Race Review: Timex Run

I have to admit that we (me and my wife) had second thoughts in joining this race, primarily because of the expensive registration fee. But the 21K race distance, being my favorite now, enticed me to join. My wife, on the other hand, didn’t need much convincing when she learned that Piolo Pascual would also be running the 10K (Thank you Piolo!).

Was it worth it? A definite and resounding YES! Here’s why:

THE HIGHS

Race started early and on time. The early race start was perfect for the weather we have now – sun is usually shining about 6 am and it’s usually hot and humid.

Adequate hydration stations with abundant supply. First, water and 100Plus sports drinks were properly segregated. Second, queuing was prevented because long tables were used and were accessible from both sides (especially the stations along Buendia).

Finisher’s medals for 21K runners. It really is a motivating reward for any runner to receive a finisher’s medal. Just 1 tiny bit of request – I hope that the race event and distance were also embedded in the medal (I don’t mind the RunRio logo, but I wish the name and distance of the race event were also visible – like the medals at QCIM).

Organized distribution of goodies/freebies. There were separate tents for the distribution of loot bags and free drinks – one each for 3K, 5K, 10K and 21K. This really lessened, if not eliminated, the long lines. In previous races, I sometimes don’t bother getting the goodies/freebies because of the long lines. This time, I was able to stay around longer and enjoy the post-race festivities.

Lots of goodies/freebies after the race. Upon finishing, I was given a towel. Then, the loot bag contained the following – RunRio finisher’s dri-fit shirt, 100Plus, bottled water and Nature Valley bar.

Quick release of official race times. Results were released within 24 hours.

Other positives: Animated race map before gun start (bigger screen next time?), Many Portalets, Use of Timing Chips, Presence of marshals, Directional signs and KM markers and Bananas for 21K runners.

THE LOWS

I couldn’t really think of anything major.

MY 21K RUN: STRIKE THREE

Oh no, not again?! Cramps at KM 18! Crap!

Just to refresh: QCIM 21K – cramps at KM 20. Adidas KOTR – cramps at KM 18.

This time around though, I have to admit that this was due to my own doing. It was an accident waiting to happen. It was a very busy Nov. 9-15 week that I had very little time to train – a very lethargic 12K and 8K runs on Wednesday and Friday respectively. More than the long work hours, it was the feeling of being tired and stressed that left me sluggish during those practice runs.

Most painful cramps

It was, perhaps, the most painful cramps I had ever experienced. It felt like my knees and ankles were being twisted. Furthermore, my thighs and calves were as hard as cement.

It started again with my right hamstring all the way down to the calf muscle. Then, at KM 19, my right thigh and calf followed. I had to walk, stop and stretch. It got a little better, but it just won’t go away. The walking and stretching breaks became longer. I was actually doing some intervals – but not the kind of intervals one should be doing: run, then walk & stretch…run, then walk & stretch.  Running continuously became unsustainable. It was embarrassing but it was the only way to relieve the pain.

Missed goals

Unfortunately, I failed to accomplish the goals I had set for this race. Considering the nature of the race route (lots of uphills), I had set 2 ‘conditional’ goals. First, encouraged by my KOTR time, I wanted to try for a sub-2h finish. If that fails, the second goal was to finish within 2h 10m.

But when I started having walking breaks and when the pain became intolerable, I knew that the impromptu goal was just to finish. I conceded that this wasn’t my day, this wasn’t my week. Having said all that, I am still very happy with my official finish time of 2h 11m 36s (chip time: 2h 10m 52s). I am very fortunate and thankful to have finished with a good and encouraging time. I am humbled yet again by this experience and I vow to address this perennial cramps problem.

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 4.5/5 – Almost Excellent. (Well, if my wife and cousin were able to have their pictures taken with Piolo, then it would have been a perfect 5. Haha!)

Kidding aside, it was a very organized and festive race. I remember reading the The Bullrunner’s blog about the last call for the 2010 Condura Run wishes. It seems that Coach Rio translated a lot of those wishes into reality.

