35th MILO Marathon: Redemption, Oh How Sweet You Taste In My Mouth!


I first joined MILO National Eliminations in 2009 when I debuted in the half-mary category. Unfortunately, I came up real short at that time because of my injured shins. At 2:47, MILO was my worst 21k record ever and if it weren’t for dear friends at Takbo.ph, I probably would have done worse – if not altogether quit the race.

But, it’s all behind me now because last Sunday, at the 35th MILO National Eliminations (Manila Leg), I had my shot at redemption; grabbed a hold; and sort of ran with it all the way through the tape – doing twice the distance as my first Milo appearance.

My second marathon after my debut at the Condura Skyway Marathon in 2009 certainly did not disappoint. Although I was hoping for a sub-4:30 finish, I am still grateful that I crossed the finish line with a sub-5 record; about 6 minutes faster than my Condura time.

'Great things start from small beginnings...'

I liked (my) MILO marathon experience for a lot of reasons.

First – although MILO had nothing to do with it at all – because of the rain. Like I told my Boss just minutes before gun start, I was looking forward to running 42 kilometers in the rain because it reminds me so much of my hooligan days in the province when I would would wait for the steady snoring of my Dad during siesta, escape through the backdoor and run around the plaza with friends. On one or two occasions that I got caught – soaked and mud-covered – I got some mild flogging; vaguely remembered being asked to kneel for a few minutes because I was caught playing by the river which had swelled all the way up to the hanging bridge because of the steady downpour which lasted several days; but that did not exactly deter me from escaping a few more times. Good memories.

Second, water stations aplenty. For someone with serious hydration problems, I totally loved the fact that MILO and the organizers did not scrimp on this one. I found myself making a pitstop at nearly every station not because I was parched but because the water-filled cups lined up like robots in TRON look so inviting I just had to get my hands on them!

Third, the runners. It was just awesome being in the company of runner friends and even those I only get to exchange ‘hi’ and ‘hello’ with on Twitter and Facebook. What’s even more awesome was seeing older people (men and women alike) who would just zoom past me and you can tell by their gait and that they were once among those lording it over in marathon circa 60s, 70s, and 80s even! I remember this lady who’s probably in her 50s who ran along side me somewhere in the Kalayaan flyover just before we hit KM31 or 32 and told me to push harder. I was already taking walk breaks at that time due to my cramped quads and left hamstring. She said ‘jog ka lang iha‘ and when she probably saw there is no way I could keep up with her, she said ‘Una na ako sa’yo ha‘. That moment was so cute I just had to smile!

Fourth, the support teams. Having people call out your name (though most of them I only recognize by face) with some words of encouragement can be very…encouraging.

Fifth, my ‘accidental’ pacers. Alex and Gab, you guys helped me get through the race – thank you! Gab, whom I’ve known for quite a while now – he was among the first runners I made friends with through Takbo and paddled with in Manila bay on maybe three occasions – would pace me on and off during the race. He even gave me a chocolate bar before we hit KM30 which helped me loads in the stored energy department. haha. Alex, my Reebok teammate, was my mainstay pacer. I would lose him a few times during the course because I tried to keep a steady pace at least before the cramps cramped my style, but he would no sooner find me and run/walk my pace. We took several walk breaks which was a pity because we were doing pretty well until we weren’t any more.

Sixth, I also liked the fact that my bag was kept safe at the baggage counter the whole time! At first, I was really apprehensive to leave my bag with money, phone, and camera inside (with no lock whatsoever!) because of the horror stories of some runners losing valuables at the races. Every now and then while I was running, I would worry about my bag so I told Alex that we should head down to the baggage counter soon as we cross the finish line. But my worrying was all for naught because MILO employed the best people to man the booth! Awesome!

Seventh, the speedy release of results! Just like everyone else who ran that day I suppose, I couldn’t wait to see the results – and gush about it.

Lastly, the photographers who took thousands of photos of the runners in various state of wetness and exhaustion. Special mention to KB Runner (who ran the whole course half-naked buti na lang he’s super lean, hihihi), A Runner’s Circle, Jojo Pauly, and Mediabetes Runner for the lovely photos I shamelessly grabbed and posted on my FB Milo album!

***Edited to add this: Needless to say I was (and still am) mighty pleased with my race results. Like I said, I managed to shave around 6 minutes from my first marathon time in 2009. Not only that, I was ranked 497th overall out of 1,053 runners; and 6th out of 9 in my age category. I am 32 years old, so yah, you could say I am quite mature. hihihi.

Having said that, CONGRATULATIONS MILO and RUNRIO for staging one of the best races I have ever joined!

Now let’s take a look at some of my priceless 35th MILO Marathon moments. But first, here’s a look back at my MILO moment in 2009…

Thank you Argo for this photo.:)

I’m such a naturally happy person that even when beset by injuries aplenty, one would rarely catch me in a frown. It doesn’t show in the photo but at that time, my shins were crying bloody murder and would swell up in a freaky way Dinzobear refused to look at it when we had dinner/movie shortly after that 2009 race.

And now, say hello to the two-time sub-5 marathoner. Wooot!

Thank you, ARC!

Now that's a happy runner!

I did it!

Oooops, by the way, I would like to thank Kassy for lending me her Garmin which I totally forgot to set in my haste! We arrived at the starting line just seconds before gunstart and of course, I scampered just like everyone else when the countdown ended. Garmin turned out to be just a fashion accessory, hahaha. But you gotta admit, it made me look even more legit! Thank you Kas for being the wonderful supergirl that you are!

Much love to REEBOK for the support! Bruno was awesome on the flooded roads! I did not get blisters this time around but I went home with two dead toenails which is kind of a normal thing for me when I do long distance runs. Dead toenails = sooo un-girly-girl! hahaha.

My quads are burning!

MILO...MILO everyday!

Thank you Alex for pacing me!

Thank you Kassy for being awesome!

Up next: MIM

Swagga Like Ours


So Team Reebok has been quite busy these past days preparing for The TEAM REEBOK ZigTech Fun Run happening on the 6th of August at the CCP Complex. Incidentally, the 6th of August is also Kassy’s birthday, so all of you out there say holla! to the birthday girl!

