It wasn’t about PRs, racing, or camaraderie at the Run for Home this morning. I played a little experiment on myself today. Out of sheer curiosity (and perhaps boredom), I wanted to test my current level of fitness. To be more specific, I wanted to know how fast I could run a half marathon at a strong yet comfortable and steady speed.
1) Don’t watch your pace. (I can count with one hand how often I checked my Garmin this morning)
2) Don’t even aim for PR.
3) Don’t reach vomit mode.
So that’s exactly what I did.
POLO TRI GUY
The start of the race brought us through narrows roads of Bonifacio Global City. There was a lot of weaving through the traffic of other runners, but as soon as we reached the Buendia flyover, I found my rhythm. From then on, I just ran steadily and savored the moment. At Buendia, all I could see was red. Oh, that was probably the Polo Tri Team scattered all over the front lines of the half marathon. Man, were they fast.
Pretty soon, I found myself running alongside one Polo Tri member. Who was this guy?! I glanced sideways to check if I knew him, but he turned the other way. This guy was inadvertently yanking my lungs out as he challenged my pace. Grrrrr. We ran side by side for a few kilometers until I thought it wise to let go before I broke one of my cardinal rules. (See No. 3 above.)
After a few kilometers, anonymous Polo Tri guy revealed himself. It was Noel dela Merced, an acquaintance who I often bump into on the road and even right before the start of NYC Marathon last year. I blame him for making me go too fast this morning, but I think he knows that, deep inside, I’m actually thankful to him for being my accidental pacer.
I rarely ever check out the race course before I run it. And, this experience only reminds me to do so next time to avoid any surprises. After Buendia, I thought it would be smooth sailing running through Mercato Centrale (read: flat) and heading back towards the finish. But, little did I know that the course would take us through the ascents of University Avenue at the last few kilometers of the race (enter painful memories of the last kilometer of Condura 42km 2009!) Aaack, I thought those last 2kms would never end!
PASSING WITH FLYING COLORS
Like I said, I rarely checked my time. So, as I headed towards the finish, I had the biggest surprise of my life: a sub-2 without aiming for one! I crossed the finish line at 1:57 with an average pace of 5:32/km. Miraculous. Magical. And completely fulfilling. It was doubly rewarding since I ran 16km the day before and thought that I would have to work with tired legs.
In running, it doesn’t matter who comes before you or after you. As long as you try your darndest best and achieve your goals, then it’s all good. Even better, when you have little surprises like this along the way.