Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Road to LA: My First Full Marathon

Running used to be just a plain warm-up and cool down routine for my weight training at the gym. I have never really paid attention to the benefits of cardiovascular exercise until my blood pressure started shooting the borderline, and had come to realize how inevitable this problem is, since it runs in my family. So the treadmill became a valuable workout partner and soon after, I started jogging outside during weekends.

My Nike+ Frees on the trail
My epiphany came in 2007 when I set foot in the United States, where I got to really appreciate what the roads and trails had to offer. I signed up for gym membership as well, but found myself getting lured more out into the great outdoors. Rain or shine, I made it a point to head out and pound the pavement. I went fast, then took it slow, depending on how my legs and lungs felt. Then I started browsing online about running, signed up with Nike+ Running community and eventually replaced my pseudo-running kicks with a fresh pair Nike+ Free Everyday. It was at the onset of Fall 2009 when I discovered the now defunct Nike+ Human Race 10K, the very first (virtual) race I started training for.

Getting ready for my 1st 10K Race
With the Nike+ Sportband, I religiously logged my training runs, as well as connected and joined challenges with other runners. Being an engineer, I became totally immersed with figures as my miles piled up and my pace improved exponentially. Not too long after the race, I was stoked into joining other running events, and found out about The SF Marathon. I knew I wasn't ready for a full one, so I signed up for the July 2010 Half Marathon race, which I preferred, because its course gets you to run the roadbed of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Running the Golden Gate Bridge
 My training for my first half marathon race was a fusion of sorts due to information overload. I basically followed the Hal Higdon Guide with a little bit of the Nike+ model. I didn't exactly follow the plans to the letter, so I sort of had "over-trained" in terms of mileage and worse, have never paid attention to cross-training and proper nutrition. I even managed to do a couple of 20-milers along the way! I paid for it dearly during race day, wherein I suffered serious cramping on both my calves, more than halfway through the course. You can find my race report through my Dailymile profile. More details on that awesome community later.

I'm a Half Marathoner!
A couple of months before my half marathon, I was able to squeeze in a last minute 10K race (WorkDay Devil Mountain Run) with a good friend of mine. It was so special because it happened exactly on my birthday and I decided to do it the night before. Felt good about this race because aside from setting a PR, it became a precursor to future running events with my high school friends in the Bay Area. It was also the first race that I got to use my new toy & indispensable running companion, the Garmin Forerunner 305, which I received as a birthday present.

One great thing about this whole exercise was signing up with Dailymile, an online community of athletes who share their workouts and constantly motivate each other. Belonging to this awesome group of people has inspired me to become a better runner and challenge myself further. So far, I've met three members already, and managed to have a few of my friends sign up as well.

Aside from the above races,  I've finished two 5Ks (Richard's Run and Run Wild for A Child), a Half Marathon Trail Race (Diablo Trail Adventure) and my most recent race, the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon. All the respective links point to my Dailymile race reports, in case you want to know how I did.

It was November of last year when I decided to start training for my first full marathon and it wasn't until January 2011 that I decided to register for the LA Marathon, taking place the year I turn 42 years old. Yes, I'm a late bloomer as far as running is concerned, but what a way to celebrate my birth year by aiming to finish an equivalent of 42 kilometers!

I also signed up with Team World Vision for this event, so if you want to support this great cause, please check out my fund raising website.

 Finally, this post won't be complete without giving credit to music, which I learned to appreciate more with my running. One song that perfectly describes my journey is "Run" by Benton Paul.

"Instead of focusing on all the things I can't control, I am enjoying the moments in front of me. The marathon is going to be an amazing journey and I get the chance to write the ending."
~Shalane Flanagan, 2nd woman finisher at the 2010 New York City Marathon


  1. Great way to celebrate a birth year! You are going to rock LA.

  2. Hi Mike,

    I just followed you over here from DailyMile. Nice blog too, blogging is such a great way to keep track of all your races.

    Good luck on your first marathon. Don't go out too fast at the start. It's a common mistake that a lot of first time marathoners make because they are so excited about the race, but then they end up bonking around miles 20-23.

    Also, kudos to you for addressing high blood pressure with running. Developing a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise is always a better option than medication.

    Good luck on the LA Marathon, I look forward to reading your race report!!

  3. Thanks, ladies for the kind words and well wishes!