Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sundown Marathon (May 30th 2009) - RACE!

(continued from previous blog)

As I started running, I felt no pain from either leg. The weather, as mentioned by Per who did the 10km race 3hours earlier, was extremely warm and humid. The road was relatively flat and in a few minutes, I was able to catch up with the other runners.

By 2km, my singlet was already wet with sweat. Oh man, how am I going to survive the remaining 40km? But I put that thought aside and hoped for the best. Up till now, we were running on the wide open roads and when we reached the first 5km and first water station, that is when we were directed by the marshals to use the sidewalks! What the %$# ? ?? I didn't understand this at all. How can nearly 5,500 runners (and not even counting the ultra marathoners) fit on a sidewalk that is at best good for 3 runners running side by side? Oh this is definitely not good. With the tight crowd and very warm weather, it felt like running inside a sauna. It was that horrible. I kept hoping for a part where we would go back to the open roads again but that was not to be.

By 7km, my feet were making wet swoshing sounds inside my shoes and I had to find a place to sit down, take off my shoes and my socks, wring out the sweat out of the socks and put them back on again! Gosh, this never happened in the Philippines even during a Half Marathon race and here I am at just 7km and doing this already. Yikes!!!! But this I had to do for fear of getting blisters at such an early part of the race. Squeezing the water out helped but it didn't make my socks dry. Worst of all was that I was running at a very slow and easy pace. I wasn't even exerting effort yet. I knew right there and then that I won't be able to finish the race at a good time. I only hope that I don't burn out here and was extra careful in my running pace.

By 10km, I looked at my Garmin and saw that I have been running for a time of 1 hour 16 minutes. A personal worse. Haha! But I didn't care as I concentrated on finishing this race and getting that darn shirt.


Per and Blanche were having a good time with their movie marathons and relaxing after completing their own races. I can just imagine them with their feet off their shoes, lying on the mattresses with a beer in each hand, laughing and trading jokes and stories while Iron Man plays on the movie screen. Yup, they had a good time with my camera too. Those FIENDS!!!

Going back...

One long boring straight road. Nothing to see but street lamps. Still crammed on the sidewalk like sardines in a can and at the same time, being heated in a microwave. Terrible terrible feeling. Oooh, a plane flew by. Must be near the airport.

Oh there it is! Behind the barbed fences. Something to distract me by. Ho hum. Time to take a GU power gel. Hoping for Coffee flavor. Got Vanilla instead. DARN! Too lazy to switch GU Gel. Maybe would be luckier the next time around. Pink Gatorade in my right hand still remained untouched. Security Gatorade Blanket is what I call it. Still running...

13km - Toilet break and also socks-out-of-shoes-and-wring-the-sweat-out break. 'Nuff said. Went back to running. At this point, my morale is kinda low and just kept thinking why I'm doing this. On a good point, I'm 1/4 done already. Big Whoopee!!

15km - it is now 2AM. "Crazy midnight marathon": that was all I can think about. And also: 2hour time, another personal worst time! Haha! Goal is to get to finish line before third movie ends (so P and B won't get bored waiting for me) and before sun rises (feeling Twilight... Twilight Zone that is)! But odds are against me in this race.

17km - Turning point out of here. Going towards greenery where there were a lot of campers here. For some reason, this area looked so similar to where we started the race from that I started to believe that it was the same place. I was excited to see Per and get the motivation I needed to complete this race. So I increased my pace and I hurried on. Any minute now, I would see the big screen showing the action movie. Any minute now... any minute now. . . just got to be patient and keep on running. . . it's coming up... pretty soon. . . got to run further and faster .. any second now. . .

But sadly, this hope didn't become reality.

It was a different area! Probably on the opposite side from where I started the race from. My morale got even lower. It was incredibly frustrating to have your expectations run high and have it come crashing down.

As a form of consolation, I got another GU gel and hoped for the Coffee flavor. I got Strawberry-banana instead! DARN MY LUCK!

I kept running and saw runners standing on the road or lying on the floor stretching their legs. Looks like cramps. Another guy was leaning heavily on a tree, face down. It was a terrible ordeal but it was hard to tell whether they were ultra-marathoners or marathoners as we all pass the same route. (I didn't even think to look at their bib colors at that time)

At 21km, I saw time was at 3:06AM. Three freaking hours for a half marathon!!! But my mind was just pushing me to finish this race. Each water station I get to, I would walk for a few minutes before resuming my run again. It was a technique taught by my two sisters who both had their first full marathons a month ago. It is supposed to relieve the stress from running for a long time. Unfortunately, my supposedly one-minute walk break turned into minutes. I was always delaying the inevitable. And that is to go back into running. But go back to it I did.

