Sunday, December 25, 2011

Run United Cebu - My First Race outside Luzon

Run United Regional Series, something new from Unilab Active Health for this year. Organizing races outside of Metro Manila to cater runners in different provinces for them to experience one of the most sought after races in the Philippines. Fortunately, I was given a great opportunity to come and experience it for myself.

Two weeks before the race, I received an invitation from Ms. Janice Ianne Miguel of Unilab if I can come with them to Cebu for Run United. I was so very happy and excited, I even let out a shout after reading that email. "OMG! Is this for real?" Without second thoughts, I immediately replied to confirm that I'm coming. WOW! I'M GOING TO CEBU!!!

Cebu, The Queen City of The South. Known for it's beautiful beaches and delicious Dried Mangoes, Lechon, Chicharon and the famous dried fish called "Danggit". One of the places I would like to visit before I die (I'm serious here), and I'm so happy it happened far before my due date.

The excitement just keeps on growing and growing as the big day draws near, but a week before the trip my boss denied my Vacation Leave which is kinda shattering. I told him I will still go because the flight is already booked and I already sent in my confirmation. He had no say, and I don't care. I will go to Cebu even if it means I have to lose my job, though I am hoping not to.

The big day came! I rode a cab to NAIA Terminal 3. Yes, it's my first time to ride a plane and first time to go out of Luzon. I never had a travel opportunity before that's why I grabbed this chance and never let it get away.

Going to board the Plane in a few minutes!

The thought of boarding an Airplane for the first time in my life brought so much excitement. The feeling was like when I was going to have my first rollercoaster ride when I was twelve years old! I was jumping with joy and my heart is filled with overflowing happiness!

Cebu Pacific Airplanes are so cute! and they gave me my first Airplane ride so i won't forget them. While boarding, I was assigned on a seat next to the aisle. I'm so glad that Estan gave up his window side seat for me. The reason why I super enjoyed my Cebu bound ride. Thanks dude! I owe you one!

I love window side seats! Gives me the greatest view from the top! ^_^

Manila to Cebu is around an hour trip via airplane, and it was one of the happiest one hour of my life. You may think that I am a loser of some sort but I am not hard to please. Its through the simple things in life makes me the happiest of all.

They were worried about me so they made sure I have a barf bag available on my seat. They don't know that I easily adapt to my fears. I know how to psych up myself and to maintain a calm and composed state even if deep inside there is a slight hint of fright, very common for first timers I guess.

Looking from the top, everything looks like a view from Google Maps! LOL! :P

A beautiful, breathtaking view of the shores of Cebu via my iPhone! Priceless!

We had a rough landing to Mactan Cebu International Airport I was told. But I don't know what's its difference with a smooth landing anyway so it don't matter. When we unboard the plane, I feel I am so far away from home but close to my dream. After we got our bags from the "Bag rider" we went straight to our service going to where we'll stay, at Marco Polo Plaza Hotel!

Marco Polo Plaza Hotel is the only 5 Star Hotel in Cebu and they brag about having the best Spa in the City! Wow! Seriously? This is where we'll be staying? I was only asking myself the question.

Very cozy and costly hotel in Cebu, but very much worth the 5-Star rating!

After getting in we had our lunch in their famous Cafe Marco serving buffet lunch, and their food choices are almost endless! I took small portions of almost everything and I am so full already. I missed some of the food but at least I get to taste those that I don't usually eat like Lechon, Chicharon and their beautifully crafted desserts and cakes! Don't worry I am fully loaded with insulin! Food is so commendable! I ordered green tea afterwards to somewhat help me digest the food I just took in.

We got a chance to tour around Cebu and we only have 4 hours to do it so we just dropped by to nearby places. We went to Magellan's Cross, Fort San Pedro and ofcourse, we also went to the famous stop of tourist to buy Danggit and other dried seafood, Tabo-an Market!

Emoting at Magellan's Cross.

What's the name of this place again? LOL! :P

Taste testing Danggit. Seriously? Nope! :P

After the trip and pasalubong hoarding we had our dinner at Pino! Restaurant near the Hotel (buffet again!). I enjoyed the live piano music and their Comfort Room is so pretty, I didn't pass up a chance to take a pictorial inside!