Congratulations to Coach Rio and to all his hardworking coaches and staff. There have been successive sub-par races and you broke that negative trend. May you sustain the momentum and continue to improve. Thank you and good luck!

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My Back-to-Back 21K Weekends

At long last, I finally have a 21K tucked under my belt. And the past 2 weekends gave me the opportunity to run back-to-back 21Ks – the Quezon City International Marathon (QCIM) and the 2009 Adidas King of the Road (KOTR). I had planned to run my first 21K at the 2009 Condura Run, but dengue kept me out of it. I rued that missed opportunity last March – all the training and all the mileage being flushed down the drain. I vowed to come back and run a 21K before this year ends. It took a long time coming but it was well worth the wait.

At first, the plan was to run my first 21K at the Adidas KOTR. But as my training positively progressed, my mind started entertaining thoughts of doing it at QCIM. It got me excited, but at the same time, I was proceeding with caution – two injuries in 1 year of running can really alter the decision-making process. So many what ifs in my mind – What if I get injured? What if it’s too early? What if I don’t finish?

Then, my sister gave me a great idea – that is, run 21K at an easy, comfortable pace at QCIM and use that as a benchmark for the Adidas KOTR. It was a great plan that convinced me to sign-up for my first 21K at QCIM…and my first back-to-back 21K at Adidas KOTR the week after.

QUEZON CITY INTERNATIONAL MARATON (QCIM)

Running at the QCIM proved to be the perfect event to jump-start my foray into the 21K distance. It was one of the most anticipated races in October. It had the hype and the buzz, not to mention the “international” standing. It also offered a new route along the usually busy Commonwealth Avenue, La Mesa Eco Park and North Avenue.

My 21K QCIM Run

I felt no pressure. I was very, very excited. I had a good night’s sleep and woke up as the cell phone alarm rang (it has been a habit of mine to press the snooze button and sleep some more). I arrived at the venue around 4:30 am and was able to park easily at the QC City Hall. With the gun start still 30 minutes away, I casually walked towards the start area, went to the portalets, warmed-up and stretched for about 10 minutes.

The goal was simple – finish the race. But I still wanted to “relatively” push myself so I’ll know my limits – not too fast and not too slow. Fortunately, there were designated pacers. I saw yellow balloons with the desired finish times. Right there and then, I did a quick math on what could be an achievable finish time – I thought of my 15K time at the Rota Run and I calculated various pace times. A sub-2 hour time was unrealistic. As such, I saw 2 possible finish times – 2h 15m or 2h 30m. I approached the guy who had the 2h 15m finish time and asked the pace he’ll be running. He said it’ll be around 6:43/km and I quickly decided to run with his pace. (In our brief conversation, I learned that he’s Patrick or vVinceth in Takbo.ph; We work in the same company, but in different divisions; When I got home, I also found out we’re friends in Facebook; Small world indeed!)

The run started on time in the midst of loud and motivating cheers – the perfect atmosphere on an early, dark and chilly morning. I got held back by the influx of runners weaving through the traffic. As the road started to clear, I looked around and caught up with Patrick’s pace group.

I religiously followed the pace set by Patrick. There were times when we were running faster, especially on a downhill but it was manageable. I did not pay much attention to the distance we were covering. I was having a great time and a great run. It was fun running at a new route – perhaps the only time you’ll see Commonwealth Avenue devoid of cars and traffic. Plus, we were all entertained by the drumbeat of cheers and encouragement that created a party and lively atmosphere.

Passing the 15K Mark

As we passed by the 15K marker, it was unchartered territory. I smiled and got more excited. Down to the last 6K. I was not tired; I felt strong. It was only a matter of time. All I had to do was to stay with the pace and drink fluids to keep myself hydrated. As we chip away from the last 6K, it was all going along just fine – or so I thought!

