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I’ve been quite busy with work the past few days so I was totally unmindful of the reactions, violent or otherwise, to the conduct of the Del Monte Fit ‘n Right Fun Run at MOA last Sunday. In fact, were it not for a text message from Marianne asking me if I enjoyed the run, I wouldn’t have taken note of the mostly negative comments from runners especially on their Facebook page. I also heard apologies had been made. Here’s my two cents’ worth.

What time will the race start?

Days before the fun run, I was looking for info on the start time because I could only recall that they put “Call time 4:00 am” and I forgot about the 6 am start time. I decided to go there around 5 to be safe and I was surprised to see men still busy putting up the Start/Finish arch. Jinoe said when they prepared for the RotaRun, as early as 11 or 12 pm the night before, they were already busy. A sign that start will be late, I told myself.

While I gave the announcer plus points for repeatedly giving instructions on how to put the bib with RFID properly (cheaper than the ChampionChip, but overall better? well, only time will tell…), I was waiting for them to announce the starting times for the different categories, which only came at around 6 am!

Stretch and Start

I squeezed my way to the area of the now completed arch and waited for the guy who led the stretching whose super positive and cheerful rapping and stretching (I couldn’t see what they were doing from where I was standing) did not stop the runners from cheering (and jeering) for the stretching to end and for the race to finally start.

After the start gun had been fired, eager runners went off.

Feeling lethargic

Maybe it’s because of the too many races I’ve been joining, or maybe the warm-up I was doing minutes before the supposedly start time of 6 was put to waste after standing too long while waiting for the official start, the first lap (5k runners will finish after 1 lap so 10k runners needed to do one more) was a difficult run for me as I was feeling a little lethargic. I kind of guessed there would be issues with hydration so I held on to my sports drink (One runner-blogger confessed he had to squeezed liquid from his singlet and sip it for hydration… :-))

Nearing the famous globe in front of the mall, our group found it very challenging and dangerous to zigzag our way and avoid traffic as marshals did a very poor job in controlling traffic. So I was happy to finish the first lap in 23+ minutes.

Celebrity cheerleaders

I think I kind of woke up going into the second leg after seeing the Bald Runner cheering for runners at the Finish area–this time I was more into the run and enjoying the experience. Fortunately, the marshalls guiding the cars did a much better job the second time around. But, alas, there were no more cups at the aid station.

Seeing familiar faces like Jason, Ronald and the Bull Runner during the race somehow provided an added boost to my tired legs. And as I made my last turn near the Archdiocesan Shrine of Jesus, I sped up for the first time in the race. And who’s at the finish line? The Bald Runner and Natz taking photos!

With THE coach Jim Saret after the race

It was also interesting to meet and talk to Jaymie The Bull Runner for the first time (too bad I didn’t have my camera yet at that time, no thanks to the adventures Natz and I had claiming our bags) and Coach Jim Saret, and later to Takbo.ph main man Jinoe, to exchange some views regarding the race. That no matter how an organizer plans to just have a “fun run,” they must not leave any stone unturned because there will always be “serious” runners joining each and every race.

Thanks, better luck next time

I wasn’t able to press the stop button of my watch when I finished so I couldn’t give an answer when asked about my time by some runners. I didn’t see the time at the Finish line either. The time posted on the official results is 46:43.

Congratulations to mi tocayo Jet for shaving 3 minutes off his previous PR!

Takbo hanggang may lupa! With Dhenz also with a new 5k PR!

Like how I feel afterevery run, I felt a lot more upbeat and positive and ready to meet my students for a group study for an upcoming exam.

What do I think about the race? I hope the organizers do better next time but still thank them for supporting an event that promotes health and fitness.

Good luck and see you next year guys!

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When I signed up for this race, I was not sure if I would be able to join because I had been told that I might join a team of journalists to cover the APEC Summit in Singapore on the same weekend.  So a few days before the gathering of heads of states in the Lion City, when my bureau chief delivered the “sad” news, I accepted the fact that the time to see Barack Obama will have to wait.  And now I can focus on this race.

