I run…therefore I am

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The Last 5 Months, Part I

Signing on again…

It’s been a while, I know.  My apologies for keeping you, guys in the dark on my whereabouts.  So aside from all the trainings (practically the last 5 months), I sneaked in a holiday travel (Nov.), Christmas Reunions and Get-togethers, House/Clinic re-dos (Dec.-Jan.), pocket trips here and there and of course, it was at this time when patient volume balloons (Oct.-Jan.).  So after a long day, I barely am in my senses to even write something or even finish a few pages of a book (Fevre Dream by GRR Martin).

So Let’s Look Back…

Milo Lipa Eliminations

This was my second attempt to qualify for the Milo Marathon Finals in December.  We had 1.5 months to train for this combining gym workouts (spinning & definition classes at Gold’s gym), speed runs at the Marikina Sports and the UP Oval (Payasso 2200), and a bit of Milo Apex sessions at the QC circle


at the Milo Apex running school, sporting our Payasso t-shirts….



squat. burpee. run.

Unfortunately, the running gods were not on our side that September 14, what with cold breeze and pelting rain harassing us, as we navigated semi-flooded and partly-lit streets (it’s brownout across Lipa city due to storm Luis) which in the latter part featured descents (whee!) and ascents (aawww!).  Perhaps, I wasn’t that well trained for a few kilometers into the 21KM, I was experiencing fatigue and occasional cramping (for the nth time).  Oh well. 02:01:22  it was.

the final struggle....

the final struggle….


spell f-r-u-s-t-r-a-t-i-o-n

drenchly happy...

drenchly happy…


Ippudo (ramen) heaven on my 49th!

Ippudo (ramen) heaven on my 49th!


a birthday surprise from Team Kulit…

Run United Philippine Marathon 2015

This was perhaps, the main reason why I lost interest in blogging.  Yep, RUPM was supposed to redeem my Milo marathon debacle, over 2 months later and 4 days after I turned 49.  With our regular Milo Apex (M & W) coupled Payasso 2200 (T & Th) sessions, I was confident I would avoid the same cramping conclusion from my last marathon.  We tried to pace a bit in the first 21KM (unlike in the Milo marathon) clocking around 2:10.  Soon enough, stabs of muscle hardness started appearing out of nowhere.  Later on fatigue, burnout and cramping conspired to reduce me to walking in the last 7 kilometers.  When my unofficial pacer Van finally said “lalakarin mo na lang ba ‘yan hanggang finish line?” (will you walk all the way to the finish?), I almost said yes (I admit that’s what I really had in mind).  But the question piqued my pride and I started to picking myself up, even if I was shuffling and waddling (to vary the pressure on my sole) like a newly castrated eunuch.  Not in the plan but 4:55 ain’t bad for my 16th full mary.

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schwinging in Schwedagon, Myanmmar

Schwinging in Schwedagon, Myanmmar…

downtime by a public park in Yangon...

downtime by a public park in Yangon…

Back to the hills!

A few days of sulking (and walking like an astronaut), we were back on the trails in preparation for the my first ultra-trail race since…hmmm TNF 100 in 2013.  That’s how long it’s been so it was a struggle (to say the least) to find my trail steps but once everything fell in place, I was flying and having a blast.  Dave was our trail master along with Van, Chinky, Reylynne, Tricia and the rest of the gang.



The Hills are Alive!

At the start of November, we joined the CM60 recon run while trying to retrace the route I ventured in in 2012.  We only did 45KM, out and back.  But it tested our patience and strength.  Good thing I had Van & Alfred with me to take me through those challenging up hills and technical descents and kill boredom.  After 8:30, we reached the Clark parade grounds, weather beaten while feeling more confident for the real race on Nov. 20.

with Sensei Alfred, ultramarathon veteran and a cornucopia of stories...

Post-recon shot: with Sensei Alfred, ultramarathon veteran and a cornucopia of experiences & stories…

A week later, we took on the Purgatory 30KM (c/o Frontrunner magazine) from Japas to Boko, Benguet.  It was a magical route which entered a mossy forest verdant and virgin from human intrusion (t’was heaven in Purgatory!) and a protected oasis before going to more up hills and finally descending into really mean and technical descents.  Who would have thought it would take us 6:55 to finish a 30KM race?  Our skills and guts were really tested with the steep killer and sometimes slippery (strewn with pine needles) downhills.  Hopefully, it made us stronger and more familiar with technical trails.


if this is purgatory, I need not go to heaven...

if this is purgatory, who needs heaven?


on top of purgatory with Van & CJ

on top of purgatory with Van & CJ


stopping to smell the ferns and mosses…


Clark to Miyamit 60KM

I was supposed to do this 2013 (the 80KM edition) but since I was still recuperating from that knee surgery (chondroplasty), I had to withdraw from my trail dream for me time.  After recovery, strengthening and training for a year, I found myself at the starting line with Van, my running partner throughout the 60KM distance.  The gun start for both 80 & 60 kilometers were at 12 midnight of Nov. 23 so paces were varied.


outside, day starts to dawn

We rounded up the Clark field roads before entering the laharlands with our trusty headlamps to guide us through shifting sands, gushing rivers and mean climbs.  We were finally led to the trails which soon enough started ascending until the angle kept increasing and the calves were put to the ultimate test.  I had done these hills so many times so I was no longer overwhelmed but the difficulty level never diminished.  With a constant hiking mild pace with little stops, we finally reached Miyamit Falls after 6 hours and 15 minutes and had our obligatory dip in its cool waters which revved up our energy in no time.P1130210




ladies & gents, the incomparable Miyamit Falls!