I hope you guys have already registered for the Fun Run because the Team has prepared tons – and I mean TONS – of wildly fun stuff for you. Yes, dahlinks, you will not only be pounding the CCP grounds running on your ZigTech-clad feet BUT you will also have a chance to do some Zumba with us. So f I were you, I would totally brush up on my dancing and bust some serious moves when we Zumba!

And tomorrow, on our special Bloggers’ Night, we have  invited some friends and Facebook followers to join us for some food and revelry because well, you know, no one on the corner has swagga like ours. *wink. wink.*

***

Takbo.ph RUNFEST 2011

Last Sunday, 24th of July, Takbo.ph celebrated its 3rd anniversary with RUNFEST 2011 which had a good turnout of runners – mostly loyal friends of Takbo.ph and its founder, the amiable Jinoe Gavan. I became a member of Takbo.ph in 2009, when my friend referred me to the site for upcoming race events, reviews and what-not. Since then I have met and made friends with some good people and it is always, always a pleasant treat to see them at the races. Funnily enough, this was the first Runfest I have ever joined. The past two Runfests, I was always somewhere else.

Team Reebok with the legendary BaldRunner. Photo by A Runners' Circle.

At the Starting Line. Photo by KB Runner.

Finally made it to KB Runner's Hit List. hahaha.

It was lovely to see Sir Jovie aka Baldrunner and Patrick ‘The Running Shield‘ Concepcion, two of the very few people I admire in the running community and of course, those that I have been friends with since I joined. I had just arrived the night before and barely had time to unpack and rest before I had to shower and gear up for the 16k race we had signed up for. I haven’t had much time to run when I was away, save for those four short runs with my, uhrrrm, fiance, and my left knee has really been bugging me some bit the past several days (some lingering memento of the Nuvali trail run sometime back) so I thought I’d play it safe on this one. After all, we have the 35th MILO Marathon to prepare for this coming Sunday. This will be my second full marathon and barring unpleasant surprises, I think I just might be able to log a new PR. We’ll see, we’ll see…

Photo by Greentenial Runner.

Girl on the run. Photo by KB Runner.

By the way, I did well at the RUNFEST. With a time of 1:32:something seconds, I placed 6th in the Female category. The McKinley and Bayani part of the race route was quite painful to those of us who are not exactly used to cardiac hills but it was fun to see the pained look on nearly everyone’s faces. Hindi ka nag-iisa, Vicky.  hahaha.

With DJ Chloe and Argo, the hosts of RUNFEST

Evian sooo cool!

After crossing the finish line, I spent some time chatting with runner friends I only see at the races. It was also the first time I saw Jinoe and Que’s baby boy, Gab the cutie. I would’ve carried the future marathoner if I weren’t in such a sweaty state. I had a nice chat with CHRIS Sports’ Marketing Manager, Arleen Lindo, who presented me with very nice *surprise* for me to review. Watch out for it!

Waiting for Kassy and Trickoy.

Aaaaand that about sums it up for me and the eventful past few days, so far.

Oh wait. Last Monday, Team Reebok had a fun photo shoot at CURVES Serendra for the Fun Run promotional stuff and also for CURVES itself. The very good-looking Ena Terol took the photos and we all just couldn’t wait to see the shots!

Aaaaaand that’s all folks. For reals.

Oh it’s a beautiful day, I’m looking for something dumb to do…


…and since there’s no one around at 6AM whom I can ask to marry me, I did 15k race pace and capped it with INSANITY Maximum Interval Plyo! Don’t tell anyone but while I was running, I actually toyed with the idea of dissing work and going on a solo full marathon of sorts. Or I don’t know how far my feet will take me but I was feeling so good about nearly everything this morning that I thought I could go on running for five hours.

But of course I did no such thing. I am such a freak that I feel extremely guilty when I would so much as clock in five minutes late for work. Worse, even when I’m sick and practically burning up with fever, I still feel guilty about not being there in my office, working like a maniac behind the desk. No, really.

So 15k race pace done and I still have a universe of energy to spare so I decided to take on Insanity. God knows what Day I am on now because it’s already Round 2 and my body- sucker for physical torture that it is – already feels somewhat desensitized from circuit-workout type of pain. In fact, yesterday, when I shared this with my resurrected friend, he said I need to try something new. I need to shock my body, he added. But what else is out there to shock me? Insanity ASYLUM is one, but I won’t get my hands on the workout dvd until gorgeous Abby burns me a copy – and hopefully soon. But really, what else is there to try? S&M? Absolutely NOT. *ROTFLMNSSAO*

Quite interesting that morning run. Like I said, my body refused to quit. Obviously, I have some serious issues and running has become, for me, the penultimate catharsis. Or escape. I think it goes so much deeper than just running from stuff but then again, what do I know? My college diploma says AB Journalism and not some fancy degree in advanced Psychology or Psychiatry. Now before we go psychoanalyzing  my convoluted mind (it’s a dark and dangerous place, i’m telling you) there’s one other interesting thing that happened during my morning run.  While running along Garnet Road, I saw this old couple suffering from osteoporosis so bad that they’re both bent over from the waist. I took one look at the old man assisting his old wife and trying very hard to put umbrella over both their heads and just like that, I cried. There’s something about old people that turns me into a puddle of tears and this coming from a girl who prides herself to be an emotional eunuch. Most of the time. I don’t do sentimental love. My boyfriend whom I love dearly would attest to my emotional frigidity. Not all the time, no. But I have always been like that. Too pragmatic and too much of a realist. To break me is very difficult. But show me old people and I am stripped away of the glacier covering that organ called the heart. In an instant. I had already passed the couple a few yards when I decided to turn back, still Weepy Weeperson, opened my belt bag and saw my breakfast money and some loose change. It was a choice between my 5-peso coin and my Egg McMuffin+brewed coffee+hashbrown+pancake money (hey, I was very hungry!). It was an easy choice. That was probably the best fully-loaded breakfast money I had ever spent and not for my own gastronomic satisfaction. I know I’ve said this before but I’m going to say it again, one day when I am disgustingly rich, I will blow all my cosmetic surgery money on helping old, poor, and abandoned elderly. Maybe all the attention and discipline I plow into health and fitness will actually allow me to live long and still look youthful and vibrant even when old and wrinkly and I won’t ever feel the need to waxify my gorgeous face with Botox and what-not. Kamusta naman daw at may gorgeous pang nalalaman si bruha. Now how do I translate that into English?

