I can only change myself

My official finish from yesterday’s Cebu City Marathon is 6 hours and 38 minutes. An acceptable finish for a beginner, but way off from my main goal to finish below 6 hrs.

Overall, i would say, it was a bit frustrating run, it was fun the first half part, i was running strong, and fast, and made it at the turn around point, at 2:30. Took a few pictures, sent some tweets, and then went back to running. And then, it went south after i made at the 26.5km mark.

Tunnel time
Entering the SRP tunnel

I have some speculation as to how the deterioration happened.

* For one, it’s my first time running this distance (duh!). Most of the runs i feel strong and finished strong are in the 20km to 30km distances.

* Second, i didn’t feed myself well. I have enough food and drinks and energy drinks, but for some reason i always feel full. Like bloated. It could be gas in my tummy, or the meat balls i ate around the 18km mark. For now, I’m going to blame the meat balls, which i think causes some slow digestion, which in turns acts as a blocker in the digestion of the other nutrients, which could have helped maintain my strength though out the run. Lesson from this, beware of meat balls, they mess things up big time. Anything with balls is scary.

* I didn’t have any knees, blister or feet pains. What i felt at the remaining part of the run was just over the top tiredness. Just plain “kapoyness”.

* And just overall “bayotness”. For some reasons entirely due to myself, i lost the will to push myself at the 32km mark. At that point, i feel like it’s over. It’s too much work, too much to do, and an overall feeling that i shouldn’t be here, not yet, not at this level yet. Just plain cowardice to slay the big boss. What the fuck am i doing here? I should be spending my time playing Act 2 on Diablo II, and prepare myself for DIII next month. Running at this marathon, is like bringing a level 5 Rogue to a dungeon fight with bosses at level 40. It’s just wrong.

So, you might ask, how did i feel about that marathon, i feel relieved it’s done. A little bit frustrated of not pushing myself at the last part; and finishing just below the cut-off time — which is not really something shiny to talk about. And also happy to have learn a lot.

Earlier at the tunnel. Looks like pista down there.
Everyone was having a blast

The Mastahplan

For this run, my plan was to go on my steady pace of 7 min – 8 min per km for the first part; which i was able to maintain, to achieve a faster half-marathon distance than my previous half-marathon PR of 2:47 (did at Run United run, last month). I was very happy to have come in fast, even though i can already feel a bit tired.

From there, go fast, like 6:30 min to 7:30 min per km pace at the remaining 21km — just go all out and reach my limit until i reach the finish line. The idea was to do an all out attack for about 10KM, and just maintain whatever i can maintain until i finish it. Based on my very “highly precise” interval plan, which i tweeted a few days ago (you can find it here), it was supposed to go as plan. Wrrooong, nothing goes as plan, specially for a newbie like me. What happened is, with that distance, i just wasn’t prepared for it yet, physically and mentally.

At the 21km uturn mark. Now lets do that 21km again.
At the turn around mark

The wall @ 32km

So all the drama happened after the 32 kilometers. The 32km mark was just before entering the tunnel going back, and when i reached the tunnel, i lost all will to run. So i walked the entire stretch, and then i walked some more, and more. I pushed myself to run when i reached Plaza Independencia, and then that was it, i walked afterwards that until i reached Capitol area. Not really walking leisurely, but just power walking or zombie running at no faster than 9 min pace. It must have been a horror sight to the people along the route, to see runners at this state, it’s not happy running, just painful, survival mode walking.

If 32km is a wall, then i better be a bulldozer because i'm not stopping. Not today!
At the 32KM mark

When i reached the 36KM mark, somewhere in Cebu City Sports Complex area, not only did i lost the will to run, i also lost the happiness to run at all. It just didn’t feel right. I was very very very tired. v.e.r.y. v.e.r.y. t.i.r.e.d. As far as i remember, it was the most tiresome, tiredness thing that i have ever done. Seriously, never felt more tired ever. And i’m not a person who gets tired easily.

Aid stations as magnet of defeat

Before hitting the wall, the aid stations where a sign of relief. After that wall, it was a sign of defeat. Since i know, in every aid station, there will be a marshall or someone who will accept my surrender. I can always drink water there, stay a while, and then accept defeat. It became a cruel reminder, that i don’t have to do any of this anymore, and the aid stations will be able to help you. You can get some consolation, some fake congratulatory remarks (who ever congratulates non-finishers, it’s a cruel remark, to congratulate you for not achieving your goal) and then move on with life.

Whenever i see an aid station, i make a quick decision to drink some water, and move away from it as quickly as possible. I imagine, in a race with no aid station or no sign of refuge at all, it might have been more psychologically better. Given that you don’t have any choice but to push yourself forward, or else, you’ll be part of some dudes story about a runner who died in this grueling race.

I wish a car would hit me

Sometimes, i wish a car would just hit me, and i would go all out drama, make some teary-eyed look, about not being able to finish because of the injury, and then the marshals will take some pity of my sorry-ass-state for being crippled, and just let me ride to the finish line, and then give me my medal. Like a heroes welcome of a wounded soldier from the battlefield (it shows i watch to many WWII movies). Then some aid station chick can take care of me at the aid station tent, while my wife is still out there fighting her own battle. Hehe! Joke! Joke! 😀 (you know she’s very sensitive about me being around chicks — like i’m a chick material at all, i look like an old dude that has to feed 10 kids, but she’s probably just allergic to chicken)

And we can all then extrapolate my finishing time based on my time at the crash site, and it would show a sub-6, if i finished it. An accident is no walk of shame. Hehe. It can happen.

