5:00 AM October 18 2009; Quezon City Circle @ 1st Quezon City International Marathon (1st QCIM)
Weeks before the conduct of this race, I was requested by the Race Organizers to have the members of the Elite Team Bald Runner as “Official Pacers” for beginners/”newbies” for the Marathon Race participants. Since almost all the members of my Elite Team will be running the said race and the Mt Mayon Trail Race, I could not provide any of my runners for the said task. Actually, I did not have any plans of joining this Marathon Race after my scheduled run with the 33rd MILO Marathon FINALS and my participation in the SMART Subic International Marathon (SIM). I really wanted to rest and recover after the MILO Race and plan to have a faster pace for the SMART SIM.
My plans changed completely when my daughter arrived from Los Angeles, California for an 11-day vacation in the country. She wanted to experience a road race in Metro Manila which is a longer race that her brother, John Paul, had experienced last January of this year. Knowing that her brother finished the Resolution 10K Run last January at MOA-PICC Grounds, she wanted to have a longer distance than what her bother experienced. So, I immediately registered her and myself for the QCIM Half-Marathon Race.
I knew that running with my daughter will entail some adjustments with my running style, plans & strategy. First, I accept that I will be the official Pacer and Support Crew for my daughter aside from being the “bodyguard” to her during the run. Second, from a race pace speed, my pace would be a 50% of my total effort as my daughter’s best time for the half-marathon is 2:11+ hours but I was ready that we will go slower than this time because of her lack of mileage training and her lack of adjustments with the weather and humidity here in Metro Manila.
My daughter arrived in Manila on the early morning of Tuesday, 5 days before the race, and I think we had only 2-3 occassions where we had a running workout together along the Bonifacio High Street Loop; Lawton Avenue to C-5 turn-around point and McKinley Hill Loop run before the Half-Marathon Race day. During our runs, I’ve observed that she was sweating heavily and running out of breath due to the temperature and humidity despite our slow and comfortable pace. We did some runs in the morning and in the late afternoon towards evening. However, in our last running workout, she was able to run a longer distance and she could maintain a steady pace despite the warm temperature. While we had our workouts, we talked about our plans & race strategy for the Half-Marathon, to include our hydration and nutrition plans for the race.
At 4:50 AM of October 18, we were already one block away from the Starting Area as we decided to alight from our vehicle on the first road block towards the Quezon Circle. As we were walking, I saw Kim Ong asking us if we need a ride and we said that we just walk towards the assembly area as our warm-up for the race. Once we reached and entered the coral area for the runners, I was approached by Mr Disini, President of the RUNNEX & Councilor Doray Delarmente and I introduced my daughter to them. I met and greeted more runners while a group stretching session was being conducted to the runners. My daughter and I settled at the middle of the pack and waited for the starting gun to sound off. At exactly 5:30 AM, the starting gun went off and we started jogging.
It was still dark when we proceeded to the UP Academic Oval and I became the “tourist guide” to my daughter telling her about those weekly road races being held at the UP Diliman Campus. We had a slow and comfortable pace as I chat to my daughter trying to determine if she can cope up with the pace. I made sure that she was the one dictating the pace and sometimes prod her to increase her pace. As we approached the Commonwealth Avenue, the surroundings was becoming brighter and that we could see a lot of runners for the 10K & 5K running along the said avenue. After turning right to Commonwealth Avenue, I was surprised to see the vast expanse of the road entirely for the runners only. It was a different sight to behold while at the left side of the road was full of vehicles not to be moving at all.
I ran conservatively in terms of my pace and the way my foot strike the ground. I knew that the cemented road was hard to the feet and the legs and I tried to be light on my pace as much as possible. Many runners would overtake us along the way and I would greet them and smile at them. More of the faster runners who had reached the turn-around point on the road that goes to the Batasan Pambansa would greet me during the race. We just maintained a comfortable pace of 7:30-7:45 minutes per kilometer.
We did not have any problems with our hydration from the Water Stations. I am sorry to say that the tables were still small and that it could only accommodate a number of water cups eventhough the Race Organizers placed a lot of Water station tables along the way. I made it a point to increase my pace whenever I could see a water station way ahead of us and pick-up at least two cups for the two of us. This ritual had been repeated every time there was a Water Station that we passed.
While we were running, we had to briefly stop and take some pictures to my daughter as she was happy to see the students cheering the runners and those bands along the way. She was happy to have made some pose as her remembrance in joining this 1st QCIM Half-Marathon. I had observed that my daughter was enjoying the experience along the Commonwealth Avenue with all those cheering and bands but she became more silent and serious when we finally entered North Avenue and back towards the Finish Line. The heat and the humidity was taking its toil to us as we maintained our pace along this road. I was surprised to see illegal settlers on government lots near the Veterans Memorial Hospital with the SM North EDSA as the background. It had been years that I was able to pass along this road. I hope that something will be done to get rid of these illegal settlers in government lots reserved for government offices & institutions.
While running, it was my duty to carry the GU Roctane/Energy Gels for my daughter as I wore my Fuel Belt with Pouch. She was able to finish at least three pieces of GU Sports Gel. What was good was that we did not have any problems with the supply of water and water cups on the Water Stations along the way. I did not hear any complaints from my co-half-marathon finishers about the lack of water along the route as compared to the complaints I heard and read on the runners who finished the marathon race.
The presence of kilometer markings along the way made comfort to us runners most especially on the last 4 kilometers. The overcast sky made the slower runners like us to be covered by the intense heat of the sun and finished the race without any problems related to heat injuries.
My daughter and I finished the Half-Marathon race in 2:42:29 hours based from GF 305 with an average pace of 7:37 minutes per kilometer. The distance registered 21.35 kilometers. After passing the Finish Line, we got our respective Finisher’s Medal and Certificate. After some photo-ops inside the Quezon Circle, we started to proceed back to our vehicle and changed our wet running apparel. Although my daughter was too tired after finishing the race despite of lack of mileage, she managed to smile and happy that she was able to finish her 1st International Road Race which is a Half-Marathon. She told me that she ran the said race as a “bragging rights” to her brother, John and officemetes/clients & friends.
As an assessment on the conduct of the 1st QCIM, I firmly believe that we could bring back the glory and exposure of running during the late 70s and the whole of 80s when the national government and the local government entities were at the forefront and directly involved in the conduct of road races as big as an International Marathon Race. It can be done! The participation of the Kenyan runners was also a commendable effort on the part of the Race Event Management to make the event truly an international race.
There were so many complaints about the lack of water and water station along the marathon route but this could be improved in the next edition of the race with the hope that this event will be continued and sustained in the years to come. I just hope that the Race Organizer/s have the courage to explain and answer the concerns of the runners during the race through their websites and/or blogs of affected runners.
Congratulations to the City Government of Quezon City, Race Organizers, RUNNEX, and to all the Finishers of the Race who most of them came from the different cities of the country.