Needless to say, the result of that race (and my outfit back then - check out the pic) wasn't pretty. I covered 15k with a chip time of 1:52:31, good for 538th out of 727 runners. My average pace was 7:29/K. I recall that, towards the last five kilometers of that race, I was already huffing and puffing badly, and my legs hurt really bad. I also thought back then that one way for me to finish the race faster was for me not to take water breaks. By the end of the race, I was a tired wreck. Fifteen kilometers in almost two hours. I knew right away that if I wanted to improve, I definitely had my work cut out for me. Still, I felt proud and had a sense of accomplishment. After all, I had just finished my first race - and it wasn't a 5K.
So many things have gone down since that fateful night more than eight months ago. I have grown as a runner and I have taken part in one 10-miler, three 10Ks, five half-marathons, and one full marathon. I have so far logged an accumulated mileage of over 1,000 kilometers. I am looking to complete at least three full marathons this year, and am applying for the 2011 edition of the BDM 102K Ultramarathon Race. However, since Urbanite, I have NEVER ran another 15K. And so, my 1:52:31 finish at Urbanite has stood as my 15K "personal best" for the last eight months.
Admittedly, I had almost forgotten about the result of that 15K race. You see, I never grew fond (and I'm still not fond) of the 15K distance. I have even stopped taking on 10K races and have grown most comfortable at distances of 21K or longer. But still, I knew in my heart that I had an axe to grind. That 15K finish has always been a chip on my shoulder, and I wanted to make up for it. I just don't know why I never joined another 15K race after Urbanite.
Up until the night before the Mizuno Infinity Run, I had a dilemma regarding my race-day strategy. Do I go Galloway, like I've done for my last four races (a full marathon and three halves)? Do I run all the way and not take walk breaks? Do I go Galloway but use longer run intervals and take less-frequent walk breaks? Do I push hard early on and cruise at the latter kilometers, or do I cruise first and push late? My unfamiliarity with the distance was in full display.
Race day finally came, and I was still unsure of how I was going to run this particular race. All I knew was that I wanted to beat my time very badly. And so, I decided to simply play it by ear and just RUN with all my heart. No Galloway method this time around. No strategy, no science, no fancy technique. No glancing at the Garmin every so often. No iPod. Just run until my lungs and legs give out. Gradually, the plan evolved into simply running with the pure, relentless, and unbridled focus and passion of a newbie.
And so, off I went. 3K, 5K, 7K. I was relying solely on the kilometer markers. No glancing at the Garmin. I had no sense of time whatsoever, much less my pace. All I knew was that my legs still felt strong, I was not gasping for air, and that I could still keep going. I just kept on running, and I think I was making very good time. 9K, 11K. Did I just pass the Kalayaan flyover? 13K. I think I had more or less maintained my pace, whatever it was. Finally, 15K. When I finally checked my 305, I realized that I had just bettered my previous "PR" by 26 minutes and spare change. I crossed the finish line with a Garmin time of 1:26:09 and an average pace of 5:40K/min. This is the farthest I've ever gone while sustaining such a pace. At long last, a "legitimate" personal best for the 15K distance. Details of my run here.
As July draws near and I prepare to redeem myself at the full marathon distance, I shall keep in mind all the lessons I learned and the goal I accomplished during the Mizuno Infinity Run. It shouldn't be too difficult for me to remember. After all, it can be summed up in two very simple words: Never Settle.