3:30 AM February 6, 2011 @ The Fort/BHS to Skyway and Back
After my “muscle tear” injury on my left calf last December 7, I did not have any plans of training and running for another Marathon Race on the early months of the new year that is to include the 2011 Cebu Marathon. The 2011 Condura Skyway Marathon was not on my list of races for the year. I focused myself on my rest, treatment and recovery for the weeks and months ahead.
My attendance to the Fat Ass 2011 in Clark Freeport was a way for me to test and evaluate the extent of my treatment & recovery. I was very conservative during the run as the atmosphere among runners were very relaxed and non-competitive. However, I forced myself to run despite feeling some pain on the injured calf muscle. But my run at the Fat Ass had accelerated my treatment as the pain just completely vanished after 2-3 days of rest and recovery.
Since the Fat Ass Run, my runs were random and did not follow any pattern of a scheduled training program. I just ran if I felt like running. These random runs were limited to at least 1 hour & 10 minutes or 10 kilometers to the maximum. I was happy if I could run 2-3 times a week and I started to maintain an average pace of 7:00 minutes per kilometer. This pace had eventually became my training pace to build-up my endurance.
As I was busy with my “out-of-town” trips talking and meeting with race organizers in far-flung provinces all over the country; being invited for my Running Lectures; reading a lot of Books on Running for my Book Reviews; and trying my best to update this blog, a little “hump or snafu” just came to my attention when the PR people of Condura Skyway Marathon sent me an email stating of their apology for not including me among the Runner-Bloggers they invited for a Media Release of this event. Well, I got a “free ticket” for this year’s edition of the Condura Skyway Marathon due to this incident.
Decision To Run
I really don’t need so much time to consider the “pros and cons” if I finally decide to run this event. Being a “road warrior”, I consider this as a simple setback in my quest to run an excellent race but I know I could simply finish it if I consider this run as an ordinary LSD workout as a part of my training for more “important battles” ahead. So, I conditioned my mind that this run would be a “walk in the park”—by maintaining a 7:00-minute per kilometer average pace for the run with the hope that I will finish a near 5-hour or sub-5 hour marathon. What is important is to enjoy the race, have fun, be seen to inspire others, and to “engage” any runner whom I will meet along the way. So, the decision was final, run the marathon and look like a “brave warrior”.
At exactly 3:30 AM, the race started with some fireworks, simple countdown, and the sound of a starting gun. The BHS area was well-lighted and there was no problem on how my feet landed on the streets as I’ve memorized every street of this place. For an increasing 1,200+ runners in the Marathon Race, the group had stretched after running at least 500 meters from the start. If I can remember right, in the 80’s, if you have at least 500 runners in the Marathon Race, such race is already a successful one! Two years ago, if you have 700-800 runners as starters, you can consider the race as a successful event already. Now, I was surprised with the increasing numbers of Marathon Runners in this race, reaching to more than 1,200+. What an improvement! More of the runners are becoming braver and more aggressive and I really like that kind of attitude! I could see new faces; hear different dialects on the conversations of the runners around me; and a lot of “newbies” which I could conclude from the attire and “gadgets” they have in their bodies! I only have one conclusion in this, if these people are bored in marathon races, they can always try to do an ultramarathon distances which PAU can offer, at least, a 50K Road Race!
The race organizer really invested on the safety and control of the runners. Almost all the streets were properly lighted with mobile lights and generators, a far cry from the unlighted streets in my ultra road races. We, the marathon runners, became the Kings & Queens of the Roads in Makati, for the whole duration of the event and it was a good feeling for everybody. It is unfortunate that there were still a lot of drivers who were cursing and blowing their horns as they were put “on hold” along key intersections along the road. I really admire those traffic enforcers who simply ignore and patiently not being irritated with such annoying drivers. As I passed by these traffic enforcers, I always say “Thank You” to them for doing their jobs well.
