Open Letter to my MARS Coaches


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Dear MARS Coaches,

I regret to inform you that I failed to hit the target we’ve set for me for the 39th Milo Marathon Manila Eliminations. In fact, instead of shaving off minutes from my previous personal record, I actually added seven minutes. I understand perfectly if you feel a little disappointed as my performance failed to give justice to the kind of trainings and preparations you have provided the past two months prior to the race. I am very disappointed myself and I cannot even take comfort in the fact that I finished the race in under five hours. That is not exactly what we aimed for. In my disappointment, I actually did not feel like my usual happy self when I crossed the finish line.

Please know, however, that my failure was not because the training I received from you wasn’t enough. I know in my heart that you’ve prepared me well. The truth is, I started the run with so much confidence because of this preparation. Also, the fact that I did not have any major injuries and did not have issues with my breathing (which had always been my problem during the first few kilometers during runs) are signs of that good preparation and training I’ve had from MARS.

The failure was all on me. I can come up with a number of possible excuses (if only to justify such failure) but that’s not really how I was trained. The bottomline is, I relaxed too much three quarters into the race and that has cost me valuable time. I just lost focus and miscalculated my pace in the last quarter. It was already too late when I realized this blunder and even though I tried to recover, I’ve already lost too much time to catch up.

On a positive note, however, I am still happy because I finished with no major injuries or health issues. I felt discomfort (stinging pain) on my right knee after around the 38th kilometer but it wasn’t really that much of an issue. In fact, the pain was gone after a few kilometers and I only felt it again way after the run was finished. The therapist has taken care of it already.

I am also happy to say that it is during this race that I achieved some sort of PR-like records for a 10-km run, a 10-miler, and a half marathon. A review of my GPS records show that I’ve actually done 10 kilometers in 56 minutes, 16 kilometers in an hour and 33 minutes, and 21 kilometers in two hours and five minutes (my half mary PR at the moment is two hours and four minutes). And yet, even with this pace, I was still running comfortably.

Let me say that in my previous marathons, I was always a little too cautious because I was always afraid of hurting myself and also because I wanted to ‘conserve’ energy to last me until the end. But this time, it was different because I knew that I can now sustain a respectable pace and not worry about anything (except, probably, going hungry…lol). This is also why I know that had I not lost focus, it would have been very easy to finish the full mary as planned.

Nevertheless, I would still like to reiterate my gratitude for all your support. Your words of encouragements are always a source of motivation. Special thanks to Coaches Jim and Toni for the opportunity to learn more about preparing for a sport that everyone now loves. Thanks also to all the other coaches, for the guidance in making sure that the workouts were being executed properly. I think I’ve encountered every one of you at some point during the sessions and I know that each one of you has valuable input in my preparations.

I apologize for not giving my 100% as you would have expected me to but I promise not to repeat this blunder. I promise not to drop the ball again next time. Rest assured that the lessons I learned from you will always be with me. I will always be grateful as I will always be proud to have learned from the best.

Here is hoping that I will be able to continue learning from you in the coming seasons of MARS.

Truly yours
Phillip BF, Proud MARSian

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39th Milo Marathon

With Coach Jun and a couple of MARS Season 10 ‘classmates’, Joy and Dan Photo from Dan’s uploads

39th Milo Marathon

With Coach Jun and ‘classmates’ from MARS Season 10 ‘classmates’, Joy, Dimitri, and Yuki. Photo from Dan’s uploads

39th Milo Marathon

With friends from USB and Running Photographers

What happened?

It wasn’t because I was injured that I had to slow down. Neither was it because I encountered any problems. And while I don’t look at it as an excuse, my only reason for slowing down is because I thought I can relax a bit since I did very well in the first half of the run. Nakapondo naman na e,  I remember thinking for a while.

The fact is, for the first time in a marathon, my first 10 kilometers was under 60 minutes and my first 21 kilometers was just a minute longer than my personal best for a half marathon. [See screen grabs from my phone below.]  On top of this, I was still running comfortably. With this ‘achievement’, I was confident that I was well within my target of finishing the run in around four hours and 30 minutes.

Unfortunately, I feel that it’s this confidence that made me complacent. At some point after the 26th  kilometer, I started doing run-walk combinations because I thought I have so much time in my hands. In fact, at around the 32nd kilometer, I remember thinking that even if I did a maximum pace of 10 minutes per kilometer for the rest of the run, I would still have finished as planned. But obviously, I miscalculated because at the last six kilometers I realized that time was no longer in my favor. At that point, I knew that even if I duplicated my record for the first five kilometers, it wasn’t enough. While I knew that I was well within the cutoff time, I also knew that finishing within my target time was already out of reach. But of course that did not stop me from trying to recover – to try to still finish as close as possible to my expectation.