Having an easy option to quit is cruel

At one time, i just thought of riding a Jeepney or taking a cab. But that will be super shame, and it didn’t reach that point yet. But could have been… could. have. been, all those jeepneys and taxis passing by, it will only take one raise of the hand, and all the hardships will be over. How i wish i have the encourage to do it.

I think having these many easy options to quit is cruel. I think running in the city is cruel. With all the comforts of city life, the convenient options to get from one place to another, is just hard to push yourself, when you know, at any moment, you can just say stop to all these madness, and take a ride home.

Having no option at all is very cruel

So with all these options to quit being available to me, but unable to use them, is very cruel. It’s like i’m being hostage of this marathon goal of finishing it in my own power. I think this mental battle in my brains made the last part very hard. Just having no power against it, and just accepting my fate of just finishing it, despite all the temptations, just as the devil had said, if you’re God, why not build a city right here in the desert, or why not turn this plant into water when you’re thirsty, is a humbling point. I’m used to play God with my computers, i always say, i make things happen. But at this point, no-no, there’s nothing i can do to improve any of my situation, but just to make sure i put one foot after the other.

This is probably as emotional as i can get; even at my limit, i reason with myself. I analyze and over analyze why i do it, what’s going on. That’s why i think it became so much more hard; me thinks why make it hard, when i can just say quit. It’s not like i’m running in the desert, and have no option whatsoever at all. Or, I’m God that i have to prove that i am.

Time to accept defeat

Anyway, so i did walk it until the capitol area. The thought of sitting also crossed my mind many times during my death march (last 8km). And any time i convince myself to sit down, i have visions of unable to control myself, and just collapse at the side of the road, vomit all over place, making some twitching moves, all drama. You know how people get shot at in the movies, like there’s some blood in their mouth, blood every where, and they try to say something memorable before they die, well it could probably be like that. Except there’s no blood, and just vomit, and probably some piss, and who knows, there might as well be jizz in my pants. And people would go around, talking in whispers, while i say… “… did i won? where’s my mommy? hey, don’t touch my iPhone… what are you looking at bitch!” Well that would also be very shameful.

But, i did convince myself to sit down. After Cebu Doc hospital, just on the corner where Citi Savings bank and the Boulevard is, there’s a grassy sidewalk (more like a middle island kind with a lamp post, but on the sidewalk), and at first, i tested by stopping and holding a lamp post, while i stretch myself, to see if i get dizzy or faint. Since it’s always when you stop from an activity, that will give your body a chance to shut itself down. So after some streching and didn’t feel all light-headed, i sat down, and looked at my watch. 5:50 hours (or was it 5:45) has lapsed. Unless my name was Usain Bolt, there’s no way i can run 2.5kms in 10 mins. So, it was at this moment that i took one big bang choco bar, enjoyed the view of the street and just sat there doing nothing. For the entire run, i feel like i don’t have to do anything anymore. It’s done. It’s over. And when 6 hrs has lapsed, i tweeted it. It was time to move on, target the cut-off time.

Screen Shot 2012 01 09 at 7 22 51 AM

It must have been a sight as runners pass by, and see me there helpless. They might think, oh god this runner has quit, i can also do it. Why not just sit down as well. Com’n, just a quick sit, maybe 3 mins will not do any harm. So every runner who passes by could have said that to their self, that could have been me.

I want me a medal

So around 5 mins after tweeting, i got up, tested again if i faint, and then walk. And after walking a few meters, i realized, i might not even make the cut-off time. And i can’t tolerate that anymore; that i run all the way here, didn’t reached my original goal, and now not even get a medal! That’s just too much.

So, i pushed myself to run. And run i did. I run the last 2.5km, at best 8:30 min pace, and at the slowest 10 min pace. And almost all other runners were walking, which surprised me a lot. Why you people have no love for medals? Why you walk, when you might not get the medal at all. Well, who cares about you walking people, me want to run, because me want a medal. And then, i crossed the finish line. Joseph, Armie and Odina where at the finish area, to greet my zombie running self, and i think i made some sounds, like mmmmm, murrrr, and it probably sounded like “this sucks”, or “kapoy”., and then crossed the finish line. It was the happiest time of the race, crossing that finish line, to know that i don’t have to do any of that shit for now. No more of that struggle.

Earlier at the finish line with the #runnroo people.
That’s me on the left-most part, with a “very happy” look. I just copied Paolo’s happy face.

And so i finished my first marathon. Not very shiny shimmering, but a good enough finish for a first timer. AT least, i have a huge buffer to PR myself on the next marathon.

I can only change myself

One take away i had with this run that stays with me. In all the stuffs i do i always say, i can change this, i can improve this, it’s all in my power to make things happen. And all i need to do is just change the code. I like open source stuffs, because i want the power to be able to change it. I can’t accept the situation where i don’t have a power to change it. I must change it. I can change it.

But in running, there’s nothing i can change. The road is there. The weather is there. The distance is there. The challenge is there. They’re all stubbornly fixed. There’s nothing i can do about that. What i can do is just to improve myself. I can change myself.