No memory of pain
Yet every fiber recalls
Each agonized step
No memory of pain
No memory of pain
Yet every fiber recalls
Each agonized step
It has been two weeks since I finished the Cebu Marathon. I still feel the ill effects of that race. My fatigued state has me intermittently experiencing cough, cold, fever, joint pains, headache, and sore throat. However, how bad I feel right now does not compare to how bad I felt during race day.
My girlfriend and I ate bad takeout dinner. It led to stomach flu. She was vomiting all night long yet I foolishly kept it in. I took frequent trips to the toilet because it was next to impossible to completely hold it. Needless to say, I toed the line sick and sleep deprived.
It was next to impossible to control my pace. My mental game was off. I relied on the state of my belly and the pace of other runners. I knew it was bad. When I got to the 12th kilometer, it got worse.
My erratic pacing earned me poor breath control. I had trouble breathing. My chest was tightening. I knew then that my pride was going to cost me. Maybe, not only during this race but somewhere down the line. I was starting to flashback to all my greatest hits. I took off my rosary bracelet then prayed.
I resolved at some point to ask for assistance from the medics. The race marshals and policemen seemed incapable of handling a medical emergency. I walked as fast as I can hoping to find an ambulance but I was alone. It seems all my races in recent years had me walking alone at the back. When I finally caught sight of an ambulance, the chest pain was gone.
I wish I could firmly say that I did the right thing by not stopping. Somehow the thought of starting the year with a major loss did not sit well with me. I kept going even though I knew at the back of my mind that I was not going to make the cutoff. It was the worst time to find my courage really. I was at the longest most boring part of the race.
The halfway point until the finish line seems like a jumble of painful memories to me now. I walked most of it, ran only when I could. I knew I was going to finish the race no matter how long it took. The finisher’s medal did not even matter anymore. I could recall moments with the now 250-time marathoner named Mohan. His cheerfulness brightened up every runner’s face.
My finish was different from all my other race finishes. I had more cheerleaders for this one. They were more out of pity. Obviously, I could not kick but it still felt extraordinary crossing that finish line. However, I still felt a tinge of sadness. It felt like the end of an era. This year, I’ll be turning 30. What will this mean for my running career? I have not been competitive in over a year. Should I focus on shorter races? Should I quit? I don’t know. I guess for now, only God knows. 7:09:48
I am currently battling a host of ailments. The marathon last week really did a number on my immune system. Moreover, the Sinulog merriment did not help. I would never trade both experiences for a few weeks of health though. Maybe I am masochistic after all. My obsession with running is a very strong indicator of that. Here are a few more poems to prove my point.
I am without words
For these runs get me on the verge
Of the utmost high
Yet still hankering for the sky
I jog, he ran
I jog, she walked
Strayed from the plan
Numbed from the talk
Early rising moon
Staring at the unfolding
Failure of a run
I am on the mend
From my weakened legs and side
To my aching heart
The man called in awe
To which, he replied simply
“Just sweating it out.”
My life absent drive
Grudgingly paid a steep fine
Fiction was cheaper
A star’s fearless gleam
Fought biting wind and cruel clouds
Alone in the end
Concealed in layers
The agony found a way
Through hushed surrender
You expect its arrival
But bracing yourself will not matter
Neither fiery denial
Nor boldness will stand once the scenes blur
Slow and steadily
Building up speed until I
Slingshot through the crowd
On the second half of the Cebu Marathon, I got more creative with finding ways to distract myself from the pain. My emotions were all over the place. I knew that the race would end sooner albeit on an ambulance if I gave in to either fear or anger. Thankfully, the route was abundant with bananas, lamp posts, and company. Here are 21 more thoughts from a marathon survivor.
22. Bananas are awesome! I wonder if I can get two.
23. I swore off lechon (roasted pig) during the holidays but the lechon shaped medal at the end is gonna best the tasting pig ever.
