It started as a goal I made at the beginning of the year: Run more than 10km. I first met this goal last May when I ran 15km at the Run for Integrity 2012 and again last month when I did 16km at the Regent Fun Run. And due partly to peer pressure but mostly to a newfound self-confidence stemming from my boyfriend’s flatteries, I pushed some more and decided to run my first half-marathon at the Run United 3 race.
Half-marathon = 21km = 10km of nonstop running + Xkm of walking/running/limping/crawling
Surely, I didn’t want that to happen. So, I searched for training programs online for running half-marathons. I tried following this program, starting from the 16km run that I did and working towards that 21km Sunday. However, living in a tropical-storm-battered country is not conducive to sticking to such training programs. I missed a lot of training days because of the rain, but I also ran despite the rain a couple of times. It was during these times that I realized how great it is to run under a light rain. My fastest 5km to date was on that night that I ran while it was drizzling. The night was cooler than usual and for that, it was easier to run and easier to breathe. It turned out those runs really prepared me for the big day.
Come race day, it was raining. I think we had a storm coming or there was a storm at some other part of the country and an officemate was already close to backing out of running. But I insisted and cajoled so he finally gave in and decided to run anyway. I would’ve still run with or without him but it would be better to have someone with you at the starting line. We even arrived at the venue early so we got plenty of time to stretch and even go to the portalets. My 16km run last month was a semi-disaster because I was not able to pee prior to the gun start and there were no portalets along the run. It was awful having to run 16km with that feeling of having to pee! And since I’m not a guy, I can’t exactly just relieve myself against a wall anytime.
So the gun was fired and there we were, rushing from the starting line. I immediately weaved my way across the other runners in search of a good spot to run. For me, the best place is always at the left side of the road with the next runner about 6 feet away from me. But even if I was able to position myself better, I still met some delay: the laces of my left shoe got untied by the second kilometer. It was a real downer, having to stop, move to the side and retie your shoelaces when I had really made sure to tie them tightly before going to the starting line. I think that ate up about a minute of my time.
And that was not the only depressing thing that happened. I was using my sister’s iPod nano so I could time myself and I selected the half-marathon run. After tying my laces, I checked Nike+ and saw that I had only covered a distance of 1.11. It was weird because I felt like I had already been running longer. I didn’t think about it too much though. I was really starting to be bothered when I saw that I had already been running for more than 30 minutes but I had just covered 4.xx! I snapped into panic mode and kicked up my running. It was a really good thing that I saw that 8km marker. I double-checked Nike+ and sure enough, it was counting the miles and not the kilometres. I was so relieved I was grinning really broadly. Good thing it was raining so the usual camera people were not around and the other runners were not paying attention to me.
It had been drizzling since the night before and there were puddles everywhere. It was difficult to run a straight course since I had to avoid getting my shoes wet. I know from training that a wet sock is not your best friend while running. It gets all squishy and uncomfortable. And avoid these puddles I did but I had the misfortune of stepping into a puddle halfway into the run when I got distracted by some hecklers who were crossing the street (“naku baka ma-ground ka Ate, naka-headset ka pa, umuulan!”). And with that, my left shoe was drenched and the rest of the run had been made uncomfortable by it. I forgot to cut my toenails the night before (I had on some nail polish so I didn’t notice that my nails were already long) so they I really felt the toes on my left foot receiving undue pressure. I had to adjust my foot almost every step of the way so that my toes won’t grind into the front of the shoe. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. I am now looking at 2-4 dead toenails because of my long run.
Meanwhile, one new thing that I tried during the run was to take a GU energy gel. Well, the result was that I didn’t really get too tired throughout the race (which could mostly be due to the fact that it was cool and I wasn’t overheating). However, I felt some palpitations after finishing the entire sachet. I took the chocolate one with caffeine and I think that one was the culprit. Afterwards, I felt really queasy on the stomach, like I had to do number 2 or something. I promise not to take energy gels again. BTW, my boyfriend also experienced the same symptoms.
So there it was, the last kilometer marker and I felt like my legs were already about to give up. I didn’t run all the way of course; I stopped at all the hydration stations after the 10km mark. But I walked about 20 steps during my last kilometer and had a very weak “kick” at the last 50 meters.
Arriving at the finish line, I saw that the time was 2:32:xx. On my Nike+ it was 2:31:01. But now that the official race results are out, my records show the following times:
from gun start: 2:35:43
chip time: 2:33:22
It was honestly disappointing. The discrepancy just seems too big.
Just the same, I still am glad that I was able to finish the 21km run without grave injuries. It was a really good run for me. I could only hope to improve my time the next time.