Running Shoe Review: New Balance 860V9

I have been a New Balance customer for ten years. It all started from the discounted pair I bought when I started running, which was a funky gold pair of New Balance 749. I tried a couple of direct competitors in between but I had to size up to fit my overpronating duck-wide feet. Those pairs didn’t last either. So, I kept on coming back and never looked back.

Anyway, here’s my long overdue personal review of New Balance 860v9:

Type: Stability
Weight: 11.5oz (327.5g) approx
Color: Black/Magnet
Size: US 9 Wide
Price: PHP6490 (SRP)

New Balance 860v9 features an engineered synthetic mesh upper for a lighter, more comfortable fit, and no-sew upper construction for breathability which makes our feet cool when running even on hot summer days. The only problem with the toe box though is the lack of protection. If someone steps on my foot, I would be screaming in pain. I also have to trim my toe nails regularly because the durability of its upper can be a suspect.

One often ignored improvement of the 860v9 is the well cushioned heel collar. It looks like it was adapted from the discontinued Vazee Prism line which I liked the most. I find the heel collar really snug yet comfortable without slipping out from my feet onto another runner’s face. I wear size 9US Wide and the fit is true to size. Also, there is no color bleeding from the sock liner and insoles. We can wear our favorite white or even neon running socks at any time.

Its dual density ACTEVA and ABZORB midsole feels more cushiony than before. The ever present T-Beam stabilizer seen at the bottom of the outsole is a tried and tested feature to correct pronation issues. Despite its hefty 11.5oz weight, the New Balance 860v9 still feels light on our feet and provides us a faster ride because of its improved midsole cushioning. However, it still suffers from flexibility issues like its predecessors. If you’re an ultra fast runner that demands really flexible pair of running shoes, I would highly recommend Rubix.

The rock solid Blown Rubber outsole proves its durability over time compared to other New Balance road running models. The outsole is still as grippy as ever, even on wet roads. It claims to have an approximate 10mm drop which honestly I have no idea about. It also has less energy return compared to their discontinued 870 and Vazee Prism light stability series.

I’m not Groot! I’m The Dapper Runner wearing NB 890v9.

OVERALL:
860v9 is one of the best incarnations of the 860 light stability series although they have to improve its flexibility which most faster runners prefer. They also have more color varieties than its previous incarnations but I’ll stick to black. I’ll definitely get one or two more pairs.

Dapper Without A Suit

“Comfort and simplicity are two keys that I follow when it comes to fashion.” —- Fawad Khan (Pakistani actor)

I have a confession to all of you: Despite that I call myself as The Dapper Runner, I don’t even own a single suit. In fact, I don’t have plan of getting one at this time.

Yes, that is absolutely right!

The main reason for not owning a suit is the hot and humid weather in the Metro Manila. I can’t stand wearing layers and layers of clothing on my daily commute simply because I sweat profusely even during the cool northeast breeze of January. I just bring an extra shirt in my bag instead. Also, I don’t really attend parties and formal events.

Several self-proclaimed style gurus may claim that not owning a suit makes a man underdressed. I beg to differ. In fact, I consider it impractical and way too flashy on Philippine setting. Unless, if a man is a lawyer or hotshot banker that requires him to wear suits. I believe that every Juan can be dapper without owning a suit. It also depends where we are located, how much our clothing budget is, and the industry we work for.

As you can see I usually wear white or light colored button-up shirts with either dark jeans by Uniqlo or navy trousers because of my previous job in a financial services firm. We were lucky enough that business casual was acceptable. As long as we follow the company’s dress code and not looking sloppy, we’re good to go. I also wear business casual when I go to church on Sundays.

When going out on weekends, I just wear my favorite all occasion combination of chambray shirts, white or black tshirt and chinos. Polo shirt and walking shorts combo is fantastic during summer. We have incorporate comfort in weekend clothing.

I also have a small collection of layering such as a rain jacket, a sweater, a blazer, and a windbreaker. I wear them when needed.

