“It’s not everyday that you get to race in BGC, Makati and McKinley Area. NatGeo gave us a fresh route from the usual races we have. Much more than a race, #natgeorun2014 was a run for the environment with more than 12,000 runners supporting the cause.”
Nat Geo Run 2014
NatGeo Run is among the fixture of big races every year in the Philippines. It even got bigger this year by offering the full marathon distance and tweaking the start time to a midnight gunstart for marathoners. I joined the 21 kilometers category with 3 am gun start and had been contemplating on various strategies. If you get to see my races during summer, it’s mostly on trails. Being on the road seem foreign for me but I didn’t want to be lazy for this one. Then came the series of breaches in my pre-race routine. I found out that I ran out of Gu Energy Gel. I would only have one for the full race and wasn’t able to find one in Makati. My racebelt was missing, it’s a good thing I had the extra from Unilab races with me. The biggest problem I had was having almost zero sleep as I went home 10 pm the day before the race plus all the preparations. I ended up with little time to sleep. Good luck for me on race day.
The race starts at 34th Street in BGC and proceeds to the whole length of 8th Avenue heading to Kalayaan Avenue for the first u-turn. The race shifts to the turn going into Kalayaan Flyover headed to Buendia until Ayala for the second u-turn. The race heads back to BGC and goes on a climb to McKinley area via Rizal Drive and 5th Avenue and Lawton and descends to Bayani Road until c5 for the final u-turn. The Race goes back to BGC via McKinley Parkway for the finish at 9th Avenue. The elevation is quite challenging with climbs at Kalayaan Flyover and the road going to Lawton.
Barely awake at 2 am, I was thinking if I should go or not because of the lack of sleep but eventually decided to catch the 3 am gun start. No goals, just finish the race. I was barely able to reach the gun start. It was a good move that I just parked my car at the first available slot I saw which was behind F1 hotel. I then rushed to the start line with just a few minutes to spare. I positioned myself at the end of the pack with about 3,000 runners joining the 21K category. I decided to run walk the first part since I’ve been having problems with my shin when I start too fast. It took me about 3 minutes to get to the starting chute and then I went on to start my run walk routine.
Pacer Duties (1-9Km)
About 500 meters into the race, Jham called me. He was doing his first full marathon and we had an agreement that I’d pace him on his second 21K Improbable as it was, we ended up seeing each other on his second loop. Of course, it did help a lot that I was wearing bright yellow singlet. I shifted my run-walk strategy to pacer duties. For the first two kilometers, I was pushing Jham to do 2:1 splits. The goal was give him some momentum before he reaches his 32K distance. For marathoners, the second 21K is not easy so I understood the struggle Jham was having at that time. He had a long rest room break before reaching the 3rd kilometer to flush the stress of the race away. After the break I would allow him longer walking breaks but would still insist that he do some 2 minute run stretches. I shifted to letting him count to 100 per run sequence before walking and he was struggling. I’ve been trying to motivate him all throughout with positive thoughts and telling him that it’s all mental now. He was struggling but at least he was moving, After 9K of pacing him, he insisted that I go ahead since he is worried that I might end up the last runner in the 21K distance because of the pace. I told him on one condition that he should promise me to finish the race.
Full Speed Ahead (10-16Km)
Now I can go on my pace. I started to run faster. Obviously, I won’t be able to chase any personal records at this point but I just took it as a challenge to have a strong portion of the race. It was on the climb back Kalayaan Flyover that we parted ways though I would have wanted to pace him until 32k. I dropped all run walk sequence and just went on to run as long as I could and go for short walking breaks in between. This was the challenging part as this covered the climb from Rizal Drive to 5th Avenue and Lawton. I think I was already exhausted by the time I reached Lawton but still went on at a good pace. I took advantage of the descent in Bayani Road to cover some lost time. Towards the 16th Kilometer after the u-turn at c5, I meet Inja and Team Soleus on a Taho Break.
Post Taho Run (17-21Km)
I’ve been craving for Taho for days since I was never really up early enough to get taho on regular days. Don’t ever try something new on race day… Oh what the heck, I’m no longer chasing any time records at this time. I got my taho and went on with Team Soleus for the last 5 kilometers of the run. It was now more at a chill pace since I had someone to chat with though we still added some runs in between. The road back had more climbs especially going back to Lawton and 5th Avenue. The last two kilometers was a descent to the finish line. We went on at this pace before we reached the finish arch. Just ror the fun of it, I went on a fast pace crossing the finish line.
Nat Geo Run
That was a really good one and it’s as if I did three different runs because each part had different characters. And yes, Jham did finish his first full marathon, Congrats for that (Read his story here). It was also nice seeing other people in the running community once again. I really liked the route best here as most races offers only the Buendia stretch of Makati with BGC but Nat Geo had shown us the Makati side of the run up until the McKinley, Larton, Bayani Area. This also makes the run extra challenging when it comes to elevation. Water station was overflowing except for a stretch on the climb to McKinley from Rizal Drive. There were trash bins after every water stops and they were able to clear the finisher shirt claiming area in such a quick time. Great job to the National Geographic Channel.