Part 3: London Marathon – Race Start!

Thursday, 9 May 2013  |  Race Reports

Due to the large number of participants (36,000 running 42km, to be exact), the London Marathon had three different race starts: Blue or a “Fast Good for Age” competitor, Red, and Green. All starts were located within Greenwich Park and gun start was at 10:00 AM except for the Elites, Wheelchair category, and Paralympic participants who started earlier at 9:00 AM.

I was running alone and, like previous international races, most of my concerns over the race at this point revolved around one thing: getting to the race start in time. I was so worried about it (and it ended up to be such a fun, learning journey!) that I actually dedicated an entire post for it here in case you get the chance to run London Marathon in the future.

So, back to the story, for Green Start runners like me, I was told to exit Maze Hill Station.  This caused me a lot of stress because this station was not included in the Underground map of London!  Why oh why did it have to be so complicated for me?

The English concierge and the Indian bellboy at the hotel gave varying directions (waaah!) and, the morning before the race, I found even more advice on a thread in Runner’s World forum!  Just 30 minutes before I left, I decided to follow the tip on Runner’s World which advised me to exit Greenwich Station and walk a full 20 minutes to the Green Start to avoid the traffic at the tubes.

It was then that I worried even more:  20 minutes! Alone! In the cold! Before a 42km run! Ack! Ironic that after months of running hundreds of kilometers, I was freaking out over a 20 minute walk before the race.

– My marathon gear all laid out the night before the race.  Thanks to Unilab Active Health for the shirt and arm warmers (which I wasn’t able to use because it wasn’t too cold), Timex for the cap and the Timex Run Trainer which was being charged at the time I took the photo, Toby’s/Runnr for my CWX compression tights which I absolutely adored, KSwiss for my 3rd pair of Kwicky Blade Lights, Stride and Stroke for my Spibelt and armband which I’ve used the past 3 marathons –

– Sports drink at the race was not Gatorade so I bought Gatorade a few days before the race. Gatorade 01 for Pre Race fuel, Gatorade 02 for during the race, and Gatorade 03 for recovery. What can I say? I’m a loyal user! –

– Took this shot at the Underground days before the race. Planned closures of Tubes on Marathon day.  It added to my stress. Waaah! Confusion! –


At 8:00 AM, I bid the hubby and kids goodbye and stepped out of our hotel in South Kensington to near perfect weather. Correction:  PERFECT weather!  The temperature was around 10 degrees, just enough for one jacket without any throwaways on me. As I walked alone through the streets of Kensington, I couldn’t help but smile. I almost had to hold myself back from the excitement of running the London Marathon in these awesome conditions. Aaah, the London Marathon! This was one of my biggest dreams. Here I was on my way to fulfilling it!

– Shot outside my hotel. The amiable doorman who took it said that I had to come home for another pic with my marathon medal. I said: Of course! –

I befriended two Red Start runners from our hotel and walked along with them to the tube. We talked about New York City Marathon which one of the runners had run in 2010 just like I did and he said “Don’t worry about this race then. This is just as organized as NYCM.”  With that, I bid them goodbye and went my own way.

I presented my bib to the guard at the station and walked straight into the tube headed for Tower Hill. (On marathon morning, all runners just present their bib at the tube station and get free access to the tube until 5 PM on the same day.  Cool, noh?) There were not too many runners in the tube just yet, but I met Amy, another runner who just like me, was traveling alone from another city, and she too was worried if she was on the right train headed for the starting line.

At Tower Hill Station, we were appeased. Here, all around us, were marathon runners. As we boarded the tube, some of us to Cutty Sark or Greenwich Station depending on our colors, a voice over said “Welcome runners of the Virgin London Marathon.” Phew, I was safe. No way I’d lose my way now. I felt like half the battle was over.

We were packed like sardines in that tube, but it was thrilling. A whole train of runners with various backgrounds, different stories to tell, all looking forward to the same thing: 42km through the streets of London. Totally amazing.