We were quite confident to finish within our 12-hour goal.  My 2012 experience had us doing a negative split, with our return trip faster by 45 mins.  And so we started our descents while walking the minor up hills.  By the time we entered the Sacobia river area, I was reduced to just walking and had a hard time forcing my foot to run.  Soon there was a struggle in my climbs as the sun kept badgering us (we would later learn that this was the hottest edition of the 3 CM races).  I had to stop many a time to recover as my breathe was labored and the palpitations more felt


But we kept hammering even if we knew we had slowed down tremendously, courtesy of moi.  Along the expanse of the endless lahar landscape, we were trudging and enjoying to keep our wit and sanity intact.  In short, we were thrashed like hell.  We only came to our senses when we saw lone female runner (Tess Leono), a few meters from us.  So we started jogging-walking along the streets of the Clark complex into the finish.  After 13 hours and 30 minutes, we reached the finish line scrambling like the Last of the Mohicans.

with our PAYASSO 2200 classmates under Prof. Jon las Bruces (CM60KM champ for 2 years, so far).

with our PAYASSO 2200 classmates under Prof. Jon las Bruces (CM60KM champ for 2 years, so far).

Here’s my Facebook status then:  It’s my longest ultratrail/mountain race this year and it’s a darn reminder of strengths and mostly weaknesses, both physically & mentally. The first 30KM was already bitch but at 6:15 up to Miyamit Falls, we were quite excited of a 12-hour finish, and so the descent towards Sapang Uwak was testy but still manageable & quite swift. By the time, we reached the final 23 kms., I was thrashed and could hardly jog as the minor cramping had set in so we had to do it in walking mode, except for the down hills (some of which have lost their tracks that we had to slide down on our butts). My lowest points were the last 3 intense climbs where I had to do some stops to recover. By this time, hallucinations, dehydration, negativity and thoughts of quitting had set in but my partner Van kept pushing me (and this is where I realized how old I am).  It was a lot of endless, brain-frying and monotonous trudging across lahar lands before we reached AS1 when i realized Van has already bonked himself. The final 10 kms. had us struggling across the great expanse of planet lahar with the final push and run inside Clark (Tess Tess Leono was a few meters behind us). It’s been quite a journey and I underestimated it (why my 2012 50M race was so much easier compared to this is beyond me).

Photos courtesy of Dhona Castillo of Run Lipa, Dr. Evelyn Ponce, David Buban, CJ Paran, Team Ayala Triads and Team Payasso 2200.

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Frontrunner Article #6: confessions of a REFORMED Road Addict

It is hard to understand addiction unless you have experienced it. 

Ken Hensley


576426_4328505525482_1094496118_nI’m a 48-year old runner who got into this despicable habit 5 years ago when age had taken over and my life had become too humdrum and a total blah.  I wanted to prove to the world that I can still be physically capable of doing things out of the ordinary even if my whole life revolved around movies, music and root canals.  The last time I sweated buckets and panted like my lungs were about to burst was in 3rd year high school, eons ago.  I travelled across the basketball court twice to follow that darn orange orb and I knew I was never going to be an athlete from that moment on. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So who was I kidding?   At my age, it seems so absurd but then dreams (and delusions) are what we make them to be.  The temptation of the asphalt eventually took over and I found myself (gasp!)  running.   I thought it would be just a momentary diversion from clinic routine but the more kilometers I burned, the more I wanted to conquer.  I knew it was no longer going to be healthy for me – I was losing my hard earned gym muscles and looking lanky, parched and dugyut & marupok plus I was getting stronger and faster.  Friends, if I ever found time to meet them, hardly recognized the pretty boy behind the sweat, mud and limatik bites.  Soon they started distancing themselves and treated me like a pariah to society and their tony gatherings. 552010_3630932808879_1140876786_3531933_224589835_n

It was a lonely existence on the road until I found myself in the circle of addicted brethrens called Runners Anonymous.  We were faceless souls clad in our muddy trainers and trying to wrestle with our obsession on the road.  During our weekly sessions, we shared our travails and tragedies in running (how to eliminate that limatik once it has entered our nether regions, etc.) but it would always climax on the road and us trotting reluctantly at first then suddenly bursting into something close to flying, like bats out of hell.  I tried to resist it but soon found myself sliding deeper into the hole I had dug myself into.  And there was no looking back.

