16 February 2009

Power Run at SM MOA, Manila Bay (Feb 15)

Yesterday, I woke up at 4:21 am, feeling light-headed from lack of sleep. No matter how early I sleep the night before a run, I never get enough rest. I toss and turn in bed, very much awake and consumed by worries that I won't be able to wake up in time, that I'll miss the run, that I'll trip and scratch my knee in the middle of the race and get my first DNF. I am a chronic worrier with a very active imagination.

But if there was one thing I wasn't worried about, it was the amount of time i spent training for Power Run. I had four previous practice runs and I knew I was prepared enough to do a decent PR for this particular race.

So anyway, I dressed up quickly and had a hurried pre-run meal consisting of yoghurt and graham crackers. So far, this pre-run energy formula works for me and doesn't give me that awful heavy feeling when I'm running.

The singlet that the Power Run race organizers came up with was pretty cool. It's black and orange, with a little pocket at the back that can fit a small beverage bottle. This is quite useful; you can hydrate yourself during a run without having to stop for a drink at the water station. I've run enough races to realize that water stations don't work for me because it ruins the running momentum and my pace, of course. So this singlet gets plus plus points for me. And the free beverage loader that came with the singlet can be used in future races. Very, very thoughtful of the organizers.

Arrived at the race assembly site with my sister at 5:30 am, said hello to some people I knew, and then did my warm-ups.

By 6:22 am (17 minutes behind schedule), the 5K runners started pounding the pavement. I was in Happy Land, maintaining a steady pace that was comfortable enough for me and thoroughly enjoying the wide, even concrete road and the company of other runners. I wasn't elite-runner fast, obviously, but I wasn't slow either.

After 30 minutes of nonstop running (the small beverage loader really helped!), I was starting to worry. Big time. I knew I was running well at a decent pace--so how come it was taking long for me to reach the finish line?? My goal was to achieve a sub 7 pace (or accomplish 5K in less than 35 minutes). When I crossed the finish line, I clocked in 40 minutes.

I was truly upset. WTF, right??? No way was I going to accept an 8-minute pace for this 5K because I knew, I just knew that I had run at a faster rate than that. And besides, my legs and feet were telling me that I had just run more than 5K. After undergoing several fun runs since October of last year, I certainly knew what a 5K race felt like. I guess you could call it muscle memory in that sense.

So there I was, morosely looking down at the free post-run Activade drink in my hand as my younger sister (who did 47 minutes or so) tried to console me. And then, I suddenly overheard a bunch of runners nearby complaining about the race distance. One guy, in his fifties I think, looked irritated and said that he had just completed around 16K instead of the 15K that he signed up for. Well, he looked like a seasoned runner and I'm sure the extra 1K was not really the problem; I think he was annoyed with the fact that a PATAFA-sanctioned event seemed to have messed up in measuring the actual distance. And his buddy, who had one of those fancy GPS watches, ran in the 5K category but noted that his watch measured a distance of 6K.

I immediately approached them to confirm the actual race distances. The 5K race was really 6K! I was right! So my pace was indeed better. How could it not be? The running path was completely flat and therefore friendly on the legs and feet. I had just achieved a sub 7 pace! (6:40 is the nearest approximate, if I consider the guy's measurement of 6K on his watch.)

I was elated. Always listen to your muscles, folks. If it felt longer than a 5K, or a 10K, then your muscles must be telling the truth.

Because there were so many runners airing their complaints about the race distance measurement to the organizers (and I was one of them), the host had to publicly announce that they would look into the matter. I think they should also look into improving their route maps next time: the Power Run route was confusing and had no markers (no markers at all!!!) and as such, many 10K and 15K runners got lost. This is such a terrible thing to happen, especially for running enthusiasts who are religious in monitoring their paces.

But terrible routing or not, I was no longer in a bad mood. I felt encouraged by my performance, and totally excited for the upcoming RUNew race this Sunday. McKinley Hill, I'm seeing you once more!


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