Thursday, December 4, 2008

i cheated...

...well not in the way you think.

Less than 24 hours after a Thanksgiving day marked by the oh-so-traditional gluttonous binge in which I stuffed myself way more than is humanly (or poultrily?) possible, I was feeling fat, not surprisingly, and wanted to somehow try to shed off some of this recently added mass around my mid-section. It had been about six weeks since I last ran because of a self-imposed rest I was giving my foot to help it recover from plantar fasciitis. My foot had been getting better, and on this day it felt fine and free from the usual morning pain. So I did what any stubborn headed runner who hasn't had a mile under his feet would do.

I laced up my running shoes, and I ran...

At first, my body and my feet seemed to be out of sync with a few creaks here and there as if needing a tune up of some sort. But befre too long, it felt oh so good. The sound of my feet as it hit the ground, the cool air on my face, the feel of blood (and life) rushing through my legs, my heart, my lungs... well you get the idea.

My plan was to go for an easy three miles, but that was just too short. So I added another two. During the last mile, I sensed another runner coming up behind me so I picked it up to see what I have. I finished my run with a nice kick feeling content, nay, happy but worried how my foot would be.

The following two days my foot was sore again. I somehow expected that. It still needs the rest, but dang, those 5 miles sure did a lot for my spirit than the rest would've done for my feet.

Monday, November 24, 2008

things that make you go "wtf"

found this on another blog and i just had to share it. i suppose it is low-impact running without having to be stuck indoors.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

chicago marathon ‘08

If you've ever wondered what it's like to run a big city marathon, ChiTown is a great place to find out. Trail runs and ultras appeal to me because of their small town and close-knit feel with their limited participants and spectators, usually of no more than a couple to a few hundred.

The Chicago Marathon, however, is a stark contrast to this with, imagine this, 45,000 registered runners. That number is mind-boggling to someone like me who'd be happy to see another soul out there on the course while I'm out running. Double that number to account for at least one supporter per runner. Then multiply that with all the spectators that came out just because they want to support the runners and this grand event that their city puts out. And you'd have the makings of one of the funnest experiences for runners out there.

We went to pick up our bibs at the marathon expo at McCormick Convention Center the day before the race. It is huge with several running and health related companies serving up their products and wares. Nike, as one of the major sponsors, had a huge showroom of their footwear and apparel. Gatorade had a sweat testing center (yeah, you read that right). Mizuno had a gait analysis track. Bank of America, the main sponsor had a little "race course" for the little ones while Volkswagen gave anyone the opportunity to star in their own VW commercial with Max, their vintage bug/beetle.

The race started promptly at 8am on Sunday morning. At that time it was already 70deg F. Apparently the forecast for the day was highs at 85deg. This probably partially explains the large number of no-shows, about 9,000 or so, not that I noticed. When the gun went off, the mass of people started moving forward as one. It took me about 10 minutes to cross the start line from where I was.

With all the excitement and adrenaline of the crowd, I started faster than I normally would prefer. My quads felt tight at the start and unfortunately stayed that way. At mile 3 I was still feeling off rhythm, and by mile 6 I noticed that I was starting to fall behind. I told my brother who's been running with me to go ahead on his own. I'm not sure if he heard me but with all the runners on the course I soon lost him ahead of me.

I settled into a comfortable pace, but soon realized that my goal of a sub 4-hour marathon was not going to happen today. Instead of pushing it, I decided to enjoy the run and the city. After all, the organizers promoted that this run was going through 29 neighborhoods. When people asked me how the Chicago Marathon was, the first answer I have is that the support and the crowds were just phenomenal. After mile 3 or so, there were aid stations at every mile until the finish. Water misters were also available to help cool runners down. People coming out to cheer handed out popsicles, water, ice, fruits and even cold beer to the runners. In several points the crowds were about a dozen deep, and their energy helped a lot of runners, at least certainly for yours truly.

Around mile 20, I tried to pick up my pace again, but I felt a twitching feeling in my calf. Uh-oh, we all know that's a sign of cramping. I backed off and it went away. A couple more times, I tried to push it, but every time I did, I felt that same sensation again. My foot which had been hurt through training was holding up but was definitely sore. The tight quads from the early part of the run had not loosened up so at this point. And with the forecasted heat making its presence felt, I was content to be where I was in the race (about a 4:15 projected finish). I thought it would be wise and prudent not to try anything stupid so I decided to just cruise the remaining six miles.

In my experience the longest mile in marathons and ultras seem to be the last, and this one was no different. I usually have enough left in my tank for a good kick at the finish but not this time around. As I crossed that line, I was overcome with relief. I made my way through the crowd of other runners and volunteers and limped my way to the adjacent park to meet up with my brother who finished about 7 minutes ahead of me.

Overall, I had a great day. The race was so well-organized, and the fan support was just unequaled. The course was fairly flat and with plenty of straight-aways, it offered promises of fast finishes. Throw in some cooler weather next time, and I couldn't ask for anything more.

