Monday, September 17, 2012

Run United 3 2012: Conquering The Afroman Distance


My first attempt to do the Afroman distance.

And this is my story...

Assembly Time: 0230 am

Gun Start: 0300 am

It is with too much trepidation and excitement that I head over the starting line of the Run United 3 32K category at the 28th St. of BGC albeit the rain that never shows any sign of stopping. Up until now I can still feel the soreness in my legs but it’s the kind of pain that reminds you of your triumph over something as big a challenge such as running a long distance like this. Although it’s not yet a marathon distance, it is such a bittersweet, humbling experience for me.

There were an estimate of 3000 32K registered runners during the Unilab Run United 3 and despite the heavy downpour, those 3000 runners did not waver on their desire to conquer the distance. 

My brother was my sole companion/cheerer/photographer during the race. We made it just on time for the assembly time of 0230. I was overwhelmed by the big crowd of runners, exhilarated even. Imagine my joy upon seeing a sea of running enthusiasts! 

**Now that I am working (and running) in Riyadh, a big crowd for a race consists merely of 150 runners. So when I saw that the Run United 3 will be held in time for my vacation leave, I asked my brother to immediately sign me in for the said race.

I was determined to run rain or shine. I only had my hydration belt, a regular waterproof watch and my running shoes in tow bearing in mind that I will just enjoy the moment and run in a pace I am comfortable with. With 30 minutes before gun time, I had just enough time to do my warm-up and down on my energy gel before joining the throng of runners--most of them are like me, 1st timers for the said distance.

When the gun starts, I reminded myself to run slow for the 1st 10 minutes. I don’t want to start fast and deplete my energy before I even finished the race. Eventually, I picked up my pace and settled in on my rhythm. The rain gets heavier as the distance gets longer. We were all soaking wet up to our knickers and my pace is getting slower due to my already soaked getting-heavy-by-the-minute running shoes but I did not waver on my goal to finish the afroman distance. Psyching myself that I will finish the race no matter what, placing one foot in front of the other and repeating this mantra: “just keep running, keep on running” (just like Dory on the animation “Finding Nemo”) on my mind, helped me to push my limit and continue running. 

When I passed by the 16 km mark, I checked my watch and noted that I’ve been running for about 1:55 hour. I’ve been running too slowly so I picked up my speed a little bit. It is on kilometre 20 (an estimation since I don’t have a gps on hand) that I started feeling a bit sore on my thighs but I continued nonetheless. By this time, I stopped or slowed down on every hydration station that I passed by even if I have my hydration belt with me, either to grab a banana, a sponge, a sports drink to refill my already depleted canteen or just to walk and stretch my already aching calves and thighs.

I finished the race with an unofficial time of 03:59, 1 minute before my self-imposed cut-off of 4 hours. It was such a joyous moment for me. I was beaming with pride and grinning from ear to ear when I was able to cross the finish line and for a moment, I was teary eyed! 

I saw this on Runner’s World's facebook wall:

“You can feel sore tomorrow or you can feel sorry tomorrow. You Choose.” 

I choose the former. 

No regrets.

=)