Running with Giants, part 2
We run off as the gun exploded at 4:00 am. While the starting area was glaringly bright with all the spots trained on the runners, the path started to get darker as most roads were not well lit or totally left in darkness (like the overpasses and the skyways). So while the rest of the Metro was still snuggled nicely on their beds, some 7,000 souls were hovering around in their trainers and eyeing marathon glory (at least, among their facebook friends).
We first circled the Fort Bonifacio area before exiting towards Buendia Ave. Along the flyover, it was hard to figure out the many moving bodies on a sea of darkness but following the outline of the road will lead one down the Makati business district. It’s hardly been an hour but the sweat and heat have started building up. The weather was perfectly nippy and slightly breezy so I never felt the need to walk, just slow down at times.
As expected, the veteran runners sprinted to an early lead but since it was a long way to go, Maribel and I took our sweet nice pace while trying to keep up with the general speed. It was still dark when we entered the Skyway and with the deluge of the runners, I found myself running alone in the paved undulating roads rising from the South superhighway below. In the middle of the Skyway stretch, the first rays of the sun began to peek and I haven’t even reached the midpoint of the race.
So far, it’s been a constant pace for me with no signs of pain or fatigue. When we made the turn on the Bicutan interchange, the sun had started to light up the seemingly endless highway and this is when I started feeling the weight and heaviness of my step. I met Ian and Eric on the detour leading to NAIA 3 – we were all getting hungry but our motorcycle-riding support was still at the end of the Skyway so we subsist on our liquefied chocolate bars.
We finally enter the South superhighway going to Buendia and with it, our first taste of bananas and energy drink from our support guy. It’s around 7 am, the sun blazing and many of the runners slowing down, we still have 20 kms to go. The cheers of the crowd and shadows of the buildings along Buendia avenue give our waning spirits a nice needed jolt and we were ready for our homestretch.
Going up the Buendia underpass, one gets a taste of the blazing late morning sun. From here on, we were practically exposed to the summer heat and thoughts of dehydration and mortality weigh us down even further. Perhaps the last 10 kms was the most testy and curse-inducing portion of this marathon. Of course, my trusty MP3 player won’t play again and I’m given to listening to some recessed songs in my head (‘Don’t, don’t you want me…’).
That’s still a good 15 minutes before I finally cross the line at 5 hours, 36 minutes. I even sprint a little to show the waiting crowd that I’m still good for another 10 but once I relaxed and took in all the kilometers I’ve ran, fatigue and mild pain finally set in. I always kid myself that I have Wolverine’s quick healing adamantium so that I rarely feel weakened nor worn out after a race. This time around, taking the first steps on my rubber slippers was like walking on puppet legs without the strings – you’re bound to unexpectedly just fall down and crumple on the pavement. But we still managed to walk around Bonifacio High Street and have our little celebration. After all, it’s our first full marathon and we survived it.