Race Morning I woke up at 12AM feeling fresh and energetic. I wasn’t as scared nor anxious as I used to be in my earlier marathon races. Drank coffee and made sure my tummy was empty before going to the race. Kat and I arrived at the starting line at 2AM an had some pictures with KB runner, Belle, Annaly (from Kabankalan), and Edrick. Kat was going to run 21K, and she was just scheduled for a long tempo run. I told her she’ll surely break her 1:59 personal record set last June, but she shouldn’t give 100% effort since she still has to run 42K in the QCIM. I on the other hand, was planning to give my 100% effort for this race. Target time was sub-3:20, a 7:39/mi pace (4:35/km).
Gun Start I had no problem lining-up near in front, I saw my Kenyan friend Peris Peywo, who was a 3:30+ marathoner. She told me she had sleeping problems before the race. I also saw Christabel Martes, who humbly declined the bouncer’s (yes, race marshals are now bouncers) offer for her to get in front of the starting line. I knew this woman is going to be much faster than me. Unfortunately, my bladder filled-up quickly again and I felt the need to pee just few minutes before start. The gun started a few minutes after 3:00AM, and a lot of adrenaline marathon runners still blasted away like crazy! Most of them ran like it was a 400meter race. I had problems trying to slow myself down, my plan was to do negative splits, but seeing those adrenaline runners would easily push you. Garmin showed my pace to be too fast at 7mins/mile! Then I really felt the urge to pee. Since I’ve already ran my first mile too fast, i guess it’s OK to go to the side and take a leak and still be within schedule. When I joined the pack again and settled down, the pace was still a little faster than plan, and my first mile was 7:25. Not a good sign if I wanted to conserve my precious glycogen reserves.
Jerome and Wilnar were able to run with me for a while when I joined the pack. It looks like they’re the smarter type of runners not running along with the adrenaline runners. Jerome has just ran a great 15K race a few weeks ago, and I knew he was in another great marathon. I was estimating his time to be 3:30 to 3:40 this time. He slowed down a bit behind Wilnar and me. Wilnar was always a few strides ahead of me, approximately 5meters ahead. Wilnar’s the strongest marathoner in our team, ran a 3:04 marathon already, and I believe he’s capable of a sub-3hour marathon if he wanted to. This time, he’s out to easily “long-jog” the RUPM at 3:20, since he has a full Triathlon scheduled soon. Wilnar would always take the lead, but he wouldn’t fully leave me behind. I also noticed his running stride greatly improved, he was now forefoot/midfoot striking with a powerful back-kick. Stride-by-stride, Wilnar’s seems to be more powerful. He would walk at hydration stops, but could quickly accelerate back to pace effortlessly. I therefore new I shouldn’t overtake this guy since he’s much stronger than me. After 10miles, Wilnar and I were averaging 7:35 to 7:38/mile pace, a little faster than plan, but we were OK.
Kalayaan Flyover-Prison Break should be the hardest part of the race, since this is the hilliest part of the race. Strange, but Wilnar and I were in for a new surprise challenge. We were able to catch-up and merge with the slowest pack of 21K runners. It was a nightmare. The 21K running pack was so dense and they were so slow I estimate their pace to be around 10 to 12mins/mile, and Wilnar and I had a great deal of headache weaving through them. Nobody was sharing a fast lane, we were on our own. Now looking at the graph, I see that this slowed us down to 9:11/mile. Being furious, there were many times that I was being tempted to push the slower runners aside, but realizing it’s not their fault I had to just keep on saying “excuse me” like 1,000 times. But really, runners should be educated on proper race etiquette and give way to faster runners. Unfortunately, I don’t think they were even aware of the faster 42K runners. I guess the organisers were the ones to blame for this, but they probably didn’t foresee the volume and density of the 21K runners merging with 42K runners. At halfway of the flyover, I just couldn’t take it anymore and decided to climb the “island” separation and jump to the opposite lane where there were still speeding vehicles. I called Wilnar and he joined me. We ran like hell fast to make-up for the lost time. It was scary since the vehicles were quite fast when they approached us, but Wilnar waved for them to move to the other side and they all complied. Wilnar and I had to continue running at the opposite lane all the way to Buendia, till we saw faster 21K runners that were more manageable with our pace. Unfortunately, I felt all these surging and excitement to suck the energy out of me at the latter part of the race. When we reached Roxas Boulevard, I was already fatigued and sluggish. I decided to let Wilnar go ahead and for me to slow down, hopefully recharge my legs (if it’s even possible).
