"Just to finish" was my mantra for this race.
I had just signed up for the 42.2km event just THREE DAYS before the actual race and it was never in my plans to run the full marathon event. All I wanted to do was join the Half Marathon category and get the nice messenger bag and the biggest 21km finisher medal that I have ever seen! Unfortunately, a lot of runners had the same idea and by the time I went to Riovana in BGC, all of the 21km slots were sold out.
I still didn't want to do the full marathon after having just done one exactly a month ago in Berlin and getting a scary experience out of it as I wasn't 100% recovered yet from my flu/colds/ coughs when I ran that race. I figured the next marathon I would do wouldn't arrive until 2013!
But dang, that was a nice medal!!!
At that time, a big factor to consider was that I still had coughs from our Berlin trip and there was a fear that it could be pneumonia or even TB. So our first order of business was to have myself checked up and figure out what that was. If it was pneumonia, I wouldn't put myself at risk by running this race and just take that time to get some bed rest. After a series of doctor visits, pneumonia was basically ruled out but I had to do further tests to assess whether it was TB or not. On the side, I was also taking antibiotics as it could also be an infection, which was the best case scenario in this situation. The doctor advised me against doing a full marathon to be on the safe side (which I kind of figured he would say) but I was getting better - the coughs were getting fewer versus a few days ago and it could really just be an infection.
A few days later, the antibiotics had done its job and the TB turned out to be negative. PHEW!
With no more excuses, I packed my running gear on a Saturday night and drove by myself to BGC. But this was still a full marathon and that was something I never underestimated. I prayed to God before and during the race to let me finish safe and strong so that I could see my family again.
I made sure to take things slow here and conserved my energy as we passed through numerous dark roads in BGC. But this was an area I was quite familiar with, having ran here at least once a week with Alvin and Per. I was late once again and it took me a while before I caught up with some of the other runners. I walked at all water stations and finished my 6 GU gels, which was exactly what I had at home prior to this race.
I used the running as my "quiet time" to pray to God and to thank Him for all the blessings He has given us. The route started from BGC (right across Riovana store) and lead us around BGC area before exiting to C-5 highway and it was quite a long (and hilly) stretch here. Thankfully the runners' lanes were wide with two to three lanes while the cars had only one lane to themselves. Everything was going good for me until at one point, hydration had ran out! There was nothing to do but keep on going but the next one was empty as well. This was discouraging and I haven't experienced this before in a RunRio event. A lot of runners were going to 7-11 stores and buying Gatorade and mineral water. I didn't have any money with me so there was nothing for me there. I had to keep on going and hope the third station had some water as I was thirsty already.
Luckily, the organizers caught wind of this and reacted quickly by delivering liters and liters of water in the next station. I had two full cups of water and satisfied by it, started running again. After C-5, we exited to Bayani Road and went back to BGC and up Kalayaan Flyover and all the way from Buendia Avenue to make a left turn on Roxas Blvd. I felt near the finish line although that was just a mental game as I had about 22 kilometers to go! And it was here that we got hit once again with hydration issues. Two more water stations had ran out of water and since it was at a U turn area, it effectively became 4 stations! Feeling thirsty, I drank from the water which weren't that clean anymore. The marshals were saying that that water wasn't for drinking but for pouring on the body (the sun was burning us around this time). At this point, diarrhea from the melted ice was the lesser evil that being dehydrated. I was hoping that should I get diarrhea I would be safely in the comforts of my own house. Thankfully, that didn't happen!
But I was still cautious from it and took two small gulps of water and kept going. At one point of the race, I felt acid reflux and was having this vomit feeling although nothing was coming out of my mouth. I must have looked strange to the other runners beside me (with all that belching and burping sounds that I was making there). Good thing I had some ammunition left and opened one GU and ate it. The acid reflux disappeared and I was able to run again. The sun was really giving me a hard time but that was the end of the hydration problems and every kilometer or so, the long tables with cups of cold water was a welcome sight.
Alvin was waiting for me at the 40km mark (or was it the 39km mark?) with two more cups of water, which I quickly grabbed and drank from. I was tired but kept going. At this point, I know I won't be able to reach below 6 hours finish time but didn't care anymore. Alvin repeated my mantra to me, "Just to finish". And we ran/jogged/walked together. The finish line was getting closer and closer with every step I was making. And I felt running again for the last kilometer or so. The time was ticking slowly to the 6-hour mark. There was no way I was going to reach this but I was optimistically looking at sub 6:01 or 6:02 so I ran a bit faster. It was the final turn and there was the finish line but it was still far off. I looked at my Garmin watch and saw I had a few minutes left and that was when I sprinted hard (like I haven't been running at all)!
I heard Running Host announcing the people crossing the finish line and he called out to me, which gave me an extra boost to even go faster and to cross the finish line!!
Kulitrunner Vimz was the one who put the humongous 42km finisher medal around my neck and congratulated me for a job well done.
I walked a bit more to loosen my legs and looked at my Garmin, laughed at myself and waited for Alvin at the finish line. (He had already finished his race more than an hour ahead of me!)
When Alvin saw me, I had a huge grin on my face. With a bewildered look, he only uttered one word, "Why??"
Silently, I showed him the screen of my Garmin watch:
It was like a freaking time bomb, saved by one second!!!! The official chip time was even better at 5:59:51 !
Can't believe I did this but with Alvin's prodding and all the text messages he sent, I really did it!
9th marathon done and 5th marathon done for 2012!
Thanks once again to Alvin for making me strong to complete this distance. Without you guiding me, I doubt I would have completed any of the full marathons for this year.
Thanks also to Per for her support in my passion here. Now, it's your turn and hopefully, I have your back in your training for your big event in 2013!
And none of this would have been possible without God by my side. As always, Prayers really work! What have you got to lose???