Last Sunday, the Manila eliminations of the 39th Milo Marathon, one of the most prestigious marathons in the country, took place at the SM Mall of Asia Open Grounds. More than 1,200 runners participated in this event - a lot of them aiming to reach the required time for their respective age group to be able to qualify for the finals, and some, like myself (knowing that I am far far from qualifying), just aiming to finish within the six hours cut-off to get the medal.
A few days before the marathon, I had my doubts. I have been nursing a couple of injuries (Plantar Fasciitis and Iliotibial Band Syndrome) for almost three weeks now, and they would hurt every time I ran. I ignored each tinge of pain and went on with my training. I even cross-trained.
Race day came and I woke up ahead of my alarm. I was hella scared and nervous. I did my usual prepping and went to the venue early. Once I got there, I deposited my bag, took some painkillers, double-checked my pockets for Saltsticks and GU Gels, did a quick warm-up and walked to the assembly area. The wait was pure agony. I was sooo anxious for the race to start. Finally, 3am came and we were off.
My strategy for that race was to run continuously for the first 5km and after that, I would start with my usual 4:1 Galloway. I was able to do just that. I was able to maintain a comfortable pace during the first half. I took Saltsticks every hour. It was around 2:40 when I reached the 21km, which I thought was an okay time. After that, things started to go horribly wrong. A little past the 22nd km, I felt the cramps coming up so I walked even if I was still on run-mode. I went back to my normal programming when the pain eased down a bit. I reached the 25th km marker at around 3:20. Still a good time. When I reached the 30th km, that was when all hell broke loose. My legs would cramp every now and then, so naturally, I had to slow down every time. Mind you, this was the first time that I have experienced cramps in a race event so I felt panicky. I was consistent with my intake of Saltsticks yet for some reason, they didn’t seem to work that day. I was already tired and burned out. I wanted nothing more than to stop and sit on the sidewalk, and just bawl my eyes out. But my mind was still set on finishing and getting a medal, so I continued. I switched to 1:1 Galloway and that, somehow, helped my sorry situation. When I reached the 38th km marker, I decided to pick up my pace again which was a wrong move. That was when the worst cramp happened. It was so painful that I couldn’t move my left leg. I had no choice but to sit down on the gutter and stretch it. There was a photographer at that area and thankfully, he helped me with the stretching. He handed me a roll-on bottle of Salon Pas which relieved the cramps big time (thank you, sir). I rested for about a couple of minutes and I was back on my feet.
taken seconds before the cramp, photo credits: Running Photographers
The remaining kilometers were the longest of my entire life (I swear I keep saying that every new event). I was exhausted. My whole body was in pain. I was too tired to even smile at the other runners who greeted me (sorryyy :(). I checked my watch when I had about 800 meters to go and I saw that I had been running for six hours. It was already past cut-off. I saw Coach Zaldy and Ms. Gia, and they told me that there could be some grace period. I really pushed myself during that last stretch. And when I finally crossed that finish line, I burst into tears.
approaching finish line, and about to cry
Overall, the Milo Marathon was a very well organized event. The route was kinda umaygad because we had to do loops along Roxas Boulevard, but there were lots of marshals and ample hydration along the way. The hydration stations were consistently distanced 1.5km apart from each other. There were lots of medics as well. Definitely an event one shouldn't miss.
No single word can ever accurately describe how I feel about running the Milo Marathon. Because of my condition during race day, it was one of the toughest runs that I’ve ever participated in. The thought of the six-hour cut-off time put too much pressure on me, both mentally and emotionally. I was ready to give up when I felt so tired after the 21st kilometer. Truth be told, the only thing that kept me going were the smiles, cheers, and words of encouragement that I got along the way from my team mates and running friends. If it weren’t for them, I would have DNF-ed. It was indeed a humbling experience that I will forever be grateful for.
For now, I will be taking a long rest from looong runs until my injuries have fully recovered. I’m thankful to have finished this race. More than that, I’m thankful to have been surrounded by team mates and running friends (you know who you are :D) who never fail to push and motivate me. I promise I will return next year, stronger than ever. :)
my hard earned medal, which was totally worth the cramps, sweat and tears
rank: 1878th out of 1992 runners, official chip time: 6:05:10