Monday, March 10, 2014

Clark Full Marathon 2014

As I write this, my entire body is sore as just 36 hours ago I joined and completed the very first Clark Animo Full Marathon.   In previous years, the organizers have staged 10km and 21km races but this was the first time they decided to step out of their comfort zones and do a full marathon distance.  This will be their 5th time hosting a race.  So how did they fare?  Read on..

Per and I drove to Clark on a Friday morning as I wanted this to be an out of town trip.  We booked a room at Holiday Inn hotel in Mimosa, which was super convenient as it was just walking distance to the Starting Line.  No more parking stress when we can just walk there.  Plus I could wake up at a later time given the proximity of the hotel to the race venue.

That Friday, we exited Angeles and headed to Marquee Mall for yummy (and heavy) lunch at Xtremely Xpresso Cafe.  It was in this mall that I also claimed my race kit at ROX.  Inside the race kit was an official race shirt, race bib (which had a detachable 20% coupon for all New Balance footwear! Can you say "Shoe Reward?"), the map of the race, and terms and conditions of the event.

Saturday was spent relaxing some more as we watched a movie at SM Clark, had lunch at C's Italian Restaurant and dinner at a korean restaurant in Korea Town.  Then we headed back to the hotel to rest for the reminder of the night.

The gun start for the 42km race on Sunday morning was at 3:30AM, and we were there at around 3:20AM, good enough for some last minute stretching and toilet break.  Per accompanied me to the Starting Line and took some pictures there.

To be on a safe side, I decided to bring a bottle of ISO 100 with me as wasn't sure what was included in their water stations aside from... well, water!  I chose this as can easily be disposed when I don't want it anymore vs. my own water bottle which I had to keep during the entire duration of the race.  I also packed 7 GU gels to be used at every 7km and one extra one in case of emergency.

At 3:30AM, there was a nice firework display in front of us and when that ended, our race started.  Almost immediately, everyone was running fast!  I literally became the LAST runner here and pretty soon, an ambulance was trailing behind me.  This continued for the next 2km!  There were moments I felt tightness in my legs and wanted to stretch or walk them off as opposed to running but with the pressure of being the last runner AND having the sweeper car right behind you, well that made me continue running instead.  

"Was I really going out this slow?", I started pondering.  By this time, the next runner in front of me was about 400-500m away!  I looked at my Garmin watch and saw that my pace was around 7:30-7:45 per kilometer.  If anything, I was going out too fast!  

"Aha!  That is what they were doing!  Eventually, they will slow down and walk and I will come up from behind and overtake them!", I arrogantly thought to myself.  Sadly this did not happen on the 3km or even at the 4km mark.  I was STILL the last runner and I was STILL being followed by the sweeper ambulance.

What is worse is that my distance to the next runner seems to be getting wider too!  What is going on? My next km pace was at 7:27 and that was still too slow for these runners.  I decided not to chase them anymore and to settle at my normal pace.  This was, after all, a full marathon and it was dangerous to go all out at the beginning of the race.  Hopefully my luck would change later on.

Around 4km mark, the ambulance left me and went straight to the next runner.  Was I even too slow for them?  I really didn't understand anymore!  Boo!

Then a group of cyclists sped along and one slowed down and biked next to me.  "What time did you start?", he inquired.  "3:30AM", I answered back thinking he was just making conversations.  But he didn't leave my side.

I looked at him and saw he was wearing a biker's helmet and traffic aide vest and then I knew. 

 "Are you a marshal?", I asked him.  To which he said yes.  So, I had my own escort for this race!  Sigh!

But at least I had someone to talk to so it wouldn't be that boring.  We had small conversations and he stuck with me.  At 8km, there were two runners in front of me and I slowly overtook them.  I expected the bike marshal to go with them but he stayed with me.  Maybe he was enjoying my company too. Haha!

Our route took us from the starting line to Clark's Main Gate (where SM Clark is located) for the U Turn back to where we started as route brought us next to the back of Fontana and on a long stretch of road to another Toll Gate.  A U Turn will be made there and a short detour along the Sacobra Bridge as runners will race toward the finish line but not before hitting Clark's own version of "Heartbreak Hil

It was at the Main Gate where I had a chance to overtake two more runners but later on when I walked at a water station, they came and overtook me again.  Sigh, last runner syndrome indeed!

Near the Starting Line, we merged with 10km runners and ran with them for the next 5km before they made their U Turn back while we kept going straight.  It was lonely on the road again till I noticed the 21km runners heading back too.  All this time, we didn't see any 42km runners which was strange as a Kenyan was the one leading it and it was more than an hour already.  I then realized that our route won't be the same with the 10km or 21km runners.

The bike marshal biked next to me most of the way.  The only times he would bike ahead of me was when he needed to go to the toilet or because it was an uphill climb and he had a hard time biking at my pace.  But then he would wait till I got there and bike with me again.  Pretty awesome!

At Sacobra Bridge, I was able to surpass more runners as they walked in this exposed area.  The sun was dampening our spirits around this time but the view was beautiful and distracting at the least.  I was now at 32- 33km mark when I ran on the bridge.  With a quick toilet break at the guard house at the end of the bridge, I continued on.

I was tired and just wanted it to end. Haha!  By that time, I was down to my last two GU gels and had finished my ISO 100 drink at 28km mark.  The water stations here were ample enough and they offered Gatorade drinks too.  There were two banana stations and the latter stations also had Sprite and Royal so that was a welcome treat.  And ALL the drinks were COLD, which I really appreciated.

Then it was down to the last 8km, but it wasn't going to be an easy one as we had to conquer the Hill first.  But after that was done, it was smooth sailing as it was downhill to flat to the finish line.  I tried to maximize this opportunity and go faster but my feet were hurting and sore already.  I continued running as we passed by Holiday Inn Hotel and I knew that we were near. 

One final right turn was made before I saw the finish line.

Yes, I did it.  PRAISE GOD for letting me cross the finish line safe and sound!  

To Him Be All The Glory!

Congrats to all the finishers and to the organizers for a well executed race.  I am glad to be part of your first Marathon event.

Thanks also to my "support" crew AKA bike marshal.  I bet he is as happy as I am that I crossed the finish line so he can rest too! Hahaha.

My time of 5:30++ wasn't that bad but in Clark, it's one of the bottom!  Very humbling experience. :)

And this was the reason I joined this race in the first place!  ANIMO LA SALLE!! My first La Sallian Marathon Finisher Medal!

Thank You God!!!

03/13/13 Update:  Results are out for this race.  Based on the 42km results, there are a total of 140 finishers for this distance, and I place 106th here for a ranking % of 76% and a time of 5:38:20... not bad considering my situation early in the race :P


janine said...

Nice medal! I'm jealous. :P

Running Fatboy said...

go for next year Jann