My Way of Living + training

Of Pain and Near-Misses At The 2011 Condura Skyway Marathon

I was never really a marathon fan. Some people do 5, 6 of them a year. In three years of running I have done two. No, this new race cooked up by Pat and Ton isn't my third. It's actually my second marathon. Ohhh. Surprise surprise. For a guy who has run 102 kms and is planning to tackle 160 in a couple of weeks, you would probably think that I'd have a higher propensity towards long distances. Paradoxical? Yes, perhaps. But we're not here to dwell on the philosophical and introspective trappings of why I'm not exactly your neighborhood marathon man. I'm here to tell you all about my bittersweet journey, so let's get started.

The Background

Funny thing, in relative terms I scarcely had any preparation for this. No fancy 12 week program. No fancy 16- week program. Done that before, didn't quite work .Why? Beats me. Maybe I overdid it, maybe I just wasn't at the requisite fitness level yet. Anyway, after doing mostly maintenance work for sprint distance triathlons, I started "training" for this some time December. I was obviously out of shape, so I figured if I took on a couple of long runs and amped up my mileage, the rest would take care of itself. While this admittedly unscientific approach would undoubtedly draw the ire of online running guru the Self Coached Runner, it came to the point where I somehow had to reconcile my multisport commitments and the specter of BDM 160 hanging over my shoulder. Oh great, BDM. Yeah. But let's save that story for another day.

D-Day, 2:00 AM

While most people had a relatively good night's rest, I barely had any shuteye owing to some last minute Gingerbread errands (don't bother asking). So I'm sleepy, crabby. I feel sick. Ultramarathoner Abby is in zombie mode, but she's still cute. I need a pick me upper. I chuckle when I recall that "Viagra-as-a performance-enhancer" argument. Hey, one day I may just be crazy enough to try it out.

D-Day, 3:00 am

Straighttalk -you know how you just want to get that Number 2 out of the way, but no matter how you force it, well, er, nothing? And at the most inopportune time once you arrive at the venue and nalamigan ka, patay na? It's happened to me before, I sure as hell hope it won't happen again. So how do we remedy this relatively unexact science? You tell me. Send me your best suggestions, winner gets a prize. Snap.

BHS, 3:45 am

The drive from my place took like 7 mins. Thank God for C5. Now if only it would actually stay that way during our regular hours of waking existence. I arrive and meet the TPB boys at ROX. Some interesting sidelights : Brando getting ITB a week before Condura, which sucks because he has been submitting better splits than anyone else in preparation for his first marathon. He's going out on a limb (hopefully not literally) in giving this a fair shot. In related news , Ronnel doesn't have a race bib. Rumor has it that his mom threw it out while doing some cleaning on his room. Ouch. Random sightings : BR posing with a couple of gladhanders and fans. He's running as well. Couple of powerful triathlete friends and well as non-friends ( I don't mean that in a hostile way, that just means I am not on their radar) trolling the grounds. The much hyped, much slimmed down Bearwin Meilly. Couple of Kenyans. Our Kenyan TPB teammate. Wait, there's a Kenyan TPB dude? There's a steady, palpable zing in the air, you can almost feel it. For most if not all, this race serves as the culmination of months and months of hard work . Fitness First Gal goes up the stage ( is it just me, or does Fitness First Gal seem a couple of bench presses away from reaching Chynna levels on those pecs?) and does what she does best. The game's afoot. Let's get it poppin.

Km 10. Moving too Fast.

Dammit, I started too fast. Here I go again. Made the mistake last year, made the same mistake this year. My theory is, if I start from behind and things go awry, I don't have enough in me to pull a negative. So I'm thinking if I work hard enough while I'm still fresh, perhaps I can put myself in a position to get that elusive sub-4 while just soaking in the pain. Hmmm. Sounds like a plan. Blood and guts. Kaso, I opened at 5:00 pace. Aside from the usual monsters (e.g. Junrox, Wilnar), I think I'm pretty much hanging with the big boys here. I feel strong. Maybe this will be a good day after all. 10k split : 50:17

Km 21. Losing Steam.

