The idea of running a marathon first occurred to me late in 2007 when I had barely started running and I decided to sign up for a 10k race in early 2008. Since I could already complete a 10k, I thought it wouldn’t be much more difficult to complete a 42k. Fast forward more than 1 1/2 years later and I’ve realized what a foolish thought it was then and just how grueling a 42k really is.
Last July 5, 4:00 AM, I finally made it to the starting line of my first marathon. My only goal that day was to finish the race – I didn’t set time goals yet based on other runner’s first time marathon experiences where their finish times always seemed longer than what I thought they were capable of, given their 10k and 21k times.
With Harry, our Race Logistics Director and the awesome T2 ladies
With all the warm-up exercises, opening prayer and race course description, I thought that Mr. Biscocho would start the race “late” (meaning at exactly the scheduled time) but when the starting gun fired, I checked my watch and true to form, it was 5 minutes early at 4:25 AM. My plan was simple: pace with Bards as long as I can, run conservatively up to 32k, and give it all I’ve got the last 10k.
Within the first few kilometers, Doc Joe ran up behind us and we were a running trio for 19 kilometers until he peeled off to meet up with Jonel.
Pacing with Bards and Doc Joe
My first 22km went well as Bards and I stayed on a pretty consistent pace. The weather was perfect since it wasn’t until 6:30AM when we first experienced our first peep of sunshine but that quickly changed when there was a downpour while we were in the Lawton / Bayani road area. On km. 23, I found that I needed to take a walk break already so I told Bards to go on ahead since I knew she was targetting to hit 5 hours and I didn’t want to keep her from meeting her goal. On hindsight when I was reviewing my Garmin data, I realized that my heart rate had been creeping up so even though I maintained an even pace, I was growing more weary with every kilometer. At km 23, my heart rate was at 10k race pace levels already.
I was conserving my strength for the last 10km so I practically walked the uphill back to Lawton. At the Bayani road area, RJ kept me company on his bike and paced with me for long stretches.
RJ kept me company along Bayani Road
I approached the T2 aid station right before taking on the Kalayaan flyover again and I loaded up on banaba, Gu and fluids before I headed into uncharted territory.
Getting ready for Kalayaan flyover
As I hit kilometer 32 after Buendia – Paseo de Roxas, cramps started attacking my legs. As I stretched my hamstrings along the road, I could only watch as T2 runners Kathy and Beni passed me. By this time it was already 9AM and the weather had become quite hot and humid, around 31 degrees and the sun was shining bright. I pushed on and would periodically douse myself with water from my hydration pack.
When I stopped at the water station past South Super, to my horror my left knee suddenly locked up and I couldn’t bend it. I had to literally drag my foot for about a minute until the muscles loosened up again and I could resume walking then brief jogs. While jogging, cramps again attacked my right leg, beginning with my hamstring then spreading to my knees. I dragged my legs again as if I didn’t have any knees until they gradually loosened. I worried that if I attempted to stop at any water station again, my legs might cramp so much that I might not finish the race.
As I approached the Takbo.ph cheering squad at Buendia-Leveriza, runners ahead of me would get energized and speed up but I could only keep walking. Gene aka Barracuda Running approached me and asked if he could assist me in any way, if I needed a pacer. Without hesitating, I said yes, I’d appreciate a pacer up to the finish line!
Gene readily walked / jogged with me the last 5km at 10am in 30+ degree weather. He would run ahead to refill my water bottle so that I wouldn’t need to stop at the water stations since I was afraid of cramping again. Along the way he would encourage other runners that were exhausted also and were struggling just to get to the finish line.
Gene aka Barracuda Running paced me the last 5 km up to the finish line!
Finally we passed the US Embassy and we started jogging again and I used my last ounce of strength to give one last sprint towards the finish line. I was just so relieved to have finally finished, and with satisfaction I saw my Garmin read 42.05 km, completed in 5:52. Que of Takbo.ph snapped my photo right after crossing and I apologetically told her I was so tired I could barely manage a smile. I felt like Pheidippides when he finally arrived at Athens!
I didn't make the 5-hr cutoff but I still got my finisher's certificate! Thanks to Vener for the picture
With Mr. & Mrs. Takbo.ph Jinoe and Que, Gene
Gene, Beni, Kathy, Bards, Vicky, Tin and Mesh
Congratulations again to all the finishers last Sunday, notably Jay who did a blazing 3:38, Mesh who finished 7th in the women’s division, Bards who just keeps improving her time by leaps and bounds, other T2 ladies Kathy, Beni, Tin, Kristine: your perserverance and endurance amazes me!
Special thanks to Gene who helped me endure the last few kilometers of the race. Bro, I hope to repay the favor by supporting you in your marathon debut in QC this October – I’ll be there!