Making It To Mactan Via Marathon

Peewee and I were about to hit the 1,237 meter long formerly Consolacion Bridge now Marcelo Fernan Bridge, which will take us to Lapu Lapu City in the island of Mactan, Cebu.  I told Peewee that contrary to popular knowledge, when the Portuguese then working for the Spanish Crown Ferdinand Magellan hit the beach of Mactan to Confront Lapu-Lapu, this Mactan chief was not at all the virile fierce looking and mascular young man the statues depicted him to be. According to historian Danilo Gerona the Portuguese Gaspar Correa obtain reports from the survivors of the Magellan expedition describing Lapu-Lapu as “Viejo” which means an age between 60 to 70 years old. Peewee was of course surprised to hear this since like everyone else who look upon Lapu Lapu as precursor to all subsequent nationalistic resistance to colonial incursion to the Philippines in an image more ideally and closer to myth.

Soon we were climbing the uphill portion of the bridge. I couldn’t contain my excitement as I finally got my chance to run at this bridge inaugurated in 1999 which before I only get to admire from the older Osmeña Bridge while walking on my way to Mandaue City. The experience of running along the bridge was enough to assuage my disappointment borne out of the postponement of the event, Boundless Pagudpud which was originally scheduled January 7, 2017 and where I was originally scheduled to run. Realizing that with only 16 of us participating in the event, Randy the organizer of BP saw that a better opportunity await him if he coincide BP with an international ultra marathon event, Philippinelauf organized by Thomas Durnborg of Germany happening on February 17-27, 2017 he quickly without consideration  to us participants ditch the January 7 implementation of the event Boundless Pagudpud and message us that we won’t either refund since the fee had already been committed to the souvenirs and finisher medals. The Philippinelauf is a 6-stage event that would cover the Ilocos Norte’s towns of Burgos, Bangui, Pagudpud and Adams.    The Pagudpud stage of Philippinelauf happening in February 25 is the one coinciding with Boundless Pagudpud. I was originally booked to fly to Laoag on January 6 and because I got the seat on a sale promo I could not cancel my flight booking. I could only however change the destination. It just so happen that the event, Cebu City Marathon was slated on January 8, 2017.  Thus this was how I ended up in Cebu 3 weeks earlier from my other Mactan run scheduled in January 28, 2017.

I thought after my participation at Cebu City Marathon in 2015 I won’t anymore be participating in any CCM in some conceivable future time.  The last time was a bit of disappointment for me. Thinking CCM was the most anticipated event in Cebu I expected it to be big in a lot of ways.  In its current 10th year the organizers of CCM tried to introduce some changes. Compared to 2015’s medal design, the current design was way larger although the medal size for all the different categories should have been different. The medal should also contain distance finished. The finisher shirt I had before after washing lost its prints. The race route was also different from the past events. Instead of taking runners to Talisay the route took runners across three cities namely Cebu City, Mandaue City and to Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan. However the race route leading to Mactan was also the road taken by those going to the airport and northern portion of Cebu. Those that got caught in the traffic jam were of course not way too happy about this change in the usual route.

The race route began at Ayala’s Cebu Business Park, a couple of blocks away from Ayala Terraces. It was actually a bit quieter portion of the district with too little people venturing the area. Even the Mercanto, a night food bazaar set up near the event was not attracting patron and had to close up before CCM actually began missing entirely the opportunity to have hungry runners indulge themselves on the different food offered by the bazaar.  All the while I was thinking I.T. Park near Salinas Drive was still the event’s venue. I was ideal event venue since it has lots of establishments catering to the numerous BPO offices in the area.  I actually just stumbled upon the current event’s start/finish area by accident when while I was walking I was searching for an easier way to get back to my hotel from Ayala Terraces. It turned out that the event venue was a mere 5-7 minute walk from my hotel located at Echavez Street.

From Cebu Business Park after the 3:00 am gun start runners proceeded to Cardinal Rosales and then to Mindanao Avenue before heading off to Juan Luna Avenue Extension. The weather that evening was cooler with a bit of raindrops coming down every once in a while. Storm Auring was brewing at the Caraga Region in north east of Mindanao and was affecting the weather in Cebu which was supposedly among the storm’s itinerary on its way to the western portion of the country. I was breaking in my Salomon Sonic Pro, which I got for a mere P1.00 from the Salomon Store buy 1 take 1 for P1.00 Promo. One problem I always encounter when buying running shoes is that I couldn’t get the proper size for me. The Salomon Sonic Pro size 10 US seem to be a bit large for me and I was worried it might slip away from my feet. My other shoes Zoot Kalani 3.0, which I was also breaking in by wearing it coming to Cebu and walking around it seemed too small for size 9.5.

After Juan Luna Avenue Extension we crossed an intersection and found ourselves along Salinas Drive before turning left to Gorordo Avenue. I observed that the route we had run at was slightly uphill. At the Aid Station I caught up with the Paddler Dana whom I first met at Tagaytay to Nasugbu run. Her fellow paddler Mark whom I met at Antique Marathon was still far behind Dana.  From Gorordo Avenue we turned right to Escario heading off towards Cebu Provincial Capitol before turning left to Jones Avenue. I noticed compared to CCM 2015 the Sinulog theme revelries in the current event were not as pronounced. Back in CCM 2015 in almost every Aid Stations and crucial spots you either hear the popular Sinulog music playing in the background on large speakers. There were street dancers regaling runners to the beat of drums playing. In the current event we only saw a semblance of these along Salinas Drive and in Plaridel Street near Mactan Bridge.    Upon hitting Fuente Osmeña Circle runners ran towards the extension of Jones Avenue before turning left to Pantaleon Del Rosario and the U-turn at Imus Avenue. Around this area I caught up with Peewee. Running along him was Joel who organized the event, Run for Rogel where I got my taste of endurance running. The event Run for Rogel had runners run 40 kilometers around a 2.5 kilometers route at Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Joel actually was off seasoned for almost a year and had just return to running at the event, Hero to Hero held last December 29-30, 2016. Peewee was aiming to finish the race sub 6 which I was also aiming to accomplish after being encourage with my establishing a PR at Hero to Hero. Running at the other side of the road going towards the U-turn we saw Ann with her another Mark who also ran both Run for Rogel and Hero to Hero. Rogel was a runner who got hit by a vehicle while running in the event UP to UP. The Run for Rogel was for the financial assistance needed for operation and rehabilitation.

Soon Peewee made his move and careened away. I only got to chase after him when Joel complaint of some issue around his knee area and couldn’t proceed in a faster pace. I took this as signal for me to go ahead and left Joel.  He would be finishing later with the Team Cabalen who started strongly ahead of us but lost steam about 10 kilometers before the finish area.  The trip along Jones Avenue going back to Escario was once again uphill. But I took the uphill running and was surprised I was running even faster than I usually do on uphill. I caught up once again with Peewee. We were again retracing our previous path going back to Juan Luna Street. Juan Luna this time was downhill so just like at the downhill after UP Los Baños in Rizal Day Hero to Hero held last December 29-30, 2016 I took advantage of the downhill to gain some speed leaving behind Peewee. The route took the runners all the way to SM Cebu near the Port Area. After hydrating themselves at the Aid Station there runners ran to the left to Osmeña Boulevard. In Cebu City Marathon 2015 the race route brought the participants to lots of interesting sights that included Colon District which is considered the oldest city in the Philippines, Sto. Niño Church, Fort San Pedro, Cebu South Road and SM Seaside Mall among others. Unlike this year’s, which seem to have as the event’s logo shows the Marcelo Fernan Bridge as the main highlight. This was as if the event took cue from the Penang Bridge International Marathon. The route to the bridge was a reclaimed portion and had nothing yet remarkable sights that could be cited along the way.  Although way back when I was still with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, I heard of talks of putting up a Maritime Museum at the port area that would house galleon ships and preserved shipwrecks. I have not heard since then of anything that resembled such being built in Cebu.