The trails and mountains beckoned  and I was hooked like a limatik on a runner’s juicy calf.  I had advanced and taken my dependence into the next level.  When before I was already satisfied with my 21Ks and full marys, this time around, I was craving for more miles until I dropped unknowingly into the rabbit hole of ultramarathons.   I found cohesion and common footing with creatures who find no meaning in words like pain, cramps and uphells.  They just keep running until they reach the finish, in the absence of fun fare, trophy, shirt nor pictures.  Our supplier of this addiction was this pot-bellied guy who runs around shirtless and maps out our recon run where trails twist and hills thrive.  And we devoured everything that BoyP offered.27921_4328508805564_1656006467_n

Perhaps, my lowest point would have to be my plunge into the most evil of them all – ultra trail races.  Imagine hiking around a mountain on a late night in shivering temperature and the constant wind at our backs. We were like zombies feeling our way in the dark after 22 hours of racing in ever changing terrains and weather conditions.  And we were enjoying ourselves like hell.  I know.  It was that bad.  I feel like I’ve been dropped into the lowest level of inferno.  I’m even nauseated while encoding this most shameless episode in my life.  Now pass me the smelling salt, please?

Before this deadly habit could spiral out of control, redemption and hope suddenly came like lightning out of the blue.  Late last year, I was forced by circumstances to get off the road (still wondering why, watch out in the next issue).  It was I believe the most beautiful miracle to have come to my 5-year running history.  It was most life changing as I saw the demons of this addiction I can no longer escape from.  Now nature has done its work and I’ve been sober from the road for 4 months now.29633_4328503485431_1269788313_n

Life has been good and given me a new lease to a normal life.  I have let go of my road cravings and have turned to eating all sorts Ramen noodles during dinner since I need not wake up too early in the morning to lace up my shoes and take to the road and take off like a…turtle…sorry  that was wrong.  I’m still in my withdrawal period.  I shall overcome this.  Soon.

It was most difficult in the early period but soon enough, I got the hang of it.  I mean security guards have started acknowledging my presence and people were once again gravitating towards me like I really existed and not just a blob in their swanky universe.  Life can indeed be a party and I’m really enjoying myself to death.  But.  Lately, it’s been suffocating.  I still feel like I’m an outsider in this phoney urban jungle.  Any chance I can get out of this hollowed cage?

523575_10150798226535039_730485038_11334663_283015995_nHelp me.  I’m already having sleepless nights and if I ever doze off, I dream of trails, mountains and pissing along open spaces.  I know I will be able to fight off these demons – I just have to think of broken toe nails, frost bites and endless rising trails but then…images of being on top of Mt. Pulag, running with buddies (now my blocked off FB friends) at Kayapa at 12 midnight in the midst of rain and wind keep popping up.  I plead for understanding…should I get into Greco-Roman wrestling? Maybe Parkour or jujitsu.  Crocheting, then?  Can I just run now?  Please…

Photos taken at

Mt. Pulag, Pico de Loro, Porac, Pampanga & Tanay, Rizal            149403_309145152495818_100002010070333_684535_1550490870_n

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The Mapua Intramuros Run: A Run through History



how to run with college students…

For some time now, this race had been spearheaded by Jossie Ng, the Mapua professor wife of one of my longtime Voltes Team mates, Chris. Many a time, I was invited to join but circumstances just didn’t allow me to (last year was our Ironman relay and the year before that, I was recovering from dengue). Finally, on its 5th edition, I was finally able to join the Mapua Run last Aug. 10.

It seems trivial to wake up at 4 am, head out west into the walled city and just run 6KMs but running around Intramuros offered a whole new running experience and a different perspective in Philippine history. At 6 am, along with Mapuan students donning the official red & yellow shirts, we blasted off the starting line (and whispered to myself, “it’s Payasso time”). It’s my first time to take on a race under 10KMs so I knew I’ll be able to keep pushing myself into the finish. I just kept in mind that it’s only 3 rounds of the Academic Oval, in Payasso pace, of course.


two deep breaths in, two breaths out…


Notice our synchronized pace and foot fall…

10329124_1508536322716979_1119331532240243717_nVan set the pace early on so it was more controlled as we took on the cobblestone alleys of the walled community for two rounds. Running with our group was the whole family of Bon & Carlyn Aga, including 5 year-old Max and 2 year-old Tamara, being pushed by Bon in her stroller. Intramuros is a merry mix of colonial buildings, old churches, government offices, repurposed commercial establishments and colonies of informal settlers. Overall, it was weird fascinating experience to be running in a place that’s been around for centuries. There were instances when I was faltering and had to slow down a bit and in the last round, some episodes of coughing ensued but thankfully, I survived this one into a furious finish.


the last 50 meters…


walking around the walled city while awaiting for the rest of the gang to finish…


