It's amazing what a single marathon finish can do for an average recreational runner's confidence. Still stoked from my recent Condura marathon experience, I came into the Century Tuna Superbods Run unusually confident that I could improve on my dismal 2:31 finish at my last half-mary, the 2009 Timex Run. As it turned out, confidence bred determination, determination spawned effort, and the result was my strongest showing to date in a road race.
I crashed and burned in my two previous stabs at a half-marathon. During my first half-marathon at SIM 2009, I think I was way too tense and cautious, and I ended up with a mediocre 2:23 finish. At Timex 2009, I was totally unprepared, both physically and mentally. I bore these shortcomings in mind, and, aided by the new-found confidence I gained from my recent conquest of the Skyway, I approached the Century half-mary with every intention of setting a personal best.
One thing I had for this race that I never had during any of my previous half-marys was a clear plan, a technique. In my previous 21k runs, I did my best to avoid walk breaks and resisted stopping at hydration stations for fear of losing precious time -- only to falter miserably at the homestretch due to debilitating fatigue and dehydration. Consequently, as I trained for Condura, I finally conceded that my physical limitations would never allow me to finish strong on a 21k run without taking walk breaks. I also learned that, for long distances, observing a good hydration plan is key. And so, I resolved to do the Century 21k Galloway-style with a 6:1 run-walk ratio, and to make it a point to make a pit stop at every single hydration station along the route.
The plan worked to perfection. It took a lot of EQ to stop for walk breaks at the start of the run and allow sprinting newbie runners in basketball shorts and high-cut sneakers to smugly pass me by. It also didn't help that I positioned myself somewhere towards the tail-end of the 21k pack at the start line. However, I knew I was doing the right thing when, beginning at Km. 13, I started overtaking a lot of the runners that passed me early on. I also noticed that I was still sweating profusely up until I crossed the finish line - a good sign that I had remained well-hydrated. Because I was still feeling great as I entered the homestretch, I decided to take my last walk-break and have my last water stop somewhere in Km. 19. I still had a lot left in the tank, so I decided to do a light sprint for the last two kilometers. For the first time ever in a 21k run, I finished strong. According to my 305, I completed the Century Tuna half-mary in 2:13:45, with an average pace of 6:22 min/k - by far a new 21k PR that bests my previous one by over 9 minutes. My chip time, on the other hand, was 2:14:38. This indeed, by my modest recreational standards, was a special run.
They gave me a medal for waking up early on a Sunday. :)
With my friend Javi Gonzalez - my running mate for BDM 2011!
Next up for me is another half-marathon - the Unilab Run 21k - and my goal for that one would be a sub-2:10 finish. I am optimistic that all my experiences during my last two races would serve me in good stead, and, hopefully, yield yet another special Sunday.