Runner’s Interview: Sen. Pia Cayetano

Monday, 4 June 2007  |  Interviews + Features

She ran for the Philippine Senate in 2004—and won the top sixth slot making her the youngest female Senator in the country. That is no mean feat, but for Senator Companera Pia S. Cayetano, that is just one of the many achievements she can tuck under her belt. You see, aside from her work in the Senate (which I’m sure comprises majority of her time), she was in the training pool of the Philippine National Duathlon Team, a Series Champion in the Ladies Division of Clark Duathlon (2004), and a finisher in the San Francisco Marathon (2002), ITU World Duathlon (2005), and the more recent Venice and New York Marathons. (Phew, just typing that out made me lose 1,000 calories!) Aside from that, Companera Pia finds the time for advocacy work in which she supports issues that are close to her heart. Oh, did I mention she is also a mother of two?!

Pia Sprint

– Sen. Pia sprints to finish her 10k at 50:40 –

I met Pia in 2002 when I started writing for Maxibulletin, the newsletter of Maxibear, Maxitoylab, Maxiworks, and Just Born, the chain of retail stores she built as an entrepreneur. Together, we would write and edit the articles every other month. When she became Senator in 2004, I continued to work on the bulletin alone. While Pia championed her causes for the nation, I battled typos and grammatical errors—mind you, my job was just as honorable…NOT. We only saw each other again in the Pinay In Action (PIA) Fun Run, the race she organized, which was the first race that got me hooked into running.

With work, training, family, and her advocacies, I was foolish enough to ask Companera Pia if she could find the time to be interviewed for this blog. Fortunately, she was gracious enough to accept this email interview so many of us runners can take a peek into her life as an athlete:

TBR: We know you’ve been into sports ever since you were young, like volleyball in your college days. When did you start running and joining marathons?

Pia: I started running as part of our training when I was part of the UP volleyball varsity team. We would run around the academic oval in UP which was 2.2km. That was already long for me back then. When I was 16 and a sophomore, I started running longer distances cause I felt I was putting on unnecessary and unwanted weight. So, I started joining 5k fun runs and running 2-3x around the academic oval.

If I remember right, I joined my first 10k and eventually half marathon much later, like after college..That was because I was so fat! Seriously, I had gained so much weight (living and working in NY for a while) and I needed to do something about it.. and that’s how I became a long distance runner…

I enjoyed joining races ranging from 10 to half marathons, but it took a while to do my first marathon…I did that in my senior year in law school in 1991, the PAL marathon.

Pia in Mekong River Race

– Sen. Pia at Mekong River Race where she did an olympic distance duathlon (10krun-40k bike-5k run) on Saturday and a sprint tri on Sunday (750 swim-20kbike-5k run) –

TBR: You organize marathons as well, “Run-Walk Bike For a Cause in Memory of Gabriel” and “Pinay In Action,” why do you think is this a good way to celebrate your cause?

Pia: First of all, I like to bring awareness or celebrate causes in a way that is close to my heart. Some people chose to do benefit concerts, others sponsor a play or a movie. I do what I do best, running, biking and stuff like that…Not only does this become an enjoyable process for me (its not easy raising funds) but it gets people involved in a healthier lifestyle.

Bike For Hope Pia Speaks

– Sen. Pia promotes cycling as an environment-friendly means of transportation during the 6th Bike For Hope –

TBR: You already ran the dream race of most runners, The New York Marathon. How did you prepare for this? How did you feel during the run and after?

Pia: How did I prepare? I made the decision to join in May, I think. That gave me 6 months to prepare. At that point, I was doing around 14k as my once a week long run. I worked with my coach Rob Pickard, and figured out the distance I had to cover backwards…meaning starting in the last two weeks before NY, I wanted to be running 30-35k comfortably. That would mean, I had to slowly build up to that distance. In July I was doing half marathons comfortably, working on both my speed and edurance. In August and September I slowly built up the distance to killer 30k plus long runs every other week. I died of boredom but I knew I needed to do it..Because doing a 30k is so long, a couple of times, I joined a half marathon and then ran 10k more after passing the finish line.

NY was meant to by my 3rd marathon (I say meant to be because may “nasingit” na marathon 2 weeks before. When I was finalizing my training program, I realized I would be in Europe for my conference with Women Parliamentarians during the time I had to do the crucial last long run. I looked if there were any 21k races that would serve as my last long run. There were none, but there were a few full marathons. To make a long story short, I decided to join the Venice Marathon but just do half…except that the night before the race, we realized I would be stranded in the middle of nowhere if I just stopped at 21k…so I completed it..and ended up running two marathons 2 weeks apart. Not a good thing to do, but I did PR both times..I did a 4:06 in NY.

