Friday, October 30, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
After Googling the 'net for a good running quote for my vanity bib, I ended up with the above the night before the race. This was going to be my 3rd 21k since EcoDash and Milo. As you may recall, after setting a 2:24 official time at EcoDash, I failed miserably at the Milo Finals, finishing at 2:41. Adidas KOTR was going to be a crossroad of sorts for me in terms of success or failure trending at the 21k distance.
How did I prepare for Adidas? After Milo, the two-week preparation ended up with the following:
Oct13: 5km easy run
Oct15: 7km tempo run
Oct18: QCIM 10k
Oct20: 8km easy run
Oct22: 11km (first half easy, second half tempo)
Long runs were left wanting. Weekly mileage was low. If I could go back, I should've skipped QCIM in exchange for a long run (probably 16-18kms) to get my endurance and mileage up. But, unfortunately, whatever preparation I've made will have to do for Adidas.
Nutrition before and during the race was now considered as well. Recalling again Milo, I didn't eat anything prior to the race except for the Sport Beans. During the race it was 2 cups of banana from the aid station at around km16 but I think that was too late already. This may have been a contributing factor for a poor pace at km18-21. Hence, the 2:41.
Sunday, 4.15am. The phone alarm went off and I was up preparing my gear. I ate 1 banana and two Sport Beans before driving to BHS. I purposely left my headphones at home since I wanted to see how I'd perform without soundgear on a longer distance (QCIM 10k last week proved to be a good decision not to have soundz, finishing with a personal-best of 1:04).
5.15am. I ate a 2nd banana and a gulp of water just before leaving the car after parking at BHS parking lot.
5.22am. I distinctly recall the timer amidst a sea of yellow on the starting gate counting down from 8mins+ to gun time when I arrived for check-in. I said hello to some of the company bosses on their 21k debut and went on the right side near the back to do my stretches.
5.30am. BANG! We were off racing!
Km1-5. My Nokia GPS tracker went berzerk again no thanks to the tall buildings. Recorded pace, however, was at 6:00/km but I think I was settling at around 6:30-6:45/km. I felt good at this stage, passing by the dreaded Kalayaan-Buendia flyover towards Ayala. The first water station was filled with runners so I had to skip it and get hydration from the next. It was a sight to see the front-runner of the 21k, a Kenyan, by his lonesome going back to EDSA already. It really shows that we Filipinos have a lot of catching up to do in the sport (panalo ba naman sa QCIM, SIM, and now KOTR!). It was only after 2-3mins when the next two runners, Filipinos, passed by me side-by-side. A minute or so later, you won't fail to notice the 4th runner leading the pack with his patented Afro-hair freely bobbing up and down as he strided wearing a red TIMEX singlet: Coach Rio. Everyone was just clapping and cheering for him to catch up with the first 3 runners.
Km5-8. Noticed a water station complete with bananas and salt. Btw, what's the salt for? A DeLaSalle cheering squad was noticed as well distributed on most of the water stations. I would've liked it except for the cono cheers like "Let's go runners!" in that familiar college-cono twang. Anyway, I decided to grab a banana on my return trip.
By Km8 on the way back to EDSA, I was approaching the U-turn slot for the 10k runners. Seeing 10k runners left and right overtaking me on their (I assume) negative-split pace, it was mentally-challenging not to try racing with them. My pace, still between 6:30-6:45/km, was a 7/10 effort on my part to conserve energy once we approached the hills (Mckinley). My plan was to be at that pace up until km16 and just go for it at the last 5kms.
Km9-11. I made my ceremonial (i.e. mandatory) water-station gulp before trecking up the Kalayaan-Buendia flyover. It was easy this time since I may have gotten used to the incline, being my 4th race traversing through it. Runners who may have underestimated the return trip started walking on their way up. I was climbing it easily at a manageable, probably 7:00/km pace. I win. Flyover loses. Score: 4-1.
Km11-13. Took 2 Sport Beans at the Rizal Ave water station. I was hoping that my pace increased at this time before I slow down again in preparation for the hills of Mckinley and Bayani but I couldn't, or should I say wouldn't. I got scared that I might run out of gas again like in Milo so I just continued my 6:45/km pace. Passing by the km12 marker I did some calculations. Still below 7:00/km so I'm doing good. No need to rush. Running Fatboy, about 2mins behind me after the Buendia-QuirinoHway turnaround, had now passed me after the corner of 5th and Mckinley Parkway.
