TULOY PO KAYO sa aking munting kastilyo.... WELCOME TO KASTILYONG LAPIS ....

Apr 21, 2010

A 10-Mile Chase (with the Musketeers, a Black Knight and more)

One Life. One Planet.

I love that phrase. Kind of gives me the importance of preserving the Earth as it is. There is only one Earth that gives us life. Can we at least value it? Joining a race celebrating our sole planet does not make a huge difference. But at least I did spend a few hours to pay my homage and gratitude to our dear mother Earth. One planet indeed. Let's help preserve and protect what we've got. It's our only chance of survival. And for generations yet to be born to live, experience and enjoy this planet as we know it today.

Earth Run 10-Mile

Training Schedule Review: For the first 11 weeks of 2010, I trained for speed. My goals for this period included a sub-20 5K and sub-40 10K. The speed training just concluded on the Globe Run for Home 2010 10K race last March. For the next 15 weeks, I will train for endurance leading to the Manila Milo Marathon this July. My goals are to qualify for the Milo Finals and start preparing to qualify for the Boston Marathon 2011. This means I will have to clock in 3:10 - 3:20 hours to close in on my Boston Dream.

Welcome to my fourth week of marathon training. Going into this week of training, I have logged 77, 72 and 35-kilometer weeks for the first three weeks. The Bolinao vacation gave me a break on my marathon training and so I was only able to run 35 kilometers on that week. The Earth Run is scheduled on the Sunday of my fourth training week. I joined the 16K distance to determine how my marathon training is going. Am I able to develop the endurance I need to sustain a target 4:30 minute/kilometer marathon? I know am ready for a 16K long distance race. I am not so sure how fast I could race it.

Race Strategy: Much like a bowling ball building its speed and momentum as it approaches to strike the pins on the other end, I planned to start slowly and lock into my race pace creating my own momentum before I launch an attack chase against the front runners.  Slow start. Overtake the runners in front trying to gain momentum. Then attack the faster runners from behind. Chase.

Why start slowly at the middle of the pack? Would it not cost me precious seconds trying to get out of the crowded starting lane? I thought the mental strength boosted by being able to overtake lots of people at the start would be much helpful for me in the much longer 16-kilometer race distance. That boost would then eventually help me run faster and lock into my target race pace. And then as I lock into that pace, I would be very much focused to be in attack mode. I was hoping the additional mental boost would not be as physically taxing as trying to sprint at the start.

I was wishful I would be riding in a fast momentum to be able to launch a challenge against the fast runners in front. And because I started much slower than they did, I would have the greater amount of energy to sustain an attack from behind. I would be using my competitive spirit to attain a sub 1:10-hour 10-Mile finish time.

(Following Image is from rickthegreat.files.wordpress.com)

Momentum Builder: As I try to dodge, evade and out speed the runners in front of me at the starting line.. I was slowly reaching my steady race pace. It was amazingly inspiring to overtake tens of runners with about four forefoot strikes or so from the start. I was stepping on the gas and just kept on the leftmost side of the rushing pack of runners to create a fast lane for myself. It felt much better than trying to keep up with the elite runners at the get go.

Against the elite, I have so little chance.  Probably a chance as little as nothing. Against the average runners, I have a better chance to take over and build my momentum. Running is a tough combination of physical and mental set of challenges. I decided to strengthen the mental side first. This strategy best suited my mental state in this 16-kilometer race as I don’t have any confidence if I could hold my 5K or even my 10K pace throughout the course of the race.

The strategy was working perfectly. I only had little problems like when a guy spitted on the leftmost side of the road thinking no other runner was running on his left. I almost caught a spitfire right there. Then there was a stretch where I could not go anywhere but just walk slowly in front as we were jammed waiting for all the front runners to create a space for us at the back rows. I would not have been trapped if I positioned myself at the front. These little problems were the price that I had to pay for my confidence-building strategy.

The Bowling Alley: When I did have my way and slowly starting to lock into my 4:10 minute per kilometer pace, I felt I could go all the way riding in that terrific momentum. Going up the Kalayaan flyover into Makati City, I found myself catching up with the three fastest ladies on the 16K category. They were only about fifty meters ahead now.

I pictured myself as a fast rolling bowling ball trying to push down all those pins in front. Will it be a strike out? Or will I drop down the canal part of the bowling lane and hit nothing? Either way, it will be time to launch my attack soon. I already have all the momentum I wanted to build.

Taking over runners while climbing up the Kalayaan felt like the running gods were smiling at me. Later in this tale, I would tell my new found knowledge about this dreaded monster of a flyover. I think I have unlocked its secrets and have now fully established the weak and strong points of the Kalayaan flyover climb and how a runner can take advantage of them. I used to fear this flyover ever since last year’s races going through it. Now, no more. It only has a hard part and the other parts were just more of a façade. The Kalayaan, my friends, is absolutely beatable.