Osmeña Boulevard gave way to Ouano Avenue and soon passing by Parkmall. This area for me resembled the portion in Manila going to along Macapagal Boulevard.  By the time I was plying Jose Briones it was already daylight although an over cast one. After the Aid Station I am running on Plaridel Street initially worried that all those who were coming back at the other side of the road were mostly from 21k runners.  As I hit United Nation Avenue I was stunned when all of sudden someone pat me on my shoulder. It turned out it was Peewee. He finally caught up with me. Ahead of us we could already see Marcelo Fernan Bridge that will take us across Mactan Channel and into Mactan Island. The island whose name was probably derived from the word, “Mangati” or “Mangatag” which is connected with thieving activities or piracy which was the island was being identified was about at the time of Lapu Lapu.  Zubu or Sugbu which was the old name of Cebu was at that time a flourishing port village and served as the central market for domestic products such as cotton, slaves, gold, sugar and ginger from within island or with the neighboring friendly island. The Visayan “pintados” identified in the Boxer Codex were probably those hailing from Mactan that raided rich loaded ships bound for Cebu and kidnap crews for ransom. The raiding must have greatly affected Rajah Humabon’s business or clients and forced Humabon to solicit the service of Magellan to put a stop to this problem. While approaching the bridge we noticed that it was inclined uphill just as how I saw San Juanico Bridge while approaching it when I ran in the event, Tacloban City to Basey Samar last November 2016. After crossing the Marcelo Fernan Bridge we turned left along Old Patiller Road and into Manuel Quezon National Highway passing by the road that leads to Cebu International Airport, Mactan Marina Mall and Mactan Export Processing Zone. Traffic of vehicles were a bit heavy as we run along but as we run farther away heading for the Mactan Circumferential Road the traffic thinned. Soon we had our final U-turn and were on our way back. Only about 12 kilometers left before we could finally conclude this race. However, our quest to finish sub 6 might be in peril since both Peewee and I were getting exhausted already that we had to do more run walk. At the other side of the road just heading for the U-turn I saw Jez, a Cebu based runner whom I ran along with in Trans Cebu Ultramarathon in 2015 and in Bohol Marathon 2016. While at the Marcelo Fernan Bridge coming from the opposite side were triathletes Julie and Nheng whom I met at Corregidor Marathon about same time last year. Julie was suffering from a foot injury otherwise she would be farther ahead of me. Another runner we met coming at the opposite lane was Magina who usually was faster than I am but currently lagging. She had not run since November 2016 at Lahar (volcanic discharged sand) trail Clark-Miyamit 50. I thought to myself that in spite of how we were doing we were not doing quite badly after all.  In fact to my great surprise, upon approaching the finish line I saw that there were still a few minutes still left before the 6th hour. I ended up with an official time of 5:54:45 about 3 minutes faster than my 40th Milo Marathon finish.   I was hoping this will have bearing on my return run to Mactan on January 28, 2017 for the Speed 50-Mactan where I am aiming for a sub-8 finish for 50 kilometers. Who knows I might be encouraged to try to redeem myself after my failed performance in Trans Cebu Ultramarathon under the 105 kilometer last year.

 

 

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Before The Year Runs Out A Number Of Things To Run By

With the last run of the year, Hero To Hero, held December 30, 2016 organized by Run Mania Philippines Promotion Incorporated done, I bade 2016 goodbye with the reporting of the following running accomplishments for this year. This 2016 I had a total distance run in various events of about 1,785 kilometers as against 2015’s 1,858 kilometers which give me 75 kilometers short from last year’s. Compare to 2015’s 13 marathon events participated I only had 10 this year although it is still better from 2014’s 6. Instead I had more half marathon this year with 11 compare to last year’s 4. I participated in 12 ultramarathon events this year, which included 2 successful finished in 100+ kilometers distance event.  Last year I had 16 ultramarathon participations with 87 kilometers as the farthest distance ran after I failed to accomplish my first 100+ kilometers attempt in Ilocos. From this year’s 12 ultra only 5 were 50 kilometers distance while the previous year I figured in 11 50 k distance events.   In 2014 I joined only 8 ultramarathon events with 2 almost back to back 60 kilometers as the farthest distance ran. This was already a feat considering I just started running ultramarathon in December of 2013.  I had 3 DNFs this year whereas last year 2, however, the 2014 was the worst with 4 DNFs that almost came one after the other. That because I had Plantar Fascitiis back then that only recovered by October 2014 as a result by 2015 I had foot pain issues which might still be attributed to that previous ailment or develop out from it. This foot issue kind of slowed my pace down.  By 2016 that foot pain issue was completely forgotten. However, after running 80 kilometers in the event, Smart Mayon 360 in April I began to suffer acid reflux that was causing my chest area to experience pain. I figured that if I start slow the tightening feeling in my chest disappear after about 2 kilometers. I hope by 2017 this too becomes a thing of the past.

 

This year my running was able to have me traveling farther than the usual Southern Tagalog and Cordillera Administrative Region. I was able to run 9 destinations including 1 international venue as opposed to last year’s only 5 outside Metro Manila and its immediate provincial vicinities. The places reached were Albay, Antique, Batanes, Bohol, Catanduanes, Cebu, Laoag, Tacloban and Singapore. In 2015 I had seen the crater of Mt. Pinatubo when I ran in the event, Mt. Pinatubo Ultramarathon. Running this year in one of the trail event, it was the Taal Volcano’s crater that I got to see. My trail running experiences this year even out last year’s 7 with The North Face Run as the longest distance for both years. In 2015 I ran in total of 43 run events which was similar to this year’s 43 but if I will include the two run events I missed because of rain which were the events, UP to UP 80k Ultramarathon and Orani Half Marathon, plus another run event that happened during around Independence day that I forgot I registered at and the recent Lining Half Marathon event then I top 2015 with the number of run events participated at. I even had 3 weeks of off season in the month of March of this year. The best news however was that in the event, Hero to Hero 50k Ultramarathon in spite of the rains and uphill encountered I managed to established a new personal best with a finish time of 7 hours and 20 minutes about an hour faster than last year’s 8 hours and 2 minutes record which happened  in December 29-30, 2015.

