The legend of the first marathon didn’t go too well. The soldier and runner named Pheidippides dropped dead flat on the ground after mustering the words “We Won”. The Greek just won the Battle of Marathon and the poor dude had to run like hell to deliver the news of victory. Now, 2,500 years later, runners doesn’t have to die to finish a marathon because sometimes they must live to tell their story!
I came to the race pretty much unsure what to expect from my first 42k because of my broken training after Yolanda. Of course I’m not making Yolanda as an excuse should I fail this test, it was a decision on my part to volunteer that should have been spent on weekend long runs. My road to CCM probably started the moment I conquered my first half-marathon in the first Tacloban City Marathon last June. Man I’ve trained for this year’s CCM for months with three more half-marys, a couple of 18ks and even a hellish 32k uphill challenge in Catbalogan. I saw it coming that it is only a matter of time that I could finish a marathon.
But then again, Yolanda came and it changed everything out here in Eastern Visayas. I’d be honest I screwed up my training plans. I’d be honest also, it also almost wiped out the Marathon Dream of my comrades. If it not for the help of the people like John Pages of CERC, the Jopson power couple of the The Brick and Nino Abarquez of Three of Me, Joes Matias of A Runners’ Circle – Los Angeles and many others who supported to pursue the Dream back, it would have meant a lot less. Leyte would have sent 10-15 individual runners, not a united 70 plus dream-team of runners! I know running a marathon is something that is very personal to a runner, but for my CCM2014 it hardly mattered. I was running for something bigger than my dream. I was running ‘with’ my brothers in TOES Tacloban who are in this great mission of improbable show of strenght against adversities. We ran to show how strong we are, we ran to say how thankful we are to Cebu for all the help, and we run pretty much because we need to continue HOPING. That one was for Leyte!
During the race it rained all the way. It was nobody’s fault and runners have to settle for that. A lot of PR will not be broken but a lot runners will have a fighting chance of finishing the marathon. The gun start was at 3 o’clock so I was awake by 1 AM to prepare and pray to God for a safe race. I saw my fellow TOES and said ‘God I love our team colors we’re wearing’, that bright orange singlets with a meaningful logo in the chest and we can be spotted from a mileaway! It was Sir Nino of Three of me who gave that singlets to us, we call it pride.
The gunstart blasted as we all counted down the clock, it was the start of what could be a long, wet and wild race of a lifetime! Right from the start it was already a party out there. I was amazed by the race’s entertainment a long the way as we pass by Sinulog dancers in the beat of the music. My favorite part came in to that dreaded SRP tunnel, man that was where the loudest and liveliest of Sinulog beat I’ve had. We stayed in the middle pack and I pretty much had an easy and relaxed first 67kilometers going to the tunnel. By the time we entered SRP I knew I have to choose a decision should run alone or pace up with somebody. I picked the latter.
Blane Lamoste, a Sillimanian graduating student, who hails from Tacloban City and also a part of the Leyte contingent rode along with me. Look he’s a more agile, faster, leaner and taller running machine nearing an elite level, but he tagged along anyway despite the disparity of our skill level. He loves speed, I love strong pacing. The rain united as anyway as went to take on the long road of SRP. Both of us are not targeting any finish time and just wants to run and represent our island. We both screwed up our training, so we’re the perfect looseball canons. I think the SRP course is a 25-27 kilometers stretch so we had plenty of talking along the way. We went to philosophy schools, then a bit of history of the marathon, then our running style, then we talked about Yolanda and our future endeavors. But for the most part we run in complete silence. And he’s a real fast runner, I cant believe I stayed up with him on his normal speed for that long.
Our plan was to separate on the tunnel with him running on top speed to the finish line and me back on my normal pace for the remaining 7 kilometers. Unfortunately on that last part I’m pretty much laspag already. I still got the gas and stamina but the pains started to show up all over my lower body flavored with blisters and chafings. I was also very near from cramping, should I push on with my normal pace I’d get the cramps for sure. The last 6k was an absolute grind. I didn’t care about my time (I actually dont know how long I was running) , I just wanted to finish uninjured. So I have to run smart, my dear friends, by simply embracing the WALK. There’s no shame in walking as long you run when the photographers comes in! hahaha. No, it’s only a 3:2 run-walk minute ratio during the last kilometers. And it pretty worked, but trust me I was physically hurting all over.
But all roads lead to the finish line. Thanks God I did it. I cross the line with a ROAR! And somebody captured that moment.
I’m very happy I finished, at least all the heartwork and heartbreaks paid off. My time was 5 hours and 11 minutes, I can beat that time next year, hopefully on a sub5 fashion! I don’t know if that’s a good time but I sure did have an ever greater time enjoying my first full marathon. I love the experience of running in the streets of my beloved Cebu City. Despite the rain, it is absolutely clear how organized and how grand the Cebu City Marathon is. You don’t see street parties in your ordinary marathons, you don’t see the local government and the private sectors make a marathon that BIG, you don’t see a traffic shut down because there is one remaining runner out there. That my friends, happens only in CCM. And it was indeed a party out there, super lingaw! Kudos to the organizer, congratulations fellow runners and big hug to my fellow runners from Leyte. This is our Marathon, this our story.
CCM was such an amazing experience for me and the rest of the Leyte runners I was with. It was indeed our stage to show to whole country how strong the Filipino resilience is. Yes, most of us are severely under-trained and got mountains of problems back home, but we persevered and thankfully everybody finished. We are all Yolanda survivors and we are not letting any storm rob us of our Marathon Dreams!
That was the day we crossed the finish line and mustered the words “We Won”, and we lived to tell the story.