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Race Report: 2009 Condura Half-Marathon

22 03 2009

5:28 AM 22 March 2009 @ The Fort & Skyway

This is the most anticipated race of the year and the race organizers warned all the runners to arrive early at the assembly area on race day because of the heavy traffic brought about by the record number of registered runners. I had to go to bed early last night and I was soundly sleeping at 8:00 PM. I woke up at 3:45 AM and did my “drill of preparation” and I was out from my place before 4:30 AM. After a few minutes, I was already at The Fort and immediately did my warm-up jog until I was about to perspire, had my stretching exercises while greeting other people/runners who would pass by. I was surprised to see Patrick Concepcion aka The Running Shield, the Race Organizer doing also his jogging on the same place where I was having my stretching. We had a short conversation and personally congratulated him for a very successful race because of the positive response from the runners. I found out that the total number of runners reached up to 6,500+ with 1,200+ runners joining the half-marathon race. It was nice talking to him after so many months that I haven’t seen him in road races, however, we are always in contact with regular exchanges of SMS on matters pertaining about running.

I met George aka Fuerza Armada of NAMRIA and he was proud to introduce a dozen of runners who came all the way from Vigan, Ilocos Sur to participate in the said run. I introduced these runners to Patrick and he was happy and surprised that runners who came from a place which is 400 kilometers north of Metro Manila would join his run and support its noble cause. I wonder how many more of these runners who came all the way from Visayas and Mindanao. This is a gauge and indication of the present popularity of long distance running in the country. I am happy, too, because all of these runners admitted that they are regular readers and visitors of this blog. I am flattered when the runners I met along the way would call me “Idol”.

Five minutes before the start of the race, I entered the 21K corral and it was “jampacked” with a lot of runners that I tried to inch my way to the front of the runners. This is where I met the Hardcore Group & Team Bald Runner-Professional Group. It was nice to see Philip aka Foreign Runner (where have you been?), Jerry Karundeng aka High Altitude (with his luminous green shirt), Jonel aka Bugobugo85 (the “wingman”), Arman aka Pinoy Mafiosi, Mari of PLDT, Mark & Charlie, Jay Lee aka Fashion Guru, the Power Runners, and the Bataan 102 Warriors led by Atty Jeffrey Abenina & Jun Lapira aka David Goggins. I was in the company of Hardcore & Crazy Runners at the Starting Area and I consider them as the “coolest & most relaxed” runners before the start of a race.

In the true tradition of Rudy Biscocho’s road races, the race started not on time but it started two minutes before the announced start of the race. After the playing of the National Anthem & delivery of messages from the Race Organizers and Race Director, the race started without funfare and I was in the company of Jonel as we tried to look for our space on the first kilometer of the race.

Staying at the front of the corral before the starting gun is fired is a nice part of tactics in races because you can maintain your running space and average pace immediately. I conditioned myself to be slow on the first kilometer. From the starting area, the runners go all the way to Serendra and turned right at the 26th Avenue towards the old McDonalds. Before reaching the One McKinley Place Building, I was already about to have finished the first kilometer. The first kilometer was very slow but I was able to pass/overtake some of the runners.

Km #1 Split Time—5:16 minutes

I knew I was too slow on the first kilometer after looking at my watch. I wanted at least to have a pace not to exceed the 5:00-minute pace for the said race. I started to increase my pace as I passed the old McDonald and all the way to the Jollibee. Jonel and I were able to overtake more runners. As we got nearer to the Jollibee, we were able to catch up with Philip aka Foreign Runner. We were surprised to see Philip with an slower pace as he was our top runner during our speed training sessions three months ago. He is telling the truth afterall that he does have any training/running workouts for the past months. As we reached the area fronting the Shell Gasoline Station and about to enter the Kalayaan Flyover, we are ending the 2nd kilometer mark.

Km #2 Split Time—4:42 minutes

The uphill climb at the Kalayaan Flyover made me shift to my faster stride frequency with shorter stride length and lighter with my footstrike. At this time, the route was already wide for the runners and we are in the company with more of the Bataan 102 Boys. The rolling terrain of the Kalayaan Flyover made us run faster as the downhill part would force us to lengthen our strides. Before going down towards Buendia Blvd, we were able to complete 3 kilometers of the race.