“Houston, we have a situation”
The problem when I am running in a cold environment (yes, I supposed 3:30 AM in the morning’s temperature is still cold) is that I pee most of the time. In almost all the water station, I have to stop and brisk walk to take my water drinks but I have to pee, too! Damn, I was peeing every time I pass by a water station and every portalet section along the route. You could just imagine the wasted time I’ve spent peeing almost all the time. I think this is the only Marathon Race in the history of my running career where I peed more than 20 times along the route. Well, I made the history of peeing on the asphalted road of the Skyway for three times! Thanks to Condura! How I wished I could have paid for my ticket for this race!
If only this race was an ultra trail run where you seldom see a runner on your back and front, I could have simply peed while I was running! I guess, this is normal among ultra trail runners as I did this thing in some of my practices and races along the trails here and abroad!
I got this term from ultra runner friend, Ben Gaetos. As a result of my attendance to a One Hour Lecture of Jeff Galloway a day before the Condura Marathon, I decided to have it as a trial or experiment. I am a “purist” in running when I train and compete with myself in road races up to Marathon distance, which means, that I don’t believe that you can improve your PR best time in Marathon Races by simply taking “walk breaks” from the Start up to the Finish.
Since I’ve decided to treat the Marathon Race as a LSD workout, I started to incorporate the Run-Walk-Run Strategy of Mr Jeff Galloway. At the first Water Aid Station, I started to walk once I was approaching the table. I picked up two glasses of water. Walked away from the Table by walking and slowly drank the water. After drinking the water, I had to count at least 30-45 strides (one stride = 2 steps) before resuming again with my run. Sometimes, the walking breaks and counting would reach up 60 strides! I did this ritual religiously every water aid station along the route.
This is not the proper way how to do the Galloway Method as he mentioned in his lecture but I wanted to experiment what was best for me with my present condition by incorporating “walking breaks” on a regular basis during the run. I really felt great doing all these “walking breaks” and “peeing breaks” during the run. The result was not a good PR but I enjoyed the run and the experience. But what is more important is that my run did not affect my “healed” muscle tear! I did not reach any “wall”. There is no “wall” after all. I did not have any muscle cramps or soreness on my leg muscles. And the best part of it, I was able to have my recovery run a day after the Marathon Race for a distance of 7 kilometers with an average pace of 6:10 minutes per kilometer! Yes, it was a fast pace for a recovery run but I did it without any pains or soreness!
Conversations along the Way
Conversations and Greetings are the things that I like when I run in local Marathon Races. Well, you seldom “engage” in a conversation in Marathon Races in the West if you want a nice finish time. But it is a “must” if you are joining an ultra train run as it relieves the “pressure and stress” on the rate of difficulty of the course. Ultra runners have an “unwritten code” that they help each other on the trails in order to finish the race within the prescribed cut-off time. Helping each other means that you have to engage another runner that you run along the trail by talking with each other. An ultra distance of 50K, 50-Mile, 100K or 100-Mile is so boring that you need to “engage” with another runner in order to break the monotony!
In the Condura Marathon, being known in the running community, it gives me the pleasure to engage with the runners by simply waving at them, calling their names, answering and acknowledging their greetings, or simply listening some conversation among the runners.
Some of the examples of conversations were the following:
#1: From a couple of runners that I passed along the Skyway:
Runner: Hey, that is Bald Runner! He is wearing an all-black ASICS apparel
I briefly waved my right hand to them.
The other guy said, BR is wearing a nice ASICS shoes! They are nice and new!
The succeeding conversation became garbled as I distanced myself from them.
#2: From a guy who paced with me just to request something:
Runner #2: Sir, I am a runner from the Visayas and I saw you at the 1st Cebu Ultramarathon Race. You were so strong and consistent during the race.
BR: Thank you! That was a hard course!
Runner #2: Sir, I can still join and register for the 2011 BDM 102?
BR: Are you qualified?
R #2: Yes, Sir! I finished the 1st Cebu 50K Ultramarathon Run.
BR: Ok. Please send me your personal data through my e-mail. You can still register.
Then, I had to pass him for good!
#3: Conversation with a Wife of an Ultra Runner @ Km #20
BR: Angela? Are you running the full Marathon Race? (I was surprised to see her running along with the other Marathon runners. Actually, it was my first time to see her run!)
