Running Groups: Puke Sessions with Jim Lafferty and the Pukers

Tuesday, 17 September 2013  |  Interviews + Features

Every Tuesday, I will be featuring Running Groups in Manila and possibly around the world. Let’s start this off with one very close to my heart as its led by my TBR Dream Marathon co-founder Jim Lafferty and started with a core group of TBR Dream Alumni.

Meet the Pukers and their Puke Sessions.


TBR: The name “Puke Sessions” is intriguing? Why “Puke Sessions” and does any of it actually happen during a run? LOL

Coach Jim Lafferty: When I formed my team in Nigeria, and started coaching the national Marathon Team, we set up that every Thursday was a SPEEDWORK session, to allow for enough recovery to follow with a Sunday long run.

In our first session, it was hot and humid and people were not used to the pace and running intervals despite being overall fit. a Couple of people had to stop and vomit in the bushes along the road where we did our speed work. We all kind of joked about it.

So, when I sent out the reminder for the following week, I jokingly called it “time for our next puke session” and the name just stuck. Even to this day, the team in Nigeria is quite large and they send me weekly updates, and they call it “Puke” and it is still on Thursdays.

So when I came back to Philippines, I targeted to replicate the magic–Thursdays, and calling in “Puke”.

That’s the story. From the first email that is what it was called!

– Coach Jim and the Pukers at a Thursday Puke Session –

Ken Mendola: When I first encountered PUKE, I myself was expecting that this 4 letter-word (PUKE) were initials that meant something more. Basically, you have to take the word figuratively and literally as it is. Puke Sessions because it’s all about high intensity training. If you followed Coach Jim’s instructions and did the drills to a T, then it’s either you feel like puking or you eventually puke.

PUKE is an attitude on how you embrace the workout to stress the benefits you can gain from it. Whether you puke or not during sessions, it really depends on the effort you put into each workout.

TBR: How did Puke Sessions start?

Ken: PUKE Session started as a vision by Coach Jim last year 19th of July. He introduced this idea of doing a regular weekly speed work session with a fellow TBR III alumnus Rio Mayuga. Then, emails were sent to 7 lucky TBR III alumni last August 12, 2012 (Vince & I included).

Before we received the email, we started our group as “Team Botchoylicious” specifically for TBR III season. We were doing fine going through our regular weekend runs in Ayala Alabang. The email basically introduced speed workout/drills in a group dynamic as a means to improve our own runs.

– The Core Pukers –

Everybody was positive and excited that the first session officially started August 16, 2012 (Thursday). Thursdays with Jim became a part of our weekly regimen that we call it now PUKE nights or simply PUKE Sessions.

TBR: You celebrated your first anniversary recently. Tell us more about it. How much have you grown as a running group the past year?

Ken: As a group, Puke Sessions have really evolved in itself. From its small beginnings of around 10 runners during its 1st Thursday session, you can expect any given night of at least 25-30 runners. As I recall, we even reached around 50 runners in one night. What makes the group special is that we started as a group divided into two: the core TBR alumni and the SRA (Snail Runners Alabang). Expect group competition every now and then. But as time bonded us together, we became a family under Jim’s selfless guidance. You can feel the positive vibes and each Puker pulling and rooting for everybody in every drill. I guess that’s the beauty of group dynamics.

– First Anniversary Run & Get Together of the Pukers –

What started as a regular once a week session, has become a twice a week assembly (weekend sessions are every other weekend though). Not to mention, the drills as well have levelled-up. After a year of its existence and the huge improvement that each Puker experienced, I can say Puke Sessions are here for the long run.

– Weekend Puke Sessions –

TBR: What is a usual training session like?

Ken: Training session starts with warm-up easy jog. This is followed with warm-up stretching exercises, then proceeded with “workout” of the night. This part gets tricky because no Puker has any idea what the workout will be. It all depends on Coach Jim’s agenda. Not knowing what to expect is probably part of the program to keep each Puker always on their toes. Always ready and prepared for the worst brutal workout of the night. Normally, workouts are purely or combinations of intervals, tempos, fartleks, and hill repeats. After the main workout, it is followed by cool-down stretching exercises before calling it a night.

TBR: What type of runner can join your sessions?

Ken: ALL are welcome to join Puke Sessions. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, a competitive runner, or even a seasoned athlete. The group is not limited to purely runners, even triathletes and ultramarathoners have started joining the group.

TBR: How can runners join your runs?

*Regular Thursday Puke Sessions

DAY: Every Thursday
TIME: Starts at 7:30PM
VENUE: Meeting place is at Lafferty’s Residence at #252 Langka St., Ayala Alabang Village

* Weekend Puke Sessions (Progessive Interval Training)

DAY: every other weekend (either Saturday or Sunday) and announced 2-3 days before session
TIME: Starts at 5:30AM
VENUE: Meeting place is at Lafferty’s Residence at #252 Langka St., Ayala Alabang Village

COST: Sessions are FREE. They can approach any PUKER they know (Vince Bunuan/Ken Mendola can also assist new Pukers through FB) to help them be included in “Coach Jim Lafferty’s Puke Session” FB Group. All the details and official announcements are all there.

