I was totally unprepared for the Nature Valley 21k Run. For one, since I got back from Milwaukee a couple of weeks ago, it seems that I haven't been the same insofar as running is concerned. I have been feeling a bit lethargic, and my endurance the past couple of weeks has been iffy at best. As a result, all the training runs I have done since I got back have all been absolute crap.
As if those weren't enough, what made matters worse was the fact that I was down with the flu for most of last week. It was so bad that I actually missed three days of work, from Tuesday to Thursday. I never ran a single kilometer during the entire week prior to the Nature Valley Run, and my last runs were a 20k last Saturday and a 5k last Sunday.
Given that my last two weeks have been utterly useless, up until last night, I was seriously considering not doing Nature Valley. But then, I decided to run anyway because I was thinking that perhaps a race would be able to "fix" me and do me some good.
And so, I showed up at the starting line. I warmed up pretty good, too. I arrived in BHS more a full hour before the 5:10 a.m. gun start because I was concerned that I had been runless for six full days. I knew I had to shake off a lot of rust or else I might get injured.
I surprisingly opened the race strong (at least by my humble standards), and my splits for the first 10k gave my confidence a much-needed boost: 5:40, 5:56, 5:58, 6:01, 5:59, 6:09, 5:48, 5:55, 7:12, and 6:05. Despite my condition, I almost pulled off a sub-60 10k - 1:00:45 to be precise. Not Haile, but not bad at all, considering that I was doing Galloway at a 6:1 ratio. Up until this point, I was entertaining thoughts of topping my 21k PR of 2:09.
Little did I know that a new PR was wishful thinking on my part. As soon as I opened Km 11, it felt as if someone pulled the plug and sapped all of my energy. At Km 13, I seriously considered quitting. It started to feel as if my decision to go ahead and do the run was a bad one after all, and I was telling myself that I should just stop, take off my bib, and call it a day. I was that close to logging my first official DNF.
You want to know what kept me going, though? Believe it or not, it was none other than... the medal. I am a huge sucker for Finisher's Medals, and I so badly wanted to get another one. I'd get one anyway even if I ended up walking the rest of the way, so what the hell?
My pace during the rest of the way was very erratic. I resorted to an extremely irregular run-walk pattern, and I was no longer targeting a particular finish time. I just wanted to finish, get the damn medal, go home, and go back to sleep. My splits for the last 11 kilometers were totally unspectacular: 6:44, 7:12, 7:13, 7:05, 7:33, 7:50, 7:27, 7:12, 7:26, 7:10, and 7:15. The last time I struggled this badly during a race was at 2009's Timex Run 21k, which I ran a few hours after a friend's stag party.
I finished the half-marathon in 2:21:38 (Garmin time), with an average pace of 6:42/k. Very pedestrian even by my recreational standards, given that my last three half-marys were a 2:14 (Century), 2:09 (Unilab), and another 2:14 (Globe). I don't feel bad at all, though. As a matter fact, as I crossed the finish line, I felt a different kind of contentment. I did get another big, shiny Finisher's Medal. More importantly though, twice did I come close to giving up on the race, and twice I resisted the temptation. Instead of logging my first official DNF, Did Not Finish, I ended up registering MY very own version of a DNF: DID NOT FOLD.