– All aboard for the 42k! –

I exited Greenwich Station and walked out into the cold along with all the other runners around me. The atmosphere was alive and energetic. Runners were laughing and chatting as we all made our way into Greenwich Park.

– Short walk to the Park –

– All these people are runners! Wow! –

– Marshals and Security everywhere as promised by the organizers soon after the Boston Marathon bombings –

The gate to Greenwich Park was almost like entering Buckingham Palace. Wow. Thousands of runners were inside this area making their way to their race starts. It was exactly 9:00 AM, one hour to race start. I took my banana from my bag and ate it as I walked. All runners ascended towards the different race starts like ants marching up a hill. Everywhere you looked there were runners. It was surreal.

– First thing I see upon entering the park. WOW. –

– Climbing up the hill. Seriously, I got tired here and I worried that I was overexerting myself in my “warm up” LOL –

The red start was right ahead. After a 10 minute walk, the blue start was in front of me. It took me another 15 minutes to get to the Green Start. Total of 30 minutes walking alone in the cold.  I laughed at myself for worrying about this in the first place.  This was fun.  It was an adventure.  I would love to do something crazy, scary like this every year of my life.

– Followed this pacer heading to the Green Start. I actually saw him all throughout the race –

– Finally! I made it! –

– Spotted Fred and Wilma at the marathon! Yabadabadoo!-

When I reached the Green assembly area, feeling like a pro (naks!), I opened my bag to begin my pre-race ritual. I drank my Gatorade Pre-Race Fuel which I purchased at the race expo. I pulled out my plastic bag of gel and water to be consumed 10 minutes before race start. I drank four capsules of Optygen from First Endurance for that extra boost of energy.  I removed my fleece jacket, dumped it back into the bag (to be worn after the race) and pulled out my laundry bag with pre-cut holes for my head and arms and wore this to keep me warm before the race start. I checked in my baggage and lined up for the toilets.

– What’s a runner to do while lined up for the portalets? Selfie of course! Er, sorry for the “bagong gising” look –

By the time I was done with the toilet (which was the longest queue I’ve ever encountered!), I only had 10 minutes left for race start. I stood at the assembly along with all the other runners awaiting the race start. I turned on my Timex Run Trainer and connected to GPS.

What was going through my mind at this time? I thought about how the morning went. How everything went perfectly well from the weather to the journey I took towards the starting line. And, deep inside, I knew that the race was going to be awesome. I just knew it.

Previous: Part 3 – London Marathon – A Wedding, Shakespear, and a Run
Next: Part 4: London Marathon – The Race

Thank you so much to all the people who got me to London! Unilab Active Health for sponsoring the trip. Special thanks to my favorites Enervon Activ for keeping me energized during training and race day and Enervon HP for aiding in recovery. Thank you to Timex Philippines and Timex UK who snagged me a race slot.

Part 1: London Marathon 2013 – Race Expo

Thursday, 2 May 2013  |  Race Reports

With hubby and kids in tow, I arrived in London last April 17, Wednesday, just a few days before the London Marathon on April 21.  We stayed at The Regency in South Kensington.  The kids immediately loved everything about London—the weather, the food, the Underground tube, and especially our hotel room.

– The hubby and the kids with our hotel right behind them –

– Missing in the photo: Hugh Grant –

– If they could, they would’ve stayed in the room the entire trip! –

Since we were to leave for the countryside the following day for my cousin’s wedding, we headed straight for the Race Expo soon after we checked in.  Jetlag? Nah. Exhaustion? Nada. The expo of marathon majors is something I always look forward to.


The race expo was held at ExCel International Exhibition at Royal Victoria Dock. It was about 30 to 45 minutes away from South Kensington.


First things first, I claimed my race bib, then had my Ipico timing tag checked. Included in the kit was a black ribbon which we were encouraged to pin on our shirts to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing just a week before our marathon.