 

I noticed that my ultramarathons were spaced out with each other almost 2 to 3 weeks apart unlike the previous year which I ran ultramarathon almost every week. Does the finding suggest that the reason I probably had success with my bid for the 100+ kilometers distance was due to my having enough time to recover from the previous ultra? Should this be my strategy if I want to attain more successful 100+ kilometer distance? I usually participate in run event without regard whether the current run would have bearing on my next farthest distance bid. I join a certain run event because first I am interested to visit the venue the event may be happening at. Sometimes the event is a must try because of certain popularity it attained from among the runners because perhaps the challenges it pose. I also try to shop around for race organized by race directors which have obtain following from their respective local circle who can present a viable alternative to those that had yearly churned out events. I also look at the kind of loot given by race events. Currently, I am on a hunt to achieve my goal of reaching the 100th marathon. So far mine is at 33rd.  After running at Manila to Sierra last December 18, 2016 I realized that I might be able to achieve more 100 plus kilometer distance races that’s why I am counting on more of my participation at 100 kilometers distance event next year. Maybe next year also would begin my Road to Bataan Death March 102. I was planning to cut down on my participation in events though to lessen my expenditures. Probably avoid running in many of the more commercial run events like those of Run United. But I am still wishing I could finally run in places like Palawan, Bacolod and Pagudpud among other places locally.

 

What I talk About After Reading, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” By Haruki Murakami While Taking TransCebu 105 Ultramarathon The 2nd Time.

As someone who is very much interested in running and writing his thoughts on paper I automatically picked up at the bookstore the book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami. As I began to read a few pages I learned that at his peak at the age of late 40s Murakami normally finishes a full marathon with an average time of three hours and a half – that is the Milo National Marathon Finals Qualifier time for 18-33 years old. By the time he finished his running memoir in 2007 he was 58 years old, still runs an average of 186 miles a week and finishes marathon at four hours.  He was not quite happy about the latter of course. Comparing that with myself, I normally and dismally finish marathons at about six hours and a half. Mind you, these were on good days. Sometimes I hit six hour and forty five to seven when I am with another runner who was probably doing a lot worse than I am. When I managed to finish two five hours and forty minutes at Milo National Marathon and at the event, Yes To Fitness Run it was like an historic moment for me and therefore quite ecstatic with the achievement that I dare not ruin it by incurring a much slower time the next time, so I don’t anymore join the same two race events again. So, what could be my reaction to Murakami’s marathon finish time? Of course, I thought, “Wow! Can you believe this guy?” He’s a very accomplished fiction writer after all.

 

He began his running career when he was thirty three at the same time he began writing novels. The two actually feed each other in Murakami’s case and as a result he is quite accomplished in both.  I am forty six years old, lately I couldn’t barely finish 2 kilometers run a day because I would rather go back to sleep or view posts at FB at the time in the morning I assigned for myself my running time. So, yeah! I cannot see myself in Murakami’s shoes or even graced by his shadow in terms of discipline in trying to attain a certain degree of perfection at this chosen passion called running. I am instead quite satisfied in seeing myself cross the finish arch no matter how long it took me and in what manner of ranking I managed to end up with. As a result of my haphazard approach to training, I took a beating in the form of compiling DNFs just as what happened with me with my second take last July 23-24, 2016 of the Trans Cebu Ultramarathon where I signed up as one of the 71 participants of the 105 kilometers category.

 

If only I stuck to my words or to what I can actually do more comfortably, I wouldn’t bother trying to enlist myself to a race that runs a hundred kilometers or more. So far, I managed not to be tempted to send a letter of intent to Baldrunner to signify my interest to join BDM 102. I also snubbed the 120 kilometers Bonifacio Ultra event by Run Mania that my peers were able to successfully finished. But last year I couldn’t resist trying the 105 kilometers Tarayem Sasanggasot mainly for the reason that I am tracing a line which I hope would include Laoag to Vigan and connect them with the other places in Luzon that I had already run at. It would have been fabulous if I had actually finished the race and not something that had left a bitter taste and a cursed thirst for revenge. Now, I did it again. I was already happy that last year I survived to see the finish banner of one of the most difficult run event in the country, the Trans Cebu Ultramarathon where I signed up under 55 kilometers. I could have moved on and put this experience behind me. After all who wants to relive a nightmare? I got my finisher’s loot that I could view until I reduced them to dust. I could gloat as much as I wanted for the rest of my life for the successful finish which was quite a feat already. But like most of the tragic heroes of the Greek mythology I was fooled by fate or hubris into another adventure which turned out to be actually right through the Strait of Messina between Scylla and Charybdis. I signed up under the 105 kilometer with the confidence I will not go home in shame. I don’t know if it was just a reason I invented for myself or actually real that the true reason I signed up was because a fellow runner wanted to experience Trans Cebu Ultra and I volunteered to accompany him on his epic voyage while I try to make TCU my coming out moment into the 100 and plus kilometers distance run once I conquer the event. What could possibly go wrong with my decision to enlist this year when I already conquered the most difficult portion of the 105 kilometers which happened to be the second half, the same race route of the 55k category that I ran the year before?   It turned out everything. First my companion didn’t sign up for the race. Then upon arriving in Cebu since I was way too early and would therefore not be allowed yet to check in to my hotel accommodation, I tried to waste away the time by walking from Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan going to Cebu City which was about 10 kilometers. Later in the afternoon from the hotel I walked again to Ayala Terraces Mall and wandered about until I tired myself. The following day was more walking since I don’t have other places to go except to wait for the afternoon race briefing. The race briefing was located at Busay Multi-Purpose Hall 3 kilometers of uphill from Lahug Public Market which once again I walked to get to. In short even before the race started later in the evening I was actually beat.

 

