I’ve been thinking back on all the King of the Road races I’ve done in the last few years, and I haven’t done one where I’d done everything right. I was injured last year, unable to register in 2011, undertrained in 2010, and late to the race in 2009! This year’s edition was also under threat due to a phone update gone awry and a leak right over my bed, which robbed me of a good night’s sleep.
I was going to give up and not run the race anymore, but I realized that I would feel so much worse the next day if I missed the race. I reasoned that a finisher medal would make me feel better. So after only an hour’s sleep, I got dressed and made my way to BGC. Well, I made a booboo about a kilometer away from home when I realized I hadn’t brought my race bib. So I went back home to get it.
my bib number
I arrived just in time for assembly, which was 30 minutes before the 5am gunstart. I was sipping from a bottle of Lightwater most of the time, just trying to hydrate (and because I knew the electrolytes would help keep cramps at bay). My legs were heavy from my 90-kilometer bike ride the day before, but otherwise I felt fine, not even sleepy.
The gun went off, and I started at a pace of around 5 minutes per kilometer. There were a lot of “rabbits” in the pack setting a blistering pace, and if all I had to go on was perceived exertion and the people around me, I could count on a painful home stretch later on. I was glad to have the Suunto Ambit 2S on my wrist as it would help me keep a constant pace and not burn out early.
It was a pleasant first few kilometers; I was breathing through my nose (a sign that it was an aerobic, sustainable effort), found my cadence, and passed the rabbits. In fact, I felt so good that my pace crept up to about 4:30 min/km in some parts. By then I was fully warmed up and had taken my nutrition already, so I just let loose. This took me to the 10-kilometer mark in 49 minutes. That was also the turnaround on Buendia which would take us home.
I had counted the number of women who were on their way back and knew I wasn’t going to take a place on the podium, but that didn’t matter so much to me as being able to finish the race strong. By kilometer 13, my legs were tiring, and my “comfortable” pace was hovering around 5:05 min/km. I could hear some men behind me talking about keeping up with me.
I started to push the pace past “comfortable” into “uncomfortable” territory and was surprised to find my body was able to hold on. Sure, my calves were hurting, but I had no sign of cramps. I could feel my body’s temperature rising (and quickly grabbed a bottle of water from the aid station to douse myself), but I wasn’t snatching at my breath. And I found myself running at the same speed on the last two kilometers as I did in the first ten. Unbelievable.
I am so thankful I didn’t allow myself to talk myself out of doing the race. It would have been so easy… I could have stayed at home and sulked — but would have nothing but regrets. Instead, I discovered that my body could switch to that kind of pace even under fatigue, I had a great experience out on the course with my fellow KOTR participants, and I have a nice shiny finisher’s medal to show for it all. (Also, I finished among the top 20 women. Pretty cool!)
It wasn’t just the medal that made me feel better.
Now I’m convinced that our patterns of thinking can get in our way of doing what we excel at. Especially in endurance sports (but I’ve seen it in the gym classes I teach too), we frequently give up even though physically we can continue. If we can get over ourselves and give our best effort, we may surprise ourselves.
Race in Review
- Route: I love rolling courses, and the BGC – Buendia route is one of my favorites. My brain actually switched off during the first part of the course within BGC; I can only remember getting onto the flyover heading to Buendia. Not too many intersections, and due to timing I managed to run through all of them without getting stopped to let cars flow. I like that I didn’t run into the tail end of the 10K runners; instead, I saw most of them heading out onto Buendia while I was already heading back into BGC.
- Traffic Management: The marshals did a great job getting people onto the correct side of the roads, and keeping us on the right route. I also like that the directional signs were nice and big and color-coded so you could see where to turn. The kilometer markers were a big help when it came to pacing; we could time our finish kick accordingly.
- Hydration: Water stations were plentiful along the course, and the tables were long enough so I didn’t have to crowd in among other runners to reach for a cup. I chose to drink just water along the course (my EFS bottle contained all the calories and electrolytes I needed), and there was no shortage of cold clean water.
- Package: Still waiting on the official results based on the bib tags, but I have to say I love the mesh shoe bag the giveaways came in (I can put all my wet swim toys in it!), my mom loves the race singlet which I passed to her, and of course the medal is awesome. UPDATE: Some people have pointed out the problems in race kit claiming, particularly the sizing of the singlets and the hassle of trooping to one location and the resulting lines that formed. I’m sorry that you experienced that. I went on Wednesday at 2pm and got my kit in less than 5 minutes, though. YMMV (“your mileage may vary”) is a good way of thinking about this as I’m sure the experience is not the same across the board.
I had a great experience at Adidas King of the Road 2013. It gave me the opportunity to push my limits and I’m glad I was able to race it. I’ll give it a FIVE KIKAY PINKIE FINGERS out of FIVE.