Category Archives: Run

The Condura Skyway Marathon 2015

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.

This is also the best shot where I'm in. I don't have any solo shot. Photo courtesy of ShutterSpeed Sports Photography.
This is also the best shot where I’m in. I don’t have any solo shot. Photo courtesy of ShutterSpeed Sports Photography.

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.

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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.

 

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RunLife Philippines

I thought we were going to have a lot of time in Manila in between watching the three-day IPTL Manila leg, so I signed up a 21k race. But boy was I wrong. I barely had time to sleep when I was there. Traffic in Manila was really bad that it stressed me out.

I still joined the RunLife Philippines 21k race anyway. I needed this for my training for my 42k in February. Actually, I have another 42k before that but that’s still part of the training for February.

The day before the race I was supposed to run with my friend Hazel who was also running the 10k race. But I slept late and woke up at 11am. So we settled for the treadmill at the gym in Dusit Thani. I tried running a 10 kph speed, then 11 kph. I could only do it for a couple of minutes and had to go back to 9 kph. I ran the treadmill for a total of 34 minutes.

I ate two bowls of rice for lunch as my form of carbo loading for the race. I stopped eating rice some time ago, which helped me lost about 40 pounds, so a generous serving of rice was already a lot for me.

At 5pm, we went to see the second day of the IPTL. I was only hoping to stay until 7pm so I could have enough sleep but I couldn’t pass on the Sharapova vs. Ivanovic match, which was scheduled last for the night, so I stayed until the end.

It was about 10:30pm when the matches ended and we had to order takeout for dinner so we could go back to hotel as soon as possible. Since we learned from the night before that most taxi drivers choose their passengers at this time of the night (we were told they would choose those who had farther destinations), we proceeded to the bus stop right away.

Waiting for the bus took about 30 minutes and we were stuck in traffic for almost an hour. That was long and stressful. We ate our dinner in Nene and Caloi’s suite and I said good night right after. I got to sleep around 12:45am.

I set my alarm at 2:15am (yes, an hour and a half of sleep) so Hazel and I could have enough time to prepare and leave at 3am. But lo and behold, I didn’t get up at 2:15am. I woke up but I while I was trying to set the alarm to snooze, I fell back to sleep and didn’t get to wake up again at 3:30am! We had to rush. I didn’t get to shower and just had to put on my running outfit immediately.

We were able to get on a taxi around 3:45am. Unfortunately, the driver had to stop for a couple of minutes to use the bathroom. Geez! We got to PICC where the starting line was at 4:01am. Thankfully, the race had not started yet. They just finished warming up and was just getting ready to start. It was raining a bit and I was really cold so I couldn’t wait for the race to start.

Then gun start was at 4:11am. My run went fine. I made sure that I stopped to get water on every hydration station to avoid fatigue. I also made sure that I was not accelerating. Each time I felt that I was, I would stop myself and start running slowly again. This was just part of my training after all.

I loved the race. There was no vehicle traffic at all, the hydration stations were adequate and the marshals were helpful enough. Plus, the token after the race were two big cans of milk (I had to leave it at the hotel though because there might have been a chance I would have to pay for it at the airport).

BUT, and this is a big BUT, the route was just wrong. I was shocked to see the finish line at 6am! I reached it at 6:04am, a finish time of 1 hour and 53 minutes! I didn’t feel fatigue so I thought I must have improved significantly. I was thinking that since I didn’t run-walk for the whole course (I only stopped at the hydration stations), I must have run faster than in my previous races, BUT I knew I was not this fast. I am not a sub-2:00 21k runner.

I didn’t have a phone with me so I didn’t get to prove my suspicions. I only found out a few days later that other runners had similar complaints and their trackers measured the course at only about 16k. I felt sad that I didn’t get to run the 21k but I guess a 16k was enough.

I was going for the "I did not have enough sleep" look. Image courtesy of Running Photographers
I was going for the “I did not have enough sleep” look.
Image courtesy of Running Photographers