When I ran my first half-marathon, Rexona Run To Your Beat 2014, I ran it with a buddy and we ran at a safe pace and managed to finish it with a sub 3 hour time. My next 21k run, the 7 Eleven Run 1500, I took risks and decided to run at a much faster pace than before and it resulted to a sub 2:30 finish time and my current half-marathon PR. Other half-marathons I participated in, NatGeo Run 2015, Laguna Run 2015, and Subaru Marathon, all yielded Sub 2:30 finish times. I know that in my current condition, I cannot run a Sub 2 hour 21k, so the closest best PR I can get is a the Sub 2:30 time. And with confidence and the need for validation, I wanted to get a medal from a competitive running event. I wanted such medal as the object that signifies my hard work and progress after 2 years in the running scene. I wanted a medal of achievement, the one that you only get by beating a time limit, not a mere medal that you get as token of participation. So, like what I did with the verification of my Sub 1 hour 10k run, I joined PinoyFitness 21k Challenge.
Prior to the run, another challenge I was facing was getting to the event location (SM Mall of Asia) on time (gunstart 5:05 am for Enervon Activ Wave) without the need to bring a car (because, I’m a runner on a budget, gas and toll gate money cost too much compared to public transportation). I left the house before 3 am, but I left the car keys at a reachable spot in case that I wasn’t able to catch a bus ASAP, I plan to go back home and take the car. Luckily, I was able to board a bus that was about to depart at around 3 am and I was able to reach Mall of Asia before 5 am.
It wasn’t a smooth start though. While I was able to prepare before our wave’s gun start, I had to take a piss and there was a line at the portalet area. So, I ran passed the next wave that already lined up and actually crossed the starting line almost a minute after the 5:05 am gun start. I started smoothly, running at a comfortable pace, hitting a sub 30 minute 5k and a sub 1 hour 10k. After that, everything goes awry. The race route is actually 2 loops around SM Mall of Asia and the vicinity nearby. I don’t like that kind of route, it’s less inspiring and repetitive.
By the time I reached the 12th kilometer and beyond, I slowed down significantly. So many things happening to me, I feel very exhausted compared to my previous 21k runs, I have multiple blisters on my feet, I’m breathing hard, my shoulders and the back of my neck hurts (probably due to improper arm swing), and the calf cramps are back. I feel like a runner who doesn’t know how to run properly, like a runner who was running his first half-marathon at a risky pace, I feel like I degraded back to newbie level. It was the worst feeling I felt in a half-marathon, I couldn’t speed up if I wanted to because of the cramps and at one point during the race, I was even thinking of the one thing that serious runners should never think about, DNF or Did Not Finish. Yes, it was that bad that I even think about it even for a brief moment because I feel like I’m not going to get the medal anyway. But, if I did go DNF, it’s the most shameful thing I have ever done because I was never seriously injured, just demotivated, and it’s better to finish the race even without the medal than to quit. No quitting, I said to myself, and just pushed through however I can, even if it means walking a lot and alternating it with jogging. It is demoralizing to see runners pass you by, but if you look around, you also see others suffering from cramps and slowing down. They’re in the same state as I am, but we are still pushing it, and that alone is enough to give hope.
The last 4 kilometers felt like I was running forever because of the slow pace. I tried to speed up, but I get cramp warnings and slow down. By the time I reached the last kilometer, I was very tired, I don’t care about anything anymore, just to cross that finish line.
Then, I see the timer, there is 3 minutes before 2:30, there is hope. So, I sped up a little bit during the last hundreds of meters until another cramp made me flinch and slowed me down to a walk. But it’s okay, I crossed the finish line… almost out of time, but safe. I finished the race with an official gun time of 02:28:21 (chip time is 02:27:31, rank 241 out of 444 in our wave).
I went back to the race village, took my finisher shirt, and sat down and rested. I never thought about the raffle, the freebies, or lining up at the photo booth. I just want to rest. I finished the race, got the medal, but my performance was underwhelming, so I had a moment of reflection while resting. I was contemplating my future in running events, my plans for my first marathon next year, and refreshing my mind with the question ‘why I started’ and ‘where to next.’ The whole experience tested me physically and mentally. It reminded me how long a kilometer is, something I ignore since I’ve been running better than before. It also reminded me to run without thinking of any time limit or competition, just run at a relaxed pace. I guess, that’s the reason why I never felt too much pain and exhaustion from my previous runs, because I’m not trying to fight time, no pressure, just run and enjoy. It was a very unpleasant experience, but I know that I’m not gonna quit running or take some time off any time soon. Running has taught me to over come adversity. Finish a bad run, then come back stronger. Revenge is always sweet.
- The event was well-organized, the only thing I can complain about is the hydration. Why just water? a lot of us were craving for Gatorade. And mentally, Gatorade does help me think that I’m properly hydrated.
- Other runners reported that the race course was more than 21.0975 kilometers as tracked by their GPS running watch. I was tracking the run with Nike+ Running app with good GPS signal at the time, and my 21st kilometer resulted to 2:21:11.
- Runners were told that the first 100 runners to finish will get Walker bags. Only 75 got the bags.
- The rescheduled date (November 15) of Greenfield City Run for Generations 2015 was in conflict with this running event. I was registered to both, but chose to run this one because of my objective. So, I gave my bib number to a college mate to run the other event. I did try to remove the timing chip, so my name won’t be recorded (because I didn’t run), but I couldn’t. He performed better than me and finished the run at 02:25:20 (02:25:03 chip time). Just remember that if you see my name in the results of that run, it’s not me.
- For the official race results of PinoyFitness 21k Challenge 2015, go here: http://myrunti.me/#/race/PF21kChallenge2015/results