For many runners yesterday, the Takbo.PH 20-Miler was a peak run leading into their next marathon.
For me, it was a wake-up call. I’ve taken on some new projects lately, and sadly my running — specifically my strength and speed sessions — had fallen by the wayside. I thought I could rely on the aerobic conditioning brought on my by bike and swim.
I almost got away with it, too. I was planning to run my 10-miler at long run pace, but bumped into Kuya Kim Atienza at the start line. He was planning to run at 5:10 min/km pace for the 10 miles (16 kilometers), so I said I would attempt to pace with him. (Never mind that I hadn’t taken along any sort of nutrition, planning to rely on the on-course supply of Pocari Sweat.)
With no cash prize on offer, none of the usual podium toppers were around. Soon enough as I paced with Kim, it became clear that I was the lead female.
I was feeling good — but not that good. I snatched up a banana at a station meant for the 20-mile participants. It was only 4 kilometers in but I could already feel that long before the finish line, I would run out of whatever was fueling me if I stayed at Kim’s pace. I slid behind him, and then even further back as he sped up to go even faster than his planned pace.
I gritted my teeth. Don’t give up. Don’t give up, I told myself. I knew at some point, I would be caught. But how far before the finish line?
The course took us from inside Bonifacio Global City onto the Kalayaan flyover and to Buendia/Gil Puyat. Pretty straightforward, but the course has one major hill (the flyover) and many false flats. I got to the U-turn just fine, but that was only 8 kilometers down. I still had 8 to go.
So I was running to the best of my effort, but coming around the U-turn I heard the marshals tell someone behind me that she was the second female. Two more kilometers, and then we came upon an intersection just at the moment the traffic marshals decided to let cars through.
I came to a screeching halt and screamed at the marshal to stop the traffic and let us through. Those three seconds were all that it took for the woman behind me to shoot forward, so I saw who it was. The blonde ponytail and tall physique gave it away: it was Camilla Brooks-Chua, ultramarathoner, triathlete, a year into her comeback from pregnancy and childbirth. And also a better runner than I was when we were both at our primes.
I made one last-ditch effort to surge ahead and put her behind me, but she soon outclassed me, completed the pass, and sped on. And all those missed run sessions plus the lack of proper nutrition came back to kick me in the butt. It was all I could do to hold on.
I don’t think I could have managed another mile of running, and I realized how out of shape I was. It wasn’t too bad because I had just equaled my 10-mile PR (1:24), but I had struggled to stay above 5:15 min/km for these 16 kilometers. Considering that last year I was able to run 21 kilometers at an average of 5:00 min/km, I know I have a lot of work to do before I can consider myself ready for Challenge Philippines next month.
After getting my finisher’s medal and commending Jinoe Gavan of Takbo.PH and Leadpack for the smooth way the race had been conducted, I got my change of clothes and waited for the awards presentation.
No single workout or training session can make you fit or faster. It is the accumulated mileage and efforts over weeks and months that make you better. World champion Chrissie Wellington had been told by her former coach Brett Sutton, “Some sessions are stars and some sessions are stones, but in the end they are all rocks and we build upon them.”
Time to make sure I have those rocks for a solid build.