Technically, our 711 Marathon last February 22 was a mere training run to rack up some mileage for something bigger – the Four Lakes 100KM 2 weeks later. So there were no big expectations and great preparations.
What we did weeks before was hone our trail skills and speed ability. The last two Tuesdays and Thursdays before the race, we took on the UP academic oval to join our Payasso 2200 group for 4-5 rounds of 2.2KM intense speed runs. We already expected to be pushed to our limits with our VOmax (characterized by me wheezing in the last 50 meters) and hopefully our lactate threshold which might lessen cramping in the future. But of course, the ordeal never gets easier. An hour later, we were panting like hell, soaked to the bone and ready to dive in to a sumptuous dinner – our main motivation, really.
A week before 7 11, we did our trail LSD on the hills of San Mateo. Two hours into our aimless wandering, we found ourselves in the middle of a trail race with familiar characters popping from the cogon trail (David Buban, Eric Concepcion, etc.). And so we opted to join them, albeit taking the reverse route and try to approximate its 35KM distance. When Doc Doctolero told us that this was one difficult race, we prepared for the worse. 28 kilometers and six hours later, we found ourselves finally on the Start/Finish line of the Sandugo Trail Run at Pintong Buhangin.
After sleeping for around 3 hours (went to bed at 6 but was already awake by 9 pm), we set off for the Filinvest Business Center where we claimed our race kits. 30 minutes of partial dozing at the parking area then we ventured into the starting line. Being part of Wave A, we go to start at exactly 12 midnight. With fewer runners (unlike in the Condura Marathon), we had most of the skyway for ourselves.
The weather was perfectly nippy with a slight breeze to dispel any signs of humidity. It’s my second time to do a full marathon at the Skyway and memories of a boring, monotonous route kept popping. Van & I started in the midpack group but my early enthusiasm separated us. Soon I found myself pacing with Kharl Ocampo, a co-BDM runner from way back who had soaked in the triathlon scene for the last 3 years. Latching to a triathlete meant one has a full update of the current time and pace via his trusty Garmin. It was a 5:30 – 6 minutes every kilometer.
By KM10, Van finally caught up with me. He was pointing to an elite and leading female runner. Soon enough, we were pacing by her side. We learned she’s the 5th among the women and a bike was following her every step. It was a sweet consistent pace which passed thru the sloping track of the skyway. We were hardly panting so I guess we were able to adjust to her manageable but consistent speed. Until we finally overtook her and we started following the 4th lead female.
So far, so good. Nearing KM 21, I distanced myself from Van while keeping up with Ms. lead runner. It was a constant blast of 80s, 2000s and current music which kept me hammering on – sometimes I’d fire up for a few minutes when the beat was unstoppably fast and then jog when the energy had wane a bit. But I was hardly stopping even when the Skyway went around loops with big ascents. I just kept saying to myself that I’m going to keep moving while the cramping hasn’t reared its big ugly head.
Throughout the race, I didn’t keep tabs of my time. I just knew that at 53 minutes, we reached KM10 and 1:56 for KM21. After that, it was up for the running gods to take me to the finish line. But the combination of that fresh leg feeling, the absence of any major discomfort/injury, the perfect night weather (sans energy-draining sun but with mean cold breeze at the final 10) and the generally flat terrain kept me pushing and enjoying every kilometer.
In the last 10 kilometers, fatigue finally caught up with me. Thus, some walking had to be done but was kept within inter-post distances. A bit of negative feeling also settled – a mix of frustration (just how far is Crimson Hotel still?), tiredness and yes, hints of cramping. Fortunately, I was able to push out them in the farthest recesses of my brain and was soon flying into the final 2 kilometers, as the Skyway toll booth and the glimmer of the Alabang skyline appeared in the near horizon.
During this time, I had no idea of my time (there were no large digital clocks by the finish line – boo!) but I knew I was in for some surprise that Feb. 22 morning. Indeed, after the smoke has cleared (711 management released 2 RunTime records, adjusting the latter by 2 minutes), my finish time was 4:11:57 (chip time was 4:11:44), slicing around 2 minutes from my Stockholm Marathon finish of 4:14 and 6 minutes from my Baltimore Marathon’s 4:17. Finally, I have a local full marathon finish time I can be proud of. The closest I got was a 4:23:36 (QCIM 2012), 4:24 (Milo Marathon 2013), 4:24:37 (Condura 2013) and 4:25 (RUPM 2013). So I guess, it’s not about the weather but the preparations and training one undergoes that make for a good finish time. Cheers, everyone!