Monday, September 28, 2009
After My First Marathon, What's Next?
Some of the 17,000 runners congregating at Nathan Philips Square in downtown Toronto before the start of the 5k, half-marathon and marathon races
Thousands of runners, relatives and friends in front of the twin Toronto City hall buildings
Excitedly confident with 13 minutes to the start gun
Made a last ditch effort to beat to the finish line the bald, fat and shirtless runner in front of me but missed by 2 seconds .
Happy to earn my first marathon finisher medal with wife Jojo and daughter Denise in the picture.
Finally at age 55, a marathoner. What's next?
As I sit down here and think about what to write on this post, my whole body is aching, the most pain that I've had since the all night hazing I received on my initiation night for membership to the Tau Lambda Kappa Fraternity of the UE College of Law more than 2 decades ago. It was even worse yesterday, after the race. I could hardly walk, occasionally had thigh muscle cramps, felt so weak, without any appetite, felt like throwing up and just slept like a log when I got home.
All morning also today, Jojo and I have been watching the Filipino Channel for news about Typhoon Ondoy, the floods in Metro Manila and other areas, the casualties, devastation and the return of Bayanihan spirit among all Filipinos, living in the Philippines and outside. Although in the past weeks, it seemed like the soap opera that is politics in the Philippines was the favorite topic in our homes and in the news, the sad aftermath of Ondoy saw all Pinoys irrespective of different and opposing partisan views and persuasions all come together and help each other in dealing with rescue operations, providing victims with the very basics like food, clothing, drinking water, shelter, and collecting relief goods and donations . There is still a lot of work to be done to rescue people trapped in their homes in flooded areas and making sure relief supplies, food and medicine reach needy people in time. The bad news is, there is another typhoon brewing close to the Philippines that may pass the country in the next few days. May God save us from another strong typhoon.
Below is the story of my first marathon.
Felt strong and confident at the start. Did 5k in 34 minutes, 10k at 1:14; half marathon mark (21k) at 2:42, and then as always slowed down in the second half, reached the 30k mark in 4:01. After passing the 32nd k, I was on unchartered territory. Begun to entertain negative thoughts because of pain on my left toes, left hip joint, quads. Chanted instinctively quietly, Tau ! Lambda! Kappa! to make me oblivious of all the pain. Thought of Rick, Mark (Tanaka), Jerry, Ronnie, Jovie, Jo-Lynn, all ultra runners, and said to myself , 42k is nothing.Passed a middleaged white male runner massaging his right thigh and gave him an e-load capsule (for electrolytes). At 33rd k passed another Asian looking middleaged runner who was limping while walking, offered and gave him an e-load capsule.
Felt weaker and weaker by the 34th k, (ran out of gels ,shotbloks, e-load by this time) and decided to stop by a variety (sari sari) store and bought a Cadburys nuts and raisins chocolate bar which I munched and finished in no time. I was so hungry. Where were Vener's saging na saba or Rico's hopia cubes when you needed them. A kindly resident offered fresh red watermelon on a tray and I picked one, and oh was it ever sweet. At the 35k heard my name being called, and saw my sports doctor, Dr. Natalie Labelle, a marathoner herself cheering on the side with her husband holding a poster with names and pointing at one name - Bong.. Stopped for a few seconds to shake their hands. She told me "you can do it Bong!"
By this time, I think I was walking more than I was running. All the runners who I passed, who passed me or were within my sight were either limping, stopping and stretching or massaging a thigh or leg, puking, walking, trying to move forward in what barely looked like a running motion. Negative thoughts came back and for a second the words quit and rest came to my mind. I prayed.
At the 37th k, just as I was walking and at my lowest low (physically and mentally) in the entire race, I heard a fat runner behind me yelling (what I thought of then as swear words), and ran pass me. The guy was no lighter than 260 lbs, I bet. He was shirtless, with his shirt tied around his big belly. This middle-aged, fat, foul-mouthed (I was mistaken here, I learned later), big bellied guy would never beat me, I told myself then. :)
From then on it became a chasing game between a used-to-be fat 55 year old wannabe marathoner trying to catch up with this shirtless, big bellied, bald guy. :)
With 400 meters to go he was still ahead of me by 100 meters as I tried to pick up speed to catch him. This time, all of a sudden a female spectator came out of the crowd of spectators to hug him (must be the wife) and he stopped for a moment. This gave me the oppurtunity to close the gap between us, and then he started running again. I was about ten feet behind him with 100 meters to the finish line and could hear him yell something like Go! Scott (his name) go! (not swear words that I thought I heard before). Gave it my all to catch and pass him before the finish line but missed by a few feet.
I crossed the finish line 2 seconds behind Scott (thebald, fat shirtless runner) in 5 hours 51 minutes.
So, what's next for me, if I'm asked today. No more marathon! I'd probably take up power walking or concentrate on the shorter distances, the 5k and 10k at the most. Or maybe just be content with walking Yuki in the park.
P.S. My running friend Nette recovered in time from her glutes injury to finish the same race, her first too, in 5 hours 26 minutes. Congrats Nette!