Team Jopher (that’s for Josie & Christopher Ng) volting in…

My time was 34:57 so at 6.9KMs (the route was extended due to some road blocks), it’s still within the 5mins/km pace I had targeted. The morning was capped with one of our Rancho Team mates, Fatima Mae Tiburcio placing 2nd in the 3KM category (Cha from Milo Apex was third and both were co-dentists). Our gracious hosts, Chris & Josie Ng prepared a sumptuous breakfast for the group. Later, we attended the Sunday services at the airconditioned and newly-refurbished Manila Cathedral and would have loved to move around and explore the sights but we were itching to get out of our sweaty running gears. Maybe next time…


(L-R) Van, Cris, Barry, Carlyn, Bon, Rob, Mae, Mark, Cha…

Photography is courtesy of Red Knight (a.k.a. Emman Tiburcio) – salamuch!!!

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My 4th Milo Story:  The Art of Cramping to the Finish



Since the final week of April to early June of 2014, we’ve been training and working out like hell (via the Milo R2 Running School) with our eyes trained on the big day of 27 July 2014 – The 38th Milo Marathon, my 15th full marathon.  We peppered our training with biweekly Payasso speeds (a month before) and some official races (RU2 32KM, Soleus Nuvali Trail Run 50KM, etc.).

training on a rainy day...

training on a rainy day…


Days before, even in the face of restlessness due to tapering and decrease in physical activities, I was savoring 8-hour sleeps and eating quite prodigiously so I was confident I had the factors of a strong performance by my side.  Did I mention that the Manila Bay weather was the perfect nippy kind?  So at 3 am by the starting line, I was confident of nailing this race and qualify for the Milo Finals at 4:10 or faster.10553389_770105099718762_3013718194619994303_n


The starting line was brimming with hope (this year’s qualifying times have been increased by 10 minutes) and electrified as we set out around the reclaimed area into Roxas boulevard, leading towards KM0 (Rizal Monument) then heading towards the Uniwide area then back into Buendia Ave.  Van and I paced each other for a good 6 kilometers before he took off with me just a few meters away.  It would be this way until KM26.  At 54 minutes, I finished my first 10 kms. while reaching the 20th at 1:56, still within my sub-2 goal.  At KM25, I was struck down by mild crampping every now and then.  I just ignored it and kept on with my steps.

Now, how do I finish thee?

Now, how do I finish thee?


By the time we were rounding out the streets of the Global City, the inner thighs (adductor muscles) of both legs were hardening and becoming bothersome that I had to make stops for some liniment (?) sprays which hardly had any help.  Soon, I was already slowing down as runners from behind started overtaking me.  But I was still within my goal by KM30 (that’s the start of the Kalayaan flyover returning to Buendia Ave.) at 3 hours flat.


So that’s technically, 12 kms. to burn for 1:10 if I want to qualify for the finals, still within my possible limits if the contractions would diminish.  Unfortunately, the muscular twitching worsened by the time I entered Buendia, where I started my cycle of run/walk/stop.  Two capsules of Mefenamic Acid were of little help to diminish the burden and discomfort.  With the clock ticking, I soldiered on and not let all my preparation and training go to waste. 10353645_10204655792932863_5928639691568124344_n



Almost there, baby…

Upon finally reaching Roxas Blvd., I knew I won’t be able to reach my goal but I was also bent on not throwing it all away.  I’ve been caught in worse situations than this and have always pulled myself out of the muck.  Once I got to the MOA Arena area, the cramping grew more painful and the episodes longer, slowing me even further.  Finally, for what seemed like eternity, the final 800M of Ocean Drive came into view.  Photographers were strewn at every corner, recording our final surge into the finish.  Unfortunately for little old me, the most I could muster was a lame jog for every time I tried to push myself, the twitching would surface again like some creature from a 50s B-movie.


Just crossed the finished line here - frustrated and relieved in equal parts.

Just crossed the finished line here – frustrated and relieved in equal parts.

After 4 hours and 36 minutes, I finally reached the finish line and an hour later, after resting from pounding the pavement, all that cramping disappeared.  And my latest 42.195 saga ended, not in a spirit uplifting manner but still a memorable experience to ponder on, analyze and pick some lessons from.  In a week or two, I will have gather most, if not all facts, opinion and studies on cramping for at the end of the day, knowledge and the right information easily trumps out any physical ordeal that comes my way.  Cheers, everyone!

Our Milo marathon group, post race...

