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)

App and Down

It’s mid August. In about 2 months it will be time for the Des Moines Marathon, in which I plan to participate in the half marathon run. I have not registered though, because I’m still feeling myself if I would be ready for it.

It has been a while since I posted progress of my training. As you already know, I even have a running app to track my pace and distance to aid me on my training. The farthest distance I covered so far is 6 miles in my current training period. I also was able to get my pace under 11 minutes.

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But that was about a month ago. Since then, I am struggling. I even am sliding down on my distance and pace. So I was hopeful that today, I can steer my course in the right direction.

By the moment I went out this morning to run, I was captivated by the sunrise. For some reason it has a different hue or color. It’s orange-red. (Sorry, but the photos I have below do not give real justice to the striking splendor of the sunrise.)

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Then I thought that it could be from the many ongoing wild fires from California that is giving the sky a different haze, even though Iowa is 1,500 miles away from California. My thoughts and prayers goes out to those who are directly affected by these wild fires.

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Back to my run, I was able to complete a 3-mile run, but not to the pace I wanted.

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What’s my excuse this time? Stopping and taking too many photos of the crazy sunrise!

Yet in life, sometimes we are so engrossed in the task at hand that we don’t appreciate the beauty around us. We don’t stop to smell the roses. Or stop and admire the sunrise.

In my case, I have no regrets of stopping and capturing the moment. Have a good week everyone!

(*photos taken with an iPhone)

 

App To Speed

I posted last week that I am now using a running app to help me prepare and train for my half-marathon. It gave me a renewed interest in running.

Before I was just estimating and calculating my distance and pace in my head, but now I’m doing it accurately and scientifically. Though to be honest, my estimation of the distance I covered before is pretty close to actual, as if I’m off it’s only 0.1 mile or less. I think I could work as a surveyor.

My pace last week was 11:16 minutes per mile when I did a 3.1 (5K) run. This week, I was challenged to run the same distance, but push myself a bit and see if I can run in a pace of less than 11 minutes per mile.

And I did!

This make me think that if I was able to shave a whole minute per mile in my pace in less than a week, with the aid of this app and if I really push myself, maybe next week I can run a 9-minute mile. And in 10 weeks, I should be running 1-minute mile. I would be Flash!

In case you believed or was caught up on my drift, I was really talking non-sense. The fastest 1 mile done by a human is 3 minutes, and 43.13 seconds. Even if Usain Bolt can run at his top speed of 27.44 miles/hour and sustain it for a mile, which is humanly impossible by the way, he would still take 2.19 minutes to cover that mile.

Maybe this app is only good for giving me crazy ideas. I’m not sure this app will turn me into Flash, but one thing for sure, this earned me bragging rights.

(*background photo taken during my run)

App for the Challenge

It’s summertime here in our area. I can’t use the excuse of “it’s too cold to run” anymore. Though I can say, “it’s too hot.”

Anyway, it’s time for me to take longer and more frequent runs outside. If I plan on joining the half-marathon this autumn, I have about 4 more months to prepare. That’s plenty of time.

In the past, I just needed 10-12 weeks of rigid training schedule to be in good running form. ‘Good running form’ does not mean I can compete with the elite runners, for me it means finishing the 13.1 mile course without keeling over. But I know I’m getting older, so maybe my body needed more time to be ready.

I want a ‘smart’ runner’s watch that has GPS that can track my distance and or pace me when I’m running, which I think can help me train. Perhaps it’s another excuse to get another “toy” to get me motivated to continue running. When you’re more than 50 years old, and your joints and muscles often times protest after a run, you need all the motivation to keep going.

But when I shop around for that nifty runner’s watch, it’s kind of expensive. The ones that I like are north of $200, so I hesitated to buy. Maybe I’m too cheap.

Then it dawned on me that there are several running app that I can download on my phone that are very inexpensive or even free. Why have I not thought of that before? I used to just estimate my distance and pace before, which is not accurate nor scientific.

I always carry my phone anyway when I run. I carry it in case of emergency, like if a deer ran me over or a wild rabbit attack me. Or if I get disoriented and get lost in my own neighborhood, I can use its GPS to guide me home. Kidding aside, I carry my phone all the time to take photos when I run.