24. One lamp-post of running then one lamp-post walking.
25. My body is playing Pain Roulette. It’s a different body part every 2 kilometers!
26. Those kids are staring at my Gatorade cup but they can’t have it yet! I need my reason to keep walking!
27. Drizzle! Yes! Drizzle! Wait. Sunshine! Nooo!
28. Great! My friends saw me. I have to run now.
29. Half a banana! Where did the full bananas go?
30. Who needs Body Glide? Vaseline works just fine!
31. Four lamp posts of walking then one lamp-post of running.
32. Anyone with the strength or breath to help that guy cramping up at the sidewalk should go help.
33. I knew I should have taken more chocolate.
34. Is it possible that that overweight half marathoner in front of me is having more fun than I am?
35. Oh no! A water station! I better finish this caffeine flavored candy quick.
36. Only seven minutes left! Run! Damn it! Run!
37. Yes, I know the finish line is near! You don’t have to tell me! That big sign back there said so already!
38. That’s it. The quest for a PR is over. Bummer.
39. No! I’m not giving up! PRs be damn!
40. I know it hurts feet but I’m gonna keep ignoring both of you until this race ends.
41. Time to kick! Wait! Everyone is staring at me. I’ll just kick like I normally do. Damn. Performance anxiety.
42. Finally over! Now, where’s the food at?
Cebu Marathon 2015
January 11, 2015
I feel more like a marathon survivor rather than a marathon finisher right now. Last Sunday’s marathon did not go as well as I had hoped. This time around, I was more desperate than ever to finish the race. The voices in my head were screaming full time. Most of them made me laugh while some were seriously messed up thoughts. All of these thoughts kept me going though. Here are just a few of these thoughts.
It finally started. Quickly! Take note of escape routes for my inevitable DNF exit.
Damn it! I left my money in bag. I guess I’m gonna have to finish this race.
Keep running and don’t look at your watch. Keep running and don’t look at your watch. Keep running and don’t look at your watch.
Water or Gatorade? Gatorade!
4 dozen moms have passed me today. I am officially a marathon noob.
She just went into that bakery for a quick bite. Can we do that? Man, I’m hungry.
Oh! A water station. I guess I can walk now.
Two hours and thirty minutes have passed. Orange or chocolate flavored gel? I can’t decide while running. Must walk.
My goodness! All the costumed marathoners are fast this year!
I’ve been running for hours. Where’s the next water station?
Those salt packets contain really salty salt.
Four lamp posts of running then one lamp post of walking.
It’s been three hours. That’s longer than my last long run. Go me!
Oh sponge! Where have you been all my life?
Why is it called a water station when it provides Gatorade?
Drunk hecklers running beside me. Run at a reasonable pace faster!
I’m gonna make this cup of gatorade last. I don’t wanna start running yet.
Oh no. He’s talking to me. I’m too tired to talk. Run faster! Aaand I’m walking.
Two lamp posts of running then one lamp post of walking.
It’s so dark. I hope I don’t step on something weird.
Let those drivers wait! I’m running on empt…
I think I scored a home run with this goal. I entered not one but two marathons on the first quarter of the year. I even joined a triathlon relay team race last June. How am I ever going to top this achievement?
I’m starting to think that I may never beat this record. Hah! I was too busy enjoying and dreading the one time I joined a 5k race. I did however beat my 10k personal record by a relatively wide berth. It was quite a feat considering my condition then.
I realized when I wrote this post that I forgot that I only needed to run 771 kilometers to secure this goal. I did not bike this year but I managed to cover 876 kilometers, which is 105 kilometers better than last year. That is a lot.
Despite the challenges brought about by my growing number of responsibilities, I managed to carry out 2 out of 3 of my goals. I even achieved a marked improvement in both speed and endurance. 2014 is indeed a good year for running. I hope and pray that 2015 would be even better. Carpe Annum!
By the time I wrote these poems, I had grown my circle of friends at the track. Week after week, I had invited people to join me. I was rarely successful but I took heart at the fact that I at least had a good impact on the people who did answer my invitation. In some ways, my friends have influenced me as well. A marathon finish found its way into my dreams.
I did not go unscathed
As I tested my limits
My hand clenching my side
As I limped to the exit
I took to the road
After the tedious grind
With pain as reward
Another lesson to mind
Worry weighed me down
My lips formed a sweaty frown
A trespassing rock!
Must remember to wear socks
It took them a while
They tagged along for a mile
One great meal with friends
Begins and hastens the mend
How much farther could I have gone?
How much longer could I have gone?
Without the pleasure of their company
Thank you my wonderful jogging buddies
No watch, no warm-up
The gold moon was distracting
Forgot my socks too
Lethargic and sleepy-eyed
Challenged and wakened
Endangered, hungry, and filled
Nowhere near my best
I plod at my leisure – OW!
Stop poking me Jane!
Two learned men and
A 42k problem
Seven weeks to go
Sweat obscured vision
And disembodied voices
Annoyed my shadow
Near my breaking point
Lightning flashed forebodingly
Cringed with each step til
The end came mercifully
Cebu City SRP Midnight Marathon 42.2k 02/16/14
I needed to stop running. I earned it. With my first marathon and fifth half-marathon still so fresh in my mind and body, I’d have been enjoying a much-needed long vacation from running. Those races left me so spent that I swear I could hear parts of me screaming, “No more! Please no more!” However, I had registered for this late last year. This was supposed to be my first marathon, which was going to be held last December 2013, but a super typhoon blew it all the way to March 2014. So, there I was towing the line with an ensemble of marathoners on a cold midnight. Despite my worries and reluctance, a growing excitement welled up in me. I was really excited to experience Cebu City on foot in the middle of the night.
