The Day I Mary

From the few days before the actual run, up until the last minutes before the gun start while preparing to leave the starting arch, I was already imagining myself posting at my FB the status, “I finally mary. 42 at 42”.

Underneath my obsessing on how to post my imagined accomplishment, I was really full of apprehension whether I can actually do it – finish a full marathon.

I was forever cursing myself for putting up with running half marathon whenever I was at the middle of the run and began feeling all sorts of fatigue, stress and pains enveloping my body. I most often swore that I would not anymore run again after that particular race was over. But upon reaching the finish line, euphoria tend to make me forget having felt the former and I soon find myself registering again in yet another run. However, it never really crossed my mind to join a full marathon yet until I established a sub 2 finish on my half marathon run.

Last September I ran the third leg of the Unilab Active Health’s Run United which is an Afro run or a 32 K run and finished it.  I am soon caught up in the fervor of trying the first time event of Unilab Active Health, Run United Philippine Marathon and found myself registering at a full marathon category.   That is how I found myself that 3:00 am at Bonifacio Global City in the quandary of whether I am actually fit to finish the run and why the gods had failed to bring in the rain. The worst part of the whole thing was that I am without proper training for a 42 kilometer run. My regular retinue of run was a simple two laps around the school grounds but this was weeks ago. I was out of the country the week earlier before the full marathon. My last 21 k run was at the Men’s Health Urbanathlon which had happened 2 weeks ago.  And just before I left for Hong Kong, in an attempt to find out how long was 42 k, I kind of hurt my Achilles tendon from walking 24 kilometers 20 kilometer short of my target. So, with all these odds against me, I was down to psyching myself up that DNF or not being able to finish my first attempt of a full marathon will not be such a big shame at all. After all, I did not announce to the world I was giving it a try at Run United Philippine Marathon (RUPM). Therefore, only few people would be expecting me to actually finish the run and lesser number of people to explain myself with for failing to accomplish my goal.

With my impending failure and even anticipating some injuries along the way, I packed for possible emergency scenario. I opted to wear a belt bag instead of my usual hydration belt. The belt bag contains liniment spray for muscle and joint pain. I brought along trail food, some cash for taxi fare in case at the middle of the run I can’t no longer proceed on foot. I brought along my cellular phone so I can call up people. Lastly, I stuffed up six energy gels. I did not wore my usual hydration belt and went instead for a hand held hydration bottle, the one I got form the Nathan Ridge Run. Donning both hydration belt and belt bag might make it difficult for me to bring my running tight down when peeing and of course I am afraid of chafe the belts might cause.

I told myself since I already ran 32k more than a month earlier, if ever I surpassed it every extra kilometer succeeding 32 kilometer would be my longest distance ran which is a bonus to me.

Determined to complete the course with enough stamina for a strong finish, I was doing 7-8 minutes per kilometer run or maybe even slower than that.  I was thinking this run will serve instead as a sort of practice run for me in preparation for the full marathon come February at the Condura Run event. I want to find out how it feels like to run in a full marathon and finish it at whatever time I can manage it. Although at the back of my mind I was hoping that somehow I can finish the run between 5:30 to 6:00 hours.

From C5 to Buendia Avenue, those of us who were at the tail end of the pack experienced having water at the hydration station ran out. It was a good thing I had my own water to sate my required regular hydration need and whenever I passed by a hydration station that still have water I refill my bottle. Others were not so lucky, they had to purchase bottled water along the way or suffer having no water at all.

The race route ran from Bonifacio Global City to C5 road south bound until it met up at Heritage Park. From there straight to Lawton Road passing by McKinley Hills returning to BGC and headed towards Kalayaan Fly-Over touching down at Makati. We then ran the stretch of Buendia until we reached the end of it where it intersected at Roxas Boulevard. We ran south bound towards Paranaque and made a u-turn at NAIA Road. We then ran north bound reaching Rizal Park where we again made u-turn going back to Vito Cruz turning right towards PICC complex. We exited at Macapagal Avenue ran until we reached SM Mall of Asia where we made several more turns until finally reaching the Seaside Road that led us finally to the carpeted Finish arch and received our humongous medal.

To make the run less threatening and more manageable I divided the race course into parts. Example, BGC area as one part, Makati area as another and so on and so forth. Each time I shook the dust off my shoes as I exit one area or part I congratulated myself. Somehow focusing on what I left behind rather than on how many kilometers left to cover was more encouraging. I felt the kilometers seem longer to finish than the usual except at the first three kilometers which seemed we passed by so quickly. Somehow the 30th kilometer was the lengthiest kilometer to reach. By the time I was at the last 7 kilometers I was struggling with my calves threatening to freeze with cramps, my feet were aching and my thigh wouldn’t want to budge further. I was walking most of the way from then on. The sun had already risen up and was beaming hotly on us as we were negotiating the length of Roxas Boulevard towards Luneta and back to PICC. My Fila Skele-toe shoes which I wore at Milo Marathon and Addidas KOTR, which I believe gave me then speed and more feel of the ground for control, had now become my scourge and betrayed my feet. The area around the ball and arch of my feet was being beaten up as the impact of the ground becomes most palpable. The blister that I read once in a review of these accursed pair of shoes finally reared its head. To fix my dire situation, I tried running barefooted but after a couple of meters I decided against it and resumed my torturous journey.

In the last few meters, reality was still being processed slowly.  I couldn’t believe I would actually shatter what I previously feared would be way too much for me to hope for to accomplished. Of course my finish time of 6:37 was something not to crow about. With an average of 9 minutes per kilometer, it was still way to slow. I will have to do something about that later. I finished about 1,700 ++ place with still a good over 200 others behind me. But this is not the worst yet to happen to me after that lovely feeling of accomplishing a great feat. At home as I showered my crotch area was aflame with chafe.  Next time I would not probably be going for a running tight for long distance run.

Two days later I felt I could already run a few laps around the school campus for recovery run but I decided to give myself a week rest before hitting the pavement again in preparation for a 25k run two weeks after my first full marathon.  With the Full marathon experience a whole new possibilities seem to be unfolding. This is because I broke  a limit.546850_10151233125091865_39153690_n