TBR DM 2012: Bull Session 3 @ NUVALI

Saturday, 17 December 2011  |  Bullish Insights

It was the perfect setting for our 3rd Bull Session this morning. Our TBR Dream Marathoners ran long for 1 hour and 45 mins. in the cool and nippy holiday air at NUVALI. I won’t say much in this post since these photos will effectively show you how much fun we had this morning.

Congratulations to our TBR Dream Marathoners for running strong today!

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– Class pic: Runners during today’s 3rd Bull Session at NUVALI –

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– Pace group led by TBR DM alumni Mark Terrado before we started –

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– Pace group led by TBR DM alumni Miriam Valero, Angel Motomal, and “Kots Mike” Janeo –

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– Bull Session’s lead coach Lit Onrubia, NUVALI GM, Jun Bisnar, and Ripple 100 and TBR DM runner Andre Yap –

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– Off they go! Love these NUVALI roads! –

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– TBR DM alumni and current batch run together –

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– TBR DM alumni Craig Logan (far left) paces his group –

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– These Snail Runners sure know how to hop and jump too –

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– Here they go again. Jump! –

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– TBR DM is a beginner’s marathon, but our course is challenging enough for any serious runner. Our marathoners are toughies! –

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– Group led by TBR Dream Team Jun Cruz –

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– What comes up must come down –

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– We couldn’t help it. Here’s another class pic –

Huge thank you to our TBR DM alumni who paced our marathoners, NUVALI for the full support, GATORADE for hydration, and everyone else who always go out of their way to make each run or talk special for our TBR DM runners.

TBR DREAM MARATHON 2012 is co-presented by SUN BROADBAND and RUNRIO. EVENT PARTNER – NUVALI. MAJOR SPONSORS – Gatorade, New Balance, Oakley, and Otterbox. MINOR SPONSORS – Timex, Nutribar, Secondwind, Nathan, Chris Sports, ROX, BGC. DONORS: Neat Feat. MEDIA PARTNERS – Multisport, Ripple 100.  LOGISTICS PARTNER: Creative Juice.

Pre-Race: Sacramento and California Int’l Marathon Expo

Wednesday, 7 December 2011  |  Bullish Insights

I arrived in Sacramento two days before the race giving me enough time to get acquainted with the city. It was my first time here.

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– Hello Sacramento! –

The entire city of Sacramento—an easy 2-hour drive from San Francisco—is quaint, relaxed, and filled with character. The roads are flat and lined with beautiful autumn trees showing off their leaves in brown and orange hues. The architecture of the houses have an old-fashioned charm and some of the landmarks in the city are majestic and breath-taking, particularly the California State Capitol which was where the finish line of our race was strategically located.

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– Organizers set up the finish line at Capitol Park a day before the race –

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– CIM traditionally has two separate finish lines for Men and Women –

Before the race, the weather was much too cold for me. Temperature was in their low 40s with the wind—oh boy, the wind!—giving this poor little Pinay runner goosebumps every single time it swept past us. I was optimistic that the weather would improve during race day.

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– What a crazy, windy day –

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– Outside the convention center –

My hotel was conveniently located just a few blocks away from the Sacramento Convention Center where the race expo was held and, more importantly, near the finish line at Capitol Park. Braving the winds (and thinking this was a good way for me to acclimatize…brrr!), I walked to the convention center to claim my race pack.

The California International Marathon Expo was relatively modest compared to other large-scale international races such as the ING New York City Marathon or even Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. This expo had a small community feel to it, which was something I looked forward to even for the race itself.

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– CIM banner –

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– Lots of runners at the expo –

The expo was filled with runners that looked fast and nimble. This was no surprise because CIM is known as one of the fastest courses in the US (even Runner’s World says so in its December 2011 Issue). I couldn’t count how many runners proudly wore their Boston Marathon, New York Marathon, or other popular marathon jackets or shirts. There were quite a number of senior runners who were double my age, but could probably run twice as fast. Gulp. A friend and I joked that we could easily be the last to finish at this marathon even if we broke our personal records!

Good thing I met good friends and fellow Pinoy runners at the expo to make me feel more at ease.  It was Amale Jopson, wife of Ironman champ Noy Jopson, who convinced me to register for CIM.  Way back in February, Amale persuaded me to abandon plans to run Macau Marathon and go for Sacramento instead.  She said it was one of the fastest courses and we could come together, no husband, no kids, just a short trip for some serious racing.  I signed up that same week!  (Thank you Amale for recommending such a great race! Amale finished at an amazing 3:46. Congratulations!)

