Our 10k Trail Race At Timberland Heights

Being in this same starting line at the Timberland All-Terra 10k Trail run is deja vu all over again. It has been almost a year since i ran this trail race and the 4th edition held yesterday brought back memories on running these enormous trails of Timberland Heights, San Mateo, Rizal once more.  

This is not an easy trail to run.. much more, race it! Despite the perfect weather and the ideal condition of the trails which was pretty dry and dusty, the route–the same used as that of last year’s race, was consistently undulating and the numerous uphill climbs took a toll for a lot of runners that we had to walk and hike the steep inclines which measured from 50 to 100 meters at a time.  

The route inside The Timberland trails were mostly single track that once runners in front of you decide to walk the inclines, it would be near impossible to overtake. Some of the trails were rocky and quite technical that you really had to watch your step. Many times, my ankles twisted slightly and were it not for the stability trail shoe i was wearing, i could have slipped off a branch or on some rocks.  

Still the route inside was refreshingly cool and shady and parts were really scenic specially on hill tops where the only thing you could hear were runners trying to catch their breath. The hills eventually got to me and even if i was just hiking the inclines, my heartbeat was pounding rapidly as i tried to figure out how i was going to push myself up while looking down on where i should land each foot! I was really exasperated at the effort and the experience is very humbling!  

With regards to the water stations, i think Raul and Edmund (organizers of the race) should consider additional tables, cups and plenty more water next time as they seem to be gone when the middle of the pack runners like myself approach the stations for refreshments. The last water station past the 8th km mark had completely dried out. Good thing i still had Gatorade in my fuel belt.  

Over-all, the race was great, well-organized and had a friendly, low-key vibe in it. Though the race was a bit of a struggle for me, it was still a joyful adventure and if trail running wasn’t challenging, i don’t think it would be as rewarding as it is…running as nature intended.  

Before the start, runners of Takbo.ph take a pose

Pio(lo) and Ebong of Runnex

Pio is a professional photographer and i don't understand why he would angle a shot like this?

Darryl and June warming up

Darryl and me before the start

Part of the takbo.ph group. Sitting on extreme left is (Ultra)-Pat oblivious of the picture taking

The Marikina Runners group

Combined group of takbo.ph runners and Marikina runners

Guess who's wearing that mask? No other than Second Wind's Hec Yuzon! Where's Zorro when we need him?

June and Darryl. Can't wait for the Mang Inasal barbecue breakfast that was to follow

With venerable ultra runner, Pat aka "Ultra-Pat"

The uphill start, a hundred meters before the trails

Second water stop at a nipa shade

Race Director Raul Ylanan's specially made portalet! Left entrance for men, right door for ladies

One of several uphill trails

Runners at my back

The uphills continue

Over-my-head shot

Part of the trail with wild grasses

At the 8th km mark

After the finish

With Totoy, Jonel (Bugo-bugo) and Camille

June with long time friend and runner, Monching Paraiso, dad to celebrities Paolo and Bubbles

With 2 raffle prizes i won, the Subaro girls! This beats the raffle prize i won at the Mizuno presscon!:-)

Waiting in line for our barbecue breakfast

The chicken barbecue pits. I can still smell its mouth-watering aroma

Unique trophys made of bamboo for the winners of the trail run and bike race

Sports Beans

Take my increasing greyhair word for it. These Jelly Belly Sports Beans does work and I was pleasantly surprised to experience running more comfortably after taking these energy beans in my last two half-marathons (Unilab and Globe runs) without much struggle and energy depletion that usually came in running these distances.

There’s a nice “kick-in” feeling every time I pop-in these beanies and the effect is immediate after you wash it down with water or sports drinks. I’m really liking this better than the GU Gels I’m used to taking.

I was a bit of a skeptic on energy foods like gels when they first came out knowing the marketing ploys of companies to sell their products. I’ve ran marathons and countless of half-marys even before these “energy foods” were invented and I’ve survived all of them with taking water only! Advance science, clinical research and advance nutrition studies have now offered the desired nutrition balance and have become an integral part of a runner’s nutrition needs. It’s the 21st century’s “soylent green”, the ultimate fast-food where a handy gel or bar could now be an almost complete refueling food! It’s made up of  cane juice, tapioca syrup, orange juice from orange puree,Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacinamide (Vitamin B3), ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and other essential nutrients.

I think the key to taking this “energy foods” like the Sports Beans is to take them in your system before you actually need them. I popped 4 pieces of jellies 10 minutes before the race and took the rest strategically throughout the 21k course and felt energized all the way.

