Thoughts of Dr George Sheehan #1

I just thought of copying and posting one of the writings of Dr George Sheehan whom I adore up to this time and who inspired me when I started to learn the scientific way of running in the early 80s. I was then in my early 30s and I was reading the “thoughts” about running of a doctor twice my age who had been passionate in running. He was popularly known as the “Philosopher Of Running” in the modern times. Way back in the 80s, it became a habit to read first the page of Dr Sheehan whenever I have a copy of the RW Magazine, whether old or new, and this gave me the inspiration to run and train some more. Since I revived my running last October last year, my day is not complete if I don’t read an essay or two from the writings of Dr Geoge Sheehan which I usually read before going to bed. Here is one of his essays:

Running Into Old Game

“What I have lost I can afford to lose. What I have gained is something I cannot do without.”

           I first came upon the aging process in a race.
           I felt no sense of advancing years in my day-to-day activity. My work week was unchanged: I wrote, I traveled, I lectured. Some people marveled at my energy and endurance. It was my weekend race that finally told me I was no longer young.
           The changes that come with age are subtle-but not to a runner. My 10-K time measures me quite accurately. Any change in performance dictated by age is precisely recorded in minutes or seconds on the digital clock at the finish line.
           “Crumbling is not an instant’s Act,” wrote Emily Dickinson. And the physician in me knows that almost 90 percent of my liver has to be damaged before its impairment is apparent. The body has enormous reserves to call upon. But in the race, I call on all my reserves. I am operating at full throttle. The least diminution in function becomes evident.
           The race, therefore, is the litmus test for aging. Long before anything else goes, race times signal the approach of the last stage of life. A look at my weekly race results will tell you bluntly that I am no longer middle-aged. I am now a full-fledged citizen of the country of the aged.
           Three years ago when this happened, I refused to believe it. Running had been my fountain of youth. For years I thought it was inexhaustible, like the never-empty cup of coffee some restaurants offer. After I began running in my 40’s, I quickly became 32 years old and stayed that way. Decades came and went, and I was still in my prime.
           When my 10-K times slowed down and I began to run personal worsts instead of personal bests, I took stock. It was not age, I told myself. I had been 32 years old for the previous 20 years and did not intend to get older. All I needed was more training, some hills and speedwork, and I would be back to my best.
           I took up arms against age. I increased my training and within a single Thanksgiving holiday ran four races. Each race I ran a little faster than the previous one, but never near the times I had registered the year before. And I was no longer in the top third of the field-now, I was well back in the second half of the pack.
           How did I feel about all this? Terrible. And don’t remind me that most people my age have run up the white flag. Do not tell me I can still outrun the average person twenty years younger than me. Do not point out that age has compensations that will more than pay for the lost few minutes in the race.
           I am rebuilding my life on those thoughts. But first, help me bury the runner I once was, and then we can talk about what the future holds.
           Apparently, it still holds plenty. My initial depression has receded. I realize now that there are more things at stake than setting a personal best in a road race. I can even answer truthfully (and this is the most difficult part) when someone asks me, “What was your time, Doc?”
           My times continue to get slower and slower. And, therefore, the “me” that I am is different. But the me that I am has developed insights and wisdom that I did not have before. What I have lost I can afford to lose. What I have gained is something I cannot do without.
           The race, however slow my times, remains an ever-changing learning experience. Whenever I race, I learn something new about myself and those who race with me. I will never be 32 years-old again, but it no longer matters, because I’ve learned that winning doesn’t matter, it’s running that counts. And when I push to the limit, I am a boy again-an untried youth listening to the wisdom of my body.