– BTW, check out the Skora shoes I’m wearing. They sent me this for the trip. They’re minimalist running shoes but, I must say, they were the best walking shoes for pre and post race. I wore it practically everyday –

– Contents of the kit. The red bag is the same bag we check in on race day –

I’ve said it many times before. My ultimate dream is to finish the Marathon Majors: Berlin (check), New York (check 2x), London, Tokyo, Chicago, and Boston. (Okay, we can skip Boston for now LOL.) So, when I saw this Marathon Majors exhibit, I just had to stop and pose. Too bad the photo is blurry! Boo!


Then came the most important part: SHOPPING!  Not just any kind of shopping, but shopping for official marathon merchandise! That’s what I live for!  (Yes, I’m super easy to please!)  The official apparel sponsor was adidas and they presented an impressive range of marathon merchandise. My head was in a whirl while the hubby and kids waited, and waited, and waited.

– Those are all official merchandise. Drool drool –

Happily, I took these two home with me. Aaah! Love. The. Jacket.

– There were various shirt designs, colors, and sizes. This was one of my favorites –

– Just one of the official London Marathon 2013 jackets –

Then, it was time for more shopping. I liked the fact that, since we were in Europe, there were quite a number of running products that were new to me since most products we see in Manila are the more popular brands in the US.


Test your strength during the expo? No thank you. I chose to reserve my strength and endurance for race day…


Cute course map by Nestle Pure Life, the official water sponsor for the race…


Of course, I dropped by the impressive booth of Timex. These guys were responsible for getting me a slot in one of the most difficult marathons to get into for us Pinoys! (Sigh. Don’t ask me why it’s so hard for us to get in via lottery system. I don’t know either.)  They had the Timex Run Trainer on display.  The same watch I was going to use for race day.



I dropped by Gatorade’s booth and bought my pre-race fuel, race drink, and post-race fuel conveniently labelled with 01, 02, and 03 respectively. I heard Gatorade is working on bringing these products to Manila. Crossing my fingers!


I chanced upon the Knotty Tiger (hilarious name!) from the same makers of Tiger Tail (which I personally use and we offer at TBR Dream Marathon during race day) and immediately bought one for myself.  I think it’s the perfect travel companion for destination marathons (because, yes, I wouldn’t want to lug my giant foam roller around which is probably bigger than my luggage.)


I passed by other booths of other races too…

– Left: Uso din pala Zombie races sa kanila? Right: Comrades Ultramarathon, one of the toughest ultra marathons in the world –

There was free massage for the runners. How cool is that?!…


Free photo that you could pin up on the board alongside other participants. Even cooler…


I left the expo that evening happy about my purchases and excited about the race.

The following day, we hopped on a train heading towards my cousin’s wedding in Warwickshire, just near Stratford-Upon-Avon where Shakespeare was born.

I saw this at the train station…Waaah, excited!

– Ssshhh. I wore the adidas jacket na di pa nalabhan. No one knows except for you guys! –


Thank you so much to all the people who got me to London! Unilab Active Health for sponsoring the trip. Special thanks to my favorites Enervon Activ for keeping me energized during training and race day and Enervon HP for aiding in recovery. Thank you to Timex Philippines and Timex UK who snagged me a race slot.

2009 Timex Run

Monday, 16 November 2009  |  Race Reports

2009 Timex Run

Race Organizer: Finish Line
Overall rating (10 highest): 10


  • Very well organized from beginning to end
  • Use of timing chip
  • Race packets were organized: bib and chips sealed in plastic
  • Nice singlet
  • Accurate and sufficient number of kilometer markers and directional signs
  • Marshals in uniform at every corner
  • Hydration stations had long tables containing cups readily filled with very cold water or 100Plus
  • Bananas provided for half marathoners
  • More than enough portalets at the race start
  • Excellent pre- and post- hosting of the show
  • Loot bags, shirts, and towels distributed for free after the race
  • No lines at the assembly, finish, or picking up of loot bags
  • Entertainment such as cheerleaders and music
  • Announcement of race number and name upon nearing the finish
  • Awesome race medals
  • Runpix race analysis
  • Photovendo photos
  • Booths and shopping after the race
  • Option to watch Pacquiao match at a nearby tent
  • Immediate release of results (Click here for official race results)


