Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cebu Marathon 2012 (My First 42K): Having the Faith to Finish

After the half-way turning point in Talisay City, we're back running in the SRP road. At this point I am very thankful for the gloomy weather as it is the sun's intense heat which I dreaded most in my long runs. Since the SRP was closed to vehicles, we, the runners had it all to ourselves. The scenery was lovely and the morning was calm, I began taking more photos with my cellphone during my walk breaks.

 A beautiful morning....

Water sprayed from a firetruck to keep the runners cool

A few hundred meters after the 28-kilometer marker, I caught sight again of the sub-5:30 group:

 One of the two sub 5:30 pacer (the one holding the green balloon in this photo) 
 ran barefoot!
I continued to run behind this group and after running for more than 4 hours already, I am amazed that I still have plenty of energy left. This is now the longest distance I've ever run and yet I am still having fun. After passing the turning point of the 21K event, I paused to take some snapshots with the Sinulog dancers at the roadside.

More than 30 kilometers and still enjoying my run....hehehe.

After more than 30 kilometers, it was amazing that I still felt great. At this point, I have a feeling that I'm going to finish at sub 5:30 which is way below my maximum target of 6 hours. Before I knew it, we're back again to the SRP tunnel:

The tunnel once again zapped my energy. I noticed several runners already walking at this point. I pushed through with my run, though more slowly this time. At the water station, I ate bananas and rehydrate with a sports drink. Sunlight greets me warm as I exit the tunnel....

It was after passing the SRP tunnel when the sun's heat went full blast. While it is what I feared most, I am a bit glad that at least I am now less than 10 kilometers away from the finish line. So as not to focus too much on the weariness that's slowly creeping in, I entertained myself with the sights of Cebu's tourist attractions I passed along:  Fort San Pedro, Plaza Independencia, Malacañang sa Sugbo, Magellan's Cross and the Sto. Niño Church.

Fort San Pedro

Going back to Fuente is hard not only due to the sun's heat growing more intense but also due to the vehicles passing on the other half of the road. I tried to run under the commercial buildings to shield myself from the sun. However, there were plenty of people walking there so I went back to the open road. Upon reaching the Fuente Osmeña Circle, we made a right turn to Mango (Gen. Maxillom) Avenue and this is where my real agony started.

The heartbreak road...

Mango has at least two steep uphills and this is where I noticed many runners already walking.  A few sat on the roadside due to exhaustion. This is also where I lose sight of the sub 5:30 group as I took more and more walk breaks. The killer route coupled with the sun's heat made this the longest 6K of my life.

The last turning point

After the heartbreak route that was the Mango Avenue, I am back to running (and walking) along Osmeña Boulevard, towards the Provincial Capitol, to Escario Street and to the last great uphill of Gorordo. At this point I became really, really tired. With only a few kilometers to go, fatigue made my steps and breathing heavier.   It was in Gorodo where I gave up my great expectation of finishing in sub 5:30. But it never, ever crossed my mind that I will give up. Though I'm very, very tired, I know I am far from hitting the wall and my maximum target of 6 hours is still within reach. 

Motivation along the way....

After walking for most part the uphill of Gorordo, this marker along a road junction brought smile to my tired and weary face:

Last 1 kilometer....heaven isn't too far away

How I wish I could run straight the last 1 kilometer but I simply could not. Still it dawned on me that finally I am going to finish my first marathon. I'm just a kilometer away now from reaching my dream so with goose bumps all over, I continued to run-walk, run-walk, run-walk.....

I made a mad dash upon seeing the finish line at the I. T. Park. For a few seconds, everything seems like a blur. Then I noticed fellow Malaybalay Runner Marc and my officemate Roy cheering me on from the sides. Then my wife Malou taking photos as I made my first marathon finish at 5:45. I made the sign of the cross as an act of thanksgiving to God. After receiving my finisher's medal I went straight, hugged and kissed my wife.

I came in as 639th among the 1,006 finishers yet I felt like a champion. Sixteen weeks and 42 kilometers after deciding to conquer the distance, I achieved my dream. I never thought I am brave enough to face the challenge and that I have this kind of strength, endurance, perseverance and faith within me. Then  I realized that it was not only the marathon that I conquered, but also myself.

Me, Malou and my Cebu Marathon 42K Finisher's Medal

My Facebook status after finishing the race: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."--2 Timothy 4:7

This is the 3rd and last part of The Chronicles Of My First Marathon. Click these links to read the first two parts:

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