Our Milo marathon group, post race…

Photographs are by Photo-Ops, Jon Las Bruces, Running Photographers, Bon Aga and Adrian Aquino

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Back in the High Life – Races (Part II)

The last few months had been quite hectic, both in my personal and professional life but it was also during this period when I started running more races with the kilometers stretching into the Milo Marathon last month. Let’s look back at my races, both road & trail, pre-Milo Marathon…



Dawn breaks by Taal Lake…

Taal 360 25KM. This we took up upon the invitation of friends Joseph Baltazar and Bon Aga of Prince Productions, last May 24.  We took a banca from Talisay going towards Taal Island where the race had just started at exactly 7 am. We followed the final pack of runners going up the Taal peak which was really just another lake in the middle.  But we never got to reach it for soon enough, we saw the leadpackers going down and promptly followed them. We soon found ourselves by the shoreline where the route circled the circumference of the island, more or less.  The place would have been enchanting with its semi-pristine greenery, cobalt blue lake waters and the awesome volcano as the backdrop. P1090590


Too much human intrusion in one of nature’s hideaway…

Except for the fact that human migration to the island had rendered it molested and trashed, both in the water and the land. It would have been a pleasure running by the beach sans the fish pens, all sorts of domesticated animals and more wastes all over. It was a challenge to be running around the man-made structures that Van even got caught in a net by the shore. More eyesores were the three soaring towers of an SMDC condominium jutting out of the Tagaytay summit. So wander no more why Taal Volcano was recently removed by the UNESCO from its list of heritage sites. That’s human greed at its finest, I’d say.

Anyway we just kept trudging in the face of scorching heat and unstable sandy terrain. Soon we started traversing the island as the ascents started towards more verdant surroundings. At one point, we found ourselves in a black desert planet. The terrain was rolling consisting of cogon areas, rocky façades, plantations and sparse trees – mildly difficult and scenic in parts.


Four hours later, we reached the finish line and took our poses, medals and packed lunch. Total distance of our run was at 28 kms. Across the island we took in a more sumptuous lunch courtesy of the mayor of Talisay, a friend of Bon.10363700_1508928222659798_7279538895707261844_n


Back to mainland with Bon and the rest of our group…

Run United 2, 32KM. It’s my longest road race since last year’s Run United Philippine Marathon so I had a mix of excitement and trepidation. At 4 AM, we started the race across the Rizal Monument (Km 0). There’s quite a heavy volume of runners but soon we were sparsely spaced out across the gaudily lit Roxas Boulevard (think Sputnik lights galore).


In the Zone along the boulevard of broken dream (& tacky lamp posts)…


fly me to the finish…

My first 16 kms up to the Cavitex U-turn had a jolly steady pace, powered by songs from my iPod mini. At some point I was shimmying (okay, I was dancing) across the boulevard taking in all the positive vibes of the morning. It would have been perfect to have kept such a constant pace and attitude but in the last 10 kms, a cocktail feeling of boredom, sleepiness, fatigue and restlessness came upon me. Soon enough, I was doing some stops and walking more.

No injuries or discomfort were experienced but I was slowing down, perhaps due to under training. Or probably because once daylight had set in, I had a picture of the enormity of the task I had to traverse ahead. After 3 hours and 11 minutes, I finally reached the Rizal obelisk, quite satisfied with my effort for the day.10363933_845346928826767_5528595440542338242_n


Back shot with Tagumpay Bros…

World Vision Run 10KM. Subtitlted: Unveiling TB to the World. Now this was a challenge presented to our newly set-up team, the Tagumpay Bros – to run 10 km, sub-1 hour. That day at BGC, we showed up in our colorful, new and nicely fitting blue shirts. The last time I took on an official 10 km race was during Buddy Race last year and was ably paced by buddy Van to a 48-minute PR.


A veritable speedy start in the first 500 meters…

I wasn’t expecting that much actually with this one (just finish an hour or less) but I was also eager to test my mettle on speed runs. Throughout the race, I just kept hammering on the pavement, huffing like there’s no tomorrow. A few moments, I slowed down a bit but hardly stopped. Soon, the finish line came into view but I kept moving on, not knowing who my co-runners in the 10 km category were (the 5-km have joined in by then).10477954_1527223650839580_2986209684472437616_n


With longtime running companion Dave Buban…












The finish line indicated I clocked in at 49 minutes! I was #14 – not bad for a Sunday morning last June 20. As a bonus, co-Tagumpay Bros McCoy Lontoc placed 3rd and all the boys of the team finished within an hour.10409750_1490394767864468_5795522434163957897_n

1900394_10154009165075226_1440365264_oSoleus Nuvali Trail Run 50KM. It’s my first ultra trail race (again) since last year’s TNF100 and surprisingly, a pleasant over-all experience, even with mild cramping in the final kilometers. The last time I ran this part was in 2012 with Team Kulit such that by this time, many new structures have risen and sprawling development was all over the area. At 3 am, it was a dark start but runners with their headlamps were bunched together so most of the path was relatively lit. In a kilometer or so, we would be forming a line as the trail narrows and the elevation rose and fell mildly.Medal+Lanyard




I was still trying to rediscover my trail groove in the early portions of the race.  Soon enough, I was enjoying the sites and sceneries with the rising of the eastern sun.  We were moving across open terrains of cogon hills and snaking dirt paths.  Jogging gave way some hiking and walking when the going got tough.  It was a delight in seeing old trail friends after quite some time.  Of all my running friends, I feel closest to my ultra trail family and they were there in droves.


Well, hello trails! I. am. back.