Copyright © The George Sheehan Trust



“Nostalgic” Long Run #2

5:30 AM 29 May 2008 In Laoag City

For the past days I’ve been staying in Laoag City supervising the repair of my future residence here in the province. A structure or apartment building my Mom built in the early 90s will be my future home and that is where all my things from my quarters in Fort Bonifacio had been relocated/transfered. The place is big and spacious but there are things to be replaced and fixed to be able to make it at par with the usual amenities of the condos and houses in Metro Manila. I could transform this place as a transient facility for visitors coming from other provinces and from Metro Manila. The place has 6 big bedrooms and 4 bathrooms with toilets. Each room will be transformed into air-conditioned rooms to include the living & dining rooms.

From Barangay Dibua, where my sister’s house is located, I started my run at 5:30 AM towards the Poblacion of Laoag City and crossing the Padsan River towards the Suba, Paoay area. This was the same route I ran last 23rd of December of last year. I ended the 1st lap of my run at the Clubhouse of the Fort Ilocandia Golf Course which has a distance of 15 kilometers from the place I started from. I clocked in 1:30:18 hours which was a good 7-minute improvement from my time last December 2007.

I had to use the Comfort Room of the Clubhouse and tried to see the status of the Golf Course from the Tee Mound of the 1st Hole and I was able to talk to the Caddy Master whom I’ve known since I was a Lieutenant. I am glad that the Golf Course is well-maintained and still a favorite golf course of tourists coming from Taiwan, Hongkong and Southern China. This will be my future golf course whenever I am in Laoag City.

After 10 minutes break, I started my run back to the Poblacion of Laoag City. Instead of going directly to Barangay Dibua where I started my run, I ended my run at our family residence where I made an inspection on the extent of the repairs being done in my future place. For the past two days, the carpenters & masons were able to repair/fix a lot of things and I was happy with the outcome of their work.

The distance covered on the 2nd lap of my run was 11 kilometers with a time of 1:12:08 hours. I still have to run at least 4 kilometers to my starting area but the heat of the sun was too much already. I finally decided to end my running workout at the project site and met with the workers. If I continued the run up to Barangay Dibua, I could had finished a distance of 30 kilometers for the day.

It was indeed a long slow run but along the way, many of my friends and those who know me saw me running along the main roads of the city. Some of them stopped to greet me and some just simply honked their horns. It was really inspiring to see these people greeting me while I was running. Most of them knew me as a marathon runner but only one of them know me that I am the “Bald Runner”.

I finished my run at 8:40 AM and the heat of the sun was too hot already. I was glad that I used my Finisher’s T-Shirt in the 1st City of Angels Half-Marathon which is made of CoolMax material which has loose sleeves down to my elbows. It covered my shoulders and upper arms from possible sunburn from the heat of the sun.

The following were the readings that registered on my GF 305:

1st Lap:

Distance—15.0 kms              Time—1:30:18 hours

Average Pace—6:01 mins/km        Average Speed—10.0 kms/hr

Maximum Speed—12.4 kms/hr     Total Calories—1,115 cal

Average HR—147 bpm                   Maximum HR—154 bpm

Total Ascent—508 meters             Total Descent—506 meters

2nd Lap:

Distance—11.01 kms            Time—1:12:08 hours

Average Pace—6:33 mins/km        Average Speed—9.2 kms/hr

Maximum Speed—11.3 kms/hr     Total Calories—813 cal

Average HR—147 bpm                   Maximum HR—156 bpm

Total Ascent—308 meters             Total Descent—340 meters

Running Kit—Adidas Shorts & Finisher’s T-Shirt For the 1st City of Angels Half-Marathon (With sleeves) with Runner’s Cap from Penshoppe.

Running Shoes—ASICS Gel-1120

Nathan Water Belt

Music—67 Assorted Songs from my Ipod Nano.

Pose With The City Mayor Of Laoag

11:00 AM 28 May 2008 @ The City Hall, Laoag City

Suddenly, few hours before the wedding, I was requested by a young couple to be their main principal sponsor in a civil wedding rites to be administered by the City Mayor of Laoag. So, I ended up being a “Ninong” and a good opportunity to have a photo-ops with the Honorable Michael V. Farinas who had been a friend way back when I was still a Major.

