I went into the 37th Milo Marathon Davao 21K Elimination Race last Sunday, October 13, hoping for only one thing - break my personal best for the distance. While I was having doubts I would, given the circumstances I am in now in comparison to 2011, I still harbored the thought. Dreaming was free after all.
Qualifying was an easier thing to do. Modesty aside, it was already a given.
My age group qualifying time was set at two hours and I was doing my weekend 20K training runs in lesser time than that. Barring any untoward incidents that would prevent it from happening, I was already sure of finishing within the qualifying time.
My best 21K time was set in 2011. I ran the Araw ng Dabaw Phoenix Run 21K in March that year clocking 1:41:31, finishing at the top of my age group and bagging a medal for the effort. Run on the same route of the 34th Milo Marathon Davao Elimination Race the year before, I considered it sweet revenge. I was only good for a 1:51:27 clocking then and failed to qualify for the Manila finals. The time improvement of almost 10 minutes elated me more than getting the top finisher's medal for my age group. Thinking that I could finally beat the qualifying time in the 35th Milo Marathon Davao Elimination Race set in November made me even more excited. I might even set a new PR.
It didn't happen. I did qualify, topping my age group yet again, but on a new route that included no less than 4 no-nonsense climbs to the halfway mark outside the Davao International Airport the best I could clock was 1:42:04.
With a relatively flatter route this year, I was hoping I could set a new PR or a time closer to my 2011 Milo Elimination Race finish. But looking back, I could say it was a long shot right from the start.
I couldn't say I wasn't prepared. I trained, putting in running hours early in the morning before I report for work my at the radio station. I did several doubles, doing short afternoon runs after work. The weekends were for the long runs. I did quite a good number of 20K's. All that paid off.
I set off comfortably at the bark of the gun, got into my rhythm in no time, and was soon passing other runners left and right. I was running strong as I always did going closer into the halfway point. I traded paces with a couple or so of younger runners until a kilometer or two past the turnaround. All that just wasn't good enough.
My legs didn't feel more fatigued than they should be, but there was that now familiar burning sensation at the sole of my right foot that stings when it hits exposed gravel on the now deteriorated concrete road paving. I can run through the pain but on a much slower pace until it subsided. It was frustrating not to mention energy sapping. I don't know if it has something to do with my metatarsal stress fracture last year but it sure wasn’t there before that injury. The thin soles of my racing flats could also have been a factor.
My last kilometer going to the finish seemed the longest I ever ran in a race. Two other younger runners passed me back. Turning the final corner and seeing the race banner ahead, I mustered whatever strength I had and went for my fastest sprint. The race clock said 1:47 something.
I crossed the line, received my finisher's medal, certificate and goody bag. I didn't stay long at the finish area, and went back to the hotel less than a block away for a shower and fresh clothes. I went back to the finish area just in time to hear the winners of the men's 21K race being called out.
I have done what I came to do. Run and beat the qualifying time for my age group. With no new PR and not much else left to do, I headed out to silence my now grumbling stomach.
So what did I learn from this race?
I run better with high mileage tucked well in the elastic band of my running shorts. Training for the December 2011 Davao Finishers' Marathon, I put in several 100-kilometer weeks before that year's 35th Milo Marathon Elimination Race. My weekend long runs by the time I did the elimination race were already beyond 20 kilometers. That made me stronger over the distance and helped me hold whatever limited speed I had longer.
I might need to switch back to racing flats with a bit more sole for 21K and the marathon.
Another year, another race. I'll train, and dream, and run and hopefully qualify again with a PR.
P.S. The 37th Milo Marathon official site for the Davao Elimination Race results had me finishing with a gun time of 1:47:55, good for third in my age group. I was 55th of 444 finishers overall.
|55th of 444 21K finishers overall|