At the foot of the flyover and now in Makati City, I started to see the fastest 16K runners already on their way back to The Fort. 21K runners wore violet race bibs. 16K runners had green ones. There were 12 faster male runners and two more just in front me. I was 15th. Right after my U-turn in Paseo de Roxas in Makati, my hunt began.

Look ahead. Who seems to be vulnerable to an attack? Who stands out as a target? Who can be seen easily among runners packed closely together? If I see one, then he’s locked as the next target. The race just became my 10-Mile chase.

(Following Image is from www.buzzine.com)

Ladies, Not this Time!: Going for my last climb up the Kalayaan flyover, about three ladies and three more male runners were all running close together. I still remember the fastest lady of them all. She is a consistent winner on local races.

I was so focused on the chase that I almost forgot I am running against the dreaded monster of Makati – the Kalayaan. Its toughest challenge was its first 100 meters going from its foot in Makati going to The Fort. After this tough climb, runners would be pretty much worry-free on the flats, some tolerable ascends and then the downhill descend back to The Fort. That’s the secret of this monster – it only has one deadly bullet in its arsenal. If we could be strong enough to face the challenge of the first 100 meters from Makati, we have already conquered Kalayaan! Atop this flyover after those steep 100-meter climb lies flats, much easier ascends and downhills going to The Fort.

Sometimes, I do tend to overestimate the burden of running this flyover. Now it’s over. I already owned it. It has no power over me whatsoever from here on. All I need to do is remember to attack patiently coming from its foot from Makati. The rest of this flyover is just a mental scare and nothing more. If I have trained and ran on some ordinary uphill ascends, Kalayaan flyover is not much of a threat to me.

And then after my mental victory over the flyover, I faced the challenge of the two fastest ladies running the 16K category. I was pretty much on attack mode and the two happened to be resilient enough to face my challenge. Pretty tough ladies these two!

Then I remembered how two ladies from the Globe 2010 10K race have beaten me. How they made me eat the dusts of their feet and left me wobbling and trailing on desperation and fatigue on that flyover. My competitive ego wanted revenge. You girls have already left me behind in most of the races I’ve joined. But your victories over me are about to end. Not this time ladies. I am sorry to take over. I do have 12 more men to catch.

And so I was happy and relieved to conquer one of my previous conquerors atop the flyover. Until I got thirsty to momentarily stop for a drink. Every time I stopped on the hydration stations, the two girls would run ahead of me. Then I got to chase them again. After beating the two while going up to Lawton Avenue, I would then stop to drink or pour some water over my head. Then two would knock me off again and leave me trailing behind.

To finally get my victory over them and create a comfortable distance away from their resilient challenge, I skipped the next hydration station and sped up. There await three PNPA police students (Three Musketeers) running in a pack. In front of me was also a guy wearing black shorts, black singlet and a blazing red Nike shoes. Let’s call him the Black Knight. He has been just a little ahead of me and was one of my candidate targets since the flyover climb to The Fort.

The Black Knight would catch and overtake the Three Musketeers on our way to the flat roads of Lawton Avenue. There are a lot more runners with us now as we were catching up with the 21K runners already. My chase would have to go through the Three Musketeers. If successful, I would have overtaken most of the 16K runners except 9. I would be in the Top 10. Let's keep chasing.

(Three Musketeers from atangledweb.squarespace.com)

The Three Musketeers: Three PNPA police students were still running fast and out of my reach since I saw them ahead of me from the Kalayaan flyover going back to The Fort. I hoped to catch them later on.

That ‘later on’ stage was all set when I have pulled away from the lady runners.

I assumed that these students were always running every morning thus having sufficient endurance to keep on running. Morning jogs must have been the usual routine for these students just as our military cadets and soldiers. Even so, I believed my training schedule is just as tough and as often as theirs. I also assumed that they do not have Tempo training runs on their schedules. So even if they can endure long distance running, somewhere along the race they would be tired of running fast and would have to slow down. Hopefully, they would tire earlier than I would.

At Lawton Avenue, after the uphill climbs on 5th Avenue, our Black Knight had just overtaken the Three Musketeers. I sensed that fatigue was already creeping up on this group of runners. One of the three, the one on the middle, was even swinging both his hands together from left to right. He must have been tired of swinging his hands forwards and backwards. About a few seconds after the Black Knight took over the three, I made my own attack from behind.

We had to be extra careful on Lawton Avenue. The roads were not closed exclusively for the runners and there were not too many marshals to protect us from the speeding vehicles.

