I came across the advertisement of this race through one of our friends in our running team. She posted it on our team page and so I had a chance to read through it. Three things caught my attention. First, the race was going to be held in Makati, a 10min walk from my house. Second, the race had a distance of 10km, my second favourite distance after the 5K. Third it was designed as a series involving 5 races of which the last one is the championship race where only a select will join depending on their average finish times over any of two of the four initial legs. With 3 weeks to go to my marathon race, the initial race would be a calibration race for my marathon. The subsequent ones would be geared towards calibrating myself for either my 5 or 10K training program I plan to start some time after the Marathon. I generally split my training programs in two periods. The first period of around 6 months focuses on the short disatnces and the second period on the longer distances. This way everything stays interesting for me all year round.
So I was there at 5:30am in the morning. The initial rays of the dawn sun could be felt. I met my friend Joms from Power Puff Team who had also taken advantage of the close proximity of the race to where he lives to register. As we sat whiling away the time waiting for the gun start, we could tell this would be one of the lesser crowded races. First it had only one category, and second the ever effervescent organizer, Francis Macatulad had only a fortnight or so to plan and put it in place. He did an excellent job considering how hard it is to get permits for Makati city area. After the initial ceremonies, the race started at around 6:45am. The route was familiar. We took a turn to Ayala avenue and then another turn eastbound to the Kalayaan flyover. The turn around had been brought forward to the area near the JP Morgan offices avoiding the descent to 32nd street in BGC and then the uphill back. Good for people who hope to PR. I had no intention to because the previous day I had had my 32km long run and I had to conserve my frame or risk injuries.
With the more leisurely pace, I could tell I was doing around 4-4.05min/km. Decent pace I should say. I started at almost the 20th position and started picking out chaps one after the other. By the time we made the turn around at JP Morgan Chase offices, 11 or so were still stubbornly ahead of me. I knew the hills would play to my advantage and by the time we started the descent back to Gil Puyat avenue, I was in 8th with the 7th guy some 800meters or so ahead of me. With 5km gone, and the steady pace he was maintaining I figured I may not catch up with him. I resorted instead to maintaing my pace. I must admit also that the level of security, marshals and medics along the way was the best I have ever seen in any race. One could cross the junctions closing ones eyes, not a worry about some rogue driver cutting in on the race. With also the water stations well positioned, the race itself became a runners bliss. I could spot Joms managing well. He would finish in 45min or so, a very good time considering he was just from a vacation in, where else? Venice, Italy!!! Back to me, by the 7th km, I sensed “blood”. A term I use when I see someone ahead of me weakening. The gap between us was now only 400m or so. I knew he was tiring and could not maintain his pace. By the 8th km at the water station I guessed the guy in front of me would need water. I was right.
I seized the moment. As he slowed down to drink, I upped my pace. What surprised me more was that he actually slowed down to a walk. He was exhausted! Phew! I passed him by never to look back. Ahead I could see two more around 400m ahead. With only a kilometer or so remaining, I knew I would not catch them. Well 7th place isn’t bad. Lucky seven they say, as I managed to come first in my age group with a time of 40min or so. At the finish line, another pleasant surprise was that the finish line ribbon was being held for all the runners, not just the first one. Every body was basically a champion! We ripped the road! The medal was even more awesome, one of a kind designed using the tarmac from the roads around that area. The after ceremonies were also short and concise with Francis himself the master of ceremony. Photo shoots followed and as all good things, it had to come to an end. As I walked the short distance home, my mind was on two things. One, I was hoping I had not hurt my body enough to jeopardise my upcoming MILO marathon. With this race, my weekly mileage for that week reached an astonishing 114km! Woot! Two, I was immediatley looking forward to the January 13th 2012 edition of the same. Next time I want to make sure most of my teammates join me so that we have one gigantic Power Puff Rip the Road get together!
Lessons learned from this race…typical of me! I like looking back at things I do and ask myself, what could I have done differently? Sometimes it is for self improvement, but most of the time it is just to reminisce on events I join in. 10K and almost always 5K are tricky distances. The propensity for adrenalin rush is higher as the distances are shorter than say the half marathon or even the marathon. As I saw with the twenty or so who rushed ahead, had they kept their cool, most likely their finish times would have been much better by as much as 5-10min from what they got. I always advise folks, that any distance above 1500m requires an even or negative split pace for better time placement. There is almost no way around it if you take the physiology of the human body as it goes through stress over a time period. The thrid thing is the art of drinking water and dosing oneself with water at water stations. It is a learned technique that can help rejuvenate one while not losing time. Enough for today!