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– Jane-Jane, Veronica, Lit, Amale and Andrew of Team Philippines sponsored by New Balance –

Claiming of race packs was well-organized and informal. All I had to do was look up and find the balloons spelling out “Race Packs” and I found my way in no time (like I said, it was a community-type of expo.)

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– Got my CIM race pack! –

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– Shopping time –

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– Tons of samples to taste –

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– Kids create posters for their beloved runners –

I claimed my race bib and timing chip (ipico just like RunRio) then lined up to claim my race shirt and race pack. Then, I was off to shopping at the expo. I purchased an official marathon shirt, sampled a lot of bars, and perused through the booths of several other races in the US. I caught sight of the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge: back to back marathons of Boston and Big Sur for an exclusive group of 400 runners only. Of course, you gotta qualify for Boston first! Wow, I wonder if I’ll ever get to do this in my lifetime.

The expo also offered several talks for runners. We took advantage of this and attended the talk on “How to Run CIM” which provided us with practical and useful tips for the next day’s race.

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– How to Run CIM talk –

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– Carol, one of the speakers, has been battling cancer for 2 years and ran CIM as her…get this…257th marathon! –

When I got back to the hotel room, I laid out all the loot from my bag and couldn’t believe I was just a few days away from running my next marathon…

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– See the little blue pack on the upper right of the shirt? I was most ecstatic about that freebie: a serving of peanut butter! Aaah, life’s little joys –

Running in San Francisco

Saturday, 3 December 2011  |  Bullish Insights

Hello from San Francisco! I arrived a few days ago in preparation for California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento on Sunday, December 4, 2011.

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– Union Square is ready for Christmas –

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– Powell Street Station –

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– Cable car on Powell Street –

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– Hills of San Francisco. Thank God I’m not running 42k here…at least not yet –

Traveling alone, this trip of mine is slow and relaxed—probably the opposite of CIM, which is popular for being a fast, mostly downhill marathon.  There’s a lot of shopping, eating, and walking all over the place .  Of course, there’s some running too…

Last Thursday, at 8:30 am, I ran my last run before the big day. It was an easy 8k starting from my hotel near Market Street down to the Embarcadero and onto Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a beautiful morning with cool weather that made it easy to run without breaking a sweat, literally. It was a great way to cap training and to tour this wonderful city.

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– Start of 8k run. My last run before CIM –

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– Market Street. I ran down here towards Fisherman’s Wharf –

Later in the day, I dropped by Nike Town on Union Square and received timely words of wisdom from the legendary running coach and one of Nike’s founders, Bill Bowerman…

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Next: California International Marathon Expo and Sacramento

Where in the World are You Marathoning this Weekend?

Monday, 28 November 2011  |  Bullish Insights

So where are you headed to get your marathon fix this coming weekend, December 3 & 4, 2011?

I’m going off to Sacramento for the California International Marathon. One of the top six fastest courses in the US. Negative elevation, baby!

I have friends, couple Macel & Mike and friends, Francis and Andy (all TBR Dream Alumni, by the way) all set for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon.

I hear some runners have signed up for the Macau Galaxy Entertainment International Marathon.  This was my initial goal when I started planning early in the year.  But, Amale Jopson managed to influence me into joining CIM.  Not that I’m so hard to persuade anyway!

Some hardcore triathletes friends, Joey Torres and Guy Concepcion, will be going to Anda, Bohol for the Timex 226 Bohol Triathlon on Saturday where they’ll run their marathon only after a 3.8k swim and 180km bike. Okay, I think I just broke a sweat typing that out.

Last but not the least, I know a whole lot of runners will be joining our very own Quezon City International Marathon, a race that I will always remember fondly for being my first ever unofficial marathon.

Well, whatever marathon you’ll be doing this Sunday, or even if you’re running a shorter distance, I get the sense that it’s going to be one great weekend for a lot of us runners.  Don’t you think so?

The ING New York City Marathon 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011  |  Bullish Insights, Favorite Posts

This begins my story about the ING New York City Marathon which took place last November 6, 2011. Over 47,000 runners from all over the world ran 42.195 km through the five boroughs of New York City: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Manhattan. Over 2 million spectators came out to cheer for the runners. A whopping $34 million was raised for charity. And its male winner, Geoffrey Mutai ran the fastest ever on a record-certified course in the United States with a time of 2:05:05.

