One of the downside of being a runner in a non-running community in the province is the occasional bouts of loneliness; you know stuffs like running alone most of the time, getting chased by dogs, labeled and judged as a boxer, and secretly wishing for a zombie outbreak so everyone will run. Joke! That is why I have to travel to other places just to run. Because running to me is just a physical activity but also a form of social exercise. I love to meet other people, share their passion and run and compete with them; thus the term fun run. But this weekend I got an overdose of what I asked for: an Outbreak, of runners.
OK, Im sort of a solo traveler and being a runner at the same is a deadly combination (to girls and my pocket). And for months, my radar’s practically stripteasing in front of me to run in the Run United Philippine Marathon (RUPM). So off I went to Manila after 3 long years, not as an office slave but as a runner!
Race Day: My God! Look at those zombies, I mean Runners. I have never seen a crowd of runners that large before. 5,000 strong of them, and thats only at the 21k category. Me amazed. The whole MOA grounds has come alive so early in the morning and I could feel the earth moving. Excite and positive good vibes are everywhere! But the problem is I was at the bottom of the whole horde of half-marathoner wannabes. Later that location would cost me something dear. TIME.
The race was nothing short an awesome spectacle of an event well thought-out to perfection on a massive scale. Just imagine how does a group of people manage 3,000 runners in 42 kilometers, 5,000 in 21 kilometers and 3,000 in ten Ks? But that is what RunRio is known for, right? So yeah everything was perfect from registration to post race extravaganza. The 21k course was an easy PR-friendly flat course around MOA and Roxas Blvd. which was closed for the event. I used to make tambay there every Sunday afternoon back in the days, non-running days. And you just got to love the bright lights around the Metro!
Now lets talk about my performance. Ahemm Its a Sub2 although it is technically and officially not the case. Why? Because I am wearing somebody else’ slot, so please don’t bother checking my name when the official result comes. And secondly, I crossed the finish line a few minutes above the two hour mark. So why the hell am I claiming the Sub 2 glory? Easy, I was at the bottom pack so I was at least 2 minutes from gunstart when I stepped on the starting line. And God knows how many agonizing minutes I spent maneuvering to get out of the walking crowd at the bottom pack.
So let me rephrase my performance, I THINK I GOT A SUB2. I did not even expect I’m capable of doing that because I’m just an easy go lucky friendly runner next door. I’m not really into speed and PRs (and I kinda hit The Wall in my first two half marathons haha). But out of the blue, there I was running; stronger and faster like never before… like a true zombie… or a man possesed! Specially on the final third of the race.
The initial goal was only to finish and have a good time for my first run in Manila. But halfway on the course, I still feel fresh so I amped up the speedometer, just a little. Then around the 14k mark (back at the starting area), I saw that its already 1:26:00. But suddenly I felt that urge for the Need For Speed. Look it was 7Ks more, with 34 minutes left for a Sub2. Under normal circumstances that scenario is logically Impossible for my enormous fat index, but out there it felt so goddamn beatable. I felt strong, I was running fast. And I went Overdrive.
Then came the X-Factor of my performance. At the 15k mark marshalls were handing out this new Unilab product, its a sports gel for instant energy. I thought if I need to sustain this overdrive pace, I’m going to need something other than a miracle or I’ll hit The Wall. So I grabbed a sachet and drink a quarter of it. It tasted alien. Sweet but strong. Juicy but medical. And it really worked for me! I never thought the difference between a Sub2 from hitting the wall is just a sachet. Just one little sip per water station and I was on overdrive again.
With a little dose of gel, part stupidity, part stubbornness and a whole pack of determination… Oh boy, that sprint finish felt so good.
The whole race was made even more awesome during the post run. Andaming freebies!!! Lootbags were packed nicely and aplenty. Finisher’s shirts, ass kicking. Finisher’s medal, really cool (parang batarang ni Batman). So since I finished a lot earlier than expected and quite a few minutes ahead of the general horde I think I got the whole Active Health Village to my self; that is where the event sponsors’ booths are located with plenty of stuffs to try and lots of giveaways await. Can somebody give me another medal for trying all of those booths (because that takes a whole lot of guts)? So overall, my first Manila race was spectacular and I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget that day when I run like a mad man at the RUPM. This is going to be one of the stories I’m going to tell my grandchildren when the time comes because…
“I am my own Champion.” – Rapunzel Rodolfo