Archive for the ‘run’ Category

Dog Days: • a period of inactivity or sluggishness

Of all the gifts I’ve ever received from my mother, a map of the constellations is one of those I treasure most. Black connect-the-dots patterns printed on stiff parchment, yellowed with age, tattered and torn around the edges. It mapped out the stars outside our home. It was my mother’s map before it was mine.

Over there, that’s Orion, See the three stars in a row? That would be his belt (Orion, the hunter and apparently a fashionista to boot!) His arms, his club… My mother says as her hand traces out the pattern in the sky. And there! Not too far away, Canis Major, the great dog. He trails Orion. The brightest star in that constellation, in the night sky, do you see it? That’s Sirius.

Sirius, the Dog Star! This universe does know how to make a point. Dogdays. I am  right smack in the middle of my dogdays! Who or what better company can I expect on my night runs than this star that for the ancient Greeks signaled the hottest and therefore most unproductive days of the year? Why did it take me this long to figure it out? And how do I even begin to get out of it?

The left foot continues to misbehave. Both my pace and cadence are still off. It is getting to be tedious. It’s a funk that for weeks I’ve been trying to run, walk and now crawl my way out of! My mileage continues to seesaw between the imaginary and the pathetic.

Slow, sluggish and unproductive. That would be the first few weeks of the year… And the last few weeks of the last few months of the year that was. But still no real complaints here. Not yet…

Though I’ve always loved breakfast, I’ve realized that I’ve never truly been a morning fan. I always did think mornings came way too early in the day. So I’ve pushed most of my runs to the evenings, reserving the dawn for what they are best for in my book… bed and sleep and the occasional bagel and coffee while watching a new sun rise. And, once or twice a week, a swim in an ice blue pool.

Dark nights… Night runs with just the stars for company. It’s been a series of those. And, once again, you sneaky universe, you! One letter off and a whole world of difference to me! Dark Knights, not dark nights! If you are listening, please get that straight! The former not the latter is the one in my wish list.

The answer is as simple as it is as difficult to do. Do the work.

So, it’s back to the old schedule before this multi-sport craziness hi-jacked my mornings. Some are meant to tri… and then there is me. Done tri- trying for now and back to a simpler, more straightforward love: running.

Never did like it complicated.

My mind swirls, like the rays of a setting sun, around one thought.

What do I do next?

A radiant fireball hangs above a deep and quiet sea.  It is sunset over Fuego.

A steep walk awaits all runners headed for the start line. A small group is  gathered around the blue and white banner at the roundabout. Some runners sit by the curb, others simply stand around near the start line. Waiting. Waiting for the signal to begin.

There is but a thin, red line streaking over the horizon now. The sun follows a demanding schedule. It waits for no one.

It is going to be a rollercoaster of a run.  10Kms of inclines and rises and steep drops. A butt killer of a run. A relentless series of ups and downs and disguised flats.  I simply call it my compressed hell.

What’s the plan?
Run the pace your legs dictate. This is a recovery run after all! This same time last week you were raising a margarita glass, surrounded by your best friends,  celebrating your marathon run finish.

What’s the plan?
Run to the rhythm your heart beats out. This is your last race for the year. Enjoy it and celebrate the feel of the road under your feet.

What’s the plan?
Run with all the fierceness your soul could muster.  All great endings deserve that.

What’s the plan?

The signal is given. Hoots and hollers and loud cheers erupt from the crowd but it is immediately drowned out by a thundering  of foot falls.

The Fuego-Mizuno Sunset race is finally on!

What is the plan?! Run! Just run! Run your joy with the setting sun!

For we all know that as the sun sets over one horizon, it rises in another…

Every sunset comes with its own bag of promises. There is the promise of rest, of some quiet, healing and renewal. The coming darkness need not be feared if it is embraced with hope. For isn’t that what every sunset shows us? Darkness is ushered in; A comforting blanket pulled slowly across the sky with the sun’s rays tightly wrapped around its edges.

Sunrises follow Sunsets. Dawn swiftly follows Dusk.

For now, celebrate this ending. There will be time enough for making new plans. There will be time enough for new beginnings.

That’s what dawns are for.

ready, get set, go….rilla!

Posted: September 24, 2008 in run, running
Tags: , ,

Last week, I started playing tag with the flu virus. This week, it finally got me.  I’ve been stuck in bed for the last three days taking in enough liquid to drown out a small island. It’s not fun. And it’s certainly boring as hell. I hear there was a typhoon that passed by yesterday. But I was zonked out in bed the whole time it was happening. Except for SeriousCat’s nightly missions of mercy (food delivery) i haven’t had any real contact with the outside world.

