Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Best 21K at the 35th Milo Marathon in Cagayan de Oro City

The 35th National Milo Marathon Cagayan de Oro Leg was successfuly held last Sunday, October 16, 2011 in the City of Golden Frienship. My wife and I are among the more than 8,000 runners who joined the country's biggest, grandest and longest running race.

We arrived at the starting line outside Pelaez Sports Center in Velez Street at around 4:30 AM. The area was just a short walk from Philtown Hotel where we stayed. After wishing my wife good luck in her first 10k run, I immediately joined the bunch of 21k runners assembling at the starting line. I met my fellow Malaybalay Runners and we wished each other luck for the gruelling half-marathon ahead.

Without any countdown, the 21K run promptly started at 5:00 AM. From Velez Street, we made a left turn at the National Highway, headed west towards the direction of Opol, Misamis Oriental.

Just as I planned, I take my run easy since I have not done enough long runs in preparation for this race. Upon reaching the 2-kilometer mark water station, I started my run-walk-run with an interval of 9:1 (9 minutes run, 1 minute walk). With this technique, I reached the 10K mark at around 1:08 and was still feeling great.

Water stations are placed every 2 kilometers and there are also some stations handing out Powerade to keep runners hydrated. From the turning point in Opol we headed back to the starting line with the morning sun already up and shining. It was a good thing I had my baseball cap, shades and arm sleeves to somehow protect me from the heat.

I maintained my run-walk technique all throughout, maintaining my walking time of one minute but reducing my run time (from 9 minutes to 5, then 3, 2, 1....) as the heat continued to grow intense. Upon reaching the last 5 kilometers I decided to speed up my pace. I know I was able to conserve some gas by taking walk breaks and by this time I was very confident that I could make it to the finisher's medal cut-off of 2:30. Upon reaching the last 2 kilometers, however, I grew weary as there are no more trees on the road side to provide a bit of shade.  It was also getting hotter with every step that I take and crossing the Marcos Bridge seems like an eternity.

I breathe a sigh of relief upon reaching the corner of Velez Street. There was a water station in this area so I took a cup and poured it into my head. I then drink another cup and made my dash towards Pelaez Sports Center where the finish line is located. Before entering the sports center I paused for awhile to catch my breath. A marshal told me to keep going because finish line is only a few hundred meters away. I made my final push on the rubberized track which felt like air on my feet after more than two hours of pounding the pavement. 

Finally, I reached the finish line with an official chip time of 2:17:07. I felt triumphant because I achieved two of my goals for this run: (1) to make it to the finisher's medal cut-off time of 2:30 and (2) to improve my time during my two previous half-marathons. It was a big improvement indeed as I chipped off 18 minutes and 11 seconds from my Kagay-an Festival Run time of 2:35:18 and more or less 3 minutes from my previous best of 2:20++ during the Dinaganay sa Malaybalay (my first 21K) in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. 

With my recent Milo Marathon experience, I could say that the run-walk-run technique worked well for me. I managed to make it to the cut-off time, improve my time without taking any power gel and still feel great after the run. Though I am still experimenting on finding out what is the time interval that will work best for my pace, I am planning to use this tecnique in future long distance runs.  I still have a long way to go before reaching my ultimate goal of finishing 21K in 2 hours flat or less. I may or may not achieve it but still, the most important thing is to keep on running and enjoying the sport. 

 My first Milo Marathon medal made all the efforts worth it!

More photos taken during the 35th National Milo Marathon in Cagayan de Oro City:

With celebrity running coach and race director Rio Dela Cruz

My wife finished her first 10K run in 1:07:36, good enough for 16th place among the female runners. Way to go!

With the Malaybalay Runners

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."--John Bingham

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