Monday, November 22, 2010

The RunRio Experience

Ever since June of this year, and at the peak of Cebu's running boom, so many runner friends have been talking about the RunRio Trilogy. The 1st leg was the Century Tuna Superbods last February 21 and then the 2nd leg, the Nature Valley Run held last May 30. All were staged in Fort Bonifacio Global City in Manila and both events featured the half-marathon distance of 21km, and plenty of excellent reviews and praises from the fortunate runners who were able to join. So when the schedule for the 3rd leg (initially billed as the Timex Run) came out, I wasted no time in booking promo plane fares for this much-awaited and "must-run" trilogy finale.

When the online registration for the event (eventually renamed as the Run United 2) started back in late September, I immediately registered for the 32km distance! Then you start second guessing and having doubts as to the daunting distance at hand, "Could I handle such a long distance? And at a different place outside Cebu?" But since knowing that Team Tytsbogdo, RH Runners and many other Cebuanos are also joining, then you start to feel confident that you won't be alone. And since most of TTB is also preparing for the 2011 Cebu City Marathon, the 32km Run United 2 is a perfect LSD training schedule for us, all while also enjoying the trip to this much-hyped up event.

I arrived in Manila last Friday, November 19, together with my brothers. The rest of TTB & RH Runners arrived on Saturday. We only had a few hours of sleep last Saturday night, the usual excitement & anxiety before any race day. We got up at 2am and prepared early since we wanted to be early for the 430am start. I have joined a total of 23 race events ever since, and when we reached the venue at the Bonifacio Global City, this was no ordinary race! This was an EVENT!!! It was like entering a major concert event! There were bright lights, loud music, large screen LCDs, plenty of staff personnel & service tents,  and lots of runners!

Some images at the large screen LCDs before the race.
A computer-generated image of Coach Rio.

Team Tytsbogdo with Wayne just before the gun-start.
As the race began at exactly 4:30 am, we maintained a comfortable 6:30-7:00 min/km pace with TTB runners Boying, Chill, Pam, Coleen, Kenneth, Eric and Jack. We looped around the dark streets of Global City for the first 7 kilometers of the route. The asphalt roads were very soft and comfortable while the cool, early morning breeze and the bright full moon were quite refreshing. There were water stations every 1.5 kms and they were really in abundance of water and energy drinks! Some also had bananas, energy gels and water sponges. We passed by Buendia Avenue via the Kalayaan Fly-over and traffic at every intersection was at a standstill just so the runners could pass-by undisturbed! Wow! There were so many impatient and i'm sure irate drivers honking and honking but the race marshalls and traffic personnel would have none of it, as hordes of runners continued to trot up and down the avenue undisturbed! You could see it in the drivers' faces how angry they were! That was really cool!

When we got back to Global City from Buendia, this was already at the half-way point of the route at 16 km. Some of us were already separated from the group. By the time we approached Heritage Park along Bayani Road, I started to feel the heaviness and aches from my legs and feet. This was approximately at the 23rd to 25th kilometers. By this time, I could see Boying, Kenneth, Chill and Pam ahead of me and all I could think of was that I wasn't going to let them out of my sight. I could feel my pace slowing down. There were many runners walking and quite a few dealing with cramps. But there were so many medical aids along the route, not to mention the overflowing water stations! They never run out of cold water!

Going up Bayani Road at the 26th km.
The last 5 kilometers were the most grueling I have ever ran. The longest distance I've ever ran was a 28 km LSD with TTB, but that was with several walk-breaks in the last 2 km. Entering the loop outside of the Memorial Cemetery was very eerie. First, your body is telling you to stop. Second, the place was so QUIET! Third, it was a very boring 1.5 km loop. And last but not least, you could see the finish alone ahead but you still have to go back for the loop! My mind took over at this point upon reaching the 30th km. My pace was already at a slow 7:30-8:00. I was already running alone for the past 4 to 5 kms so it was purely psychological at this point. As i approached the 31st km, Boying, Chill and Pam were waiting for me with the TTB banner that we brought. This gave me an additional adrenalin rush as the four of us proudly ran together with the TTB banner for the last kilometer! It was time to look good for the several photographers scattered along the last 1,000 meters! You disregard your body pains and try to maintain good running form! And you could hear the people cheering us along the way, even if they could not pronounce "Tytsbogdo" properly! But it was an unexplainable runners' high when we crossed that finish line together!
Team Tytsbogdo along 7th avenue approaching the finish line.

