“The Rock” Conquered Not Once But Thrice

Never got a chance to join its past editions either due to overlap of racing dates or training schedule.  On December 2014, I had just finished the Corregidor International Half Marathon (CIHM).  Sitting at a hotel’s restaurant, a thankful respite while waiting for the 2:00 PM ferry ride back to Manila, I saw a  runner at a nearby table looking at his finisher’s medals—one big and one small. Watching him from a distance, I know he’s one of those famous personalities you’ve seen before but don’t remember until my niece seated next to me whispered his name, TV personality Gerard Pizzaras (who happened to be one of Soleus brand ambassadors).

With Soleus brand ambassadors Gerard Pizzaras and TJ Jimenez at the port during the CIHM 2014
With Soleus brand ambassadors Gerard Pizzaras and TJ Jimenez at the port during the CIHM 2014

In my mind I asked, “Why two medals for him?” It piqued my curiosity. I had no idea about until then that he finished both distances running barefoot. “Whoah!” A friendly person, he allowed me to see his medals. I even jokingly asked him if I could have and keep the bigger one.    That short encounter with Gerard served as inspiration for me to do the same next year.  On March 2015, it led me to finish both 42K plus 2K and 21K in one weekend with running shoes on, of course! Corregidor races were originally scheduled on January 2015, but rescheduled two months later due to Papal Visit.  Change of dates meant running in hot weather or running under the scorching heat of the sun as March is one hot and dry month.

I have run multiple longer distances in the past, but with one or two-week breaks. Corregidor Marathon (CM) and CIHM happened to be racing events one after the other in one weekend.  CM on a Saturday and CIHM on Sunday.  Apart from it being my first back-to-back (B2B) races, what made this running event extra special was the two-kilometer add-on to the full marathon distance to honor the heroic SAF 44.

A quick stop near the banner with newfound friend Peter Ng of Team Soleus. We both finished Corregidor Marathon + 2K = 44Kin honor of the fallen heroes
A quick stop near the banner with newfound friend Peter Ng of Team Soleus. We both finished Corregidor Marathon + 2K = 44K in honor of the fallen heroes SAF 44

Running B2B races to some people may seemed a slightly crazy idea but is becoming an increasingly popular endeavor.  But like in my previous long distance races, I did not come unprepared.  I trained for it.   One of the racing strategies I wanted to share is the mental preparation.  A 42-kilometer run is still “42” with two more kilometers added to it.  And, half marathon is still a 21-kilometer run.  That’s a total of 65 kilometers.  I repeat, 65 kilometers of running on hot days.

To familiarize myself with the terrain I even joined one practice run doing hill repeats
To familiarize myself with the terrain, I even joined one practice run doing hill repeats with fellow participants
More speed work done on December 2014
More speed work done on December 2014

There were opportunities to run difficult terrains prior to Corregidor such as the one in Tanay, Rizal.  Racing in Tanay was part of my preparation and training.  Thanks to Abet aka Running Adik for inviting me in one of their running events in Tanay. Corregidor Island also known as “The Rock” can be very challenging.  As a runner you need to brace yourself pounding your feet mostly on concrete roads and rolling terrain mixed with trails.  I should know since I, together with other running bloggers, was invited by race organizers/founders Edward Kho and Raymund Martelino for a test run in 2009. Yes, even before the first CIHM was launched in 2010, I have run portion of the island.  In fact, it was in this same island where I finished my first open water aquathlon race also in 2009.

A quick running tour (test run) of the Corregidor running route in 2009 before CIHM was launched in 2010
A quick running tour (test run) of the Corregidor running route in 2009 before CIHM was launched in 2010
As participant to the 1st Corregidor Aquathlon (400m swim-7K run-400m swim) open water swim, run, swim competition in 2009
As participant to the 1st Corregidor Aquathlon (400m swim-7K run-400m swim) open water competition in 2009

During the actual full marathon race on day one, I didn’t go all out. I have run the race by feel.  I reserved some energy for the half marathon next day.  CIHM was a recovery and a fun run for me where there was no pressure to do a PR (personal record), just some easy runs and lots of laughs having fun and enjoying both the company of friends and the whole experience of the day.

Just having fun at The Rock!
Just having fun at The Rock!

Two races conquered B2B can be intense, intimidating and tiring.  With proper training and execution, reaching the finish line wouldn’t be impossible.

One happy 42K finisher with her medal around her neck while holding a single long stemmed rose
One happy Corregidor Marathon finisher with her medal around her neck while holding a single long stemmed rose
Two Roselles on their way to the finish line during the Corregidor International Half Marathon 2015
Two Roselles on their way to the finish line during the Corregidor International Half Marathon 2015
With fellow 21K finishers and event sponsor El Lobo Wil at the finish line
With fellow 21K finishers and event sponsor El Lobo Wil at the finish line

That said, it took me almost a year to write this recap as until now couldn’t believe I have done something crazy like this.  I couldn’t have done it without Big, Big, Big Inc., Soleus Team through Judith Staples (thanks for the Soleus team shirt), Peter Ng of Soleus who ran with me in the last two kilometers for SAF, to tukayo Roselle Abajo of Team Soleus who ran with me all throughout the 21K and even helped my niece Jing and choirmate Jess Derramas finish their half marathon battle. Special mention to Ilyfish de Castro for finishing her first 10K in Corregidor.

My heavy and precious 42K and 21K finisher’s medals
My heavy and precious 42K and 21K finisher’s medals, fruits of running back-to-back races
42K medal and finisher’s certificate for running extra two kilometers
42K medal and finisher’s certificate for running extra two kilometers