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Monday, June 18, 2012

Run United 21k Race Report

I had hesitations about racing in the Run United 21k yesterday (Sunday, 17 June 2012). I had just raced a triathlon, albeit only a Sprint distance just a week before where I tested my "new and improved" swim and pushed hard on the run. My efforts were good for the top spot in the Podium for my age group, edging out my teammate, RJ and my erstwhile Tri Rival, Frenchman, Laurent Burchier. Moreover, there's the issue of the Century Tuna 5i50 Triathlon this coming Sunday or just 1 week from the Unilab race.

Most coaches would say that the last hard workout before an "A-race" should be done 10 days before race day. And that nothing you do 9 days or less before the race would really help improve performance. The typical prescription is to go on "taperring mode" where training load is reduced by 25% to 50% leading up to the race on the assumption that the work you've put in the weeks before are enough.

The Unilab Run was 7 days from the coming 5i50 Triathlon in Subic.

However, I come from a different orientation. I am from the stone age when it comes to athletics. In Pilipino, the term used is "Barok". Tapering is done 3 to 4 days before and our load is reduced only by about 25% to 30%. The logic being that our bodies are used to the rigors of training, the diet and the rest patterns. Doing a dramatic shift affects me by making me feel "rusty" and tight.

And so, race at full effort, I did.

Here is a short summary of my race:

Pre Race:

It was Father's Day eve and I got carried away doing a tribute to my Dad online via this blogsite. I ended up sleeping at 1:10am and getting up 3am to go through the pre-race ceremonies and left Alabang at 3:30am. I felt a bit concerned to race with less than 2 hours sleep but decided to soldier on nevertheless. Did I ever mention that I am hardcore?

Even if we got to Bonifacio Global City before 4am, parking was hard to come by given the bigger field running the half marathon (21k). We ended up parking about 1km away from the start line and used this as warm up. Getting the heart rate up was a bit harder though given the mild but contiuous downpour.

After battling the rain, the cold, the distance from parking to start line, we were faced with yet another challenge. The start line was full thus relegating us to the "third wave" already. Given the large tunrout, the runners were going to be released in 4 waves of about 1,250 pax per wave. Each wave is released around 7 minutes appart. I guess it wasn't much of an issue but one does lose the benefit of pacing with the fast guys who usually start in the front of the huge crowd of eager runners.

The race starts at the Bonifacio High Street at 4:30am and finishes at the Mall of Asia.


After the two waves were gunned off, our wave was prepped and sent off without much funfare. I missed the pace of the "hataw boys" who lead and push from the start. The 3rd wave start didn't seem to have the explosive energy as what I would normally see in Wave 1. I found myself among around 5 guys who were dictating the pace for our wave.

We soon see the tail end of the wave that left ahead of us and start to navigate and weave in-and-out of the crowd. It was every man to himself among the 5 or so leaders thus breaking our supposed "race lead pack". It was weave in and out for the next 4km or so and had to do this even as we scaled the Buendia Fly Over. The race course loosened up when we hit Buendia Ave and it was green and go from there.

It was no surprise that the "running pack" that formed at the start but dispersed to negotiate the crowd regrouped along this long, wide stretch. It's good to run in a pack like this. You get pushed to run fast(er) as we help each other by balancing out the pace. It also takes away the boredom. By the 10k marker though, there was only 3 of us left running in close quarters. We crossed the 10k mark at 47:25 mins. On track for a sub 1:40hr run.

The beauty of the Unilab Run is that it allows us to run the major lengths of the Boulevard as we turned left at the corner of Buendia and Roxas Blvd and did a U-turn somewhere near Baclaran. We then proceeded to Luneta. Right before the Baclaran U-turn, the lone runner remaining from our original pack of 5 guys asked me what my PR (Personal Record) was. It must have been something I said because he pulled back after that and I never saw him again on the race course. I thus pretty much had to negotiate the Baclaran to Luneta run all by myself. This is where I lost my pace a bit given the absence of any push.

I start seeing the usual leaders whom I try to chase when we'd start together. However, given that they were from two waves early, they had already been able to do the U-turn at Luneta and were charging to the finish line at MOA. I pick up the pace and push hard right after doing my own Luneta U-turn. But the lack of push from Baclaran to Luneta would eat up on my target time.

It was refreshing to run along the Boulevard once again. The rain stopped sometime by the 7th or 8th kilometer and the cool weather helped us run without overheating. It also helped that one could see the seaside which has been cleaned up by the Mayors.

The run course for the 21k race was much more pleasant than past runs. We turned right at the corner of Buendia and Roxas Boulevard and ran along the very wide and clean Macapagal Avenue in the reclaimed Bay Area. And, instead of finishing in a complicated maze of turns inside the Mall of Asia area, we were made to run straight to the finish line at the perimeter of MOA. The convergence of 21k runners with the rest of the runners doing 10k and 5k was minimized to maybe a 1km stretch leading to the finish line.

Running on 2 hours sleep. Kaya pala sungit.
I haven't seen my chip time, but my own watch puts me at 1:44 hours. That's 6 minutes slower than what I clocked last year. Nevertheless, it's a confidence booster for the Century Tuna 5i50 Triathlon this coming Sunday. My only hope for that hilly race is my lethal run. Moreover, it was a good workout for the coming long Triathlon on July 1st in Laiya and the Ironman 70.3 Cebu in August.

That's race number 2 in my "5 Races in 9 Weeks" list.

Congrats to Run Rio and Unilab. Epic race organization.

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