My excitement was quashed several kilometers later. I realized that, despite the pure awesomeness of running, it has its own share of haters. My running companions and I were ridiculed by partygoers and bystanders. I’ve had my share of hecklers before but this time their insults had more fire. It might have been the liquor or the late hour. My own susceptibility may have been fueled by my own weariness and insecurities. Whatever it was, the truth was lost on them. Running is fundamentally a great activity that promotes fitness. What we were doing was made even greater by the cause behind it. Eventually, I resolved to take my mind off the distractions. I had a marathon to run after all.
I had an easier time physically. The cool dawn weather kept me from overheating but there were so many turns on this race that I have lost sight of most of the other marathoners. It was creepy having the road all to myself. Whenever I caught sight of another soul, I would quickly use my fartlek strategy to catch up. It worked most of the time. I did have trouble with a barefoot runner but I passed him with four kilometers left in the race.
I can still remember the joy vividly when I saw my friends competing in the 5k category. The 21k runners finished so quickly that the loneliness was starting to sink in. I can deal with isolation but suffering on my own zapped most of mental resilience. I remember trying to race my friends and failing miserably. My legs were too tired and I honestly was reserving the last of my energies for the kick, which I did do. It was awesome. The realization that I had attain a PR in the end made the experience even more awesome though I could still hear parts of me screaming, “No more! Please no more!” I’m not one to ignore cries for help especially my own so I decided to limit myself to one marathon a year. At that instant, I swear I could feel my overworked parts let out a sigh of relief. I was now a two-time marathoner. I should let myself enjoy the victory. I did. 6:04:22
Cebu City Marathon 2014 42.2k 01/12/14
I’m not one for small talk. However, 42 kilometers is a very long distance. It takes a considerable amount of time and effort to cover a marathon. For mere mortals like me, six hours is the average. Truth be told, I was aiming for seven hours because I injured my left knee seven days prior. My recovery plan was to keep weight of said knee, get lots of rest, drink milk every chance I get, and hope for the best. I did not know if I’d have recovered enough on race day so I adopted the middle-aged marathon mom pace, which was so conservative that I clocked my first 5k at almost 46 minutes. Super slow but it was helpful. I had a thorough warm-up and I got to enjoy the rest of the marathon.
Interestingly enough, it was the small talk that highlighted my first marathon experience. Runners can appreciate the magnitude of the effort their fellows undergo. Marathoners take that appreciation up a notch. They can empathize and naturally cheer each other on. These are just a few of my interesting conversations with my fellow marathoners.
BPO Yuppy: S***! This ****ing hurts.
Me: *Nodded my head* Yes. It does. *Smiled*
Me: (In Bisaya) Only 10 kilometers to go and 2 hours to do it. We can take it easy and walk the rest of the way.
Middle-aged Midpacker: *Laughed* You’re right! I came from Tacloban. I didn’t have enough training when Yolanda hit us but I did get to walk a lot now that oil prices have skyrocketed there. I had to buy all my stuff here in Cebu.
Me: Really? Well. At least, you’re no stranger to walking now. We can take it easy from now on, enjoy our stroll, and collect our finisher’s medals and stuff at the finish line. *Smiled*
Middle-aged Midpacker Yolanda Survivor: You got that right!
Fast Granny: Almost there! I was late for gun start. My running group have already left me! I had to catch up!
Me: Yeah! You’re fast. I saw you earlier at Banawa.
Fast Granny: *Went on before I could finish my reply*
I later saw her entering a MacDonalds.
Me: (In Bisaya) *Adopted correct running form* Always run well when photographers are taking pictures. *Laughed*
Scarred Runner: (In English) What’s that? Can you say that in English? I’m Malaysian.
Me: *Repeated what I said in English*
Scarred Malaysian Runner: Precisely! *Laughed*
Running Lolo: (In Filipino) This is the longest kilometer ever!
Me: *Laughed* Yeah but it should be close now. *Smiled*
Me: That was a great race. See you next year?
Scarred Malaysian Runner: Yeah. See you next year. 6:17:05
Running a marathon is not my dream. It’s 42 kilometers of running. 42 kilometers is way too much. I can’t stop now though. I’ve already registered for my first marathon, which is 11 days from now. I’m probably not ready but, like I said, I can’t stop now. It is destiny.
27:55.43. I would have broken this record last year but I didn’t race on this distance. I had plenty of excuses. I was probably just scared though, which is lame. I beat it during practice by at least a minute. My 5k record goes down this year.
771 kilometers is surely a lot. It’s not improbable and definitely not impossible to surpass though.