This was my first 42K so I should have prepared more for it but I didn’t
I started training last October right after my 21k at the Run United Philippine Marathon 3. I had a major injury in December though. My left foot got swollen because of a broken toe. I hate doctors so I never got it checked. I just stopped running for almost a month. The walking in Baguio, Kalinga and Sagada helped with the therapy.
When I came back running in January, I had problems doing long runs. I lost the lungs and the knees for it. I was even supposed to run at the Cebu Marathon on January 11 but I knew my body wasn’t up to it.
The longest runs I did during my last few weeks of training were just 10-km runs three times a week and some were even a struggle. I should have done at least a 34-km run as suggested by the training plan I was following. I was getting scared while the Condura Skyway Marathon’s date was getting closer and closer.
During the last few days of training, I thought of a plan to just at least finish my 42K and not collapse. I thought I would run the first 50 minutes and walk for 10 minutes. This did not happen. I should really look into pacing more religiously.
January 31 came.
While waiting for my flight to Manila, I noticed that people around me, who were also on the same flight with me, were runners in Bacolod. This was made obvious because most of what they were talking about were running topics.
The worst part of their conversation was when one asked where the nearest hospital from the route was. I thought to myself that if someone who belonged to a running group and was more experienced than I was was this pessimistic, I would probably have worse results.
I arrived around 10am in Manila and went to Makati to see my friend Hazel. She is my usual buddy whenever I am in Makati because she knows the metro and it is always great to see her.
I had to buy a new pair of shoes because my current one looked like it was already about to give up. Most runners would tell you that getting new shoes right before a race is not a good idea at all – please listen to them. In my case, I just did not want to worry about my shoes separating from their soles while in the middle of my run. I tried barefoot running before and it wasn’t fun so that was out of the picture.
It was a good thing that the 20% voucher at Asics included in the race kit was still valid. I bought the Asics Gel Cumulus 16. I would have bought the Asics Gel Kayano 20 if I had more cash because I have read so much good reviews about it.
I could have bought a singlet and a pair of compression pants if I had enough money but I didn’t, so I just decided to stick with my old singlet and shorts.
We had lunch at Recipes in Greenbelt. I had three cups of rice as part of my carbo loading. For someone who does not eat a lot nowadays, this was a lot.
After lunch, I separated from Hazel and I headed to my hotel in Alabang. I was booked at the Azumi Boutique Hotel which I had trouble locating. We (the taxi driver and I) asked four people in Alabang and they either didn’t know where the hotel was or they just gave us the wrong directions. We finally came across a group of traffic enforcers standing only a few meters from the hotel.
Azumi was a nice hotel. I booked a queen room at P3360 per night, a pretty reasonable price compared to the other hotels in the area. I looked for cheaper hotels in Alabang but I could not find any. They served buffet breakfast at P350 which I greatly took advantage right after my run.
I wanted to sleep at 2 or 3pm but it wasn’t my sleeping time so I had really trouble getting to sleep. I drank two cans of beer but it only got me to nap for an hour. I fell asleep at 5pm, woke up at 6pm and never went back to sleep again. Drinking beer was also not a good idea. It made me feel later like having very weak knees during my run.
At 9pm, resigned that I would not be able to sleep, I took a shower and got ready for the race. Then I realized I had not brought or bought any candy. While others take energy gel, I eat candy when I run. I don’t like energy gels so candy became my comfort. After dinner later on, I bought Polo mint.
I went down and had dinner at 9:30pm. I ate at a nearby fast food restaurant and made sure I ordered extra rice. I was still testing how many hours before the race should I eat to avoid getting side stitches. Two hours did not work for me, but this time at two and a half hours, I did not feel any side stitches.
At 11pm, I went back down to go to the starting line. The hotel offered a shuttle vehicle going to the venue but I was told it just left and it was taking long for it to get back, so I just followed other runners and walked to the venue.
It was almost race time!
I was assigned to Wave G so it took us several minutes to get to the starting line. It was around 12:25am when our wave was finally able to start. All the while we were being entertained by Alesso’s Heroes.
Near the starting line were 44 policemen each holding a picture of their comrades who were killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. I must admit that the incident did not have much effect on me until that time. It was emotional looking at those photos of the SAF members.
The theme of the Condura Skyway Marathon was “Run for the Heroes.” I knew it was conceived last year but how appropriate it was to commemorate the heroism of the fallen policemen during the event that happened just a week before.
Anyway, I started slow but I was feeling great. During the first uphill climb, I walked thinking this was just one of the few. It was actually one of the many!
I tried following this group of four men because their pace was just right but I lost them after the first hydration station. I made sure I would stop to get two to four cups of water on each hydration station. If I felt my throat was getting parched, I would also get cups of Gatorade.
As I’ve mentioned above, I thought of running for 50 minutes, then walk for 10 minutes every hourly cycle until I reach the finish line. This never happened. I kept running and running, albeit very slow, until I reached the 31st kilometer. This was the song that I kept singing to test my breathing pattern:
I know it’s quite a depressing song but it was my favorite at that time.
My body started to ache after the 31st kilometer. I felt a cramp was starting on my left leg. I learned a valuable lesson while eavesdropping on those Bacolod runners the previous day. I heard one of them saying that whenever you feel a cramp is starting, stop running and rest for at least a minute. I did stop but for five minutes at a time.
The soles of my feet also started getting very uncomfortable. At this point, I was already regretting buying new shoes. I should have stuck with my old one I was telling myself. But I had to finish the race with the shoes I was wearing. When I first stopped to remove my shoes, I saw that my left sock now had a hole and my big toe was spilling out of it. I felt a little embarrassed so I immediately pulled the sock to hide the hole. I sat down on the guardrail and stretched my feet. I stopped a couple more times to remove my shoes and rest my feet.
Aside from stopping to rest my legs and feet, I also stopped several times to get my legs sprayed with liquid pain relievers and to answer the call of nature.
There were a couple of hydration stations where I saw several banana peelings piled up but I didn’t see any banana provided. They must have run out before we got to those stations. I was already planning to rant about it on Facebook (I was starving, you know) until I finally saw bananas and I went bananas! I immediately picked up two and it felt like an oasis in the middle of the desert (I haven’t been to a desert yet though so I’m not sure what it exactly feels).
With only less than 7 km left, I started to walk more often than run. I decided to do this without stopping. I got inspired by that woman who was only walking but she was always ahead of me because she never stopped for water or to get her legs sprayed.
When all runners from all categories merged at the 39th kilometer, the road became really crowded. It was hard to run if I wanted to because of the human traffic.
I was able to run the last kilometer, or at least most part of it. I was able to finish my first 42k at 6 hours, 18 minutes and 28 seconds. I was aiming for 6 hours but this wasn’t bad. I’ll make sure to train better next time.
It was a very organized race. Since the entire Skyway was closed, there was no vehicle traffic at all. It was a cold night so a big kudos to the marshals, medics and other volunteers who had to endure the very low temperature and the wind. There was a lot of trash while I was running but when I passed through the Skyway at noontime, it was already immaculately clean.