Race Review: RotaRun 09

We were all back to the dreaded and treacherous McKinley Hill route as the Rota Run 2009 was held there yesterday morning. This is one of my favorite race routes, no matter how daunting it can be. It also marked the first race that Takbo.ph managed and facilitated. Let’s now see how the race went.

THE HIGHS

Race started on time. As mentioned in my previous race review (eco dash), I always prefer that races start on time. This way, runners can calculate the time they need to warm-up and go to the starting line.

Adequate aid stations with abundant supply. I like the part where there are people handing out water and Vitwater to runners. This way, one does not have to completely walk or stop to get fluids. This also lessens the queuing at the aid stations. (Although, after reading Baldrunner’s blog about hydration stations, I have to recommend to organizers that they should have longer tables)

Safety and the presence of marshals. What more can you say if you see military people stationed at different sections of the route? I felt as if I had a bodyguard.

Presence of directional markers. One would not get lost due to the presence and visibility of directional markers telling runners whether to go straight, turn right or turn left. Plus, you have marshals ensuring that you go to the right direction.

McKinley Hill. The hills…those barbaric McKinley hills! One year of running and I still don’t have an answer to these hills. But I do enjoy running at McKinley and I make it a point to join races if it passes through McKinley.

Nice singlets. It may not be as good as the Kenny’s Urbanite singlets but it still has a great and comfortable feel.

Value for money. Nowadays, seldom do we see registration fees below Php 300. This is value for money at its best. For Php 200, you get a nice singlet, medals for 21K finishers, some freebies from sponsors and get to run in a safe, scenic and enjoyable race.

THE LOWS

No KM markers. I hope that KM markers become a standard during races. Runners without the aid of Garmins or Polars rely on the KM markers.

Not a 21K. Runners with Garmin watches have it at 18K. The 3K difference is really big, especially for those aiming for a PR or for those training for a full marathon. At the moment, I also don’t know the reason behind the distance disparity. We can only hope that there is an explanation for this.

Robbery at McKinley Parking. This is really a very unfortunate incident. We can only hope that the McKinley administration improve their surveillance and security procedures. And dare I say that the Php 50 parking fee is too much for – what – a short 2-3 hour stay? Yeah, Php 50 seems small but you don’t get value from their end. Put CCTV cameras there and beef up security and then we can agree that the Php 50 fee is reasonable (For example, SM megamall and MOA have those sensors to direct you where to park – red means a car is parked and green means you can park there. Plus, you see 2-3 security guards who tirelessly roam around using their motorbikes. Now, that’s a “sulit” Php 50 parking!)

MY 15K RUN

No doubt, this was a better 15K run than at Kenny’s in terms of time and overall experience. In fact, my only goal for the race was to eclipse the 1h 38m (chip time) I had set at Kenny’s.

For the first time in a long while, we arrived early. Got a good parking (2nd floor) and walked leisurely to the race grounds. I’ve had so many close calls where I thought I’d be late for a race. But not on this Rota Run morning (partly because I knew that parking would be difficult).

So, for a change, I had the chance to do some warm-ups and stretching. I did around 3 sets of sprints after a comfortable jog. I lined up at the start-finish area with around 5 minutes to spare.

My plan for this race is to take it easy while in McKinley and take advantage of the flat roads along Lawton Ave. I knew that I lacked hill training and pushing hard in the beginning would be stubborn on my part.

The race started on time and, immediately, we were greeted by a mild uphill run. I followed my plan and navigated the uphills slowly but easily. I let the momentum from the downhills carry over and use the added speed to run faster on the few flat roads of McKinley. Approaching Blue Leaf I slowed down again for the final long uphill leading to Lawton Ave.

It was like heaven at Lawton Ave. Finally, no more uphills! This is where I picked up the pace and made up for lost time. It was the first time for me to run almost the entire length of Lawton Ave, with the u-turn at gate 3. In previous races, the direction is usually to turn left at Bayani Road. It was pretty straightforward (some uphills, some downhills, some flats) along Bayani Road leading to the U-turn outside Heritage Park.