Today, the virus finally seems to be in retreat. Well, i hope it is. Three days of antibiotic blitzes should do that, right?  I’ve managed to stay awake long enough to do some work, read through my email and send proof of life messages out. One of the emails waiting in my inbox is from a client/friend in the UK. If I needed further convincing that running is not only addictive but  also contagious well this would be it. The last time we got together, I regaled him with stories about running. What else could I regale him with? Running has taken over the non-work part of my life. Apparently that got him thinking and it also got him running. Today he sent me this info about a run he is joining this weekend and a link.

The GREAT GORILLA RUN!

I’ve visited the site and it does look like a lot of good running fun is in store for him this Saturday. And by good, I mean GOOD.  It’s definitely a way to get some great karma going.

What’s the great gorilla run all about? Well, basically you suit up in a gorilla costume (which you also get to keep) and you run 7km through London’s streets and in the process you do your share in helping save an endangered community… the Gorillas! Now that’s a run I wish I could take part in. Mainly because i think I’ll be a natural running  in a gorilla suit. And even before I cried my eyes out watching Gorillas in the Mist I’ve already had this affection for our furry cousins. Hell, I think I’ve even dated a few…

Here are some Gorilla facts from the site…

There are 4 types and they all live in West and Central Africa:

1. Mountain Gorillas

One of the most endangered animals on earth. There will be as many Great Gorilla Runners in London in September 2008, as there are Mountain Gorillas – just 720!

2. Eastern Lowland Gorillas

There are an estimated 3,000 of these slightly less hairy gorillas, which doesn’t mean they are any less important. I guess this seems like quite a few compared to the Mountain gorillas but when you realise that there were around 17,000 only ten years ago you can understand just how threatened they are.

3. Western Lowland Gorillas.

These gorillas were thought to be relatively safe because they live in huge dense forests, which are pretty hard to get to. But that was before people started building roads through the forests and a nasty ebola virus killed thousands of them in just a few months. 60% of these gorillas have been wiped out in less than 30 years.

4. Cross-River gorillas.

Rarely seen, even more rarely photographed, these are some of the most elusive and threatened creatures on the planet – there may be as few as 250 left in the world.

The Great Gorilla Run also happens in four other places: San Francisco, Amsterdam, New York and China. This run is definitely in my list now.

I’ve had my heart set on running with a new partner for quite some time. He’s sleeker and he’s sexier than my old running partner.  Call it lust at first sight but it took me all of 5 seconds to decide that this new one would be The One.  At least, until that next new gadget comes along. I’m talking about the GARMIN 405. Yes, yes. I’ve read the reviews that say that the Garmin 305 is still the more sensible choice. And If I actually used my brain to decide these things then I would have/ should have picked the 305. But I never use my brain to decide these things. I go by feelings. I go by looks. Sexy trumps function for me any day. That’s just me. I make no excuses for it.

The Garmin 305 is cheaper.

The Garmin 305 already works with my Mac. I need to wait for FALL 2008 to get the 405 to even acknowledge my Mac. I wonder which FALL and in what continent? Does Batgirl’s fall into the RAVINE count? That actually qualifies as the great FALL 2008 in my book.

The Garmin 305 has a map imaging function. I only have this compass like image on my 405 that points somewhere. I’ll just make my own way back, thank you very much.

Runner’s World UK published this review:

It’s still packed with all the features that made the 305 great: it monitors your time spent running, distance, pace, calories and heart rate, and your runs can be stored in the memory, so you can review and analyse the data and the routes you’ve taken later on. Once you’ve activated your unit for the first time, you’re whisked through a set of simple tests that act as a guide on how the unit works (so no need to read the instructions then). It’s simple, and the iPod-esque bezel means it’s easy to navigate while those who are new to this kind of technology should have no problem picking it up and using it.

The bezel replaces the need for all the buttons the 305 had. Scrolling through the right side of the bezel moves through functions while tapping the bezel in any place enters a particular screen.
A minor down-point is that the smaller screen means the 405 only displays three fields, compared with four on the 305, and that there is no map page on the 405, but it does have three customisable data screens to allow you to display all the meaningful data. All you have to do is simply tap the bezel to scroll through the screens on the run.

The hottest new feature is the ANT+Sport technology that enables the device to transfer data to your computer as soon as the device is within range, meaning there’s no complicated method of transfer or leads to use. There’s also a heart-rate-specific training display, which wasn’t on the 305.

One of the 305’s main sticking points was its delay in receiving a satellite signal. The new 405’s high-sensitivity GPS receiver provides improved tracking under trees and near tall buildings and therefore a stronger signal during your run. So even in cities as built up as London, finding a signal was greatly improved, taking just a couple of minutes to locate and hold reception.

I do read reviews. I just have selective attention. I pay attention only to the ones that agree with me.  And anyway, I didn’t want to look like one of those Japanese action heroes with huge watch-like contraptions attached to their wrists. My wrists are pretty thin. And as Prom once belatedly pointed out… “Oh! I forgot. You ARE a GIRL! These things are important to you!” Hrmmmrm. It wasn’t his fault. He was discussing the merits of the watch. I was mainly focused on its looks.  Like I said, I have PRETTY thin wrists. Focus on the pretty, please.

