TBR on swimbikerun.ph

Friday, 16 March 2012  |  Interviews + Features

Thank you to swimbikerun.ph for interviewing me for their Women’s Month special.  Who would’ve known this runner girl would ever hit the pages of a triathlon website?  Well, who would’ve known this runner girl would ever sign up for Ironman 70.3 Cebu?

Oh, Ton Gatmaitan, I hope you like the last line.

Click HERE to read the full interview.


TBR Dream Marathoner Remi Velasco, 2011 Palanca Awardee Stages a Play for Ondoy Victims

Wednesday, 22 February 2012  |  Interviews + Features

One of the biggest gifts of TBR Dream Marathon to me is the opportunity to meet runners of all shapes and sizes. Boy was I surprised to discover that one of our TBR Dream Alumni and 2012 participant is a 2011 Palance First Prize Winner. She is Remi Velasco, author/playwright of “Ondoy: Ang Buhay Sa Bubong,” the 2011 Palanca First Prize Winner for Dulang May Isang Yugto.

2010 bullrun
– Remi Velasco finisher of TBR Dream Marathon 2010 –

Palanca award
– Remi receiving her Palanca Award in 2011 –

Remi sent me an email a few days ago about her current project to help Ondoy victims and I’m sharing it with you in an attempt to help a fellow runner help others:

Title: Ondoy: Ang Buhay Sa Bubong A Charity Event
Where: Tanghalang Huseng Batute, CCP
When: March 17-18, 2012 3pm and 8pm
Tickets available at CCP or ticketworld
Ticket Price: 350 or more for cash donations

“Ondoy” was staged at Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in 2010 and 2011 and at the 2011 Palanca Awards Night.

– “Ondoy: Ang Buhay Sa Bubong” Poster at the Virgin LabFest 6 2010 –

This March 10-11, 2012, the play will once again be shown at CCP. This time around, it will be a staging for a cause. All proceeds will go to the victims of Typhoon Sendong (we are also trying to include the recent earthquake victims.)

The cast of the play Ms Cai Cortez (Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank), Mr. Jelson Bay (Tanghalang Pilipino), Direk Uro de la Cruz (Bubble Gang Director) and Remi, the author, have agreed to waive their talent/professional fee for the said project. CCP also allowed them to stage the play for free.

However, THEY NEED HELP TO HELP. The manpower cost of CCP is not for free. They need sponsors for the manpower, logistics, marketing and advertising. Please click HERE to download Remi’s formal letter of request for sponsorship if you wish to help.

I was quite curious how a playwright / runner lives her life and so I thought I’d feature Remi on this blog too. Here’s a short interview.

1) How did you become a playwright?

I never dreamed of becoming a playwright, really not a second. When I was a kid I would rather sing, dance or honestly run than write.

Ondoy: Ang Buhay Sa Bubong is the first play that I wrote. If I may say, it was also the first entry I had for Palanca and my first Palanca Award. Pretty special for me. I am a Copy Writer and News Writer prior to writing this play.

I drew my inspiration in writing the play from the victims of Ondoy. I (and my younger brother) donated some relief goods and spent time packing and helping out in distributing them. But when I saw people who were helpless, starving with nothing to eat and seeking for their missing loved ones, I felt all the more depressed. I couldn’t sleep. I promised to myself, I wouldn’t stop on merely giving goods. I would like to share something that will leave impact to people. I thought of writing a film first, but I was pressed for time. So, there goes the birth of “Ondoy: Ang Buhay Sa Bubong.”

2) How long have you been running?

I wrote a whole article about this actually, but I’ll give the gist…

Long before I found my passion in writing, running has been in my blood. I started running since elementary days or since I can recall. I remember I was very little, I would wake up at 5am to jog or run.

I didn’t care if there were days that I would sleep scarcely. I got to wake up earlier than usual and run with my sister, a friend and her dad’s group. We would run 3k. In our province, we were part of the group who welcomed the sunrise, listened to the “tilaok ng manok” and smelled brewed coffee of the neighbourhood. We bonded as kids and had great time! At school, I would run with or without shoes. My mom would complain. In a year, she couldn’t count how many pairs of shoes that I would get damaged. She once quipped, “I’d ask for a metal pair of shoes just for you!”

It was an impossibility that I wouldn’t run. RUNNING makes me happy and free.

3) Why did you decide to join TBR Dream Marathon 2010?

42K is a challenge. Running in itself is a challenge. It has taught me a lot. I have learned and appreciated the art of winning and not quitting. I learned that the more that I felt exhausted, the more that I pushed myself forward. The more that the number of my opponents increased, the more that I jolted my energy.

