Together with the rest of the world, over 200 runners showed up at McKinley Hill to take part in the Pinoy version of the Nike+ Human Race. This local race, as I’ve been told, was Nike’s “gift” to all users of the Nike+ ipod SportsKit and SportsBands. It didn’t matter if one was a loyal user or one of those who scrambled to purchase (or win—haha) a kit a few days before the race; as long as you registered and wore the Nike+ on your arm or wrist, you were in.
The atmosphere was light, fun, and festive—so unlike the larger major races that can get overcrowded and messy. Parking was easy, restrooms were clean (almost hotelish, if you get what I mean), and most runners were running loops around the assembly area to warm up. By 5:30am, my good friend Annie climbed up onstage to lead some light exercises and stretching to get everyone race ready. I decided to go for a jog and some light stretching instead, I’m anti-social that way.
I felt strong and ready for this race. My upper body was slightly sore from a 600m swim the day before, but apart from that, I was raring to go. I switched on my ipod shuffle to hear my favorite song for the month, Cold Play’s Viva La Vida, as the 1st song on shuffle mode—just what I needed to climb the steep uphill we were about to face. At exactly 6 a.m., we were off.
It felt like a slow mountain trek up that hill, but we all survived. (Thank you for your prayers!) In the middle of the climb, I saw Foreign Runner speeding down the opposite side of the road (Philip, ang bilis mo!) followed by Annie. Yes, I just saw two people at that time, the rest of the runners were a blur.
Before I knew it, I too had gone downhill, up again, and out of McKinley Hill towards Lawton Avenue. I maintained a pace of 5:30 thereabouts from Lawton to Bayani road, which left me feeling tired and thirsty. I believe I took advantage of every single water station available, and believe me, there were a lot of them. (Great job, Coach Rio and Jo-Ar!) One cup to drink, another cup to wash my face. That second cup of cold water did wonders, I tell you.
As in our reconnaisance mission last week, the run inside the flat roads of Heritage Park was a welcome treat. I think it was the only long stretch of road that allowed me to breathe again. It was during this time that my bull horns started popping up. I saw a few male runner friends (who shall not be named) ahead of me and thought “I sure could outrun them” but then, I controlled myself by repeating my new mantra “Complete, not compete.” over and over and over…
It worked—for half a kilometer or so. As we exited Heritage Park and made our way up Bayani Road, the same guys were still within my vision, just a few meters ahead of me. I still maintained my pace and felt like I got my second wind somewhat. I maintained my pace, enjoyed my music, and didn’t focus on racing. Then, climbing up the last hill before making a right towards Lawton, I felt my bullhorns growing out of my head (you didn’t see them because they were concealed by my cap); I felt strong and I started increasing my pace during the ascent. One by one, I outpaced the guys that were once ahead of me. By the time I made a right turn, I was ahead of them. I increased my pace even more, striding through the flat roads knowing I was nearing the finish.
I only slowed down in the steep downhill close to the finish (my shin splints are aggravated by running downhill) and, unfortunately, that’s where Guy #1 outpaced me. Then, as I closed in on the finish line, Guy #2 ran ahead of me too. I think Guy #3 & 4 were still behind me when I crossed the finish.
These guys are my friends and I know they detest getting “chicked,” but hey it was all fun and friendly competition. Right, girls?
According to my Garmin, I finished 10.4 km at 59.11 minutes. I reached my conservative goal of finishing my first “comeback” 10k race below 1 hour. I was satisfied with my performance considering it was such a tough course.
First thing I did after the race was to search for Annie. I expected her to have placed 1st. She was nowhere in sight. I chatted with friends first thinking Annie was probably changing until I bumped into Drew A. who brought some bad news: Annie had collapsed.
Annie was 1.5km away from the finish line. She was the first among all women. Her closest competitor was a far 600m behind. She was definitely going to win this. But, little did she know that she was dehydrated already (she didn’t have time to drink water after her warm up onstage and went straight towards the race start.) Her vision started blurring while she was running, but she disregarded this and went full blast. She wanted to win this for her daughter who was celebrating her 14th birthday. The prize, P16,000 worth of Nike GCs, was going to be a surprise gift for her daughter. She wanted it badly but her body couldn’t take it. She blacked out.
When I spoke to Annie over the phone, she was already in a hospital in Bonifacio and was hooked up to a dextrose. She was in tears over her daughter’s “lost” birthday gift—and so was I. Annie is a strong woman—one of the strongest I know—but, like any other mother, she just turns into a marshmallow when it comes to her children. Annie is now fine; she’s going to teach a yoga class today. To all those who sent SMS and expressed concern for Annie, my partner-in-running-crime, thank you!
So, I was home, sitting on the floor near our bed telling my hubby about the awesome experience of running a 10k again as I munched on my banana and peanut butter combo when I receive an SMS from a friend. She told me that it was too bad we didn’t see each other in the race and, she adds almost in passing, that I won. I sent a message back asking “Won what?!” I seriously thought I won the cruise to Coron that I was pining over for the past few weeks (but Armand won that one, congrats!). Then she says that I won top finisher in my age category! What a surprise! The Bull Runner—complete with bullhorns plus P3,000 worth of GC’s from Nike—is back!
Next post: More race photos…This post was just way too long wasn’t it?