After downloading a running app, I used it for the first time this morning. I only planned on running 1-2 miles as I have to be at work early, but I suddenly got challenged when my phone started chirping my progress and telling me my time and pace every mile I covered. So I finished a standard 3.1 mile (5K) run.

Not bad for this time of year. If I can shave several more seconds on each mile and extend my distance little by little, I think I would be alright for that half-marathon. I think this running app is helpful. Or if at all, it’s more for bragging rights.

Happy running!

(*background photo taken during my run)

A Gray Day to Run a Marathon

It was time for my annual participation for the half marathon. As always, I can’t run without taking photos. I could have played Pokemon Go and capture Pokemon creatures too, but I settled in just capturing pictures.

It was a foggy and an overcast morning. Though for runners, there’s no “bad” day to run. As you can see, hundreds of runners showed up on race day. Here we are waiting for the run to start.

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And here we go! Crossing the official Starting Line.

img_3577Weaving our way through downtown Des Moines.

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Passing the Pappajohn’s Sculpture Park.

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We’re away from the downtown buildings now. The visibility remained a few hundred yards due to the fog, as shown below.

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Circling around a lake. Where’s the lake you may ask? I know you can’t see it, but just believe me, that’s a lake.

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Crossing a foot bridge in Gray’s Lake. It was really gray indeed!

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Even if it’s foggy and cool, we need to keep hydrated. Below are the paper cups thrown aside by the runners just past the water station.

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Running around the Capitol building. The golden dome is barely visible due to the fog. It was about this time that I felt my legs starting to cramp. So I started to intermittently walk and run.

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I almost crawled the last (13th) mile. But to look good for the spectators at the finish line, I ran fast for the final 0.2 to 0.3 miles to the Finish Line. As they always say, finish strong! Even if it just for a show.

Finally, me approaching the Finish Line! Look, a medical personnel is waiting.

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(*all photos were taken by me, except for the last photo which was taken by my wife)

Harvest Time

This morning I went for a long run, in preparation for the half-marathon that I would be participating in. The event would be in 2 weeks.

My long runs have been getting longer, and sometimes it can be tedious and boring. Maybe I should play Pokemon Go while I run to make it more exciting, and capture those fleeting critters.

I did not capture a Pokemon, but I captured these photos while I was running:

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Yes, it is harvest time in this part of the world I’m living in. The fields are golden brown, the days are getting shorter, and the wind is getting colder.

In this particular field, they were harvesting corn.

Why are they harvesting corn? Because they sow corn! Shouldn’t it be that way, we harvest what we sow?

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Maybe some cynics out there may disagree with me, for I know we are living in a world where so much injustice abound. People seems to reap what they did not sow, or have been harvesting in fields that are not theirs.

In my home country, we even have a proverb for that: Ako ang nagtanim, ako ang nagbayo, ako ang nagsaing, pero iba ang kumain.

Loosely translated, it says, I was the one who planted, I pounded, and I cooked, but somebody else ate it.

Yet I still believe in justice.

Lady Justice may seems to be blindfolded (I don’t know why it is portrayed that way) to the unjustness and repression happening all around us. And I’m not blind to that. But I know it as a fact that in the end, justice will be served.

That day of reckoning will come to all of us, when we will harvest what we sow.

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(*photos taken with an iPhone)

Not Running

The annual Des Moines Marathon is less than 3 weeks away. And I am in no close form to run it.

For the past 5 years, I participated in this yearly event, running the half-marathon (13.1 miles). This year I learned that a classmate of mine from medical school who is also now living in the US, but in another state, is participating in this run. Even out-of-towners are joining this event, not to mention some elite runners as well.

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(photo taken during Des Moines Marathon 2013)

Participating in this annual race keeps me committed on my running and hopefully this keeps me fit and healthy, which is the ultimate goal anyway.

I know it is not hard to find a hundred reasons to stop running and it is so easy to fall off the wagon, and stop exercising at all. Doing this half-marathon at least once a year keeps me motivated. Or unable to button my pants, or an innocent yet honest remark from my kids about my bulging belly, will also do the same.

If I follow the running gurus’ advice, like the Hal Higdon’s training schedule (click here) on how to prepare for the half marathon, my long runs should be at least 8 to 10 miles by this time. Adhering to these recommended training schedules assure you that you cross the finish line on race day without killing yourself. But I loosely follow those schedules anyway.

