When I started preparing for the Davao City Regional Elimination Race of the 32nd National Milo Marathon some 15 weeks ago, I was gunning for a better time at the 21k distance. I had recorded a 1:42:42 at the Merco 61st Anniversary 21k in October last year. Maybe I could do a 1:40 this time.
My race yesterday did not turn out as I wanted. I wilted in the final kilometers and crossed the finish line at Rizal Park in 1:49:45. It was more than 7 minutes slower than my previous best.
I was frustrated, naturally. At the finish, I was mulling over reasons for the slower time. Maybe it was the 6 A.M. start, a full hour later than the start of the Merco race. The sun was bearing down on us on the run back to the finish. I could feel the heat searing the back of my neck. I was never good at running in the heat.
But it was far from a bad race for me.
The tinge of pain that still lingers in my thighs and the blisters under my big toes are testaments to the effort I put into the race. I ran abreast with other runners in three different groups going into the halfway point, leaving each one behind after a kilometer or two, until there were only two of us going into the turnaround.
For the first time in a race, I had my fellow age-grouper Cris, a runner several times faster than me, in my eyesight. Pacing his daughter Nicherene, his familiar figure in white singlet and tangerine shorts some 300 meters ahead of me provided me motivation to hold my pace despite the discomfort of the heat and pass several other younger runners in much of the second half of the race. It was a pity my little engine sputtered going into the final three kilometers and I totally lost sight of Cris and Nicherene who eventually finished fourth in the women's race.
I haven't run in any Milo Marathon elimination race for quite a long while. The last time I registered for one was in 2006. I find no pride in having the event's t-shirt and race bib, though. I wasn't able to run the race. I missed out on the registration for last year's race which was closed early because of overwhelming participation especially in the side events. This year's race was a comeback of sorts for me to this series which is without doubt the most esteemed running event in the country. This time, I have a race singlet, a marked bib, and a finisher’s certificate I can once again be proud of.
No, I don't think it was a bad race for me at all, though it could have been better (chuckle).