#CSM2015 was Marathon Number 2 for me. Each race is a different story. Each marathon is always special since it takes months-worth of preparation. It’s a test of mental fortitude to overcome those tough moments. It builds character that makes all the effort worth it after crossing the finish line. 5,000 plus runners conquering 42.195 kilometers made Condura Skyway Marathon the premier marathon event in the country but it’s honoring the #Fallen44 Special Action Forces Soldiers that makes it one of the more memorable and heartwarming races in the country. Everybody wasn’t only a marathoner, a finisher or a runner, everybody was a HERO in their own little way.
Condura is a tradition for me having joined in 2011 starting with the 10 kilometers where I was chasing a sub 1 hour time, 2012 Condura had me almost beating my 21K personal record but ended up cramping a few meters before the finish line to miss it by a minute. I also did 21K in 2013 as part of my preparations for my half marathon in Hong Kong later that month. Condura took a break for a year in 2014 and that was the year I did my first full marathon in TBR Dream Marathon. When Condura opened their 2015 registration in August, no questions asked, I signed up for a full marathon.
I also started building up my mileage upon signing up. Preparing for my second marathon was different. It was no longer about ticking off an item in my bucket list or about revenge since I had an awesome experience on my first marathon. For one, I’m a lot smarter when it comes to marathons after my first so aside from being well guided by Coach Andy Leuterio, I also started to train smarter and come in healthier on race day. I was surprised that when 2015 entered I was able to do a sub 2:30 half marathon and a sub 4 32 kilometers run. I haven’t ran fast in the past 3 years but I guess when you consistently stick to your training plan you become better. I now know why I signed up for a second marathon and it was to chase a better and more convincing time. Also, if you’ve read the news, the nation is mourning for 44 SAF soldiers who got killed in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao in carrying out their mission. I promise to run, walk or crawl two more kilometers for them.
I also prepared more for the mental aspect of the marathon. I was more strategic in my runs and the goal was to learn to adopt to situations. If something’s hurting, I need to find a way to recover. If I felt tired, I need to recover faster. I shifted to a modified run walk and limited rest intervals to just 20-30 seconds so I can be trained to recover faster. I didn’t load up too much on food as I preferred to run lighter on race day. Lastly, I made sure I had sufficient sleep, hydration and electrolytes on taper week. I guess on that aspect, I did what I can do and let’s see how we execute on race day.
Race Course and Elevation Profile
The race started on the Exit Ramp of the Skyway at Alabang Zapote Road and proceeded to the Skyway. The race course took the full length of the Skyway until Buendia with u-turn in Buendia at around the 16th kilometer mark. The race then goes back to the south until the NAIA exit where there’s a climb around the 19th Kilometer crossing over to the other side of the Skyway until the 20th kilometer. Upon Entry in the other side of the Skyway, the race proceeds about 1 kilometer going south before taking a u-turn going back to Buendia until midway the 27th kilometer. From the Buendia u-turn slot, the race goes through the full length of the Skyway until the finish line at Spectrum.
The race starts with a climb from the Alabang Zapote Exit Area. The biggest climb would be going to the 5th Kilometer mark approaching A Santos (Sucat, Paranaque). The race shifts into a descending terrain with the big climbs resuming at the 13th kilometer approaching the NAIA part of the Skyway. It drops on the last kilometer going to Buendia u-turn slot at Kilometer 16.5. The course then goes back to the rolling terrain before the big climb at the 19th kilometer at the NAIA exit going to the other side of the expressway. The race goes back on a rolling terrain from kilometer 21 at the foot of the NAIA exit to Buendia at 26.5 kilometers and back to the NAIA part at kilometer 31. Then goes the next 8 kilometers of climbs approaching the Sucat Area. The race goes on a descent the last 3 kilometers with a short climb heading to the finish line at Spectrum.
I made sure I would wake up late the day before the race since the gunstart would be 12 midnight. I checked in at Azumi Boutique Hotel who came up with a very reasonable Runner’s promo for the Condura Skyway Marathon. I wasn’t able to get some sleep but I rested the whole afternoon at Azumi. I had my dinner at around 7 pm and took it easy until 10 pm where I started preparing for the run. The shuttle service was available at around 11 pm but since some runners went on to walk because of the traffic, I joined them and walked around 1 kilometer to the venue. With 15,000 plus runners for the event, I saw a lot of familiar faces. I did my stretches a bit and went to the coral of Wave G (Gwapo or Good-looking Wave =>). Waves were released one after the other and our wave got released around 12:23 AM.
