Kraft Run: First Place, Baaaby!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010  |  Race Reports

Some friends and I are all currently deep in training for various marathons: JunB for Camsur in September, Lit for Portland in October, and the hubby, JunC, Mariel and I for New York in November. Almost every weekend we try to do our long runs together.  Plan for last Sunday was to run a total of 24km.

With the Kraft Run on the same day, we decided to cover a short distance before the race, 10k at Kraft Run, and run the balance after. Meeting time was 4:30 a.m. at the race’s assembly area in Fitness First Alabang.

Pre-Race: 4k Easy

Before dawn, we ran easy along the race route in Filinvest Corporate City and Palms Country Club. There was a lot of chatting and laughing amidst the dark and deserted road.  Thankfully, JunB brought his new gear along: a flashlight attached to the edge of his visor, which lit the path before us.  Without that piece of nifty equipment, I would’ve stomped over a bullfrog!

We covered 4k before we headed back to the assembly area all warmed up.  The race was to start at 5:30 a.m.

Kraft Run: 10k

The Kraft Run was a corporate event which was open to only Kraft employees and their guests. Fortunately, our names found their way into their guest list.

The race was so well organized that I thought it was a pity that it wasn’t open to the public.

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– Runners warm up –

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– Larry, Curly, and Moe OR Tito, Vic, and Joey? –

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– Off we go! –

The route was definitely one of the most thrilling 10k routes I’ve run. (I couldn’t believe we had those wonderful hills hidden behind Palms!) Water, marshals, lootbags (loaded with Oreos, Tiger biscuits, Eden Cheese, Cheezwhiz and Tang), and food were aplenty and the atmosphere was all fun, fun, fun.

My kids arrived with my in laws who were all signed up for the 3k run. Hubby and I were set to do 10k. When the 10k gun went off, I bid hubby goodbye and, in a split second, decided I was going to race this one.

First Place for the First Time

The nice thing about training hard and eating right is that, when race day comes, your body simply thanks you for it. I was pushing hard, but not completely exhausting myself. I’ve suffered more during tempo runs under harsher conditions. This time I had the chance to enjoy the experience.

I ran at a fast clip without paying much attention to competition. Perhaps the only thing I noticed was that there was no woman ahead of me. Oh, and that the guy beside me, despite his heavy and noisy breathing, mustered all his strength to never ever let me run past him.

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I crossed the finish line at 48 mins and 11 seconds bagging first place for the female category in 10k.  According to my Garmin, my average pace was 5:09/km and race distance was actually short at 9.35km.

Woohooo!  First time I ever won first place. Don’t you just love small races where the elite are absent? heehee.

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– That medal was huge –

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– Wooohooo! –

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– This one is for you Harvs and the 4 lbs you helped me lose haha. Go Team Hammer!

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– with my medal and prize (free accommodations in a hotel in Tagaytay I have never heard of. Uhm, can we exchange it for CheezWhiz instead? Kidding!)

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– with Kraft employees and Sudip Mall, Kraft GM –

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– great race + family and friends = perfect event –

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– with Jun Bisnar of Nuvali, hubby, and Don Ubaldo of Filinvest/Pinoy Ultra Runners –

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– with the hubby –

Post-Race: 10k Slow

After the awarding and refueling, our group ran another 10km inside Ayala Alabang Village and then to Filinvest Corporate City to reach our goal distance.  There was a whole let less laughing but the same amount of talking—about injuries, exhaustion, and the heat (haha!)—but we managed to survive and reach our 24km goal.  The laughter ensued over a sumptuous meal at UCC in West Gate.

Congratulations to Kraft for a wonderfully organized event! I vote for another one next year!  Thanks too to Filinvest Corporate City, especially Ricky Suarez and Don Ubaldo, for sharing the route.

Photos courtesy of VimaVendo…I mean, Vima of KulitRunner and Carlo Capistrano.

