Thoughts on (hopefully) Running on On-Running


When it comes to running and nearly everything fitness-related, I have to give loads of credit to a certain friend of mine for getting me started – and pretty much hooked – on it. Though the ‘hooked’ part is really more of a personal conviction, something I am determined to keep on the up and up for as long as my body can take the pain, he was the one who introduced running to me – right from my first pair of legit running shoes, Mizuno Wave Creation 10 in bright orange (around this time, I haven’t gotten into the habit of naming my shoes yet but for easy recall, let me now call my first pair, Wanda. She breathed her last in Phuket  where I have decided to leave her degraded body – but Wanda served me well. Very well, in fact.) which he gave me as birthday present two years ago; Phoenix, my NF trail running shoes who carried my weight and busted shins all the way to the finish line of my first trail run – the Men’s Health All-Terrain Race in Sta. Elena; my prized Zara the Zoot which I would wear to my first (and only) full marathon, the Condura Run for the Dolphins in 2010 in which I crossed the finish line in less than five hours. Far from a Kikayrunner finish, obviously, but not too shabby either. Zara the Zoot were given to me as Christmas present so I was actually one of the few who would be wearing the pair before it was formally brought into the country by the local distributor. Zara came in patriot pink, by the way, which happens to be one of my favorite colors. And I got another pair of Mizuno Wave Rider, which I named Blu, as my 2011 New Year’s present. All these serve as constant reminder for me to work hard in making my fitness resolutions stick because I have been known to run my mouth on this and that and end up not achieving the end-goal I desire because I would get bored halfway through it and move on to do something else. It’s like the early signs of ADHD, I tell you.

Enter Reebok…and suddenly, my fitness goals have taken a whole new dimension. Just before I joined a bunch of cool runners as brand ambassador for Reebok Running, I thought my running mojo had decided to go on an extended vacation – indefinitely. At that time, I have not been logging decent mileage per week, so much so that I have already placed my running shoes back in their boxes, which resulted to my pants getting a bit tight around the waist again. Uh-oh. Danger alert!

Now what I like most about Reebok is its versatility. So far, the shoes and apparel that I have worn to so many running events and also at home when I do my Insanity workout (which reminds me, I gotta start Insanity Asylum soon!) have all given me my main prerequisites: Comfort, Performance, and Style. It fits perfectly with the very active lifestyle I maintain. I have Bruno, Basia, Purple Pippa, and Terra of the ZigTech family, and all of which have seen some hardcore action on and off-road. As luck – combined with hard work, determination and a whole lot of prayers for safety and deliverance from major injuries, if I may say so – would have it, I have also bagged a few podium finish. Recently though, I swallowed my prescribed dosage of this bitter pill called DNF and it did not taste heavenly at all, but it taught me a lot of things which I really ought to apply in my next ultra run happening in August. It’s 60k, if I’m not mistaken. Oh but before that, there’s MILO marathon happening end of the month for which I am hoping to log a new PR. I will attempt to shave off at least half an hour from my first marathon record of 4:56:00. Reebok Teammate Titanium Runner is egging me to pick up the gauntlet and throw in my bid to go sub-4 just like him and Sam the Running Ninja but I don’t know yet. I think it would be too tall an order for me. But who knows? Barring unpleasantries, I think I have enough fire power in me to achieve my marathon goal.

So now I think it seems pretty clear that I am a fitness enthusiast who loves shoes! I don’t know with you guys but it just seems very logical to me to come armed to the teeth when I am about to embark on some fitness activity – especially running. And by that I mean, I have to make sure my feet, knees, shins, etc. are insulated from injuries – especially the lingering kind. Nothing hurts a runner more than not being able to run.

Speaking of shoes, I have recently come across this brand which I heard will soon be making an appearance in the local running scene (courtesy of CHRIS Sports) — On-Running. Have any of you guys seen this on the road? I read Titanium Runner and JazzRunner‘s blog posts and I must say my curiosity got piqued. In a colossal way! It’s supposed to be the fastest running shoes in the world and it’s got nearly all of the world’s elite athletes raving about it. I took a peek at On-Running’s official website to learn a wee bit more about their patented CloudTec™ 3D cushioning system and found myself daydreaming about it for quite a bit. I mean, it’s rather hard not to when shoe performance is talked about glowingly like that. I have no illusions of one day running neck-and-neck with the gazelle-like Kenyans but I am mighty curious to know just how much faster I can still run. I don’t think I have reached my maximum speed yet. I mean, I may be 32 but I think my body’s built to constantly morph and improve. I wonder how it feels like wearing them? How exactly does this CloudTec system work? Will it really make me more agile and run faster and longer?

I suppose there is only one way to find out.

What are you running ON?

Uhrmmm, by the way, my birthday is less than 24 hours away. I’m just saying.

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On Reebok Zig Tech, Fun Runs, and Anniversaries


My Zig Tech has finally arrived! She’s pretty in pink and super comfortable, I was grinning from ear-to-ear while I was trying her on yesterday. And since she and Bruno (remember him, my black Zig Nano?) came just days apart – practically fraternal twins, ahem – I have decided to name her Basia.

