Last December, I was swamped with training for the Bataan Death March 160KM coupled with a busy clinic schedule and the arrival of my brother and his family (who were also my patients) from New Zealand so pardon me if this write up comes 4 months late. I mean this should definitely be part of the annals of my running history for so far, it’s become my official PR (personal record) for a full marathon. Plus the memorable turn of events and unexpected ‘firsts’ then it makes for an interesting read.
It was a cool December 4 morning when I showed up at the starting line to join the more than 700 runners for the 42.195KM distance of the Quezon City International Marathon 2011. Somehow, I found myself in the company of two powerful Powerpuff boys – Joemar Paras and Beeps delos Santos who easily agreed to take me in as I planned to go all out in the first half of the race then just wing it on the way back. It’s a typical cloudy weather as we dashed through the UP campus into the wide avenue of Don Mariano highway. Their pace was quite furious but surprisingly I was keeping up with them. Suddenly visions of breaking into the 4:30 bracket were swirling in my head.
Beeps was definitely setting the pace but Joms and I were able to go along as we entered the compound of the La Mesa Dam. The sun had fully come out of the horizon when we reached the 21KM point. At less than 2 hours, this was a new unofficial PR for me. As expected, Beeps soon disappeared from view as he continued with his insane speed. Joms stayed along as I tried to push myself along the La Mesa route then back to the highway. So far so good.
Then it came, KM25 had me slowing down for some strange reason – thoughts of just DNFing (did not finish) came out of nowhere. I felt spent and tired. I told Joms to just go ahead as I was already doing my intermittent run and walk. But perhaps he knew that once on my own, I will start walking into the finish. So he stayed with me and continued pushing and pacing me. A few kilometers later, I was more upbeat but still feeling fatigued.
Entering the UP campus, we were welcomed by the impending drizzles which soon became a full blown rain with whipping winds to boot. Perhaps sensing that I was losing my will to a strong finish, Joms started narrating the landmarks of the Diliman campus (“the gates of knowledge at the entrance”, etc.) just to distract me from surrendering less than 10KMs into the finish line. I was also attempting to zone out via my 80s music lineup to dismal results. Soon, Joms started targetting landmarks before I began walking again. I was trying my best, really. But it was obvious that something had gone wrong. Early on the race, I had confessed to Joms that I donated blood the day before at 5 pm. I was allowed to run 24 hours after but not 12 hours. But I was registered already. So I hope that’s a fair explanation (or excuse) for you.
We were soaked wet by the pelting rain drops when we finally reached the finish line. It’s my official marathon PR of 4:42:27. My Manila International Marathon record of 4:38 doesn’t count since the distance is 1KM short (shame, shame). Anyway, I’m learning to find my groove to a better PR which I hope to improve on, hopefully at the Milo Marathon this year. And if I’m fortunate enough, I could find someone as helpful and encouraging as Joms Paras on the road. Now this is one rare guy who wouldn’t mind sacrificing for others on the road.
P.S. Minutes after crossing the finish line, I felt groggy, drained and sleepy. I forced myself to drive the car back home and finally rest. So this was how it felt to run with a depleted hemoglobin blood level. Lessons learned.
Photography by Philips BF Photography & Vener Roldan