Sunday, November 21, 2010

Running: 34th National Milo Marathon Butuan Elimination Race Review

Kudos to the organizers of the 34th National Milo Marathon Butuan Elimination. 

3.5/5 stars.

  • Very well organized race without the hoopla
  • On time gunstart (for the 21k)
  • Lots of water and Gatorade 
  • Support crew (ambulance, police) in full view
  • Kilometer markers
  • Abusive drivers on the National Highway
  • No bananas, water sprinklers
  • No music, festivity-like atmosphere along route
  • Water and Gatorade on plastic wrappers, not cups
35, 36...37. My friend and relative, Cheche Pastor Plaza (the running nurse in OR scrubs), counted the total number of 21k runners. Wow, so few runners here! I looked around. Very few indeed. Of the 37, I was the only one in sandals and toe socks being gawked at by fellow 5k, 10k and 21k runners alike. Is this guy, kidding? They seem to say. Of the 37, only 1 was in compression tights and the rest? Well, they were wearing very short split shorts! These were competitive runners and we were mixed in with them!

With the RTC runners
L-R: Nemesio, my dad, Cheche, James and Ronnie
I was running today with Elvin Pastor, also a friend of mine, a cousin of Cheche, who I ran with in the Milo Cebu Elimination last Sept finishing in a blistering 2:04 for his first 21k. This time around, the plan was to pace Cheche all throughout her first half mary and finish within the cut-off time of 2 hours 30 minutes.

The gun started without warning and all 30+ runners were off to fast pace. I was still trying to start the timer on my Garmin when the frontrunners were already 50 meters ahead. Sick pace, I muttered. Spectators stared at us, maybe they were wondering why we were running so slow, if you consider 6:00 mpk slow. We were tempted to race but prudence and a calm head made us linger back to the planned pace. At 6:45 to 7:00 minutes per kilometer, we expected to finish within 2:30.

We unfolded our DOPMH Medics banner. We promised to run today for Dr. Luna, a fellow doctor of DOPMH, who succumbed to heart failure 2 weeks back. This is for you, Tatay, as we fondly call him.

We realized we were at the back of the pack, the nearest participant, a 50-something runner in an all-black attire, a good 30 meters ahead of us. We purposely stayed back of "oldie in blackie" as we had the same pace.

Water and Gatorade were aplenty but the only downside was that they were in plastic wrappers. Drinking from them was like a leap of faith-- Is it hygienic? Safe? Or would you rather be dehydrated?

With Elvin at the Butuan City Police HQ
At the 6k mark, oldie in blackie was slowing down a bit on the inclines so we overtook him and never looked back. 

Cheche, meanwhile, this being her first half mary, was starting to breathe and plod heavily, so I cracked up some jokes with Elvin just to keep her spirits up. I even tried to sing "My Way" and April Boy's "Di ko kayang tanggapin..." but the lyrics were lost on me. Thankfully, nobody was close enough to hear me, "... and did it my way!" It would have been bam, bam! Yikes!

We met the frontrunners at the 8k mark and they were not a happy lot. We tried talking to them, even encouraging them, "Bai, ayos ka!" or "Bai, layo pa ang turning point?" but it seemed that our merry running was confusing them. There they were running until their lungs burst out and there we were laughing our hearts out. The Visayan lingo "dili ma-drawing ilang nawng" suited them perfectly. 

One station had Bon Jovi's "In These Arms" in full blast so I sang along and mimicked striking a guitar to the amusement of the waterboys, medics and spectators. I don't know but I just felt... lightheaded and happy today. There was a slight tinge in my right knee where my ITB (Iliotibial band) was but I realized that when I run with my foot pointed straight, not toed out, the pain disappeared. 

I didn't realize Cheche was already in so much pain from her own ITB. Regretfully, after having lost so much time, she gave up, told us to run ahead as she rode the ambulance. It reminded me so much of my own humbling DNF. So Elvin and I were left to run the rest of the course which was relatively flat with four inclines that slowed you down. The Milo Marathon in Cebu was a race I would not care to remember. The weather was so unforgivable that day that not even water sprinklers could help dissipate the heat. But today, the sun was just right. Perfect for a half marathon.

In all its shining glory: My 2nd Milo 21k Finisher's Medal

Since we were the last 3 runners, me, Elvin and "oldie in blackie" a few kilometers back, an ambulance, a police escort and a mobile water station kept hovering over us, its driver asking, "Kaya pa po, sir?" Haha! Since we were running slow, they must have thought we were ready to give up! Well, not in this life partner.

My dad finishes his 2nd 5k. Not bad for a 66-year old. :)
Elvin and I felt like celebrity. We had police escorts and waterboys handing us Gatorade and water (in plastic, but of course!). Police motorbikes were in full sirens. Yipee! You will find something like this in Cebu if your name was Simon Losiaboi (where is the guy now, by the way?), we thought.

Lots of time, I told Elvin only to realize with a kilometer to go that we were actually 1 minute behind schedule. Arrghhh.... I miscalculated!

Cheche drags her ITBS-sticken L leg
So we picked up our pace, spread our banner once again, got a curious look on my sandals from spectators and halt traffic to a stop in Butuan City's major intersection. Good-looking runners passing through! Passing through! All  eyes were on us. Cameras clicked and we were greeted by applause as we crossed the finish line.

Time: 2:31:04. Man! I hope they will still give us our medals, I thought. 

But yes they did! 

My 4th half marathon in minimalist shoes while celebrating my 1000th kilometer in 10 months of running. Tripple whammy! Great day after all! 

Now off to the beach in Buenavista! 

How was your run today, runners?