I was grateful that the event had less acquaintance of mine running except for Magina and Joe whom I previously met at the events 2nd Puerto Galera Ultra and 3rd Taal Volcano Island 25k Trail Run. It was bit easier for me to make my decision that would only allow me to reach the 62nd kilometer of the race. The race participated by about 13 foreigners in the 105k and 7 in the 55k started at the City Hall of City of Naga, Cebu 23 kilometers from Cebu City at 10:00 pm.  I started out quite well without being bothered by chest compressions I complained in my other runs but just the same I tried to have my pace a bit slow so that I could acclimate my body with the activity. I ran the flat but winding paved road thinking I was at the middle of the pack of runners. However, when my headlamp did not function and I got irked I stopped to have a look at what was wrong with it. It turned out the battery was simply placed at the wrong end of the polarity. By the time I got back to the road I was passing by stationary motorbike riding marshals which got me into thinking there were still indeed other runners behind me. At around the 10th kilometer I learned that I was the 61st runner to have passed the AS. The news came as a shock as I didn’t saw that many runners pass me by but then again when I stopped I couldn’t see the right side of the road which was not lighted well. When I resumed my run I suddenly felt my legs becoming heavier and was having difficulty maintaining running so I resorted to what would have Murakami condemn me in hell for, I walked. It was becoming apparent with me that I was experiencing fatigue at this early juncture of the race. Somewhere at the middle of the 20th kilometer I passed by four runners who were sleeping at the porch of a sari-sari store. I even got to overtake another runner in spite of my pace. I thought I had covered so much already that when I reached an Aid Station located in Toledo City I thought it was the 40th kilometers already. It turned out it was just the 33rd. My spirit dropped and my exhaustion fed my frustration. At that time I was no longer convinced I could finish the first 50 kilometers in 6 and a half hours as distance seem to dragged on. I reached the 49th kilometers in Balamban which double as the drop bag area for the 105k runners and starting area for the 55k which had just gotten out as I was coming in. My time was 8 hours and a half. I learned that one of the foreign participants of the 105k had dropped the race upon reaching Balamban. Another one, a young runner of 18 from Samar had quitted the race at kilometer 33. At this point I was still pretty much hopeful of finishing the race as I saw there were other runners from the 105k that had not left the area yet, while there were those who were just arriving. But as I left Balamban and hit the road I felt the sun was pouring its searing hot rays upon the road like it was angry or something. I have not made it yet to about 500 meters and already I felt tapped out. I tried to quench the fatigue with liquids from the stores along the way but nothing seem to wear the feeling off. I thought to myself I made it out of Mayon 360 without surrendering to the hot temperature surely this heat could also be surmountable. The route was basically rolling. Each uphill I encounter was sapping me out of my precious resolve to go on. Other runners were beginning to appear from behind me. They were actually encouraging me to go on when at some point I mentioned I might not be able to finish the race. Then when I managed to gather the five of them up in a waiting shed I had groupie shot with them with my phone camera. This was my first time to bring along a “selfie stick” to hold my cellular phone so I can take photos with it. My original plan was to document this portion of the race. It turned out that the two photographs and a couple of selfies along the road were my only proof I ran in this event. On the way to Canson X Resort probably the 57th kilometer there was a good Samaritan from the resort who handed out cold water to drink. Another runner from behind me caught up with us. The time at this point was nearing 10:00 in the morning. I remember taking this portion last year at around 7:30 am. This uphill led to another series of uphill which had the view of the sea and Negros Island at the backdrop. This then lead to a DPWH Station that doubled as Aid Station. I was taking this road on an inch by inch pace so, I calculated that even if I managed to push myself to go on beyond this portion I might finish the race beyond the cut-off time of 24 hours. But even this would not be bad. What actually made me accepted my fate that quitting was inevitable was that I know how difficult the remaining route was. I was trying to match the other uphill with what I felt my body was giving at that time and it was a resounding mismatch. At that point I was just trying to get to the DPWH Station so that I can formally retire from the race, have refreshments and get picked up by the organizer. However, upon reaching the Station there were no refreshments left, the only person waiting there was the Station’s keeper and worst, no possible pick up since the organizers couldn’t be contacted with except by sending SMS message. Even quitting was not given to me on a silver platter. I spotted another runner approaching the Station. Together we tried to make it to the 62nd kilometers where another Aid Station awaits. It was the Aid Station at the mouth of a detour that would take runners to the site of the plane crash where President Magsaysay died. The temperature dropped a bit and even threatened to rain. I felt that I was being lured to abandon my desire to quit the race even though I already sent a message that I was quitting and I was at the DPWH Station.  After all if it took me 11 hours to reach the 60 kilometers 13 hours to accomplish the remaining 45 kilometers may still prove to be viable. About 500 meters before reaching the 62nd kilometers rescue came in the guise of a white van. I leaped for joy when I saw it and quickly ran to it leaving behind the other runner. At about 1:00 pm I was at the finish area at Busay Multi-purpose Hall having lunch. The agony of defeat would have been lessen if only I had a chance to leave the venue early but I was not spared of the humiliation of seeing almost everyone finish the race and being seen by them because my baggage was not yet brought back to the finish area until the late afternoon, a sort of adding salt to injury.

 

In spite of my quite a pole away from Murakami’s running accomplishments I still felt a certain kinship with him. I also view running as a metaphor of life. My failures at finishing a race were much similar with how it is with my life. I am not as accomplished as Murakami. I fail a great deal yet I never allow these failures to discourage me from joining another event. The same thing I told the young runner from Samar who quitted ahead of me and whom I road with at the van. He was so angry with his quitting that he said he doesn’t want to run anymore. He is just 18 year old.  A whole life is still ahead of him.   I couldn’t beat Murakami’s finish time even if at the present at his age of 67 if he still does runs he could still make me eat his dust. However, I can still top his probably around 34 marathon finish medals which he earned with his 1 marathon a year. In spite of being slow I currently have 27 marathon finish medals tucked under my belly, I mean belt, which means 27 successful tries. I may not be as good as Murakami but in my own struggles I still do prevail. That I think is the more important aspect of running a marathon. Come the following week I will again attempt to capture a medal in the 40th National Milo Marathon which I tried to avoid joining because of the cut-off time of 6 hours. But if I did it once maybe I can still do it again so that this could assuage my defeat at TCU105 which I was promising I would not return to again.

 

OSIM Sundown Marathon: My Second Singapore Sojourn

My setting foot in Singapore as a participant of OSIM Sundown Marathon last May 27, 2016 was like the first time man set foot on the moon. I felt overwhelmed, awed and excited since this was my farthest destination reached due to participating run event. What could possibly spoil this momentous opportunity for me? For one thing when I arrived in Singapore a day earlier of the event, I spent most of my day walking. I was searching for the race event venue which was at F1 Pit Building. I could not find the place in any Singapore map I looked until I chance upon the place after going around the Marina Bay area of Singapore and drifted towards the huge ferris wheel where there seem to be something being prepared. This ferris wheel called Singapore Flyer was a more prominent landmark and could have been more effective if this was mentioned along with the F1 Pit Building which I learned was actually referring to the Formula 1 racing car circuit, “duh”, but might not be familiar to some foreigner like me. Even in the official race map the symbol of the ferris wheel was the one used to indicate the start and finish of the event not a race circuit symbol. As a result on the day of the marathon itself, which was on the 29th of May, minutes before gun start 37 minutes after midnight, I was actually feeling tired already. I did not regret the walking though. When I first came to Singapore 14 years ago I was only confined to the Queens Street, Victoria Street, Raffles Landing Site and Orchard Road. In my current search for the race event venue I was able to see a lot of sites. Along the Marina area there were the popular tourist attraction Merlion Statue near Fullerton Road. Then the following: Esplanade Theater on the Bay, Art and Science Museum, Garden By The Bay and Sands. I was able to walk through a lot of shopping malls and hotels such as Conrad International Centennial, Centennial Tower, Millenial Walk, Marina Mandarin, Suntec City, Marina Square and Raffles City. While I found myself in the familiar area of Fort Canning Park I tried to seek out for the MPH bookstore, which use to be ensconced around Armenian Street but instead got lost along the parallel streets and concluded that it might had been replaced already by a café or restaurant which I couldn’t place seeing before. Upon returning to my hotel along Beach Road I figured I can’t go walking to the race venue passing all the above sites so I tried to seek a much easier route and found the left shoulder of Ophir Fly-over. Never mind that it was actually a bike lane and a sign with a symbol of a walking man with slash across it might mean no pedestrian I still used it to make it to the venue in about 10 minutes. Finally, I explored the Arab Street, which was just in front of my hotel and saw the Sultan’s Mosque along Bussorah Street. All these walking were very enriching for me.