Here’s a look at my GPS records:

Screenshot_2015-07-26-03-28-19 Screenshot_2015-07-26-03-56-42 Screenshot_2015-07-26-04-33-31 Screenshot_2015-07-26-05-06-01 Screenshot_2015-07-26-10-46-04Screenshot_2015-07-26-10-46-16Screenshot_2015-07-26-10-46-33Screenshot_2015-07-26-10-46-45  Screenshot_2015-07-26-10-47-18Screenshot_2015-07-26-10-47-25

[For the photos, I’d like to thank Running Photographers (Manong RJ, Tsip 98, Papa Jack, Reggie Cruz, LJ Miranda), Rikki Suarez, Flat Ironman, Donald Ancheta, MARS Season 10 classmate Dan, and everyone that I may have missed. If you did not pretend to be busy checking your camera when I passed by you, thank you very much.] 

My Milo APEX Running School Experience


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Season 10 of the Milo R2 APEX Running School has ended and the Manila leg of the 39th Milo Marathon is only a few days aw11707610_1119978574684340_917807669572534891_nay. Even though I started late with the running clinic, I am confident that the training I received has prepared me – both mentally and physically – for one of the most anticipated marathons in the country. I may not be able to make it to the qualifying time** for my age group (actually, I am sure of that), but I am still confident that I will cross the finish line with so much time to spare before the cutoff of 6 hours. I am confident that I will be receiving the much coveted medal at the finish line. I am confident that my finish time will surpass my personal best which I also recorded during the 36th edition of the same race – my very first Milo marathon. And I am also confident that I will have a ‘strong finish’ and with no major injuries. There will only be happiness and satisfaction at the finish line come July 26.

This confidence is because of the fact that MARS has provided me, and a few hundred runners, the necessary ‘tools’ for what is to come during the race day. I have been 11755735_10153039461542947_3914064593782342689_nunder the supervision of knowledgeable and very capable trainers and coaches who made sure that I maximize the benefits of each exercise that they make us do. The ‘extra push’ from the coaches served as inspiration to try harder and do better. One thing I learned from this whole experience is that it is only when you push yourself hard enough that you can identify which aspects (both of yourself and your ‘game’) need improvements.

Joining the Program

When I started preparing for the Milo Marathon this year, my original plan was to train on my own. I figured that if I was able to do it in the past, I should also be able to do it this time. However, when my boss Inez offered and then later actually enrolled me to the Milo APEX Running School, my plan took a 180-degree turn. When initially I only planned to join running clinics when time permits, I suddenly found myself really making time for the MARS workouts.

10489985_1103074279708103_6900590113452684310_nSo for the first time, I found myself toughing it out with MARS (Season 10) every Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. And for two months, I have not missed any of their sessions since I started on May 19 (well, except for the two Dragonboat weekends which I skipped in favor of LSD (long, slow distance) runs.

God knows how thankful I am that I have finally joined one of the most sought after 11752436_10153042927307947_9102446278284342454_nrunning clinics in the city. Thanks (a million) to Milo R2 for providing an opportunity like this for runners. For me personally it was the best opportunity to learn things that I otherwise would not have learned had I stuck with my initial plans of training solo.

Thank you also to Coaches Jim and Toni for cleverly organizing and planning the running clinic itself.  Kudos to them for unselfishly sharing their knowledge and skills to make sure that everyone participating in the trainings come out of it a little better, physically and mentally. The ‘science’ that they put into the workout plans is a tremendous help on terms of maximizing the benefits from each exercise.

Of course, I would also like to thank my very supportive boss Inez for getting me into the program in the first place. Thanks also to the rest of NoBox Philippines for the support. You, guys, are just amazing. All of these would not have been possible without your support and understanding.

A big thanks also to the coaches (especially those from the BGC camp) for diligently executing the plans and patiently supervising the participants. Their hard work is commendable, especially because they11540847_10153023598907947_3019534475717846100_n had to deal with different personalities on a regular basis while making sure that each runner is doing the exercises properly. Special shoutout to the 42-km category coaches because what I’ve seen from them is sheer dedication to the sport that everybody now loves. It’s not only inspiring to see them work hard for the whole group but it’s more inspiring to note that they also work more closely with each runner as they try to address the runners’ individual concerns. I am, myself, a recipient of that generosity because I happen to have more than just a few problems that I thought have been plaguing my running since I started. Their availability and willingness to share what they know is just incomparable.

