Thursday, October 30, 2014

Race Review: Disastrous Run United Marathon 2014

I joined this year’s Run United Marathon for a couple of reasons:

1) To finally complete the Trilogy!  I usually complete just 2 out of 3 legs.  I made it my goal for this year to complete this Trilogy by doing the farthest distance for each leg (21km, 32km, and 42km).

2) To maintain current running streak since its Inaugural Marathon Event.  I heard of people running certain Marathon events every single year (Boston, New York) and hoped this would be one of mine as well.

3) Perfect long run before New York Marathon the following month. 

A lot of reasons for this race, and I felt ready for it.  I hoped to get a good time of around 5 hours 30 minutes to 5 hours 45 minutes but it would always depend on the actual race.

The race start had moved its venue from BGC for the race’s past editions to Mall of Asia Ground.  The starting time was still the same at 3AM.  The route would take runners from Mall of Asia to Roxas Boulevard, to Buendia Avenue, Kalayaan Bridge, around BGC and U Turn back to Roxas Boulevard to the finish line.

The cut off for this race was at 7 hours but I wasn’t sure how strict the organizers were for it.

On race day, Alvin accompanied me to MOA as he wanted to get there early for his 21km race.  And he walked with me to my race’s starting line (he even bought me a bottle of VitWater drink from the convenience store as I left mine in the car).  He said he will wait for me even though I told him that he could ride with Kerwin going back home as they will all finish their 21km race ahead of me (by a good two hours at the least).  He said that’s okay and he will still wait for me (thank God for him committing to do so).

My race started on time and I got there just in time for it.  I was doing well.  My legs weren’t as tight as they were at Medoc du Marathon and I was confident that I will be able to finish the race.

The problem though was that the streets were dark and there were insufficient lights on the road.  That didn’t stop me as I was used to joining races like this here. 

I ran on Buendia Avenue at a steady pace of 7:30 to 8 minutes per kilometer and climbed up Kalayaan Bridge where not a single street lamp was turned on!  It was total darkness up here!  I cannot see where I was running on and relied on the runners in front of me.  I had to look in front to make sure I didn’t bump into anyone and tried to look at where I was stepping on as well.

“Well, it was a smooth road anyway as ran here in a lot of races”, I thought to myself. 

Unfortunately, just when you think that you are safe, something goes wrong!  As it was too dark, I couldn’t see that there was a small hole on the road in front of me and just my dumb luck to land squarely in it and trip in it!  I was able to roll with the fall and controlled myself from falling completely to the ground but my foot was in pain from the wrong landing! 

I couldn’t run with the pain and had to walk a bit.  Even though I didn’t fall to the ground, I made a big sound as I heard gasps from the runners around me.  Then, another runner patted my shoulder and asked if I was okay.  I told him that I was and thanked him.  I walked for a bit more till the pain subsided and stopped to test my ankle.  I rotated it both directions and it felt okay.  “Phew, close call!”, I thought to myself.

So I ran again, and somehow felt my foot became looser and I was able to run faster.  Wow, was this making me faster?  It was at 14.5km when that happened to me and suddenly I was able to run a 7 minute pace from an 8!  I was happy with this and kept going.

There was a little pain in my ankle but I felt it was just a bruise from the trip.  How wrong was I!

I reached the 21km mark at a time of 2:45 and felt I could finish this race at a good time.  I kept going.  But the pain in my foot didn’t disappear.  It was getting worse.  I looked at my ankle and IT HAD GOTTEN BIGGER.  I wasn’t sure if this was normal so I looked at my other foot and saw the difference!  But I could still run so thought that I should keep going.

As I kept running, the swelling got bigger!  But I didn’t want to quit and give up on the Trilogy.  I decided to continue this race.  If this was any other race, I would have DNF-ed.  But this was the one race I felt was important to do or the 21km and 32km legs I completed previously for this Trilogy would have been wasted.  This was probably my last chance to complete the Trilogy and I didn’t want to lose it.

I prayed to God to see me through and protect me.  The pain and the swelling were getting worse!  I didn’t want to look at it anymore and feigned ignorance of it.

By 29km, I was walking more that I was running.  I had 13km to go.  “Let’s not waste the 29km I completed”, my ego said!  Pride indeed is a big sin and I didn’t quit.  My pace hovered around the 10-11 minutes per kilometer now and at 35km I was 90% walking. 

“Just a little more, just a little more”, I tried to convince myself.

I kept going.  At the last 2km, Alvin saw me and told me to run.  I answered back that I couldn’t anymore because I sprained my ankle.

It was a horrible, horrible experience but by God’s Grace I made it.  I finished at a time of 6:31:58, my worst marathon time ever!