Before I wrap things up, here’s a friendly advice to you guys:

  • Retain and utilize your timeless clothes specially your favorite plain shirts and trousers.
  • Donate those faded and dated ones to the charity.
  • If your clothing needs refitting, go to your tailor.
  • Mix and matching can sometimes be tedious if we are not familiar with the color wheel. You can stick with the basic colors such as black, white, navy, gray, olive, and tan. Those colors are very easy mix and match. It’s also nice to have shirts with tattersall and the more common plaid pattern.
  • If you believe that you need a suit, don’t buy ready to wear. Go to you trusted tailor and get a bespoke suit.

At the end of the day, being dapper is all about the right amount of confidence (and practicality) on what we wear.

Chicago Marathon 2017: My World Major Debut

The Chicago Marathon is one of the six prestigious World Major Marathons that has celebrated its 40th Anniversary. Many of recreational runners including yours truly had an impression that only elite international athletes who can join because of the qualification time. Unless, if we have huge money to donate to their charity partners for us to join the race.

I understand that many Filipino runners are quite hesitant to join because of it’s too expensive. My advice to all my fellow recreational runners who also have the zest of travelling: WHY DON’T YOU GUYS GIVE IT A SHOT? Join the lottery a year before the marathon and let’s see how it goes if we get picked or not.

I signed up at the lottery not just because I’ve been dreaming of having a Six Star medal, also to spend time with my sister Amie, who moved to Chicago in 2010. Luckily, I received an email that I am going to run Chicago Marathon 2017 and forwarded it to Amie as a surprise.

Also, I have a bigger reason to join the Chicago Marathon lottery other that starting my dreams of achieving a Six Star Medal is to see my sister again after a few years. So, I took the risk of joining the lottery in late November 2016.

THE TRAINING:

It took almost six months for me to train for the marathon. Alsongside, I was working overtime, booking flights and such. I even trained during my week-long vacation in Singapore last September. Although, I was still worried of committing the same mistakes again from Osaka Marathon 2016 because, I join marathons just once a year and my offseason is usually prolonged. Otherwise, I’m ready to take the risk.

ARRIVING IN THE U.S.:

I arrived at the O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on October 4 where my sister Amie, her husband Kuya Raffy, and their lovely daughter Andi picked me up right after arriving at the O’Hare International Airport. It was the longest flight I’ve ever had. We ate dinner at iHop before driving to their home which is a mere fifteen-minute drive from the airport and 45-minute drive from Downtown Chicago.

During my first few days in Chicago, all I did was training, acclimatizing, and bonding with her family. I didn’t worry much about the food because my sister cooked for us. We rarely dine out. She prepared eggs, chicken broccoli, tomatoes and rice for me. The online difference though is chicken available in the States are HUGE! But, I usually slept late at night because of jet lag which was resolved a few days later.

SHAKE-OUT RUN AND KIT REDEMPTION DAY:

On the morning of October 6, I went back to Downtown Chicago to meet-up my fellow Filipino and a few Filipino-American participants for a shake-out run lead by our good friends Ben Tanner and Stacy Mendez for the FilAmTri Team. We ran along the streets near Millennium Park, where the famous Cloud Gate is located.

Representing the Philippines!

We also passed by at famous landmarks in Chicago such as Willis Tower, the Magnificent Mile, John Shedd Aquarium, and more. We even tried to pass by at the Starting Line of the marathon but the security in charge politely prevented us to go nearby. We ate our brunch at Yolk South Loop after the five-kilometer shake-out run.

L-R: Nick from New York, Tisha, Erin from Boston, Chloe, and yours truly

After our brunch, we claimed our race kits at the nearby McCormick Place. We already knew that the race exhibit is so huge so we didn’t waste time to claim our race kits and checked other stuff within the exhibit. It’s like a party for marathoners but we stayed there for only a few hours. My friends and I needed to go home ASAP and get quality rest before the big day.

DJ Lani Love playing house music!
Photo by Tisha Hidalgo

THE MAIN EVENT

October 8, 6:00AM — Participants remain their composure while entering the race venue at Grant Park. It took us more almost an hour to enter the starting line due to the volume of runners. While we are waiting for the gun start, we are pumped up by the alternative music played by the marathon’s official radio station.

