JAZZ!

I’ve been into jazz music for as far back as I can remember; back in high school, i was the odd guy who was already bobbing to the music of John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Chic Corea and Weather Report more than i was listening to the popular music of the Rolling Stones, Led Zepellin, Elton John or Stevie Wonder.

I would save up on my allowance for weeks just to buy Long Playing (LP) Vinyl jazz records (my daughter would later call them big black CDs) and i would smell the album casing once it was unwrapped of its plastic cover. Aside from records, i would also collect jazz on cassette tapes which were easier to carry and much cheaper than LP records.

Collecting anything on Jazz, i.e. records, books, tapes and later on, CDs became an obsession and i would watch all concerts of foreign jazz artists that would perform locally. I had always been passionate about it that when me and some friends would play a game called “blindfold test” on who among us would be the first one to guess who the artist on the record was, i even went further by naming all musicians involve on the album, the instruments they were playing, the title of the album, the date it was recorded, etc. and that would elicit some amazement and laughter from friends.

The type of jazz i listen to is geared towards the mainstream and avant garde (Kenny Wheeler, Keith Jarrett, Cecil Taylor, Marilyn Crispell) and i absolutely do not care for the so-called smooth jazz, jazz fusion or instrumental pop thing (Kenny G and his minions).

I took a moratorium from all this jazz thing when i started to get serious with running again 5 years ago and all the energies that were spent collecting jazz music were now spent on running shoes and other running accessories. Most of my jazz friends were aghast on this sudden departure and couldn’t understand all this running and fitness obsession of mine.

Kenny Wheeler’s Music For Large & Small Ensembles. My all-time favorite jazz recording!

Right now, i’m starting to get re-acquainted with my music and listening to favorite cds when i have the time. I still have about a thousand CDs, 99% of them jazz and the remaining 1% are classical music. When running buddy June Santiago, who is also an avid jazz enthusiast invited me to watch one of  the jazz world’s guitar legend John Abercrombie just recently, the passion was ignited once again bringing the special kinship back to its old fore. That jazz and running will be in tandem once again, and the jazzrunner will be bringing them all to you!

Jazz great John Abercrombie at the 1st Philippine International Jazz and Blues Guitar Festival at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza last June 1, 2012

Abercrombie, Guitar with Adam Nussbaum, Drums and Gary Versace, Organ

A silent pause

Giving their vows and appreciation

With the man himself

With June and Adam Nussbaum

My Pre-Race Rituals

Have you ever experienced when driving to a race venue, you suddenly ask yourself if you brought with you the Bib no. for the race or if you placed your watch on your bag since you noticed that you aren’t wearing it?

We have been faced with such dilemmas and nothing is more disconcerting when you realize you forgot bringing some of your race essentials when scurrying up to the race venue. A watch, a race belt or a GU might be dispensable when running short races. But how about forgetting your Bib no., running shoes or running shorts to discover this only upon arrival at the venue? So you also forgot to gargle and brush your teeth because you were running late? Yuk!

I think one should have a standard pre-race preparation for a worry-free travel to get you into racing mode. Having peace of mind sets aside doubts and jitters, knowing that you have all your ammunition at hand and lets you focus more on the race itself.

Here are my pre-race rituals to prepare me for the rigors of racing:

The Night Before the Race: These are the basics i do and for most runners, as well.

Set aside a small backpack. Inside: A clean T-shirt, extra shorts, singlet with bib already clipped on it. A towelette, slippers placed inside a plastic sheet, Gatorade, Cobra energy drink, bottled mineral water, band aides and some chocolates (choco-muchos, preferably).

Morning of the Race:

Wake up early. I live in Quezon City so i wake up at about 3:30am (or earlier) whether the race is in Manila, The Fort or in Q.C.

The usual rituals in the bathroom: empty your bowels, brush your teeth and if your bowels didn’t give you a hard time going thru your large intestines, it leaves you time to take a 10 minute shower to freshen the whole body.

Listening to Jazz music: On race mornings, i try to keep my mind off the race by playing some of my favorite jazz music. It reduces the feeling of anxiety, helps me feel more relaxed and gives me something to hum on during the race itself. These are among the jazz albums which are often cued on my cd player:

Pat Metheny - "Question And Answer"

Pat Metheny - "Question And Answer"

Keith Jarret"My Song"

Keith Jarret"My Song"

Kenny Wheeler - "Music For Large & Small Ensembles"

Kenny Wheeler - "Music For Large & Small Ensembles" (My all-time favorite jazz album)

Miles Davis - "Kind of Blue"

Miles Davis - "Kind of Blue"

Breakfast: I don’t take anything in the morning if races are from 5k to 21k. A glass of water is enough for me. Maybe a gel or a choco-mucho stocked in my waist belt just in case i get hungry during a 21k race.

If running a full marathon, i wake up earlier (about 2:00am) and eat pasta (spaghetti), two slices of whole wheat bread with jam or peanut butter, two bananas, water, then go back to sleep (if i could muster my brain back to sleep). During the marathon itself, i rely on the provisions given by my support group, running club or friends waiting from km 30 to km 35. Mostly, it’s bananas, choco bars and energy drinks that are provided. If somebody would hand me a can of beer, i would gladly accept it.

Wear all essentials.

Running Shoes: Before putting on my running shoes, i first remove the insoles and tap-out any debris that might have stuck inside the shoe (like small stones). On one occasion, i found an open safety pin tucked in the insoles and in one other, i found a one-peso coin between the sidings and the insole.  i do the same with the insoles and if all has been done, i’m ready to wear them.

Tapping out small sharp stones

Tapping out small sharp objects

We use Band Aid over here

We use Band Aid over here

Nip Guards (aka Band Aid) : My nipples are sensitive to chafing so i put on Band Aid on both nipples. Many old-time runners who share the same experience of abrasion say that once you get accustomed to wearing it, you are going to wear them every time you run.  I do so now. I position the band aid in such a way that i do not paste them flatly but put a space and create a gap directly from the nipple to protect the tip from chafing and prevent resistance from my singlet.

At the race venue:

— Short warm-up: Warm ups are slow jogs for 10 mins or less to loosen up the muscles. If i feel like it, i go to the rest room, take a leak at least once before the race.

— Stretching: After the warm up, i do some 5 minutes of gentle stretching to loosen up some more. I do simple stretching for the calf, thigh and hamstring muscles. Take sips of water.

— Check-In : I check-in 10 to 12 minutes before the designated start time and look for friends who i can chat with before the gun goes off.

My First Running Shoes

If it weren’t for their prohibitive price, runners won’t mind buying multiple pairs of running shoes as it’s the most essential gear a runner would like to stock in their arsenal. Most serious runners own at least 3 or 4 pairs. Having at least this minimum allows them to wear them alternately on each run so that no shoe would get over-used, thus prolonging the wear-life of each shoe.

Shoes can be huge investments but that’s worth it because it provides protection from the different surfaces you run on, gives cushion to lessen impact with every strike your feet makes and offer correct support to your ankles and lower limbs thus, lessening the prospects of an injury.

SAUCONY (Circa 80s)

Way back in the 80s when i first started running, the first running shoes i bought were the Saucony ‘Shadow’ and the Saucony ‘Jazz’. Yes, during those times, the Saucony brand was readily available locally. i got mine from SM Cubao for about P600.00/pair. For me, these shoes provided the perfect fit, cushioning and stability any runner could ask for.

One drawback is that it didn’t have the “looks” or wasn’t stylish enough to show them off to others, particularly the ‘Shadow’ model. Unlike an Adidas or Nike shoe which had nice styles (pang porma), the maroon colored ‘Shadow’ had a wide forefoot and high toe box which were curved upwards. It has a flat, bulky front tip that resembles an english bulldog, thus i called it my “bulldogs”. it resembled like a Dutch wooden shoe and the shape looked something like this:

woodenshoeswhite

It was so unattractive that when you wear it in malls, people would stare at it and look at you as if you were some kind of geek wearing a miniature bulldog shoe! Friends would rib me whenever they see me wearing it. The color (maroon) didn’t help as well. (Dog lovers might find them appealing, though. They might even approach you, go down on their knees then pat and caress the shoe with affection).

The Original Jazzjazz-orig1

But hey! It’s function as a running shoe goes beyond expectation! It scored well in the stability, cushioning and durability aspects and that’s what matters most. It’s a great shoe for running outdoors and not for strolling on a leash inside malls. The ‘Jazz’ model is more conventional in shape but with the same great fit and feel of the ‘Shadow’.

About 7 years ago, i was gifted with the same original Jazz model by a dear sis-in-law and used it alternately with my other trainers. As with all life in this planet, it has fully served its purpose but before it gasped for its last breath, it parted with its last few words that it would be incarnated to two new versions, the “Jazz 11” and the “Jazz 12”. Michelle, take note.

SAUCONY (Circa 2009)

At present i’m using two of their newer models, the “Grid Sinister” and the “Grid Rider”. The ‘Sinister’ is a lightweight trainer, light enough to be a racing shoe. The cushioning is satisfactory although they could have added more under the ball of the foot. It has a very airy mesh seamless upper which made every runs comfortable. The fit is snug and is more adaptable for fast paces like tempo runs or intervals at the track. i recommend this shoe for efficient light weight runners who often do fast paced running or racing.

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The “Grid Sinister’

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Trying it out

The “Grid Rider” is more to my heavier build. It has superb cushioning and adequate stability. It’s great for long runs and adapts well for both roads and trail. The shoe is likewise light but with good support. It’s very comfortable that you can run with these trainers forever!

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The Saucony Pro-Grid Ride

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June’s favorite type of shoe, the “Trail Shoe”

I still run with my other battered trainers of different brands. While brand is not important, it’s finding the right shoe that fits well, provides adequate support, helps you avoid injury and one that enhances your running efficiently…that’s the most essential.

It’s the Sauconys that adjust well and give comfort to my feet. Should appearance matter too? It shouldn’t matter a bit. Should the original “Shadow” rise up from its grave and make a comeback, i wouldn’t hesitate a bit to run on them once again because of its superior features as stated above…on the roads or maybe in the mall.

(thanks to Dal, my bro-in-law for the great trainers you sent by. Salamat, bro!)