Last Sunday I did my long ride in Nuvali. Sundays are usually fun run days, and on this particular one there were various distances offered all the way up to 21K (or half-marathon). It was a locally-organized race and I was happy that there were many people running. As I got further into my regular ride and pedaled past the run course, I realized that I was riding past the tail end of the 21K participants on their last U-turn before heading back to the finish.
I couldn’t help noticing the people who were sitting down on the sidewalk taking a break. They didn’t look like experienced runners; some of them were wearing walking shorts and canvas sneakers. They seemed very tired, but I knew they still had a long way to go to finish. I quipped to a couple of them, “The longer you sit here, the longer you’ll take to finish. Keep moving!”
I later found out the race had offered finishers shirts and medals only for the 21K category, priced at P600. I surmised that those I saw struggling had probably signed up for that distance without knowing really how long a half-marathon is. That just made me so sad for them!
I hope they all managed to finish and collect their finisher’s loot, but I also hope they learned a valuable lesson. I only wish they have not been too traumatized by the experience, and in the future will train adequately for the distance. Distance needs to be respected, and those who do not prepare for it adequately will suffer. In worst-case scenarios they may tempt injury or illness, or worse.
This ill preparation for distance isn’t limited to newbie runners. On my Facebook feed I see many runners (yes, even experienced ones!) patting themselves on the back for toughing through a race despite a nagging injury, or being ill, or not having trained for it. Enough of this machismo. Folks, these races are a dime a dozen, but we only have one body and it can only stand so much abuse before breaking down beyond repair. What’s the use of a box of finisher medals when in the end you have to retire from the sport you love because you can no longer physically do it?
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not telling people how to spend their hard-earned money. They can register in whatever distance they want. As for myself, I enter races to test my fitness. I can run 21K any day of the week at any pace I want; there’s no real need to sign up for a race to log training miles, especially if it’s held on my regular stomping grounds. I join half-marathons to see where I stack up against competition. I reap the reward of honest training, thorough preparation, and hard racing with a strong finish across the line where I know I did my very best on the day. To me, that’s the real post-race loot, and it’s what makes the registration fee worth it for me.
Respect the distance, and that hard-fought finisher medal will be just as significant. You’ll feel a lot better at the finish line, though.