The 26th of February 2012 was my last day in Philippines before I go for a two month business trip to Germany. My last race had been the Condura Skyway Marathon some three weeks back. Since then I had been letting my muscles and joints heal before I start any new program. Injuries taught me to be patient with my aging body. Also I wasn’t sure which program I should do because I know I need sufficient time to heal, taper and then ramp up for any training. Depending on the race I plan to run, the process would be longer or shorter. Looking at the race calendar, there wasn’t much on offer after end of April. There was only the tentative June date for the EPIC relay and then further on in July and August for the MILO and RUNRIO events.
I wanted to gauge my fitness level so I chose to either do the La Union Unity run or the Don Bosco run. Both had very nice beneficiaries with Don Bosco promising all the proceeds will go to the needy to help them with their tuition fees. The La Union one was for raising funds for the San Fernando city athletics program. Prior to my last weekend, the weather had suddenly turned hot mimicking summer temperatures. I had resorted to doing only 3-8km easy runs from the second week of February to condition my body to get back to running ways. Marathons do really take a toll on one! Then there was the little matter of Rotterdam in Netherlands. They have a race on the 15th of April and I want to join either the Marathon and run it at easy pace as part of my training program or race the 10K category to check on my fitness level after eight weeks of training.
So since the travelling was going to be long, approximately twenty hours in total for my whole trip, I chose to skip the La Union Unity run and instead go for the nearby Don Bosco run at the Quirino Grand stand. I had not registered for it, so I had to wake up earlier than the six o’clock gun start for the onsite registration which was scheduled to open till half past four in the morning. I arrive six or so minutes early and managed to register for the 10K category. The crowd wasn’t big. I could estimate it at around three thousand divided into three categories, 3, 5 and 10K, with 3 and 5 having the majority. The crowd was also mostly made up of young school lads and the army and navy had also sent a contingent. I thought to myself, this will be exciting, and frankly speaking with the youthful bodies around me I predicted a top 20 at best finish if not top 30.
Off we went at nine minutes past six. Of course the delay as usual is always caused by the politicians wanting to steal the limelight from all. Mayor Abalos, Mayor Lim, and some congress men I could not catch their names properly all lined up to talk and this ate up our valuable “cool” time, as the sun was threatening to come out full force. Naturally the start was hectic with no fewer than fifty or so runners starting hard at the front. I looked at this and knew it could get worse for me. I could be lost in that crowd easily. I chose to run a 3:58-4:00min/km pace the entire course as I wasn’t sure yet of what I can achieve after the grueling marathon I did three weeks back. To my surprise, they actually all happened to be adrenalin runners. By the 2km mark I could count 20 at most ahead of me. By the 4km mark only 10 were ahead of me. Incidentally this is where we have the Buendia flyover and I had to go up it. Being a jogger, this was not good for me. I hate hills! Thankfully it was short and it did not suck so much of my breath. I was crossing the 5km turn around at 19:48, good time and still well inside my last 10K time of 39:55min.
The course is a loop with 3K and 5K runners having the same lane as the 10K runners but with turn arounds at the 1.5 and 2.5km marks respectively. As I approached the 7km mark on my way back I could see a sea of humanity in front of me. The gun starts having been spaced only 10min apart guaranteed it will be a difficult last 2 km having to meander about people taking photos, the walkers, etc. This slowed me down and my aim of running a strong second 5km evaporated. I had to settle for a 19:56min 5km, but still good enough to give me a 39:44min time and 7th overall. An improvement of 11 seconds over the last 10k race I did in the MILO finals. I now have a base for smart coach to give me a new training program. I am yet to decide if I should do a 10km, 21Km or 5km training. What I know I will not race a 42K at least until after September (CAMSUR) or with the new “New York” like Marathon Rio plans to hold in October doing the buzz around the running community.
All in all, Don Bosco race was good with enough hydration and Pocari stations and very good sponsors to boot like GMA, the city governments of Mandaluyong and Manila, and the Alumni of Don Bosco institutions. The only issue I had with them is that they could have been more creative in separating the returning runners from the crowd as this is something that has to be anticipated the moment all categories share a route. I saw the same mess with MILO 2010, where people had to walk the last 5 or so kilometers so as not to crush the children and the walkers doing 5 and 3K. So as I sign out, I am confident I have established myself as a true sub-40min jogger and only need to keep in tip top shape so as not to drop the momentum. Next, Hello cold Germany from tomorrow (by the way I’m bored and that is why I’m typing this on the plane!), and I need to map out jogging routes I will use for the next two months or risk getting out of shape due to hotel food.