Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Milo 5k Race: A Parade of Umbrellas

As in the Manila Half Marathon Challenge, I had my doubts that the Milo Marathon will push through today. It's been raining the whole week and it seemed it didn't want to stop just yet. But at around 9 AM yesterday, the organizers made the bold announcement that rain or storm, the show must go on. I think they were really determined to make history as 60,000+ runners from the 4 cities of Manila, Cebu, Davao and Tarlac will run simultaneously for the very first time.

And boy, oh boy, were they serious!

I was quite happy when I woke up this morning not hearing any sound of rain shower. Good. No rain. At about 5:10 AM, we were already approaching Luneta. The police officer prevented me to turn left at Kalaw so I proceeded and planned to park right in front of the Rizal monument. That's when it started to rain. We noticed that there were no cars parked on that side so I asked another police officer where I could possibly park. He told me to turn left to Manila Hotel. When I was about to turn left, another police officer blocked my way and advised me to turn right and park along Burgos. I had no choice but to oblige. Fortunately, we saw one vacant spot. But when we were about to disembark, down came the heavy rain. It was still early so we chose to stay put and wait for the rain to stop.

Nothing to do inside the car but to take some pictures heh heh...

At around 5:40 AM, we decided to go to the assembly area. Jenny and my cousin Wendel brought umbrellas since it was still raining. But me, I just wore my cap and put on my jacket.

Me and my cousin Wendel, while waiting for the final call of the 5k runners. The first batch was the 10k runners followed by the 3k runners. We were the last batch to leave Luneta.

With Jenny, my ever faithful friend. How I wish she could run with me in the next race. Go, go Jenny!

When the rain stopped, Wendel brought back his umbrella and my jacket to the car to lighten Jenny's load. Our mistake. Heavy rain came pouring again. I felt soooh cold without my jacket so I ran to the car to fetch it and when I came back, the 5k runners were now being summoned to enter the assembly area.

Wendel and I positioned ourselves somewhere in the middle. Another mistake. After the Go signal, we couldn't even walk because the people (mostly teen-agers who were obviously not runners) were busy waving at the video camera of ABS-CBN! After some minutes, we were moving at snail pace after I heard another shout of GO, RUNNERS! Then those in front of us stopped again. Then another GO, and we were off at tortoise pace. I couldn't believe that we were blocked again. After what seemed to be eternity, I finally found myself running but at a very slow pace because some participants were only walking with their umbrellas and back packs! It looked like a parade of umbrellas!

Oh, well. Different strokes for different folks, I told myself. We were running the same route as my first race so I already knew where to turn. No problemo. But when I turned at the U-Turn Mark, there was nobody there to give the red straw. I went ahead and saw some runners playing a tug of war with the red straws! They were actually "fighting"over the red straws. I stopped for a while but thought that it's useless to join the "war" so I went ahead and there's this angel giving away red straws. Thank you, Lord!

When I passed by Pedro Gil, I knew I was only 1.5km away to the finish line. I ran faster, motivated by the pouring of more heavy rains. I passed by Rizal Monument. This time, I knew I had to go ahead and turn left at Burgos. I ran even faster, so fast that Jenny didn't see me arrive at the finish line. I was surprised that I reached the finish line without any pain in my body. In fact, I actually felt lighter and stronger. According to my old but reliable Citizen watch, my time was 30 minutes. I did it! But of course, I expect the Milo Official Time to be 40+ minutes because of the delays I mentioned earlier. Well, I don't really mind what my official time was. I know I ran faster this time and most important of all, I arrived free of any injury.

It took me a long time before I saw my cousin Wendel then we both looked for Jenny. We couldn't find her anywhere so we approached the emcee if we could page her but instead, he made the announcement that those looking for their missing friends should meet in front of the stage. With that, Jenny appeared from nowhere and took this last shot below.

After this last shot, I heard the emcee announce the arrival of the first runner in the 42k category. It was 7:31 AM in my watch. I was a bit alarmed, because I had to be home before 9AM. I promised my son Gio that I'd be back in time for the Children's Mass where he was scheduled to sing the responsorial psalm.

We ran back to the car, took off and had a quick breakfast at Max's Malate.

I could feel my heart pounding very fast because of the rerouting. I didn't anticipate that Roxas Blvd would still be closed to traffic. I heaved a sigh of relief when I finally crossed Roxas Blvd. and made it to Diosdado Macapagal Ave. From there we were flying back to Las Pinas.

It was exactly 9AM when we entered the village gate. They were already in church when we got home because Gio had to do a last-minute rehearsal before the mass. I quickly dressed up, brushed my teeth, fixed my hair and face. Then off we go again. I couldn't park the car near the church because there's no more space left so I had to park at a distance. When I heard the choir sing the processional march, I ran like a bull without even thinking that I was now wearing my high heel shoes (shades of Cameron Diaz in "The Holiday" when she ran in the snow to go back to Jude Law).

Jenny and I arrived just as my son was walking toward his seat from the processional march. After his rendition of the psalms, I couldn't contain the tears in my eyes. I was just happy to run the Milo Race and then being back in time for my son and my family. God is sooh good!