I had an energy surge running at Lawton Avenue, my second wind after toughing out the Kalayaan flyover and ascending the hills of 5th Avenue going to Lawton. I was chanting Left-Right, Left-Right, Left (common cadence chant while marching with the college C.A.T troop) to force faster strides and to focus on sustaining my current pace. The surge I believe was also because of my familiarity with the Lawton-Bayani Roads – this is the route I ran for my first half marathon race! I was so motivated in racing the Rota Half Marathon in this same route in preparation for my first marathon run. As I get too motivated and energized, I was getting nearer and nearer to the Three Musketeers.

Sensing their fatigue, I happily conquered the musketeers and went on to my next visible target – The Black Knight.

(The Black Knight from photobucket.com)

The Black Knight: He wore black running shorts and a black singlet. He lifts his back foot high enough to propel himself forward even faster. I still can’t do this running technique. He was efficiently fast. He also had thickly muscled thighs and calves. He would be the hardest runner for me to chase on this 10-Mile race.

Uphill climbs did not end on Lawton, the Bayani road still offered some challenges to our tiring legs. I did feel my thighs slowly getting tired and heavy after all the climbs we’ve done. But knowing that the Bayani part of the race is the last line of up hills that we need to conquer, I just kept on chasing and going after the Black Knight.

The stronger I get and the faster I run, this Black Knight was not getting any closer than about 25 meters ahead of me. But thanks to him, I was holding my fast pace for the longest time since I’ve seen him on the Kalayaan flyover. Without the motivation driven by wanting to keep up with this guy, I don’t think I would be able to keep up with my 4:10 min/km pace. He was pushing me to try harder. To be at my limits just to keep up with him. To go all out and try to catch him. If I could just catch this guy. Just catch him.  Just try to go conquer this Black Knight.

After the U-turn at Bayani Road, it was just me against him on the wide open road going back to Lawton. The 25-meter separation was getting closer and closer. I was faster going downhills. And when I was just a meter away from him, I decided to just stay behind and let his body cover me from drag of the wind. At the same time, I was trying to breathe and recover from all my efforts of chasing him.

While running relaxed about a meter behind him, I noticed his blazing red Nike shoes. Then I stared at my glowing orange Mizuno. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Nike versus the Mizuno. Who are you picking? Hehehe. Then I made my move, ran to his right side and tried to overtake him.

He noticed my surge and he ran faster to cover my move. I loved it. We were racing against each other while going down Bayani Road. The Black Knight refused to surrender.

I’ve been chasing him forever in this race, I would have to unleash my sprinting speed now to beat him. Would it be wise to use it at this stage of the race? It is still 4 or 5 kilometers more before we get to the finish line.

Heck.. I want to beat the Black Knight badly. I will be sprinting ahead and conquer him now. Surge! Surge! Surge!

Still, he would not let me go away and leave him behind. The moment I landed my foot ahead of his, he came back surging faster. Oh my, I would not let you go ahead of me no more. I dashed stronger with the strength of my quadriceps to pull ahead.

I finally conquered the Black Knight. Yehey! Yehey!!

The he came back surging and eagerly wanting to take his position back. No mister! This is already mine. I surged again and again and then again until I can’t sense him from behind any longer.

I then reached Lawton Avenue. I was so pumped up and I was so thirsty and tired by then. I have been chasing since gun start.

The Real Intention: When I chase the lady runners, the slower runners at the starting line, the three musketeers and the black knight, I did not intend to compare myself against them and feel better when I do beat them or feel weak when I cannot keep up with them.

Yes, racing is a competition. It’s a sport. It acknowledges the fastest runners on the field and rewards them for their excellence.

But my real intention in trying to chase and run faster than the runners ahead of the pack is mainly to keep up with my target race pace. I will always thank these guys for motivating me to push myself to my limits. Without their struggles to run fast and their resistance to my chase, my race would have been much slower and less fun.

Oops.. I am Crashing Down Real Quick: Back to my chase tale, I happened to be absolutely happy about my efforts to have successfully chased all my targets. The Black Knight was the last. I would not be able to chase the others. I was contented to be at the top 10 already.

Just when I relaxed and tried to cruise my way back to 5th Avenue, the Black Knight came from behind and passed me by. Feeling almost gassed out and tired, I tried to hang on and run behind him. Just hang on and try to stay on the race. Hopefully, a third wind might just come and help me bring back to my chasing game.

None of a third wind came. I was getting more and more winded. I might have forced myself too much as I suffered from side-stitch on the right side of my abdomen. Oh no.. I am now crashing down and fading quickly out of my target finish time.

3 more kilometers to go, can I pull a 1:10-hour 10-Mile finish?

