i was lying in bed at 4am, in full gear, waiting for my kuya to finish showering. to say i was getting anxious was to put it lightly. i hated getting to my races just in time or, god forbid, late. since i started running more than a year ago, every running event i join receives the same preparation i would do for a potential job interview of a lifetime. i never liked the feeling that i did not do enough to get ready. every time it fells like so, it dulls my senses and i end up wasting a lot of energy feeling troubled. i looked at time... our assembly time is 4:30. i won't make it.
4:10am and we just left home. i was quiet the entire time since i knew, in my bones, this race was going to be different. whether it would be for the good or the bad, that remains to be said, but the fact that i was having my "premonitions" already worried me. of all the runs i have had, Rio's runs by far, i find the hardest. despite me already being very familiar of the terrain at the Fort, the combination of the route used for Rio's races always take the most out of me. long flat stretches with lots of turns, followed by long inclines then more flat terrain often lead me exhausted to the point even my neck muscles feel like they're running. stopping more than what i allow myself (at every water station, ideally) is not uncommon.
we found parking pretty easily, and just in time as the lot filled up fast. i quickly got myself ready, donned my arm pouch containing my energy gel and checked if i had all my gear. i could hear the noise coming from the stage and started walking, briskly, towards the sounds. my efforts in preventing early dehydration has left me with a full bladder and i needed to evacuate it quick. kuya has the same feeling too as we beelined towards the row of portalets on the other side of the stage. as i neared it though, the emcee suddenly blared "21K runners, ready!!!" i quickly turned back, swore under my breath, and ran towards the gathering sea of runners, passing my kuya and flashing him my most disgruntled look.
a few seconds later, after i found a small clearing in the middle of tightly pack runners, the gun shot was fired, sending hundreds, if not, even a few thousand 21K racers forward. God help me, i silently prayed as i began accelerating and dreading what hurdle i will be meeting in the next 2 hours. i had my first hurdle no even 30mins down the race. just barely 5 kms in, fatigue began to set in. i had sped up too quickly while i tried to free myself of the dense middle pack and had wasted a lot of energy because of it. coupled with the tension of having a full bladder, all the focus i usually exercise at this part to regulate my pace got lost. the first water station solved my first problem as i spotted a portalet. the fatigue i was having however, that i had to manage, effectively i hoped.
the route was difficult as expected. long stretches of after long inclines. whatever energy i was trying to reserved for the flats all got used up during uphill climbs. i often found myself walking, hoping to gain back the time during my downhill runs. a quick survey of my tights showed i was salting already. i was loosing electrolytes fast, too fast for me to replenish them in time. my feet were burning as well from the friction. i would often pour water into my shoes, trying to cool them off, however, this only made my socks coarse and they soon began chaffing inside my shoe.
the distance markers came in trickles and the distance felt unattainably long. i was slowly feeling defeated, my mind already too weak to fight.
the last few kilometers felt the longest, and i desperately wanted the race to be over. i kept bargaining with myself, just a few more, just the next corner. i kept thinking to myself, this will be over soon, a few minutes more. a runner who zoomed past me broke me off from my day dream. he was bolting towards the finish line and i decided to give everything i had left to the run. i could only muster a jog. running past the finish line, i found myself almost wanting to scream. my heart was pounding, my head was hurting and my feet stung in protest. i was exhausted and disoriented. seeing narnian at the finish helped keep me sane as i really felt i was turning delusional.
over all, this race was by far the most painful. my time was however not as bad as i had hoped, though considering all the unfortunate events that led up to it, i now know i could have done better.