I had sworn not to run another marathon after my first and only one I did some 9 months ago. It was the condura Skyway marathon for the mangrooves. Being my frst marathon, in hindsight I chose the wrong race. It has a rolling terrain yet my whole training was in the rather flat Makati area. Though I finished a respectable 3:19hr, it was not the goal time I had set myself to achieve. I was targeting a sub3hr time. Dreams do remian dreams at times! argh!
This time, I decided to do one more and to do it more intelligently. So my next marathon will be the MILO finals. Target time is 3:10hr with a +/- 5min either side. I was fortunate to qualify for the finals through the provincial leg eliminiations where I ran the San Pablo leg. A tough hilly course, but nonetheless I managed to scrap through with a time of 1:35hr in the Half marathon. Immediately after that I commenced a 12 week training program for the finals starting in mid September.
In the training program I decided to test my fitness level at the 5th week and at the 7th week. This led me to look for suitable races to join. I settled for the Run United Half marathon to test my endurance level at tempo speed and the New Balance 10K race to test my speed conditions. This time round I set multiple goals to avoid the mistake of my first marathon. I also wanted to make sure the finish times I’ll get correlate with the calculated finish times from on-line tools.
The day started well. It was a cool morning. The first mistake I avoided was breakfast. Everytime I eat and go and race, I get that annoying right side stitch. This always derails my plans and I end up jogging to the finish line instead of finishing strong. Mistake two I avoided was the often +ve splits I end up with in long races instead of the recommended -ve split. My target was a sub 1:30hr, smart coach said I could do it in 1:27hr. That should give me about 14.2km/hr average speed (4:12min/km pace).
The first 10km went well, with an average of 4:13min/km. The next 5km, my pace dropped to 4:16min/km. I did this intentionally because that is where the buendia flyover was and I did not want to strain myself at this point. It is normally at this part of the race that the annoying side stitch comes. By the 16km the side stitch was not there. I knew this was going to be those nice days.
I did a mental calculation and I knew I was still in the 1:29hr range, 1 min within my targeted 1:30hr finish time. By this time there were three of us pacing each other. By the 17th kilometer one of us could not keep up with the pace as it was increasing slowly and it was in the 4:11min/km range. So two of us remianed until the 19th kilometer. By this time we could see the first destaff some 50m ahead of us. I told my self I must catch that lady if I want to be within my set target as I knew her average times for the 21K. Meamwhile I still bid my time and was still pacing with the other guy.
At the 19th km with two to go, I knew this is the time to do it. There was a water station at that point. Because of the higher tempo, my pace mate and I had dry throats and needed water. Since I could not shake him off, I made the tactical decsion to drop slightly behind him, and then scooped the first water at the beginning of the table. This way even if I miss it, I still have the chance to grab another one without slowing down considerably. As he was going to get his water at the end of the table, I sprinted past him as he had to slow down much more than I or else he risked missing water altogether.
I was now doing 4:00min/km. I knew he could not keep up with that pace this late in the race as at 4:11min/km he was already breathign hard. I kept the same tempo till the finishing line completing the 16-21km distance with an average of 4:10min/km. A perfectly timed negative split with a sprint finish. I crossed the finish line at 1:28hr corroborating with the expected finish times from on-line calculator tools. I was happy with my time and knew the training was going on well. The lessons I took from here were these; don’t set a single goal, always do a -ve split for long runs, run most of the route with people of almost same pace as you, and lastly have a workable plan. Next stop, NB Power run 10K.