Posts Tagged ‘Subic International Marathon

09
Aug
10

My Marathon Wish

I may not have run the best marathons in the world, and I need not to, to know what makes a great marathon.  As a runner who has joined quite a few marathons locally and one internationally, I’ve had my fair share of good, bad, and noxious races.

Darkness that is SIMLast year I got tired of a string of heartaches from poor races.  The lone marathon that I’ve prepared for, the infamous Subic International Marathon, almost broke me into tears, literally, as I felt abandoned by the organizers in the midst of the race in the absence of the basic but dire need—water.  I knew for a fact that I would’ve reached my goal of a sub-4 hour marathon that night had the race been at least decent.  And that story was just one of the few.  If I can’t get “my race” in the Philippines, I might as well get it elsewhere—and I found it in Singapore.

(Continue reading…)

28
Dec
09

runningpinoy’s 2009 Second Half Report

Before we look back at the year in its entirety let us first review the Philippine running scene for the last six months.  This period saw highs and lows as far as races were concerned.  Races reached all-time high in terms of participants while inversely its quality fell to all-time lows (since August 2008 when I started joining races).  We’ve also seen race fees skyrocket to outrageous levels but there were still great races from good organizers that gave free races.

July

July marked my marathon debut on one of the best organized race of the year with the 33rd Milo Marathon Manila Eliminations. It was at a caliber unseen before locally and although it fell a little short it served as an epitome on how races should be organized.  Globe’s Run for Home was also a milestone as it introduced disposable timing chips while being virtually a free race when prepaid loads served as registration fees.

Personal achievement: First marathon and half-marathon PR

Disposable timing chip used in Run for Home

August

Kenny’s Open Urbanite Run introduced the first organized night race in the Metro with disposable timing chips to boot.  It could also be credited with starting the steep rise of race fees that would ensue throughout the year.

Personal achievement: 10-mile PR

Scene from KOUR

September

Mommy Milkshake was one of the most organized fun run of the year and the only one to be really free!  It puts in question organizers’ “reasons” for putting up expensive registration fees with races.  It was also during this month when race distance accuracy became a serious issue when RotaRun’s 21K was 3K short.

Personal achievement: First provincial Milo race

Pink Power at Mommy Milkshake Fun Run!

October

International Marathon (IM) season has begun with Quezon City International Marathon (QCIM) followed the following weekend with Subic International Marathon (SIM).  The use of the words “international” and “prestigious” became in question when races that used these didn’t live up to their promises. This month also started the “Kenyan invasion.”

Personal achievement: First marathon pacer duty; first back-to-back marathon (second and third)

World-class competition at the QCIM

November

The Philippine International Marathon (PIM) ended the “IM” season and was also highly criticized for not rewarding marathon finishers with a medal (the only one to do so thus far). It was a month plagued with poorly organized races!  The month seemed to turn for the better when Timex Run came but was derailed when Fit ‘n Right Fun Run didn’t turn out to be fit or fun for many disappointed runners.  Fortunately Run Ahead in Laoag, Ilocos Norte reminded everyone of how races should be with a well-organized, fun, generous, and charitable race making Metro Manila-based organizers look very greedy.

Personal achievement: Fourth marathon; 5K PR

Team Logan during PIM

December

Corregidor was a breather for many local runners and although it wasn’t trouble-free it was definitely unique.  There were still plenty of races for the month but personally I’ve had my dose of preposterous registration fees with mediocre races so I decided to be in abstentia for the month.

Personal achievement: Fifth marathon and new PR (via Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon)

Takbo.ph in Singapore!

Lessons and Tips

There were a lot of lessons both runners and organizers can learn with these period.  As long as these points were taken we have no reason not to improve next year.  Personally here are some tips I can give to fellow runners especially those that are just beginning to join races here in the Philippines:

  • Time yourself. Not all races we join are “reliable” and if you intend to monitor your progress get a watch.  You don’t even need one with a stopwatch, you just you’re your common sense.  Buy an über cheap children’s digital watch for P20 (from sidewalk vendors; no reason not to have a budget), remember your time when you start and look at it when you cross the finish.  You should get a rough approximate of your time which not accurate but it’s much better than nothing (what do you expect for P20?). You may validate it later when the race results come out.  If you have some dough buy a stopwatch, but if you have some serious dough get a GPS watch!
  • Bring your own water/sports drink. You need not buy a hydration belt; just bring a small flask or bottle of water or your preferred sports drink in case the organizer didn’t fulfill his obligation.  Consider investing in one though but ask around fellow runners first before purchasing.
  • Don’t be a distance freak! A few meters off the mentioned distance doesn’t mean you’ve been ripped off by the organizers.  Here’s my point: try to make an accurate 1K route using any GPS device.  Run that same route at least twice and see if you can get an accurate 1K every single time.  If you do try to make routes in 5K, 10K, 21K, and 42K and do the same.   If you still have an accurate distance every time you can make yourself a race route director.

I hope that newbies don’t get intimidated by bad experiences from previous races and continue joining reputable races, especially those with a “real” cause.  Before signing up for a race, don’t just join because everyone else does—ask fellow runners about the reputation of the organizers or the conduct of its past races.  Even the “pros” have “bad days” while on the other hand everyone deserves a second chance.  Best of all follow your heart—regardless of what everyone says it’s up to you to decide where you’re investing your hard earned cash.  Remember that we are not only paying for our right to join their race, we are also paying for the experience.

Summary

It was a “one step forward, two steps back” half for the year.  Disposable timing chips definitely placed Philippine races forward at par with races abroad but the proliferation of unbelievably disorganized races with outlandish registration fees were really traumatizing especially to newcomers to the sport.  Even race results became optional as we saw some races with no official race results, and those that do have inaccurate, very much delayed, or alphabetically-sorted race results!  Common sense wasn’t very commonly applied as far as this half was concerned!

02
Nov
09

2-Day Coverage of Subic International Marathon

Subic International Marathon was a unique event that it spans two days and was two races in one—aside from the main SIM events the Nike Human Race were also simultaneously held.

Day 01: Marathon and Nike Human Race

SIM distinct itself from other events by featuring a sundown race for its main event and Nike Human Race also inherited this trait, both of which were held on Day 01.  Here was my partake on the events that transpired during the main event.

Day 02: Side Events

The main event during the first day of SIM served as a precursor for the following day during the side events.  The second day was another higgledy-piggledy event—despite the very narrow confines of the track and the number of runners, the organizers still decided on a mass start! Thankfully there was no stampede.

The assembly area, 5:23AM

Before gun time, the crowd at the staring area…

…going all the way to the back of the track

Because of the huge number of combined runners from all side categories (3K, 5K, 10K, and 21K) being funneled through the narrow tracks it took a very long time before all runners were able to get out of the area.  In fact the winners of the 3K event already crossed the finish line and the starting area was yet to be cleared!

Not only was starting congested, finishing was as well.  Eventually the huge crowd of runners arrived at the finish line and with that the people manning the line was overwhelmed!  This caused a very long line of runners waiting to finish.

The long line to the finish…

…extends way beyond the arch

Can you spot the 21K winner? This was how crowded it was when he crossed the finish.

01
Nov
09

Subic International Marathon 2009’s “Prestige” (Part 2)

I got pictures for as long as sunlight permits me.  Once darkness fell onto us, bad things started to happen—and it was anything but supernatural.

The Count of SCTEX

Slowly but surely darkness covered the beautiful sceneries that I sought for with this race, and with that came boredom—yes I got bored!  Running practically in a straight line with nothing no see was boring.  I never had the habit of listening to music as I want to experience the great outdoors fully when I run.  To make matters worse was that there were no lights for most part of SCTEX so you’re virtually running blind!  So what can you do to ease the burden?  Count kilometers!

Water you looking for?

The organizers promised runners that water stations would be stationed every two and a half kilometers.  As I was counting down the meters out of boredom (with the aid of my GF405 of course since there was no distance markers, and if there were it won’t be seen in the dark) I was eagerly waiting for that next water station.  Being “the most prestigious marathon in the Philippines,” I decided to bring only a 500mL of my trusted hydration fluid and rely on the water station as my primary source of water (note: I wasn’t demanding any special drinks, just plain water).  Slowly but surely water stations started getting farther and farther—not because of my perception due to fatigue, but the distances in between really were getting wider!  At first I was telling myself, “Maybe they got the distance wrong, it should be right there, or probably 500 meters further.”  But later on it got 1 kilometer, 2, 3 …wait a minute this is absurd!  And finally after that long wait what do you get—an empty water station!