Km14. From my calculations I was 2mins ahead of the estimated total time of a 7:00/km pace. Still doing good. It was time to pullout my last chibog for the race: a bite-sized Hershey wafer rice crisp bar that I grabbed from my son's supply from the ref (hehe). I was able to consume it just before turning left at the hill-paved Bayani road, gulped a cup of water from the water-stop and off I went.
Km15-18. Bayani Road is hills hills hills going towards Heritage park ---and back. At this time I was frequently feeling pain just below my right rib which I initially thought was due to poor breathing. I recovered my breathing but still the slight pain was there. It may have been caused by the 3 bananas and the hershey bar that I ate so far. Ugh! It was more of irritating than painful. It took a while before the pain had subsided, probably by km19. I saw Bald Runner heading back to McKinley along km16.
Midway at km17, a male runner called me from the back and said, "Hey Peter! I'm going to be strong today!" and passed me. It's safe to say that he got that from reading my vanity bib. Nope, I didn't know the guy. I wanted to shout, "My name's not Peter! It's just a quote I got from the 'net!" He was probably at 6:30/km pace so I lost sight of him soon thereafter.
Km18. The water station that used to be there was now packed up. Balde-baldeng tubig na lang ang natira. Realizing that this could be my last water stop, I scooped a pitcher from one of the large containers and just poured it all on my face and my neck to refresh me for the final push. My calculations at this point were worrying since, apart from taking a long while to calculate due to fatigue, hehe, I realized that I was only 1minute ahead of the 7:00/km total race pace.
Km18-20. The last and final push. The Detroit Marathon mishap kept bothering me as I wanted to increase my pace. The thought of collapsing like those 3 unfortunate runners at the race got me worried. I know I won't collapse, but what if I overexerted myself and ended up with my face kissing the road? The thought was just too strong to bear. But I still managed to push, fighting each step, probably pacing already at 7:30/km. I was near breakpoint but not yet dead like in Milo. I was still relaxed and enjoying the run as I made a right turn at 26th street.
Km20-21. I was really really trying to push hard. Looking at my stopwatch as it read 2:24, EcoDash will not be beaten, but not for my Milo time. That "2:41" reading has plagued me for the past two weeks, seemingly teasing me on how poor I performed back then at Milo. Now, as early as Km20, I knew IT WAS SOUNDLY BEATEN. FINALLY this monkey was off my back!
I've decided at this point that I wanted nay, NEED, to finish below 2:30. The two 10-second walk-breaks before I turned left at Serendra had to be done probably due to fatigue and nahawa din ako dun sa kaharap ko. Plus, a rest before one last push.
Final turn towards the finish line, I could clearly see the timer from my vantage point that it was already at 2:29:00. DAMN! Mukhang di ako aabot! I decided to forget all my worries and just ran hard.
I looked above the timer as I crossed the finish line triumphantly, raising my right hand in a fist....
....2:29:55!!!! Barely making the 2:30 cutoff (if there was one).
After the official took my racebib tag, I looked around if anyone was handing out medals for half-mary finishers. None. Oh well. I was still panting at this point from the last 100m "sprint" that I did, looking for the Gatorade station. Took a while to get a bottle (which I consumed in seconds). I then got my race certificate, got back in the car and headed home.
The drive home was a happier one compared to Milo. I felt better after this race because of my 2:29 finish. I'm back in the game to improve my time. I really learned a lot from my Milo experience and poured it all at KOTR (except for the need for long runs which I need to schedule in the weeks ahead). In a way, I feel that I'm still at the lower-end of the learning curve which challenges me more to train harder to beat my time(s).
Yesterday, I reviewed the actual race route on GoogleMaps. It turns out that the 19kms that I plotted weeks back based on the printed racemap the organizers gave was not the same as the actual route. When the actual route was plotted on Google Maps, it showed 21.28kms. The distance was accurate for a half-marathon. Wilson was right: RACE events usually don't have distance problems, including this one. It was just a misprint on the racemap on the registration form.
Congrats to RACE and Adidas for putting up a great race! I hope for another KOTR on 2010.
What's next for me?
I'm still undecided if I want to list for the Timex 21k or the 10k Run Against Climate Change in UP. The latter would have to include an extra 6km run to complete my half-marathon training that I made from Runner's World Smart Coach. After that, it's the Nov29 rescheduled NB 21k race.
For now, it's back to my regular training. Tempos and Short/long easy runs await.
