The Skyway will forever and always be more than just another highway for me.
Running the Condura Skyway Marathon Run for a Hero 2015 was an unbelievable experience – it’s something I will always remember. I had an incredible time and ran a strong race, never once stopping to believe that I will finish, no matter how difficult things got.
Joy, Rex, and I stayed in Jehan’s house because it is near the race venue. We slept the whole afternoon and by 9 o’clock, everybody started to get ready but for whatever reason, we lost track of the time. By the time we all got in the car, it was already 11:30 pm, just 30 minutes away from gun start and traffic was a nightmare! The only consolation we had was we were assigned to Wave I. That means we will start around 12:30 am.
Anyway, we made it to Filinvest, parked, then made a quick stop at the portalets. After that I heard the race host say, “Three minutes left before 12 o’clock.” We hurriedly found our corral and heaved a sigh of relief. We made it.
At 12:30, our wave was released. Unlike other races where runners cheered at the start line, this race had an emotional start. The Philippine Navy band was playing and standing on the left side of the road were 44 uniformed men holding 44 photos of the fallen heroes of Mamasapano. The runners gave them a long salute. It was heartbreaking because it was a long line. It gave us a palpable image of how many actually died. Some cried, others stopped to look at the photos.
Jehan and I ran together. Our strategy was to break 42.195 kilometers into shorter segments so that we will not be overwhelmed. Alabang, Sucat, Bicutan, Nichols, Magallanes, Don Bosco, and Buendia.
For me, the toughest part of the course was the Magallanes bridge and we ran through it four times. There were runners sitting on the curb and medics were attending to them.
Every now and then Jehan would say something to cheer us up. “We’re strong.” And I’d reply, “Yes. Light and tall.” It was also nice to see JN on the course.
At 26 kilometers, my right foot numbed. Then it became very painful, like it was cut by a scalpel and then somebody squeezed calamansi into the wound. Then both feet hurt like crazy. I told Jehan to go ahead. I did not want to ruin her race because I was slowing down. But she said, “It’s ok. I’ll stay with you.” Then she gave me her bottle of water with hydrite. I was so grateful to her because I needed her for me to stay positive. She is 10 years younger than me but she is more mature and emotionally stable and I am embarrassed to admit it.
At 28 kilometers, both of us were quiet, both absorbed in our own thoughts. I listened to my breath going in and out, to my heart beating, and to my shoes pounding the asphalt. I glanced at Jehan and was surprised to see tears freely flowing from her eyes.
“Are you crying?”
“Do you need tissue?”
She shook her head and wiped the tears with her shirt. We slowed down but we never stopped.
I remembered the fallen heroes. I thought, “These men gave their lives for the country. Who am I to complain because of my aching feet?” I also recalled what Wayne Cordeiro said, “This is the moment you’ve been training for, the time when you’re ready to quit.” I started reciting out loud the words that I wrote down on my hand: “Strong. Finish. Strong. Finish.”
It took a lot of effort to let my mind focus back on the race.
“Let’s bring it home,” I told her.
We started overtaking some runners. In my mind I imagined I was PacMan. Every runner I passed was a power pellet that gave me a boost.
Sucat. Just one more exit and then the finish line. “Konting tiis na lang. I think we’re going to PR!” We high-fived each other.
We exited the Skyway then sprinted towards the finish line and after we felt the timing mat under our feet, we hugged. And then the tears, happy tears fell automatically. Oh wow, we did it. Five minutes shaved off my PR and an incredible 15 minutes off for Jehan. We were ecstatic. Yay!
That morning, we conquered the Skyway and ran 42.195 kilometers for our heroes.
We met Rex who finished earlier, and Joy who ran the 21 km race at the Condura Village. Everybody had a great race, thank God.
After three marathons, I can actually say that I love the marathon distance. It’s the perfect distance to test both the body and the mind. It’s tough but I learn so much not only during the race but in the training leading to it. One of the most important things I learned is that long distance running is a mental game. Negativity has no place in this sport. I went into this race with a positive outlook and won in the end.
I thank God for giving me the strength to finish. It was an incredible journey which started months ago. But back then I have decided that this will be my third and last marathon. I told my siblings I will retire after Condura.
Back in Jehan’s house, we were relaxing and I was reading a copy of Multisport magazine. I came across a CW-X ad and said, “If we push through with our trip to Bangkok, I will buy this. It’s cheaper there.”
Joy didn’t answer.
“Oh wait, that’s right I’m already retired!” I totally forgot. LOL.
So, when’s the next race?