How To Know If You Have Improved In A Race (Despite Not Getting A PR)

PRs are awesome. All runners love ’em. In a perfect world, we’d love to get a PR to go with our medals and finisher goodies. Sadly, it is unrealistic to expect one every race. Your body won’t always be in peak condition. Training won’t always yield significant improvement in race performance. The weather will get in your way at times.

I learned during my race last Sunday that you can still find satisfaction in your racing despite not getting a PR. My race is in its 5th year. I have run this race since the first one and my racing distance has been the 21k for the third year now. Let me just go ahead and inform you, dear reader, that I did not get a PR for this one. I did, however, see improvements that can help improve your own mindset when it comes to racing success.

  1. You slept soundly enough the night before the race. 6 hours is now your current pre-race sleep PR! When you wake up, you did not need to consume your morning coffee.
  2. The gun start is late! You are not as worried about the morning heat as you should be.
  3. The water problem just got worse this year. You already skipped three water stations but you ain’t worried.
  4. You spend more time lamenting the fact that you passed up the free chocolate than you do running.
  5. You finally get to the Gatorade station. It has the orange one. Your favorite! A moral battle ensues. Your conscience wins and you get only one cup of Gatorade. You’re a saint!
  6. At the last turning point, you think that the route seems shorter this year.
  7. You are sure you heard someone announced that you get watermelons during the race but you did not see any. This saddens you. You comfort yourself with a banana. You move on.
  8. You realize near the end of the race that you forgot to rub Vaseline on your, uh, fragile areas. No point worrying about that now.
  9. It’s the same route with the same weather but you ran it faster than last year. No, it’s neither a PR nor a race PR but you killed it out there and that’s a good enough story to tell your future grandkids.
  10. You’re tired. You’re hurt. You need someone to haul your butt back home. Who could it be? Wait! You have a girlfriend now! You promptly parade her around for all the lonely, tired, hurting finishers to see. This would make a great ending to that story that you will eventually keep telling your future grandkids.


SM2SM Run 5

February 22, 2015



A Good Year

2014 Running Review


I think I scored a home run with this goal. I entered not one but two marathons on the first quarter of the year. I even joined a triathlon relay team race last June. How am I ever going to top this achievement?


I’m starting to think that I may never beat this record. Hah! I was too busy enjoying and dreading the one time I joined a 5k race. I did however beat my 10k personal record by a relatively wide berth. It was quite a feat considering my condition then.


I realized when I wrote this post that I forgot that I only needed to run 771 kilometers to secure this goal. I did not bike this year but I managed to cover 876 kilometers, which is 105 kilometers better than last year. That is a lot.


Despite the challenges brought about by my growing number of responsibilities, I managed to carry out 2 out of 3 of my goals. I even achieved a marked improvement in both speed and endurance. 2014 is indeed a good year for running. I hope and pray that 2015 would be even better. Carpe Annum!


The Team Awaits

Tabuelan 111 Triathlon 21.1k  06/08/14


Joseph John was nervous. It was his first competitive swim. He never swam two kilometers yet there he was competing in the swim leg of triathlon. Despite all his training, he still had trouble losing weight. He felt all of it as he ran down towards sea with a hundred other swimmers. Like most others, he started cautiously. Survival was the name of the game. When it became too deep, it became a contest of rope grabbing, which he excelled at for almost thirty minutes. He looked terrible when he got out of the water. My heart almost died of worry when he went back in. I could only imagine what his girlfriend was feeling back then. He had another kilometer to go. I launched another barrage of prayers to heaven. He swam better this time. The pack had loosened even though he was swimming with competitors from other categories. His strokes were more confident. When he got out of the water, he had the air of a man who had achieved something great as he walked towards the transition where – 55:54


Mark Jason cursed. His cousin took too long. It was up to him now. He mounted his bike like a pro. You would not guess that he had just started his cycling career just over a year ago. He kept pushing the pace. The no drafting rule was implemented for the cycling leg of this race. He heard a cyclist complain from behind him. His answer was to keep pushing. He pushed as he fueled. He pushed as he hydrated. He pushed like never before. His girlfriend was around here somewhere but his mind could barely register anything else. Push. The clock was ticking. Push. He needed to go faster. Push. He pushed until he arrived at a familiar place the transition area. He took off his shades and gave them to me – 3:02:53


