The Running Angel

Just because I don't have wings, doesn't mean I can't fly.

Birthday Run: Bull Session in Nuvali

It’s 2:00 am on December 20—the day before my birthday—when my alarm starts blaring, jolting me out of my deep sleep. I grudgingly drag myself out of bed, thinking, “Who the f*** wakes up at the crack of dawn and drives an hour out of the city, only to torture themselves by running for two and a half hours? Crazy runners, that’s who!”

Obviously, I am not in the best mood so early in the morning, but by the time we arrived in Nuvali, Laguna for the TBR Dream Marathon Bull Session at 4:00 am, I felt the excitement start creeping in, as it always does when I see other effin’ crazy runners like myself getting ready to race.

Roland and I weren’t able to attend the last three Bull Sessions held in Bonifacio Global City, but we made it a point to go to this one in Nuvali so we could get a preview of the racecourse. After a few warm-up exercises led by Coach Lit, we were divided into run-walk groups and then we were off!

We opted to join the 2:1 group (2-minute run, 1-minute walk). Though we’re accustomed to 3:1 or 4:1, we figured it would be better to run conservatively since we weren’t sure what pace the other runners in our group would take. It was very dark when we started so we didn’t really see much, but I enjoyed running with my batchmates. Unlike in an actual race, the feeling wasn’t competitive as people weren’t rushing ahead of each other. I felt one with the group as we ran together every two minutes, and fell into step every time the people in front yelled, “Walk!”

Eventually though, the group began to scatter as runners settled into their own paces. (And that was fine too, because I was starting to get annoyed with a runner who had her speakers on full blast. Not everyone wants to hear your playlist, gurl!) Roland and I settled into a steady rhythm, our feet moving one sure step in front of the other.

By 6:00 am, more than an hour after we had started, the sky grew lighter. The sun remained hidden in the clouds while the cool wind continued to dance around us. The view of our surroundings started to reveal itself—rolling hills, wide roads, green grass, tall weeds (a.k.a. talahib), and the occasional trees. I cannot remember the exact route, but I do remember passing a few villages and seeing signs that pointed toward Miriam College, Xavier School, and Republic Wake Park.

There were only two hydration stations on the course, as we had been aptly warned. Good thing the weather was cool so I didn’t feel the need to drink as much as I normally would. I took one GU gel (salted caramel flavor) which was a bit too sweet but gave me the kick I needed.

Toward the last hour, we switched down our pace to a 1-minute run: 30 second walk—it’s the first time we tried it and turns out, we were able to maintain our pace better than if we had stuck to 2:1. We eventually caught up with the 3:1 pace group (or maybe they had done an extra lap and caught up to us) just in time for a photo op! Woohoo!

Picture 1Photo from Instagram (@jaymiepizarro)

We finished 17km in 2 hours, 37 minutes. Pretty slow yes, but feeling good. They were serving Enervon HP—a high protein, chocolate-flavored recovery drink. So yummy and perfect post-run!


After doing some stretching exercises, it was time for a few more photo ops!


TBR coach and Runner’s World columnist, Lit Onrubia, reminds us not to indulge too much over the holidays. LOL!


With The Bull Runner and Runner’s World cover girl, Jaymie Pizarro, who said the weather is usually cooler on race day. I hope so!


With old and new AMCI members who are always up for a new adventure.


After a filling breakfast in Pancake House, we drove back to Manila and made it home safe and sound. I know this hashtag is so overused, but having freshly showered, feeling the slight soreness in my muscles, and knowing I had a great race to look forward to, I really did feel #BLESSED in every sense of the word. —A

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The Journey Begins


About two weeks ago, on September 24, I was driving to the first Bull Circle of The Bull Runner Dream Marathon. On my way to the venue in Fort Bonifacio, I got stuck in heavy traffic due to construction on the corner of C-5 and Pasig Boulevard. I had training early that morning so I was tired, sleepy, and irritable. Several times, I was tempted to just turn around and drive back home. “F*** this!” I voiced out loud to my equally frustrated husband. “I’d rather go home and sleep!”

But somehow, we trudged on until we finally got to the venue an hour late. Just as we sneaked into the back of the room, Coach Jim Lafferty started playing this video about Terry Fox, a Canadian athlete who did a cross-country run that spanned several months to raise awareness for cancer research—and he did it all on one leg.

Of course, I teared up while watching the video, because here I was complaining about traffic, when this guy just did something truly heroic.


When I started running almost 10 years ago, I never dreamed of doing a full marathon. I always had a lot of excuses: I’m too busy, it’s not really on my bucket list, I’m not at the peak of my fitness, etcetera. But at the heart of it lies all my fear and self-doubt. Can I really run 42 kilometers? Can I commit to the training? Do I have what it takes to go the distance?

By showing Terry’s video, Coach Jim wanted to tell us that if Terry could do it, anybody could do it. But according to Coach Lit Onrubia, we need to answer three questions first:

1. Why are you racing?

Two months ago, I decided I needed to climb out of the rut I was in and to stop living in fear. Running a marathon always seemed like this big, scary monster to me, and I thought it’s high time I conquered it. But more than that, it’s a way to remind myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to and that I am brave enough and strong enough to conquer other big, scary things in the future.

2. How much time do you have to spare?

As my work load decreases in the next few months, I have plenty of time to train. And this time, I’m committing at least three days a week to running. What I love about the TBR Dream program is that it allows you to incorporate running into your lifestyle—and not let it take over your whole life.

3. What are you prepared to sacrifice?

So far, I’ve sacrificed late nights in lieu of sleeping and waking up earlier and started spending significantly less time doing leisurely activities. I know I have to sacrifice sweets and other unhealthy food as well, but I have to admit, that part’s been a real struggle!

Aside from the TBR program and training sessions with my coach, another thing that’s been really helping me prepare for the marathon is The Runner’s World Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training. The training tips and practical advice are spot on, but what I really love are the inspiring stories of other runners who overcame various obstacles to finish their 42-K.


I truly believe that the journey is just as, or maybe even more important than the destination. Two months ago, I embarked on this journey by signing up for my first 42—or maybe it began when I first started running back in 2005. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m pretty sure it will be all kinds of awesome.

Other marathoners have said that the journey will change you… that you won’t be the same person you were once you cross that finish line. Who will I be after this journey ends?

I can’t wait to find out! —A


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From Ultra to Bora

Runner’s World Half-Marathon Training Plan Week 3: Tuesday – 3km easy, Thursday – 6.5km easy, Sunday – 8km LSD (long slow distance), rest or cross training in between

My Workouts:

Tuesday, 11/20 – 3.5km @ 29:33 (Average pace: 8:20/km)

On Tuesday afternoon, the Runner’s World team trooped to the Ultra track oval in Pasig for our cover shoot. We couldn’t have been more excited to meet our cover guy—a popular celebrity and marathoner who’s had a really inspiring journey (but more on that in the January-March 2013 issue!).

After the shoot, I did my 3.5 km easy run-walk around the oval with Roland. After the run, we went up the bleachers to do some stretching exercises while admiring the view.

Footwear: Saucony Kinvara 3
I wore these shoes the whole day, from the office to the track. Unfortunately, I went for fashion over comfort—I wore a pair of black ankle socks which kept sliding down to my heel so I ended up having blisters at the back of both feet! The shoes itself are very light and comfortable, although the upper part of the shoes are a bit narrow. I will probably just be using these shoes for drills and short runs (with the proper socks next time!).

• Thursday, 11/22 – 6.6km at 54:04 (Average pace 8:11/km)
On Thursday I was up extra early because I had a meeting all the way in Tagaytay. Luckily, I was able to take a nap on the way back to Manila, which means I had enough energy to do my run as scheduled.

Footwear: Newton Distance Trainers

Sunday, 11/25 – 0km
My Thai friends Neuy and Gift arrived on Saturday and today we flew to Boracay! I had hoped to do my long run here but I was too tired from the trip. We did walk all the way to the end of Station 1 (from our hotel near Station 2) so that’s got to count for something, right? :p

Total Weekly Mileage: 10.1km

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Listen to Your Body

Runner’s World Half-Marathon Training Plan Week 2: Tuesday – 3km easy, Thursday – 5km easy, Sunday – 8km LSD (long slow distance), rest or cross training in between

My Workouts:

Tuesday, 11/13 – approx. 3km of drills at the RW Running Clinic at Mercato Centrale

Wednesday, 11/14– approx. 3km of drills at the Nike+ Media Trial Session

I had a chance to road test the new Nike LunarGlide+4 Shield at their event in SM Mall of Asia last Wednesday. I also tried the Nike+ Running app on my iPhone which was pretty cool. First, we ran about half a kilometer by the bay area. Then, Coach Rio dela Cruz and his team proceeded to lead us through a set of running drills.

Though the pair I tested was a half size bigger than what I’d normally wear, the shoes felt comfortable as I ran and performed the drills. However, the upper part of the shoe is quite narrow, which can pose a problem on long runs since my feet are wider than normal. I love the bright orange accents though!

After drills by Coach Rio’s team, another group of coaches headed by Chappy Callanta of 360 Fitness Club led us through a more challenging set of exercises—burpees, mountain climbers, planks, push ups, the works! Though the workout was short, it really had me huffing and puffing. Then, another half-kilometer run by the bay. My Nike+ app recorded a total distance of about 0.9km (including the earlier run). All in all, it was a great session. My muscles felt sore the next day, which is a sure sign that my body was pushed to the limit.

Friday, 11/16 – 3km run @ 27:31 (Average pace: 09:07/km)

I opted to rest on Thursday and tried to do my planned 5km run on Friday. However, I was already feeling very tired and heavy from the start, and my right hamstring felt sore (I’m guessing I pulled a muscle at Wednesday’s training). So in the end, I decided to listen to my body and cut the run short at 3km before the soreness could escalate into a full-blown injury!

Other factors that may have contributed to my lethargy: I had my period, I lacked sleep, and I had just started my South Beach Diet again. Perhaps my body was still adjusting to the lesser food intake.