Running back to the house I kept thinking: that right there could be the elusive true love. You should see how the old man looked after his wife, letting her weak frame lean on his body, while clumsily trying to open the tattered umbrella to put over their heads. She was wearing a tattered shirt with ‘Ramones’ printed at the back which made me smile through the tears. But what really pained me was the damage osteoporosis wrought on their wrinkled frame. Every step they make seemed very painful to me. Perhaps if they had access to better nutrition in their youth, things would have been vastly different. But hey, they were holding each other up, taking each step together, no matter the pain. I think next time my boyfriend tells me he adores and loves me, I should ask him if he’d look after me like that when I’m old and traces of my youthful beauty are long gone. Equally, I should want to do the same for him (as well).

Okay, that’s it. Mushfest over. I told you I can’t do sentimental the way it’s supposed to be done. But trust me on this one: I have a good heart.

And a rockin’ body with INSANE abs. You knew that was coming, didn’t you? Oh you know me all too well! Seriously, I do. And the only reason why I’m such a braggadocio when it comes to my finer attributes is because I worked freakin’ hard to get this body. Ask Shaun T. He knows. And now, you would know, too, with these photos.

Let's give that flab the one-two punch.

Side Suicide Drills for that nasty obliques!

Stay strong, keep the abs tight!

Push-up Balance.

Because I’m Fit and Flexible Like That


These days, I am — wait, am I allowed to be crass and wee bit disgusting here? *lip biting* — shitting bricks and boulders, figuratively that is, because of work deadlines and our upcoming MAJOR MAJOR event in Malaysia, 15 days from now to be exact. Though we have everything pretty much under control (do we, really? *big grin*), it’s still somewhat stressful dealing with little irritants that crop up at the last minute. But hey, we’re one tough cookie and it’ll take a lot more than the small things to get us completely off-track. Yes naman.

Oh so, anyway, given the crazy-ass work schedule that we keep these days (and I don’t see the trend easing up a bit until after June, maybe) I have become more obsessed with getting fit. Almost to the point of running myself down to the ground. I officially wrapped-up INSANITY last Friday buuuuut instead of taking a week off to recover from the madness, I sprinted my way to a podium finish at the Fuego Sunset Run the day after (Saturday last week) and immediately embarked on INSANITY Round 2 just this Monday – posting incredible results in my Fit Test!

Insanity Round 1, Day 58

                                        Round 1         Round 2

Date                               5-Mar               9-May

Move                            Fit Test 1          Fit Test 1

Switch Kicks              70                      136

Power Jacks              25                      60

Power Knees             80                      95

Power Jumps            10                      60

Globe Jumps                9                      13

Suicide Jumps          10                     20

Push-Up Jacks          15                     40

Low Plank Oblique  30                    74

To say that I am mighty pleased with the results of my workout is putting it mildly. I AM STOKED!  But now, I’m starting to get bored again so the offer to take basic diving lessons could not have come at a better time. Yes, my sweethearts, I AM GOING DIVING!  Never mind that I don’t know how to swim. Which, by the way, is giving me the chills but I’m sure I will be just fine. The diving instructor is there, as well as, a handful of other students. And if something does happen – knock on wood! – I’m sure one of them would jump right in and save me. Right? Please say yes. YES!

So, diving it is.

But, running is still my thing and thanks to Reebok and its all-out support to the Team, I am kept right on track with the sport. I have been logging PRs and even managed to snag a podium finish here and there and these little achievements admittedly do incredible things to my health and general well-being.

Here are two photos taken by Estan Cabigas at the Fuego Sunset Run. I just look totally legit as a runner, don’t I?

I Run, therefore, I'm A Runner. Teehee.

Reaching high but keeping feet planted firmly on the ground.

Yes, I run on swimsuit too.

Run like the wind...

Now that's a HAPPY RUN!

But this one takes the cake out of any other happy runs. Ang saya lang, oh!

Vignettes from (the) Holy Week.


At KM0 with Team U Runners.

I.  VISITA IGLESIA Run

I just had an incredibly good Holy Week. So good, in fact, I feel as though I’m still traipsing along the happy alley in my fuchsia pink flats. Growing up in our little hometown in Bicol, I have some vague recollection of how  we used to spend Holy Week there – usually with several trips to the parish church and endless stream of prayers. But it’s been nearly two decades since I left my hometown, so maybe things have changed a little, if not drastically. One thing I never got to do while still in Bicol is Visita Iglesia or church visits, which, apparently, is a Filipino Roman Catholic tradition (is it really exclusive to us Pinoys?) of visiting 14 churches in commemoration of the 14 stations of the cross. So when I saw in our running yahoogroup that some people are planning to do a Visita Iglesia run, I immediately signed up. You see, I have not really been making the trips to churches since I became a Christian sometime back.  I backslid a few times, I readily admit, but I always find my way back somehow.

In front of Manila Cathedral.

Malate Church.

Channeling my inner Kenyan by running Totoy's pace - for about 10ft, haha.

Mother or Perpetual Help Parish in Baclaran.

So anyway, we had set the run date for Maundy Thursday at KM0, fronting Luneta Park. But because I didn’t know how to make my way to Luneta, one of the runners picked me up. Thank you, JJ! Not to play damsel in distress or anything like that, but I am totally hopeless when it comes to directions! When we reached our meeting spot, the group was nearly complete. Apart from Totoy and Ronel, both of whom I would see in the few races I would join when not gallivanting elsewhere, the rest of the runners were strangers to me. But obviously, not anymore after the perfunctory introductions and running side by side with them for several hours. After snapping a few group photos, we slowly made our way to church no. 1, the majestic Manila Cathedral. From there, we went to San Agustin Church which is practically right next door to the cathedral, and on to 11 more churches before we capped our visita iglesia run at Santuario de San Antonio. We started at 6:30am and by the time we covered all 14 churches; distance totaled 30 kilometers according to Totoy’s garmin; and it was lunch time already and the sun’s rays were already a bit harsh on the skin. Too bad some of our runner friends did not finish the whole stretch with us, because when we ended, there were only five of us left – happily wolfing down unhealthy stuff at McDonalds! But hey, if you just ran 30kms under the heat of the sun, don’t you think you deserve that Oreo McFlurry? Thought so too.

