Race Review – Condura Run for the Dolphins, February 7
This is my second running event for this year – but what makes this event even more memorable is that this day marks my maiden 42K voyage. Many of those in the running core will also engage in their first full marathon on this day because for the first time, runners will be traveling the whole of the Skyway on foot. During last year’s Condura, some of us only got until the approach to the tollgate across Nichols. This time, 42K runners will complete the Skyway all the way until Bicutan. Long-distance runners couldn’t resist this one – if you think about it, when will you ever get to run the Skyway’s entirety in your life? You might as well take the opportunity because you’ll get to tell your future kids that you had the chance to run the Skyway.
I had to think more than twice before signing up for the 42K. First of all, I never had the chance to go beyond 21K since past experience dictates I end up wasted more often than not after a half-marathon. Second, I won’t have much time to train since I was quite busy with work and I was still in Cebu, and it was getting close to our client’s implementation week. But upon further thought, I told myself that I can’t stick doing 21K races all my life. I must be moving on to greater challenges somehow. Besides, one of my goals that I had set to myself ever since I got hooked on running was to finish AT LEAST one full marathon. Even just one would do for me. After that, I can carry on with the usual 5s, 10s, and 21s.
I made the big decision sometime in November of last year. This was my chance to break the wall once again – so I started training in the process, even during the Christmas season. At first it was hard since I had always set my eyes on the glorious number 21. But with a little push, some discipline, an “inspiration” – and the right kind of mix from the iPod Shuffle – accomplishing long runs became more bearable. I was racking in the kilometers whenever I can, resulting in the conceptualization of the Project Cuarenta hamster-training session and the completion of my longest training run by far – a 36.22K solo LSD in the Queen City of the South that took me to a lot of major roads in Cebu. Training commenced until the last week of January.
Along with these long runs come highly noticeable weight loss. So I’m very happy that even though I usually gorge a lot on the holidays – who wouldn’t, right? – I was able to maintain my weight. It was also good news since I decided to sign up for a second serving of the running group’s biggest loser challenge. Shedding off those pounds really did me well.
One week into the race, I had to strictly implement the following aside from the usual carbo-loading so that I can safely say that I’m ready for race day:
• Get enough sleep – there was a need to make it between 6 to 8 hours.
• Eat at least 2 bananas everyday – after suffering from cramps in a number of races, there was no way I’m going to let that rain on my parade. In a sense, I was also potassium loading.
• Prepare a loud playlist for the iPod Shuffle, and I mean LOUD – studies have shown that runners who listen to their favorite type of music before and during a run are psychologically motivated to do more. Hence, I grabbed my favorite hardcore rock songs utilizing double pedal bass beats as much as possible, both local and foreign, to match the mood.
• Lay off the alcohol – it really works.
• Get any more pending work done so that I won’t have to worry much on race weekend.
• Finally, taper on the distance – ‘nuff said!
I took a flight back home to Manila Friday night. Couldn’t help but feel excited because the race was in a few days. This was definitely going to be my moment and there was no way anything was going to stop me – except colds and signs of sore throat. I was blowing my nose frequently that day and I tried to contain my coughing as much as possible so that my throat wouldn’t be that aggravated. So there was a need to stock up on vitamin C, and pray that nothing bad happens on race day. Sure, it’s only colds and a sore throat, but it could still affect my concentration and my spirit. Thankfully, the following day, signs of sickness were kept at bay, but there was still no reason for me not to drink my vitamins and gargle full strength does of Bactidol.
Saturday came. Relaxed in the comfort of my own home and watch the tube. Tried to contain the excitement as much as possible, but to no avail. Sent greetings of good luck to all those who were going to participate in the race. Sustained my potassium loading to prevent the risk of getting cramps in the race. Prepared my equipment and my apparel for the race. Ate a lot – after a long while, I got to eat rice again and some “evil” food. Hehehe! Got to bed as early as 8PM to prevent myself from being groggy when I wake up.
