Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NOT A RANT POST: My Weekend in Subic (Second of Two Parts)

We touched down at the Subic Bay Free Port at a little past 6 p.m. We checked in at the Subic Bay Yacht Club (thanks, Jym!) at around 8 and then met up with my folks for dinner at good old Xtremely Xpresso. I loaded up on carbs by feasting on a rice meal, some pasta, and pizza, and I topped it off with a choco-peanut gelato. No wonder I'm not losing weight despite all this running.

10:30 p.m., I was back in the hotel. After preparing my gear, I went to work on the playlist that would serve as the official soundtrack of my first official half-marathon. I purposely limited the length of the playlist to just a little over 2:30. I had resolved to cover 21k in no more than two and-a-half hours. I was confident that I'd be able to accomplish this because, during my two previous 21k training runs (that both included hill repeats), I clocked in at 2:27 and 2:28.

11:30 p.m., I was tucked away in bed. I was out cold approximately half an hour later.

Sunday, 25 October

4 a.m. I awoke to the sound of my phone's alarm. It was time for the Breakfast of Champions.

I finished (almost inhaled) my breakfast in 15 minutes, freshened up, and put on my gear. After doing my stretching routine in the room, I was off to Remy Field with my entourage (i.e., wifey Bam and niece Jym) in tow. Fortunately for me, the Yacht Club is literally just right beside the start line at Remy Field. During our short five-minute walk, I had my first photo op. Ah, the joy of having a "support crew" for the very first time. :)

A couple of minutes later, we finally set foot on Remy Field. The scene that greeted me left me in awe. This would be my first time to start a race in a track oval with packed bleachers. Wifey knew that merely describing the entire scene in words would not do it justice, so she went trigger-happy on her point-and-shoot and started clicking away.

Off-topic, wifey underwent a key moment in life and had her picture taken with THE Chris Tiu. Notice how oblivious she was of the other equally-famous Smart Gilas players in the background (i.e., Dylan Ababou, Andy Barroca, Jayvee Casio).

This is supposed to be a feel-good post, so I won't tell you about how disorganized and how delayed the start of the race was. At 6 a.m., the gun finally went off for all runners (i.e., 21k, 10k, 5k, and 3k). At last, we were off.

For the next two hours, I was subjected to a complete "media blackout" (i.e., wifey and Jym went back to the hotel for a nap). This is the part where I am supposed to tell you about how, on several occasions during my run, I marveled at the wondrous scenery that surrounded me, and how extremely thankful I felt for having been given the opportunity to conquer the highways of Subic. About how, as I observed the multitude of PNP cadets who joined the run, I noticed how poorly equipped they were (gear-wise) for a half-marathon, thus prompting a lot of them to turn back way before reaching the designated turn-around point. About how I noticed how few and far between the water stations were, and how I failed to see any race marshalls for the entire length of the 21k course. About how I came to the realization that SIM 2009 had miserably failed to live up to its lofty billing as the "most prestigious" running event in the country. About how strong I felt throughout the race, and how I ended up asking myself what would have happened had I joined the full marathon instead.

So many thoughts raced through my mind as I plugged away and headed back towards the finish line. So much so that, before I knew it, I was once again in front of the Yacht Club where my "entourage," fresh from a power nap, was waiting to take souvenir photos of my first ever half-marathon finish.

This would have been a great shot, but the genius in the foreground ruined everything. I decided to post this anyway, since this is the only photo wifey was able to take as I was about the cross the finish line.

And so, two hours and eighteen minutes after I crossed the start line, I finished my first official half-marathon. That's nine minutes better than my previous unofficial PR of 2:27, which I set during a training run the previous weekend. Need I say that the satisfaction I felt was indescribable?

