To any serious runner, all roads lead to 42k. It is the culmination of everything, from the very day you decided to get your lazy a$s off the couch and start running, to your very first participation in a running event, to that point that you’re getting faster, stronger, and joined even more events, and to that very day you decided it’s time to run your first marathon. A lot of people know that running a marathon is hard and to most people, impossible. Even walking beyond 10 kilometers is an excruciating experience for the lazy ones. But, if you really work hard, train properly, and eat the right foods and supplements, it will be a much easier experience.
Road to 42k…
Some time last year, I started saving money to prepare for my first marathon. I’m proud to say that I am self-funded and never asked anyone for anything. I paid for my registration fee and for the equipment that I need. That is one of the special things in the decision to run a marathon, you chose to do it because you want to, nobody forced you to join, so you cover the expenses and train for it, no excuses. December 2015, the road to 42k training officially started in the PNPA Uphill Challenge. In that race, I tried to find a comfortable and stamina-efficient pace and avoid injuries, especially the cramps on my calves. During and after the race, I think that I found that pace I’ve been looking for. I continued training throughout December and January with 10-14 kilometer runs on Sundays, 8-10+ kilometer runs on Wednesdays, and some random short runs on a Monday or a Friday. Other training routines include 5-minute plank exercises daily (but, some times I can only do 3-6 of those exercises a week), dumbbell lifts at least once or twice a week, burpees and other leg exercises at least once a week. I also almost always take the stairs in the office, 6 floors, and that includes comfort room breaks 2-4 times a day from the 6th floor to the ground floor and back. I also ran the half-marathon of the 7-Eleven Run 2016 as an appetizer and I also attempted to beat my previous PR (which I unfortunately failed).
I was very confident with my training and preparation and I’m very fired up, like a hungry athlete who wanted to become world champion (or like a hungry cat eyeing that delicious tilapia dinner on top of the fridge… very much like that). And for my final preparation, I took a 3-day vacation leave for proper rest (sleep days before race day is very important) and also eat a lot, but not too much that I gain the unnecessary weight that’ll slow me down.
When the day comes…
7th of February, 2016. The moment of truth. I was very excited and nervous at the same time. I was a bit overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the event. The who’s who and the best of the running community are here, the elites, triathletes, the fast recreational runners, and the veterans. There are also some celebrities and race directors of other race organizing firms in the event. This is how big the Condura Skyway Marathon is.
As the 42k runners are being called to approach the starting line, being the Rogue Rebel Runner (running alone) for this event only gives me the jitters.
When the clock hits midnight…
It was a long walk and squeezing through the waves of runners towards the starting line. Because of the thousands of runners, it’s hard to identify if I am standing and waiting along with the right wave. I just look around at the bib numbers of the runners. And then the first wave was released at 12 midnight. The wave I’m in, we crossed the starting line at 12:04 am, so, I started my Nike Running app at the time I crossed the starting line to match it closely with my chip time.
It was hard to overtake because of the cramped space and the uphill parts of the Skyway, but I’m fine with a slow start because I was targeting a stamina-efficient pace as planned. The road only got a wider by the time we pass by Sucat or around the 7-10th kilometer. By the time I reached the Bicutan area, it rained a bit, the temperature got a bit more chilly, but it’s a good thing because it cooled down our bodies. I was doing a rhythmic pace, since the 6th kilometer, alternating between brisk walking and running and using my smartphone’s music player as the timer. It was very effective because by the time I reached the 18th kilometer, my calf cramps never made its existence known. But, to be sure, I applied some Salonpas gel on my calves (which I also stupidly applied on my face because I forgot to wipe it off my hands) before climbing the uphill part of the Skyway going to the NAIA 3 road. I enjoyed the scenic city scape around the area of NAIA and Makati, it’s the first time I reached this point and you can see the beautiful lights of City of Dreams Manila from the horizon (it’s kinda like a very very small Las Vegas scene). There are also some planes taking off and landing in NAIA and you can feel the sound and vibration. Around the kilometer 23, I started to slow down significantly. I feel very tired and exhausted, and couldn’t run at the same rhythm like before. I grew tired of listening to music (also because of the low volume and overall poor quality of the Sony MDR-AS200 earphones), so I turned it off.
Regret or Forget….
It was that time that I’m feeling the torturous part of running a marathon. I urinate frequently because I started to over hydrate myself with water and Gatorade. There was even one time that I pissed on a wall because I can’t hold it anymore. By the time I reached the 30th kilometer, I slowed down significantly. I can only run for a few hundred meters, even less most of the time, and had a feeling that I need to poop and urinate all the time. Cramps didn’t kick in (but to be sure, I also had my calves sprayed with liniment from the medics), but my soles started to hurt because of those hours of ground pounding and I feel pinching pain on my thighs. There was even a time where I stared at a stretcher near the medic stations and imagined that I just lie down and rest hard. That was the part where I once again questioned myself, “what the f*ck am I doing here?” and “why did I join this?.”
