(Admin’s note: I was not able to go to Subic to join the Nike Human Race. So I asked Luis aka The Gingerbreadman or GBM to share his run with us as he run with the world last October 24.)
You have got to be kidding me. No way. Inhuman effort at Nike Human? Goodbye sub-50 dreams.
A steep incline seemed to be sardonically staring me down just as I was gathering momentum. I figured, yeah I’ll ride it out and hang on, I have enough in the tank and enough of a pace bank. Little did I know, that was easier said than done.
But hey, what the heck am I talking about? For the sake of literary jurisprudence, a short backgrounder.
Strictly speaking, the Nike + Human Race 10k was originally conceptualized in 2008 as a relative point of convergence for runners from nearly 30 key cities from all over the world. The routes would pass through some pretty awesome sights, for instance in Istanbul you run across the bridge that connects Europe to Asia. Utilizing Nike + technology, a case could be made for the “the world is flat” paradigm as thousands of runners all over the world could log on to the Nike website and upload their times , essentially engaging in a virtual competition in a race that knows no borders.
To spice things up, there are different Nike Ambassadors assigned per country. The Philippines had five, all with teams under them that add up to the virtual tally board on race day. In terms of representation, runner blogger par excellance Bards Bathan of Bananarunning took up the cudgels for the general blogosphere.
Even if Manila was not chosen as a key city for this year’s event, the race actually took on a greater cause in the wake of recent calamities that have struck the country. For every kilometer ran by a Nike + Sportband user who took up the Nike Ambassador challenge, P10 would be donated on their behalf. In addition to that , finishers would have P100 of their registration fee donated to Gawad Kalinga efforts for Typhoon Ondoy victims.
So now that you know all about it, what exactly happened on race day?
Remy Field. Subic Bay Freeport. 4:00 pm.
So I’m here at the impressive track oval of Remy Field, just a few minutes away from our hotel at Forest View. Some of the Takbo.ph gang have already gathered around, some of them running their maiden 10k’s like Lorie and Bea/Notsquare .
As people were milling around aimlessly, there was a certain palpable degree of uncertainty over the whole thing. Why? If you are used to the whole “event-style” weekend runs as of late, roughly 30 minutes before gun time it seemed as though there was nothing going on. No fancy American accent DJ host blurting out ads and wittycisms, no hot Fitness First gal to do stretching, no Pia Cayetano giving words of inspiration, no Luke Mijares to sing “Love of my Life” (oops got ahead of myself there).
I was somehow expecting a shtick of some sort, just because it was Nike. Nah. Not a few runners approached me and asked “Sir, tuloy ba?” . I really didn’t know what to tell them. But hey, I could care less. I came here for the thrills, not the frills. Although frills never hurt anyone 🙂
Remy Field. Subic Bay Freeport. 4:25 pm.
Out of nowhere, an emcee abruptly announced that the race would be starting in 5 minutes. I looked around, and by my estimate about 200-250 runners were there. Slated to run the 21k event the following day, my mind was fixated on a quick, flat run. A run wherein if I get lucky, I could nab that elusive sub-50 without expending too much energy. The utopian in me got a bit carried away I guess. Quick countdown, quick prayer, and let’s see how this thing unravels.
Kilometer 1-2 . Resisting Temptation.
Positioned near the starting line, the lead pack of runners took off in a blinding burst of speed. I estimated though that there were about 30 runners running like there was no tomorrow, can’t have that many elites around right? So I resisted the temptation of going at it guns blazing… and my calculations turned out to be correct. One by one their pace dropped, and by the time we got to Km 2, I had passed about 10 of the early birds already. Was cruising at 4:35 – 4:39 km/min, felt pretty strong at this point. I was thinking, if I can build enough of a big lead during the first half, I could hang on for a nice touch to my weekend. Turns out, the fates weren’t agreeable with me today.
Kilometer 2-5 Better Luck Next Time.
Just when I was getting comfy, the incline that came into view took the wind out of my sails. An extremely steep, curving incline that instantly reminded me of those that I had faced in Baguio (I walked) and Corregidor ( easy run, I got really tired) . With no hill training over the past two weeks, I churned in a big fat 6:12 split over the stretch. My pace plummeted all the way down to 5:30 . I was getting more and more zapped by the minute. With my positive split strategy, no way I could make up that big of a differential in a diminished state. That was it. Game over. Better luck next time. Uwian na. But then again….
Kilometer 5-8 What Goes Up, Goes Down : The Final Stand
I stopped for a moment at the 5k water station to get my bearings back. I traveled all the way here, spent a couple of bucks on a hotel, for what? For this pedestrian effort? C’mon quit whining and get it going. I made a resolute effort to give this my shot. If I’m going down, I’m going down on my shield. At the risk of blowing out my quads, I blazed through the downhill portion with splits of 4:08, 4:12, and 4:18. Gave it all I got . And yet again, this only managed to get the pace down to 5:02. Gulp.
Kilometer 8-10 . Accepting reality.
Having brought down my pace to some semblance of respectability, I was fast fading. I was hoping that after my final assault, I would be at borderline below 5 minutes. Not happening. So the key is to be realistic, just accept that it isn’t your day, and go on to fight another battle. But I still had 2 kms to reconcile. I had a bike escort with me, which was cool. The bike escort couldn’t do anything about the truck fumes that were right in my face as we negotiated the route though.
As I was reentering the Remy Field oval attempting to chase down a powerful runner (I affectionately dubbed him Energizer Bunny ) who was about 20-30 seconds ahead of me, I suddenly realized that I cleared 10k much earlier! The distance turned out to be in excess of 450 meters, or nearly half a kilometer. Finished strong with a split time of 52:01. The reality was, I missed my goal. But given that monstrous incline, satisfied nonetheless
The reality is, I gave it my best. But my best wasn’t good enough.
What a race! I enjoyed it, even in a masochistic sort of way. The buzzword amongst the finishers was “!@#$ na hills yan”. Even Jaymie/TBR agreed that it was one of the toughest, if not the toughest 10k of the year. Somehow got ensnared in an interview for QTV along with Ambassador Bards afterwards, gak 🙂
What freebies did I get? An uber cool, exclusive Nike Human duffel bag (okay so it’s the same thing they gave away at QCIM but it’s still cool), one Pocari Sweat and one water. I heard beforehand there was supposed to be some sort of finisher’s Nike bracelet or band, didn’t really see anyone with it.
What could be improved for next time
Nothing to lose sleep over, but still noteworthy to mention for future considerations. Distance was in excess of 420-450 meters, matched this with mine and 3 other people with a Garmin. There were no water stations after the turnaround point, woe to the newbie runner or those making a jump to 10k. Also, the people kept on sticking around for the results, the emcee kept on stalling until after the SIM winners arrived to keep the people there. It was announced more than 3 hours after the finish, and by that time I had to leave to support the rest of the team at km34. Went back after the whole thing was over, and had to badger the ACSAT people for the results. Took 15th place out of 270 overall , my first time to crack the top 15 of any race, so hooray. 🙂
To conclude, the route itself provided a lot of thrills for those who ran. It was definitely not your typical weekend 10k. And knowing that P100 of my money would go to a GK project for Ondoy victims makes my screaming quads a whole lot happier. No-frills , lots of thrills, even more uphills. In spite and despite, was proud to have been part of this.
(starts writing letter to Nike making Manila a key city in 2010)
Read more of Luis’ blogs at The Gingerbread ReportNOW AVAILABLE. TAKBO.PH COTTON TEES AND HOODIES. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ORDER.
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