I'm losing pace. Endure Multisport/Quest 825 buddy/mamaw Erick G. just passed me at breakneck pace (he ended with a 3:50 or better if I'm not mistaken), this after a long bike ride the day before. Geez, this guy is constantly reshaping any paradigm that may have been out there before. Multisport star Retzel , who as always downplayed his running capabilities, looked very strong. Ronnel ran it anyway without a bib and breezed by me. Ditto for Beeps. I am starting to regret both my lack of running fitness and the chutzpah for starting out that aggressively. By this point I am running with a feisty, determined Brando. I am trying to hang as much as I could but I don't feel good. Whoever thought running the Skyway was "fun" should try this out. We're fighting, hanging. Sige lang. 21k split : 1:52 something.

Km 32. You Only Get What You Give... ..

Is it just me, or does it seem that the Skyway is taking forever to end? I mean, last year it didn't seem to be this tough. Wat a whiner. But hey, I asked for this. I am struggling, losing pace by the minute. Some semblance of cramps are starting to form. By this time, Brando had left me to eat his dust. Multisport stars Javy Olives and TJ Isla emerged from behind and were still very strong. I knew that they had a 3:45 target, and if only I could hang with them maaaaybe I could get out of this in one piece. I was successful for a kilometer or three. Alas, I was on the fast track towards a precipitous free fall, and I just couldn't match their pace. Maybe next year. TPB buds Joms and Mark pass me towards the latter part of the Skyway, I'm bottoming out already. Col. Bong from Quest passed me and boy did he look fresh. Oh the horror, my worst fears coming true. Last year, at 32k we were already at the Buendia support station. This year, we were still traversing the endless slopes of the scenic yet treacherous Skyway. To make matters worse, that crazy guy with glasses who always runs topless has just about reached me. Crap. Is he running or doing a jiggly dance? How... . hypnotic.

Km 37. Panandaliang Ligaya.

Cramps. Shooting up incessantly up my calves every 5 mins, I am relegated to a shuffling motion that is eerily reminiscent of a penguin in heat. I can only look forward to the aid station knowing that Abby and the rest of the gang was there. I have served in these support stations before, and the boost you could get from them is invaluable. I enter to raucous cheers and my girl giving me a fresh supply of cold drinks and food. Talk about a pick me upper. Alas, psychological highs could get me no further with this one. Before I could even finish the banana I was chomping a new set of cramps hit me. Hard. This time even the quads were locking up. I'm still fighting. Maybe I still got a shot. I've slaved long and hard to put myself in this position. It's winning time. Get it together Luis. Let's go! Km 37 split : 3:22


Km 37-42 So near yet so far.

Ironic that I'm only 5 kilometers from my goal with 38 minutes to spare and yet that finish line could have never seemed any farther. I can hack a 5k in 20 and change if I'm actually in good running shape (rarely happens, if ever.) But obviously this is a different ballgame, and with each attempt to "run", the lactic acid factory in my legs seemed to just produce more and more of the wonderful substance. My calves, quads, and all those other parts i don't know the name to had completely locked up already. Leading up to Kalayaan flyover, I guess this was the lack of a dedicated marathon program haunting silly ol' foolhardy me. This is a classic choke if I ever saw one. Work hard since 4 am only to throw it all away during the last 5k. Undoubtedly frustrating was the fact that while I was sprawled on the floor wincing while a marshal was "inspiring" me to go on, at least 50 people were passing me left and right. Ugh dammit. Right at the very end. I guess could have used that Viagra right now. Frustration, exhaustion, I can't quite explain the whole gamut of bittersweet emotions running through my head. As debilitating as the pain was, I was physically and mentally spent. I just wanted to get the hell out of there and soak in a hot tub. That final 5k stretch was a sorry sight, and as much as those Photovendo proxies did a god-awful job with the pictures ( just speaking for the whining masses), they did a wonderful job in not capturing my wincing, whiny profile during this final stretch. As I entered that final chute amidst a cacophony of cheers, once glance at the clock showed I had missed my goal miserably. 4:14. Dang. Even that final strong finish was ended abruptly by both my legs locking just as I crossed the line. Pfft, so much for that fun finish line picture. Any other way, I was just glad it was over.


In retrospect, it was a bittersweet finish for me. I'll take it as a moral victory. Because even if I fell just short of my goal, I felt if I had strategically approached it differently the result may have been more favorable. Nevertheless, for a guy who hadn't hit that distance in nearly a year, I guess an improvement of 42 minutes in just my 2nd marathon aint too shabby. Maybe we'll get it next year.

In the meantime, where can I get that Viagra... ...

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Of Pain and Near-Misses At The 2011 Condura Skyway Marathon + training