Somewhere in EDSA.

Huli si Manong! Ang intense naman ng tingin sakin.:p

Don Bosco Parish.

I wore Bruno my ZigNano and once again, I was mightily pleased by his performance. Not even once in those 30kms we ran did I feel any pain or discomfort. Usually, even with my other running shoes the performance of which I can likewise swear by, I would already get blisters or feel as though my toes are being crushed. But Bruno cradled my feet, so I was nice and comfy all throughout.

Heat training for BDM102 next year?:)

Never sacrifice form according to Shaun T.:D

On Good Friday and Black Saturday, I pretty much kept to myself – eating very little and watching Season 2 of this new-ish series I’m completely wild about: Lie To Me. Tim Roth is such a character, don’t you think so? And that accent, my oh my.

***

Photowalling. After all, photos or it didn't happen, right?:)

II. KAOS the Musical

Then came Sunday and it was better than most of the good Sundays I can trace back to my youth! First, Ro and I attended the Easter Sunday service at The Fort and I could not have asked for a better way to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Though it was still early by the time Church service ended, I decided to go straight to Newport City so I can have a leisurely lunch and get us tickets to the 3pm showing of KAOS. I used some of my ResortsWorld credits to purchase 3 tickets and it’s nice to finally be able to put to good use the points ResortsWorldManila awarded me when I placed second at The Grand Fiesta run sometime in October. One of those races where I majorly lucked out because the elite runners decided to sleep in.

KAOS is a musical extravaganza showcasing some fine points of Broadway and marrying that with what one usually sees in Las Vegas. And no, I’m not talking about exotic performers here. I meant, the extravagance! The glittery lights! The breathtaking daredevil stunts! The fancy costumes!

While waiting for Cris to arrive...

With Princess Flora. My face is swollen because I dared to watch THE CURE the night before and shed copious tears!

Eric cozying up to one of the desperate sisters.

With some members of Kaos cast.

We were very impressed with the production and while sitting on the plush and ultra-comfortable seats at the upper balcony of the 1,500-seat theater – which also boast of the largest LED wall ever build in the Philippines, as well as state-of-the art lights and sounds technology – we couldn’t help but wonder how much was spent in bringing KAOS here. But whatever that is, we can collectively say that the show was worth every bit of the one thousand ++ you pay at the ticket counter.

The girl who played the role of the heroine, Martha Joy, certainly has vocal prowess that on some scenes, her powerful voice would just drown out Gian Magdangal’s. Gian played the role of the Prince who was out to look for that ‘somebody to love’. Oh, incidentally, Martha Joy is half-Pinay and was the youngest to make it to Top 8 of Canadian Idol.

If you haven’t seen KAOS yet or are not planning to, then maybe these treats will make you reconsider:

  • Seasoned acrobats from China and the Power Duo, a world renowned act from Belarus test the limits of physical endurance with their riveting performances and complete muscle control.
  • 5 stunt motorcyclists from Spain defy gravity in the astounding Cycle of Life that later on SPLIT in the middle
  • Wheel of death from Columbia, where one of the guys suddenly decide to jumprope while balancing on the turning wheel!
  • Human Time Machine performers from South America showcase superb balance and synchronization
  • Hip Hop dance champions Philippine All Stars energize the show with their awesome moves
  • Versatile veteran performer Joel Trinidad plays the scheming adviser
  • Live music performed by the Manila Symphony Orchestra
  • Live animals namely Kaos, the white lion; Sito, the white tiger; and Betty, the yellow tiger along with Spanish master illusionist and trainer, Enrique Polo.
So what are you waiting for? Head down to Newport City and treat your family to KAOS! Trust me, it’s just the kind of chaos you will like.
Oh, but before I let you sweet munchkins off the hook, here are some more photos of our KAOS-tic Easter Sunday – which, by the way, ended somewhere in Baclaran. Teeehee.

Photo by Mark Montalban.

I'm too sexy...but only on days ending in Y.:p

I just love this photo by Mark!

Cris liked the menu book so much he was all smiles...until food arrived.

Waiting...waiting...waiting...Our orders took eternity and a day to arrive. And even then, they weren't anything to rave about. Epic fail.

Clearly, one of those wala lang moments.

At least si Eric, may ina-achieve dito sa photo.

One last shot before we go to our final stop.;)

***

Emperor Eric and the GAG-O cast are at it again!

It all started with this music video.

And then it became a gag show ushered in by a successful pilot run; followed by the second episode which was aired just seven days after.

Here’s the fun part. The day before Emperor Eric, Aldz, and I were to fly to Shanghai with Cris who has yet to grace the set with his presence, we showed up at the studio to shoot the exercise video, Galaw-Galaw. I had just arrived from Malaysia on that day and did what any professional youtube actor would do – dumped my luggage at home; grabbed my costume changes; and met up with the rest of the cast. Ganyan talaga pag pro! Good thing, what initially started as a no-budget production seems to have now come to a little bit of money. Why? Aba nung taping, may KFC bucket and soda na sa set! So kahit straight from the flight and no food in the stomach ang lola nyo, I made it through the very complicated exercise and dance moves – choreographed, of course, by the Emperor himself! So maybe one day Emperor Eric will just surprise us with our TFs and maybe a even a hefty bonus!  Oh how I love surprises! *ROTFL*

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…GALAW-GALAW!

Weekend Chronicles Part II


Right. So where was I? A lot of things are happening in Vickyville, dahlinks. And I mean A LOT. As shared with you yesterday, I took home a medal and bag of weird assemblage of home cleaning stuff, body pain liniment, Circulan, and some gift checks from SM when I landed top spot at the BDO Race for Life held last Saturday at the Mall of Asia.

