It’s my first ever time to run a full marathon on my birthday and it was golden (+2 at 4:39). Nature seemed to have connived for a lovely and cool race even if my body acted the other way (way South).
Here are the highlights of last Sunday’s road adventure…
The Run Rio Trilogy full marathon was never in our calendar as we had planned to return to the trails after the Milo Marathon last July 30. But when I found out it was taking place on my actual birth day, I knew we had to run it. Free race kits (from Frontrunner) for a 21K race (Run With Me) 3 weeks before sealed our decision.
Two LSDs (20K & 18.5K) after the 21K and our weekly functional gym routines buoyed our hopes for a stronger performance than Milo (at 4:53). But days before the big day, I was experiencing some pre-race jitters, most especially at the soles of both feet. I might have overdosed the Lacrosse ball rolls or something but fears of a full blown plantar fasciitis along Roxas boulevard kept me on tenterhooks.
5 hours in bed fully awake and waiting to doze off was all the rest and ‘sleep’ I could muster until it was time for our 12 midnight departure to MOA. Along the way, we picked up Keshia and Reylynne, beneficiaries of 2 unused bibs of good friends Bon and Carlene. A few hours before, it had rained quite hard so I was excited but the rain dissipated soon but the cool weather lingered into the morning.
The 42K participants barely numbered a thousand and so as we were released at 2 am, we had the reclamation area (5 kilometers) for ourselves (a complete departure from Milo where for many kilometers, one has to jostle among cavalcades of runners). Initially, Van and I kept a pace of 6:00 mins/km and went up to 5:30 – 5:45, two kilometers after. By the time we entered Roxas boulevard, I had found my rhythm while listening to our footfalls (Van had told me to do away with music and just feel the moment every moment). Along with the clopping my shoes, I timed my breathing (2 breathe ins, 2 breathe outs) and I hardly slowed down. Except to stop at ALL the water stations. And so, it was 57 minutes at KM10.
I had a full download before leaving the house so I was confident I won’t have any stomach issues. But at KM17, something began gurgling and I knew I wanted to get behind those bushes (of the Roxas center island) and do my business ASAP. Fortunately, the gleaming yellow Shell station beckoned on the other side. So off I clambered over the center island, crossed the busy boulevard and lightened my load. It was swift, clean and complete in 5 minutes. Time to go back to battle.
I chanced upon Van who had overtaken me later. He was already on the other lane on his way to Buendia. And so I kept chasing him in the dark until I caught up with him after the railways. I was already struggling at this time but bursts of continuous jogs kept coming so I knew I was moving within the target pace (6 mins/km) up to the first half (2:03 at KM21). The last time I saw Van was on my return trip to Buendia while he was going to BGC for the turn around. I thought he was doing fine.
Along Buendia, I let music push me while the darkness made the route looked less daunting. Math also served as a positive distraction from fatigue after hours of stomping (e.g. at KM 25, I have 17.20 kms to go and if I keep up with my 6min/km pace, I could finish at 4:12, at 6:30min/km, it would be at 4:33). I was waiting for cramping to set in at this point (as in most of my full marathons) but it NEVER happened. Perhaps, the sports massage 3 days before helped. Also, my energy gels (at 0:00, 1:30, 2;30, 3:30) and Saltsticks (1:00, 2:00, 3:00) might have done wonders. Whatever it was, I was latching on this rare experience (for a long time) and enjoying every second as I kept knocking the kilometers away.
The final 1.5 led to the end of Seaside boulevard then makes a U-turn going to the finish line. It was a slow march of beaten and weary runners of all 4 distances. But I kept telling myself – ‘it’s the final struggle and in just a matter of minutes, this ordeal will be over and done with.’ So in between walks, I sneaked in a few meters of slow trot.
The finish line seemed light years away but in the final 50 meters, I managed to continuously keep moving fast, strutting and smiling among the bevy of official photographers before crossing the finish.
And it’s all as I’ve imagined and planned it to be, weeks before – crossing strong, smiling and thankful with a shock of blue on my head to cap my 52nd name day. The only missing was my partner Van who had disappeared in the darkness of Buendia. Reylynne, who crossed minutes later, told me Van was complaining of cramping and gagging when she last met him. I was imagining him getting picked up by the emergency team and never finishing the race. Fortunately, a little over 5 hours, he showed up at the other side of Seaside boulevard, walking but steadily moving. Many minutes later, he finally crossed the finish line, albeit slow and a bit shaken.
And so ends another 42K journey (my 25th by the way) – this one featuring a bit of cool confidence, a new found running rhythm, some GIT issues (had numerous moments of gagging and acidity) and reaping the benefits of functional and strength training. Cheers!
Thank you RunRio, Bicolano Runner for the great pictures!
P.S. And to celebrate my 52nd birthday, we hied off after to Wildflour in Makati along with some of my chummiest running friends. That’s Van, Alfred, Keshia and Reylynne!