Vince – / 0917-5989510
Ken – / 0920-2439999

Do you want your running group featured here? Email tbr(at) with subject: Running Group Feature.

Meet a Triathlete: Gelo & Drew Arellano

Saturday, 3 August 2013  |  Interviews + Features

“Meet a Triathlete” is a series of interviews with age-group triathletes that I’ll be publishing for the next few days leading up to Ironman 70.3 Cebu.  For all these interviews, I collaborated with my Coach Andy Leuterio of Alpha Tri.  To read more interviews, search “Meet a Triathlete” in the search box.

Gelo and Drew are brothers who are into marathons and triathlons. We featured them on TBR Magazine – Sept-Oct 2012.  The photos you’ll see here are taken for the magazine by Ben Chan of Blacksheep Manila.


NAME: Angelo Arellano
Number of years in triathlon: 5 years
Age: 42
Job: HVAC Contractor / Entrepreneur

NAME: Drew Arellano
Number of years in triathlon: 6 years
Age: 33
Job: TV Host

What do you like about triathlon?

G: Triathlon keeps me focused on continuous self-improvement.

D: Triathlon steers me to the right direction in life. Conditions me to have the proper dedication, perseverance, discipline, time management, among others. It gives me an opportunity to inspire other people to get up, move and live a healthier lifestyle.

– Gelo and Drew hamming it up for the cam. Drew is just hilarious –

Why did you decide to sign up for Ironman 70.3 Cebu?

G: I wanted to see if I could improve on last year’s performance knowing that my 2013 schedule will be more challenging. I also enjoy joining races that have a vacation feel to it.

D: IM 70.3 Cebu is probably everyone’s A-race this year including mine! Besides showcasing an awesome race course with beautiful scenery, the fantastic energy during the weekend is contagious!

Give us three words to describe your training with Coach Andy for Cebu.  Please tell us why you chose those words.


  1. Flexible – Coach Andy’s program is dynamic and takes into account this thing called life.
  2. Challenging – Coach Andy’s workouts are not only based on time and distance but also heart rate, power, etc.
  3. Inspiring – There are days when things don’t go your way. Coach Andy will be there to give you just the right amount of challenge to pick yourself up again.

– Gelo is part of the Fitness First Tri Team –

Can you share what your training week looked like the past weeks?

G: My main workouts last week were a long swim and race simulation. I failed to execute on the run leg and so Coach Andy made me do a long brick the following day instead of a recovery ride. His message after my “failure to execute”: Stay Focused!!! The race doesn’t care about your problems, soldier!!!

D: Coach would kill you, if i told you. Scary noh?

– Drew is a member of Team Unilab Active Health –

What is your goal for IM 70.3 Cebu? Do you feel confident in achieving your goal?

G: The obvious answer is to improve on last year’s performance but given my SBR result last week, I admit I am a bit concerned. Hopefully, slapping Coach Andy’s butt on the run can give me the added boost I need! J

D: My goal is just to finish… NOT! haha! Will let you know once i cross the line 🙂 Do i feel confident? I guess i should feel confident because i put in the hours. Luck would probably prevent tire punctures but hard work and dedication will get me across the finish line with a fulfilled smile on my face.

If you could only give one tip to people who want to get into triathlon, what would it be?

G: Find the perfect balance between family, work and triathlon because that is a challenge in itself.

D: Prepare to feel sexy in your spandex! Don’t worry about the unwanted bulges, they’ll soon disappear!

Meet a Triathlete: Corporate Guy Javy Olives Believes Hard Work Pays Off

Monday, 29 July 2013  |  Interviews + Features

“Meet a Triathlete” is a series of interviews with age-group triathletes that I’ll be publishing for the next few days leading up to Ironman 70.3 Cebu.  For all these interviews, I collaborated with my Coach Andy Leuterio of Alpha Tri.  To read more interviews, search “Meet a Triathlete” in the search box.

In this interview, we feature my Unilab Active Health teammate and friend, Javy Olives.  Javy is a corporate guy and family man so he’s a 1-workout/day guy, 10-14 hours max/week because of his other commitments. Among his recent accomplishments:

  • 1st 35-39 AG Tri United 1
  • 1st 35-39 Tabuelan Tri (70.3-distance)
  • 3rd 35-39 AG Tri United 2
  • sub-12 @ 2012 Timex 226
  • Oh, he’s also a TBR Dream Alumni.

