On a personal level, I have been running Milo for some time now (but never the full 42.2km marathon distance). For 2010, I didn't join any of the Elimination Rounds or that of the Finals as I had grown tired of it (having joined the race twice in 2009 and twice in 2008).
But 2011 made me excited again to join the Milo Races. So what’s the difference this time around?
Well, first of all, the race organizer is different. For this year (and for succeeding years), the races were handled by RunRio.Inc. In previous Milo events, there were problems with hydrations, too many runners and not having sufficient marshals. Parking was also a problem as there weren’t enough parking slots near the Starting Line, which was across Rizal Park.
All of the above concerns were addressed by RunRio.Inc and the starting line was moved to Mall of Asia Grounds (which had ample parking spaces).
Secondly (and a big come on for me) are the very nice finisher medals that they will be giving out (for the first time) to 21km finishers, provided said finishers make it before the cut off time. So what was the finish time? 2:30!
That was completely unachievable for me back in July when they had the Manila Eliminations leg as I never ran a 2:30 half marathon for 2011. My time for said distance ranged from 2:45 to nearly 3 hours. So goodbye finisher medals and goodbye Milo race (I ended up joining a 21km race in UP at the same time as Milo and getting a finisher medal there).
But I was also irked upon finding out that there were some leniency in the cut off time for 42km and 21km Milo finishers and people who exceeded the cut off times were also awarded with the finisher medals. (If I only knew about this, I would have joined this race too).
So I vowed to join the Milo Finals leg for a shot at the finisher medal. Having heard about the leniency back in July, I wasn’t too worried if I didn’t make it to the cut off time this time around. But at the back of my mind, that was still my target goal just to say I deserved the medal and not because of the organizer’s sympathy that I got it.
So on December 11, 2011, Per and I drove to Mall of Asia grounds for our own individual races (Per joined the 5km race). My race started at 5:00am while Per’s race started at 5:30am. Right there, I noticed how organized everything was:
1) The 5km runners had five different waves to separate the thousands of runners that day
2) Separate starting areas for 5km and 10km, 21km runners
3) Route for 21km runners didn’t mix with the 5km runners
I got there just in time (but couldn’t do any stretches anymore) and ran at the back end of 21km runners. It was my farthest distance for three weeks so didn’t know how I would do. Plus the fact that back and shoulders pain along with PFs came back and none of those were good news for me.
The first few kilometers were good for me (although the legs were a bit tight) but by 8km mark, I was feeling the back pain and had to put some walking in my running to stretch my shoulders and back. Pretty soon, my right foot was getting some pain too and I was using the water stations as an excuse to walk some more. I was drinking and stopping at almost every water stations and the weather wasn’t that hot!
I had hoped for a new PR for 2011 but with the various body pains I was experiencing, I tried for my next goal, which was a sub-2:30 finish time. But even that was getting hard to do.
I kept calculating and re-calculating whether I would make the race’s cut off time or not. At first it was quite achievable. Then as I got slower, the margin got tighter and I had to lessen my walk breaks and run some more. I tried running faster but it was hurting me more.
By the 19km mark, I had less than 14 minutes to go before reaching the cut off time. And this wasn’t just a flat 21km race. It was a 21.1km race (and sometimes the distance is a little bit more) so I had to go faster.
It was time to dig deep!!
At the final turn, I had about 500 – 700 meters to go and saw the finish line ahead. The clock was ticking down. Will I make it in time?
Time to dig deeper!!
I also saw Per standing in the middle of the road in her Pink Adidas KOTR singlet cheering for me. She also turned around to look at the finisher clock, wondering whether I could make it or not.
I was so near but I wasn’t sure how close I was. The battle was just between me and the clock.
PUSH! PUSH! PUSH!
And then it was over!
I heard the people cheering and a finisher medal was placed on my head. I walked again to get my loot bag and to meet with Per.
I made it by 8 seconds! It was like winning a race… and it felt great!
To God Be the Glory!
Note: I found out later that my 20 to 21km was at 6:33 pace and the final 270 meters to the finish line was at 4:33 pace. Nothing like fear and panic to make a guy run faster!
The last stretch and I was looking at my Garmin to make my final calculations!
SPRINT MODE!! - notice the "run-it-all-out" face
Phew! Barely made it!!
Happy it's over!
The couple is running again!
What a loot bag! Thanks Milo!