Sunday, 20 February 2011

Half marathon at the Hong Kong Standard Charter Marathon

Brrrrrrr! It was cold at 13 degrees and rainy. Marge, Nino and I were part of the 65,000 who ran in the Standard Charter Hong Kong marathon on February 20, 2011.

I must say, it was a very organized race event. There were three race categories - the full marathon (42kms), the half  (21kms) which I joined and 10km.

The starting line was located at Nathan Road in Kowloon and the finish was at the soccer pitch in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay.  Unlike last year in the Great Wall marathon where we got up at 2am and traveled 2 hours from Beijing, we just walked to the start line. The half-marathon gun start was early at 5:45 am while the full was 35 minutes later at 6:20.

Aside from the cold weather, the course was hard and hilly from - Nathan to Jordan, up the bridge towards Lai King, U-Turn on Tsing Ma bridge which was windy and chilly, the run back provided a spectacular view of the Victoria Harbor with the sun rising, down the Western Harbour tunnel  up a long incline, meandering up a flyover and on the streets of Central down to Causeway where a crowd of people were now lined up on the streets cheering.

I must say that the security was aplenty as well as medical support. Most of the medics were handing out white flower smelling liniments. There were lots of portalets often a queue though and water stations every 5kms. Warning the water and sports drinks were served cold!

I was conscious of the time limit pegged at 3 hours for the half marathon (and 6 hours for the full course). The 10km leg should be completed by 1hour and 30 minutes or at 7:15am and 21km in 3 hours or at 8:45am. They were quite strict about implementing the limits. In fact, a net has been set up at different checkpoints. Marge actually saw one along the course. Luckily, I made the cut off time and finished in 2:46 minutes!

Champions were Kenyan nationals Nelson Kirwa Rotich and Janet Jelagat Rono, who won the Men’s and Women’s full marathon with respective times of 2:16:00 and 2:33:42. For the half marathon, the winners were Hong Kongers Thomas Kiprotich in the Men’s event with time of 1:07:14 and Yiu Kit-Ching for the Women’s with a time of 1:20:33. Filipina Mary Grace Delossantos took third place with a time of 1:28:22.

On the sidelines, our friend Ria V.  helped wheelchair triathlete Ajmal Samal protest and distribute "Same Road, Same Spirit" flyers that day. The Hong Kong marathon has a category for disabled athletes; I was actually pacing behind a visually impaired Japanese woman with her guide. But unfortunately, there is no category  for wheelchair athletes.

Wheelchair athletes have been participating in marathon events for over 35 years in Boston (1975), London (1983), Seoul (1992), New York (2000) and Delhi (2005). Samuel who has competed all over the world said that the Hong Kong race would “never be classified as one of the world's best if it continued to prohibit wheelchair competitors.” The 43-year old Samuel represented Hong Kong in 2006 at the All-China Disabled Biking Race, finishing second; competed in the handcycling segment of the gruelling Tour de France in 2007; and finished second in Singapore’s Aviva-Ironman Triathlon in 2007.

Lets see how that pans out next year as for me, next up is the Paris Marathon on April 10.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Toy Customization workshop with PSP at Lopez Museum

When I walked in the Toy Making Workshop for kids at Lopez Museum this morning, I was surprised to see all adults in the class. Yes 12 adults in a supposedly kid's workshop.   The workshop  was conducted by three members of the street art collective  Pilipinas Street Plan (or PSP) - Whoop, Wes and Epjey.  In fact, Whoop said that they started late because they were waiting for the kids to arrive.

Today instead of learning taka, a traditional art form practiced in Paete, Laguna using  papier-mâché , PSP taught us how to customize toys.  This is the art of changing a toy from its original form simply through painting and drawing. PSP brought several plastic toys of various shapes and sizes for us to work on - cars, robots and dolls.

Toy customization was made popular in 2002 when Robert Budnitz introduced plastic vinyl toy dolls called  'munny' which is a blank figure with movable joints meant for do-it-yourself art. The price of munny figures online ranges from $9 for a 4-in size to $200 for 18-in.  Just the same,  as PSP showed, any old toy can be customized. All you need is water-based paint, paint brushes, cups to mix paint, water, rags and paper towels. I would add an apron since I managed to stain my clothes all over with paint.

The first step is to apply base paint using white acrylic paint.  A tip is to rub the toy and hands first with alcohol to remove oil before applying the base paint. Otherwise, it will come out like my robot on the right.

Once the base paint dries up, the next step is to start painting and then drawing.  A tip is to use a blow dryer to dry faster. My creative models were artworks by PSP's Nemo, Epjey and Whoop. Actually, the whole area was inspirational. The workshop was held inside gallery 2 where PSP literally transformed the area into street art with graffiti, mixed media, vinyl toys, taka and including props like rubber tires. One wall had a giant Philippine map with some sites labeled with stickers, stenciled and sprayed images. According to Whoop, the labels indicate where PSP's art are present all the way up north in Luzon and down south in Mindanao.