Two weeks after the KOTR and one week after the Pasig River Marathon, some friends told me that joining yet another half marathon was not a good idea.  I myself know fully well that I deserve a break but I welcomed it as another chance to improve.  But fresh from what I consider a big 4 minute improvement since the Globe run half marathon when I ran at Adidas and after another nice run at the PIM, I was wondering if I had some left to at least finish with a decent time.  A recent post by Wayne talking about his recent 1:39:50 half marathon finish made me silently wishing for a great run to duplicate his feat or even just get close.  In a way it was one of the things that sealed the deal that I am not passing up this opportunity.

Running Buddies

Arriving at the starting line 10 minutes before gun time, I quickly looked for Junrox as we prepared for our third start together but first on a half marathon.  I only met him during the finalists’ dinner three days before the Milo National Finals last October but I already owe a lot of whatever success I’ve had to running with him.

We had a brief chat with TKO250 proponent Jonel and Prometheus Cometh blogger and DJ Jay about our race goals and the registration fee and race organization just before the run started.

The Kenyans are still here?

Well last time I checked it wasn’t called the Timex International Run but I guess to give an international flavor and maybe push our local bets to register a faster time, maybe they can stay a little longer.  Just a little more.  I was just thinking that local runners need those cash prizes, too.  But as expected, the Kenyans were just too strong and soon, eventual winner Kember Kiberess was way ahead of the pack and together with countryman Gilbert Kipkemoi went on a 1-3 finish.  Hats off to Alley Quisay for placing second and challenging the Kenyan juggernaut.

I was on my own battle when I accidentally pushed too many buttons on my watch thus relying solely on the time Junrox had from kilometer 5 until the finish line.  We thought that the long tables at the aid station were enough to make Bald Runner smile as he has been consistently advocating for a higher standard in local races.

Looking good

After the first turn around, I was feeling really great and hopeful for a 1:40 to 1:45 finish.  Consuming one gel shot 15 minutes before the start and another one after midway point on our way to Heritage Park, I was worried for a few seconds after hitting an uneven road with my right leg landing lower than the other.  After a few meters, I heaved a sigh of relief as I didn’t feel any pain and the incident didn’t stop me from my current pace of a little faster than 5 minutes per kilometer.

It was nice to see Natz running at the opposite side of the road.  I motioned for him to join us even for a few minutes.   We talked briefly before he said goodbye and went on with his run while Junrox and I negotiated the 2 km Heritage Park loop.

To push or not to push

It was at this stage that I doubted myself for the first time in the race.  Up until this point, Junrox and I would run side by side but one would go ahead and the other would catch up and follow especially whenever we passed by an aid station.  But inside the park, I found it a bit too challenging to catch up with him and maintain the pace.  Two runners overtook me in the process as we hit the 14 kilometer marker.

Those 2 runners became my motivation and challenge as I struggled but pushed a little more going to the Lawton Ave.-American Cemetery leg of the race.  I was able to keep up with them after a couple of kilometers only to lag behind Junrox again.  At this point, my mind was busy thinking about several possibilities:  I can just finish 1:45 and be happy with that time since I know this was my 3rd consecutive run in as many weeks; I will relax a little knowing fully well that I have built a considerable distance between me and the next runner so the ranking will not change anymore; or I can give it my all for a strong finish.

“This is my race, my time”

Apparently, my decision to do the last option worked like magic and when I made that final push in the final kilometer, while getting interesting looks from 5k and 10k runners/walkers, I made the final turn towards the finish line alone not knowing what my time was at this stage.  My jaw dropped in disbelief when I saw a 1:39+ in the clock so with every iota of whatever strength I had left in me, I ran my darnedest and crossed the finish line before the 39 could turn to 40!

With Junrox and 8th placer Chris

I waited for and congratulated Junrox who finished 16 seconds later.  He and I were both psyched and could not believe what we accomplished that morning.  Beating my two-week old KOTR PR (which I thought was very good for my standards and would hold for at least a few more months), landing in the top 20 of a 21k event for the first time and going under 1:40 in one race exhilarated me to no end.