At exactly 7:30AM, the gun has fired and the competition has started. During the first few kilometers, everybody was like running to shatter their own personal records. I expected that because I’m participating at one of the most prestigious marathons in the world. Instead, I just kept my pace slow and enjoy the beauty of the Chicago skyscrapers and the people’s support at the side walk during the first few kilometers.

Entering Grant Park via Michigan Avenue entrance

After passing by The Chicago Theater on North Street, I saw my sister and her family cheering for me. I really regret that I wasn’t able to go the sidewalk to take some selfies with them because, almost everyone in the race route were overtaking me swiftly. From Mile 5, I started using my tried and tested Jeff Galloway Technique with an interval of 3.5 minutes run and 45 seconds walk with an average pace of 6.5 kilometers per minute. In fact, there were a few racers asked me what running technique I was using.

I also enjoyed looking those old houses and condominiums surrounded with trees along the Old Town and Park West. There were also comic shops, vintage record stores, artisan barber shops, and third wave coffee shops that you can find.

During the race I have met several Filipinos and Filipino-American kids who volunteered in the race. In fact, some of the young race volunteers affectionately caught my attention in Tagalog “Kuya, tubig/Gatorade” while offering me hydration. I also had a chance to bump in with Mina at Mile 10 whom I met at the shake our run last Friday. We traded amusing storied while running. In Manila, chatting with our buddies while running is called chika pace.

Mina and I chika pacing in Chinatown

There were bunch of musicians nearby playing some great blues and singing praises to the participants found in one of the troubled areas of Chicago. I forgot where exactly it was. But, the highlight of the marathon happened on the streets of colorful community of Pilsen where the Latino community were I saw graffiti walls and people having fiesta like Cinco de Mayo.

At around 1:00PM, heat starts to build up near the New Comiskey Park during the fourth hour of the marathon. I started to slow down to avoid hitting the wall. The heat was something I can compare to the desert scenes of any action movie. Along Chinatown, the weather becomes desert-hot and many runners slowed down. Good thing that my pace mate Mina and I took advantage by overtaking them. We took it as an advantage since we are used to train in hot weather. We also saw Stacy (from FilAmTri Team) wearing a cute pink donut costume and gave away donuts to runners. We ate some, of course.

Suddenly, I felt weird on my left knee after passing Mile 23 marker. I became too conscious and slowed down to prevent getting injured. Good thing that the people of Chicago gave their full support for us to finish the race. I pushed my self really hard from Mile 24 to the very last mile. All the months of hard work really paid off.

Finally, I reached the finish line really strong and achieved my personal best of 5:15:49. Almost twenty minutes better my finish in Osaka a year ago. We went to a Japanese Fusion restaurant along Michigan Avenue for recovery food and celebration right after finishing the race. Arland Macasieb of the Philippine national triathlon team was also there to congratulate and mingle with us.

One Star down, five to go! #sixstarmedalchaser
With Arland Macasieb and Stacy Mendez of FilAmTri team

THE VERDICT:

So far, this is the best marathon I’ve ran not just because of my family have witnessed it, also the local people’s all out support. I’d love to come back and run another Chicago Marathon again in the future because, Chicago is now like a second home to me.

Pinoy Fitness SUB1 10K Run: Birthday Run

The last time ran 10k was at the Adidas King of the Road on July 7, 2013. I achieved a personal record of 57 minutes. I thought that my PR will never be broken because of age and the fear of injuring my left knee again. After finishing two marathons from 2015 to 2016, I decided to join a race where I test my speed for the first time after four long years.

