A full marathon? 42 kilometers of foot/legwork? I never would have imagined completing such distance because when I first started running, I remember telling myself that I would already be happy finishing a half-marathon or a 21-kilometer race. Added to the fact that I have experienced a lot of pain during runs, mostly because of my knee, I simply laughed at the idea of me running past a half-marathon. (PS: My knees do not hurt during runs anymore. I guess they they got used to the strain. That or they healed stronger after every race. Either way, that works for me! I still wear knee support though just in case.)
Yes, it seemed crazy at first but my aspirations and goals grew in time and I slowly started to want that 42k medal and so I mentally planned for it and even mentioned it in one of my previous blog posts – that I would use the hashtag #RoadToFortyTwo when I start training for a full marathon. Which brings us to my participation in 7Eleven Run 2017 last February 4-5, 2017.
Because February is my most favorite month of the year, I always try my best to make it as memorable as possible. This is the reason why I chose to complete my first 21-kilometer race last February 2016. I actually completed a total of three half-marathons for 2016 all within the Sub-2:30 category (that means finishing the race within two hours and thirty minutes) so the idea of joining a 42-kilometer race slowly seemed plausible to me.
When the details for TBR Dream Marathon came out, I felt myself excited and ready to join. However, due to its location and limited slots and me not being able to persuade a friend to join, I did not push through with the registration. Luckily, 7Eleven came about and it had a 42km category and is scheduled on the first week of February at a nearer location. Everything seemed just right so I already signed up as early as January 2017. To be honest, it felt like an impulsive decision to sign up right then and there but this also helped me to take my training runs more seriously.
I only had a month to train so I did my best to squeeze in some mileage. It was a mixture of road and indoor runs often short-distance road runs and long-distance indoor runs and each one felt great. The last (road) training run would be my fourth half-marathon in PSE Bull Run 2017. There, I bagged a new personal record which made me feel more secure of the upcoming full marathon.
With just about two weeks left before the race, I unexpectedly got injured during one of my training runs. The right side of my right foot started to hurt when I put weight on it. No, it was not a sore kind of pain but more of a stabbing pain. I could not walk properly and was limping because of this. The pain subsided after a few days and I thought I was already fine so I joined a major hike to the 10th highest mountain in the Philippines just a week before the race.
The pain resurfaced during the hike and I struggled so much just to complete it. When we got back to Manila, I found myself limping even more, the hike made the injury worse (though of course I have no regrets, it was the 10th highest mountain in the Philippines after all). I only had a week before the big day and at my state then, I could not help but think of just missing the race no matter how much I wanted to go.
I needed to miss it but I wanted to risk it.
There was still a slight pain on my foot just a day before the race. Deep down I knew I had to let it rest but I still thought of ways to, if not completely make my foot feel better, at least help reduce the pain I felt. And thus I resorted to buying a bandage for support much like what I did with my knees back then.
On the morning of the race day, I tried to test my newly bought bandage. Although I still felt pain, it helped me walk properly. Good enough I thought.
And so I made up my mind to go to the race with the goal of completing the distance. Of course I already gave up on the thought of finishing it at my target time given the circumstances. But boy oh boy, I cannot explain how nervous and scared I felt then because 42 kilometers is no joke and with my injury, there was a high chance of a DNF (Did Not Finish). I remember telling my friends that there is no in-between – it is either you do not go to the race or you go and finish it. DNF is not an option.
DNF is not an option.
But I was still limping! I was really, really nervous and I tried to hide it by laughing with my friends but it ultimately showed when the runners were called to the starting line. This was it, I had to finish what I started so my friend and I proceeded to the starting line. I felt a sting on my foot every time I stepped but it was a mild pain that I could tolerate.
I was included in Wave B which had its gun start at 11:05PM. And as soon as I started to run, the pain turned from mild to wild. We were not even past a kilometer yet I was already limp-running. It was not a good sign AT ALL. My friend even told me that my running form looked really weird but I could not help it, I was trying to adjust my form to reduce the impact of my right foot to the ground. But because the form was off and my left leg took more weight and impact than it should, I started to feel a strain on the fourth kilometer. We still had a long way to go yet I was already uncomfortable as it is. I really tried to tolerate the pain up until I could before asking my friend to slow down and walk at about the 6th kilometer.