The route changed from this moment on. No more boring long road but it will be more difficult. There was a series of overhead bridges we had to climb up on and they were very high. The good point here was that all the runners used it as recovery area so at this point I was climbing up the stairs to the bridge, walking across it and walking down it again on the other side of the road. Then, I would resume my running.

My pink gatorade was still alive but now just 1/4th full. Still couldn't let this go eventhough there were ample water and ISO drinks every 3km of the course. Yup, security "Gatorade" blanket!

I kept running. I got a banana at one point. And a coffee at another point. I don't remember where or when. I was so out of it. I did sit down again and do the whole sock-out-of-shoe-and- wring-out-sweat routine again. I didn't look at my sole anymore for fear of seeing blisters and that would discourage me even more.

Went back to running...

28km - I have been running for more than 4hours. Yes, I know how long this is taking and how far I still am but nothing to do at that time. By this time, I was thinking that P and B have probably finished their second movie and should be starting their 3rd one by now. More than 50% done so that is a good thing but I am getting slower.

More GU gels and hoping for elusive Coffee flavor. It continues to escape me! Made me think, "did I even have a coffee flavor or was that from my imagination?"

29km - Start of trail running. It was softer on the legs but felt some sand and a small pebble go into my shoe. Didn't want to slow down and just kept running. For a few minutes, I toyed around with the pebble in the shoe, moving it around to my toes while running at same time. Yep, I was bored! Haha. This running thing feels like forever! Good thing there were a lot of people in the race so that kept me distracted.

I saw a lot more people stretching their legs or resting on the ground. Still no idea if they were doing the 42km or 84km race.

30km - with only 12km to go, I decided to finish my pink gatorade (it only had 1/8th contents anyway) and threw away the plastic bottle at the trash can. I think I can finish the remaining miles without my security blanket. Thanks Pink Gatorade for the support!

32km - this was it. The farthest I've ever run and I am still running (though at a turtle pace). No hitting the wall yet so that was good. I feel pain on my shoulders and rotated it from time to time to give it the flexibility it needs. Seems to work.

View of the lake on my right side (or was it left side). At this point, everything was a blur for me.


Pinoy runner Alvin crossed the finish line and went off to meet P. and B. They used my camera to take his finisher photo. On asking how this marathon fares against the other ones he had done (he has 4 or 5 before Sundown), he replied that this was one of the hardest of them all because of the hot weather here. Per was the one who told me about this conversation post-race...

Going back...

33-34km - I checked on my GU. I only have one left. But have another Powergel as back up. This was handed out during the race and will save this for last as do not know how it would affect my stomach (never tried this before). Finally I got the coffee flavored GU. Yes!! Savored every bit of it as waited to get my hand on it since the start of the race. Kept me going again..

35km - Out of the rough road and onto the city road... unfortunately, got diverted by marshals to the sidewalks again. AAARRRRGGGHHH! At least it wasn't as crowded as when I started the race. Not as hot either..

This is the last stretch of the race. No wall yet! So far so good. It is now 5:23AM. There goes my hope for sub - 6 hour race but I remain optimistic for that target. Awake for 19 hours now. Totally CRAZY !!!! But not feeling sleepy yet. Must be the sugar rush from all that GU gels!

37km - Boom! Right leg cramp! Ran - walked. My goodness this is sooooo freaking far! Would run for 200-300 meters but then ended up walking 400 meters afterwards. At this point, I was cursing to myself why I do this. Haha. Ate the powergel. Its strawberry flavored and thicker than GU. No point in keeping it anymore as won't eat it after the race. I need it now for final leg!

39km - So near and yet so far! This was the hardest 4km for me in my life. Can't believe it is taking this long. So exhausted. Feet making squeaky wet sounds but didn't care anymore. Tried thinking I was a robot and so shouldn't get any pain feeling. That worked ... for five good minutes before I gave up on the idea. Walking more but at least know I can finish race. Nevermind the finish time or the rank!

40km - So tired. Limp walked and determined to just walk to the finish line. It is now 6:17AM. Awake for more than 20 hours! I saw a lot of parked cars here and know I am near finish line. So exhausted. Too exhausted to curse to myself anymore. And that's when I saw a familar 100% Run Mizuno shirt in front of me. It was Alvin who was wearing it and he was standing there waiting for me. He saw that I was in deep pain and ran to me. He wanted me to run again. I was whining that I couldn't anymore because of the cramp on right leg. He told me to just run and count up to 100 while doing so. Once you reached 100, you can walk again. He offered to run with me. And so I did. I counted slowly to 100. The pain was still there but I got distracted by the counting. I reached 150 before I had to walk again.