During the period between water stations (that had water) I had no choice but to rely on the hydration fluid I brought along.  During which of course I had to stick to my plan on when to eat my chewy granola bar (I get really hungry during long runs) and when to take my power gel, which of course is best taken after with water.  Because of the wide gaps between these water stations I almost run out of fluid just barely into the first half of the marathon.

The darkness that is SCTEX

“Prestige”

The worst feeling during this “prestigious” event was the fear of just collapsing due to dehydration with no one seeing you due to the darkness.  For a moment I assessed the situation: I wasn’t even at the 25th kilometer mark, I’m almost out of fluids, I’m slightly dehydrated, I’m not expecting any water up ahead for the rest of the route, I can barely see my self, and I’m running uphill!  That was the most frustrating feeling I’ve ever encountered on a long run (and I’ve been through much a more difficult ultramarathon!) and my mind was ready to give up on me.  Thoughts of quitting and riding that next ambulance kept playing on my mind.  Quitting?  NO!  Even if I had to walk the entirety of this race I will not quit!  For as long as I can drag my feet, for as long as I can hold on, I will not quit! So that was when finally I started walking.

It was like a sad battlefield that night—you see a lot of runners just walking!  They probably were encountering the same ordeals that I’m having.  Conserving your energy and what’s left of your fluids was the most logical approach to this race if you were planning to finish it—have you ever seen anyone run on a desert?  (Even camels don’t)

Support vehicles run free in the darkness of night.  At one moment I saw one pull over to give supplies to their group of runners who, like me, were also walking.  At that point when I saw them being replenished with their supplies I felt like bursting into tears—here I am walking uphill in the dark, thirsty, with just about a few gulps of fluid, with more than 17 kilometers to go—I felt like I’m all alone in the world.  I had no choice but just continue walking and watch how slowly the kilometers go by.

Miracle in the Dark

God is good.  Out of nowhere there was this vehicle with water with them.  At that time I felt a huge feeling of relief!  I gulped down what’s left of my fluids in the bottle and refilled it with water.  Suddenly I’m alive again!  I stopped eating what’s left of my granola and suspended taking gels because of the water shortage, and now that I’m “charged” I can resume my nutrition plans, although at a more cautions level.  Who knows that may be the last water station I see before the finish!  500mL of water for 17 kilometers—it should be interesting.

Second Wind

It turns out all I really needed was water—I was running again just minutes after my “re-charge.”  Naturally running would also increase your demand for fluids and water stations remained dry so eventually I had to take another walk-break when I noticed that it was getting steeper and my water supply was again dwindling into the danger zone.  It was a steep uphill battle from kilometer 27 until kilometer 34 where it peaked.

Third Wind?

Thankfully by the time we entered SBMA there was finally water!  I was also able to get the lone boiled egg left at the station so I was at my second “re-charge.”  With less than 10 kilometers to go I decided to finish strong—500mL of water plus the relaxing terrain, it’s all green for me.  I was even able to set my fastest kilometer of the race between kilometers 36-37 with 4:53 pace!  Could this be considered my “third wind?”

The Home Run

I was running full steam ahead when a van carrying my friends from takbo.ph passed me by.  It happened too fast as they were heading against me, but when I heard them shouted “Go Dennis!” I knew that the worst has passed (for me at least)—it was all just a matter of time and finally I’ll be done!  They were on their way to support fellow members also running the marathon and I’m glad that they were there to support those who needed it more—their presence was enough for me to feel “home.”

I was able to buy a lot of time when I started running from kilometer 36 and was able to pass a lot of runners as there were only a few that remains running at that time (of course the fast ones were probably finished already).  When I looked at how long I was running I discovered that I was easily on my way to a new PR!  All I needed was to maintain pace—easier said than done but luckily I saw a runner running at a consistent pace of about 5:45 so I decided to tag along (without permission).  I knew that if I had done this alone I may take it too easy so even if I sometimes get a little left behind I always strived to keep up—finish strong!

