Double race weekend, folks. One was light and fun, the other was downright exhausting and forgettable…
GABRIEL SYMPHONY (Saturday)
If there’s a race that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, it’s the Gabriel Symphony 12-hour Multi-Sport Event. In this race, there’s a variety of events that take place from sunrise to sunset, all for a worthy cause: to help sick and disabled children. The people who join the events aren’t just there to compete, but to help and, of course, to have fun.
I arrived at Alabang Country Club field alone and registered for the 5k race. I don’t know if it was just me, but the atmosphere was just so positive and friendly. Kids in trisuits guided by their parents, cyclists in full gear laughing, and hosts of the event, Sen. Pia Cayetano, Coach Ani de Leon, and Mailet Bonoan-Ancheta chatting with participants in the field.
As runners gathered behind Sen. Pia at the starting line, I realized we were less than 20 participants. Sen. Pia introduced me to the foreigner by my side and advised him to just follow me as it was just his first race in the country. I assured him he would be fine and whispered “I won’t be surprised if you win the race!”
In a few minutes, we were off. Through the field and unto the roads, our little race began to get serious. Some were running easy, others were going full blast. My newfound foreigner friend led the pack followed by fast male runners!
To say the route was familiar to me would be an understatement. This is the route I take on training runs when I want a tough workout. That morning, with little sleep the night before (it was Run Radio the night before, remember?) and a half marathon the following day, I decided to take it easy knowing that the ascents at 4km just might kill me. I ran at 5:30 min/km, a pace that’s comfortably hard, but not full race mode for me.
By around 3km, I realized I was running just slightly behind the female leader, a young girl probably in her teens. Then, a crazy thought hit me, I could actually grab first place! Now, I’m no bully, but when it comes to races, we always must give our best, right? I thought this was probably my first and perhaps last opportunity to ever bag first place. So, my nostrils enlarged, my bull horns appeared, and I ran steadily behind her.
In a water station, young female leader slowed down to drink just before the difficult ascent up Country Club Drive. The distance narrowed between us and I successfully overtook her as we were climbing my favorite hill (same road where this photo was taken by Ben Chan).
I made a right turn and headed back into Alabang Country Club immediately when I was supposed to go straight ahead! (That’s what I get for chit-chatting during the race briefing!) I was asked to make a u-turn, which I did, and made a break for the finish with no one behind me.
I came in first for the 5k. I forgot to check my time neither did I get my official results. Needless to say, I didn’t take the win too seriously (I was actually laughing about my luck all the way home) but I did show off my sparkling blue medal to show off to the kiddos and hubby!
My running program ordered a 21km at 6:40 min/km pace this morning, so I thought it best to run it during the Rotarun at McKinley Hill. Exhausted from the lack of sleep and the Saturday activities with the family, I dreaded waking up at 4:00 a.m. for this race. Even so, I managed to scrape myself out of bed, as hubby did too, and we dressed for the race. We had to arrive early to claim our reserved race packs, but it seemed that we were moving slower than usual this morning.
We arrived at McKinley Hill to find a long-line of cars entering the area. It was even worse entering the parking lot. I bid hubby goodbye at 5:25 a.m. (he was running 15k) and I was confident I would make it to the 5:30 a.m. 21k race start. By the time I reached the assembly area, the 21km had left (I heard they began 10 minutes earlier than scheduled) and the 10k and 15k runners were assembled at the starting line. I decided to wait for hubby instead. In a few minutes, the race started and, guess what, I didn’t have a race bib yet! Worse, hubby was nowhere to be found!
I am vehemently against running bandit, but in this case, I decided to run at the end of the crowd promising to myself that I would not avail of the services provided for registered runners (e.g., drinks at water stations, medals, certificates, etc.) I ran at training pace all by my lonesome with my trusty ipod to entertain me. Somewhere along McKinley Hill, I spotted good friend and sometimes training buddy, Harvie, who was late too. I waited for him and we decided to run this slow together.
Good thing Harvie planned on running easy too. We agreed to run at 6:30 min/km and chatted all the way through. We managed to entertain ourselves with lots of chit chat and frequent hi’s and hello’s to friends (and even strangers whom Harvie was playing a prank on.) Occasionally, he would tell me “I am so tired” because he biked 90km the day before, and I would echo “Me too!” because my body was just breaking down with all the work and the lack of sleep the past weeks. Yet, there we were plodding on, hoping to fulfill our training program’s requirements like good little soldiers.
Thankfully, we finished our 15km race strong and smiling. My time was 1:32 with a distance of 15.18 km (I didn’t cross the finish). Average pace was 6:06 min/km.
All things went wrong for me this morning: I felt fatigued even before the race started, I failed to get my race pack and missed my race start, it was terribly hot, and the race itself was forgettable. I almost had the worst race day ever, but great conversation and an injure-free run made the little mishaps more bearable.
Note: As an unregistered runner, I decided to abstain from my usual race review to give due respect to the organizer.