Old Man

I had another birthday. If you don’t know it yet, my son and I share the same birth date. But as he is turning into a young man, I am growing into an old man.

We did not have a big celebration though, and in fact during our birthday, we drove more than 100 miles to my daughter’s university to watch her perform during a competition of their school’s top music students. So we just had our birthday dinner at my daughter’s university’s cafeteria. But we still grab an ice cream treat from there.

Even though we did not have a party or a fancy celebration, the best part of my birthday is that we spent it together as a family. I know as our children gets older and they go to college or move out and have their own lives, gathering together can get more and more infrequent.

It’s getting warmer in our part of the world, so we can spend more time outdoors again. And last night, my son and I played some basketball in our driveway hoops, perhaps inspired by all these NCAA March Madness. I know the NCAA basketball championship is all set between Virginia and Texas Tech tomorrow.

We spent many summers playing in our driveway hoops. It is here that I taught my son how to dribble the ball, how to drive into the basket and do a lay-up, how to do jump shots and some other fundamentals. Maybe I taught him more than just basketball here, like how to whole-heartedly compete and yet staying gracious in win or defeat.

photo taken 9 years ago when my son was 7 years old

But this time it is different. My son is now taller, even taller than me maybe by half an inch, and he is way more muscular and agile.

When we played one-on-one, it did not take me long to realize that I cannot compete against him anymore. I was just no match to his quickness and strength. He kept on blowing by me when he drives to the basket, he jumped higher to get the rebounds, and I can’t even reach his pull-up jumpers.

I tried all the ‘old man’ tricks I know, which in our language is called ‘gulang,’ but it was still a no contest. I was clearly overmatched. And every time he blows by me or make a basket, he lovingly teased me, “Come on old man!”

In spite of that, I can say that I could still run, jump and play basketball. Or at least a semblance of playing basketball.

Last night was a ‘passing of the torch’ moment for me.

I humbly accepted defeat. Not necessarily from my son, but from father time.


Six Pack

We are still in the midst of winter. Due to very cold weather, I have not gone out for a run for almost a month now. I even have not gone to the gym for several weeks as well, due to consecutive snow storms we had that piled up the snow and ice on our streets making driving a little tricky, especially when its dark.

But I have not been totally inactive even though I have not run or went to the gym. Because lately, I discovered my wife’s exercise videos and I was working out following them here at the comfort of our home. It’s better than not doing anything at all.

Since Jane Fonda produced those workout videos in the 1980’s, there’s a lot of them available. Are you picturing me doing them in my leotards? Sorry to disappoint you, but I am not donning those. Maybe pajamas, but not leotards.

I will not say that they are less intensive than running or doing cardio and lifting weights in the gym. In fact, I find my wife’s workout videos challenging.

One particular workout video series she has is the “Hip Hop Abs.” Yes, they are mostly dance moves, Hip Hop in particular. But if you do it for 30-45 minutes, it is really exhausting. Maybe even more exhausting than running 3 miles.

I also find it challenging since my feet have no rhythm at all. I can’t dance. I have two left feet!

My wife just laughs, for I lack the grace and coordination. But she let me do my thing and even joins me at times, exercising with those workout videos.

I think this Hip Hop Abs is really effective, as I feel the burn in my abdominal muscles and core muscles when I do them. Maybe if I do it long enough I’ll develop those muscular abs just like the workout video instructor. Or maybe I’ll do them until it is warm enough that I can run outside again.

Perhaps some people think that it is a waste of time working out or going to the gym, for there are more important things to do in life.

I remember a quote by Robert Mugabe, former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. He said, “No girl will choose six pack over six cars….so stop going to the gym and go to work.”

Of course there’s truth to that. But I tend to disagree. What if you can strike a balance and get the best of those two worlds? What if you have both?

Just so you know, I don’t have six cars. I don’t have six pack either. But I’m working on it.

To be clear, I’m not referring to a six pack of beer.

Mud (Mad) Runner

I am glad that January was over. For many, January is when they intensify their excercise activities as part of their New Year’s resolution of living a more healthy lifesytle. Not for me.

I was practically sick all January. I caught a bug that brought me down on my knees (see previous post) just after New Year’s Day. Then when I was recovering, I caught another virus that put me into another tail spin.

I lost my voice that made me talk in whispers. I am thankful that I did not totally lost my voice as I was still able to blog loudly and clearly. I was also coughing so hard that I think I pulled a muscle, or contused or even broke a rib. Coughing became a nightmare that made me double up in pain. I used a small pillow to push it against where my chest hurts whenever I cough. Breathing was literally painful.

But I am better now. I hope.

