This was a welcome change. Billeted at the Holiday Inn, which was a stone’s throw away from the assembly area of the Clark marathon, all I had to do was do my usual 5-10 minute brisk walk/light jog warm up and I already found myself right smack in front of the starting grid as early as 5:15 a.m.
The scene was less populated than I initially expected but obviously I was among serious runners (like those who were willing to travel for a race instead of joining the more convenient Ictus Race at UP).
I had high expectations for this international race. Organizers announced early on that foreigners signified their participation at Clark. (I was eager to get a glimpse of them Kenyan ultra-fast runners.) The race packet also provided strict rules and regulations that were uncommon in other local races I joined, such as water stations every 2km and aid stations on the course that would provide water sponges (cool!). I was certainly looking forward to this.
At the same time, however, I had my worries. I felt no knee pain at that point, but for the past two weeks, running as little as 5k would leave me sore either on my left knee, right knee, or right shin. So, veering away from my usual pre-race thoughts of PR, PR and PR, I found myself fretting over one thought: Will I finish?
The race started on time. Actually, in my watch, the gun for 10k runners was fired at 5:51 a.m. In a snap, we were off. I bid Marga, a fellow Happy Feet runner, good luck as we parted ways among the sea of runners running against a beautiful dawn backdrop.
The start of the course was quite enjoyable; it was downhill! As much as I would’ve wanted to espouse the rule of negative splits, I quickly allowed gravity to pull me towards a fast pace of 4:45 thereabouts. As for conserving energy for the expected uphill climb heading back to the finish, I thought, I would just uhm cross that bridge when I got there.
My first 5k came swiftly for me. I ran it at race pace averaging below 5 and I was pleasantly surprised to find my legs holding up with that speed. I knew I could sustain this, but seriously worried if my legs felt the same way.
Then came the first water station, which was not at 2km as organizers promised, but at the 5k turnaround. I made the big mistake of slowing down to a walk to drink, which based on experience from my long runs is when the pain attacks from nowhere. I suddenly felt slight pain on my right knee.
Needless to say, the race was pretty much over for me then. At 5k to 7k, I slightly slowed down but managed to keep my pace at around 5 to 5:30 while worrying about the pain. But, after 8k, it was troublesome and tiring. I slowed to a 6 (my training pace!) and only hoped that I would still be able to finish. Er, those cold water sponges would have helped, by the way, but I saw none.
Thankfully, I finished with a respectable time of 52.26 minutes. Not my best time but, considering what I went through, I was just glad I made it to the end without crawling.
– Me with a small group of Happy Feet runners. Others opted to join the Ictus run at U.P. –
I stayed until close to the end of the awarding—something I rarely do since I am always rushing to get home—and I’m glad I did. With a sad limp whenever I walked, I felt utterly depressed about not being able to “race” due to the injury. What a waste, I thought, since I couldn’t even run my best due to the knee.
However, after seeing other runners, like Jho-an Banayag placing first for females at 42k and Leo Oracion finishing his first marathon at around 3:30, my spirits were lifted. It was just awe inspiring to see these super athletes cross the finish line with so much passion in their eyes knowing all the pain they just went through. How could I even complain about my little knee then?
I’m home now. In a few hours, I shall pay my therapist a visit for more strengthening and stretching exercises on my legs. As for my next race, let’s not even go there. Let me fix these broken knees first.
– Top male finishers for 10k –
– Top female finishers 10k –
1st: Hillary Lagat from Kenya 2:26:29
2nd: Cresenciano Sabal 2:26:48
3rd: Juniel Languido 2:29:05
1st: Jho-An Banayag 3:02.51
2nd: Cristabel Martes 3:07.36
3rd: Flordeliza Carreon 3:10:12