Distance: 42.1 Kilometers (Full Marathon)
Date: February 16, 2014
“There’s just less than 1% of the world who has finished a Marathon. A Marathon feels like running forever. Your muscles gets weaker and your energy base gets depleted but it’s your heart and will that will keep you afloat. Finishing TBR Dream Marathon was a challenge with Nuvali’s hilly elevation but TBR was a journey and it took us months to prepare for the absolute bliss of finishing a Full Marathon.”
2 Kilometers before the finished line, I slowed down a bit to savor the journey of TBR Dream Marathon. This was not just 42.195 kilometers as this was months in the making. I never saw myself doing a marathon, even after I progressed to 10K, 21K and duathlons but after doing a write up on one of the finishers last year and a prodding from my friend, I suddenly was part of the queue, refreshing Run.PH site just to get the limited slots for TBR Dream Marathon and I got the slot. It was a leap of fate and at that point, it may be a good way to shake things up. I wasn’t in the best situation at the start coming from a training break because of a wrist injury and having to shuttle back and forth to my hometown for my mom’s medical procedure. The good part about TBR is that it’s a journey complete with bull circle on everything you need to know about a marathon and bull sessions that helps you build up to race days. I included several half-marathons in my preparations that exposed me to different race conditions. It required a lot of sacrifice, piling in the mileage amidst trying times and muscle pains but those just made me physically, emotionally and mentally stronger and made me ready for anything.
Race Course and Elevation Profile
Race starts at the Nuvali Boulevard near the clubhouse and goes all the way to the end of Nuvali Main Road for the first 6 Kilometers of the course. The race shift to a climb at the Miriam College Area with the 10K u-turn at Venare. The race goes back the Nuvali Main Road with a loop at Solenad for the 21K area before the runners go for the second loop of the course. The elevation of the course with moderate climbs and descents for the first 3 kilometers before the long 4 kilometer run covering around 100 meters of elevations before the turn to Venare Area. There’s about a 2 1/2 kilometers descent to the Venare u turn which you get to climb again for the next 2 1/2 kilometers. The road in Miriam College starts a 4 kilometer descent worth 100 meters of elevation going back to the middle of Nuvali Main Road and goes back on moderate climbs and descents on the last 5 kilometers of the 21K loop.
It’s true what they say that it’s really difficult sleeping the day of the marathon and I was able to sleep just an hour in the afternoon before the 2 AM gunstart. The good thing was I was able to sleep well the whole week so I guess that will do for now. We stayed at El Cielito Inn in Sta Rosa. At this point I know I have to trust my training and the tips given inthe bull circle and just do it. The longest run I did was 34 kilometers so the final 8 kilometers would be a mystery for me. The plan is to hover around the 8 minute per kilometer pace and go on alternating 3:1, 4:1 and 2:1 Run Walk Pace. It’s 2 am and it was ON!!!
I started a bit faster just to get some separation from the pack and then went on at the 3:1 Run Walk Pace and making sure that I conserve my energy well as this will be a long run. The first 3K was a moderate climbs and descents so keeping pace was a lot more tolerable. The climbs started in the middle of Nuvali main road and going to Miriam College area until the turn going to Venare for the 10K u-turn. I still tried to maintain the 3:1 run walk pace instead of the 30:30 run walk pace. I felt my shin tightening around 6th and 7th kilometer. I’ve been dealing with shin splints since the start of the year and was hoping it won’t recur on race day but here comes the pain. I gave my leg another one minute walk to relax it a bit and after that I embraced the pain. The road to Venare was downhill so I took advantage of gravity by going at a 4:1 Run Walk Pace and just ignoring the sting in the leg going to the 10K u-turn.