I’m glad I decided to sign up for the race after giving it a lot of thought especially about how it was the most expensive registration fee I had to pay for.  Looking at how there were enough aid stations, safe and categorized baggage counters and portalets, and helpful marshals and ample kilometer markers all throughout the race, I congratulate Coach Rio and the rest of the team for putting up a great race.  Never mind that they did not give a real “Nike dry-fit finisher’s shirt” as promised in the race packet leaflet.  Extra pat on the shoulder for giving part of the proceeds to the construction of the Timex-Unicef School in Masbate and to the rehabilitation program of the Marikina City government for the recent flood victims.

While some runners will not forget this race because they were able to have their pictures taken with Piolo, I will always remember the 2009 Timex Run as my time to run my first sub-1:40 21k.

Chillin' with the Argonaut (with his own 21k PR) after the race

When I checked out Coach Rio’s website earlier, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the results are already out.  I think that’s getting our money’s worth.

So I had more reasons to celebrate yesterday other than the great Pacman’s historic victory:  It was a new 21k PR for me, my first time to go under 1 hour and 40 minutes and first time to be in the top 20 of the said distance, with Kenyan runners at that.  🙂

Congratulations to all the winners and finishers.  Will be posting my race report later hopefully with the runpix analysis and photos from photovendo.

*PIM – Philippine International Marathon, also known as Run for Pasig River

**ADMU – Ateneo de Manila University, also home to the Confucius Institute in the Philippines

***HSK – Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (汉语水平考试 ) or the Chinese Proficiency Test

When I decided some years back that I would make it an effort to exercise to keep not only my body in shape but also my mind, I never imagined that my journey would take me to what I experienced last Sunday, November 8, 2009.

Meet Ogawa-san

Mrs. Ogawa is a character in the textbook I use when I teach Nihongo.  She appears on Lesson 36 talking about how at the age of 80 she manages to stay healthy by using both his body and head–she swims, learns the tango, and has recently started to study French to prepare herself for a trip to France.  I would stop short of calling her an idol but despite the fact that she is a fictional character, I guess it won’t hurt if people try to follow in her footsteps.  But I never imagined to do one after another with almost no time to breathe in between…

PIM and HSK

bib

Marathon...

After I had found out that the HSK and the PIM were scheduled on THE SAME day and only 4.5 hours apart (PIM gun start was 4:30 and HSK started at (9:00,  yes, AM), I spent days agonizing which one to choose and which one to drop.  Until one morning, an epiphany!  Based on my Milo National Finals time and knowing that any race organized by Rudy B. starts on time or usually earlier, I would be done with the marathon “stage” by 8:30.  The tricky part was to get from Quirino Grandstand to Ateneo in time for the test.  Of course there was always this fear in me that I might get cramps, injured or, worse, DNF, everytime I’d run a full marathon.  It sounded mission impossible to my friends.  All the more reason for me to try and pull it off…

Decisions, decisions

hsk

... or Chinese proficiency test???

Two days before Marathon and Test day, adding more challenge and difficulty to decide whether to make a go for it or just quit altogether, I was suffering from indigestion and slight cold.  I made a conscious effort to eat food which was both good for the cold and easy on my stomach.  I can’t remember ever drinking more fruit juices in my life!  One more obstacle was the second hand smoke I was getting at work which almost canceled everything I was doing to be able to get close to, if not be, a hundred percent and be ready for a demanding day to say the least.  And as if it wasn’t enough, my brother, who had agreed to transport me (while I’d do my stretching as planned) changed his mind due to some concerns on “logistics.”  I didn’t know what to do.

11 p. m., November 7.  I was doing some yoga and preparing to go to bed.  I had set the alarm at 3:15.  I was staying in Malate for the night so that I would be close to kilometer 0 and thought that I would “listen to my body” and decide on the morning of November 8.

D-Day

When I woke up, I wouldn’t say I was feeling 100 percent but close enough so I decided to do it:  Grabbed my things for the 3 “stages” of my first (and I’m sure the most unique and never to be duplicated ever) “triathlon.”