Besides me being sick, the weather here in Iowa last January was just plainly awful. Three days ago, our wind chill was – 40ºF. This they say was due to the Polar vortex. In that extreme cold, you can toss boiling water high into the air and it will turn into ice particles before it hit the ground.

However, today is different. Our outside temperature is 50ºF. That is almost a hundred degrees swing in temperature in a matter of few days! You barely need a jacket on.

So what did I do when I got the first chance to go outside? I ran!

Due to temperature way above freezing, all the snow that had accumulated in several weeks have melted and all that was left were a few patches.

The snow was rapidly melting that this created a small rushing spring from snowmelt at the side of this road here.

It was just not me enjoying this warm break. I saw a herd of deer roaming around in the distance. I don’t know where they take refuge when the weather is brutally cold. But no, I am not inviting them in inside my home.

Since it was my first run after about a month of inactivity, I chose to run in the gravel road which is a relatively flat terrain rather than the more challenging up and down hills in some part of my running route.

Yet the moment I stepped into the dirt road, I felt the ground to be soft and soggy from all the snow that have melted. In other words, it was muddy.

It probably was a mistake on my part to run on the dirt road, still I was determined to finish the loop back to my place. I literaly plowed through the mud. I just thought that it was one of the muddy obstacle courses in those Spartan races.

I finished a 2 mile loop albeit my pace was somewhat slow, perhaps due to my deconditioning. But I’m not admitting that, I am blaming the mud that caused me to run slow.

Perhaps I am a little crazy or mad, but I am also now a mud runner.

(*photos taken with an iPhone during my run)

Ice Run

It’s been two months since I ran the half-marathon for this year. But I am proud to say that I have not yet relented on my running for this season. Emphasis on the “yet.” Maybe I just want to stay trim for Christmas. Maybe I want to look good on my vacation photos. Whatever the reason is, I am still running even if it’s already winter here in our part of the world.

But hopping on a treadmill and running for a mile or two in place is really boring. Even running inside an indoor track in our local Y can be dull and uninspiring. So when I saw that the temperature outside this morning was 30º F instead of our usual single digits or teens, I cannot resist to run outside. Besides, there was no snow on the ground and more importantly, no ice. I can run on snow, but not ice (see older post).

When I got out in our front yard, I saw ice! But it was just in our bird bath, which was frozen solid (photo above). The sun was shining though, so it’s a wonderful day to be outside.

As I approached the pond in our housing community, I again noticed that the water was frozen. 

Should I try running on ice? Or perhaps put on a pair of ice skates and glide my way through?

Then I heard some honking. When I looked up I saw a flock of geese. 

They seems to be egging me on – “Run on ice! Run on ice!”

The temperature however was not in the deep freeze. I am not that foolish yet. Again, emphasis on the yet. So no running on thin ice!

As I kept on trucking, I was looking for my deer friends, but they were nowhere to be found. Have they gone some place warmer?

Instead I saw some polar creatures. A penguin and a polar bear! You don’t believe me?

Here they are:

The pengunin and the polar bear seems to be lost in place without the snow. Perhaps like my son they were praying for snow. Lots and lots of it. But for me, I’ll enjoy this relatively warm day without the snow and ice.

Overall, it was a decent day for a morning run. 

After about an hour outside, I came back in and warm myself with the leftover arroz caldo my wife cooked yesterday.

Again, I have my app to document my “cool running.”

(*all photos taken with an iPhone)

Watching the Game

The NBA season is now in full swing, and you probably know already that I am a basketball fan. I enjoy watching as much as playing the game. (Read past post here.)

Iowa has no NBA team though. So if I want to watch a live NBA game, I need to drive north to Minneapolis that takes 3 hours, or go east to Chicago that takes 5 hours, or south to Oklahoma for 7 hours, or west to Denver for 9 hours. Those are the nearest locations I have. Of course I can always stay at home and watch it on TV.

We have decent college basketball teams in Iowa nonetheless. In fact, college basketball games may be more energetic and intense, as the players are younger and more fearless. But I am not in to college hoops. At least not that much.

I have seen a live NBA game before when we were still living in Florida. That was fifteen years ago. I got the chance to see the Orlando Magic twice, and for free too, courtesy of a friend of a friend who had season tickets.

However that was not my first time to watch a live professional basketball game. When I was still in the Philippines, I had a former classmate in high school who became a journalist. She invited me to watch a Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) game, as she had reserved seats as a sports writer. We were so close to the action as we were seated at the back of the scorer’s table. That was a real treat!

All those experiences were from a long time ago.

That’s why when the NBA came in town here in Iowa, I cannot resist the opportunity to see a live basketball game again. I bought tickets even if it was just a pre-season game.

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The seats that I got were near the court side that I can easily read the names of the players on their jerseys. It was close enough that I can even hear the coach during their huddle.