Back At The Libingan

9:12 AM 26 May 2008 @ The Libingan ng mga Bayani

It was a day after the 2008 Doc Fit “Takbo Para Sa Puso” at the UP Campus and I was supposed to have a rest day but with my slower run during this race, I decided to have a short run at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The sky was cloudy that morning that I finally decided to run after taking my breakfast. I left my quarters inside Fort Bonifacio at 9:00 AM and slowly jogged towards the Libingan Road. Once I crossed the road, I started to run at my 75% effort along the measured 2-mile distance loop towards the Gate of the Libingan ng mga Bayani and was able to register the following data from my GF 305:

Distance—3.20 kms               Time—17:43 mims

Average Pace—5:32 mins/km         Average Speed—10.8 kms/hr

Maximum Speed—13.2 kms/hr      Total Calories—233 cal

Average HR—146 bpm                    Maximum HR—159 bpm

Total Ascent—106 meters              Total Descent—97 meters

Split Times:

Km 1—5:53 mins    Km 2—5:18 mins     Km 3—5:25 mins   203 meters—1:05 mins

After 5 seconds of slow jog, I started another  round of the 2-mile distance loop with a faster pace which is about 95% of my effort. The following data registered in my GF 305:

Distance—3.21 kms                Time—15:39 mins

Average Pace—4:52 mins/km         Average Speed—12.3 kms/hr

Maximum Speed—14.3 kms/hr      Total Calories—236 cal

Average HR—206 bpm                    Maximum HR—239 bpm

Total Ascent—127 meters              Total Descent—125 meters

Split Times:

Km 1—4:46 mins   Km 2—4:42 mins   Km 3—5:11 mins   211 meters—1:00 min

From the starting point, I slowly jogged for another 800 meters until I reached my quarters. It was a nice calculated tempo run for the day and after finishing a 10K run a day before.

I could had made another round at a faster pace but the sun’s light was already breaking the clouds and I felt the heat of the sun to my body.

Surprisingly, my heart rate overshoot my usual 168-172 beat per minute range to an Average HR of 206 bpm to a Maximum HR of 239  bpm for the second run. However, I did not feel any difficulty in breathing or heaviness on my chest after the said run. I can still make another run but I decided not to force myself and I was satisfied already with the results of my run. This latest data that I got from my GF Heart Rate Monitor indicate that I am not utilizing my “turbo power” to its fullest! My body is now adjusting to the stress & physical activities brought about by my aerobic & anaerobic exercises for the past weeks.

Next time, I will try to have my tempo runs at the Headquarters Philippine Army Grandstand and Parade Grounds which was improved lately with lights and two drinking fountains with filtered water along the 980-meter jogging lane. The place is relatively flat. The jogging lane is open to anybody at 5:00 AM till 10:00 PM and has a secured Parking Area fronting the Officer’s Clubhouse or on the right side of the Grandstand.

Gout & Running #2

I just had my blood test yesterday morning. My doctor confirmed that my blood is 0.44 points (?) in excess of the maximum 7.0 points (?) of Uric Acid in my blood. He prescribed to me a daily dose of 300 mg of Allurase (Allopurinol) for the next three months to reduce and flash out and control my uric acid in my system. He even prescribed to me a drug, a very expensive tablet, for the pain which is taken once a day, only if I am attacked with the inflamation and pain on my right toe.

The doctor gave me a list of food which I can eat with mush gusto; foods I have to moderately take; and the foods I have to avoid. This is the list of food I can take without any limits:

Beverages                               Butter, Margarine

Bread                                      Milk (Low Fat)

Gelatin (Gulaman)                   Tea & Coffee

Fruits                                      Cheese

Eggs                                       Cereal/Cereal Products

Vegetables                              Fish

Harry aka Mukhang Guilty sent me also a link on the list of foods high, low, & lowest in purine which is a more detailed guide list on the foods I could eat with low purines/uric acid. Thanks, Harry for the link. I will really use the list as my daily guide.