This is a Cleopatra seat inside the Comfort Room. Cozy and nice! Please forgive my pose! :P

At Pino! Restaurant with the gang.

After that scrumptious dinner we went back to the hotel and headed to the Lounge where we let our food digest a bit before we hit the sack. We had a good short conversation with Ms. Claire Papa, the External Affairs Senior Manager of Unilab. She was all ears about our thoughts about Run United and what else we can suggest for the next years race.

Big day came! Woke up at around 2:00am and my body is so heavy I couldn't even get up from my very comfy bed but still I need to. We went to the venue of the race afterwards. I had a chance to roam around and observe Cebuano runners. They are just like us, it's just that they seem to be more excited for this. Maybe because it's not very often races like this happens in their place.

At the 21K Starting Line, can't move much!

with Ms. Doris and Ms. Claire of Unilab!

The Running Host Boy Ramos and Coach Rio Dela Cruz. Cebuanos gave them a very warm applause! ^_^

Blogger friends before the race. (Photo by: Jazzrunner, Rene Villarta)

GAT Runners of Cebu! I didn't get a chance to meet them though...

U-Turn at last! This is where I started walking almost all of the time...

The route is almost flat, with some short uphills. It is situated in the road so there is traffic between runners and vehicles. Cebuanos were very happy and they smile back at me! You can see them watching from outside their houses and they were also cheering though I don't understand what they were saying but I'm pretty sure it's all nice words.

While looking at a mini eatery on one corner of the street (I saw the "Puso" my blogger friends were talking about. It's rice wrapped in banana leaves, it's a street food in Cebu.) One old lady asked me "Maayong buntag day! Asa ka paigon?" I smiled and said "Naku lola pasensya na po hindi ako marunong mag Bisaya". Then she said "Ah! Taga diin ka? Manila?" Though I don't understand I just said "Opo!". I thank her and went off. Now I realized I need to know their language! :P

Kuya Junie (Our hotel driver) says it's named "Puso" because it is shaped like a heart. Cool! (Photo by:

What are the strong points of the race:

1. Hydration Stations were placed strategically. Cups were smaller. Perfect size for sips!
2. Kilometer markers are posted.
3. Marshals are plenty and they are all over the place!
4. Presence of Policemen around gives a feeling of security.
5. Marshals that acts like road cones on the street? Just great!
6. Traffic between runners and vehicles are so smooth sailing.
7. Snickers handed at the finishline feels like medal! ^_^
8. Loot bags, as always are full of great stuffs from Unilab!

Some room for improvement:
1. There's a certain point in the route where runners ran in the middle of a busy street. I was frightened but still I go with the flow.
2. Some hydration stations lack cold water and cold Powerade.
3. I missed out on the sponges. I know they have it available because I saw some runners with it. The hydration stations I asked doesn't have it.
4. Medals and Finisher Shirts did not make it on time.

Not bad for an almost all walk race I did! ^_^

With 1,300 21K runners, I was so overwhelmed! I never expected it. Cebuanos are run addicts so they don't differ with us Manilenos. Running with them and in their place is really wonderful! Though I had a hard time, I still finished 2 minutes shy from my last 21K PR!

Overall, I can say that Run United Cebu is a huge success! Thanks to Unilab Active Health and Runrio Inc. for organizing this race and for letting our fellows from the provinces experience this sought after race in Manila to their own city!

Special thanks to Ms. Janice Ianne Miguel of Unilab for the invitation and to Ms. Claire Papa, the Senior External Affairs Manager of Unilab for all the assistance provided to us during our weekend stay. To my blogger friends, Jinoe Gavan of, Rene Villarta (Jazzrunner), Bien Soberano (Kamote Runner), Estan Cabigas, Alfred Vedarozaga (Running Atom) and CJ Lampad (Run Adobo King) for making this experience extra special for me. To my Novo Nordisk family, Ms. Marinel Hargraves and most especially to Ms. Gina Reyes, the Senior Marketing Manager of Novo Nordisk Philippines for always believing and supporting my cause.

Bye Cebu! I promise I'll come back really soon! ^_^

I am looking forward to another race outside Luzon. How about Mindanao for next?