Nokia Sports Tracker Beta race stats can be found here.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Lucky for me, our company was one of the sponsor-booths for QCIM. I learned last Friday evening that there were FREE slots given to our Corp-Marketing department for this so upon hearing the good news from one of our VPs I quickly grabbed the chance to make some calls, fill-up the reg form, and by Saturday afternoon me and officemate MP were confirmed good-to-go for the QCIM 10k!
Why not 21k you might ask. I already joined EcoDash and Milo 21k right? Parang pangit namang bumaba ng distance?
Yup, the choice was difficult to swallow with the prospect of having my 1st Finisher's Medal dangling down my neck if I chose another half-mary, but I didn't. I feared that I might over-exert myself by running 3 half-marys in 3 consecutive Sundays so I opted to mellow down and join 10k instead. Further, and I think this was the strongest part of my decision, I wanted to overwrite my poor finish on my last race which was the Milo 21k by trying to beat my 10k PR (68mins). If I failed on improving my time on another 21k distance at QCIM I might get really disappointed going into next Sunday's KOTR so going for a PR on a lower, manageable 10k distance is a good psychological preparation for me.
But I still needed my scheduled long run so my original plan was an easy run from our house to QC Circle (about 4kms), run the 10k race, and then another easy 4km run back home. Total planned mileage: 18kms. THAT would be good enough as preparation for KOTR 21k next weekend, I thought. It was a good plan.
But then my 2nd son was feeling ill earlier in the week until Sunday so I had to sacrifice the planned 18k long run by taking the car instead. This is in case I needed to go back home in a hurry if there was an emergency.
Sunday came. I left the house around 4.30am since I still needed to look for the company booth and get my racekit. I drove to East Ave and had to turn right after Heart Center since the police detour encouraged it. I parked in front of the 7-11 store and walked/jogged towards the start/finish line to look for the booth.
After 30mins of searching I finally managed to find the booth which was inside the QC Circle. The lady manning the booth quickly identified me and gave me the racekits. The first thing I noticed was the singlet....
...and HU-WAW! The singlet quality was very good! It's right up there now in my favorite singlets list (Botak 10miler and KOTR. Milo is up there too coz of prestige, hehe). Ang danda-danda!!!!
An addicted runner (like me) wouldn't fail to notice as well the racekit-envelope's quality containing the racebib and timing-chip. It's not the regular brown envelope that one's used to getting. To borrow a comment from the takbo.ph QCIM thread: talagang pinag-gastusan talaga.
So I hooked myself up with the bib and timing chip and off I went to the starting line. Btw, I've changed two things that I used to do going into this race. First, I purposely didn't bring my earphones so there'll be no music pumping in my ears as I race. I want to find out if I'm able to race better with or without it.
Second, this'll be the race-debut of my recently bought Adidas Response Stability shoes. My precious. Igh-igh-igh!
My aim? Since my last 10k race, the M.O.V.E. Manila Run in UP, under a GPS-recorded 9km+ distance, the 57mins finish-time didn't seem believable coz the distance was lacking. An estimate of 64-65mins would've been my finish time back then but I still don't want to consider it since it's not official. Hence, I wanted to put it on paper, so to speak, to have that 57min mark on a true 10k distance or at least, a sub-60 finish would suffice.
The starting gun went off and I went ahead of MP since he was pacing his gf on her 2nd 10k. MP is faster than me so I knew he'll be able to catch me sometime in the race.
By km2, by some stroke of bad luck, my timing chip fell off. Stupid right? I knew I laced it properly when I made the knot but it somehow fell off (the lace was still tied on tightly). Strange really. So there goes my race stats. Hay...
By the middle of km4, as expected, MP had arrived from leaving her gf's slow pace. I told him that I lost my timing-chip and he said I could run along side him so we both have the same stats. Yeah right. His pace is too fast for me so I told him to go ahead since I still had my Nokia GPS tracker anyway. He will eventually finish at 60mins flat.
By the turnaround point I looked at my stopwatch and saw 30:00+. I thought it was the 5km mark but then I didn't see any "5km" marker not until a few hundred meters further so if I calculated it I'm not within a sub-60 pace. I HAD to run faster, I thought.
So I ran faster than my tempo practice run the earlier week. Well, I FELT I ran faster. Hehe.
The difficult part of the race was not the slight uphills. Rather, it was encountered at the 7.5km mark: the 5km runners. It was like a tsunami of runners devouring every 10k runner that I've marked for overtaking so much so I couldn't see them due to my zig-zagging path trying to gain space and beat the time.