Last February, I signed up at Pinoy Fitness Sub1 10K Run which was held on March 26 as a birthday gift for myself. For the benefit of those new to the running community, Sub1 10K Run is NOT A FUN RUN! It is Pinoy Fitness’ annual flagship event considered to be competitive in which a runner should have finish the race in 60 minutes or less before achieving a finisher’s medal. There are several local runners are vying to become podium finishers in both male and female categories.

sub1 2017

However, the main challenge was I haven’t ran 10 kilometers in less than 60 minutes because of my concentration with marathons. My training was based on the 5K training method from an old copy of the short lived Runner’s World Philippines magazine. There were several modifications such as additional distance, weight training, and uphill sprints. After a mere six weeks of training, I was confident enough to run faster than 59 minutes.

My first three kilometers was a tempo-based run with an average pace of 4 minutes 45 seconds. I never really thought that I was running way too fast. After reaching my maximum heart rate, I slowed down from kilometers 3 to 7 with an average pace of 5 minutes and 30 seconds. At one point, I became irate and confronted a young male racer after placing his right hand my shoulders to overtake me. I felt his weight on my back. He has to learn one of the golden rules of running by asking permission, not to touch any person’s body parts before overtaking.

Suddenly, I have noticed that I was gassing out before reaching the 8th kilometer. So, I walked for exactly 30 seconds to recover. I am glad that I reached my second wind after walking and ran with enough speed until I reached the finished line. I also exceeded my expectations by running about 56 minutes according to my GPS timer on my phone. Not bad for a guy turning 39 two days later!

sub1-02
Personal record at age 39!

Here are my comments for the recently concluded race:

PROS:

  • Both the race and finisher’s shirts were well made. I ended up ordering extra small race shirt instead of medium and gave it to my niece. Whilst, I chose medium for the finisher shirt for keeps.
  • The medal design is very intricate.
  • The baggage counter was well-organised. The staff were quick and efficient.
  • The hydration stations were strategically placed every 2.5 kilometres.

CONS:

  • The medal is way too huge. Personally, I am not a big fan of oversized medals. I prefer regular sized medals with back to back designs.
  • The booth for claiming free cans of Pocari Sweat was hitting the box office yet a complete dud for its service. They should have formed least two or three lines for faster, more convenient distribution.
  • Only a few finished claimed finisher’s shirt after the race! Pinoy Fitness released an apology and all unclaimed finisher shirts can be redeemed at selected GNC stores.

Earlier today, I got the official results online and claimed a medium-sized finisher shirt at the nearest GNC store. The official chip time was 55:59!

I am glad that I beat my previous PR by over a minute! Beating my personal record was a great birthday present to myself. I ended up treating myself with McDonald’s Big Breakfast meal and a chocolate cake.

TBR Dream Marathon 2015: A Retrospective

Today, I am looking back one of the finest days of my life. Who would have thought that I can finish my first marathon after having a pretty serious knee injury eight months prior?

I was originally part of the TBR Dream Marathon 2014 participants. I was in pretty good shape and training for both marathon and another corporate seven-a-side football league at the same time. However, I had to withdraw just 11 days before the race day because my father was seriously ill. I took a three-week leave of absence from work and training to take care of him. A few of my colleagues who also runs kept on insisting me to let one of them run the marathon on my behalf. I rejected their request simply because I am against bib switching. Apparently, my father passed away from a heart attack caused by pneumonia on February 17, 2014, a day after TBR Dream Marathon was held.

On June 8 of the same year, I suffered a tear in both meniscus and MCL in my left knee after a tough football game. With a combination of personal tragedy, work-related stress, and an injury, I became really depressed but I didn’t stop there. To overcome those tough times, I took a week-long time off from work and attended physical therapy sessions for over three months.

I became more enthusiastic with my full recovery after being selected to run for the TBR Dream Marathon 2015 in August.

THE TRAINING:

After being medically cleared, I started training in the first week of October based on the revised 2015 program with modifications such as additional core and weight training after maintenance runs. However, I had to let go the other sport that I love which is football to further concentrate on my marathon training. I also attended all monthly Bull Sessions (practice runs) and a couple of Bull Circle (seminars).

While training, I met a few fellow participants whom became my running buddies Mitzie, Mikael, RJ, Mers, Ed, Rain, and Arlene. It was our first taste to ran at in Nuvali in Santa Rosa, Laguna where the annual TBR Dream Marathon is being held.

