Thursday, October 30, 2014

Race Review: Disastrous Run United Marathon 2014

I joined this year’s Run United Marathon for a couple of reasons:

1) To finally complete the Trilogy!  I usually complete just 2 out of 3 legs.  I made it my goal for this year to complete this Trilogy by doing the farthest distance for each leg (21km, 32km, and 42km).

2) To maintain current running streak since its Inaugural Marathon Event.  I heard of people running certain Marathon events every single year (Boston, New York) and hoped this would be one of mine as well.

3) Perfect long run before New York Marathon the following month. 

A lot of reasons for this race, and I felt ready for it.  I hoped to get a good time of around 5 hours 30 minutes to 5 hours 45 minutes but it would always depend on the actual race.

The race start had moved its venue from BGC for the race’s past editions to Mall of Asia Ground.  The starting time was still the same at 3AM.  The route would take runners from Mall of Asia to Roxas Boulevard, to Buendia Avenue, Kalayaan Bridge, around BGC and U Turn back to Roxas Boulevard to the finish line.

The cut off for this race was at 7 hours but I wasn’t sure how strict the organizers were for it.

On race day, Alvin accompanied me to MOA as he wanted to get there early for his 21km race.  And he walked with me to my race’s starting line (he even bought me a bottle of VitWater drink from the convenience store as I left mine in the car).  He said he will wait for me even though I told him that he could ride with Kerwin going back home as they will all finish their 21km race ahead of me (by a good two hours at the least).  He said that’s okay and he will still wait for me (thank God for him committing to do so).

My race started on time and I got there just in time for it.  I was doing well.  My legs weren’t as tight as they were at Medoc du Marathon and I was confident that I will be able to finish the race.

The problem though was that the streets were dark and there were insufficient lights on the road.  That didn’t stop me as I was used to joining races like this here. 

I ran on Buendia Avenue at a steady pace of 7:30 to 8 minutes per kilometer and climbed up Kalayaan Bridge where not a single street lamp was turned on!  It was total darkness up here!  I cannot see where I was running on and relied on the runners in front of me.  I had to look in front to make sure I didn’t bump into anyone and tried to look at where I was stepping on as well.

“Well, it was a smooth road anyway as ran here in a lot of races”, I thought to myself. 

Unfortunately, just when you think that you are safe, something goes wrong!  As it was too dark, I couldn’t see that there was a small hole on the road in front of me and just my dumb luck to land squarely in it and trip in it!  I was able to roll with the fall and controlled myself from falling completely to the ground but my foot was in pain from the wrong landing! 

I couldn’t run with the pain and had to walk a bit.  Even though I didn’t fall to the ground, I made a big sound as I heard gasps from the runners around me.  Then, another runner patted my shoulder and asked if I was okay.  I told him that I was and thanked him.  I walked for a bit more till the pain subsided and stopped to test my ankle.  I rotated it both directions and it felt okay.  “Phew, close call!”, I thought to myself.

So I ran again, and somehow felt my foot became looser and I was able to run faster.  Wow, was this making me faster?  It was at 14.5km when that happened to me and suddenly I was able to run a 7 minute pace from an 8!  I was happy with this and kept going.

There was a little pain in my ankle but I felt it was just a bruise from the trip.  How wrong was I!

I reached the 21km mark at a time of 2:45 and felt I could finish this race at a good time.  I kept going.  But the pain in my foot didn’t disappear.  It was getting worse.  I looked at my ankle and IT HAD GOTTEN BIGGER.  I wasn’t sure if this was normal so I looked at my other foot and saw the difference!  But I could still run so thought that I should keep going.

As I kept running, the swelling got bigger!  But I didn’t want to quit and give up on the Trilogy.  I decided to continue this race.  If this was any other race, I would have DNF-ed.  But this was the one race I felt was important to do or the 21km and 32km legs I completed previously for this Trilogy would have been wasted.  This was probably my last chance to complete the Trilogy and I didn’t want to lose it.

I prayed to God to see me through and protect me.  The pain and the swelling were getting worse!  I didn’t want to look at it anymore and feigned ignorance of it.

By 29km, I was walking more that I was running.  I had 13km to go.  “Let’s not waste the 29km I completed”, my ego said!  Pride indeed is a big sin and I didn’t quit.  My pace hovered around the 10-11 minutes per kilometer now and at 35km I was 90% walking. 

“Just a little more, just a little more”, I tried to convince myself.

I kept going.  At the last 2km, Alvin saw me and told me to run.  I answered back that I couldn’t anymore because I sprained my ankle.

It was a horrible, horrible experience but by God’s Grace I made it.  I finished at a time of 6:31:58, my worst marathon time ever!

As I sat on the sidewalk with the finisher medal around my neck, I wept bitterly.  It was the worst kind of experience and no words could describe what I felt that morning.  I had never wept in any marathon before but this pushed me to my limits!  I should have stopped but my stubbornness was too much for my own good.  No one could understand why I didn’t and ruin any chance for a fast New York Marathon time, my goal race.  Even running New York became a big question mark!

At the sidewalk, I couldn’t walk by then and Alvin was the one who got the car and drove us home.  My ankle had swelled up to a size of a tennis ball and it was red and very painful.

I have completed the Run United Trilogy but at what cost?  The New York Marathon is in a couple of days and I am not 100% well yet.  I took two weeks off to heal my foot and my fitness level deteriorated during that time.  Last week, it was a balancing act whether I should start running and risk my ankle not healing properly or to rest and lose further my fitness level.  I chose the former but was extra careful with it.

It remains to be seen how bad or how well I fare in New York.  Only God knows the answer to that and I lift up to HIM my race and my injuries and I thank HIM that He is able to heal me so that I will be at the starting line on November 2nd!  I thank God that at least I am able to be at the starting line instead of at the hotel resting my foot.  

By the time this blog entry is published in this site, God Willing I will have flown to New York already (my flight leaves on Wednesday) and be at the New York Marathon Expo.

Please pray for me that I will do well in New York Marathon.  Please pray that my ankle will not swell again and that I won’t make it worse during the race.  Please pray that I will be able to cross the finish line strong, safe and injury-free.  Thank you for your support and prayers.

very hard earned medals!


daytripper1021 said...

Cheering for you bro for a good NYC marathon. But if it's gets really really painful, prudence is better over valor. There will be other races out there. :)

Good luck!

janine said...

Whaaa? I didn't realize it was that bad. :( Good luck, Den! You know we're rooting for you all the way!