How did I feel during and after? I was worried when I started NY because 2 weeks is not enough time to recover from a marathon. But 5k into the race, I was psyched and energized because I was feeling really good…I ran the last few miles with friends Fernando Zobel and later Paul Casino and that was really a good feeling… NY was my best race because I had trained well. My triathlon coach Rob Pickard was instrumental in working-out a doable albeit at times, grueling program. He made me do horrible horrible 1k repeats and long tempo runs.

TBR: How do you balance your roles as Senator, mother of two, and athlete? How do you find the time to train?

Pia: The short answer to that question..I just have to wake up earlier and not stay up too late to sqeeze in my work-out. The long answer…I’ve always been a busy person. I think being a breastfeeding mom, set the tone and gave me the training for balancing life between family, work and other things..I’m not a morning person, but I had to become one to squeeze in training..so I guess I’m now a reluctant morning person. Sometimes, I wonder why my sport was not an indoor sport like badminton where people play late at night (I do play badminton but not regularly these days).

Pia in NY

– Sen. Pia speaks against child discrimination and violence at an international conference in NY –

The key is planning. My training is like any other appointment that is booked in my calendar and that should be respected, meaning not cancelled or bumped off, unless absolutely necessary. From there, I know if I have to wake up extra-early or just in time to do the planned work-out for the day before my work week starts. If its a busy week, then I just have to do the harder/longer work-outs and catch up on my sleep on the week-end..

Session ends in the evening, I rarely get home before 8pm, usually too exhausted to work-out by that time.. And that’s my time for my kids. We do indoor activities on school days–anything from just hanging in our room, playing sungka (our favorite these days), reading, sometimes artwork when we are feeling creative. They go to a Montessori school and rarely have homework which is a good thing, if you ask me.

I also try to get my kids involved in sports, that way we can all enjoy what we are doing. I’ve started bringing my girls to a short-off road trail for mountain biking, just here in the village. i stink at it, but its good for bike handling skills and my 12 year old daughter likes it and is getting better. She also has done 2 triathlons na! Proud mom! My 8 year old, likes doing a few laps and playing in the pool when I swim sometimes.

Pia with Maxine

– Pia runs with her 12 y.o. daughter, Maxine, and best friend, Amanda, during their 2nd triathlon –

TBR: How does a week of your training program look?

Pia: Well, it really depends on what Im training for. I join triathlons, duathlons and running events year-round. So, I swim, bike and run during the week. I join as many races as I can. They destress me.

This is the general program, subject to tweaking depending on the upcoming race:

> MON – bike ride or brick (bike and run) if there is a triathlon or duathlon coming up) and if Im not too lazy. Sometimes swim in the evening, if and only if I get off by 7pm.
> TUE – long run (every other week) med distance in between weeks and yoga
> WED – long bike (every other week, if possible)
> THU – run intervals and swim (badminton too if I have time)
> FRI – REST
> SAT – brick, if not bike and swim or tempo run
> SUN – either a race, easy run or whatever I’m up to. Easy swim after the race or in the early evening.

Pia Bike For Hope

– During the 6th Bike For Hope –

TBR: What other races do you plan to join this year? Do you have other goals in sports that you want to achieve?

Pia: I join any 10k I hear off when Im free. Im working on my form and my speed. My goal is to get my time comfortable under 50mins. Not easy:(

TBR: What is your dream race?

Pia: As a runner, my dream race has always been the NY marathon. That’s why I made myself do it last year when the opportunity came about..So, I guess, I have fulfilled my dream…I wouldn’t mind joining races in different countries. I try to look for races when I travel, but lately, its only the Venice Marathon that I’ve done out of the country.

TBR: Why do you love running?

Pia: Oh, that’s a separate interview all in itself! But well, I love running because it helps me keep the weight off, I feel good after, usually during but defintely after. Haha! And it really is my time for myself, I’m used to running alone, I dont need a running partner or group to get out and run. But it is so much more fun doing it with friends and I take any opportunity I can to run with a friend.

TBR: Any advice for beginning runners?

Pia: Don’t force yourself to run far and fast. Go at an easy pace and don’t hesitate to take walk breaks. Unless you are the self-motivated type, do join a group or run with friends…

Be patient, the weight will come off, for those of you trying to lose weight, which is probably most of us… You will get fitter and faster and you will feel absolutely great.

If you have any comments/questions for Companera Pia, visit her here.