I am also thankful for the support and camaraderie from the other runners, especially those in the 42-km category whom I ‘suffered’ and had the most fun with three times a week.  Your insights and friendship are inspiring. Thank you all for providing the right amount of ‘push’ and an overflowing support.11030646_1107920015890196_6252497487884560302_o

Something I realized after all this is the fact that running is not really an individual sport. I just look at the number of people I have to thank to realize that running involves not only the runner but, more importantly, the people who make the runner better.

Toughing it out and getting better

Being a first timer in this program, I only had a vague idea of what to expect. I have trained with other coaches in other running clinics a few years back and I know that running coaches can be very tough but honestly, nothing has prepared me for the workouts with the MARS coaches. As I found out on my very first day, the exercises were so intense that my first few sessions left my body totally ‘shocked’. The intensity of the workouts on May 19, actually left me dizzy and I was about to throw up.

The second session wasn’t any better:

Apex 2

It was during these times that I actually felt inadequate but I knew that things can only get better. And true enough after a month, I am able to add more to the usual workouts. At this point, I was becoming more confident with how I perform during the workouts. I no longer felt like I had to ‘conserve’ my energy just so I can complete the exercises during the actual workouts. It was also at this point that I started to really notice the fun we have during the drills. For me, this was already a sign that my body has adjusted and was somewhat ready for tougher things – and the coaches did not disappoint in making us work harder, mind you.

Apex 3

Apex 4

Yes, I struggled so hard during my first time but I am confident to claim that at the end of the season, I have improved a lot as a runner. The fact that I learned a lot and that I performed way better than when I started should be a sign of such improvement.

MARS: Improving the runners among us

Indeed the Milo R2 APEX Running School has been a great opportunity for self-improvement – physically, and socially.

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It provided the workouts that make a runner stronger and probably faster. In a sport that requires both endurance and speed, this is very important. Even if one claims to be a ‘purely recreational’ runner (or one who only does it for fun, as many of us claim), a running clinic like MARS is still very important because it helps us condition our bodies in order to avoid injuries. It should be noted that whether we are competitive runners or we run just for fun, we all at some point suffer from the same injuries if we are not properly conditioned or if we do not have the proper training. MARS is there to provide the opportunity for conditioning and strengthening.11692479_10153010093192947_8052038015564273432_n

MARS sessions also gave the runners (who were strangers to each other at first) the perfect opportunity to learn together and share experiences with one another. It was indeed a perfect time for bonding (and forming friendships) among runners. Why is this important? Because as I mentioned earlier, running is not really an individual sport. It is, more importantly, a social activity that brings together individuals from all walks of life.

Of course, MARS was also a good morale booster for most runners. Personally, after joining Season 10, I can say that I am more prepared, mentally, to tackle the next 42 kilometers. This is probably because I am confident in how the coaches taught me. And this is why unlike before, I can now really rest during the week before the actual race.  (In my marathons, I would always find myself ‘cramming’ during the last week before the race and except for the first two, I almost always ended not really achieving my target.)10403143_1113651905317007_2577953499474040779_n

It is for these important lessons that I have now learned to appreciate running clinics more. I appreciate MARS, in particular, because it is a well organized process. While I do not claim to be an expert now or that I know a lot, I know for a fact that MARS is based on a well-thought of process that ensures maximum benefit for all runners, regardless of their background or experience. It really embodies the Milo Marathon tagline #BuildingChampions because whatever happens during the actual race on July 26, we are already champions in our own right.

See you at the starting line. And let’s all celebrate at the finish line.

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“You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.” – Frank Shorter

[**For those not familiar, the Milo Marathon has qualifying times for different age groups and anyone who makes it to their respective times during the elimination rounds will have a chance to join the full marathon during the finals to be held in December. The full marathon during the finals is exclusive only to the qualifiers during the elimination rounds.]


Thanks a lot to Rickpets Lens and Ms. Sheryll Quimosing for the photos I used here. You, guys, are the best.

Runs I would not miss


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Here is a list of runs I would not miss as the year comes to an end and the new year begins. While more runs may be added in the coming weeks, these are the ones that I really would not want to miss. In fact, I have already registered in some of them.


CommUNITY Long Distance Run.

