Joining the Gabriel Symphony 10k run was a last minute decision I was glad to have made; good thing there was onsite registration. Yesterday morning, I arrived at the Alabang Country Club at 5:30 a.m. sharp anticipating a long line of onsite registrants; it turned out that I was the only eager beaver in the area. Organizers were still setting up the venue when I registered, got my race bib and singlet, and laughed to myself when I saw the lady jot down the words “Early Bird” on my registration form. I hoped that it’s true what some say “The early bird catches 1st place.”
Shortly after, I was relieved to see friends arrive: JunC, Coach Rio, Coach Jo-Ar, Coach John, Kim and friend Cristina, Dedette and Lisa. As we did our usual warm ups, Patrick and Totoy of Happy Feet took a detour from their run to say hi too.
– Coach Ani de Leon gives the pre-race briefing –
The 5k & 10k event started late as Sen. Pia Cayetano, who was leading the affair, came from a brief swim with Maiqui Dayrit and Joey Torres, two athletes who so admirably volunteered to do an Ironman distance from 6 am to 6 pm to raise funds for Gabriel Symphony. After a short talk from Sen. Cayetano about the recipients of the fundraising activities of Pinay In Action, the runners—perhaps less than 50—assembled at the startling line awaiting the start of the race.
By 6:30 a.m., we were off. The course would take us through roads that I knew like the back of my hand. We were to make two 5k loops from Alabang Country Club to University Ave. and up Country Club Drive. Easy peasy, I thought. I could never have been more wrong.
As we exited Alabang Country Club, I ran at a comfortably hard pace for me—around 5:30 min/km—almost like I was going for my once-a-week tempo run. I ran alongside Sen. Pia for a few minutes; our conversation revolving around PRs and running, no longer about the kid’s articles we used to write together.
The first 5k loop was fairly simple. I maintained a 5:30 to 5:40 min/km following three men in a line. Actually, they looked like the three little dwarfs (a lot taller though) climbing up those two major uphills at University Ave. and Country Club Drive (Think Hi ho hi ho, it’s off to work we go!) As for me, the 4th little dwarf, I was doing fine, thank you, until another dwarf in black overtook me and claimed my position. Arggh, I was not happy playing 5th dwarf!
So, by the 2nd loop, this little dwarf was on a mission to regain her position. I stayed behind the black dwarf during the entire run, sometimes even matching his pace—no matter how tired I was—just to ensure that I wouldn’t lag too far behind. The supposedly easy peasy route and fast pace (remember this was a big guy I was trying to chase after), however, had taken its toll on me; I was feeling tired. As we climbed University Ave., my legs started feeling heavy and the black dwarf had gone way ahead of me. This annoyed me even more.
Rolling down University Ave. I discarded all shin splint fears and sprinted my way down the hill to catch up to black dwarf. We were less than 2 km to the finish and I needed to be right behind him to execute my plan. As we climbed the last uphill on Country Club Drive, I knew it was time.
I increased my pace just as he had slowed down during the climb up; yes, I overtook him! I wanted to scream out in triumph, but there was one problem: I was exhausted. (Hubby saw me at this point and waved at me from afar, but I could barely manage a grin.) Oh, there was another problem too: the finish line was farther than I thought as we had to enter from the exit of the Club, not the entrance. Gawd, I didn’t know how long I could maintain my 4:40 pace without the black dwarf surprising me from behind.
Well, I ended the run with a terrible time of 59:48, unhappy with my time but ecstatic over my triumph over black dwarf. Woohoo!
I took a 5 minute rest (and a quick photo op with Smart peeps Ellen and Jet) and met up with JunC, who I was to run extra kilometers with as planned. Annie was supposed to join us but she was nowhere in sight. So, Jun and I took off. We ran at a slower 6:00 to 6:30 min/km pace around flat roads this time (thank God!) and enjoyed easy conversation about family, children, and the upcoming Singapore Marathon where we’re both registered for the half. I ran an extra 4 km while Jun ran an additional 8 km.
The big surprise of the morning: I won 3rd place! First placer was the super fast runner who took Annie’s place as first at Nike due to Annie’s collapse; 2nd placer was no other than top female triathlete Sandra Araullo. Wooaah, I was just in awe that little ol’ me stood with these two great runners up on the podium. Must’ve been my lucky day.
I arrived at Gabriel Symphony with the mindset that it would be an easy, relaxed, fun run; it was fun alright, but it was taxing, challenging, and completely exhausting—just the way I like it.
– Smart Runners with Ellen (5k winner) at the top of the podium –
Congratulations to Pinay In Action for completing yet another successful event. May you help more children live happier and healthier lives.