A Running “Partner” and a Not-So-Diva Start
Then I ran the Run United 1 21K category with the hope of completing the triptych. That is but an afterthought for now given that in this instance, my training is a hit or miss thing. This was after all a comeback half marathon distance race for me after my last August of last year. Going into this run, I managed albeit hesitantly to tuck into my “mileage belt” a single lsd of 13K just a week before! So all I wanted was just to be able to finish this first stage “alive and kicking”, or a sub-2:30 will be more than good enough.
I’ve got myself a partner by the way. We all like that, don’t we? A partner in conquering a seeming daunting task. Unfortunately, mine came not in a human package but in cerulean blue, neon green and black very light and minimalistic REEBOK ZFury running shoes. The thing is, I had but wore it just the other day for about an hour! Talk about the rule of not wearing anything new on race day! Well technically, it is not new, but just not thoroughly broken in. So there was nothing I can do but keep a blind faith in the shoes and in myself.
I arrived with just a few minutes to spare for baggage and to find my spot amidst thousands and thousands of half marathon runners in the starting area at the SM Mall of Asia grounds. Early runners and elite have positioned themselves in front while I found myself at the back part not even on the road but in the parking area flanking it. That’s how full the start area already was!
With the gun start for second wave, I reached the starting arc a good 5 minutes or more of inching my way together with Pinoy Fitness Jeff Lo and WGR running friends Paula and boyfriend Hanz and Carla of Team Titans and the rest of “humanity” prolonging the eagerness to run. With some prayers I got to running a very conservative pace hoping to get into an easy rhythm I can maintain past 14K, my psychological barrier in my usual 21K runs. Easy meaning 7 to 8 minutes per kilometer when before it was 6:30!
The Entourage, or Precisely, The Crowd
My run at this regular weekend warrior runner friendly pace found me in a big crowd for most or at most three fourths of the run. That meant zigzagging around much slower or slowing down runners ever so often until past half the distance. The good thing was that I was wearing the shoes with Formula One Technology soles developed not only for speed, being lightweight, but traction for sudden turns as well. This sheer number of runners made me conclude that this is a bit of a crowd not only for a diva runner like me but for the roads of the Mall of Asia surrounds including Roxas Boulevard as well. It got a bit tricky going up and down the EDSA overpass which was unlit and very congested. At slightly past the U-turn slot located before reaching the Coastal Mall area, there was a ditch made by the ongoing road construction that can be dangerous save for the proper lighting that was thoughtfully provided.
Another crowding occurred in the area where the 10K runners converged with the pikermi runners around the Quirino intersection area of the Roxas Boulevard. All the while I thought I was that badly out of form seeing runners beside me suddenly sprint till I cannot see them at this point in the race! I assured myself for pride and dignity, as I cannot see their bib colors, that they must be 10K runners. They should be! For I cannot imagine even elite runners sprint like 5K runners about to reach the finish line at around 12K of their 21K run! Kids!
My Lightweight But Full Packed Partner
The Reebok ZFury is holding on quite well! The construction is like my Kinvara only just a bit thinner in the soles making it lighter most especially in the heel area making the heel-to-toe drop almost zero, if not zilch. I had concerns for this lightweight minimalist construction. I was crossing my fingers that it will provide me enough protection for the half marathon distance given my present running efficiency and muscle strength condition. I was also fearful of the recurring calf ligament pain running the side of my lower legs midpoint of my calf and ankle that I got lately from running a slightly elevated newly discovered weekday-run route. Fortunately, I got none of those.
