At around 2:30 AM, with barely two hours of sleep, I stepped out of Plaza Star Business Hotel in Divisoria and jogged my way towards Rodelsa Circle in Paseo del Rio. It is where the Kagay-an Festival Marathon would start and finish. There, I met and chatted with fellow Malaybalay Runners while waiting for the 42K gun start. Marathoners started to crowd the venue and in a little while a showband started to perform in the makeshift stage. The atmosphere is lively and I could sense everybody's excitement for Cagayan de Oro's first full marathon in recent years.
After the Opening Prayer and Pambansang Awit, we were asked to proceed to the starting area. After some stretching drills and race briefing, the gun start fired off a little past 3 AM. Amidst the fireworks, I started to make my strides with only one goal in mind, to finish my second 42K.
From Rodelsa Circle, we ran straight along Velez Street then turned right upon reaching the National Highway. From there, the route went all the way to the town Tagoloan where the 42K turning point is located near Polymedic Hospital.
I run-walk right from the start, using a 4:1 interval (4 minutes run followed by a minute of walk break). With less than two months training and only about three real long runs, I know I need to take it easy and conserve my energy for the most grueling part. I caught up every now and then with my fellow Malaybalay Runners. Hydration station are spaced out every 2 to 2.5 kilometers and I think it was the 4th station which started serving Gatorade and bananas.
Half of the road was closed so it was really safe running in the highway. Since the run started early, it was still dark when we crossed the Puerto Flyover, the only uphill part of the generally flat race route. Daylight came when we're already in the town of Villanueva. Upon entering the town of Tagoloan, we started to meet more and more runners already going back to the finish. We didn't seem to mind that we're way behind as our main goal was to merely survive and finish the race in our own pace. In fact, we have some fun chit-chat and shared good laughs along the way.
We reached the turning point a little over 2:30 then took a break to massage our calves with some liniment (I brought along a small Pao de Arco in my hydration belt). Then we're off running back to Cagayan de Oro City. The sun was on its full blast when we reached the Puerto Flyover once again. We paused and took some fun photos at the top before making our descent.
The real battle began at the last 10K of the route. It is where our group went separate ways to follow our own pace. Running alone amidst the intense heat of the sun is really grueling that I have to wet my face, head and neck with a sponge in every hydration station I passed along. With the sun's heat growing more unbearable, I violated the organizer's instruction to run only on one side of the road (hahaha!) I crossed over to the other side where some portion are still shaded and run along with jeepneys, cars and trucks passing me by. I just made sure that I am safe by running only in the sidewalks.
I could not follow my 4:1 run walk interval anymore as I took more and more walk breaks. Before reaching the last 5K, I consumed the last of my four power gels. As I gained some extra energy I started to run walk with 1:1 interval which seemed to work effectively as it made me run a little bit faster. Upon reaching the last 1.5K point in Velez Street, I became very positive that I could equal or improve my first marathon time of 5:45++. As I continue to run-walk, I caught up with two runners already limping and walking slowly. So I stopped and shared with them my liniment hoping that it would somehow provide relief to the pains they felt. I then encouraged them to just walked their way to the finish as it is only about a kilometer away.
That brief stop took about a minute or two of my time, so I started to run faster with the hope of still making a PR finish. But then speeding up my run eventually took its toll as I suddenly became very tired though I could already see the finish line far ahead. I decided to give up my hope for a PR finish and took a walk break. I thought it would be better to just finish my run safely lest I collapsed before making it to the finish. My walk break then gave me enough strength to run my way to the finish and into the arms of my waiting wife (ahem!!!).
After almost 6 hours ...finish line at last!
With Malou, who finished her second 10K also in this run
My knock-off Adidas digital watch reads 5:46++. I was about one minute slower than my first marathon but I did not really feel bad at all. I endured and survived my second 42K in a morning that was as hot as hell. I came out of it alive, without any injury and I was able to help two fellow runners along the way. Once I again I proved to myself that even though I am slow, I could run long. Really long. And that made my finisher's medal and t-shirt definitely HARD-EARNED! : )
"It's supposed to be HARD. If it wasn't hard then everyone would do it. The HARD is what makes it GREAT!"--Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own