One Tough 21k in Davao

Posted: November 10, 2015 in Running, Travels
Tags: , , , , ,

Hello! I’m back now. And I guess I owe you guys an apology for being out for so long . Let’s just say I have a bit of a year-long soul-searching. Still got a lot of decision to make but we will get there. I need your prayers. But I kind of miss writing and sharing parts of my life so I needed to write this one down.

This weekend I was in Davao for the Milo Marathon Davao leg. This is actually my second trip to Davao this year because I attended a week-long convention out there last summer. I had a great time in the city and fell in love with her charm so it did not take another soul-searching to decide when to go back. As soon as Milo published the 2015 Regional eliminations schedule I booked a flight for Davao. It fell in the very day  Yolanda visited the country 2 years ago.


Last Summer!

Let me be honest, I trained the wrong way. Yes, I’m under-trained that’s a given because one has to pay for the trip and survive. But I focused on the speed part of training. I did not have any long runs at all in the months leading up to the race. I only took some 4k and 6k on the road whenever I can get out of office in the afternoon. Most of the time I ramp up my speed so I can get to work sooner at night. And it’s all in flat cement roads.. just like all the Milos I’ve joined. I only have to let my youth and adrenaline carry me through 21 kilometers in Davao.


race route

Come’s race weekend. Imagine my surprise when I learned (the day before the race) that the organizers of the Davao leg actually changed their route for this year. Gone are the flat course and hello uphills! By 4:30am at SM Lanang they fired the gun start and off we, the brave 300-something runners, attacked that punishing course. It was a relatively smaller headcount than I expected but by the seventh kilometer I knew the reason why. It really is a tough uphill-heavy course.

So for a happy-go-lucky tourist and not-so-trained runner what are the odds of surviving finishing 21 kilometers of rolling roads under the mandatory 2 hours and 30 minutes cut-off? I’d say it was pretty slim, or as they call it an uphill battle. By the time I traversed the first uphill portion my legs were already starting to fail. My body is simply just tired. What caused this premature breakdown? Ah the whole week I was lacking in sleep due to overtime and travel times days before the race.

photo from: (c) Wilmer Mostrales

Look at that elevation gain. Sheyt. Photos from: (c) Wilmer Mostrales.

I could have just quit right there and surrender.  But hey did I just traveled all the way from Southern Leyte to become a quitter? What kind of face will I show to my family? To the Yolanda survivors commemorating today? Somehow I need to survive this fatigue and this goddamn uphill course.

So I budgetted my time and decided to just enjoy the race. I’m lucky I can still run at all. It’s a 21 kilometer course and I have exactly 150 mins to complete it to take home the bling. So I have to run each K at a pace of at least 7 minutes/km. I know that’s slow by most standards but I cant afford to go overboard with those crazy hills all throughout.

I run the flats, jog-walk the climb, and steamroll on the descent. Drink in every station. Eat bananas sparingly. Sip half-a-GU gel for every 7 kilometers. Check the GPS to make sure I don’t go above the 7 pace. And by all means never ever stop. And believe it or not. I finished it two (2) minutes before cut-off!! #happy #survivor

Only shot I had of the race. Blurry but happy!

Only shot I had of the race. Blurry but happy! (c) Jun Guerrero

I am happy I made it. Thank you Lord! But the most important thing is truly enjoyed the race. Yes it was painful and tough but it was very rewarding. I finally saw the bliss Davao runners are blessed to have: Beautiful city, clean air, disciplined people and a working local government. Most cities are lucky to have one of those. I want to live in a city like that. Ultimately my reason to run in Davao is to give thanks to this  city that helped Leyte a lot after Yolanda. I was a volunteer too that time and I saw first-hand how much Davao offered to the affected communities. Gratitude, that is how I commemorated Yolanda.

I even wore a Milo Marathon singlet as volunter in Tacloban. And a lot of Davaoenios were there too.

November 2013. I even wore a Milo Marathon singlet as a volunter in Tacloban. And a lot of volunteers from Davao were there too.

Thank you Davao and congratulations to the organizers of the fantastic race! You guys just crafted a masterpiece, preserve that course so people like us will go there for the challenge. And special mention to my good friend sir Jun Guerrero for the warm hospitality and friendship. Congrats on your fifth Milo Marathon medal and yes, dozens more to come!

Breakfast of Champions/survivors.

Breakfast of Champions/survivors.


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