For the past five months, I followed a strict regimen according to the training program by sleeping as early as I can, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, eating right, and most of all: NOT over-training. My confidence boosted specially that I was in the best shape of my life.

A day before the race day, I was pretty nervous and I couldn’t get additional sleep. So, I decided to take pictures of my running gear and played a vinyl of my favorite band. I ended up taking an afternoon nap at 5:00pm and waking up at 9:30pm. I tipped the scales at 140 lbs even on the race day and left home at exactly 10:45pm via service bus going to Nuvali.

THE MAIN EVENT:

The stage was set on February  22, 2015. The temperature in Sta. Rosa, Laguna was cool and breezy between 23-25 degrees Celsius.

All of race participants arrived at the venue nervous and excited at the same time. Mingling and taking pictures of one another really helped to boost our confidence. Mitzie, Mikael, and I met took warmed up with dynamic stretching in approximately twenty minutes.

On the first 10 kilometers, we ran 1 minute and walking 1 minute alternately with a considerably lame pace of 9 minutes/km. From kilometers 11 to 32, we ran 2/1 interval (two-minute run-one-minute walk) with an average pace of not lower than 8 minutes/km . The hydration tents and medical stations were alternately placed every 3 kilometers based on my recollection.

On the final 10 kilometers, we altered our strategy from 3/1 interval to 1.5/30 seconds with an average pace of 6.5 minutes/km. We never expected that cutting the intervals really helped us to achieve negative splits.  Instead of playing music on my mobile phone which I usually do to increase momentum, I kept on trading stories with Mikael and Mitzie.

It’s really fun to meet TBR Dream Marathon finishers from the previous years helping out participants by setting up tents, providing first aid, and offering free food such as fruits, Chippy, and Cloud 9 chocolate. Camaraderie was all around the place. Because of the food, it helped me to keep my energy on a steady level and consumed less packs of GU Roctane within the entire race.

THE CLIMAX:

Approaching the 40th kilometer, both my right knee and ankle felt a lot of pressure and experienced mild pain. It’s all because of the knee support on my left knee that contributed imbalanced blood flow. However, I shrugged off the pain off and kept on chit-chatting with Mitzie whilst running since we were about to achieve our personal milestone. All the pain were gone just less than 800 meters away from the finish line. I started striking funny poses showing sheer confidence in front of the photographers. I just let Mitzie to finish ahead of me by 30 seconds.

Finally, I can see the finish line with a horde of people cheering and the race announcers were clearly mentioning my name right before crossing the finish line. It was an emotional moment for me when I raised the finish line ribbon and screaming my late father’s name.

On February 22, 2015 at exactly 7:42 in the morning, I, Arthur Doctolero has become a marathoner with an official chip time of 5:41:59. I sworn to join at least one marathons a year and to eventually complete all six World Major Marathons. My running buddies finished strong and injury-free! It was also reported that all of the participants finished the race.

I highly recommend this race specially for those first time marathoners who are based in Mega Manila. I am very confident that you will enjoy the training more than you expected.

TBRfinish04
I did it! 🙂

What to Wear for Hassle-Free Leisure Travelling

Greetings gentlemen!

There are great things we enjoy most on having vacation overseas such as learning new languages, trying out new food, commuting like locals on a day-to-day basis, taking pictures, practice your passion, and meeting new friends or potential business partners. Travelling for pleasure helps us to relax and stay clear from work-related stress.

However, there are some things that aren’t really as fun as we think specially for those who will fly abroad for the first time. A few examples can vary from fulfilling visa application requirements (typical Philippine passport holder woes) up to boarding at the airport. Even our clothing can be a catastrophe if we wear the wrong outfit and bring what we don’t need. I have learned a lot from my experiences of travelling through the years and I have been taking these seriously.

nara01
Feeding cookies to sika deer at the Nara Deer Park

Here are the six things I have learned from traveling on commercial planes:

1. Lightweight clothing. It is a fact that nothing beats looking sharp at the airport specially on business trips. But, it is impractical when we are having a vacation. Any decent and comfortable casual clothing will be good enough to make us look great. Make sure that there will be no shirts with offensive and specially racist statement please! I highly recommend to bring at least a couple of button-down shirts, plain t-shirts, and a nice fitting pair cotton trousers. Chinos are my personal favorite. Besides, we can shop for new clothes abroad if we find something great, fits well, and right for our budget. In case we’re going to the beach on a weekend, much better to bring just a pair of walking shorts, swim shorts, a few lightweight shirts.