Then I switch to a different strategy, I pick a sign board or some thing along the way that will initiate my run and slow down to a walk, then repeat the process. For example, I see a medic van in the distance and a speed limit sign. What I do is I start running by the time I align with the sign and then slow down to a walk by the time I reach the medic van. It worked, according to my running app, I had a surge of speed from kilometer 35-40. It’s wasn’t as fast the first half of the race, but it was good enough. It was also at the last 6 kilometers, when I saw my running app time is still under 4 1/2 hours, hence the motivation to speed up a bit. I did try my best to finish with a Sub-5 PR, but unfortunately, the last 2 kilometers felt like forever. The long stretch of road feels like an eternity to run, my whole body is tired, even my shoulders hurt. I even thought my running app stopped working because the distance numbers doesn’t seem to be counting anymore, but in reality, I was really moving slow.
All or nothing…. or something in-between
So, I just dropped the whole Sub-5 PR idea, and moved without risking my body. I didn’t even run much at the last hundreds of meters. I jogged all the way to the finish line. And that was it. I am officially a marathoner. Finished at 05:09:50, gun time. For PR, my chip time is 05:05:47. I felt the most painful beating ever. I was very tired and as I walk back to the race village, my feet hurts so much I even stopped and sit for a few minutes before walking again. I was in pain, but it felt good.
More than a feeling…
Finishing a marathon is unlike anything in the world of athletics. It’s all about you discovering and unleashing your very best, your peak performance, the very limits of your physical and mental conditioning. The saying “pain is temporary, glory is forever” is the one of the best way to describe the whole experience. I accomplished one of the best challenges in life. I even became the very first marathoner in my family history and I hope that someday, someone from the family will also run a marathon and break my record. Now, I’m ready for more marathons in the future, maybe break my PR, and ultramarathons are not that far from my mind as well.
It’s sad to hear that 2 fellow runners have died in the event. I haven’t witnessed it, but I heard several eyewitness accounts. Manases Alfon Jr. from Cebu, a 38-year old call center employee who ran the marathon, and 40 year-old, Major Arnold Lubang who ran the half-marathon. Both were good men, achievers, and experienced runners. It’s unfortunate that they had to leave the world in a very untimely manner. They were laid to rest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. For more information about the live of the fallen heroes, go here: https://www.facebook.com/conduraskywaymarathon/photos/a.186035864745910.54301.182043201811843/1283062185043267/?type=3&theater
- The marathon experience was great, but the event itself is average at best compared to last year. Some runners said there were no fireworks before the race to fire up the runners’ excitement even more. The medals, especially the 42k medal, is smaller in size. One runner initiated a conversation with me and pointed out that fact. I agreed, one of the reasons I chose this event was to get one of the best marathon medals ever, it turned out to be inferior than the previous year’s medal. The event also lacks photographers and that is a big disappointment for first time marathoners like me because we want the moments of our very first marathon captured. Thanks for the efforts of the volunteer photographers, but there should also be official photographers like last year. And finally, one of the biggest complaints about the event was the 7-hour time limit. It was announced at a time when a lot of runners already registered for the 42k category and that pissed off a lot of people. This is probably the reason some runners to slip through and joined the earlier waves (which was already messy in the first place). I do hope that the organizers do better next time. This is one of the most recognized and expensive events in the country and people want to get their money’s worth.
- For the official results (files are in .pdf format), go here: http://runrio.com/2016/02/condura-skyway-marathon-2016-official-overall-results/
- My training and preparation worked well. I am proud of my first marathon PR. I’m even more proud that I was able to recover quickly. Sure, I walked slowly, like a limping zombie to our car which was parked in Festival Mall after the race. But, I was able to work the next day when I previously thought that I might need a sick leave for post-race pain or injuries. By Tuesday, I feel better and I was able to go for a Wednesday morning recovery run during my break. Unfortunately, one minor injury that is still visible, but less painful is this…
- I know, it took two weeks, too long to write this race report. Why? because I want to enjoy my rest and recovery time and I also joined and ran for the first time, with my significant other in a pre-valentines and free running event. JUST IN LOVE, Calamba City Love Run 2016. No need for a timing chip here, but, they are giving away finisher shirts for the first 250 couples to cross the finish line. Unfortunately, we failed this city.
- Supplements that I took 5 days before the race: Enervon C, Enervon Activ, Vitamin B Complex, and Ferrous Sulfate.