Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Week 6: Quezon City International Marathon

I started my binge of running in late October by challenging myself to run a 5K every week for five weeks (or as long as I could keep it up, really). Five kilometers is a good distance, short enough for anyone to finish but long enough to demand a great deal of endurance if you are going to put effort into it. Five weeks is long enough to build up a comfortable routine, but once you gets too comfortable it's only natural to push yourself further.

Set on December 5 was the Quezon City International Marathon, featuring a 5K race, a 10K race, a 21K half marathon, and a full 42K marathon. With the promise of a huge event (the word "International" entices me) and long running distances, it seemed time to finally step up my game, up to a target I had long looked up to but never before considered within reach. 10K.

I had once thought 10K as an impossible distance. Sounds silly saying that in the context of a race with a full 42K marathon, but it is true. Running 5K leaves me mentally exhilarated but physically exhausted. Going for twice that long would be-- twice as much.

(For reference, 10 kilometers is the distance from the SM Mall of Asia to SM Megamall visa EDSA. But please don't run on EDSA.)

Quezon City International Marathon
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City

Distance: 10K / Time: 1:00:37 / Rank 325 of 1314

Now, despite the word "International" in the title, it seemed that so much about the event was amateurishly organized. I shall elaborate in bullet point form:
  • The poster said registration would end on November 7, yet registration was going on far beyond that date. This isn't much of a complaint, since even I registered late, but why bother setting a deadline if they won't stick to it, right? I'm sure many missed the event because they thought the registration period had passed, and the extension wasn't clearly communicated.
  • The singlet design posted on the internet was colored green, yet somehow the final thing itself turned out a bright neon yellow. They posted a sort of apology on their Facebook page but no real explanation, except to say that's the way it turned out when they got it from the printers.
  • Registration included the unusual and unnecessary step of claiming the singlet and race kit from UP on the weekend of Nov. 27-28. Why couldn't they just give it out along with the actual registration itself? Or why not have registration itself at UP that weekend? Seems like they're imposing a logistical burden on both organizers and participants.
  • Race kits were supposed to be distributed at the Bahay ng Alumni in UP, and I had to ask around since no directions were given, and the UP campus isn't particularly visitor friendly. When I got there I found only a sign saying that the venue had been moved, and it gave some vague directions on how to get there. Turns out it was at a remote and dusty gym at the furthest corner of the campus.
  • I get to the race kit distribution place, show my claim stub, and-- surprise! My name is not on the list. Seems I wasn't the only person with this problem, because they had an ad hoc workaround in place and did a quasi-registration on the spot.
  • I suspect that the workaround registration is the reason why the race results show me as an ageless, sexless, "Unknown finisher". Overall, 677 out of the 3515 finishers in the 5K/10K race results are listed as "Unknown finisher", identified only by bib number. That's nearly 20%.
  • The baggage counter had me a bit worried. They had such a small storage space considering the amount of runners, and bags were overflowing out of their area. When I came to claim my bag after the race, I was able to just pick it up myself without any assistance. I could easily have stolen someone else's bag.
  • This doesn't affect me, but there are many reports that the 21K race distance was actually more than 23 km. How they can make such a large mistake in distance is beyond me. Several people brought this up via the Facebook page, with responses saying that would look into it, yet nothing was done.
  • The cutoff time for the full marathon was supposed to be 7 hours, but they removed the timing sensors an hour early. If I ran for 42 km and this happened to me I would be barking mad. Absolutely barking.
Ok I think that's all I have in terms of organizational complaints. Whew.

Sweaty masses of humanity at the finish.

The starting point of the run was where Commonwealth Avenue meets the Quezon City Circle. They closed the entire northbound half of Commonwealth Ave. for the event, and I can just imagine the furor from motorists. I've seen the event advertising that runners would be passing Quezon City's most glorious landmarks, but really for the 5K/10K runs there is nothing to see along Commonwealth Ave.

Hydration was plentiful, with tables of water and Powerade at good intervals. I may have helped myself to a little too much water since my stomach began to protest in the last few kilometers and about half the time was spent walking. People were passing me but I comforted myself in the thought that no matter how slowly I go it would still be a personal best.

Post-run ceremonies at the Quezon City Circle.

I finished in the very respectable time of 1:00:37, and ranked 325 out of 1314. Not bad for my first 10K, eh? Of course I would have preferred to be 37 seconds faster and finish within the 1 hour mark, but I'm quite pleased considering I thought my time would be more like 1:20:00. Plus, I'm still in the top half in the rankings. Maybe I could be pushing myself still harder in terms of distance. 21K? Who knows. Someday.

Then I came home, took a shower, had breakfast, and slept for 10 hours straight. Not even exaggerating.

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