Fun runs, in my opinion, live up to their name. They’re fun because there’s no pressure to finish first place. For most people, it’s more important to cross the finish line than to place in the top three.
Sure, winning is awesome because you receive huge cash prizes and a medal; but for casual runners, running X kilometers without giving up is exhilarating and a reward in itself. The experience becomes even more enjoyable and memorable when you have a buddy running with you.
So when I got an opportunity to join the Robinsons Supermarket 12th Fit & Fun Wellness Buddy Run last July 7, I took it and signed up my sister, too.
I signed up on a Wednesday; the fun run was to be on Saturday. My sister and I work from 9:00 – 6:00 (and beyond), so there was zero chance for us to prepare. I couldn’t remember the last time I jogged, and the only exercise I do is stretching when I wake in the morning and doing office exercises when I get sleepy in the afternoon.
Was I ready to take on a 10K run? No, I was not.
But I gave it my best shot, and it became a learning experience from which I learned a lot. Scroll down if you want to get to my advice right away; but if you want to get more context and maybe formulate your own must-dos, read on.
Rise and Shine!
Assembly Time: 5:00 AM
Gun Start: 5:30 AM
Starting Point: The Parade Grounds at Camp Aguinaldo, QC
We set our alarms the night before at 3:00 (and 3:15, just in case; you know how that goes) and were at our meet-up point with other runners at 4:00 (fortunately, my sister and I were offered a ride to the venue). Just before we left, I bought two bottles of 500ml water. It’s a fun run, after all, and we’ll get thirsty.
At the Venue
We arrived at Camp Aguinaldo at 4:45. The place was already packed, and the runners were hyped and ready. Meanwhile, my sister and I haven’t even taken our singlets out of their plastic bags yet. Oh well.
We quickly wore them over our dri-fit shirts, pinned our race bibs (number tags), and put on our shoe tags with timing chips. All around us, people were lining up for freebies, like bottled water, wafers and biscuits, energy bars, hotdogs (although I’m not sure if those were free) and rubbing alcohol.
Then it was finally 5:00—time to get things started. After a brief dance warm-up, the 10K runners were off to the starting line.
After a quick rundown of the rules (keep your bibs and shoe tags on, no straying off the route, and start and finish with your buddies), confetti flew in the air and everyone was off.
We started near the head of the crowd, but just five minutes later, more than half of the runners already overtook us. Another ten minutes after, I realized that wearing a drawstring bag wasn’t the best idea and that I might have been more comfortable if I didn’t have a dri-fit shirt under my singlet. These were minor issues, however, so I shrugged them off and ran on.
The organizers set up tarps with encouraging messages and luau bands on certain points of the run. I noticed that most runners started running faster and became energized when they heard the drums.
It was halfway through the U-turn point that the first runners started zooming past us. Many clapped and cheered them on, especially the first three pairs who clearly had their eyes on the gold.
When we passed a sign that read, “Almost there, KEEP GOING!” my sister and I whooped — we’re nearly there! But at this point it felt like the route just went on and on and on… it was a while before we finally arrived at the U-turn point. The run back to the finish line felt shorter after that.
Camp Aguinaldo was the perfect venue because it was expansive and closed off from the public. The runners didn’t have to dodge people, pets, hydrants, or cars. We could see up ahead on the road, and it made people-watching a pleasure.
We saw all types of pairs: parent and child, siblings, couples, friends, even-numbered barkadas, and colleagues. There was even a group of guys that ran wearing Super Mario costumes!
My sister and I didn’t care about our running time, but we did feel embarrassed when a senior citizen couple, looking more fit than either of us, passed by way before we got to the U-turn point. I also saw several runners who were barefoot, which I found interesting.
The End. Finally.
We made it to the finish line at exactly 1 hour and 45 minutes. We took so long, many runners had already changed and were headed for the parking lots. It didn’t matter to me though: I was just so happy to have conquered the 10k!
The event was far from over.
