by Anthony N. Pangilinan
I had written about what I had done to prepare for the November 6 New York City marathon – my first 42 kilometer. Now that it’s done, what are lessons, post-mortem, to business and to life?
My top 10 lessons, if we will “go the distance.”
First, we need the Spirit of Adventure. We can’t go further the distance we’ve already achieved, if we stick to the practices we’ve always done.
I had never gone past 30 kilometers in my previous runs. To agree to run 12 kilometers beyond my longest distance – in an official competition, sponsored by a major brand (thank you Timex!), tracked via GPS by friends and family members online, in the biggest most prestigious international running event – had an element of “craziness” to it. A “workable bucket list” is an oxymoron.
Second, it is necessary to trust in the wisdom of those who have gone before us. National Triathlon coach Dan Brown, NYCM finisher and coach Rio delaCruz, and the “BullRunner,” Jaymie Pizarro, you guys are “super!” From the running program, to the necessary mindset; tips on nutrition to the right outfit; firm reminders to personal encouragement…I got them all from you! Grab a mentor or two.
Third, it is non-negotiable that we have the minimum basic skills, and stamina, to hope for a respectable finish. We can’t give what we don’t have! True, I never ran the full distance before. But it is also true that I ran a minimum of 4-5 times a week for at least two and half months after the Camsur Ironman competitions in August so I re-focused my energies on running. Guesting in my show Magbago Tayo (Let’s Change!) at TV5 a few weeks ago, Rio delacruz was asked if the “energy wrist bands” really helped runners during a race. His reply? Only if you’ve done some running! Basic competence is needed for minimum performance.
Fourth, we must have an understanding of the route – or the environment – we hope to cover and conquer as our own. My sincerest gratitude to Paul Casino – 8-time NYCM finisher – for the pre-run “consultative session” on the details of the route I was hoping to complete within four and a half hours (my goal). The flat surfaces versus the challenging hills, the shortest to the meanest of bridges, the loneliest to the most glorious of places (cheered on by the most enthusiastic well-wishers). You helped me, as Wayne Gretsky puts it, not only to “skate where the puck was but to where the puck will be.”
Fifth, arming ourselves with basic tools to negotiate the journey may spell the difference between a glorious finish and certain disaster. The right outfit (in “layers” that I had to “strip” over time) and running shoes (Zoot! Zoot! Zoot!), adequate food and drink (the pre-race Gatorade “Sweat Test” Jaymie and I took determined the amount of hydration we needed along the route), and the energy-boosting “Carboom” gels I took every three miles protected me from the elements, compensated for what I burned along the way, and allowed me the final “kick” to a photo finish at the Central Park finish line. How else can you better equip yourself for the race of your life?
Sixth, under-training, it turns out, will do you more good, than over-preparing! The best advice I got in energy-conservation for the longest run of my life was given by 6-time marathon finisher BullRunner Jaymie Pizarro. Sensing I was tired from training and lack of sleep due to a number of business engagements a few weeks before the race, Jaymie told me a matter-of-factly, “Run less, and sleep more.” That made all the difference. Not even three days of jetlag before the run could wipe out the rest I had gained with two weeks of better sleep before I flew in. My Jet was stronger than my lag!
Seventh, in no uncertain terms, there are times you have to drop “secondary goals” (waving to the well-wishers) in order to meet your “terminal objective” (finishing the race). After the 21st Kilometer, I dropped the pleasantries and focused on accomplishing my 4:30 goal. “All things are allowable, but not all things are profitable,” the Apostle Paul himself reminds us. What can you “drop” today?
Eighth (and I need to keep the lessons shorter here as I wrap this up), stick to a “pacer” or a professional runner assigned for a target finishing time – a ruthless one at that – and keep your eyes from every other distraction. New York Road Runner Kathleen was my pacer, and she got me my 4:26 finishing time.
Ninth, stick to your race, and no one else’s. Spend a few minutes thinking about all those who have left you behind and get discouraged; focus on the ones you have passed and become complacent.
And finally, the tenth, know your ultimate source of strength, and call upon it as often as you need to. I borrowed this claim from Paul, and paraphrased it as my own “Not I, but He who runs within me.” Credit must be given where it is due.
by Anthony N. Pangilinan