Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My First Marathon To The Sweet Finish!

"A Marathon is just 26.2 Miles", I once read this from a Soleus Watch. Might seem like it was just taken lightly or it's just telling me that despite the distance, it can be done.

My medal shot captured perfectly by Tong Pascua!

Marathon is one of my fears. I've seen how people train diligently and finish it like it was a death defying one, with the injuries and all. I've been running 21K races for more than a year now and I still hit a wall at around 19 kilometers. I know in myself that it will be hard to finish double the distance given my ever changing training routine because of my work schedule.

After that very tiring route recon at the TBRDM Bull Session in Nuvali on the first week of January, which I managed to run 26.5 Kilometers but I was so burned out, I realized that I only have less than 2 months to go to prepare for my first marathon. At first, I was so shaken that I already considered backing out but I realized that this marathon was long overdue and I should have done this last year. No matter how I delay this I still need to do it so it's gonna be now or never!

I admit I was so lazy after signing up at TBRDM. My thoughts where "Malayo pa naman eh! Tsaka nalang ako mag training." (The race is still far, I'll just train some other time). So I just trained lightly, missed workouts and never make up for it until the recon was done, and it was a wake up call for me.

With the element of time as my enemy, I consulted Coach Lit and he told me I should not miss a weekend LSD from that moment on to be able to prepare for the Marathon on the last Sunday of February. I also took a day off to prepare a good training plan that I will religiously follow. After collecting information from my runner friends, I came up with a training plan, nutritional plan and race day plan that I believe will work for me.

A week before the race, I feel I am strong enough to finish the distance since my weekend runs were all good and my body is feeling a lot better and lighter. I also had a good nutritional plan that helped a lot as well.

Marathon jitters were always present since the recon and it just got stronger a day before the race which caused me a sleepless night. I am just glad I already acquired more than enough sleep before it happened. Saturday afternoon, I had a slight hypoglycemia attack that I was able to manage quickly. Maybe the nervousness I feel is eating up my blood sugar. While I was cutting my toenails I accidentally wounded my biggest left toenail and the night just before I go out and head to the bus at BGC to Nuvali, my monthly period came in.

The bus left 40 minutes late from the expected time. We arrived almost 1:00AM so we have an hour to prepare ourselves for the race. While I was claiming my Ipico Timing Chip, I saw Tessa. She asked me if I'll be running alone. She is also alone so we decided to stick with each other to the finish.

Tessa told me she wants to finish in 6 hours 30 minutes. I told her my target is 8 hours and we agreed to do it my way.

Five minutes before the start we headed to the starting line. I was not talking. I was heavily breathing. While others are busy taking photos and chatting with fellow runners and supporters around, I was saying my sincerest prayers.

I remember saying this line, "Lord, I know I am not well prepared for this race. I do not wish a decent time or to be injury free or a strong finish, just let me get this over and done with alive, I'm good... but whatever happens, your will be done..."

The nerve wrecking feeling came when the countdown to ten begins and when the gun sounded, it's game time!

As usual, the start for me is always the hardest. I managed to run the first 15 minutes continuously until we hit a false uphill and started walking it. We agreed never to run the hill parts and compensate on the downhills.

Surprisingly, we are strong. We managed to run at a consistent pace and take it easy. We had frequent walks that we managed to do briskly. Even if we are slow, I'm glad that we did not feel any pains that may cause us to slow down on the first part of the race.

We clocked 2:58 on our first 21 Kilometers, which is good. So I told Tessa I am cutting our target time to 7 hours. At this time, we have conserved a lot of energy to go so we took a faster stride to finish the race at the new time we set to.

At around 24K, Tessa needs to go to the comfort room badly. We are so far from the portalets. She was struggling and we are walking slow. After 2 Kilometers we saw a guard house and they were very accommodating that they let her use their comfort room. I waited outside, on the road for about 15 minutes and saw some runners pass by me. After Tessa did what she needs to do, it's time to make up for the lost time.

At the 28K mark, it was time for me to change my tampons because it felt so heavy already. I endured the very dirty portalet that I won't even dare get into if it wasn't for the need. I think I burned 5 minutes inside that hellish place. Thanks to the guys who let me in first because I really need to go pee and change at the same time. After that I felt lighter, and I know I can run better now.

At Kilometer 30, I looked at Tessa while we were running and noticed that she's already wearing her shades. So I did too! And they are in matching colors, orange! Ofcourse I took a photo and posted it on my Facebook. I got 49 likes on it! ^_^

This is the time where I feel so pumped up. We run almost all the way. It was a great feeling to see those fast runners who at first passed by us and now most of them are walking or running slow and now it's our time to pass by them. It's like were given a chance to experience a competitive like racing to finish.

At the last 5 Kilometers Tessa started crying. I stopped her and told her to reserve the drama at the finish line. Don't worry I already said sorry for ruining her moment.

While sprinting, Tessa noticed the rainbow in the sky and we can't go on without taking a photo with it. The rainbow symbolizes hope, that despite all the hardships we've endured, in about an hour we will finish the longest race of our lives to date.

We continued running and at the last 1 Kilometer Tessa told me that she wants me to cross the finish line first because I deserve it. Though I wanted to finish the race with her I don't want to spoil our own individual moments. Such a generous heart she has! At the last 500 meters I saw all my runner friends and supporters cheering out loud. It was like a nitro that pushed me to sprint to the finish line. I even did a jump shot!

I finished the race with an official time of 6:24:18. A good time for a first timer. Surprised that I am the 298th out of 584 finishers! I really belong now to the middle pack. I guess I already graduated from being one of the last runners. I still can't believe it!