Yet, even if I am not on track in my training for the half-marathon, there’s no urgency for me to train hard. The truth is I was not even training at all. I have not run a distance of more than 3 miles for the past couple of months. I am indeed slacking.

Why? Have I lost the motivation? Have I resigned and accept my bulging midsection? Not at all!

About 3 months ago, I learned that on the weekend of the scheduled Des Moines Marathon is the date that my kids will have their piano competition. And I will not miss the world for that. So we will be out-of-town at that time, and thus I cannot do the run.

So I forgo on my training.

However last Sunday, just to challenge myself, I push to run 5 miles in less than an hour, and I felt good about it. Next weekend, if I can run 7 or 8 miles, then it is as if I am ready to run the half marathon, even if I am not doing it.

Just because.

Running of the Bulldogs

I went to the annual Drake Relays last weekend and ran the 10K road race. I can say, I ran like a Bulldog*. Or more accurately, I panted like a Bulldog.

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The inaugural Drake Relays was held in 1910. So this was the 106th year of this event. It was a 5-day meet with competition in track and fields.

Over the years, hundreds of Olympic medalist have competed in the Drake Relays, like Bruce Jenner (yes, that’s him or now her?), Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, and Jesse Owens to name a few.

By the way, if you don’t know, Bruce Jenner is a former track and field athlete, and won a gold medal in Decathlon in 1976 summer olympics. So he (or she) was already famous before the Kardashian’s fame and way before the sex change.

Bulldogs stadium or also known as the Blue Stadium

Drake Stadium, home of the Bulldogs

Back to the Drake Relays, due to good sponsorships, it is also one of the richest athletic event in the US. For example, the winner of the half marathon was awarded $70,000 prize money, while the winner of the 10K was given $40,000. But I would never get that. Maybe if they have a prize for the slowest?

Even though these events attract elite athletes, it was also open for wannabe athletes like me, especially the road races. After all, if anybody can get an athlete’s foot, then anybody can be an athlete, right?

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For the past five consecutive years I have participated in the Des Moines Marathon (I ran the half-marathon, 21K) which is held every fall. But this was my first time to join the Drake Relays. And also the first time to run the 10K.

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As I came a little early, I had time to take some pictures. Then when it was time to line up, I had to find my place in the starting line.

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Oh, that’s the elite runners group, with the 5-minute-per-mile pace. That’s not running, that’s flying. I don’t belong there!

I had to find my place at the back. Way, way at back of the line, with the more than 10-minute-per-mile pace.

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Then I found this line. Oh, that’s not it too. That’s the line for the portable toilet!

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Finally, it was time to start. The half-marathoners were given a head start, while we, 10K runners were released 30 minutes later.

There they go!

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The first half of the course was a piece of cake. No, I am not gloating. It was due to the fact that it was mostly downhill. And of course, I took photos while I ran, so I can blog about it.

Here’s a photo of the course going downhill with some of Des Moines skyline in the distance.

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Here’s one as we pass by a sculpture park.

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But like the reverse of the law of gravity, what goes down, will go up.  So on the final half of the course, it was mostly uphill. That’s what took my breath away. Especially the dreaded and infamous “Bulldog Hill.”

The Bulldog Hill may have chased my breath away, but never my will.

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We had plenty of cheerers along the way. We even had a marching band inspiring us to push forward on the steepest climb of the course.

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After the hills, finally the stadium was in sight. I gave my final push.

When we enter the Bulldog Stadium, there was a crowd of people to witness as we finish. It does not matter if you were the first finisher or among the last, they cheer you on just the same.

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I really like the feeling as I sprinted to the finish line in those lined tracks inside the stadium. For a time, I felt like a real runner. This maybe the closest feeling I can get to being an Olympian.

Maybe I can be famous too like a Kardashian? Naaah!

 

(*Bulldogs is the athletic team of Drake University)

(**all photos taken with an iPhone) 

Old Man Running

I ran the Des Moines half marathon (13.1 miles) this morning.

Compared to my previous runs (this is my 5th half marathon), this was my least prepared race. I usually start training around 3 months prior to the race. I gradually increase my run and by the time of the race, I should have at least run a 10-miler or more.

But due to interruptions in my training this year, like my unscheduled trip to the Philippines, my extra weekend calls, and other lame excuses, I never really had my training up to par. Though I don’t want to waste altogether the effort I placed on this for the past couple of months, so I still decided to participate anyway, and just have fun.