10K Mark and that’s about one fourth of the race. I was trying to smile when there are photographers but there’s just the grimace I can’t hide from the pain I was ignoring. The next few kilometers was a climb back so I took a breath and went back again at 3:1 pace and slowly but surely, I was conquering the climb. Before the turn to Miriam, I took an additional 1 minute walk just to make sure I would be fresh on the descent that would last ’til Nuvali Main Road. It was also at this time that the muscle in my leg felt less stiff and with less pain. The muscle was warm and ready to go. I went on 4:1, 5:1 Run Walk Pace while the roads are descending. I felt much fresher at this stage and by then I was on my 16th Kilometer.
5 kilometers to go for my first loop so it was back to my 3:1 run walk pace and in no time, I was now back in Solenad area for the first loop. It was refreshing to see friends in that loop before going for my second loop. I also enjoyed the different treats at the different chasers stations from chocolates, gummy bears, mallows and banana.
It feels refreshing that I’ve done the first 21K but it also means I have to do another. It was back on the 3:1 run walk pace but it was at a slower pace as there’s fatigue and muscle pains in the equation. I promised myself I had to find a way to reach the u-turn at Venare and the climb back to Miriam College. The course goes downhill from there and I’ll enjoy the remaining kilometers going to the finish line. Even if it was difficult, I push myself to do 3:1 stretches until I reached the end of Nuvali. That’s about 27 Kilometers done.
By the climb up to Miriam, I went on 1:1 Run Walk Set on the climb going until the end of the climb. I took advantage of the downhill road to Venare by going back to 3:1 Run Walk Set and 2:1 sets going back up and here I was kilometer 32. Admittedly, this is an unfamiliar territory for me but I know I’ll find a way. What happens in the last 10K defines you. Stamina is running low, muscle pain is all over and you still have to find a way to finish 10 kilometers. 10 kilometers to go.
By this time, I drop all the run walk sequences and just run as long as I could and stop when I was tired and walk for a minute or two. It helps that the next 4 kilometers were downhill so there I was at kilometer 36 AKA 6 kilometers before the finish line around 5 hours of running. I met my friend Jeff at Kilometer 34 and Mascy at Kilometer 36 both cheering me on. I knew that this was already a doable thing and we were well taken cared of. In fact, when I sat to align my insoles chasers were rushing thinking I needed a massage but I just mentioned that I was just adjusting my insoles.
Two more kilometers, after passing through the roundabout and the guardhouse, I saw my friends in the running community who were chasers, Allan (Running Free Manila) and Jobert, asked my if I am ok, I just said, I’m good since it’s down to four kilometers. After drinking at their station, I resumed to cover the remaining distance inching myself slowly to the finish line. Back in Solenad, My friend, Ian and Russel congratulated me already with me going to the final 2-3 kilometers of the race.
Going to the last two kilometers, I slowed down to appreciate the journey. Everything was sore at this point from my calves, my quads, my feet, my body but I know this was it. I just have to appreciate the last six months of this journey. It was a roller coaster ride and it wasn’t just the marathon that I need to surpass but a lot of personal, work and financial issues as well. If there was one thing this journey gave me it was strength of character. You have to enjoy the journey more than the finish line. Before I forget everything, I should cross that finish line.
As I was about to do the last 300 meters, James, a fellow OMZ met me along the course and since I was telling him how the race felt. I also saw Tezza, James’ wife and also from OMZ as well as a lot of familiar faces. And since it’s important how you finished the race. I finally stopped my walking routine and run the last 100 kilometers to the finish.
As I crossed the finished line at 6:04:45 (chip time), I heard Banjo, a fellow blogger (Ulikblog Runner) announce, Runner 661, Franc Ramon, You are now a Marathoner. Jaymie (The Bull Runner) then congratulated me and I then got my medal. I crossed forty freakin’ two kilometers, I AM A MARATHONER.
Officially, A Marathoner
Congrats also to Gryf, Peter and Inja, Belle, Glads, Jill and the rest of TBRDM Batch 2014. This was a great first of many marathons and just in case you’re interested on what’s next, it’s a full month of rest from running as I need to recover for some of my injuries. I’ll be back a much better and stronger runner after the rest. Cheers!!! This is a Happy Day for all of Us.