True enough, I didn’t have a decent sleep the night before what with all the excitement, race strategy thinking and re-thinking, considering gunning for a new 42k PR and all other stuff related to the national finals of the 33rd Milo Marathon.

After meeting Tigerboy Junrox at the carboloading dinner, we exchanged text messages on how to best attack the full marathon race, with both of us having qualified in threee-fifties, thereabouts. I got a message from him that said 50, 55, 55, 55, 10, referring to the number of minutes we can try running the distance divided into 4 ten-k’s and the last 2k. That would give us a finish time of 3hrs and 45mins.

Seemed very daunting but since dreams are free, what the heck, we agreed on a strategy similar to that, thereabouts, when we met again at the starting line.

Negotiating Lawton Ave. with the Tigerboy

Negotiating Lawton Ave. with the Tigerboy

Junrox would inform me if we were running faster than the 5minpkm pace or dipping below 5:20. The road markers also made it easier for me to check from time to time if we were going too fast or too slow as we both constantly let each other know that one could just go ahead if he felt like speeding up some more.

We finished the first half of the race in less than 1hr and 50mins so we we’re really happy to have made some good time. We were praying for some clouds or better yet some rain just like what happened in the eliminations as different factors such as fatigue, cramps, more hills to run, lactic acid build up, etc. etc. started to appear right before our eyes one by one. Unfortunately, we got nothing but clear, sunny skies, which was a little strange for me considering the very recent visits of a typhoon AND a supertyphoon.

We parted ways after the km 30 mark and decided to run the distance individually and give it all we got.

In one of the most familiar parts of the race at Global City

In one of the most familiar legs of the race at Global City getting ready to consume one of the four gel shots I took during the race

I was so grateful for the presence of friends Grace and Reina along the way to offer encouragement and support. I told them I wouldn’t know what to do without them.

Thanks to cheerleader-for-the-day Bards and all those who didn’t know me but cheered anyway. They really put a smile on my very tired face.

To the people at the Reinier Pacific and booth, to Natz, Sam and the rest, thanks for the support, too. Your fruit salad, Natz’s high five and camera, Sam’s petroleum jelly white board and all your smiles made me conquer one of the most difficult phases of the race. Special thanks to the guys who sprayed efficascent oil on my legs, particularly the one who massaged my sweaty (and dirty) legs.

Running alone at Buendia with less than 10 km to go.

Running alone at Buendia with less than 7 km to go-the most gruelling part of the race for me

And above all, arigato’s to Junrox for the kind offer of food and drink, interesting conversations, technology, and above all, the company. You certainly made the run more bearable and a lot more fun!

At the finish line with sub-4 finishers Junrox and Jonel

At the finish line with sub-4 finishers Junrox and Jonel

As I crossed the finish line, I couldn’t help but think about the people I met during and after the race– Jovie-san, Jonel, Luis, Jet, my seatmates during the carboloading, and to both familiar and new faces who share the same passion of running the 42.195 km distance. Congratulations to all of you, too!  And great job, Mr. Rudy B.!!! I also said a little prayer to the runner who was carried into the ambulance on a stretcher with only a few kilometers to go.

My first photo with the Bald Runner!

My first photo with the Bald Runner!

I was thinking that I would have finished stronger if I had hydration at the last 6 kilometers but then again, like what I was telling myself in many parts of the race: No regrets! Run as if it were the last marathon race. I think in that respect, I could say, I did it! And I’m extremely happy with 3 hrs and 49 minutes of course!

I didn’t know I had so many people ready to support and help me.  People who could turn a difficult situation into a worthwhile and learning experience.  In the words of Naoko Takahashi (高橋尚子), the first woman ever to break the 2hr 20minute barrier, moments after winning the Sydney Olympics marathon title:  「すごく楽しい42キロでした」。 “It was a very enjoyable 42 kilometers.”

My cup runneth over.