Community Run

Photo from the event page

Organized by A Runners Circle Phils and ARC Running Club, the LSD will be held on October 19, 2014 in Ternate Cavite. As its name suggests, it will be some kind of a group run for the ARC Runners. I will think of it as a good opportunity for my own ‘balik-loob’ with ARC, especially because it has been a long time since I ran with these guys. It would also be nice to meet the new members of the Club. Just thinking of the run brings good memories of all those Thursday runs in Manila.

On the other hand, the run is also “for a cause” so part of the donations (the joining fee is aptly called a donation instead of just registration fee) will be used for the Club’s outreach program. So that makes it all the more interesting, a better reason for joining.


Pinoy Fitness 21K Challenge

Photo from PF FB page

Photo from PF FB page

Happening in November 16, 2104 at Bonifacio Global City, the event is part of the regular runs hosted and organized by Pinoy Fitness. Like ARC, Pinoy Fitness is another running family that made me want to keep running in the past three years. I have already missed the previous events that they organized (due to some pressing matters during those times) so I have to make it sure that this time, I will be there.

Again, as suggested by the event title, this will be a harder challenge as there is a set cut-off time. Before June of 2013, the standing challenge for me then was to finish a half-marathon in under two hours. I was already very close to the target (my best time is 2 hours and 3 minutes) but then the school year opened and running was a luxury I did not have. So the goal was never reached.

I don’t, however, expect to reach that goal during this run. But I shall be expecting myself to at least beat the cut off time of 2 hours and 30 minutes (which was actually my time in my very first half marathon three years ago).


38th Milo Marathon – Finals (Half-marathon distance)



For December 2014, I am thinking of registering for the half-marathon distance of the 38th Milo Marathon (Finals). I’ve already missed the Manila eliminations and it’s not likely that I will register in the unfinished provincial stages so I might register for the Finals. Unlike the other runs on this list, however, this is one run that I can miss.


Corregidor Marathon 2015


I have always thought of Condura Skyway Marathon to be my ‘come back’ marathon after my long hiatus from running. But I cannot miss the Corregidor Marathon again (I’ve already missed the first one) so I have to register this time. Technically, that makes it the ‘come back’ marathon. And strictly speaking, if I run this marathon it would seem unwise to be running another marathon (Condura) after just two week. But that is ok because the uniqueness of the event actually makes it just perfect for the training plan I have in mind. Since there will be no time limits for this event I will just treat it as the last LSD. It’s even made better by the fact that the terrain provides enough uphills (or probably too much of it) and downhills that will be helpful in preparing for what would be a rolling skyway two weeks after.

Happening in January 17, 2015, the run will go through the roads around Corregidor Island.


Condura Skyway Marathon 2015


If I may use what others have already coined and used to often, this is supposed to be my ‘runniversary’. This is why it has become the end and my running year and the start of another one. This is also why I really don’t want to miss this. For me it is the culmination of my one year of preparation. (Well for this time, it’s actually just six months since I only started my serious training this August.)


“Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.”John Bingham, running speaker and writer



Training starts now


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Life has not been that kind to me for the past year such that I did not even have time to run, which is the only activity I have to counter the sedentary lifestyle in the city.  I cannot even remember the last time I joined a running event or a running clinic.

Things have changed however, so I can go back to running again. As such I am targeting to run a full marathon in the next six months. It may sound a bit ambitious considering that I am practically starting from scratch again but I think I still my ‘notes’ of the things I learned from the previous years so I think I know what to do this time.

What’s on my list?

The first one that I am considering is Condura Skyway Marathon 2015. This one has always been memorable for me because as I may have already mentioned before, it is the first running event that I ever participated in. That was back in 2011 when I thought a five-kilometer run was such a big feat. A year after, I ran my first ever full marathon on the skyway. And then again in 2013 for the second time for this event. This was the run that got me hooked so I am looking forward to running the Skyway again.

I am also thinking of the Corregidor Marathon 2015. I first joined this event as an official photographer back in 2011*. A year after that, I went back as a runner participant. It was so much fun. The views and the route itself were breathtaking – and I’m sure, they still are. And I must say that such views are a good excuse to slow down for picture taking and recovery. This is happening barely a month before the Condura Marathon and it might not be a good idea for a returning runner to abuse himself with two full marathons in a very short span of time. But I am thinking, this one does not have a restriction on time (unlike the marathons in the city) so I don’t have to worry about exerting too much effort to beat the time. In other words, this could actually serve as the last LSD before the Skyway marathon. Perfect timing, I must say.

