Tag Archives: running

Run Club Sign

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If you're a later riser, then run alone.

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Run for all Seasons

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Fire tree

The gated community where I reside in Metro Manila has plenty of matured trees. Running all year round, I unconsciously got into the habit of observing seasons for blooming or fruiting. One couldn’t possibly miss the duhat season once its fruits littered the roads. Even in those designated running lane at the parks, one has to be careful to run around its fallen fruits or else you’ll get stains on your shoes or worst you’ll trip. Seeing those abundant duhat fruits just for the birds to eat and for the overripe ones to litter the ground, makes me want to harvest them myself and eat. Duhat season usually starts at the end of school year, on March.

When the duhat season is almost over, the Indian mango trees will by then be filled with fruits, a signal of the height of summer season in the country. There are plenty of mango trees in the village and there’s this one house who wants the whole village know that no one is allowed to pick their mangoes. They put up a sign that reads “Bawal magpitas ng mangga.” Beside the mango trees, the bougainvillea bloomed and colored the gardens of residents in its most saturated look under the intense summer sun. By the end of summer and around this time, santol trees are beginning to bear fruits while the fire trees are blooming intensely.

Japan Running

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Runner by the river at wintertime in Kyoto

What I like about taking spontaneous snapshots of runners is that the pictures portray running in its most honest form – no staged ones.  I remember one Christmastime, I took snapshots of runners in Boracay Island, Philippines. Similarly in Japan, I took few running pictures in springtime and wintertime, of which I’ll share today.

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Presumably an ultrarunner who has started very early somewhere, and still running by noon here in Kawagoe

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Boys running in Asakuyama Park at springtime in Tokyo

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A group of school kids running in Kawagoe

Of Running & Barely Racing

It was through racing that started my running life. I became a runner 6 years ago when I decided to join a 5k race. Since then and for next 4.25 years, racing was my primary motivation for running.  I would constantly train to race. And there was always that personal race calendar to look forward to. Nonetheless, my love for running developed as I run and run to race. Then for some reason I weaned myself from relentless racing. Runners who were used to seeing me on the race route and in race pictures (even non-runners) thought I had stopped. I did not. I just barely race.

Running became enjoyable
Running never stopped even though there are no finish lines, medals and pictures. On the contrary, running became better. It has evolved into a very gratifying pursuit as the motivation does not come from external sources but from within. I have derived pure joy from running regularly just for the sake of running.  By rarely racing, I was able to run to the tune of my body. Hard runs, easy runs, long runs, and shorts runs depended on my time and mood at that moment, hence freedom replaced structured runs. Somehow, constantly running ‘in the present’ made each run marvelous.  Every run turned out to be good run in the sense that it never took my time for other things that I value equally. The great feeling after each run is pure.

Running became health-giving
A race as its name implies is a competition, and as a participant it is expected that we’ve prepared to aim for good performance. We also target improvements in succeeding races. It is an event where the runner can aspire for what is generally considered as outstanding finish time result that is relative to one’s age and gender in a non-elite field. This is how I perceive racing and to respect one is to do away with mediocrity.

Accordingly, when there is no constant and rigid training as what we normally do for a marathon, and likewise when there is no pressure in maintaining peak performance for half-marathons, 10ks, and 5ks, I became a wholesome runner.  Running injuries due to over taxation of one’s legs and feet are non-existent any longer. With no nasty cycle of injuries due to cycle of races, running has never been this beautiful and continuous.

Moreover, I value my sleep that local races turned me off because of their unhealthful gun times at 4 AM for 21k, while earlier for a marathon. I can manage to run 21 km by myself beginning at 5:30 AM or 6:00 AM and be done 2 hours after, of which by this time the warmth of sunlight is still health-giving. Of my daily runs, 45 minutes to an hour is enough, and this I get to start only at 6:30 AM. No sleep deprivation at all, plus nowadays I have time to read at night with no pressure to wake up so early just to have high mileage training for a race.

Running became inexpensive yet priceless
With all the downside of racing I have identified for myself, paying for those high local registration fees is unwise. What if for instance my race bibs are free, but then, constantly racing still comes with a price that is even greater than its monetary value. Why pay when I can run for free anytime and anywhere without sacrificing sleep, reading, traveling, and spending time with those who matter.

By participating in a race, one can gain abubots (bling-blings), bragging rights (though I’m partial to finish time results than podium-based), shirts and photos. I absolutely don’t mind not having pictures as I solely focus on my running. Once more, why do I need to spend for races with unholy gun start times if what I mostly see in the route are lights instead of sights. So I don’t mind not having any of those race booties at all for these do not add significant value to my running life.

Tracking distance is not anymore as important as tracking time and quality when I run. It’s been quite a while that I haven’t worn a Garmin watch and it felt really good. As long as I am familiar with the route I’ve taken, distance can be determined beforehand or later on with maps. Pace can be mentally calculated. What I’m trying to say is that, Garmin is just a nice to have accessory but not a must have. No gear can ever buy me speed. Now, being stripped down to the essentials of having comfortable running shoes and clothes, plus total well-being, running became a value for money endeavor, if not priceless.

Racing once in a blue moon is enough
Once in a while I may sign-up for a race because of the beautiful scenery in the route – as a treat. Occasionally, I may sign-up to test my capability – as a challenge. Racing has now become a sporadic supplement to my running. Perhaps, the pleasure I seek from running goes beyond the finish line moments that racing once in a blue moon is enough.

Thai Curiosities at a Race in Khao Yai

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Last January 31, I found myself in Khao Yai, Pak Chong about 200 kilometers from Bangkok for some running related journey. Runners from 40 countries participated in this quite popular Asia Pacific trail running race series organized by The North Face.

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Waiting for the race briefing the day before the race, while seeing several trail ultra marathoners with smooth head but in an appealing masculine way.

I have previously participated in the Philippine and Singapore editions of this series. This time I joined the Thailand edition.

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The author finished at 3:10:48 in 12th place out of 225 women participants (6/118 in age category) of the 25 km distance race.

The event was terrific. Furthermore, the local flair of this race was noteworthy where at gun start (actually squeeze horns were used), a Buddhist monk stood at the starting line and blessed the runners with some sort of holy water as we started to cross it. And where the rising sun was seen as prominently round, with yellow-orange color above the hills as we ran on reddish dry dirt including some nonrunnable ascent to almost 600 meters above sea level. And where the trail passed through chilli and cassava plantations.

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Post race buffet of Thai dishes of which the author partook to her heart’s content, seasoning her rice with Thai patis

And where the post race food was a buffet of khao pad, pad thai, unidentified Thai macaroni dish with accompanying condiments such as Thai fish sauce with chillies, and local fruits – banana, watermelon, and guava.

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Thai massage on hay beds

And for a post race treat – signature Thai massage by local women on hay beds.

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The mighty songthaew as the runners’ shuttle

With regards to ferrying runners from nearby hotels to the race venue and back, there were those ruggedly handsome songthaews. As for the necessary amenities, they have those portalet trucks with theme park look but with practical toilet configuration, and this has become my favorite race portalet as of today. And of course, the run on the trails of Thailand as well. Kob kun mak ka.

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Portalet trucks: Each truck has door for female on one side and male on the opposite side with six cubicles for each gender plus a wash sink

Of River and Running in Japan

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In Japan, there’s always a running path along a river. This one is in Kyoto.

Day after Christmas in Negros

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It’s the day after Christmas, the early morning of December 26, 2014. I went for a run. Still a national holiday but the sugarcane workers are back in the fields. Toiling.

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Talisay

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Talisay

Apart from the coconut tree, talisay is very common in the beaches and islands in the country. Not only that, talisay is everywhere inland and abundant in the cities. I started counting them inside the village in one of my runs last week.

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Talisay fruit

The fruit of talisay is green and hard and will turn dark brown when ripe. I’ve seen banca builders and local kids snacking on them. They’d pound the fruit with rock to separate the husk and eat right away the kernel.

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Brown when ripe

UPLB Research, Development and Extension has developed a technology in processing talisay fruit as table nuts. According to their description, the product is crispy and almond-like in flavor. For your information, the status of the patent is public domain.

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Evidence of talisay eating session

Meanwhile, I shall mentally tally the talisay trees along the path of my 7 kilometer run loop inside the village. Afterwards, double check my numbers in the succeeding loop.

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Pounding the hard husk to extract the edible kernel

Afterthoughts

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Rizal Boulevard, Dumaguete City

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By the Iloilo River, I Ran

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When I was a kid, my favorite view in Iloilo would be the passage of the ship in this river coming from the strait of Iloilo. I would either be at the roof deck or at the railing of M/V Princess of Negros or M/V Don Vicente. How I wish I have photographs of these two beloved Negros Navigation vessels. Each way will take 2 hours but it was truly a joy to slow travel in those ships than in fast craft vessels which took over the Bacolod-Iloilo route in the 90s.

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Esplanade is a little more than a kilometer long

Whenever I run in Iloilo, one can always see the river, or one can certainly pass at some bridge spanning the river. This filled my mind with historical thoughts like my story above.

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I appreciate this beautification effort in Iloilo

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See that Gothic structure over there at the other side of the river? that's Molo church. I ran towards Molo district first before running in this esplanade by the river

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A sundowner run on one's trip means sunset appreciation and a good appetite for dinner

A Beach in San Juan

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Blue water as framed by the coconut tree

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Fishing net on the banca

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Upon closer inspection, one can see barnacles on the driftwood, so it's been stuck like that for quite sometime

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My running footprints about to be erased by the tide

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Sunset

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And when the sun disappears, more colors will appear. Twilight sky is prettier than sunset

By The Sumida River, I Ran

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Tartan track by the river. I guess the Taito-ku urban planner must be a runner

During my Tokyo visit, I regularly run by the Sumida River in Taito Ward which is just a seven-minute running distance from where I stayed.

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The river view

The path by the river is an ideal place for running with its lovely water view and tartan track.

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Obviously it's spring time

Running and traveling go together as one can run and observe everyday life at the same time. In this case, the morning life in Tokyo.

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One can do interval training in this track

With running, one can also wander far in the corners and side streets than by any other means for a much deeper understanding of the place and its residents.

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Running will be most beautiful when the cherry trees are in full bloom

Thus, my morning run makes a delightful introductory paragraph in every full day chapter of my Tokyo wanderings.

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Run across any of the bridges spanning the Sumida river like this one to run more at the other side. See those white birds on the river wall ?

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With all the runner-friendly amenities included in the city's urban planning (especially clean public toilets that never run out of toilet paper), isn't it better to be out there running regularly (when in Tokyo) than not at all?

A Marathon in Tsuchiura

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Moat and carp streamers in the castle ruins of Tsuchiura

Tsuchiura City seems like a very quiet town that comes alive only a few times a year, in particular during a marathon event every April.  Kasumigaura Marathon is a citizens marathon with about 29,000 participants this year (only 20 foreign participants from what I gather).

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Where are the people? (Snapshot taken a day before the Kasumigaura Marathon)

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Fisherfolk at Kasumigaura lake, the second largest lake in Japan

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Sakura print on the road

Personally, it’s insightful to participate in a local event while traveling that I signed up for this marathon as soon as its registration opened in November last year (even before I obtained my visa). It’s quite a good opportunity to observe and be with Japan’s running citizens as part of my summer vacation.  

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Marathon poster near the tourist information kiosk at Tsuchiura train station

Major international marathons have a great deal of foreign contingents that somehow the local nuances from beginning to end are lost with all those expected international standard type of event planning and participation.

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However with the Kasumigaura Marathon and other similar citizen marathons, there is that deeper satisfaction of getting a chance to see and feel something singularly local, though somehow it’s highly likely one can get lost in translation – but that’s part of the journey, and so, this is the kind of reason I often seek (a deeper one than a participation bragging rights from one of those marathon majors).

Of Running and Gundam

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Suggested 5K run course map in this turnaround point post in Odaiba

There are countless of running friendly places in Tokyo and if you want to run in elevated walkways, then try Odaiba in an artificial island at Tokyo bay and you can even pay courtesy call to Gundam, that is if you’re a fan.

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Life size Gundam viewing is perfect for one who is both a running fanatic and a Gundam fan. Located at Diver City, just by the 5K turnaround course post

Fisherman at Taal Lake

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Fisherman readying his instrument

Sunday morning I went for a run starting at Lipa City Hall with a planned 30 km loop by passing through Mataas Na Kahoy town then Balete town then back to Lipa City Hall. But in order to view the Taal lake at the Balete side of Batangas, a detour of 1.5 km needs to be done that I ended up running 31.5 km instead.

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So for a few minutes of rest here at Taal lake at about 17 km point of my run, I was able to take snapshots of this guy preparing his harpoon rifle to aim for passing fish five meters away from where he is sitting.

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His paraphernalia – harpoon tip, bag and sunglasses

It’s not just about the short rest which is needed for the non-stop uphill run starting this point up to the 30th km point, but moreover the insight gained from this short detour which made my run an engaging pursuit.

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His harpoon like instrument

Christmas Running

Runners from everywhere spending Christmas 2013 in Boracay Island.

(Photographs taken between December 24 and 25)
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Abra de Ilog Seascape

Most of the pictures were taken while running on the trails in the hillside and occasionally greeting Mangyans along the way.

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The white sand beach in the port of Abra de Ilog

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Bancas of the seaside community. One can rent a banca to buy supplies in Puerto Galera

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Rocky shore

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Stillness at dusk

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Hillside trail to go to town and pier, the other way is by banca along the beach

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Bucolic view

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Emerging on a road that leads to the town

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One of the many beaches where one can divert momentarily from the trails in the hills to have a relaxing walk or dip

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