My First Marathon Race

If my recollection serves me right, I had my first marathon in 1981 after I successfully proven to myself that I could be a better competetive runner. The PMA Alumni Race where I won number 2 inspired me to plan and run for the Marathon Race.

At that time, I was assigned in Region 1 (Northern Luzon) and my work included going to all the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Abra, Mt Province, and Benguet conducting seminars, lectures and meeting local government officials. However, most of the time, I stay in Laoag City because my office and staff were located thereat.

I am a product of the “Old School of Running”—build-up enormous mileages for 3-4 months and slowly build-up and combine speed workouts for 2 months and “simulate” running the marathon distance for the last one month before the marathon race.

In order to build mileage for the week, I have to run early in the morning for 10 kilometers and another 10 kilometers in the afternoon/early evening. And I did this from Monday to Friday. I usually run from our office in Laoag City to the Ft Ilocandia Golf Course and sometimes from Laoag City Poblacion to the Ft Ilocandia Hotel. The road/course is nice. And at that time, there were less traffic and vehicles plying those routes. On Saturdays, I do my long slow runs reaching up 20 to a maximum of 25 kilometers. Sunday was my rest day. Sometimes, I do my long runs on Sundays and make Monday as my rest day, and start my weekly runs on Tuesdays. Progressively, I increased my daily runs up to 15 kilometers per session and increase my weekend long runs up to 30 kilometers.

My speed workouts were done in the athletic oval of Laoag and sometimes in the athletic oval of Teachers Camp in Baguio City (the one that was used by the Gintong Alay athletes of Michael Keon). My speed plays vary when I am in the oval but most of the time they consisted of 400-meter fast and 400-meter recovery runs by jogging slowly. I usually do 10 to 15 repeats of the speed runs. However, I became creative with my speed plays. I did my speed runs on my road runs by using the kilometer markers as my reference points (alternately, running faster in-between two kilometer markers and then doing my recovery/slow jog up to the next kilometer post). Sometimes, I use the electric posts along the road/streets as my reference points for shorter speed plays. But what made me more creative was when I discovered the “color-coded” foot trails around the perimeter-slopes of Camp John Hay Base in Baguio City (when the Americans were still running/managing that camp). In every sector of the perimeter of the camp, the trunks of the pine trees along the trails were painted with spots of dark red, green, blue, orange, and white paints. So, I alternately did my speed plays every other colored trail while running. I really don’t know if these “color-coded” trails are still there.

To “simulate” or practice the marathon one month before the race, I should be able to run at least 35 kilometers during my weekend long slow distance workout with minimum effort. I have one of my men “leapfrog” every 3-4 kilometers for my regular water intake/supply. I start my run at the same time with that of the race starting time.

I did my practice runs alone on the road, ovals, and trails.

I finished my first Marathon race, the Manila International Marathon, in 3 hours; 24 minutes; 46 seconds.

Finishing my first marathon race entails planning, hardwork, persistence, patience, discipline and commitment to finish the race. Such values and attitude I need to pursue my life and carreer in this ever challenging and unpredictable world.

Marathon race is life in itself.

Practice Run/Speed Run

Yesterday afternoon, I had to wait for the rain to stop before starting my practice run around the camp. While the rain became weaker, I started to have my stetching exercises, from the bigger muscles to the smaller ones, to include my heel tendons which are already prone to pains after long endurance runs. My stretching session lasted for 15 minutes and I was ready to go.

My practice run for the afternoon was a speed workout within the 2-mile course that I personally measured passing through the cemented roads inside the camp. Sixty percent (60%) of the course is uphill and the rest is plain and downhill grade. The reason why it is a must to have a 2-mile course in the camp is because every officer and soldier, regardless of rank and age, must be able to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test every quarter which consists of three events/activities: 2-minute Push-ups; 2-minute Sit-ups; and a 2-mile run. A failure in each event means failure to the whole test. On the average, an officer/soldier must be able to finish the 2-mile run in 21 minutes. 

I finished my first round on the course in 17:26 and timed the second and last round at 17:54. My total time for the distance of four (4) miles was 35:20. Not bad, after having my last run/competitive race last Sunday where I joined the Generals’ Relay (5 x 100 meters) in Camp Aguinaldo.

It appears that I ran a distance of 6.4 kilometers in 35:20. On the average, my pace was 5:21 per kilometer. This is not bad for my age and the terrain where I am having my speed workouts. It was a nice and refreshing speed workout.

Most of the days, I spend my time in my camp situated within the mountains of Jamindan, Capiz. Jamindan is an obscure but large in land area municipality which is located southwest from Roxas City. Its land territory reaches up to the boundaries of Aklan and Antique. The average altitude is 300-350 meters (1,000+ feet) above sea level.

I can safely say that I get my strength and endurance with the clean/unpolluted air around me, high altitude training, fresh & organic foods, restful & quiet nights and the challenging rolling terrain.