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)

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)

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)

 

My Weekend in Photos

Here’s what I did last weekend:

1. Helped my wife cooked tuyo (dried fish) in our outdoor grill.

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2. Chased a deer during one of my morning runs.

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3. Scavenged for bargain art item in the streets downtown (Des Moines Art Festival was this weekend).

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4. Got lost among the corn (visited a friend’s farm).

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5. And lastly, summoned my indigenous spirit or maybe my hidden pyromaniac nature and did a fire dance.

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(*all photos were taken by me with an iPhone, except the last photo which was taken by our friend)

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)

 

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)

Chasing Phantom Fishball

Yesterday our temperature here in Iowa finally wandered above 50º F. Considering that we had snow last weekend, and even had some flurries the day before with subfreezing temperature, we’re just excited that finally spring has sprung.

I was able to come home early with the sun still way up in the horizon, so I decided to go for a run outside.

I wore my brand new cool running shoes that I bought as a birthday gift for myself. I also planned to wear my new colorful running shorts and nifty running shirt that my wife got me for my birthday, but I found out they were still in the laundry. You see, like a child I need all the enticements to keep me motivated in running.

I’m proud to say that I finished my first outdoor 5-kilometer run for this year. Though I would not deny that I was a little out of condition and I struggled to complete the run.

While I was doing my run and I was on my 4th kilometer navigating through our neighborhood, I suddenly caught a whiff of a very familiar scent. I took a deep breath and inhaled it in to confirm. It was the unmistakably glorious smell of fishballs being fried in a lake of oil on a deep frying pan.

Instantly, I was transported back to my days in Manila, as if I entered a Twilight Zone. I felt I was in Forbes Avenue (now Arsenio Lacson Avenue) in front of the UST Hospital. I could almost hear the jeepneys and buses plying that route. Most afternoons, there was a fishball vendor there with his push-stall near the entrance of the hospital.

It does not matter if health experts say that it may not be “safe” to eat street foods, like fishballs, as you can get hepatitis A and some other illness, especially if you dip the fishballs in those jars of sauces. The reason is that some people do “double dip,” that is after taking a mouthful bite of their fishballs on the stick, they would dip it again in the sauce, and that’s how a disease is spread. Could it be the tincture of slobber that makes it more tasteful?

But my courageous friends and I don’t care what the experts say.

After an exhausting day in the hospital working as medical clerks (4th year medical students), we would trek down outside the hospital in our white uniform and all, and buy those delightful fishballs. While they were still hot and floating in oil, we would make “tusok-tusok” the fishballs with the stick, then dunk them in the different dipping sauces. My favorite one was the black spicy concoction with floating onions and siling labuyo. Sometimes I would also dip in the tangy sweetish brown sauce. Sometimes I would dip in all the three jars of sauce. But I swear, I don’t do double dip.

Interesting enough, during our 25th graduation anniversary meeting and reunion held in our medical school two years ago, they served fishballs on a stick during one of the breaks. They have the authentic taste like the ones peddled on the street. It was definitely a hit!

As I reached the end of the cul-de-sac, I came back to the realization that I was on a street in Iowa, and not in Manila. I looked around to search if there’s a fishball vendor around. But there was none. Just the leafless trees, brown grass, and the empty street that I was in.

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Was I hallucinating? Was it because I was huffing and puffing that my brain was oxygen deprived? Or was it because I was hungry and my blood sugar level was running low? Has my brand new running shoes have anything to do with it? Or maybe I was plainly home-sick again?

Fishball, o fishball, why are you haunting me?

(*photo taken during my run)