By the time I reached the end of Commonwealth towards QC Circle the stopwatch was at 59mins. Ahhhgggghh! I won't be able to make sub-60 this time. Hay. Time to set a new target: beat my 68mins 10k PR. This was manageable I thought but recalling my MOVE Manila 57mins at 9km+ distance made me do mental calculations.....................65mins.
THAT'S the time to beat! So with once last push (and thinking happy thoughts: my wife and two kids, of course), I accelerated my pace around QC circle until I reached the finish line.
The timer above the finish line arc, my stopwatch, and Nokia GPS tracker read beautifully: 1:04.
A new 10k PR! YEAAAAAAHHHHHHH!
Nokia GPS tracker measured the race distance at 10.5kms with my average pace at 6:10/km. I was pacing at 5:59, 6:05, and 4:24(?!?!?!) on the last 3 kms. Now THAT was fast since I usually only have an average race pace between 6:30-7:30/km. The downside was that the tracker (again) conked out on the middle of the race (dunno why, probably lost the A-GPS signal) so NSTB stats for pace during that period wasn't recorded correctly.
Recalling that run, I considered my pace to be all push-push-push from start to finish. I think I've failed to do this in all of my past races. I was too relaxed either at the start (Milo 21k) or at the finish due to fatigue (the rest of my races). The nearest race that had me at this same intensity was the Botak 10miler last August in UP. I guess that's how I must race. Push-push-push lang lagi.
Could it be my decision not to have music influenced my mindset throughout the race? That is, to be always conscious of my pace and running form instead of the boom boom boom chorus of the Black-Eyed Peas?
Could it be the new shoes, my precious (which btw felt comfortable throughout the race)?
Will the same "no music" decision work on this week's KOTR 21k? Hmmm...we'll see.
It was good to see several takbo.ph members as well during and after the race:
1. Jazzrunner. I was able to greet him when his pace-group was at their 7th km.
2. Argonaut. I overheard him say to his buddy, "Iturbo ko lang ng konti" meaning up the pace a little. Good luck sa upcoming marathon pards!
3. Craig and family. I met him twice: along km1 pushing his son as usual and then at the finish line when they finished at 1:10. Pushing a heavy weight at a 7:00/km pace for 10kms ain't a joke. He said he'll be running SIM 42k this weekend so all the best to you Craig!
4. Queenie. Greeted her "hello" at the finish line as well.
The QCIM was a well-organized race. I hope more local-governments would join in and help organize future races in their areas to support the sport.
There were nice giveaways after the race: the meal-bar, 100-plus bottle, sealed water, and the Nike Human Race shoe-bag.
But along the left lane before reaching the Nike shoe-bag queue, a simple booth stood without any ad except for a lady standing and holding something blue and gold and shouting:
"Finisher's medal for 21k/42k runners!!! Get your medals here!!!"
Haaaay. I guess that 1st medal has to wait. Adidas KOTR 21k won't have one I think. I'm still unsure of joining TIMEX 21k so probably I won't have that medal until Nov29's NB run.
But don't worry, I'm still celebrating. A new 10k PR is still a great accomplishment....
...especially coz it's my birthday this week. ;-)
Nokia Sports Tracker race details can be found here.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
The starting gun blew a little before 5:30am and we were off. My strategy for this race was to try to employ the 8-8-5km which I failed to do at EcoDash: 8kms easy, 8kms fast, and 5kms all-out (or RTYP). I ended km1 at 6:20/km which was too fast for me so I adjusted my pace to 6:45/km, zeroing-out all temptations to speed up as runners overtook me left and right. I just told myself, “Mamaya I’ll get you!” An exception to this was Bull Runner whom I saw charging and overtaking me as early as km4 at a fast, comfortable pace. She’s one tough/seasoned runner, I thought.
6:45/km was my pace all throughout Roxas Blvd. I noticed my Nokia GPS was about 100m off compared to the race markers so I only referred to it for my average pace while I would look at my stopwatch for my per km pace. As long as it was less than 7:00/km, that’s good enough for an easy pace. The Buendia and EDSA flyovers were a synch since they were not as long as the Kalayaan flyover near The Fort that I got used to.
By km10 going towards Buendia, I was 1:07 based on my clock. Good. This would definitely bring me within the 2:30 cutoff time I thought. Along Buendia, I was amazed at how the organizers/police/MAPSA were able to control vehicular traffic for the runners. By the time I reached Makati, Buendia was fully closed to motorists. Congrats guys for a superb job!
