Kaya mo yan, Walang iwanan

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

(2015 Milo Marathon account)



At the marathon starting line, Rico rehashed the game plan with Kazu. "Pare, samahan mo lang ako sa first 5K please. Sasabit ako sa pace mo para hindi ako masyado maiwan. Sa last 5K, hopefully, ako naman ang hahatak sa iyo." Good and considerate person that he is, Kazu agreed.

Like old times, the first 2K was a struggle for Rico who takes an eternity to warm up - like a diesel engine. He and Kazu were supposed to run at 8kph, but Rico was already struggling at 7.5kph, maybe even less. Rico has learned to apply hot muscle rub to speed up the warming process, but this time, his full stomach laden with longganisa rice meal was literally weighing him down. The running crowd was fast slipping by.

Rico and Kazu both has GPS watches, but the former requested the latter to keep track of speed and time. The Galloway run-walk ratio was supposed to be 7:1 at 8kph. Many times, Rico would lag Kazu by a few meters. Kazu would look at this watch, but would patiently wait for Rico to catch up. This game of catch up would occur frequently. It was still a struggle for Rico, but he held on by listening to Kazu's footsteps as if they were a metronome. 

Kazu:  Below target na tayo.
Rico:   First 5k lang pare. After that, you can surge ahead. 
          Mas mabilis ka sa akin.

Rico finally digested his breakfast meal and ran a bit faster. In an hour of running, they covered only 7kms instead of the planned 8kms, but that distance was still better than Rico's solo performance in his last two half-mary's. During training on treadmills, Rico could run 8kph steadily, but stress-related blips in his blood pressure coupled with his weight concerns often subconsciously slow him down during races. Fact is, he hesitates to stay within 140-150 bpm heart rate. Kazu said they were below target, but Rico is already grateful that 7kph is still on track with the 6hrs cut-off time.

Shortly thereafter, Kazu excused himself to grab a bite in Family Mart and take a rest room break. Rico agreed knowing that Kazu could easily catch up with him. Left on his own, Rico settled for a slower 7.5kph pace, but with longer run in between breaks. Slowly, he caught up with other runners. He reached 14kms slightly below 2 hrs, so he was actually gaining speed and was still in the game. 

But Kazu was still nowhere in sight. Rico thought Kazu threw the towel early on account of ITBS or bum stomach. That would have been unfortunate for Kazu who has yet to complete his first marathon, but Rico was still grateful for Kazu's pacing on those first 7kms. That gave the slow Rico a fighting change to meet cut-off time. Thankfully at km16 for Rico, Kazu reappeared from the other side of the road. Kazu looked okay at that point, and the gap between them appeared to be just around a kilometer, so Rico kept with his run steady strategy. Surely, Kazu would overtake him.

Minutes and meters passed, but Kazu was still nowhere near Rico. From km 16 to 21, Rico would repeatedly pause and look back. Again, he was worried that Kazu was having trouble. Cramps possibly, maybe ebbing morale. Early in the race Rico reminded Kazu not to worry about lagging behind other runners, for the real race begins at km21. Rico was all pumped up at that time but his running partner was nowhere in sight. Rico was ecstatic that his 3-year quest to break through 3 hrs for a half-marathon (his personal best made in 2010 is 2:28) seemed within reach, but his moral compass nagged him to wait for the guy that actually made this possible through a faster, externally paced, start. After repeated pauses and crowd-searching, Rico decided to stop at 21km, reached it in 3:02 which was still minutes better than his last half, and waited. 

Rico would remember that in their Mt. Pulag run last March, Kazu and Mark waited for and paced with him during the first 2kms. Despite layers of clothing, the slow-to-warm up Rico was still having chills and had difficulty adjusting to the thin, cold air. He contemplated on stopping and giving up his dream of reaching the Pulag summit, but thanks to friends Kazu and Mark, he didn't. For accompanying him to the summit, Rico would forever be grateful to these two.

Three hours and 4 minutes into the marathon, the running partners finally reunited. Finishing within 6 hours was still a possibility. The two went back to the run-walk Galloway strategy. While they were running at 7.5-8kph with Kazu dictating pace and Rico coping with it, their running period shortened. The walk and rest periods became more frequent. More experienced Rico could still maintain the pace, but muscle fatigue was getting into the less experienced Kazu.

They reached km28 several minutes past 4 hours. The pauses for muscle stretching slowed them down. Making it within cut-off time of 6 hours was becoming remote. Rico encouraged Kazu to at least finish the distance, no matter how long it took. It would still be an accomplishment, especially for Kazu. But if they could do it in less than 7hrs, that would still be an improvement from Rico's 2015 Condura run. It would not be a personal best (his was 5:16 in 2009 Milo), but it would be a 3-year PR. Pumped with the prospect of giving Rico a short-term PR, Kazu surged on his run and the two gained mileage.  Rico knew his friend enough, that the latter could readily make personal sacrifices if those meant advancing the interest of others. Tara, habulin natin ang PR na yan, Kazu muttered.

Eventually, the motivation to help the other reach his goal was overtaken by physical pain. At km 34, Kazu could no longer run. Many runners were giving up at this point, and a number already rode the Milo bus, but Rico prevailed on his friend to at least finish the distance, even if that meant more than an hour of walking. It was actually physically and mentally harder for Rico to walk, but he decided hours ago that he would finish this with his friend. The good first half was enough reward for him. This second half was for Kazu. He may not appreciate it at that moment of exhaustion, but Rico was firm on his belief that Kazu would eventually find meaning to completing still the distance. For Kazu, this whole running thing was simply for maintaining health. By sticking around and walking till the finish, Rico hoped his friend would see the marathon the way he sees it - a metaphor for life.

