Done, finished, complete! The wee hours outside near home felt perfectly fine, people were up and about as if you were just strolling within your neighborhood.
Da hu? What is this neighborly thing i’m talking about? The Quezon City International Marathon!
It’s the marathon that when you step back along Commonwealth Avenue on your way back to the finish, you see gigantic traffic at a standstill, hot-headed cursing drivers and heat that’s guaranteed to melt you away.
Well, not this time, at least not as bad as it was the previous years’ editions. Traffic was more manageable, there were less of those irate drivers, water was *still* available during the last stretches but the weather didn’t change–it was warm and humid. QCIM-4, the race i didn’t almost want to run.
Yes, i didn’t feel like running this one as many things transpired days leading up to it. The torturous Tanay 21-k trail run the Sunday before really left me all-beaten up with muscle soreness that lasted for several days. Ice and Ibuprofen were my solace during those dreadful days. The feeling carried on until the Fundracing Run last Friday where i was supposed to do the 16k distance.
Still, besides being late, i was in no mood nor vigor to do the distance so i down-graded to just running the 8k that morning. The result was rather pitiful. I couldn’t run continuously and had to stop and walk most of the time. It was a botched attempt of psyching myself to be ready 2 days before the marathon and felt completely at a stand-still.
The day before the marathon, i was just dilly dallying whether to just do a long run of about 30-32k along the route, drop out somewhere if things won’t turn-out to be good. Even shared this feeling on FB where some good meaning friends offered encouragements.
Atty. Jon Lacanlale, an esteemed ultra-runner seemed to sum up what everybody was saying, “Just toe the line and don’t make any plan. Let your body dictate the pace and all.” I took that in mind…seriously!
Met up with running buddy June Santiago and arrived at the Quezon City Hall at about 2:25am, still early for the 3:00am start. Saw Teammates Betty and Tonette who i was supposed to pace with for that long slow attempt of getting the run done and if all thing got well, even finishing the marathon, all 42kms of it.
But almost as soon as we were headed to Quezon Avenue at the 2 km mark, i felt raring to go and shifted my thoughts of entirely finishing the race. My apologies to Betty and Tonette, specially to Tonette whom i promised to run with throughout the route, but the urge to run my pace at a more tolerable (upbeat) pace was calling and dictating at that time. Had i succumb to her pace, i knew i would not be able to finish the race. Sorry na. Hope you ladies know me well to understand.
The run inside the University of the Philippines was slow and dark with marshals straining their flashlights on humps and potholes for runners to see. Exiting back to Commonwealth Avenue towards Fairview, the lead 21k runners were fast catching up on us. The wide Commonwealth Avenue was a familiar sight and by all accounts, i was able to glide on satisfactorily until our entrance to La Mesa Dam.
Had a great time inside the reservoir; trees, shades, the views were appealing, hydration was constantly present but i have to say that doubts were still lingering if i could make it out of the reservoir and onwards to the last 8 kms strongly for the finish. Coming out of La Mesa Dam, the traffic was there as expected but had to concentrate on moving on myself while the traffic enforcers try to sort out everything else.
By the time we were approaching the long uphill stretch to Litex, mother mercy seem to have abandoned us temporarily and here, i had to struggle and walk, walk with many others who had probably thought of conserving some energy. For me, my batteries were already draining out. The legs and heart were still fine but for some reason i was gasping for air, trying to find that second wind.
The last 6k was in a word, agonizing. Whatever strength there was left, i tried to put it all into my head overcoming the layer of pain that had engulfed the rest of my body. A few more kilometers and i would see the Iglesia Ni Cristo Tower and that would be the Nirvana i was looking for because that signaled the last 2.5k. But at this point, nothing of the INC tower yet.
The aim was now to run-walk from one water station to the next. Although i had my own hydration bottle, i would seek some ice cubes in every station and put some inside my cap and it helped cool me down during the last stretches. Finally, the sight of the INC Tower excited me and i knew it was only a matter of 2 kms plus before i could get a glimpse of the finish.
I was running with this guy from the Fairview Running Club and we paced each other and overtook some runners still as a result.
And all of a sudden…this sight! Oh, the most beautiful sight of all!
Home and home sweet home it was! Made it through everything. Was ecstatic upon stepping on the finish mat but was so exhausted that i nearly dropped to my knees and couldn’t hold myself up. I poured all the water that was left in my bottle over my head to the amusement of passers-by who clapped and cheered on.
My time was nothing to cheer about at 5:47, a far cry from my time last year on this same event but better than my Run United Phil Marathon time a month ago. All things considered, i’m just so happy to finish this one without any injury, praise God!
I empathize with all other runners who came later because i heard that some of them who finished past 6:30 hours (including Tonette and Betty) where already at the mercy of water station personnel who had begun to pack-up, dismantle their tables and left those 6-hour plus runners to mend for themselves at the last 5 kms. I had hoped that this problem would be addressed in this year’s edition as this has also occurred during the previous stagings of the race.
The organization is far from perfect but is a big improvement from any of the previous QCIM stagings. With a little more preparation and communications with those manning the water stations, this marathon could still be vastly improved. I’m aware that the organizers were only given the go signal to prepare everything 3 weeks prior to the race and this should have affected their over-all readiness.
I would like to thank all the PACERS for both the 21k and the 42k for doing a job well done! Thanks guys!
Here is the unofficial results of the race:
Till next year!
(Thanks to Tsinelas Runner, Photojojo, QCIM, Running Castles and others for the pictures)