Monday, November 22, 2010

The RunRio Experience

Ever since June of this year, and at the peak of Cebu's running boom, so many runner friends have been talking about the RunRio Trilogy. The 1st leg was the Century Tuna Superbods last February 21 and then the 2nd leg, the Nature Valley Run held last May 30. All were staged in Fort Bonifacio Global City in Manila and both events featured the half-marathon distance of 21km, and plenty of excellent reviews and praises from the fortunate runners who were able to join. So when the schedule for the 3rd leg (initially billed as the Timex Run) came out, I wasted no time in booking promo plane fares for this much-awaited and "must-run" trilogy finale.

When the online registration for the event (eventually renamed as the Run United 2) started back in late September, I immediately registered for the 32km distance! Then you start second guessing and having doubts as to the daunting distance at hand, "Could I handle such a long distance? And at a different place outside Cebu?" But since knowing that Team Tytsbogdo, RH Runners and many other Cebuanos are also joining, then you start to feel confident that you won't be alone. And since most of TTB is also preparing for the 2011 Cebu City Marathon, the 32km Run United 2 is a perfect LSD training schedule for us, all while also enjoying the trip to this much-hyped up event.

I arrived in Manila last Friday, November 19, together with my brothers. The rest of TTB & RH Runners arrived on Saturday. We only had a few hours of sleep last Saturday night, the usual excitement & anxiety before any race day. We got up at 2am and prepared early since we wanted to be early for the 430am start. I have joined a total of 23 race events ever since, and when we reached the venue at the Bonifacio Global City, this was no ordinary race! This was an EVENT!!! It was like entering a major concert event! There were bright lights, loud music, large screen LCDs, plenty of staff personnel & service tents,  and lots of runners!

Some images at the large screen LCDs before the race.
A computer-generated image of Coach Rio.

Team Tytsbogdo with Wayne just before the gun-start.
As the race began at exactly 4:30 am, we maintained a comfortable 6:30-7:00 min/km pace with TTB runners Boying, Chill, Pam, Coleen, Kenneth, Eric and Jack. We looped around the dark streets of Global City for the first 7 kilometers of the route. The asphalt roads were very soft and comfortable while the cool, early morning breeze and the bright full moon were quite refreshing. There were water stations every 1.5 kms and they were really in abundance of water and energy drinks! Some also had bananas, energy gels and water sponges. We passed by Buendia Avenue via the Kalayaan Fly-over and traffic at every intersection was at a standstill just so the runners could pass-by undisturbed! Wow! There were so many impatient and i'm sure irate drivers honking and honking but the race marshalls and traffic personnel would have none of it, as hordes of runners continued to trot up and down the avenue undisturbed! You could see it in the drivers' faces how angry they were! That was really cool!

When we got back to Global City from Buendia, this was already at the half-way point of the route at 16 km. Some of us were already separated from the group. By the time we approached Heritage Park along Bayani Road, I started to feel the heaviness and aches from my legs and feet. This was approximately at the 23rd to 25th kilometers. By this time, I could see Boying, Kenneth, Chill and Pam ahead of me and all I could think of was that I wasn't going to let them out of my sight. I could feel my pace slowing down. There were many runners walking and quite a few dealing with cramps. But there were so many medical aids along the route, not to mention the overflowing water stations! They never run out of cold water!

Going up Bayani Road at the 26th km.
The last 5 kilometers were the most grueling I have ever ran. The longest distance I've ever ran was a 28 km LSD with TTB, but that was with several walk-breaks in the last 2 km. Entering the loop outside of the Memorial Cemetery was very eerie. First, your body is telling you to stop. Second, the place was so QUIET! Third, it was a very boring 1.5 km loop. And last but not least, you could see the finish alone ahead but you still have to go back for the loop! My mind took over at this point upon reaching the 30th km. My pace was already at a slow 7:30-8:00. I was already running alone for the past 4 to 5 kms so it was purely psychological at this point. As i approached the 31st km, Boying, Chill and Pam were waiting for me with the TTB banner that we brought. This gave me an additional adrenalin rush as the four of us proudly ran together with the TTB banner for the last kilometer! It was time to look good for the several photographers scattered along the last 1,000 meters! You disregard your body pains and try to maintain good running form! And you could hear the people cheering us along the way, even if they could not pronounce "Tytsbogdo" properly! But it was an unexplainable runners' high when we crossed that finish line together!
Team Tytsbogdo along 7th avenue approaching the finish line.

That was one memorable experience, and certainly the best and most challenging running event that I have ever experienced in my life. What made it a little easier was the motivational factor that a running group can give you, and that is what Team Tytsbogdo is all about! I'm sure we'll all be ready come January 9 for the Cebu City Marathon! Go TTB!!!
TTB crossing the finish line!

With our finisher medals!