Right after Quirino Hway, I started to get hungry in spite of the Sport Beans that I was carrying. Call it right timing, a few meters away I saw my scheduled food stop: the Reinier-Pacific, Takbo.ph aid station. It was time for a banana break. I was able to grab a cup of banana from one of the guys there. Incidentally, I also saw Sam of RunningNinja.
I revised (again) my 8-8-5 strategy such that I’ve kept my pace at 6:45/km until the final turning point at PS Bank. After which, I’ll increase my pace.
And improved on it I did. Passing by the aid-station one more time (and one more cup of banana), I saw Queenie and Jinoe and said hi. I was invigorated to go boost my pace such that I clocked in at 5:22 and 5:24 at km15 and 16, respectively. I’ve never done a negative split race before and this could probably be it. A chance to beat my 2:24 EcoDash 21k PR.
Then, the unforgiveable, regrettable happened. From km17-21, my pace dropped to 7:37/km down to a miserable, regrettable 8:26/km. I recall making my last turn towards Roxas Blvd and seeing the “KM3” marker and, well, couldn’t pick up my pace anymore. I tried (really tried) but my legs can only run at a very slow pace so much so that I did something that I’ve never done for a long time in previous races: taking walk breaks. It was like that towards the last 3kms of the race. By the time I reached Padre Faura I already knew that I will miss the 2:30 cutoff based on my estimates. Finish the race, I said to myself. A DNF is totally out of the question. It was getting hot and the cars at the other side of Roxas started growing and contributing to the morning pollution which didn’t help my cause. I was even hoping that the race route would turn left right after the US Embassy to ease my woes but, obviously, it didn’t. It was a difficult one last gasp to reach the finish as I passed by km0 with one of the race-hosts shouting my name on the microphone and saying, “Kaya mo yan!”
Yeah right. I’d like to see you do a 21k and beat 2:30. Yup, it was all negative thoughts by then and I just wanted to reach the finish line. Almost every 21k and 42k runner was overtaking me left and right. Even my mp3 playlist couldn’t help inspire me to run faster. I was a pitiful site.
I crossed the finish line at 2hrs 41mins (unofficial). For a 7:05/km average pace, I found my performance to be very disappointing. Before the race started, I was very confident that I would finish faster than 2:24. Why why why why???? WHY?!?!?!?!
By km19 I was already thinking of all possible “excuses” for this regrettable finish. Like how my bosses in the office would require post-mortem reports on why system outages occurred, I HAD to make one for this race. Here they are:
1. My long-run training mileage only logged two 15km weekend runs (or a total of 30kms) prior to Milo. The rest were either 5 or 10kms. This could be one main suspect why fatigue overwhelmed me right after km16 of the race. I didn’t retrain my body to go near the 21km distance. Maybe one 19km long run would’ve been sufficient. Incidentally, I logged a lot of long-runs prior to EcoDash (16, 18, 19kms before tapering off) so I think this was a major factor for my poor finish.
2. On my last turn to Roxas Blvd at the “KM 3” road marker, I started feeling pain on the ball area of my right foot. It felt like a hundred sharp thumbtacks were hitting it as I made every step that it caused me to take walk breaks. Could it be fatigue-related (I'm still feeling the pain until now)? Could it be shoe-related since I was still wearing the wrong shoe-type (my Adidas Response Stability shoe will only make its race debut by Oct 25’s Adidas KOTR 21k)? But I never felt this at EcoDash so this couldn’t be a good reason (yet a very painful experience).
3. Weather. EcoDash weather was cloudy, rainy at the time so many PRs were set including my 21k debut. Could the hot sun by km17 onwards and the pollution at the Buendia area contributed to my deteriorated race pace? It’s highly possible but you can’t have an ideal race weather everytime.
Either way, my Milo race debut is something that I would need to improve on. It was supposed to be easy but turned out to be something I would like to forget. It might’ve been a case of overconfidence, taking the the 21km distance, nay, taking the MILO 21k very lightly. I may have totally underestimated it.
Still, it was another 21km race finished in my book. Still, a great achievement.
For now, it’s back to training for me as another half-marathon looms in two weeks: the Adidas KOTR. I hope to do better then, readjusting my training in time for that race.
Again, my heartfelt congratulations to the Milo Finals organizers who did a superb job. Everything was managed very well. Thanks for a lot of giveaways too!
My thanks as well to Reinier-Pacific and Takbo.ph volunteers for the aid station at Buendia near Pasong Tamo. You were all great!
To the MILO 21k race route and 2:30 cutoff time: you have earned my respect. I’ll get you next year.
Mark my word.
(Nokia Sports Tracker Beta race details can be found here)