At the back of my mind, I’ll try to improve my time. I’m not competing with anyone I know. My only opponent is myself. My goals in this marathon are to at least improve my running with no cramps and finish with a decent time. My training program will be put to the test.
I arrived at the venue with only twenty something minutes to spare to deposit stuff at the baggage area and for warm up exercises. Sigh. It took me sometime to get out of the taxi, as I couldn’t find my sunglasses. And, I was running out of time!
The mood was festive. Saw the Asics exhibits. To my left, I saw two familiar faces, that of Vener a.k.a. Run Unlimited, and his wife Cristy. They were busy fixing their race bibs so I joined the two of them. Not far ahead, we could hear the emcee calling all 42k runners for check-in. As I was about to lock my bib belt, the lock got destroyed and I had to find a way to quickly fix it. Good thing, a guy appeared behind me, in his hands are plastic straw strings. Talking about good timing, eh? I asked for one to tie my belt.
With 15 minutes to spare for warm-up and stretching, I took advantage of it. Saw some of the elite runners doing the same thing while camera TV men focusing their lenses to people around them. It was at this time when I saw PatCon a.k.a. Running Shield, one of the pillars behind Condura, sitting on the sidewalk while waiting for the gun start.
As I looked around, I saw more familiar faces, mostly friends from Takbo.ph. I was at the back of the pack. Fireworks display kicked off the start of the 42-kilometer race.
Running along Bayani Road was not easy. Part of it has no lights. But still you had no choice but to run in pitch dark. I started slower than my race pace and started to pick up the speed only after nearing Buendia-Kalayaan flyover. It was here that I finally maintained the pace, stopping only at water stations to hydrate since I didn’t bring with me any hydration belt. Seeing the Skyway ramp, I couldn’t help but feel awe at the feeling of running the Skyway once again, this time, until Bicutan. It was so nice to run it gazing at the scenery—the breaking of dawn—passing by. And while running, I kept on praying, “no cramps for me please, Lord.”
At past 4AM running along Buendia Avenue; Reflector is shining bright! (Photo Courtesy of Carmen C. and Pepsi)
Condura marathon was my second marathon and my first race this year. As I was on my way back, I saw some runners stretching on the side of the Skyway due to cramps. As for me, still a long way before I could get off the Skyway ramp leading to Buendia Avenue. And when I finally saw the signage, “400 meters,” I felt relief. It only means one thing, 10km more to go! As I was running along Buendia, I felt the festive mood at the aid station where Sir Amado a.k.a. Reinier6666 of Reinier Pacific was busy clicking his camera every time a runner passed by. The aid station was put up in cooperation with Takbo.ph to help both half and full marathon runners. Surely, one could see volunteers having a good time handing out bananas, water, and applying liniments to runners.
Dog-tired but I conquered the Skyway! I looked so awful! hahaha!
(Photo Courtesy of Carmen C. and Pepsi)
Coming down from Buendia-Kalayaan flyover, with five more kilometers and 47 minutes to go (as per Garmin), I resigned to the idea that I’ve reached my goals for the day. Suddenly, I felt so tired. I walked. Ran again. It was a walk-run-strategy until I reached 32nd Street. My eyes lit up when I saw Takbo.ph peeps cheering, “go, go, five more kilometers, go, go!” Oh my, one of them, was Gail, my savior, during the crucial moment of my first marathon last year.
I walked once again at University Parkway but when I saw Gab, he kept on cheering, “two kilometers more to go!” and he signaled at me to hurry up and I had to force myself to run. So I did, even if my legs were too heavy already. Whew!
This is usually the most critical part of the marathon; the last two-kilometer stretch seemed to be the longest distance a marathoner could run. Thankfully, I saw Coach Salazar and Sir Leo Valdez running behind me and they urged me to go with them. So, I did!
On the last 500 meters towards the finish line, Coach John and Gab paced me. I reached the finish line with a time of 4:58.01. My Garmin registered a finishing time of 4:51.19 and a distance of 42.40km. No matter what, I was very glad with what I did on that day. Why? I was able to run within the targeted race pace up to Km32, after passing Km34, and up to Km37, I didn’t have any cramps (and this is what I was praying the whole time while running the Skyway). To top it off, I finished it at least sub 5, chipping off 23 minutes from my previous marathon time if based on the official results. However, if I based it on my Garmin, I improved by 30 minutes. I felt I did my mission with nothing as profound as a feeling of pride.
Relieved upon seeing the aid station. Almost there! Woohoo!
(Photo Courtesy of Jinoe G. of Takbo.ph)
I couldn’t have done it, of course, without the help of those who supported and encouraged me.
First and foremost, to God, who continually blessed us with good health to finish each race.
To Coach John Lozada, for the training program you personally made for me. Though it was difficult and even if I had to spend Christmas holidays running and doing it, the results showed what training can do coupled with sacrifice and hard work. Ey, congratulations, too, for finishing 12th 21k overall!
To Coach Allan Ballester, for your personal stories as a runner and invaluable tips you shared, maraming salamat. Congrats for finishing 5th 21k overall!
To Coach Mark Peralta, for your patience, moral support, and for pacing with me during my two long lonely runs.
To my Mall of Asia (MOA) running mates, Gab (Dirty Sanchez), Rod (RodRunner), Jet (JetPaiso), Cindy (Drunken “Master” Lily), Vic (Hagibis), Tin, Ziggy, Morgan, Aleth (Sexyladeh), and AnPaul (Solidsnake), thank you for your patience, your time during late dinner, ensuring I get a taxi after each workout, and for trading stories as well while running.
To Takbo.ph first time marathoners, half-marathoners who were in deep training, thank you also for your shout of encouragement while I was running the Skyway. It should have been me who should be shouting at you guys but you respected my silence. My silence didn’t mean I didn’t cheer. I did! Seeing each one of you reaching the finish line, made me so happy. Now you’re already a bonafide marathoner. Again, it’s not the PR time that counts but the courage to start and reach the end of each race no matter what happens.
To Brando (a.k.a. Ace Balasador), Jinoe (Takbo.ph/Manokan Runner), PatCon, Carmen, Pepsi, and Sir Amado for the photos.
To Coach John and Gab, for waiting and coming back for me to pace me during the last 500 meters. It’s not the distance, but the support coming from friends. Thank you so much!
To Pacific Reinier and Takbo.ph volunteers, thank you so much! You guys rock! Mac (aka Japorms), the efficascent helps! 😉
To PatCon and Ton, for providing a race where runners can run the Skyway. More power to you and your Team!
To the cheerers, Zinnia “Z”, Que (ChicksniManok), Ellen1, Ellen2, Master Eo, Neil (Crashburn), Joyce, Gail, Pepsi (goodness, I forgot to thank you for the Gatorade you gave me), Tracy (Digital Dash), Carina (Flying Boar), Sam (Running Ninja), Jet, DocT, Ian (Onemelc), Erick Guieb, Isko, PatCon, Tere (El Capitana), and Mark B. (Markathon), and (oh, my) to the many runners whose faces seemed to be familiar and who said “hi”, “hello”, “go, go!”, “ang lakas mo!” as they were running the Skyway and whose faces I couldn’t remember. Thank you so much!
To my fellow runners, regardless of distance or category, congratulations!