Last 1K

The last 1K provided a bit of a drama in my otherwise casual and straightforward run. Suddenly, I felt some tightening in my right hamstring. Then, as we made a u-turn along North Avenue leading to TriNoMa, I felt something brewing on my right hamstring down to my right calf – CRAMPS. I immediately drank half of the Gatorade that I brought along (By this time, I still had 2 flasks left from my hydration belt – I used the Nathan 4-flask hydration belt for this race – 1 flask with Gatorade and the other flask with water). I told Patrick that they can go ahead as I needed to slow down to mitigate the possibility of having full-blown cramps.

Slowing down made my hamstrings loosen up a bit. With renewed confidence, I caught up with the 2:15 pace group inside TriNoMa grounds. As we turned right to North Avenue, Patrick said that we are behind the finish time of 2h 15m. He asked if we can increase the pace to about 5:45 to 6:00. At first I was hesitant – I was fearful of cramps. Then again, it was down to the last 700 meters or so. What else can go wrong? I agreed and followed him. I still had enough energy when we increased the pace. Fortunately, my right leg was cooperating.

Then, as we turned right to QC Circle, cramps finally kicked-in. Ironically, it happened on my left calf. With about 200 meters to go, I slowed down and thanked Patrick for all the help and encouragement.

The Finish

With cramps slowing me down, the last 200 meters seemed like another 1K. But my eye was already on the finish line. I told myself – “I dare not walk now!” And there it was – after 2h, 17m I crossed the finish line with a throng of people cheering and congratulating every finisher. Finally, I told myself, finally! A plethora of emotions filled me as I crossed the finish line – I was very happy, I was overwhelmed, I was on a high, I was filled with a great sense of accomplishment.

I walked around and thanked Patrick again for helping me accomplish my goal. It was a one-a-kind experience to be able to run with a pacer. He surely kept me focused all throughout the race and encouraged me to run around the cramps I experienced.

ADIDAS KING OF THE ROAD (KOTR) 2009

After finishing at QCIM, my focus shifted to the Adidas King of the Road (KOTR) 2009 – my second 21K. This year’s KOTR featured races for 5K, 10K and 21K with awesome yellow singlets. It also marked the 10K debut of my wife and brother, as well as the 5K debut of my sister and cousin. We were all looking forward to this run. In fact, we were the first 5 registrants at Adidas Podium as soon as registration started. Talk about being excited!

Drama at the KOTR Claiming Process

The race kit claiming process provided a lot of drama a week before the race. On Oct. 17-18, KOTR registered runners had to troop to SM Megatrade Hall 2 to claim their race kits and to participate at the Adidas Running Expo.

However, those who claimed their kits on Oct. 17 had a rough experience (rough being an understatement). The troubles have been well-documented – very long lines, very long waiting time, unavailable kits, wrong singlet sizes, insufficient food and a lackluster expo just to name a few.

If you logged-in at Takbo.ph during that time, you’d find deluge of comments on this particular topic. In fact, it generated one of the highest number of comments for a particular topic. Furthermore, I also noticed that the “Adidas Running Philippines” facebook page was inaccessible later in the afternoon. Runners were looking for answers and none were given.

As I read through each comment, each story, each ordeal, I was surprised at how it all progressed from bad to worse to worst. This is Adidas, I told myself! How could this happen? I can only sympathize to all runners who went through the hassle and inconvenience.

It was a complete turnaround the following day, Oct. 18 – a complete opposite! I already prepared myself for long lines and long waiting times. I did not even expect to partake of carbo-loaded food – I just wanted to claim the race kits. We (me, my brother & sister) arrived at 5:00 pm. To our surprise, there were no long lines. It was already our turn when we arrived at the booth. Then, we were able to claim the chicken steak by KFC. We were surely lucky!

A few days after, Adidas and Mr. Rudy Biscocho of RACE, posted a letter of apology. Then, their facebook page was re-activated.

My 21K Adidas KOTR Run

Like the QCIM weekend, I was very excited. The goal now was to improve on the 2h 17m time. The KOTR course was more challenging in terms of the many uphills, particularly Kalayaan flyover and Bayani Road. My mindset was to increase the pace in the flat roads and taper off for every uphill run. It has worked before and I was confident it would work again.