After two hours, here's my masterpiece  I dubbed "L'amuse bouffan".  Our artworks will be included in the fund raising event on February 19, 2011 in Art in the Park in Salcedo Village in Makati. The proceeds will go to Knowledge Channel Foundation’s programs for Filipino schoolchildren.

Other works:
Teacher Ria

and meet our facilitators, the PSP street artists:

PSP is one of the featured artists in the ongoing exhibition "Extensions" which will run at Lopez Museum until April 20, 2011. I hope the museum collaborates with PSP again and push through with Taka soon!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Jeff Galloway really works!

"For those racing tomorrow and who signed up for a distance they've never done, there's hope!" says 65-year old former olympian Jeff Galloway to a mix crowd of novice and long time runners in Collegio San Agustin gym in Makati.

Since its been three months that I've been grappling with my joint effusion a.k.a. osteoarthritis, I attended his lecture The Galloway Method to learn how to run long distance without pain and injury. He said "running can be a joy and finishing a marathon can significantly improve the quality of life at any age... our bodies are designed to cover very long distances without breaking down when strategic recovery periods are inserted." This is at least one minute walk breaks taken early and often enough in the beginning.

The theory is based on conservation of resources early enough to speed up recovery because there is less damage to repair. He said "When a muscle group, is used continuously step by step, it fatigues relatively soon. The weak areas get overused and force you to slow down later or scream at you in pain afterward. By shifting back and forth between walking and running muscles, you distribute the workload among a variety of muscles, increasing your overall performance capacity."

Galloway recommended the following run-walk-run strategy based on training pace per km:
4:58 pace per km —run 4 min/walk 30 seconds
5:16 — run 4 min/walk 45 seconds
5:35 — run 4 min/ walk 1min
6:12 — run 3 min/walk 1min
6:50 — run 2.5 min/walk 1 min
7:27 — run 2 min/ walk 1 min
8:04 — run 1 min/walk 1 min
8:41 — run 30 sec/walk 30 sec
9:19 — run 30 sec/walk 40 sec
9:56 — run  20 sec/40 sec
10:33 — run 15 sec/45 sec
11:11 — run 10 sec/50 sec

To train for the distance, he recommended to work out at least 20-30 minutes every Tues-Thurs plus a long run during the weekends. It is the long run that develops endurance and the repeated short distances that develops speed.  He strongly emphasized to run slowly on the long ones and to gradually increase to goal distance by lengthening every two weeks. Cross-trainings are good and improve overall fitness. It should be done on the same day as the runs and the off days should be devoted to rest or off-legs (no pounding) like water running.

Throughout his 32 years of running, his secret to staying relatively injure free is by being sensitive to his weak links - this is, he immediately backs off at the first sign of pain and swelling and stops whenever there is loss of function in feet, legs or joints.  He said "if I have pain that doesn't go away, I stop running."  The problem will be gone after two to five days of rest. And for the hills, hot weather, etc. insert more frequent walk breaks. 

On massage and stretching, Galloway recommended: deep tissue for muscle injury, ice massage for tissue close to the skin, foam roller for iliotibial band (ITB) and daily toe squincher exercises to avoid plantar fasciitis. He doesn't advise to stretch out a tight muscle and instead to use light massage and/or easy walking to promote increased blood flow.  Stretching should be done only at the end of the day before going to bed, when the body is more relaxed. This can reduce injury from stretching too far and rushing through the routine.

On nutrition, he said to practice eating routines during long runs and the day before the race, he counseled: "Don't eat large amount of foods after 12 noon; drink at least eight glasses of water , two of which are electrolyte drinks; and salt intake day before race is not good."  And during the race, he urged to drink 60 to 120ml of pure water every 3-km and to take 30-40 calories every 3km, this is take 'pure' sugar-- gummy bears and candy.

On motivation, he advised the night before the race to layout the race outfit, if possible, right next to the coffee machine, set the alarm, and say this mantra until you fall asleep - "turn off alarm, feet on the floor, drink coffee." And on race day, say the mantra "relax, power, glide" throughout the run.

with Jeff Galloway and STSI runner Tony Galvez
Well, after a 3-month hiatus from running, I am happy to report that at the Condura Skyway race the next day, I was able to finish the 16-km distance in 2:07!!! I followed his run-walk-run strategy - specifically, run for 4-min then walk for 1-min. In the uphill, I slowed my pace to a very easy jog.  I finished without pain and in fact looked 'fresh' as if I didn't run.

Lets see how this goes. Next up is a half marathon (21-km) in  Hong Kong on February 20, 2011.