Category Archives: running

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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First marathon experience

I made it! I finished my first marathon STRONG!

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My marathon training ended up a week before, fortunately the business trip didn’t disturb the taper week and I managed to do the last workout by the lake in Rio. I’ve read a lot of taper related anxiety, I didn’t experience that. Due to the travel, I was pretty tired so I appreciated the time to let my body rest. I arrived home on Thursday morning and our flight to SD was Friday noon. So I barely had time to pack. We arrived SD on Friday afternoon. We didn’t do any sightseeing that day, simply went to the house we were staying, did groceries shopping and went to bed early.

Saturday: I went out for 18 min shakeout run to test the weather. I felt great. The weather was perfect. cloudy and not so humid. Then we went to the race expo by the harbor, got the bib and some goodies and headed home. We all took a nap. Then Tony took the girls to the beach and let me rest. I cooked dinner for the family (fish and veggies) and kept my dinner simple (veggies, oatmeal, and gigantic bowl of kabocha). I went to bed around 9pm, set the alarm to get up at 3:50am.

what I packed

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  • water belt. I decided I wanted to have access to water whenever I felt like drinking instead of at water stops. Other than convenience, it also helps to keep up the pace and not having to stop every 1-2 miles. I’d refill them as I empty them. I had two 12 oz. waters so I knew I wouldn’t have to stop for an hour at least.
  • fueling: I brought two Gu gels, 1 packet of beans, salt stick, and 1 bag of energy blocks. I planned to have 1 gel at mile 6, then 1/2 at mile 9, 1/2 at mile 12, 1/2 bag of energy blocks at 15, rest at 18, and beans for the last 8 miles.

Sunday: I woke up by myself at 3:45am, feeling refreshed. I had a good night sleep, rare for a first time marathoner. I had a big glass of water, 1/2 cup of coffee, went to the bathroom, changed the race outfit, prepared 2 packet of oatmeal with protein frosting to eat on the drive. Then I woke up Tony. We left the house by 4:40am. The race starts at 6am and my coral (19) started around 6:45am. But since the road would be closed at 5am and we are not familiar with the city, we decided to head out early. We arrived Fifth Ave and Laurel, the drop off area by 5:15am. During the ride I ate the oatmeal. I had zero appetite but forced myself to eat it anyway. I knew I’d need the fuel and it’s better to load up before the race than during the race (in my opinion). I said goodbye to Tony at 5:30am because I wanted to explore the starting area and visit the potta potty before the start. I wonder around, a lot of people stretching, chatting.

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I found an organic coffee track, really happy because I felt I needed more than 1/2 cup, so I got one.

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It was still early so I sit on the grass for a while close to my coral and the potty. By 5:50am, I went to the potty line, not too long actually. I heard some women chatting about the hill…. something like an uphill from mile 20-25???? WTF!!! She said she wanted to die.. but she’s running it again this year. 😯 I tried to ignore it.

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When I was done, I went to the coral. The excitement was real. So many people, over 30 corals full of runners. The half and full marathoners started together. I had a fig bar just before starting to top up the tank.

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miles 1-10: I crossed the starting line at 6:45am, texted Tony to let him know so he could calculate the time he’d meet me at mile 14 and 19. I felt great, so prepared mentally and physically to conquer the race. My strategy was to hold back the first 10 miles, very easy run. I did that and felt I was just warming up. My legs felt fresh and the runners besides me were great running buddies. I didn’t check my watch often but I could feel that I was averaging 9:30 min/mile, which was totally fine. I’d rather save energy for the last 10k and sprint it then than making the effort so early in the race. I had my watch on the HR display to make sure it was low effort. I maintained it around 145/min. I had my first Gu at mile 6. Then at mile 9 I had salt stick. At mile 10, I had 1/2 of a packet of Gu. Along the way, I had water and refill the bottles at mile 6.

miles 10-18: I continued to cruise and feeling great! Around mile 11 half marathoner and marathoners split. The course went around different neighbors and then the mission bay area. I passed by mile 14 but didn’t see Tony. I guess they had trouble finding a parking place. I was hoping to see them at mile 19 after the bay loop. I had 1/2 Gu at mile 13, and then salt stick at 16 and 1/2 Gu at mile 18. Feeling great still. I finally found a potty without line and made a stop around mile 12.