In between trails, wide roads of most developing communities broke the monotony of the greens. The sun was dancing in its full glory when I reached the turn-around point at KM25. I didn’t the do the customary heat training before but the long sleeve white tops were doing their job to prevent me from frying. The long ordeal of retracing back the same path was broken frequently by runners on the other side, struggling towards the midpoint. By lifting their sagging spirits, I myself was powered by their smiles and appreciation.


A cramping finish…


With fellow Milo R2 Apex classmates…












On the return trip, around 8 kms into the finish, the cramps came out of nowhere, slowing me down when I needed to push myself. I countered the discomfort by doing some heel strike running. It helped me pick up the pace and soon I was overtaking some of the walkers. The last few hundred meters had me struggling as the hardness on the calves doubled so I had no glorious shots to boot. At 6:57, I finally reached the finish line in one piece though slightly fatigued and broken. And my return to the trails had begun…

Recovery lunch at Little Tokyo with Van, Alfred and Noemi...

Recovery lunch at Little Tokyo with Van, Alfred and Noemi…

The amazing shots are courtesy of Red Knight,, Flat Ironman, Tara Trip Tayo, Prince Productions and Running Photographers


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Back in the High Life:  Trainings (Part 1)


The second quarter and part of the third had been quite hectic for me, both in personal and professional aspects.  Even then, I still had the energy and time to maintain, in my standard, an excellent fitness level.  And yes, I’d say that since I had my forced hiatus late last year, I’ve never felt stronger and at times thrashed from all my trainings and mileage since May.  Just check these out…


Milo R2 APEX Running School.  Of course, it’s nothing less than our Milo Apex Running School which we’ve attended since early May of 2014.  Every Monday and Wednesday, we would show up at the QC Memorial Circle and just blindly follow whatever our running and conditioning coaches would program us for that particular session.  That’s an exaggeration, of course, because before that, our coaches would bombard us on talks regarding nutrition, physiology, anatomy, and the basics on sports science and running.  I’ve been a MARSian since 2011 and have always attended their 3-month program leading into the Milo Marathons of July and December.  But this is the first time that I was able to complete almost all their sessions.

The 42KM Group.

The 42KM Group.


One of our overworked and overused contraptions – the Theraband.


And boy, did we feel the big difference.  This year’s program was considerably amped up and taken to a higher level.  Since the first session, the pacing was greater and more difficult, the repetitions of the workouts were more numerous and the exercises were so much challenging that we’d come home twice a week totally thrashed and pushed to our limits.  Soon enough our bodies adjusted to the biweekly ‘tortures’ such that we we’re already looking forward to the ordeals of that week which varied from yoga sessions, plyometrics, speed runs, 1-minute circuit workouts, TRX, aquatraining and more additional surprise workouts.

One of our Aquatraining sessions at the Amoranto pool.

One of our Aquatraining sessions at the Amoranto pool.


The wetter, the stronger…


Speed Run Sessions at the newly refurbished ULTRA track.

Speed Run Sessions at the newly refurbished ULTRA track.

It made a difference that Coaches Jim and Toni Saret were at the helm our sessions, visiting us once a week and supervising us closely, if not sadistically.  But hey, we went to the Circle to encounter pain and experience it at its purest form.  Upon entering the Memorial, I feel like a gladiator being sacrificed to some primitive brutal ritual.  Fortunately, no blood was shed and no body part was mangled.  But we did feel like warriors weeks after, coming out of battle, stronger and victorious.  Check out this video done by fellow MARRSian Caryl Aglian.  So, what did the fox say?



stronger and faster...

stronger, faster, higher…

Payasso 2200.  This came in the middle of our training program.  Speed runs are what Milo Finals qualifying times are made of.  So when Payasso 2200 (based on Yasso 800 by Bart Yasso) came our way, we grabbed on it and joined the fast and the furious class under Professor Jon Las Bruces around the UP Academic Oval.  Fortunately, it was scheduled every Tuesday & Thursday, alternating with our Milo Apex’s Monday & Wednesday sessions.  Imagine how thrashed we were come Friday morning.

Trail and ultra runners of all shapes and sizes...

Trail and ultra runners of all shapes and sizes…



Meet our mentor – Master Jon Las Bruces.

But we were desperately in need of high quality mileage, meaning running at a sub-5 pace for 2.2 kms.  Plus we enjoyed our after-run dinner and fresh fruit shakes along with the bonding and bantering with some of the simplest and good-natured runners around.  Everytime I need to keep flying without losing sight, I just remember our Payasso credo of ‘blocking the pain’ and I’m off.



pure adrenaline…

P90X.  For the the times when the clinic hours would extend beyond 6 pm or when the rain just would let up, P90X was a safer alternative for us.  Though it’s safe to say that a third of Milo R2 and Payasso were done in the rain.   It’s monsoon season, afterall.  P90X is a 50-min workout which we follow on a tv screen at my condo gym.  It’s a total body exercise though each session would sometimes emphasize certain areas like the core, shoulders, legs, etc.  After finishing such, we feel less guilty for missing out on our outdoor activities for that night.

