December 10, the day of the Sunpiology Run, was an extremely long day for me. Way before sunset, I was already at BGC waiting for the first of the Sunpiology events to begin. You see, it wasn’t just a simple footrace: to benefit the Hebreo 12:1 Foundation, there were three events. The first was the opening of an exhibit of paintings and photos by Piolo Pascual at the Sun Life Center; items would be auctioned online to generate funds for the foundation. Then the vertical run would start, taking participants up through the Sun Life Center’s stairwells. The 10K race I would be participating in was at the tail end of these festivities. And I had dance practice for work right after that.
Right after the exhibit opened, I had to get back home to retrieve my bib; after trying to pack my car that morning with everything I needed for the day, I had forgotten the one important thing! So, after slogging through holiday traffic, I finally got to the race venue at 4pm, 30 minutes before the race start.
Much as we “veteran runners” don’t want to admit it, a celebrity backing a race attracts plenty of newcomers to the sport. That this race was a sunset run also pulled in its fair share of people who want to try running but hate getting up early in the morning. So I overheard plenty of first-timer questions such as “Where can I leave my bag?” and “That’s the toilet?!” (referring to the portalets :P)
I hung out with Pojie while waiting for other 10K runners to assemble at the race arch. I overheard that Piolo had done the vertical run, so I carelessly blurted out to Pojie that I doubted he would run the 10K. A few weeks ago, one of the race organizers from Beyond Limits had asked me what my 10K PR was, and said he was looking for a pacer for Piolo. I hadn’t heard from the organizer since then.
So when Piolo stepped up to the timing mat holding the gun, I just had to laugh at myself. Feeling the competitive urge set in, I resolved just to try my best.
The funny thing about that gun start is that when I heard the gun go off, I stepped out immediately. Then I realized everyone else was standing still, apparently waiting for Piolo to start. (Starstruck?) It took a split second for everyone else to get ahold of themselves and run.
There was one thing on my mind the whole time: “Lord, please help me run this 10K in 50 minutes or less.” It helped that the first kilometer of the race was downhill, so I could comfortably stay at a sub-5 minute pace without taxing my legs.
For some reason, even though I’d been nursing a nagging cough for the past two weeks (I’m on antibiotics now), I felt much stronger and faster on my feet. Part of it was my warm-up walk from the Fort Strip, where I had left my car. Another thing that spurred me on was the knowledge that I had to be back at Fort Strip by 6pm for my dance practice.
At the fourth or fifth kilometer, a group of familiar elite runners including Coach Jojo Macalintal waved at me. I was already on my way back to the British School area while they were still on their way to the Bonifacio Triangle. At kilometer seven, I overheard someone say that Piolo was behind me — paced by that same group of elite runners. At the next U-turn, I spotted them closing in.
As kilometers and minutes ran out, I willed myself to finish before him. I had already accomplished a sub-Piolo 10K last year, and although this was far slower than that, Piolo was still behind me.
I crossed the finish line in 50 minutes, 27 seconds. I received my commemorative Sunpiology pin, and the marshals took my name; I was the fourth woman to cross the finish line. I hung around, but not too close since a retinue of security guards had already formed a perimeter waiting to receive Piolo as he finished. As he arrived, I left the finish area to claim my loot bag, Powerade and Viva drinks, and to verify that I had not placed, since I needed to leave immediately.
Finally, the timing personnel told me I was in fourth place, so I left the race grounds just as night fell and post-race festivities commenced. I attended my dance practice which lasted until 8pm. Then when I checked my phone, there was a text from a photographer friend telling me I’d won third place. WHAT? What’s worse, it was Piolo who was emceeing the awarding, so he was calling out my full name and “Kikay” repeatedly. *facepalm*
Race in Review
- Route: This was a there-and-back route with four U-turns, so it was quite a compact route that avoided busy intersections. Clever!
- Traffic Management: Kilometer signs and turn markers were where they should be, and very visible. There was some cross-traffic between the 3K and 10K routes towards the finish line, but since 10K runners had already spread out, it was easier to weave past the wall of 3K runners. At the beginning of the race I almost got run over by a car that was exiting the event area, but this was more the fault of the careless driver who wasn’t watching where he was going.
- Hydration: Since I had hydrated with Lightwater prior to the race, I didn’t feel thirsty throughout my run. I was still thankful for the boost of energy from the Powerade, and I needed to take water with my Gu gel. There was one table during the first few kilometers which hadn’t yet completed filling its cups with water, and I happened to pick an empty one up. Hopefully next race the hydration marshals time their refills better.
- Package: Although I didn’t wear the singlet during the race, I did notice the material is soft and breathable. It’s probably why most of the runners chose to wear it. I’m still waiting for complete race results to be generated from the B-tag data recorded, though. I like the idea of giving a commemorative pin instead of a finisher’s medal (not as heavy to carry!).
- Freebies: I didn’t stick around for the post-race events, but I like the accident insurance that was included in the loot bag. When I send it back to Sun Life, I’ll have a year’s coverage worth around P25,000. It’s insurance I don’t want to use, but I like the thought behind it.
This was a very well-organized race; Without Limits has redeemed itself in my eyes after the 500-Smile Run debacle. So, FOUR-AND-A-HALF KIKAY PINKIE FINGERS out of FIVE!
Though my kit was complimentary, I think I would have actually paid to run this race — just for the chance to run with Piolo. (Or should I say, run in front of Piolo?)