My official recorded finish time was 4:29:21, placing 12,368 out of 31,401 finishers.

Chicago, thank you, and I'll see you again.

Click here for photos of the
expo and the marathon.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

the mt. pinatubo 55k

This was forwarded to me by one of my blogger friends from Manila. Hope we can all help:

The Pinoy Ultra Runners have redefined the term "pushing the limits." It isn't just the bodily ordeal of running beyond the traditional 42k marathon where they push their limits, but also through dedicating their run for a worthy purpose.

The Pinoy Ultra Runners is a team founded to promote, advocate, and develop ultramarathon running in the Philippines.

An ultramarathon is described as any sporting event which involves running for longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometers.

Among the events completed by the team include 3 Run for Your Life Ultra Marathon events (100km Metro Manila Run, 65km Banawe-Sagada Run, and the 94km SCTEx Run).

But, perhaps the most unique thing about the Pinoy Ultra Runners is that they run for a cause. The team supports cause-oriented groups such as Kythe by generating much-needed funds, but most of all by creating public awareness.

The Kythe Foundation was founded in 1992 to provide psychosocial support to pediatric cancer patients. Through their services, they hope to provide an improved Quality of Life for pediatric patients by uplifting their spirits and strengthening HOPE in these patients and their families.

This Christmas season, they want to be able to give something directly to the children of Kythe. They hope to do this by providing goody bags filled with toys, food, balloons, etc. during the Kythe Christmas Party tentatively slated on December 7.

Therefore, the Pinoy Ultra Runners have decided to go for the 4th Run for Your Life event dubbed I'm Running for a Kythe Christmas, a 50km Off Road Ultra Marathon to the crater of Mount Pinatubo. This will take place on November 22, 2008 and will start in Sta Juliana, Capas Tarlac to Mt. Pinatubo Crater and back. We hope that this event will allow us to give a really special Christmas to the Children of Kythe.

Ten Pinoy Ultra Runners and a few guests will take the challenge and run Mt. Pinatubo to raise funds and donations for the Christmas party. It will be hard and challenging but it will be worth it.

The team is still looking for more sponsors for donors for the run and Christmas party. If you would like to be part of this event please contact:

They are also selling limited edition Pinoy Ultra Runners lanyards for 100 pesos. All proceeds will help the run and the Christmas parties happen. Lanyards are available in R.O.X in fort Bonifacio High Street or you can directly order to us.

Support the run and support the Christmas party. It's time to give this holiday season. Help change lives a kilometer at a time.

Visit the team website at to know more about the team and other events.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

a warm run in the windy city

Sunday, October 12th was the 32nd running of the Chicago Marathon, in my opinion, one of the premier running events in the country. With a record 45,000 registered runners, some 33,000+ showed up for the forecasted warm day. Out of those, about 31,000+ managed to trudge along the 26.2 mile route through 29 Chicago neighborhoods and across the finish line. And among those that finished were my brother, Rhodri (4:22:31), his brother-in-law, Jim (3:00:52), and yours truly (4:29:21).

It was a great event, and for certain, one that I will do again.

Photos and details to follow.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

t minus 2 days, 10 hours, 34 minutes

I've been keeping a close eye on Chicago's weather for this weekend, and it looks like we'll have a high of 75 deg F and 72% max humidity on Sunday. Ok, so that's not too bad. Everyone is still talking about last year's heat wave that forced the closure of the Chicago Marathon leaving thousands of dehydrated runners on the course. As a precaution, I'm planning on running with a hand-held water bottle. I'm so used to training with it anyway it's almost like an extension of my arm.

I'm still nursing my calf/shin splint/achilles heel issue though it seems to have gotten better these past weeks with a wrap around the calf area. My other issue, however, is my right foot which is suffering from a mild case of plantar fasciitis. I'm taping it for the marathon, and I'm hoping that it holds up to get me through the finish line with a decent time.

So barring any major injuries and freakish weather, this promises to be a fun weekend. Looking forward to carbo load with some of ChiTown's famed deep dish pizza.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

the back bay loop

One of my favorite runs happens to be practically outside my door – the Back Bay Loop. It's a relatively flat, easy, paved, and picturesque 10-mile run that as its name suggests, encircles the Upper Newport Bay.

I normally start at the interpretive center (C on the map), head north (5) towards Jamboree and basically just following the bike path that wraps around the bay. The route takes me south along Back Bay Drive (6, 7, 1, 2) to PCH, before making a turn northbound through Castaways Park (3) and eventually back to where I started.

For our Chicago Marathon training, my brother and I have done this route a number of times, usually on a weeknight. It's a beautiful middle distance training run and a great way to end the day.

So if you find yourself somewhere around the 92657-92663 area codes and are looking for a nice little run, try the Back Bay Loop. You might just find yourself coming back for more. Oh the cliché!

The start. There is street parking or you can use the dirt parking lot.