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The Lost Files Series: October – November 2012

[These writings were done during my October-November 2012 visit at the U.S. The draft just surfaced a few weeks ago when my brother Fred and his family visited us for our parents’ 50th Anniversary celebration.]

The Lost Files #1: And my First International Marathon goes for a PR


this is it…

The plan was to do New York but after failing twice, I knew it was time to visit the East coast after 6 years and reconnect with family and friends. And perhaps, do my first international marathon. Chicago was the next option but a day before my visa arrived, applications closed promptly.
My to-be home base would be New Jersey so Baltimore figured in the picture easily. I was to arrive 3 days before the event so somehow I’d still be in my fittest running state, that is after battling sleepiness (never had a shut eye during the flight), jet lag and acclimatization (late fall had descended by mid October).

The day before the race, we went to the M & T Stadium to claim my bib and the race’s official lime long sleeve shirt. I also bought knee-length compression shorts only after experiencing near freezing temperature and incessant winds. Now I’m getting nervous. We stayed at my cousin Allan’s house in Virginia, just 30 minutes from Baltimore

starting cold and early...

starting cold and early…


my jittery smile at the start…

My brother and I appeared at the starting line an hour before to take pictures and survey the scene. Around 5,000 runners in various get-ups and outfits were there, including differently-abled contenders in hand-pedalled go karts and various contraptions. I had 2 layers of upper and lower running gears but was stiff as a block of ice. I just needed to heat up inside, I told myself, and I can slowly get my stride in order. It’s been the same story – I go too fast at the start, try to find my pace and just take on the remaining kilometers with earnest gusto and eagerness.
So there I was among the lead-packers as we raced up the city’s marvelous ascending main avenue – a quirky mix of brick and modern structures. The crowd’s fevered and fervent spirit kept the runners electrified and moving. I tried to take in all that energy until I realized I was catching my breath around KM5. I tried to slow down and just enjoy the ride, hardly being able to shield my legs and feet from the numbing cold.

At that point, I felt I had put all my preparations and expenses to waste – it was time to throw the towel. And what was I to put in my FB status? So I kept trudging into the rolling streets of Baltimore, the city zoo and various parks and open spaces. I was still waiting for the heat to kick in but after KM20, I gave up and just go with the flow of marathoners. We navigated through offices and commercial temples, both new and restored along the picturesque Chesapeake Bay.
We started at 8 a.m. and even with the sun already up and glowing, it was still a cold shivering affair. Thank God for the crowd and high school bands interspersed along the city streets, cheering and pushing us with some invisible force to the finish. And easily transforming it into one memorable street party.

the final struggles...

the final struggles…

I surprised myself when I reach KM32 (Mile20) at around 3 hours. Suddenly visions of a finishing my first international marathon with a personal record (PR) started swirling in my head. The race map had shown Mile 16-22 (a good 1 hour) a steep ascent into the finish line and so I kept anticipating it, expecting to walk and slow down when the going got tough.

But it never came. They were mean ascents alright but nothing that could have pulled me down. Buoyed by blaring street music and positive vibes from the crowd who had lined up the main avenue descending to the finish line, I kept hammering the pavement and pulled myself to a glorious finish. And it’s all documented by my little brother Fred who had strategically positioned himself 200 meters from the finish line.

metal-biting moment

metal-biting moment

Now these are what marathon memories are made of. And yes it was a personal record (PR) at 4:17:36. You might also want to check out my Frontrunner article on the same subject. Check out this link.

The Lost Files #2: Bimbler’s was no Bluff

Eight days after my Baltimore Marathon triumph (t’was a PR of 4:17:36), I was back for my second race in the States. This time it’s a trail run and 8 kilometers longer that my marathon. So when my brother drove me to Guilford, Connecticut one chilly morning, he figured that I’d finish it in less than 6 hours, considering my latest full mary time. I was also hoping he would be right but at the back of my mind, I knew it was going to be one harrowing ride.

578997_4884288903192_63899419_nJael Wenceslao, who had his share ultraruns in the States, helped me choose this run. My first choice was the Fire in the Mountain 50KM ultra but when he noticed the lead packers finishing within the early 6 hours, he knew it was one tough nut to crack. Bimbler’s Bluff had early 4-hour finishers so it was the wiser choice.

Or so I thought.