2. Layering. It is important to wear jackets or coats when traveling on cold weather. Make sure it is well insulated and lightweight. Also, those must have enough pocket to keep our passports and boarding pass. I really wanted to bring my favorite leather jacket before leaving for Japan but it was a little bit heavy so, I left it at home in favor of a lightweight fleece zip-up sweater I purchased from Uniqlo last October. I am really surprised that the fleece sweater worked well when I was in Osaka last October. I even worn it to warm up right before I ran the Osaka Marathon. Another great option are nylon jackets (e.g.: bomber and down jackets) just in case any clothing made of fleece can be too tacky for you. We can wear our jackets before boarding on the plane for convenience. This will not apply if were going to the beach on our summer getaway.

3. Sunglasses. Those will protect our eyes from the harmful sun rays regardless of the weather regardless if those are a pair of Aviators, Wayfarers, or even a pair of five-buck shades. As long as it is not those specs good for industrial work. Unless, if you’re attending a cosplay event or a steampunk-themed party. The type of weather will determine the color of lenses we have to wear. I highly recommend gradient brown or gray lenses for all season eye protection.

4. Comfortable shoes. Personally, I find running shoes really comfortable despite of lack of versatility compare to boots and dress shoes. Many people may find running shoes as the oddball or ugly duckling of our travelling ensemble. But comfort and convenience is they key. Modern-day running shoes have an impeccable cushioning that helps us to withstand long hours of walking from one tourist spot to another. Most of all, there’s no need to take off your shoes at the airport security checkpoint. During my most recent trips, I wore a pair of now-discontinued New Balance 870v4. If you’re not into running shoes, a nice pair of old school sneakers will do.

5. A small backpack as your hand carry.  No offense to so-called stylish people out there, but satchels and overnight bags do not work for backpacking no matter how stylish they are. Trust me! I highly recommend (not required) backpacks because they are easy to carry. Those can range to a simple water resistant waxed canvas to the lightweight and sophisticated Cordura nylon commonly used for day trekking. If you are not comfortable with backpacks, go for lightweight tote bags.

6. Running gear. Our running shoes will not be complete without our trusted running top and shorts. If you’re a running junkie like me, you’ll definitely need your running gear after finding a nice route or park along the place you’ll be visiting. Besides, we can also wear those whilst pumping iron at the hotel gyms if you’re not into long distance running. Don’t forget to research the best running routes in the place you’ll be visiting first.

kyoto02
String a pose at Fushimi Inari-taisha in Kyoto. Photo by Gilbert Enriquez

Always remember that comfort comes first before we can carry our clothes in style when we are away from home.

The Quest for the Right Style

Back in May 2015, I decided to upgrade my appearance, financial planning strategy, and outlook in life after getting bored with the daily routine and all sorts of clutter for the last six years. I also became really curious about the growing popularity of the gentleman’s lifestyle revival here in Manila at the same time. Coincidentally, I was preparing for a job interview for the position that I badly wanted.

I wanted to transform from a guy on fauxhawk and skull shirts to a more refined young professional. First, I took off my earrings and stopped wearing those. But, I didn’t know what’s next.

It all started a few years ago with my fascination on dressing up like David Beckham and browsing male fashion influences from Fashion Beans. Then, I went to a barber to get a fresh haircut. After paying off my loans and saving more than enough money, I started buying timeless clothes and made to order shoes over trend. As a result, I became more confident and got the position in the Human Resources. I will share with you the most appropriate business casual wear for men with the right fit and color combination without breaking the bank in the future.

style_2016

The toughest part however was cleaning-up my closet. I realized that there were too many well-loved clothes were too dated and no longer fit my more athletic physique. So, I decided to pile those up and donate to the charity right before Christmas of 2015. I didn’t just improved my style, I also helped less fortunate people who are in need of decent clothing.

