An Almost ‘Perfect’ Race!(New Balance 21k Recap)

30 11 2009

“I over train!  So, I can over eat!!” -Sayings written in t-shirts

The New Balance Power Run yesterday  was indeed one of the most auspicious running events I have ever  joined this year.

I can’t recall any shortcomings or deviations during the entire race.

From its marshals, water stations, route, freebies, medal, giveaways- they’re almost perfect!

The distribution of those freebies at the finish line was exemplary and all  stations have enough water to supply the needs of all runners.

The route was also unique and my first time to run that course even though I’ve been to the ‘Fort’ for so many times during recent races.

Although I’m not satisfied with my performance, with a time of 2 hours and 7 minutes unofficial, I’m still very grateful to the Lord Almighty for allowing me again to finish a half-marathon, uninjured and plenty to spare. If not for the activities I’ve made a day before that race, maybe I could improve my time. Last Saturday, I biked 1 hour and 30 minutes, then I did my ‘heat training’ from 9am until 11am and attended a debut party Saturday night, and I was there until 12 midnight, with only 2 hours of sleep before the race. Well, I’m not sharing this to justify my not so good time but things like these must be avoided to be able to achieve a better execution next time.

To the Organizer of  the New Balance Power Run, Congratulations! You did it again just like the Power Race held in Clark two  years ago.

Rest assured that I and the rest of my running buddies here in Laguna will continually support your ‘races’ in the years to come.

And to my team mates in the TEAM HARDCORE who finished the “Takbo  Kay Ondoy” (TKO) 250k run,  a fund raising project for the victims of super typhoon Ondoy, you have my respect and utmost adoration. We’re not only Ultra-runners, but also ‘real’ hardcores when it comes to running.


Me before the race, 5am, assembly time.

after the race, 2 hours and 7 minutes later.

Ferdie Valdez

My buddies from Laguna: Vic, Bert, Mon, Me and Ferdie.

with Team Hardcore

See you this coming Saturday and Sunday in ‘Conquer Coregidor’ 16k trail run.

God be Praised!


New Balance 25 Kms. Race!

28 11 2009

“Running is a mental sport…and we’re all insane!” – Author unknown

Pictures taken in NB 25k marathon in Clark Pampanga  last 2007.

See you tomorrow at NB half-marathon.

God be praised!

Run With Horses!

27 11 2009

“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?” -Jeremiah 12:5

photo courtesy of

In the Olympic games, the greatest runners of the world compete for gold medals and laurel wreaths. Long before the final race, competitions are held in countries throughout the world  to weed out those who are not fast enough to compete. At the Games, the fastest of the fast qualify for the final competition. They trained to be fast, if not the fastest. Their goal is not just to finish the race but literally  to outrun the others.

In some remote areas in Africa, their runners train with unfamiliar method,  they run against horses. Of course, they will not win against those beasts, but it’s their way of testing if they have the capacity to become world’s Champion.

In my younger years, I can still recall an old Tagalog movie featuring ‘Yoyong Martires’, the speedy point guard of Utex Wrangler of the PBA. His biography depicted a young Yoyong running against carabao. Later, in his prime, he became the  quickest and the fastest point guard the PBA has ever produced.

Now, going back to my quotation above, it was taken from the Bible in the  Old Testament. Jeremiah, the Prophet, was called by God to give the Message . Just like in our times, the government then was corrupt and there were so many injustices.

The prophet Jeremiah was also involved in a pierce competition- but it was with idolaters and wicked priests. He was responding to the Lord’s call  to condemn Judah and to predict her downfall. He became so discouraged  that he asked the Lord, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are they happy?”

That’s when God said to Jeremiah, in essence, “The competition has just begun. So far you’ve been dealing with minor issues (running with footmen). How will you handle it  when the really tough  stuff comes (contending with horses)?”

Perhaps you’ve run into some difficulties recently: your boss, an illness, conflicts in the family. You’ve pleaded with the Lord for relief. But He may have said in response, “Toughen up. Dig in. It may get worse.”

When He asks you to ‘run with horses’, He will be with you to strengthen and sustain you.

That’s what God does.

See you in NB 21k this coming Sunday.

God be Praised!


Adjust Your Conscience!

24 11 2009

“Conscience is like a compass. If  a compass is faulty, you’ll quickly get off course. ” -Charles Swindoll

Why did some runners cheat during a race?

– out  of necessity?

– peer pressure?

– afraid of losing or being dominated by another runner?

– etc?

Maybe, all of the above are correct. Maybe not. Whatever reasons, those cheaters have one thing in common -vile conscience.

Built into our nature is an internal judicial system, the conscience, that commends us when we do right and condemns us when we do wrong. But this vital monitor of morality does not say the same thing to everyone. In some cultures vengeful killing is seen as honorable. In others, a person is still considered good even when he betrays a friend.

A story from The Philadelphia Inquirer illustrates this problem. A 12-year old boy was caught stealing a watch. He told police that previously he had shoplifted  a gift for his mother, and he felt he had to do the same for his dad. Although troubled about slighting his father, he had no qualms in stealing.

