To Date, I have completed 4 Full Marathons in a span of one year. I never imagined doing even a single one, much less four of these things. Most of my running friends and family have also completed their first full marathon either in 2009 or in 2010.
My Marathon Debut was in Singapore SunDown Marathon. Jason's debut was in Botak (to train for Singapore's Sundown). Benny's debut was in Milo Eliminations 2009. Sisters Natalie and Carolyn did their first in Big Sur, May 2009. Brother Edwin had his first in New York, November 2009 (with a certain Lance G. with his debut here too). Janine's debut was in Cebu Marathon 2010. Bullrunner had hers in QCIM 2009. Mark P. had his in Condura 2010. Same with Luis. Both had fast finish times. Wilbert had his debut in Seattle Full Marathon 2009. Cousin Stella had her debut in USA 2009. Anson and Vincent had their debut in Condura 2010. Jesy had his in Singapore 2009. Jinoe had his in Cebu 2010. Bro J did the Condura 2010.
It seems the 1 of 1% percentage marathon finishers do not apply in the Philippines! I know a lot more runners who have finished a 42.195km than those who haven't !
My finish times are as different as where I raced at. These are as follows:
1. Singapore Sundown Marathon, May 2009 - 6:31
2. Fresno, USA Full Marathon, Nov 2009 - 4:52
3. Cebu Full Marathon, Jan 2010 - 5:40
4. Condura Full Marathon, Feb 2010 - 5:13
If you plot it on a graph, it would look like a Big M (for Marathon).
In all these races, there are some common things that I experienced:
1. Fear - for the first, it was fear of the unknown and fear of dying. Yes, I have heard of the very small % of runners collapsing right after the finish line and not waking up again. I do not want to be part of that group! For the second, it was fear on whether I was ready for the race given the 2-month cramming for the race and new weather condition that I wasn't familiar with. For the third race, it was fear of DNF due to heel pain on my left side. Same with the Condura race.
2. Will - for all these races, I aim to finish! I aim to reach finish before the cutoff time. For the first, there was no pressure as it had an 11-hour cut off time. For the second, no pressure too given the 7-hour cut-off time. But I was afraid for the 3rd race because although it had the same cut-off time of 7-hours, I was sorely lacking in training due to the lingering injury in my heel. For the 4th race, it was much worst - a short cut off time of 6 hours and I still have the injury. Thank goodness, I had the will to survive these races.
3. Motivation - my motivation in all these races was to see Per at the finish line. She was my anchor and she was there all the time. Even better for the Fresno Marathon as I saw her at the 25km mark, hugged her, did a little chit chat before I went off running again. In Singapore, she was with Blanche when I finished the race. In Cebu, she was with Kervin. In Condura, she was with Dave and some of our other friends. In Fresno, she was by herself, waiting patiently for 5 hours with nobody to talk to.
4. Faith - prayers and talking to God worked for me. It kept me going. It helped me go the distance. It helped me ignore the pain, the heat and the bad feeling and just keep going, one step at a time to the finish line.
5. Finisher Medal - this is a requisite for joining these races. No medal, no race for me. This was the reward for running 5 - 6 hours and something you will be able to cherish for the rest of your life. That is why I was saddened upon hearing that the Pasig Marathon 2009 did not give a finisher medal to its marathon runners! Please don't do this again for 2010!
6. Pre-race Panic! - similar to #1. I would second guess myself: "Can I run with an injury?" "Have I carbo load enough?" "Have I trained enough that I won't get cramps in the race?" "Will I hit the dreaded wall?" and the number one question "Why the $%#@ am I doing this again???"
Answers: "Apparently I can!" "Yes, think more than what is required!" "Yes pala" "No but surprisingly, I hit in my first half marathon" "Because I CAN!"
7. One Week Off! - yes, no running after these sort of races. It's time to have my body recover again and not abuse it too much. After one week, I become itchy and excited to hit the road again. In the meantime, I eat, sleep, read, and watch TV/ movies.
8. Every Race is different - yes, for me, it's because they are done in different cities and countries so had their own weather conditions and different organizers. There were flat routes (Fresno), routes with trail running and overpass bridge climbing (Sundown), and of course the very special Skyway route. But even doing the same race year on year, it will be different for the runner in terms of his pace, performance, ability and finish time. Two of the four races I finished strong thinking I could do some more. The other two left a bad taste in my mouth and I hated every minute of it.
9. Common Friends! - It's expected that running in Condura or Cebu, I will see a lot of familiar faces but who knew that even in such countries as Singapore and USA, there are still some Pinoys joining it! For Condura, everyone was there! Whether it was 10km, 21km or 42km race, we see each other at the finish line. For Cebu, aside from our group, Takbo.ph was there too to run their different race categories (Gingerbreadman, Sheerwill, Jinoe & Que, Jason, etc). For Singapore, Jason ran it and it was there I first met Alvin who turned into my pro-bono coach when I saw him again in Fort Bonifacio. In Fresno of all places I saw Coach Rio do his fast race and made him qualify for Boston 2010!
10. Preparation - Don't just do a marathon.... train for it. Do your long runs, easy runs and tempo runs. Don't overdo it. Rest, stretch, sleep! Eat, eat, eat! Drink, drink, drink!
Now, get your shoes from the closet and hit the road again :)