97 days to go: Survived a 21K race

The cutoff time for yesterday's Pinoyfitness Challenge run was 2 hours and 30 minutes and I thought that I would struggle to finish below that time. I just recently returned to running, having gotten back to the regular routine only in October. My longest run had been 12 kilometers, and at a relatively easy pace. So while I was confident that I can complete a 21 kilometer run, I wasn't sure if I could finish within the cutoff time. It meant running at a pace close to 7:00 per kilometer, a pace that I had sustained only for a few kilometers during my regular runs. To make matters worse, my headphones were faulty so I had to run with no music to distract me.

Well, it came out that it wasn't that much of a struggle. I started slow but I guess the crowds slowly drew me in to run faster even without me realizing it. Before I knew it, I was running below the targeted 7:00/km pace. I had to consciously slow down, else I burn out in the end. Don't get me wrong – it was still a difficult race. I had to continuously repeat a mantra not to quit, to push on, not to stop, but at least it wasn't that kind of grimacing run that burned my lungs and turned my legs into weighted jello. I still struggled. My legs were a little heavy in the first 3 km but then I settled into a groove for the next 12 km. I thought I could up the pace for the last 5 km but then I held back, worried that I may burn out and resort to a walk break. I finished at 2:27.

In hindsight, I should've slowed down in the end. I wasn't shooting for a PR. I just wanted a long run and end within the cutoff. As I write this, my legs are a little shaky with some slight residual pain in my hips.

I don't enjoy the runs in Bonifacio Global City (BGC). It's hilly, especially the route on Rizal Avenue leading up to the McKinley Avenue intersection. I also don't enjoy going up Kalayaan bridge. Routes in BGC tend to have a lot of twists and turns, plus the fact that you have to cross intersections where you hear cars impatiently honk their horns. Sometimes the traffic enforcers let the vehicles loose, causing you to stop and wait for the traffic to clear. Well, on the bright side, it did give me a few seconds to “rest.”

I need to do more long runs, runs that challenge my body and tax my mind. Having no music to divert my attention, I focused on my breathing and how my feet were pounding on the pavement. One thing I learned in the 21K run was that my posture and form tend to deteriorate. My next long run is this coming weekend, where I will log 15 kilometers, so I should work on improving my running stance.




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