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– NYCM 2010. Photo courtesy of Brightroom –

Thanks to Gatorade, I had the opportunity to run the ING New York City Marathon for a second time. The awesome people at Gatorade, who I can now call friends, offered full support from hydration allocation and scientific tests to actually running long runs together. They often said: We’re giving you the chance to redeem yourself at New York, but now with our full support.

I always say that every runner should run the ING New York City Marathon at least once in their lifetime. Imagine, I was given the chance to run it twice! This was a gift that I felt blessed to receive and I planned on giving it my best, whatever “best” meant given the situation I found myself in months before the race.

A TALE OF TWO RUNS

My story about the ING New York City Marathon is a tale about two runs within the marathon that were as different as night and day. The first run was the first 21k of the marathon, while the second was the last half. Everything changed for me after a potty break at the halfway point.

THE START

For those unfamiliar with the Big Apple, reaching the race start at Staten Island before the race actually starts feels like a huge win already. It can be quite confusing for international runners so careful planning must be done days ahead of the race. Fortunately for me, I rode a cab with NY-based runner and member of Adobo Run Club, Jet, to Whitehall Terminal, boarded the ferry to Staten Island together, and made it to our own corrals at around 8:30am with lots of time to spare before our race start at 10:10am.

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I waited alone for over an hour. I was excited but anxious at the same time. After five marathons under my belt, I had never been so ill-prepared for a race as this one. Don’t get me wrong; I always take marathons seriously as everyone should, but, due to my neuroma, which I only fully recovered from 3 weeks before race day, I only had 21k as my longest run. 21k?! No amount of prayer would take me to a smooth and easy marathon. I predicted one of two things: 1) Bonk at 21k, or 2) Bonk at 25k. Either way, I knew from experience that this was going to be a painful and agonizing 42km. At the same time, I tried my best to calm myself with the idea that this was NYC and “In New York, there’s nothing you can’t do, these streets will make you feel brand new.” I sure hoped my legs would feel brand new even at 32km!

We were then finally called to walk to the starting line at Verrazano-Narrows bridge. A booming, energized voice welcomed us all for the race. Runners chatted nervously or walked quietly unto the front of the line. The weather was perfect, just a little colder than Baguio, so my two layers of clothing plus the throwaway jacket was just right. I walked slowly towards the race start smiling from ear-to-ear barely able to contain my excitement.

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– At the race start –

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– Woohoo! Few more minutes to race start –

Suddenly, there was silence. The US National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner was sung. Then, one of New York’s anthem’s, Frank Sinatra’s Start Spreading the News broke through the air. There was cheering, yelling, screaming, then we raced forward towards the bridge and unto the start of our 42km through the five boroughs of New York.

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– Running on the cold and windy Verazzano-Narrows Bridge –

THE FIRST HALF: FAST & FURIOUS

Once we got out of the cold and windy run through the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and unto the sunny roads of Brooklyn, it felt like we were racing for our lives. The course was flat and fast and it was hard to hold back.

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– Out of the bridge and unto Brooklyn –

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– Ran behind a guy named “JOHNNY P.” same name as my Dad. My dad passed away just a few days before the race in 2008. Thought of Dad and ran in his memory –

We were running at a pace below 6 min/km. I knew I should’ve gone at a more conservative pace, but at the same time I thought: “Hey, if I’m going to bonk at 21k anyway, I might as well go full speed ahead. Besides, it was difficult to slow down with a crowd this fast anyway.” (I know, I know. I shouldn’t have done this. But, they don’t call me TBR for nothing!) So off I went.

5k – 29:48, 5:57/km
10k – 59:13, 5:55/km

I would slow down only for hydration breaks which, as advised by Gatorade was 125ml every 15 minutes. The hydration stations for the race were every 1 mile or 1.6km. I took gulps of Gatorade Endurance at most of the stations. Took a Hammer Gel at 10k. And off I went again feeling strong.

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– Hydration stations: water and Gatorade Endurance every mile –

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– Runners were running at a fast clip –

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– Blurry pic but guess what the sign said: DREAM BIG. RUN STRONG. Our tagline for our TBR Dream Marathon. How cool is that? –

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– Just one of the many bands that provided local entertainment –

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– I agree 100%! –

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– Check out those trees! Not the guy, he isn’t my type! Hah! –

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– Hey hey! Nice bumping into siblings Joey and Nona Torres of Polo Tri –

Wow. The sights and sounds of the ING New York City Marathon really compared to nothing else. The number of runners on the road that day were astounding already. But, to see the spectators lining the main roads and side streets, standing by the curb handing out food or yelling our names, was simply overwhelming. There were just so many people around us at any point during the race that there was no time for loneliness or boredom. Each borough pulled out all the stops to bring motivation, good cheer, and entertainment to us runners. It really was a celebration of running and the human spirit.

