When i was given permission by Rudy Fernandez, President of Runnex to run the 10k race last Sunday instead of joining the rest of the members as support group during the race, i was wondering if i could step up to the plate or was fit enough to run a decent 10k. The past few weeks, i was feeling lethargic and drained out, maybe a result of over-training that i had to stop running temporarily to rest for 5 days.
It was only last Saturday, the day before the race that i resumed a 40-minute slow jog-walk to get the muscles flexed and limbs heated up. But that wasn’t all to my pre-race worries. I was asked by Rudy to observe the race itself and give an objective and unbiased opinion of the race proceedings, i.e. marshalls, traffic, water stations, route markers, etc. He didn’t want to hear much of the positive reviews, he wanted to hear the flaws and glitches of the race so that we could make the necessary adjustments on our next scheduled race this October.
Little did he know that i am one of those “mareklamo” when it comes to stagings of races. Like in previous races i joined in—if drinks at water stations are not cold enough, i complain; if i’m ordered to stop by a race marshal to give way to a crossing jeepney, i get pissed-off; if my official finish time does not conform with my stop watch (even to just a few seconds), i ask why; and if they do not give my finisher’s certificate at the finish line, i wonder why. So for all the flaws in a race, all that might be heard from me will all be negative. However, all criticisms are only expressed privately to a few running buddies. And for a good majority of runners who are just content in having a good run and running a good race, injury free– these minor complaints come to pass and are eventually forgotten as these glitches do happen in races.
My friend June and i arrived at UP at about 5:00 am when runners were also starting to trickle in. The sky was cloudy but the air was humid. We did some warm up jogs and light stretching and was surprised by the turn-out of runners as this race was competing with 3 other popular races being held the same day. There were more that 400 runners who registered (a far cry from the 1,500 runners we had the previous year) and the starting line in front of the UP Theater was starting to get crowded.
The wheelchair participants were the first to be sent-off at exactly 5:58am while the 10k runners were fired-off at 5:59am. The 10k race was for 2 loops of 5k each around the campus. At the start of our take off, i found myself in my usual out-of-control fast start. The UP campus is our stamping ground so we were very familiar with the course.
At the 1.1km mark at the corner of Regidor St. and Quirino Ave., we found the first of 3 water stations which was practically by-passed by the runners based on the very few cups strewn on the street. The runners might have felt it was too early in the race to hydrate themselves at this point. The multitude of runners increased along this stretch as the fast 5k runners started to merge with the mid-pack 10k runners. When we were to turn right to D. Santos Street, i saw Atty. Chuchi Aliling who was stationed at the corner and shouting words of encouragement. A few meters after, in front of the UP Fire Department was the 2nd water station which was crowded this time.
The nice weather was holding well as no hint of the sun’s rays were seen even when we turned left to University Avenue to make a U-turn as this stretch was not covered with trees. Marshals were seen in every street corner and although directional signs were visible, no kilometer markers were seen. At the 4th kilometer, the last water stop of the loop was stationed. Only 1 water boy was manning this station and he was clearly struggling to fill up the cups as many more runners were fast approaching.
I struggled past the only incline of the course, a 150-meter stretch up the UP Law Center. My breathing was heavy at this point but got my bearings back up Guererro Street. Reaching the first loop at 5km, i clocked at 29.55 minutes, no way of going below 1 hour as i have a tendency to slow down during the 2nd half of a race. True enough, the 2nd loop was more trying as i struggled to keep form though running slowly kept my breathing steadier so i ran in a more relaxed pace from thereon. The sad part of the run was when the water stop in front of the Fire department ran out of cups this time and the person manning it was talking frantically on his cellfone imploring the other side to hurry up in delivering more water cups to his station. A Botak Paa-tibayan deja vu?
Except for this glitch, i saw no other problem for the rest of the course. On my running, i just coasted along a 6:10 pace. Approaching for the last time the base of the incline before the UP Law Center, i saw runners run past sprinting up the stretch. That provided me the spark i needed to get moving the last kilometer of the race. But instead of powering up, i felt like i was scaling up a cliff and found myself almost at a standstill upon reaching the crest. As i recovered and turned right on the final straight off Osmena Avenue, i picked up the pace a little, passed up some runners until the finish. The 5-day lay off and the moderate pace during the second half of the race notwithstanding, i finished in 1:04:26 which i felt contented with.
Over-all, from a scale of 1-10, i’ll rate the organization of this race at 7.5 – 8 and i’m sure Rudy would agree with me.