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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Racing Towards My Half-marathon PR

When I race, I hardly ever focus. Although I do try to concentrate on the race, my mind always fly thousands of eons away. Today, as I was racing to make my unexpected personal best record for a half-marathon I am suddenly bombarded by thoughts regarding lessons learned while running a half-marathon.

The QCIM race is my 3rd attempt at finishing a halfmarathon. Although I did finish the last 2 half-maries that I  last participated in, today was definitely the finish that made me feel like I can finally call myself a legit half-marathon finisher. Why, you ask? Isn't reaching the finish line enough ticket to the claim? Well, technically yes. But those last 2 races gave me the worst cramps ever, they ended making me feel like I didn't prepare well for the race. There's probably a lot of truth to that which also was another reason why I feel I don't deserve to claim the finisher title yet. But today, yes today made me feel very, very proud of myself.

So what led me to a 'personal' strong finish? Well, I can list several things.

1. I followed my training schedule to the T. I religiously plotted the mileage requirements for the week and worked hard to reach them. I may fall a mile behind on some days, but I try to make up for the deficit on other days. And I guess, that helped a lot with building my endurance.

2. I listened to my body. I used to challenge myself and believed that all the pain just comes from my mind. And if I control my mind and psyche it hard enough to push my body to just run and not stop for a walk break, I will get a strong finish. But after 2 failures, I finally decided to listen to my body. After the 10th kilometer, I modified my strategy and chose to run in 6/1, 5/1 and 4/1 intervals instead depending on the terrain difficulty (4/1 if it requires me to climb and 6/1 if it's flat all the way). This helped tremendously. And when my GPS tracker announced I'm at the 20th km, I feel like jumping in glee. But I restrained myself, I had to save up all of my remaining energy for the last kilometer to the finish line.

3. The night before the race, I was beyond my head with panic having realized I left our power gels at home. But then, Tibs assured me I can finish it without the gels (because in our last race, he didn't feel the need to take one and yet finished it) so I resigned and just pocketed 3 pcs of menthol candies in case I do run out of energy. A bit of sugar can go a long way. 

4. We warmed up for a good 10-15 minutes. We stayed in QC for the night so we were just 5 minutes away from the starting line. We didn't have to rush and we had ample time to do stretches and sweat up a bit before gunstart. The point I'm trying to drive at here is that IT PAYS TO COME ON TIME.

5. Proper hydration is also key, I guess. The entire week before the race, I wasn't feeling well. In fact, I had a major asthma attack last Tuesday I had to call in sick for fear that I would fall extremely ill come race day. In order to hasten my recovery, I had to drink up liters and liters of water (average of 4 liters a day). That probably helped a lot as I didn't feel the need to stop for water at the first 5km. I also loaded up on carbs on Friday (it wasn't really a lot but it was more than my usual carb intake). I should remember to do that again at every long run.

So yes, I wasn't in my best form this morning (with the asthma attack still hovering over me). And yesterday, when I went to see my doctor to sort of ask permission if I can go on with the race she gave me a disapproving nod. But seeing how determined (and stubborn) I looked, she relented and just prescribed several meds to help me get through the day. And I tell ya, maybe it's my positive spirit today or maybe it's the meds (I really cannot tell at this point) but I feel better now. And the entire length of the race, I never felt the need to puff on my inhaler. As if it was a validation for me to finally say - SEE I TOLD YA, I HAVE STRONG LUNGS! haha. 

Today has been a very good day. And yes, to God be the glory. I finished the race safely. And I am now more determined that ever to train harder for my first marathon finish. 

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