Robinsons Supermarket Fit & Fun Wellness Buddy Run 2010

Saturday, 17 July 2010  |  Race Reports

TBR RACE REVIEW: ROBINSONS SUPERMARKET FIT & FUN WELLNESS BUDDY RUN 2010

DETAILS: Sunday, 11 July 2010, Bonifacio High Street
ORGANIZER: ExTribe

RATING: Excellent race! Highly recommended!
5Medals

THUMBS UP:

  • unique concept
  • pleasant marshals that greet you with a smile and a “good morning!”
  • clean and simple route
  • ample water stations
  • kilometer markers and directional signs
  • huge lootbag
  • relatively small race, but positive and happy vibe

BETTER JOB NEXT TIME:

  • merging of 5k and 10k at the last kilometer toward the finish caused delay for some 10k due to walkers at 5k
  • vehicles along the I.S./British School area
  • long race name. Kidding! Okay, I’m not. It’s like 4 race names in one

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For the 3rd time, Robinsons and ExTribe staged a near perfect event with the Robinson’s Fit & Fun Wellness Buddy Run.

The buddy concept in itself is enough reason to join. It makes the solo sport of running open to teamwork and cooperation. Add to that the seamless race organization and you’ve got a winner.

Organizers fulfilled basic requirements for a race: clean, simple route with marshals and signs to direct the way and ample water stations for hydration. But, they went over and beyond that with the little things: marshals were extraordinarily pleasant and courteous greeting us with “good morning!” along the way, lootbags were humongous and heavy, and the overall ambiance of the race was that of a small community event where anyone and everyone was happy.

This race is on my must-run race list of each year. Better register early next year. I predict slots will disappear faster than you can find a buddy!

—————————

Hubby and I decided to run the first 3k at 6 min pace and the rest at sub 6. That was the plan. But, as always, when the race starts, adrenaline takes over and plans are thrown out the window.

With the foot traffic preventing us from running side-by-side, hubby went ahead. I told him to just dictate the pace and I’d be right behind. Lo and behold, the hubby, who is usually conservative with his pace, suddenly sped away, climbing up on sidewalks, sweeping past other runners, and leaving me heaving and panting in the background. I checked my watch to find his pace at 5:15 to 5:30. So much for plans, I thought, as I struggled to catch my breath.

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– On the way to Beundia with my buddy/hubby-

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– Full speed ahead –

SUB-6 ALL THE WAY

It turns out that we could go faster than we thought. We ran the entire 10km course at 5:30 to 5:45 pace, except for the challenging Buendia flyover.

Hubby and I hardly exchanged words, except for our favorite two words at that time: “Water break.” I know, I know, we’re so romantic!

TO PR OR NOT

At around 7k, I checked my Garmin to find we were doing pretty well. I asked hubby what his PR was and he replied “56.” I advised him: “If we maintain our pace, we could just break your PR today. Are you game?” I don’t recall him answering, but for me, silence was consent. Off we went!

By the time we reached Forbes Town, hubby saw the water station ahead across McDonalds. He said “Water break there.” I replied: “If you stop, say goodbye to your PR.” He looked at me and obviously decided to stave off his thirst in favor of a PR. I smiled with approval feeling like a coach. Then, I freaked out.

Alarm bells started ringing in my ear as thoughts of heatstroke and dehydration entered my mind, especially with the incident at Milo Marathon. No. No. NO. I asked hubby to just stop and take a drink instead.

We took a sip. Walked a bit. Then, plodded forward.

NEW PR…AS A COUPLE

We crossed the finish line at 58.27 mins, it was our PR as a couple.  Er, well, we only had last year’s 10k Robinson’s Buddy Run to compare it with. We beat our time by…drumroll please…a whopping 2 seconds!!!  Our average pace was 5:35 min/km for 10.4 km.

Next year, we shall plan our strategy a full month in advance and hopefully win the grand prize so we can fly off for our 2nd honeymoon for free…in our dreams!

