Friday, November 20, 2009

Futility at the Timex Run 2009

I came into the Timex Run with every expectation of finishing the half-marathon at 2:15 or better. This, mind you, was neither hubris nor wishful thinking on my part. You see, just three weeks ago, I completed my first official half-mary at Subic with a decent (at least by my humble recreational standards) time of 2:23. I also figured that I would reap the immediate benefits of my on-going training for the Condura Marathon in February 2010. With my Subic experience and continuous training, I had high hopes that I would fare better in the Timex half-mary than I did in Subic. It was not to be, however, because Runner No. 15522 just flat-out sucked.

For you to better appreciate why I sucked the way I did at the Timex half-mary, it is imperative that I tell you about what I did in the hours leading up to the run. Friday night, I downed Lord knows how many beers at this neat little bar called The Reserve. On the afternoon of the following day, and, with very little sleep, I played two hours of extremely intense basketball on the solid concrete of the Ateneo College Covered Courts. After that, I went home, had some baked zitti for dinner (carbo-loading!), took a quick shower, and headed for a friend’s stag party. I left the party at 1 a.m., and was in bed by 2 a.m. An hour later, at 3 a.m., I had breakfast and got ready to head for BHS for the run. By 4:30 a.m., I was already at the BHS parking lot, stretching, warming up, and thinking that I’d probably faint by Km 10.

At 5:17 a.m., the gun went off for the 21k runners. The first four kilometers were a cinch. However, as soon as I made my way up the Kalayaan flyover, I knew I wasn’t alright. I started feeling some discomfort in my right knee, and my calves were tightening up. By Km 12, the discomfort in my right knee had already turned into a sharp, piercing pain below my knee cap. I also started feeling pain on my right foot. By that time, I was already whispering to my legs to just keep pushing, and silently begging my feet not to give up on me. By the time I entered Bayani Road, I was literally dragging my feet. My right knee had already become numb and seemed to lock each time I tried widening my stride. Gradually, my run slowed to a jog, and my jog painfully stalled to a walk.

The rolling terrain of Bayani Road took the wind out of my sails. I entered Heritage Park on jelly legs, and the pain in my right knee left me with no choice but to walk practically the entire 2 km stretch that lied ahead. Inside Heritage Park, runner after runner after runner passed me, and not even my pride was enough to goad me into picking up my pace. For me, it was one of those times when both spirit and flesh were unwilling and very weak. To make matters worse, my earphones conked out, and, just like that, my most effective source of motivation – my music—was gone. At this point, for the very first time in my fledgling recreational running “career,” I seriously toyed with the idea of quitting and pocketing my first-ever DNF. Fortunately, I was able to snap out of quitter mode and convince myself – and my legs - to finish my run even if it meant having to walk all the way to the finish line. There was just no chance in hell that I would not finish my run.

As I got back onto Lawton Ave., the mere thought that I was only a few more kilometers away from the finish line seemed to lift my sagging spirits. Ignoring the pain on my right knee, I sucked it in and went into a run-walk routine, which I surprisingly maintained until I made it back to BHS and crossed the finish line. According to my Nike+iPod Nano, I completed 20.90 kilometers in 2:32:59, for an average pace of 7:18/km.

The variance between my iPod reading and the official results was negligible. According to the official results, I had a finish time of 2:32:08 and a chip time of 2:31:33, good for 485th place out of 646 runners. Here’s a more in-depth look at the result of my run, made possible by the Champion Chip timing chip and RunPix:

All 21k finishers received a medal. I was not exactly proud of my finish time, but I was able to salvage some pride when I noticed that a good number of 10k and 5k runners that I passed on my way back to my car were glancing at the nondescript medallion that was hanging on my neck. As I limped my way back to the parking lot, I felt grateful that I decided to finish my run.

After my ordeal at the Timex Run, I must admit that my confidence is shot. I’m beginning to have doubts as to whether I’d be ready to take on the Condura Marathon – my first full marathon - come February 2010. For now, it’s going to be wait-and-see for me. I’ll continue my training and see what the next few months will bring. I’m even thinking of maybe get my problematic knee checked because, during my easy 5k training run yesterday, I still felt some pain and stiffening. The undertainty is just killing me.

Next up for me is the Philstar Celebrity Run 21k on December 23. I wasn’t planning on doing this run, but I signed up for it in the hope that it would allow me to close race year 2010 on a positive note, and perhaps get a shot at redemption.