Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Running through the Valley of Fire

Hills! Hills! Hills!

Valley of Fire State Park is a must-see destination if anyone wants to escape the superficial concrete jungles of Las Vegas. You will  be amazed with the abundance of red rock formations that you cannot find anywhere else. 

While browsing through the list of events in runningusa.com, one of the events was Valley of Fire Marathon 2012 organized by PlanetUltra. I only got to visit VOF last September and I really did like what I saw. So, the chance to come back was something I wouldn't let pass me by. It was a small race with only 300 participants give or take spread sparsely among four categories: full marathon, half marathon, 10k and 5k. One of the volunteers whom my dad was chatting with before the race (yes, my dad drove me to the event) said 35 people signed up for the FM. But only 26 runners finished. 

As it is fall, the morning weather was naturally chilly. I was freezing my behind off. I dilly-dallied at the start corral near the park's visitor center before the race officially began and we scrambled like mice in a mace. We already tackled a hill at the beginning of the race. And numerous hills came after it. If not for the amazing landscapes that awaited us, I would have thought of this race as torture. I tried running the uphills but had to resign to walking them after my legs started screaming. I reached 13th mile at 2:45. At this pace, the target of 5 hours was already out of the picture.

The second half, now that was torture. The sun was getting fiercer and scorching me like a demon entering a hallowed ground. And we bade goodbye to the more scenic portions of the park. I also thought I was lost when running on the dirt roads of the park that's why I decided to walk most of it. When I got back to the paved roads, I could barely see any other runner. My energy is close to being fully depleted. I walked more and ran slower. I ate in most stations that I passed by and at times I thought I was not in a race but in a picnic.

Knowing that I was behind the pack affected my morale. I almost kissed dirt when I saw the 26th mile mark. My dad who came back to the park to pick me up even passed by me and asked me to just ride with him in the car. And of course, I said no. It was actually more difficult than it looked and the finish line seemed farther than it was. 

There were only few people left by the finish line. I heard my name announced by the emcee as I was approaching. My dad was there waiting and recording my "strong" finish. I finished with a big smile.

I clocked in at 5:54 which is my worst PR to date. I finished 24/26 and won second in my age group (2/2). This has to be the toughest race ever but one of the races I enjoyed the most.

Kudos to the organizers and the very friendly volunteers. Looking forward to next year and I will be back for a vengeance. 

Event: Valley of Fire Marathon 2012
Location: Overton, Nevada
Date: November 17th 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

And Sometimes You Get More Than What You Bargained For

Finally crossing the finish line

E.T. Full Moon Midnight Marathon, 1/2, 10K & 51K

Running under the luminous moonlight...
Watching four shooting stars...
Witnessing a glorious sunrise...

51 kms of toiling of Route 51's pavements and 7 hours of huffing and puffing, of running and walking--those basically sum up this experience together with the three best things I listed up there. Though not a really big event, almost a thousand active bodies from the states of Nevada and Utah and other states jumped in to join the fun. 

We were blessed with a good weather, a clear sky and some cool breeze. It felt like running under a 3d canvass with the horizon of a full moon and twirling stars--and glowees made in China brought in some of that psychedelic whatnot. 

My dad drove me here to get this pic

I joined this race two years ago when I was just starting out running. It is my first race outside the Philippines and I was excited running with longer limbed runners. I think it was my second pikermi. But as luck would have put it, I felt some intense pain that prevented me from doing a full throttle and had my worst half-marathon performance ever. 

This time around I did the longest distance-51 kms. I thought I still had it after almost a month of inactivity. I only had a couple of short runs and a 21km prior to this event. I was thinking of finishing in less than 6 hours but covered all 32 miles past 7 hours.

Breaking dawn

And sometimes you have to look at the bright side. I have not been a morning person for some time now ever since I left my job. But when the dawn broke, the velvet horizon shifted to a spectrum of amber and turquoise and after some time, it all felt good sans the sore legs. 

Kudos to the organizers and the volunteers for a great job.

Event: E.T. Full Moon Midnight Marathon, 1/2, 10K & 51K
Location: Rachel, Nevada
Date: August 4th 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Perth Marathon 2012: First in the Land Down Under

With my Aussie bling
Years ago, a trip to Australia seemed impossible. And yes, thanks to Jobstreet.com I got enough funds and the courage to travel...alone. Not that it was my first time to travel overseas alone but just to venture into an unknown territory is still a tall order.

Other people have this dream. To run a marathon in all continents. I have only run in two--Asia and North America. Australia is my third. 

Before the race
Endless googling--during office hours--led me to Perth. And to Perth Marathon. I was a bit hesitant but maybe my instincts were right. Perth Marathon was just 'perth-fect' for my first race in Australia. The scenic route along Swan River was more than enough to keep me going. The energy emanating from the cheering crowd gave the extra ump to rally on especially for someone like me who does not know anyone from Perth except for the few runners I met in other races. And yes, being close to my goal of 4:30 (I finished the race in 4:36) is more than enough to make it all worth it.

It was not a totally easy peasy ordeal as I struggled heavily against depleted energy level brought about by not eating enough breakfast and not enough sleep. But just crossing the proverbial finish line and my name announced by the host, just to reiterate, is more than enough to make it all worth it.

Thank you to the organizers and the ever-so-kind volunteers for a succesful event!

I am hoping to run this race again. Maybe in the future. Maybe.

And Sydney, which I loved a lot, is a whole different story.