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– Triathletes Javy and Levy finished strong at the inaugural TBR Dream Marathon in 2010 –

Number of months/years in triathlon: 2013 is my 5th year
Age: 35
Job: Product Development Manager

What do you like about triathlon?
I like endurance sports in general since it’s where you really get to see what you’re made of. There is no hiding from yourself when you are out there grinding it out for close to 12 hours.

Why did you decide to sign up for Ironman 70.3 Cebu?
I like to do 2 Half IMs and 1 Full IM a year, and until recently there has only been White Rock & Ironman 70.3 Philippines. Personally I enjoy ‘small city’ races like White Rock, 226, and most recently, Tabuelan 111 more, as it has less of the glam and its more of what the sport is really about.

– At Timex 226 Bohol –

Give us three words to describe your training with Coach Andy for Cebu.

  1. Epic – There were sessions that made you think WTF? Then you get thru it and are glad you did it.
  2. Nerve-wracking – Is that one word or two?  Since we usually just get a week’s worth of plans at a time, you never know what you’re gonna get!
  3. Exciting – Each week is different, and even the sessions are different, so that really helps break the monotony of Swim, Bike, Run, whilst building endurance, strength, and most especially, character.

Can you share what your training week looked like last week?
1 swim, 3 bike sessions, 3 run sessions

What is your goal for IM 70.3 Cebu? Do you feel confident in achieving your goal?
I’m hoping to set a new PR at the distance, which means going sub 5:09. More importantly, my goal is to pace the Swim-Bike well, keep my nutrition under control so that I can have a good run off the bike.

– Javy at Tri United 2 –

If you could only give one tip to people who want to get into triathlon, what would it be?
There are no shortcuts. There is only hard work, and hard work eventually pays off.

Meet a Triathlete: 51-yr old housewife Medy Martinez Proves That Age is Just a Number

Friday, 26 July 2013  |  Interviews + Features

This begins a series of interviews with age-group triathletes that I’ll be publishing for the next few days leading up to Ironman 70.3 Cebu.  I think it’s a great way to catch a glimpse of how people train differently for the same event and, more than that, it’s a source of inspiration for many of us who wish to do the same.  Just think: If they can do it, so can I!

For all these interviews, I collaborated with my Coach Andy Leuterio of Alpha Tri.  All the interviewees train under him, just as I do.  Our crazy slave-driver Coach puts us through hell during training (“Bike until you cramp” or “Do a REAL century ride…100 miles”) and, in a funny way, we all hate and love him for it.  

Here’s our first interview…

Number of years in triathlon: 2
Age: 51
Job: housewife

What do you like about triathlons?
The adrenaline rush, the camaraderie, the mental and physical challenge, the crazy, hilarious and inspiring triathlete stories. Most of all, that ultimate “high” feeling you get as you cross the finish line that makes everything you’ve been through so worth it, you just want to do it again and again.


Why did you decide to sign up for Ironman 70.3 Cebu?
A friend has been convincing me to join but I thought I was too old for it. But when I found out that the oldest woman triathlete was already in her 80″s, I know I absolutely have no excuse not to do it. At 50 yrs old, I have more than enough time for this sport. I think as we grow older, the reasons not to workout also increase to a million and one. I felt inspired. I needed a goal. Ironman 70.3 fitted in perfectly!

Give us 3 words to describe your training for coach Andy for Cebu? 

  1. Mentally and physically crazy – I’ve had to endure the “I-almost-died-but-didn’t” kind of training which were physically and mentally exhausting. At the end of many workouts, I felt I had nothing left for another day. But after a good night’s sleep, you wake up feeling just fine and ready to take on more.
  2. Intellectually stimulating – I must not only train smart, I also had to decipher what’s behind his uniquely titled workouts. I am constantly challenged to learn and improve my skills and technique. Many times during training, I am pushed to exceed my mental limits especially when a voice inside my head is telling me to “Stop this craziness right now!”
  3. Inspiring – My bilbil is almost gone without dieting, true… really. Kidding aside, I have realized there are truly no limits except those i set for myself. I keep on surprising myself of things I never thought I was capable of doing. The stronger I get, the better I feel.

Can you share what your training week looked like last week?
Actually, training has been intensed these last 2 weeks . Have you seen the apocalyptic movie “The Day After Tomorrow”? Everyday feels like I am training for the apocalypse! I had one workout that said “Bike 160KM in 6 HRS. Do not dilly-dally.”  My crazy coach must have gotten my age wrong thinking I am 15 instead of 51. Anyway, much to my and maybe his surprise…I didn’t die. I finished it. I would sometimes text him to ask if the workout he gave me was meant to be a joke or if there was some kind of mistake. But all the time, he would answer back “Yessss…That is correct!”