Good Vibes everyone and Sweet Running! ^_^

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Take On Serious Running On Races...

For the longest time I have been running for fun, and I enjoyed every moment of it. But one time when I was at the office browsing at some Marathon photos of top finishers on Facebook I wondered, "What if I try running a race seriously?" and boom! Here comes Ms. Curiosity!

I got a chance to join the Quezon City International Marathon 2011 (QCIM 2011) and I decided to stage my "Serious Race Mode" in this event. I researched on how serious runners prepare before the race and take note of each of them and here's what I did.

1. Have a serious training scheme - I did not have one because of work schedule but I tried doing core exercises during my spare time. At least I did some training right?

2. Take on hydration, diet and nutrition well - I always get a healthy meal and stayed away from my guilty pleasures for a while (No Churros Con Chocolate and Frozen Yogurt, for the meantime). I did a hydration plan before the race. Taking in much water as I can and making sure I drink before I get thirsty. I was very strict with this. I often visit the comfort room for a pee though.

3. Prepare all your race paraphernalia - I forgot my jellybean so I use an alternative, chocolate!

4. Try on a race plan - One of my effective strategies is using the Galloway Method in declining order, starting from 5:1, 4:1 and 3:1 up to the last 3 Kilometers which we take 1:1

5. Get a Competitive Pacer - I asked Che-Anne to be my pacer and glad she did agree!

6. Psych yourself up! - Yes! I did a serious concentration before and during the race.

7. Have an adequate 8 hour sleep - Cancelled! Work schedule won't permit me to do so. What I did is I had a good 6 hour sleep on early morning of Saturday.

Race day came. After work I did a quick relaxing shower and prepped up. Ofcourse I didn't have sleep and was kinda mentally tired because of the changes at work. But as a hard headed person I still pushed through.

From Left: Mike, Vladimir and Kevin of Never Run Alone, Boss Bern, Paul, Me and Che-Anne

We started the race like a breeze. Doing the 5:1 Galloway Method, Che-Anne was having an easy time with me, until I tried this new thing that I never tested on, a chocolate bar!

I was having this sweet tooth problem these past few weeks. I cannot resist the temptation of chocolates! I always find myself munching on Churros Con Chocolate in the office during my breaks. I am having a hard time controlling myself. When I try not to give in, I feel irritated and uncomfortable so I just give in to it. My blood sugar at night suffered the most so yes, I had +2 units of Insulin dose post dinner, and I gained another 2 Kilos! *Sobs*

After munching two blocks of that chocolate bar and going for a Kilometer, stomach started to feel uneasy. I felt so acidic the only way to reduce it is to throw up, and I did.

I tried getting everything out but I was out of luck, running the road stopping abruptly to throw up on the side of the street. I felt so bad, then our race started to suffer but still, I kept my motivation and will to take on it seriously.

Che-Anne reduced our Galloway plan to 4:1 and in a slower pace. It was still a struggle but I keep on holding on to the pace. When I saw the turnaround point I felt a sense of  relief. At last! We're halfway done!

At last! The turnaround point!!!

The hyperacidity was reduced since I already took out most of what I ate. I got all thirsty at La Mesa Dam because we need to remove our race belts. There are bacteria cultures inside and bringing in water or any form of liquid  from outside is prohibited.

So where did I put my Hydration Belt?

Going back, we passed by a hydration station that offered bananas. Nice! Che-Anne offered me some but I was hesitant. Thinking that it might help I took a bite and what do you know! It made my hyperacidity worst! I never learned my lesson at Condura Skyway Marathon where I also had this stomach problems when I ate bananas. I never learned!

At the last 6 Kilometers to the finish line, my body wants to shut down. I felt all the pain on my body, especially on my back and my thighs. I want to stop and walk but Che-Anne was so persistent in pushing me and I also want to maintain my race mode so yes, I pushed myself beyond my limits.

Rain drizzled and it gave us a kind of boost to hurry since our gadgets will get soaking wet if we don't. I should thank God for doing it so. At around 2 Kilometers I really want to get it over and done with so I tried running at a faster pace, but it only depleted my remaining energy so at near finish line I could barely run but still I pushed myself through.