Gels, beans, sports drinks or just about any of the energy food that is out in the market will have different effects and reactions to each individual runner and it’s best to experiment what works best for you. If taking this food will enhance your performance and if you think it will give you an added edge, then by all means, pop up some for some extra power boost!



Mizuno Infinity Run ’10 Launched

Registrations for the Mizuno 10 & 15k “Beat Your Own Time” Infinity Run Challenge is almost full, according to race organizer Rudy Biscocho in last night’s press launching of the April 11 race. If you’ve run the Mizuno race last year, you certainly would want a return visit and beat the time you set out at the 2009 run. While no one asked what prize the runner would get if he or she beats his/her time, i’m sure there would be lots of nice Mizuno stuff to be given to every runner who does.

Last night’s press launching was attended mostly by bloggers and it was a blast that the sponsors would give away pairs of Wave Creation 11 Mizuno shoes, Suunto watches, dri-fit shirts and caps through raffles! Congrats to Sam (The Running Ninja) and Zinnia for winning the Suunto watches! I wasn’t lucky enough to win the major stuff but i got a nice Mizuno cap and a gift pack of Energy bars, thanks to Jai Cortes of Mizuno.

Registration will be open up to next week at all Mizuno store outlets. Here are some pictures from last night’s press launching:

Mizuno race organizers including Jai Cortes and Rudy Biscocho


Mizuno beauties manning the reception area

At our table, from left, Bloggers Jet, Rod, Mar and Dhentz

Wuth Race Director, Rudy Biscocho

With Mizuno's Jai Cortes

With Jaymie, The Bullrunner


The Trails of Daraitan (Part 2)

Daraitan attracts trekkers year round but summer is the time to go frolicking and explore the boulders and the rushing stream of water that passes through the Daraitan and Tinipak rivers.

The trails are paved with stone slabs, dirt and more stones embedded on the earth and the moving film of water that runs along its trails are mesmerizing. If bird watching is your thing, there are different variety of birds that just appear and skydive from nowhere as you observe the many wild orchids and other fauna that are perched atop rocks and boulders.

I’ve received e-mails and text messages inquiring how to get here. If traveling by car, from Cubao just head straight to Marikina towards Marcos Highway passing by SM Marikina straight towards Masinag Market all the way to Antipolo, San Mateo and Tanay.

In an hour, you would have passed the Sierra Madre Resorts and a few minutes later, the Pranjetto Hills Resort. After about 3 kms, you would have reached a cross-road that is bounded by Sampaloc town on your left and the town of Baras on your right. The Tanay Public Market is just on the right side road. Just drive straight the main highway (towards Infanta) and after 2 kms, there’s a street sign that points towards Daraitan. Turn left and it’s another 7-8 kilometers of rough roads before you reach the entrance to the village.

By public transport, there are jeeps from Cubao and Crossing in Edsa, Mandaluyong that ply straight to Tanay Public Market. From there, take another jeepney ride to Daraitan.

The people at the village are very friendly and hospitable. Don’t be alarmed if you see them carrying bolos or machetes. They use these for chopping wood for fuel.

Here are the rest of our pictures:

The Tinipak River

We had all the place to us

That's Darryl giving the thumbs up

With June

The run continues

Noel and June atop the boulders

Finding my step to the top

The tiny spec on the right sitting is Noel

Nice surface trail, this time

Letting a horse with its load pass

Just a passing shot

The white marble stones are nice to see

I was wondering how Noel got in the middle without getting his shoes wet?

One of my favorite pictures

Trying to relax a bit

More serene part of the river

Wild ducks getting our attention

Darryl doing it the hard way

Perfect place for ducks. Quack, quack!

Another stream pouring into the main river

The last of the rock formations

Tying up shoe-lace

On our way back

Hope to get back at this place

We drank the waters here. Sweet!

Darryl preparing lunch

Corned beef and tuna omelett

Globe Run For Home ’10: A Smart Race

When the organizers of the Globe Run For Home ’10 first announced that the race would start and end at Ayala Triangle, the heart of the Central Business District in Makati, the worry was that it would only create chaos in controlling traffic within the very busy area, even on a Sunday. Emphatically not the case on the evidence of this well-routed race which seemed to be under control of the race organizers, directors and the Makati traffic police.

Credit should be given to those who planned the race route even if changes were made from what was initially announced.

I was really excited running the first kilometer of the race as it brought us to streets and alleys that were unfamiliar to many runners. What made it interesting was getting a rare glimpse of Makati’s periphery streets in the dark that got Paseo De Roxas, Dela Rosa and Gallardo Streets “invaded” by runners for the first time.

