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!


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

42.2 – 27:55 – 771

2014 Running Goals

Run a marathon

Running a marathon is not my dream. It’s 42 kilometers of running. 42 kilometers is way too much. I can’t stop now though. I’ve already registered for my first marathon, which is 11 days from now. I’m probably not ready but, like I said, I can’t stop now. It is destiny.

Beat my 5k personal record

27:55.43. I would have broken this record last year but I didn’t race on this distance. I had plenty of excuses. I was probably just scared though, which is lame. I beat it during practice by at least a minute. My 5k record goes down this year.

Improve training mileage

771 kilometers is surely a lot. It’s not improbable and definitely not impossible to surpass though.

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

Filling The Silence

SM 2 SM Run III  21.1k  02/24/13

21 kilometers is long. For average runners like me, it will typically take about 2 to 3 hours of running. The distance is quite maddening as well. For most of us, it’s 2 to 3 hours of hearing nothing but the sound of our breathing and footfalls. Vehicular noise might as well be a welcomed change from the monotony but even that is uncommon. Roads are often closed during big races like this one.

Distractions are rare but the mind has a way of filling the silence with unusual thoughts. Thoughts that seem odd tend to echo loudest after all. In truth, while these thoughts are normally disconcerting to me, they nonetheless helped keep me sane for the duration of this race. Here are 21 of my weirdest and loudest thoughts during the 3rd edition of the SM 2 SM Run:

  1. Fireworks! Yeah! Ouch! Firework debris! My eye! No!
  2. Is running in pairs a thing now? Oh, wait. There’s a couple theme category, remember?
  3. That dude just left his partner because he needed to pee. She looks lonely. Might I replace him? My hands are clean enough for handholding.
  4. No rain this year. No scantily clad runners. No distraction.
  5. Eck! This energy drink taste like medicine. I wonder if I can get another cup.
  6. Does getting a cup of water and a cup of energy drink at the same time make me greedy? Wait; don’t drink it all once dummy!
  7. All this wind is ruining my hair!
  8. “How much further?” is a noob question.
  9. This SM is going to be huge. People are going to get lost in there for weeks once it opens.
  10. What an unusual looking church? Note to self: Research church on internet.
  11. Aah! Roadkill! Evasive maneuvers!
  12. Look! That stretch of road looks hilly. Time to bust out my uphill running style!
  13. It’s damn windy out here. How much further? Cut it out!
  14. I just passed that cute girl from The Gentleman Runner post.
  15. Halfway point! Finally! Now, all I have to do is run that same distance at the same speed.
  16. No water. Correction. No plastic cups.
  17. Is that lady picking up plastic cups? Did I just drink from a used plastic cup? Try not to think about it. To thirsty to think about it.
  18. I can’t break my PR! The hills are killing my momentum! I drank from a used plastic cup! It’s too damn windy! Most of all, I can’t outrun that run/walking marathoner who’s been in front of me this whole time! Oh, shut up!
  19. I just outrun/outwalk that marathoner! Hurray for small victories!
  20. 3 kilometers more. Don’t walk! Run the rest of the way! You can do it! Can’t.
  21. Finish! Yes! Medal! Yes! Cousin? Photo op? Yes! 2:31:56.99


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

4, 27, & 683

2013 Running Goals


Run 4 half-marathons

As of this writing, I am currently in the throes of dread and excitement. Tomorrow, I will be running my first half-marathon. If I succeed in finishing it, I will have completed 25% of this monumental goal. Go me!


Beat my 5k personal record

This is my favorite long distance race. My personal record is currently 27:55.43. It is a shame that I only improved by 2 seconds last year but it is probably because I did not race as much. I will have to do more speedwork this year if I want to improve at all in this distance.


Improve training mileage

Despite being injured, I managed to run a grand total of 683 kilometers. If I significantly improve my mileage this year, I will no doubt be better prepared for my first marathon on 2014.