Km #3 Split Time—4:42 minutes

As we reached Buendia, we maintained our pace but some of the runners would overtake us. We would make them as our “targets” to overtake along the way and just waiting for them to show signs of slowing down before we take the necessary action and increase our pace. I always remind Jonel of our average pace by shouting the time with the thought that I should not slow down and breach the 5:00-minute pace. As we reached the crossing of Buendia and Makati Avenue, it marked the end of Kilometer #4.

Km #4 Split Time—4:42 minutes

At this time, I became observant along the way. I was trying to recall if I have seen any Kilometer Markings along the side of the road from the time I left the Starting Area. I knew, the 10K turnaround is about to be reached after running for almost 20 minutes. While looking around for markers, I continouosly looked at my watch and tell to everybody the average pace. Suddenly, we reached the 10K turnaround and it signified that we were able to run a distance of 5 Kilometers. We were approaching RCBC Plaza at this point.

Km #5 Split Time—4:40 minutes

At the RCBC Plaza, I knew we are about to reach the Ayala Avenue Crossing and the slight downhill along Buendia had ended.  After passing the crossing, this part of Buendia was already flat and it was just a matter of time before we reached the entrance to the Skyway. The runners were directed by the Road Marshal to shift to the left side of Buendia after running for some time on the right side of the road. This was a warning to us that we are getting nearer to the Osmena Avenue/South Expressway and before turning left towards the approach towards the Skyway. 500 meters from the Railroad tracks marked the end of Kilometer 6.

Km #6 Split Time—4:36 minutes

After running for about 500 meters, we were led to a small street that would avoid us from running the elevated railroad tracks and we turned left. As we turned left, we could see the approach of the Skyway, which is the left side. I tried to increase my pace and prepared myself for the rolling terrain of the Skyway. After running for about 200 meters, I was running along the approach of the Skyway. It was a nice sight to see the straight direction of the Skyway. But it was a challenge to see a higher elevation along the route. The first 300 meters of the Skyway marked the end of Kilometer 7.

Km #7 Split Time—4:35 minutes

Running along the Skyway was an unforgettable experience being my first time to see it as I never used this elevated highway since it was contructed in the early 90’s. I concentrated looking at the runners far ahead of us and it was too wide for the 1,200 runners who participated in the half-marathon. There was that portion that went uphill and I thought it slowed me down. Water stations were abundant along the Skyway and the people manning them were helpful in extending their hands with the water cups to the passing runners. I was still at the Skyway at the end of Kilometer 8.

Km #8 Split Time—4:57 minutes

As I got nearer to the highest point of the Skyway, I knew I was getting slower. I tried to be light on my footstrike and saw to it that I would drink water in every water station. The end of Kilometer 9 would end at the point on top of the Magallanes Interchange/Flyover. This was the highest point of the Skyway. Jonel started to increase his pace and left me after the water station at the peak of the route.

Km #9 Split Time—5:02 minutes

At this point, the lead runners would be on their way back to where we entered the Skyway. Except for Eduardo “Vertek” Buenavista, the other 3 runners at the lead pack were members of the Elite Team Bald Runner. I had to cheer them as they met me along the way. I tried to increase my pace by lifting my knees some more from the ground as I had my sight at the turnaround point.

Km #10 Split Time—4:47 minutes

I took my GU Roctane at this point and drank water from the bottled wated stucked on my back with my compression shorts. I was the only one at the turnaround point and immediately got my string. As I was going back to Buendia, I would see the runners who were on my back and about to reach the turnaround point. This was where I started to hear shouts of “Bald Runner”, “BR”, “General”, “Sir Jovie” and “Mr Bald Runner” from the runners at my left side. Of course, I had to acknowledge these people by shouting something that would encourage them and sometimes, mentioning their names and giving them “high five” as I extend my hand to them. Guys, thanks for those greetings! I can not afford to be a “snub” to everybody. It was okey if I got slower by half of a second by doing all of these things! It was part of having fun running along the Skyway!

Km #11 Split Time—4:48 minutes

At Kilometer 12, I was still at the Skyway. More people would greet me from the incoming runners.

Km #12 Split Time—4:53 minutes

At Kilometer 13, I was still at the Skyway but the runners on the left side of the road were the slower ones already. I was going downhill and I knew I was going faster.