After the final ascend at Bayani Rd.-Lawton Ave. intersection, I felt that I still had some energy left. With 1 final sip of Gatorade from my hydration bottle, I ran faster towards McKinley. And as I used the momentum for the final downhill run, I sprinted to the finish line.

And as I was sprinting to the finish, I was carefully looking at my time at above the finish line. I really wanted to know if I eclipsed my Kenny’s time. Lo and behold, I was surprised and very happy to see that my official time was 1h 22m 30s, a new PR for me for the 15K distance. Wow! This is a great bonus for me…something to boost my confidence that I’m progressing with my training, that I’m on the right track for my first 21K at QCIM and that I am on the way to making a full recovery from injuries.

OVERALL RATING

I’ll be using a scale of 1 to 5 defined as: 1-Poor, 2-Fair, 3-Good, 4-Very Good, 5-Excellent.

I would rate this run event as a 3.5/5 – Almost Very Good.

On a somehow short notice, Takbo.ph and Ian Alacar did a good job on getting this event together. Congratulations to the race organizers for a good job. With all your hard work and dedication to the running community, I am inspired and motivated to contribute on my own and, if possible, try to volunteer for the next Takbo.ph-organized run event.

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Pick A Race, Any Race

Such is the case for all of the weekends of September, October and November. They are fully booked with races. We even have some opportunities to join back-to-back races (Saturday-Sunday races).

So, where will you be on the coming weekends? Let’s all plan ahead and pick a race. Here are my preferences (with the distance of choice):

  • 20 Sept. 2009 — Rota Run | McKinley Hill | 15K
  • 27 Sept. 2009 — New Balance Power Race 2009 | Fort Bonifacio | 10K
  • 03 Oct. 2009 — Run for CHILD | Fort Bonifacio | 5K
  • 04 Oct. 2009 — 5th OctoberRUN Festival | Fort Bonifacio | 5K
  • 10 Oct. 2009 — Race for Life 2009 | Fort Bonifacio | 15K
  • 11 Oct. 2009 — Still undecided – Milo National Finals or Celebrity Run |5K
  • 18 Oct. 2009 — QC International Marathon | QC Circle | 21K (debut)
  • 25 Oct. 2009 — Adidas KOTR 2009 | Fort Bonifacio | 21K
  • 30 Oct 2009 — Shake, Rattle & Run 2009 | Fort Bonifacio | 5K
  • 15 Nov. 2009 — Yes Run | UP Diliman | 10K
  • 22 Nov. 2009 — Botak Paa-Bilisan Road Race | 10K
  • 06 Dec. 2009 — Run Rio Trilogy | 21K

There you have it. Wheeew!!! It seems like sprinting from one weekend to another. I’m back in the groove now – call it my ‘second wind’ – and I’m inspired and motivated more than ever.

Postscripts:

Hoping for additional races. Based from last year’s races, we might see some additional races come November or December. Some notable races that I hope would be scheduled are the following: Men’s Health Urbanathlon, Unicef Walk on the Child’s Side and Yakult 10 Miler.

Sorry and sad to pass on Smart SIM. I would have wanted to join the Smart Subic International Marathon. I had an opportunity to do a practice run there (once) and I enjoyed it a lot. At first, I wanted to run my first 21K there. However, after careful consideration, we decided to pass up for this year’s event due to budget constraints. Hopefully, we can join the run at Subic next year. To my friends at Smart, I apologize that I won’t be able to join you there. I’m sure this will be a grand and wonderful event. Thanks for sending updates. I appreciate it. Good luck and happy running!

Race Review: Eco Dash Run

It’s the RAIN! It’s got to be the RAIN! That was some refreshing, cool and invigorating run.

