Friday, September 25, 2009

Random thoughts on Running

1. I hate my long runs. I really do. Anything more than 15km takes an effort to finish. I especially hate it when I am running by myself. With or without music, it's the same thing. I don't mind the first 15km but after that, it felt like I'm running forever and going round and round with no destination. I feel like a mouse on a training wheel.

But then my sister invited me to go for a long run with her. I was surprised that I can go faster and can hold to it. Best of all, we conversed while running and have a brief bonding session. So, it was still at an easy pace as can talk normally but still faster than what I expected. That made me survive my long runs. If my sister's target run is shorter than mine, I will then wake up my wife who will then run with me for the remaining distance. I realize I don't really hate the long runs. I just hate running alone.

2. My marathon is coming in 1.5 months and I'm not training enough for it. I run only three times a week with one required long run at the end of the week. For the past three weeks, I just had a total of three runs and they were all short distanced! I'm not panicking yet but I know I need to build mileage and soon but too fast can make me lose the race without even starting it! I don't want that to happen as paid a lot for that race to push through (accomodations, race entry, flight, car) making it my most expensive race if you add up all these costs. But I have a huge leeway in terms of beating my first full mary. I only have to run consistently and not burn out or "hit the wall". I have advantages in terms of a flat course and cool weather but it may offset my lack of training. I really need to run more - at least add a day. I will do this starting next week and progress to five days a week to get used to running.

3. Starting this Sunday (but really last Sunday as already joined a race) I will be joining a race every weekend as part of my long run requirements. What will be hard won't be finishing the races but knowing that I still have to run more to meet my goals. The hardest of course will be the two 32km long runs I have to finish. One will be on October 4 and for that I will do the OctobeRUN race but that will just be a 16km distance race. I have to run very early before the race to avoid the sun! The next 32km will be on October 18, perfect for the Q.C. Race but caught in-between the half and full marathon. Do I do the half and run the remaining 10km or do the full and run the 32km and walk the last 10km as cooling down? And what about Per? What will she be doing the whole time? She will do the 10km but she said that I shouldn't worry about her as she can keep herself occupied. Saturday afternoon, we will be at Fort Bonifacio with a lot of cash as we will go to a lot of stores (Runnr, Mizuno, Nike, ROX) to register for all the races of October. We are back in the running world. But did we leave at all ?

4. I hate training for a marathon. When you want to lie in bed and just watch a DVD but at the back of your mind, you know you have to get up to run. It feels like cheating yourself and that is one thing you do not want to do or pay for the consequence come race day. I tell Per that this would be my last marathon as training for one drains me out. She doesn't believe me as I said that before when training for my first full mary and now here I am again, training for my second. I laugh at her comment but appreciate her support. In all honesty, I have a feeling she may be right in her observation!

5. I don't care anymore for getting a new 10km, 15km, 21km PR. My only goal is to get a new 42km PR. So I use the races to finish my long runs. Still, I get frustrated that I am slowing down when a few months ago I was speeding to the finish line. But maybe this method is better rather than speeding to the finish line and walking the last 5km that I need to complete due to depletion of energy at the race.

6. I need to buy running clothes for USA. I need long sleeves shirt and pants or I may freeze while there. Heard about compress pants and curious about it. But it just doesn't look good on me. Or I am just not used to it? The high price tag doesn't help! Decisions decisions! A skull cap would be awesome as well.

7. I misplaced my Ipod Shuffle but now, I don't need it. I prefer to be running with the silence. Listening to my thoughts than to music. Hearing my feet shuffle. Conscious about how my arms move and if they are relaxed enough. Seeing the sights around me. Seeing friends and family in races. Talking to my wife, friends or siblings while running is better than listening to music. But that's just me. Or that's just me NOW.

8. I need to do core work, cross training and strength training but now, with no time to even run. I forego all these things. Thinking of going back to the gym next year too. Still interested in reading Runner's World magazines but not excited as I was before. Am I burning out with the sport? Hmmm...

9. Even if I say I hate training for a run and seem to be burning out at times, running still helps me de-stress. It makes me relax afterwards. It clears up my mind and thoughts. It's something I can continue doing. So maybe I really am going to quit on marathon training after this and just do short runs. That way, I can still continue running whenever I want to and not be pressured by the training. I feel that the half marathon is my most comfortable pace anyway. Full is way too long and 10km is way too fast for me....

10. But I still can't escape the drawing power of a full marathon. Especially when you plan your next one. And before you know it, I have on impulse registered for my next non-refundable 42km race again and so begins again the vicious cycle....