  • None


The Timex race was the best organized local race by far. There was nothing to rant about and more than enough to rave about. Truth to tell, Timex and Finish Line didn’t just fulfill runners’ expectations for a well-organized race but exceeded it. Every single detail was covered in this race down to the cold water at the many water stations to the uniformed marshals every 10 meters of Lawton Avenue. As I said to Timex manager Gemma Pagsibigan and race organizers Coach Rio de la Cruz and Vince Mendoza just hours after the event, the race was perfect! Hats off to Timex and Finish Line and may you continue to spoil us runners with such a remarkable race in the years to come.


My 2nd and Last 20 Miler before Singapore

Timex was going to be my last 20 mile run before Singapore Marathon on Dec. 6. Along with my coach-friend Alvin, we planned on running 21k at an easy 6:30 min/km and the balance 11k at 6 min/km. Sounded good to me!

Right on Track…for Km 1!

For the first kilometer, we were right on track at 6:30 pace. Alvin, the hubby—who was going for his first ever 21k (woohooo!)—and I ran alongside each other. By kilometer 2, we were still fine going at 6:25. When we reached Buendia flyover, we slowly started picking up the pace. Hubby took it easy and ran with a cousin, while Alvin and I went ahead.

Speeding Up

So much for plans! For the rest of the half marathon, our pace was sub 6 all the way, except for Km 15 & 16 which went up to 6:05. I felt strong and I was having fun (which is always the priority at every run, is it not?) so we just went on and on and on.

Every now and then, Alvin would gingerly tell me to slow down, and I would retort the same way he would during our lung-busting tempo runs: “This is downhill so we can go a bit faster here.” or “It’s fine. This will average out at the end.”

I don’t even recall any major incident during this joyous run, except for the motorist caught in Pasong Tamo traffic who stuck out his middle finger at all of us runners (I wanted to yell to him: Hey Buddy, you ought to run to relieve all the pent up anger!)

The Last Kilometer

I do remember the 21st kilometer and how, after taking a quick peek at my watch, I realized that while a sub-2 was impossible, a sub-2:05 was well within my reach. So, I sped up, and with Alvin’s friendly coaching: “lean forward”, “breathe!” and “c’mon, you can do it!” I managed to grab a new PR for my half marathon.

I finished at 2:04:27 (official time) with an average pace of 5:54 min/km. And what a pleasant surprise: I ranked 4th place in my age category and top 15 for females in the 21k category! Not bad at all! 

– New PR! Thanks to Alvin (to my left) for the support! Photo courtesy of Emil Ancheta –

The Next 11km

As much as I wanted to pop a wine bottle and celebrate, there was still work to be done. So, I popped open a Gatorade bottle in the car instead, refilled my amphipod with more fluids, and set out to run the next 11km around Bonifacio High Street with Alvin.

If I felt strong and invincible during the Timex Run, I was completely exhausted in the long run. During the short break after the race, I felt like my legs had turned to lead and my tummy was bloated with fluids. The heat was also getting to me. And, as much as I’d hate to admit it, going at a sub-6 pace during the 21k had burnt me out.

Alvin and I ran very slow and easy just to get the mileage in. By this time, the assembly area was nearly empty and there were only a couple of other crazy runners like us who were running under the sweltering sun. We were exhausted and we were counting down to every meter left to run. In all honesty, it felt much tougher than my first accidental QCIM Marathon!

– At Km 31, with Rhei… –

– with Joey… –

– with JJ and Leslie. I was shuffling here as I couldn’t stop for too long lest my legs turn to lead.  Photos courtesy of Rhei –

Thankfully, as we neared Nike Park, Alvin and I heard that little beep from the Garmin marking the end of our 32km run. And what a wonderful sound it was!  32km = DONE! It’s all downhill from now until Singapore!  Woohooo!