The narrow streets leading to an underground-like tunnel is unusual for a route and the underground driveways used for vehicles to pass under the Greenbelt shops, with maybe a thousand runners pounding on the cemented path is a bit surreal. Yet, the unfamiliarity and strangeness of it all seemed to excite us more.

Weather conditions were tolerable today, a little humid but abundant water stations all made up for it. I wasn’t feeling great entering the race as i had very minimum practice runs prior to this event but it surprised me that this morning’s run was easier than that of the Unilab Race two weeks ago.

The Sports Beans i brought with me worked wonders!. The moment i took some, the effect was immediate as it gave me a sudden energy boost. The only drawback to this is that your throat gets dry after these melts in your mouth and you would really like to take fluids to keep it moist.

The run was going great and upon reaching the last water station with one kilometer left, i was feeling the signs of cramps coming up my left calf muscle. It finally made its attack on both calves near the DBP Building with 200 meters to go and i had to stop and stretch both calf muscles!

I struggled to a slow jog and found some rhythm to run fast when i felt the cramps again just 50 meters before the finish line. Tough luck! I jogged the last 50 meters to finish the 21k at 2:32, some minutes slower than my Unilab Run time.

Many runners were complaining that the distance registed in their Garmins was 22.1k or more. Doesn’t really matter to me. Despite of it, i had a generally good run and hope to be back again next year.

Next Sunday, me and some friends will be having another adventure run at the King Of The Mountain Trail Run in Timberland Heights, San Mateo, Rizal. See you there!

June, before the race

Near the starting area

With Tonette, Marsha and Betty

Front: Doc T, Sam, Divine & Jet

The rest of the Takbo.ph runners, Gail and Julie in front

With Journalist-Author and outdoorsman Cecil Morella

With Journalist-Author and Outdoorsman, Cecil Morella

Doc T, Noelle, Jet & Prince

With the SBC Red Runners, my alma mater (HS)

Betty, after crossing the finish line

Edu and Noelle

The bigger group

Wet and wild!

Marsha and Tonette with Ultrarunner, Mai

Runnex group with Rizza Mantaring (in blue)

After being dragged by the bouncers out of the finish line, we were able to pose, again!

The Trails of Daraitan (Part 1)

If trail run destinations could be awarded a star for their breath of beauty, this would earn a dozen. The stunning river and mountain landscapes make it perfect for a weekend of running or trekking. As i prepared my hydration belt and waist pouch for our trip to DARAITAN, Tanay, Rizal, June had asked me to bring sandals as we may have to cross some rivers to explore Daraitan.

My mental picture of the place featured copious wildlife, zigzagging streams and rivers, rock formations, including creeping iguanas and river snakes of all varieties which may sting you. Oh, and some of them, I know, could kill you. Since I didn’t have any sandals, I opted instead to just protect my feet with trail shoes and use these in both land and river crossings.

Our journey started at the Pranjetto Hills Resort where we had set up base. Running buddies June, Darryl, their mutual friend Noel, an experienced hiker and biker from Cebu and I ordered for breakfast tapas, rice, eggs and coffee. While waiting breakfast to be cooked, we toured Noel inside the resort, a picturesque retreat with a difference. We were like in a middle of a jungle with all amenities like cabins, swimming pool, patios, cottages, barbecue pits, the works. But that’s another story.

After breakfast, we scurried off to Daraitan, which is about 5 kilometers south of Prenjetto Resort. The entrance is at the left side of the national highway. After another 7 kilometers of bumpy ride on mostly dirt roads leading to the village itself, we were glad to get out in the open and start to explore the river and mountainscapes.

We were greeted by Mang Tinio, one of the regular staff of the village’s barangay as we registered and paid P10.00 each to tour the place. This paradise has been awarded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as the “cleanest body of water” in Region IV. Indeed, we were tempted to drink in one of the small streams as the water was crystal clear.

Here, in pictures are our adventure run:

Entrance to Daraitan, a hidden paradise inside the sanctum of Tanay, Rizal

Approaching the thatched huts at the entrance

Now, you know what "ELP" and "ONIR" means?

Start of run across the wooden bridge

Finding firm footing on the rocky trail

Going out of civilization

Crystal clear streams

More of this along the way

Trying to tip-toe above the rocks!

Zillions of decorative stones to take home

Getting my shoes wet

June and Noel just ahead

Now threading on the sand path

Emerging from the stream

A view from above

A view of the zigzagging river

June continues to run upwards the mountain trails

Brisk walking while Noel takes a shot

June stops at a house near a cliff, asking for directions

Reaching the other side of the mountain

Chasing the endless river

A much needed walk break

Entering Daraitan's 'Shangrila'

Glorious view!