We stepped into the main activity area, and it was just packed. There were long lines for the free Robinsons Supermarket groceries and more for the booths that offered free samples and products.
Meanwhile, at the stage area, the after-event program continued with Iya Villania and Drew Arellano hosting. The top placers were awarded their medals and cash prizes, and some sponsors gave out other special awards, like the best smile, oldest/youngest runners, and more.
It was a truly memorable experience. My sister and I were tired, sweaty, and had to squeeze our way through the crowd, but we had a blast!
Would I join a fun run again? In a heartbeat. Would I recommend it? To anyone who’s relatively healthy, sure! But I suggest having practice runs at least a week before the race. Running 10 kilometers with zero preparation is doable, but it hurts —a lot — after.
Here now are my tips for amateur runners who’re up for the challenge of running 10 kilometers in an organized race.
Before the Run:
- Get enough sleep the night before.
- Dress appropriately. Wear a long-sleeved shirt if you want to avoid tan lines, but make sure it’s dri-fit. They’re light, breathable, and wick sweat away from your skin. Don’t wear cotton.
- Make up? It’s up to you, really. We spotted several ladies who had a full face of make up, and they looked fine after the race. It’s more convenient not to have any, though, because you’d be wiping the sweat off your face the entire time.
- Be at the starting venue at least one hour before the race starts. Between getting your singlets and race bibs on, checking-in your bags at the lockers, checking out the concession stands, and getting warmed up, time will pass by freakishly fast.
- Bring a car if possible. It saves you time lining up at the locker areas before and after the race.
- If you don’t have a car, bring only the basics and use a light bag. A fanny pack that you can wear across your body is ideal: it frees your hands, and the bag stays flush to your upper body. I regretted bringing my drawstring bag because it kept bouncing off my back; I had to pull the strings to the front for the entire run. I wasted energy on my arms when I should have focused on running and keeping my balance.
- There’s no need to bring water. Well-organized events, like this Robinson’s Fun Run, have sponsors that provide runners with water and energy drinks. You might even go home with an unopened bottle or two as I did.
- Don’t drink a lot just before the race. You don’t want to run with a heavy stomach, plus you’ll get plenty of free drinks along the way.
- Do bring a change of clothes; and for the ladies, a change of bra and underwear will make you feel more comfortable after.
During Your Run:
- Avoid taking pictures and videos; it will only slow you down. If you really want to document your run, I suggest using a Go Pro or something similar that’s portable, light, and wearable on your body. Record everything in HD video, and grab stills later for photos.
- When you’re starting to feel out of breath, inhale and exhale naturally through your mouth. Experts say this brings more oxygen into your body, and I agree. Also, I had less tension on my face, chest, and shoulders when I was breathing through my mouth instead of through the nose.
- Maintain a good amount of space between you and the runner directly in front of you. Doing so saves you from breaking your stride or losing your balance if the person suddenly stops.
- Take breaks when you need them! And by breaks I mean slowing to a walk. I don’t recommend stopping for more than three minutes because that’s enough time for you to feel your legs.
- Talk to your buddy! Enjoy the company and encourage one another to just keep running.
After the Run:
- Planning on getting as many freebies as you can from the sponsors’ booths? Don’t change into your dry clothes right away. You’ll continue to sweat under the sun and, if it’s crowded, rub against other sweaty bodies. There was no concept of personal space when the participants started clamoring over the loot bags and freebies.
- Resist the urge to sleep as soon as you get home. Adrenaline wears off after one hour, so about one hour after you stop moving is when you’ll start feeling the pain. I recommend moving for at least another hour to keep your muscles from going stiff. I found that it hurt less when I gently stretched than when I stay still for 30 minutes and then stand and walk.
I hope that with these tips, you’ll have a truly fun run. Good luck!
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A lover of stories, parks, animals, rainy days, and hot chocolate, she believes that the best remedies for bad days are three servings of french fries and one whole rainbow cake.