The following day, Sunday, I joined another race – the AACE’s The G.O.O.D Run, organised by the indefatigable Rio Dela Cruz, known to many as Coach Rio. Now this particular race was extra special for me not only because I finished 6th out of 741 runners *wooot* but because I managed to convince a very dear friend of mine, Noel, to run 3k. As most of you know, Noel has been trying on and off to kick his nicotine habit to the curb but so far, he’s been unsuccessful. He would often ask me how I pulled-off going cold turkey on (both) smoking and alcohol binging and I’d tell him running has helped greatly. More than that, running has also opened up for me a whole new dimension of health and hardcore fitness.

I remember the time he accompanied me to my very first race event, the 2009 SLIMMERUN, held at The Fort. He was there to lend moral support, as well as, take photos. And while everyone was running around, he would take long drags from the stick of Marlboro lights lodged between his lips.  It never occurred to him that very early morning in April that he will one day be joining the army of runners and find the experience quite to his liking.

And so it came to be that on the 3rd of April, Noel completed his first 3k run in a little over 21 minutes. I say, not a bad start for someone who’s been smoking for many years. And it seems he got infected by what people call runner’s high because he told me he spent the whole day being uppity-up, happy, and decidedly in anticipation of his next race event. I’m one very proud hot mama because of this!

 

Go Atche!

As for me, I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend last weekend than doing (a) back-to-back short-distance run and getting great results from it! Placing 6th out of 741 runners is pretty gratifying. Breaking down the results some more, I was first in the age category I belong to – F30 to 39. I mean I’d love to say I’m in my late 20’s but I’m not. This girl is turning 32 in a few months. Yes, I know, I age gracefully. *ROTFL*

See more of the race results here.

For photos, see below.

 

The G.O.O.D runners

I'm a fangirl like that.

REEBOK here, there, and everywhere!

Running with Bruno my Zig Nano

Let's take it down to the floor, shall we?

With my favorite runner friend Dennis the Running Pinoy

Vicky and Noel

Some like it hard, spiny, and always down on all fours.

Yes, the obligatory jump shot.

More running

Thank you REEBOK and Bruno for a great back-to-back running weekend! I am soooooo back, beeechusss!

Total Fitness: ULTRA WOMAN


Total Fitness Magazine January - February 2011 cover

‘How did you prepare for your first Ultra run?’ My friends asked one night when we saw each other at at a bloggers’ event sometime in October. It was exactly six days after I fought my way to a well-deserved podium finish in my maiden foray into the crazy world of UltraRunning (to the uninitiated, Ultra Running is going beyond the 42km marathon) and yet apart from the unsightly tan line – which, at that time, was already starting to peel making it even more unappealing but I was not minding it much because I must admit that weird-looking tan line has become a blockbuster hit of a conversation starter – I was feeling great! Not to say I didn’t suffer the brunt of Mt. Pinatubo’s unforgiving heat, rocks, sand, and what-not because damn it I DID, but I bounced back from the unpleasant aftermath quite fast. Yes, I’m some kind of an android like that.

And no, I did not train for it. Not even for a day. Because up until two days prior to the race when Dennis the Running Pinoy told me that he signed me up for the race and got me my own first aid kit from Watson’s, I was not sure I would even do it. I was in Malaysia at that time and would only return to Manila at 6PM the day before the actual race. I did NOT even get to enjoy the luxury of sleep because I had to gear up and pack my race essentials very quickly soon as I arrived home from the airport in order to meet up with fellow runners at midnight. The race venue is roughly three hours away from Manila and gun start is at 5AM. I only had time for a shower and a heartfelt prayer for safety and survival. Before braving the 1st PAU Mt. Pinatubo 50k Trail Challenge, my running resume consisted mainly of two 5k, four 10k, three 21k races, one full marathon, and sporadic solo runs here and there to try and keep my waistline looking steady and narrow at 23 inches. So you see, there isn’t  much there for anyone to be able to ascertain that I’d even make it. But I am, first and foremost, a lioness. If there’s one thing I have in abundance of (apart from the very obvious charms), that would be my nerves of steel. The minute I got Dennis’ email confirmation on my Mt. Pinatubo registration, I knew I had to finish it. The how’s, why’s, and what ifs were all a-jumble in my head at that point but all that didn’t matter. I was going to finish the race – strong.

Before gun start, my fellow racers and I were happily trading playful banters and taking photos. Every now and then we would confer with the support crew to reassure ourselves that they would be right where we need them to be stationed at any point during the gruelling 10-hour cut-off race.  Apart from very few people, I did not know anyone else there as I have not really been visible at any of the competitive races because of my work and travel.  Surprisingly, I was not at all nervous. Perhaps because at that point, I was still in the dark as to how the whole race will unfold. Had I even the slightest hint, I’m sure I would quake in my feet a little.

At exactly 5:00 am, Sir Jovie aka Bald Runner officially opened the race and the 60+ runners including myself confidently took to the half-paved road of Sta. Juliana in Capas, Tarlac at the base of Mt. Pinatubo. It was very dark and neither I nor Dennis had headlamps on so we had to rely on gut feel and chance to keep our feet off potholes which could lead us to unwanted injuries and what-not. The paved road did not even cover a kilometer in my estimation because even before my feet could get used to the uneven path, we were running on sand (far cry from the powder-soft sand of Boracay, mind you), crossing rivulets, and getting our feet very wet in the process.

**For full stories, grab a copy of Total Fitness January to February 2011 issue in bookstores and newsstands near you.

On Being Fit and Healthy.


Bend it like Vicky.

So I’ve been asked several times by people what it is exactly that I do to keep in shape. There’s running, of course, which I try to do as often as possible for a minimum of 5k for each run. There was a time when I logged 10k everyday and I was able to keep at it for about a week. But given that it’s not my main vocation and I do need to put food on my table, clothes on my back, and fancy shoes on my feet, work always come first.

There’s hiphop which I try to do every Thursday when I’m not traveling or at work. I like my workout with a lot of body movements and loud music which explains why dancing holds a lot of appeal for me even when the only time I’m even remotely graceful on the floor is when the routine involves grinding, booty-shaking, and chest pump. Anything more complicated or technical than that, I might as well be the girl born with two left feet.

