March 13, 2017

1:00:42 x 2

This past weekend, we were up in Sacramento for the Shamrock'n Half.  I ran the 10K, while Gianina and Adrian did the 5K.  I was initially planning to do the half marathon but decided to bail out several weeks ago because... well, i just didn't want to do it half-assed.  At my current level of fitness, i could definitely finish 13.1, but not well enough for my taste.  I know my running will never be "competitive,"  but i still have standards, hahaha.  

This was kind of a big deal for me because I haven't run a 10K since i was 7 years younger and 30 pounds lighter.  I wanted to test myself and see if i could still do a sub-60.

Well, i failed.  I got in a little over 60.


HOWEVER, I don't feel as bad about it as i thought i would.  For one, my time did not go all the way up to 1:01.  While not very precise, i can still say i finished a 10K "in an hour."  Also, 16/35 for my age group is a smidge above median.  Eight years ago, despite finishing in about 58 minutes and change, i was still below 50th percentile.  Growing old (and trying to keep fit while doing it) has its perks, i suppose.

I actually ran TWO races this weekend, simultaneously.  We also signed up for the 3rd annual Pi Day 5K (10K for me).  It's an interesting concept: a VIRTUAL race which you run wherever you are, around "Pi Day," or March 14th (3/14).  I don't think we will win any prizes, but it sounded sufficiently geeky to sign up for, and is for a good cause, donating part of the proceeds to the Expanding Your Horizons Network, which helps get girls and young ladies into STEM careers.

So now i have a finishing time for that race as well.


All in all, i seem to be mostly on track for hitting my main fitness goal, which is to get back to the shape i was in when i was a "runner."  Between injuries and the fellowship, the past several years turned me into a bag of grease held together by soft muscles and sinew.  The races i run mainly serve the purpose of "checkpoints" to keep me honest/accountable.  Well okay, they're fun too.


February 27, 2017

1:31:01 AKA The Incidental Runner

This past weekend was just supposed to be a relaxing long-weekend-cum-short-vacation.  We spent a few days in Hawaii, did all the touristy things, and met up with an old friend.  However, while on the tour bus, it came to our attention that there was a little event going on on Presidents' Day called the Great Aloha Run.  Apparently it was a big deal around those parts.  After doing a little research on it (mainly to determine the distance, since I was incidentally planning to do a long run on that day anyway), I said what the hey, why not?, signed up, and ummm... ran with it.

I finished the 8.15 mile course in 1:31:01.


I'm actually somewhat disappointed with my time.  Since I'm gunning for a 10K in a few weeks, i was hoping to at least finish this race in under 1:30.  Interestingly, my mapmyrun app reported that I actually ran a MUCH longer race at 8.61 miles.


I ran almost half a mile more.  Ridiculous!  I guess if i want to clock in better times i'm going to have to learn to run the tangents better.  I suspect that bathroom break around mile 6.5 didn't really help either.  Oh well.  Not bad, i suppose, considering that i did not prepare in any way, shape, or form for the race.  Not to mention the relative warmth and humidity.  Nor the upper respiratory infection i was nursing.  Nor the big tonkatsu dinner i had the night before.  Excuses galore!  Let's see how well i do on that upcoming 10K; hopefully i won't have to come up with any excuses for that one.

Here are some pics:

Hanging loose before the start of the race.  Despite my expression, i was not under the influence of any substance.
The requisite selfie at the starting line.  Kid, why are you photobombing me?
Close to the finish, i identified a photo op, and posed like a real runner.
Done!
Requisite selfie at the finish, in the Aloha Stadium.
A little bit of wishful thinking when i wrote down my time.  Oops!

February 3, 2017

29:44

This past weekend, i finished the 8th annual St. Joseph's 5K Fun Run/Walk for Wellness with a time of 29:44.


My goal was to reclaim my old "glory" and finish a 5K in less than 30 minutes.  I have my doubts about the course's distance, since my GPS watch informed me that I only ran 3 miles, but i'll just take them at their word.  Part of the problem is that there wasn't a clearly-demarcated starting line (that i could appreciate, at least), so i only turned on my watch when i arbitrarily deemed that i had "started" running.  Perhaps i merely waddled through the first 0.1 miles of the race looking for the starting line?  Meh.  These are the problems one runs into when the race doesn't use chip time.  

At any rate, my watch says i did 3 miles in about 28:27.  So even if i had continued to run another 0.1 at a 10-minute-per-mile pace, i would've come in at 29:27.  Mission accomplished!

Moving forward - i was able to do a "recovery" run the day after the race with minimal soreness.  Meaning, i think my overall level of fitness is continuing to improve.  I "should" be ready to run a 10k (and perhaps a "full" half in the next few months).

Onward!

At least i have pictures where i don't quite look like i'm walking anymore.

Dramatic finish!


