November just whizzed past me and I’m now in the busier month of December, thus this belated blog entry. With my brother Eric and his family from New Zealand dropping by plus a heftier patient volume (mostly balikbayans) and we have the perfect recipe of bungling my planned training on the last month before BDM 160. I’m trying to keep the discipline and consistency in check here, prioritizing the runs over late nights and extended parties so let’s see how I will be able to hold this all up and hopefully survive it – still coherent and sane.
November was not really the banner month in this running year as I had hoped it to be but looking at it in a wider perspective – I had balanced off the deficiencies in a week with some make-up runs. In the 6-month plan leading to BDM, November should have been my peak in training where I had to simulate around half of the 160 kms. But upon inquiries from BDM 160 veterans, December should be the peak of my training and only tapering in January.
Most of my Sundays in November consisted of runs at the Fort. We opened with NB Power Run 25 kms on a rainy morning so reminiscent of that Milo Marathon last July I almost shrank back to my bed. But I was glad to have taken the challenge. I donned my fluorescent CDO-Dahilayan 55 km ultrarun raincoat to avoid shivering on the first 5 kms. Once I’ve properly warmed up, I just tied them around my waist and continued confronting the rains and the flooded streets of BGC. I’ve finally learned to embrace running under rainy conditions after being burned out in Milo but then again, this one’s 17 kms shorter so who knows. But yes, this was one enjoyable race and my time of 2:32 ain’t bad (at least in my book). Btw, I have no blisters anymore even in the presence of constant moisture. Hopefully, I’d be able to hurdle running’s many challenges both in wet and scorching conditions.
The next week, I was back at Taguig, this time for an all-new challenge – the Men’s Health Urbanathlon (courtesy of Milo APEX co-runner, Jeff). It’s a short 15-km run but at the start and the near finish, one goes through a series of obstacles before crossing the finish line. I came in early to get a head start but soon realized that I had left my race bib and had to go back home to retrieve it. It took me a good 40 minutes to return to the starting line and by this time, the 15-km group had started 5 minutes ahead. It was a struggle to play catch up with my group, weighed down by the slower 10-km runners around me.
The first obstacle consisted of low barriers one hurdles as fast as one can. A little persistence soon found me in the company of some of the 15-km runners as we detoured around the central business district in Makati then back to the Fort. The 2nd obstacle had me going through more bars, up and down and sideways before hitting the pavement. 3 more obstacles awaited us in the final distance – the 5 hurdles along the road, the monkey bars and the high wall. I had a hard time with the monkey bars and slightly on the wall but I managed to survive them and still do a glorious finish. In fact, along with Kokoy & Keshia, we were still able to join the rest of our group who had left for Timberland that morning on their return run to Marikina and racked up 22 more kilometers for a total of 37 kms for that Sunday.
The 3rd Sunday I woke up a lot earlier to be at the Palms Country Club in Alabang for Team USB’s Aquathlon. My Light category entailed a 6-km run, a 600-m swim and a 3-km run. Days into the race, I was a nervous wreck trying to cram on my swim training and trying to perfect Total Immersion into a faster race pace. But since I had only a video to guide me, I hardly accelerated in the 4-foot pool. In hindsight, I could have moved more smoothly using the freestyle (which was quite helpful in my 1st Aquathlon).
The 6-km run was quite a breeze, moving through rolling terrains and mild descents. I was 20th when I entered the pool but soon enough, I felt the rest of the swimmers behind me suddenly surging and leaving me behind, like some drowning duck. I tried to keep up with them but soon enough I was struggling at each lap, taking long breaks in between to recover. It was no longer enjoyable and I was just waiting to get through with the 24th lap and start hitting the pavement. I still had enough power for the final run but by that time, most of my contemporaries were already breezing the finish line. Time to reboot my total immersion style.
Besides the weekday runs where I averaged 15-20 kms, I was able to do a full Timberland training run on the last Sunday of November. I had joined our group (led my indefatigable and dangerously adventurous partner Dave) earlier in October where Team Boring along with Team Life (& Team Kulit) ran from Marikina going up and down Monterrey to San Mateo and finally into Timberland and back. The most compelling part of this route is definitely the Shotgun road – a series of ascending planes one loses count of as one continues to go uphill at 45 degrees or more, quite reminiscent of Bukidnon before Camp Philips in the Del Monte area.
After what felt like forever, the concrete roads soon give way to rocky & muddy trails as we sped downhill into the Clubhouse area and going further down to The Wall then back to San Mateo town proper and Monterrey. While the first time took us more than 7 hours (we were over 20 runners), the November Timberland run clocked a mere 6 hours and one can’t help feeling like a conqueror after surviving it with minor problems.
I knew I would have difficulty maintaining my weekday runs around the village so I enrolled in the Milo APEX running clinic at the QC Memorial Circle every Monday and Wednesday night. Under the tutelage and guidance of ace coach Jim Saret (and a bevy of competent Milo coaches), I learned the magnitude of leg and core strengthening and was able to get me out of my comfort zone. We did a lot of body strengthening routines coupled with numerous speed and recovery runs. Each session had us wounded and panting and sweating to our limits but we always looked forward to the next assembly.
I averaged around 5-7 kms. per night but I felt so strong and revitalized after. What we did were quality runs and exercises and I don’t think I could have done them by myself plus I met some great and passionate runners in our 42-km group. I will miss Milo APEX but I need to learn to train and run on my own.
I started at 150 lbs before August 2011 but by November when all the training had intensified, I had dropped to 143 lbs. I would jump up a pound or so when I’m more relaxed and the metabolic heat inside had died down. The pictures would attest that I look gaunt and sickly but I’ve never felt stronger and resistant (and this is not me psyching myself up). We’ve ran through hard rains and the searing sun but I never got sick even while almost everyone in the house is experiencing some form of allergy or coughing. Anyway, I can take all the brickbats (some well meaning, actually) up to January. After BDM 160, I can always go back to my old self, 5 pounds heavier but maybe not…who knows. I might also miss some traces of an emerging rectus abdominis.