I won't bore you with some long-winded story of how I prepared for my first marathon. By now, I’m sure you already know the routine --- months of training, mileage build-up, long runs, proper nutrition and hydration, the works.
I’ve also realized that I don’t really feel like writing about every little thing that went on during the five hours and forty-two minutes (my official finish time was 5:42: 37) that it took me to traverse Condura’s signature marathon route. Instead, I’ll just rattle off what I consider to be noteworthy tidbits:
+ I patiently stuck to the Galloway run-walk method until Km. 31. After that, I had to abandon the 5:1 run-walk ratio (i.e., five-minute run intervals followed by one-minute walk breaks) because my left calf, my right thigh, and even my shoulders started cramping up. I would never have finished the marathon within the cut-off time had it not been for the Galloway method.
+ Condura Hill was a sight to behold, and, from a distance, looked quite intimidating. I thought Skyway was a cinch until I caught sight of the Hill, and all I could mutter (out loud, and not just to myself) as I approached it was a very emphatic “p_ t _ng i _ a.” It was, hands-down, the most challenging part of the 42k route, and made the Kalayaan Flyover feel like a walk in the park.
+ I was well-hydrated throughout my run, and I knew this because I was sweating until the end and my urine remained clear. The Condura hydration plan was executed well, except for that long stretch on Condura Hill when there was not a single hydration station in sight. Since I decided to run without my trusty Nathan hydration belt, I was forced to delay my intake of GU energy gel until I caught sight of the next hydration station.
+ The last three kilometers of the run were by far the longest three kilometers I’ve ever ran, and, under the sweltering heat of the 9 a.m. sun, it seemed to go on forever. The sight of the finish line was like an oasis in the middle of an arid desert.
+ Throughout the run, I consumed a total of seven chocolate-flavored GU energy gels, two Energy Bars, one Gatorade Tiger, one cavendish banana, three-fourths of a bottle of 100 Plus, and God knows how many cups of water. Apparently, my in-race hydration and nutrition strategy worked. I never felt weak, famished, or dehydrated. What did me in was cramps on both legs (and even on my shoulders!), which I suppose can be attributed to a lack of mileage prior to the marathon.
+ As I crossed the finish line and caught a glimpse of wifey waiting for me at the sideline, my eyes swelled with tears (BUT I did not cry). It was really strange. I had read in the blogs of other runners that a lot of them cried after they crossed the finish line during their first marathon. I swear to God, I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. Again, good thing I was wearing shades.
+ I finally met and/or greeted a number of runners whom I had previously met only in the local running blogosphere.
+ I finished the marathon injury-free, and well within the cut-off time of six hours.
+ I had a great post-race meal at Café Juanita together with wifey, my niece Jym, and my nephew Jap.
In addition to these, what made my marathon weekend a great experience was my observation that, during races, even in the heat of competition, runners actually look out for each other. This just about sums up what I've come to love about the sport of running. You see, I’ve always believed that, in the final analysis, a runner competes only against time, the course, and himself. It's the only sport where one can finish dead last in a field of a thousand runners, and, with firm conviction, still consider himself a winner. And, because a runner does not have to beat anybody in order to be considered victorious, running possesses the unique and transformative power to bring out the best in runners. I've held on to this little "theory" of mine for quite some time now but have not witnessed this for myself until last Sunday at the Condura Skyway Marathon.
And lastly, let me say this: The son did not forget, and the son did not fail.