TBR 2010 is one of the moments that I love to look back to. It is self-fulfilling and rewarding. When I encounter some pressure, I would recall my last 15K which were the hardest to finish. If I had conquered this challenge why not on other aspects of life.

People are always amazed when they learn that I am a 42K finisher. Some of my acquaintances were inspired and started running as well.

4) Does running and particularly training for a marathon help you become better at your craft? How?

YES, definitely! As a writer, I need to clear my thoughts and make myself free. Running is one of my happiness. As I said, it makes me happy and free. It is my connection to nature and a form of communication to myself and to the heavens. I greet sunrise and sunset when I run. I love feeling the rain drops. I appreciate seeing everything green around me. I love when the wind blows and touches my face. That is why I love running outdoor.

Many times, I have come up with ideas while running.

When I run, I can test my physical strength. My mind just wouldn’t give up even if I am already exhausted. Sometimes, I think my feet have their own minds.

I pray while I run, too. I become more grateful in everything I have. The feeling of freedom makes me feel part of nature which is pretty special.

In short Ms. Jaymie, running plays an extraordinary part in my life.

2012 bullrun training
– Remi at a training run –

Runner’s Interview: Dan Brown

Friday, 16 December 2011  |  Interviews + Features

There was a time when I would interview runners regularly for this blog (click HERE to read past interviews). Recently, I decided to start doing them again.  We all can learn a thing or two from the experience of other runners and draw inspiration from their achievements.

This week, I interviewed 15-time Ironman and 8th place Ultraman World Champ Dan Brown.  Read on…

dan queenstown

Name: Dan Brown
Age: 35
Years running: My whole life. Competitive running for 12 years
Years into triathlon: 10 years
Accomplishments: 15x Ironman Triathlon, 8th place Ultraman World Championships (Swim 10k, Bike 476k Run 84.4k), Australian Half Ironman (70.3) Champion

How and when did you get into running? Triathlon?
I have always had a passion for running. I love how free it makes you feel and how your body feels when you run. When I was young my grandpa called me the ‘running machine’. For triathlon I was particularly impressed by how ‘fit’ a few of my friends seemed who did tri’s and when I found out about the distances of 3.8k swim, 180k bike and 42.2k run I was like ‘thats crazy! But at the same time I was thinking ‘I want to do it!’ From there my training got a bit more serious and then it got a LOT more serious! haha.

When did you start coaching athletes? Can you tell us about your background as a coach?
I worked as a P.E teacher in a school for 3 years and did a lot of athletics with children. I began coaching them at track and for cross country. I studied level 2 middle distance running and also did my Cert 3 strength and conditioning study and began working with athletes in the gym also (Yes I used to have a bigger upper body than I do now!). Later on when I got into tri’s I started my own studio called ‘The next step running and endurance coaching’ and worked with adult athletes doing running technique analysis on treadmills and also altitude training simulation. Around this time I started doing online coaching and programming for running and triathlon which I still continue today.

If I were to hire you as my running coach, how would you train me for a marathon?
I look to look into the way an athlete lives, their business commitments, sleep hours, family time, goals, etc and try to work out the best way to remove certain barriers they may have to success. If someone is under a lot of stress etc they will likely not absorb the training as effectively as someone else due to poorer recovery so they may need need less volume and more quality in their weekly programming.

I like to look at nutrition also. Often a big factor inhibiting growth as an athlete is poor nutrition. This often sabotages good running intentions and consistency.

In terms of training distances I generally don’t like really long runs and prefer more quality workouts in the week as opposed to covering extreme distances. No one says you have to run 35k before a marathon in order to run successfully. In Ironman triathlon you don’t go out and do a 9-16 hour training day just to prove to yourself that you can, save that for race day!

Often these long runs can lead to injury. The longer you run the more your form and position will fall apart and the more prone you are to injury. Also, if you train slow, then train slow, then train slow then you will race slow! In general I prefer more consistent, frequent quality runs to make up the volume required to excel.

I coach athletes primarily through online coaching and usually try to meet with each athlete or do a session with them every week or couple of weeks wherever possible. The programmes are specific to each individual as outlined above and change regularly depending on goal races etc. My athletes regularly email me questions, talk on the phone, or skype also to get the most out of it. From Jan, I will do a regular track session or road run each week.

You were based in Australia, what were the events that led you to making Manila now your home? How are you liking the running and triathlon community here?
I had been travelling a lot and competing in Asia and Europe in triathlon races and returned home to Australia to a very serious back injury which I carried for a long time. I tore the L5 S1 disk in my back and for the first 4 weeks I couldn’t walk, lie down and was being assisted even to the CR! At this time I realized I needed a change. I have travelled a lot to Asia and thought I may try getting a job as a national coach of a triathlon team. Things moved fast and I ended up as coach of the Philippine team for 2010 and 2011. The endurance sport community is growing fast here and it is exciting to be involved in coaching, competing, events and elite sport development at the moment.