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But since it was a pre-season game, it does not have the intensity of a regular season game. And it definitely does not have the fever pitch excitement of a playoff or championship game. Although Giannis Antetokounmpo made a couple of spectacular dunks in that game.

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Anyhow, the more wild and high-flying action was during the intermission.

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Overall, it was a good enough experience for me.

In my opinion, nothing still beats the elation of playing the game yourself, rather than being a mere spectator. Even if the basketball game you were playing was just in the streets and you were bruising it out with your friends, or strangers from the other street. Those were the days I really miss.

(*photos taken with an iPhone)

My Rabbit

We all have our passion. We all have our aspiration. Something that we pursue. Something that we chase. Our rabbit.

Here’s mine:

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Unfortunately this one got away, so I have to track another one:

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But the real rabbit is the sense of fulfillment, plus the self-discipline that I develop, and not to mention the health benefits of keeping this chase.

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Photos taken during my half-marathon (13.1 miles). A pacer, a runner that sets the pace and have you finish the race in certain projected time, is also called a rabbit. The first photo was taken at the 8th mile. However, leg cramps made my first rabbit got away. The second photo was taken at the 12th mile.

App and Ready

In about a week, I will be running the Des Moines half-marathon. It will be my seventh time to run this distance.

Marathon is a long run, but do you wonder why it is some odd distance of 26 miles? It is because that is how far the battlefield of Marathon (town in Greece) to the city of Athens was, wherein the legendary Greek soldier, Pheidippides, ran the entire distance without stopping to relay to the people of Athens the message that they won over the Persians in 490 BC. Shortly after exclaiming the good news, Pheidippides collapsed and died. His epic run inspired the modern race.

Obviously half-marathon is half that distance. It is for people who are crazy enough to run for a long ways but not capable enough to finish an entire marathon. People like me. Well, that’s not entirely true, for I know there’s a lot of people who are more than capable of finishing a marathon but just choose to run the half as their preferred race.

You already know that this year, I am using a running app to help me train and record my progress. I originally thought that I can improve my pace to about 10-minute mile using this app. Not that I intend to break some records, but for mere bragging rights.

Yet in the end, I settled to a pace that is more comfortable for me, where I can run the distance without killing myself. I think highly of Pheidippides, but I don’t like what happened to him. I guess I’m stuck at 11 to 12-minute mile, a pace I used to run even before I avail this darn app. App to no good?

Speaking of fast pace, last month, Eliud Kipchoge set a new marathon world record by finishing it in 2 hours, 1 minute and 39 seconds. His average pace was a blistering 4 minutes and 38.4 seconds per mile. And I thought 10-minute mile is already hard!

Few weeks ago, before we went to Texas for a medical mission trip, I joined the annual 3.1-mile (5K) run, sponsored by our local church as a fund-raising event. I have been joining this run for the last 5 years, but this year I got a medal. I was the third placer in the men’s division!

Maybe the app helped me after all. I ran that 3.1 miles in 27 minutes and some seconds. That was a 9-minute mile pace, the fastest I covered that distance ever. The two men who were faster than me finished it in 22 minutes, and one was a Kenyan.

According to the running experts, elite male runners finish the 3.1 mile run in 13-15 minutes, while “average runners” finish it in 20-25 minutes. My best time does not even fall into “average,” so I cannot really brag about it then.

Anyway, here are the last three long runs that I did in preparation for the half-marathon, as documented on my app.

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I believe I am ready. So bring it on!

(*background photos taken during each run)

Basagketbulero 2

Sangayon sa mga balita, kasalukyang iniimbistigahan ng International Basketball Federation ang naganap na insidente sa laro ng Gilas Pilipinas at Australian Boomers. Hindi pa alam kung anong parusa ang ibababa sa mga sangkot sa labu-labong suntukang nangyari sa basketball court.

Inakusahan ni Luc Longley, dating NBA player ng Chicago Bulls at kasalukuyang associate coach ng Australian basketball team, ang head coach ng Pilipinas na si Chot Reyes na ginatungan nito diumano ang kanyang mga players, kaya nauwi sa rumble ang laro.

Dinepensahan naman ng dating coach ng Pilipinas na si Yeng Guiao si coach Chot Reyes. Sabi ni Guiao wala raw kasalanan ang kasalukuyang coach at hindi dapat itong idiin sa mga nakakabahalang pangyayari.

Ganoon pa man, hindi nagustuhan ng Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas ang naging papel ni coach Reyes sa mga kaganapan. Hindi rin nila nagustuhan ang “performance” ng ating mga manlalaro at ang estado na kulang sa “skills” at “training” ang ating mga basketbulero.

Dahil dito ay tinibag na si Chot Reyes.

Ito na ang kanyang kapalit:

(*Ang balitang ito ay hindi fake news. Totoo, peksman.)

