Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rene, the JazzRunner's Tips on How to Train for your First ULTRA

Thank you so much Rene for the following tips you gave me.

According to Rene,

Wala namang pinagkaiba ang training sa 50k Ultra at 42k Marathon.  Halos pareho lang.

1.  Habaan mo lang mga week-end long runs mo and do a couple of back-to-back long runs.  Ex:  25k Saturday then 30k Sunday (kung kaya) or else one long run lang.

2.  Dito papasok si Galloway training which I'm sure you are familiar (TBRDM).  Sa actual race, ALWAYS walk the uphills then Galloway the flat and downhills.

3.  Do some cross training once a week (lunges/squats/sit-ups/push ups/weights/core,etc.) which will tremendously fight the fatigue and strengthen the muscles in your legs!  Kailangan ito sa Ultramarathons!

4.  Minimum of 4-5 days a week ang training, including your long runs.  Make 10k minimum during week-day. 

5.  Organize your support team now.  Vehicle, personnel, at least 3 people including driver, preferably RUNNERS!   Don't worry, support vehicles tend to support other runners during the race.  (This is another topic kasi very crucial ang gagawin nila.  They are there to support you not only physically but mentally and emotionally also).  Anna or other ultra runners can help you with the mechanics of a support team.

6.  Don't forget to EAT during the 50k race (bread, bananas, biscuits, gatorade, etc.).  Anything that your support team will offer you, take it!

I will add more to this during the course of your training.  You have 18 weeks to train so start na TOMORROW!

I might join this run if not, might help support runners including you!

Good luck on your training.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Life Begins at 55!

5 years ago, I dreamed of running 5k and after I did it, I thought that was IT.

Runner bloggers urged me to try 10K but I just shrugged my shoulders and in my mind, told myself "I will never run beyond 5k!"

Then it happened.  What I thought impossible before became possible!

I ran my first 10k at a very comfortable pace (during that time when my waist was still 27 inches hah hah . . .) and finished at 1 hour 10 minutes.

10k was the perfect distance for me then.  No pain, no sweat (well, a little).

After 1 year, 10k became a "walk in the park" (naks yabang!)

Time to level up.

When I crossed the Finish Line at the Condura Skyway Half-Marathon last February 2010, I surprised myself when I strongly felt that I could still run another 21k!  I excitedly told Ate Ella -- "Yon lang ang 21k?  Pwede pa akong bumalik at ulitin ang tinakbo ko!  I am ready to run the MARATHON!"

I was among the first batch of TBRDM (The Bull Runner Dream Marathon) held last May 22, 2010.  But before this, I managed to run 2 more Half-Marathons  -- 1 in March and 1 in April in preparation for my first 42.195k.

Fast forward to the present:

I turned 55 last June 6 and my birthday wish is to run (drum rolls please!) . . . 50 km!!!

As of this writing, my eyes are set on Rizal to Laguna Ultramarathon which will be on Nov. 3, 2013 (exactly the last day of mourning for my father who passed away last Nov. 4).

I ran my first 5k at 50 (5 km at 50 years of existence)

This year, it will be 50k at 5 (50 km at 5 years of running)

That's my first birthday wish.

My second birthday wish is to encourage YOU to join me.

Please say Y-E-S!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

55 Years and Still Counting (HOW TO SURVIVE 55 YEARS OF MARRIAGE)

55 years ago today, a handsome bachelor from Cavite and a young midwife from Pampanga pledged their love and fidelity for each other with the Sacrament of Matrimony in the progressive town of Marbel, South Cotabato (now Koronadal City).

The man was the eldest of 5 while the woman was the eldest of 10.

How the two of them managed to be alive and sane after 55 years of fighting is something that even me cannot comprehend.

My parents are not the typical couple that you encounter everyday.  In fact, my family is not the typical family that you encounter everyday.  But then again, who can say what is typical and what's not?  What could be normal to some might not be normal to the rest of the human race.

As Jackie of 97.9 FM radio aptly put it:  "Lady, you've got 2 choices:  Remain single and regret it for the rest of your life or get married and wished you were dead."

I was driving when I heard this and I almost hit the car in front of me because I was laughing uncontrollably.

Until now, I still laugh whenever I think of this joke.

Back to my parents.  Below are weird tips on how to survive 55 years of marriage, based on what I learned from my authoritative father and vivacious mother.

1. According to my dear Tatay, he chose Nanay because he's the silent type and nanay's the type who loves talking and entertaining other people.  So if you're still single, choose someone you're opposite.