Kenting 70.3
– Dan on the bike during Kenting 70.3 –

While a lot of people know you are into triathlon, not too many know that you are into marathons and into ultramarathons. What is it that you love about marathons? Ultramarathons?
My first love is running, as I outlined above before so I really love all forms and distances. I ran an 84k ultramarathon on day 3 of the Ultraman race in Hawaii and loved it. I ran the first the marathon in 3.08 and ran the same pace for the next 10k before my ITB tore and I had to do a lot of walking/suffering for the last section! At the end my left quad was twice as big as my right! Anyway despite that I loved the experience, felt great throughout (the running part) and will likely move into doing some events like that in the next couple of years. The Ultramarathon is one of the toughest events mentally you can do and that is probably why I will be drawn to it further as time goes on.

ultraman run
– Dan during the run at Ultraman race in Hawaii –

Can you give us a glimpse of your weekly training schedule?
I will race as a professional in triathlon events in 2012 so I am already preparing my body for my first race of the season which is Ironman 70.3 Sri Lanka on Feb 18. My weekly training hours are usually between 22-32 hours. It could be more or less depending on the distance I am preparing for.

Without giving too much away a basic week may look like.

  • Mon-AM easy bike PM easy swim
  • Tues-AM Long run PM focus Swim
  • Wed-Long Bike/Interval run off bike, PM gym
  • Thurs-Off
  • Fri-AM Interval bike PM Swim
  • Sat-Long bike/run off bike PM short run
  • Sun Long run/interval PM rec swim

How’s married life with Ironwoman Ani de Leon and life as a new father to Dash?
I feel so lucky to come to this country and meet Ani. She is an amazing lady in so many ways! She and I just knew immediately that we were meant for each other so subsequently things have moved fast and now we have a beautiful little boy Dash Daniel Brown born on Nov 29, 2011.

dan and ani pre race du
– with wife, Ironwoman Ani de Leon –

Mobile 09159537980
Email danielgbrown(at)hotmail.com
Facebook- Dan Brown
Twitter- nextsteptri

Taking 5 with Jeff Galloway

Thursday, 27 January 2011  |  Interviews + Features

This article will be published in the next issue of The Bull Runner Magazine to be released next week. My friend and Chi Running Instructor, Lit Onrubia, had an exclusive interview with Jeff Galloway for TBR Magazine before his much anticipated arrival in Manila next week. Here goes…

The running scene in the Philippines is better than ever! Races every weekend? Check. Ten thousand people in a single race? Done that. Expert race event organization? No problem. World-class coach teaching us how to run better? Um, sadly, no. That is, until now. Jeff Galloway — running and coaching legend, inventor of the Galloway Method, member of the 1972 US Olympic team and named one of 18 Runner’s World Experts in the magazine’s 40th anniversary edition — will be coming to Manila and Cebu from February 2-6, 2011 for a lecture and workshop series. Jeff recently shared his thoughts with us on how to run faster, longer and injury-free.

1. What is the most important lesson that you’ve learned throughout your running and coaching career about how to run at your best?

JEFF: There are two: 1) adjust your pace so that you can receive the boost to the attitude and vitality that each run can bring, and 2) be sensitive to your “weak links”. These are the areas of the body that ache more often and break down when pushed too hard. If you reduce training distance and intensity, at the first sign of an irritation (by inserting more walk breaks) you may not have to take any time off from running.

2. Many people believe that taking walk breaks slows you down, and that walking is a sign of weakness. What do you have to say about this?

JEFF: I’ve heard from over 300,000 runners who have used my training methods. Most find that the run-walk-run strategy actually speeds them up in races. Surveys back this up. When non-stop runners use the right ratio, the average improvement when using run-walk-run is over 13 minutes in a marathon. Walk breaks allow runners to train for marathons and other events, without being tired all the time.

3. You’ve run over 150 marathons. Millions around the world dream of doing it. What makes the marathon so special?

JEFF: There is no other experience in life that gives the combination of satisfaction and achievement, as that experienced from finishing a marathon. I hear from thousands every year who tell me how it has improved the quality of their lives!

4. I’m an experienced runner but i’ve plateaued. My race times are no longer improving. What can I do to improve my time?

JEFF: Longer long runs (run very slowly) have helped most. In addition, the following have improved race time significantly: running a greater number of speed repetitions, using some mental training techniques, and inserting the right strategy of walk breaks.