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– Nice bumping into TBR Dream Marathoners: Jonathan, Hec, Hubby, Bic, Bob, Mai, and Mayen –

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– Hubby, partners Edward & Coach John who bagged 2nd Place, and Jun –

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– New running flight attendant friends! They look so mowdel-ly while I’m dripping in sweat –

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– Hubby with Kraft Running Club members who finished their first 5k. Congrats! –

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– Coach friends: Coach John and Coach Roel –

And, of course, we can’t skip my favorite part of this run: opening the loot!

They came in heavy grocery bags…
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which revealed nice reusable canvass totes…
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and all these goodies inside!
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I love it! Thank you Robinsons Supermarket for giving me a great Sunday run and saving me a trip to the grocery. Until next year!

Race photos courtesy of Jun Cruz (The Solemates)

Milo Manila Eliminations 2010: 12th Place for Women’s 21k

Monday, 5 July 2010  |  Race Reports

TBR Race Review: Milo Manila Eliminations

Details: July 4, 2010, Quirino Grandstand
Organizer: Rudy Biscocho
Rating:
3Medals

THUMBS UP:
– good management of foot traffic (runners)
– clear course with marshals
– directional signs and kilometer markers
– plentiful portalets at the start and along the route
– free gels and bananas along the route
– elite athletes as pacers (although I only found out about this after the race)
– medical aid stations along the course
– entertainment from bands
– use of timing chips
– announcement of names near the finish
– qualifying time per category
– lootbags for finishers
– various post-race activities at race area
– medical aid and marshals’ prompt response
– improved registration with satellite registration centers
– fantastic marketing campaign with worthy advocacy

BETTER JOB NEXT TIME:
– insufficient water at stations, specifically at Km 8 and stations during the last 3km. A marathoner friend informed me that they didn’t have hydration for the last 10km.
– lack of stations, there could’ve been more
– slow refill of water by marshals at stations
– water marshals were freely giving out water to non-runners
– no sponges
– crowding at the timing chip mats
– lack of control with pedestrians or finishers who leisurely crossed the route, especially near the finish
– 5:30 a.m. too late a start for 21k
– more expensive race fee compared to previous years

27,000 runners gathered at Quirino Grandstand for the Milo Marathon yesterday. The race start went by smoothly and the 21km started on time.

With the change of course—from out and back last year to loops along Macapagal-Roxas Blvd.—runners were concerned about heavy foot traffic among half and full marathoners who were likely to converge along the route. The foot traffic was capably handled by organizers, a feat considering the enormity of the race. The high-traffic areas were where the timing chip mats were located. (Methinks Milo should invest in more mats next year. A gift to those who will be gunning for PRs.)

Free Hammer gels and bananas were distributed, but there was no water within the area to drown both. Missing were the blaring Milo jingle from last year (which I surprisingly wanted to hear to pump me up!), sponges, or even cheerers along the route.

What was astounding and devastating was the poor management of water stations. A few stations had water but glasses were not quickly filled. This runner had to pick a cup out of a stack and pour her own from a pitcher! Some hydration stations, especially the last few kilometers, were empty, which left runners suffering in the heat or worse from dehydration.

Coming from a well-organized Milo Marathon finals last year, all that was required was a repeat of that race at the very least. The failure of this race to provide the most basic requirement: proper hydration was, in itself, enough to cause a huge disappointment among runners.

Milo Marathon is an institution; it is and always will be one of the most anticipated races of each year. This is a double-edged sword as runners have high expectations from Milo and its organizers. Runners will continue to look forward to Milo Marathon (as this runner does) and have faith in Nestle and its organizers to improve the race next time. After all, they came so close to perfection already last year.