That was one memorable experience, and certainly the best and most challenging running event that I have ever experienced in my life. What made it a little easier was the motivational factor that a running group can give you, and that is what Team Tytsbogdo is all about! I'm sure we'll all be ready come January 9 for the Cebu City Marathon! Go TTB!!!
TTB crossing the finish line!

With our finisher medals!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Running with Team Tytsbogdo

The social netwoking phenomenon on the internet has been an incredible 5-years or so meteoric journey. First, there was Friendster. Then, Multiply and MySpace. But Facebook and Twitter were the sites that really got everyone from all ages hooked on the internet, from 8 year olds to 80. But for athletes, runners, cyclists and triathletes, thank God for Dailymile!
Running Training Log

For a runner like me, Dailymile has been heaven-sent. I encountered the site from a post on Facebook, then started tinkering with it. I thought this could be very useful for me since I could track my running workouts. You could map your running routes and find out how far you ran! Cool! Then by doing so you can see what was your running pace (min/km or min/mil), how many calories were burned and what gear you used. It's like a personal logbook of your workouts! How convenient! For weeks I used Dailymile solely for this purpose. Then I found out that there were many Cebuanos using it as well. Some guys I knew, but mostly total strangers who, by the look of their profile pictures, also loved running. I figured it was like Facebook for athletes!

After a few months of runs, races and workouts, I finally bought a Garmin Forerunner 305 last May. Now my Dailymile workouts really looked cool! My time and pace were accurate to the last millisecond while the GPS feature showed the map of where I ran after syncing, no need to map your routes. Still I used the site merely for logging my workouts.

But with the ever-growing running boom in Cebu, runners were flooding Facebook and other running sites like or Doc Reel Bontol's blogspot, Dailymile users also started to grow and even though I only knew a few Cebuanos, you couldn't help but add and be added by these running enthusiasts. The comments and motivations started to increase, from friends and from total strangers. Some guys whose faces look familiar only from road runs or weekend races, but never formally introduced to each other. And so my Dailymile friends kept on growing while you give and receive comments and motivations after each workout.

It was through Dailymile that a few of us got together for a 21-kilometer LSD (Long Slow Distance) run back in August. It was to be a training run in preparation for two upcoming 21 km runs later that month. Some of us knew each other from Ungo runs or weekend races, but most of us had just met personally even though you've been chatting, motivating and exchanging comments on Dailymile for months. We had a lot of fun from that LSD, and even decided to form a running group: Team Tytsbogdo. For more on that, click this link:

From there, Team Tytsbogdo or TTB just took off! A Facebook page was created, more LSDs were scheduled, as well as carbo-loading and beer hydration sessions, with everybody continuing to motivate each other plus a few crazy and wacky comments here and there on Dailymile. We decided to have TTB uniform singlets and a logo, which we have been using for a few races and LSDs already. Running just added another notch to its fun level!

For me, Team Tytsbogdo is more than just a running group. It's more than just guys wearing the TTB annoying orange singlets. It's also more than the comments, motivations and remarks made on Dailymile. It's more about the friendship and camaraderie, and the will to push yourself more and more. Sometimes you have to run a kilometer or two more because you know Eric the Great will say "sayang ang miles!". Sometimes you have to get up at 4 in the morning because Fafi is already up and running at that time. Sometimes you have to speed up your pace because you know your current pace is only Doc Porfie's recovery pace. And sometimes you have to stop walking during LSDs because Coach Boying is still running right in front of you.

Team Tytsbogdo is currently training for the 2011 Cebu City Marathon, with most of us full-mary virgins. A very daunting task indeed, but with TTB on your side, you just know that it's going to be a much smoother route. Go TTB!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Running Journey

I love running. If you ask me why, I could go on and on... so maybe if i write something about my running journey, it might be easier to understand.