This time around, I did not get the chance to warm-up. We did not arrive early enough for me to do some warm-ups. As such, I just stretched for about 5 minutes while waiting for the race to start.

A few more minutes passed and off we go at exactly 5:30 am. I ran slowly content to let other runners pass me as I wanted to warm-up first. I picked up the pace upon turning right to Rizal Drive as I would eventually taper off approaching the ascend to Kalayaan flyover. After that first uphill run, I increased my pace along the flat roads of Kalayaan.

The downhill run exiting Kalayaan provided a very good momentum in my run along the flat roads of Buendia. This is where my race officially began – I made up for lost time and I ran at a consistent and moderate pace. I made sure to take advantage of this long, flat road. I figured it would be more difficult once we’re back at the Fort Bonifacio area. I was feeling very good and strong. I was focused. I was in ‘game-face’ mode (which was ironic considering what I had written in my blank bib – “Why So Serious? Smile…Have Fun”).

As I was heading back, I was welcomed by some of my friends who joined the 10K category. We exchanged high-fives and they also encouraged me to just go on and continue. It was a great feeling to receive motivating cheers. It also happened at a very good time as I was approaching the dreaded uphill to Kalayaan flyover – a long and steep uphill run that leads us back to Fort Bonifacio. As I saw other runners walk in that uphill portion, I just kept my head up, leaned forward and maintained short strides.

I felt relieved after that section of the flyover. It took me a while to shake off the heaviness from that uphill run. As soon as I felt okay, I began to increase my pace again. I was mindful of the fact that once we reach 5th avenue and Bayani Road, it would be quite a struggle – lots of uphills with the heat beginning to be a factor.

Once I turned right to 5th avenue, it was now a conscious effort to stay with the plan and with the course – taper off in an uphill run and ‘attack’ on the few flat roads along Lawton Avenue and Bayani Road. It was all going very well, until tragedy struck for a second time.

18K Mark

Guess what? It was CRAMPS again – starting with the right hamstring! This time, it came earlier at the 18K mark. At first it was manageable but I had to consciously manage the way I ran. I welcomed and enjoyed every downhill run as it enabled me to rest my legs. At the same time, I despised every uphill run as it triggered the cramps. I was very frustrated. How could it happen again?!

From this point on, I had to drastically reduce my pace. I was trying my best to shake it off and hope that it’ll just go away. There were times when it was getting better, but it was quite painful most of the time. I still resisted the urge to walk. I just maintained a slow pace the rest of way.

This I can say – the last 3K was the longest 3K I had to run. It was another humbling experience like the one I had at the Men’s Health 15K All-Terrain race where I walked for the last 2 kilometers. The mind was willing but the legs were not. It was a test of mental toughness.

I had a sigh of relief when I made it through 26th Avenue (near Fort Strip). Only a few meters left to the finish line. Then, I had the surprise of my life on the final turn at 28th street leading to the finish. My eyes were focused at the finish line looking for the time for 21K. At first, I did not know where to look. But when the marshal directed me towards my lane, I had a wide smile on my face. It erased all the frustration and sadness I felt for the last 3 kilometers. I finished and I improved with a time of about 2h 1m. I was very happy. Deep inside, I was cheering. I looked up and thanked God (During the last 2 kilometers, I prayed and asked for strength to finish). Not only did he let me finish, but he also rewarded me with the gift of confidence.

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.

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.

Race Review: The KRR Urbanite

The Kenny Rogers Roasters Urbanite Run was the most talked-about run event this August. Evidently, the concept of running at night created a lot of excitement and anticipation. This was my second night race; the first one being the 2008 Isuzu Shake, Rattle & Roll run. But the KRR Urbanite took running at night to another level. In a nutshell, here are my highs and lows for my 15K run.