Apparently, it was more painful to resume running after walking even just for a bit. This then became my dilemma for I knew that I would run-walk the distance given my condition. It was a good thing that the Skyway route was well lit, the evening breeze was cool and moon shone bright because I had these as my way to distract myself from the pain I was feeling in every step. My friend also tried to think of topics to talk about to distract me from the pain as well and one of the topics was the places we would pass along Skyway. First was Muntinlupa then Sucat then Pasay then Bicutan then Magallanes and Buendia (is that correct? Lol)
No backing out.
I was already starting to doubt my ability to finish the race when we passed by a medic along the route. Here, I asked for a pain reliever to hopefully help me tolerate the pain because it was really stressful and tiring to feel it in EVERY step. The medic gave me a generic Ibuprofen capsule which I was quick to ingest. And because I have not eaten anything, my friend offered me a snack that he was carrying. After finishing the snack, we resumed running. The medicine did not take effect until after an hour so we were still completing a kilometer at a very slow pace of about 8-10 minutes. Huhu. I even calculated the time and told my friend that we would still be able to finish the whole distance by 7 hours even if we walked if our pace was 8-10min/km. (But of course I still did not want that. I had to do my best effort)
Slowly, I noticed how I was now able to further tolerate the pain which gave me enough strength to speed up our pace back to my usual 6min/km but just for about two kilometers. After that, it was back to saying “ouch” and the 8-10min/km. Lol.
During this time as well, my friend already felt his singlet chafing against his chest and so we had to ask marshals for bandaids.
Tip for guy runners: Loose singlets will rub against the chest/nipples so it is best to wear something tight to cover them (Have not experienced this because of course, girls wear sports bra)
It was also entertaining how the marshals encouraged all the runners to keep pushing and how some handed bananas along the route. I kept dropping mine for some reason though. My friend and I also had some snacks with us so we ate them along the route as well.
I got really excited after finishing the 21st kilometer because who would have thought that I would be able to get that far with my injured foot? Only 21 kilometers more to go! I had to drink one more pain reliever to get me by (though the pain did not really go away, it just toned down a bit) and help me hit the 6min/km pace.
During the final stretch of the race where runners from the 21k distance met the runners from the 42k distance, I saw my childhood artista crush, Dingdong Dantes. This was the best distraction ever because no matter how much I was in pain, I needed to make sure I was in proper running form. After looking at him for a while, my friend and I increased our pace and went on with the race.
Last two kilometers!
The energy got really high when Crimson Hotel came to view (this was the hotel in front of the race venue so that meant we only had a few more kilometers to go). It was also at this point when I felt something in my injured foot suddenly snap. I literally almost tripped because of a sudden gush of pain.
Sh*t konti na lang please. Kumapit ka pa, konting tiis na lang tapos tapos na
I remember saying that to my foot in hopes of it cooperating with me for the last two kilometers. Sadly, I had to walk for a bit when I felt another snap. However, on the last kilometer, I made sure that I gave my best effort up until the end. And on the last turn to the finish line, I dashed, not caring how my foot would feel afterwards.
Officially a marathoner.
I made it! I finished my first marathon in under six hours. I really believe that I gave it my best effort despite the injury and I felt extremely relieved and proud that I did not give up no matter how much it hurt. I almost cried after crossing the finish line but then I saw so many photographers so I held all the emotions back.
We roamed around the venue to get some freebies (thank you sponsors) but we did not bother getting a lot because it would be difficult for us to commute back home. Lol. I also met with my friends after the race and I felt really proud of them for finishing strong in their respective distances.
Lastly, my grateful heart would like to thank the following:
Mon for the race kit.
Pinoyfitness for the photos.
Will for not ditching me, for running with me all throughout the race and for sharing your trail food, I mean snacks (hahaha) with me. What do you know, we are now officially marathoners, congratulations to us!
Kat for the photos and the support. It was nice to meet you!
Tristan for the encouragement along the route (I was really surprised that you saw me even though it was dim. Naks!) and for accompanying me post-race.
Mom and Dad for the support and for allowing me to still participate in the race despite the circumstances
My friends who prayed for me, believed in me and encouraged me. I love you guys to bits! Huhu.
Lastly, thank you to Him for giving me the strength to persevere and finish the race. All for You, Lord. All for You.
My injury worsened after the race but surprisingly, I was able to walk after just two days of resting it. And while it is still not fully healed, I am thankful for the quick recovery.
It is also good to know that I am now capable of finishing physically demanding activities which I would never have thought I can do. Again, I am successful in making February 2017 memorable by completing a full marathon.
I was not able to meet my target time so I am planning to join one more 42km race before this year ends to make up for it. And because I am currently unable to run, my focus is now back on strength training – still a good deal.