White rocks and the little blue lagoon

Taking a break

Serene backdrop

Atop a giant white rock!

White rocks trail

The run continues

Views on my right

More of the scenery

Feels like you can run forever in this scenery

The great walls of Daraitan

More of the white rocks overhead

Hopping on each rock to get near the other side

Atop the marble rocks

Like a giant clam

Noel--nice jump into the middle

By the end of our trip, we had failed to cross any part of the river (thank God!) just content of walking or running along its banks. We learnt enough about Daraitan to know we would be back—and next time would confront the rivers. Daraitan is a fascinating place that offers many things for adventurous runners or whatever type of adventure seeker you are. And on reflection, these outback trail runs are far more rewarding than races in the cities— distance and time notwithstanding.

More pictures in Part 2…

Along Came Betty

It’s quite rare for Betty to be running all by her lonesome as she rarely runs alone (she tags us friends, Tonette, Mel, me or the three of us together to run with her)—but her joining a half-marathon one Saturday morning in a far, foreign land, not knowing anybody at the race is just as unusual. Perfect epitome of a running addict!

Betty just ran the Guam Hafa Half-Marathon last March 6, 2010 with a time of 2:20, a PR for her! We couldn’t believe she beat our half marathon times the day after at The Unilab Wellness Run held here in Manila. She can be competitive when she runs her own pace, when she’s not concerned about leaving any of her friends behind in any race, no matter what.

Congrats, Betty! You did very well even if you would protest violently if we told you that the 21k route must have been a kilometer short and all downhill! Wow, next to Mel Severino who just successfully finished the recent BDM 102 Ultrarun, you now seem to be his next successor, the Wapakwoman!

Here are some pictures she took from her i-phone:

Posing before the race

Check-in time. The lady must have been amused seeing you with your whistle-bait figure!

After the race with hands full of freebies! Did you leave some for the others?

Tonight, the four of us will be celebrating our modest running achievements and we’ll be dining and wining at Betty’s place in Valle Verde. I don’t drink now as much as before but if she’ll uncork some wine or a nice brandy from her wine bar, then it will be a drink to the heavens!


Wazzup With Reebok Running Shoes?

Reebok Running Shoes produces some of the best running shoes ever. It has been consistently rated by Runners World magazine for either its Editor’s Choice, Best Buy or Best Debut picks. However, unlike most of its contemporaries like Nike, New Balance, Adidas, Asics and Mizuno, there isn’t much of its shoe marks on the roads in the local running scene and it’s quite puzzling why there is little presence of it in most of the shoe stores around.

During the early 90’s, there was a deluge of Reebok models for running and i admired the brand for its quality and durability. I owned some of their models back then and i would use them almost everyday, injury free until their out soles wore-off. And they really took a beating, logging to more than 700kms before i had to retire them.

I have noticed that their best selling models being advertised at Runner’s World or Running Times are not being sold in the local market and what i often see instead are their Trainers used for aerobics, the gym and mostly for basketball. Their running shoe models are sadly underrepresented and they seem quite content to remain within the confines of aerobics and basketball.

I really would like to see and try their “PREMIER” running shoe models like the Premier Verona KFS; Premier Fusion II, Road Plus KFS5, Phoenix, Trinity KFS 3 and others. Ever since Reebok was sold to sports giant ADIDAS last 2006, the former has remained stagnant locally and its current representation in the local market is comparatively meager.

Reebok Premier Ultra KFS

Ultra KFS 4

Premier Road Plus KFS

Premier Trinity KFS

Premier Verona KFS

I hope ADIDAS unlocks the shackles of this great shoe and let it ride in the current running bandwagon here in this country. I’m only too willing to give this shoe its deserved props as a testament to its fine quality.

And before i forget, what happened too with AVIA running shoes???

Unilab Run For Wellness: Rio’s Deliverance!

This race was probably meant to express a sort of vindication for Race Director Rio Dela Cruz to what was considered a humiliating disaster on his Century Tuna Superbods Run which he also organized two weeks ago. Picking up the pieces and trying to salvage some lost esteem, Coach Rio manages to direct the Unilab Run for Wellness held yesterday with masterly precision, like an orchestra conductor would lead his musicians into one cohesive playing unit!

This time, the firing gun was fired on time, no runners got lost, no marshals directed any runner the wrong way and that traffic was managed thoroughly. Those are how i saw things when i ran the 21k yesterday and what a hot and humid race it was!

I wasn’t even planning to run this race as i was honing to run the Globe Run For Home (21k) two weeks from now which should have been my first race after running the Condura 42k last month. However, running partner Betty Rosario, who had registered for this race earlier had some pressing commitments to do so she let me have her race packet and asked me to run it instead. So here i was, toeing the starting line as a ‘representative/unofficial’ runner! Haha…I thouught that this would be a good practice run for the Globe Run For Home race in two weeks time.

The race started as scheduled and runners were treated to a seldom used route at The Fort as we were brought along the University Parkway and its adjoining streets and not to the dreaded Buendia Flyover Bridge anymore. Today’s experience was favorable as i ran a steady pace of 6:30/km during the opening miles. I was initially pacing with Tonette Santiago up to the 2nd kilometer but she had to slow down as the pace must have been to fast for her.

It was nice looking at those long tables of water and isotonic drinks and no runners ever crowded these water stations when they took cups to drink. Up at 5th Avenue, there were nice, large bananas offered and entering Bayani Road, sponges were also provided. The route inside Heritage Park was an uneventful one and it was the first time we exited a second gate out of the park where more bananas were offered.

I had slowed down considerably at the last 5kms and was almost winded up when i reached near the front area of the American Cemetery. I finished at 2:25:30 (2:25:28 Official Time), a few minutes slower than my best time at the Condura 21k race last year but was thrilled to clock this time, nonetheless.

We were awarded our medals at the finish and what made this race unique was the almost unlimited amount of freebies they gave at the Unilab Wellness Exposition grounds. The small blue backpack was nice, an extra singlet and a T-Shirt were included, energy drinks, granola bars, packs of vitamins and even packs of feminine wash were also inside the loot bags!

Congratulations to all 8,000 plus runners that ran this race, specially to Tonette who ran a good race as per her account. Thanks also to my team mates at Runnex, Gani and Obet Alano for running beside me at some points in the route and to Jinoe and Mon for the sandwich stubs. Betty, i didn’t forget you for letting me suffer more in letting me run this race and to FINISHLINE for a splendid race.

This race still establishes Coach Rio as a major presence in road race organization. Only time will tell if he could maintain the high quality of managing his races and avoid the pitfalls that sometimes mar a few of his runs. That he was able to get a lot of positive reviews in this particular race was testimony to his and his group’s commitment.

Giant Run For Wellness Baloon

Start and Finish Line

The Wellness Village/Exposition grounds

Long lines for the freebies galore

Sen. Pia Cayetano talking with Manny Paksiw and Coach Roach on everything from running, boxing and politics

With Takbo.ph bosses, Jinoe and Que

With superbod and elite runner Noelle, placing 3rd over-all in the womens 10k category

With another cutebod, Armie

With co-bloggers, The Atom Runner and Minnierunner

With the Takbo.ph runners

More of the Takbo.ph group

Making Do With A Dirt Track

While contemplating on doing some interval runs on a rubberized oval track, i was wondering if there was even one that existed near my place in Quezon City. The nearest one i’ve been frequenting in the past is the Marikina Sports Center, about 10 kms away and i’m not even sure now if their track oval is still open to the public.

That Quezon City, a premier business, commercial and residential hub which prides itself as being a cosmopolitan city and was once the Philippines’ capital doesn’t have any decent rubberized track and field oval of its own is a travesty, a disservice to its athletes and to us ordinary runners who would want a decent place to train.

If Pasig has its Ultra Sports Complex, Marikina its Marikina Sports center, Manila its Rizal Memorial Complex and Makati its University of Makati track oval, then why doesn’t Quezon City have one? I’m not aware of any of the major schools having a decent track.

We all know that running fast repeats on a relatively fast and soft surface that gives stable footing like a rubberized track offers some unique training benefits by improving your speed without the added stress to your legs.

The dirt track

Dirt track oval

If the picture above seems familiar, but not quite familiar to those running outside of Quezon City, then let me tell you that this oval is located inside the University of the Philippines campus. This is not the popular 2.2km academic oval where majority of runners do their running but this is a 400 meter dirt track located at the back of the Alumni Center, used mainly by the school’s football team.

It’s not swank or anything like those of Ultra or Rizal Memorial but it can serve the purpose for those who want to inject some measured interval/speed runs in their training specially now that the surface is dry and firm. A few days ago, just to test the track, i did some speed runs consisting of 5 x 400 runs at faster than 5k pace and 6 x 200 meter sprints. Over-all the surface was good, fast but not too firm.

During the rainy season though, it’s quite impossible to run in here as it becomes a veritable obstacle course where water is ankle-deep and your shoes are practically covered with mud.

I wish that the school authorities or the government gives priority and allocate a budget to develop this track oval where not only UP students would benefit but also for health conscious residents of Quezon City so they can use it too for their workouts.

Taken before sunrise

Two friends playing badminton in the middle of the oval

Left side of the track