The ZFury’s cushioning proved enough for me, a midfoot/forefoot stride runner. All of these worries were allayed past the halfway mark when I felt no muscle and joint pains whatsoever and the shoes’ lightweight construction was helping me push for more Ks without the lactic acid making its unwanted presence felt. After the 14K mark though, I usually intersperse heel striking into the stride just to relax and rest the set of muscles utilized in this. With less than 3Ks to go, I felt some pressure on my left knee starting to build up. It was when I was mostly heel striking due to fatigue. This turned into some stabbing pain after I reached the end of my run and stood in the finisher’s shirt small and extra small line for quite some time due to a single filing system – in the shirt size of the most number of runner! Duh! Another “nega” factor for me
Another usual new shoe concern not only for me but also for most was contact points that can prove problematic as the run progresses. I had initial concerns around the lace area pressing against my front ankle area. During the run, I felt none of that maybe because of less tight lacing and good running socks. The toe box itself is roomy so no chaffing between my big toe and the next one which I usually have with or without the petroleum jelly factor.
The Finish Line and the Shirt Line that Got Too Long
Approaching he finishline, I was glad that it was lined with lots of Running Photographers who are running friends. They made an effort to call out my name and capture my moments despite not looking camera perfect at this time. This was also where I espied One Reyna Redg Candido, a fellow Fab Diva and blogger heading a few meters before the FL. I pretend to pass without recognizing her. I cannot bear the thought of running beside someone whose pace, albeit slow, was continuously maintained while a supposedly stronger and faster runner like me was almost struggling the last few meters. Channeling my inner acting prowess to pretend strong and happy for the cameras, I crossed the finish line with a time of 2:29.58! Pasok sa banga!
Then the lining for the finisher shirt which proved too long for comfort, or for my knees comfort. The only good thing out of this waiting in line was that I got several opportunities to pose with running friends and formed line acquaintances. One of them was HivPositive Runner whom I admire for his courage to slowly reveal himself despite the stigma and I sought out for a picture with as Pinoy Fitness photog Lems So happened to pass by. They must have anticipated this given the number of S and XS shirts. Adding to this difficulty is the fact that they provided just a single booth for both shirt sizes! Tsk…tsk! Meanwhile the M, L and XL areas had no files whatsoever. Fortunately, some enterprising head found it necessary, albeit belatedly, the need to add more files.
Then I realized I had not done my post run stretching which I did concentrating on my left kness while slowly inching and keeping myself entertained lest I burst from this seeming shortsightedness from the shirt givers. Then something clicked and together with it went away my knee pain. Lesson learned: aim and train for the midfoot stride for most of the distance to avoid knee pain while using minimalist cushioned shoes for the half marathon distance and stretch after. This I cannot promise for my comeback marathon in April so I just have to settle for the still lightweight minimalist shoes but with thicker heel cushion Kinvaras.
Free After Race Meal with PAR and Some After Thought
Post-race found me eating or actually being offered something to eat as I can hardly stand up by the very friendly and active Pinoy Aspiring Runners team members including more photographs. There was even a bilao of pancit! I thought somebody was celebrating his or her birthday only to be informed that this was how they usually celebrate post-race as a team! Now I know where to park myself after a race here in SM MOA grounds – in front of Savory where the team usually gathers!
One cannot imagine how big Run United races had become these past few years with registration slots for 21K running out after within just a few days of opening. The leveling up of runners is just dumbfounding and the sheer number of sub2 runners is just astounding. I will be contented with being with the “regular” pace group with the majority of others. At least here I can properly gauge the race from the vantage of someone reaching for the hydration station after a thousand others had gone through. And by the way as usual, they were adequately provided for though the front portion of the very long hydration table usually have empty cups after a myriad dehydrated runners had already passed through. You just have to move forward towards the end of the long table and be able to get a cup or two of either water or Gatorade. The race besides the crowding due to sheer number is worth its place in the running community given the quality of the singlet, finisher shirt and medal as well as the post-race activities and performers. Kudos Run United for that!
Reebok ZFury performed well for me being lightweight and flexible minimally cushioned soles best for 21K and shorter and found out that I was not an inefficient a runner after all! Love the colors too! Fabulously gorgeous and the runners and this race is! But can I still be able to run a sub 2:10 21K with or without the help of this running shoes? I will train for that, I promise myself. Will run the 32K in the next edition and feel like a diva runner once again! Mwah, mwah!