2nd Avenue Earth Run: My 21k Comeback!

How time flies! It’s almost nine (9) full months into 2011 and I haven’t even ran a single half-marathon race this year. I’ve mostly done 10ks and some 5ks so far due to that debilitating Plantar Fasciia I suffered earlier this year. Having ran no less than a dozen 21ks and 4 marathons last year and with the injury behind me, I thought it was time to put the feet for some strenuous test again.

So last Sunday, I decided to run the 2nd Avenue Earth Run Half-Marathon. To tell the truth, I was calling-off all opportunities to run a 21k race even though I was fully healed. Reason? A little apprehensive that I won’t be able to do as good as last year and the fear of failure perhaps, which I know was unlikely. I’m so used to running the shorter distances that just the thought of running a longer race would be another grueling pursuit!

But what the heck! It was time to level up again! I had been doing some long runs for the past 3 weeks, some as far as the distance itself but they were really slow and easy. But now, I was ready.

Betty, one of my training buddies volunteered to pace me as she herself was training for the upcoming Beijing Marathon next month. She had set-up a 7:00-7:15min/km pace so we set-off. June Santiago, my other running buddy decided to run the 21k at the last minute even if he originally wanted to run the 10k.

0 – 7kms: We were averaging a 7 min/pace on the early stages and doing fine, up until the 7th km when my stomach started to stir up. It was probably the banana I ate a few hours before the race. I told Betty about it and luckily, we were near the corner of Rizal and 32nd Street where a Jolibee was situated so Betty would wait for me while I settled some business. Alas, turned out to be one false alarm…probably some hot air that just churned-up due to tension. Sheesh…one forced unscheduled pit-stop! That’s about 6-8 minutes wasted!

7-13k: On the way to Buendia, we picked up the pace and wanted to make up for lost time. Those runners that were behind us were now about a kilometer ahead and we wanted to accelerate. Betty carried the pace who kept reminding that we were on 6:15-6:30 pace based on her Garmin and she asked if I was comfortable with it. I was, as we smoothly made our way towards the turning point near Osmena Avenue.

13-18k: We were slowly picking up some runners (June included) but I was beginning to feel tired at our pace. Betty suggested that we slow down to 7:15 as she patiently waited for me as I took my time at the water stations and walk a few meters after. We found our way back as we scaled Kalayaan Bridge on our way to the Fort. As we were scaling up the bridge, there was this female runner who was zigzagging her way up and was annoyingly blocking our paths whenever she would zigzag left and right. Just as we were to accelerate a bit, she would be right in front of our paths!

I asked Betty loudly if she brought with her a swatter. For a second, she was bemused and asked why and I told her that there was a loose fly in front of us. The female runner must have heard and she quietly disappeared in front.

18-20k: Those water sprays that volunteers showered us was a big help as we all felt the humidity even with the overcast skies. At this point, I was struggling just to keep pace. My head was down, my arms flailing and it was getting hard to concentrate. Betty graciously offered me one of her GU gels, got it from her back pocket and placed it in my belt bag and planned to take it on the last water station.

Head down and struggling. Betty is beside me. (Pic by Jpeg Mendoza)

20-21k: This was probably the slowest 1k finish I had ever had before reaching the finish line. At the last turn-around along Lawton Avenue, I tried to reach out for that GU I got from Betty but couldn’t find it on my belt bag. I searched in the bag’s other compartment but it wasn’t there. It may have fallen when I tried to retrieve the Pocari bottle that was with it and didn’t notice. I was very angry at myself for losing it as that could have given me a needed boost for the homestretch.

With about 700 meters to go, on the curve going to 26th Street, the inevitable happened! A surge of cramps enveloped my left leg! The pain was so debilitating that I had to stop and stretch for a few minutes. It was a flashback of my Camsur Marathon last year when at the 23rd km, I had to stop and walk as cramps engulfed my entire left leg. The same cramp appeared and I was now reduced to walking.

For the last 400 meters, I had 3 more cramps occurring and we would stop, stretch and jog. At the last 60 meters (with Betty egging on), i ran to the finish even if both my legs were cramping simultaneously! I crossed the finish with a time of 2:43.

Even with the disastrous ending, this race has given me a big boost in terms of confidence. I feel that I could still improve on my current time and be get back those sub 2:20 times of last year. I didn’t feel any soreness after the run and my feet surely did hold-up to the stress and I’m looking forward in running more marathons in the very near future.

I credit Betty for the unselfish support she gave (thanks, Tita). To Adevents and the organizers of this race, job well done!