10K PR. Last Saturday (Aug. 10), I was able to finish a good 10-km race at the Buddy Run which was postponed last July due to heavy rains. At 48:40, it’s my fastest official time for a 10K. I was quite lucky to have Van, a Milo Apex friend as my pacer (or pusher/puller/motivator) for without his encouraging words (“you’re not pushing yourself hard enough” or “ why are you complaining too much?”), I would have easily walked into the finish line. I was already struggling with my breathing rhythm at midway and slowing down longer than I should at the water stations. So I guess a little push was what I needed since I hardly had any difficulty on my legs. With a glorious finish and caboodles of goodies, it’s one of my most memorable runs in recent memory.
A few weeks before this was another 10K run (the MC Cool Run, I know – very creative) and I forgot the meaning of pacing. With so many participants hiking up from the starting line, I easily pushed hard and fast at the outset of the race. I thought I was strong and was destined for a new PR but Katipunan was ascending towards UP and Tandang Sora so by the time I made the turn around, I was wasted and just sustaining whatever energy I still have left. I finished at 54 minutes and I knew it’s time to change my game plan.
MILO, finally. The Milo Marathon is one of the highlights in my running calendar every year so after being sidelined 2 days before the big day in 2012(due to dengue), it was some kind of triumph to find myself at the starting line, minus the lashing winds and rains from 2 years ago. Instead, I had a renewed vigor and excitement, perhaps from my recent strong finish in Stockholm. The weather was perfect, though some rain drops would have helped cool down my overheating body. Again, it was Van who took me along the darkened boulevard of Roxas with its hilly overpasses into Buendia Avenue. 21KMs registered at 1:56 which was minutes far from a 4:05 target for me to qualify in my age group.
But we continued to trudge on with wisps of 2nd winds to push me through the Fort area. At this point, mild slivers of cramping were already getting evident as I tried to ward them off with sprays of liniment along the route. By the time the monster brought out its sheer power, I was already doing my walk breaks along Buendia. I had to let go of Van at KM34 since I was already weighing him down (actually since KM10 when my pace started slowing down bit by bit). I just kept remembering how long I trained for this day to come so I let the heart/mind, in place of my fatigued and cramping legs, take over.
So it was a walk/run routine as we finally entered the reclamation area with the sun already starting to get piercingly hot. At the final meters, where all the photographers were strewn all over, I mustered enough strength to keep the running in countinuous motion with bouts of cramping in between. It was a valiant attempt in looking strong but the pictures told another thing. I was really aiming to breaking my PR on this (after dashing my hopes for a qualifying time) but I’m not complaining with 4:25:10. It’s my 13th full marathon and to survive it in one piece is a triumphant moment in my running history. I have to for the next week, I was at the…
Ironman, 70.3. That’s in Cebu and it’s my first time to be part of a Triathlon team. In this case, it’s Team Sunspear (though the initial name was ‘Miko and dentist friends’ – very smart, Miko). Our dictum – Unbowed. Unbent. Unbroken. (that’s from Game of Thrones’ House Martell). Anyway, Miko did the bike portion (at 1.5KM) while Doc Minnie was our biker, doing the 90KM route. We stayed in Cebu at a dentist friend’s (Dr. Florante Labitan) guest house so accomodations was a breeze. At 2:04, my 21KM run was quite slow since the sky was unexpectedly overcast and the route had great views all around. But I had fun running and witnessing how participants who have gone through the swim and bike parts can still slug it out on the road.
At P4,800, this is probably my most expensive 21KM run but it’s all worth it. Let me count the ways:
- It was a nice chance to bond with old running/ultrarunning friends and team mates from Boring & Kulit.
- It was a great showcase of how Cebuanos (and Filipinos in general) would stage an international competition. Tag words: over-the-top, hospitality to the max, genuine fondness/support for triathlon, impressive route
- If only for the freebies & facilities before, during and after the race, Ironman Philippines is something I would recommend runner/sports enthusiasts to experience in their lifetime. Noteworthy are the all-out carbo-loading meals in Shangri-la Mactan, 3 cold pools and showers post-race and more food and full meals at the finish line as demigods of showbiz/politics/sports hobnob with lowly Juans like us.
- Showbiz touch. Anne, Piolo, Georgina, Kuya Kim, Matteo, Erwan, Pia – the list just keeps going…not everyone would be seen battling out during the race but it’s enough eye-candy to keep me interested and to try hard to approximate their looks/build, to no avail, of course.
- The mild mannered tri-athlete. Now these are words which I never thought would come together in my vocabulary. With the level of skills and endurance triathletes have, I thought they would be the smug and arrogant lot but they’re the complete opposite, save for a few. I sat next to elite Arland Macasieb during the race briefing and he was just there sitting modestly by the floor. Plus, the apologies I got during my minor collisions in the race was enough to tell me that these are decent people (though, I did notice some athletes blocking the narrow transition area a number of times). I wished it was the same during the last Milo marathon.
- Respect. Whether you did not finish, barely made the cut or finished strong, triathletes have my utmost respect (and maybe envy). I mean, for you to show up at the starting area with the stormy waves before you takes a lot of nerve and chutzpah. Now where can I order gumption, courage and grit? I’m sorry, I have the thesaurus by my side.
So do I plan to TRI it soon? Not really. I’m too scared of figuring into a bike accident and lose my daytime job but I’m not closing my book. Besides, I have trail running to keep me busy when the road becomes wearisome. Last Sunday, though, I survived an open water mini-race with running friends and I seemed to have enjoyed it. So, who knows?
Training. So how do I survive many of my road races? Blame it to my almost daily runs during the weekdays with my Voltes Team where we run regularly our 13-km route. I’ve reduced it to 2-3 days to make up for my 7-8 hours of sleeping. For conditioning and strengthening, it’s the drills and routines we do twice a week at the Milo Apex with Coach Jim Saret at QC Circle (up to July, resuming in September) that really pushes me to my limits, especially during our speed runs. For some flexibility, I visit my gym (Slimmer’s World) for yoga and some weight training. A new Gold’s gym just opened near the clinic so I’m spending more time for some Pilates and less hardcore but equally effective gym routine. So there. Of course, all of these will change once the trails come a-calling. And that starts some time in September…can’t wait.
Photography by Les Lestsky Photography, WAFU Photography, Running Photographers & Tina Cunanan