 

When my wave finally was released after a 939 second delay from the containment area at 12:37 am I could not accelerate beyond the fast walk I was making. It was good thing though that the path the runners were taking was actually bit narrower for the 5,600 + runners. So, I was not the only one that had resorted to walking at this early juncture of the race. At the 3rd kilometers we were climbing the Benjamin Sheares Flyover. Along this portion I saw a runner wearing a Team Cabalen Jersey and I assumed immediately that a running acquaintance of mine, Noel maybe close by. I approached the runner and told him casually that it was like running the Kalayaan Bridge all over referring to our climb of Sheares Flyover. Kalayaan Bridge is the bridge that connects BGC, Taguig with Makati, which in many run events in Manila usually cross. He must have been surprised but he didn’t show it. Then asked him about where Noel was. He told me he was up ahead. So, I tried to dash ahead. By this time I had gain a certain degree of stamina and was no longer struggling with the slight pained chest I initially was feeling at the start of the run. The downhill slope of the flyover was a lot steeper.   I espied another runner wearing the luminous orange edition of The Bull Run jersey an indication he was probably another Pinoy. Actually at the containment area at the F1 Pit I saw a runner wearing the Rizal Mountain Run jersey talking to another runner but I couldn’t hear whether they were talking in Filipino. Trying to listen in to conversation to determine whether they were Filipino became a sort of pastime for me during the run to keep my mind occupied and ignore the hot and humid temperature during the duration of the run.

 

At the 6th kilometer we found ourselves heading the direction of Changi via East Coast Parkway we turned left to Fort Road and then right along the ECP Service Road. Soon we were entering Katong Park and were running along the much narrower path near the coast heading towards our U-turn at National Sailing Resort and Country Club after a Lagoon. I noticed that the hydration we managed to stop by about every 3.5 kilometers intervals served warm water. This occasion is when you suddenly began to appreciate the run events of Rio Dela Cruz which does not fail to have ice to cool the water they serve in spite of complaint that his race were getting expensive and flawed here and there. This portion of the run which almost where the 18th kilometer of the race was spent was somewhat boring. Although you got a animated young marshals egging runners to go on in their almost unrecognizable English you also get a glimpse of the coast but there was not much to see since its night time except sometimes the other faster runners ahead running the parallel path who were already returning or the much slower paced runners whom you were bumping along after you reach a u-turn. The path as I mentioned was narrower so you either go along with the slower runner or if you try to run faster you will soon hit a portion that you will have to weave your way around other runners and thus slows you down as well. No one was actually following the early announcement that slower runner occupy the right side so that faster runner can pass at the left. One lady runner reprimanded me for not taking the right side when she was passing me. I don’t know though if I was the only one she barked at.

 

Initially I thought I was slow with my 8 minutes per kilometers but I soon caught up with the 6 hours pacers and for a moment was keeping pace with them. I wanted to finish about that time or earlier so that I would have enough time for the buffet breakfast at the hotel before I checked out and try to get to the airport by 9:00 am since my flight was scheduled at 10:30 am. But soon I couldn’t hang on with the pacers and was falling behind them. Upon returning after the U-turn I noticed there were a lot of runners who were walking. I thought only in the Philippines where there were a lot of walkers. I got this impression that in other countries most of the participants were averaging 4 to 5 hours in finishing marathon. In one study I saw posted in Facebook that in spite of the number of marathon held in the Philippines the Filipinos were supposedly the slowest marathon runners averaging 6 to 6 and a half in finishing a full marathon. Now I know the Filipino was no different from the runners I was seeing in OSIM Sundown Marathon. After exiting the Katong Park we hit upon the road that kind of remind me of the J. Diokno Boulevard, which was the road near SM Mall of Asia that crosses a bridge heading towards the Senate Building only the one we were running on was much longer while J. Diokno Boulevard was about a little less than 2 kilometers. While running along Diokno Boulevard ahead you can see the ferris wheel near Boom Na Boom also much like the one that I saw on the way back towards the Singapore Flyer. We exited the ECP at the 29th kilometers and were soon crossing the Marina Bay Golf Course which was literally since they laid a plank over the lawn portion of the golf course. We hit upon the path lying below a fly-over and were heading towards the Marina area. Across the bay, which kind of remind me of Escolta, you can see the Singapore Flyer, Esplanade, Sands and Art and Science Museum, almost within reach but the remaining kilometers does not agree with. This tells you that although the finish line seems near the way to get across was farther. I looked ahead and notice that we will probably cross what at that point appeared to me a bridge that kind of remind me of Del Pan Bridge. But upon arriving at that point it was the Marina Reservoir, marking the 37th kilometers. Food was being given around which was timely since I was already feeling hungry and empty already. After crossing it we were heading to the Marina Barrage. It was a circular uphill path and upon reaching to top there’s the breath taking view of the sea and the city behind. Upon descending we hit the road leading to the Garden By The Bay. At this point rain began to pelt but it was just to douse us for it soon faded away leaving behind what now became familiar hot and humid air we been having the whole time. We were down to about 4 more kilometers before finishing the race. The sun had come up and I was pretty much sure of my skipping breakfast. I hit Bayfront Avenue Bridge and then The Float. 500 meters more to go so I gave my all and dashed for a strong finish. Photographers were firing shot as I approached the finish arch. I finished the race with a time of 6:35 and ranked 3652 from the 5336 other runners 43% of which were foreigners. Running the OSIM Sundown Marathon was not as I imagined it would be. I wanted to get intimately familiar with Singapore through its streets but the route did not brought me to the other part of Singapore like its busy commercial streets and other place of interest. Maybe it was because it was dark when I ran. I thought maybe the Standard Charter Marathon would be much promising. At least now I know I might still be going back to Singapore for another run.

Batanes Winter Marathon: A Dream Marathon Come Into Being

A year ago I played with a thought of having a marathon staged in Batanes after noticing that a round trip around most of the tourist destination spots in Basco would total in a distance of a full marathon. Then ho and behold, Batanes Winter Marathon was all of a sudden was being heralded in Facebook.  I was among the first to register and eventually among the few to actually make it to the event, which happened on February 21, 2016. The event organized by Runs and Raves and headed by Heidi Guevara was probably one of the most anticipated events since last August of 2015. It even earned intrigue and ire from among the impatient registrants and those who were trying to be part of the event due to almost nil information and update long after registration fees were deposited to the organizer’s account.  People began to doubt whether the whole event was just an elaborate scam or hoax to cough up cash from gullible or eager runners. Having booked a two-way flight to Basco at PAL quite earlier I couldn’t afford to lose faith to the organizer who I knew was a close friend of the Team Malaya gang whom mostly are God fearing people. And so when finally instructions and information such as race route and Skyjet Airline booking procedure began coming out again in FB, I knew there was nothing could anymore keep this dream marathon from finally becoming a reality.

 

The event had 3 race categories namely: 10k, 21k and 42k. From the list of participants I saw that the event was a sort of reunion of runners who had run in Team Malaya’s 1st Cordillera series. This only goes to show that Heidi has warm bodies willing to take her words on faith that BWM will take place. The other participants hailed from Japan, Korea, a participant from Surigao and an Ivatan that is currently staying in Singapore.  Most of the participants availed the Skyjet promo fare for the event and arrived 2 days earlier of the event, which the participants use for the tour of Batan and Sabtang islands of Batanes. I arrived the following day and headed straight to a fully airconditioned room fitted with hot bath, cabled LED TV and WIFI carrying Midtown Inn where I shared accommodation with Lyndon, Victor and Alberto whom upon my arrival were touring Sabtang Island.