Training Mistake Apparent – I asked myself, “How come in training I could run 7:39/mile for 22miles, but now in the race I ran 7:39/mile and at 16miles I was already tired, and I feel the need to slow down?” This was what I was afraid of, when I ran 22miles at marathon pace in training. Ideally, only the latter part of the long runs can be ran at marathon pace, but not all of it, otherwise one would be peaking already and racing the long run. Come Marathon Race, one would be too tired to maintain the pace. That was the theory of my Boston Marathoner friend Raffy “Alaska Runner” Castaneda when he noticed my training mistake of the past. Now I’ve repeated the mistake and suffering for it. Kat Anasco and Chris Iblan Kat Kat Salangsang Ah shit! I’m too late for 3:20!
After 20miles, my average pace has significantly slowed down to 7:45/mile, and I lost hope for the 3:20 goal finish. I just felt the need to survive. 21K slower runners merged with us again and it gave me more challenge than was welcome. Then approaching me on the opposite lane of the road, I saw Kat Kat running 21K fast, and then few strides behind her were Chris Iblan and Kat Anasco. When Chris shouted at me that Wilnar is just ahead of me, that gave me a motivation, like a small goal, just chase Wilnar and hopefully finish with him. At 23miles, my time was already 3hours. With 3miles or 5Kms to go, the fastest 5K I could theoretically run is under 20minutes but I was too tired to run that fast. So a possible 23 to 25minutes would mean 3:23 to 3:25minutes.
Then slowly I was able to close the gap to Wilnar. I was so tired when I reached him. He seems OK and his strides were still powerful. With 2miles to go, I told him we only have 3Kms to go. He took some hydration and gave me some. With only a mile to go, Wilnar seem to have slowed down and told me to go ahead. He must be aware I was trying to run for a new PR. I didn’t feel the wall, but my whole legs were really fatigued again. With 800meters to go, I tried to run faster, then my quadriceps, both of them, cramped! However, lifting my heels like a semi-butt-kick seems to help stretch the cramping muscles. Slowed down a bit till the cramping feeling goes away. With 200meters to go, I saw the finish-line and the adrenaline got me fired-up again. I pumped my arms harder and prepared for a sprint-finish. They gave me these cute little Philippine Flags for the Photo-Finish with the red carpet awaiting us. I finished at 3:25’29” Garmin Time. Not the sub3:250 I’ve hoped, but this was a 4minute PR improvement for me already.
Wilnar finished just a minute behind me. I found out later that he didn’t take any gels and that must have caused his slow-down at the last mile of the marathon. Still, a 3:26 marathon for a jogging long-run workout is crazy fast! On the other hand, our fellow teammate Jerome Bautista also did a great job improving his new PR to 3:37! It’s inspiring to see Jerome improve consistently year after year in the marathon. He’s also had podium finishes in an Ultramarathon race this year. Really great to see his speed has improved as well, and it was just a week ago that he also did a 15K PR. Not what I hoped for, but still a new PR Wilnar’s Jogging Pace Speedy Jerome with a new 3:37 PR! JoggerNatz and JoggerJoey Meanwhile, my other teammates Alex Mac, Joemar Paras, and our Team Captain Ronnel Go ran the Marathon, but they all treated it as a long run and didn’t seek for new PR. 4:11 time of Alex Mac Kaptain Ronnel Go Team Power Puff Boys (left to right: Alfred, Joms, Chris, Joey, Jerome, Gian, Mark, Jixee, Wilnar, Alexis, Natz, Ronnel, and Alex)
Conclusion I’m a little disappointed with myself for not being able to reach my goal time, but somehow glad that I didn’t hit the wall and didn’t collapse so much. My 3:25 time is something I could live and be happy for now. It was my fault not being able to train wisely in the latter stages of my training program, I pushed myself too hard and wasn’t able to recover in time for the marathon. It was also a challenge to do negative splits again, but there were unintentional challenges by the race organizer like the dense high-volume of slower 21K runners out there to block the faster 42K runners. This is the first Marathon Race organized by Run Rio, I’ve been excited to be part of this event, and overall, the race is not bad. The finish line was unique with the red carpet with VIP treatment. Still Positive Split Paces Exaggerated size designed for medal-greedy runners 21K medals same size as 42K?
Same blog post can be found at joggernatz.blogspot.com