I joined the 35th National Milo Marathon Davao City 21k elimination race hoping to set a new personal record. It was perhaps the most trained I have been for a race. I was preparing for the Davao Finisher's Marathon come December, and have logged a series of 100-kilometer weeks before the Milo race. That much mileage with some pretty decent speed work mixed in will help ensure I can better my 1:41:31 21k best. The only question was will the new, more difficult race route allow it.
It was in 2008 when I first ran a Milo Marathon provincial race again in Davao City after a brief running hiatus which kept me away from racing. I finished the 21k race in 1:49:45 on a relatively flat course from Rizal Park to Sasa and back. I missed out on the 2009 race due to work schedules.
In 2010, a new race route was used for the 34th Milo Marathon elimination race. A moderate climb going to the old airport in Sasa was added making it a bit more difficult than the 2008 route. Finishing at 1:51:27 was frustrating. Not only was it slower than my previous Milo Marathon time two years back, it was outside the 1 hour and 50 minutes qualifying time set for my age group for the Milo Marathon National Finals. Even if I wouldn't have run in the finals anyway, qualifying would have been some achievement.
With Baguio out of the schedule this year, the Davao City route could easily be considered as this year's toughest. The runners were flagged off at Roxas Avenue, headed on a flat route until the slight incline at the Bajada-Buhangin junction. Past the 10K turning point in front of the Carmelite Church, participants turned left to Damosa where several hundred meters from the corner they were welcomed by a long steady uphill, one which seemed to become a bit more steep as it approached the Diversion Road. A slightly flat portion gave the runners a bit of comfort but it was really nothing less than the calm before a storm. Up ahead were to more hills, one after the other, before the 21k turnaround. The initial long climb saps you; the next two others just bleed you dry.
My race has gone well so far up to that point. My old reliable Timex Ironman Triathlon read 00:49:36 at the 21k turnaround. Ahead of me was my running buddy Cris Panerio who was competing in the age bracket immediately below mine. a former track athlete and a seasoned racer, Cris is a fast runner with a pace I can hardly match unless he runs easy. I haven't been this close to him in a race. In fact, I have caught up with him several times going into the turnaround and again as we headed back towards Damosa. But he always picked up the pace and left me trailing him by several meters.
Trying to keep Cris in my sight and within a distance I could bridge worked well for me. I passed several other runners going into the finish. Cris and I crossed the finish line with only a split second between us. The final results had us both clocking 1:42:04. He was the top finisher in his age group as I was in mine. Topping that, I came in almost 18 minutes under the set age group qualifying time of 2 hours.
There was no PR for me this time. But given the killer route and the way I have raced, I wouldn't call this a bad run. Not in any way.
|Running to the finish at the 35th National Milo Marathon Davao City 21k elimination race|
P.S. After going through the 35th National Milo Marathon provincial elimination race results, I found out that only 19 made the qualifying time for the 55-59 age group in nine out of sixteen races outside Metro Manila. The fastest finishing time recorded was 1:37:35 by Ruth Banzon in Cebu City. Iloilo City had the two next fastest times: 1:38:24 by Demostenes Limbaga and 1:42:01 by Herminieildo Meñosa. In fourth was my 1:42:04.