 

The race started at 6:05 am at kilometer 0 located at Rizal Park. The morning was pretty much as the event was described, which was very cold. According to Francisco Datar through the NCCA website, Batanes has three season namely: Rayun or summer which lasted from March to May, Amian or winter which lasts from November to February and Kachachimuyen or the rainy months which was usually the rest of the remaining months of the year. There are brief spell of warm weather (dekey a rayum) in the two weeks between September and October.  But since everyone was excited and raring to go to intimately get to know Batanes, in the wise words of Elsa, the cold did not bothered anyone anyway. We took off and proceeded along the National Road passing by my last year’s accommodation Shanedel’s Inn on the direction southward. I was hoping the race would also have us doing u-turn at Naidi Lighthouse but that would entail additional distance to the already 45 kilometers distance. Lyndon bargained a 11 hours cut off time from the original 9 hours to allow the non-Ivatan participants enough time to do “selfies” along the scenic spots along the way, which was literally the whole route. Heidi was generous enough to concede to the request so Lyndon, Victor, Alberto, Albert (who just a week ago shadowed me on his bike at Batangas to Quezon Ultramarathon) and I were pacing to about 10 minutes to a kilometer, which obviously put us to what we thought to be the last place. It turned out there was another runner behind us, Miguel Paolo who caught up with us.

 

The first town along our race route, Mahatao lies 6 kilometers away. To get there we encountered uphill with a command view at our right side of the rough sea crashing at the jagged coastline and the view of the Basco Port farther right behind. From the onset we know the day would be a bit cloudy and felt sorry for the group of elders we had breakfast with that their trip to Sabtang Island might not push through.  Midway the uphill we encountered K.C., Roselyn and another runner. We did a usual “groupie” photographs with them. Then they took off and we never caught up with them again. Downhill before entering Mahatao one get to see the Mahatao Boat Shelter Port below the National Road. Entering the Town of Mahatao the 21k runners who also started with the 42k runners made their detour going in land by turning left. The 42k continued following the National Road passing by the Municipal Building and San Carlos Boromeo Church. Another runner Jun joined us who mistakenly followed the 21k when they turned left.  About 8 kilometers from Mahatao is Ivana but before getting there we passed by Mandangeb Beach around this area we saw again the group of elders we had breakfast with this morning and indeed their trip to Sabtang had been cancelled due to rough sea. They cheered us as we passed by them.  Boats heading off to Sabtang Island were launched in Radiwan Port in Ivana.  At around the 18th kilometer or 4 kilometers from Ivana lies Uyugan the farthest place I got from my previous year’s visit. The coast here was even lovelier with water so clear. From my vantage point it seems the water was not even knee high until you got farther away were the water smashes among the rocks acting like sentries.  An Aid Station welcomed us and upon passing by the town we had “groupie” shot with the local police.

 

Soon we were again climbing uphill with wind blowing so strong towards us. I had to take off my cap to prevent it from being blown away. Along the way sitting at a makeshift viewing deck, we saw a female runner resting. I don’t know whether she was suffering from something or her stamina had been snuffed out after sprinting most of the way. When we passed by her we invited her to join us. Our band grew a little larger while our confidence even more for even though we were taking our sweet time we seem to be just a little behind the other runners. Later at the 20th kilometer was an Aid Station we heard that a couple of Navy participants all of a sudden dropped the race.  The view of mountains, which could be ideal for trail running and the coast at our right side that we were being confronted with were simply breath taking. One of the interesting sites was the bending road in Alapad with a huge rock that had been split to have the road passing through it. This rock according to Runs and Raves FB was called Taruyen Nu Manuk or Crown of a Rooster. This was the only area were the road was not yet paved with cement.  Next we proceeded toward the ruined town of Song Song, which was ravaged by Tsunami in the 1950’s. The former inhabitants of the town were given relocation site in Mindanao! This was the period in our history when the settling of Mindanao by various people from all over the country was encouraged. The next town we ran into was Itbud, which lies at the 23rd kilometers and soon we were again running uphill.  Seen from below the road was the town of Imnajbu which was the site of the first mass in held Batanes. From here we began to run towards the direction of inland. The kilometer marker was telling us how far the town of Mahatao from where we were running. I was computing in my mind that if Mahatao was just 8 kilometers and from Mahatao 6 kilometers to the finish line thinking we will return to the national road on our return trip, then we were just about 14 kilometers away. But that would leave us with 7 to 8 kilometers of distance that could not be accounted for.

 

Another place I did not got a chance to see last year was the Malboro Country now we were standing on it and having our photograph taken. I believe in my first visit to Batanes some 20 years ago I got to see this place and probably even some of the southern portion of Batan, which we ran by after Uyugan. But I could not anymore recall any impression of it nor could even make sense of it if I even managed to find the negatives of the shots I took of Batanes way back then. After Malboro country we could already see the white ball shape PAG-ASA Station and Tayid Lighthouse although from our vantage point PAG-ASA seem so far still while nestling on top of a hill. Once again lots of uphill confronted us along the way. Another feature we soon having our photograph taken were the Great Wall of China-like paved road called Paywa and all around were rolling hills of greenery fenced with shrubs to keep the cattle boxed in or out. This is called Hades Changkang.  Harmon the motorcycle-riding photographer of the event was keeping us companied along the way at this point and was firing lots of photograph shots of us. He would have accompanied us until we reached the finish line if it were not for Jun who was the last man walking. Harmon shadowed him instead and the tasked of sweeping the road was added to his responsibilities.  We got to PAG-ASA Station where Naomi’s husband who ran in the 21k was waiting for her. We were told that we will not be passing by Pacita Fundacion, which could have made a wonderful background for photographs. However, it was almost all downhill to the finish line from there. This we know was figuratively but not necessarily literally. I said not literally all downhill since we still yet to encounter one uphill that seemed to appear intimidating. When we were scanning our path we saw couple of moving figures on top of one of the hills. And that hill from our vantage point was seemingly up so high. My spirit almost broke because I thought the incline heading there was so steep and winding. This road leads to the Japanese Cave which was another tourist destination that I almost forgot as part of the race route. However, while negotiating the road that was taking us to that point it was like a dog with a lot of bark than bite. Albert and I both summit the road first and likewise the first to face the steep downhill that ensued it. The road soon gave way to a cross road where the road leading to the right was the route to Vulugan Beach where the 10k and 21k runners were directed to take earlier. The left road led to the town. I thought there were still about 5 kilometers left before finishing the race. I was a bit worried that I will pay dearly for forgetting to refill my hydration bottle at the PAG-ASA Aid Station. So, I was looking for a convenient store to buy me a bottle of Gatorade. But it became apparent to me that we were actually heading towards the Airport Area passing by Lizardo Street. I knew that it would just be about 2 kilometers left to go. Albert dashed away while I followed him unable to catch up and overtake him. I finished with a time of about 7 hours and 43 minutes which was still quite fast in spite that we were supposedly taking the race at leisure pace. I learned that all the champions of the 3 categories were kin with the runner in the 10k as the father of the two male siblings. Jun crossed the finish last but was the one seemingly had the best finished with everyone cheering for him as if he was finishing for a podium finish.

