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As I set out last night to do my one hour recovery run after my second slowest full marathon in five tries, I was asking myself if I’ll be able to do better next time…

4:00 to 4:10

…”Due to the sheer number of 5k runners, the 42k race will now start at 4:10…”  I did not mind the ten-minute delay but during a Milo/Rudy Biscocho race?  Little did I know that the delayed gun start was just a tip of the iceberg of the day’s surprises (as if finding out a few weeks before race day that the organizers chose to make the runners do three loops instead of the tried and tested route were not surprising enough).

I started my recovery run after I had come home from work, late afternoon-early evening rush hour traffic, fumes and all.  Busy like the scene a few minutes after gun start at Milo Marathon last Sunday where runners were aiming to finish strong and healthy and qualify for the Milo Finals in December (I was praying that LK-RA, left knee and right ankle, which bothered me in varying degrees in previous road races, would not add to the already long list of excuses I had even before the race).  My goal last night was to run for an hour, clear my mind in hope of sorting out my thoughts about what just happened some thirty or so hours ago.

Fireflies and friends

Doing the loops with i2runner Natz

It was almost 6pm and darkness was setting in.  The road for the most part was paved and lined with street lamps save for some parts where urbanization was just starting to make its presence felt.  There were times I had to slow down due to darkness but the sight of fireflies brightening up the pitch black bushes encouraged me to continue running.  Not so different from when I was buoyed by the presence of constant running buddy Junrox et al during the earlier part of the race and then Natz during the two loops of the “experimental” Milo 42k route.

Weather or not

I had heard a lot of grumblings about how hot it was that fateful morning.  While I did see the motionless trees along the Macapagal Ave., I was feeling okay the whole time unaffected by heat.  Or so I thought.  After reading the kilometer marking that said 4.5km to go and knowing that it was still possible to qualify (if I did not go below the 5:00/km pace) or at least salvage a sub-4 finish, I started feeling dizzy.  Each blinked seemed forever so I did three 1 minute breaks and then continued running as best I could after regaining my bearing.  Looking back, this was the most crucial part of the race where I may have lost my chances but at the same time averted a near fatal mishap.

“It was 85 degrees and 90% relative humidity. I remember trying to stay with Bill Rodgers but being unable…feeling funny…then I woke up in a tub of ice. I lost 20 or 30 minutes. My body temperature was over 108.” – 1994 Comrades Marathon Champion Alberto Salazar discussing his life threatening heat stroke episode at the 1980 Falmouth Road Race.

I tried reading about dizziness and heat stroke and felt lucky later that I was able to finish my fifth full and didn’t have to be carried on a stretcher.  I was constantly pouring water over my head during the race but the experience just taught me to be more aware of my environment and body condition at all times.

But that night, I was loving the cool breeze against my face and the soft cries of the nocturnal insects in the silhouettes of trees and houses almost competing with the sound of cars passing by occasionally.

The finish

(Thanks to Irene Ong and Rodel Cuaton for the other photos)

Without looking at the splits, I knew that it was one of my slowest last 5 kilometers.  I was disappointed.  Distraught.  Defeated.  I was looking for answers to many questions but none were readily available.  Except that I almost fainted and my quads almost gave up on me.  Fortunately though, LK-RA cooperated and up to now are still friends with me.

Next time, I will train harder no matter how busy my schedule gets (run 3 to 4 times a week like before and not skip runs even on weekdays, especially on weekdays).  I will see to it that I rest and not travel 30 km and back 12 hours before gun start.  I will set high goals but will weigh things, be realistic and not be disappointed if I did not accomplish my target time during that particular race.  I will continue to run because I cannot imagine life without doing it.

After the run last night, my list of excuses became part of my to-do list for my next runs.

After the recovery run, I knew I will do better next time.

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