Posted by: edebelenmd | 10 September 2010

The Best-Organized Race I’ve Seen (so far).

Finisher's Memento and Personalized Race Bib

Two weeks ago, I was lamenting on how my plans for heat training always get drenched by rains. Very odd since it seldom rains in Singapore, and the precipitation would only last about an hour or two when it does.

The Yellow Ribbon Prison Run ’10 last September 5th was set to start at 7:45 am – not the best time to start a race. A route recon two weeks back revealed that the race would pass through 10k worth of hills!

I was wondering how they’d pull off the logistics – as the race would start at Changi Village and end at the prison complex 10km away. I was mainly worried for two things: transportation and baggage deposit.

Road closures were announced to start from 4:30 am – more than a 3-hour wait for others who would bring their vehicles to the start area. Heavy traffic would then ensue, and using public transport from our place would take about 1 hour on a usual day. The organizers had announced that they will be providing shuttles from a nearby train station (Singapore Expo) and had advised ALL runners to park their vehicles there and use the provided buses. Transport for 4,700+ runners?! Hmmm…

Race Day

Rain. Hahaha!

I arrived at the shuttle pick-up point around 6:45 am. Runners were scattered across the halls tying shoelaces, pinning bibs, eating, and many were probably waiting for their companions. I saw two buses getting ready to load, but the queue wasn’t even long enough to fill up the first bus! Maybe it was still early. We arrived at the drop-off point 15 minutes later. Hundreds of runners were already there. The start area was still a good 500 meters away.

It was still raining. The others would be soaking by now. (Good thing I had packed a cheap disposable raincoat which I eyed from an outdoor sports shop.)

Reviews for the same race the previous year have said that this was once of the best-organized races in Singapore. I was about to find out why…

I donned my raincoat and proceeded to the baggage deposit area. Instead of tents, there were 6 large moving vans (color-coded) with racks for bags inside. Volunteers would then seal your belongings in a translucent plastic bag, and then attach a numbered, color-coded sticker to your bag. A smaller sticker with the same number and color would then be attached to your bib. These vans would then drive to the finish area where you can collect your stuff after the race. Neat huh?!

I was even more surprised when the volunteers were handing out disposable raincoats to ALL runners at the baggage area! Talk about foresight! (They couldn’t have purchased the raincoats just that morning. No shops were open yet.)

At the starting area: portalets – check; water station – check. Two large tents were put up for the runners waiting under the rain, and a medical team was on standby.

The organizers had to delay the start by 15 mins, because they had to wait for “guests-of-honor” to arrive; it may have been a good compromise since a lot of runners who were delayed by the rain were still scrambling to get to the starting corral, though the others were already anxious and wanted to start their run because of the rain.

Aside from the hills, the course was unique because it had a different finish area – not your usual out-and-back or loop routes. It also passed by historic landmarks and ended at the prison complex open yard (probably the only time when non-inmates are allowed there). There were 3 water stations (I didn’t really pay much attention as I had brought my own hydration). Two other medical teams were on the road. There was even a cooling station with showers and mist sprays (which they didn’t need to open up since it was raining throughout). Marshals and signages were strategically placed to guide the runners along the route, although I didn’t see any KM markers except at the last km: 700m and 500m to go – weird.

Cheering teams were also well-distributed, which helped boost runners especially along those long uphills.

A carnival was to be found at the finish area. Aside from water stations and another medical team, there were food booths, photo booths, a massage area, display areas, a separate tent for loot bags, and a stage where performers were entertaining the crowd. There was even an area with a row of oversized water containers (maybe 2 x 1.5 x 1.5 m each) with faucets where runners could wash their shoes and feet (possibly even shower, if you could get down low enough, hahaha).

Distance is about 10.0 km, traced from Instead of a medal, a replica of the prison officer’s key was given as memento to promote their advocacy, which is to “Help Unlock The Second Prison.” Timing was through RFID using the D-Tag(TM) system and the preliminary results were available on the same day with Runpix(TM) analysis.