After just 2 months of serious training and a week of race and nutrition planning resulted to this. Was targeting sub-8 and incredibly finished an hour and a half less. No dramas, just pure performance, faith in the strategy I plotted, sticking to the race plan, positive attitude and mostly faith in God.

Who would have thought a fat, undertrained, diabetic, slow runner who had a wounded toenail and suddenly had her period finish a marathon injury free? Until now it still hasn't sinked in. Oh well, I don't know if I can beat this PR but what matters is that I can now erase Marathon on my list of goals.

Here are some of our photos during and after the race:

Happy right from the start! (Photo by Tong Pascua)

Japan Japan on a downhill!

My walking moments, at times when I feel so tired already.

A fer kilometers to the finish line and still running strong! (Photo by Team Ponkan Runners)

Sprinting to the finish line while giving a high five to the supporters cheering for us! (Photo by Jose Ramizares)

You got to love the after run stretch! ^_^

My true finish line and one of my reasons for fighting to live, my son!

The race is well organized, but I think there are still some things that can be considered for the next time:

  1. I hope the bus leaves on the exact time that it said it will. Waiting for almost 40 minutes is a hassle.
  2. It would be nice to have a dressing room since the comfort room at the clubhouse is not enough for everyone.
  3. Additional portalets will be a huge help. Placing more of them along the long stretch of the road so runners will not queue up. Better if it can be segregated to Male and Female portalets.
  4. Portalet maintenance please! Just to keep them clean.
  5. More Marshal visibility, especially on the turnaround points to prevent the idea that the race can be cheated on.
  6. An advise to wear a head lamp be more reiterated. If I wasn't wearing mine I would have tripped like some runners did.
  7. I did not feel the presence of the said "Pumped Up Stations". Everything is just like an ordinary "Hydration Station"
  8. Medics? I only saw a few. The one near the band doesn't even have Gauze Pads.
  9. The ribbon holders should let us do what we need to do with it. I even have to pull it out of their hands to pass through. It's not like were taking it home anyway. It ruined the finisher pose I was planning to do.
  10. Free breakfast was so limited the only thing I was offered by the waiter was Brown Rice and water.

Despite these, there are lots of strong points in this race as well. Here are some:

  1. I love how they put a Musical Band to play on the route.
  2. Dream Chasers? I love them!
  3. The roving Dream Mobile with cheering friends and relatives, such a nice thing to see and hear!
  4. Ipico Timing Chip is cool!
  5. The Marshals and Nuvali Guards are polite and friendly.
  6. Hydration Stations are sufficient and placed intelligently.
  7. Photographers are everywhere!
  8. The festive ambiance from 500m to finish line where our runner friends and relatives are allowed to wait is such a booster!
  9. Boy Ramos' congratulatory greetings at the finishline is a proud moment for everyone! It's such an honor to have Jaymie's presence to congratulate every finisher personally.
  10. The finish line moment, where everyone is given a chance to have a great photo with the ribbon!
  11. Stretching station is very helpful, and they provide ice for my knees!
  12. Race photos from delivered plenty of nice photos! We also got nice shots from other photographers as well.
  13. Race results are out in just a day!

My precious!

I would like to thank Ms. Jaymie Pizarro, Coach Lit and all TBRDM staff for organizing such newbie friendly race. To all the Dream Chasers who provided entertainment and offered what they can to help us along the route. To my runner friends and supporters who cheered us to the finish. To the friendly guards at Nuvali. To all my fellow Dreamers who braved the challenging road with us. To my sponsors, Asics, Ampalaya Plus, Soleus and Multisport Magazine. To my Team Kamote Runners Family who went all the way to Nuvali just to cheer for me and for all the running tips and wisdom I got from them. To my Team Triabetics Family, especially to Sir Poch Bermudez who always believed and is ever supportive of my cause. To Tessa Almendrala, whom I shared the whole 42.195 Kilometers with. To the running photographers who took my beautiful photos. To my Mom and my son, the reason why I am fighting for life and most especially, to God who never fails to let me see the power of prayers and of trusting in him more than anything else.

Still strong at Kilometer 32! (Photo by Joseph Nebrida)

So now, I'm officially a Marathoner! For whatever the next challenge I'll choose to take, I'll do my best to conquer it, not to beat anyone else but to beat my sworn enemy, diabetes!

How did I manage to get a decent time and injury free despite all of the hindrances? Well, I'll share with you all the details in my next blog post! Watch out for it! ^_^

Good Vibes everyone and Sweet Running! ^_^


Sandi said...

Congratulations batchmate. We did it! :)

Ryan Rivera said...

HEY. Ang ganda nang story mu. napaluha ako dun.hehehe. Congrats po.

avicmd said...

Congrats! I love your story..its very inspiring : )

artistmonk said...

Congrats! You're an inspiration. Someday, I hope to finish a marathon, too. :)

Gerome Anivado 024 said...

congratulations batchmate! nice story..... and a very strong finish!!!

Thirdy Lopez said...

Congrats batchmate!

Grabe nga yung ribbon holders... Hinila ko talaga para sa "moment" ko!

Regarding the bus, I think predetermined na late ang alis considering pinoy follow their own time. At least you arrived at 1am which was the announced assembly time.

Jackiechan said...

Congratulations, your story was an inspiring one for a new marathoner. Glory to God!

Michelle Manait said...

Thanks everyone! The journey is worth the pain and sacrifices because I know that in my little ways, I can promote my advocacy to raise diabetes awareness... ^_^

Ann said...

Ang galing talaga!!! San ang next FM? =)

Scott K. Johnson said...

Congratulations! Way to go!