  1. Marathon stage:  race bib no., sports drink and water
  2. Transport stage:  money and something to change into (lest all the examineed would stare at me should I decide to take the test in my race outfit)
  3. Test stage:  test permit, HB pencils, eraser, Chinese textbook

I put everything that I wouldn’t need for the race in my bag and made my way to the baggage counter at the Quirino Grandstand (I planned to leave as fast as I could after finishing).  It was about 15 minutes before gun start so I didn’t waste any time and went to the starting line.  Seeing and greeting runners like Bald Runner, Junrox and Jonel definitely eased some nerves I was feeling.  Like the Milo Finals, Junrox and I decided to run together.  We were later joined by Joms, another tall runner.

Running along the river

It was still very dark as we negotiated Delpan Bridge, the first of 9 bridges scattered along the Pasig River we had to run for the race.  There was the usual “different” smell near the river but it was an interesting experience to run through Taft Ave., the Escolta area going to Mendiola Bridge, Nagtahan area all the way leading up the narrow and narrower streets of Mandaluyong early in the morning.  It was fun hearing the early morning “tambays” talk about the Kenyan runners and kids offering if we wanted water.  🙂

Nice run and route

The three of us were enjoying talking and running in a “controlled” pace of 5:15 to 5:45 minutes per kilometer.  Conversation shifted from our jobs, to hobbies and interests, the migratory birds we saw.  We weren’t talking the whole time and we didn’t feel the need to.  We understood when one would stop talking, then take the lead, or yield to the other runners.  Running in the area of J. P. Rizal in Makati going to Guadalupe, where I once lived, not far from where I attended elementary and high school, brought back a lot of memories.  The only difference is I now run along the roads I used to pass by going to and from school.

alfred-finishline1

One down, two to go...

Unlike the Milo marathon where you basically run the same route a second time on your way to the finish, the Pasig River route was different since the only turn around point was in Delpan Bridge and from there, we went “around the river” covering the cities of Manila, Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasig, Taguig, Makati again, Pasay and then back to Manila.  It seemed longer but I thought it was an easier run for me, many thanks to the ample aid stations, cheer leaders and bands.  I thought of finishing stronger for a PR but I tried to save some of my strength for the next “stages.”  🙂  Special thanks to my ever dependable “support team”, Grace, who waited for me patiently in Mandaluyong somewhere in km 20 and then again in Makati 13 km later.

Transition

After finishing and posing for a finish line shot taken by Junrox’s wife Arlene, I wasted no time and proceded to the Baggage area (after saying hi to ABS-CBN’s Karen Davila  🙂 ).  I was surprised to find a cab IN the grandstand so I rushed in and asked Manong to go to Ateneo as fast as possible.  Within traffic rules of course.  It was almost 8:30 and I thought I would have seen Junrox and Joms finish had I stayed since they must have been done by that time but I was really in a hurry.  Would have also loved to see Argonaut finish (who called out in the earlier stages of the race).  Manong was very kind to let me ride despite my soaking wet clothes.  As we were on our way, I saw a regular marathon face so I shouted, “Go Ben!”

For those who haven’t tried changing your entire clothing in a car, you should try to see how challenging it is.  In broad daylight!  I had no choice but to do it as the only stop over I could afford was to get water from a nearby store and at an ATM machine when I found out I didn’t have enough money for the taxi fare!  I think I have mastered the art of quick change because I still had time to stretch while reading a few Chinese characters (which fortunately I was able to recognize during the test!) after changing into a “regular” set of clothes.

The eagle has landed

ateneoblueeagle[1]The test was supposed to start at 9 but I got there at 9:15, some 2 minutes just before the first part, listening test, actually started.  Whew, that was close!  Then came the hard part.  Even as the test continued to the grammar and reading comprehension parts, I could still feel the stiffness in my legs of course and could not get my mind off the highs and lows of the race so I could not focus very well on the task at hand.  The important thing for me was I finished the test!

My times:

  • Marathon leg:  42 km, 3 hours 49 minutes (unofficial)
  • Transport leg:  13.5 km, 45 minutes (official)
  • Test leg:  150 items, 2 hours 15 minutes

So there was my one of a kind “tri,” 6 hours and 49 minutes of great running experience, stressful taxi ride, and a gruelling Chinese exam!

Now where can I sign up for something like this again…

alfred

What a race! Thanks Arlene for the finish line photos 🙂

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