At the next water station in Lawton Avenue, I stopped, drank a cup of water, walked and then thought what to do next. To race or to take it easy?

Just Try to Hang On: Knowing that the route will be all flats and downhills until the finish line, I decided to jog slowly until I rid off of the aching side-stitch. Hang on, only a few kilometers left. I’ve actually done well up to this point, I just need to keep up and try to forget fatigue.

Looking at the determined faces of the other runners climbing their way from 5th Avenue to Lawton, I know I cannot give up. These runners still have much more kilometers to run than me and their not stopping to reach it, so why would I stop?

Runners on wheelchairs came to mind. They are not quitting their fight to the finish. I do have a healthy set of legs. I have no reason to give up. Then I saw a father pushing his son stricken with cerebral palsy on a wheel chair running towards my direction. He inspired me to push myself further and go finish this race strong. His determination to run with his son on a 10-Mile race motivated me to hang on and fight.

 After I signaled a thumbs-up to this inspiring tandem, I looked ahead and saw the Black Knight pulling so far away from me. I felt I don’t have the strength I need to battle back but what the heck. Let’s do give him a good fight.

A PR Finish: After my hydration stop and a few seconds of walking, I tried to get back to running and finish the race strong. The downhill slopes to 5th Avenue helped my cause. I was steadily surging back to my race pace and found the Black Knight still within my reach.

Reaching the 25th street of The Fort, I stride harder and really wanted to come closer behind the Black Knight and also finish under 1:10 hours. At this part of the route, the 3K and 5K runners have already converged with us. The running lanes were crowded by the convergence of runners from all categories going towards the same finish line.

I swung my hands a lot quicker and let my thighs explode with more power in each stride. I was hoping to inch closer and chase the Black Knight before we approach the last corner toward the finish line. I could already see the Finish Arc from 26th street and it was raising my adrenaline to much higher levels. We were about to finish this race.

I was thinking to sprint all the way from the corner of 28th street until the finish line. But when we have reached that corner, we were instructed to continue to run along 11th Avenue towards the 32nd Avenue. We were running away from the finish line.

The extra stretch made me lose my focus and feel how tired I am at that point. With only about twenty meters away from me, I suddenly felt that I would no longer be able to chase the Black Knight. At the U-turn point just before 32nd street, I was just crawling my way towards the end of this race.

Finally, on 28th street and on the last corner of my 16-kilometer race, we head towards the Finish Line. With all of my last remaining energy, probably extended by the energy drink I consumed while climbing up the hills of the 5th Avenue towards Lawton, I sprinted as fast as I could to reach the Finish Line.

I was so thrilled to have seen the TIMER read 1:37:xx hours. The 16K race started exactly 30 minutes after the TIMER started for the 21K race. That means I am within my 1:10 target finish time.

I wanted to reach the arc just before the TIMER reads 1:38 hours but I was a little short. I finished the race in 1:08:15 hours.

My 16K race was a success. I was able to carry a 4:15 min/km pace for 16 long kilometers. I will need to run the Milo Marathon with a 4:30 min/km pace to qualify for Boston.

What’s Next: My fifth week is a mileage cut-off week. It is designated as my recovery week after the first four weeks of marathon training. So I have the luxury to go all out last Sunday's Earth Run knowing I do have a relatively easier week coming. I will also be joining a 5K race on my fifth week - the Mizuno-Highlands Fun Run in Tagaytay City. It's just a short 5K race and I would be using it as a speed workout run. It should be lots of fun running on the cool and windy atmosphere of Tagaytay as opposed to the warm and intense heat of the Metropolitan Manila.

After Tagaytay, I would be seriously building up for the marathon for another four weeks. Sadly, I will have to miss the race events scheduled on this period. This is to concentrate on training for the marathon. On schedule, I should log 81-88 kilometers of weekly mileages for these endurance-building weeks. They include 27-31 kilometers of Sunday long runs. Pretty tough weeks to look forward to. And they should whip me into tip-top marathon running shape.

Another cut-off week will follow (the 10th week) before I do run two of my toughest weeks on my marathon training schedule. Milo Marathon is already fast approaching.


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  2. Awesome post Jason, its nice dissecting your mental framework during races, I learn a lot. I actually do a lot of the same myself, albeit at a slower race pace level. Terrific PR race and no worries about Mr. Black Knight, you'll get him next time :)

  3. Thanks Luis. Happy to have given some helpful insights for you. I do hope to keep on improving and catch the Black Knight next time. :)

    Officially, I was 9th with a finish time of 1:08:13 hours. Bib # 5497. Unfortunately, my name is not on the official list. Just the bib# and the finish time.

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