As this event also honored the heroism of the 44 SAF soldiers who died, there were 44 soldiers carrying photos of the Fallen 44 soldiers on the first 400 meters of the race. We gave them a salute while running the first 400 meters before we went to climb the ramp to the Skyway. The news of what happened to them was heartbreaking and this is our way to paying tribute to them. Part of the proceeds of the event also goes to the Hero Foundation.
As I entered the narrow 3 kilometer path going to the Skyway, I felt a familiar pain in my shin and there it was, shin splints!!! I really have this Jekyll and Hyde legs and there are runs that felt smooth and there are some that is not. Since I had shin splints, I shifted to my modified run-walk with 2 minute runs and walking for 30 seconds. After a few sequence, I tried adding 20 – 30 more seconds to the run sequence and even with the pain, I was moving on forward. The pain lasted for the first 8 kilometers but I did finish my first 8K in less than 1 hour. Despite the walking breaks, I was able to make up for it with faster cadence.
Second 8K my legs felt a lot better so from a count of 2-3 minutes of running, I went on to increase it to 5 minutes and maintained the walking breaks at 30 seconds. I was able to make up for some time during this stretch and also saw some familiar faces in the running community. I was also able to speed up on the downhills on this stretch. This was also the first u-turn at the Buendia area of the Skyway. I reached the 16K mark below 2 hours.
It was a climb approaching kilometer 17 but since the climbs in the Skyway are really long so I still went on with the same run sequence instead of a 30:30 interval I normally use. I took advantage at the descent on the 18th kilometer and was challenged by the climb going to the 20th kilometer. From the Skyway we went to the toll bootth area at the NAIA exit and went on a climb the heartbreak hill which was really exhausting. I went downhill after that and took the kilometer loop going south before the u-turn at 21st kilometer. I felt exhausted already and then I remember, this was too early to hit the wall. After the 21 K u-turn, I decided to push myself with 2 to 3 minute run efforts and 30 seconds of walking breaks. I reached my 24th kilometer at 3:03. The next u-turn at Buendia at kilometer 26.5 felt like forever but I was slowly inching in to the u-turn with these run walk intervals.
After the u-turn slot, I saw more running friends and even if I felt so tired. I knew that this is just a one way road to the finish line. I went on with the 2 minutes: 30 seconds run walk interval and slowly but surely, I was getting past the kilometer markers one after the other. Because of fatigue, running cadence was a bit slower. I also realized that I still have to develop my core strength as it felt lacking towards the latter distance. The good part that I was going forward without consuming too much of energy as I had a lot of recovery walks. I paved my way back to kilometer 31. It was a long climb after that and I was able to crawl my way to the next level which was around 7 kilometers climb. I was able to reach kilometer 32 at 4:12.
I was able to carve out 2 more kilometers before hitting another road block at kilometer 34. Ready for anything? Not really. I needed to pee and this was my first time I felt this in a race. There were a lot of portalets but the problem was since the weather was extra cool, a lot of runners are queued in the portalets also having the same dilemma. So I went on with the sequence and since it was latter part of the race I added a 1 minute walk after several run walk sequences with 30 seconds break. I would then check on if there was any free portalet. A part of me also didn’t want to stop because muscle fatigue could catch up and may have cramps. I just went on and would just calculate the remaining time based on my pace as the finish line might be a better option to find a comfort room.
I’ve reached the last 3 kilometers of the race and the good part is that it was downhill. I tried to speed up though I can’t sustain due to the inconvenience from my bladder. The narrow stretch felt like eternity though I was still going at a descent pace considering the fatigue and the inconvenience. I just continued on the sequence and eventually was back on flatter terrain before the final climb to the finish line. I managed to put one last effort to run to the finish line with a time of 5:42:59, which is about 21 minutes faster than my first marathon. I congratulated Coach Rio and Pat Concepcion for a well organized race, said my his and hellos to some fellow Team Alpha, got my finisher shirt and medal and run to festival mall going to the comfort room and that was a big relief.
I missed a lot of post race event, which even included a proposal, because of the queue in the comfort room. A marathon is never easy and I hit a lot of roadblocks and learned a lot of lessons here. I’m happy with the race and my time and the fact that even when things went difficult, I was mentally tough for it. It also had a great cause and since I promised to do 44. I walked my way back to the hotel for another 1 kilometer which if added to the 1 kilometer going to the venue plus the 42K marathon makes 44 kilometers. This 44 is for them.