2.  My parents are exact opposites of each other.  Given a positive situation, my father will still find something negative about that situation.  Given a negative situation, my mother will surely find something positive about that situation.   I guess the cliche "love doesn't consist in looking at each other but in looking together in the same direction" didn't work for them.  They always look in opposite direction!

3.  Tatay turned 87 last Nov. and nanay will be 78 this May.  It's an advantage on my father's part because his wife is much younger than he is.  While he's already weak, his wife is still strong to take care of him.  So if you can find a partner 10 years younger than you, you're lucky!

The problem with them now is this:  At night tatay cannot stand the cold in their bedroom so he goes out to the living room to sleep.  That's the disadvantage of the big difference in age.  You won't grow old at the same time.  Hence, your adaptation to changes in temperature will also vary.  Funny how my father behaves now.  At night he goes out to the living room to sleep on the rocking chair but during the day, he stays inside the bedroom to eat his merienda because according to him, it is colder in the bedroom.

4.  My parents don't agree on anything (well, almost!)  When he says its cold, she'll say its hot.  When he says its short, she'll say its long.  But when he says let's pray, she'll say yes, let's pray.

My advice is:  Agree to disagree.  Don't even dream of convincing your partner.  If you want something, ask for the opposite of what you want so in the end, you'll get what you want.

5.  Both of them are happily married.  Simply because they are happy with their own sets of friends.  Tatay used to have walking buddies, tennis mates, Charismatic brothers and sisters, and co-servers in the Special Ministry of the Eucharist.  Nanay on the other hand, enjoys the company of her staff and agents and fellow managers.

6.  In relation to no. 5, Tatay is now going through depression because some of his friends are no longer alive and he has been retired from his beloved Ministry while my mother is now adjusting from being a career woman to a simple housewife,  Life in our household has been crazy lately because of these kinks and transitions but as the saying goes . . . all these will pass.

While it's healthy to have friends who will support you through and through, your happiness should not solely depend on them.  Remember that your family will always be there to stick with you no matter what.

7.  My parents survived 55 years of marriage because they lived apart from each other.  No, they were not separated by choice.  Nanay was assigned in Pampanga and had to work there from Monday to Friday and stayed with us only during Saturdays and Sundays.  I used to believe that my mother will never retire from Management but by God's grace, she is technically retired -- officially!  Now that they are finally together in one roof, I will do everything in my power to prevent a civil war. (I badly need your prayers too!).  I don't know how to pull this off but I will.  I must.

8.  I don't know who said this but should be the guiding principle of every husband:  "the greatest gift a father could give his children is to be faithful to their mother."  For the past 55 years, my father never cheated on my mother.  How do I know?  Because my mother vowed that one wrong turn is enough for her to leave my father.  And they are still together now.

9.  My parents are like cats and dogs when they talk to each other.  A simple conversation always ends up in an argument.  But what I admire with them is this:  They forgive and forget.  The offender forgets the harsh words said, and the offended forgives naturally.

10.  If there's only one rule that could describe how a marriage survives 55 years, it is ACCEPTANCE.  Never try to change a person according to what you perceive him/her to be.  As my mother always say, you can no longer erase the black and white stripes of a zebra.

In closing, allow me to share with you these 3 guidelines (ABF) given to us by our new company president:

1.  Accept the Brutal Fact.
2.  Aspire for a Better Future.
3.  Act with Bold Faith.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

PAIN IS TEMPORARY (How I Survived The Bull Runner Dream Marathon In 1 Piece)

Running a marathon was NEVER in my bucket list.

My only dream was to run 5km on my 50th birthday and that's it.  No more. No less.

And so after training for 1 whole year (that's how unfit I was back then), I fulfilled my dream.  End of story.

But as my mentor and inspiration Jaymie Pizarro transformed herself from a newbie runner to what she is today (fulfilling her ultimate dream of running the New York Marathon twice and soon-to-be finisher in the much-acclaimed Ironman 70.3 in Cebu), I also found myself being mesmerized and hooked to bigger goals and aspirations.

Knowing Jaymie, I didn't think twice to sign up for the very first TBRDM which transpired last May 22, 2010.

5 days before the Big Day, I met a freak accident and injured my ankle.

The thought of quitting crossed my mind but I couldn't disappoint the people who generously donated for every kilometer that I run for the Down Syndrome Association of the Phils. (DSAPI), the beneficiary of my first marathon.

Thanks to my dream chaser Carlo Dacanay who ran with me all the way from the 11th km to the very end, I was able to finish at 7 hours 38 minutes.

For more than a year, the question "what could be my real time if I ran the marathon without any  injury?" kept nagging me.