________________________________________

THE LONGEST WARM UP OF MY LIFE

Bumper to bumper traffic. That’s what greeted hubby and I are 5 a.m. on the way to the assembly area. We hopped out of the car and left our driver to battle the traffic alone as we sped off to run what we thought was a 1.5km warm up to the race start. It turned out to be a 3km warm up for our 21km.

We entered the starting chute to meet Jay (Prometheus Cometh), Jun (The Solemates), and Jun Bisnar of Nuvali. They looked fresh while hubby and I were sweating like pigs.

OFF TO A FAST START

We started the race as a group. Slowly, we broke away from each other with Jun and Hubby running at an easy pace, while Jun, and I were made to believe (by Jay) that we were running at an easy pace.

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– Jun, Jay, and I –

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– Happy happy! –

For the first 5k, we happily chatted along Roxas Blvd. as we do when we, along with Dindo who was running 42k that day, meet up for lunch every now and then. We talked about NYC Marathon (all three of us are registered), triathlon dreams, and more.

It wasn’t too long after when Jay confessed his strategy. He planned on chatting us up throughout the race hoping to have us run at a fast clip (and hopefully a PR) without our knowledge. I laughed and told him I was actually panting already so I had a clear idea of how fast we were running even if I refused to glimpse at the pace on my Garmin.

Shortly after, Jun asked: Is this the first flyover we’re climbing? Jay answered: No, it’s the second. I guess Jay’s strategy worked enough to have Jun obliviously attack an ascent!

For us to forget about climbing another flyover, I advised Jay that he could promise to cover our airfare for NYC. Perhaps, that way, we could even PR in the race without breaking a sweat.

SPLITTING UP

By around 8k, we had parted ways. Jay was ahead of me, so I just focused on him and followed his lead. I enjoyed feeling like I was in full race mode, without distraction, and focusing on the game.

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– Serious mode –

It was at this time when I was completely parched and the water station was nowhere in sight (over 2.5k distance I believe). I was even more annoyed to find free gels and bananas being distributed as my throat dried up. I ran 5:24 and 5:34 mins/km at Km 9 and 10 respectively in desperate search of water.

After finding water after 10k and using it to drown my own Hammer Gel from my pocket, I forged ahead.

SMOOTH JOURNEY

Except for that brief water problem, it was smooth-sailing all the way. In my mind, I thanked KL Marathon last week for the preparation.

I thoroughly enjoyed the race. Climbing the flyovers a total of four times was exhausting, but it was a welcome challenge that made the race more colorful. (I heard the marathoners climbed it 10x. Oh boy.)  The new 21k route was quite enjoyable for me, actually.

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From 10k until the end of the race, except for Km 11 when I walked to swallow the gel, I ran sub-6 minute pace, which told me that my body had finally climbed out of the out-of-shape phase I was stuck in for months and that my speed was gradually returning.

LAST 3K

The last 3k was torture. I was thirsty and exhausted, but there was no water in sight. I bumped into Donna Cruz who was battling the heat too, but still ran at a fast pace.

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I mentally blocked the thirst, heat, and hurt from my body and just started counting from 1 to 100 until I reached the finish line. I don’t remember much anymore, except for those annoying pedestrians who crossed the street and stopped you midway through the run. My counting reached 6 sets of 100’s in my mind before I entered the finisher’s chute.

My unofficial time was 2:02 for 21.03 km with an average pace of 5:50 min/km.  1 minute shy from my PR at Cebu Marathon last January.  And, over 2 minutes shy of a sub-2 half marathon, which is fine because I had no plans of breaking any personal records at Milo anyway.  The good news: tI placed 12th for 21k Women’s category!  Click HERE

My reward after the finish? 2 Nestle Twin pops! Perfect food for recovery and the best twin pops I’ve ever had in my life.