Currently, I’m developing my own capsule wardrobe after being inspired from the tutorial videos by Paul Nagaoka on YouTube. Settling on minimal yet timeless clothing made my life easier and helped me to save more money. As you can see above, that is my usual midweek work wear. Since I live in a hot country, I don’t really wear jackets.

I still admit that my style of clothing is still a work in progress. I’m not a guru and I’ll never be like one. I have lots of things to learn.

The quest for the right style has just begun.

Osaka Marathon 2016: My International Debut

2016 has been a fruitful year for me because, I am injury-free and started to enjoy running more than I used to. I would like to share with you this quite late entry about my first ever marathon I have participated outside of the Philippines.

OSAKA MARATHON is one of the hottest marathons in Japan today. Its theme called “Making a Rainbow Together” featured seven charity themes based on the rainbow colors, including green for clean environment and navy blue for children’s future. The 2016 edition happened last October 30th.

Back in May, my friend and fellow 2015 TBR Dream Marathon finisher Arlene Cao who kept on encouraging me to join. She knew that I really wanted to join international marathons at all cost. Heavy workload has been an obstacle for me to join races even just outside Metro Manila. So, I signed up and got accepted. There’s no looking back.

I resumed my marathon training right after receiving my acceptance email. My training consists of short tempo and LSD runs, incorporated with some weight training. It took four months for me to get back in shape and lost around 10 lbs.

ARRIVING JAPAN:

I arrived to the Land of the Rising Sun for the very first time on October 26. Right after landing at the Kansai International Airport, I took a train straight to Tengachaya to drop my luggage where I was staying at. I immediate grabbed some food and enjoyed walking on the streets of Tengachaya. I felt safe there. My first night in Japan was short yet sweet. I needed to sleep early because I had lot of places to visit the next couple of days.

GOING SOLO ON DAY TWO:

I visited a few heritage parks in Nara, which 1 1/2 hour train away from Osaka. I had fun visiting the Nara National Museum, Todai-ji, and feeding deer at Nara Deer Park. In fact, a pregnant deer bit my butt after I ran out of deer cookies. Too bad that I was not able to visit other historical landmarks including the famed Kasuga Grand Shrine because the sun set at 4:00pm.

Nara, Japan

Before I went back to Osaka, I watched a great street musician named Starduck Tony outside of the Nara Kintetsu Line. I also saw that awesome Glicoman LED billboard on Dotonbori by chance whilst walking towards Shinsaibashi. Gosh, there were lots of cosplayers and tourists around since it was just a few days before Halloween. Before day too ends, I went to the nearest branch of Tower Records to buy CDs of my favorite j-rock artists.

DAY THREE:

Gilbert I met on the third day of my vacation. We went to Kyoto to Fushimi Inari Shrine. Too bad, we didn’t stay that long at the shire due to heavy rain. So, we went to a cat café nearby called Neko Café Time to spend for an hour because we both like cats. Neko Café Time is known for its laidback setup and rescued cats. We enjoyed our time with the resident cats there.

Gilbert and I in Kyoto
Exploring Kyoto
Food and souvenir market in Kyoto
Neko Café Time in Kyoto

When the rain stopped we left Kyoto to meet up with Chaps, Jay, and Pam. Afterwads, we went straight to INTEX Osaka to claim our race kits. We are really impressed on how organized the staff are. We also bought gear by Mizuno, exclusively made for the Osaka Marathon as souvenir items. I had a pretty long day three.

A DAY BEFORE THE RACE DAY:

We did our practice run along Osakajo Park and saw the Osaka Castle. After running we headed straight to Dotonbori and ate at the world famous Ichiran Ramen. We also had a chance to see beautiful and talented girls auditioning to become an idol right before heading to our respective hotels on sunset.