41km - He said, "Do it again". And so I did. I reached 150 again before I had to walk. This time, the pain was really bad so I told him I had to do a longer walk break. Alvin said that was okay as I was near already.

Final turning point. I tried running as downhill again. And so I did but unable to see the finish line. I was discouraged by it and went back to walking.

Then, it was there. 200 meters away. But at this point, I couldn't run anymore. The leg pain was terrible. Per was standing near the finish line and saw me. I was shaking my head to show how hard this race was. But it was a welcome sight as I expected her to be at the movie area with Blanche.

Finally, I crossed the line and stopped my Garmin. They made me stand on a weighing scale and jotted down my weight. I had no idea what this was for as I didn't do any weight check prior to the race. I walked further to get my finisher medal and shirt and met up with Per. I got a can of ISO 100 and lied on the grass, took out my shoes and waited for Per to meet me up there.

She had my camera with her and took my finisher photo. She noticed I was really pale but after re-hydrating and eating a museli bar, my colors went back to normal. Phew! I did a few stetches before I stood up again. I was still limping as we headed out to meet Blanche.

The sun wasn't out yet. The movie Hulk wasn't over yet when I met Blanche (but it was at the final fight scene). I lied on the mattress and took a look at my Garmin time.

It read: 6:31:34 (average pace of 9:16 min/km). Distance of 42.28km. Calories burned 3,603. Not the finish time I expected but luckily this was my first marathon so I still got a PR! PR by default that is. Haha!

The very nice finisher medal. So proud of this one.

Back of finisher medal.


I was limping still and had hard time going down flight of stairs. My legs were all tight and once standing up from a seated position (one time from taxi cab, 2nd time after breakfast at Mcdonalds), my legs will lose strength and I had to grab onto something to catch my fall. I was lucky that Per and Blanche stayed up for me as I don't think I would be able to go home by myself with this tired condition! Super thanks girls!

Once we got home, Carolyn was there waiting for us (and worried that we didn't come home sooner). It was about 9:45AM and we have been awake for nearly 24 hours. I took a quick shower even with all the pain and found some chaffed parts and went to sleep after (after being awake for more than 24 hours). I woke up a few hours later for the home service massage. It was painful but it really helped loosen the tight leg muscles. (The next day, the limp was gone and I was walking normally.. big thanks to that powerful massage).

All throughout that day, the feeling was surreal. I had accomplished what I had trained to do. I suffered and hated it. But this was something I can never forget. It was an EXPERIENCE. And it was surreal because before that point, I was just a runner. Now, I can call myself a MARATHONER !

On the official website, I expected to rank at the bottom 20% of the Men's Marathon category. Imagine my surprise when I saw I ranked 2,281 out of 3,827 male marathoners. I was at 59.27% so I wasn't even at the bottom 40% finishers (though still below average...hehe). Official time of 6:31:31:93 Cool !!!! Quite happy with the rank here!


At the weighing scale, even after running for 6.5 hours, my weight went up by 2 lbs! What gives!!!!!!

I took out my socks 4 different times in this race. Surprise surprise : no blisters at finish line. How fantastic!

No muscle pains the next day!!! Wow, another good surprise! I was walking normally and since I had two more days in Singapore, Per and I went right back to shopping shopping shopping!!!

On race organization: water, ISO stations every 3km, some cheering squads at certain points of race, marshals lead to right direction, fast race results. Great medal!

Wish list: Road closures (so don't need to run on sidewalks)! Bigger singlet sizes! Finisher photos!

Big thanks again to the following people:

1. and 2. Per and Blanche - for sticking through the night and waiting for me to finish this race safely. They helped me get home safely with my limp. Blanche was by my guess more than 48 hours awake as she had to do some stuffs after my marathon finish. Per slept through the 3 movies but she was there when I needed her the most, and that was at the finish line. Loved the NB shoes too!!!!

3. Alvin - for making me run the last 2km! And helping me get a better time than if I had walked it. Thanks for the mental distraction (counting to 100 is better than thinking you are a robot!) and for the support.

4. Carolyn - for going with us to Singapore and getting us free lodging. The GU also helped! Thanks for running tips and pre-marathon meal.