Photos courtesy of Ben Chan of Photovendo.  Visit photovendo.ph

Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2010: Shoulda Woulda Coulda

Thursday, 1 July 2010  |  Race Reports

Did we miss the race? That was the sole question on my mind as hubby and I stepped out of our taxi onto the empty street of the assembly area, Dataran Merdaka, on the drizzly morning of June 27, 2010. Race start was 6:15 a.m. and we arrived 5:30 a.m. In Manila, the starting area would have been bustling with runners, but, here, the entire street was empty.

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– Light rain before the race start was a blessing –

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– Almost like a ghost race or so I thought –

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– The street was all ours –

Turns out, runners were near the stage area or lined up at the portalets, which were not enough I tell you (or I could’ve been spoiled by our local races.) We checked in our baggage and sat by the sidewalk trying to keep our eyelids from closing. Shouldn’t have slept at 11pm. Shouldn’t have gone touring the entire day before the race. Shouldn’t have binged on too much noodles and sumptuous Malaysian food. Ok, we may not have been THAT regretful about the last one.

By 6 a.m. the assembly area was packed. We managed to squeeze into the crowd of runners packed like sardines. I noticed that runners in KL aren’t as gear-crazy as we are in Manila. I didn’t spot too many Malaysians donning Garmins nor Polars, compression tights, or even caps or visors.

Amidst the mass of runners, it was a pleasant surprise when Lim (RunwitMe), a running blogger from Malaysia who I had been following for a couple of years, called out to me. (He said he spotted my bright pink Newtons, which not many Malaysians weear either. Not yet, at least.) After a few photos together, we got to chat about running in his country. He said that running is slowly picking up in Malaysia with races scheduled every weekend.

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– It was a pleasure meeting you, Lim (runwitme)! –

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– with the hubby –

Soon, we heard the gun start and we were off. The weather was cool and damp from the slight drizzle. Roads were still wet. Hubby and I had no idea what to expect from this race. Our mindset: training race mode.

EASY 7K

The first thing that greeted us was a steep climb up. Wonderful. If this was a sign of things to come, then I planned on taking it easy all the way. Our initial pace for the first 2k was a slow 7:00 min/km both due to the ascent and the heavy traffic among runners. The road was not that wide, so traffic was a problem.

Hubby and I ran side by side with our pace relaxed at around 6:00 to 6:30. I even stopped to wait for him when he went on bathroom break. At around 7k, he advised me to go ahead as he wanted to maintain 6:30 pace all the way.

PR COURSE

It was then that I went a wee bit faster running at 5:30 to 6. As the course was unveiled to me, I thought with a pang of regret: Man oh man, this is a PR course! I should’ve gone fast from the start. (And I should’ve trained for it harder, too!)

The route was composed of gentle rolling hills, a slightly easier version of Ayala Alabang, my training ground. There were twists and turns through the streets of KL with nature and architecture (we passed mosques and Petronas Twin Towers) in our surroundings. Except for the first climb at the start, all ascents were easy on the legs while the downhills were a treat.

This was my third Standard Chartered Marathon. I’ve run Singapore Half in 2008 and full in 2009 and I completed Hong Kong full last February. Among all three, KL Marathon is my favored course.

IN OBSERVANCE

There was considerably less fanfare in this race compared with other international races I’ve joined. Just a few cheerers, one of which was a group of shirtless, teenage Malaysian boys and girls in bra tops with drums enthusiastically singing and dancing their hearts out. Honestly, I’d rather have one of that then a bunch of entertainers acting like drones who chant memorized cheer lines.

I noticed that Malaysian runners aren’t as talkative as Filipinos. Locally, we’ll have groups running together and chatting throughout the entire race. In KL, there was a peaceful kind of silence for most part of the race. Occasionally, you’ll have a partner chatting, but not a rowdy or noisy group in the crowd.

I spent much of my time targeting male runners ahead of me. Most of them caucasian, for reasons unbeknownst to me! I would overtake one then search for another one to target. This was a good strategy for me as I felt like racing (and winning) smaller events within the 21k.