A runner who cheats will do the same thing over and over again because his conscience is not right. However, he will reap the consequence of his wrongdoings for the rest of his life, for his conscience will haunt him. I knew a runner who is  selling  all his 42k medals at any cost. He got majority of them by cheating and so he had no joy treasuring them. Every time he sees those medals, it only remind him of his dirty tactics and abominable style, so why keep it?

A conscience gets its signals from the heart, which can be dulled, hardened, calloused. Furthermore, a conscience can be overly sensitive or can even drive one mad.

Because of sin, conscience is unreliable and needs a continual adjustment. This begins with a right relationship to God.

It does not only apply in running, but in daily living as well.

‘Let your conscience be your guide’ is valid only if God’s WORD is guiding your conscience.

God be Praised!


Sleep All You Can!

24 11 2009

“Sleep is the best meditation.” -Dalai Lama

What killed Ranjan Das and Lessons for Corporate India?

A month ago, many of us heard about the sad demise of Ranjan Das from Bandra, Mumbai. Ranjan, just 42 years of age, was the CEO of SAP-Indian Subcontinent, the youngest CEO of an MNC in India. He was very active in sports, was a fitness freak and a marathon runner. It was common to see him run on Bandra’s Carter Road. Just after Diwali, on 21st Oct, he returned home from his gym after a workout, collapsed with a massive heart attack and died. He is survived by his wife and two very young kids.

It was certainly a wake-up call for corporate India. However, it was even more disastrous for runners amongst us. Since Ranjan was an avid marathoner (in Feb 09, he ran Chennai Marathon at the same time some of us were running Pondicherry Marathon 180 km away), the question came as to why an exceptionally active, athletic person succumb to heart attack at 42 years of age.

Was it the stress?
While Ranjan had mentioned that he faced a lot of stress, that is a common element in most of our lives. We used to think that by being fit, one can conquer the bad effects of stress. So I doubted if the cause was stress.

The Real Reason
However, everyone missed out a small line in the reports that Ranjan used to make do with 4-5 hours of sleep. This is an earlier interview of Ranjan on NDTV in the program ‘Boss’ Day Out’:
http://connect. das/play- video-boss- day-out-ranjan- das-of-sap- india-229111- 807ecfcf1ad96603 6c289b3ba6c376f2 530d7484. html
Here he himself admits that he would love to get more sleep (and that he was not proud of his ability to manage without sleep, contrary to what others extolled).

The Evidence
Last week, I was interacting with a well-known cardiologist on a talk about ‘Heart Disease caused by Lack of Sleep’. While I cannot share the video nor the slides because of confidentiality reasons, I have distilled the key points below in the hope it will save some of our lives.

Some Excerpts:

· Short sleep duration (<5 or 5-6 hours) increased risk for high BP by 350% to 500% compared to those who slept longer than 6 hours per night. Paper published in 2009.
As you know, high BP kills.

· Young people (25-49 years of age) are twice as likely to get high BP if they sleep less. Paper published in 2006.

· Individuals who slept less than 5 hours a night had a 3-fold increased risk of heart attacks. Paper published in 1999.

· Complete and partial lack of sleep increased the blood concentrations of High sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-cRP), the strongest predictor of heart attacks. Even after getting adequate sleep later, the levels stayed high!!

· Just one night of sleep loss increases very toxic substances in body such as Interleukin- 6 (IL-6), Tumour Necrosis Factor-Alpha (TNF-alpha) and C-reactive protein (cRP). They increase risks of many medical conditions, including cancer, arthritis and heart disease. Paper published in 2004.

· Sleeping for <=5 hours per night leads to 39% increase in heart disease. Sleeping for <=6 hours per night leads to 18% increase in heart disease. Paper published in 2006.

Ideal Sleep
For lack of space, I cannot explain here the ideal sleep architecture. But in brief, sleep is composed of two stages: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM. The former helps in mental consolidation while the latter helps in physical repair and rebuilding. During the night, you alternate between REM and non-REM stages 4-5 times.

The earlier part of sleep is mostly non-REM. During that period, your pituitary gland releases growth hormones that repair your body. The latter part of sleep is more and more REM type.

For you to be mentally alert during the day, the latter part of sleep is more important. No wonder when you wake up with an alarm clock after 5-6 hours of sleep, you are mentally irritable throughout the day (lack of REM sleep). And if you have slept for less than 5 hours, your body is in a complete physical mess (lack of non-REM sleep), you are tired throughout the day, moving like a zombie and your immunity is way down (I’ve been there, done that L)

Finally, as long-distance runners, you need an hour of extra sleep to repair the running related damage.

If you want to know if you are getting adequate sleep, take Epworth Sleepiness Test.

In conclusion:
Barring stress control, Ranjan Das did everything right: eating proper food, exercising (marathoning! ), maintaining proper weight. But he missed getting proper and adequate sleep, minimum 7 hours. In my opinion, that killed him.
If you are not getting enough sleep (7 hours), you are playing with fire, even if you have low stress.
I always took pride in my ability to work 50 hours at a stretch whenever the situation warranted. But I was so spooked after seeing the scientific evidence last week that since Saturday night, I ensure I do not even set the alarm clock under 7 hours.

Unfortunately, Ranjan Das is not alone when it comes to missing sleep. Many of us are doing exactly the same, perhaps out of ignorance.  If we can save even one young life because of this email, I would be the happiest person on earth.

ps: Incidentally, just as human beings need 7 hours of sleep, you should know that cats need 15 hours of sleep and horses need 3 hours of it. So are you planning to be a cool cat or a hardworking  horse?

Lets leave the stress and try to get good sleep!

God be Praised!

Fire In Your Belly!

23 11 2009

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in the man’s determination.” -Tommy Lasorda, American Baseball player and Coach.

One of my favorite motivational Speakers, Francis Kong, shared this wonderful story:

A very determined young man had been trying for months  to be granted an interview with a very successful company. After trying so many times he finally managed to get the Personnel Director to take his call.

The young job seeker asked  if he could get into their well-known training program. With dozens of qualified candidates already in his files, the Personnel Director replied, “I’m sorry but I can’t interview you now. Why don’t you call back  in about five years?”

The young man replied, “Morning or afternoon?”

Now that’s what I call…DETERMINATION! Wow!  I salute that young jobseeker for his earnestness and zeal.

How many of us can imitate his attitude?

Joining a race, marathon and ultra-running will require lots of perseverance and determination.

When I first joined my first ever  Ultra-Marathon (BDM 102k) last April 2009, I have a ‘satisfying’  time of 17 hours and 25 minutes, just good enough to beat the cut-off period of 18 hours. But I’m so tired and wasted for that race, almost died due to scorching heat and dog attacked.  As I ran there, I disfavored running and vowed not to join again.

But I joined again another  Ultra-Marathon (TNF100k) last May 2009,  one  month after that BDM 102k, and too my disappointment, I DNFed and reached  km 50 only. That Trail running was not feasible. The course was so sadistic with 5 mountains and 14 rivers, tornado, snake, rain, lahar flow and the ‘halt order’ from Organizer for almost 2 hours  in the middle of the race. There, I hated running and promised myself I will never run again.

But I joined again, this time it was my third Ultra-Marathon  last June 2009  (Botak 100k), and I was able to finish it again in 17 hours and 22 minutes, just enough to beat  the cut-off period of 18 hours. There, I got injured and can’t forget the view of Marikina Riverbanks where I ran 4x from point to point in the last 80 kms of that race but in that lowest point of my running career I told myself that, “More Ultra-Marathons to follow!”

After 3 Ultra-marathons, I discovered myself and started to appreciate it.

In those Ultra-running, I have learned the power of perseverance and determination. I just discovered my true self and my capacity as a runner. I’m a little bit more confident now than before. Experience is the best teacher, but you must be an ardent student first to realize its full meaning.

Just like that jobseeker, persevere and be determined to finish your course, regardless of how dim your path maybe.

And don’t be afraid to fail. Stand up. Rebound and keep moving.

Only in this way, we will be victorious.

Do you feel that ‘ fire in your belly’ that won’t let you go?

If it is there right now, I think you’re NOW ready!

103 days to go, BDM 102k! I can feel and smell it.

See you at NB 21k this Sunday.

God be Praised!

The Breaking Point…

22 11 2009

Everything has its limit – iron ore cannot be educated into gold Mark Twain

Hardcore’s TKO 250 kms. will finally be over this coming Sunday at New Balance half-marathon but humbly I would say that I have deficiencies in terms of mileage. I only ran a 25 kms at Milo Finals and  did not join  in Adidas KOTR and Halimaw Run. Sorry to say that during those races, I have found my load limit.

We’ve all seen load-limit signs on highways, bridges and elevators too. Knowing that too much strain can cause severe damage or complete collapse, engineers determine the exact amount of stress that various materials can safely endure. Posted warnings tell us not to exceed the maximum load.

Human beings also have their load limits, which vary from person to person. Some people, for example, can bear the pressure of trial and temptation better than others; yet everyone has a breaking point and can take only so much.

As I evaluated  my running performance this year, after Nb 21,  I think I needed to take a break and give my legs a well deserved rest. Sometimes, I think I’m so cruel on my legs…torturing it almost reaching its ‘breaking point.’

Nowadays, Ultra-running and back to back marathons are so popular and I’m glad that I was able to finish those races  but for those who would like to join (newbie in Ultra-running or back to back marathons), I have a simple advise: THINK MANY TIMES BEFORE JOINING. Don’t participate just because it’s only ‘IN’ and for peer pressure. Know your breaking point and plan strategically. Be physically and mentally fit. Above all, seek help from Above, without His grace, we can do nothing. And please, don’t exceed your maximum load.

See you at Nb 21 this coming Sunday.

God be Praised!