As I sat on the sidewalk with the finisher medal around my neck, I wept bitterly.  It was the worst kind of experience and no words could describe what I felt that morning.  I had never wept in any marathon before but this pushed me to my limits!  I should have stopped but my stubbornness was too much for my own good.  No one could understand why I didn’t and ruin any chance for a fast New York Marathon time, my goal race.  Even running New York became a big question mark!

At the sidewalk, I couldn’t walk by then and Alvin was the one who got the car and drove us home.  My ankle had swelled up to a size of a tennis ball and it was red and very painful.

I have completed the Run United Trilogy but at what cost?  The New York Marathon is in a couple of days and I am not 100% well yet.  I took two weeks off to heal my foot and my fitness level deteriorated during that time.  Last week, it was a balancing act whether I should start running and risk my ankle not healing properly or to rest and lose further my fitness level.  I chose the former but was extra careful with it.

It remains to be seen how bad or how well I fare in New York.  Only God knows the answer to that and I lift up to HIM my race and my injuries and I thank HIM that He is able to heal me so that I will be at the starting line on November 2nd!  I thank God that at least I am able to be at the starting line instead of at the hotel resting my foot.  

By the time this blog entry is published in this site, God Willing I will have flown to New York already (my flight leaves on Wednesday) and be at the New York Marathon Expo.

Please pray for me that I will do well in New York Marathon.  Please pray that my ankle will not swell again and that I won’t make it worse during the race.  Please pray that I will be able to cross the finish line strong, safe and injury-free.  Thank you for your support and prayers.

very hard earned medals!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Race Review: 30th Marathon du Medoc 2014

The fabled Medoc du Marathon, a very unique race that involves running a distance of 42.2km while drinking some of the region's best wines!

Wine and Marathon?  What a weird combination, and yet there I was on September 13th right at the Starting Line of the race with one simple goal:  to reach the finish line intact, never mind how high my alcohol blood content was!

Of course, it isn't as easy as it seemed as they even added a cut-off time of 6 hours and 30 minutes.  That would be fine in an ordinary Full Marathon but with one where you can be severely intoxicated, that time was a bit scary.

Reading some of the reviews from people who entered some of the earlier editions, there were stories of people who entered with a plan of not finishing the race.  They simply targeted the Chateau with the finest wine and set out to reach that place.  Once they got there, whether that was at 8km, 20km or 25km mark, they set out to get as drunk as possible with the unlimited red wine!  And just wait it out for the sweeper to get them and bring them to the finish line!  That was an interesting plan and something I thought of too.  Hehe!  This, after all, wasn't in any of my plans for the year but something I chanced upon when we have already booked our plane tickets to Europe via a promo fare.  This was also a good way to drink some very good French wine at rock bottom prices!

But then I saw the finisher loot bag and my, was I captivated by it:  One bottle of Chateau Margaux red wine in its specially made Marathon du Medoc wooden box, a very nice finisher medal, two glasses for drinking wine, and a souvenir bag.  It was too good to pass up on!

Plus the fact that I found out at the expo that I was the only Pinoy in this race!  How embarrassing would that be, the only Filipino who joined this marathon, and DNF-ed because he was too drunk to run!

No, I had to run this race and I had to finish it within the cut-off time.  I would just manage my drinking as that was one area I didn't practice in my long runs (the ONLY time I combined running and drinking was when I had two glasses of red wine in one long run where I just had 5km to go and I got so dizzy that I didn't even finish said distance, stopping at the 4km!).


Bus to Pauillac

We booked with a marathon affiliated travel agency (through the official Marathon website) so that it would be easier to get to the race.  This included transportation, race bib pick up and hotel accommodation.  Good thing I booked early as slots got sold out quickly!

The bus ride to Pauillac Region was a good one and a half hour from Bordeaux, where we stayed in.  The moment that we got off the bus, we already saw a lot of people in costumes.  This definitely wasn’t your ordinary Marathon race!

A lot of Japanese runners joined this race!  There were Samurais, Anime characters, Gaishas, and some ninjas!

some Prehistoric Running Cavemen
There's Waldo!  And there's another one! And another one....

wife enjoying the experience with me!

Such a festive event!  It was the Mardi Gras event for runners!  And people came in all sorts of costumes.  There were also large floats that 5-8 runners pushed while running as well.  Hands down to them!!

some Asians running with a dragon tagging along!

Philippines REPRESENT!

The atmosphere was pretty awesome and even my wife said that this was probably the most festive running event that she had ever witnessed.  She promised to wait for me here while I walked slowly to the starting line.  

