Monday, January 23, 2012

Cebu Marathon 2012 (My First 42K): The First 21 Kilometers

Day 3: January 8, 2012

I woke up ahead of my hotel room mates at 2:30 AM, after just 4 hours of sleep. I hurriedly got up, stepped my left foot on the tiled floor and....Yes! The pain on my left toe has significantly subsided. I walked, jumped and jogged around the room. The pain is still there but it is more tolerable now. I profusely thanked God for making my toe feel a lot better. I then made an affirmation that on this day, I would run and finish my first full marathon! 

 Proudly wearing my Malaybalay Runners shirt

I ate my usual long run breakfast of wheat bread and Nesvita then one Rogin-E capsule for some extra energy. I filled my water bottle halfway as I know that there would be plenty of hydration station along the race route. Inside my fuel belt pouch are 4 sachets of GU Gel, cellphone, I.D. card and some cash in case of emergency. I also bring along one Alaxan FR just in case the pain on my left toe would again be aggravated. We left the hotel at 3:30 AM and jogged our way to the I.T. Park. Here we come, Cebu City Marathon!

 Snapshot before the run

We arrived at the venue exactly 15 minutes before the 42K gun start. I went directly to the runners starting area.  My wife Malou and my officemate Roy will be running in the 5K and 21K, respectively, much later. I was the lone Malaybalay Runner in an ocean of more than a thousand 42K participants. Despite being alone, I felt excited deep inside. The enormous distance is right in front of me and I know I am stepping into the unknown. But I know I trained hard for this day and I always keep the faith that no matter how fast or slow, I will finish the race! 

Minutes flew by so quickly and at exactly 4 AM, its.....FIREWORKS!

 Fireworks at gun start!

 42K, here I come!

Just as I planned, I started my run really slow. I saw the two sub 5:30 pacer with their balloon and decided to tagged along. Since this is my first marathon, I set my goal time at 5 to 6 hours. I wanted to take it easy, feel the race and enjoy the scenery.

Right from the start I followed my plan to run-walk with an interval of 4:1 (4 minutes run and 1 minute walk break). To my surprise, there are also plenty of runners who run-walk during the race, with various time interval though.  

The first 8K or so are mostly downhill. From the I.T. Park, we passed through Salinas Drive, Gorordo Avenue, Escario Street then turned left after passing the Provincial Capitol building. We went down the Osmeña Boulevard, passed through Fuente Osmeña Circle, Colon Street and turned right before the Sto. Niño Church. We ran in-between the Magellan's Cross and the Cebu City Hall, then passed by Malacañang of the South, Plaza Independencia, Fort Santiago and then entered the South Road Properties (SRP) tunnel.

Running inside the SRP tunnel

Entering the SRP tunnel is some kind of new experience for me. Since I'm a little claustrophobic, I had a weird feeling like the tunnel is closing in on me and sucking out my energy. It was a good thing though that there was one hydration station serving water, sports drinks (Pocari Sweat) and bananas along the 800-meter route. 

A breath of fresh air greeted me as I exit the tunnel. It was still dark when I hit the SRP road. I maintained my slow pace and 4:1 run-walk ratio. I started to get worried though as I could feel the pain on my left big toe coming back again. So at at the 10-kilometer hydration station, I ingested the Alaxan FR I brought along. I started to feel a lot better and in a few more minutes, the pain was 100% gone! 

Without the pain bothering me, I ran with more gusto along the SRP route. Daylight came and the coastal scene energized my body and relaxed my spirit.  Despite taking walk breaks, I still managed to catch up with the sub-5:30 group from time to time. The SRP road was mostly flat in going to Talisay City.

 Running the sub-5:30 group in going to Talisay City

I reached the 21K U-Turn at 2:30 in my digital watch. Because of my controlled pace and walk breaks, my legs are still feeling good. The sub-5:30 group was already far ahead, though still within my sight. I am already half-way to finishing my first marathon so I pushed on with my run. I am still feeling great knowing I was able to conserved my energy. As to how long will that energy last with still 21 kilometers to go, that's what I would soon find out. 

The halfway point to finishing my first marathon!

To be continued

(This is the second part of My First Marathon series which chronicles my experience during the 2012 Cebu City Marathon. CLICK HERE to read Part 1)

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