Monday, August 04, 2008

There is more to a race than a personal best

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).


Anonymous said...

Aw, we all have them..bad race days. I know the frustration, but sometimes they can also serve as a kick in the butt:-)

rick said...

I was worried for a minute that you were very unhappy about your race but the last line cleared it up. I've been there, self-pity post bemoaning a bad race and not feeling better until days later. You have the right attitude from the start. Man sorry to hear about missing the PR. I wonder what it was, could be the heat like you said. Everyone slows down a bit when it's hot. People who are heat trained just slow down less than others. Well Caloy you're a competitor, you run not just to finish but to race against yourself and other runners. Just makes you want to work harder for next time right? Cause there will be a next one.

You'll have to go back and think about the days leading up to the race if you haven't done so already. Did you get enough sleep, was the taper long enough, what did you eat during the week, what did you eat the day before the race and the two hours before the race, did you drink enough water the day before and the morning of, was your weight in the right range? I'm sure you can come up with more. The reason is there somewhere.

Good luck to your future races.

caloyb said...

stephanie, i guess that's what it was for me... a kick in the butt :)

rick, thanks for that very encouraging and informative comment. considering all those factors you mentioned, i guess something really wnet wrong somewhere in the last few days going into the race. but as you said, there will be next time :)