I've always loved sports ever since I was still in grade school. Before cable TV, computers, video games and the Internet, outdoor games or sports was in every kids' daily schedule. You just had to go out and play. 

Like most Filipinos, basketball was, and still is, my first love. The game just never fails to amaze me. The players nowadays are getting bigger, faster and more agile; but I still prefer a little old school, fundamental approach to the game. But still, it's the adrenalin rush, the thrill of the competition and the sweat and bruises you get that keep you coming back for more. Unfortunately, I tore the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) of both my knees while playing basketball so I had to "retire".

It was during my "retirement" period where I tried to venture into other sports. My dad and brother were playing golf, so I gave that a try. I got hooked for awhile but I was just not physically gifted for this sport. Then a good friend of mine and fellow basketball-injured teammate, Michael Aldeguer, was hooked into running (back then, it was mostly referred to as "jogging"). He was running in the Cebu Memorial Park (Cempark) 4 times a week. A few of our "barkada" also joined in, and so we had this group of 5 or 6 regular "joggers" every afternoon in Cempark doing loops. People used to think we were crazy to be jogging inside a cemetery. "Aren't you guys scared?" Initially you do get chills, especially when it starts to get dark and you pass by the bone chamber and some quiet areas of the park, where all you see are a few dim lights and portraits. But the sweat and adrenalin rush of running just feels so good after every run. It's similar to what you feel after a good basketball game.

So after a few months of running, I decided to join my first "fun run": a 10 km Sinulog run back in 2000. I can't remember the exact date or name of that run, except that it took us from Capitol area to Banawa and back. I finished this run at 1 hr and 8 min. Then after a month, I signed up for the 1st Tri-City 21 km Run. This run started from the Lapu-Lapu Shrine and ended up at the Cebu City Hall, in front of the Magellan's Cross. I finished this at 2 hrs 30 min. But after that, I was so drained that I stopped jogging.

I was still a regular 1-pack-a -day smoker during all that, so I'm not sure if that was a case of TMTS (Too Much Too Soon) Syndrome or my lungs just couldn't keep up, but I stopped my regular 6-month old jogging routine. This was way back in 2000. I would attempt yearly running comebacks but they never lasted. Smoking and drinking became my regular daily habits so it was really hard to integrate running into my routine.

Then in February 2009, I just decided to exercise and give running another shot since I was gaining weight, drinking more and smoking more. I will never forget that 1st 2-kilometer loop where it took me almost 20 minutes to finish and had a hard time catching my breath. After that, I decided to change my lifestyle. I quit smoking and stayed away from regular drinking sessions while I concentrated on getting back into shape. I ran almost everyday, just to compensate for my growing appetite (eating sweets and chocolates). I was running regular 4 km loops, then 6 km, 8 km and then a few 10 km loops.  But for a year, I stuck to running loops around Cempark. The fresh air and serenity of the park gave me time to meditate, reflect and relax. I was contented with my routine.

But this running boom of 2010, especially the Cebu City Marathon, just gets to you. I got curious and tried running in different routes, like Ayala Business Park and Asiatown IT Park. I decided to join the Citirun, as my first "comeback" fun run after 10 long years. I finished the 12 km run in 1 hr 10 min. I just loved the feeling again! Seeing so many runners was quite a change for me. Sure beats running alone! Pushing your body limits and the runner's high when you see that finish line was just incredible! Some sports give you the excitement of competing against others, the pressures of making a shot or sinking a putt, but running lets you force yourself to do more than what you think you can do. Since then, I tried to join almost every weekly run that I could. But with the lessons I learned 10 years ago, I resisted the temptation of joining half-marathons or full-marathons right away without proper preparations. It's one thing to finish a run/race, but another thing to still be in good condition doing so. You don't want to totally drain or injure yourself.

And so my journey has taken me to the next step. Last Friday, I signed up for the 2011 Cebu City Marathon. It will be my first full mary and hopefully I'll be well prepared for that. I'm also proud to say that I am smoke-free for 20 months now. And thanks to my family, especially my wife, and to my running buddies in Dailymile, Ungo Runners and most of all, Team Tytsbogdo, I hope to keep on running...because "SAYANG ANG MILES!"