Today is the day after I officially became a marathoner and my body is aching from the waist down. Normally, I would wait a few days before I blog about a race but there is just no waiting for this one. So here goes.
The day before the big day, I was feeling a bit excited. Excited because I couldn't wait to check-in at the hotel and just relax. Upon checking in, I watched a movie, ate a hefty meal at around 4pm which would be my last meal for the day, and spent a good hour swimming and just enjoying what the hotel had to offer. Then I had a quick shower and got ready for bed. I set my alarm and finally fell asleep at a little past 7pm.
Race day. Or actually, still the day before race day because I woke up waaay ahead of my alarm at around 11:45pm (haha!). So I woke up and showered, changed into my running #ootd, had a quick breakfast of chicken noodles and Gatorade, took my meds (had the cough and colds) and got my stuff ready. I packed my race essentials (Simple Hydration bottle filled with water, GU Gels and Saltsticks) and post-race essentials (small towel, powder, lipgloss, and comb, hahaha) into a sling bag. I was actually feeling calm and collected, which was surprising because I'm usually jittery before a race. My room mate (who's also a TBRDM participant) and I finally left the hotel at around 1am and went to the race venue via the hotel's shuttle service. When we got to the venue, I checked in my stuff at the baggage counter, did some last minute prepping and warm-ups, consumed my first packet of GU Gel, turned my iPod on to psych myself up, found a nice spot very near the starting line, and waited for the gun start. 2am came and finally...
Race proper, first loop. True to my training plan, I decided to stick to the 4:1 run-walk method while maintaining a 6 to 7-ish per km pace. I reached the 5km marker at around 34-minutes which was good enough for me. After the first hour, I took my first capsule of Saltsticks. I reached 10km at around 1 hour and 12 minutes, and that's when I consumed my second GU Gel. I felt very comfortable with my pace, and I was even singing along to the songs on my playlist. Which was kinda sad when I heard the low-batt sound on the 18th km. So I decided that to save the music for later and turned my iPod off. I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I reached the 20km marker and saw that only 2 hours and 30 minutes had elapsed. Then before starting on the second loop, I saw a familiar face from a distance which was totally unexpected. Then I heard him cheer for me, and I smiled. It was like a burst of happiness and energy and I-don't-know-what-else. Needless to say, it gave me a boost and I felt so ready to take on the second half.
Second loop. I tried to maintain my 4:1 strategy for as much as I could but to be honest, there were times when I extended my walk for 30 more seconds or so. I couldn't help it, I was already tired by then. I reached the 26km marker at around 3:15 which meant that I had broken my 25k PR. My legs were starting to ache towards the 28km marker and I was starting to feel the beginnings of cramps, but thank goodness they didn't happen. From there, I decided that I would walk on every uphell if I would feel any pain because I really didn't want to be injured. I kept taking Saltsticks for every hour that I ran and GU Gels every 10km. I turned my iPod on again when I had about 6km to go. Towards the 38th kilometer, I saw one of my team mates, sir Mhar, on his bike. He said "Konti na lang!" to which I laughed and replied with something unintelligible. Somehow, I still had the energy to laugh. Then on the right turn before the last two kilometers, I saw another one of my team mates, Niel. He was snapping away with the camera and telling me that I can definitely make it to sub-6 hours. I smiled at that thought, and then unconsciously cringed of exhaustion while he was taking photos. Never mind that I knew I would look wacked in my photos. Hahaha! When I saw the 40km marker, I knew I was near but it felt sooo far. It was the longest, farthest, hardest two kilometers of my entire life!
On the last two turns during the last 500 meters, I saw familiar faces cheering for me: my Milo APEX 21k friends. That gave me the final boost of energy to run towards the finish line. I was surprised that it was only 5:29-ish when I checked the official timer so I sprinted knowing that I can still make it in in less than 5 hours and 30 minutes. And make it I did! I HAVE NEVER BEEN SOOO HAPPY AND RELIEVED IN MY LIFE, OMG.
They say that nothing beats your first, and I can honestly and truly attest to that. The Bull Runner Dream Marathon is the best and will probably be my most memorable run. Ever. The route was challenging with lots of uphells. And that was when I was really pleased with myself for doing those hills training on weekends. They really paid off. There was ample hydration: water, Gatorade, and coconut water. There were snacks; I ate a couple of hotdog bits, some gummy worms, Jellyace, and orange slices. Everyone there, from my fellow Dreamers to the Pacers to the Dream Chasers and the spectators, was just sooo supportive. I heard some people call my name and cheer me on even though we might not know each other personally. Their cheers meant a lot to me and to the other participants. I think that was one of the best parts of this running event: it really shows the value of paying it forward especially in the running community. It was such a unique experience that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.
Thank you to JC for the moral support and words of encouragement, to my team, Team aRUNkada, for the moral support as well (special mention to Niel, sir Mhar, and Desmond for their presence on race day), to my sister, Sam, for being there with me, to my Brooks Running Clinic coaches and Milo R2 APEX coaches for the wasakan workouts that helped BIG TIME, to my Milo APEX friends for their loud cheers (with pompoms pa), to the photographers for capturing these precious hagardo versoza moments, to my fellow Dreamers (now marathoners) for the support online and during the race, to the Dream Chasers (hi, Josh) for the cheers, the food, and everything else, to Coach Lit Onrubia and Coach Jim Lafferty for the guidance in our trainings, and last but not the least, to Ms. Jaymie Pizarro and the rest of the TBR Dream Team for making this event possible. For making my dream a reality.
When I first started running, finishing a marathon never crossed my mind. Not that I wouldn't dare to run a 42k but back then, finishing seemed like a huge impossibility. But now I believe that nothing is impossible. With five months of training and conditioning, and sacrificing my gimik nights so I can wake up in the wee hours of the morning just to run, I was able to turn that impossibility into an achievement that I will always carry with me. Right now, my legs are feeling sore and I can't walk properly... So would I do it again? Well, not the TBRDM because it's only for first and second time marathoners, and there is no way I would wait for one whole year to run my second one. But I will definitely be running another marathon, and a third one, and so on. For now, I will recover and get that well-deserved rest (a full-body massage, perhaps?) and cherish this marathoner's high that I am still feeling. Yes, now I can proudly say that I AM A MARATHONER.
Oh... And as for my time? It's 5:29:34 based on the official results. So yeah... definitely sub-5:30. ;)