Photos courtesy of SenatorPiaCayetano.com, CayetanoFoundation.com

When It Rains, It Pours

Friday, 1 June 2007  |  Bullish Insights

To say this week was slow would be an understatement. It was a dreadfully long-drawn-out and nasty five days for me:

  • Sunday: 45 minute easy run in Ayala Alabang
  • Monday: I skip my 5:30am run with Coach B and Annie due to soreness on my left knee. Coach B tells me to rest for two days. When the pain miraculously disappears in the afternoon, I hop on the treadmill and run 6k. Shhh…don’t tell Coach B! (Yeah yeah yeah, I can be bullheaded at times…or most of the time)
  • Tuesday: Soreness on the knee is back, but worse. I’m convinced my meniscus problem is back—no use denying it, my knee snaps everytime I bend it. Ugh. Depression sets in: Will I ever be able to run again? How do I train for Run for PEACE? Does this mean I can’t eat like a slob anymore lest I gain weight? And, when oh when will I be able to take my new running shoes for a road test?
  • Wednesday: Again, I am forced to skip my 5:30am run! I am in panic mode. I am turning into an evil monster. If I don’t run soon, I will devour anything that has feet.
  • Thursday: My knees still snap…but I make myself believe that it slightly improves by evening. I commit to run the following day.
  • Friday (today): I wake up at 4:30am thanking the high heavens for a painless knee. Woohoo!

So, I met Coach B at our usual meeting place this morning for an easy run. Just 45 mins. on the flat roads of Ayala Alabang. We ran at a slow, steady pace to avoid further injuries to my knee and kept it that way all throughout the run. Oooh, it felt so good to be back. I was comfortable, at ease, and happy. I thought things couldn’t get better than that, but much to my surprise, it did. It started to rain! It was my first time to run in the rain—and it was fun! As we ran drenched in sweat and raindrops, I couldn’t help but smile to myself. I was just in pure bliss. If Coach B had glanced my way, he must’ve thought I was crazy—but then again, as a fellow runner, I’m sure he knew exactly how I felt.

Rain Rain

Now sing with me: I’m running in the rain, I’m running in the rain. What a beautiful feeling. I’m most definitely happy again!

Letter of Apology From Champion Management

Thursday, 31 May 2007  |  Race Announcements

I should check my spam box more often. This is what I found there!

Below is an open letter from SportsConnection, the company behind Champion brand, apologizing for the lack of organization during the Champion Run. I don’t know about you, but running brings so much positive energy into my life that I refuse to taint it with any unpleasant thoughts or harbour ill feelings towards anyone.

All I can say to the management of SportsConnections is this: please learn from your mistakes and make sure that in next year’s run (if there is any) you will: 1) have more water, 2) more marshalls, 3) start on time, 4) provide water at the end of the finish line, and 5) coordinate closely with your race organizer (When you put your name on it, it is your race. Its success or failure becomes yours too.) Peace—I have forgiven and forgotten! I don’t know about the rest.

To other runners of the Champion Race, feel free to post tactful comments and suggestions for SportsConnection to realize areas of improvement.

————————————————————————————————-

Warm Greetings!

On behalf of SportsConnection, we would like to thank everybody who joined the Champion Run. We appreciate your participation in our first run event.

We would like to take this opportunity to apologize to those who have been inconvenienced by lack of water in the hydration stations set up by Fort Striders, the group we commissioned to be our race organizer.

We have distributed (personally handed) to the runners more than 2,800 bottles of mineral water and soft drinks together with some snacks and the certificates.

Please note that as soon as our president, Adi delos Reyes, found out that the stations have run out of water, he immediately instructed our staff to go get more water for the runners.

The problems you mentioned (water and not enough marshals) were supposed to be taken cared of by the race organizer. It clearly states in the contract we signed with them that they will provide water in the hydration stations, take care of the race technical aspects as well as the sound system to which we have also heard several complaints. Their shortcomings had boomerang on SportsConnection especially our brand, Champion.

We do not mean to point fingers at anybody. We take responsibility for the problems in our event but have trusted that our race organizer would take care of these aspects.

Please be assured that we only want the best for the runners as well as the sport. It is our vision to help and support PSC athletes and Gawad Kalinga.

We hope that you understand SportsConnections’ side because we too have been a victim here. All these we have taken note of and we assure you that this will definitely not happen again.

Boycotting our future events and our products is most unfair. We appeal for your kind understanding.

Thank you.

15 Tips For Buying Running Shoes

Wednesday, 30 May 2007  |  Gear + Gadgets

Out with the old and in with the New. New Balance, that is.

A few days ago, I was still too enamored with my NB 807’s to even think of letting them go. I loved their fit and design. Deep inside though, I knew that our relationship had been slowly turning sour since last year. Around December, due to my constant abuse, I noticed small tears on its sides near the laces. In March, as I was staring at it lovingly, I suddenly became aware of how it had gotten older than its years. My love remained unconditional though. Decrepit and dirty as my shoes were, I could not find a suitable replacement despite the many many times I shopped and surfed for other shoes (well, mainly because my 807s have a B width while local New Balance stores only sell D width.)