Baby Basia

Since Bruno came into my life about two weeks ago, I have actually been ignoring Blu (my Mizuno) and Zara (my Zoot) and though I feel bad for behaving so unfaithfully, I must say Bruno is doing a very great job of hogging my attention. He knows exactly what I want and serves it up to me supersized! Even though the only running action Bruno had ever seen (as of writing) was the 5k break-in run I did the day after we met, I have been wearing him down on a daily basis – with INSANITY. And if you ask me, I think Bruno is having the time of his life being abused the way I do him.

Big brother Bruno

Enter Basia.

I picked up Basia at lunchtime yesterday with the intention of breaking her in at the Fun Run organised by the company for our very dear friend Abie who was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer late last year and had since been undergoing chemotherapy sessions to eradicate the cancel cells completely. The fun run, aptly named Abie There For You, was held last night at the Meralco oval. And since only a handful of us in the company are actually into sports and cardio training, we only did a maximum of 10 loops around the 200-meter oval – for a total of 2k.

I walked from my condo to the race venue but I got there a good hour before the event would actually start. I got bored just by thinking of the number of minutes I would have to wait for the others, so I decided to take Basia for a sprint around the compound. Want to know how she performed? Read on…

Well, for one, Reebok was totally not talking nonsense when it boldly declared that Zig Tech is the brand’s most technically-advanced running and training shoe. It’s like an energy drink for your feet – with the way the shoe is designed to conserve and return energy to the athlete for a soft and springy ride.  In its launch press release, Reebok was all about the one-of-a-kind ZigTech bottom unit which features innovative, lightweight foam that is engineered into a dramatic, geometric, zig-zag shape. This unique zig-shaped sole absorbs the impact of heel strike and sends a wave of energy along the length of the shoe to help propel the athlete forward with each step.

Far too techie an explanation for me, because as most of you know, I hardly ever concern myself with the engineering details and what-not. I just like to run fast, long, hard, and almost nonstop – if I can sustain it. And because of that, I put comfort – by way of good cushioning – above all else. And because I’m still a girly-girl (contrary to what my abs, biceps, and powerful shoulders might tell you – teehee!), looks and how it complements the rest of my running gear come second. Performance is, of course, a non-negotiable for me especially since I’m also into ultra running and cross-training.

Much to my surprise and utter delight, Basia the Zig Tech, actually satisfied all three of my basic requirements with a little extra added to my running performance! At first, I was afraid I’d experience pain and discomfort because it was so soft interior-wise, it couldn’t possibly hold its own against the pressure of the feet-hitting-the-groundhard impact, right? But it did and believe you me; it felt as though I was running on cotton clouds last night!

Speaking of cotton, I really like the pink zig-zag foam sole of my Zig Tech. It reminds me so much of pink sugar cotton candy which I couldn’t seem to get enough of when I was little. But that is, of course, my aesthetics view on the matter. Those zig-zags, in fact, have far more useful return than just looking cotton candy-ish. What they do, according to Reebok’s Head of Advanced Innovation Bill McInnis, is transfer energy horizontally along the zigs so the athlete gets that energy back in the forefoot.

So this is where the ‘energy drink for your feet’ analogy comes into play. And after my experience last night, I am actually inclined to agree. There definitely was less pressure on my legs and I was able to sustain my race pace for the duration of the 2kms fun run, even after running on the same pace for nearly 6kms while waiting for the event to start. I even paced Randy, one of our colleagues, for four loops around the oval after I had alre4ady completed my 10.

Having said that, I give Bruno and especially Basia, two thumbs up. Good job, Reebok!

***

Noel, Vicky, and Abie.

Now back to Abie There For You. Last night was a SUPER fun run, with nearly 60 employees showing up and participating in the activity. I led the group in the stretching exercise and thanks to Shaun T and his Insanity workout, it seemed as though I actually know what I was doing! Abie, who hours before the event was actually still feeling faint from the chemo session she had two days prior, came with her beautiful daughter Bianca – who was also very sweet giving her Tita Vicky a kiss on the cheek even when I was sweating like a piglet! Abie has only been working in the company for a year but she has definitely endeared herself to everyone because of her sweet and caring ways. And while it breaks our heart to see and know of her condition, we are hands-up in awe of her strength, courage, and positivism. She truly makes all the drama in my life seem inconsequential and unimportant.

So to you Abie, thank you for the gift of awareness of our own strengths and your beautiful smile that never leaves your face despite the pain of it all. Keep getting better and we’d love to have you back in the office again very soon!

(L-R) Andy, Vicky, Alcy, Silyah. (Top) Mar. Yes, top. hihihi.

I Heart Reebok!

Bong, Gil, Peewee, and Vicky.

Runners gone wild!

The Balingkinitan Files: Noel, Andy, and Vicky

Ang (mga) babae sa loob ng kulungan made out of chicken wire.

Podium finish, kuno.:)

With Amar, hosting the event.

***

Today, 20th of March, marks the 730th day of a beautiful relationship with C. You have shown me love, respect, devotion, care, commitment and a great deal of understanding and tolerance (and not a lot of people can do that) all this time. For that and a few more good things I won’t mention anymore because I am limited by time and blog space, I,too, love you. Enormement.

HAML.

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.