THE HIGHS

Night race with a party atmosphere and a tough course. Organizing a night race is a unique idea in itself. Having a party and running at a tough course adds another dimension to it. The Isuzu night run can rightfully claim to be the first night run around the metro, but running 4 laps around BHS is clearly easy compared to running around Lawton Ave., Bayani Rd., Heritage Park and McKinley Hill.

Run, Eat & Donate. The registration fee of Php 600 is high compared to the other run events, but there is value for money in it with the run, eat and donate concept. The run, of course, is a given. The meal is very filling. And most importantly, we get to contribute to Hands On Manila Foundation.

Nice Singlet. I like the simple design and comfortable feel of the singlet. It’s like wearing a Nike dri-fit or an Adidas clima-cool.

Adequate hydration stations with abundant supply. This one is a no-brainer. This is typical of any Finishline organized run event. Then, there is an abundant supply of Powerade and Viva water. I was even able to get a cold bottle of Powerade from the McKinley Hill hydration station. Furthermore, there seems to be no control in claiming Viva water after finishing the race. Initially I got 2 bottles. After roaming around the party area, I was given another bottle as I made my way back to the parking (it was given to me without me asking, great!).

Security, safety and the presence of marshals. Again, this is typical of Finishline. This being a night race, safety & security is a foremost concern. And the organizers did not disappoint. They have always coordinated well with the local government to ensure the safety of runners. One lane is allotted for runners with the traffic cones serving as the boundary. There were also marshals all throughout the route. Some had flashlights to guide runners in some of the dark areas of the route.

KM markers. I have no way of telling the accuracy of KM markers but I do trust that Finishline has always been very close, if not accurate, of the actual distance (based from the Garmin data from my friends). Without my Nike+ Sportsband (display problem) for a month now, the markers help me a lot in determining how I pace myself during a run.

Disposable Timing Chips. The detailed results from the Globe Run for Home showed the capabilities and usefulness of the disposable timing chips. As of this writing, the results aren’t available yet. I do hope that more and more races make use of these timing chips.

THE LOWS

The race kit claiming process. We (me, my wife and brother) are fortunate that we did not encounter any hassles in claiming our kits. But the mishaps have been well documented in blogs and forums. Some of the complaints include: Race kits not being available even if they registered early; Only 1 venue for race kit redemption; Late announcement that last-minute registrants will be able to claim their kits on Aug 14; Being asked to return on a Saturday morning.

I sympathize to those who had a bad experience in claiming their kits. We all hope that it will be better next race. Certainly, the complaints and suggestions posted in blogs and forums would help the sponsor and organizer in creating a better claiming process.

Irresponsible motorcycle drivers. For some unexplained reason, the traffic cones of Finishline and the marshals and police along the route did not persuade some irresponsible motorcycle drivers from driving inside the designated lane for runners. I saw this as I was running along Lawton Avenue. The police was even shouting at the driver to get out of the lane. The motorcycle driver only got out of the lane when some other runners also asked him to move out.

MY 15K RACE

Without any doubt, this is my best run in 5 months. I did not set a new 15K PR but I really felt very good during and after the run. I ran at a moderate and consistent pace all throughout, tapering off a bit during uphills. I walked approaching hydration stations but I made it a point not to walk on uphills.

I have always loved any race route that passes through Heritage Park and McKinley Hill, no matter how difficult it can be. The thrill and challenge just adds up to the excitement of running.

Inside Heritage Park, we were greeted by the refreshing and cool wind. As expected, it was dark with only a few lampposts giving us light. I overheard a group of runners scaring each other and having a good laugh.

Going down McKinley Hill, I had a flashback of what happened to me last February at the RUNew event where I ran too fast on a downhill that caused my quadriceps tendinitis injury. This time around I was careful no matter how tempted I was to accelerate on a downhill. And during uphills, I made sure to run wisely – small strides, look up, upper body slightly tilted forward (no slouching) and breathe faster but consistently. This is probably the first time that I got out of McKinley not completely wasted. I ran casually the rest of the way and finished with an official time of 1h 39m 27s (chip time: 1h 38m 38s). With this run, I am glad to know that endurance training has been successful. I do need to get back and train for more pace.

