Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Filipinos in the New York Marathon: Nori Poblador

Filipinos in the New York Marathon
Part 1: Nori Poblador
by rick olivares

World History was one of my more favorite subjects in school. I remember when the topic of discussion was ancient Greece, I was simply engrossed in how their culture had a significant effect on the world. One particular instance was the Battle of Marathon where the Greeks beat back the first Persian invasion of their soil. The victory, one of the most important in European history, spawned the legend of Philippides who was alleged to have run from Marathon to Athens (when he actually ran to Sparta to seek help).

Incredibly, Philippides ran 140 miles! And it took him a day to reach his destination.

When plans for the first modern Olympics were being drawn up (and in Greece to boot), the legend of Philippides run was used as an event. And it has since been the showcase event of the Olympics.

And after the Olympics, the most popular marathon is the New York Marathon. It’s an incredible race through all five boroughs with millions lined across the streets to cheer, sing, offer words of encouragement and sports drinks to the thousands (and I do mean thousands) of runners who come from all over the globe. I used to go out in the streets to cheer on the runners and watch the performing bands (usually I’d be at Colombus Circle). The whole city just gets down for this fantastic event.

Last year there were more than 45,000 finishers. Among them were some Filipinos. Some of whom I know personally and went to school with.

This year, we (Gatorade) are sponsoring Jaymie Pizarro’s participation in the 2011 NY Marathon. But before we feature her in a series I call “The Bull Runner does the New York Marathon” (where we document her training, her regimen, her gear, and her life before she departs for the Big Apple), I spoke with a couple of participants about their NY Marathon experience. And here is a glimpse of what it is all about.

Part 1. Nori Poblador
Nori Poblador is currently a Managing Director at Rothschild.  Rothschild provides financial advice in the areas of M&A, capital raising and debt restructuring.  A former football player for Ateneo de Manila, Poblador took his MBA at Columbia University in New York. Before moving back to Manila, he worked in Hong Kong and Singapore. Poblador started running regularly in 2002 and he participated in his first triathlon in 2003 and first marathon in 2005. He has run in a total of five marathons to date. Poblador has been married since 2000 and has three children.

Rick: When did you run the NY Marathon?
Nori: Last year -- November 2010.

Rick: How long did you train for this? How did you find the time to train around your work?
Nori: I trained close to 12 weeks for this.  I kicked off my training by doing the run leg (21km) for a relay team of the Cobra Half Iron Man in Camsur in August.  A 12-week program is just right to train for a marathon, but that assumes you have some base training.  Unfortunately, the second half of 2010 was a particularly busy time at work, so I skipped the base building phase and needed to cram.  My program included at least two weekday runs, one each of intervals and tempo, which I would do at 6am in order to get to work on time, and a Sunday long run which progressed from 10km to 32km throughout the program.  Luckily, I had a good friend, who was also doing the race, to train with and to keep me honest to the program and specially to push me to finish the hard weekend runs.

Rick: Can you share your experience in the NYC Marathon? How did you do? What made it special or memorable?
Nori: I plan to run marathons in each of the cities I’ve lived in and had crossed out Manila and HK already. Luckily, I got into NYC Marathon via lottery which leaves only one more city to run.  

While this was my slowest marathon, it was also the most enjoyable one.  The vibe during marathon week was beyond compare.  For that week, NY City turned marathon obsessed – upon landing, even the immigration officers at the airport found a way to be part of my experience – mine said that she would come out to watch and would look out for me on the course.   In the city, restaurants, stores and public attractions all seemed to have some special to offer participants. 

Pre-race was an experience to be remembered – from the early morning preparation, to taking the ferry to the starting line, to waiting in the cold for what seemed like hours for my wave to start.  The anticipation reached its peak when the wave was finally asked to make its way to the starting line. 

Although there are multiple waves and starting points, each wave was sent off with what seems like an intimate and personal welcome speech and good wishes for the race.  We were sent off to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” which one might consider cheesy, but felt very appropriate for the occasion. 

My wife traveled with me to the race, and although I had a race plan carefully mapped out, including where on the course she and my brother should meet me and at what time, things didn’t turn out as planned. 

I had signed up for the race when I was considerably fitter than I was, so I had signed up for a wave that was targeting to finish the race in 3.45.  Realizing it was impossible to achieve that given my race preparation, my race strategy coming in was just to run steady six-minute kilometers.  But the adrenaline, the atmosphere, the momentum of the wave, Frank Sinatra, plus my wife’s last words before sleeping: “It would be nice if you broke four hours again” had me off to a quick start.  As a result, they missed me at the first two agreed upon meeting places, but I thought to myself “never mind, the bands are keeping me going and I’ll see them eventually”. 

In the end, the departure from the plan took its toll and I was hit by cramps on both legs at kilometer 30 and was reduced to walking the next 10km.  I distinctly remember entering the Bronx and one of the spectators shouting good-naturedly “Hey, this is the Bronx.  No one walks here!”

Eventually, I hit the green of Central Park and willed myself to run the last 2km.  A few hundred meters from the finish line, I heard my wife shout out to me – a perfect final touch to end a memorable race.        


Here is the official website of the New York Marathon. And you might want to read Luiz Ferreira's blog as well.


  1. That's a nice surprise seeing Nori on your blog. Cool stuff Rick.

  2. Thanks. Tomorrow I'll have Butch Tansengco. This stuff also appears in It's a series on the New York Marathon.

  3. Hey Nori, reading this was awesome. My compliments to the writer. Garsh - Go 4H!