The two running buddies were eventually joined by a young man from Bicol named Kim, a marathon virgin. In the heat of the sun and on now empty roads, the three patiently walked, shared drinks and food, and light banter toward the cherish goal. Three minutes before 7 hrs, they all crossed the finish line. There was no more funfare, no more crowds, no timers nor medals. But in their hearts, in their minds, only one thing mattered. They finished despite the odds.




Running buddies Mark, Kazu and Rico



P.S.  Congratulations to Kazu and Kim for going the distance. Kudos too to Mark who did his first 21K and who patiently waited for us with another friend Hanna.

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When Tigasin meant Being Pliant

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I registered for NCC Tigasin Triathlon because I wanted to vacation in Bolinao and race on the side. I wanted to swim in Bolinao waters. I associate Bolinao with UP Marine Sanctuary, giant clams and white beach sand. Since my teammates had a grand time in last year's Dagupan Tri, we expected this other Pangasinan triathlon event would be fun as well.

We were wrong. Very wrong. The first sign of trouble was a text from organizers a day before the race that the triathlon may become a duathlon. The explanation was that the waves were deemed not safe by the organizers, Coast Guard and local government. Our party of six was still excited about our road so we kinda dismissed the message. The final decision would be made during the race briefing supposedly.

The second sign of trouble was our vehicular aircon conking out on us somewhere in Calasiao. This was second aircon incident I had since one audio store messed up the electronic wiring of my Starex' entertainment and aircon systems. I had that aircon fixed already. For extra measure, I advanced my vehicle's preventive maintenance check and did it a week before our road trip. But Murphy's Law prevailed. We spent almost two hours having the aircon checked in one aircon repair shop, but the burnt out resistor was not available even in Hyundai Dagupan!

We traveled through searing hot Pangasinan with our windows open. I was dying inside with guilt for convincing three of our friends to ride with us instead of bringing their own car. I was distraught but my companions were cool and collected still. Miko my swim coach even said, "Wag na kayong magpa-stress about the aircon. We shall manage."

We were already in Bolinao area when the third blow happened. Our pre-booked resort Villa Carolina replied to our arrival notice text with a statement saying they thought we were booked the next day. Tired, hot and grimy, I grabbed the phone from our very respectful FilJap Kazu and lost my cool while talking to the resort manager. She better find way. Boot out the corporate visitors if she had to because we confirmed first!

When we arrived at race kit claim area in Coco Beach resort, Miko very quietly inquired and learned of available large room for the six of us. I asked soft spoken Kazu to just request Villa Carolina to send back our deposit direct to Coco Beach. The lost reservation turned out to be a blessing as Coco beach became the official race venue. Our room was 50m away from transition area and start/finish arc. God is still good.

On account of our vehicular trouble, we were late for the race briefing and carbo loading dinner. We were tired and famished but we made do with the remaining few morsels of food. Back at the resort, I was about to retire to bed after a long day when I realized I could not find our vehicle key. The spare was almost 300kms away! After spending precious minutes double checking my bags, I found the key half-buried in the sand near the transition area. Whew!

Come race morning, I decided to just go with the flow and did the duathlon just like everybody. I hate duathlons because they do not allow me to warm up nicely and because I suck at running and biking. My race plan was to try out the swim technique that Miko taught me while surveying the coral and clam beds, and then winging the bike and run legs. I took my sweet time jogging and biking, but I finished rather than sitting it out on the beach and sulking.

After the race, I tried the waters. They were clear, shallow for hundreds of meters. I felt like a dugong doing breastroke in the wide expanse of sea grass. I wanted to see the reef part, but I was already too far off from shore with still no corals sighted. Only more grass, hence the dugong sensation :-) The waves were about a foot high 300m from shore and one has to fight gentle currents. The conditions may exasperate or frighten newbies, but Tigasin is the race name, right? I would compare the water conditions to Camaya Coast aquathlon then. The waves were nothing compared to race conditions in Corregidor aquathlon, Tri United Laiya sprint and Matabungkay tri two or three years back.

Organizers Timmy and Mikey Chua explained that the waves and current would not be safe for newbies. There were swells according to them. The conditions were better when they did swim reckon last year. The brothers were very nice and apologetic in their explanations, but I guess the lesson learned here was to know water conditions during race months. I think the lessons are learned. The bike roads leading to the beaches are very rough, even dangerous with deep cracks in certain areas. I supposed warnings were made during racd briefing, but these conditions will be a turn off for many. Personally, I would wait for a successful race edition before I make another trip back here. But I do look forward to more provincial races, and I remain optimistic in Trisports' role in providing this type of races.

As for me, the lesson learned is to be cooler when things go wrong. I am fortunate to be in the company of 5 cool dudes (Endure teammates Kazu, Sugz and Clark as well as Infinite Tri friends and officemates Miko and JB. What I would have considered a weekend nightmare morphed into something we would laugh about when we look back and reminisce. As proof that cooler heads rubbed off on me, I did not freak out when our Starex driven by one of us very mildly scratched a Fortuner while overtaking on our way home. The other party was obviously upset, but we manage to settle things calmly and with minimum trouble.

Like the bamboo, a true Tigasin knows how to bend when the situations calls for it.

posted from Bloggeroid

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Still Tri-ing

Friday, March 13, 2015

I may not be posting the last few months, but I have never stopped doing triathlons and joining races. This year, I joined a couple of runs in preparation for the Condura marathon. Two weeks ago I did the standard distance in Tri United 1. I signed up for the Tri United package - 1, 2 and 3.

Next week I will be checking a bucket list item of going to Mt. Pulag by joining the 11k Cordillera Mountain run. On month-end, breaking the Pinoy Fitness Sub-1hr 10k time remains a challenge, but I will run anyway.

I do not want life to pass me by, so I continue to move forward. Swim-bike-run for life :)

posted from Bloggeroid

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