There were some fireworks before the gun was fired.  And once it did, everyone started running.  
The course would take us through the vineyards of Pauillac as we would run into various Chateaus of this region.  There were no Gatorade served here.  No energy bars, No GU.  Rather they had water, crackers, chips and lots and lots of red wine!  

We hit the first wine station at 5km mark and people were lining up to get their first taste from it.  I remembered how I felt when I had wine in Manila and skipped it.  Out of a possible 24 plus different wine stations, I chose 4 only from the list based on popularity and decided to just hit these places.  That meant drinking wine at 8km, 15km, 20km and around 30km again.

I would also have two glasses of water right after the wine to ward off the alcohol!  Haha.  And eat some crackers or chips too.  

Well, not everything goes according to plan as by the halfway mark, I had four glasses of wine, two from just one station as it was the most popular!  That didn’t give me a good effect and I walked a bit before I ran again.

By this time, it was getting harder to run as the noon day heat was horrible.  There were no shaded areas and I had to look at where I was running on as it was on the rocky vineyards AKA Trail Run!  But it was pathetic if I would quit or stop going as people with large costumes and even huge floats kept going.  It was humbling to see how strong they were when I was having a hard time and I wasn’t even wearing any heavy costume!

At 35km mark, the water had ran out.  But don’t worry, they had wine!  Lots and lots of wine!  Uh Oh!   

I skipped that station hoping there was water in the next one.  There wasn’t!

So it was either – get dehydrated or get dehydrated with wine!  I chose the latter and gulped it all down.  With no water to wash it down, I hoped I could be sober enough to get to the finish line in one piece.  
This repeated again in the next succeeding stations.  And I drank again.  But there were some crackers to counter the alcohol (at least I hope they could do the job!).  At one point, they were serving fresh oysters and I had to take one too!  Mmmmm, very delicious!  But scary for my tummy!

Per, at the finish line, was getting worried too as to why I haven’t finished yet.  She started praying a lot that God would keep me safe and that I would get to the finish line in time!

While she was waiting, she took pictures of other runners crossing the finish line:

Captain America finishing!

And before long, GOD indeed answered her prayers and mine:

It was a big relief for both of us that I finished this race.  Being busy touring France before the race didn’t help me as my legs were tight from 3km onwards!  There were a lot of stairs that we climbed during the trip which had me running this race with tired legs.  I had to stretch a couple of times during this race.  But thank God I didn’t get any cramps here!

And thank God I finished before the cut-off time!

My chip time was at 6:00:57!  I didn't make it to a sub-6 finish time as I was too tired to do so! But who cares?  Haha

The extra one kilometer in this race was frustrating as well (made me think if all marathon distances are 43.2km!).

But GOD kept me safe and after asking Per to buy me two cans of coke, I got some of my energy back!  I was too tired to explore the finisher's area and we walked slowly to the bus to wait for the other runners. 

I am quite happy with finishing this race and getting the best loot ever from this race.  Very memorable and something I would recommend every runner to do and experience.

Thank You Lord!

PS. At the 6:30 cut-off time, the organizers announced that they would extend the cut-off time to 7 hours, the second time they have done so in this race's 30 years history due to the very hot weather. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Race Review: Color Nite Run 10km

 Color Nite Run is advertised for what it is:  a fun run involving colors, glow sticks and bracelets and expectation of getting dirty!  This is definitely NOT a PR race!

For this edition, it was held in Filinvest Alabang, which I didn't mind as enjoyed running in new places.  We were a group of 6 for this race and we all rode in one car going to the venue to save on gas and toll fees and for the company too!

There was no goal time for this race for me.  I will run with Per and see how she fares for this night considering she couldn't run the other day due to sharp pain in her legs. 

group selfie

As the gun was fired, our group of six were separated:  the spouses ran together while Janine and Jeanne ran at their own pace.

I figured it was a flat course for this race.  Boy, was I wrong.  There were a lot of steep hills and we had to run it in the dark as there were no street lamps here, or if there were, they were turned off.  I think this was done purposely so that we will see the effects of our glow sticks.  But it was still a dangerous move as we couldn't see the ground we were running on and I had to keep looking and squinting my eyes to see if there are any manholes in front of us!!

Good thing we saw Janine again who had her cellphone with her and she used the light and pointed it to the ground!  Great thinking Jann!

Being a Color Run (inspired by Color Races in the USA), I expected us to hit a lot of color stations throughout the 10km race.  Unfortunately, there were only two stations and one was near the starting line.

I think a lot of runners were disappointed too by the lack of color stations so they decided to do it themselves!  YIKES!!!!

running (or posing) in the dark!

