I was supposed to run a race on September 27. Then Ondoy hit.
Two months later, the race finally pushed through. Instead of being my lead-up to Race for Life, the New Balance Power Run became my year-ender race — and what a race it was!
I’ve made it a habit to wake up at 3am for these races because it takes my brain and body about two hours to boot up (I’m not as efficient as my laptop). For the Power Run, though, I was unusually alert that early in the day, quickly got through my race day prep (food, dressing, packing extra clothes), and was out of the house by 4am. I arrived at the race venue in Fort at 4:30am, which was the assembly time for 21K runners. Excited much? Ü (To compare: back in July for Globe Run for Home, I arrived at Fort around 5am.)
When I got there, the stage, booths, race arches and railings, and portalets were already set up. (And I must say, that long row of portalets in the field was a beautiful sight after Fit ‘n’ Right Run’s measly 8 portalets split between men and women.) All that was left for runners to to do was wait for our turn at our assembly points, squeeze past the checkers (no bandits allowed!), and run when the gun went off!
So run I did. It was a new route around the Fort, which I appreciated, and it wasn’t as hilly as I thought it would be; thank God the revised 5K route didn’t take us into McKinley
Hell Hill, where the 10K route looped. Water was plentiful at the strategically-positioned hydration stations on both sides of the University Parkway (no gridlocking of runners coming and going).
Everything was going along smoothly. Then I made one crucial mistake which cost me a year-end PR. I spotted a little boy, around 4 feet tall, running with his parents. He came from behind me, then overtook me, then slowed down so his parents could catch up with him. My ego was bruised; at all costs, I had to beat him to the finish line. So I picked up my pace around kilometer 2. I felt good — for 500 meters. Then the side cramp hit; it knocked the wind out of me. I could barely breathe deeply and my legs refused to stride longer. I yelled in frustration and was reduced to walking for two minutes before the cramp subsided and I could pick up the pace again.
Still, according to the unofficial results on the eXtribe website, I made it to the finish line in 24 minutes and 41 seconds. I don’t know if I made the top 20, but it was fast enough to make me one of the lucky few to get New Balance socks and a huge bar of Hershey’s dark chocolate along with the medal, bananas, water, and 100Plus drinks given as freebies right after the finish chute. Race organizers, take note: this is the best way to distribute freebies, rather than setting up a separate booth and making people line up again.
In case you missed that part, yes I got a medal! While other races this year gave out medals only to finishers of their longer-distance events (21K for instance), at the Power Run whether you finished 3, 5, 10, or 21 you got a medal, in lieu of a finisher’s certificate. I prefer a medal any day!
The best part about the race routes were the different start and finish points for the race categories. While all runners started at the same arch, the 3K and 21K runners would finish at that arch while 5K and 10K runners would make their way to a different finish arch. Logistically it must have been more complicated for race organizer eXtribe to manage, but it made for a very smooth chute experience, with no crowding at the finish line. I loved not having to sidestep slow-moving 3K walkers!
While I was pakalat-kalat (wandering around) after the race, I spotted Tessa Prieto-Valdes running by her lonesome in a fuschia pink top, black running tights — and a skirt. Not a tiny fringe around her hips, no. A flouncy, bouncy skirt. She was still sporting the skirt, with a few more furry embellishments, when she got up on the stage to host the awarding ceremony.
Also (still while pakalat-kalat) I spotted running coach Rio de la Cruz, who had participated in the 10K as a leisure run. I couldn’t resist getting my picture taken with him. Hey he may not be Piolo Pascual, but he’s the man who trained Piolo to run 10K in 47 minutes. (Dinaig ako ni Piolo! Hmpf!)
Even though I didn’t beat my 5K PR, or have a hi-tech timing chip laced to my shoe, or get an award, I have to say that the Power Run is my favorite race this year because of my no-hitch experience with it (barring the two-month delay, of course). It was definitely a race worth waiting for.