January 25, 2017

Fitness/Fatness

Keeping fit while on vacation in the Philippines is a challenging proposition.  The caloric ratio of the bakasyonista (vacationer) skews almost completely toward the "intake" part.  The reunions.  The buffet lunches and dinners.  The meriendas (snacks) in between.  The relatives saying kain ka pa (eat some more)!  The drinking sessions.  Sometimes all in the same day.  One's guts expand to near-epic proportions while the metabolism struggles futilely to burn the overabundant fuel.  Time, the most precious commodity of all during a two-week vacation, is carefully rationed between friends and family, and the intention to exercise gets violently shoved aside in favor of another gimik (outing).  Weight maintenance becomes nigh-impossible and weight loss becomes LITERALLY impossible.

Since I have a 5k lined up for the end of January, I forcibly carved out some time to run.  Jet-lagged and woozy for the first few days, I sadly couldn't bring myself to run at all.  When Gianina and I went to Singapore (a story for another post), I was at least able to do a quick treadmill 3-miler at the hotel: my first "run" of the year.  I was only really, really able to run a little over a week in.

Afraid of getting chased by askals (street dogs), I opted not to run within the borders of our village.  But I heard that there were plenty of "exercisers" at the local SM Southmall, so I decided to drive out there and do laps.

Amazingly, there was a fantastic amount of activity going on in the SM parking lot.  For the uninformed: SM is the name of a chain of shopping malls scattered (or rather, placed strategically) throughout the Philippines.  These huge edifices usually have massive parking lots to accommodate the multitude of shoppers that arrive every day.  Prior to opening, said lots are almost completely empty, making them prime areas for activities requiring lots of space.

There were runners/walkers, who looked like they had been there since the crack of dawn.



There were kids playing volleyball.


There was a group of what appeared to be police or private security company recruits marching around in formation.  I didn't take a picture of them in fear of being labeled some sort of security risk and subsequently detained.   One can't be too careful about these things.

Most interestingly, in two separate areas of the parking lot, there were some sort of dance classes/sessions going on.  I would say Zumba, but I'd just be guessing.



Everybody seemed to really be into it.  Unfortunately, I had no context whatsoever for what was going on.  Were they organized classes that the participants had signed up and paid for?  Or did they just "organically" start from a small group of people clowning around, accruing a bigger attendance as time went by?   Personally, I wonder if this is the Filipino version of "Tai-chi in the park" like they do in China.  I did an internet search about dancing in SM parking lots but didn't come up with anything.  Perhaps we could market it as some sort of tourist attraction.  If it turns into a global phenomenon, you heard it here first!

With much difficulty (I'm not accustomed to running in 85-degree heat with 100% humidity), I slogged through a slow 4-miler.  My performance wasn't too shabby, all things considered.  For the remainder of our vacation, I ran three more times, although never again at an SM.  I don't know if my efforts actually paid off in terms of weight maintenance (all told, I gained 8 pounds in two weeks... perhaps it would have been more if I had been completely sedentary?), but at least I tried.  We'll find out at the 5k if there's been any improvement in my fitness level whatsoever.


Dancers in the background

November 9, 2016

35:01

So while the rest of the running world was focused on the NYC marathon this past weekend, another race was going on across the country called the St. Joes Half and 5K.  There's nothing particularly special about the race, but it was local and the timing fit in with my schedule, so I decided to run it.  Anyway, I finished with a pathetic time of 35:01.

Really small.  Interested parties can look at a bigger version here

I had initially thought about doing the full half-marathon (kind of oxymoronic, I know), but opted to to just the 5K instead.  I tweaked my left calf doing a treadmill workout about a month ago and had to forego long runs for 2 weeks.

I was really trying to do a sub-30 5K, but in the end my time was nothing to write home about.  Hardly anything to blog about either, but I leave it here mainly for documentation purposes and keep myself accountable.  Not necessarily making excuses, but I will list 2 reasons for my poor finish:

1.  The course was not a real 5K.  It was 5K-"ish," at 3.4 miles (for some reason, they calculated the pace based on on a distance of 3.1), and
2.  The total time was "gun time," not chip time.  As somebody who hates crowds, I usually hang out around the back of the pack when the gun goes off.  That was a few minutes wasted just waddling up to the starting line.

Encouragingly, based on what my GPS watch says, I would have come in a little under 30 minutes for a legitimate 5K.  But the official race results are not based on my GPS watch.  So... better luck next time.

There WERE some good things that came out of this race, though.  For one, I invited our office staff to participate.  Although they were hesitant to "run" the race, they were willing to walk it.  So we had a fun "office activity" that promotes health and wellness.



I hope there's no copyright infringement of any sort here

Another good thing is that Gianina, Adrian, and I did the race together.  The last one we did this was circa 2008, when I ran a 5K and Gianina pushed Adrian along in a stroller.  Note that when I say we did it "together," I don't mean that we were holding hands or were tethered in any way, but we all entered the same race and went through the same course.  Unfortunately Adrian did not have a very good experience, complaining of foot pain at multiple points all throughout.  Maybe he needs fancy running shoes too.  If he doesn't get soured on the whole running experience, maybe we can start running future races as a family.


We are the champions
On a side note, I have to practice being more "photogenic" while running.  For some reason, all the pictures of me running look like I'm walking.  Cases in point (and these are the good photos, too):



Adrian, on the other hand, just seems to naturally look good.  