There was also a water spray station for people who wanted to clean themselves of the food coloring (at least that was what I think it was).

Overall, it was a good race and we all had a good time.  Per's injury didn't act up (Thank GOD) and she finished her fastest 10km for the year.  Dinner afterwards at Project Pie before heading back home.

Some room for improvements:

1.  More color stations.  We EXPECT to be dirty and filled with all sorts of colors.  This did not happen!  Hopefully, they can fix this in the future.

2.  Street lights needed.  I understand they want us to show off our color bands but I think safety should be the priority here!

3.  Standard finisher medal for all race categories (3km, 5km, 10km) was given out to finishers.  It would be nice if it was separated PER CATEGORY and written on medal the distance you completed.

Note:  All photos were taken from Janine's cellphone.  Thanks Jann!

Friday, August 8, 2014

I got mail! For Marathon #15

Looks like this is a definite go!

For my 15# full marathon, I am doing the Marathon du Medoc in France next month.

This will be its 30th edition and I count myself lucky to be registered for this race.

This won't be a PR goal race, but rather a Just-To-Finish Race with a unique twist in it:

The race course will be along the vineyard of Bordeaux country and instead of serving Gatorade or other sports drinks in their water stations, they will be serving wine instead (with your choice of Red or White to boot!).  Good thing, there is still water served here!

Looks exciting and hopefully I could make it to the finish line in one piece!

To God be the Glory!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Registered for RU3 2014!

One of my friends yesterday asked when the 3rd leg of Run United for this year will be as I was convincing him to do the 21km race.

I had no idea but knew that I had to research on it right after our lunch together.

Lo and Behold, not only was the date up already (OCTOBER 5, 2014) but registration is possible too!

So I registered immediately for the final leg needed to complete the Trilogy.  Of course, I would go big for this by going for the FULL MARATHON DISTANCE.  After all, wouldn't it feel more rewarding and accomplished if you set out to do the hardest race distance?

So it was all or nothing to complete this year's RUN UNITED TRILOGY,  God willing of course.

Right now it is priority registration for those who completed leg 1 and/or leg 2 of this year's Trilogy.  But come August 15th, it will be open to the public.  Hopefully I can register my wife for the 21km distance by then.

Thanks be to GOD!

Additional Notes:  

Upon looking at starting line for this race, it isn't at BGC like the past years.  Now starting line for ALL race categories will be at Mall of Asia (MOA) complex ground.

Gun start for 42km at 3am
Gun start for 21km at 4am

There will be a starting line cut-off time of 15minutes as well to make sure everyone gets there on time too!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Race Review: Energen 10km Race

I haven't raced in any 10km race for some time now so this was a perfect race to test my speed (if there are still any).

I didn't have a second thought when I registered for this race due to the affordable fee of Php 400!  It's hard to find 10km races these days that are below Php 500!  Once I made sure that our schedule is clear, I registered for myself and for Per.

I also registered for Kerwin and Alvin.  This will be the second 10km race wherein all four of us will be participating again but difference from the first race (Robinson's Buddy Run) is that this will be an individual race.

We didn't make it in time for the gun start of 5:30AM and felt pressured to try to catch up with 10km runners.  I had to make a U turn back to Per and tell her not to go out fast.  Eventually, we will catch up with them (which we all did!).

The route took us to Kalayaan Bridge and along Buendia Avenue for the U turn back.  Pretty simple route, which I like.  There were water stations nearly every kilometers and lots of volunteer photographers.

Per happy at conquering 5km!
 Unfortunately for me, I did not apply to myself my sound advice to Per to not to go out fast.  Upon reaching 6km, I felt tired and exhausted already and there looming ahead of me was the steep Kalayaan Bridge.  Yes, I walked the entire incline part and ran again once it flattened a bit.

I counted down the distance, hoping that one of the water stations offered something else other than just water.  But that was not to be.  I blamed no one but myself.  I was hungry too and did my best to finish the race as quickly as possible so I can sit down and rest.

defeatist look? hehe

 Once I saw the finish line, I kept running towards it.  Luckily, road went downhill and gravity helped me keep going forward.

I finished the race at 1:06++.  Not one of my best time but still good enough for me.

Alvin was already waiting for me.  A few minutes later, Kerwin crossed finish line, then Per.

All in all, everyone was happy.  Probably me the most because it was time for breakfast!

dessert after breakfast! haha

 PRAISE GOD for keeping us safe during the race!