Then, over the past weekend, heaven intervened (perhaps our relationship wasn’t good for either of us?) Heading towards the cinemas, I decided to pass by New Balance, Festival Mall to take a quick peek. Hallelujah, they were on sale! Before entering, I hesitated as I remembered my 807s, but I felt that it was the right time to move on and let them go. I thought the sale was a sign and God was whispering in my ear saying “Come in, child. It is time for you to buy new running shoes.” When God speaks, I certainly listen. So, I went on in and came out with a new sleek pair of 1222’s.

- My new running buddy -

– My new running buddy –

The following day, as I was reading my favorite running book, I learn that there must be a thumb-width gap between my toe and the shoe. You know that feeling when you just ran about 2k and realize you’ve forgotten to wear your underwear? Oh, you don’t, do you? Well, neither do I so let’s just get back to the story. Anyway, sirens were ringing in my ears. I knew the tips of my toes touched the end of the shoe. Oh god, I was cringeing at the thought of more blisters and more dead toenails. Immediately, I call New Balance and ask if I can get a bigger shoe size. I fly to the store and get the shoe that fits me perfectly well. End of story.

Now, out of my good heart, I’ve decided to compile running shoe tips to save you from committing the same stupid silly mistakes I did:

Running Shoe Tips:

  1. Buy new running shoes every 3 to 6 months regardless of its use. Your shoe will lose its shock absorbing qualities in about 80 to 1000 kilometers of running.
  2. Do your research. Search for the best running shoes online, read reviews about a particular shoe you’ve been eyeing, and ask your running friends about what they recommend. (Although a shoe may not fit as well on you as it does for a friend.)
  3. Choose a running shoe based on your needs: do you need stability? or motion control? or cushioning? (perhaps a drink before you go insane with all these choices?) If you are unsure, select a more stable shoe rather than a more cushioned one.
  4. Evaluate the wear on the sole of your old shoe and ask your shoe dealer what brand or model they would recommend that would last better and longer for you.
  5. Do not buy lightweight shoes for training; these should only be used for races.
  6. Consider buying two pairs of shoes if you expect to get one wet and dirty under the rain. Buy the 2nd pair only after you’ve tested the first…and when you know you’ve got the extra money.
  7. When buying shoes, make sure you leave a gap as wide as your thumb between your big toe and the end of the shoe. You should be able to wiggle your toes up there. Remember: your feet expand while running.
  8. Make sure the shape of your foot (long and narrow or short and wide) matches the shape of the shoe.
  9. If one foot is larger than the other, fit the shoe on the larger foot.
  10. Shop for shoes in the afternoon or evening when your feet are bigger than it was in the morning.
  11. Bring your favorite socks.
  12. Run inside the store if you must. Just don’t bump into the glass door.
  13. You don’t have to buy the top-of-the-line shoe but do not buy the cheapest non-running shoe either.
  14. Wait for a sale. Running shoes can burn a hole in your pocket. Be patient and eventually your favorite shoe store will have to place some of its stocks on sale. (Now this is one tip I followed!)
  15. After buying the shoe, use them for walking first. It is not advisable to train in them immediately. Ditto for races.

Oh, are you wondering how my 807’s reacted to my new 1222’s? They took it well. I told them they would never be replaced in my heart. First love never dies, right? Naah, maybe that holds true only in the shoe world.

NB shoes

– the old and the new happily co-exist –

Reference: Gloria Averbuch, New York Road Runners Complete Book of Running and Fitness, 4th Edition, New York, Random House, 2004

 

Witnessing The Masters 10k Run

Monday, 28 May 2007  |  Race Reports

During my solo run/frog hunt yesterday, I went up against a sea of runners who were part of the Masters, Executive, and Corporate 10k Run. I secretly wished I could have joined the race (since I ran almost the same distance during training), but I quickly realized that this was the one race I was glad I didn’t qualify for—women are required to be over 35 years old. Well, I only have a few more years…gulp.

The race drew 80 runners and was organized by the Triathlon Association of the Philippines (TRAP).

Masters1

Masters3
– I had to take this. I liked her running skirt –

Masters2

LIST OF WINNERS:
Men
1st Place – Rogelio Adenig 38:31
2nd Place – Joseph Rosete 39.28
3rd Place – Edgardo Pedregosa 39.55
Women
1st Place – Daisy Castillan 51:55
2nd Place – Rizzo Tangan 53:41
3rd Place – Doray Ellis 53:56
Men’s Executive
1st Place – Graciano Santos 45:58
2nd Place – Danilo Burdeos 45:59
3rd Place – Mark Ellis 46:50
Women’s Executive
1st Place – Doray Ellis 53:56
2nd Place – Ruby Dawn Allas 1:09:20
3rd Place – Chay Saputil 1:13:56
Male Residents
1st Place – Jose Mari Banzon 47:03
Female Residents
1st Place – Susan Lafferty 56:31

Source: The Philippine Star (May 28, 2007)