Date: November 4, 2013
Place: Baguio City
” I always say that when something goes wrong in a race, it’s your heart that will help you cross the finish line. I tested that theory at the Baguio Leg of Milo Marathon. At Km 2, there was a stinging pain in my left leg and each step made it more painful so I had to close my eyes, embrace the pain and inch my way to the finish line while being treated to the view of the pine trees in Loakan Road and the view of the mountains during Sunrise in Kias.”
There was some mishap in my kit which ended up not being shipped to me after I registered online. Fortunately, as I visited Riovana days before the race, a Runrio staff volunteered to meet me to give me my kit the day before the race. For cases like this, they do have back up kits for those registrants who missed receiving their kits. I’ve been absent in races for about two months before going to November where I’ll be doing 3 half marathons as part of my build up for my first full marathon in February next year. Each race all will be done at training pace and building endurance is the priority over a fast finish. I’ve also tried running in Baguio every time I’m home just to get my legs used to the altitude. Since the Baguio Leg coincided with the All Souls Day weekend so that just means I’d be at the starting line on Race Day.
Race Course and Elevation Profile
Running above 1500 meters (about 5,000 feet) above sea level is common in Baguio and the elevation is really a challenge especially for someone like me who’s exposure for hills are the about 30 meters worth of elevation that McKinley has to offer. Race starts at Harrison Road in front of Melvin Jones Grandstand and proceeds uphill to upper Session Road with about 50 meters worth of elevation in the first kilometer of the race. The race takes on mostly descents covering 200 meters of elevation in the next 6 kilometers in Loakan Road. The race then proceeds to a 70 meter climb until the u-turn slot (10.5 Kilometers) in Philex Road in Kias area and the race goes back to a descent back to Loakan Road until Kilometer 14. The toughest part would be climbing 6 kilometers of Loakan Road worth 200 meters of elevation before proceeding back to the finish line at Burnham Park which is mostly downhill.
Race starts at 4:30 am so I was in Harrison Road at around 4 am for a few warmups. Met a few familiar faces at the start including Coach Rio, of course. In no time, it was gun start and being in front it was a blazing start for most people as this was a qualifier too. I started fast before realizing that I had a different goal, which was just to go at an aerobic rate so I slowed down a bit after 500 meters. I went on with that pace though there was some pain in my legs, which at first I thought was because my legs was still warming up. By the second kilometer, the pain was becoming nagging already especially on my left leg. I then realized that this was just more than the muscles warming up, there was something wrong with the side of my left leg beside the calf muscles.
Out or Not?
It had me thinking if I should go on since even walking had some stinging pain or continue since the road was downhill and go on and just find a way to muster enough strength to climb back. I closed my eyes and said to myself, embrace the pain so I went on stretches of two – three minutes run ignoring the pain and just trying to cover as much distance as I can and stopping and walking every now and then just to relax the legs a bit. In no time, I was already in the Dairy Farm area (which we used to visit when we were kids) for the first 5 kilometers of the race. Another 2 more kilometers of shut up legs moments, I passed American World War II Cemetery, Texas Instruments and PEZA area for the 7 Kilometer mark.
And then the climb
The road approaching PMA midpoint the 7th kilometer was starting the uphill area so I shifted to giving a steady efforts just so I won’t miss the 10K cutoff. I whispered a prayer as we passed PMA since on the other side of the road was Everlasting Memorial Park where my father and other deceased relatives were buried. It was then the climb at Philex Road in Kias, which was mostly residential and the road has a nice view of the surrounding mountains and the rising sun. I reached the 10K mark before the cutoff and even if I was mostly limping I knew I’ll finish the race.
After the climb it was mostly downhill until the 14th kilometer so I want to try to put in more effort downhill even is the pain was stinging because it would be a 7 kilometers climb to the finish line after that. It was now a road uphill at Loakan and I just took it one painful step at a time and eventually started to count down the kilometers. I made it this far so might as well find a way to finish. I tried to run the moderate climbs and walked the rest. 3 kilometers to go, I decided to brisk walk instead for the next 2 kilometers worth of climb and then one final run for the last kilometer and finally the finish line with a time of 2:59. I was still able to find a way to finish within 3 hours.
After the race, I had a short chat with Coach Rio about the race and it was a really great and scenic route and well organized run as usual. Hydration was between one and two kilometers apart. There were also kilometer markers and marshals in the race course. After that, I skipped the post race festivities as I wanted to go home and have my left leg checked and it turned up that there was a vein in the side of the leg that was really swollen so even just walking was a struggle. The good part was there was no major injury and the strain was just a warm compress to loosen the vein, rest and a good massage away from being back to running condition. Even if this was my worst half marathon time, it felt great mustering enough will and courage to finish the half marathon distance above the pain. This just mean, I should run more often here.