Photographers are expecting a bubbly, all-smiles Amanda but they failed to see it. Here are some of the photos taken from the race.

Backshot! (Photo by Anjie Lintao)

Struggle well captured! (Photo by Lestsky Runner)

Was in struggle and pain! (Photo by PhillipBF)

Finish line! I don't even have the energy to wear my medal! (Photo by Spongebob Runner)

We finished the race with a time of 3 hours and 12 minutes based on the official time. That is 33 minutes off my previous PR at Run United 3! I even got almost 34 likes when I posted the result on my Facebook page. If you will notice the QCIM Individual Performance Chart below you'll see at the last stretch we were really sprinting to the finish.

I lost my head at the last Split Time, I think I really did...

Even if I didn't live up to Che-Anne's expectation, she is very happy of the result. She's so proud that I beat my previous PR with a tremendous time difference. When I got my medal at the finish line, it gave a sense of relief, confirming that it is over, and that's where I got my bubbly character back.

I was so glad I finished, and its all over!

The race was hard for me, and to admit, I was a bit frightened when we were running at Commonwealth Avenue. There were some loiters around bullying runners. My friend Ate Ajie even had her Camera snatched away from her, but she managed to run after the culprit to get it back. There is also an incident we saw that motorists argue with the traffic enforcers in a irrespective manner because of the heavy traffic we've cause, taking the right side of the road for the race.

Did I enjoy the race? No. I think If I didn't try eating a chocolate bar during the race I would somewhat enjoy it. Am I happy with the time result? Yes! It's nice to overtake other runners at the race. It brings a sense of achievement that I am improving based on performance but I guess I am not into competitive running at all, the only thing I can beat is myself. Oh well, it reminds me of my one-liner "I run not to win over other runners, I run to win over Diabetes!"

Thanks to my Daddy, Jazzrunner Rene Villarta for giving me the opportunity to join this race and to Runnex and the Quezon City Goverment as well. Ofcourse to my ever patient Pacer/Pusher, Cheryl Anne Lumanog for being very supportive and always uplifting my spirit, saying that I can, and I did!

Will I ever run QCIM again? Given a chance, yes! But I don't consider staging my PR mode there again, and I don't think I will try the competitive mode on. I'll just run to enjoy and who knows, maybe even without much exerted effort I can still beat my PR! and I guess beating myself while enjoying is the most rewarding feeling of all. Hoping that I will soon!

Good Vibes everyone and Sweet Running! ^_^

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Other Side Of Running - Michelle Estuar's FUNd Racing Event

Runners always concentrate on joining race events every weekends to compete or enjoy the route with friends. But runners who concentrate on organizing a race events for their fellow runners is a different thing. A very different experience indeed!

Last October, my good friend Francis Razon, owner of Eat Pray Run asked me if I want to volunteer in organizing a small fund raising event. Ofcourse I wouldn't say no. I am always in support of these races for a cause, and it's not my first time to volunteer. If you can remember I volunteered at Run For Japan, where we raised half a million pesos for Japan's relief. It may be small but it can make a difference.

There were lots of runners who volunteered as well, taking time off their everyday routines just to help in planning and organizing the event. Since I have a very constricted work schedule, I didn't have a chance to be a part of the planning. I'm just glad that Facebook gave us a way to communicate, the reason why I was updated and had a way to send out my comments and suggestions towards the group, Team Tireless!

Team Tireless was officiated by 30 runners who were pioneers in helping out Michelle Estuar in her race event named Michelle Estuar's FUNd Racing For the Kids of Tuloy Foundation. Some of them I know but most are not but we are united because of one noble cause, to make this event a success for the benefit of the children!

We are planning to continue the spirited teamwork through volunteering on races for a cause. We will never get tired of doing noble causes, we love the running community and we love charity.

The beneficiary of this race is Tuloy Foundation. What is Tuloy Foundation? Tuloy Foundation, Inc. is a non-government, not-for-profit organization registered with the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission in 1996 and licensed and accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development to “provide residential care services for children and youth”. It was founded in 1993 by Fr. Marciano “Rocky” G. Evangelista of the Salesians of Don Bosco with ten lay volunteers committed to the cause of poor, abandoned, homeless children. It pursues the charism of St. John Bosco who dedicated himself to the care and training of poor boys in the 1800’s.