In order to satisfy my curiosity, I decided to join TBRDM again (I'm still qualified because this would only be my second).

This time around, I vowed to get my revenge.

Or so I thought.

I did not over train nor under train.  I could feel in my bones that I could finish in 6 hours or sub 6:30 the very least.

I only had 3 half-marathons before my first marathon.  Much have changed since then.

This time, I already conquered 10 half-marathons and two 32km races and of course, 1 marathon.

With my dear friend Anna (the Meek Runner) as pacer, what could possibly go wrong?

Anna and I lodged at El Cielito Inn @3PM last Saturday, March 17,2012.

I drank 1 bottle of beer @6PM to make sure I'll get a good night sleep before the race.

We greeted each other Good Morning before 12AM and @1AM, we were already on our way to Nuvali.

The festive atmosphere greeted us when we arrived at the Dream Village.  We just made a quick stop at the ladies room, deposited our bags and headed to the registration station.

The queue was quite long and I had the chance to meet Malou Felix who flew all the way from Naga to join TBRDM.  I really admired her determination and spirit!

But what she said to me really warmed my heart and ignited my soul:  "Ma'am Nora, you're running again pala!"
I was surprised that she recognized me so she continued: "Nabasa ko po kayo sa TBR so I read your blog.  Kayo po ang nag-inspire sa akin to run the marathon."

Thank you, Malou, for those very nice words.  You just don't know how elated I was hearing those words from you.

After we got our timing chip and one-of-a-kind wrist band,  the usual pre-race program began.  We were inspired by Coach Jim, Neville, and of course Jaymie -- the remarkable woman who once dreamed to run a marathon and after doing one, dreamed of helping first-time marathoners attain their dreams.

With me are Malou (the runner from Naga), Jaymie, my lovely pacer Anna, and dear friend Carrie.

After a short prayer led by Craig Logan, we were off at exactly 2AM.

Everything was running smoothly as planned.  We started slow, maintaining a 2:1 interval. At 12km, Anna informed me our estimated time is 6 hrs 20 mins.  I told her we will be stronger in the second half.

But @km 13, I had to leave Anna because of an unavoidable circumstance.  She had to do something that only women do (oh, but I'm already exempted to do it because I'm  through with it when I turned 50).

And so I continued without my pacer (who's a 6-time marathoner if I may add).  I religiously followed the 2:1 interval but this time, I had to look at my watch every now and then to check if it's time for me to run or to walk.

So far so good.  On the way back, at @km 22, I heard "Dancing Queen" being played and couldn't control myself.  I recklessly danced to the beat, entertaining the dream chasers and runners alike.

I was in high spirits, only to discover later on that I may have done something terribly wrong.

At km 25, I felt a tremendous pain on my left knee that I just had to stop.  I could barely walk and hence, could no longer follow the 2:1 interval because of excruciating pain.

Yes, I have been injured before my first marathon but I have never been injured during any race.

This kind of experience is very new to me.  I didn't know what to do.  The pain was simply unbearable.

Then I saw Anna from afar, holding 2 cups of Gatorade.

Tears suddenly rolled down my cheeks.  I got my towelette and pretended that I was wiping my sweat.

I wanted to give up but how could I tell Anna?

It was a long stretch uphill and when I couldn't take it anymore, I just screamed.  Faster than a speeding bullet, Anna asked some ice in a plastic bag and placed it on my knee.  I had to sit down and after a while, we continued the painful journey, bringing with me the plastic bag of ice.

Later on the 2:1 interval became 1:1.
But not 1 minute run, 1 minute walk.
1:1 now became 1 minute run, 1 minute stop. We stopped  either for ice compress or liniment or spray whichever is available.

Anna asked me to do small steps and we did just that.  She gave me chocolates, banana, candy, and along the way there were lots of goodies available.

By God's grace, Din and Carrie passed by us and immediately offered help by lending me a band that Anna secured under my knee.  Thank you Din and Carrie!  With so many angels supporting me, there's no way I won't make it to the finish line.

Then at km 39 I couldn't believe my eyes when we passed by Jay sitting on his bike. 

I haven't seen Jay for ages that's why I was sooooh happy to see him last Sunday.

Only 3kms to go but it felt like 10 more kms at the rate that we're going.

With only 1 more km left, Gio called to ask how I was doing.  He told me they are already waiting for me before the finish line.

Then finally, the 42km mark was vividly in front of me.  This is the most dramatic part of TBRDM.