What made everything even more special was the fact that, for the very first time, I had loved ones at the finish line to welcome me and share in my joy (not to mention take lots of pictures) in completing this humble milestone. That fleeting moment when I crossed the finish line, coupled with the uncommon sight of familiar faces waiting for me there, made the entire experience absolutely worth it. I may not have gotten a finisher's medal because I failed to land among the top 500 21k finishers, but these pictures and the memories they will evoke years from now are a more than ample reward that could never ever be trumped by any other superficial token.

With the task completed, I headed back for the hotel. As I walked off Remy Field, I looked back and surveyed for one last time the scene that served as the backdrop to my just-concluded conquest.

At last, I already have a half-marathon under my hydration belt. Now, it's time to start training for my first full marathon, which will take place during the Condura Run on 7 February 2010.

FROM THE SHOULDER: Next time you require PNP cadets to join a half-marathon, better make sure you give them, at the very least, the right shoes. You put them at risk of injury by making them run 21kms in flat rubber shoes that provide no support and cushioning whatsoever... By all accounts, it seems to me that the conditions under which the SIM full marathon was held placed the safety and lives of runners in danger. Let's hope this doesn't happen again, as this could irreparably damage the growth of running in the country, and the country's image as a viable running destination... All you race organizers out there, please keep this in mind: A runner's waiver of liability can be disregarded by courts if it is proven that the organizer had been grossly negligent in performing its obligations, and that, in so being, caused loss or injury to runners. Don't think that the signed piece of paper you've got there would absolve you of any and all liability in case a runner dies or gets injured (Do you now believe that I'm a lawyer? Hehehe.)... To all the full marathon runners of SIM 2009, whether finisher or not, congratulations. You make me proud to be a runner. And to those who performed little acts of generosity and heroism on that fateful night -- you all know who you are -- you deserve special mention. Take a bow. You have all earned my utmost respect. I hope to run alongside all of you in future races, because I know you'll get my back.


  1. Morning Sir, nice blog po!! congrats for your 1st 21k half marathon... 2:18 mabilis ka po nito... isa rin po ako sa tumakbo ng 21k pero para i pace ang isang kasamahan, 1st 21k din po nya!!! yun nga lang kulang sa marshals, sa mga Uturn slot lang may KM marker!! at yung water nila sa hydration station maligamgam na!! malamang po cguro pasok kapa sa official top 500 21k finisher kaso nga lang.. yung ibang PULIS na nag Uturn sa 5km for 10k a nabigyan din ng medal.. nakakadismaya!! kakahiya mang sabihin at dahil international marathon ito, yung nangyari sa full marathon ang pangit na mabalita ang pinas sa ibang bansa!! sabi nga nila "Survivor Inrternational Marathon ang SIM"!!

    see you on the road sir,
    mccoy from

  2. Hey Congratulations! Nice race time btw.

    You may join the gang for support, race camaraderie, and free race pictures :-)

  3. congrats on your first half-marathon finish. 3 months preparation for a full marathon will take a lot of time on the roads & tracks but if your goal is to finish/survive the distance,you can do it. nice post and observations. good luck on your training.

  4. there you go! good thing we have a runner lawyer in you. congratulations and hope to see meet you in the roads!

  5. You would have sue the race organizers if you joined full marathon the day before.. believe me!*laughs*.

    Congrats on finishing this race!

  6. Mccoy, Rico, Vener, Sir Jovie, Jet, Sam, thanks for dropping by. Hope to pick up some tips from all of you as I train for my first full mary. See you at the forum threads and at the races!

  7. Bam should have asked THE CHRIS TIU if he had a spare rosary lying around in his pocket. Malay mo !!! Hehe. I think the gilas team ran the 5k. not sure though. Great run and nice pics, bro. No support crew huh? Sounds like you are trying to tell us something. Haha. See you soon bro and congrats again to you and all the runners out there !!!

  8. Alvs! Don't worry bro, when I do the Condura full marathon, hindi na ako magpapaka-subtle and I'll ask you guys outright to be my support crew hahaha!

    Balita ko you gave running a try yesterday. Hope the bug bites you so we can have a nice, long run one of these days. See you, bro!