How do we measure the greatness and a success of a running race? Of course there are many factors to judge that kind of event. This includes the way the organizers put up the pre-run activities, map-out the course, the designated hydration booths and the perks out there at the finish line. Some measures it based on the turn-out of runners where a bigger crowd is always better. For some it’s about how they achieved their own glory whether they finished with a Personal Record (PR) best or escaped out injury free. Then there’s this unwritten running policy: Just Enjoy Running which equates to the quantifiable Fun Factor of a race. But to really measure the heart and soul of a running event you really have to be out there as one of the runners. And sure I did!
The topic of this race review: The 1st Tacloban City Marathon organized by the Dalagan Tacloban crew in partnership with the Divine Word University (DWU) Batch ’88. Location: Tacloban City. Category: 5k, 21k, 42k.
I joined the race under the 21k category, my first half-marathon. I’ve trained for two months for this event so I came to the city confident of at least finishing the course under the three-hour cut-off. The only major questions are: What time will I finish? And how well will I run out there? Half-marathon was an uncharted category for me, I was a little scared but that fear is simply overpowered by my desire to prove that I can be part of the club. Judging by my performance on the 15k Kapamilya Run the previous weekend, I could clock in 2hrs 4omins in worst case scenario, and 2hrs 1omins if I could maintain my current pace (I’m a slow runner). But enough of the numbers, I’m here to run and have some real fun!
For this race I have to travel from my hometown and practically make “Layas” (skip) an important Board Meeting on one of the companies I’m connected with. That’s how I love running. Kuya Herbie, my running buddy and perhaps the only other runner in our town was already there in Tacloban earlier. He is a speed demon and was gunning for his first full marathon, so the hotel accommodation was his treat! Nyahaha.
The 21k race started on time at 4:00 in the morning and exactly two hours after they let loose the 42k runners. Man I love such timeliness. As usual I was the last one to run in my category, as I started at the back of the pack. This calms my nerves and allow me to run my own comfortable without the pressure from other runners. I packed minimally with only a small Gatorade bottle on my hand and nothing else; no visor, no mp3, no Garminwatch (as if I have one), no bling-bling lights and hell I could even run shirtless haha.
Half-marathon, as what Kuya Kim Atienza mentioned in Runner’s World, is a simple game of halves; the 1st 10.5k half and the second half. You’re running performance are likely going to be based on how you managed your energy in these two periods. I stuck with the advice to just run my pace on the first half, and let loose on the second half if there’s enough energy and if no injury incur. Eight kilometers in and I knew I could finish this one in flying colors. I was confident, I was feeling good, I can even finish this in 2 hrs. Then the best part of the race happened at the 8.5 mark: I made friends.
By the time I reached the 8k mark, I was already in the middle of the pack. So by that stretch of that road I can already make a good sense of the running scene I’m in; of how many fast runners are ahead of me (that I may have to overtake later on), the slower runners on my back, I can even sense which of them are well prepared and which of them are already tired. But one thing I’m not good at is estimating distances (and I’m a CPA) and I don’t trust what those yellow milestones are proclaiming . So for curiosity’s sake I asked the two runners ahead of me on what kilometer we were that time. Just two kilometers before the turning point. What started as a simple inquiry turn out to be a long and enjoyable session of conversation; of jokes, of races, of experiences and of our reasons of joining our first half marathon. The biggest catch was, I was talking to men twice my age!
Meet sir Leonardo Aranas and Nelson Lledo, on their 50’s and God knows they are fitter than I am (ok I’m fat! hahaha). Both of them came from Tacloban and they are actually cyclists from a cycling group in Tacloban. I have a weird feeling these two were just having a cross training. But they’re so fun to be with!
We crossed the halfway mark a few minutes before the 1 hour mark and I knew decision has to be made. I was surprised by my strong performance on the first half of this half-marathon; no cramps, still fully hydrated and in good condition and I think I have a pretty good shot on finishing sub-2hours! I could feel it, the rhythm was good, my legs are still fresh. But I decided to pair up with sir Nelson and sir Nardz . Hey, this is still my first marathon and I absolutely don’t need to achieve anything but just to finish. So why the rush when I could be having fun the rest of the way? And the three of us decided to run for a 2hr : 3ominute finish.
I want to take that decision to stay as a win-win situation: I finish on one piece (which is my original plan) and at the same I’ll be pacing the two young at hearts. The second half of the race I was practically not running for myself nor for any glory I could salvage. I was running because I meet good friends along the way, and I want to help them cross the finish line too. Help like, making sure we’re running the right pace and some good company along the way.
By the time we got to the last kilometer along the Magsaysay Blvd. I told them if they can make a push for a sprint finish (which is also another sweet tradition of mine). But they said No and told me to go ahead. So there, to put up the finishing touches, I went on turbo mode to the finish line and…. secretly prayed that some photographer will capture that moment hahaha. God, it felt so good to cross that line still fresh and kicking. My training paid off, I’m blessed I had the right inspiration to put myself into that hard preparation. And they were right, it’s all on the mind. You just have to master the fatigue and temptation, the body will follow.
21k baby, 21k!
For me finishing a half-marathon means a lot. For one thing, I now understand that I am indeed a much stronger person that what I give myself credit for. Second, I’m in love with this category and I want to specialize on this one (for as long as I can afford the registration). And thirdly, individually I’m tough but the truth is I’m a lot stronger with other people around. People like Kuya Herbie who placed 9th in his first ever full-marathon and with an injured left thigh (so proud of you!); bro Luiz who has been a good running buddy to us in Tacloban; sir Nardz and sir Nelson for being that real tough cookie on the road; and to all the new friends I’ve meet out there on the course, the familiar faces and running idols. And because of them the 1st Tacloban City Marathon is by far the very best race I’ve participated on.
So kudos to the organizers especially Dalagan Tacloban for a superb job out there.