Thank You Lord!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Race: Run United 2 32km

My goal for this race was simply one:


That simply meant reaching the finish line from the starting line in one piece regardless if I ran or walked the entire way.  Pretty much relaxed way to go about it.  My end goal was simply to complete the Run United Trilogy for this year so that I can get the Trilogy Award at the end of the year (or at the start of the New Year).

No pressure right?

Well a day before the race, I read on Facebook they there is now a 7:30AM cut-off time for all runners!  For the 32km race category, that was a 4 hour 30 minute finish time requirement before roads are open to vehicles.  

Suddenly, I got a headache!  How do I go about this?  I started thinking what my pace should be like, how much GU gels I should take with me, what to eat the day before and the morning of the race.  

It has now become a race to finish it before the cut-off time!

On the race day, there was an update on their Facebook page saying that shuttle buses will leave CAVITEX (where the midpoint is located) at 7:30AM, so there would be plenty of time to get to the finish line before the bus comes and gets you!  But I wasn't sure how strict they were with the cut-off time.  Maybe I might finish after 4 hours 30 minutes, but then there won't be a medal.  Or I do get the medal, but I won't be in the official results.  

I can't let the leniency of the race director be reason for me to slack off during this race as that was the same kind of thinking that lead me to not getting a finisher medal in last year's Milo Marathon (when they became strict with the cut-off vs not being strict two consecutive years previous said race).  Not only was this race riding on my time, but on the entire trilogy too!

Now, add to this anxiety, was my 32km time a year ago which was at a horrible time of more than 5 hours and you get some idea of the stress I was feeling the day before the race.

My goal unfortunately has now been upgraded to


One good (and surprising) thing was Per offering to drive me to the race.  Wow, I was shocked as I know how much she lacked sleep due to her pumping and here she was, offering me a free ride to the race start.  That would eliminate added stress of finding a parking spot in Luneta Park!  Of course I took that offer and gave my thanks to her!

We left the house 30 minutes before gun start but even with that early departure (or was it late), we had a hard time going there.  The reason?  They closed off Roxas Blvd., to all traffic and we were forced to take the small, tightly spaced service road to reach our destinations.  Of course, there were a lot of cars on this single lane road.  The clock ticked.  Now I am worried about getting to the starting line before their starting line cut off time!

So that meant we had to get there before 3:15am (gun start at 3:00am).  Getting there past 3:15am meant an automatic disqualification!  Oh man!!!!

 This is definitely a race of stresses!

So my immediate goal was  (drum rolls please!):


We were caught in traffic once again but I saw more runners so I asked the security guard where Luneta Park was and he pointed to the Philippine flag nearby.  Yes, there it was.  I gave my quick goodbyes to Per, left the car and fast walked to the starting line.  The gun went off while I was still walking and I saw the 32km runners pass me by.  That is okay.  I am going to make it before 3:15am.  Hahaha!

Yes, last goal down!

I started the race around 3:08AM, so I had to mentally compute how much time I had left for the 7:30am cut-off (whether imposed or no).  Getting to race a tad later meant you had to run a tad faster as well!

The route for this race was different from all other Run United races of this year or that of previous years in that it started from Luneta Park (or Kilometer Zero) and headed toward CAVITEX for the U Turn back to where the starting line was.  A pretty straightforward route and one I liked.  Of course it still involved going up two flyovers twice but for most of the way, it was nice and flat.

Having the race start at 3am was good too in that we would be able to avoid the sun for at least the first half of the race.

What was unfortunate was that their banana stations ran out of bananas quickly so I had to make do with Gatorade and water (all cold Thank God) and my packed GU gels.

My pace was good in the beginning but at the second half, I was getting weaker and running slower.  My back was hurting at the last one third of the race and my feet were sore from running.  Still, I kept going because of the fear of not making it to finish line.

I slowly counted down the last kilometers and looked at my watch.  Looks like I am going to make it!

I crossed the finish line at 4:15:40 gun time (with chip time at 4:12:15), got my medal and finisher shirt!  And made it to all my goals!  Praise GOD!

Chip time wise I ranked 1262 out of 2794 runners with a 45% percentile!  AWESOME!!

Better news was me beating my last year's time by nearly AN HOUR!  


Some bad things though:
 1.  Ran out of bananas twice!  So didn't get a chance to eat it.  The last banana station was near the finish line so I decided to forego it and just finish the race.

2.  Slower second half of the race.  Positive Split.  BOO!

3.  Back hurt.  Feet hurt.  And I couldn't walk properly for the next two or three days.

But even with this, I gained so much more from a good time in this race.  Thank you Per for deciding to drive for me even though I didn't ask of it (was that the Holy Spirit talking to you?).  Thank You God for keeping me safe the entire time.

Next race:  Independence Day 50km!  GULP!