After some hydration and stretching, I proceeded to collect my bag from the vans which have just arrived. I got my bag within the minute that my turn came up in the queue. Now, how do I get back to the train station?

As promised by the organizers, shuttles will be taking the runners back to the train station in Singapore Expo. Hundreds of runners were already in line, but so were the buses. It was more of the buses waiting for the runners to embark. Flow was smooth that I was able to get on a bus within 10 minutes.

Hundreds queue for the buses (these were the same shuttles used by the athletes from the recently concluded Youth Olympic Games)

This has been one of the best-organized races that I have participated in. For SGD 35, which is about average for races here in Singapore (but relatively cheap, considering that it was a fund-raiser), I definitely felt I got more than what I paid for.

I could only hope that the same level of execution could one day be the standard for races in the Philippines. (Though probably a lot would cringe at the cost of such races.)

Posted by: edebelenmd | 13 December 2009

Lesson learned.

As DocT once said referring to physicians: “Do as we say, and not as we do.”

Running has taken a back seat since I developed ITBS 2 ½ months back (September 2009).

I’ve recently relocated to Singapore for work. Hard-headed me, not being able to register in time for the SCSM half-marathon and without any available races then (as registrations for most races here close months before the actual races), decided to join the MR 25’s 30 km Progressive Run at MacRitchie Reservoir – one of a series of FREE races organized by MacRitchie Runners 25 in preparation for the SCSM.

Having trained only for the half-marathon distance and with only 2 runs the two weeks prior, I was still having doubts at the starting line whether I should complete the entire course. I decided to treat the race as a long slow distance run — hearing that several of the runners were also running this far for the first time after some small talk at the starting area.

Maybe It was the significant amount of trail and different running surfaces along the route, the banked roads, the lack of training the previous 2 weeks, or and the abrupt increase in mileage. Cutting the story short, I ran through a slight left knee pain on KM 25, run-walked KM 26 – 27, and found myself walking with excruciating pain through the last 3 kilometers of the race course.

Some scenes along the race route:

Running surfaces under the rain... see the puddles?

Water, water, and more water...

The aftermath.

Two and a half months later (with a little over 6 weeks of trying to learn how to swim), I’m back to running nearly 5 km almost without any symptoms of ITBS, and I think I’m slowly getting my running groove back.

Lesson learned.

Posted by: edebelenmd | 27 September 2009

Message from SecondWind

Greetings friends in the running community.

In light of the typhoon that has left most of us emotionally drained, we would like to encourage the running / multi-sport community to pitch in and help out.

Kindly help us spread the word that we are extending help to our friends who were affected by the typhoon Ondoy. Let’s maximize however we can help, announcements in your blog, multiply, tweeter, or your status in facebook will be greatly appreciated.

Secondwind will be accepting donations:

– blankets

– singlets,  jerseys, or  shirts

– old footwear

– food

– other items that can still be used

We will be accepting until Thursday (end of day) and will donate to Ateneo thru Neville Manaois, PUR team principal, Secondwind teammate and Ateneo professor. Volunteers to pack and help transfer goods on Friday will be most welcome.

Maraming salamat in advance sa lahat ng tulong na maaari niyong mabigay.


Secondwind Running Store

88 Maginhawa St, Teachers Village, Quezon City


Posted by: edebelenmd | 9 August 2009

Enjoying the Simpler Things


DocPnx's race bib

Albeit the relatively small number of participants, the bib numbers being hand-painted with poster paint on felt paper, and registering on the spot (writing your name on a piece of paper and jotting your bib number) I’ve got to say that the “10th Alay kay Tata Roque Fun Run 5km/10km” was indeed a FUN run.

Organized by the San Roque Barangay Council and the Runners of Marikina Unlimited, the race weaved a flat 5 km loop through the intricate streets of the Marikina town proper (Bayan).

Did I mention that the registration was FREE? (Free Registration = Runners waive their right to nitpick the event! Hehehe. We arrived at the event without expectations.)

Seriously though, they pulled this off like a hat-trick: a near-accurate distance for the 10k (9.96 KM on ExFatRunner’s Garmin), efficient marshalls guiding the runners on the more than 10 (I lost count) turn-points in the race course, and a T-shirt and a burger at the finishline! To top it off, the atmosphere was more festive than competitive.


At the starting line


Breaking away from the main group... (Or were we left behind? Hehehe.)

Being spoiled from participating in professionally-organized races,  it’s a relief that runners can still enjoy simple races as such!

Oh, have I mentioned that the registration was FREE?! 8)


Runners from and Runners of Marikina, Unlimited after the race


Breakfast buffet hosted by members of the Runners of Marikina, Unlimited. Thank you for the sumptuous meal! 🙂

Thanks to Prince and Silverprex for the pics!

Posted by: edebelenmd | 16 June 2009

Sidelined… again…

It really helps if your running schedule is structured towards a specific objective–say, run a half-marathon under 2 hours. The endpoint then dictates the means. You formulate your training to be able to achieve your goal: increase mileage, do longer tempos, progress intervals, and don’t forget to taper. But after you’ve achieved your goal, what’s next?

“What’s next?” I asked myself after finishing the Greenfields City half-marathon last April 2009. The next logical step was to train for a full marathon before the year ends. The problem is, my schedule presently can’t afford regular 3- to 4-hour runs; this among many other things.

I was thumped. My mileage had dwindled to less than half my usual. Speedwork became irregular. I was running aimlessly (figuratively and literally)…

…until a couple of weeks ago. The upcoming National Milo Marathon at Manila in July presented me with a new goal: (No, not train for a 42k in 5 weeks. Ha!) rather, try to improve on my 21k time.

I was well into my 2nd week schedule when I went down with colds and high fever. Not AH1N1, I hoped. After 5 days of rest, I’m much better now.

It’s less than 3 weeks to the National Milo Marathon. I may need to revise my training regimen or my goal. Time to get back to the drawing board.

Posted by: edebelenmd | 8 June 2009

Running as a means of transportation

Several weeks ago, we joined a series of medical missions based in Lipa City, Batangas. Driving from Lipa City back to Manila would take 3 hours on the average due to the ongoing construction along the SLEX and the Skyway. (No, we didn’t run the 80+ kms back to Manila. Haha!) As such, we decided to stay at my grandfather’s house in Barangay Tugtug in San Jose, an adjacent town just 10 km south of Lipa City, and save us (actually myself, the driver) the horrendous task of plowing through such heavy traffic every other day.

From the town of San Jose, the Batangas Pier was about a 15-minute drive. On discussing where we will do our training runs, DocPnx and I chanced  upon the idea: Why not run towards the pier, and then do a day trip to Puerto Galera?

Was it feasible?


From ~14.6 km from my grandfather's house to the pier.

Feasible. Check!

After our pre-run routine, we kicked off at 6 am.


En route to the pier: Trees lined-up along most of the roads made for a relatively cool run despite the summer heat.


No sidewalks? (Using the center island at a flyover near the pier.)

After the pic stops, refueling, and asking for directions, we finished the 14.6 km course in about 2 hours. Next, buy tickets. Check!

Boats leave for Puerto Galera almost every 30 mins to 1 hour. Round trip boat tickets to White Beach now cost P450 each, plus an additional P50 as “terminal/environmental fee.”


Me stretching at the pier terminal (not much people on a weekday); DocPnx apparently exhausted from the run.


White Beach, Puerto Galera


Lunch at Buena Lynne's: Chicken and Pork Kebab and Vegetable Curry

Lunch. Check!

Soon after DocPnx finished a quick swim, we were back on the boat headed towards the mainland.

Swim. Check!


White Beach, Puerto Galera on a weekday

We decided against running back home because of the midday sun, and rode a jeepney instead.

– – 0 – –

Running has changed my perspective on distance.  Going to places, previously too far that needed a ride to get to, now seems manageable by foot.

I once said that after I’ve done a half-marathon, I’d run the 20+ kms from PGH in Manila to our house in Marikina.

Greenfields City 21k Run. Check!

Now, where do I find someone who’ll drive me to PGH at 4 o’clock in the morning? Hmmm…

Posted by: edebelenmd | 25 May 2009

A year ago today…




…I joined my first road race.

…I was in a white cotton shirt, cotton shorts, and Nike crosstrainers.

…I walked at the 3 km mark due to side stitches because I started too fast.

…I was able to finish my first 5k.

…I received my first medal! (Having an MD category + awarding the top 10 + only 16 of us in that category = more than 50% chance of winning!!! 😆 )

…I fell in love with running.

Posted by: edebelenmd | 27 April 2009

Greenfields: a 21k debut

Having missed the much anticipated Condura Run (my supposed half-marathon debut), I signed up for the Greenfield City 21k Run the week its registration opened.


Waiting for race start with friends from


“Finish strong” is an advice that you’ll often hear or read about when it comes to foot races. A strategy to achieve this is to do negative splits during training. Negative splits condition your body to better tolerate the hammering during the latter half of your runs—something I always strive to achieve during my training runs and road races. And then there are routes which wreak havoc on those who are used to running negative splits. The Greenfield City Run 21k route was such.

I’ve rehearsed my race strategy several times during the week in my training runs and in my head aiming for a sub-2-hour finish: Start at 6:30-6:00 pace the first 2 k, maintain a 5:40 pace throughout, and speed up to 5:30 or faster the last few kilometers. This was a conservative plan as I’ve averaged a 5:22 pace on a 10-miler four months ago (though my longest run to date was only 19.8km done last week). I was secretly gunning for a sub-1:55 should everything go well. Hahaha!

Greenfield City Run 21k – Sta. Rosa, Laguna. 19 April 2009

The race started promptly at 5:00 a.m. The air was cool. It was still dark, but a row of bamboo torches helped light the way. Starting earlier than usual was a good reflection of the foresight of the organizers trying to keep the runners comfortable, as the sun is usually out by 6 a.m. nowadays. Markers placed after each kilometer were a blessing for those of us who don’t have GPS devices, especially on a route as foreign as this.

KM 1. 5:30. Whoaaa! It must have been the adrenaline—excited on my first 21k. I consciously tried to slow down…

KM 2.
5:35 split. Hmmm… so much for slowing down. It must have been the upbeat music playing as we passed the 1st km mark.

KM 3 to 5 had us going through a small village and back to the main road with a very slight downhill slope before the first turnaround. 5:30-5:20

KM 5 to 8. Dawn; still running comfortably, I decided not to push my luck and just maintained a 5:30 pace.

KM 9 to 14. They said the whole route was flat. Well, let me correct them: it was “relatively” flat. This segment had us going through a looooong stretch with a very slight downhill grade, save for at least a couple of hundred meters before the second turnaround prior to the 14km mark. 5:25-5:30

In a road race with a turnaround point, the converse of a famous adage is true: What goes down must come up! The very slight downhill grade was then  a “very slight uphill grade” on the way back. KM 15 to 16 found me running at a comfortably hard effort to maintain the same pace. Sponges soaked in ice-cold water helped fend the effects of the rising sun. “Five kilometers to go,” I thought to myself. “Just a 5k run…”

KM 17 to 18. Maybe fatigue had set in, or a toll of the long upward stretch; I found myself running at a hard effort to keep my pace below 5:50-5:40. A handful of others had already slowed down. I’ve done my share of training on hills (I even consider hills as one of my advantages), but this expanse was just crazy! “3 km to go!”

KM 19. More of that darn upward road. I envisioned myself doing the last 3k of my training route. “You’re getting near,” I told myself. I tried to concentrate on my running form for better efficiency. 6:03. Still good for a sub-2-hour—even if I maintained a pace more than 6:00. “Squish, squish, squish.” Sheesh, my socks were already wet!

The last 2 kilometers seemed to be the longest. “Last 12 minutes,” I say. I usually gauge distance based on time. I glanced on my watch feeling I’ve done 2-3 mins (an equivalent of ~500m). It registered 40 seconds. This happened at least 3 more times. Imagine the anguish: “Nooooo!”

“Just 5 more laps on the track oval. Push on.”

A couple of minutes after passing through KM 20, the finish line was already in sight. Any other day, I would have gone all out to the finish. I wanted to, but I felt I would collapse if I did.


Last 200 meters...

It was only after turning into the last 100 meters that I found enough strength to sprint. Somehow, the thought of finishing my first half-marathon gave me a final boost; or was it the sight of those orange cones neatly lined up along the finish? Haha! 🙂




My first 21k!


Friends from (photo by Carlo Serrano)


We just couldn't stop having our pictures taken! Hahaha! (photo by Carlo Serrano)

Special thanks Mhel and family for accommodating us for the post-race breakfast! 8)



One of the barefoot runners. (photo by pinky benitez)

– – –

As Cathletic has pointed out in one of the threads from, encouraging words from fellow runners make a great deal of a difference. I came upon Craig who was pushing Justin on a stroller. I was already on the way back after the last turnaround. Already spent from the distance, I managed to raise a hand to say “Hi.” “(You’re) looking good sir!” was his reply. Thanks Craig!

– – –

Somehow, I never got to appreciate the “green” during the race. Perhaps it was because I was staring mostly at the pavement looking for tangents. Mental note: forget improving my time when I run the 21k in Baguio; I’ve got to learn to “enjoy” these out-of-town races more.

Posted by: edebelenmd | 13 April 2009

Who said running is cheap?

Who said that running was a cheap sport?

I bought my first pair of “real” running shoes last 14th October 2008 — barely a couple of months after I started logging my runs (read: got serious into running).

A shoes’ lifespan averages about 300 miles (~480 km) for the low-end pairs going up to 500 miles (~800 km) for the more expensive ones. Since I got my first pair real cheap, they’ve been long overdue for retirement!


Nike Air Alaris: after >700 km and gluing parts of the soles for the nth time

Selecting the proper pair is not as easy as it seems. Arch-type, foot-strike, transition, toe-off, pronation, stability, neutral-cushioned — these are just some of the jargon that will discombobulate a newbie hoping to find the right pair.

I was lucky enough to have had my feet and gait analyzed beforehand at a previous race. Understanding how a Brannock device measures your feet also helps. Moreover, as if by a series of fortunate events, a running specialty store opened: The Second Wind Running Store.

Second Wind Running Store

Trying out shoes at the Second Wind Running Store

A treadmill is what every shoe store should have. I’ve read that they’ll also be using a gait analysis software soon for the benefit of the customers. But what struck me most (which I think is they’re best feature) is that they’re staffed with seasoned runners. Sure, the salespersons of larger specialty stores may be able to tell the differences between shoe categories; but the people from Second Wind will be able to tell you how the shoe actually feels — it’s cushioning, flexibility, responsiveness, and ride — because they’ve actually worn them (those I tried on, at least).


My new pair: NB769

It’s been 10 days and 75 km since I’ve purchased my new pair. At this rate, I’ll have to retire them after 3 months.   😯

Time to look for a new pair!   😆


P.S. Thanks to Hector and Neville for the assistance. (I think I was able to try out at least 5 pairs) 8)

Posted by: edebelenmd | 4 April 2009

Greenfield City Run 21k – Google Earth Map

After missing the much anticipated Condura Run for the Whale Sharks (my supposed 21k debut) due to work, I just had to join this race.

Being used to running in the Metro, running an unfamiliar course outside Manila is a challenge enough… plus, this being my first half marathon. Hence this map…


Greenfield City Run 21k Race Route (with km markers)

*Click here to view: [low-res 2.16 MB] [high-res 7.1 MB]

‘Hope this helps…

Good luck to everyone! See you at Greenfield City! 8)


DISCLAIMER: I’m not that familiar with the area… The above map is a projection of the 21k race route on Google Earth. There seem to be segments of the race route which, on Google Earth, have no apparent roads built yet (take note, however, that the satellite photos were taken several years ago).

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