The “Olympian”

Finally the finish line was just a few hundred meters away.  I was so surprised on how it was set up—on an oval track!  We entered from a side some 300 meters from the finish line and to be honest, that was my favorite part of the race!  I felt like an Olympian!  Marathons usually finish in tracks within stadiums during Olympics so I felt just like that—suddenly all that I’ve been through didn’t matter—that was my moment!  And I didn’t just finish it—I finished strong with 5:45 pace to the line at a new PR of 4:36:36 (gun time, self timed) shedding 11 minutes off my previous.

Runners pass through this arch before leading to...

...the finish line

I’m proud of finishing this marathon because it was very “difficult” and I had to get though a lot of games that my mind played.  This was the most “mental” marathon I’ve had and on the physical side I was still able to better myself despite a lot of walking.

Runner 101 finishing SIM

Subic International Marathon 2009 route

Subic International Marathon, “the most prestigious marathon in the Philippines.”  I didn’t realize that running such a “prestigious” event would be this difficult.  If this is what “prestige” means in a race, I may just keep signing up for “less-prestigious” races.  I love running.  I love adventure.  But I don’t like it when I’m not prepared.  Wait, are we the ones who are not prepared?

Some of the takbo.ph “graduates” of SIM, courtesy Rodel (The Argonaut)

Congratulations to all finishers!

31
Oct
09

Subic International Marathon 2009’s “Prestige” (Part 1)

Subic International Marathon (SIM) dubs itself as “The most prestigious marathon in the Philippines.”   Many of you may have an idea on the events that transpired, and this is the story of my partake on its “prestige.”

Dawn

It was very early Saturday morning when we left Manila for Subic.  Yet again it was another adventure for the weekend warriors.  This would be the second International Marathon in the country for the month of October, and given the excellent event we had with QCIM we of course were expecting a great race.   After all it is an international marathon, “the most prestigious” one as advertised.

Sunrise as viewed from a rear window reflection during our stop at a gas station along NLEX

Pre-race

After settling in our pad for a few hours the moment we 42K runners were waiting for had arrived.  It would be my first sundown marathon, and saying I’m excited would be an understatement.   It was particularly special for a few of my friends as they attempt their marathon debut with this event.  At around 1PM we were off to the starting line, not just the 42K and 10K (Nike Human Race) runners but also our other friends who lovingly went with us for support.  Indeed despite being out of town we had a lot of supporters around us—an enviable trait that not many running groups enjoy.

Are we there yet?

From our pad we drove all the way to Floridablanca Exit where the starting line was, and it was a very long drive.   Knowing that the route we were taking would actually be our course it was exciting, but considering the time it took us while driving it, it was also very daunting.  I never realized that a 42K route would be that long had it not been a loop course!

Warning

Literally just a few hours before the race we saw that the water stations were few and haven’t received their water rations.  We had no idea how much water each one had—all we know was that there was too few for comfort.  At that stage I was more excited than alarmed, although the idea of a “dry” marathon was at the back of my mind.

Takbo.ph at the starting line of SIM, courtesy Timmy (Kenkoy Runner)

Checking in

There were quite a lot of marathon runners that day so SIM could proudly say that they were the most attended international marathon to date.  Of course our guest runners from Kenya are surely going to make a world-class race and how Filipinos would fare were still in question.  Not before long runners were called to check in and to our surprise we were asked to dip our right index finger in ink! I kind of had a feeling that we were being used for some political act.

Prepping up for the race

Some of the marathoners: Gab, Mar, Doc Topher, Carmel, James, Me, and Ian

The starting area (there was no line or any markers whatsoever)

Our dirty fingers, and no we didn’t vote already, we just checked in

Start

After all the subtle ceremonies, at 4:20PM the race started.  As a “tourist runner” I fondly brought out my trusty camera and snapped along shots as the race unfolded.  It was a very easy, relaxed, and happy run for me as I chat with fellow runner friends, some of whom I’ve not seen in a while.  Runners do have their reunions on races! As the race gradually progresses the crowd slowly disperses and the road starts to get wider.

