Monday, September 19, 2011

AXN Run: An Almost-Perfect Race Event

I have been waiting for the day wherein another race organizer would match the quality of Runrio-organized races. That day has come. Race organizer Finishline, in my opinion, has given us a great race event today - AXN Runs Philippines, the first ever race sponsored by AXN.

Race Likes:
  • New Ortigas race venue with a very challenging route specially for the 21k category - passing 4 flyovers and 1 tunnel along E. Rodriguez and Katipunan Avenue.
  • Hydration was well thought-off - Water stations are located 1 kilometer apart along the race route wherein merging of different race categories occur. This way, wait time and congestion in water stations are much controlled. You also have a choice of water or 100 plus isotonic sports drink in all hydration stations. Water cups are small as well so there's not much waste. Hydration stations are clean and cups on the road are collected at once by race volunteers.
  • Digital timers at select water stations - this is a great idea from the organizers, specially for runners who don't have their own timing devices. The only issue I had with those timers is that it seems like the time is not synched with the start/finish area; the time is advanced by 2 minutes.
  • Portalets along the race route. Most race events force male runners to just do their thing at the side of the road. AXN Run put a bit more privacy for those who need to pee. :p
  • Dole Cavendish banana served in halves - race volunteers cutting those enormous Dole bananas in half so that nothing goes to waste. Smart thinking there.
  • Lots of post-race activities - music bands performing, lots of booths to visit.
  • Race village is located wherein you have a lot of choices for that hearty post-race breakfast.
  • And of course, a nice finisher shirt and medal (picture below).
Congratulations to Finishline to this very organized race! You've definitely raised the bar!

Team Alpha 1 21k runners - Me, Bry, Jesy and Rocky

21k Finisher shirt and Finisher Medal

Sunday, September 4, 2011

First Back-to-Back 21k Races: Run United 2 and Earth Run

Unilab Run United 2 - August 21, 2011 (5th Half-Marathon)

This is my 2nd time to do a pacer duty (first one's from BGC run - blog can be read at this link). Chrissie and her sister Lyn have 3-hour PRs for 21k and we set a goal of 2:30. I know 30 minutes is quite a big slash from their previous PR but it's worth a try.

I arrived early at BGC and met up with Team Alpha 1. Told them I would have to pace some friends and we'd just meet after the race for some post-race breakfast. I then went to the 21k assembly area to meet the Lim sisters.

Target is to do a 7-min per kilometer pace, which equates to 2 hours and 27 minutes for 21 kilometers. The extra 3 minutes would serve as buffer for quick water breaks.

We were doing well the first few kilometers but I could feel the high humidity and I was sweating profusely. Between kilometer 6 and 7, Chrissie told us to go ahead. She seems out of breath, and it looks like she's having an asthma attack. I asked Lyn if we should go ahead; she said we could because she knew her sister will be alright and will just finish the race with her own pace.

And so there were two. I'd regularly check on Lyn if she's ok with my pace and we'd slow down at times when she feels she needs to catch her breath or hydrate. As usual the Buendia flyover's a killer, specially on the way back to BGC. Numerous times I'd be much ahead of Lyn, and I just do quick back glances if she's still visible. I needed to do that to motivate her to keep running, because if I run beside her, I feel as if she's the one pacing me and not the other way around.

The sight of the finish line gave us a quick burst of energy as we ran the final stretch, finishing with a time of 2 hours, 41 minutes and 32 seconds, 11 minutes shy from the goal but still a big improvement from her record time. What a great feeling to make someone else set a new PR!

LinkCamera-ready Lyn and Me - finish line in sight!

Post-race breakfast with Team Alpha 1 - Langhap sarap!

Earth Run - August 28, 2011 (6th Half-Marathon)

Peer pressure: refers to the influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values, or behavior in order to conform to group norms. That's according to Wikipedia. :p That's what made me make a last-minute decision to change a supposed 10k run to a 21k. Bry was such bully (lol), he convinced me to run another 21k a week after Run United 2. I didn't know if I'd survive a back-to-back 21k race, now that I've just come back to running.

