September 7 was the Unilab Active Health Duathlon (6k run, 60k bike in SCTEX, 4k+ run to the finish). I signed up to ride on SCTEX and scope the bike course for the long distance TriUnited 3. The idea was to take it easy and treat it as a training day. Cut to…
Two hours & 20 minutes into the race, my legs were sore from the bike coz I went too hard. I had no idea how many more kilometres we had to go. Then a team mate pulled up along side me and I asked him,
“How far pa tayo?”
“Last 10k.” He said.
Something just clicked in my head: tired legs + 4k run coming up + hot sun = go harder = lactic acid build up = this is the right thing to do. (Don’t ask me why. I can’t answer. It was reflex)
“Let’s go then” I told him.
Then I went. I found my legs could kick harder and I started passing people on the way to transition, in transition, and as I started running. I was going at a good pace and started getting faster.
After 2k, this guy passed me and my heart just sank. He was about 5”11, lean and defined, and had the easy form of an experienced athlete. He passed me like I was walking. Looking at his pace, I knew I’d blow up if I tried to stay with him. Again the equation doesn’t make sense: too fast for me + I”m tired = I’ll probably blow up = just hang on as long as you can = that’s the plan right now
So with a lump in my throat, I found another gear and tried to keep up — always keeping him just 3 or 4 feet away. It was 2 minutes of hanging on (maybe less actually but it did feel like a long time). Suddenly the guy just stopped. He crouched over, and put his hands on his knees, and started taking deep breaths. I passed him and kept at the pace we were running. (I didn’t want him having ideas of chasing me down and us going through a painful cat & mouse game). After a minute, I looked back and I couldn’t see him.
I kept on going, increasing speed as the finish line got closer. My breathing was heavy and I caught up with 3 big packs of runners who were way ahead of me. The last group was 200 meters from the finish and I was about 50 meters behind them. By that time I was dizzy, my vision was blurry, and I was screaming on the inside — and a little bit of that was releasing on the inside as I exhaled deeply. I found myself passing them 25 meters to the finish line. As I got shoulder to shoulder with the lead guy, I was almost empty. I hoped that he’d let me go and not fight for the finish. He turned his head, made a quick scan of my pace & effort, looked at me and said “Let’s go!” At this point, there was really no other decision to be made. We went for it and sprinted to the finish. He got 2 steps ahead of me and I pushed to find another gear. I caught up with him 3 steps away from the finish and felt I had the momentum to get him. Then my left quad cramped. My knee locked, and the leg suddenly decided not to listen to me anymore. I let up and was able to stop and not crash into the people behind the line.
We shook hands and patted each other on the shoulder and smiled. That was a good race and a good way to finish.
I told someone the other day that I wouldn’t be how I am today if it wasn’t for triathlon and endurance sports. The last duathlon showed me that (somehow, not by any design of my own) that I have learned…
to suffer with a little more grace and composure,
to make the improbable impractical choices,
and to keep on going on that road even if the personal price to be paid increases.
That is true in life as it is in sports. And that’s the GAMEPLAN!