The 42km mark is already in front of us but it's not yet the end.  We had to pass the 42km mark, then turn right to run the remaining .195 km!  While walking to the final right turn point, I was blaming the King of England for this additional distance that runners had to endure.

Seeing the Finish line put a smile on my weary face.  More so when I heard my children calling me and urging me to go on.

Anna and I could now see my support team so even though my left knee was still tormenting me, I tried my best to smile.  The truth is, at this point I just wanted to scream and cry because of the agonizing pain.

Then just before the finish line, Ate Ella rushed to give us flower bouquets together with Gio, Eia and Sis Mila carrying cheer posters.

                                                                          Almost there!  

Thank you Lord!  The sweet proof of all the struggles we went through.

Thank you Gio and Eia for the poster.  How sweet!

Thank you, my dear dear Anna who, in spite of her very uncooperative condition, patiently and faithfully pushed me to reach my destination.  Without her, I wouldn't be holding these beautiful medal and flowers.

Thank you Ate Ella, Gio, Eia, Anna and Sis Mila.  Hope someday we could all run the marathon together!

Thank you Jaymie and the whole TBRDM support team.  The Bull Runner Dream Marathon is everything that a newbie marathoner can hope for.  I have seen other runners limping their way to reach the finish line but the warm atmosphere of genuine love and support from all the people involved strengthen the runner's desire to reach his goal.

It is Jaymie's dream that every runner who crosses the finish line changes his life forever.

After finishing 2 TBRDMs, I can honestly affirm that Jaymie achieved more than this.

Because running a marathon is not only life-changing.
It changes a person for the better.
Knowing your limits and pushing yourself to exceed them is a painful journey but in the end, the joy of overcoming all obstacles that come your way is beyond compare.
After reaching your 42.195 goal, you forget all the aches and sufferings you went through.
You feel you are ready and ripe to take on anything in life.

So who's gonna join me run 55km next year, when I turn 55?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

100-year-old Runner Finishes Toronto Race!

When my son observed that I was having difficulty caring for my father, he remarked: "I'm glad I won't be taking care of you the way that you're taking care of Lolo, because I'm sure you'll still be running 'til you're age 100".

Then this morning, I read this article from a newspaper that an Indian national named Fauja Singh crossed the finish line at the Toronto marathon last Sunday.  Though he did it in over 8 hours, it was his accomplishment that elevated him to the Guinness Book of World Records.

I said to myself:  "Gio has a point after all.  If this runner can do it, then I can do it."

This thought brought me back to my first marathon, when I ran wearing an ankle support because of a tragic accident that happened 5 days prior to the first ever TBRDM (The Bull Runner Dream Marathon).

It took me 7 hrs. and 38 minutes to cross the finish line.

What if I ran without the injury?

Could my time be less then 7 hrs.?  Or less than 6 hrs.?

Well, wonder no more.

Because this March 18, 2012, I will attempt to break my time at the TBRDM in Sta. Rosa, Nuvali.

Wish me luck!

It's still a loooong way 'til I reach 100 but if by God's grace I'm still alive, I promise I will run (or walk or crawl if I may haha...) the marathon.

Then this blog will no longer be "Life Begins at 50" but "Life Begins at 100"! 


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Happy to Run the OctobeRun!

Yup!  This is one run that I truly enjoyed.

Nope, I didn't break PR.

Nope, I didn't win in my age category.

But why am I grinning?

The night before the race, it was raining cats and dogs.  I told myself::  Hmmm.... maybe I'll just skip this race.  But in the darkness of my closed eyes, I could see clearly the finisher's shirt.  I couldn't get it out of my mind.  I know if I didn't run, I'm gonna regret it for the rest of my life.  So I promised myself -- rain or storm, I'll run and finish the race.  The shirt that awaits is simply irresistible.

I'm soooh happy I joined this race.  I just love this shirt!

When we arrived at the Fort, I looked for familiar faces but couldn't find one.  (Actually, I found 1 familiar face but unfortunately, he didn't recognize me). 

So it's just me and Ate Ella in the picture.

But not far from us, I saw a foreign-looking lady whom I thought was as young as me.  I introduced myself to her and I learned that she's Stephanie.

Tall and jolly Stephanie is Mexican-American and yes, she's gonna be 53 like me in 2 weeks (Happy Birthday in advance Steph!)

Steph and I doing the very short warm-up exercise and off we went.

Stephanie and I started together but in a blink of an eye, she disappeared from my sight.

I have run 3 half-marathons this year and none of these resulted in a sub-3-hr mark.  Maybe it's because of lack in training or excess in weight or ascending age or all of the above.  How in the world did I pull off  a 2:37:29 time last year?

