architect, runner, marathoner, father
A different way of showing love.
It’s been three years since I decided to run. Three years when I made a conscious decision to live a healthy life, not only for me, but for my daughter, Ien. I always dreaded the thought of not being able to run with my daughter, or unable to carry her for extended periods of time when she gets tired of walking, or a simple walk with her becomes such a chore because I don’t have the energy to do it. These scenarios scared the hell out of me. In short, my family is the reason why I pound the streets early in the morning.
How love gives back?
But running a marathon, the full distance? It was never part of the plan. Never I imagined that I would someday conquer that distance, and finish it twice.
But I did, and I am glad I took the challenge. I guess, once you are runner, you are bound to run that distance sooner or later.
My first was the Cebu City Marathon back in January 2012. That run taught me one valuable lesson:
preparation is the key to a successful run at 42km, never take your training for granted.
After I had taken running a marathon out of my bucket list, I wanted to try running an international marathon, and also to take my family for a side trip.
I was ecstatic to find out that Singapore would hold the Standard Chartered Marathon on December, so I signed up for the race, and I did my homework.
This time, I had six months to prepare. But not all things went as planned. Sometimes boredom and laziness got in the way, so to speak. I never really placed my mind into the training part until the last three weeks before heading to Singapore. In other words, I didn’t take it to the heart to train like a madman.
How love gives back? An international marathon.
Fast forward to December 2, the race day of Standard Chartered Marathon in Singapore, I woke up around 2:30 AM. I ate some pre-race meal, took a bath, and geared up for the race.
Being not so familiar on how to go around in SG, I was so relieved to learn that the MRT (Metro Rail Transit) had a special trip for the runners on that day – a pretty impressive start for my race. With that in mind, I was banking on seeing other runners on the train, and bang, I did. So the logical thing to do was to just follow the runners just like they were bread crumbs.
It took 45 minutes to get to Orchard Street where the starting pen was. I was expecting around 2,000-3,000 runners in total, including the lesser distances but I was dead wrong. We were about 19, 000 in the full marathon – 19K imagine that!!! Pretty impressive! It made the 2,000-3,000 runners who joined the CCM 2012 full marathon, well, puny.
There I was in the starting pen, warming up, jumping up and down, and bobbing my head to the music to keep the sweat going. I was so stoked; I could not help but smile all the time. The immense crowd got me so pumped up. I had never been a part of something this big and I was in the middle of it!
The horn sounded, the race got off to a very slow start because of the huge number of runners. I got out of the pen approximately 10-15 minutes after the horn sounded. Imagine that!
2 in 1 Experience: Racing & Touring.
But I was not disappointed. The whole stretch of Orchard Street was adorned with lights. It was an amazing sight; how I wished my little daughter was there to experience it. She was still sleeping in Jurong, where we stayed, during that time.
When I finally got out of the pen, I was a lost in the sea of runners. There were just so many of us. We were like a school of sardines, running in unison towards one direction.
Even in the darkness of dawn, Singapore was a sight to behold. I was sightseeing in the first 10-15 KM of the run. I was not even conscious of the pace I was running; I was simply immersing myself in what Singapore had to offer. It also helped that Singapore’s roads are way so much better than Cebu’s, no pun intended.
In that first 10-15 KM, I saw the Eye, the Esplanade, the Marina Bay Sands, and the Helix foot bridge. The highlight of that stretch was running the starting grid of the Singapore F1; I even saw skid marks on some portions of the track.
After that stretch, I began to think if there could be more? And again, the route came through. This time, the race took us to the east coast beach front, where the pathways are lazy, and lined with lots of trees. The trees provided the much needed cover and cool breeze from the early morning Singapore sunshine.
At this point, I was still breathing easy and, my body felt well. Most importantly, my legs did not start to give out even after hitting 27 KM marker. I was surprised knowing that during CCM 2012, my legs slowly began to cramp up after hitting the 21km marker.
Touring no more. Time for real business.
I was on pace to finish it in 4.5 hrs. And at times, I even overtook the 4:30 pacers. I felt really good about myself. I was hoping it would not end, but sadly it came to a screeching stop.
After that lovely stretch, the route took us to the back roads of Singapore, and it was a killer. Not because it was hot, but rather it was such a dead place. It made maintaining a good running pace laborious, and compounded by the fact that the hydration stations where spaced much farther on that area. And, my gut tells me that it was intended as that particular stretch had nothing to offer but empty lots, trucks, uncut grass, construction sites, gravel roads, and the like.
I mustered everything I had, mentally, to get out of that stretch. When I got to the 35 KM marker or so, I was so relieved to finally see some manicured lawn. I was silently cheering to myself to hold on as we’re almost out of this hellhole of a stretch.
When I made my final turn towards Marina Bay, seeing the Gardens was such a relief. It was like a beacon, an oasis signaling an end to my journey. At this point, I lost count of how far and fast I had run. All that was in my mind was to get over and done with this race.
Like most oasis, it was fleeting. We got out of the Gardens with 4 KM more to go. With the sun up, and the route hitting asphalt streets, and went up to a bridge, my jaw dropped. The spirit’s willing but the body was about to give up, but there is no way I will quit.
To stave off my body’s deterioration, I walked for about 11 minutes or so until I reached the apex of the bridge, then I started to run again. Cramping was starting to set once more on my hamstrings, and quads. This time, I pulled another trick which was to run-walk the first 2 km of the last 4.
My body was revolting already, but it all changed when the 40 KM sign greeted me. I never felt so relieved seeing that signboard. Not minding the pain I was in at that time, adrenaline had something to do with that, I ran the last two kilometers at the same pace I ran my first 15. I was beaming ear to ear, as I zoomed to the finish line after seeing 41 KM marker.
How love gives back? More than we can imagine.
With the finish line in sight, I laughed and was grateful for the strength, and for the feat I pulled that was totally unexpected – I broke my PR (personal record) by 35 minutes. I was unabashedly proud of myself that I accomplished something I did not aim to do, a new PR — a sub-5 hour finish time.
I got my medal, and my shirt after downing two cans of 100 plus. But nothing beat seeing my family at the finish line area. They were a sight for sore eyes. I have never felt so happy and fulfilled when I saw their smiles.
It’s because of them that I was there, and them why I run in the first place. Seeing them happy and cheering for me at every finish never gets old.
All in all, I give the Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon a huge A+. If I could add another +, I would, but that would not make any sense.
I would love to run it again, but hopefully not alone. But before that, Cebu City Marathon 2013 here I come!