And then there’s  free weights. I was not a fan of fitness clubs before. I dreaded the smörgåsbord of exercise machine, most of which I didn’t know how to operate. And back when I used to carry a little bit more weight on my petite frame, I would get completely self-conscious around gym members who look better and fitter. But when my body began to improve little by little, I must admit, I would sometimes be a little shameless in showing off. No, not full monty of course, but maybe just a tight tank top or a sports bra top and shorts or capris for workout which often get a lot of appreciative looks from men and uhrrrm, very scary dagger looks from some women. Though it may be deemed as little bit too much in the self-promotion area, but my rationale has always been that I worked hard to achieve my ideal body shape and form and if I can inspire even just one person to do the same, then I’m happy. Whether it’s for health reasons or just plain and simple affectation, it doesn’t matter, so long as I get to motivate people to do something about their fitness and looks. After all, who wants to be obese in the first place or for the rest of their lives for that matter?

Workin' it!

So yes, lately I have also been spending some time in this fitness club I frequent – mostly to do free weights workout and spinning or RPM. My friend who’s a complete health and fitness freak got me into it and I must say that he knew exactly what he was preaching about because I have seen significant improvements in my body and most especially, my overall health and fitness. I am more agile and flexible now. My endurance has also improved a lot and it may have been brought about by my strengthened core.

Last time I bumped into one of my favorite Takbo.ph friends Dennis at FF, he made me his guinea pig . In his spare time, Dennis is studying to be a full-fledged fitness instructor/personal trainer. He showed me a lot of workout routines targeted to develop and tone specific areas of my body. He even showed me how to use some of the exercise equipment there, much to my delight because I have always felt that it’s such a waste that I don’t get to maximise my monthly club membership. But that’s going to change from here on in.

So going back to the question on what I exactly it is that I do to keep fit. Well, here are some of them…

This one here is called the Russian Twist and it's mainly for core strengthening. This is also how you get that nice line on the sides of your midsection. And the 5kg weight plate I'm holding as I twist to the left and right also helps give my arms a very nice definition.

This is the free weights alternative to the equipment-aided squat exercises. The bar weighs around 20kg and as you can see, it's not that tough to carry. After the initial fumbling execution, I can now squat 30kg; 12 reps; 3 sets.

This is called the Preacher's Curl and this is good for the biceps. I usually do 3 sets of this with 12 reps for each set.

And because I burn tons of calories and expend a lot of energy after each run and/or workout, I make sure that I eat healthy and on time. I used to consume a lot of junk food before (potato chips, soda, chocolate, name it!) but with the desire to look fit, healthy and extremely good comes great restraint. These days, when couch potato-ing at home and feeling the niggling urge to open a bag of chips or take a bite off that block of chocolate, I grab an apple or a pear instead and drink a glass of water.

Aside from that, I also take vitamins and health supplements to make up for lost nutrients, especially when I miss an important meal of the day or had been delinquent with my food intake.  I’m sure you have your own preferred supplement and brand whose health benefits you’ve already proven over the years. Below are some of the stuff I take every morning, usually after my workout, in order to keep health-IER. Now, if you haven’t been bitten by the fitness bug yet, look for me and I would gladly clamp my sharp teeth on your neck or shoulder – whichever is yummier – and maybe we can run and hit the gym together! What did I tell you? I’m all about inspiring people to living nicotine/alcohol/excessive fat and sugar-FREE lifestyle. Lezgow!

Health supplements for a healthier me!

For more proof, please refer to the photo below. That is the result of a semi-serious training spanning about six months. I have made a few more trips to the fitness club since then and therefore I look more toned now but I still say it’s a work in progress. I’m closer to my fitness goal now but there’s still tons of work to be done. And I don’t mean the surgical kind of work, just so we’re clear. I wanna see just how far I can still push the fitness envelope…

Still a work in progress...

 

Condura Run 2010: My First Marathon Experience


That's how I completed my first marathon - with a radiant smile.

“Run fast Vicky, you can still do a sub-5!” says Gab, my friend from Takbo.ph, who was already walking off his legs after crossing the finish line minutes before I would do the same.

“How far am I from the finish line?” I asked while doing a slow run and silently bearing the pain shooting through what felt like heavily-blistered feet.

“Just 200 meters. Run!”

That was all I needed to hear to push myself one last time and make a mad dash for the finish line just before the race clock chimed 5 hours.  I concluded my maiden foray into the world of competitive long-distance running at the recently-concluded Condura Run for the Dolphins marathon in 4 hours, 56 minutes, and 32 seconds.

Wow, I am officially a marathoner. I am still in awe of the fact that I made it: I have conquered the Skyway and traversed all 42 kilometers on foot in less than 5 hours with absolutely NO proper training and preparation. All I had going for me was my heart and unwavering determination to prove them naysayers wrong.

Now let me tell you my Condura story.

On the days leading up to (the) zero hour, I was shuttling to and fro various states of excitement, trepidation, anticipation and, to a certain extent, pessimism. What if I don’t make it? What if I succumb to pain mid-way and find myself unable to run the remaining half of the race? Or what if I finish it but at a totally unacceptable time even for a first time marathoner like myself? These thoughts kept me up most nights before the race. I’m a very proud woman, you see, and the last thing I would want to be perceived as, is a failure.

The night before the big race, I didn’t get to sleep at all. I was too excited I couldn’t even keep my eyes closed for 10 seconds! I was all geared up and munching on a chocolate bar, by the time my friend picked me up at 2:30 in the morning. Upon reaching The Fort, we were met by some of our Takbo.ph friends who were just as excited for the race to begin. A few of them were first time marathoners just like me. While the rest were simply doing it as preparation for the upcoming Bataan Death March.

At gunstart, close to 600 42km runners took to the road and coming from the middle of the pack, I kept to my pace and tried not to let the runners sprinting ahead bother me. Normally, I get royally pissed when people overtake me in races but now that I have come to accept my speed limitations, I am more tolerant.

