I still find it surreal that exactly 1 year ago I ran my first half marathon at the 2012 staging of the Cebu City Marathon (read story here ). When the running bug bit me it bit me hard and so my year 2012 was filled with so many running adventures. I’ve learned to love it and have made it a big part of my fitness regimen. The CCM will always be special to me so I have made a pact with myself that as long as there will be a CCM and as long as my body will allow it i will run this race. It will be my offering to Sto. Niño on the month of his feast.
I came into this year’s CCM with very minimal preparation. Having been injured with a left hamstring strain in October and November I knew I had zero chances of making good time for the race. So I said to myself, bahala na. I’ll just enjoy it, i’ll just embrace the journey, and just make sure I’ll finish in one piece. The longest that I ran prior to this marathon was only a 27km road run which i finished in a little over 4 hrs. Under prepared is definitely an UNDER statement. But the weekend of the race came and I felt more excited than nervous. That Friday I picked up my race pack, feasted on a carbohydrate-rich meal composed of pizza and pasta fr Sbarro, and bought all my race nutrition needs namely 4 GU Power Gel in Tri Berry and 2 Cloud 9 bars.
Come race day I woke up at 2:30am, took a quickie shower, had my customary pre-race meal of 2 slices of wheat bread w/ peanut butter, geared up, then headed to the race venue. I.T Park was alive and kicking at 3:45am. I took the time to stretch then checked in at exactly 7 minutes before gun start.
With seconds to go before the 4:00am start fireworks erupted, a loud applause came from the runners and we were off. This is it! my second full marathon! I made the sign of the cross then started my watch. I planned on fellowing the same race plan that Coach Philip Dueñas designed for me for my 1st marathon in Bohol last September. However I knew deep inside that I will find it difficult to stick to it because I’ve had zero training in the past months. So I said, hantod sa ma kaya lang, I will follow the race plan.
I felt pretty good all throughout the first few kms. From Lahug, Salinas, Gorordo, Escario, Mango, Fuente and Jones I went on a very slow and steady pace. But I got really excited as I was about to enter the SRP tunnel. I don’t know why this is always the part that gets to me. I guess because this is the ONLY time that it is opened to runners. I just had to take a quick snap as I entered it.
Upon entering the tunnel I heard loud Sinulog music playing and a few meters of running I came upon these very perky group of dancers.
They gladly obliged to a quick photo op while I chugged down a glass of cold Pocari Sweat. I don’t care how disgusting the name of this drink is. It is actually my second favorite after the purple Gatorade. I was so happy there was so much Pocari during the entire race.
Inside the tunnel there was also a table with juicy watermelons. Little did I know that this race was going to be a food fest. I was to realize that fact soon enough. LOL!
Upon exiting out of the SRP tunnel the sky started turning pink and orange on my left side. The waters were calm, the wind was still, and the world was just quiet. I always love having breathtaking moments like this during a race. If only I could capture in a photograph how beautiful that particular moment was. I just wanted to take it all in.
The Cebu City Marathon is indeed one big street party. A few meters ahead a live band was playing and at this time I still remember that they were playing Taylor Swift’s You Belong With Me. I couldn’t help but sing along for a bit. Good job ladies!
The sun decided to come out early on during the race. I was hoping that it was going to be a cloudy day but it was not meant to be. Thank goodness the volunteers of the Chinese Fire Brigade were out in full force. Many of us runners took advantage of the free cold shower from our friendly Chinese firemen volunteers. To sia very much to you guys!
Just a few kms towards the halfway mark, I finally caught up with my running buddy Coach K. Yes, that famous guy who challenged me to run my first half marathon in last year’s CCM and who’s been a constant running buddy ever since. The first thing I asked him to do was to take my picture. lol!
After almost 3 hrs of running the Talisay City Hall finally came into view. That only means one thing. That the turning point is VERY VERY NEAR. Hooray!
I got a bit worried when I saw my watch go past 3 hrs. How come I still haven’t ran past the 21km marker?? Ana ko ka hinayan? haha! :p Soon enough I saw the next marker saying 22kms. At this point I read my cellphone and came upon a message from my co-worker Elaine “Aja Mickie! You can do it!” Thank you so much Laine!
A few meters more and we finally reached the end of the SRP. The second of 2 U Turns for the 42 km runners. Of course I just had to have my photo op here. Notice the harsh shadows on the picture? It’s because the sun had to started to shine with a vengeance by this time. I knew that this was going to be the most difficult part of the race. Running agains the bright blinding sunshine and running under the sweltering heat. It was going to be a mind game from this point on. I decided to change the race plan. Run when I can and walk when I feel tired. Basta ma abot lang gyud sa finish line.
If there was something unique about this race, it’s the volunteer stations of the different running clubs in Cebu. The support of the running clubs was just so overwhelming. You just know there’s nothing but sincerity and kindness. Imagine waking up early just to set up, to spend your own money to give food to fellow runners, cheering them on and encouraging them to go on with the race. Grabe kaayo full force gyud ang mga running clubs. I’m ever so grateful to them.
There was the UNGO Ug Dagan volunteer station that offered me a nice liniment spray on my legs.
Then I chanced upon my Alien classmate and ultra marathoner Mam Sheila. I said “mam sheila! layo-a pa uy!” She went, Layo pa bitaw Mick. Kaon sa! Naa’y roasted calf, puso, ice cream, bananas, chocolate. And so I helped myself to some roasted calf and ice cream. That ice cream was exactly what I needed at that moment. Sugar to boost my energy and the coldness to avoid possible heat stroke and dehydration. Thank you Ungo runners!!