3 More Days to Timex

Friday, 13 November 2009  |  Race Announcements

Are you joining Timex this Sunday? I registered for 21k (plus I have to run 11k more to complete my longest run before Singapore) and hubby signed up for his first 21k race, too. Piolo was supposed to join us, but he refused to play the third wheel, so I asked the hubby if he could just stay home instead. Kidding!

Lots of things to look forward to for Timex. It’s pretty obvious that the organizers all pulling out all the stops for this one.  Here are some things to get excited about:

1. 5-time UAAP Cheerdance Competition Champion Salinggawi Dance Troupe perform at 730AM (well, if this is your thing!)
2. Special prizes will be awarded to the following:

  • Winner of “Guess Piolo’s Bib Number” Contest.
  • Winner of “Guess Piolo’s Finish Time Contest.
  • The youngest Timex Run participant.
  • The oldest Timex Run participant.
  • The club/team/org with the most number of Timex Run participants.

3. Raffle of Timex watches and products from other sponsors.
4. Manny Pacquiao vs Cotto fight airing after the Timex race.
5. Book & buy your P500 meal ticket for Paul Calvin’s Deli’s eat-all-you-can brunch buffet at Nike Park BHS and Paul Calvin’s Deli, Rizal Drive.


6. Loads of shopping


Registration for 5k is still open. See you at Timex!

Timex Send Off Party for Ironman 70.3 Camsur

Wednesday, 15 July 2009  |  Race Announcements

Last July 13, Monday, I was invited to the Timex Send-Off Party for its teams and individuals participating in the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon in Camsur on August 23, 2009.  (It was hard enough to accept the fact that I won’t be joining the relay for this, even tougher to see all these triathletes in one room all excited over this…sob sob)

I took the time out from work and braved the heavy rains and hellish traffic to arrive at the North Forbes Park, Makati an hour and a half late. By the time I entered the pavillion, almost all seats were filled and worse, I didn’t see a single familiar face. Fortunately, Harvie of Hammer Gel approached me, and together with his lovely wife Eizza, the three of us found the last empty table in the corner of the room, right in front of the stage.

Turns out I arrived at the perfect time. The program began, hosted by no less than ironwoman Ani de Leon and a deejay whose name escapes me at this point. A host of party games ensued where athletes such as Ernie Lopez, Chesca Carpo, Lara Parpan of Women’s Health, and even our good friend, Coach Rio, were made to sing, act, dance, and basically have fun onstage with Timex watches awarded to those who did it best. The luckiest person of the night was probably Will Ottiger, husband of Fiona of Polo Tri team, who said “Timeeeeeeex” the longest in one breath thereby winning for himself the Timex Expedition worth P30,000+ (I had just read a positive review about that watch online the night before so I was literally drooling when I saw it.)

– Coach Rio goes first in the game –

A brief yet inspiring video was shown about the history of Timex’s partnership with Ironman Triathlon. The Timex teams were also presented: Timex-RunRio, Timex Women’s Health, and two Timex-TMM teams as well as individual triathletes, Ani de Leon, Arland Macasieb, Nonoy Jopson, Leica Carpo and Tessa Prieto-Valdez. Each of them said a few words about their participation in the upcoming Ironman Triathlon.

– Nonoy Jopson, my batchmate and Pinoy who reached highest ever ranking among world’s triathletes, Boston0-finisher Leica Carpo, and David Charlton of David’s Salon –

– All the best to Timex Teams –

The event was a success and worth the long trip for me. I was in the presence of the country’s top triathletes, I came home with a new Timex watch, and I finally got to see Marc Nelson in the flesh!

Congratulations to Timex and best of luck to the Timex Teams, especially RunRio! Woohooo!

– We shall see each other again at Kenny’s Urban Run, Marc! –