SHOULDA WOULDA COULDA

I felt strong and invincible in the latter half of the race. It was at this time that regret started to seep into my mind: A PR course! Why didn’t I run it like a race from the start?! What a waste!

But, as with all things in life, you can’t dwell on regret for too long as it’ll eat you up. So, I focused on enjoying what was left of the course and running as fast as I could to make up for such a slow race start.

FINISH LINE

I enjoyed this race so much that it went by so quickly. Before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line. I finished 21.4km at 2:09 with a pace of 6:02 min/km. According to official results, I rank 90th (most likely among women but it’s not written anywhere on the website). I didn’t see anyone I knew at the finish, so inside I was screaming: I loved the route! What an amazing course! Woohooo!

I claimed my fantastic medal. Got a free banana. I was on Cloud 9.

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– Showing off my medal. Nice! –

WHATTA MESS

From Cloud 9, I was immediately dragged back down to earth when I spent the next 30 minutes (yes, I timed it), waiting in line for my bag. I watched the festivities from that baggage redemption line, devoured the banana without a drop of liquid (I don’t take 100Plus so Gatorade, my sports drink of choice, was imprisoned in the bag I was claiming!), and then I got my bag right before my sweat dried up in my running clothes. Awful.

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– Lines. Lines. Lines. –

Hubby and I found each other and we waited for Mary Grace to congratulate her for her 2nd Place win in the Half Marathon Women’s category.

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– with Mary Grace de los Santos –

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– with the better half after our half –

Hubby and I then boarded a taxi back to our hotel and feasted on a wonderful buffet lunch.

KL, perhaps we’ll see each other again next year if I attempt to PR on such wonderful roads!

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– with Renze and Grace for our celebration dinner –

Thank you again to Toby Claudio, Renze Banawa, and the entire staff of Newton and CW-X for the trip!

Mary Grace de los Santos Bags 2nd Place at Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Half Marathon

Monday, 28 June 2010  |  Race Reports

I’m back from a fantastic Kuala Lumpur trip sponsored by Newton and CW-X where I joined the Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Half Marathon yesterday.

While I try to catch up on sleep (our flight was in the wee hours of the morning), allow me to share the good news: Mary Grace de los Santos, a Cebu-based 25 year old runner from Zamboanga, bagged 2nd Place female category at the KL Marathon.  Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

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– Mary Grace de los Santos wins 2nd Place Women’s Category KL Half Marathon –

It was a proud day for our small Filipino contingent. It was actually just Mary Grace, Renze of Newton, and myself in this video:

During dinner after the race, I asked Mary Grace if she felt any pressure or stress to win the race.  In all humility, she shook her head saying that she felt confident about winning.  She did admit that she was shivering as she stood at the starting line, but it was due to the cold from the slight drizzle. Hah!

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– Grace at the starting line –

Mary Grace’s PR for a half marathon is 1:24 recorded at The Great Lapu Lapu Run last March 2010.  The winning time of the 1st placer at KL half marathon, a Kenyan, was 1:24.  The 3rd placer came in 2 mins. after Mary Grace.

Both 1st and 3rd placers had pacers by their side, but Mary Grace was all by her lonesome.  She said that she slowed down considerably when 42km runners and half marathoners filled water stations.  (I was actually surprised to hear that she even stopped to drink considering her time!)

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– Grace at the awarding –

Congratulations once again to Mary Grace who did the Philippines proud yesterday!  Hats off to Toby Claudio, Renze Banawa and the entire Newton and CW-X team who provided support and exposure to Mary Grace.  I was a witness to how Renze of Newton took good care of Mary Grace during the entire trip.  He contacted the race organizer to ensure that Mary Grace was included in the front line with the elite and woke up at 3 a.m. to accompany her for the elite warm up sessions before race day.  He did all that and still managed to finish his 1st half marathon with a time of 1:51.

More stories about KL Marathon within the week!  For now, I’ll leave you with this video of the awarding of the 1st Placer at the 42k Male division: