Last weekend, I finished the toughest and most challenging half marathon of my entire life. And I'm not kidding about this one. I joined the Corregidor International Half Marathon which was held last Sunday on Corregidor Island in Bataan.
To get to Corregidor, I , with other runners, boarded a ferry which was supposed to leave Manila at 5:30am but ended up leaving at around 6. The trip took one and a half hour so we got there around 7:30, just in time for our gun start which was at 8am. The sun was already up by then and it was a hot day as summer is approaching.
To say that the route is hard is merely an understatement. It was on a whole other and higher level of difficulty which I have never experienced before. There were lots of uphills and downhills and different types of terrain. The route was mostly on road but there were parts on trail, grass, sand and at one point, stairs. I was uttering curse words the whole time I was climbing those steep stone steps. I started out not so great because my legs were cramping during the first two kilometers. It was hellish and I was in pain. At one point, I had to stop to do some stretching but that did not work so I ended up taking a capsule of Saltstick Caps earlier than I had planned. And that relieved the pain in my legs. I was finally able to maintain a steady pace while slowing down on uphells. When I felt that my legs were totally fine, I gradually picked up my pace while still taking walk breaks in between.
I reached the 10km marker after about an hour and twenty minutes. By then, the sun was scorching hot and I felt drained. On normal races, I skip most hydration stations but this was different. The hot weather made me feel dehydrated so I made it a point to stop at every hydration station to drink water and El Lobo energy drink (I've tried it before and it was okay). Every now and then, I splashed myself with cold water to help with the intense heat. Halfway through the route, I started talking to a fellow runner, Ms. Angelica of Ayala Triads and we decided to togehter during the rest of the race. I usually prefer running alone because I hate talking while running (read: hingal) but during this event, I really appreciated the company. It made the race less tedious and more enjoyable. So this time, having someone to talk to and exchanged running stories with actually helped. I would've walked the entire remaining distance if I was all alone.
About two hour and forty minutes had elapsed when I saw that we had about three kilometers to go. I thought we could make it in less than three hours but then we encountered the so-called "killer hill" within the last two kilometers. It was aptly named because it was basically this stretch of uphell road with around seventy degrees of inclination. My calves burned so I walked backwards to help ease the pain. As we neared Malinta Tunnel, which we passed through three times during the entire race, we made a beeline for the finish line. We clocked in a time of more than three hours, around 3:11:xx, I think. It's a PR indeed... PR for my slowest half marathon. LOL.
All in all, it was a good event. The very challenging route definitely tested my endurance and it was a great experience. It gave me that much needed heat training for what was in store next month. Surprisingly, there was ample hydration throughout the entire route: lots of ice cold water and energy drinks to go around, some bananas with honey, and some gummy candies. There were lots of marshals and enough road signs so that one wouldn't get lost. I have to admit that the race shirt was not that good because the fabric is of poor quality and it doesn't fit right, but they made up for it with the finishers shirt. I loved it; it was sooo comfy and the design is very nice. The medal is huge with a simple engraved design. Also, the long-stemmed roses given to female finishers at the finish line was a sweet touch. The registration fee for this was quite pricey but it was so worth it.
While my time was not that good, I am grateful to have experienced running in Corregidor. It was a nice change of environment from the running events in the city where all one can see are buildings and vehicles while being surrounded by pollution. Running and walking while taking in the the sights of ruins, old buildings, cannons, and views of the ocean and nature left me in awe. Everything was just so beautiful. Corregidor Island is truly a majestic yet mysterious place and I would definitely love to revisit it some other time. :)