The event was held November 30th, an official holiday. But ofcourse in my work there's no holidays so after my shift (1:00AM), I went straight to Ultra Oval to help out. I was one of the volunteers for the Post Race Kit Distributions.

Fellows setting up our booth

I know I was tired and sleepy but my body just continued to work and work. I was so stimulated and hyped up that I was always roaming around and checking out if I can be of help to anyone. I even visited other booths and perked them up, also the other runners who went in to register onsite!

I was at the Registration Booth saying "Good Morning" to everyone who comes and register! ^_^

After setting up and making sure that we're good to go, we went to the Starting Line to be Marshals there. Besides our task we try our best to utilize ourselves on different chores since we are just few. That's multitasking at it's finest!

The youngest runner was a 2 years old kid and he's the most adorable of all! Michelle can't get over his cuteness she even joined him on the 400m run around Oval. SWEET! ^_^

Michelle with the cutie marathoner in the making! ^_^

Good points about this race:
1. Runners organized it, so the needs are provided accurately.
2. Running Groups actively participated. They even set up their own hydration booth all over the race course!
3. Gunstart observed on the dot.
4. For a minimum Php100 donation, getting a post race kit goodies is a steal!
5. Ice cream is a nice treat for runners after getting all sweaty.
6. Post Race Shirts are a big hit! I love them!!! ^_^

Something that needs improvement:
1. The gun to be used should be working properly before they hand them to Michelle. LOL! ^_^
2. Some runners reported cheaters on a loop somewhere. I guess we lack Marshals. Hope more people will help next time.

Here are some of the pictures I took from the event: (I even had the power to be a photographer! Hyper!)

The Happy Runners at the starting line, all smiles! :)

Michelle and Michelle at the starting line. :P

Team Tireless really looks tireless right?

Idol Wilnar and Francis acted as The Super Scoopers! Wilnar looks tired but happy, like this was harder than his BDM 160K race! LOL ^_^

Long queue of runners waiting for their turn for the freebies! ^_^

The Post Race Kit Team just wanna have FUN! ^_^

Special thanks to Francis Razon of Eat Pray Run for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful race event, to the Post-Race Distribution Committee who became my instant friends, to Team Tireless for not getting tired of my excuses not going to the meetings (LOL!), to ARC Philippines for their warm support, to my friends at Lifeline Foundation for showing love to this cause, to Michelle Estuar for the bravery and heart to push through this kind of events and most especially to all the runners who took part in this noble cause. It would not be possible without all of you!

Running a race is tiresome, but organizing a race is a hundred times more tedious! But seeing the runner's smile and the good gestures of gratitude brings a great feeling, and to think that at the end of the day you've helped for a good cause, it eases out everything! Even if I have to go to work without sleep, I still wore a nice smile on my face. It gave more meaning to life, it made it a lot sweeter!

Beautiful Tireless People at the Start/Finish Line! (Photo by Yongski)

I was told that this event will be a yearly one so I'm looking forward to next year for this! November 30th is already booked, hope you guys do the same too!

I'm so happy to gain new friends because of this event, and because of the Post Race Shirt I wore at work, the running group in the office finally found me at last! ^_^

See you all again on our next race that we will volunteer in. Watch out for Team Tireless!

Good Vibes everyone and Sweet Running! ^_^

Friday, December 2, 2011

Soleus GPS Watch 1.0 - Of Great Sweet Value!

Last November 28, I attended a media launch for Soleus Watch. They introduced the new addition to their collection, the Soleus GPS Watch!

What is a GPS? according to Wikipedia, The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based global navigation satellite system (GNSS) that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. For me, GPS is simply a device that can track your place on earth. It is also used in cars to determine their point to destination route and distance. This technology is also brought in to our watches so we could know our distance when we run.

One of the most famous brand of GPS watches is Garmin. I once dreamed about owning one but since it is too expensive for me, I knew that this dream will just be a dream. When a good friend of mine, Mr. Jeff Paulino contacted me and invited me for a product launch of Soleus, I was so curious. I am surprised that they are now coming up with a GPS watch!

