22 February 2009

RUNew 5K at McKinley Hill (Feb 22)

I was late for a McKinley race--again! Sheesh. I am so unlucky when it comes to McKinley Hill.

Parking was a nightmare for A and me, as the entrance into McKinley was narrow, and all cars were routed into this carpark building. I was in a foul mood because I could sense that we were going to be late for this run. And I knew Rio's races always started on time.

When we, along with a considerable number of other late runners, ran out of the carpark building and into the wide grassy fields where the Start/Finish area was situated, I could see from afar that the crowd of 5K runners had already started snaking its way out into Upper McKinley Road.

I swore inwardly and made a mad dash for it. There was obviously no time for warm-ups and pre-run hydration as I needed to catch up to the 5K runners. I was in such a hurry that I wasn't able to glance up at the Timex clock in order to check my real start time as I crossed past the Start line. And then some three minutes later, I realized I was running without any music. Thankfully, the first few minutes were spent on flat concrete paths, and so I was able to continue running properly while switching on my iPod.

I was pretty upset because I didn't start the race on time. Usually, such negative feelings can mentally screw up one's performance, but fortunately in my case, the panic I felt in being late boosted my adrenalin, and I just ran hard in the first kilometer to make up for lost time.

Again, I'm no running athlete but i was in decent shape--decent enough to overtake the tail-end group of 5K runners who had started the race on time. It felt good to whoosh past them, although I knew I wouldn't be able to run fast enough to reach the first half of the 5K runners. But at least I wasn't going to be the last to finish. Haha.

When I had managed to catch up to the 5K people, I relaxed slightly and ran at a more comfortable pace. But then the torture known as McKinley Hill officially began.

I can't remember exactly how many hills we encountered; I stopped counting after three. Haha. It was a killer route even without Heritage Park, and the hills were pretty steep--steep enough that my knees were raised high as I ran steadily up to the top (it's more painful for my legs if I run at an erratic pace up each hill).

It took a lot of will power for me not to stop to walk. And I'm glad I didn't walk at all. In every race I join, my number one goal would be simple: never stop running. The moment I'd slow down to walk, I'd know that that particular race would be lost for me.

I ran all throughout that tough McKinley race, and in some instances, sprinted. While I was going through this 5K, I kept thinking how running isn't so much as beating other people to the finish line but defeating that little demon inside you that's urging you to slow down and take the sweet, less painful option of walking. The temptation to walk even gets stronger when the body pain becomes more pronounced. In my case, my scar started throbbing slightly as I went up one of the hills. I gently pressed my right palm over the scar area, and as I ran, I was coaching myself silently over and over like I was reciting some form of prayer, "Don't stop running. It's okay. Don't stop running. The pain will be over soon." I looked like an idiot, with my right hand pressed to my pelvic area while I ran but this technique seemed to worked; the pain subsided a little, and I could run more comfortably without wincing afterwards.

When the finish line came into view, I surprised myself by actually sprinting forward. Sprinting. I didn't even expect to have that kind of energy after having gone through some very tough hills. I suppose the very sight of my destination made me so deliriously happy that the body reacted instantly and instinctively in a positive way.

I didn't have big goals for this race; I knew that my pace on flat concrete roads (e.g. Power Run) would be vastly better than my pace on a hilly route. So when I crossed the finish line, I looked up at the clock--39:16. Ah well. Fair enough. At least I didn't hit an 8-minute pace even if I was late. I suppose my actual time--less the 2 or 3 minutes that I was late--was around 36 or 37:16, but I can't be too sure. Anyway, runrio hasn't posted the results yet, so will have to still wait for the verdict.

As expected of Coach Rio and his runrio races, this RUNew event by Asian Hospital was well-organized, people had fun in the torturous McKinley Hill route (running enthusiasts are masochists, really), and there were lots of freebies! I was especially thrilled to find out that all 6,000 participants were each given a Timex Privilege Card, entitling the bearer to a one-time 15% discount on Timex Ironman watches in participating Timex stores. Woohoo! Now I can buy at a discounted rate the Timex watch I've been eyeing for the past couple of weeks.

Saw Rio as I was walking near the stage and he grinned at me as I, in my post-run euphoria, gave him a high-five and congratulated him on a job well done as usual.

"Ano, dapat 15K sa susunod, para masaya," he said cheerily.

I made a face. 15K in McKinley? Maybe in a year's time. Haha. But for now, I feel really proud of myself for surviving that route. Not my best pace, of course, but finishing a McKinley Hill race is still an incredibly sweet victory.

posted at 11:27 pm

I happened to check Makes Coffee Nervous' blog just now and saw that the RUNew race results are out. My recorded time was 38:17. Average, and not shabby at all. In fact, even if I was late, I can't help but feel cheered up by the fact that I caught up to the 5K people and still placed decently somewhere in the middle!


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