6:00 AM 21 September 2008 in Laoag City
Instead of starting infront of the Provincial Capitol (as published in the newspapers), the Milo Run started along the Ablan Avenue near the Provincial Sports Complex. About 40 runners for the 21K waited for the arrival of the Governor of Ilocos Norte, Hon Michael Keon, the former Director of the Project Gontong Alay and President of the Philippine Olympic Committee as he was late for almost 40 minutes for the 6:00 AM scheduled start of the 21K Race. Anyway, the race started without any problems and the road marshalls were all posted in key intersections as the race proceeded to the main street of Laoag City, Rizal Street, going all the way to the east, towards the direction of the Municipality of Sarrat.
I was surprised to see these runners (left runner is from Baguio City who won the race; John placed 3rd and qualified for the Milo Marathon Finals; Doctor Mon (my classmate at Gold’s Gym Glorietta) visited Laoag City for the 1st time and a “tourist” to nice beaches of Pagudpud after the race) for the Laoag City Milo Elimination 21K Race.
As the race started, I maintained a pace of 5:00-5:30 mins/km from start to finish, reaching the turn-around point at the peak of the hill, where the Sarrat Cemetery is located, as one passes the Poblacion of Sarrat. The route is a flat, paved and straight road from Laoag City to Sarrat and covered with fruit-bearing trees and century-old acacia trees except for the protion of the route that passes along the commercial district of Laoag City. The race started with an overcast sky but the sun started to show on my last 4-5 kilometers of the race.
The runners who started so fast from the starting line became weaker as they neared the halfway point and I really didn’t know how many runners I’ve passed on the 1st half and last half of the race. I was given a VIP treatment by one of the road marshalls who was riding a motorcycle with the complete sounds of a siren. The siren was a bit annoying to my ears but the smiles and greetings of the people on the sides of the street/route were something to remember and boosted my strength to consistently maintain, if not, increase my pace. Some of these people recognized me as I heard them saying “The General” in their conversations. More people greeted me as I passed by the commercial/market district of Laoag City.
The motorcycle guide left me when I was about to enter the Oval track and had to run alone at least 300 meters of the newly-repaired tartan track before the Finish Line. As I crossed the Finish Line, my GF 305 registered a distance of 21.23 kilometers with an elapsed time of 1:55:58 hours. I was happy and contented of registering such unofficial time in the said distance race without any soreness on my leg muscles and any body complaints. I guess, I did not run hard and did not run with my heart this time! Anyway, I consider this run as my long run for my ultramarathon training preparations. I immediately left the finish line area after I was given a certificate of finish and goodie-bag.
As I was about to leave the Oval Track, somebody in the crowd shouted “Bald Runner”. I approached the group and I met my long-lost friend and partner in running in the early ’80s, Harry Acosta (in blue attire), who was once an elite runner in the Project Gintong Alay. Dr Chester Puno (#76075) was the one who recognized me as he is a frequent visitor of this blog who also ran the shorter distance race with his friend, Mr Rubio (#76074) who is a nurse. I gave them some advise and tips in their training for their 1st marathon race. After a short conversation, my nephew and I just walked to the house, a distance of one kilometer from the oval track, as part of my cool-down exercises.
It was nice to be back at home and run the Milo 21K Elimination Race. I may not be qualified as one of the finalists in the Milo Marathon Finals on the last Sunday of November but I’ve shown something about myself to the people of Sarrat and Laoag City. Lastly, I was able to meet and talk to more runners from Manila, Baguio, and Laoag City.