Posts Tagged ‘Grim Reaper

10
Nov
09

Spontaneity at the Philippine International Marathon (Part 2)

Getting complimentary race kits literally just hours before race day comes with a price.  We were surprised at what we saw: a decent singlet, a piece of paper that looked like an event flyer, and… wait, that’s it?!  Apparently we were just a singlet away from a “bandit”—no race number to distinct us and for use at the finish.  The “flyer” served as a “generic bib”—if it was a cinema ticket it would be a gate pass.  It became official—we were complimentary runners!

Fortunately I still had some tricks under my sleeves—I still have the regular race kit from a fellow runner who incidentally registered twice so I’m still “officially” in the race.   The problem was that I need to get it on race day itself—another scenario for trouble.  I hate it when I’m right.

Pre-Race

Before 4AM the gang met up at a 24-hour fastfood a few hundred meters from the starting line.  We had our last minute “carbo-loading” and after a few minutes we were off for the assembly area.  It was such a quick stay that I only had a sip of my coffee, literally.  The trouble now is I still have yet gotten my race bib—the one with a number, that is.

Assembly

It was one of the most attended races so far, and with the backing of ABS-CBN, the assembly area was very lively.  In fact, the race was being broadcasted live nationwide.  The trouble is with all the runners around, I can’t seem to find my friend to claim my race bib.  Frustrating.

Gun Start

Just before 4:30AM the race officially commenced.  I still wasn’t able to get my race bib so I checked in my “generic bib” (prior to gun start of course) as proof that I started at the right place.  I even forgot to start my GF405 after gun start.  I thought that my friend was with Team Logan at that time so I waited for them to start, but after virtually walking for a while I got really bored and just decided to proceed without the race bib.  It turned out that Team Logan started a few minutes late, and my friend wasn’t with them.

Due to all the confusion I broke my targets so early in the race.  I decided to try to catch some time but unfortunately those that I was supposed to pace seemed to start slow as well.  As I mentioned earlier I decided to join this race as a pacer to have a more purposeful “bandit” run but apparently even that plan would fail.  I sure would love to correct my early mistakes but I know that I can’t force it to my “stakeholders” because that would mean doing a five minute per kilometer pace until delays were compensated—too fast, too early.   I also felt somewhat responsible because they probably waited for me.  Plans are being messed up, time for some compromise.

Back in the Game

What I didn’t realize was that my friend who had “my” race bib was indeed part of the relay team but would be starting not from the starting area but on the next relay station.  While approaching the area I heard someone call my name and to my delight it was the person I’ve been looking for all this time! Finally I got “my” race bib, and I’m an official participant of the race.

Running along Mendiola

The Grim Reaper’s List

The ETA list that I mentioned in a post a while ago is back.  That was when I realized the gravity of the situation—we were way off target.  The original plan was to set a pace of 6:30 (per kilometer) but we were running much closer to 6:55—even slower than the average pace needed to finish in four hours and 50 minutes.  We had a dire need to compensate!  My mind was getting nuts thinking of how I can effectively set the pace that would not burn my stakeholders out too early, while catching up for lost time, while still being able to give them their walk break!  If I was a calculator I would probably yield “E”—Error.

Sunrise over Manila

Confessions of a Grim Reaper

I wasn’t about to give up hope so early.  While I still can cover up the severity of the situation (we were gradually losing more time away from target) I would, if it would help motivate my “clientele.”  In fairness we were able be as little as a minute off schedule by skipping a walk break for kilometer 4-5, but eventually I had to give us a walk-break.  It was very difficult to tell them how much time we lost by not adhering to the 6:30 pace but I totally understand because even though the route was virtually flat and at sea level, bridges that we cross aren’t.  The consistently spaced water stations (that also served as relay stations for the 42K relay) didn’t help us get any faster as we tend to stop.  Eventually even the 10-minute buffer I planned to finish within cutoff of five hours ran out—and I can’t set the pace any faster.

Continued: [ Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 ]

29
Oct
09

QCIM Chronicles: A Pacer’s Story (Part 2)

Six hours was a pretty long time to run, and to run it at a consistent pace makes it more difficult.  This would be one of the longest races I’d have done, surpassed only by ultramarathons.

UP Diliman Campus

The good thing about running on major roads was that as long as there’s electricity there’s light so even if it was still dark when the marathon started you’re not running blind, especially with competitive and casual runners running side by side on very wide roads.  From Elliptical Road the road got considerably narrower entering University of the Philippines Diliman Campus but since the fast runners were already way ahead of us it was very spacious for us laggards.  Before we were able to leave UP for Commonwealth Ave. the leaders of the 21K leg were already entering the campus.  It’s always exciting to see the leaders of races—at that time we were simply “spectators.”

Competition

While running along Commonwealth Ave. I was startled by a very fast female runner that dashed very close on my right side, followed by another—they were the female leading pack of 21K, a Kenyan was leading chased closely by a Filipina.  Amazing!  It was competition happening right in front of my eyes!  Yet another spectator moment.  All we can do was just enjoy the show as our ordeal had barely just begun.