Km #13 Split Time—4:42 minutes

I tried to maintain my average pace as I have overtaken more of the runners while I was at the Skyway.

Km #14 Split Time—4:43 minutes

In about 500 meters, I knew I was about to end my first and only experience to run along the Skyway and I was back running along Buendia Avenue.

Km #15 Split Time—4:56 minutes

I tried to increase my average pace but fatigue was starting to creep to my legs but I knew I can still manage to maintain my pace towards the finish line. At this point, I could see more runners who were starting to walk and I encouraged them to jog all the way to the finish line.

Km #16 Split Time—4:51 minutes

Crossing the Ayala Avenue along Buendia was the start of a slight uphill and I knew my average pace will become slower. I tried to maintain my pace and at least, make my pace faster but the uphill climb was really a challenge. After passing the Makati Avenue marked the end of Kilometer 17.

Km #17 Split Time—5:02 minutes

The last uphill climb was the Kalayaan Flyover and I was in the company of the slower runners in the 10K race. I had to pass these runners and tried to run faster and avoided the crowd but the steep flyover would slow me down some more. Halfway along the Kalayaan Flyover marked the end of Kilometer 18.

Km #18 Split time—5:23 minutes

I tried to increase my pace as I passed the 10K runners who were still at the Kalayaan Flyover. It was already downhill towards the end of the Flyover and I could see the Shell Gasoline Station. Upon reaching the Shell Station, it marked the end of Kilometer 19.

Km #19 Split Time—4:55 minutes

It was a matter of time before reaching the Finish Line and I was confident that I would be able to improve my time from my past Half-Marathon Race at the Patakbo Sa Kabundukan last December. As I reached 26th Avenue, I knew it was an slight uphill climb towards Serendra. I knew I was feeling fatigued and I could already feel the effects of the sun. I had my last drink of water and tried to increase my pace at the end of Kilometer 20.

Km #20 Split Time—5:22 minutes

Near the Finish Line

Near the Finish Line

Trying to Squeeze With the Lesser Distance Runners

Trying to Squeeze With the Lesser Distance Runners

At this point, my time was at 1:38+ hours and I just cruised along knowing that I could break my last Half-Marathon time. The road marshals kept on signalling the 21K runners to enter the lane where the 10K runners were crowded but I insisted on running on the left lane. It brought a little disturbance and distraction to the faster runners along the 26th Avenue when the 21K runners were trying to compete for space on the said lane. It was a nice sight to see the digital clock at the Finish Line with the readings of 1:42+ hours as I got nearer to it.

Km #21 Split Time—4:58 minutes

I finally finished the Half-Marathon race, according to my GF 305, in 1:43:08 hours with an average pace of 4:53 minutes per kilometer. Not bad. I improved my time from my previous Half-Marathon time in the 2008 Patakbo Sa Kabundukan by 2:32 minutes. I might not be able to attain the average speed of 4:48 mins per kilometer as a result of my speed training but I am still satisfied with my time despite my preparations for the Bataan 102K.

The conduct of the race was outstanding and I consider this race as the biggest race so far for the past two years since running became a popular sports in the country. This is a proof that we are in the 2nd “boom” of running popularity in the country since in the late ’70s. Congratulations to Condura/Patrick & Ton Concepcion for their “vision” in promoting road races in the country. The efficiency and experience of Mr Rudy Biscocho as the Race Director was also contributory for the success of the race.

Overall Rating of the Race—98%

The Members of AGTARAY Running Club of Vigan, Ilocos Sur

The Members of AGTARAY Running Club of Vigan, Ilocos Sur

BR with Patrick Concepcion & Wife

BR with Patrick Concepcion & Wife

I was able to meet more runners as I delayed my departure from my parking area. The Bataan 102 “Warriors” would like to get their race packets from me & my staff after the Condura Run and I waited for them as they had another 7-8 kilometers of extended running workout. More people and runners would have their pictures taken and I was surprised that Patrick came back for some photo-ops with his wife. I took this opportunity to personally congratulate him for raising the “standards” in road racing in the country.

The Condura Run was something for the “books” of running in the country because of its unique route and the efficiency & experience of the Race Director and its staff. The 2009 Condura Run, so far, is the Best!  As for theparticipants, whether you are a fun runner or competitive one, congratulations to those who finished their respective race and to those who have attained their PRs in this road race!

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