I learned my lesson from Baltimore so I showed up totally bundled up from head to toe. I’m the only visitor from the southern hemisphere so the outfit divide was quite obvious but what the hey…299434_4884284183074_1965776543_n
Around a hundred runners left the starting line and headed towards the forest. The route had some mean up hills but glorious down hills, as well. Early on the race, I started feeling the heat within as the molting began. First to go were the darn gloves followed by the bonnet then the jacket. After a fast start, I began to find my stride and let others outrun (and outchick) me. Quite frustrating really but I’m taking on this race 10 days on vacation mode and did I mention, 10 pounds heavier. 197618_4884282343028_283425629_n
But I never imagined it to be that bad. Let me count the ways:

a. Stone mines.  It was supposed to be just early fall but our trail had been littered with fallen leaves all over that one can hardly distinguish flat soil from strewn angular rocks. So a single wrong step could mean one nasty sprain. Those missteps just kept happening that I stopped counting. I never learned how my American counterparts were able to pass through those ‘mines’ like fairies flitting towards the summit. Suddenly, it was no longer fun anymore.

b. The cold. After a few kilometers, I had stripped to my compression pants with shorts and singlet over my long sleeve shirt but with the towering trees shading us from the sun, the cold breeze persisted. So while many of my co-runners were sweating in their shirts and tank tops, I was struggling mildly from the cold air and breath shortness.

c. Rudderless runner. I have always pride myself of having a good sense of direction and while all the wide route was well marked but their candy-striped red and white ribbons, I still got lost 4 times during the 50-km distance (losing a good 40 minutes). How did it happen? Probably, I got dependent on running behind a group that when left to my own devices, I suddenly felt rudderless and lost. Or when I got too immersed on the lovely autumn colors of the forest or my MP3 songs.

A single false glance or missed ribbon and I’m in alien territory. The longest time I wandered off was when I followed someone who himself was also lost. Anyway I just need to remember next time that in the States, trails and paths are intertwining and convoluted so the possibilities (to get lost) are endless.


how to survive my first ultra-trail run abroad…

After the last time I got lost, I knew there was no way I could redeem this trail run. The only goal by then (8 kilometers away) was to finish within the 10-hour cut-off time. And so I surged forward, albeit still tripping on the stone traps and shivering but already keeping a sharp eye on the those candy striped flags

Going back to the finish, I realized how steep and slightly technical our furious start had been that morning. It was a minor hill so into the finish, I was basically just free falling and enjoying the final kilometers of our adventure. I clocked in at 8:08:36 and #117 out of 136 runners. I had wanted to be ranked in the mid pack somewhere in the 70s but it was not to be . Maybe next time, I could do better…hmmm.

The Lost Notes #3:  MAROONed for 5 days

It’s been 16 hours since the blackout started here at my brother’s house in New Jersey courtesy of hurricane Sandy who devastated mostly the Eastern part of the U.S. mainland. In the many times I’ve visited the States, it’s my first time to experience such a major catastrophe. 3 days ago, I was in Manhattan for a few days and I had a blast (as always) enjoying the sights, pulse and people of New York City. Now we got news that waters at Battery Park have reached 13 ft. and the Hudson and East rivers have overflowed.

upside down look at life...

life from the upside…


Days before, I did some morning runs along those scenic river paths. Now, I’d hate to imagine how the newly revived public spaces (former railroad tracks) look like now. One of their most anticipated celebrations might hardly take place, actually. But I sure hope that within 5 days, New York City can get back on its feet again or else, the NYC Marathon is bound to doom for 2012.


when the warm-up never led to the race…

Back in the home front, we were able finish our hearty dinner before the lights disappeared and continued with some much needed and unexpected family time – playing scrabble and hanging around sans the noise and disturbance of modern day gizmos. We had enough water and energy for my brother’s UPS (uninterruptible power supply) though we kept it at a minimum for who knows up to when this calamity would last. Even if clouds hovered above, the winds have dwindled and we even got to walk around the development to check out Sandy’s havoc. Here, it’s only 2 trees which toppled and no major harm to Mina house.

My training regimen has been in doldrums. Two weeks before, I did only 2 long runs after my 50K trail run while last week, it’s been down to one. It’s already Tuesday but I haven’t hit the pavement due to this storm. Since yesterday, I’ve been running up and down the stairs followed by some stretching and yoga poses just to keep the fitness level up.

It’s going to be a challenge but I need to rack up some serious mileage soon. I’m totally envious of my co-runners’ training runs in the Philippines as many of us are preparing for the C2C 200KM and the CM50miles. For me it’s CM50 a week after I arrive in Manila followed by the Quezon City International Marathon 2012, a week later. And I’m still weighed down by the same issues – jet lag, under training and acclimatization.

Yep, I do intend to run far and long here without getting too adapted to these conditions so I won’t have a hard time reverting back to tropical mode in 2 weeks. Wish me luck…


P.S. New York City Marathon, after some push and pull between organizer and the mayor’s office, didn’t push through on November 2, 2012 but many of the registered runners still ran along Central Park’s 4-mile road 6 times just to complete the 26 kilometer distance, more or less. I was there to party with the runners who many still donned their NYCM bibs.

On November 25, 2012, I took on the first Clark-Miyamit 50-mile trail run and was able to finish it at 17:12 or 48 minutes before cut-off time. A week after that, I took on a pacer’s duty (4:45) for the QCIM 2012 but with a lot of push was able to finish my 9th full marathon at 4:23:36.


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