By the time we reached Commonwealth Market the leading pack for the marathon was already on their way back!  Of course this was the most exciting pack to see so us “spectators” can’t help but stop and just watch like we were in front of our TVs, only this was happening live in front of us.  A world-class level competition and we got front row seats.  Who says being slow at races meant being last?

World-class competition at the QCIM

Community

All along the route the community was also made aware and got involved with QCIM.  This actually made the race more festive and interesting which I thought was very nice.  By doing this QCIM successfully brought the sport closer to the masses and hopefully create more interest.  On the other hand I also do hope that the local government would provide the facilities for the sport.

The involvement of the community makes for a more lively race

Water(less)

Before we knew it we were back on my favorite part of the QCIM route, La Mesa Eco Park.  Not only because that the view here was spectacular, the cleanest air in the Metro is here.  The exciting part was that we finally got to pass through areas that were usually restricted to the public.  Ironically, there were no water station for the entirety of this section.  Luckily I was able to grab a bottle of water from a water station back in Fairview, but due to the rising temperature and the distance already covered it was also running out.  The water station at the Quirino Highway exit seemed promising, but alas, still no water.  Now we can really feel the heat.

Entering La Mesa Eco Park

Dangerous

From Quirino Highway the race passes in front of SM City Fairview, through Mindanao Ave. and eventually back to Commonwealth Ave.  By this time the roads were partially opened so it meant a slightly dangerous run for us at the back pack, not to mention unhealthy.  We were suddenly running side by side with buses and trucks, among others inhaling their fumes as they pass us by.  Thankfully conditions improved by the time we were in Commonwealth Ave. as there was a wide space between us and passing vehicles.

Courageous

I was virtually alone along Commonweath Ave. maintaining my pace for the six-hour finish and while I was cruising-along I stumbled upon a celebrity—Nene from the reality show Pinoy Big Brother.  Since it was practically just the two of us might as well have some conversation to help pass the time.  To my surprise she was actually very nice and I was very amazed at her feat—she’s never done any shorter races but instead just jumped off into a full marathon!  That for some could be considered “suicide” but for me I find it “courageous”—doing a marathon is not a walk in the park.  As much as I had wanted to stay, eventually I had run ahead of her to maintain my pace.  Duty calls.

The vastness of Commonwealth Ave.

Five hours into the race, around six kilometers to go

Grim Reaper

The downside of being a pacer near the end of the spectrum was the heartaches it causes.  Being an official race pacer I was virtually “married” to the time I signed up for.  The worst feeling I had during this duty was whenever I pass a runner—somehow it gives me a feeling of a heart break.  I am like the Grim Reaper of QCIM—whenever I pass by a runner somehow I felt like I killed his aspiration to finish within six hours.  Because of that I usually hold back to avoid overtaking runners but whenever I am a few minutes behind schedule, I had no choice but to keep up.  I was practically the personification of a six hour finish—if you spot me the six hours finish is near.  I had hoped that I’d be able to pull runners near the last parts of the races but sadly the most I see were already walkers.  On the good side though I was able to push those that are slacking—if I catch them they’d finish in more than six hours.  For the last 10 or so kilometers it was countless heartache for me, but it was a feeling that I had to endure if I was to reach my target time.

Finish

I was again alone at the last two kilometers of the race.  I kept looking at my GF405 to maintain my pace, and then I realized that I had assumed that the race would only be 42.195 kilometers long—what if the actual course was slightly longer? With this in mind I started to increase my pace and when I saw the digital clock on the finish line it was already a few seconds after six hours!  It was much faster than my GF405’s time which was based on gun time.  Naturally I’ve no choice but to haste and cross the line as soon as possible.

Final two kilometers along North Ave.

Since it was six hours after the race you won’t expect a lot of people at the finish line.  This was a new experience for me because the only time this had happened to me was during my finish at TNF100 (at 30 hours).  Fortunately there were some familiar faces there so I had a feeling of relief.  Vener (run unld.) was there to take my finish line picture and to my surprise the clock face facing the other side reads only six hours and nine seconds!  My GF405 was right after all!  Too bad, I was actually aiming to finish in 5:59:59 but due to the wrong clock face up front display that didn’t happen.  My actual finish time (gun time) was 5:59:48.

My finish line picture, courtesy Vener

The area near the finish line six hours into the race

Conclusion

In the end I had mixed feelings with being a pacer.  It was good because never before had I exercised so much control over my pace and patience for a very long time run.  It was bad that I felt awful passing several runners.  I didn’t know either if my decision to stick to the target pace and time regardless of other runners was right.  All I know was that it was easier to pace with specific persons than to be a pacer on a race.  I’m still willing to do it all over again though, and not just to get a free race.  Being a pacer is doing a public service to fellow runners, should they view me as the Grim Reaper or a chance to reach their target remains with their perspective.  As for me, it was a task successfully completed.  I sure hope though that that those that saw me beforehand were “pushed” into finishing their goals.  This has been the Grim Reaper, I mean, six-hour pacer, QCIM thank you for the opportunity.  Congratulations to all finishers!

Takbo.ph meets Nene of PBB

My proud QCIM finisher’s medal




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The MIRACLE isn’t that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the COURAGE to START
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