As I proceeded with my snail race pace, I noticed that we passed by Concepcion Industries.  I thought of Patrick and felt a sudden longing for this wonderful guy.

Just as I turned right to Buendia Ave., there was Patrick right before my very eyes!  I called his name out loud and he called my name as well.  That was enough reason for me to be happy.  Never mind if I don't finish in less than 3 hrs.  Better luck next time hah hah . . .

When I turned around in Buendia, I started counting the runners who are yet to make the turn-around.  And I add or subtract whenever I pass a runner or a runner passed by me.  My goal was to be ahead of at least 40 runners (simple lang naman kaligayahan ko).

I was preoccupied with my counting when out of the blue, Rico appeared!  We exchanged greetings (she addressed me as Golden Girl -- a name I'm happy to hear in the race, aside from Tita, Ma'am, Mommy., Ms. Nora, Tweety.  But as usual, meron pa ding tumawag sa akin ng "Nanay".  Ouch!

When I reached the 11-km mark, I set my stopwatch back to 0, hoping that it would psychologically tell me that I will just run 10 km.  This way, I won't be overwhelmed with the 21km distance.

Then I saw a table with bananas and chocolates!  The marshals laughed at my shrieking voice.  I remembered in RU 2, there were no more bananas left for me.  I was happy I didn't bother anymore to bring a banana from home.  With this, I give the OctobeRun 5 stars!

I had a chance to talk with other runners and this was my favorite:
SHE:   Ilang taon na ho kayo?

ME:  53.  Ikaw?

SHE:  45 po.  Kayo ho yong may pangalan sa harap ng singlet sa Unilab?  Pinilit ko pong lampasan kayo pero nauna pa din kayo sa akin.

ME:  Okay lang yon.  Ang mahalaga, natapos mo ang race na walang injury.  At nag-enjoy ka.

SHE:  Oo nga po.  Ang importante, nakapag-exercise kahit mabagal.

When I was wondering how many kilometers left to the finish line, a foreigner was running towards me and cheering me that there were only 3 kms to go.

I looked at my watch and figured that if I run for 25 minutes, I could still make it to the sub-3-hr mark.

And so I did.  I did it!  I just found out a while ago that my official time is 2:57:36.

After claiming my finisher's kit, I looked for Stephanie and thank God, I found her and  had photos with her.


After giving Stephanie my calling card, we headed for the rest room to change.  But before that, one last picture.

As we were walking to Market, Market to meet my friend Majel, I was munching my free champorrado flavored pop rice bar.  I sooh love OctobeRun!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Who (or What) Comes First?

Mother. Caregiver.  Breadwinner.  Homemaker.  Runner.  Who (or what) comes first?

First and foremost, I am the only daughter of my dear parents.

If and when my services are needed by my father and my children at the same time, my role as a hands-on mom takes the back seat.

My kids know that their grandfather is almost 87, and they understand my predicament. 

One time, Gio saw how I devoted my time in assisting his Lolo that he remarked:  "Lolo is becoming helpless every day.  I'm happy I won't be taking care of you, the way you're taking care of Lolo.  Because  I'm sure you'll still be running 'til you're 100." (Well, I just hope he's right!)

I'm a single parent.  Naturally, I should be earning enough to send my children to school and provide for their needs. 

When my husband and I separated, I asked my mother if she could resign from her job and take care of her grandchildren for me to work full-time.  She was 68 at that time.  Gio was almost 5, Eia was only 2 1/2.

Without even giving it a serious thought, my mother impulsively answered:  "Ako na lang ang magtrabaho.  Ikaw na lang ang mag-alaga sa mga anak mo, pati na sa tatay mo."

Yup.  That was the arrangement.  In theory, at least. 

I couldn't just let my mother carry all the financial burden in our family so I took the licensure examinations in Life and Non-Life insurance and thank God I passed.  I also put up a small business to augment the family income but had to close early this year because I simply couldn't be in 4 places at the same time.

Sometimes it drives me nuts to balance everything that I need to do.  I want to help more people plan their future. I want to keep the house clean and tidy,  I want to be always around to fulfill my father's needs,  I want to be there when my children need me.  I want to inspire more people to run.  I want to be a catechist and teach young children about Jesus, hopefully molding them to work for the common good.  I want to train and run the marathon again.  I want to be an active member of CFC's Handmaids of the Lord, providing comfort and solace to single mothers like me. 

How about you?  Are you torn between 2 or 3 or even 4 roles that you have to fulfill?  How do you cope with the dilemma?