The recently held Run United 3 race was my first 32km race and as such it was an automatic PR. But I didn’t join this race for an automatic PR. Rather, it served as my long run for the weekend and it was also used to gauge on how I would do for this ¾ full marathon distance.
The result: Not so good.
Words pop out of my head when I think of my race performance: Disappointment, disgusted, frustrated, irritated, sadness, and so on and so forth.
I got to Mall of Asia grounds around 4:30am and by the time I got to the race’s starting line, the 32km had already started some seven minutes earlier. But I didn’t mind this as there was a b-tag attached to my bib and I had my Garmin with me to record my own finish time.
I started at a comfortable 7:30 minutes pace as I slowly caught up with some 32km runners. The 32km route took us from Mall of Asia grounds to Roxas Boulevard to make a left turn underneath the flyover (on the other hand, 21km runners went up here) and into Buendia Avenue. There was a small lane reserved for runners and some marshals/ traffic enforcers watching over it. I tried to leave this place as quickly as possible as there were a lot of cars and jeepneys here, honking and beeping and releasing all those carbon monoxides! Definitely not healthy for any runner!
At one point along Buendia Avenue was the U Turn back to Roxas Boulevard to do some more miles here. At this point, my average pace had gone down to 7:09 but try as I can, I couldn’t bring it any lower. I was calculating when to consume my 3 GUs within this race and figured that the second one should be done right after the 21km mark (first one was used in 15km mark). Everything was still going fine with me. No pain, no slowing down, no tiredness. But that wasn’t bound to last.
At 27km, I slowed down… significantly. By this time, it was really, really hot and the heat was getting to me. I tried running in what little shade there were but that didn’t seem to help. I craved for water – drinking two cups at a time and using the third cup to pour the water over my head. My average pace went down to 7:12, then to 7:15, then to 7:17. This wasn’t turning out well. My slow running pace became a run-walk fiasco.
My lungs were okay but I had a hard time with the heat and even with the all mind games I played with (“run fast to rest”, “run fast so can get out from the sun”, “run so can see wife and kid again”, “run to get to buffet breakfast soonest”), none seemed to be producing the effect I desired for. But I wasn’t alone in this. All around me, almost everyone was walking the remaining distance.
And then the water ran out. Groan! They gave water in cups but said it was just for pouring and not for drinking. So I did that (but thought twice about drinking it) and moved on, looking for the next available water station, which came after 2km more. I was spent and exhausted by the time I reached the last kilometer and even at this short distance, I was still walking part of it!
A fellow 32km runner asked, “The finish line should be right around the corner, right?”
“I think so.”, I replied before adding, “I really hope so!” The runner chuckled thinking I was joking. I wasn’t but my own comment brought a smile to my face.
We were there that morning to challenge ourselves: to conquer that distance and we should appreciate it and not whine about it (which was what I was doing internally).
Then, it was the final turn and I saw the finish line up ahead. It was a sight of pure joy to know that my ordeal (too harsh a word?) was about to end. But it still seemed too far away. I had reached the 32km mark but the finish line wasn’t there yet.
I finally crossed it with a distance of 32.33km and got my finisher medal (and checked it if I got the right one). Then I got my finisher bag and shirt at the event’s area. And waited for Per to pick me up at a pre-agreed (and shaded) area.
The one single term I could think of as I crossed the finish line was simply, “ WIPED OUT”!
As I finally rested and had a hearty breakfast, I reflected on my race performance and realized that there were silver linings here as well. For one, this was my longest distance run for the entire 2011 (and the most mileage I did for a given week)! I didn’t even join this “Afroman category”, when it first came out in 2010 because I knew back then that I could not finish it. Back then, I was injured and even a half marathon race was difficult to accomplish. And even with a half marathon distance, the finish time wasn’t an issue. The only goals for them were to complete the distances and bag the finisher medals.
So it was just a matter of perspective that in this 32km distance I failed when I did not accomplish my pace target. I failed when I went slower at the last part instead of going faster. I failed when I started walking.
But I was still able to go below 4 hours and my average pace for this run was exactly the same as the one I did in January 2011 – for a 15km distanced race! And that wasn’t just any 15km distanced raced but it turned out to be my 2011 15km PR!
These things show how far I have gone as a runner for this year (with a big thanks to friend Alvin for all those trainings done).
And one final thing after having this experience was a renewed sense of MOTIVATION to be better and stronger the next time I do this.
Race Update: Race results are now available for viewing and can be seen at www.RunRio.com
My results are as follows:
Gun time: 4:05:07
Chip time: 3:57:25
Rank (based on gun time): 1,134/ 2,039 32km runners