Proof of evolution, I suppose


I know it says "Half Marathon," but for some reason they gave these medals to everyone.

May 18, 2016

1:33

So this weekend, I ran the 2016 Bay to Breakers.  At 1:33:04, my pace was a far, FAR cry from my most recent race, but whatever.  It's been a looong 6 years littered with multiple false starts (and injuries - don't forget the injuries), but I'm back.

My stats for the race.  Everything kind of sucks, but at least I "placed" within the upper 50th percentile.
I've wanted to run BTB after reading about it on a running friend's blog a number of years ago.  It seemed like a fun, slightly off-kilter race, a longer version of a fun run.  I won't belabor the point about how zany the race is, as a cursory google search will yield enough reports.  Personally, I did see some completely unexpected things, such as a group of pirates cheering from a rooftop and stormtroopers working out on ellipticals (!).  There was also a fair amount of nudity that I was able to snap pictures of... pictures that I won't post here out of good taste and fear of prosecution.

Not to make excuses for my deplorable finish, but my goal wasn't really to finish fast.  It was to finish, period.  The BTB was a "proof-of-concept" that I can still run long(ish).  Now it's time to step up my game and train to run fast(er).  Next up, a half.

Not to make any excuses for a future deplorable finish either, but I think I may have injured myself a bit during this race.  It feels like someone is stabbing the side of my left ankle whenever I put weight on that foot.  I honestly don't think it's anything serious - probably just tendinitis from trying to finish strong while running on the sloped portion of the road - but we'll see.  Hopefully I haven't inadvertently destroyed my chances of running 26.2 again at some point.

Provided that my foot pain isn't anything more serious like a stress fracture, my next race report will be about a half.  We'll see.

At the starting line.  The race runs from east to west, so I was staring straight into the sun when I snapped this selfie.
That's what I was looking at.
There's something odd about this picture... can you find what it is?

My neighbor showed up to run.

At the finish line.  I'm not really smiling, I'm just breathing hard.  Note the alar flaring.
Race bib and finisher's medal.

July 20, 2015

An Open Letter to the Mindanao Times

OK, so I am not necessarily a crusader against idiotic bloggers or columnists, but I cannot abide by their idiocy.

On July 20, 2015, the Mindanao Times published a column from Fely V. Sicam entitled, "Are resident doctors really doctors?" The answer of course, is yes, but since she doesn't know that, she went on a tirade about how a friend was recently humiliated during a trip to the emergency room. I'm writing this from my phone and I don't want to type too much, so here's the link to her article: http://mindanaotimes.net/loud-whispers-are-resident-doctors-really-doctors/

She raises some valid points about health care towards the end of her article, but being partly correct shouldn't excuse a "journalist" from basic fact-checking.

This may is may not result in some backlash heading my way, we'll see. Responses to these sort of people usually result in p!ssing matches consisting of ad hominem attacks and claims of "That's not what I meant, you need to educate yourself and read between the lines." In other words, I expect them/her to double-down instead of apologize. I hope to be pleasantly surprised. 

If anyone's interested in sending their own feedback, the Mindanao Times can be contacted at

times.editors@gmail.com and mtimes46@gmail.com.

---

July 21, 2015

To whom it may concern,

I am writing in regards to an article that was published in your newspaper and website on July 20, 2015, entitled, "Are resident doctors really doctors?" authored by Fely V. Sicam. (http://mindanaotimes.net/loud-whispers-are-resident-doctors-really-doctors/) Unfortunately I am unable to find Ms. Sicam's contact information, so I am forwarding my feedback to you.

The editors at your publication need to improve their vetting of what is published. Ms. Sicam's basic premise is wrong. Resident doctors are in fact real doctors. In her third paragraph, Ms. Sicam makes a distinction between licensed doctors and resident doctors. One cannot be a resident doctor without becoming duly-licensed first. Even if it was possible to do so, Ms. Sicam does not take any steps to verify her doctor's licensure - she simply makes a blanket statement about resident doctors predicated on her ignorance of this fact as well as assumptions based on superficialities. She's not even internally consistent. The resident said: "I'm a resident doctor," but she says he never spoke in English, which he just did.

In her fourth paragraph, Ms. Sicam gives her opinion of what she deems to be a "real" doctor. This is beside the point. Her primary question is, "Are resident doctors really doctors?" to which the answer is yes.

Because of her wrong premise, Ms. Sicam becomes incoherent. She is against fake doctors and inhumane ones. And ones who don't speak English (but really do). What about real doctors who she thinks are fake? It's unclear because she can't even distinguish.  While Ms. Sicam has some valid points regarding the expediency of her friend's care as well as the law punishing the illegal practice of medicine, the inadequacy of health care is a broad-based multifactorial problem that many people are trying to fix from various angles. Ms. Sicam can help with this fix... But only if she takes the time to check her facts first.

I would be happy to discuss this further if you or Ms. Sicam desire. Thank you very much for your consideration.

Yours,
JB Chong


*Updated on a laptop later at 10:10am, mainly to add text to a paragraph and improve formatting.  The text of the letter itself remains unchanged.