So it finally arrives and I immediately strap it on to my wrist. Only to realize that well, I still needed to charge it…for a minimum of 3 hours! 3 hours! What were those Garmin guys thinking? I could have run a half marathon and be enjoying breakfast by then! But I wait. Patiently. And because I have no choice, I wait very, very patiently.  And after 3 hours I go out and take it for a spin.

I should have spent those three hours reading the manual. The Garmin is not as intuitive as my Polar RS200sd. Well, the Polar wasn’t all that intuitive either. But that was my first time. And every girl knows not to set too high an expectation for first times.  I couldn’t get the bezel to work. I tried prodding it on with a gentle touch. Nothing happened. So I knocked some sense into it by literally pounding it to submission with my finger. It finally gets the message. And it starts doing something. After a few more senseless tappings, we are off. I’ve managed to turn on the virtual partner. We are connected to some satellite. It tells me the accuracy is at 66%. I don’t know what that means but it starts recording the distance. Whooeeey!

Now, one of the reasons I decided to shift to Garmin from my Polar is that I hated having to wear the footpod. I kept needing to calibrate it. And ever since we’ve been running longer distances, I felt that it’s been digging into my right foot. I was convinced that using the Garmin with its GPS would simplify my life. So, before the run, I gleefully removed my Polar footpod from my shoe, strapped the Garmin to my wrist and set off. After a few seconds of walking around with the GARMIN 405 though I realized something. My footpod has moved to my wrist! The Garmin is so much heavier than my Polar! Oh well. One more thing to get used to.

A heart rate monitor also came with my GARMIN. But since Mr. GARMIN and I were only on our first date, I didn’t want to pressure it with issues of the heart so soon.  I did not have the patience for it. So, very conveniently, I left the heart rate monitor behind. On hindsight, that was actually a good call because I wouldn’t have figured out what to do with it on the run anyway. I still needed to pair it, apparently. Strap your date to your wrist then pair your heart with it! Good plan. I’ll try to do that next time.

3.23 km into the run and my Garmin announces that my Virtual Partner has left me behind. What’s worse is that it chooses to mock me by showing an animated picture of me hunched over! What?!  Darn it! Nothing left for me to do but to simply keep running and try to catch up with it.  I make some headway but at the end of my run, my date proudly announces that it has left me behind by 1.35kms! What the?! I pay all this money for a date that leaves me at the curb? If you think I’m the kind of girl who will take this lightly, well you think wrong. So I do something that most sensible girls will do when they are spurned on their first date. I steal my date’s shoes! Well, something close to that.  As soon as I get home I read the manual very carefully and figure out how to set its speed. It’s now way below mine. Let him follow and weep!

“So, you want me to turn Buddhist now?!”

Snuffy sighs. The poor man. I know he is trying to teach me something. But I am in no mood to listen. I had called him to talk about my speed intervals the next day.  I had just reviewed the paces required. I am terrified.

“No,” he says. “I’m just saying you should consider having a mantra. I read somewhere that most elite marathon runners have it. It’s a phrase or a word that keeps them going.  It keeps them focused during the most difficult periods of a run.”

“I have a mantra!” I tell him a bit too huffily.

“Fine!” He says, a bit exasperated now. “If the word BREAKFAST does it for you then think that and use it!”

“Yeah…ok!”

There is clearly something wrong with this man’s reasoning. What if I need to do the run in the evening? But I keep this thought to myself.

Apparently, Snuffy can read my mind. He sighs again. “Or, you can try visualizing. You should be pretty good at that.”

“Visualizing?”

“Yes, for instance, pick someone running ahead of you and think of that person as one giant magnet pulling you towards himself.”

Hmmm… that could work!

So I start my speed run and I start visualizing.

The man is a magnet. He is pulling me in.

And it works! I can feel myself running a little faster. I check my polar watch. Wonder of wonders! I am hitting my target pace. But soon enough my legs start wobbling. My breathing is getting more and more labored…

I must focus harder! The man is drawing me closer to him. Come on! Work!

“The man is a magnet!” I announce this as stubbornly and as loudly as I can to anyone in the universe willing to listen.

My outburst startles the woman running a few meters ahead of me.  She glances behind her and she starts to pull back. Soon enough she is running behind me. Clearly, the magnet is not strong enough to work for two!

Wow! I am moving faster. Snuffy’s advice is working! But then, the image starts crumbling. The magnet slowly disappears. In its place I see a dark void. And it’s growing bigger! It’s pulling me closer to it!

THE MAN IS A WORMHOLE!  I see the stars of a distant universe…

I.Am.Going.To.Die.

Change tactics. This isn’t working. I need to visualize something else.

