I did it! It’s done. This 42 year old female ran 42 kilometers and 195 meters. I’m ecstatic because not only did I finish my marathon injury-free, I finished it ahead of my predicted race time of somewhere between 6:17-6:30. My gun time was 05:52:23.687.
And no, I’m not raring to sign up for another race, thank you. Gonna savor my sweet time off from months of running.
This was how the day went down.
The bright full moon was still up during the early hours of March 12, Sunday when 42km runners gathered at the starting line of the 8th annual Clark Animo Marathon.
I asked another runner to snap my customary pre-race photo. “You’re by yourself?” He asked quite surprised. I said yes. And mentally added “as usual.”
A race briefing was held a few minutes before gun start. And at exactly 2:30 A.M. we were off.
“I’m going to stick to my own pace” I kept telling myself as runners passed me by. Still, I knew I was running a bit faster than I’m used to.
My Nike app announced the 1k mark and my pace. Seven something kilometers per hour. Whoa! I needed to slow down. It should’ve been 8’30″/km. But I knew the course well and this bit was a bit of a downhill. I decided that I should take advantage of it. Besides, I knew that I couldn’t be this fast the second time around. The route was two loops on a 21km course around the Clark Freeport Zone.
At the 7km point, I see a girl running barefoot. Oh how I wished I could run barefoot. Years ago, I tried running wearing a pair of those shoes that supposedly mimicked the barefoot experience. I got Achilles tendonitis.
I smiled and asked her as I passed her if she was running barefoot all the way. She said she had a pair of flipflops with her for emergency use.
I check my watch. 45 minutes into the race. It’s time to eat my banana.
At 10km, I was still going faster than my normal pace. And the pain that occurs just below my knees which usually happens to me at around 21k made its presence felt.
“See. I told you to slow down.” I scolded myself. Besides, coach Sage (on YouTube) emphasized the importance of an even, sustainable pace.
An older runner passed me. He was tall and looked like a seasoned marathoner. He had that built. We greeted each other a good morning.
At about 14km, I passed him. He gave me a thumbs up and said “You’re pretty strong!” I said “Yeah I’m expecting to crash later.” Self-deprecating mode on.
The course made a right turn, I saw the Air Force City welcome sign. I sang “Paradise City” in my head. Earphones and other such devices were not allowed by the race organizers because only a section of the roads were closed off for runners. Too bad, I prepared a killer marathon playlist. But I was also relieved. I could focus 100% on my running and be in the present moment.
At 16km, I needed to pee. The course took us through the airport grounds and so I dashed to the bathroom. Better a real bathroom than a port-a-potty (which I haven’t yet spotted along the race course.)
I reached the half-way point. Hey, 21km! I believe I have achieved a PR: 2:39:42. I was expecting a 3 hour time. Wow.
Time for another “snack.” Just like in my training, I included real foods in addition to an energy chew and gel. It was pretzels time for some quick energy and some extra salt.
I was on my second loop. I still felt pretty good. But I relaxed a bit since the fear of not making it to the 3:30 half-marathon cut off no longer worried me. I now readjusted to my normal pace.
The 21km-32Km range was what I called the desert area. If I conserved energy and rehydrated properly, I’d have a better chance of finishing the marathon strong. This was also the part of the race where I started swearing to myself. I took a 10 minute walk break here as well. My leg muscles were very tight and the top of my right thigh felt like it was getting hacked. Here, a fellow runner reminded me to keep my head up so I don’t get dizzy. I thanked him for his advice. It’s just that sometimes if I looked at the horizon and see how far the road still stretched, it zaps my motivation and energy.
After I felt better, I pushed myself to run again. I found it very hard to gather enough energy to run again so I made a mental note to keep walking breaks to a minimum. I did it again though at 35km because I started feeling the onset of a stomach cramp. Luckily, it came and went.
I check the time. I told my husband and my nine year old brother (who ran in the 2.5K fun run) to expect me at the finish line at about 8:30 AM or so, which is about 6 hours from gun start.
I think I had about 45 minutes left till 8:30. I thought to myself I should just keep going and if 8:30 came and I still wasn’t at the finish line, I’d just relax and walk.
Luckily the last 2km of the course was a slight slope so I was even able to pick up my pace from 10’34” to 8’13”, passing a few runners this late in the game. Woohoo. I felt good. A fellow lady runner cheered and shouted “Go, go, go” while another guy also told me “You’re tough!”
When I made the right turn towards the finish line and saw that the clock hadn’t reached 6 hours just yet, I made a go for it. I wasn’t totally expecting a PR but there it was. I finished with an 8’06” pace and about 8 minutes ahead of my time goal.
What a day! Although I’m not in the fast runner category (my data showed 65% were ahead of me and there were 81 runners behind me), I really thought this was a great run. I pushed myself hard, respected the distance and did my training.