Thursday, December 29, 2011

Running... elsewhere

A taste of ultrarunning
I made sure my Philippine stay ended on a high in July as I broke through the hell of an ultra (story here). Because by the following month, we'd be moving to a different country-- a different continent.

I should have been more excited about new challenges ahead but the first thing I did on arriving Down Under was look for suitable running grounds. Sounds like anybody I know who loves running.

Within hours of arriving first in Melbourne, I wanted to log a run but struggled against the cold winter breeze that stuffed my nostrils as I stepped out. The temperature was in single digits! Try running with the air conditioner full blast against your face and it's like that.

Sydney promised to be more forgiving. But winter is still winter wherever you are, I guess. No wonder I didn't find that many runners on the road.

Freezing in Melbourne
Spring that came in September was a lot better. We had a new place on the hill. It had plenty of parks and reserves with barefoot-friendly footpaths. Runners were beginning to come about. I was able to log some decent runs. Dogs here were mostly kept to a tight noose and a pedestrian always have right of way. I wonder why this isn't so back home where you play ten pin bowling with a guy on 4 wheels.

In October, I ventured farther out. With no race in sight, my weekend long runs varied from 12 to 16 km. But the month ended on a high when in the middle of a 10-miler, I decided to do a half marathon-- my first 21k in Australia. I followed this up with another the following week.

November. This is where it gets exciting. My friend and elementary classmate TTB Ironman Jo invited me to a race, specifically the Sydney Marathon Clinic Road Race Series, a series of monthly 5, 10, 21, 25 and 30k races beginning October to June in preparation for the Sydney Marathon in September. Race 3 was scheduled on the 3rd Sunday of December. I signed up for a 10k as I needed to break my age-old official record of 77 minutes. I knew that if I needed to be fast on this one, speedwork was the key. Read one time about this particular type of workout so a lot of weekly Yasso 800s I did.

By December, I knew I could run at least an 8k at 5:30 min/km pace. That would probably make my 10k in 55 min. But I have never done it before. I tapered my runs about a week before the race.

Race day 18 December, Sunday, was D-Day. Jo promised to break his 52-min PB while another friend of ours, Allan, a bike enthusiast, will be running his first 10k. 

At the starting line with our race bibs and timing tags attached (I placed mine in my right calf sleeve since my VFF didn't have any laces for the tag to attach to), we counted around 50 runners for the 10k and when the gun fired, we were immediately off to a quick start. I knew Jo was a fast runner so I was really proud to say I overtook him in the first 10 meters of the race (haha!) before he upped his pace and said, "See you later, mate!"

Mihkelson Reserve in Quakers Hill

Allan and I were running comfortably during the first 2 kilometers before we separated as we headed for the first of 2 water stations. I was neck and neck with a blonde 30-something before I realized she must have thought I was a stalker as I drafted behind her.

With an Ironman for the SMC Road Race Series 10k

On the industrial parts of Fairfield heading downhill, I raced ahead and forgot about the blonde (yeah right!). This being an industrial part of town, trucks and semis were a common occurrence but thankfully not today.

and with a bandit on his maiden 10k (59:25)
I crossed the 5k mark at 28+ min, a PB for me. I was on my way to breaking 60 minutes then.  I was running at around 5:25 - 5:40 min/km and by km 7, I knew I would break 60.

SMC Race Route (click to enlarge)
The last kilometer was a sprint. I gave it all at 5:11 pace crossing the finish line officially at 55:45 with an average pace of 5:32 min/km. Not only did I cut 22 minutes from my previous 10k back in Cebu, but I finally broke 60 minutes as well in my second official 10k race on my first international race. 

I couldn't wipe the smile of my face! But I was just amused to find out days later that I ranked 20th out of 21 runners for my age group 30-39 years. These guys were a competitive bunch! God help me in my 21k.

No matter, the year ended on a high. An ultramarathon done and a PB for a 10k accomplished. What the next year will bring is anyone's guess. A mid-year marathon though is in my sights, injury-free and a better time.

See you on the road then, runners!

Ready to rumble for the next series!
Happy New Year! 2012 bring it on!