Three days before the Condura Skyway Marathon (CSM), I was doing some early evening grocery shopping when I got a text message from my sister Sandi telling me that she got me a race kit for the 21 km in Condura! “HUWATT???” I screamed by text. “I’M NOT PREPARED! MY LONGEST RUN SO FAR WAS 16KM! YESTERDAY!”
“You can do it. Just consider it a regular long run,” came the cool response.
I didn’t know what to say… I was excited and scared at the same time….
I don’t know what came over me because in a second, I said, “I better go home now and sleep!” I pushed my grocery cart faster because I wanted to sleep early so I can cram an early run the next day!
But the next day I felt that my legs have not fully recovered from my 16km run so I just walked for an hour or so.
“Que sera sera. What will be will be.” If I couldn’t finish the run then so be it. I was not too excited about it.
A few hours before the run
Sandi, and our good friend from Cebu, Rex, and I, decided to go early to Jehan’s house because it was near the race venue. On the table was a buffet of boiled camote and saba, whole wheat herb bread and butter, crispy pretzels, black rice, and chicken tinola. We also had had hot chocolate and milk. I had a bit of everything and then tried to sleep.
The three of them were to run 42km and their gunstart was midnight. So at 10:30, we all started preparing.
I don’t know why we took so long but we were able to leave the house at 11:30! The starting line was probably just about 5kms away from the house but oh my, traffic was heavy as we were approaching the Las Pinas-Zapote road! There was a lone traffic policeman trying his best but the traffic was simple very slow. Three lanes were occupied by those going towards Zapote and that left only a single lane for us going to Filinvest. Jehan was driving and Sandi was getting a bit agitated.
“Han, bilisan mo!”
Jehan: Don’t worry there’s plenty of time…
Sandi: What if we just go down here and run to the starting line? We can let Inday drive. (Inday is my Ilonggo name.)
Me: Nooooo, I CAN”T DRIVE MANUAL!
Anyway, what happened was when we moved a bit, Jehan turned left on a ‘no-left turn” road and so we made it to the parking lot near McDonalds within minutes. The three of them went down and ran. I followed with my camera.
What I noticed first was there were lots of portalets. Rows of them and I tried one. Wow, are these portalets bigger than usual or did I just lose weight? Nice thought. 🙂
After watching a few waves released, I went back to the car and slept. I had over three hours before our 3:30 AM gunstart.
I slept soundly and at 2 AM, I woke up, went to McDonald’s and got a cup of steaming brewed coffee (I needed that) and a cheeseburger (I didn’t need that).
Anyway, because of that meal I was late for my wave ( C ) so I just stayed with wave H.
Anthony Suntay was the emcee and I liked him because he didn’t do those “trying hard to be cute and lovable” spiels. I guess it’s because of the grim situation we were remembering. For each wave, I listened as he gave the announcements and instructions:
699 race officials… 13 ambulances… 25 hydration stations…buddy system…If you need help… and,
“There will be 44 policemen each holding a photo of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) trooper who died. When you see them, please give a long salute.
When they released my wave, I ran, and before I knew it there was that SAF line to the left of the runners.
I continued running but saluted and looked at the line from my lateral vision. OH MY! It seemed to take forever! The line was long! Way too looooooong! Forty four is a lot! Too many died!
Yes, many police and military men die in action but this case was different because there were just too many questions left unanswered. My tears fell and I wished I had tissue to wipe my nose. I realized that many policemen are underrated and under-appreciated. I vowed to change my attitude about them.
Anyway, it was a great run. The skyway gives you a unique high. I was glad that it was well lit as my night vision is poor. I grinned to myself when we passed the toll gates. Wow, this is something you can’t do the rest of the year! Savor the moment!
Hydration stations were long and there were enough ice-cold Summit water and Gatorade for everyone. Very good.
The air was cool and made more so by the soft wind from Laguna Bay. But I still got an ice cold wet sponge when I saw that there were lots and lots of them. I wiped my legs, arms, and face– in that order! Using the same sponge! Hahaha! Yuck.
I did the run-walk interval and felt strong. I thought I had a pebble in my right shoe but after a few kilometers, it was gone. I thought that my ankles and shins hurt but after a kilometer or so, they were fine!
There were only a few distance markers. I suppose that’s because many runners now have those hi-tech gadgets with GPS that measured distance. Well, I didn’t have that so I just relied on the toll gates. Alabang…Sucat…Bicutan…and then the u-turn. Yay! It was still dark. My throat felt dry because of the cold but I didn’t mind at all. I felt strong and upbeat. I remembered phrases Coach Jojo Macalintal always used:
Mind your breathing.
Check your form.
But what really kept me up was the repeated remembrance of Sandi’s battlecry: “Finish Shtrong!” Ok, YOU try saying it without pausing between the words. FINISH STRONG!
See? Sandi has perfect teeth but the first time she yelled it, it sounded as if she had poorly fitting dentures. FINISH SHTRONG! It was so funny! And because of that I felt strong and amused. I ran faster towards the finish and more so when a woman who had more gray hair than I overtook me.
When I crossed the finish line I raised my arms and smiled a big smile. I was happy with my time and even thought that I could have done better if I snaked my way through those walkers who hogged the way.
Great run. Great run!
I got my medal from these Army soldiers increasing my runner’s high further.
Whereas before I was sluggish and wanted very little to do with organized runs, things have turned 180 degrees.
Condura Skyway Marathon 2015: You’re big and meaningful. You stoked me!