Sunday was race day. I woke up at 2AM, got dressed, then headed to my favorite parking spot at The Fort. There I met up with the running core, who I haven’t seen and ran with for quite some time.
(This is Team Tahanan Village. Too bad we couldn’t find Rachel this time.)
Knowing that we will be soaking ourselves under the sun for approximately 4 hours, I took the liberty of bringing in some sunblock. Yes, though I already have dark skin already, I was THAT scared of getting darker further. I passed that on to some of my friends.
We got ourselves in the coral later on. Approximately 30 of us who will be doing the full marathon got ourselves conditioned as much as possible and warmed up completely. Our Garmins were set, our laces were tied, our hydration belts were tightly secured, and our spirits were anxious to get the race started already. A few minutes before the race, déjà vu – much like what happened at the Cebu City Marathon a while ago, we were greeted by fireworks. That sure provided more than enough boost for us. After giving ourselves pats on the backs and encouraging words of support, the final seconds had shown up on the race clock. 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… We were off!
I joined along with Team Galloway, headed by the running group’s proponent, Carina. The major point in this race was not about speed, but rather endurance. Since this was my first, I wouldn’t matter what time I finish, although I have to admit, I was aiming for a finish time under 5 hours and 30 minutes. If I implemented a Galloway approach to the race, I would have a better shot at finishing at my target time. But the main target of the race was TO FINISH at a strong state. No matter what time I cross the finish time, it will be a personal record for me, as long as I make the cut-off mark of 6 hours.
Team Galloway was doing constant 5:1 intervals, and for the first few kilometers, I discovered that it was really working! I told myself that this strategy was really going to do wonders for me! So I kept along with the pace of the team, making sure not to get ahead of them. We kept running along Bayani Road, the Kalayaan flyover, the aid station near the highway, and the approach to the Skyway while bike support (led by Z and Pepsi) was taking pictures of us. Thanks for the shots, ladies! =D
Nearly 6AM. We were now at the Skyway, still engaged in the Galloway approach. The sun was starting to show up and we couldn’t help ourselves but look at the sunrise from above. If I had only brought a camera small enough to fit in my hydration belt I would have done so and take pictures of it. But that would mean there would be no space for the e-pass =P
We continued on until reaching the turnaround point just across the Bicutan off-ramp. So far, so good – everything was going great. I wasn’t running out of breath just yet and my legs didn’t feel wasted yet. If I kept up with my existing pace then everything would be great even when I reach that high bridge leading to NAIA Terminal 3, dubbed as the “Condura Hill”. Unfortunately, the great feeling wasn’t to last that long. Just before reaching KM26, my left calf was starting to act up. Tracy was with me that time and asked me if I was doing okay. Initial shocks leading to cramps were imminent. Although they weren’t that painful at all, I was given no choice but to slow down, walk a bit, and do some stretching along the sides. Thankfully, one runner saw me and offered me a shot of cold cream to apply to legs. I accepted his offer and began applying the cold cream to my left calf, hoping that it would kill the jolt. As a token of gratitude, I offered to pace with him until the end of the race, along with Tracy. I met a new friend in the process and discovered later on that he was also part of the running group. His name is Mike, and he’s in the process of completing his full marathon as well.
The three of us walked Condura Hill and later on resumed running at a much more comfortable pace. Tracy went on ahead of us after going downhill. But the effect of the cold cream eventually wore off and the jolt was making itself felt once again on the way to the Skyway exit. Mike didn’t refuse to lend his cold cream for me to apply on my left leg again. Since I didn’t want to have any cramps – who would want cramps during a race, right – I proposed the idea of implementing a reverse Galloway approach until the end of the race. Mike and I wanted a strong finish, so the idea was well accepted. This was going to be the strategy for KM32 onwards. However, it was sad to know that even with reverse Galloway, my left calf didn’t behave itself, and that left me completely frustrated. Did that mean I would have to walk it out until the finish line? After doing some quick computations, I discovered that even if I walked until the final kilometers of the race, I would still make it to the cut-off time. In the end, I had myself walking from Buendia all the way to The Fort via the Kalayaan flyover. Disappointing, I must agree. But the point was to have a strong finish. Later on, Mike handed me his tube of cold cream in case I might need it, and went on ahead.
