Friday, April 30, 2010

21k, anyone?

In less than 48 hours while Floyd Mayweather Jr would probably be dancing away (again) against Sugar Shane Mosley, I would be embarking on my most ambitious running plan to date—taking on that half marathon in the Mandaue City Run.

Ambisyoso ko because not too long ago— 3 ½ months to be exact, I started running the flats of the Provincial Capitol in Agusan del Sur having been infected by the running bug that has virtually spread through the internet—thanks to social networking sites like Facebook.

The success of the Cebu City Marathon last 01-10-10, as evidenced by the thousands of runners who joined the event and the exemplary reviews from running aficionados, catapulted me into running mode.

If I remember correctly, the last time I ran long distance was about 10 years ago with my dad on a 6k. And boy, how I hated it.

But this is me today, 10 years older. I’m sure this will be different.

Starting in the middle of January this year, I began to run 3 to 4 times weekly and continually sought to improve my pace, distance and endurance. I scoured countless online articles on correct running posture, injury prevention, diet and nutrition and the like.

My first test happened on February 14, Valentine’s Day, a month since I first began seriously running. Organized by the Cebu Dental Society, I joined and finished my first official 5k in 41 minutes. It was by no means easy. I thought I would collapse. But my experience this time was different. I enjoyed every minute of it—huffing and puffing all the way egged on by fellow runners. I vowed to improve. I found out that definitely, there is such a thing as runner’s high.

It was also the first time I saw running greats like Kenyan Missionary Simon Losiaboi blitzkrieg the opposition with his long strides; running couple Yong and Donna Larrazabal; John Pages; and the Reel Runner among others. I have yet to see the Marathon Foodie broadcast journalist Haide Acuna and Ungo Runner Max Limpag of Sunstar Cebu in running form.

My second test came a month and a half later on March 28. Signing up for the CitiRun organized by CityGym, I bravely registered for the 12k and finished my run in 1 hour and 28 minutes. I wanted to finish it in 1:15 but negotiating those uphill climbs in JY Square lost me a lot of time. I took long walking breaks in this one (not to mention my battles with 2 senior army guys, 1 big guy and ‘granny’ Twinkle— read 12k anyone? from my previous blog).

On Sunday, I’m aiming for that 21k. Am I crazy? Most likely. It is a very long distance and for those of you who are from Leyte a 21k or a half marathon is just 2 km shy the distance between Palompon and Matag-ob. (Note to self: run that one as well.) And for those of you from Agusan, it is like running from Prosperidad to San Frans then detour back to the Capitol. It is that long and intimidating!

But my determination to finish that distance outweighs any reservations I have about myself. An ultramarathoner said that if you can think it, you can probably do it. So yes, I have thought about it and would like to do it.

3 months is just too short to train for a 21k… or is it really? When I started running, I set my sights on running a half Mary in the later part of the year and the full marathon (42.195 km to be exact!) next year. So yeah, I am probably crazy and ambisyoso moving up that schedule.

Lest you get worries, I have come prepared. I learned how to run slow for long distances. Twice I did that with friends and cousins of mine a couple of weeks ago. The first was a 10k in 1:10 and a week after an 11.5k in 1:13 devoid of any walking breaks. We really wanted to run a 15 or 18k in our last outing in preparation for tomorrow’s run but torrential rain stopped us from getting any further—our shoes creaked like frogs, my MP3 player conked out and I was left alone as my companions had stopped at km 10. I ran alone further drenched by the refreshing rain, gazed by cows and carabaos with their dopey eyes in the open field only to stop as I eerily recalled having seen a patient in the E.R. earlier this year struck by lighting. What are the odds of that!

At any rate, I feel I am ready—physically and mentally.

It’s a blessing though that a friend of mine, Gifford—himself a veteran of several half marathons and a full marathon, has offered to pace me this Sunday. He plans to have a conversational pace with me (if I can manage it). This would also be the first time I will be using a GPS-enabled watch so popular these days lent to me from a friend to track my actual pace and distance. I would want to manage 2 hours and 30 minutes in this one but finishing one for now, I think, will just suffice.

Wish me luck and see you on the road, my friends!