This new baby sells for Php6,150 only! I hope they would release a PINK or VIOLET one for me! LOL ^_^

I am so honored to meet Mr. David Arnold, one of the founders of Soleus. He is the one who explained to us all about Soleus watches and the new addition to their family, the Soleus GPS 1.0!

"For Soleus, the tech goes further with the addition of the GPS 1.0 digital watch that is packed with features any runner could want from a watch.  It comes with a Pace and Distance feature, which gauges and records the pace you’re going at with the current or total distance you ran.  With these features, you can keep track of your performance each mile at the end of your run.

Cyclist, on the other hand, welcome its Calorie and Speed feature as it gauges and records the current or total calories burned at the speed they’re going.  Additional features such as a high sensitivity GPS receiver, world time which covers 106 cities in all time zones, and a USB rechargeable lithium-ion battery which can last up to 8 hours in full GPS mode and weeks if not in GPS mode, the Soleus GPS 1.0 is a perfect running companion."

For P6,150, this baby is a GOOD VALUE, not cheap!

I had a good, closer look of this watch and I must say its smaller and much good looking than Garmin Forerunner 305 that looks like a box on your wrist. You can use it as a regular watch if you're not running. The screen is just big enough so you can see the details. According to testimonials, GPS can stand around 7 1/2 hours on before the battery runs out. Cool huh!

For the watch review, I don't have the credentials to do so, but my media friends who were so lucky to have one should be able to give you a good review of theirs...

(From left: Mr. David Arnold and my lucky runner friends Thumbie Remigio, Alfred Vedarozaga, Daves Espia and Ivica Say... Oh yes, I admit, I am envious!

As per info from their Facebook Page, this watch is sold as an introductory offer at 10% off! So instead of Php6,150, you'll get this great watch for Php5,535. Again, it's good value, not cheap! I hope my Math skills did not fail on me this time!

I would like to thank Mr. Jeff Paulino for giving me a chance to be a part of this launch, to Ms. Judith Staples for the wonderful assistance given to us during the event and to Mr. David Arnold for sharing his wonderful product information to us!

Do I consider getting one of these for myself? Hell yeah! But for a low income worker like myself, I need to save up for this one. Thinking of giving it as a gift for myself this Christmas, and it's gonna be hard to resist if they have it in my favorite colors. I'm crossing my fingers on this!

The Soleus Launch Group Picture! ^_^

As what Soleus tagline says, "Running is a mental sport, at Soleus we are insane!"

The watch is now available at Timestudio stores nationwide!

Trivia: Every Soleus Watch has a "SQUIFF" on the back of it. For this GPS watch it says "A Marathon is only 26.2 Miles."

For more information, please visit Soleus Philippines Facebook Page.

Good Vibes everyone and Sweet Running! ^_^

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Subic International Marathon 2012 - Run For Fun & Transformation

The Subic International Marathon (SIM)
January 21-22, 2012
Subic Remy Field, SBMA, Olongapo City
January 21, Saturday - 3K/5K (1st Day)
January 22, Sunday - 10K/21K/42K (2nd day)

Running on its 6th year, SIM forged new partnerships with CORPS Movement Foundation and Dilaab Movement as the beneficiaries of the 2012 SIM and eXtribe, Inc. as the running event’s co-producer and race organizer.

With Running becoming one of the most popular fitness and recreation activities today and a means to support and raise funds for advocacies and special causes, the 2012 SIM will support development programs of CORPS Movement Foundation and Dilaab Foundation.


Registration Starts on November 22, 2011! 

3K – Php 50        No Singlet and No Timing Chip (Self Timed)
5K – Php 150      No Singlet and No Timing Chip (Self Timed)
10K – Php 600    Singlet and Timing Chip
21K – Php 700    Singlet, Timing Chip and Finisher's Dog Tag
42K – Php 800    Singlet, Timing Chip and Finisher's Medal

New Balance Glorietta Mall
New Balance Shangri-la Mall
New Balance Trinoma







For more information, questions and updates, please visit Subic International Marathon 2012 Facebook Page

Good Vibes everyone and Sweet Running! ^_^