(Thanks again, Mike!)
Upon reaching the Kalayaan flyover endpoint, I tried to resume doing reverse Galloway, and so far it was working until the point that I reached the University Parkway. But it was no good as the jolt was there once again. Oh well, that meant more walking for me. Pepsi later on came in to the rescue and handed over some Gatorade. Also, the LSD team (composed of Neil, Pojie, Jet, and newcomer Timmy, who also joined Team Galloway earlier on) caught up with me. We were going to finish the race together somehow, since we were walking for the most part anyway.
With one kilometer left before the race, it was time to give the final push. I’ve been walking for quite some time now and maybe I should give my running pace another shot, making sure to avoid the full effect of cramps. 350 meters before the finish line, Tracy went back for me and paced me until the end. Thanks for providing power to the final push despite the jolts!
I crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 57 minutes. Not bad for a first timer indeed, although I could have done better. =)
(Rico and Selle, thanks for greeting me. Mac, thanks for carrying my banner!)
At the finish line, I was in for a surprise – one of my really close friends who ran a 10K at this event was waiting for me at the finish line! That really warmed my heart. I presumed that she had waited approximately 2 hours for me just to see that I would cross the finish line safe and sound. There was no other form of gratitude but to hug her and thank her for waiting for me and being there at the race’s final stretch. I really appreciate the effort and the thought, and that was nothing short of priceless.
(Caren, thank you so much. Your presence really meant a lot and I couldn’t be any more happier. =D)
Later on I met up with the other members of the running core and got my medal. I DID IT!!! I’M NOW OFFICIALLY A MARATHONER!!! =D
I was supposed to wear the Condura freebie shirt, and it didn’t fit me that well. Too bad for me, it had a good design. But I didn’t fret. I looked to where Team Bald Runner is and met up with Sir Jovie. Earlier, I had informed him that I had accumulated more than 1000K in my running endeavors. As a result, I end up with the following…
I’ve been officially inducted into his 1000K club. Other inductees were Doc Marvs and Doc T. Thanks loads, Mr. Bald Runner! =D
And I couldn’t help but wear it for the whole world to see…
There were definitely lessons learned after the completion of this race:
• Sacrifice = victory.
• Perseverance goes a long way.
• Long runs really help. Now I’m not scared to venture beyond 21K.
• I may need a pair of compression socks sometime soon to provide further support to my calves.
• Respect the distance. Running a 42K is no laughing matter at all.
• Finally, I have come to realization that I CAN DO IT. =D
So now that the marathon is finished, what’s next? Ultra runs spanning 50K or 102K over unforgiving heat, perhaps? Maybe, if I eventually go insane, but not for now. I have to improve my 42K time first, and live in the moment of relishing in the victory of accomplishing a feat not many can do. =) Congratulations to all those who had accomplished their first full marathon! Now I await the time when the running core will be doing this once again. Let’s resume training soon once I’m fully recovered!
Oh yeah, victory is sweet when you work hard for it. =)
As parting words, I would like to thank the following:
• The Concepcion brothers, Pat and Ton, for conceptualizing this splendid race;
• The takbo.ph and Reinier Pacific support group;
• Z and Pepsi for the bike support;
• Carina for showing the Gallo-way;
• Mike for the cold cream;
• Tracy for the pace at the last few meters;
• Sir Jovie for the 1000KM Club shirt;
• Rico, Mac, Selle – for the greet at the endpoint; and
• Caren for being there at the finish line. =)
Here’s a map of the route…
And my VERY positive splits. Never mind the slow pace – what matters is I finished it. =)
Until the next 42K voyage, folks! See you at the starting line!!!