Around 4:30AM we arrived in front of Chinese International School, the vicinity of the assembly area of the race. According to the race packet the 21K would start at 5AM but according to online sources it would be at 5:30AM. The latter turned out to be closer to the actual but the confusion made us arrive in the assembly area early. Unfortunately many still had a late start because the race actually started 5:22AM—eight minutes before 5:30AM as stated in online sources.
Even at 5AM it was still very dark—Christmas season is indeed here. It was not until a few minutes later that it became light enough to see the road. 5:30AM was indeed a good time to start sub-marathon races at this time of the year—any time earlier and we’d be running in the dark. It also made me wonder about the forthcoming QCIM which could start at 4:30AM.
5:22AM the race finally started. From our starting line behind the International School we made our way to Campus Drive before heading back to McKinley Road—it’s probably best that we had this difficult leg early in the race while our feet were still fresh. After turning around near the British Embassy you see the long line of runners and have an idea on where your friends are placed.
It wasn’t hot that morning but it was very, very humid. I didn’t realize this at first until I saw that I gulped down more than half of my 500mL sports drink so early in the race. Thankfully there were ample supplies of water along the route (more often than not I used to pour over my head to cool me down) and some cold drinks from the sponsor (I think it was vitamin-ized water). I love the fact that the drinks from the sponsor was cold but I was a bit concerned because it contained L-Carnitine—usually mixed with drinks and claims to help burn fat. As if we won’t lose enough fat during our 21K ordeal.
5th Ave. I got an unexpected guest who paced with me. I knew he was faster than me so I told him to go ahead anytime he felt like it. It was his first 21K and I knew he could even break my 21K PR (he is a fellow takbo.ph member and is one of my DailyMile buddies so I have an idea how fast he is). During this particular race I was not aiming for a new PR—I was doing this run as part of my training and assessment of my “raw” skill level—whether my relatively relaxed run would still lead to a sub-2 hour 21K. All throughout the run I barred myself from looking at my current pace but I had to break that rule when he asked me what our pace (per kilometer) that time was—4:43. That time I wished I could tell him that without me knowing it as well but that’s impossible and I didn’t want to be rude. If there were some things I’ve learned about runners during races these were:
- Many don’t wish to be disturbed (no talking, no socializing!)—they’re in their zone so don’t misinterpret it to be rude. Plenty to time to socialize before and after the race.
- Some don’t want to know how far it is to the finish—I feel positive knowing that I only have 1K to go to the finish while some hate to know that it is still 1K to go!
- Some don’t want to know their current pace—knowing it brings forth some pressure. Some would just like to relax and enjoy their run and be surprised on their finish time.
The latter would be my situation for this race, and since I found out I was running beyond my normal cruising speed I think that subliminally made me run slower. Maybe next time I’ll put a tape over my GF405’s screen whenever I decided to run a relaxed race so I won’t know.
The loop cords that were given during the race were odd—too small to wear as a necklace, too lose as a bracelet! I was afraid of losing one accidentally as I saw many of these lying around along the route so I placed it in my hydration belt. There were five of these cords all along the 21K route and I virtually had to stop almost as many times just to secure it on my belt. If I was aiming for a PR I would’ve been very angry.
By running the race loosely I was able to free myself of the time pressure. Except for that time I knew of my current pace, I was running keeping my heart-rate low at a level where I consistently am able to breathe through my nose and at a speed I was comfortable. Sometimes not knowing is better (as many GF users would attest).
Nearing McKinley Road I was hearing that we were just a few hundred meters to the finish. At first I thought it was for everyone else but 21K since I knew it was too soon for 21K but when the signs directed us to McKinley Road I thought we’d still return to C5 before heading back. When I saw the signs directing us towards the finish I asked a marshal if 21K also goes that way. When it was confirmed I was really concerned that I may have skipped some routes of the race! Did I really made some unintentional shortcuts? Upon crossing the line I was asked if the distance for 21K was really short and that’s when I knew it really was. Even without a Garmin I could tell that the 21K was way off the mark (I can feel it with the distance I ran and I can tell it with the time elapsed). I crossed the 21K finish line with a gun-time of 1:34:36 (unofficial, self-timed)—had it been close to an actual 21K I would’ve been very proud. Checking the GPS distance and compensating had it been an actual 21K I would’ve broken my old 21K PR (even at seven minutes per kilometer pace).
Looking back at the race (from a 21K perspective) as a whole it was Good. In fact the only issue I had with the race was the seriously short 21K (checkout my running logs to see the actual GPS distance). While it was beneficial for PR purposes (Press Release) it does bring forth a dilemma. That dilemma is: how do I log thee? Indeed this was a “21K” race PR, but it was far from 21K. Should my 21K PR retain itself since that was a valid 21K, or should I have a “21K Race” PR?
Special thanks to Marga for the “shuttle service,” Bong Y. for our “special arrangements,” and Carlo (Drum and Run) for the pictures.