There are still at least a couple of marathons in the next six months but for now I think I’ll stick with these two first. Joining marathons is not exactly cheap so I’ll stick with the ones I am sure will provide me what I am looking for.

Training begins

Of course, running these marathons is not really easy. Unless one does not care about injuries, keeping healthy and avoiding untoward incidences, one really has to prepare for these marathons.

So for me, along with my resolve to run a marathon, I am also resolved to start preparing seriously. And I have resolved that such training starts today – literally, this 3rd day of August 2014.

This is why I have decided to go for a run – just to have a taste of how it is again to be on the road without distractions.

This morning I went out for a walk but I ended up shooting at the Artistakbo (which I did not know was happening at the QC Memorial Circle). This afternoon I decided to go for slow run around UPD which was then followed by a much slower run-walk combo going home. My pre-workout meal was a generous serving of tapa at #Rodics (Maginhawa). After the run, I had a ridiculously big serving of pasta, chocolate drink, and iced tea. The frog is a road kill I saw when I was running. No, I did not eat it but that's how I feel after my run, #bagsak. #backontheroad

This morning I went out for a walk but I ended up shooting at the Artistakbo (which I did not know was happening at the QC Memorial Circle). This afternoon I decided to go for slow run around UPD which was then followed by a much slower run-walk combo going home. My pre-workout meal was a generous serving of tapa at #Rodics (Maginhawa). After the run, I had a ridiculously big serving of pasta, chocolate drink, and iced tea. The frog is a road kill I saw when I was running. No, I did not eat it but that’s how I feel after my run, #bagsak.

Of course as I expected, it wasn’t easy. For instance, warming up took longer this time. My body has been ‘idle’ for quite some time that starting to run again requires effort. Even my breathing took a beating. Even during the first couple of kilometres, I was already panting. And then I also experienced side stitch also on the first half of the run. For a good two kilometres, I actually had to really slow down because of the pain.

Fortunately, my body adjusted immediately that is why I decided to double my initial plan of five kilometres. I actually did 10 kilometers (plus a four-kilometer run-walk combo going home).

I can only hope that in the next coming months, I will be able to accumulate enough mileage to prepare me for the bigger events so that when they come, I will be able to finish with pride and without the unnecessary pains and injuries.

So to myself, here is praying for health and strength to go on with trainings that will keep me healthy and strong.

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It rained on WGR’s parade

I’ve always thought that the rain is an inevitable part of living – at least in this world. There is nothing I can do to stop it from coming so I just need to adapt, to do things I need to do without being bothered too much by the rain. But earlier tonight, I wasn’t my usual optimistic self – all because it rained and I wasn’t able go on with my planned run. Tonight is one of those rare times when I would say, ” I hate the rain” and actually mean it.

On the other hand, it was nice to join the Wednesday Group of Runners once again. It’s been a long time since I last trained with them and tonight was supposed to be my “comeback” work out if not for the rain. Nevertheless, I still had a good time joining the celebrations for the group’s ‪#‎anniversary‬.

Thanks to ‪#‎wgr‬ for making me feel like I never left. And here is to more trainings to come and more miles to run. ‪#‎happyrunniversary‬

38th Milo Marathon

A night before the 36th Milo Marathon – Manila eliminations two years ago, I cannot sleep because I was so worried that I might not wake up on time. Tonight, I feel like I am in the same situation. The 38th edition of the race is happening in a couple of hours and I just realized that I still have not slept a wink. I am not running this time so I don’t actually have to be worried about being late to the event but for some reason, I cannot get myself to sleep. 

Anyway, here is wishing all the best for my friends who are running today. May the running gods keep you safe so that when you see me at the finish line, you will still look good in your photos. ‪#‎milomarathon‬‪#‎38thmilomarathon‬ ‪#‎manilaelims‬ ‪#‎moa‬

[Meanwhile, for that ‪#‎someone‬ who will surely be there to intimidate my other friends who will be taking photos, I can only pray that the gods give you humility and make you realize that you are not the only one who can do photography – you may have the latest tool but that does not make you more superior to anybody. May you be reminded that your equipment does not really make you better than the rest of us. May you be reminded that talent is in the person and not in the tool used. May you be reminded that respect is earned and is mutually given.‪#‎photographyduties‬ ‪#‎equalopportunity‬ ‪#‎mutualrespect‬]

carbo-loading 25 july a

If there is one thing I like from being in the company of serious runners (marathoners as we are sometimes referred to), it is the fact that we can have fun even without alcoholic beverages that’s usually the refreshment-of-choice of people our age when they go out on a Friday night. Tonight for instance, I had so much fun with friends during our dinner at DADS Saisaki & Kamayan and coffee at Starbucks Ayala 6750. It has been a very long time since we’ve seen each other (or more appropriately, since I’ve seen most of them) but tonight, it was as if nothing has changed. It was so nice to have the chance to catch up with everybody before we all become busy again. 

carbo-loading 25 july
Special thanks to Albert Abetski Tubera for the coffee – the one we had, the freebie which I’ll be getting soon (because I have the receipt), and the additional stars on my card. I guess that accounts for our ‪#‎pasalubong‬ from you.

