It was my last race of the year.  And the first time in almost two years that I’ve been joining road races that I was late for one due to an early morning (as in 4:30 am) accident along the Alabang-Sucat highway (South SUFFER highway to some).

When I got to the still very dark Camp Aguinaldo grandstand (at around 5:35 am, didn’t check the exact time), I only saw a few people and was told by the guards that the race had already started of course.  I met Mark (Mark’s VO2) at the starting line.  We did the check-in and then made our way to the race route praying we wouldn’t get lost.  After making the first turn, we saw the sweeper vehicle’s lights and followed that.  Mark told me it would be his first run in that distance so he let me go ahead.

It took me a couple more minutes to get past that vehicle and catch up with the runners.  It was a strange feeling to be late in the race to make up for lost time.  As I didn’t know exactly how late I was, I just tried to run alternately in my half- and full-marathon paces being very careful not to use all my energy in all that catching up.

After the first of four laps of the course and when the sun was finally up, I started seeing familiar faces and tried to relax and have a nice chat with them.  Afte the short talks, I would speed a little and continued looking for usual race partner Tigerboy Junrox.

As promised by Jovie-san in his site, the aid stations were one of a kind, complete with water, gatorade, fruits, crackers etc!  These definitely made waking up very early and deciding to still run after being stuck in traffic for half an hour all worth it.

Playing catch up... (Photo by Brando Losaria, tagged by Argonaut in Facebook)

I finally caught up with the Tigerboy in the last kilometer!  I myself was quite surprised I still had some energy speeding up to the finish line after all that chasing in two hours and fifty minutes.

Crossing the finish line (thanks to Brando Losaria for the photo)

The post-race eating/drinking was almost as eventful as the run itself what with the seemingly endless supply of beer, water, ice cream and, to my total surprise, lechon!  I also enjoyed the photo ops and conversations with fellow finishers later.

Junrox enjoying the beer

Junrox enjoying the beer

Jonel caught red handed at the lechon table

So this is Wilnar's secret to his speed: ice drop and lechon!

Chillin' with "celebrity" finishers

Congratulations to the Bald Runner for the last and definitely one of the most memorable races of the year!  Can’t wait for the 2010 Rizal Day Run!

With speed monster Chris, consistent marathon finisher Junrox and blogosphere (and soon radio) favorite Luis

This run officially brought my busiest running calendar year to a close which included 8 half marathon and 4 full marathon finishes.  I hope I’ll also be healthy enough to run more this 2010!

Happy New Year!