The man is Brad Pitt.

THE MAN IS BRAD PITT!!

Now that’s better!

And I zoom towards my inevitable destiny…

I guess I should be happy. I just finished running 25 kms and I find that my limbs have all managed to make it home with me. I even had enough energy left over to enjoy a really good breakfast with the gang.

Prometheus Cometh joined us during this run. That was kind of him. I know I was running way below the pace he was accustomed to. But he kept us company and filled the many kilometers we needed to run with interesting stories and insights as a marathon runner, a dad, and simply as an all around great guy. In the interest of full disclosure I do have to say that he treated this parched runner to a cold bottle of water and gatorade at 7/11. 🙂 So yes, I do see him through blue gatorade colored glasses!

The only sad part about this run was that as we approached the cemetery (Libingan ng mga Bayani), the smiling guard there immediately handed me a piece of paper. And no, it wasn’t his number or a raffle ticket (which I would have bought. I like raffles!)  It was a notice in big, bold letters.

NOTICE

Effective 10 September 2008, the Libingan ng Mga Bayani is closed to all joggers, bikers and thru-passers. Visiting hours will be from 0800H-1700H daily (8:00am-5:00pm)

By ORDER OF THE HIGHER HQS

As timings go, this is pretty bad. Just when we’ve started the build up to longer distances we lose a part of our route that’s actually provided a bit of shade with its tree lined path and a relative feeling of peace and security during our runs. I loved that portion of our long run route. It’s the part that’s allowed me to breathe a little more easily. To recover from running the busier, more jarring section of Bayani Road with its traffic and rampaging jeepneys and tricycles and all that smoke! In a city where the closest thing we have to a park are our cemeteries, I cannot but consider it a great loss.

I guess our soldiers and heroes who lie at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani do deserve their peace. But as Prom and I made our way out through the cemetery gate for the last time, I just couldn’t help wishing that somehow they still continued to share a piece of that peace with the living.

I’ll have two of the hills, three cemeteries and one 7/11… I don’t want the airport.

No, we are not tycoons working out big deals on real estate. And no, this is not some strange version of the game Monopoly. But the topic of our conversation is indeed real estate. The ones we intend to run in. It’s Wednesday, after all, and time for us to start negotiating our long run route and mileage.

All of us are training for something, some for a full marathon, others for a half and others simply for breakfast.  Hence, our long runs are defined by different distances. The rules (if these can be considered rules) are quite simple. We all start out at the same time, chat during the warm-up phase, hit our paces, do the required mileage and then meet up for breakfast. The first ones to finish reserve the table. They also get to look the prettiest/hunkiest since they are the ones who will have the most time to freshen up.

We’ve cut up the global city route into 3-5 km segments. Mileages and sequences are flexible. We all have different requirements. Some want a more challenging route. Some want more shade and less sun. Others want more frequent taho (sweet soy) breaks.  Others, me included, really just want the quickest way to breakfast. So we take our pick of the route. And do solemnly swear to run it well.

We don’t run at the same paces. But we do try to stick to each other as best we can. Until quite recently there were designated pit stops where the first ones in would sit around, tell stories, pick on each other’s shadows and wait for the rest to come in. Pit stops were carefully chosen for the variety of food and drinks they offered. Well, horror of horrors!  Apparently, there is this thing called runabouts! And technically what we were doing was closer to it than a long run. I just recently found this out from Baldrunner’s site. I guess sometimes the truth does hurt. I’ll have to say I was really much happier when I didn’t know this.

So we’ve had to tweak our plan. We now have a starting point, an end point and short walking breaks. Officially there are no more pit stops. Lots of things happen unofficially in this part of the world. That’s why I choose to live here.

I don’t relish running alone much. So I always try to find someone to run with. It’s getting much more difficult these days since Batgirl and I often need to run the longest distances. But either my paces are too undisciplined for Batgirl’s  tastes or she prefers to run other segments in the route. I know she likes heading out to the airport. I hate that part of the route. There are way too many potholes and the sidewalks are cracked in the strangest places.  I’m the daughter my father would fondly introduce to his friends as the girl headed for a brilliant career in the Department of Public Works and Highways. That’s because I have this attraction to potholes. It’s a talent. Put one pothole in some obscure part of the road. I will find it and fall into it.

So, I once asked Mighty M, super girl without the geeky costume, to join me in one of our long runs. I begged her to run at my pace. I can’t very well run at her pace unless I’m really set at finding a shortcut to the cemetery. And I’d have to say it worked out really well.  We ran straight without any pit stops. I got home and my knees and ankles and hips felt fine. But I realized my jaw was hurting. Apparently so was Mighty M’s! We finally figured out that it was because we were chatting for 2 1/2 hours non-stop!  Well, marge simpson hrmrrm, who was it again that told me that I’m supposed to do long runs at conversational pace??!