Like in previous year, this year's event had its race start at Mall of Asia grounds. In the past years, whenever there is a race that had its starting line here, the route was almost always the same - course will go to intersection of Roxas Blvd, turn left on that road till all the way to Luneta Park before making a U Turn back and heading all the way to a certain point (usually Uniwide) along Roxas Blvd (after climbing two flyovers) before making another U turn (and back to same flyovers) that would take runners to the finish line.
Later, however the route had been changed for almost all races held here. This time instead of the course being 90% Roxas Blvd, it now becomes 90% Buendia Avenue as we run the entire stretch before the U Turn back on the same road.
For this race, the U Turn is right after Kalayaan Bridge ends in BGC. So we had to do the flyover two times (to and from). Two more turns near Mall of Asia before making it to the finish line. I much prefer the newer route (I hate Roxas Blvd.!) as shadier here and downhill when coming back.
I got to the venue early and had no problems parking my car or to look for a toilet and a few minutes before the gun start, I was already at the starting line. I had time to do some quick stretches too.
My goal for this event was to try and finish below a time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. I noticed that after doing the HK Marathon, I had gotten a lot slower and get tired easily. My training runs had been nothing but disappointments and I wonder if this will carry all the way to April's big race (another marathon).
So I was hoping to run below 7 minute pace but even that one wasn't certain given that my training runs had reverted to almost 8 minutes per kilometer and effort wise, it was in the red zone.
So I lowered my expectations for this race but still hopeful that I could run at an average pace of 7 minutes per kilometer.
This was the first race in recent memory wherein I experienced some considerable tightness in both my thighs. It made running difficult and by 2km, I walked while drinking some water. When I resumed running, the tightness was still there. In the beginning of the race, I had started at pace of 6:45 but it wasn't sustainable and by 7km or so, I was going at a pace of 7:20 per kilometer.
Now given this scenario, the 7 minute 2:30 cut off time didn't seem sustainable! But I kept going and tried my best, all the while reciting the Lord's Prayer every kilomter of the way.
We reached Kalayaan Bridge and began the ascend to the other side, where the U turn was located. Legs were still tight here but at least 9km down. 12km to go.
As I headed back to Buendia Ave. and ran down from the flyover, I felt legs loosened up from the speed and hit 6:30 pace for that kilometer. The next kilometer was also at 6:30 pace. It became sustainable and helped me bring down my average pace. If this continues, I should be able to finish below my target time of 2:30.
I felt a little hungry and took one super old GU gel. Instantly I felt regret as it was horrible!!! I drank water, spat it and drank water again. The bad taste lingered in my mouth! I couldn't get rid of it and got worried if this will lead to upset tummy. I ran faster with the fear that I might need to use the toilet any time. So adrenalin rush for some panicking over expired GU gel. All the while average pace was going down.
Then it was just 3km to go and I kept pushing knowing this will just take 20 minutes of running! The second U Turn was there and done. Only 2km to go. Then it was the final U turn with 1km to go. Finally the final turn to the finish line!
Yay! I have achived sub 2:30. Best of all, it was faster than my 7-11 Skyway Half Marathon in February! Praise God for this! Thank You Jesus!!
By the time I finished, it was just 7am. And I felt good. So I went back to the car, changed into my finisher shirt and did another 4km at a very slow and comfortable 8:15 pace. I waited for the raffle prizes and saw Carlito and his friend Cesar at the finish area.
Good and well organized race with lots of water and Pocari stations. Nice medal and finisher shirt plus some other things in the loot bag.
Total km: 25km