There was also the Team Boyek runners who were mostly buddies with Coach K. So grabe kayo sila naka cheer when we ran past them. In this photo Coach K’s buddies were asking him to do the “Opa BONGman style” and Coach K went “mick ikaw sad! i’m like noooooo! ikaw lang Bonggo! lol! funny pic here. Thank you to M.V Enriquez for this pic
One of the sons of a Team Boyek runner was also suuuper kind to spray liniment oil on my legs. So buotan this kid! Thank you suuuuuuuper much! (photo credits: R.Chan)
Coach K and I left the Team Boyek station in such high spirits that we didn’t mind running through the next few kms. The heat was getting pretty bad but still bearable. The soles of my feet were starting to feel really sore. We’ve been running for about 4 hours now. We had to stop to take picture breaks and walk breaks every now and then to keep our sanity.
Coach K went bai ikaw ra lagi permi picture bai. ako nasad kuno
Later on we chanced upon the Ungo runners again. I think they’ve started to pack up and the few of them left were giving away what’s left of their supplies. Here runner and photographer J.Domingo took some snaps of us runners.
Thank you so much J.Domingo for these pics (Look at Coach K’s hair here. Na afro ug kalit. LOL!!!)
Aside from the ice cold sponges, cold water, and ice cubes that I literally put down through the back of my shirt to keep me cool, it was the shower from the firetruck that kept me from feeling weak due to heat exhaustion. The heat at the SRP was so unforgiving I seriously couldn’t have survived it without these showers.
Pretty soon the 31kms marker came into view. 11kms to go. The finish line still feels like an entire lifetime away and my entire body is starting to feel so worn out. I said, gamay nalang gyud mickiego. We’ll get there. Just put 1 foot in front of the other and smile.
I knew full well that there’s a cut off a the tunnel. All runners MUST get through it before 10:00am. Coach K and I were already nearing the tunnel at around 9:48 so I asked him picture me sa here!
Inside, I said Bonggo, we need to take advantage of the shade. Lets run the entire stretch of the tunnel ha. Then we heard a race marshall yell at us saying “FASTER! FASTER!” i’m like huh?? pwede dili mo mag buot sa among pace?? Later on another race marshall approached us and said “Congratulations!! You’re the last 2 runners to make it!” OMG! That means the other runners behind us had to be picked up in a bus and were not to finish the race anymore. YIKES!
Going out of the tunnel we caught up with some of the runners before us. They said, pwede na ta mag walkathon. No cut off naman! LOL! I was just so relieved to finally make it out of the SRP. About 9kms to go nalaaaaaaang! I think one of the most difficult parts of the race was when we had to run through all the people in Sto Nino church and the entire downtown area. Thank goodness for the race marshalls who were escorting us and for our fellow runners who helped us navigate through the speeding jeepneys. At Jones Avenue I saw this motivational sign right above the RUNNR volunteer station Thank you Raffy & the rest of the RUNNR team!
As I made it up towards Fuente Osmeña circle I came upon another running group volunteer station. There was this girl with a big thumbs up sign that said “YOU CAN DO IT!” She said, duol na kaayo mo!!! GO GO GO! last 4kms nalang!! It was also at this point when I read a motivational text message fr my friend Mimi that said “Go Mickie!!!” Thank you Mims!!
After seeing the 4kms sign I knew I had no choice but to give up my goal of finishing under 7hrs. No way in the world will I be able to PR this race. At the Bohol Marathon last September I clocked in at 6hrs 55 mins. I really hoped I could have performed better. This IS my home court after all. OH well.. At the end of the day it’s not really about PR-ing or not anymore. It’s about finishing the race with every ounce of energy left in you. It’s about keeping a positive attitude despite the pain that’s going through your entire body. It’s about trying to stay calm and collected under the sweltering heat of the sun. It’s about determination and commitment to finish what you have started.
So here I am at the last 1km mark. Whew!!!! I’m going to make it to the finish line. I run-walked the entire Lahug stretch with Coach K feeling giddy with excitement. As I entered IT Park again so many runners cheered on us it made my heart just swell with so much pride and happiness. To top it all off, photographer R.Opada was there with his big lens. I said to myself, YESS! I am getting myself a very nice picture. Thank you so much for this Reynan!! I think i just might have this printed and framed.
Running towards the finish line I saw some familiar faces cheering on us. Triathlete and ultramarathoner P.Baltazar yelled “Go Mickie!!!” and took this photo on his cellphone.
Notice Coach K a few steps behind me looking like he’s about to sprint the last few meters. And sprint he did with his tongue wagging like a dog. (Zookie is that you?!) OMG. I keep laughing when I see this picture. Great capture here P.Baltazar!
So finally after 7 hours & 10 minutes of running I crossed the finish line of the Cebu City Marathon 2013. I am mighty proud of myself for having put behind 42kms behind me and proving to myself once again that I am tough enough for this.
After claiming my finisher shirt I had a nice little photo op with Mam Twinkle Ignacio the ultramarathoner who’s famous for her outrageous costumes during races. Nice to meet you mam!
I came home with the loveliest puso-shaped finisher’s medal and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Thank you CCM! Thank you once again to all the volunteers during the race. Congratulations to all the finishers and organizers! Job well done!
PIT SENYOR STO NINO! Happy Fiesta Cebu City!