Going into this morning's race, I had two goals in mind. One, finish under 20 minutes. Two, finish among the top 10. I woke up at 3:20am, took a shower, ate breakfast and a liter of Fit 'n Right, and then texted my colleagues how we would proceed to One Nation Building at The Fort.
Four of us will be racing, 3 for a 5K including myself and a 10K runner. We went there chatting, laughing with each other, fun stuff.. just relaxed and easy. I am a bit worried about my left knee though. I did not wrap it this time around hoping it has fully healed. Both my feet were wrapped so as to protect and stabilize the left foot. The right foot was wrapped mainly for balance. Despite this week's rest and rehabilitation of my aching left foot and left knee, I hoped for the best and wish to give it a 100% during the race.
We arrived early and took the time to warm up. I felt great and was practicing a little bit of the sprinting technique I just have learned from a set of training videos. Then we started walking towards the starting line. There was no program like a series of motivating speeches with background music. No national anthem. Just the busy checking of race bibs and then a gunfire. Simple as that.
The 15K runners were the first to be released. There were so very few of them, more or less 50. Perhaps most long distance runners are preparing for tomorrow's Adidas King of the Road or the Subic International Marathon.
Exactly 30 minutes later, the 10K followed. Will my colleague beat his 1:15 - 1:16 previous 10K finish time? I certainly hoped so, he will be my pacer for the last 8 kilometers of my November 8 marathon.
There were a lot more 10K runners than the 15K. The 10K distance of the Race for LIFE was my very first race last November 22, 2008. I finished it in exactly 56:00 minutes and was not able to walk straight nor stand erect for the following days. With no training and no race experience, I joined last year's 10K. Hahaha. Still, that race opened my eyes on the simplicity and beauty of running as a sport. Less than a year later, who would have thought I will be running a marathon. I am that active and addicted now.
Back to the race.. A few minutes more and we, the 5K runners, will be sent off. I told my friends that I will go ahead near the starting line as I will be running strongly from the onset. I am all fired up, I have a goal and it's all locked up in my head. I am focused and determined to finish as fast as I could and beat the 20-minute mark.
Off We Go
The huge Timex digital watch on the starting line reads 0:36:++ when the gun fired.
I started blazing. A few steps more and I find myself running only behind of 2 faster runners. Wow! That pumped me up. I was catching up with them for the first kilometer of the race. For the first time in my racing life, I was running just right behind the race security motorcade. "Weeh Weeh Weeh.." The sound of the security siren was incredibly raising my adrenaline to a whole new level. So this is what it feels like to be an elite runner huh? I dashed stronger.
Bad move! Big mistake!
After the first kilometer, I was third. After the second kilometer, I was fifth. I may have finished the 2 kilometers in a record 7:35 time but I was losing steam right there just at the second kilometer. The pace knocked me out of my comfortable pace. I was slowing down with every passing second.
The water station helped a little bit. I slowed down, drank more than a half of the disposable drinking cup, poured the remaining water on top of my head and then went on with the race. Four elite runners are about 300 meters away from me now and another one just right behind me. She is also an elite athlete as she was leading all the ladies on the 5K race.
On my stronger days, I would have taken her challenge. I would have hanged on and fought for the fifth place. This day though, I simply surrendered. I let her pass me by and I was content to follow her as long as I could. A healing left knee, a healing left foot and a big mistake on the start of the race led to my miseries. After 2.5 kilometers, I was now down to 6th.
How about the 20-minute goal? You have declared it as your target on at least one of your blog posts right? You did it 20:47 on a 5K training day Jayson, you could do it now.. come on. You even shared your training regimens and schedule on takbo.ph on a forum for a sub-20 minute 5K race, right? Push!
And I did. I was just unable to. My legs did not have the bounce they used to have during training. I was not this tired on my training runs before. But yes, I still want to finish a sub-20. So for a few meters I tried to speed up.
Then a guy passed me by and that completely crushed my spirit. My legs are now weakening exponentially against time. I did not even want to look at my timer anymore. I love to whine now, really. :'(
Then again, why should I be sad and whining? Slowing down or not, meeting a goal or not, injured or not, am I not happy just being on the road and being able to do what I want to do? I am now at 8th place. And it is just a little more than 1 kilometer to go, finish strong!
Inspired by a Little Girl
From third, to fifth, to sixth, to seventh and now eight.. Doesn't matter. I am living my dream and I am running on my own pace now. Sometimes the time, the rankings, the pride of being overtaken plays a little nasty trick on our minds. Races are won by the fastest runners, yeah but winning is not everything. Pushing myself to my limits, whatever that limit is for this time being, should be my challenge. It was probably greed that threw me out of my thinking self. Really, my goals are set to be the best I can be. Not by beating the hell out of other runners. Had I stayed comfortably at a 4:10 pace, I would not be struggling like crazy now.
What will put me back into this race? A peaceful, happy, energetic and thinking mind. Just when I was busy correcting my mental flaws, a father and a daughter tandem passed me by just by the 4th kilometer mark. The girl was just around 9-11 years old. The father guiding her daughter for her best possible finish. I was now tenth.
With all my remaining strength, powered by the happy thought of this little young girl guided by her loving father and doing her best to finish her race, I pushed myself to finish strong. I finished unofficially at 8th place with 21:24 minutes on my Casio, 0:57:++ from the Timex (started at 36:++ for the 5K).
The little girl behind me took the 2nd place on Women's 5K Open
Photo courtesy of Anson's Site
It took a young girl to remind me that running isn't all about winning, competition and finish times.. It's also about having fun.