As I jogged out of the transition area, I could already feel the stinging heat. It was 11 am. I tried not to think about it and focus on something else. Maybe someone else. I started about three minutes behind a senator. She had a pacer with her and motorist handed her some ice and water to cool off. I could yell, “Foul!” since support teams weren’t allowed in this race. I would be a hypocrite if I did though. I was guilty of taking some of the ice as well. Besides, she was the darling of this race. Everyone loved her. I followed closely behind her like one of her adoring fans until she pulled away on the 17th kilometer because of my foot cramps. The heat was getting to me. I was not use to noontime running so I took a shower at every water station. It didn’t help much. At some point, it felt like a death march. I felt like quitting. Surrender was never an option though. My team was waiting for me. They needed me. I have to finish. I saw my team when I finally got to the ‘kick zone’. The kick was so painful that my consciousness was going on and off but I kept running until, finally, I ripped through the finish line into the welcoming arms of my friends. 2:43:15

21 Seconds Away From Disaster

SM2SM 4 21.1k  02/16/14

My knees were in agony. My belly was in agony. Everything was in agony. Knee problems have been plaguing me since last year. Diarrhea, was entirely new to me. I ran while focusing on stopping the contents of my digestive system from exiting uncontrollably out of my rear end. I was parched and my stomach was making weird noises. This race was not going well and there was 19 kilometers left to go.

Cue in flashback sequence. Even before gunstart, this race was shaping up to be a test of survival and then some. I had taken precautions. Flanax for the knee pains and diatabs for my diarrhea. I forgot the pair of knee braces I wore during my last race, Cebu Marathon 2014. However, I employed the granny running pace and laid out a run-walk strategy for the entire race before hand which was to alternate running and walking using the lamp posts as my guide. Lame? Yup. Effective? Yup.

Honestly, I don’t know if I could have done more. I was utterly unprepared for this disaster but my recent marathon experience kept me calm. I had just run twice this distance over a month ago. Chances were good that I could tough it out and I did. I survived the pain, all of it, and, worst of all, my fears. I even managed to achieve my race goal, which was to run below three hours. Oh, joy! 2:59:39

2 Out Of 3 Is Good Enough For Me

2013 Running Review

Run 4 half-marathons   PASS

I ran only 4 races this year. All of them were half-marathons. These races were the Cebu Marathon 2013 (21k), SM2SM III, Hunat Sugbu 3: Dagan Para Ni Maning, & Leg 9 of the 37th Milo Marathon Eliminations. All four races were hard. A half-marathon is not half of anything. It’s a full challenge.

Beat my 5k personal record   FAIL

I did not beat my 27:55.43 simply because I did not race 5ks this year. My reasons were as varied and trivial as financial constraints to scheduling issues. I did beat my record during training though so I’ll retake this challenge on 2014.

Improve training mileage   PASS

Here are the statistics: I ran 771 km. I walked 59 km (recorded). I biked 24 km. Add them all up to get 854 km. The first stat alone got me way pass the goal. Great job me!


I got better in terms of endurance this year. 2013 was a challenging but a good year nonetheless. I’m certain that more challenging races will come my way next year. I believe 2014 will be an even better year not just for me but for runners everywhere. Carpe annum!

A Fine Mess

37th Milo Marathon Leg 9  21.1k  09/22/13

This race was quite possibly my worst race to date. There’s no sugarcoating it. It was a mess. I got a side stitch injury a month into training. My usual daily mileage was way down to 6k and below at around 7:00 minute per kilometer pace with an exception of a painful 9k long run. Most of all, I ran like an idiot. Why? My race strategy was to power through 21 kilometers and hope for the best. Needless to say, it turned ugly fast. However, this race wasn’t a bad experience. On the contrary, it had a lot of memorable moments. Here are three most memorable moments of the race:

  1. At around 16 kilometers, I ran/walked but mostly walked pass depressing scenes of fallen runners. Many were felled by injury and the heat was not doing anyone any favors. The hotter it got, the greater the sense of urgency. The clock was ticking. I tried to muster the strength to keep running. I couldn’t. I, too, was injured. I tried again. I walked again. The medal that I wanted so badly, that everyone wanted so badly, was clearly out of my reach. I tried yet again. I walked yet again. The frustration finally got to me. I cried or tried to cry. I couldn’t. I was too dehydrated. All I could do was sob and walk.

