13 March 2010

Simultaneous Burning of Calories At The Wellness Run

Last Sunday was my 1st time to join a fun run and the Unilab Run United for Wellness made my 1st time and enjoyable experience indeed. My wife Aileen, Miguel & I were all ready as early as 5am to head to The Fort in time for the 3K and 5K run which Miguel & I signed up for respectively.

It was still dark when we got there but the 21K runners had already started and the 10K runners were already lined up at the starting line awaiting their go-signal. I had never seen so many runners all in one place. It was an exciting feeling to all be there for a unified cause.

As soon as the 10K runners were given the go signal, the hosts called all the 5K participants to assemble in front of the starting line. The starting point had several huge timers corresponding to each division (3K, 5K, 10K & 21K) and 2 huge LCD displays at the opposite ends. There was a series of quick stretching exercises that the hosts initiated for all of us to warm up. I couldn't believe that there were literally hundreds of people in front and at the back of me all gearing up for the run. I was looking for a couple of friends but figured my chances of finding them were slim given that there were almost 9,000 participants for the entire event (not including friends & family who were there to support them).

It was almost time to start. The 2 LCD displays that flashed a 25 second countdown with a beeping sound made the anticipation much more exciting. Then the 5K race started. I was at the back so we couldn't start running until everybody in front crossed the starting line. As soon as I crossed the line, everybody was in moderate jogging to running mode. We passed 2 cheering squads who pumped up all the runner's adrenalin with their lively chants alongside the drum banging. It was like everybody was in a basketball game being cheered on.

By the time we got to the 1st kilometer marker, I and the others had to stop momentarily for traffic to pass. When I looked back, I saw this overwhelming number of people behind me also in the race. It was astonishing to be with thousands of people all going towards one direction. I wasn't able to prepare fully for the event so I switched to brisk walking by the 2nd kilometer. This was also a slightly uphill route to the American Cemetery and loop back. I saw my friend on the other side at the front of the pack and waved to him, not knowing that he had just passed Diether Ocampo during this time.

Continuing on, I found it strange seeing a runner eating a banana. I couldn't figure out why he brought a banana with him to the run. A few hundred meters after, I learned that the hydration station also offers free bananas aside from water and energy drinks. Hey, it was my first time so I was really clueless that they served bananas during the run.

Heading back after the loop, most of the runners in my batch were walking but when we all saw the last kilometer mark, everybody picked up their pace and excitedly ran the last kilometer. Everybody was in a competitive mode to make their best times as we ran towards the finish line.

Nearing the finish line, more batallion squads cheered the runners on till the end. Passing through the finishing line was both a feeling of trimuph and relief.

The event also held a Wellness Village where most of the sponsors set up booths and held different activities. It was at this point that you could see the huge amount of participants in the event cause the wellness village was gruadually filling up as more and more runners passed the finish line and headed to the village.

Aside from that, all runners received a bag filled with sponsored products. Coming from the race and still catching my breath a bit, the mineral water inside the bag got me excited more than the other goodies inside the bag.

Fast forward to 2 days after and after having fully recovered from sore thighs (for not having prepared properly prior to the run), I was delighted to receive post-run updates from Unilab. What I was anxiously awaiting were the race results and they were posted online on the Unilab Run United for Wellness official site. The results for the 3K, 5K, 10K & 21K runs were posted. I placed 1764th place out of 2254 racers in the 5K category... not bad for a 1st timer. Aside from the time finished and place, I was fascinated with the statistics generated like how many percent were in front of me or behind me, how many were male and female, and how did I fare overall. It put a better perspective to how I fared in the run plus I can set it as a marker and comparison for future events.

The next day, I got a text message from Unilab informing me that all runners who participated could check out their photos on the website just by entering their bib number. I entered mine on the search field (#8683) and it retrieved 2 photos of me nearing the finish line. This is great ! I didn't know they would provide photos for everybody. And I was worried that I wouldn't have any photos of myself since I didn't want to bring a camera with me while running (plus the best shot you could take is only arms length which is like your head and shoulders). I also searched for the bib numbers of the top 3 finishers per division and checked out their photos so I could get a look at the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers even if they were way ahead of me.

Overall, I loved the experience. I was already content with my regular jogging at the track & field for years, and now I wish I had joined events like these years back. Looking forward to the next run.

(Photo courtesy of photovendo.ph)

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