of our strengths.

After this race, I will give myself a good rest in order to recover fast. I hope to get back on training in 2 weeks.

Some photos:

Jay, Me, and Kay

Won a t-shirt from the bring me contest, Tessa Prieto asked for a pair of NB shoes, luckily I was wearing one.

Kay, Me, and Noemi with coach Rio.

*photos by Tyrone Lombos