Lastly, my blood pressure was 110/70 and a weight of 144 pounds! All the other blood tests were normal.

Lessons Learned: Market! Market! 5-Mile Run

6:00 AM 18 May 2008 @ Market! Market! at The Fort

There were three (3) road races on this day in Metro Manila but I preferred this race because it was longer in distance, I am familiar with the roads, and it’s a day after my 56th Birthday. These are my insights; lessons learned; and things to improve on to improve my running and be able to compete with myself:

1) Road Races Should be Done “Rain or Shine”—It did not matter whether it was raining or not, I was determined to join/participate in this road race. Aside from the fact that this race was longer than the other road race which was held on the same day, I wanted to run in this race because of my familiarity of the course. The rains on the night before the race was not strong enough to cancel the road race and I prepared for my runners kit and other gadgets needed for the race including the charging of the battery for my digital camera. The road was wet and I thought it was slippery. I made sure to use the heaviest among my running shoes which is the ASICS Gel-Kinsei 2 which has better traction from the other ASICS I have. I initially brought with me my runner’s cap to keep my head from the rains during my warm-up runs and planned to remove it once I start to sweat profusely, which I did. Fortunately, there were no rains during the time that I was on the race. If I decided to continue with my run even after finishing the race, I could had been exposed to the strong rains that dropped immediately after I finished the race. Anyway, running with the rain is a nice experience!

2) Wider Roads Means Faster Run—With my past experience in the 2nd Champion 11K Race which was conducted at the Marikina Riverbanks with narrow paved roads, running at The Fort is completely the reverse/opposite .with very wide road to run! Maybe, the big difference from the past road race before this race gave me that faster pace as soon as I hit the wide road from the Starting Line. There was no problem overtaking other runners who were slower in pace because of the enough space to manuever on my sides.

3) Start Fast But Finish Faster—I was confident that I could run faster on the last two kilometers because the distance of this road race was only 8 kilometers. I planned to have a fast pace on the first 4 kilometers and have a faster pace on the last 4 kilometers but I felt I slowed down on the last two kilometers of the race. Although I finished in sub-40 minutes on this race and ended sustaining a faster average pace, I really wanted a better finish time. I felt I was only delivering 80-90% of my maximum effort on this race.

4) More Interval Training—The better way for me to improve my finish time is to introduce (again!) speed on my training. Actually, I’ve been stucked, for the meantime, with my endurance and strengthening workouts with my long slow distance runs, of which I really need before I go into speed plays. The gout that I ‘ve been experiencing for the past days had been giving me some problems and I am trying my best to cure this by avoiding foods high in uric acid/purine. During this road race, I was still in pain with my righ big toe but I managed to run by taking in some “out of the counter” pain killers. But I guess, the best “pain killer” is still running as it seems all the pains on my foot disappear after having my warm-up jogging before the start of the race and moreso, during the actual race. But after resting for an hour or two after the race, the pain on my toe would be most severe again.

5) Learn To Look On My Shoulders—Since my idea in running is not to compete with the other runners but to compete with myself, I really don’t mind other runner’s pace or runners overtaking me. But on the “darker” side of my brain, I would like not to be overtaken by other runners. Being overtaken by runners on the last few meters from the Finish Line and thinking that you are on your fastest pace, your psychological stability and pride is sometimes affected and it slows me down a bit. So, after this race, I should learn to watch and look on my shoulders at least one kilometer from the Finish Line and watch out for other runners who try to outsprint me in the last few meters from the Finish Line. 

Running Form @ Doc Fit 10K Run

These pictures were taken by my nephew, Lemuel, during the 2008 Doc Fit “Takbo Para Sa Puso” 10K Run on the roads of UP Diliman Campus. Nice pictures, Lemuel. Thanks!