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 4/5 – Very Good.

Thank you Kenny Rogers, Finishline and all the other sponsors for a wonderfully organized run event.

My Run For Home Review

The Run for Home last Sunday, July 19 was the most anticipated run event this month of July. It had the hype. It had the big-name sponsors in Globe Telecom and Ayala Land. It introduced the disposable timing chips. Looks to me like the ideal recipe for a great race. So, did it live up to expectations? I will try to give my take starting with the registration process down to race day.

The Registration Process

It was good that runners had lots of registration options – online, Runnr, Nike, Fitness First and Globe Business Centers. The registration fee was fair if you’re a Globe subscriber but I think it’s expensive if you’re not.

One thing that was new for me was the race kits being claimed 3 days before the run as I am used to getting them upon registration. I did wonder if this was a good idea because of 2 reasons. One, there was only one location where the kits could be claimed and it might be a hassle for runners who live far from BHS. Two, it might be too crowded and chaotic at the claiming area.

Upon the advice of a friend, we (me and wifey) claimed our kits early Saturday morning. There were no lines and we were able to get our kits easily. But, still, the claiming process surprised me. I had thought that it was as easy as presenting the coupon and getting the kits. Instead, you had to write your name and distance to verify your registration. It seems that the control number written in the coupon didn’t matter much. On this aspect, I am sympathetic to the experience of other runners who claimed their kits on a very rainy Thursday and Friday night. They had to fall in line and wait for a long time just so they could claim their kits.

Race Day

For this race, I registered for the 10K distance. Running 21K was just too impossible due to lack of training. Coming into this race my only goal was to finish it in less than 1 hour at moderate to easy (LSD) pace. My mindset was to run at moderate pace on flat roads and taper off along Kalayaan flyover.

The 10K route. It was similar to the 2008 Adidas KOTR route. It’s mostly a flat course except the run along Kalayaan flyover, which exhibited a ‘hilly’ characteristic with its various inclines. The most challenging was the long ascend coming from Buendia. It felt like forever going up from that end.

The weather. Fortunately for all of us, the storm had passed and there was no rain. It was a cool weather and the sun was nowhere to be found. We all did not have to bear the challenge of running along the flyover with the searing heat.

Water Stations. I must say that the race was not lacking with water stations. The water station situated in the middle of Kalayaan flyover is a BIG plus. But I am only talking about the ‘station’ here. It’s a different matter altogether if we talk about the availability of water. Let me elaborate. After the u-turn at the 5K mark, I noticed that the people manning the water stations were not prepared. You can see that half of the cups lined up along the table are empty. One had to stop and wait for water or 100 Plus to be poured into the cups. Confusion and queuing ensued because of that. So, best advice I could give here is to always bring along your hydration belts just to be sure.

On a positive note, it was commendable that 100 Plus drinks were being served at the stations. Thanks to 100 Plus for providing the drinks. Personally, though, 100 Plus doesn’t work for me because it’s carbonated. I always feel bloated whenever I drink it, most especially when it’s not cold.

KM markers. As expected, Finishline has been known for providing KM markers to inform runners of the distance covered. According to my friends with Garmin watches, the KM markers were accurate. Hats off to the Finishline for this.

Safety. Again, Finishline has done a great job for coordinating with the local police in ensuring the safety of runners. I personally like the traffic cones with the Finishline stickers on it to establish the boundary and space for runners and cars.

The Disposable Timing Chips. This is a first in the running scene. From the flyer, it seems that this is a powerful timing chip that’s able to provide several data to the runner. When the official results come out on July 23, we would all know if the hype generated by this device is worth the wait. For the time being, I commend Globe for trying this out and we all hope that this would be used in future runs.

