Leveling Up: My First 16k via 7-Eleven Run 2017

If anyone asked me in early 2014 if I would be willing to run 10k or more someday, I'd probably say I couldn't. At the time, I had no plans of pursuing running as a form of exercise. Then came my wake up call in the middle of that year. Since then, running somehow became a regular part of my life.

3 years, 3 colors, 3 distance categories
In early 2015, I earned my first finisher's medal at the 7-Eleven 1500 Run for finishing 5k. That was very motivating! Still, I was bummed that the route only took me around the Filinvest City area in Alabang, Muntinlupa while the 10k, 16k, 21k, and 42k runners got to race along the Skyway

7-Eleven Run's 16k gun start
My husband said I must train and push for 10k if I really want to run that route the next year and I grudgingly agreed. Just a month later (eight months since I started running), he registered me for 10k without my permission! Thankfully, I was able to finish the course and had to admit I felt proud of myself for taking on the challenge. You can read about that story, here. Yeah, sometimes, we just need a little push to get us further!

crossing the toll gate without paying toll fees 😀
By the time 7-Eleven Run 2016 came around in January last year, I was more than ready to conquer the Skyway. And I did! That race was a very memorable one because it's not every day I could run and walk on an elevated highway I've only passed before while riding a car, van, or bus.

sunrise seen from the Skyway
Of course, like many runners before me, I knew the goal should always be to aim higher (or farther) in succeeding runs. Unfortunately, I still can't imagine jumping from 10k to 21k (a half marathon) that fast! I told hubby I'd like to try running 16k first but I still wasn't sure I'd be brave enough to push that far yet.

less than 1k away from the finish line
Another thing is, very few races offer the 16k category. We planned to register in the Milo Run last July but found that it coincided with my family's plans to celebrate our mom's 75th birthday. It just wasn't meant to be.

a view of the Alabang Interchange from the Skyway
But, when it was time to register for the 7-Eleven 2017 Run (of course, I'd love to run on the Skyway again!), there were no more slots for 10k and I considered it a sign that it must really be time for me to finally face my fears and go for 16k.

a rare sight of the Skyway filled with people instead of vehicles
And so I trained by pushing myself to finish 10k during practice runs instead of my usual 6k to 8k distances. Due to a lot of home and work responsibilities though, I felt that I didn't train enough and remained apprehensive all throughout the two weeks left before race day.

a runner's shadows thanks to 2 lamp posts
Somehow, I felt a reassurance that everything's going to be fine last February 1 when a pretty rainbow appeared along our practice running route! What a great way to start the month and provide some inspiration four days before the race!

To make a long story short, I didn't sleep on the night of February 4th, left the house at 3AM on February 5th and joined the wave of 16k runners at the 4AM gun start. It took me 2 hours 31 minutes and 37 seconds to travel by foot from Alabang to Bicutan and back. There were times I felt some cramps on my feet and twinges of pain on my lower legs so I alternately walked and ran, determined to finish no matter what.

my official time
The huge sense of relief washed over me even when I spotted the ramp going down to Filinvest City even before I crossed the finish line. By then, the sun had already risen and I wholeheartedly thanked God for another beautiful day as well as for giving me physical strength to finish my first 16k.

with my beloved running coach who never failed to encourage me these past three years 
I find this part of my fitness journey amazing because I've literally graduated from one distance category to another every 7-Eleven Run. The question now is, will I find enough courage to register for 21k next year? Let's see! After all, I still have roughly a year to think about (and train for) it 😉

* If you want to start running, please read my 5 Tips to Newbie Runners from Someone Who Used to be One 

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