Prelude To The Race
Hundreds of marathon runner wannabees had just recently became one themselves with the conclusion of a 3 month long training with the The Bull Runner team of qualified coaches with the Dream Marathon held a Nuvali. How time indeed flies when it was as if yesterday when I was the one giddy with excitement at the thought of running my first marathon. Now a handful of my running buddies are themselves in the same situation as I am last year and how I am proud to be welcoming them in the roster of dream marathoners.
Not everything was fine with me though so far as my running times have been after my Dream Marathon. A week after that, I ran a 10k race and was huffing and puffing for no apparent reasons before I even reach the 5K mark. When before it is normal for me to finish it before an hour, now it the fastest I can go is 1:06. My half marathon marks are worse. They were off by more than 30 minutes to my average times of around 2:10. My latest 21K mark was pegged at 2:45! I even did a more than 3 hour one just recently though that one was at an out of town picture and “pasaway” pace.
This year will hopefully be a comeback year for me. Come back to my old speed and form that is. Aside from my duathlon training, I am trying my very best to at least estimate my previous times prior to my TBR DM. So after over a month of semi-continuous training starting the very first day of January save for the 10 days I got sidetracked with a flu, I decided to give it a shot at a Run for Juan half marathon.
Before The Run
Prior to race day, I had been waking up very early three days in a row with less than five hours of sleep each time for various work related activities. So the night before I tried my very best to hit the sack early and get at least 5 hours of shut eye. Fortunately, I did so even then when I woke up earlier than my usual at 2:30 to arrive in an hours time at 7-11 Estrella, the met-up place with FRD Sweetness, before proceeding to Ortigas together for my 4:20 gunstart (his is much later for 5K). I had 3 days of total no run days prior but was doubtful of my condition as up to yesterday my legs seemed heavy till the very time I was preparing all my things before sleeping. I woke up refreshed and strong though and very hopefull for my performance later. We arrived with enough time to change into our running clothes and to drop our things at the baggage tent.
While trying my very best to follow Coach Michelle Estuar’s dynamic warm-up exercises despite Sweetness’ plea to accompany him to the rest room (which by the way I also need but don’t have the time as the gun start will blow off in a bit), Red Ramie introduced his tall mestizo German Ilonggo friend Angelo to the group. He is fresh from Iloilo for a meeting but decided to run just the night before despite not training for more than a month due to work. All of a sudden he is finding himself beside a very gay fabulous running diva in short shorts and red knee-high socks! After a bit, off we go as the gun fired, the restroom thing was totally forgotten.
On The Road
I am not used to running with somebody. I am a solitary runner and the reason maybe because I cannot hold on to a pace for a time. I waver now and then. I would not want my running buddy to adjust every so often. I am worried when Angelo decided to stick by and follow me stride for stride. Conversant in many things running, I was made immediately comfortable by this tall mestizo beside me. He seemed not at all bothered by my very “gay” running get up much more my way ward pace. Then I realized the importance of pacers, they keep me paced!
I started tentatively trying to feel not only myself but my running mate as well. A fallen lady runner just minutes after starting who tripped on the steel reflectors dotting the center of the road jolted us from our conversation which centered on everything running. A road rash is in the offing I thought to myself after not really taking a closer look at her. Good luck to her on the later part of the race when the adrenaline wanes and the pain starts to manifest. I grimaced at the thought. Going back to the conversation, well, I was trying to measure my exertion through the ease or difficulty of carrying a decent talk without the pant. I believe on the first few Ks I was more in the verge of being out of breath than on the middle part where my breathing was more stabilized.
Half way along the route, two flyovers came in succession and I became more tentative in my pace taking time to walk uphill and to recover actively downhill. By the 1:20 mark I can feel myself flying but since I am with somebody, I just cannot let myself be carried by the surging adrenaline. I have to take walk breaks whether I am inclined to or not since Angelo would prefer to take his drinks along abundant hydration stations (I guess less than 2km apart) walking and recovering. This would prove beneficial on the later stages when energy sources are being depleted. As my erudite pace mate would explain, having a pacer would average each others pace and avoid unnecessary surges midway.
Around the Julia Vargas stretch on the way back a new member to the growing family of Fabulous Running Divas who I just added a few days before caught up with us. It was a good thing he called my attention for I would never have known him from his face book profile picture most especially when all the while I thought he was a she! In fact I even overtook Alyna, his name, earlier admiring his very athletic brawny female physique akin to that of triathletes! Exchanging pleasantries and introductions, we moved ahead and promised each other to see after the race.
By myself I have a tendency to go fast the first quarter, steady the next two and barely able to run the last quarter. I warned Angelo to just move ahead by the 14K mark or after 1:20 if I am unable to keep up. Then when that moment came, I said maybe give me 10 more minutes as I am still feeling good at this point. When 10 minutes is over, I said by the 17th km mark for sure I will lose the pace. In short, the breaking up point, be it physical or psychological, kept on being postponed till less than a mile to go. That is when I started to feel my legs getting heavy up the undulating road of White Plains. I began taking longer walk breaks by then and roll only when the road slopes down. With less than a kilometer to go, I started to count the cars parked before the finish line to distract me from my aching legs and to keep on pushing. 200 meters to the finish line I started to pick up pace to the surprise of Angelo who awhile back did every encouragement there is to keep me running. I checked my watched while trying to catch my breath. It read 2:16.
It was a great run given the fact that the route is new to me with two fly overs to overcome. The road along the vicinity of the gated subdivisions is wide and runner friendly but challenging as well as it is undulating at several areas. The air is cool and fresher compared to commercial district routes due to the presence of big shady trees of the upper class houses. Hydration stations are almost present in every kilometer! Pocari Sweat provided sports drink in no less than 2 stations. Big and fresh bananas were even offered in one (or is it two?) stations. Marshals and traffic police are ample and very efficient. Some even cheering and encouraging the runners. Many running friends are part of the committee so I am positive even before the start that it would be a great race.
I did not get a shirt for the top 50 male which I already anticipate but a nice looking rectangular medal is all worth the fuss. Even Sweetness is proud of himself to be able to get one which is limited to a certain number of finishers despite not having slept after running for 5k the night before at Color Manila Run. After several hours taking time to change to something less sweaty and comfortable, meeting up with Nikki again and his two friends, taking some souvenir pictures, Sweet and I made rounds of running friends around the activity area before joining the group of Papa Jack Morales and Ninong Ralph for McDo’s birthday celebration at Jollibee Farmers’ Market.
Then it was time to call it a day. I have a contented smile throughout the day. Next time I would target 2:12. Run United 1 here I come!
P.S. Runningmate.ph chip time result: 2:13:40