Sunday, 11/18 – 8km LSD @ 1:07:32 (Average pace: 08:26/km)

Cutting my Friday run short and getting a good long rest paid off because by the time I did my long run today, I was feeling really good. My average pace for this run was a little faster than last Sunday’s. I was feeling lighter (I lost a few pounds since I started dieting) and more energetic, plus the pain in my right hamstring was gone. This time, I had my running buddy and soon-to-be-hubby Roland with me, which made the time pass a little more easily. 🙂

Total Weekly Mileage: 17km

So basically, this was a good training week—one that taught me the importance of listening to my body and paying attention to the little things in training. Perhaps two consecutive “running drill days” also isn’t advisable, particularly if the workouts are intense. On to week 3! —A

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Lessons Learned

Yesterday I attended the second Runner’s World running clinic with triathlon coach, Jojo Macalintal (who also happens to be the coach of celebrities like Piolo Pascual and Jennylyn Mercado!). This time it was held in Mercato Centrale, Bonifacio Global City. As what happened in Ultra last week, the session started with a short lecture on proper form and the importance of training to strengthen running muscles and prevent injury. This was then followed by ladder drills and other practical exercises.

At the end of the session, I took note of two important things:

1. According to Coach Jojo, it’s better to do planks and other core exercises before your run as this helps condition the core and improve form. Plus, you’d probably be too tired to do them after running. — I can totally relate to this. I usually do core work (if at all) after running. Next time, I’ll try to do it before running so I won’t get too lazy to do it after!

2. During training, we usually do “long slow distance” runs. Coach Jojo discourages this because he says we shouldn’t train our body to run slow. When running long and slow, the tendency is that we’ll get so tired that our form suffers. Of course, he’s not saying we should go all-out all the time; we can always run at a moderate pace (or walk even)—just don’t run too slow. (If you must, check your form!)

It was definitely a great clinic and I highly encourage all runners to attend the next few sessions. Coach Jojo has a way of making training fun (cracking jokes every now and then), and he is very approachable and willing to answer all your questions. There’s a lot you can learn, whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned runner. Best of all, it’s free!

Check out the schedules below:

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Back to Basics

Runner’s World Half-Marathon Training Plan Week 1: Tuesday – 3km easy, Thursday – 5km easy, Sunday – 6km LSD (long slow distance), rest or cross training in between

My Workouts:

Tuesday, 11/6 – approx. 3km of drills

So the first week of my half-marathon training officially began last Tuesday, November 6. (I had just gotten back from Hong Kong so I was even more motivated to burn off the calories I consumed there. Hehe!) And what better way to kick off training than by participating in a Runner’s World running clinic at the Ultra track oval? The clinic was headed by renowned triathlon coach, Jojo Macalintal. He gave a short lecture on proper form and then led us through a series of drills to strengthen our leg muscles.

We must have done a solid hour of drills that included everything from ladder exercises to kangaroo jumps. Some of them I had done before, but others were pretty new to me. After drills, we ran 2 rounds (800m) around the track. It was definitely a great way to jump-start my training.

Footwear: Newton Distance trainers. The actuator lugs on the mid-foot made it a bit difficult to do some of the drills. Next time, I should probably wear a different pair.

Wednesday, 11/7 – Zumba class

Women’s Health magazine and Gatorade sponsored a Zumba class with Sharon Yu at the office. It was such an enjoyable session! As Sharon emphasized, it was one big par-tay! I had forgotten how much fun dancing could be as a workout (even if I couldn’t follow half the steps). And there were definitely a lot of moves that resembled running drills. I was so tired that I finished one and a half bottles of low carb Gatorade. Plus, we got some freebies, like this shirt and headgear, which perfectly matched my new Saucony Kinvara 3 shoes.

Friday, 11/9 – 5km run @ 41:10 (Average pace: 08:12/km)

I wasn’t able to run on Thursday according to plan since I had an important meeting scheduled so I opted to run on Friday instead.

Footwear: Merrell Bare Access Arc. I felt a bit of a hotspot below my right big toe. I should apply Body Glide next time to avoid blisters.

Sunday, 11/117km LSD @ 1:02:30 (Average pace: 08:56/km)

I was psyched to do my long run today. I made sure my Garmin watch and Bluetooth headset were charged, and I updated my Running Playlist. I normally don’t listen to music since running in silence allows me to think about a lot of things, but this time my goal was to just enjoy the long run. The sun had just begun to set as I headed out the door and I couldn’t resist stopping to admire the view.

My first 3km averaged about 08:30/km, but I got slower in the last 4 kilometers. For all my runs, I usually do Galloway’s RUN-WALK-RUN™ method. Since it’s been awhile since my last long run, I followed a run-walk ratio of 3:1 (3 minutes running followed by 1 minute running—although the walking became a little longer towards the end).

Footwear: Newton Distance trainers. All good except in the last two kilometers when my right toe started to hurt. It might be because as I got tired, I consciously tried to land on my mid-foot to avoid heel striking. Maybe I landed on my toes instead?

Total Weekly Mileage: 15km

All in all, I’d say it was a successful training week. I’m pumped to be running regularly again. I hope I can keep this up till the end of the year! —A

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