 

With one dream marathon finally done it may not be too much to hope for turning Batanes Winter Marathon into Batanes Internation Winter Marathon, which is held annually. However slots for this event should remain limited to a less than a hundred participants. This is to ensure to keep Batanes pristine and unspoiled by too much tourist activities going on. With the limited slots available participants had to figuratively fight to get in.  High registration fee would be charge so that a portion of it would go to the local such as those that would have to give up touring activities for the period of the event because tours would have to be limited during the marathon period. Collaterals included in the loot bag should be informative while the medal and finisher shirt should be of international standard. Perhaps trail running is another event to consider. With these thoughts maybe the handling of the event should also be done by partnering with another bigger and more experience group to ensure that many of the problems encountered by the current organizers be avoided. Overview of Weather: January to Feb- “Amian” or Winter Season, coolest months brought by the Siberian Wind March to June (April & May-hottest months but could extend to June) July-August- Rainy September-little summer October- prelude to “Amian” season November and December- Amian-cool months

 

Overview of Weather: January to Feb- “Amian” or Winter Season, coolest months brought by the Siberian Wind March to June (April & May-hottest months but could extend to June) July-August- Rainy September-little summer October- prelude to “Amian” season November and December- Amian-cool monthsOverview of Weather: January to Feb- “Amian” or Winter Season, coolest months brought by the Siberian Wind March to June (April & May-hottest months but could extend to June) July-August- Rainy September-little summer October- prelude to “Amian” season November and December- Amian-cool months

My Days Of Running Are Numbered

Since the first run event I joined called, UST Unending Race, held inside of the University of Santo Tomas campus (which I had not gotten the race result for my first 5k run) in February 2010, 5 years had gone and in those time I had managed to run in 198 run events (8 5k, 41 10k, 1 12k, 5 15k, 15 16k, 1 18k, 68 21k, 1 22k, 2 24k, 5 25k, 3 30k, 5 32k, 1 34k, 1 36k, 17 42k, 10 50k and 4 60k). Taking home 17 finisher trophies (broke 1 already), 2 souvenir statues, 3 buckles, 134 finisher medals, 1 medallion and 1 medal an award for completing one season (composing of three run events) of trail running with a defunct race franchise. The estimated total distance covered in these events if added together is roughly 4,192 kilometers. With that distance I could have already run out and back from the northern most part of the Philippines to the southernmost portion since the total distance of the Philippines from north to south is only 1,850 kilometers while west to east 1,100 kilometers according to Jens Peters Lonely Planet: Philippines. Another way of putting it, the distance from California to New York is roughly 4,692.5 kilometers while the Pacific Crest Trail, which begins at the US-Mexico border to US-British Columbia border is 4,286 kilometers.

In the 5 years I had ran in various run events I have had 7 DNFs and some unaccounted numbers of races I DNS or did not started. Some of the reasons I remember why I did not showed up ranges from: I was suffering plantar fasciitis and was painful at that time; I was still tired from the previous run event I joined and couldn’t run on the following day race event; it was raining and I got lazy getting out of bed; there was a party or an office outing I chose to attend instead; I joined a triathlon event by mistake. I once had registered in an event twice one on-line while the other in store because I had forgotten I already did. I also had once registered in two events happening the same time because the one I preferred between the two had its registration a bit later. What did I do with the two previous race kits? I gave away the first one while I managed to sell the other. Then there was a time I registered in two events one happening in the morning while the other in the afternoon but I also registered in an event happening the day before the two events. I only managed to run in two.

Just for discussion sake, if each of those races I joined cost me P500.00 ($12.) then I already spent roughly P59,000.00 ($1,311.00). But it probably cost me even more if we compute the total cost using the actual registration price since an average 21k run now cost around P900.00 while marathon and ultramarathon events ranges between P1,000.00 to P2,500.00. I also need sometimes to book hotels and purchase airfare. There are prearranged shuttle that cost between P350.00 to P750.00 that I actually availed. Then there are food and drink expenses; and energy supplements to think of.

With these 198 run events I have gone around Metro Manila covering City of Manila Las Pinas City, Makati City, Mandaluyong, Muntinlupa, Paranaque City, Pasay City, Pasig City, Quezon City, Taguig City. My feet hit the pavements of the following roads: Buendia Boulevard, C-5 Road, Commonwealth Highway, EDSA Boulevard, Kalayaan Avenue, Lawton Avenue, Macapagal Avenue, NAIA Road, Ortigas Avenue, Roxas Boulevard and the whole of Skyway. Topping the list of venue that I had ran most in Metro Manila is Bonifacio Global City with close to 53 run events followed by Mall of Asia with 29 run events. Rizal Park either in front of the Rizal Statue or Grandstand garnered 12 run events I participated at and Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex with only 8.

While outside Metro Manila further north in the Cordillera Region, in Ifugao I had tasted of how it is to run among the rice paddies of Banaue, Batad and Hungduan with the Rice Terraces at the backdrop. In the Mountain Province I ran around Sagada but did not finish the whole race so, I am coming back for more. In Benguet, I reached the ridges of Apucao and the summit of Mt. Ugo in Itogon. While in Bokod, Mt. Purgatory along with 4 other mountains. In Baguio I got in so many places via run events than I did with my excursion. Going down to La Union, in San Fernando I got to run along the runway of La Union Airport at Poro Point. My foot sunk at the sands of San Juan as I gun for the finish line and took a bucket challenge on top of Pulipul to stave off the heat after running close to 50 kilometers with still 17 kilometers more to go. I ran also in Tarlac, Pampanga, Subic Bay Freeport Zone and Camaya Coast in Mariveles, Bataan. Near Metro Manila in Rizal Province, I participated in races held in Angono, Antipolo, in the trails of Tanay and in San Mateo with Timberland and Pintong Bukawe. I almost covered the whole of Laguna by foot except for Famy, Pangil, Pakil, Paete and Lumban corridor. The same thing with Cavite, if only I could run the area covering Alfonso, General Emilio Aguinaldo, Magallanes, Trece Martires, Indang and Mendez then I could also claim I ran the whole of Cavite. I got to and from Tagaytay via several route including through off road. So far I reached only Nasugbu, Tanauan, Talisay and a portion of Sto. Tomas and Laurel in Batangas. I have yet to set my foot in Quezon but by the time I publish this I may have already touch Infanta if I don’t DNF. Leaving the main island of Luzon, my feet trod 25 kilometers of Puerto Galera and 10 kilometers of Boracay in Caticlan, Aklan. In Cebu I got as far as Talisay after going around Cebu City. In Bohol 21 kilometers of road from San Agustin, Panglao was the farthest I travelled via foot race.

I am not a fast runner and hadn’t broken any of my previous PR (57:43 for 10k, 2:24:27 for 21k, 5:43:45 for 42k and 8:41:56 for 50k) achieved earlier when I was still much stronger and younger. I had to admit I walk in most of my run, which may be appalling for some. At the age of 45 maybe I still have a long way to go. Who knows what I can still accomplish in the next 5 years.

42 At 44 in Subic And An Unfortunate 70 + at 100th

Running at the Subic International Marathon last January 26, 2014 enabled me to completely cover the whole area of Subic Freeport on foot. The first time I ran at Subic was in November 2013 during the Subic Victory Night Run when joined the 16 km category. The route featured in that event composed of the east portion of SBMA from the Boardwalk area until just over the Subic Bay Yacht Club along Rizal Highway. The recent run at Subic under the 42 K category had me running as far as Ocean Adventure and the Morong Gate. Conquering Subic had been a happy occasion, however, it was punctured with the news from a teacher colleague and which was eventually confirmed by the event organizers the news that one of our fellow marathon runners was unfortunate enough not to celebrate crossing the finish line. He died somewhere between the 34th and 36th kilometer of the run.

