I did finish the 34th Milo Marathon in 4:55:! (Garmin time)
But I DNFed —- did not faint, did not fall down, did not fail myself! (read more later when we get to the 30+kilometers)
Milo Marathon is a must run for most runners. This will be my first Milo Marathon (a year ago, running a 10K race is already a big deal for me). This will be my second Marathon (debut was at Condura last February).
This has been in my bucket list and I am so excited to tick it. In fact, I had qualifying for the finals as one my goals for the year. After the PAU Ultramarathon last May, all my training efforts are focused on Milo.
A month prior to Milo, the ads went out. It sends excitement to us runners, with the commercial often on air. It gives pride as well, as being part of it would mean helping provide shoes to kids. Comments and complaints flooded on the increase in reg fees (I thought, as long as they would provide the basic needs then it would be fine!). And then….the qualifying time was out —– 4:20!?! That would mean running an average pace of 6:16 throughout. 10 minutes is TEN minutes.
I took it as a challenge though. Weekdays are spent on Speed training, Core workout, Endurance training, Hill training. Weekends are for LSDs.
As tune up race and speed test, I joined (1) the Philippine Independence Day Run (after a long time of not joining races) with a goal of running at maintained pace of 5:50 (2) Freedom run 5Ks (to accompany newbie friends) at 22:49-23:40 minutes and the week before the Lactacyd Run at 46 minutes (unofficial, official is at 59 minutes so I deducted the 13 minutes I spent at the finish line where I ended and checked on the time of the runner behind me). I believe training has paid off.
A week before Milo, I followed the recommended food intake for a week.
But, race day is race day. No amount of training or planning can predict how it would be. Still, I went to the finish line hopeful. I prayed for it.
The starting line was festive. We were chatting, stretching and shaking off the nervousness with the Team Bald Runner Professionals friends. At the last two minutes —– Bald Runner approached us “for blessing” =) and for some photo ops. Went to the side and then the gun fired! Really? As in, this is it!
It is a seemingly flat course. The inclines of the flyover is not that steep. Three loops and you’re on your way back. Sounds easy huh!
The plan is to reach the 10th kilometer in an hour or less, max of 6:05. I was listening to my body, as long as the pace still feels relaxed then I will push. I reached the first 10 kilometer in 59 minutes.
Second loop was still easy, I reached the 20th kilometer in 2:01 hours. (still on target). The last 2 kilometers before the 10th kilometer is always the hardest part for me. The road was hard, there is no shade at all and there is only one water station (the other stations are banana and gel stations which has no water around). There were sponges given along Macapagal. At the second loop though, right when the sun was up, the sponges are at the sidewalk (packed up?). I have my support stationed around the 10th/20th/30th. So, I had it all planned in mind on the critical last loop.
Going back to the Buendia and Edsa flyover, I still feel strong (average pace is slower for those laps at 6:30). I had to catch up, so I increased pace as I went down. I was looking forward to the water station at the 28th kilometer. When I got to that point, the cups are all around with no water and it is taking some time to fill up (or I am not sure if they got something to refill it on). I only have one hydro bottle enough for a gulp. I took Gatorade at the table right after and thought my support will be at the 30th, I ran faster to meet my target time and get water and refreshment. I badly needed to get doused with water. I needed my Strive mixed drink for my salt fix. Hurray! I reached the 30th at 3 hours and 4 minutes. I have an hour and sixteen minutes to conquer and possibly uhmm qualify. And the worst happened, they are nowhere in sight. I need to reach the next water station near PICC. I could feel myself crystallizing. Pace went down to 7-730ish. I got back my rhythm after a quick douse of water but I couldn’t keep up, pace was down to 8. I was using my sweat and the water on my shorts to wet myself and avoid further salt buildup. I had to do a run-walk strategy. I took one last gulp at the water station, hoping I’d gain back. I improved on the next lap down to 7:27. I reached 32nd in 3 hours and 15 minutes. (still on target). Flat 10 k, 2×2 flyovers in 1 hour five minutes. (still hopeful) Marshals were asking me if I am okay, even some runners pacing with me. I knew I am not. I was running criss-cross since the 30th I was hoping I’d see my support whom I’ve asked to be right there before Edsa flyover. (fail again, they’re nowhere in sight, apparently they were at the 32nd k based on the pics).