Angela: Yes! (She was running ahead of me for the past 20 kiometers! And she was maintaining a nice competitive pace)
BR: Where is Paolo? Did he run?
Angela: He did not run and he is sick. He is at home. It seems that he is overtraining himself for the BDM 160.
BR: Ok. He needs some rest and he has to taper on his mileage at this time already.
We ran together for about 5 minutes, pacing each other, until we reached a water station. She went ahead of me as I took my walking breaks after drinking my water.
#4: Conversation with Somebody in the Military
Runner #4: Sir Jovie, Whoooooaaaaa!!!
I answered him back with, Whoooooaaaa!
The conversation was done!
#5: Conversation With A Tall Runner
Runner #5: Sir, BR, would you mind if I ask a personal question to you?
BR: No, what is your question?
Runner #5: Why do you have to wear a bandana tied around your neck every time you run?
BR: It catches my sweat/perspiration from my head and the wet bandana eventually becomes a “coolant” to my nape/neck.
Sometimes, I use it for emergency purposes—as a dust protector to my nose & mouth or simply use it to tie a knot around an injured leg muscle.
Runner #5: I observed you like those with bright colored ones and with flowers printed on them.
BR: Yes, I have all the colors for all the Bandanas available in the market but I don’t have any preferences with regards to color. ( Note: I am not gay, dude!)
#6: From a Runner Wearing Tights
Runner #6: Sir, BR. It seems you are having a good time with this run. You have slowed down with your pace as compared with your past marathon races.
BR: Yes, it is because I am recovering from my muscle tear injury on my left calf muscle.
Runner #6: How many runners will be joining the BDM 160?
BR: I will be happy if there will be 40 runners at the Starting Line this coming February 26, 2011.
Runner #6: Are you preparing to join this BDM 160 as I can see your pace is suited for such an ultra distance? I have the impression that you always join your first edition of your BDM runs. BDM 160 will be in its first edition this year.
BR: No, I will not be joining the BDM 160 as competitor. I have to be a full-time Race Director on this one due to some sensitive issues. And then my answer ended it with a laugh!
#7: From Francis, An Ultra runner from Mindanao (As we met along the Skyway)
Francis: (Running after the Marathon turn-around) Sir, You are really serious with your plan to run 7 minutes per kilometer!!!
BR: (Running towards the Marathon turn-around 2 kilometers away) Yes! This is what I call “Discipline and Patience”!!!
Manage the Pain
The last 2 kilometers of the race was a display of managing and preventing the pain to come out from my calf muscles. The last 2 kilometers was test to increase my pace or not just to be able to finish the race in sub-5 hours. I decided not to speed up just for a simple reason of finishing a desired time. I have to be smarter this time. I want to finish the race without any injuries that will sideline me again for another two months. The better decision is to be able to manage the pain and not doing any “gung-ho” attitude on the last few meters of the race. My calf muscles are still weak due to the rest and recovery for the past two months. I have already incorporated a lot of exercises and drills to my training program just to focus with the strengthening of such muscles. I need patience and a lot of time to do this.
I was able to finish the race without any injuries or any pain or soreness on my legs. The accomplishment in itself is already a victory for me. I have treated the Marathon Race as an LSD workout that my present condition of my body could afford. I did not have any structured training schedule for this race and I ran it through instinct by taking care of my body, listening to my body, and talking to my mind that I have to stick to my race strategy of maintaining an average pace of 7:00 minutes per kilometer. There was no stress and pressure at all to finish this kind of Marathon Race. After all, finishing a Marathon Race is a personal accomplishment where there is no need to compare yourself with the finish times with the other runners.
Taking Care of the Body
In a tropical country like ours, runners need to eat some solid foods and drink some sports drinks like Gatorade/PoweAde/Pocari Sweat, etc. aside from water to replenish electrolytes excreted from the body through our sweat/perspiration. I believe that water alone could not replenish the wasted electrolytes from the body.
