When I signed up for the Kenny 15k, I knew it probably wouldn't be an easy race. With the piling up of work and MBA requirements, plus training for the Camsur Half-IM, which I agreed to swim for as part of a relay team, I really haven't had much time to run. Add to that my knee injury from TNF100, and I knew I was no where near top shape. As you know, running is like a savings account, the more training you put in, the more performance you can get out! If you put nothing in... don't expect spectacular returns.
Not to say that I haven't been able to run at all. Thanks to my friends at the Second Wind shop, I've literally been dragged to a few group runs, speed work, and LSDs. So that plus my 1:45 earlier this year at the Condura Half, I thought a realistic goal would be a 1:20 to 1:25 15k. Early on, I made a conscious decision to push myself a bit during this race. I wanted to see "where" I was in terms of race pace and also I had to finish in front of a certain couple doing the 5k (More on this later).
Since this was the first "serious" night race I ever entered (Izusu's costume run last year not withstanding), I had some time before the race to think about the pros and cons of having a race so late in the day.
I had ample time to prepare my gear and put on my CW-X properly. Anyone who owns one of those will tell you that those compression tights need extra care and patience to put on. Also I could Double and Triple check everything; shoes, socks, patella strap, headlight, etc. As opposed to blindly stumbling around at 4 or 5 am, rushing to get all your things and speeding over to the race venue because you grabbed an extra 15 minutes of sleep after your alarm went off at an ungodly hour. So definite PLUS POINTS for that.
Parking was a definite hassle, as you didn't just "compete" with fellow runners for spaces, but also with the "party people" out for a night out. But it wasn't really that bad, so NO MINUS POINTS for that.
What was really a problem for me was that racing after a full day of work really left my drained even before the start of the race. This particular day, I had spend a good 6 to 7 hours with my MBA groupmates tackling our Capital Budgeting paper and I can tell you, even taking into account the triathlons and ultramarathons I have done, nothing drains me quite like Finance. I know some people love these numbers, net present values and internal rates of return, but I am not one of them. Definitely MINUS POINTS for a night race then! Hehe
All in all though, I think I was interesting concept to race at night and I was pretty excited about the race as I waited in the starting "corral" with Marga. I remember discussing with her my plan to go slow during the 1st couple of Kms, because I am like a very,very old diesel engine. My legs in particular take very, very long to warm up, but they're usually good for a long while once they get up to temp. If I start too fast before I get a chance to warm up, I usually flame out spectacularly.
Guess what happened when the gun went off?
Yup, I got caught up in the crowded and started way to fast! I should have known better that to start behind Jonel and his HC friends. At this point, I remember thinking that if I was just behind these guys, I was running too fast. But you know, sometimes, you tell yourself that you're feeling good, maybe you can sustain it...
Well, apparently I couldn't. After the 3 or 4km mark, I knew I was in trouble. It started with a slight pain on my shins. Then I really began to feel overheated in the high humidity. It didn't help that I was wearing my I am Ninoy jersey, which though nice, is really quite thick and heavy.
I literally stopped at the second water station to take some fluids and GU. At this point, I was thinking that I screwed up majorly and I could forget my 1:20. All I wanted to do now was finish before a certain 5K couple (Again, more on this later).
The GU helped for a while, but once we hit the dark road (thank god for my headlight) leading to Heritage, I was in trouble again. I slowed to almost a walk in some portions and people overtook me by bunches.
Inside Heritage wasn't any better, as I was consistently slower than everyone around me. I remember thinking at one point during a short ascent that I walked up; "This is it, I'm cooked. Lets just see how far we can go before I explode."
So I took off my heavy Ninoy jersey, luckily I was wearing my Nike Pro underneath to prevent chafing from the material of the jersey (I always wear a Nike Pro with untested jerseys after my painful chafing incident during my 1st 25k 2 years ago. No I will not elaborate :D) and I slow jogged to the next water station.
There I poured 2 glasses of water over my head, rehydrated and took my last GU. I probably also spent a minute or 2 trying to psyche myself up for for the remainder of the race.
Funny thing happened then though. After I started running again. I felt really good, I got my proverbial second wind.I think I made really good time until the turn around point of the 10k runners, when the course got really packed with people. At this point, I ran on the sidewalk just so I could maintain my pace, looking carefully at where I was stepping, as you know are sidewalks are notoriously... well, notorious!
I was feeling good about my run already and I thought maybe I can still make 1:20 or at least 1:25. Of course, I still stopped at every water station to rehydrate and rest a couple of second, but it was still looking good by my watch.
Then... Mckinley Hill happened. Going downhill, I made up alot of time, though at the expense of my knee, the unstrapped one. I began to feel a little pain on it but I choose to ignore it for the time being. I was thinking that "I was so close!", "Dear God, let the pain come in tom! I'll pay for it then, I promise, just let me finish this one well!".
I guess God really listens to our prayers because while the pain never went away, It never got any worse either. And I managed to run (occasionally walk) up Mckinley Hill and even had had a little bit enough in the tank for sprint to the finish!
1:26. Shit! I little bit off. But I'll take it!
Now for the highlight of the evening.
As my friends and I anxiously waited, we scaned the coming finishers for one particular couple. As we waited and no sign of the running couple appeared. We began to get worried. Doomsday scenarios began playing in our heads, though no one would say it out then.
Then suddenly, Marga screamed... "There they are!
There they were... holding hands. Crossing the finish line together. Slightly weighed down by the enormous rock on Tania's hand.
Congratulations, Hector and Tania! Bring on the Bachelor Party!