What is your goal for IM 70.3 Cebu? Do you feel confident in your goal?
I want to finish strong and to improve on last year’s time. Back then, I wasn’t able to prepare well and literally felt like crawling to the finish line. This year, I feel confident I can do better with fingers crossed that I won’t get a flat tire.

If you could give only one tip to people who want to go into triathlon what would it be?
Age is just a number and you can get yourself in the best shape of your life as long as work your ass off and never give up.

Adidas KOTR 2013: Interview with adidas King and Queen of the Road 2012

Monday, 24 June 2013  |  Interviews + Features, Race Announcements

All roads lead to adidas King of the Road 2013 on July 7, 2013 with the 10k and 16.8k race categories.  Runners of all shapes and sizes have been seriously training for the race and anticipating a well-attended event.  Among those that are expected to show off their running prowess on race day are two of the top elite runners in the country who are expected to defend their titles as King and Queen of the Road: Eduardo “Vertek” Buenavista and Mary Grace delos Santos.

I got to interview Vertek and Mary Grace to learn the secrets of these two winning runners.  (Hope you don’t mind. I translated them from Tagalog into English already):

Best times:

5k – 13:58.43  – 2002 Asian Games, Busan, South Korea
10k – 29:02.36 – 2002 Asian Games, Busan, South Korea
21k – 1:03.42 – Incheon, South Korea
42k – 2004 2:18:44 – Beppu Oita Marathon, Oita, Japan

– Eduardo Buenavista wins first place at adidas KOTR 2012 –

Best times:
5k – 17:44
10k – 37:49
21k – 1:20
42k – 2:49

–  Mary Grace delos Santos wins first place at adidas KOTR 2012 –

TBR: How long have you been running?

EB: I started my professional career as a runner last 2000 but I’ve been running since high school as a track and field athlete. I got to join the 1997 Palarong Pambansa when I was in 4th year high school in which I ran the 1500, 3000, and 5000 meter events.

MD: Since 9 year’s old up to the present.

TBR: What are the top medals you’ve earned from running?

EB: It was during the 1998 National open that I won 1st place in the 1500, 3000 and 5000 meter events.

MD: Malaysia Standard Marathon, Hong Kong Standard Marathon, 2012 KOTR Singapore Asia Championship, National Milo Marathon Final.

TBR: What distance do you enjoy running the most?

EB: I enjoy running the 10k distance. Short and easier to manage.

MD: 10k, 21k, and 42k.

TBR: Tell us more about your experience running adidas King of the Road last year.

EB: I joined the 16.8 distance and won 1st place for the Men’s Filipino category with a time of 54.39mins. By winning the Filipino category, I won Php 30,000 and was sent to Singapore to represent our country in the Adidas KOTR Southeast Asian Championship in which I won 1st place with a time of 53:12 minutes.

MD: I ran the 16.8k in 1 hour and 3 minutes. 
I won the cash prize and a trip to Singapore to represent the Philippines for KOTR Asia Championship. 

TBR: How did you train for adidas KOTR 2012?

EB: I was training for both Milo Marathon and adidas KOTR that time.  I did my speed workout in the morning and road race training almost everyday.

MD: I trained every day that time because I was preparing for the upcoming Milo National Finals.

TBR:  Are you ready for adidas KOTR 2013?  How’s training been for you?

EB:  Yes. So far so good. Right now I’m focusing on developing my speed in preparation for KOTR and also for SEA Games where I will compete in the full marathon event.

MD: I’m not as prepared this year for KOTR because I haven’t had much time to train due to work.

TBR:  Why did you decide to join KOTR 2013 again?

EB:  I want to defend my title here the Philippines as King of the Road but most especially I want to represent our country again in the KOTR Southeast Asian Championship.

MD: I joined the KOTR to participate and support the KOTR and I love to run.

TBR:  What advice can you give to other runners?

EB: To my fellow runners who want to achieve a better time, I only have a few words for them. Discipline, dedication and hard work are the keys to success.

MD: My only advice is that you should have self-discipline, proper training, and always listen to your coach. 


Aside from bumping into Vertek and Mary Grace on race day, there are other things to look forward to at adidas KOTR 2013.

For 2013, adidas opened a new category exclusively for students 25 years old and under. The 10K Relay for Students is set specifically to encourage the youth to get into a healthy, active lifestyle and to give them a chance to represent their alma mater.


On race day, adidas will also be rolling out BOOST™ to more of their adidas running products. It will come in more colors, too.  What is BOOST™? It’s a groundbreaking innovation in adidas footwear technology featuring superior cushioning that allows runners to store and unleash energy more efficiently with every stride. The new Energy Boost collection will be available worldwide at adidas Sport Performance stores and selected retailers on July 7, 2013, race day, at PHP 7995. Visit for more information.

adidas King of the Road will be on July 7, 2013 at Bonifacio Global City.  To register visit: