Thursday, September 16, 2010

The F.I.R.S.T. Program and where Running will take you

The herculean desire to run just a little bit faster led me to try those running programs from the internet.  Since I am the type of guy who likes to research and make myself the subject, I immersed myself to an 8-week program, the sole purpose of which is to make it to the MILO 21K cut-off time of 2:30 and claim that finisher's medal.  I was very motivated.

I followed the F.I.R.S.T. program ( ), which requires you to run only 3 times a week, the other 2 being cross-training.  This means I can still swim, bike, play basketball or windsurf whenever the situation or weather warrants. 

I got excited on the 6th week as it will be a real test if the program worked.  The run was sponsored by Aboitiz for the benefit of the environment and as a windsurfer who enjoys nature so much, I have every reason to support the run.  We assembled at 430AM at SRP and the weather was cool, having rained just 2 hours prior.

I also researched about the optimum hydration required, along with the amount of carbohydrates that should be infused in a certain period of time, hence I got myself a hydration belt.  I also got myself a North Face singlet, having learned my lesson of wearing inappropriate shirt on long runs which caused my arms to chaff.   Gun start was on time at 515AM.

It was extraordinarily cool that morning and I believe many have run their best times that day.  Hydration was abundant and the route was well managed and safe.  Add the truck with adrenaline-boosting drum-beats, the firetruck spraying water to the runners and the sight and company of my growing running friends and the atmosphere was really perfect.

The program worked as I was able to improve my 21K time from a slower-than-brisk-walk time of 2:59 during the Lapu-lapu run in April to 2:24.  That day just marked my renewed love for running.

Two weeks later, the time has come for the Milo 21K.  The pressure was somewhat relieved, having made the goal time of 2:30 on the Aboitiz run.  It wasn't as easy as it was supposed to be, as I found out later.  As with the Aboitiz Race, the Milo run was well organized and I have to salute the organizers for the job well done.

The first part of the run was fast, making the first 8K in 48 minutes as we were passing buildings in the old streets of Cebu.

Then came the part that separates the runners from the recreational joggers:  the 10K SRP stretch wherein no shade is in sight.  Unlike the Aboitiz run, the sun was just up there and the pavement was very hot.  But as a windsurfer and triathlete-wannabe, the sun is my adversary, not my enemy, as he makes me a stronger and battle-tested athlete.  The helpful ungo support team also made the ordeal a little easier....and fun!

The last few kilometers wasn't easy but somehow I  was able to make the 2:30 cutoff, having finished the 21K in 2:26:30.

The medal was well-earned and will be in my wall as a reminder that the Milo 21K wasn't that easy.  Everyone at the finish line was really really happy with their medals.

The program really worked!

After the Milo 21K Marathon, the next stop was:  TRAIL RUNNING in Danao, Bohol, organized by The North Face, on the next Sunday.  I did not expect that I would have to travel outside Cebu to join run events but this seems like fun.  We departed at Saturday noon via Tubigon. 

The better news, free carbo-loading on the night before the race.  It was more like carbo-OVER-loading actually.
The run led us to the trails of Bohol and it was scenic, refreshing and fun.
River crossing was fun.
Crossing on rice fields is fun.  Crawling is fun.

Running with the chocolate hills as your backdrop is fun.

Running in the forest is fun. 

...and finishing the course holding hands with the Significant Other is....err......cheeeeessssy!!!

So, there it goes.  Running takes you anywhere, literally, assuming you have the right pair of shoes.