Early during the race, I have to eat a Power Bar and had in my palm two GU Gel packets which I ingested from Km 10-21 and then from Km 22-32. On the last 7 kilometers, I had a “pit stop” to eat one serving of oatmeal and a hard-boiled egg. However, on my last 5 Kilometers, a staff from A Runner’s Circle Store gave me a GU Gel Packet which I ingested on the last 4 kilometers of the race. Practically, I was well-fed during the race together with those ripe bananas being served in some of the Aid Stations.
But I expected that there should had been Sports Drinks equally served with the water during the race. I made a feedback to Patrick Concepcion by asking him why they preferred to serve 100 Plus Drinks which is a carbonated sports drinks instead of serving the usual and more common to runners like Gatorade, PoweAde, Pocari Sweat, Propel, and others. He answered me that Summit Water & 100 Plus Drinks were the main sponsors of the race & Gatorade was not a willing Sponsor for the sports drinks support for the runners.
On the Race Route & Race Management
As compared with the last year’s edition, this year’s race route is better and simpler. I hope that this race route will be maintained in the years to come. I consider this route as the most perfect one for a Marathon Race In Metro Manila. It is out and back. The roads are wide and the runners from other distance are not mixed with the other runners.
On Race Management, the road was not full of traffic from the runners. Moreso, with the runners coming from the Half-Marathon and 10-Mile Run Races. The lesser distance runners just came out from nowhere where they met with the Marathon Runners running on the other direction! When all the lesser distance runners left the Skyway towards the Finish Line, it was time for the leading Marathon runners to clear the turn-around point and follow the last runners of the lesser distance runners. Basically, the roads were not jampacked with a lot of runners.
I finished the race in 5 hours 3 minutes & 31 seconds based from GF 305, with an average pace of 7:07 minutes per kilometer. The registered distance in my watch was 42.61 kilometers. I was still strong after I crossed the Finish Line and spent more time standing, talking with the other finishers, and posing for pictures. Without any serious training for this marathon race, I was able to finish it without any pain or issues and of course, after coming out from an “injured” status in running.
For two months without any serious training, I could finish a Marathon Race in 5 hours or less.
Bandana by Buff
Sunglass By Oakley
Running Apparel (Shorts & Singlet) By ASICS
Running Shoes: ASICS Gel-Lyte Racer
Socks: DryMax Running Socks
Watch: Garmin Forerunner 305
Sports Bar & Gel: Nature Valley & GU
Lessons Learned & Violations of the “Norms”
- Stick to a Plan or Race Strategy and don’t get affected with the situation of other fast runners ahead of you. Do not chase any runner if you are not well-trained for the event. Never underestimate slow runners at the start.
- Try to “engage” any runner that starts a conversation with you. Conversation with the other runners relieves stress and pressure during the race.
- Run-Walk-Run Strategy works if you are not well-prepared for the event. It will not force you to get injured. However, this strategy works well if you have adjusted to it. Since I consider myself as a “purist” in Marathon Races, running is the best way to improve one’s time is such distance. However, in ultra running, the Run-Walk-Run strategy is a “must” in order to finish within the prescribed cut-off time.
- It was my first time to use a brand-new running shoes in a Marathon Race. I was confident that I will not be injured or get re-injured with this decision since ASICS had been my favorite and most comfortable racing shoes.
- I did not take any Imodium or Tylenol or Salt Sticks tablets this time and I did not have any “issues” with my stomach and leg muscle cramping.
- Even if I have Gatorade drinks ready to be ingested from my support staff, I preferred to take in water only during the whole duration of the race. I wonder if it would have prevented myself from going to the side of the road in order to pee if I have taken Gatorade, in alternately with Water.
- Those ripe bananas were great as my food source during the race. 3 GU gel packets, one Nature Valley Sports Bar, one serving of Oatmeal and lots of water were the source of nutrition during the race. I have a faster recovery after the race if I take some food during the race proper.
- On this race, I did not ingest any form of “pain killer” tablets, before and during the race.
Congratulations to Condura Durables/Pat & Ton for a well-organized Marathon Race in Metro Manila. More power to you, guys!
See you on the next edition of the Condura Skyway Marathon!