Heading north along the bike path.

According to their website, they are the largest Mercedes-Benz Center in the world. A special prize goes out to the first person to comment on which dealership this is.

Cross over the bay on Jamboree Road to get to Back Bay Drive.

At the start of Back Bay Drive.

The local fowl residents.

The boat yard at Newport Dunes.

The busiest (traffic-wise) portion of this run, about 1/4 mile along PCH.

This is fairly new at Castaways Park. It was erected to honor fallen service men and women.

Refilling at Castaways. Note the little doggie bowls.

More bay views.

Only a mile and a half left.

All smiles at the end of a very nice run.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

post-it doodles

So I was clearing out my desk and came across these Post-it sketches I did a few months ago when my running was limited. Bad art -- that's what happens when someone is running-deprived.

Monday, September 1, 2008

another year to celebrate

It seems like I had a birthday run not too long ago, and yet here it is again. Time just flies when you're getting older I guess, but since we can't do much about it, might as well enjoy it. On Thursday evening, we were celebrating my 31st year once again ;)

The good ole' Skipster organized this one. Skip, Tracie, Jenn G. and Beiyi, all from the SoCal Trail Headz met me, my brother and my sis-in-law at the Los Trancos parking lot on the inland side of PCH at Crystal Cove State Beach. From there we went down through the tunnel to get to the beach side at The Beachcomber where we joined up with Robbi and Bobby.

The tide was pretty high so without a lot of packed sand, it was kinda difficult to run on the beach. We went for about 5 miles of slogging through the deep sand, which barely qualified as running. But running was really not high on our agenda this evening. It was merely a prelude to was to follow – some margaritas and beach pub grub with the setting sun over the Pacific as a backdrop.

It was a great way to celebrate another year of good health and bountiful blessings, thanks in no small part to the company that came out. Sue, who went on her own run, came by for the little shindig. Hmm, I think she knew the real agenda behind this so-called birthday "run."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

running for a cause

As many of you know, I'm training for the Chicago Marathon this October. My brother is also running it, although with a higher purpose. While my main goal out there is to have fun and maybe set a PR, his is significantly loftier – he's working to raise funds for Team Duke, John Wayne Cancer Foundation.

This foundation's cause is especially close to us since our family is no stranger to cancer. While most have survived and are in remission, two members, my aunt and my grandmother eventually succumbed to the disease. So as a way of honoring them and to help future victims afflicted the disease, my brother has joined Team Duke in their fight against cancer.

Please show your support by making a donation or by signing the guest book on Rhodri's Team Duke page.

Sincere thanks to all.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

karno in the house, part 2

What does one do on a lazy Saturday afternoon?

So I think my blog has done a bit of public service, well at least to two runners. I got a text from Abbie saying that she'll be at Barnes & Noble to see Dean Karnazes speak and have him sign her copy of his latest book. Apparently she read my last post about Karno coming to town and that's how she found out about it. Had she not read it, she might have missed the event.

Having an "A" day with Alexa, Alyson, and Abbie. Oh, and with Paul too :)

I drove to Costa Mesa and met up with Abbie, standing in line with Alexa, Alyson, and long lost Paul. We chatted while we stood in line which was moving very slowly. When I turned around, I saw fellow Happy Feet runner and blogger, Jovie aka Bald Runner who apparently also found out about the book signing through this blog. I came over and introduced. I'm always happy to meet other runners in person whom I've gotten to know through the blogosphere.

Meeting BR for the first time and goofing off while the dean isn't looking.

When I got to the front of the line, I handed Karno my copy and chatted with him about how his last book was the catalyst for me to start running ultras and completing 8 of them in the last year, and hoping to one day run the WS100. He wrote some words of inspiration in the book and after the obligatory picture with the dean he bade me farewell with, "I'm sure we'll cross paths again."

What an interesting background. Seems appropriate for trail runners, doesn't it?

Hmm, I thought, if I keep up this crazy pursuit, I'm sure I will.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

karno in the house

If in case you haven't heard, Dean Karnazes (aka Karno) is coming this Saturday at 2:00pm to Barnes & Noble in Costa Mesa to sign his latest book 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days -- and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance.

I met Karno in February of last year for a book signing of Ultramarathon Man. Before I'd read the book, I had no realistic expectations of completing an ultra. I struggled with the previous marathons I'd done, and I'd resigned to the thought that ultras belonged to elite and gifted athletes of which I have never considered myself as such.

Reading his accounts of how he got started and his exploits with endurance running was inspirational to say the least. His dedication on the book said, "Best wishes in running & in life. You will do great at your first ultra and beyond." Three months later, I ran and finished my first ultra marathon, the San Juan Trail 50K.

While some people have been critical of Karno for what they perceive as his commercialization of ultrarunning, his accomplishments in the sport and his ability to tell his stories fueled my interest in endurance running and have helped me achieve something that I previously thought impossible.

If you'd like to see him, click here for more info about the book signing event.