Monday, November 14, 2011

Conquered Afro Distance

Photo Credit : Daisy
Knowing one's self are often said to be the simplest logical thing a man should do. But more often than not, this necessity seems to be underrated or should I say taken for granted. Running in my case shapes not only my physical fitness but also provides a certain level of consciousness. A surprising stillness of mind as the body propels its motion forward. Read further and let me share how I get to know myself better as I do the afroman distance.

Just like any other new endeavor in life that always become a learning experience, running distances that are way beyond my body's comfort zone presents new facts about my body. Afroman distance (32K) is the farthest footrace I joined to date. I prepared well using the methodology that I think best works for me. Most of it were ran alone and some were ran together with the Barneys. (Thanks running free manila for your time dedicated to train us. Your tips, drills, and workouts helps me a lot in my base build-up.) I even prepared a safe game-plan that I believe to be conservative enough for me to finish strong and injury free.

Race day came, I woke and woke my wife up only to find out that it was still too early. Hehehe! sorry mommy naalimpungatan yata ako. :)) Wasn't able to go back to sleep maybe because of excitement (or fear?). We left home and met with friend Zarina who generously offered a ride (Thanks Za. We are thankful). Arrived at the venue 30 minutes before the gunstart. Hurriedly we prepared and left the parking lot. I have to leave Za and Mich to meet Miles at the baggage counter where we were supposed to meet. Unfortunately, I cant find Miles so I decided to go to the starting area hoping I'll see him there. But thousand of runners at the starting line made it impossible to find one single person. I saw so many friends as I go back and forth but still no luck finding my buddy. 

I heard the the gunstart and off goes the runners in front. I intentionally let the starting corral be cleared before I stepped on the timing mat and be the last runner who left the starting line hoping that I would still see my buddy at the last minute. I'll be doing a 2:1 run-walk ratio as my strategy so I don't want to be caught up in the middle of the crowd anyway. Still so dark, I stick to my game plan of quality running for 2 minutes and having a 1 minute walk break. My first kilometer clocked 7:47. It is faster than my planned 8min/K average pace. I'm in a state of eagerness to run too fast at an early stage since I still have fresh legs. 2 minutes of running feels so short, i want to run more but I have to discipline myself because its a long race. 1 minute of walking tends to bore me and felt like too long just to recover. I felt like running again after 20 seconds of walking but again, I have to stick to my plan. 

I set my Garmin to display the time, distance, and average pace of my run. As I progresses towards Makati religiously taking my 1 min walk breaks, I noticed that my average pace is getting faster and became 7:30min/K. This made me think - I'm focused not to get too fast during each and every 2 min runs and yet, my average pace still progresses with gradual increase . I feel so comfortable with my pace, in fact my average heart rate is only 80% of my max heart rate. I checked the status of my body. I asked myself "hows your legs?", "how do you feel?", "are u hydrating properly?". With all the questions, I listen to my body and try to hear signs and messages that are known to me. I still feel great at that point - no sign of fatigue. Going back to Roxas blvd. area passing the 12K marker, Its quite surprising that I still have fresh legs. It felt like I haven't ran a kilometer yet at that point. Its been 1.5 hours ago since the gun start and its time to take my first sachet of energy gel and I did. I  stopped taking sports drink since then and sipped water more often to dilute the energy gel that I just took. 

Perception is really subjective and dependent to what our mind is set. I tried my best to maintain a consistent pace but still according to my Garmin, I'm getting faster even more. Approaching 20K, I checked and found out that my average pace at 20K point is 7:19min/K. Wow! I'm way faster than my target time and I don't know how was that happening. I'm loving the Galloway method. It keeps me strong longer. I'm passing lots of fellow runners who still runs but in a very slow pace. At kilometer 24, the quality of my 2 mins run cycles were still there. I'm enjoying the race so much. As I checked what my body tells me, I noticed that the 2 min run doesn't felt too short anymore. And the walk breaks are just enough to fully recover to start another quality run. 

The sun starts punishing me at this point. Whenever there's a long stretch of road with no shades I tend to run faster to escape the scorching heat of the sun and taking my walk breaks where there's a shade trying to limit it to 1 minute. 28K in my Garmin. I have to be extra focus to relax my toes, calves, shoulders, and fists. I have to constantly remind my body to relax to avoid cramps. I took another sachet of energy gel and lots of water. I refilled my hydration with water and sipping constantly to at least ease the heat. I also pour small amount of cold water in my head and it felt so good. When I passed a water station where there was no drinking water anymore, I took some ice and put it in my cap and wear em to keep me cool. 

The last 4 kilometers were the hardest part of the race. It was where I did a lot of self-talk to sustain my pace that started to slew down. It was when I learned a lot about my body. To summon all the untapped muscles to give rest to overused group. It was when I was concentrating on identifying whether the pain will benefit my fitness level or that pain will lead to an injury. This guides me in my decision whether to push myself despite the pain or do otherwise. The last 2 kilometers seems to be the longest 2 kilometer of my life. The part where I cant run for more than a minute anymore. Good thing I saw doc Niña and kept me company at the last stretch under the scorching heat of the sun. Ikaw n! doc Niña ang nagttrabaho pa din while on this kind of race. hehe! 

The finish line is now in sight, I can beat a sub 4 hours (based of my Garmin). It was when I have the highest of spirit. I ran 32 KILOMETERS! I ran 32 KILOMETERS! I ran 32 KILOMETERS! Repeatedly chanted in my head. A familiar voice calls my name. Its my dearest wife. Who cheers me with all her heart. Some shouted to us to kiss. Since uto-uto naman kami - we kissed! That gave me extra boost! Like a quick acting energy gel! I crossed the finish line, received my good looking medal, and repeatedly congratulated by lots of friends.

Clocked 3:57:48 on my Garmin which started upon crossing the starting line :) So very happy. Exhausted because of hot weather. Muscle pain that I know would benefit my fitness level. And injury free.

"Listening to our body" seems to be an over used phrase that we hear and read about running. But I tell you, this cant be over emphasize enough if we want running to be part of our lifestyle. 

I introduced this blog site emphasizing its primary objective - "sending the message". I intend neither to commercialize, endorse products, promote events, nor give credits to race organizers. So when I say that Runrio events are great, it's for runners future reference and not to benefit particular race organizer. Hehehe!

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

7 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

  1. Congrats Noel. That's right PUSH PUSH and PUSH hahaha!

  2. Salamat kuya Arnold. Thanks for the time spent reading. :D

  3. You are indeed strong Noel. Nakakatuwa na you really did listen to your body and incorporated science to your running. Nice one and kudos to Nette for gracefully finishing her first pikermi, still smiling at the 17k of her leg. :)

  4. thanks Allan. Madami akong magagaling n coaches. tulad mo. ;)

  5. Congrats Noel. Galing, mukhang effective yung naging target plan mo. Pero wag sanang umabot na makarinig kami ng boses sa susunod mong mga takbo habang kinakausap mo sarili mo ha? =D

  6. hehehe! I'll keep that in mind atom ;) LOL!


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