Monday, September 14, 2009

EcoDash: My 1st Half-Mary

"May bagyo ah." the missus said as I woke up at 4am to get ready for EcoDash, my first ever 21km race. Prior to this, my longest run was a 19km practice run from home to Greenhills and back in preparation for the NB Run but, due to a superbly-challenging race route, I decided to sign-up for EcoDash tutal Pinoys are known for their "bahala na" mentality. The 10-week training will be shortened to 8. Bahala na talaga.

My target? To finish the race at 2:27 which will be the actual time if I paced 7mins/km throughout the whole distance. I would consider the task failed if I finished beyond 2:30. I know, it's too strict for a first time 21k-er like me but it's not bad not to impose a challenge, right?

I just whispered to her "Sisilong na lang ako pag bumuhos" then I said goodbye and drove off to The Fort. As I was driving I thought of my raceplan which was doing an 8-8-5: 8kms slow, 8kms fast, then 5kms all-out.

I arrived at BHS around 4:40am and got ready. I was suprised to see that there were no racers yet at the starting coral. The announcement later cleared it: 21k race will start at 5:30am to give chance to those who got caught up in the rain. OK lang at least I got enough time to stretch, pee, and walk around. I was able to see Bald Runner and Running Ninja on the starting coral getting ready.

This'll be the first time I'll be using Sports Beans since malamang magugutom ako nito on the latter kilometers. Besides, I forgot to buy bananas on the night before so it was Sports Beans or nothing at all. As 5:30am approached, there were patches of runners clapping to encourage the officials to start the race. A few minutes later we were all surprised, especially those standing at the near end, when the starting gun fired. "Uy! Game na pala" I heard one say.

My first half-marathon was off.

As we approached 32nd avenue I looked at my Nokia GPS tracker and found that I was pacing at 5:40/km. Ambilis ah! I had to slow down, I thought. The plan was to peg my first 8k at 7-7:30mins/km. Looks like I still haven't gotten off that sickness of getting caught in the adrenalin at the start.

I met an old foe, the Buendia flyover, as our first obstacle. Going up from TheFort was a synch like my previous 2 climbs (Botak and Mizuno 10k). I was more concerned once I climb back since my 1st attempt at Botak, had the flyover winning with me walking up that slow, long incline. I won over it during Mizuno so the score is currently at 1-1.

"I'll get you later," the flyover seemed to wave as I headed off for Paseo.

Going thru Paseo, Makati Avenue towards Landmark, Glorietta 4, 6750, and Shangrila was a refreshing route from the usual Buendia U-turn at N. Garcia 10k-routes. I was amazed to see BaldRunner on the way back when I was just approaching Ayala Avenue from Paseo. I gave him a short-applause which he had acknowledged. Ambilis grabe.

As I headed back from Ayala Ave to Paseo, I saw a long queue of vehicles waiting at Makati Ave. Sorry guys, ganyan talaga. :)

The rain had started to pour chunks of water as we ran back to Buendia, which could be the reason why I didn't feel that tired throughout the race. Still my over-eager self was pacing at less than 6kms/min. I wanted to slow down pero ayaw eh. Parang feeling ko maiiwanan ako.

My GPS tracker started to get disoriented due to the buildings and, possibly, the thick dark clouds above. I think I was supposed to be at km7 only but my tracker registered 8.90kms. Yikes.

As I turned right to Buendia, yup you guessed it. The flyover was there. I remembered why I won over it at Mizuno: I slowed my pace going up. As I made my last sip of Gatorade at the nearby hydration station, I made my way up. Surprisingly, I wasn't bothered/tired at all. I was going up at my above-slow pace, conquering the flyover ---with a vengeance! I even saw my officemate MP and his gf which he was pacing for her first 10k along the way. We both exchanged good-luck and went our way.

Score: 2-1.

Next up was the hilly part of the route from 5th avenue to Mckinley to Bayani. I was now pacing from 5:40/km to 6:05/km. Still, a personal best. But still, I was slowly...slowing down. This was expected from my previous long runs particularly at km12 ---possibly my wall. This was a dreaded moment since I remember my 18km practice run ended with me walking the last kilometer.

Time to change tactic: scrap the 8-8-5 plan and it was time to conserve as much energy as possible in preparation for the route back up from C5 U-turn. At a few meters before the hydration station, I will eat 1 or 2 Sports Beans, stop to get water from the station, and walk until I gulped the whole cup. I must continue running until I see another water station and repeat the whole process. It was like that for about 3-4 water stations along Bayani Road to Mckinley.

Incidentally, just past Heritage Park on my way back, I happened to pass by another runner wearing a very inspiring quote at the back. This definitely perked me up. It simply read:


I told the runner "Nice shirt pards" as I moved on and seemed to have gained second wind. A newly found burst of energy made me conquer Bayani road (my other previous Bayani experience was at the Autoreview 10k were I walked most parts of the road due to the steep inclines).

As I made my way towards Essensa, I felt my phone vibrator activating. It was MP.

Rewind to Friday before the race, I told MP that in case I needed it, I would ask him to pace me for the last 5kms. He agreed on the condition that if he and his gf finish before I do. One of the places were he could meet me was at 5th avenue.

I answered the phone and told MP were I was. He asked me if he should pace me as planned. I thought about it and said, "Sige ok lang, kaya ko na 'to."

It was going to be the longest 3-4kms of the race. I was hoping that the route from 5th avenue to 32nd won't have to go thru Rizal Avenue. But then it did. The run from Rizal to 32nd all the way to Serendra seemed to last for an eternity as I strived every stride.

Konti na lang! I kept telling myself. I even remembered praying an Our Father and a Hail Mary. Yup, desperate times called for desperate measures.

The turn from 32nd to 11th street was a long wait as well. I was now at a slow 8-9mins/km pace. Towards the final turn, I was surprised to see MP approaching me and pacing me for the last 150-200meters. It was a delight to see him cheer me on and congratulating me for my first half-marathon finish (even when I haven't reached the finish line yet). He said goodbye and see you on Monday about 15meters before I reached the finish line.

My unofficial time based on my stopwatch: 2hours, 26mins, and 45secs. I've beaten my target time by 15seconds. WOW.

As I look back at it now, I still can't believe that I was able to finish it ---a half-marathon. It's something that I don't imagine of accomplishing if you talk to me a year ago, or even before March this year when I started joining races.

21kilometers. WOW talaga.

To my loving wife who was always patient for hearing out my stories about running and me waking up at 6am to run on the road despite rain or storm, this race is for you. Labyu.

Next up? Rest muna?


Yup, you guessed it: The New Balance 21k Power Run. Yup, another half-marathon.


  1. going sub2:30 in a first halfmarathon is no easy feat. that is quite an achievement, and one that you should really be happy about. it really seems like your training is paying off. keep it up! i'm sure you'd keep on improving!

  2. hey thanks wilson! yup, I simply followed the 10week mileage training for half-marathon that I downloaded from the 'net and it helped, lalo na yung mga weekend long runs. It prepared me for this. I hope to get finish faster than 2:26 at the NB run. :)

  3. Congratulations. At 35 y.o., you are one tough runner. I liked your battle description against the Buendia flyover. Hehe.

    You have just inspired me on my upcoming Rota Half Marathon this weekend. Thanks.

    Again, Congratulations! :)

  4. Thanks Jayson! Yup, I still can't believe that I have finished a half-mary.

    Good luck to you pards sa Rota. Kaya mo yan!!! :)

  5. congratulations on your first half. and thanks for dropping by my blog. see you at the races. :)