Basagketbulero

Basketball at boxing. Ito ay dalawang libangan na paborito nating mga Pilipino. Pero sa Pilipinas, kadalasan pinagsasama ang dalawang sports na ito sa iisang event.

Mula basketball sa kalye, liga sa baranggay, tournament ng mga kolehiyo, hanggang professional basketball games sa Pilipinas, ay minsan (o madalas), nauuwi sa suntukan. Ngayon umapaw pa ito hanggang sa international games. Siguro naman ay alam ng lahat ang nangyari sa FIBA games sa laban ng Pilipinas at Australia.

basketbrawl

Siguro may mga ilan din sa inyo ang nakakatanda noong 1998 sa isang exhibition game sa America, ang ating Philippine Centennial Team, kasama sila Marlou Aquino at Andy Seigle, ay nakipagsuntukan sa Minnesota college basketball team.

Ang mga Pilipino ba ay sadyang “Basagketbulero?” Basketbulero + basagulero.

Hindi ko sinasabing hindi ko naranasan ito. Dahil noong ako’y naglalaro pa ng basketball sa kalsada sa aming lugar, may mga panahon na nagkakainitan ang laro, lalo na kung ang mga kalaro (o kalaban) ay taga ibang kalye o mga dayo. Kahit nga iyong pa-liga ng aming simbahan, oo magkakapatid na sa pananampalataya, ay nauuwi pa rin sa away. Pero hindi naman ako nakakasama sa suntukan, dahil mabilis akong tumakbo – tumakbong palayo!

Bakit nga kaya?

Dahil kaya sadyang mapusok tayong maglaro ng basketball? Dahil kaya tayo ay lahi ng mga palaban? Dahil kaya may dugo tayong lahat na boksingero at gustong maging Pacquiao? Pero in fairness kay Pacquiao, kahit naging basketbulero din siya, hindi siya nakipagboksing habang nasa basketball court, sa boxing ring lang.

Baka naman dahil may mentality tayong “walang iwanan,” na kapag inapi ang ating kasama ay igaganti natin ito ano man ang mangyari? Ito ang rason na ginagamit ng iba sa ating mga manlalaro. O kaya naman ay mayroon tayong “rumble mentality” – hindi masaya kung walang away. O dahil ba madali tayong mapikon at wala tayong “self-restraint?”

Hindi ko alam ang tunay na dahilan. Ngunit nakakalungkot na inaalis natin ang “sport” sa larangan ng “sports.”

Kahit ako ay Pilipino, ang boksing sa basketball ay hinding-hindi ko maipagmamalaki.

(*photoshopped image from the web)

App To No Good

In January 2011, the American Dialect Society named “app” the word of the year for 2010. Today, that word is engrained in our daily vocabulary. App is shortened for application, something that you download in your mobile device. I think everybody knows what an app is, unless you’re living under a rock.

There are more than 2 million app available in Apple app store currently, and for Android users, there are about 3.5 million apps. If you think about something, there’s probably an app for that. This technology has been part of our day-to-day life and it’s really on the up and up, or should I say, on the app and app.

I have several apps on my smart phone that make my life “easier.” I have an app for the weather alerts, an app to know where I park my car, an app to read and check the latest medical literature and studies, an app to do my banking, an app to control the air-conditioner or heater at my home even if I’m not home, and app to listen to Filipino radio stations, even if I’m 8000 miles away from the Philippines.

You already know that for about 3 weeks now, I have been using an app to help me improve my running (see previous post, App for the Challenge and App to Speed). I started with a pace of about 11 minutes per mile but with the aid of the app I was able to decrease it to 10 minutes per mile on my last run.

After a couple of runs with a faster pace, this week it was my objective to build on that and further improve my pace. My goal is to have it under 10 minutes or even a 9-minute mile.

But I failed!

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I ran a longer distance this time though.

I can think of a hundred reasons of why I was not able to achieve that goal. First, I had only 5 hours of sleep the night before I made that morning run.

Second, it was hot outside when I ran, with the temperature near 80º Fahrenheit. I know that was not really hot, especially if I consider that I grew up in a tropical country. But for me I rather run in a 30-60º F temperature and just layer up in my running gear. If the temperature is 90º F or higher? Forget it, that can kill a runner.

Third, the app did not give me wings in my feet.

Fourth, the app failed to give me more air in my lungs.

But I think the only acceptable reason is that running a 9-minute mile is not as easy as I thought, and I am not as fast and strong as I believe I am. As in most endeavor, it takes time and perseverance to achieve what you aim for. Maybe it would take me few more weeks or even months to attain that lofty goal. Or maybe never.

For now, I’ll just blame it on the app.

(*background photo taken during my run)