  2. By the 18th kilometer, I was still walking when I was passed by my friend. I was worried that he’d dropped out. He was even more undertrained than I was. When I last saw him, he had this look of defeat on his face. I managed to eke out some energy to catch up to him. He slowed down for my benefit and, to my surprised, he was doing better than I’d expected. I allowed myself a small moment of victory. At least, my friend was going to cross the finish line. It turned out that I was going to be surprised for a second time. He stayed with me; paced me until the end. I remembered the times when I paced him during training. I was so strong back then. At that moment, our roles had reversed. At that moment, our friendship grew stronger.

  3. In the end, there was no victorious surge. No glorious kick. I was weak. I was empty. I walked pass the finish line humbled. I allowed myself to soak in the moment. The pain was a nightmare but the frustration was even more hellish. I survived though. It was victory enough for me. I was, I am proud of myself. I am proud my friend. We survived. I was probably in the worst shape of my life but I never felt so alive. I never felt so good. 2:50:11

Snazzy X and X Half-Assery

Hunat sa Sugbu 3: Dagan Para ni Maning  21.1k  06/23/13

I won’t lie. Half-ass is the right description for this race. Well, not the race exactly. The organizers did a swell job. Kudos to the organizers! Yay! What’s half-assed is my performance. Half-assed training + half-assed execution + half-assed effort = half-assed finish.

Consider my lack of exclamation points though. I’m not mad or miserable about it all. Honestly, I’m kind of content. My mindset coming into this race wasn’t really of the competitive sort considering I had not really trained enough. Climate (I live in the tropics) and life matters had a hand in it… I’ll stop right here. I’m not really the type to bore my readers with my excuses so I won’t. Okay. I will but just a bit.

This race was no heroic quest to get a PR. Pause for collective gasp. Of course. I did have a goal. Read my 2013 running goals post. It’s there. Okay, I’m just stating it here for you, lazy. My goal was to finish 4 half-marathons this year and this race is my 3rd. Oh yeah! One more to go! Stop! Postpone your jubilation and humor my brief ponderance. Does this excuse my half-assery? No, sir. It does not! However, did I accomplish my race goal? Ahem. Hell yeah! I even got a snazzy finisher’s medal to prove it, which I will post at the end of year ’cause half-assed racing deserves half-assed blogging. 2:35:41.57

EPIC Is An Overused Word

Cebu Marathon 2013  21.1k  01/13/13

This race is epic! I had tons of great memories while running this race. Here are 5 of them:

  1. Running through the CSCR Tunnel felt electric. The booming music drum and bugle corps positioned along the tunnel lifted my spirit. I wanted to turn around and run that part of the race again when I got out of the tunnel. Several kilometers later, I did get to run the tunnel again. I thanked God there wasn’t any music anymore. Tunnel + 2 Drum & Bugle Corps = Tinnitus
  2. I passed by a street band that had just finished a song near the 21k turning point. Their enthusiasm was infectious so I applauded them. They answered with their own applause. Positivity is contagious.
  3. There was an aid station that supplied wet sponges to the runners. I grabbed a sponge, rubbed it across my face, and nonchalantly threw it away. Full disclosure: I had no idea what the sponges were for. Until now, I wonder if I pulled it off.
  4. At one point in the race, I heard someone call me. I did not notice him immediately because I was in the zone but his stature made him a hard man to miss. It was Joseph Cabrera, my training partner. I admit I was worried about him because I did not see him at gun start yet there he was doing great on his own. We gave each other an epic high-five as we passed each other.
  5. At 100m to go to the finish line, I did not go for my usual kick. I instead savored the moment. Crossing the finish line meant that this awesome race would end but it had to end. I wavered for only a millisecond then I made sure I finished the race in great form. I did and it was epic. 2:18:47.62