Being a pacer of Run United 1 was my way of paying it forward to the running lifestyle that transformed me to be a better person. It was both an honor and a challenge to be a pacer. It was fun running as a pack in the full 21-kilometer route and it was even more fulfilling seeing people breaking their personal records, finish strong in the race and thanking you in the process. Run United 1 even became a better running experience with the added push from the pacers and the collective strength of running as a pack. #UnilabActiveHealth #RunUnited1 #ExceedYourselfatRU1
- Unilab Active Health: Husay at Malasakit in Health and Wellness
- Husay at Malasakit is the Unilab Way
- Run United Enervon HP Recovery Run
- Run United 1 2014
- Run United Philippine Marathon
- Incoming: Run United 1 2015
- Incoming: Run United 2 2015
Race With Me
Unilab Active Health added the concept of pacers at Run United Enervon HP Recovery Run last December and I paced a really comfortable pace of 55 minutes for a 5 kilometer distance. The concept worked and was adopted to the Run United Trilogy in 2015. During the list up, I was surprised with the choices and it were really fast times with the 2:37 as the slowest time available for the 21K distance. I listed up as a pacer for the 2:37 slot since I also wanted to do a long run on my birthday weekend (Yes, that’s how I celebrate my birthdays – doing long and challenging runs). It’s a doable time except that I’m coming from a layoff since I did take a month’s worth of breather after my marathon. It would be embarrassing for a pacer to do poorly on a run so I had my mindset back on training mode and did several runs during the week just to remaster the pace once again. I was rusty but I was finding ways of hitting the time during trainings. It was also good that I’ll be working with a team of pacers with Jeff Lo of Pinoyfitness as Lead Pacer and bloggers Redg Candido and Wilbert Lacbay as co-pacers. I was excited for this opportunity but I also felt the pressure of having a good run but let’s see how it turns out.
The Race route is simple with the start at Seaside Boulevard at SM Mall of Asia and heads to Roxas Boulevard via Macapagal and CCP Area for the first 3 kilometers. The race then heads to the Baclaran side of Roxas Boulevard for the next 4 kilometers for the u-turn passing by the flyover in Buendia and EDSA. After the u-turn, the race covers a 7 kilometer stretch from Baclaran all the way to Luneta with climbs at EDSA and Buendia for the next u-turn slot. The race heads back to SM Mall of Asia from Luneta passing Roxas Boulevard, CCP Area, Macapagal and finally back to Seaside Boulevard for the finish.
We had to report to the venue one hour before the 21K Gunstart so that the balloons and pacer bibs can be pinned to us. I also made sure to warm up properly as I didn’t want to end up rusty and have warm up pains at the start. It was also the chance to try running with balloons as it added some drag in the run especially if the winds were strong. We were also introduced as pacer to the whole group of 21K runners eager to start their Run United Trilogy. After introduction, we waited a few meters from the start line for the runners’ gun start. We started discussing plans with continuous running and a 4:1 run walk as our options. Since we were the last group, we allowed all the first wave of runners to go first before starting our paced run.
It took more than 2 minutes for the large pack of 21K runners and we started running. We started with a steady pace of 7:30 to warm up and we ended up running continuous with water breaks as our only walking breaks. I expected a 4:1 run walk but I’m sure I could do well with a slower paced straight run so I went with the group’s pace. Since, water stops were our only walking breaks, I was so keen on spotting water stations with the first one in Macapagal and the second one in CCP area before heading out to Roxas Boulevard. Since the race route for this one was the same as last year, I also had a better idea on how to manage the different terrains. First 3K was a bit more relaxed and we even had time to take photo opportunities at the Gatorade Stations.
I ended up setting the pace in Roxas Boulevard and went on a faster pace to make up for the chill pace we had starting the race. It was still at talking pace though we had several 7 minute pace for stretches to cover up the walks on the climbs and the water station breaks. We still had time to tell stories and joke around and by this time we already have established a pack who were running with us. Good thing was my legs were cooperative today and the weather was really fine and not too humid. It was fun running as a group and it was like we were pushing each other forward. We managed the climbs by running it halfway and walking the rest of the way. As usual, I remained keen on spotting water station breaks and was really consistent with it. We’ve reached the first 7 kilometers of the race staying consistent on the running part.
The next part of the race was a 7 kilometer stretch from Baclaran to Luneta. We stayed with our running rhythm with only water stops as walking breaks. We were surprised that there were still a large group of runners behind us so that just says so much how we pushed each other to this point. It felt faster on the way back on account of familiarity of the course and the system we are using. We did the same strategy on running half the climb and walking half it or we would resume when we were already telling stories. Yes, walking can be so tempting so it’s best to limit it in a run. After descending the Buendia flyover, we were mixed with the 10K runners so it was harder to navigate this part so we just instructed the runners to follow the Balloons. We were bundled with them for around 2 kilometer stretch and this was the time that Wilbert got his rhythm and started speeding up. Jeff and Wilbert led the pace from to the u-turn at the 14th kilometer mark in Luneta.
After the 14th kilometer, we were deciding on shifting to run walk from continuous running but everybody still felt fresh. It was Jeff’s time to set the pace and he did set a fast one as we were averaging about 7 minutes per kilometer and had shorter time for water breaks. We went to the motion counting down the kilometers and appreciating the view of Manila Bay on the way back. I was still consistent on spotting the water stations. The secret was looking for the orange tents and I always try to be aware of my surroundings when I run. By the 19th kilometer, our group was separated from Jeff’s pack since the traffic enforcer had to let some cars pass. I asked Redg, if she wanted to shift to a 4:1 run walk and she agreed since some of the runners were already having side stitch from the pace.
2 kilometers to go and I paced a 4:1 run walk set and I noticed the runners tiring out in the process after 2 sets. I asked them if they’d want to shift to a 3:1 run walk sets and they agreed and still it was not the optimal pace for them at this point so finally, I’ll be finishing of with a 2:1 run walk set entering the finish line. They didn’t need another set as they had all the power for a strong finish going to the finish line. After seeing the pace log, I realized why they were tiring so fast, I didn’t realize that the run part was already lower than 6 minutes per kilometer pace and that was a really fast one. Seeing the pace log, I’m so proud how they finished their last 2 kilometers strong because of the run-walk. I tried different run-walk sets with the group so they can assess which works well with them. The runners ended up thanking us for pacing them and that they finished fast, strong and felt comfortable with proper pacing during the race.