Saturday, January 22, 2011

Review: 3rd Subic International Marathon

As I've mentioned before, one of the reasons why I wanted to join the Subic International Marathon was the idea of running at SCTEX.  I was initially disappointed when I learned that the race route will be inside SBMA  Saw my dream running along SCTEX being flushed down the drain.  Even with that fact, I still decided to pursue SIM 2011 even though it is a bit far - about 144 kilometers away from Manila
Pre Race.  Friday night, I went to my friend who resides at Binan for their house blessing. Stayed there until 1AM before heading home. Woke up past 9AM (Saturday) and started to pack my bag with all the stuff that I needed for the race and the sleepover. It was past lunchtime when I hit the road.  Since I was in for a long drive, I decided to have a pit stop at SM Pampanga.  After a quick break, continued my journey and took the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx)

While in SM Pampanga, I was constantly checking the TAKBO.PH forums for any updates coming from fellow participants.  I learned that the venue for claiming the race packet has changed from Venezia Hotel to Remy Field.  Good thing it was mentioned that it was near Jollibee Subic.  After I exited Tipo, I traversed along Rizal Highway looking for the fast-food restaurant chain.  After a few minutes, I spotted my landmark.  Asked the guard for directions, Remy field was just across the street

I went straight to the track and field area and asked where I can claim my race packet.  I was directed to go to Subic International Hotel.  I went away scratching my head, luckily I saw two guys wearing the event's shirt and asked them where they got it.  They instructed me to go to a building which turned out to be the SBMA gym
It was already past 4PM when I got my race packet. There were only a handful of runners claiming theirs as well.  The race kit included the race bib, singlet, timing chip, rules and regulations, and a map of the starting line.  Next in my agenda was to find my hotel (Subic Park).  Asked the traffic enforcer for directions and he happily (and courteously) gave me instructions on how to go about.
Checked-in to my hotel, unloaded my stuff, turned the television on and made myself comfortable.  Jumped out of bed and remembered that I have to prepare for my race, stuff like pinning my race bib on my shirt, race strategy and even where to park.  One of my pre-race ritual (the day before) is to make sure that everything is ready before 6PM.  Why?  I do not want to stir up my sympathetic nervous system and make sleeping difficult.  I need a shut eye for at least 5-6 hours so I'd have a better chance of setting a new personal best on race day

Race Day.  Because the 2 parking lots near the starting line was inaccessible, I parked at Jollibee.  Thinking that after the race I can have my breakfast there.  By the time I arrived at the assembly area, the marathon runners has been flagged off already.  Since I still had time, I did some jogging around the area.  I find this helpful not only to steer away the jitters but also allows my abdominal muscles to be ready for the race.  So far, warming up through jogging has helped me minimize stomach cramps

Where in the world is the portalet?  Based from the information inside the race kit, the portalets were inside Remy field.  Since I am not familiar with the place I wasn't able to use one.  I bet other runners had the same dilemma.  The organizers could have done a better job by placing it nearer the starting line and in plain sight
It was now down to 2 minutes before our gun start and everyone's getting excited. The emcee then announced that they'd be delaying the 21k runners by 2 minutes. And when the count down reached zero, they changed their mind and told us that we will be released from the pen in 15 seconds. Huh?!? What a great way to start a race - lets confuse the runners!
Upon hearing the horn, the runners sped off like herds of cattle eagerly waiting to be released from the corral.  First thing I looked for was the kilometer markers.  Upon hitting the first water station, I did not see any.  I immediately concluded that perhaps we won't have one.  Right there and then, I decided to rely on the location of the water stations as my markers to be able to know my overall pace.  Crossing my fingers that the organizers placed them as accurate as possible - every 1.5 kms.  After a few hundred meters from the first hydration station, I saw a kilometer marker on the right side of the road.  Later on I realized that there were distance markers placed every 2 kilometers.

