Sunday, December 25, 2011

Run United Cebu - My First Race outside Luzon

Run United Regional Series, something new from Unilab Active Health for this year. Organizing races outside of Metro Manila to cater runners in different provinces for them to experience one of the most sought after races in the Philippines. Fortunately, I was given a great opportunity to come and experience it for myself.

Two weeks before the race, I received an invitation from Ms. Janice Ianne Miguel of Unilab if I can come with them to Cebu for Run United. I was so very happy and excited, I even let out a shout after reading that email. "OMG! Is this for real?" Without second thoughts, I immediately replied to confirm that I'm coming. WOW! I'M GOING TO CEBU!!!

Cebu, The Queen City of The South. Known for it's beautiful beaches and delicious Dried Mangoes, Lechon, Chicharon and the famous dried fish called "Danggit". One of the places I would like to visit before I die (I'm serious here), and I'm so happy it happened far before my due date.

The excitement just keeps on growing and growing as the big day draws near, but a week before the trip my boss denied my Vacation Leave which is kinda shattering. I told him I will still go because the flight is already booked and I already sent in my confirmation. He had no say, and I don't care. I will go to Cebu even if it means I have to lose my job, though I am hoping not to.

The big day came! I rode a cab to NAIA Terminal 3. Yes, it's my first time to ride a plane and first time to go out of Luzon. I never had a travel opportunity before that's why I grabbed this chance and never let it get away.

Going to board the Plane in a few minutes!

The thought of boarding an Airplane for the first time in my life brought so much excitement. The feeling was like when I was going to have my first rollercoaster ride when I was twelve years old! I was jumping with joy and my heart is filled with overflowing happiness!

Cebu Pacific Airplanes are so cute! and they gave me my first Airplane ride so i won't forget them. While boarding, I was assigned on a seat next to the aisle. I'm so glad that Estan gave up his window side seat for me. The reason why I super enjoyed my Cebu bound ride. Thanks dude! I owe you one!

I love window side seats! Gives me the greatest view from the top! ^_^

Manila to Cebu is around an hour trip via airplane, and it was one of the happiest one hour of my life. You may think that I am a loser of some sort but I am not hard to please. Its through the simple things in life makes me the happiest of all.

They were worried about me so they made sure I have a barf bag available on my seat. They don't know that I easily adapt to my fears. I know how to psych up myself and to maintain a calm and composed state even if deep inside there is a slight hint of fright, very common for first timers I guess.

Looking from the top, everything looks like a view from Google Maps! LOL! :P

A beautiful, breathtaking view of the shores of Cebu via my iPhone! Priceless!

We had a rough landing to Mactan Cebu International Airport I was told. But I don't know what's its difference with a smooth landing anyway so it don't matter. When we unboard the plane, I feel I am so far away from home but close to my dream. After we got our bags from the "Bag rider" we went straight to our service going to where we'll stay, at Marco Polo Plaza Hotel!

Marco Polo Plaza Hotel is the only 5 Star Hotel in Cebu and they brag about having the best Spa in the City! Wow! Seriously? This is where we'll be staying? I was only asking myself the question.

Very cozy and costly hotel in Cebu, but very much worth the 5-Star rating!

After getting in we had our lunch in their famous Cafe Marco serving buffet lunch, and their food choices are almost endless! I took small portions of almost everything and I am so full already. I missed some of the food but at least I get to taste those that I don't usually eat like Lechon, Chicharon and their beautifully crafted desserts and cakes! Don't worry I am fully loaded with insulin! Food is so commendable! I ordered green tea afterwards to somewhat help me digest the food I just took in.

We got a chance to tour around Cebu and we only have 4 hours to do it so we just dropped by to nearby places. We went to Magellan's Cross, Fort San Pedro and ofcourse, we also went to the famous stop of tourist to buy Danggit and other dried seafood, Tabo-an Market!

Emoting at Magellan's Cross.

What's the name of this place again? LOL! :P

Taste testing Danggit. Seriously? Nope! :P

After the trip and pasalubong hoarding we had our dinner at Pino! Restaurant near the Hotel (buffet again!). I enjoyed the live piano music and their Comfort Room is so pretty, I didn't pass up a chance to take a pictorial inside!

This is a Cleopatra seat inside the Comfort Room. Cozy and nice! Please forgive my pose! :P

At Pino! Restaurant with the gang.

After that scrumptious dinner we went back to the hotel and headed to the Lounge where we let our food digest a bit before we hit the sack. We had a good short conversation with Ms. Claire Papa, the External Affairs Senior Manager of Unilab. She was all ears about our thoughts about Run United and what else we can suggest for the next years race.

Big day came! Woke up at around 2:00am and my body is so heavy I couldn't even get up from my very comfy bed but still I need to. We went to the venue of the race afterwards. I had a chance to roam around and observe Cebuano runners. They are just like us, it's just that they seem to be more excited for this. Maybe because it's not very often races like this happens in their place.

At the 21K Starting Line, can't move much!

with Ms. Doris and Ms. Claire of Unilab!

The Running Host Boy Ramos and Coach Rio Dela Cruz. Cebuanos gave them a very warm applause! ^_^

Blogger friends before the race. (Photo by: Jazzrunner, Rene Villarta)

GAT Runners of Cebu! I didn't get a chance to meet them though...

U-Turn at last! This is where I started walking almost all of the time...

The route is almost flat, with some short uphills. It is situated in the road so there is traffic between runners and vehicles. Cebuanos were very happy and they smile back at me! You can see them watching from outside their houses and they were also cheering though I don't understand what they were saying but I'm pretty sure it's all nice words.

While looking at a mini eatery on one corner of the street (I saw the "Puso" my blogger friends were talking about. It's rice wrapped in banana leaves, it's a street food in Cebu.) One old lady asked me "Maayong buntag day! Asa ka paigon?" I smiled and said "Naku lola pasensya na po hindi ako marunong mag Bisaya". Then she said "Ah! Taga diin ka? Manila?" Though I don't understand I just said "Opo!". I thank her and went off. Now I realized I need to know their language! :P

Kuya Junie (Our hotel driver) says it's named "Puso" because it is shaped like a heart. Cool! (Photo by:

What are the strong points of the race:

1. Hydration Stations were placed strategically. Cups were smaller. Perfect size for sips!
2. Kilometer markers are posted.
3. Marshals are plenty and they are all over the place!
4. Presence of Policemen around gives a feeling of security.
5. Marshals that acts like road cones on the street? Just great!
6. Traffic between runners and vehicles are so smooth sailing.
7. Snickers handed at the finishline feels like medal! ^_^
8. Loot bags, as always are full of great stuffs from Unilab!

Some room for improvement:
1. There's a certain point in the route where runners ran in the middle of a busy street. I was frightened but still I go with the flow.
2. Some hydration stations lack cold water and cold Powerade.
3. I missed out on the sponges. I know they have it available because I saw some runners with it. The hydration stations I asked doesn't have it.
4. Medals and Finisher Shirts did not make it on time.

Not bad for an almost all walk race I did! ^_^

With 1,300 21K runners, I was so overwhelmed! I never expected it. Cebuanos are run addicts so they don't differ with us Manilenos. Running with them and in their place is really wonderful! Though I had a hard time, I still finished 2 minutes shy from my last 21K PR!

Overall, I can say that Run United Cebu is a huge success! Thanks to Unilab Active Health and Runrio Inc. for organizing this race and for letting our fellows from the provinces experience this sought after race in Manila to their own city!

Special thanks to Ms. Janice Ianne Miguel of Unilab for the invitation and to Ms. Claire Papa, the Senior External Affairs Manager of Unilab for all the assistance provided to us during our weekend stay. To my blogger friends, Jinoe Gavan of, Rene Villarta (Jazzrunner), Bien Soberano (Kamote Runner), Estan Cabigas, Alfred Vedarozaga (Running Atom) and CJ Lampad (Run Adobo King) for making this experience extra special for me. To my Novo Nordisk family, Ms. Marinel Hargraves and most especially to Ms. Gina Reyes, the Senior Marketing Manager of Novo Nordisk Philippines for always believing and supporting my cause.

Bye Cebu! I promise I'll come back really soon! ^_^

I am looking forward to another race outside Luzon. How about Mindanao for next?

Good Vibes everyone and Sweet Running! ^_^


mariedeguia said...

sissy! i won't be surprised, if one day, i'll see u running outside PH. :) so proud of you... congrats to your lots of first times. heehee... love you. wish to run with you real soon! :p

mariedeguia said...

i mean really soon! :P LOL

midnightrunner said...

Merry Christmas! I'm glad to see that you had a great time in Cebu City! :)

Arthur said...

Congrats on your first race outside Luzon and awesome blog! Looking forward at your first race outside the country.

Michelle Manait said...

Thanks so much guys! I hope it will come true! ^_^