With all that fun tonight, I wish everybody all the best for this weekend’s marathon. I will see you all again at the finish line on Sunday. ‪#‎milomarathon‬

[P.S. I am not saying that alcoholic beverages is totally a bad idea but sometimes, it’s nice to catch up with friends sober.] ‪#‎biglangbawi‬

Running: The rest is over


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After more than a year of self-imposed “rest” from my running, I am now ready (or at least I think I am) to resume training and prepare for my next target. I have in my sights the 2015 edition of the very first organized run that I ever joined – the very same event where I did my very first marathon a year after. I am hopeful that by February next year, I would be marathon-ready again.

What I’ve learned, however, is that going back is not really that easy if you’re coming from a long hiatus. Perhaps it’s because my self-imposed rest was really mainly because of the stress that I had been through for the past 12 or so months. But anyway, I want to think that the “rest” is over and that I have to start donning my running gear again.

Hard or not, training has to be done. After all, this is the only activity that has been keeping me in shape. This means that in the coming months, I will be back to my old training ground that is the UP Diliman Campus, there will be more LSDs with runner-friends, probably running clinics if my schedule permits it.

The bright yellow sunflowers 'beautify' the view along University Ave. - a nice site after a grueling run.

The bright yellow sunflowers ‘beautify’ the view along University Ave. – a nice site after a grueling run.

So as a “come back” run, I went out today running from my boarding house going to UP.  The plan was to slowly adjust to running again so I did not really set a target in terms of distance or time. I just planned to stop whenever I felt tired already. Surprisingly, I was able to cover 10 kilometers one hour and 20 minutes.  Of course as expected, it wasn’t an easy run – even though I really took my time. The first few kilometres were specially agonizing and it took me a while to adjust. My feet initially hurt and my breathing was strained. And when I thought I’ve adjusted already, I started to feel tired and hungry. So I started walking back home covering and additional 4.45kms, stopping only for a quick bite.

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.” — William James

Running marathons: It’s more fun on the Skyway


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Condura 2013d

The beautiful monster

The best thing about not preparing myself well before running the Skyway Marathon was that I got to run at a very relaxed pace. Because I was slow, I spent more time on the elevated road and just enjoyed the views. Yes, even in the darkness there are nice views around Paranaque, Muntinlupa, Taguig, Makati and nearby cities, thanks to the billions of lights that look like stars on a cloudless night. Every now and then, I would see a distinct light and wonder where it is located, how far it is from where I was, and why is it so distinct from all other lights around it. Every now and then, I would see a sleek yellow line or a pretty little arc in the darkness and wonder what the row of lights could be. Even the neatly aligned street lamps of the Skyway was a sight to behold as they looked like lighted spikes on the back of very long serpentine monster that was trying to lead the runners into the darkness. The straight lines created by these lights were just as beautiful as the curves and arcs that guided the runners as they seem to run in packs, each looking for that monster’s head, trying to conquer it before it conquers them. There is no other running event that can provide this kind of view other than the Skyway Marathon. And I am thankful for the rare opportunity of running this route and appreciating the big city’s beauty from a different perspective.

Reality check on the slow lane

My first medal

My first running medal was for a 5-km run during the Run for the Dolphins in 2011. 

The truth is, appreciating the beauty of the night was just my excuse for my less-than-ideal performance during last Sunday’s Condura Skyway Marathon 2013. While I truly appreciated the beauty of the lights and was actually awed by the views, this was really not the reason why I had to be very slow. I was slow because I was afraid that if I push myself so hard, I would end up with a lot of problems that are usually associated with not being prepared. I was slow because I was afraid that I would again experience muscles cramps (usually on my thighs and calves). I was slow because I was afraid the pain on my lower back will kick in before I even reach the finish line. In other words, I was slow because my body was not in proper condition. This is a lesson I thought I already learned in the past but for some reason, I am still stuck. Perhaps, I still lack all that discipline that runners have engrained into their systems. And unfortunately, I have no excuse for that – not even work that usually keeps people busy.