Run Results. This is one of talking points after the race. The common question was – “Why does it take that long to release the official results?” So far, I also don’t know the answer. Certainly, the expectation was that the results will be available within 24 hours considering the use of the timing chips. Plus, Finishline has been known to release official results within 24 hours and that’s even done manually. My take on this is to give the benefit of the doubt to the organizers and sponsors. It is a new timing system and it might be better to hold off the results and ensure that the results are clean and accurate. Maybe, there’s a bit of a learning curve in getting to know this system. Perhaps, if this timing system will be used more often, then the official results can be released earlier.

My Run

This was my first 10K race after the injury. I was excited and, at the same time, jittery. I’ve had 10K practice runs but all have been LSDs. I’ve joined the 15K MH All Terrain but that one humbled me. In short, I knew that I still lacked pace. Just the same, I had set a modest goal of finishing it in less than 1 hour at moderate to easy pace. I figured that would be a good enough gauge for my future 10K runs.

We were almost late for the race as parking was full in all areas of BHS. Fortunately, the space in front of Kabisera and Ascend was opened. The run from the parking to the start-finish line proved to be a good warm-up.

At gun start, I weaved my way out of the crowd and deviated from my plan of running at moderate pace. It must have been the excitement and the adrenaline rush. I soon found myself running at about a 5’/km pace. But as I approached the Kalayaan flyover, I decided that it was impossible to maintain that pace and I might not have enough energy to finish the run. So, I went back to my plan and tapered off towards the ascend to the flyover. Along that whole flyover stretch, I ran a pace of 6’30”/km.

It proved to be a good decision as I was able to increase my pace to about 5’45”/km to 6’/km along the flat roads of Buendia. It was pretty straightforward from there. Going back, I again tapered off along the flyover and increased pace on the flat roads leading to the finish line.

In the end, I was very happy to finish my 10K run in 59 minutes. I barely finished it in less than an hour but I now know better how to pace myself in future 10K runs. It also gives me a lot of confidence that I have gotten back the endurance. This surely motivates me to train some more to get back some more speed and to run at a more consistent pace.

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 4/5 – Very Good. I am satisfied with the outcome of this run event. There some hiccups but I believe they were minor ones. Congratulations to Globe, Ayala Land, Habitat for Humanity, Finishline and all the other sponsors.

No Doughnuts for A Month

Yep, for a whole month I swear and promise and vow not to eat doughnuts and, who knows, it might as well extend for 2 more months.  No, it’s not because of any doctor’s order. It’s not because of a diet regimen, although it would surely help. It’s actually because of doughnuts overload yesterday.

I joined the REACH Fun Run yesterday. There’s a twist to this event — it’s a run and eat race. First, we had to run 2.5K to the challenge zone. Second, complete the challenge of eating 4 Krispy Kreme honey-glazed doughnuts. Third and last, run 2.5K again to the finish line. It’s a one of a kind run event that turned out to be not as easy as I thought.

The first 2.5K run. The race started a little over 7am, which would have been a late call time but the weather cooperated. A bit sunny and a bit of a cool weather at the start, probably because of a little drizzle early in the morning. I got there early, registered and did a 1K warm-up run around BHS. The race started and I ran at a good 4″ 30′ pace. I figured, it was best to run faster in the first leg than in the second leg. I reached the challenge zone without any hassles and got my small box of 4 Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Eating time. Eating the first doughnut was easy. It’s the second, third and fourth doughnut that took its toll on me. As I’ve mentioned, eating the 4 doughnuts was harder than I thought. What more if it had been half a dozen as previously planned. Eating the doughnuts took a lot of my time. By the time I finished the second doughnut, I felt full. By the time I finished the fourth doughnut, I felt heavy. Just by eating 4 doughnuts, I finished 300 ml of water. The sweetness of the doughnuts really lingered in my mouth.

The last 2.5K run. As much I wanted to run at a similar 4″ 30′ pace, my body was not willing. I guess, the sugar boost did not work for me. Feeling full and heavy, I decided to run the final 2.5K at an easy and moderate pace.

Overall, it was an ejoyable run. I don’t know if I would do it again. Probably better to ask me again in a month or two. Right now, I just don’t want any doughnuts.