Sunday, August 31, 2008

Nike Human Race

I did it! My timing is definitely not brag-worthy, and it's not even good. But...

I did it!

A month and a half ago, I got an advertorial for this in my NUS mailbox. Come to think of it, it wasn't the first time I had seen the Nike Human Race advert. I vaguely recall seeing a poster for that on a bridge pillar in Melbourne when I was holidaying there. Didn't think much of it.

I had picked up running for some time, to supplement my regular bicycling (cross-training is important!). It's high time I put that running training to good use.

I shot off some messages to my friends and realised that there are quite many of them who are interested. Yay.

And for $25 (before GST) I'd get a bottle and a T-shirt so it was a pretty nice deal.


And then the gravity of the situation dawned upon me. I have never run 10km at a go before. There's a real chance I'd have those 3 cruel letters - DNF - next to my name when I view the results.

I wanted to beat this thing, and I was going to do it.


I ran, either once or twice a week, making sure I do a long distance run of 8-10km every 10 or so days. Decked out with GPS phone and sports tracking software, I dutifully done those runs.

The timings were dismal. I had to walk much of the way.

It just wasn't fair. There are so many people out there who hardly train and can run way faster and longer than I do. My chances at being a good runner is getting quite dismal.

It is often said that one's VO2max, the objective laboratory measurement of the maximal sustained aerobic output, cannot be improved significantly even with training. But one's tolerance to lactic acid build-up can. VO2max is pretty much a function of genetics and the luck of the draw. But it's pretty depressing eh? Knowing that no matter how hard I train, there's this nagging barrier preventing me from ever achieving great things.

And then I realised that it's all about me and what I can do to improve myself. Who cares if the others can run well?

All I want to do is better myself. And when I do, that's something to be proud of. I kept on bulldozing through, slowly but steadily improving my running.

A week before race day, I've improved, but like what statisticians would love to say, it might be statistically significant, but it's still small.

How does the School Team Challenge work?
When you register for the race, you may select to represent your school in the School Team Challenge on top of your individual race category (Men's & Women's Under 25 or Men’s & Women’s Open) The school in each category that has the most number of registered runners completing the Nike+ Human Race 10K under 90 minutes will win the School Team Challenge.

If I take longer than 1h 30min, my timing won't add to NUS's total tally. And a week before race day, I still have trouble hitting that. Granted, my training route is hilly, but it's depressing to know that I was so close to a fail.


Race day.

Like any medical student would do, I trawled Google and Pubmed for the best way to enhance my performance (i.e. legal cheating).

I loaded up on carbohydrate-rich foods.

I ate baking powder.

I drank a horrible concoction of instant coffee and sugar.

No, I wasn't suicidal. I was desperate enough to make sure that I was going to run it all below 1h 30min.


The clock started. Being a charity/fun run, I was pretty surprised at the sheer number of serious runners, all togged out in expensive running shoes and apparel. Oh no.

Maintaining the pace was painful.

And when I reached the halfway mark, I just knew that I wasn't going to make it if I followed that pace. All that carbohydrates, caffeine and bicarbonate only helped in the first few kilometres. Then I bonked hard. After that I was all on my own, so to speak.

I slowed down.

Being cross-trained in bicycling, my exhaustion wasn't the breathless kind, but the kind where I just felt too tired to move fast. If I were to take running more seriously, I'd really have to trade in my bicycling hours for running. And no way, I am never going to do that. I love bicycling. I don't love running.

I ran when I could, I brisk-walked when I couldn't. (I brisk-walk pretty fast, faster than the speed some of the girls run. Heh.)

I can't really say I tried my best, but I did try.

I crossed the line just a hair above 1h 15min 1h 14min. Not impressive to many, but pretty darned good for that one person named KC who had just stepped over those ChampionChip timing mats.

Victory is sweet.


Anonymous said...

congrats! keep running (:

Lisa MW said...

Well done, great day and a great race. I ran in London, it's amazing to think of so many people all over the world heading out together.

Keep running and you should be very proud of yourself.

P.S. Little tip if you want to try and improve on that time - some interval training will really help build your strength, start gently, perhaps during a 30 min run, 4 x 1 minute at a fast pace for you and returning back to your normal pace to recover.