Mixed feelings

Condura 2012

I really have mixed feelings about the way I finished my third marathon. On one hand, I am very happy that I did not end up with any major injuries or problems. And for once, I actually got to enjoy a marathon like I never did before. As I mentioned, the views it offered are a rarity plus I got to interact better with other runners. But on the other hand, I was also a bit disappointed with the results because I know that I could have done better. Yes I was without major injuries but truth be told that even before I reached the finish line, I was already feeling exhausted. Unlike my last marathon, I felt unusually very tired just a few kilometres after the halfway mark. This is why I had to walk a lot in the last quarter of the route. I don’t see anything wrong in walking during a marathon (us average runners have that privilege because we don’t have to deal with the pressure of besting all other runners to be able to stand at the podium) but this time I think I walked more than I wanted to. I know that in more ideal conditions, I could have registered a better time and still end up with no injuries. But I did what I was capable of at that time so regardless of how it turned out, I still have to say that I enjoyed the experience.

Conquering the Skyway

I don’t really subscribe to the idea of a running anniversary but if I were to start, the Condura Skyway Marathon actually marks the beginning of my running calendar. The very first organized run that I ever joined was the Run for the dolphins during the 4th Condura Skyway Marathon on February 6, 2011. Back then, I did not have any idea what happens during an event like this. The only thing clear at that time was that I wanted to join a fun run for the experience so I thought I’d just put on my running gear and go with the flow. After I crossed the finish line five kilometers after, everything changed. I already knew I was addicted to running. The rest, as they say, is history.

So after a year of joining more runs and going on regular trainings with new found friends, I ran my first full marathon during the 5th Condura Skyway Marathon: Run for the Mangroves. That would have been my first year anniversary. At that time, I thought I have gone full circle already. From a 5-km fun run, I sort of advanced to more gruelling runs and finally culminated with a full marathon. That was both an end and a beginning of a period in my running. Just like what many others would say after that run, I was now a “certified marathoner”. Fast forward to February 3, 2013 – the 6th Condura Skyway Marathon is already my second time to run on the Skyway (back in 2011, the short distance runners did not have the chance to go up the Skyway) but I have to say, the experience is still just as awesome as the first. The best part is that on both occasions, despite a little struggle to reach the finish line, I conquered the Skyway by finishing without any major problems. The route may have offered numerous uphill climbs (which I found out to be my waterloo) but I was able to overcome them, one crest at a time. So yes, despite being a little disappointed, I still proudly say I conquered the Skyway (twice and counting).

Running: It’s more fun on the Skyway

Condura 2013

One reason I keep coming back to this event is that it is well-organized. In fact, I think it is one of the most organized runs I have ever participated in. The hydration stations were aplenty making sure that runners do not run out of something to drink. There were banana stations which is really a big help. It’s also nice to note that the medical personnel were noticeably more attentive to the needs of the runners. They don’t just wait at the ambulance. Instead, they were more pro-active by seeking out people who may need their help. In other words, they ask instead of waiting to be asked. Their alertness and responsiveness was comforting. Things like this, little as they may be, actually make a run more satisfying for runners. Congratulations to the organizers for making sure that the concerns of the runners are taken care of. It’s been two years already since that first fun run. And it may be too early to say this but I am already excited for the next edition. Because it is a rare opportunity, running on the Skyway is something to look forward to. I just hope that when the next edition comes, I am more ready. For now, I’ll try to look back at those great two years and see what I can bring into this year to make my running experience more satisfying.

See you all on the road – elevated or otherwise!

It all started with a 5-km fun run.

It all started with a 5-km fun run. A year after, a full marathon completed the circle. Two years after, another full mary was added to the fun.

Rexona Run 2012: A bitter-sweet finish


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When I went to Mall of Asia for the Rexona Run 2012, there were a couple of things that I wanted to happen. One, I wanted to finish the race in under two hours. And two, I wanted to finish it without any injuries, serious or superficial. The first one is something I thought to be within reach considering that my best time is just a couple of minutes above two hours. Plus, a sub-two finish also meant I am entitled to an additional token – a key chain –  that was given to all runners who finish with the cut off time. The second one is something I always aim for and in this particular case, my thoughts keep going back to the same event last year that left me almost ‘crippled’ – I wasn’t walking normally for a few weeks after the run.

