Over 12,000 runners participated in the first of RunRio and Unilab Active Health’s series of Run United events for the year: Run United 1 yesterday at SM Mall of Asia Grounds.
Majority of the runners participated in the half marathon with a whopping 5,000 runners registered for the event. Indeed a sign that runners have now progressed to longer distances. Other distances had the following number of runners: 10k – 4,000, 5k – 3,000 and the 500m – 169 runners.
As expected, the organizers offered runners yet another well-organized event. Despite the large population of runners, the gun start was quick and simple with wave starts to diffuse the crowd in the early portions of the race. The requisite marshals and traffic enforcers, kilometer and directional signs, portalets, and medical aid were present. Bonus bananas and sponges were available at key stations as well. Runners were also given giveaways (loved the free bottle) and medal.
Perhaps the only issue I had as a runner was the parking. I arrived at 3AM only to discover that only one parking lot was open (all other parking lots were gradually opened as the hours passed). Runners who had gone early to ensure they had parking space were faced with long lines and bumper-to-bumper traffic. Hopefully, next race, all parking lots will be opened by SM as early as 3AM to ensure smooth flow.
Notable changes in this race:
1) Shift in sports drink brand to G or Gatorade – I can tell you that many, including this runner, were ecstatic about this news. No need to BYOG (Bring your own Gatorade) in your hydration belt anymore! Gatorade also launched their new branding following the global brand: G for Gatorade along with their new slogan: That’s G!
2) 21k course all in SM MOA – When I heard of the change in course to SM MOA area, I instantly thought that the race would be fast, flat, and easy for all of us. Sure, it was flat and fast, but it sure wasn’t easy, at least for me. Three reasons: I shy away from flat courses in marathons because one uses the same leg muscles all throughout the entire run. I thought it would be fine for a half marathon, but, um, when my calves started screaming at Km 18, I kinda knew it was begging for some gentle hills and descents. Secondly, the vehicular traffic at Buendia was just awful. I honestly don’t think the organizers can do anything about this anymore. The fumes from the buses and jeepneys got into my eyes and I ran flinching in pain hoping I could douse it with water at the nearest station. Third, one word: humidity.
Don’t get me wrong. The course wasn’t bad at all. In fact, I’m sure a lot of the runners enjoyed it (e.g, Itong Torres and Noey Lopez who were smiling from ear-to-ear about their run without wanting to tell us exactly what their time was. My guess, based on how fast they disappeared from my sight at Buendia, was sub-1:50) But, I’m just saying that I did like the BGC-MOA course more despite the inconvenience of a point-to-point course.
3) Bigger and better Unilab Active Health – I didn’t think ULAH could improve on their post-race area anymore, but wow, they got even bigger this year. There were lots of photowalls, free samples from sponsors, running talks for beginners, merchandise, and Pedicab and Rivermaya were there to perform! How cool is that?
All in all, it was still the big race that everyone was looking forward to and, judging from the smiles of the people around me that morning, Unilab Active Health and RunRio gave the runners what they hoped for…and more.
Coach Andy had initially plugged a 21k into the day of the race because he knew I signed up for Run United 1. Few days before the race, I asked if I could do 32k instead to build my mileage for London Marathon. After much thought, he said yes, but with the following words of caution: Do not get injured.
Gulp. I lifted my right hand up in the air and promised. Then, ran the numbers quickly in my mind.
- Before the race – 3k easy
- Race – 21k comfortably hard. No time goals. No pressure. But not easy either.
- After the race – 8k
- TOTAL – 32k
Jun, Lit, and I started our run a little past 3AM. We easily covered the 3km running from the parking lot to the race start passing by the portalets and back. Done.
With barely time to rest, we entered the assembly area and had just a few minutes of waiting before the race started. We were in the 2nd wave.
As agreed, we would run our own race. We all put our earphones on and weaved through the crowd of runners in the first few meters of the race.
I felt strong, but I didn’t feel great either. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I just didn’t feel right.
Maybe knowing that I had to run 8k after the race kept me from pushing too hard? Maybe waking up at 1:30am with only 3.5 hours of sleep took its toll on me? Maybe the 1.5 hours on the trainer the day before tired me out? Or, maybe it was just one of those days when it’s not a great run, but it’s not a bad one either?
Whatever. I just allowed myself to run at an effort level of around 8 and I tried my best to keep up with the two boys without killing myself in the process.
Before I knew it, I could see the finish line. It looked so near and yet so far! I glanced at my watch (which I wasn’t paying attention to because I wasn’t aiming for a particular time) and learned that I could actually reach a sub-2! I zoned out and ran full speed ahead.
Based on my Timex Run Trainer, I finished 21k at 2:00:34. Missed a sub-2 by 35 seconds! (It’s almost deja vu from my Ironman 70.3 Cebu experience! Waahaha!)
Despite the missed sub-2, I was happy with my time. I changed my shirts and socks, both drenched from the race, put on my visor and shades, sprayed SPF 100 sun block and bid my friends goodbye. I was doing the last 8k on my own. And, secretly, I was looking forward to it.
I’ve missed my solo runs. I’ve missed my long runs. And so, I thought a long solo run by my lonesome was long overdue.
– Photo op with JayR, Jerich, and Justin in the middle of my run. Photo: Justin Gomez –
I ran one long strip of SM MOA back and forth and covered the last 8k to tick off my 32k long run from my marathon program. It was not so much physically exhausting as it was mentally challenging. One could’ve included it in my Coach’s list of Character Building workouts!
– Nice bumping into Spongebob Runner Merl and Running Host Boy Ramos after my LSD –
Injuries? None. Just terrible chafing in the perimeter of my sports bra despite using Body Glide. Feeling? Tired, but not exhausted. I felt like I could do more if I had to. Hunger? Surprisingly, I didn’t feel famished. I drank my Enervon HP for recovery and had a light salmon crepe for replinshment. Happiness? 100%. I live for long runs and marathon training, fantastic races, and great friends to run them with.