Running in a Sea of Green: 34th MILO® Marathon Elimination Race

34th MILO® Marathon
Manila Elimination Race
4 July 2010

Photos courtesy of Dr. Jun K. and Jhuvy from Takbo.ph

I signed up for this race with the thought of finally running a full marathon organized by MILO®, considered as the premier race of the metro. But with just barely two weeks before race day, some blogs were abuzzed with posts about the new route in lieu of the “classic route” known to most runners. Initially, I was kind of disappointed. I even commented in one of the blogs that I would run sans the excitement.

I was apprehensive how I would fare in this race given that my training was disrupted with some family concerns. I had to be honest with myself. I couldn’t do as much as compared to what I have done during the Condura Marathon. To qualify in my age category was already out of the question.

I consoled myself instead to finish it within the given cut off time, or, better yet finishing it in five hours, get the precious Milo medal, run it within the usual 6 to 6.3 min/km pace with no major cramps, and treat the 42K marathon as LSD for “ahem!” another ultramarathon. Gulp!

Dr. Jun Kagaoan of Vigan Tarayem Running Club, yours truly, and ultramarathoner, Mel

At the starting line, excitement was in the air. There were quite a good number of familiar faces and 42K runners. It started with stretching exercises. A multimedia presentation followed showing the new route to the delight of the crowd. It looked so easy with the arrow jumping from one flyover to the second one. Then I heard the gun being fired, signaling the start of the race.

I was doing fine during the first two loops (18.5KM). I was still strong even after passing the lively and supportive aid station provided by Takbo.ph volunteers. Takbo.ph administrators, Jinoe and Que, were also there to give support. On the third loop I could feel fatigue slowly seeping in my leg muscles.

Walking really is a “no! no!” for me. The first time I was forced to walk in a marathon was during the Pasig International Marathon last year (please read my previous account of my first marathon) where I could no longer even take a step and felt this fist-like muscle slowly crawling up to my butt. I suffered major muscle cramps then. And I didn’t want that same experience to happen again.

Though the recently staged Milo Marathon was marred by some runners who cheated, what I’ve experienced during the third loop and during the last seven kilometers was the exact oxymoron, that instead of seeing cheaters, they were act of kindness or good deeds from strangers who are also runners themselves.

The Runner in Red

As I was nearing the water station after that corner along Macapagal Avenue, this elderly runner, wearing a red singlet, asked if I were feeling OK when he saw me walking. He only continued to run after I assured him I was fine.

The Water Runner

A particular area along Macapagal Highway was both good and bad news for runners. Good: you could eat banana. Bad: no water. You had no choice but to run first before you could reach the next oasis.

My throat was dry after eating three slices of banana. However, there was this runner who smiled at me and offered his bottled water. Blessed him!

The Pusher

I dreaded the thought of not finishing within the cut off time. My legs felt heavy already. I had no choice but walk. And at times, I forced myself to run. I caught up with a runner whose strategy was to run/walk. That young runner named John, pushed me to run. Upon reaching Kalaw Avenue, I told John to leave me and run ahead.

The Instant Pacer

The last few meters toward the finish line, I was paced by Cyrus aka Cloudshocked of Takbo.ph. Whew! Thank you so much Cyrus!

Mission accomplished!

Random Thoughts After the Race

It was no easy route.

And the scorching heat!

I had blisters for the very first time.

My legs felt heavy.

My feet hurt.

My body ached.

I finished within the cut off time.

Train hard so you could qualify next time.

My third full marathon (freakin’ 42.195)

My second MILO® medal.

Speechless.