I would like to share them in these series of posts.
"Respect the distance."
December 1994 - 11th Davao Finishers' Marathon
It was supposed to be my first marathon.
I had run several 5K's and 10K's and felt I was ready to go for the big 42. After all, I thought, I ruled my age group in some of those runs. What would be so difficult about running a marathon other than the longer distance?
I braced myself for the event. I put in as many 5K and 10K days in a week as my work schedule at a local radio station would allow. It meant waking up early so I could squeeze in my run before I went on board for the morning news and public affairs program. On weekends I ran 15 to 20 kilometers. It was a routine that I kept for three months leading up to my first marathon.
On race day, I nervously lined up at the start wearing the event singlet and my race bib. The starting gun barked and I joined the rush of runners out of the Victoria Plaza grounds to the streets of Davao City. It was 4 o'clock in the morning. There was a slight chill in the very early morning air. I felt good and kept a strong steady pace, running with a pack or another solo runner here and there, whichever comes along the route.
I was still feeling okay when we entered Ma-a Road on our way to the Diversion Road. That five kilometer stretch of road just steadily went up. I felt my steps and my breathing getting heavier as I trudged on. The sun was already out by then and I was already bathing in sweat when I hit the Diversion Road. And what would I find there but only more climbs. They were not as long as the one I just went through. They were a lot shorter by comparison, but also much steeper.
The series of climbs going towards Buhangin took its toll on my legs and feet. I went on walking breaks taking in as much water as I can at aid stations. I took some bananas at what could only have been the halfway point of the route. I was hoping all that could reenergize me. Sadly, it did not. Added to that, the sun steadily beat down on me. It felt like a bacon could fry at the back of my neck.
By the time I reached 28 kilometers, I was drained. I was walking empty. The event ambulance later pulled alongside me and the first aid staff asked if I was still okay or if I wanted a ride to the finish line. I don't remember giving any audible answer. Maybe I did, maybe I just nodded from sheer exhaustion. I just remember the ambulance door opening and me getting in for a ride to the finish.
I was not alone on board the ambulance; there were four of us. I tried to find consolation in that, but the frustration of not finishing what should have been my first marathon weighed heavier. It was the first time I ever ran a race and came up short. I was definitely wrong for me to believe that I can tackle the marathon with my limited training, and I had to learn that the hard way with a confidence-shattering DNF experience.