15k – 1:29, 5:56/km
20k – 2:03, 6:09/km

I took a peek at my watch when I hit 20k and had mixed feelings. It was a good split, but I knew I couldn’t keep it up with so little training in my legs. I took a potty break, saw the slight climb on the bridge ahead, and took a long, deep sigh. I suddenly felt depleted.

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– 20k. Sigh. Tired. 22k to go. Gulp. –

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– Nooo, not another climb –

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– Here we go! –

THE SECOND HALF: WALK IN THE PARK (LITERALLY)

21K – 2:13, 6:20/km

Why were there so many uphills? I remember myself thinking. I didn’t notice all the climbs from my run last year. They say that ING NYCM is one of the most fun courses you’ll ever run because of the crowd support, but make no mistake about it: it is still one tough route with five bridges to climb and several ascents throughout the course, even in the last mile.

One of the most unforgettable portions of the race was Queensboro Bridge. It’s one of the few portions where there are no spectators to cheer runners on, and most runners struggle to run the steep half-mile climb in silence.

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– Queensboro Bridge –

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– Well he was looking strong –

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– I had to stop for a photo op on Queensboro Bridge. Who could resist this fantastic view? Thanks to the nameless Spanish runner who spoke no english but agreed to take my pic –

By this time, I had accepted the fact that this could be my slowest marathon ever. I was alternating between running and walking and enjoying the walks a lot more than the runs!  I could choose to feel disappointed over this or enjoy the experience. I chose the latter. No use crying over missed training that I could do little about because of my Neuromas. Uhm, I may have also gone too fast during the 1st half and suffered for it now. (You marathoners, take note of this. Don’t be as bullheaded as I am and don’t do as I did in the first half!) I slowed down and started to notice more of the view around me and was overcome by joy: I was running NYCM a second time! How lucky was I?!

After surviving Queensboro Bridge, the next part was the highlight of the race for me just like last year. We entered First Avenue where the roar from the crowd was electrifying and energizing. The crowds here were five-rows deep from beginning to end. Cheerers provided tissue, chocolates, bananas, petroleum jelly and moral support just at the point where runners are struggling and wanting to give up.

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– Out of Queensboro bridge and unto First Avenue –

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– Thick, boisterous crowd awaits. Here’s a marriage proposal –

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– It’s like a huge party on First Avenue –

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– Crowds cheer but it’s also a tough portion for most runners –

By the time, I was walking most of the time and I was taking in the sights: I would read the banners from the spectators, watch runners struggle alone or find strength in another, and take photos of this incredible experience.

25k – 2:45, 6:36/km
30k – 3:25, 6:50/km

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– 30k! 12 more to go! –

I took me almost the same amount of time to run the first half of the race and the last 12k. As I run-walked through Central Park out again to Columbus Circle and back again into the park towards the finish, I was filled with emotion over the last few miles of struggle and the wonderful support from strangers around. It’s almost feeling a battle within: wanting so badly to finish the race and sit down to rest, but also wishing that this awesome experience would never end.

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– Central Park on our right. So near yet so far! –

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– Uphill again! –

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– No matter how tired, this guy made me laugh! –

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– Mile 24 in Central Park! Wooohoo! –

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– Ooops. Gotta get out of Central Park into Columbus Circle first. Gasp!

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– Thank God for crowd support. We really needed it here! –

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– Heading back into Central Park towards the finish line. Yes! –

THE BEST AND WORST TIME OF MY LIFE

I finished the ING New York City Marathon with a time of 5:21:09. This is my slowest marathon time for all six marathons I’ve run. In fact, I had never run a marathon over 5 hours before.

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– I did it! –

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was disappointed with the time. Of course, I could always blame the Neuroma for messing with my training, but still a bad performance is just hard to take no matter how you look at it. I was severely depressed about if for, uhm, around 2 minutes. Then, I plodded forward along with other runners in that long, cold walk out after the finish line (some runners call it “The Walk of Shame”) while sipping my Gatorade post-recovery drink and munching on pretzels. I claimed my check-in baggage, sat by the sidewalk on Central Park shivering in the cold alone barely able to move my legs and my teeth chattering. I glanced at the medal around my neck and thought: Woah, I just finished a marathon! Fast or slow, walk or run, I finished! And, boy was I proud of it!

Thank you once again to Gatorade for the opportunity of a lifetime!