5. The running community in the Philippines is excited about your upcoming lecture and workshop series. What can they expect during your talks?

JEFF: I’ll explain how to stay injury free, how to stay motivated, how to run faster and farther without being tired all the time, efficient running form, the best food for performance, when to eat for best results, fat-burning, and mental training to break through barriers. I will also explain how to calculate the correct pace for each person, for long runs and races…and more!

Sales of tickets for The Galloway Method are on going.  Click HERE to view details.

Runner’s Interview: Joy Rojas Runs Across the USA

Wednesday, 23 December 2009  |  Interviews + Features

Joy Rojas was the first woman to run across the Philippines in 2005 covering 2000km in 46 days from Mindanao to Luzon. She recently returned from the USA for Takbong Pangarap Trans-USA Run 2009 where she ran 16 states in 196 days, from Los Angeles to New York. She is the first Southeast Asian woman to run across the USA.

Central Park, NY4

– Joy with members of the Philippine American Triathlon Club and Western Union employees at the “finish line” in Central Park –

There are only a handful of local runners who I look up to, not just because of the miles they’ve covered, but because of their pure passion for running; Joy Rojas is certainly in that list.  I was fortunate enough to have met her from whom I learned a thing or two about determination, humility, and integrity.  Here goes our interview…

Starting point: May 10, 2009, Eagle Rock Plaza, Los Angeles
Ending point: November 22, 2009, Central Park, New York
Total distance ran: 2,761 miles
Ave. distance per day: 26-30 miles
Running days: 113 days.
Rest days: 83
Total # of days for entire trip: 196 days

What made you think of taking on this incredible journey of running across America?  How did the idea come about?

After my running partner Mat Macabe and I ran across the Philippines (Davao City to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte) in 2005, I felt such great happiness and longing to be on the road again. More and more, I really felt that I still had a long run left in me. So after much introspection, I decided that running across the Philippines (which was a dream I carried in my mind and heart for seven years, after running across the Visayas in 1997), shouldn’t be the end of a dream but the start of many others. We thought of running across the US for many reasons: at least 200 people had done it, language shouldn’t be a problem, and with all the Pinoys scattered all over the States, the potential for support was there.

How did you plan your route across the USA?

I read the websites of transcontinental runners and I was drawn to the routes of two runners (Martin Illiot and Jackson Williams) who both recently crossed America. I figured, if they were able to run their routes, then they’re passable. Originally, I wanted to start in San Francisco, because I wanted to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, but contacts were established in Los Angeles, and that’s why we started where we did. The route continued to evolve as we ran. There was the request to include Washington DC, so states like West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland were added into the mix. And when we had to be in Denver for an event hosted by our sponsor Western Union, we were advised by friends to enter Colorado by way of Arizona, not Utah as originally planned, because it was a slightly shorter (and less hilly) route.

Running in the fog Fairview IL

– Joy and Mat running in the fog in Fairview Heights, IL –

You were running over a marathon daily for nearly six months, how did this feel physically and emotionally? Amazingly, I felt good in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. I was running at my best: although my legs felt tired at the end of the day, I experienced no lactic acid (thank you, SportsAde!), and I had more blisters on my lips than my feet due to windburn. Once I got the injury in Kansas (excruciating pain in my left pelvis which was misdiagnosed as a pulled muscle and bursitis along the way; an MRI in St. Louis, MO, revealed it was a stress fracture), I slowed down considerably to the point that I would walk 30 miles for many days. The month-and-a-half break plus the daily doses of calcium and vitamin D helped, but because we had very little time left to finish before snowfall and Thanksgiving hit New York, I had to run almost 26 miles daily from October 7 to November 22.

Getting back into high-mileage runs after weeks of relative inactivity was painful. My right leg swelled up like the Michelin man’s, and my pelvis was so sore, I limped and held on to Mat for support at the end of the day. From Ohio to New York, the soles of my feet were so sore, I felt like I wasn’t wearing shoes when I was running. And for the first time in my years of running, I felt such incredible pain pulsating to the tips of my toes, I was afraid to remove my shoes and socks after each run because I worried about what my feet would look like. To this day, my feet are still sore and my left hip hurts a bit during short, easy runs. I think it’ll be a while before I can run the way I used to. But that’s okay; I demanded so much from my body, it deserves the rest.

For most of the run, I was okay emotionally, but I have to admit, the last stretch from St. Louis, MO to Central Park, NY was very stressful. When you’re running slow because you’re in pain and the days are becoming shorter (it’s dark by 4:30 pm), you can really feel the pressure to finish. I don’t know how many times I cried before, during, and after a day of running, but thank goodness for Mat, Danny Titus (the American photographer who acted as our coordinator during the run), and for family and friends who called or texted to cheer me on and assure me of their prayers.