miles 18-24: coming back from the bay I knew the massive and long hill was waiting for me. I so wanted to see Tony and Sofia before that. Quickly after mile 19, I saw THEM, Sofia was holding the race map, Tony showing her that mom was coming. It was the best to see them at that point of the race. I gave a big kiss to Sofia and continued. We entered the highway… the hardest part of the race according to all the reviews I read. I mentally prepared for it. I told myself that the REAL race is about to begin. And it was true, the hill was continuous, but not as steep as I imagined. Running on the highway was not the best experience but not as nearly as boring as I thought. There were cars on the other side of the highway, and the adrenaline of the race kept me going strong. At that point, mile 20 or so, 8 out of 10 runners were walking. Before the race, I planned to do some walking on the hill if I needed, if I hit the wall, if I felt sick. But none of this happened. Although my legs were tired, my aerobic effort was still moderate. I knew I was going to finish the race, it was just a matter of time and how I finished it. I felt I had energy left to speed up but preferred not to during the hill, so I kept conservative with my pace and was grateful not having to walk. At this point, I had 2 beans every mile to have short target. I told myself that the real effort was up to mile 25. 3 miles to go, 2 miles to go, 1 mile to go! Yeah~ I made it to the “finish”.

Mile 25-26.2: The hill was behind me, the highway was behind me, I was entering home stretch. I could hear the finish line. I could see it. So close to the victory, although the whole 26.2 felt like victory. I picked up the pace and finished STRONG!!!

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After I crossed the finish line, walking felt more challenging than running. I could barely walk straight. I got the medal (the wrong one) and walked toward the finishing area. Called Tony, they were stacked in traffic. I kept walking and grabbed chocolate milk and some bars, but had zero appetite for anything. Two blocks later, I realized I had the half marathoners medal, so I had to walk back to the finish line and exchange the medal. Then continued to walk to get the finisher jacket. Walking was hard, my upper body was sore for holding two bottles. But I was happy, exhilarated, shocked by my accomplishment, and surprisedly by how good I felt after running for over hours.

I got the jacket and met with Tony and my whole family. Their support means a world to me.

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I hope one day, my girls feel inspired by their mom, try running, and get the chance of accomplishment only a marathon can give you.

I feel that my training was the main reason for the success. Runnersconnect is a great community. The coaches are responsive, understanding, know their stuff, and good cheering up. I enjoyed the training plan, especially trusted not having to run more than 18 miles during training, but to run 18 miles with fatigued legs. I never felt burned out, enjoyed 99% of the runs and never too exhausted.

Nutrition played an important role as well. I consciously increase carb intake, good carbs from vegetables and whole grains (kabocha, corns, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice), and lean protein (fish, shrimp, tofu) with minimum red meat. I never felt too hungry, even after long run days. I think eating well made me recover faster and run stronger.

I had a dream a year ago when I started running again, to run one marathon in each continent (America, Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia). It felt like a dream, but now that I’ve finished the first one, this dream could become true if I choose to. Next would be Asia. πŸ™‚

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November life happening

In a matter of blink, November is gone. I feel like I’m just catching up with life here at home.

Work is still busy but very interesting! I’m really happy with work now. New countries to work on, new challenges to face, new colleagues, and new exciting projects! πŸ™‚

Running is going well too. Still running 4-5 times a week, averaging 20-25 miles. Last week I had issue with high HR during most of the runs, but after taking a break during thanksgiving, HR came back to normal. Oh… I run a PR 10k too.

Lizzy is funnier than ever! I love love seeing her smiling faces. Even the face she makes when she’s annoyed/bored/wanting to be entertained is so cute.

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sisterhood is going stronger everyday. Sofia loves playing with Lizzy, making her laugh.

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for our date night last month, we went to watch Arrival. I was very skeptical of a science fiction movie, but it turned out to be one of the greatest movie I’ve seen for a long long time! It made me appreciate even more my girls.

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I run Pacers veterans 10k race and had a blast. It was a really cold day. I couldn’t feel my feet and hands for 3-4 miles. But it turned out to be a perfect weather for a PR.

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because I run a negative split race, finishing at below 8 min/mile pace.

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My official time was 50 min 8 secs.

love the finisher medal

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obviously my cheer group is the best. I really appreciate that Tony and Sofia cheers me up in all the races. It was really a cold day and they had to walk 1 mile each way from the parking lot to the race.Β There’s nothing more gratifying to see them at the finishing line.

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we were treated with massages. It felt so good.

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despite the coldness, it was a gorgeous day and the course had spectacular view.

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I think that concludes my 2016 race season. πŸ™‚

 

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