Do I need to raise my knees to have a higher “kick” with my back foot in order to increase the length of my stride? or Do I have to increase the frequency of my short strides and maintain this “shuffling” motion of my legs and be able to protect my knees? These are the basic factors that you have to consider in order to gain more speed—-the length of your stride and the frequency of your strides. However, every runner must be able to protect his knees, most especially for an old runner like me. But in the end, what is important is to follow the natural form/flow of your body when you are running.

Can you spot if I was experiencing pain on my right foot brought about by “gout”?

Gout & Running

I’ve discovered that I have gout when I was in Cebu last 14 April and since then I’ve been avoiding meat, legumes, some shellfish & seafoods and it was an experimental ride for the food I could take since then. Little did I know that there are some vegetables that could trigger pain and inflammation of my right “big toe”. It was a “trial and error” experience for the right food I could eat for the past month.

During the Market! Market! 5-Mile Run and 2008 Doc Fit Run (for the past two weeks), I had pains on my big toe brought about this “disease of kings”. I had to take some “pain killer” medications just for me to be able to run these road races and conduct my running workouts. Surprisingly, after a warm-up jogging of about one kilometer, the pain subsides and I could run without thinking about the “pain & swelling” and finish the race/run.

Well, this is a sign of accepting that I am getting old and becoming a member of the “Senior Citizens” but the challenge and “warrior” spirit for me to run at least everyday is still there and I am really serious in preparing for The San Francisco Marathon.

Watching the movie “300” on HBO two nights ago and remembering my almost monthly hiking/trek to Mt Tirad (Tirad Pass), from Salcedo, Ilocos Sur up to the famous “spring water source” on top of the mountain, when I was a Battalion Commander in the Ilocos Region, give me that positive resolve to continue with my running and preparations for the incoming marathon. (I’ll post a story about Tirad Pass as soon as I will get hold of my picture taken beside the Historical Marker in 1995 where General Gregorio del Pilar died during the Battle of Tirad Pass)

Today, I am going to have my doctor’s consultation and have my blood examined to find out what foods I could eat and those that I should avoid.

Project Donate A Shoe @ 2008 Doc Fit Run

25 May 2008 @ UP Diliman Campus

After I finished the 2008 Doc Fit 10K Run, I was approached by Councilor Doray Delarmente of Quezon City and she introduced herself to me. I had known beforehand in her blog that she is also a passionate runner and had been very serious in improving her finish time in every road race that she participated. She is also a regular visitor of this blog and writes good comments about my posts. We had a brief conversation and asked her about her father who had been with me in the same office where I was assigned when I was a Captain. After some photo-ops with her, she told me that she is donating some pairs of running shoes to the Project Donate A Shoe. Councilor Doray donated four (4) Nike running shoes. It was nice of her to support this project of mine. Thanks, Councilor Doray! I hope you are now proudly wearing the “ONE” wristband that I gave you.

A guy who just completed the 10K run also approached me at the vicinity of the Project Donate A Shoe booth and gave me two (2) pairs of Adidas running shoes. He introduced himself as Jay who did not want to be known by his complete name and did not want also to have a photo-ops with me. Anyway, he is married and presently working at Banco De Oro at Ayala Branch. In my brief conversation with him, he told me that he found out about this Project from one of the Janitors in their office. The janitor, according to him, runs from Bulacan to Makati City, to their office, on a daily basis and he was a recipient of one of the donated shoes through this Project. Wow! I have to know and meet this janitor and donate more shoes to him! Jay, thank you very much for your support and please proudly wear the “ONE” wristband that I gave you.

At present, a total of 44 pairs of running shoes had been donated from our “kind-hearted” runners; 34 pairs had been distributed to our “less-fortunate” runners and 10 pairs are “on hand” for distribution. Our booth will be available at the Sta Lucia Mall 10-Mile Run on 08 June 2008. For particulars and immediate contact with my staff, please visit/click the “Project Donate A Shoe” Page.