Before I signed up, I've been getting horror stories about water shortage based from last year's edition.  For this year, I did not encounter any problems regarding hydration.  Even the water stations where all the runners from all categories has to share was sufficient.  The staff manning it was even kind enough to hand us the cups so we don't have to get it from the table
The first few kilometers was a breeze.  The route was relatively flat and the ascent was very minimal and forgiving.  Not until I've hit the 6th kilometer.  The climb wasn't an issue at all.  It was the road itself or the lack of it.  You can't literally see the road, it was pitch black, and you have to keep up with the runner in front of you so you'd know you are running in the right direction.  It was so dark that it almost felt I was running with my eyes closed.  The torch on the side of the road did not help at all.  I even thought it was a firefly.  That's how bad it was

Another problem, the road was jagged.  Running through it felt someone's stabbing my feet.  Now that's what we call ground feedback.  I had to re-adjust my stride so I'd land even softer and would make the pain less.  Good thing it only lasted for a few hundred meters.  If there's a Heartbreak Hill in Boston Marathon, I will christen this part of the route as the "barefoot"-break hill

It was pleasant to see that bananas and biscuits was available along the route (before the 9KM mark)  I think the placement of the banana couldn't be better, in my opinion.  It replenished my strength and made it easier for me to tackle the steep climb from 9KM until the turnaround at 10.5KM.  Coming back to the banana station, all were gone except for the biscuits.  I guess it only came in limited quantities.  Quite disappointing, if you'd ask me

On my way back to the finish line, a roadblock has appeared in front of me.  My feet are already tender and I have to overcome the "barefoot"-break hill once more.  I tried to run through the pain but it's not just possible.  The pain was just unbearable and hard to ignore.  I even tried running over the painted portion of the road to alleviate the pain but that didn't help.  I had no choice but to walk the whole stretch

Fifteen kilometers down and six more to go, and overall I still feel good.  That was a good sign considering I had an erratic practice schedule weeks before the event.  I suspect that it was all because of the cool weather, and the scenery of our race route was truly a breath of fresh air.  On top of that, the remaining distance was flat again so it was going to be easy on the body

Mental toughness.  One and half kilometer left, my mind started to tell me to stop running and take another walk break.  I told myself that I only need to run for another 8 or 9 minutes then I can have that well-deserved rest after crossing the finish line.  Besides this is the part where most runner slows down and the time for me to pick up the pace
Good thing I endured because before I realized it I was now on the last stretch of the race and about to make the final turn to Canal Road.  Brought forth all the remaining strength in me and did a mad dash to the finish line.  And the good news, I was able to set a new personal record.  Yey!
Post Race.  After grabbing a bottle of 100Plus, I went back to Jollibee's parking lot for a quick change of dry clothes.  Was already half-way eating my breakfast when I remembered about the finisher's medal.  I distinctively remember the emcee talking about it during the pre-race program.  I was trying to recall but none of the 21k runners I saw was wearing any medal nor was someone handing them over after I crossed the finish line.  Went back to the starting/finish line area to check it out.  Again, saw a handful of half-marathon finishers but still no sign of the finishers medal.  Luckily I saw one, he motioned me to go inside the track and field to get mine
When I got there the line was already long and to top it off, only one person was distributing the medals. What a bummer! With a stroke of luck, a new line was formed and I got my medal in less than 2 minutes

Verdict. Not everyone goes home with a smile on their faces after each running event.  Sometimes even the big guns like RunRio slips up every now and then.  This event is no exception.  It has its own flaws and such can be remedied in its next installment.  But if you want a no frills fun run with green and lush scenery, Subic International Marathon is the one for you. It may be a bit far from Manila but for me all the trouble was worth it. A great start for the year and a wonderful out-of-town run

(event images courtesy of subic shutter club)


Anonymous said...

Dave great blog! I've been reading it everyday since November. I will run my first race barefoot next Sunday, February 6 the ConduraRun. How do you fix the chronotrack tag to your ankle?

Daves said...

thanks for always dropping by! hope i don't bore you especially on my long blog entries :P

regarding the chrono-tag, some that i know place a dog collar around their ankle to fix the d-tag. something similar is the use of a velcro strap. while others use an elastic band instead. another possibility is to use a duct tape

actually, it will depend on how creative you are. for me, whatever works. just be careful on how you put the tag as we want to make sure that the mat will register your time as you cross it

good luck!

Agnes Dela Cruz said...

Hi Dave , Im glad you were able to use some of the photos from Subic Shutter Club.. (saw a couple of mine) :) sweet!

goodluck on next race..

Daves said...

hi magz, big thanks to you and your team for covering the said event! hope i can run again in subic soon. by the way, nice blog you got there :)

Agnes Dela Cruz said...

Thanks Dave...:)

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