Though weakened by lack of food and sleep, I was feeling pretty good about myself and my running condition at the beginning of the race. I was wearing my new pair of Zoots Ultra and running at a very comfortable pace and my ears were being made love to with sharp and sensual precision by the songs on my trusty iPod.

It was still very dark when we left The Fort and the others who I was going to run with were soon lost in the sea of runners. I found myself running alone, except for that brief moment going to McKinley when Condura’s Patrick Concepcion would run by my side and advise me to run steady before he would run off and leave me to my relaxed pace. It was awe-inspiring as it got lighter to see the hundreds of runners along the road like a big long snake in front of me and behind me for as far as we could see.

Great team support from friends at Takbo.ph!

After a few kilometers, we were confronted by the signs and arrows pointing to the Skyway. It was exhilarating! Though not exactly trained to run on steep inclines, I was, at that point, still feeling very confident that I can make it all the way to Bicutan where it ends, and back again to Buendia.

And then my feet started to feel blistered. I knew I should have worn a thicker pair of socks but I thought the ample amount of petroleum jelly I applied on my feet would be enough to ease the discomfort of friction. But still, I soldiered on. All the way to the 30km mark, after which I was almost ready to take off my Zoots, slump on the pavement, bawl my eyes out and just declare myself a loser. Clearly, I overestimated my strength and underestimated the distance before me. At this point, I was already questioning my purpose for doing full marathon when I have only been running (and not actively at that) for 10 months and did not at all prepare for the race. Kinda like being stuck in a relationship you know from the get-go is very wrong for you yet you continue to keep to your side of the bargain because you’re in love with the person? That is exactly how I would describe my relationship with (long-distance) running,  except that running represents everything good for me, and it makes me look better each time it hurts me. After all, it helped a lot in getting me this body, among other things.

I did a Galloway as my Takbo friends advised me. After crossing the 30km mark, I no longer felt shame in taking walk breaks. It was time. I was in no condition to continue running with my feet feeling blistered and all. My legs, thighs and even my core, were likewise starting to feel the brunt of the race. My fresh tattoo was likewise throbbing because of the copious amount of sweat watering it down

The last 12 kilometers were tough. And the final 5 kilometers even tougher. But again, thanks to friends whose constant cheering inspired me to conquer the last few kilometers. In Buendia, on our way back to The Fort for the finish, another friend paced me. He told me to keep running as we still have a chance to do a sub-5. In my head, I was willing and ready to abandon my quest for a sub-5 record. At that point, I no longer have the confidence I had an excessive amount of at the beginning of the race. I thought I was done for.

It was already a few minutes past 8:00am and I was starting to feel the heat of the morning sun. But thanks to Condura’s impeccably-organized race, I was in no danger of getting dehydrated because of the numerous (and strategically-located) water stations which I totally made use of. 100 Plus has never tasted so good!

And so it came to be that I was able to conquer my Mt. Everest. And did I mention that I ranked 336 out of 595 marathoners?

At the Finish Line.

10 Life Lessons from My First Marathon:

1. You need NOT be a waif-like, gazelle-type Kenyan to run a marathon. Before Condura, I was very much in doubt of my capabilities to finish all 42 kilometers thinking I was heavy and ill-prepared. But look, I did it! Age, likewise, does not matter. Young, old, large, small, thin, wide, you name it, they were all running a marathon and a lot of them passed me even at my fastest pace.

2. Train. Seriously. I didn’t train at all for my first marathon and even though I finished respectably, I know I would have done so much better if I trained well for it.

3. A podium finish doesn’t matter. Finishing greatly does. Everyone that crosses the finish line in a marathon is already a winner.

4. Don’t stop. Sometimes we have a tremendous urge to quit, to give up, to throw in the towel so to speak. Having the ability to overcome those urges and keep going makes all the difference in life. I lost count of the times I wanted to succumb to exhaustion and physical pain during the race but still I soldiered on – and finished with grace.

5. Cheering helps, A LOT. I have been to some sporting events and yelled and cheered for my team. I never thought it helped much until I was on the receiving end during my first marathon. It was amazing how much it increased my energy and drive when people were cheering me on.

6. Have a coach. I consider myself a fairly smart person and can figure out a lot of things on my own. But looking back at my first marathon, I can imagine the results would’ve been a lot more favorable if I had someone coaching me on my run.

7. Mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation. As much as we like to think that success in sports simply requires having a perfectly tuned and trained body, it is much more than that because after all the physical preparation, much of your success has to do with what goes on in your head. I tell you, after the first 30 kilometers, it can get real ugly.

8. Marathon is not a sprint. People who have gotten so used to running short distances tend to start off running at a quick pace. Big mistake. Giving it all you’ve got at the beginiing of the race will leave you running  completely out of gas even before the first three kilometers is up. Pace yourself.

9.  Mile markers are essential. In life, as well as during a marathon, we need mile markers. Condura, unfortunately, didn’t have enough mile markers but those that I saw coming up from quite a distance away have helped my mental conditioning. If you thought about the finish line, it was so far away and seemed impossible to reach. But if you thought about just making it to the next mile marker, that seemed doable. So the immediate goal was always to just make it to the next mile marker.

10. Let others inspire you. I had set a goal last year to run a marathon. In fact, I signed up for the Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon last December but bailed out at the last minute on account of injuries sustained months before (shin splints, stress fracture, and sprained ankle). When I some photos of my friends who went ahead and finished the Singapore race, I was completely amazed and inspired and decided right then that I would do it. And I did – at Condura. And I will do it again in July at the Milo National Eliminations…and again in December in Singapore.

 

TRAVEL: Conquering MT. MACULOT


 

At the Grotto.

 

Located  south of bustling Manila in Cuenca, Batangas, Mt. Maculot is easily among the favorite mountaineering destinations because of its wide campgrounds, good enough degree of climbing difficulty, breathtaking vista above and the awe-inspiring view of the Taal lake from the famous Rockies.

And this is where I, along with with some of my Takbo.ph friends, hied-off to last April 9 – in preparation for The North Face 100k Trail Adventure Race in Baguio City which happened April 24 – 25, which I signed up for but had to pass up on due to work travel scheduled on the same week.