5. Natalie - for all the GU she gave to me! Plus the race belt to put the GU in (as a pre-birthday gift). Also marathon tips too.

6. Melody - for being there and the coffee we drank to hype me up prior to the race! Thanks for the food too.

7./8. Aline/Phil - for the relaxing place for us to crash in during our stay in Singapore. Great suggestion on body massage! It worked wonders for me!

9. Running bloggers Jinoe, Vener, Wilbert, Luis, Rico, Janine, Bro J, Carlo, Jeanne, Wayne and others, who want me to bring home that darn shirt and gave me the motivation I needed to complete this race. By the way, finisher shirt was really really great and fits me perfectly. Will wear it proudly !!


Nat said...

Oh man...I don't know if anyone will EVER run a marathon in Singapore after that report. Congratulations and well done on finishing the race...that's what counts!

janine+ said...

RFB, Bow! =)

run unlimited said...

Congratulations Mr. Marathoner, welcome to the club. I have plenty to ask and say but I prefer if we could sit it down.

Meanwhile, rest, recover and enjoy the experience. I'm glad for you.

Anonymous said...

proud of you! we finished our races with no injuries...and had the energy to shop after! HAHA.

per said...

proud of you! we finished our races with no injuries...and had the energy to shop after! HAHA. - per :)

ibetlacbay said...

woohoo! you got the shirt. congratulations! i guess i'm next..hehehe.

Ellie the Elepunk said...

Wow, that was awesome! You really did it!!! CONGRATS! So inspiring. Although in true Running Fatboy fashion, you gained 2 lbs AFTER the race? What's up with that? Your sweat that heavy?

sfrunner said...

Dennis, congratulations! That was a survival test but you got the shirt! I know we'll be talking about this in November along with Per's experience and Wilbert's first marathon at RnR (Seattle).

Take care. Definitely a little rest is needed.

Running Fatboy said...

hi Nat, yes finishing race is what counts. More important is finishing race with no injuries! No knee pains or blisters so that was a blessing.

hi Janine, you are next!!! Kakaiba 'to! haha

hi Vener, I will see you this Sunday at UP run. It would most likely be a recovery run for me than a race (can't resist the raffles kasi). Usap tayo dun. :) Thanks!!!

hi Per, thanks!!! All those super early Sunday morning runs made up for it.

hi Wilbert, you are definitely next. But this would be the best time for you as it should be tapering time na. haha! Lets Rakenrol!!!!

hi Elle, no freaking idea!!! I still have not lost that stupid 2 lbs up to now!

hi Wayne, yes we will talk about it amid our own carbo loading for the half marathon. Can't wait!

Rico Villanueva said...

Marathoner Dennis, congratulations on your feat. Marathoner - such a big word, but it does fit a jolly, big guy like RFB.

Btw, you looked thin on that finish line photo - just like the stereotypical marathoner. The heat must have been that bad for you to lose that much water.

Again, congratulations.

prometheuscometh said...

Congratulations Dennis!! It was an amazing race and recap. Your hardwork at training, perseverance and tenacity truly paid off.

schlagger said...

congrats dennis! well done on the marathon... and definitely not bad for a first-timer. :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! you are no longer a marathon virgin!

Regards Mark & Tiffin

Khun said...

Great report! Now i can understand why one of the guys from my running club, who did a sub-4 in the recent Botak 42K, ran a "slow" 4:37 at Sundown... he said that it was super hot and we were wondering why when it was supposed to have been at midnight. Your tenacity is inspiring! Kudos :)

Running Fatboy said...

hi Rico, thanks and good luck to your Milo Marathon!

hi Jay, thanks! I had a great time chatting with you in my final taper run before the marathon (at Ultra). Hope to see you again.

hi Schlagger, thanks! When are you and Roy doing yours? :) Btw, tell Roy, my gym membership has expired na. haha

hi Mark & Tiffin, Thanks! See you again!

hi Khun, thanks. Found out it was 32 degrees celcius when we ran (about 89 degrees fahrenheit). Good thing no sun or that might have been worse!

Philip said...

Congrats. Great story, great recovery. I'm doing my first marathon later this year - I'm scared now.

Running Fatboy said...

hi Philip,

Thanks! I'm sure you will do well in your first full marathon. Just follow the proper program. Good luck! :)

22loy said...

Funny! Muscles are heavier than fat. Could it be because some of your fat--kung meron man--became muscle?

Going to UP Dilliman Observatory later. Punta kayo ni Per, Nat and family?