Once You Start Running

SM 2 SM Run 6k  02/14/11
The challenge of this race started a day early. I had to wait longer than usual than usual for my bib number and terribly designed singlet, which was largely due to the problematic communication between organizers. The wait aggravated the lingering training soreness on my left leg. I had trained for three straight days at the local track for the first time and my body protested heavily especially after the long(ish) run. The plan was to stay off my feet for the following three days, which did not happen.
The course was as amazing as I expected. Hardly any incline or decline to spoil my rhythm. Majority of the course was a straight line back and forth. Things were supposed to work for me but as usual things rarely go according to plan. I was out mentally because I forgot to bring my watch, which is stupid. I hardly ever used it during my earlier races. The gun start had me worrying about my starting time. I incessantly looked back to confirm my time. However, the biggest mistake I made was not eating breakfast. I felt so empty. Everytime I tried to surge, I almost immediately slowed to a walk. It was a strange feeling. I rarely eat breakfast but I have never tried running without eating one before. I must have walked five times. It took longer for me to gather strength for a kick. I did manage a measly 50 meter kick at the end to salvage my pride.
My run was, personally, a disappointment but the actual race turned out okay. I heard a 2nd installment was being planned. I will definitely be joining then and I won’t be forgetting breakfast. 36:34

Operation Smile Charity Run 2011  5k  02/21/11
This race was hardly my first charity run but it was my first run on a rainy course. The course was almost a clone to the 5k event of the Cebu Marathon, which was filled with the same ascents and descents that plagued most hill training virgins like me. I had the same hosts of problems but I had decided to deal with them with a good 40 minute warm-up session.
Going into this race, I had this immense desire to log a PR. Progress has been slow for me. My times have not improved. The word ‘plateau’ kept gnawing at me. Perhaps these were the reasons that spurred me into starting the first half fast. During the second half, my self-destructive impulses took over. I decided that I wanted to know how to drink water from water stations while running. My first attempt had me drowning. The second was better but I had water belly the rest of the way. Over a kilometer in the race, I got the the courage to look at my time. The 26th minute had just started. Less than four minutes of hard running for a kilometer more to gain a PR. Could I do it? I couldn’t. I can’t. I had logically decided between surges that it was impossible. I had never experienced running 4:00 per kilometer during training. Logic dictated that I was going to fail. I did.
I timed at about a minute slower than my PR. I did not watch the awarding ceremony this time. I knew the winners; the same faces every week. It was slighty irritating but I did not envy them. I just want to race with them. I had always wondered what it felt like to race at a high caliber. I would often overhear the local elite runners regale their peers with their running duels with alien yet awe-inspiring detail. They seemed to be running an entirely different race. I wanted to race like them but for now I have to settle for the survivor mentality. At least, I should be satisfied the race without injury. Loot bags would have alleviated some of the woe. Alas, there were none. 31:07.09

The Cebu Run 6k  02/27/11
I arrived at a dreary race course that had almost the same feel as the race a week earlier. It was a smaller event but highly unusual. APVs and military personnel carrying big guns were all about. The military recruits, which were a staple in running events nowadays, numbered by the throngs or, perhaps, even more. This was quite an ironic sight especially since this event was in remembrance to a historical peaceful revolution, the EDSA Revolution.
After the usual warm up, I positioned myself just behind the first line of runners. I’ve started to get better, at least, at this very facet of a race. I had resolved to take an aggressive approach to this race. Start fast and finish strong was the strategy. I followed it to the letter. At gun start, my stride felt different. It felt old and visceral. I was running like my old self. I was sprinting albeit at a slower pace and it was working. I was keeping up with the college varsity runners, even outrunning some of the athletes. Half a kilometer later, logic took hold of me. I couldn’t possibly hold onto to this pace. I settled my stride. My footfalls normalized to a midfoot strike. It took at least a couple of minutes for my breathing to ease at my usual rhythm. The race was going well until I got to the first water station. A varsity athlete took a cup, drank the water, and threw the cup without breaking cadence. I remembered my last encounter. I knew that I needed to practice drinking water at race pace so I did. A barely noticeable tightening occurred at the right side of my abdomen. It did not impede my form so I dismissed it. When I arrived at the second water station, I thoughtlessly grabbed another cup. I didn’t really need to but the water felt good in my mouth. The pain was worsen almostly instantly. I was slowing and people were starting to pass me. This was my first water belly and it felt a lot like a side stitch. I knew I was not going to get the PR. I started alternating between running and walking. It was a shame. I knew I was at pace to get a PR. I had reached the halfway point at 16 minutes. The guilt made me self-destructive. I consumed a cup of water at every water station. I made it my goal to learned something out of this disaster. I surged with the 12k elites until the pain made me walk. The finish line was in sight and I had learned my lesson. I walked and hoped that it wouln’t be too embarrassing to walk to the finish line. It was. A long line of men cheered just a 100 meters to the finish line. I was in no condition to do a kick but I did. It felt great.
It hurt like hell. The pain in my abdomen was excruciating; a step below unbearable but my knees buckled anyway. My lips uttered a silent prayer. Yes, I’m one of those religious types. After it subsided after a minute or so, I took some time to take a look at the finisher. The organizers were still handing out finisher’s medals to the first 25 12k runners as they got to finish line when the drizzle restarted. I did not stay long. Well, this whole thing wasn’t a complete disaster. I ran with the local varsity track stars at the start of the 6k race and surged with some of the elite runners of the 12k. It was almost like my wish from my last race was granted. It was no disaster. I did get injured but the race was extremely satisfying even without the loot bag. 39:53.70

Best Race of the Month: SM 2 SM Run
The organizers had to overcome a lot of pre-race kinks but they made due with a great course and great post race festivities. Kenyans provided the high level of competition.

Best Performance of the Month: SM 2 SM Run
My first 6k. Also my first 6k PR.

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