I never ran more than 7 miles this year. Well, until this morning.

While I was standing in the starting line among the throng of runners (it was estimated that there were about 10,000 participants – for the marathon, half marathon, and 5K), I saw a familiar face. It was one of the cardiothoracic surgeons whom I worked with in the hospital.

When I approached the surgeon, he told me that he was running the half-marathon as well. He asked me what pace I usually run, and I said to him that I’m just going to “go slow” this time, due to lack of preparedness. He then asked me if we can run together. Of course, I obliged.

I told him that I commend the fact that he as a heart surgeon, have the credibility to advise his patients that he performed cardiac bypass on, to live healthy and exercise, for he himself follows that advise. I wish we doctors will all practice what we preach.

So we ran together the whole 13.1 miles. As we ran, we shared stories of our lives and our families in between gasping breaths. It was my first time to run with somebody the entire race, and I enjoyed it. We even finished with a decent time: 2 hours and 35 minutes. Not bad. Not bad at all.

After crossing the finish line, and when I was walking back to my car, I suddenly felt my age. How many more years would I be doing this?

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But did I tell you that the heart surgeon that I ran with was in his mid-60’s and has recently retired from his practice? He’s almost 20 years older than me but still in very good shape. I just wish I can still run when I’m his age.

Although honestly, he kept me going on that race. If I was running alone, I would have run more slowly, or even walked part of the course, or who knows even stopped and quit. But I was too embarrassed to slow down, given the fact that I was much younger than he was.

After getting home and getting some rest, I felt good except for some soreness in my legs and feet. I just moved “slowly” the rest of the day. Just like an old man.

Oops, I Did It Again

No, I did not suddenly become a fan of Britney Spears. What I meant was I finished the Des Moines marathon again. Well, half marathon (13.1 miles). And it’s not really oops, but rather “whoopee, I did it again!”

This year I decided to keep away my camera phone and just concentrate on the running. Though I still took pictures before the race started.

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photo taken at the start line

I planned to run at around 11-minute mile pace, which is what I trained for, so I followed the 2:20 pace runner. That is if I keep the right pace, I’ll finish the half marathon in 2 hours and 20 minutes.

I was doing great in the first two miles that I even overtook the 2:20 pace runner. However on the 4th mile the 2:20 pace group caught up with me. I must have been slowing down then.

I was still at par with the 2:20 pace group after 6 miles, when “nature” called me. I needed to pee! So I stopped at one of the many portable toilets lining the race course.

By the time I got out, the 2:20 pace runner was too far away already. Damn nature call! I didn’t want to burn too much energy to catch up with the group, so I ran on my own. Yet I was still keeping up with my training pace.

After passing the 10-mile marker, I was happy that I was still feeling great. Yeah, my bunions may be hurting a bit, but I could run through blisters and pain. Even though I never ran more than 10 miles during my training for this race, I knew that the sheer excitement and adrenaline rush could carry me through the last 3.1 miles. Just like in the past.

On the 11th mile, the motorcade with the lead marathon runners passed me. (Even though the course of the half and full marathon diverge at some point, the start and finish point are the same.) It was amazing to think that they have already covered 24 miles. That was way below 6-minute mile pace! Those athletes are really freaks of nature. And I said that in a good way.

Not too long after the lead marathon runners passed me, when trouble began. Leg cramps! It was not so bad, but I have to stop running. But I can still walk. I was still determined to finish this race, cramps and all, even if it means I have to crawl the last 2 miles.

On the 12th mile marker, the 2:30 pace runner and group passed me. I thought to myself that given the circumstances, I was still not so far from my projected time of finish.

I was working on my last mile, when the lead “physically challenged” marathoner passed me. He was “rolling” strong on his wheelchair to finish the 26 miles. That gave me renewed inspiration.

On the last stretch of the race, in front of cheering crowds of people lining up near the finish line, that I really wanted to finish strong. But whenever I tried to break into a run, my legs would cramp again. Certainly the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. Or more aptly, the flesh was cramping! But I plodded on.

Finally I crossed the finish line. Time: 2 hours 35 minutes. Maybe not to the condition I wanted, but it was still sweet regardless.

I know I will be sore for a few days. Was it worth it? Definitely! Every single step (and cramps) of it.

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