The Fort Running Festival: New 21k PR!

Sunday, 17 October 2010  |  Race Reports


DETAILS: Oct. 17, 2010, Bonifacio High Street

ORGANIZER: MLB Road Race Specialist


– simple but challenging route
– ample water and Pocari Sweat stations
– enough marshals
– adequate directional signs and kilometer markers
– loot bag with bananas, Pocari Sweat, plus free Goody ponytail holders (like FS Run)

– sudden gun start for 21k (even the host didn’t know the 21k race had started!)
– no lights at the dirt road during the 1st kilometer
– short 21k

This was a small and simple race.  For the runner who wanted a safe and enjoyable race without expecting much fanfare, this race delivered.

– Race awarding –



This was a big day for me. It was to be my last and longest run before New York Marathon.  And, just to make sure that I was on track for my goal, I decided to join The Fort Striders run at Fort for a 21k time trial.  Let’s just say this is something I felt I had to do to either 1) Build my confidence for my dream race, or 2) Make me the most anxious runner in all of New York City if I went below my own expectations.

My goal was a sub-2 hour 21k.  My personal record for a 21km was at Cebu Marathon last January when I clocked in at 2 hours and 1 minute. Ouch.

My good friend Alvin offered to pace me for this run.  I looked forward to having him push me to run faster.  But, at the same time, it made me 10x more nervous.


When the gun was fired, Alvin and I walked towards the starting line as the 21k runners charged away.  Talk about relaxed mode. I thought we were both trying to delay what was to be a very exhausting and challenging 2 hours ahead.

The route took us towards the I.S. and British School area, our regular tempo route with Alvin.  Much to our surprise, it was exactly the same course we had run in numerous times in the past.  Woohoo!  This race was ours, well, at least for the first 5k!


As we entered Lawton, we spotted a female runner in pink ahead of us.  I’ve seen her in past races so I knew how strong she was.

Alvin and I continued to run a steady pace and, by chance, we overtook her. She was on my right side as I ran past her.  Faster than I was able to say “What-the-hell?!” I found her on my left overtaking me!  After a few minutes, we overtook her again.  And, as expected, she forged ahead leaving us a few meters behind.

I whispered to Alvin “She is very competitive.” Later on, I added “We’re very much alike!”


For the rest of the race—from Heritage Park climbing up towards Bayani Ave. where pink runner’s pacer guided her all the way until the finish line—we stayed safely behind pink runner.

It was pretty obvious to me at that time that Alvin was using her to motivate me to maintain the pace.  He would tell me “Let’s get her at Essensa” and I would barely manage a word, just a little snort which could have meant “Uh huh” or “No way!” Or, he would signal to me with his thumb and index finger right in front of his face and I would try to read his lips “She is THIS near!”  And, I would stare at him blankly focused on running my own race regardless of pink runner’s presence.

Sure, I wanted to beat her.  Of course, I wanted to overtake her.  But, with all humility, this woman was strong and I thought I’d collapse if I tried chasing her down.  Was I willing to go all out to chase after her when I knew deep inside that I was already running a race that exceeded my own expectations for myself?  Not really.  (Maybe after New York, yes?!)

I was running what I felt was the best 21k race I ever run so far.  Not once did I glance at my Garmin, but I felt it.  And, I knew that if I ended the race strong–whether or not pink runner was ahead of me—I would be happy.


As we neared the finish line, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  The clock read 1:52.

1:52?! NO WAY?! Only in my wildest dreams!  I stopped my Garmin and got confirmation.  Yup!  My time was 1: 52 with an average pace of 5:29/km, but it was only for 20.45 km. If adjusted, my time would’ve been 1:55 for a 21k.  Well, that’s still 6 minutes better than my Cebu PR!

I placed 6th Overall for Women’s 21k.  2nd Place for Women’s in my age category.

To say I was happy was an understatement.  I was overjoyed. And, if I knew how to do cartwheels, I would’ve been doing them all the way to the car.

– with Jun & Mariel (The Solemates) and hubby –

– with new friends after the race –

After thanking Alvin, congratulating Pink Runner (yes, I sought her out and shook her hand), and waiting for hubby and friends to arrive, we ran more kilometers to total 32km for the day followed by our usual breakfast at Sentro.

New Yoooork (concrete jungle where dream are made of) I am so ready for you!