Category Archives: running

Melbourne marathon 2019

Written on October 15:

I just finished my 3rd marathon at the 3rd continent and I surprisingly PRed!!!

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I don’t know what happened but I was averaging 9min/mile in the 17 miles and felt really strong. Usually people say you shouldn’t go faster than planned pace (which was 10min/mile), yet I am very in tune with my body and I know I wasn’t pushing too hard too early, so I just kept going!

Okay… let’s rewind a bit.

I arrived Melbourne on October 10 evening. Did some sightseeing on October 11, and very little on October 12 to be fully rested. I didn’t run for 3 days.

On day of the race, I didn’t sleep very well although I tried to sleep at 8:30pm local time which is 5:30pm Manila time. Woke up around 3am (midnight Manila time) and couldn’t sleep more. It’s not unusual to not sleep well the night before the race due to the anxiety/excitement. I did sleep well the previous two nights so my body was rested. I got up around 4am, drunk my coffee, went to the bathroom and prepared everything. At 5am, I had a small bowl of oatmeal with PB2 and left the apartment. The train ride was super fast, just one stop with many other runners, so it was easy to just follow them to the race place.

It was quite cold in the morning 9C so I hold on my bag until 6:30am where I dropped the bag but still had a throw away shirt and scarf. Everything was well organised

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Since there’s no corrals, I place myself close to 4:30 hrs pacer thinking that would be my best shot given my time last year in Tokyo of 4:38

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By mile 5 I’ve past 4:30, 4:20, and 4:10 pacers. I was averaging 9min/mile. For few minutes I wondered if I should slowed down and save energy for the second half. But I felt good, very strong, I was mostly breathing with my nose and I wasn’t feeling fast HR, so I kept going. It was only after 18 miles I started to slowed down gradually but mentally I knew I was going to PR today, it was just a matter of by how much. Around mile 20, my left ankle felt some discomfort/pain, something that I never felt during this training cycle, maybe an old injury last year. I slowed down a bit hoping it goes away. It did eventually by mile 24/25. I was still feeling good. Compared to last two races, I felt the strongest today. No need to walk, no pit stop, no upper body fatigue.

I kept going and going thinking how fortunate I am to have the chance to run wherever I want, the opportunity to run in this beautiful city, to have the support of my family especially my husband who’s taking care of the girls to let me come here alone. I am conscious that most people don’t have the opportunity to do this, so I am super grateful.

My watch registered 26 miles finally. I knew we would finish at MCG but the entrance was not on sight yet. Then I past 26.2 miles and finally saw runners going in and then the sign saying 400 meters to go. Oh boy… that means the course is 500m longer than 26.2 miles. It was great to run the last 400 meters inside the stadium with people cheering. I felt a glimpse of being a real athlete.

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I finished 4:11:31. taking out the extra 0.3 miles, it was 28 min faster than Tokyo, and 90 seconds faster than San Diego. Wooo!!! I think if I train properly with a coach, I can do sub-4 hours next year. πŸ˜€

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Nutrition: I had oatmeal 2 hrs before, one fig bar 30 min before start, then 3 gels (mile 5, 9, 12, 15, 18, 22 in halves), electrolyte water, water. I couldn’t have more than 3, it would make me nauseas if I kept gulping it, so I just had Gatorade the last 5km. The weather was perfect so I didn’t sweat too much thus no need to drink +4 liters of water as I did during training run Manila.

The whole experience felt surreal. How was it even possible to hold to 9min/mile for 17 miles straight was beyond me. I didn’t run that pace during my entire training cycle so it either meant I didn’t train properly (which is very likely) or this is my lucky day. It made me realize that my potential is immense!

Two things were different this time:

Being Vegan: I’ve been vegan for 20 months now, and to be honest I wasn’t sure how it would contribute/hurt my run. Although I did notice that I recover faster than before. But since my training runs were slower, I had my doubt if being vegan weakened me. The verdict is out… veganism serves me very well!!! mentally, physically and for marathon running! πŸ™‚

Train low: for the last couple months, I’ve been doing IF few days a week and always run fasted even for 60-90 min of long runs. The reason I started was that I was intrigued by the hype of IF so I wanted to try it; I’ve been snacking more lately which didn’t make me feel good so I wanted to cut it down, back to whole food vegan, and eat more nutritious meals. I liked it overall but I also listened to my body, whenever I felt I needed to eat, I ate. The advantage of IF is that during this training cycle I run 90% of the time fasted, which helped my body to be fat adapted, and faster response to glucose during the race. I Β just felt so strong!

I think another factor that helped during this race is that I came alone. Although it is super nice to have the family to travel with me for such an important race, the fact that they are here, especially the girls, I am expected to care for them, entertain them, thus not as much as rest/flexibility as I am alone. Maybe next year I bring Tony alone and leave the girls with grandma πŸ™‚

I like Elliud’s saying: passion is a choice. You need to choose to be great. It’s not a chance, it’s a choice.

Few months ago I thought I’d never be able to run faster, faster like to BQ, now I think that’s possible if I put my mind to it and train seriously! So the next day I texted Tony: I think I can BQ if I train hard enough. He responded: Yes! Go for it! πŸ™‚ That’s why I love him so much. hahahah…

I think I’ll get back to have a coach, give myself 5 years to reach the goal! Oh… I’m already so excited! BQ is the ultimate goal of any marathoner and I can see myself doing it! πŸ™‚

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A weekend in Baguio and first time podium photo

I had an epic weekend at Baguio last week. It started with a great event at local university with over 240 students, faculties and local government officials

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I had a lot of fun answering students questions, especially those related to their future. In this changing global economy, I can understand the uncertainties the youth faces. Especially when it comes to automatic intelligence. Will our jobs all be replaced by AI? I’m an optimist my heart so I don’t think so. I think the world is always changing, as long as we equip ourselves with the right instruments, we will be able to cope and even leverage of those change to take us to the next level. I told the students:” i have two young daughters, so I am constantly thinking about how to prepare them for the future. And I think equip them with critical thinking, strong work ethic and emotional skills to collaborate with others, they will be ready for the future world. And most importantly, find your passion!”

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while i was working, Jackie and Tony took the kids to meet with me in Baguio

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despite a rather long ride, 5-6 hours, they had fun.

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Saturday morning Tony and Hugo played golf for hours while I worked and Jackie took care of the girls

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then we had dinner together

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I was super excited for my best trail adventure to date! a 32 km trail race. I woke up around 3am, spent an hour preparing the gear and ate oatmeal. Departed around 4:30am and still arrived early

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the view along the course was gorgeous

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and but hills were killing!!! It was not an easy course, it was constantly up and down, either killing my quads or my butt 😦

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then the sun rise and despite being in a relatively cooler place, the heat got me hard. I developed a bad headache. I could barely walk, totally gave up running. After the killing sun the storm came and it was pouring. I was soaked and could barely open my eyes for like an hour. Instead of waiting for it to stop which I don’t know for how long, I kept going with another runner, who we kept each company for the rest of the journey.

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crossed this scary bridge

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with my running mate

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my watch died at 18 miles. I didn’t know how long it would took me. At first I thought maybe 4-5 hours given the distance. But I was so wrong. By 11am (6 hours later), I was just 2/3 of the way. I texted Jackie don’t wait for me until I am 1 km away because each mile could take me 18-30 min. And the last 5-6 km was all up up up!!!

Then someone told me that I was on 6th place overall for female. what??? I felt like I was moving like a turtle, how could I be on 6th place? anyway… by that time I just want to reach the finish line even if I’m the last. I was so exhausted. But I was also enjoying the gruelling moments. I cleared my mind… my worries, the stress… nothing matter at that moment, just my mind and my tired body. All my focus was one step in front of the other, keep moving, “enjoy” these last steps until I return to real life.

8 hrs 13 min later… I saw this little girl welcoming me

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i couldn’t be happier

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to cross that finish line

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the most satisfying and relief smile.

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i was so proud of myself for enduring this challenging raceIMG 9624

and I placed first in my age category. Since I couldn’t wait for the official ceremony, I asked the organiser to give me the winner medal and podium photo

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Overall there were 57 runners who joined the 32km. I was 6th among women.

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Although those 8 hrs were hard, I had no doubt at any time that I was meat to do that. For non-runners, it’s hard to understand why we “torture” ourselves to those experiences. Well.. to me, I love doing that because it makes me feel strong, confident, adaptable, and optimistic about whatever shit life throws at me. It reminds me how strong our body and mind is, it is only a matter of choice how we face the obstacles in life. πŸ™‚

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Travel: Tokyo trip part 1

We spent 10 days in Tokyo and it was a really fun trip! I haven’t been in Japan since 1991 and it was Tony and the girls’ first time in Japan. So we explored a lot and visited 3 cities.

We arrived on a Friday morning, after an hour ride by airport limousine bus (1500 yen per person) we arrived our airbnb in Shinjuku. We met with friends and then went out to explore the neighbourhood. It was still quite cold in Tokyo, especially for us coming from Manila over 30 degrees everyday, it was an adjustment.

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the next date we all went to the Tokyo marathon expo site. It was massive! So many people everywhere

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when I realised there was a line on the open area for only runners, I asked the family to wait me somewhere else but we could easily spend hours in the open

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an hour later I got my bib. Despite over 35k runners participation, the expo was super organized, all the steps were clearly signed and the staff super friendly and helpful. Very japanese style πŸ™‚

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due to the travel the day before and the whole morning spent walking and standing and not eating properly, I asked the family to leave me alone in the airbnb to chill out and eat some normal food. So they went to have dinner with friends

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I gathered from convenient store as much normal food as I could to make my pre-race dinner: rice ball, seafood, tofu, and a soup

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half hour later I made a big bowl of oatmeal while watching netflix

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the race didn’t start until 9:10am, so I had plenty time to get organized, got another bowl of oatmeal with PB, bundled up and left with Tony and Sofia to my gate entrance. Although we stayed literally 50 meter from my corral, we had to walk 15 min to get to the gate for security check and bag drop. They confiscated my beloved water bottle because it was made with aluminium. oh… well..

Got my final pre-race picture taken with my little fan

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so many people!!! but yet very organized everything… impressive

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when I got to my corral, I saw Tony with the girls! yey! They waited me for 20 min until i started running… lovely.

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the race course was great, flat, and it shows the best part of Tokyo. I was feeling incredible good for the first 30km. I said better than I expected given that I was still exhausted from the trip to Buenos Aires, and I wasn’t eating well for the last couple of weeks, so I was feeling weak and not confident. Fortunately the vibe kept me strong for the first 2/3 of the race, despite suffering the cold a bit. They were people cheering runners all along the course, offering all kinds of homemade food. I tasted few and they were delicious. They had toilet stops every few hundred meters, so although there were lines, it went very fast. I stopped by after then first mile and very at the end.

Along the course, they offered water and sport drinks, and food (clementines, cherry tomato, bananas, aduki bean cake, candies, dry plums, sport meals, chocolates). So many varieties.

The last 10km was hard. I had to make mental game to reward myself from not stopping for 1 km to get 1 min of walking time. I did it, it was hard. I dedicated my mom, my dad, my husband, and my daughters the last 5k. At the end of the race, I couldn’t look at the people around me, their cheering was annoying, I felt that even looking around takes energy out of me that I didn’t have, so I just kept going, looking at the road.

Unfortunately my family didn’t make to meet me at designated points because there were too many people, most roads were cut, and people they asked didn’t give them the right direction. But it was okay. I knew they were there for me.

After crossing the finish line, the walk was not as it is supposed to be to cool you down. We got a large towel, a heating mat, food, water, and kept walking until the meeting area (picking up the bag on the way). Everything was well organised and clearly directed so nobody got confused. I walked by a foot bath place. Looks really funny. It must feel good to get some warmth in that cold weather.

Then I met with Tony. So nice to see him and give him a big hug. I changed with his help to cover me up because I got two layers soaked up and they were freezing me. We walked 1-2 km more to meet with the bigger crew. So lovely.

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The most surprisingly part post-race was that although I felt I was so much more exhausted during the race than my previous marathon, my recovery time was much much faster. By that night, I could walk almost normally including getting down to stairs. And then next day I was really feeling good, recovered, almost normal. The only thing I can attribute this to must be veganism because the training was the same of less this time, and physically i was not as rested this time.

The next day we took the bullet train to Kyoto, on the way, I got some famous bentos

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I must say, they look better than they taste because usually bento is cold, and they’ll never taste like freshly cooked meals.

Kyoto is such a lovely city. Traditional, boutique, quiet. My kind of place

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our airbnb is a traditional style japanese house, we got the whole house which has two floors

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the upper floor has a bedroom and a seating area, the lower floor has another bedroom, kitchen/dining, and bathroom.

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our host welcomed us with a bowl of strawberries! They are freaking expensive in Japan, this bowl must cost 10 dollars! But oh man… these are the yummiest strawberries I’ve ever had in my life.

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after a quick rest we went out to explore the city. Metro is not as widespread in Kyoto as it is in Tokyo, but good enough to move around

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first stop was a temple, the first of many we’ll see in this city

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on our way back we stopped by a groceries store and got some food. It was so nice to eat at traditional house in Kyoto tasting their homemade food. We got two type of soup: one with seafood for the family, one with tofu for me, a bento box with a selection of vegan dishes, and dumplings with the family.

I like japanese groceries stores because they have so many convenient food available. I wouldn’t say they’re the most healthy options, but they are quick to prepare, so many options, and relatively cheap. What surprised me was lack of fresh vegetables/fruits. They had, but so expensive! they sell them by pieces or by 100grams!

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we slept sound that night, love love tatami experience there.

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