Such was the tale of the Ayala Malls Eco-Dash Run. The rain poured…and it poured quite hard all throughout the race. The wind was blowing at all directions. But most, if not all, of the runners chatting at the finish line attest that the rain proved to be more of an asset than a liability.

THE HIGHS

The RAIN. It’s got to be the RAIN!

New race route. By now, the Kalayaan flyover route is a familiar territory to a lot of runners. This time around though, runners turned left to Paseo de Roxas, then left again to Makati Avenue, then around Landmark and Glorietta and back.

Adequate aid stations with abundant water & Gatorade supply. It helped that Gatorade drinks were in Gatorade cups and water was in white cups.

Security, safety and presence of marshals. The local police had it all under control. I saw this for myself when I was crossing the Makati Avenue-Ayala Avenue intersection. There were a lot of angry drivers. I even saw some drivers (mostly taxi drivers) going out of their vehicles to confront the police. Some were even giving us runners the dirty finger and shouting profanities. It can get quite scary but, like I said, it was kept under control.

Race delay for the better. This aspect can be a bit tricky as a late start time is usually a no-no for a run event. I must admit that, at first, I was not in favor of a delay in start time. It’s my pet peeve. I always want the race to start on time. But in hindsight, I realized that delaying the start times would benefit all the runners. It was better to delay it since running in the dark (still dark at 5:00-5:30 am) with the rain pouring can be dangerous. As such, I think the organizers made the right call on this matter.

THE LOWS

No KM markers. This is another one of my pet peeves for a race. I hope that this becomes a standard for all races being organized.

Not so nice singlets and race bibs. It looked more like a basketball jersey than a singlet.

The timing device at the finish line was not visible. I believe it was near the tent (right side if you are running towards the finish line) where the organizers are seated. It’s usually placed on the top and middle area of the start-finish line. And, if possible, it’s advisable to have separate timing devices for each of the distances.

MY 10K RUN

I did not know what to expect for this run as I lacked preparation. Prior to this race, I had been inactive from running for 5 days due to a big blister I got last Monday (Sept.7). I also ran in the rain that Monday morning. Unfortunately, I was wearing cotton socks and that caused the blister under the ball of my right foot. It completely bothered me and I even had difficulty walking. It was a blister that I cannot run with for the rest of the week.

It was comforting to know that by race day, the wound has somehow healed. I made sure to cover the wound properly with gauze and water-resistant tape.

It was already raining when the run started. As we turned left to 32nd street, the rain got harder and the wind blew stronger. This was also the time that I ran faster knowing that I will eventually taper off towards the ascend to Kalayaan flyover. I took advantage of the flat roads along the Makati leg of the race and ran at a consistent pace. There was no pain from the blisters. I was enjoying myself and a bit surprised that I can sustain the pace I was into. I was breathing well. I had a good and consistent stride. I was completely enjoying myself.

Then, misfortune struck. I felt some pain on my right foot as I was running up the flyover on the way back to the Fort. It was the blister. The bandage did not hold up due to my shoes and feet getting extremely wet. I knew better not to force the situation. I did not want to worsen the wound. I ran at moderate to slow pace from that point on.

I wasn’t wearing my Nike+ Sportsband so I was not able to log my time. I also couldn’t see my finish time as the timing device was being blocked by the tent and umbrellas. I’m hoping I got it under an hour.

SHOWER ANYONE?

After crossing the finish line, there was a Manila Water ‘water tank’ providing runners the opportunity to have a quick shower. Personally, I loved this. It was a cool and refreshing shower. The thing is, it was ironic to be wasting water when the run was all for advocating environmental responsibility and awareness. Well, just a thought bubble. I’m not complaining, just asking.

OVERALL RATING

I’ll be using a scale of 1 to 5 defined as: 1-Poor, 2-Fair, 3-Good, 4-Very Good, 5-Excellent.

I would rate this run event as a 3.5/5 – Almost Very Good.

The ‘lows’ that I mentioned were a contributing factor to the rating. Just the same, I congratulate the Ayala Malls for a good and organized race.