Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Coming Up Short

It is said that good things come to those who wait. If that indeed is the case, then I guess I will have to console myself with the prospect of better days ahead.

In my previous post, I came out with the stated goal of finishing the 2011 Cebu City Marathon in 4:45. It was rather ambitious of me, to tell you frankly, considering that I have gone sub-5 only once before - and it happened only last December. But hey, we all have the right to aim high (or perhaps more appropriately - dream big). If I nail it, good. If I don't, well, redemption could be had on the Skyway next month.

Alright, I'll get straight to the point - last Sunday in Cebu, I came up short.  I finished the Cebu City Marathon in 4:50:04 (Garmin time), a new personal best and an improvement of six minutes over my Singapore time, but way off the mark by a full five minutes. For a while there, I thought I had it in the bag. Up until Km 35, I was shamelessly flirting with a 4:30. A 4:30! And then - shit Mango Avenue happened. Fueled by adrenaline and hubris (and Roctane!) - and in full pursuit of a 4:30 finish - I ran the inclines instead of walking them. And the outcome was... cramps on both my thighs almost every 200 meters for the rest of the way.  To say that Kms 36 to 42 were a struggle would be a huge understatement.  Those last six kilometers were even worse and far more excruciating than the last three kilometers of my maiden marathon.  More than the physical pain though, as I was hobbling my way through Salinas Drive, what tortured me mercilessly was the notion that I had the 4:30 well within reach, and I just let it slip away. At Km 40, I reverted to the original goal: 4:45. The original prize had become but a mere consolation. Still, it was not to be. My quads refused to cooperate, and even the 4:45 vanished. So, with the finish line in sight, I mustered whatever juice I had left and sprinted. I could still salvage a 4:49 and loose change - and that would still look loads better than a 4:50. But, well, you already know the rest of the story - I crossed the line five seconds too late. Voila, a bittersweet personal best - 4:50:04.  Statistics and splits of my run here (the race distance was fairly accurate - the SRP Tunnel just screwed up the readings).

Now that I've gotten all of that off my chest - let's talk about the marathon itself.  Let me say this: The Cebu City Marathon was as good as advertised. Actually, it was waaaay better. Fireworks at the starting line, a very festive atmosphere, aid stations every 1.5 to 2 kms, overflowing water and energy drinks and abundant food items (banana, crackers, chocolates) at the aid stations, bands, performers, loudspeakers, and cheering sections at almost every turn, countless race marshalls that actually knew what they were doing and that were very polite, a scenic yet fairly challenging route, ambulances and first aid stations, full support of the local government, fantastic-looking finisher's medal --- I can go on and on and on. The Cebu City Marathon was THAT GOOD. I have done five marathons thus far, all within the last 10 months - Condura, Milo, Singapore, CamSur, Cebu, and I can say with all objectivity that Cebu was by far the best. Of the five marathons under my belt, if I were to choose just one that I would run again in 2012, it would be Cebu, hands down. Yes boys and girls, Cebu was that good. It really was. You want to run a world-class marathon? We have one right in our own backyard. Just head down south. Thank you, Cebu. I will definitely be back next year.

Pardon the digression --- but I never meant for this to be a feel-good post. I will claim my 4:30 at the Condura Skyway Marathon next month. After what I went through in Cebu last Sunday, I know in my heart that it can be done. A wee bit too cocky? Perhaps. But so what? It's a free country.


  1. Five marathons within 10 months ...that's awesome, Julius! Three more within the next 2 months and you are a silver level member of the Marathon Maniacs.

    Be patient and love being able to run a lot more than setting PRs.

    See you at the Skyway.

  2. Nice entry! I like your review. I totally agree with you! This turned out to be a feel-good entry after all lol. I ran 21K only but next year, ill be joining the 1% world population in running 42K. Thank you for the article. It made me feel so proud about Cebu :)

  3. The last 4 miles or 6k are always the worst as you know bro...but hey, 5 minutes off is not that bad either...and redemption in the skyway is only a month away.. plus just your singapore, cebu, condura triple already guarantees you a silver section seat in the marathon maniac insane asylum (http://www.marathonmaniacs.com/criteria.html), ...so run hard, celebrate, and live easy :)

  4. maybe it was the heat & humidity that slowed you down and affected your quads. it is still a good finish time after finishing a lot of marathon races within a short period. congrats for a good job! see you this saturday!

  5. @ Sir Arthur - Thanks! Yes, patience and hard work will be key. Looking forward to seeing you conquer the Skyway!

    @ Markin - I can't help but rave over CCM. It was that good - and you obviously agree. :) Thanks for dropping by.

    @ Ed - I have definitely been eyeing a slot in the MM insane asylum hahaha. Very effective motivation. But hey, your 7-7-7 trumps them all. :)

    @ Sir Jovie - Thanks! I have no excuses. Hope to fare better at Condura. See you at the Test Run 50!

  6. Way to go on your latest Marathon. I am glad that it was pleasing for you in all aspects not counting time as a factor. I am assuming that you are just using these for training runs? Maybe your mind is going crazy with trying to determine the true outcome of your wants with in the marathons? You might be frying your central governor. Either case, you did great. Another victory to put in the books. Regardless of time, you rocked it. Cheers!

  7. @ Kenley - You know me, bud. I'm not fast at all. I raced it and all I have to show for it is 4:50. Sucks to be me, I guess hahaha. Oh well. At least it's another long run that will get me primed for the big one in the summer. Say, any update on your trip?