Incidentally, it was also my first attempt at mountain climbing and not only did it go oh-so-well, I am now convinced I have found my second (sport) love next to running.

The Planning Stage. Just before the Holy Week break, I got sms from Pat informing me of two climbs being organized which he thought I should consider joining if I am indeed serious about completing TNF – especially since I have never climbed a mountain and have only done trail running once in 2009. I was psyched! First was Mt. Batulao but it was cancelled at the last minute due to some members not confirming and transportation arrangements not finalized. I was disappointed but it was just as well that the climb didn’t happen on Good Friday because I was totally ill-prepared for it.

And then came Mt. Maculot. An ideal choice, according to Dennis, because the TNF Adventure Race this year was said to have been designed to have the same degree of difficulty, thanks to the race director and organizers.

Assembly. After a series of sms and email exchanges, as well as, regular updates on Takbo.ph’s forum, the day finally came for us to converge at the assembly place: KFC Buendia. Assembly time was 1:30AM. It was a bit tough for me, having just played badminton for our company’s sportsfest which ended just before 9PM. After having dinner with Noel at the nearby restaurant, we walked the rest of the way home so he can glam up for Malate and I can start packing for my mountain adventure.

Not exactly knowing what to bring, I ended up packing my bag with the oddest assembly of caboodles, most of which are not exactly mountain climbing must-brings. I packed Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene (sometimes I like to trick people into thinking I’m super smart by toting around some hard to read books, hahaha), thinking I’d have some reading time once we camp out at the summit; my iPod nano and iFrog speakers; a bag of lightly-salted Pretzels; a box of Loacker coconut chocolate wafer thins; a bottle of water; a pair of shorts, knickers and tanktop to change into after the climb.

I only had about a thousand pesos in my pocket ($24).

Meal before the ascent.

Destination: Mt. Maculot. We boarded the Jam bus bound for Lemery, Batangas at around 3am thinking we would be on the road shortly after. Unfortunately, the driver waited until the bus was full and it was only after some serious berating by one irate passenger that the driver grudgingly drove the bus out of the station at 4am. The air conditioning system inside the bus was in such fine working condition that I immediately drifted off to a much-needed nap. The travel to Cuenca was only two hours which is just about enough to give my sleep-deprived body some energy for the climb.

But, alas, there was a car accident not too far from where we’re supposed to get off which caused traffic flow to go on almost a standstill. We reached Cuenca at 7am. There were 10 of us so we divided ourselves into two groups and hailed two tricycles to take us to the registration area. Registration was 10 pesos each. Used to be 5 pesos but with the inflation rate and all…:D

The Ascent. We decided to take the path leading to the Grotto first which is on the other side of the mountain.  Before embarking on our journey, we took some time to eat our breakfast at the foot of the mountain. KFC original recipe chicken has never tasted so good! Yes, I was that hungry.

Finally, it was time to start our ascent. Dennis was our designated guide and we all just trailed behind him. Little Miss Eager-beaver, I was almost always the one closely behind Dennis. Bakit ba, adelantada ako eh! (Translation: Why ba, I’m adelantada! LOL)

Like a marauding colony of ants, off we went to conquer Mt. Maculot…

At the grotto, we were able to charm some kids to take several group shots and soon after,  we left the Grotto and made our way to the summit

We haven’t gone that far yet when my feet started to form blisters because I was wearing the wrong pair of socks. Yes, no-show ankle socks are a no-no in mountain climbing. Thanks to Carina, Ellen, Ambo and Dennis for supplying me with band aids. And who can forget Carina’s gigantic tub of petroleum jelly!

I think my climbing attire is a little bit confused but you really won’t care anymore once you’re out there. Or maybe it’s just me, Little Miss No Reservations. Also notice how my nostrils were flaring in some of the photos.  That’s where I humbly conceded that no matter how relatively good a runner you are, it takes so much more than just speed and endurance to do mountain climbing.

Only a few minutes into our descent, we got into another adventure. Okay, fine, we got lost. We took the wrong trail which led us to a dead-end. Rather, the edge of the ravine. We didn’t have stable veins or rock to hold on to so most of us had to resort to sliding our butts down. But despite that, we were still a bunch of happy trekkers!

On our last rest before we soldiered on all the way down to the foot of Mt. Maculot. Glen fed us with so many energy bars and gummy bear-like things. I also scored a bar of super melted Snickers almond chocolate from him and some lychee jellyace from Carina. I’m such a food monster!

By the time we reached the end of our mountain journey, my whole body was covered in dust mixed with dried-up sweat and I was not smelling very nice. I think it was Tracy who said that even after a long workout session in the gym, she has never smelled as sour as she did after the climb. Same rings true for me and everyone else in the group. So what else was there to do but to shower!

For 15 pesos, we were given a bucket of warm water for showering which was not so bad except that I’m not used to bathing using a sachet of Pantene shampoo as bodywash, which is exactly what I did because I didn’t  bring my bathing and moisturizing caboodles with me.

Being among the first ones to shower, I had enough time to scour the sari-sari store for food. I started with a small serving of DingDong mixed nuts (one of my favorite junks!), a small bag of cheap chicharon (deep fried pork rind), barbecue and isaw (grilled chicken entrails), and halo-halo! By the time the rest of the gang were done showering, my mouth was already frothing from too much food of the weirdest assortment!

At 5:30PM, we boarded the bus that would take us back to Manila. Awww…

Our Mt. Maculot adventure easily ranks among my favorite adventures this year, if not, forever. I had so much fun climbing over fallen tree trunks, hanging on to tree roots for stability, sliding down pathways on my already-painful butt, ducking from spiny leaves and trunks to avoid getting scratches on my precious skin – but I ended up having a shallow gash on my right leg anyhow when I tried to swing my leg over a trunk. My mountain climbing adventure was made even more fun by friends with whom I share my passion for running and athletics. What we found most abominable though was the shocking amount of trash and litter left by other climbers. It disgusted us to the core that these bunch of irresponsible people walk around disrespecting Mother Earth just like that. Maybe on our next trip, we can organize a clean-up project at Mt. Maculot. Now that’s something to seriously think about and plan for.

Please help preserve the environment.