SCKLM 2012: My Last Hurrah in MY's Running Scene

After the race

I am a fan of the fleeting, of the ephemeral. After four hours and a half of pounding the pavements of Kuala Lumpur, my last race in Malaysia, my home for 9 months has come into conclusion.

And months ago, a 4:30 target was just a dream. A dream conceived in Penang in November and failed. Tried again in Bali, SG, Phuket and Perth but still failed. Perth was close with a 4:36 finish. But then, KL gave me a big suprise. I finished 4:28:55. I was expecting to fail with not enough sleep and my legs still sore from last week's Perth race. But the weather was perfect, the crowd (except for the last stretch of fun runners--no, I'm not elitist) persevered till the end and I guess, there is always some truism in what they say about saving the best for last. And the dream target is in the bag!

With Bryan Kho, crazy ultrarunner from Malaysia

I did away with my usual 6:1 run/walk ratio which I have been using for the last two years now. This suited me well when I do my ultras and when I clinched my sub-2 in a 21K race a year ago. It was in Phuket three weeks ago when I tried just walking after every hydration station. Did it in Perth again but I guess bad breakfast got the better part of me. And energy was out of the window.

Standard Chartered KL Marathon of June 24th 2012 finally provided me the avenue to prove something new. That despite the ambivalence of hitting 4:30 looms in the horizon, my spirit strengthened by my faith in the Lord Almighty led me to the finish line within my target time.


Malaysia. 9 Months. SCKLM 2012. New PB. Good times. Good times. Terima Kasih!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Conquering Sloth - 30 kms on a Public Holiday

My DM post Apr. 11, 2012

 It was national holiday today in Malaysia as a new king was installed. My office friends went go-karting. I begged off. Last weekend's adventure took a toll on my training and hence, I had to move my long run training today.

I was all set. Except that I slept late last night, everything should be fine I should say. I was out by quarter to five in the afternoon. My mind was all set to hit 30 kms. The initial plan was to leave the condo at 4 in the afternoon and do 10kms on the gym treadmill and do the rest on the road. I was not able to leave at 4 and had to adjust my training plan. I reached the gym at 5 and decided to hit the road instead.

I did an initial 5kms around the park doing 3 loops. Well, the sun was almost setting but it was undeniably hot. A group of teeners were doing some activities and hence the park seemed more alive than it usually is. After 5 kms and with that kind of weather, I was already tired and wanted to go home. And LAZY. I just felt so lazy to go on. 

I bought a bottle of 100 plus at the nearby mall and tried to walk off the laziness I was feeling. Walked some more until I felt the urge to run again. Ran again and then walked. Then I reached the uphill part of my route. This part, I will have to walk, if I want to reach my mileage goal. It was a 500m uphill and I walked it all. Then I ran the downhill, which is around the same length. Then, I made a turnaround and walked the uphill and ran the longer downhill this time. I ran-walk until I got to the highway then turned left to get to the park. I did this route one more time. 

By the time I returned to the park, I only had 22 kms logged. I only had one hour to finish and return to the gym to claim my stuffs. I am the kind of guy who takes my time and gets inspired by last minute panic. I love to cram. I relish on the different kind of adrenaline rush cramming brings. This is the reason why at work I always get into trouble. 

Fortunately, I finished after 4 hrs and 8 minutes and reached the gym 15 minutes before it closed. 

After shower and changing, dinner was McDonald's Quarter Pounder Meal and a cup of chocolate sundae. I am just not sure if it's enough to recover the 1,899 calories I burned but I went home still hungry and ate a couple of oranges and drank my protein drink. 

Happy Running Guys!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

World Kidney Day Run 2012

Sorry for the late post. 

I wish I do not get to the point where I am so broke and have to sell one of my kidneys. This kind of things happens and it's no kidding matter and it's a reality of life.

I egged my colleague to sign up with me for this race for 4 reasons. First, it is for charity. Second, it is cheap, 30 RM. Third, the cool kidney-shaped medal. And last, it comes with a Brooks shirt. What else could you ask for?

I consider the race well organized with very minimal hangups maybe started off a few minutes later than started but that's it. Simply put, it served it purpose and everybody had fun.

Kudos to the organizers!

Event: World Kidney Day Run 2012
Location: Detaran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur
Date: March 4th 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Of Things to Come

It has been a crazy time for me lately. Not that I am expecting things to be smooth-flowing. But without divulging too much personal stuffs, it hasn't been easy lately. Good thing is, there are things to look forward to. 

DM post

It was a very challenging and mind-wrecking week for me. Good thing is, there were things to look forward to this weekend. Yesterday, we went to Berkella Falls for some hiking, canyoning and rappelling. The first and the last were easy or moderately easy. But the middle guy. Think twice before messing up with him. Canyoning is like rappelling except that there is a resistance that you have to battle with while you rappel down. For us, it was the strong current of second cascade of Berkella Falls. Man, it was difficult to get up once the current dragged you down. I tried to fight and stand but the more I fought, the more I was dragged down. I did it twice but I failed twice. Well, charge it to experience.

This morning was for stair training with friends for our climb next month. I tried running up the stairs with my big backpack and tried to keep up with this friend who had the stamina of an antelope and hopped on the stairs like some small pebbles. Well, he didn't have a bag so he had the court advantage. I did 3 laps of the our condo bldg of our 18-story condo building. We took a short dip at the pool after and makan after that. Had a short nap, err, 3-hour nap, then woke up to do a short run. 

There are a lot of uncertainties in my immediate future. I am not too sure how to tackle them. Good thing is, in my more immediate future, I have this.

Bali Marathon
And a lot more....