Well, it did not work well for me, on both counts (although I have a feeling that things like this almost never work well according to my plans). I finished the half marathon (21 kms) in two hours and 15 minutes so clearly I missed my mark – and it’s not even close to my personal best. As for the second one, unfortunately I really cannot say that I finished with no problems or issues. The problem wasn’t really that serious and it’s nothing compared to my almost debilitating injury last year but it was there alright and I cannot just ignore it. The truth is, I felt better when I crossed the finish line for a full marathon last month than when I crossed the finish line this time.

There is, of course, a perfect explanation for what happened but it only sounds like a bunch of excuses (even for me). So for now, I’ll just write it down under my “things to learn from” list because right now, excuses only spoil the fact that despite everything, I am still comfortable with how this year’s Run ended for me.

Outrun Yourself

Even before the Run started, I was very confident that I would greatly improve my previous year’s results despite being in almost the same condition. It wasn’t really a hard assignment considering that my race results for the Rexona Run 2011 is still my worst – in terms of time and post-race condition. This is why the challenge wasn’t really whether or not I will finish faster than last year. Instead, it was whether or not I would finish in less than two hours as planned.

I was so hyped up that I started very well. For the first quarter of the race, I would say that not only did I outpace myself, I actually did it in a manner that would have left me out of breath (literally) a year ago. Unfortunately, the strong start did not last long because after the first half, I started to slow down. By kilometer 17, it was already very clear that the planned sub-two hours was impossible. If it was any consolation though, at least I was still in better shape than I was last year at that point.

When I crossed the finish line, I was able to slash at least 50 minutes from the previous year’s run. I’d say that’s a great improvement considering that even though I wasn’t totally pain-free, I was still walking normally unlike the year before. Unfortunately, the finish time still wasn’t enough to make me eligible for the token that the organizers gave to those who finish the half marathon in under two hours. Yes, I am talking about a keychain and it may be just a small item but for many a runner, it’s a status symbol. Or at least, that’s what I think. And it makes me a bit sad that I don’t have one.

Perhaps, another day. Another run. What’s more important is that even though I did not finish as planned, I was still able to outrun myself, defied the odds stacked against me, and thereby surpassing what I truly expected from myself, given the circumstances.

Rexona Run: Surpassing expectations

Sometimes, when we run in events like this, we cannot stop ourselves from expecting certain standards from the organizers. These expectations usually cover several aspects of the event from organizing, to the route, to hydration, and even the after-race freebies. And I have to say that this year’s edition of the Run did not fail to satisfy what I expected. Well, there were a few things I wished to have been looked more into but they are so minor that I just thought of them as something I could have avoided had I prepared myself better.

As far as organizing was concerned, I have no complaints. From the time I deposited my baggage at the counter up the time I claimed by goody bag, I really cannot say I had problems. Everything was in order.

I also like the fact that there was a 21-km relay. I think this is one factor why the regular half marathon was not really crowded, because a great percentage of runners who would have registered for the category settled for the relay. Around 3,000 ran the regular distance, of course, but if not for the relay, there would probably be an additional 2,000 starting at the same time. As per experience, a crowd that big means congested road for at least ten kilometers.

As for the route itself, I liked it very much. It was generally flat (save for one flyover), but the numerous turns provided enough challenge, time-wise. I also like the fact that there was overflowing hydration. My favorite station was the one at the 10th (and I think the 12th) kilometer because they had the small water bottles. It was more convenient to carry while running which meant one can have water between water stations. And with the heat that was brewing that morning, coupled by my profuse sweating (which is my normal thing by the way), that was just what I needed.

The large nets to catch used cups were a very nice reminder for runners make sure they don’t just scatter the cups along the road. Of course, there were those who still do but it was minimized this time.

Aside from the overflowing hydration, I also liked the fact that there were a lot of bananas. This is way better than previous experiences when bananas usually run out after only a couple of hundreds of runners thus leaving the average and slow runners with nothing but peelings at the so-called banana stations. This time, I helped myself to several of these bananas. I got hungry trying to outrun myself big time in the first half that bananas in the second half were a blessing.

And who would not be satisfied with the loot bag given after the race? It was practically bursting with products that one can actually use. Well, there may be a few things that I would not personally use but at least I can give them to someone who would.

All in all, I’d say the Rexona Run 2012 was yet run I enjoyed and liked. And if there will be another chance, I will run the same Run again.


**Thanks to Jose Ramizarez, Pinoy Fitness (Jeff Lo), Edrick Nicdao, and Hendrick Or for the photos

**Thanks also to Allenstein Co, Aquiz Minlay for the other photos.


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