 

It wouldn’t be fair to say I attract death whenever I join a run event but this recent demise of a runner while in a run event was the third in the three run event I have participated. The first death was by the runner Remus Fuentes, 37 years old. He was said to be within a kilometer away form the finish line when he died while running in the 21k category at the 34th Milo International Marathon in July 4, 2010. I was running my first Milo International Marathon then under the 10k category. He died of multiple organ failure from heat stroke. Hydration was said to be lacking in this event.

 

The second reported death while in a run event was Sigue Corre Runners’ President Romel Defeo, 35 years old. He was running in the 21k category of the PSE Bull Run last January 13, 2013. He died of hypokalemia. This is when potassium in the blood serum went below the normal level. I was also running in the 21k category of this race.

 

The most recent one haven’t hit the news yet. The runner, Dr. Ed Yruma 73 years old a member of the Greenhills Tri Team was running his 100th marathon when he died. I might have seen him at the 42k turn around at Ocean Adventure. He was already in bad shape judging from the grimacing expression of his face. But maybe so was I if you have seen me in the last 8 kilometers of the race. The sun was already streaking high. My left foot was aching from plantar fasciitis. The whole race route itself wasn’t necessarily forgiving in the first place.    

 

After about 30 minutes delay at 4:30 a.m. due to clearing of the road brought about by a car accident somewhere at Rizal Highway, the race took off from inside the tracks of Remy Field. The runners made way towards Burgos St. exit of the oval and turned right towards Rizal Highway until Argonaut Highway where runners again turned right. Prior to this run, the farthest I reached from my meandering inside Subic the previous day was the Adidas Outlet along Argonaut Highway. The Petron Gas station within this area served as a pit stop for travelers and formal entrance to Subic for those coming from Manila via SCTEX. The 5th kilometer mark of the race was located along United Auctioneers Building.  From here we soon entered a road that was pitch dark. This might be the CUBI Point. At our left side lines of trees sprawling. We were told at the starting lane that monkeys might be wandering along the way and would be best for us not to agitate or feed them. At the right side was the view of the harbor. While below our elevated path was the Subic International Airport which I was not aware of until we passed by it again on our way back to the finish line. Once we got out of this portion on the race it was predominantly uphill from then on. The 10th kilometer marker of the race was at Pacific Ace along Corregidor Rd. By the time we I crossed SBMA’s second gate the sky was beginning to brighten up the trees lined, winding snaked, uphill road. At the 15th kilometer in Wartsila I took my first Salt Stick capsule. I was basically walking along these uphill roads. Reaching a crossroad the runners turned right towards Ilanin Rd., a long slightly up and downward slope road. I was aware that I am at the tail end part of the lines of runners making v-line towards the end of this road. I could only see quite a few runners behind me while at the opposite side of the road runners returning from the turn around were aplenty. I saw two acquaintances of mine, one a former classmate in high school and another from the other previous run events, passed me by. Finally I reached Ocean Adventure Resort, the 42K category’s turn around and kidding-ly shouted, “finish”. A female race marshal said of course, that it was not yet, and I still had to return all the way back to Remy Field for the finish line. Laughing about this stunt brought back some vigor in me. On my way back that’s when I started counting runners behind me. I counted roughly 14. I saw another acquaintance whom also happened to be a former classmate of mine in elementary and was once a performing artist from her childhood. She was struggling due to her previous knee injury which she gotten after running at Singapore International Marathon last December 2013. It was also around this point when I saw who I believe to be Dr. Yruma.  I can sense he was also laboring hard to cross the turn around point. At this junction of the race, I began to notice the bothersome pain at both feet of mine. Not so much because of the Plantar Fasciitis for it was kind of behaving a bit less boisterously all throughout of the race so far, but it was actually because of my shoes. My kinvara Saucony was somewhat loose. Only after I adjusted the shoelaces according to the style of tying I was taught by the salesperson whom sold me my New Balance shoes that got me into trouble at the Cavite to Laguna Run, that my shoes seemed to fit well and enabled me to run a bit comfortable. But the strain that was earlier caused by my haphazard wearing of shoes had already strained my feet to the point I was not capable of making longer strides without feeling some pain. I exited Ilanin Rd. and at about less than 500 meters made a right turn towards Morong Gate another turn around. From this point a lot of downhill awaited us. There were fewer runners I could see ahead of me. Somewhere near what I think was the 30th kilometer of the race the earlier acquaintance of mine who was struggling to get to Ocean Adventure passed by while riding at the back of a motorcycle. She decided to retire from the race instead of risking aggravating her condition. A wise decision I think, for there are still a lot of run events beyond SIM 2014 that is worth preparing for than dying this race for. At around the last 8 kilometers of the race, just before hitting the Subic International Airport, I caught up with four other runners. I spoke with one whose age was 52 years old and who happened to have a Plantar Fasciitis also. He said he might be running his last 42k and would prefer returning to running 21k races instead. He said he has nothing to prove anymore to anyone including himself.  Soon we hit Argonaut highway. More runners were showing up ahead of us. Little by little we gain on them and even overtook a few. Other joined our little band of runners including one from the Greenhills Tri Team. We were actually feeling worried about the cut off time to the point that every time an event organizer’s vehicle or an ambulance came to view coming towards us we thought we were about to be picked up. So we hurried our pace a little until we were once again tired which was just after a couple of steps. Maybe some time at this point was when Dr. Yruma collapsed.  At the last 3 kilometer of the race the Petron Gas Station came to view like a beacon telling us that our toils were about to end soon. I felt a certain vigor once again that it enabled me to stepped up my pace. I left the band of runners determined to reach the cut off time at 10:30 a.m. or at a time of 6 hours annd 30 minutes. At the last kilometer of the race I was even attempting to overtake another runner who was also picking up his speed fired perhaps by the promise of finally ending this race. Once I entered the Remy Field for the final few meter dash to the finish line, other runners were clapping and cheering for us. I struggled to keep my running pace up with the little stamina left in me otherwise it would be quite a sight if I suddenly drop speed and walk toward the arch because I finally loss my wind. But instead I was opting for a dramatic ending which is a strong finish. The race/event emcee was describing my all-smiling face over the microphone. I was actually preparing for a photo opportunity as I approach the finish line. Alas, at a time of 6:25:15 I crossed the finish line. I’m the 331th out of 360 that crossed the finish line. 14 others did not finished the race including the dead runner or perhaps he did it while his physical body was left behind under the care of those who tried to revive him and ambulanced him to the nearest hospital.

 

After congratulating a fellow runner, I made another dash – although, I was actually limping – for a photo-finish.  Only this time towards my hotel accommodation which happened to be just a few meters away from the race venue.  I was supposed to check out in about an hour. Another run event done in another place I used to be not so familiar with. Notwithstanding that death stalks in every run event, I don’t think I will easily be cowered into quitting running pretty soon. With runners like Dr. Yruma and Victor Ting, I am even more inspired to continue running even when I am all white and seemingly withered as long as my feet can carry me along the paved roads of both run events and life.