The start of SIM 2009

Shutterbug

To those that aren’t running, they view running as something similar to what Usain Bolt does during his sprints, or when a thief runs when being chased by cops, so when they see us running leisurely they see us as walking.   I think this was the remark I got from one of the marshals when he saw me taking pictures while “running.”  I didn’t really process it at the time as I was busy taking pictures, but when I realize his point I checked my GF405 to confirm if I was walking—seven minute per kilometer—I don’t think I can “walk” that fast.

Anyhow I’ll let these pictures do the talking for me:

Off to a great start...

...while enjoying the sceneries...

...passing under bridges...

...cutting through mountains...

...wonderful sunset...

...gradually the sceneries are being taken away by darkness...

...with the sun finally setting...

...until the last decent picture I was able to take before total darkness

(Continued to Part 2)

23
Oct
09

QCIM Chronicles: A Pacer’s Story (Part 1)

A pacer is someone who sets the pace of a runner, or runners, to help them achieve their goal time.  His main responsibility is to finish as close as possible to his designated time so that those who avail of his services would achieve their target.  Having pacers are optional both for runners and races but QCIM went all out to make this international marathon a “finisher’s marathon”—one that does not set a cutoff time.  This is a story of a pacer—this is my story.

Origins

I never had prior experience of being an official pacer before, nor do I have a long marathon track record.  In fact QCIM was just my second marathon race, the first one during 33rd Milo Marathon Eliminations earlier this year.  And I never imagined being a pacer, especially for a marathon.

The rising costs of joining races were taking its toll on my budget, but despite that I was never deterred from joining.  When I first heard of QCIM I knew I want to run it, especially that I am a resident of Quezon City and it goes through the road I regularly pass, Commonwealth Ave.  When I heard that QCIM was employing volunteer pacers without hesitation I immediately signed up—I get to run the race that I want for free, and I get to be of service to my fellow runners.

Cutting costs doesn’t mean cutting races to join

Pace

Being a first time pacer wanting to do his duty properly I knew I had to pick a pace I’d be comfortable running for 42K.  Based on my lone marathon time of 4:47:XX I can sign up for a five hour finish—but that’s not my only consideration.  The weekend following QCIM the Subic International Marathon would be held passing along one of my dream route, SCTEX, which I dare not miss.  Why pick one when you can choose both?  Thus it was settled, a six-hour finish would be my goal—an “easy” pace suitable for beginners and those who don’t want to be spent.  I gave my commitment to the time when I realized that it was actually an 8:31/km pace—unchartered territory for me so it would definitely be a run for endurance.

During the bloggers’ launch where I officially signed up as a pacer

Prelude

Traffic flow was rerouted very early in the morning along Commonwealth Ave.  This spelled trouble for me as I was dependent on public buses which were rerouted far from the starting area in front of the City Hall.  Fortunately I was able to alight at the closest possible location near the assembly area, but unfortunately it was about one and a half kilometer away!  Because of the distance I had to cover and I was running out of lead time for our pacers’ meet I had no choice but to run—running late literally!  By the time I arrived at the assembly area I my sweat were already dripping—a forced warm-up you might say.

Runners eagerly awaiting the start of the race

Fly

There were numerous pacers for QCIM in various finish times for both 42K and 21K.  For runners to promptly notice us we wore a different singlet and for our finish times it was stuck onto balloons that we tied to our clothes.  If these balloons had helped us by reducing our weights or hindered us aerodynamically with drag I don’t know but one thing is for sure: kids want those balloons!

Fellow 42K pacers with our running partners (photo courtesy Marvin Opulencia)

The 21K pacers from takbo.ph with Sir Rene (JAZZRUNNER)

Race

Finally, the race that many (including myself) had been waiting for was about to start.  Five seconds before 4:30AM on my GF405 the race was started.  It was either Elliptical Road was very wide or the number of runners was less than anticipated as there was no overcrowding after crossing the starting gate.  This is it!  The start of the longest marathon race of my life was about to begin.  Six hours—that’s a pretty long time to be running.

A few minutes into the race, still at Elliptical Road

(Continued to Part 2)

22
Oct
09

Virtual 2009 Nike+ Human Race (Philippines)

From my Inbox:

Nike+
The day the world runs.
Every KM you run is converted to a Php10 donation
The Human Race 10K Ambassador Challenge Run the Nike+ Human Race 10K



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