I reached the 35th kilometer in 3:41:55. Thirty-nine minutes to go. I would normally run the last ¼ of my race faster, even during my first marathon. This time, I should run at 5:42 pace. (I had 35 kilometers already, I knew it was impossible!). I wanted to try at least a 4:30. I still ran a few steps, until I had to stop. For a few seconds, I felt my senses going down, blood rushing to my head. I tried to balance off so as not fall down. I stayed on foot for a minute to normalize my breathing. The marshal asked if I was okay, I asked if they had water and they said no. (Bubble thoughts: then why ask). I walked away as I do not want to be attended to and possibly be asked to ride an ambulance. I saw Mark who turned out to be trailing behind me as he saw I wasn’t okay who has one bottle of water from his belt. I doused myself and drank a bit. I tried to run-walk back. I saw Iah, Jerry and Neil who cheered me on. Then I saw Randy. I remember he said “Stop running” but apparently he just told me not to push further as he my strides do not look fine. (Turned deaf really, but that was a ‘toink’ moment for me, I was risking my health or ‘my life’ even).
That was when I asked Mark to walk with me back instead. I couldn’t walk straight (like a drunk person) but I kept on pushing. Had one Gatorade from his hydro belt which he got from nearby supports (of other runners). After a kilometer or so, just before the flyover of Buendia., my heartbeat normalized. I no longer look drunk. Iah, Neil and Jerry passed us and asked me to tag along. I decided to just walk back. It was the longest five kilometers run/walk. It was the most painful, not body pains but frustrations. I couldn’t even shed a tear as it is all dried up. Mark endured my blah, blahs, blah (Thanks dude!). I couldn’t remember what I’ve said. I just remember him telling me to finish it. I thought I couldn’t even make it to 6-hours cut-off and I was asking for options. Then I looked at my watch (I even forgot I have a Garmin), it was 8:44 am. I still have 16 minutes to reach finish line sub 5. We finally saw my support who apparently misunderstood me and went to Manila yacht club straight. Finally, cold water and my salt-fix! (This one I said aloud-Where were you when I needed you most? Don’t take my picture! – Okay, I’ve said my sorry na) We were told Iah was injured. I seriously wanted to give up at that point, but when we saw the ambulance and Iah is not there, I gained hope. I knew Iah is gonna finish it, and we all should finish it. It was the last 1.5kilometers. I asked Mark to ride with Laya and drive back for our other friends who are still on their way back.
I tried to run the last 1.5kilometers, from a 11mpk walk-pace, was down to 7:04mpk. I just wanted it to be done! I crossed the finish line in less than five hours and got my Milo Finishers Medal, shirt and freebies.
So, what went wrong? Nothing really. It was so H U M I D!!! (I have ran in a more humid environment at the Laguna Bay relay so why lose it this time?) Yes, it could have been better with enough water stations which are properly positioned and water stations with water and cups with water. About the course, it was definitely fine — the surprise challenge is much welcomed!
So many what could have been’ssss, but I am all done ranting about it as I walked to the finish line, oh and tweeting =)
For now, I am so glad that I am alive, blogging and preparing for the next challenge!
Thanks be to God! He may not have answered my prayers for a qualifying time but the circumstances for the day more than assured me that He is my greatest protector.
Thank God for the kind running community he sent me throughout the course! (I may not have uttered a word when you offered help or asked me if I’m okay, but I remember your singlet colors – green of course, guys in orange, old guy in white, guy in second wind singlet, takbo.ph aid station, Team Hardcore/Ultramarathoner friends who are all fast & veteran runners but never fail to motivate others at u-turns, a runner’s support crew before Buendia flyover).
Thanks Milo for the challenge! (I hope you improve on the water next time – lots of it! we don’t really need Kimeralds up there esp that you have them onstage while we’re out there running. But don’t get me wrong, I like the two.)
Thanks to the whole Team Bald Runner: M. Rowena, the Elites and staff, Coach and Sir Jovie for being supportive of our dreams! (and making us believe it’s not impossible).
Of course, big hugs and thank you to my Team Bald Runner-Professionals friends! The journey towards Milo, as we trained together, is sweeter than Milo and the finishers’ medal. Looking forward to another intense training sched! But before anything else, let’s PARTY!