The Osaka Castle
The Glicoman wishes us strong and injury finish
Gelato at Dotonbori

THE RACE DAY:

My friends and I arrived at the Osaka Castle Park at 7:30am. I was pretty cold probably, at around 10 degrees Celsius and the sky was clear. We did warm-ups and took pictures whilst walking towards the starting line outside of the Osaka-jo Hall. It was reported that there were more or less than 30,000 runners from different countries joined the marathon.

Prepping my Osaka Marathon race gear

The gun started at 9:00 AM but we waited for 45 minutes before our wave’s turn. My body specially my legs started to shiver from the cold whilst being stuck at the starting line. I paid the price of not wearing full length compression tights.

Ready to rumble!
Striking a pose before the race starts

At the first 10 kilometers, Gilbert and I started the race really slow. But, I started to up the pace after an hour of running and I left Gilbert for me run a bit faster. I also took pictures of runners and race attractions from opposite lane. What I have noticed were water and sports drink stations were placed startegically every three or four kilometers. Maybe because, the race happened on a cooler season to prevent us from overhydrating.

Those faster runners….

The locals were showing full support by cheering and giving away all sorts of stuff from candies, green tea, chocolate, fun-sized takoyaki to Air Salonpas for free. That shows how warm the people of Osaka are. In return, many participants gave them high fives.

Children’s choir outside of the Osaka City Hall

Somewhere along the 16th kilometer, I bumped into a friend Vincent, whom I have met at a rock concert in Hong Kong in May 2015. We were catching up for several minutes while running before I left him at kilometer 19.

with Vincent Lee from Hong Kong

Suddenly, I felt dizzy and experience bad cramps on my thighs along the 24th kilometer. I was about to hit the dreaded wall TOO EARLY. I was heavily focused on exceeding my goal of 5 hours and 15 minutes that almost took a toll on me. I had no choice but to stop at the nearest medical station to get some treatment. Medics gave me a can of oxygen and thigh massage to recover. That thigh massage was pretty stiff! I hurts like hell, believe me! Yet, it helped me to recover. I started taking Salt Stick capsules given to me by Gilbert to increase my body salts. Recovery is a bit struggle for me since this was my first time to run in the cold. It would have been prevented if I wore full length tights.

The sun went up and the weather became warm at around 1:00PM. I began having signs of life from kilometers 27 to 30. While my momentum was increasing, I started having fun at the race after seeing race volunteers wearing costumes of popular anime such as Lupin III and Rose of the Versailles. I suffered some cramps again right before the kilometer 34 marker so, I paused at the sidewalk and stretched it out to fasten my recovery. The hydration stations around that area were too far from one another. I was a little bit worried after almost running out of water in my squeeze bottle.

All out support by Lady Oscar and her troupe

Finally, I felt strongest from kilometer 37 to the finish. Thanks to a few race spectators who gave out water and green tea to racers. I ran at a consistent pace of 1 minute run and 30 seconds walk pace until I crossed the finish line at INTEX Osaka.

Despite of not meeting expectations of finishing at 5 hours ad 15 minutes, I managed to finish really strong with well-kempt hair, and established a new personal record at 5:34:09.

Mission accomplished!
What a colorful medal!

I am also happy for my friends who have either broke their personal records or finished injury-free.

AFTERMATH:

After the race, we all went inside the stadium to claim our medals and baggage which were nicely arranged per wave. After the race, my friends and I treated ourselves with sumptuous sashimi and cold beer in Shinsaibashi.

Yummy!

Too bad, I had to fly back to Manila the following night after the race due to work. Good thing, a quick dip on a bath tub full of cold water followed by a nice hot shower helped me to recover easily. I even sprayed almost my entire body of a can of Air Salonpas before sleeping. Good thing recovery was quick enough despite of the thigh cramps and slight fever symptoms.

I wish I had stayed a few more days in the Kansai Region to explore more places and do more shopping. Otherwise, finishing the Osaka Marathon has been one of the finest races I have ever joined.

I will be back in Japan for sure!