Did you run alone most of the time? What do you think of during your long, solitary runs?

Yes, I ran mostly by myself. Mat underwent open heart surgery (mitral valve replacement) in March 2008, and although he ran many parts of the route (at an easy pace) with me, Danny and I prevented him from tiring himself. My thoughts were random and varied: I thought about what I wanted to eat at the end of the day, made up stories about how various debris (from cellphones to clothes and toys) ended up on the side of the road, and recalled family, friends, and situations that we had just been through.

I also prayed a lot. Once, when I was in such pain in Missouri, my mom texted me from out of the blue and told me about all the priests and church friends she recruited to pray for us. She also told me to say the rosary while I ran, and I did, chanting Our Fathers and Hail Marys under my breath, and counting them with my fingers. I’m not religious but I have to say it had such a calming effect on me. Before I knew it, I had recited several cycles and we had reached our destination for the day.

With Danny Titus2

– “Best travel companions: Whether I was running at my best or my worst, Mat Macabe and Danny Titus never left my side. These two true gentlemen were the height of patience, understanding and encouragement.” –

What was the highlight of the entire run?

At first I thought it was watching the landscapes and colors changing right before our eyes, but for Mat and I, it was America’s big heart that proved the highlight of the run. Everybody was just so kind to us; strangers took us into their homes, gave us water, honked their horns and pumped their fists into the air to cheer us on. This was our first time ever in the US and we never expected Americans to be this friendly or supportive.

What was the most challenging portion for you?

Physically, it was running from Beltsville to Baltimore. We were on the fringes of Typhoon Ida, but even then, it felt like we were at the center of the storm. Imagine running—or in my case, walking—under 5°C rains, 23 mph headwinds, and on a very busy highway with a shoulder that comes and goes.

You suffered a stress fracture midway through the run.  How did you deal with it?  Was quitting ever an option?

Thankfully, we caught it in time where rest, calcium and vitamin D were the only things needed to make it heal. Had I continued, my doctor warned me, I would have broken my hip. Danny drove us back to the west coast to recuperate because he felt that being surrounded by friends would hasten my healing.

There was never a moment when I thought of quitting. For one thing, this was just too rare an opportunity, I knew we would never be able to do it again. For another thing, we had come so far! We covered 2/3 of America, New York was already within reach, so it would be such a waste to end it abruptly. More importantly, so many people’s lives were affected by my decision to run across the US, I really felt it would be such a great disservice to Mat, Danny, our sponsors, family and friends, if I decided to quit because I didn’t have the patience to sit it out for a month and a half and heal.

Lake Mead, NV5

– Joy running on the dry part of Lake Mead, Nevada –

What gadgets did you use to track your mileage and ensure you covered an accurate distance?

Danny Titus used a road atlas, maps of each state, Google Maps, and a GPS to track our mileage. Before Danny officially joined us in Arizona, Mat and I relied on an atlas, state maps, and a GPS. Two Filipino friends from Los Angeles who were familiar with US roads and had Internet access, Dr. Jing Mercado and Bert Jaurigue, served as our advisers while we were still in the West Coast. They would call daily to check on us, and Bert, in particular would call several times a day, often while I was still running, to ask of our whereabouts. He and his wife Ces literally went the extra mile for us: they crewed for us from Barstow to Yermo Road, CA (30.7 miles) and from Mesquite, NV to the Shivwitz Indian Reservation, UT (31.4 miles). They were also present in our events in Las Vegas, NV and Denver, CO

I’m pretty old school when it comes to gadgets, so the only gadgets I used were a runner’s watch, iPod and cellphone. To get perspective on how far I ran, I relied on road signs (those green and white ones that report the mileage from town to town), mile markers, and updates from Danny, who advanced 3 miles at a time after I caught up with him. Sometimes, there would be no mile markers along the way, and at first it felt weird not knowing how much I already covered. Eventually, I kind of liked not knowing; it felt liberating to just run. But of course, Danny and Mat were always there to remind me.

You called this run “Takbong Pangarap.” Is this your biggest dream?  Are there any more dream runs you would like to achieve?

Bainbridge, OH9

– Catching the changing of the leaves in Bainbridge, OH –

Our friends in the States, people we met because of this project, are already dreaming up other runs for us, but Mat says he doesn’t want me to put any more runs together because it hurts him to see me struggle, both physically and emotionally. Personally, I say never say never, but for now, what I really want to do is go back to work, and spend time with family and friends. And go on some short and easy runs.