Friday, June 17, 2011

My First 21K: Dinaganay sa Malaybalay

And so I finally did it! Conquering the heat, exhaustion and dehydration (well, almost!), I managed to finish my first half-marathon run and of course, I was ecstatic.

Running 21K this soon was not part of my plan as I aimed to do it in the 35th Milo Marathon on October this year in Cagayan de Oro City. The opportunity, however, came when the City Government of Malaybalay held Dinaganay sa Malaybalay last Saturday, June 11, 2011. The run is part of my hometowns' 135th Araw ng Malaybalay Celebration.

I planned to run 10k only in this event but my friend Monde (the one who also convinced me to sign up for my first run last year) keep on enticing me to go for 21. My officemate Roy and another friend James have also decided to run in this distance for the first time so I am not that intimidated anymore since I will be running with my fellow 21k first timers in this event. 

 Stretching before the run

On site registration

However, the most convincing factor that made me decide to run the half-marathon is my discovery of Jeff Galloway's Run Walk Run Method. The technique calls for a minute of walk break after running a specific distance or time. I tried this method three days before the race by running 18 kilometers of the route and was pleased with the result. I finished my trial run in 2 hours and 1 minute. It was very surprising because the route is uphill half of the way and it is the farthest run I have ever done yet I still felt great after doing it. So on June 10, 2011 I signed up for my first 21K run.

 Short program before the run

21K runners (minus me since I took this pic)

Starting/finish line was at the Plaza Rizal and race route is along the highway up to the truck water station in Barangay Patpat and back. One good thing about this run is that you only have to donate used clothing for registration. However, registration was still on going even on the race day itself hence the run started very late at already 6 AM.

 This is blurry since I am running while taking this pic.

The toughest part of the route--going up to the entrance of Carmelite Monastery

Passing along Malaybalay City Jail Compound

James and I employed Galloway's Run Walk Run method with 6 minutes of running followed by a minute of walk break.  We passed by two water stations and I drank only once thinking that there will be enough stations along the way. We reached the first 5K at 30 minutes which is just within my pace. After the first five kilometers however, there are no more water stations. I reached the 21K turning point at 1:10 and though I am quite satistfied with my pace I was disgusted when I found out that still there was no water available for runners at the turning point. 

 21K turning point in Patpat

Pineapple field with the foggy Kitanglad Range in the background

Galloway's method seemed to work fine for me as I feel I still have enough energy to run back to the finish line. I consumed my 330 ml Gatorade little by little but considering the distance I have ran and the heat of the sun, it was not enough to rehydrate myself. With still 6 kilometers to go before the finish line, my calves started to feel tight and my legs are getting heavier. I figured out it must be due to my body's lack of fluid so I slowed down my pace and took more walk breaks. 

Going to the final 5-kilometer stretch, and there was still no water station in sight.Aarrgh! I got scared I might pass out due to dehydration but still I continued to go on. I just keep on praying for more strength, endurance and perseverance to finish the race. Anyway, I still feel somewhat safe since I am already the last 21K runner in the field and the Red Cross vehicle is right behind me. With about 2 kilometers to go, I stopped by an eatery near the diversion road junction in Barangay Sumpong. Afraid that I might be dehydrated (or worst, suffer a heat stroke) I bought bottled water to replenish my body.Aahhh...water at last!

Thanks to Monde Tilanduca for this pic as I was about to reach the finish line

I continued with my final push. A race marshal handed out water in ice wrapper at the 1.5 kilometer mark but I already ignored it. The heat of the sun is getting intense (it must have been past 8 AM by that time), good thing it was already downhill going to the finish line.

I crossed the finish line at the 2:20 mark. Finally, my first 21K finish. I was exhilarated but at the same time very exhausted. I was too tired to savor my accomplishment. I would have wanted to walk a little to cool off but I feel like I'm going to pass out. So I leaned on the plaza's concrete plant box and later sat beside the stairs. What made it worst was that even in the finish line, there was no more water to drink! Fortunately, my friends Monde and James who reached the finish line earlier, brought me some water which I immediately consumed.  

As I pondered on my first 21K finish, I felt proud of what I have achieved. Despite the heat, exhaustion and dehydration I thanked God for giving me the heart and the strength to finish the race. I am the last 21K runner to reach the finish line with a time of 2:20, yet I felt like I won the race because I conquered my fears and defied my limits. After the run I realized that if we will not push ourselves beyond our limits we will never really know what we are truly capable of.

Til the next run!

Fears, like limits, are often just an illusion--Michael Jordan


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