I don't know what I was thinking when I asked Carina and Tere to be my pacers for the Earth Run. To be totally honest, I wasn't hoping for a sub-2:30. I just wanted to do a little better than my last 21K (2:36) and finish at a humble 2:32. Yes, I was pretty contented with that time.
I do not own a Garmin (yet!), so I really had to rely on Carina (who does) to set the pace for me and tell me when to run or take a walk break (we did a 5:1 Galloway). However, Carina wasn't able to wear her Garmin! Good thing Carlo was there! So he was officially our time-keeper.
During the first half of the race, I remember to be okay. Conversing a bit, keeping a steady pace of 6:30-ish. Half way through Heritage Park, I felt my energy slowly waning. As always, when kilometer 13 approaches, my energy drops. I remember the last time, when I attempted to pace with Carina, I fell back at 13K. I simply couldn't keep up with them anymore. Surprisingly, at kilometer 15, I was still going and going and going. Struggling yes, but I wasn't about to quit and be left behind again. Well, actually this time, they had no choice but to wait for me since they were my pacers. Hahaha!
The route was pretty much the same as last month's Globe Run. So to keep me going, I would try recall my state before at certain areas in the race. Like I remembered Heritage Park to be really hot and humid during the last race, but that day, it was cloudy with a little breeze. When we entered Bayani Rd., last time, this was the point where I slowed down and let Carina and the others go ahead. But this time, I was still with them! These thoughts kept me going. I guess, it was my way of motivating myself.
21K course map
As we approached the exit of Heritage Park, Tere assured me that there were just a few more kilometers left after we exit Heritage Park. On Bayani Road I asked her if she was just BS-ing me coz it felt like it was never gonna end. Uh-oh...at Lawton Ave., I felt like collapsing already.
And then Carlo says, "Last 3 Kilometers, Julie! You can do it!"
I wanted to scream and jump for joy! But even before I could manage a smile,
Carina says, "Ok, Fartlek!"
I thought I heard wrong. "Fartlek? Now? You guys serious?", I asked.
"Kaya mo yan! 3K nalang eh (You can do it! It's just 3K left)", Carina encouraged.
So Carina called out the points (green signage, 2nd stop light, etc.) while Carlo timed the walk breaks. We did this until we turned the corner of 26th street. And then they said to just jog at an easy pace since we were less than a kilometer away.
Or at least we thought so.
And just like Globe Run, instead of immediately turning left on 28th St. from 11th St. They made us go all the way down to the very end of 11th St. to make a U-turn. Time check: 2:25.
As we approached the corner of 28th St. I told them, "Guys, I have to walk. I need to walk. I promise to sprint to the finish line once we reach the corner of 28th." Thank goodness, they allowed me to walk. Hehe!
True enough, near the corner I was already gathering every ounce of strength I had left and willing my mind and my body to finish strong. I put on my visor and shades (which I was holding in my hand for most of the time). Even jokingly asked for a "re-touch" if a make-up artist was around. Hehe! I could hear Carina, Carlo and Tere simultaneously saying, "Here we go, Julie!", "Are you ready?" , "You can do it, Jules!"
I let out one big sigh. And then I was off! My pacers sprinted with me up to a certain point while cheering me on. "Go Julie!"..."Woohoo!"..."2:27!!!" People who were hanging out near the finish looked at me. Probably wondering who's this person they're cheering for.
Just a few meters from the finish line, I saw the clock. 2:27:57! I increased my speed and let out one loud monster of a scream! I looked up at the time as I reached the end of my 3rd half mary, and it showed, 2:28:00 exactly.
I felt like crying. But I think I was too dehydrated to do so. I never thought I would achieve a sub 2:30 that day. I didn't pre-plan it that way. I only had control over my body and my mind but everything else were in the hands of my pacers (and God!). I blindly followed every instruction they threw at me. Normally, my O.C. self wouldn't be able to handle that because like everything else in my life, it has to be carefully planned. I felt I wasn't ready and capable of doing a sub-2:30 just yet. But I'm glad my pacers, my guardian angels for that day, thought otherwise.
Thank you Carina, Tere, and Carlo for staying with me, for motivating me, and for believing I could do it when I felt like giving up. I will forever be grateful!
And thank you God for answering my prayers. You see, the night before, I only had 2 hours of sleep. So I prayed/pleaded to God the morning of the race, to help me through it and I promised Him, I'd go straight to church immediately after, no matter how sore or tired I was.
If there's anything I learned from this race, it would be to believe in myself more. I need to get into the habit of talking myself out of self-defeating behavior when I'm getting exhausted. Achieving goals is almost impossible when one doesn't believe in oneself. I was lucky enough to be surrounded with friends this time to give me confidence.
So, will I do even better in my next 21K? The answer is a resounding, YES, I CAN!