I usually psyche myself days before a race depending on what distance I'm about to run. A week before race day I was psyching myself to do a sub-55 minute 10k run. With only a few minutes left before gun start, I had difficulty changing my mindset.

With Team Alpha 1 - first time to don my red TA1 singlet

The entire race was a disaster - it seemed like all types of negative thoughts came to me - I'd not finish the race, I will be injured, I need to find an ambulance immediately. In fact, I was getting ankle and knee pains which I believe were just caused by these bad vibes. I needed to clear my mind and just enjoy the run. At kilometer 12, I started to feel better and I was just ignoring the race boo-boos (no water at water stations, water stations where runners share the container lid just to get a sip of water) and went on. By this time I knew I can finish this and get my hands on that finisher medal.

And as I cross the finish line after 2 hours, 22 minutes and 14 seconds later, injury-free, still feeling good and holding my finisher medal, I knew I just underestimated myself. Never again. :)

Post-race: Serenitea addicts (except Marvin, haha!)

Team Alpha1 Introductions at Rexona Run 2011

Blogging definitely has grown my running friends' network. I love reading other people's blogs and how running impacted their lives. In fact, I also get inspiration from what I read in these blogs. It was also on one of the blogs that I met Bryan (FFS). Early this year, he told me he was planning to come up with a running group, and asked me if I was interested to join. I was, but the timing was not right for me to commit yet because of what is to come with work and travel. So I had to delay joining.

And so Team Alpha1 was born. And while I was on a long business travel, I just had Facebook to see how the team members bonded every single race they've joined in. It looked like it was a very fun group to be with.

When I got back, Bryan was still as most welcoming for me on joining the team. Almost everyone from TA1 has registered in Runrio's Rexona Run 2011 on the 21k category, and so this was the perfect opportunity for me to get to meet them.

TA1 members were on pacer duties on this run, with one group doing a sub-2:00 pace, with another doing a sub-2:30 pace. I started to be introduced to each member, but they didn't know I already could match the names with the faces as I did my homework by memorizing names from the team's FB account (Haha!). I kept fairly quiet though as I'm still adjusting.

I tried to follow the sub-2 pacers (Eugene, Bry, Rolly, Daves and Marvin), but this being my first 21k this year, I had difficulty catching up and had to slow down by kilometer-10. I was on my own and following my steady pace until the finish line where I clocked in at 2 hours, 15 minutes and 9 seconds, just between the time the two pacer groups finished. Haha! I should have had my own pacer bib with 2:15 written on it.

Red singlet required :p

It was Kathy's birthday so it's a post-race breakfast treat c/o Bry and Kathy! Talk about good timing! Got to meet 10 members of the team (out of 14). Cool (and funny) people to hang out with!

From L-R: Jesy, Billy, Martin, Kathy, Daves, Rolly, Bry, Rocky, Jayson, Eug, Me, Marvs

about to devour Kathy's favorite Black Forest Cake

Runpix - top 25%, not bad!

Nice medal addition to my collection :)

2011 Comeback Run: Yamaha Run for the Heroes

After three months overseas and not being able to run, and about half a year that passed being out of shape, I craved going back to running. I wanted a well-organized race so I registered for the nearest Runrio event - Yamaha Run for the Heroes scheduled July 3, 2011 (7 months after my last race event SCMS 2010). I'd take it slow and just registered for 10k.

I had a few weeks to go back to the gym and prepare for the race. I got really worried when I easily got tired running 5k's on a treadmill. The farthest I've run prior to the race is a 7k (and on a treadmill as well).

Come race day, I just wished the little training I did would suffice to endure the 10k distance. I was still hoping to do a sub-1. Glad to have been with HP officemates Joel and Eleni who were both running 10k too.

Finishline photo

10k finishers' photo wall

I finished with a time of 1 hour 1 minute and 16 seconds. A bit far from the goal I've set, but hell yeah it feels good to back on the road