RFB Signing Off!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

RotaRUN (Sept 20, 2009) -Post Race


The RotaRUN was the first race that Per and I joined after having a change in status quo. It was memorable that way but instead of being excited, we were fearful for it. The reason behind this fear is that for the past three weeks we have logged in very little or didn’t do any runs at all (me for the former and Per for the latter). There was just no time what with the moving to a new place, travelling, etc. It was hard to insert a 1-hour or more run in our already tight schedule. Our fitness level most certainly dropped and we will have a hard time running again.

But we didn’t expect this when we registered for said race a month ago. I figured there was always time to do a run as it had become a routine for us. So, I eagerly registered for the half marathon race while Per went for the 15km distance race. The come on for me would be the finisher medal at the end of the race (at that time, it was offered to all categories but was subsequently revised to just the 21km race after a switch of organizers).

Now, come race day, we are faced with fears on whether we would burn out from the long endurance and the very intense route that McKinley Hills is known for. Per’s strategy is to complete the first 10km by running it and if she is tired, she will just walk the remaining 5km. My strategy would be a long slow run at a constant pace. No speeding for the two of us and very cautious in the race pace. Our goals would only be to complete the race strong and not “hit the wall”. “Hitting the wall” has happened as often as achieving the runner’s high and that is one thing that we want to avoid.

Upon checking the website the previous day, I found out that the race start was amended to 5:30AM so on race day, I was very much surprised as to WHY the 21km race started 10 minutes before the already amended race time? They shouldn’t have revised the schedule and just stuck with the 5:15am time if they wouldn’t follow it. Better for us to be there early than to be panicking once we heard the race had started! The parking was horrible when we got there with the long line to the entrance. Good thing my sister found a way to leave the car somewhere and run to the starting line. I still didn’t make it on time due to the earlier than expected starting time but at least I was just off by 2 minutes at the most. Who knows how delayed I would be had we stayed at the line heading into the car park.

Luckily, I had my Garmin with me so even with my late start, I can base my finish time on my watch instead of the official time. My legs felt heavy at the beginning of the race especially with the uphill climb but eventually it got used to running and I was going at a constant pace. I made it a point to stop at every water station and get for myself a cup of water or sports drink. I made sure to go at a slow pace and conserved my energy. Even after the 10km mark , I was still conservative in my pace as “hitting the wall” can happen at any time. I saw Per at her 10km mark and she seemed to be doing okay. So far so good!

Nat gave me a pack of GU gel but I kept it as a last resort as figured the sports drink are already helpful for this race. I was thinking of taking the GU at 16km mark and speeding for the final 5km. And that’s when I saw Jay running back towards Heritage Park. It was clear he was over and doing a long run (in preparation for another marathon maybe?). What I didn’t expect was when he shouted that it’s just 17km. What? Did I hear him right? Is he correct? NO WAY! At that point, I was still saving my strength and checking on my breathing and thinking whether I should go out fast given that I was at 16km already. But I was hoping that it wasn’t true. It was really weird to have this large a discrepancy as organized by a very popular Philippine running website. Unfortunately, it was true. Those who didn’t know of the shorter distance would think they got a new (and a fantastic) half marathon PR. Those sporting Garmins, Polar, Timex, Nike+ watches went back to running to complete the 21km or even go longer as part of their marathon programs.

The organizers delivered on their promise for a finisher medal but when I read that it says “21km Finisher”, it felt like I cheated to get this medal as didn’t run even close to that distance, and so I ran another 4km to reach the quota. I was able to run and find Per and help her finish her race (where she got a new 15km PR). For the remaining 2km I had to do, I just ran-walked at McKinley Hills.

This one big factor made it the worst race for me to date and I really, really hope this will not happen again in the future. If the organizers had already known about the shortened distance, they could have at least mentioned it prior to the start of the race or at least included in their amendments that it is just an 18-km distance race… but I guess they couldn’t do that as they have already made their finisher medals. Had they done this, I would have a better measurement of the right pace and not conserved as much as what I did in this race.

For comparison sake on ratio and proportion, it is like training for a full marathon, finishing it at a very good time but finding afterwards that the distance was just 36km. How would you feel? Will you consider yourself a marathoner and wear your finisher medal proudly or will you feel bad that all that training has gone to waste? Will you run an additional 6km just to complete the distance although time for that additional distance was not recorded?

That was exactly what I felt when I crossed the finish line. A very disappointed race indeed…

Per with her finisher certificate

Me with my ummm "21km" finisher medal.