If there is one thing that is CONSTANT in my running, it is undoubtedly not my pacing.
This ‘IT’, which made my struggle in this devirgination the sweetest ever, will be unraveled later on. Let me not compose this second part of my narrative in haste. Doing it so may spoil the thrill which can take you to the peak of rapture.
Early morning of Sunday, December 7, Room 202 at Perak Hotel was immediately filled with buzzing as I prepared for Orchard Road, the location of the SCMS (Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore) 2014 start area. I was already up and about after sleeping for roughly two hours. Having a short slumber is no longer new to me every time I join a run. I guess, my adrenaline’s form of energy is more potent than the power of Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep. I believe, this was the same reason which woke my two-man party up. Maybe, my epinephrine had penetrated even my niece’s and sister’s sack time phase. Whatever scientific and mystical explanation there is, I was glad they did their best to be in synced with my movements.
Our travel to Orchard Road took only 20-25 minutes. Just like our first taxi experience in Singapore, our second was no different. Requesting and booking a cab with the hotel’s front desk officer the night before put me at ease and vibrant the next day as our transportation arrived in time. The driver’s punctuality saved me from feeling harassed before the flag-off at 5:00 AM.
Our trio arrived in the assembly area more than an hour earlier, and it gave me ample opportunity to survey the place. The holiday and festive mood welcomed me. Nearby, I saw some runners who were already doing their chosen styles of warm-ups. We found a spot across Tod’s The Paragon, where I began completing my running regalia before doing some stretching.
At around 4:30 AM a bubbly voice began calling for the other 42.195k runners to proceed to the start area. It gave my vim another boost. After giving Nano and Yula a couple of my final reminders about waiting for me in Padang where the finish line is, I followed some runners in my brisk strides only to be stopped by a young male marshal when I was about to enter the metal barrier fencing. The cat’s poor sense of direction had its first strike! Meow! Saving me from obvious embarrassment was a Chinese-looking female runner who was also lost. Now, that makes us two. Hahahahaha… Then, we were told to go to the opposite direction which had me passing by my niece and sister when I did so. Their look did not show any curiosity upon seeing me. My expression screamed “LOST.” Well, “SLIGHTLY LOST.” Meow! Meow! What was nice about being astray for a while was having someone to talk to and in so short a time, I felt we’re instant friends! Regretfully, I failed to have a photo with my IF (Instant Friend) who happened to be a Singaporean and a neophyte marathoner.
Another blessing in disguise from my misdirection was meeting a familiar figure in his trademark green Troll-like toupee.
Being an SCMS regular and a celebrity in his own right, Nelson Val “GreenEyes” Caro Jr.’s presence did not surprise me. I think it was the other way around. We exchanged a tight hug for we were not just both Daragueños/Bicolanos. We began our journey in the running community in the same year as a team (the other members were his younger sister Janet and his nephew Stephen) and we now share the same sense of fulfillment when we, the founders of the defunct Chilli Peppers, have already gone this far.
Documentation done, courtesy of another Filipino runner and talk in a flash over, we parted ways. I failed to inquire why we had different colors of bib.
Now, I was almost jolted to find out that my IF waited for me. I thanked her and apologized to keep her waiting and proceeded with our short trek while giving her a brief info about Val. I think she deserved it. Then, she saw her running companion and it was my last glimpse of my IF after wishing each other “good luck.”
Eventually, I positioned myself among the sea of runners. In that instance, Orchard Road plainly became a melting pot of diverse races and cultures, united for one goal – RUN FOR A REASON!
Once the countdown was over, I released a loud “Yes”, blocking all unsafe feelings. There I was a thousand miles away from home, running solo in my first SCMS which for the record, happened to be my second full mary. My personal battle cry “I will nail you whatever the odds are!” echoed silently in my mind as I set ‘My Tracks’ mobile application and left the start area.
December 6, I just surveyed the run route at Expo Hall. December 7, I ran the whole course side by side with my “IT”.
This is true. I will never be consistent with my speed neither with my Galloway technique, but as a self-confessed “Gabriela” I will have my spunk until my last breath leaves me. But hey, this is a glaring truth which I have to admit: I did not train hard enough for SCMS 2014. As shown in my training chart, which was adapted from what my former running coach/adviser/buddy designed for my Mayon 360 ultra marathon, there are more cross marks than asterisks.
You see, before I fought this “war” in SG, I had already done a lot of emotional battles which partly deadened my enthusiasm and focus. Nonetheless, the realization of a four-year old dream, which was made possible by my generous, loving and supportive husband, saw me pulling through for this “deflowering”.
My first 16 kilometers was the best part of my marathon. Here, I stuck to my 3:2 combination which I religiously followed in my training runs at Evia. Experience taught me to make a mental calculation of the number of minutes that I should cover each kilometer to make it before the 8-hour cut-off time.
I was doing fine and enjoying the scenery along the route when one of my nemeses initially hit me at km 19 where no medics were stationed. I halted my strides at once and got the Perskindol gel which I brought along with me aside from the four energy gels and Bodivance cream. (Since I could not bring the Perskindol tube, I had some amount transferred to a medium-sized Reynolds zipper sandwich plastic bag.) The menthol alleviated the pain. I prayed hard that it would not recur as I resumed my slow running followed by power walking.
Then, the first epic serendipity which provided a welcome respite, occurred.
Chance meeting with Jun “Bitoy” Lorico, a Singapore-based Bicolano and one of the 83neans whose running articles I had the honor of minimally editing,extended my restmode allotment as we found a topic to talk about and had these photos taken. It seemed we hit it off at once having been connected by the same region and having mutual friends whom I used to train and run with. I told Bitoy to go ahead as I could feel the start of the second wave of muscle spasm. If not for it, I could have run with him. In person, I had positive vibes of Bitoy, whose published write-ups about his international races became a source of inspiration and entertainment because of his sagacity and endearing sense of humor. No wonder I did not think twice in expressing my compliments about his talent in writing.
After Bitoy moved ahead, I reverted to … Run, run, run, halt, apply, breathe, breathe, walk, walk, run, run, run, halt, apply, breathe, breathe, walk, walk, run … This was my pattern which I thought would become infinite as I bitchily fought with my cramps. No way for it to make me do a tap out even when it returned at its worst at km 34. At this point, two young medics attended to me when I sat on the bench and let out a loud yelp as the muscle contraction in my right thigh became really painful. The male began pressing the spot which I was holding. It increased the pain. Now, the female medic assisted him while I made the instructions on how to massage it. Then, I asked if they could apply their own menthol gel to my thigh. The answer was negative. They already ran out of supply. I got my remaining Perskindol reserve and let them continue their work.
Ten minutes consumed. Ten minutes added to my expected finish time.
Running after recovering from cramps is still perturbing. Lucky you if there will no longer be another attack. If there is, expect yourself to play a tug of war with it and make sure you’ll be the vanquisher. This is the mindset which backed up my courage and determination to topple my opponent. Joining forces with my chosen weapons were the inspiring slogans and quotes along the routes (hitting me hard were “You registered to RUN and not to WALK. Run!” and “Run now, brag later.” 🙂 ), volunteers’ board high fives and children’s real high fives which I all acknowledged, cheers from spectators, smiles from kindred runners, and encouraging words and compliment from two “kababayans“. The scorching heat, the lack of energy food, and the insufficient supply of menthol gel and water in the latter part of the race (which is the most critical) were the setbacks at SCMS 2014 which I was very willing to take and to forgive.
Despite my slowest marathon at 7 hrs, 1 min and 41 secs (My Tracks’ record almost close), crossing the finish line of a long-distance run on my own was the most defining moment of my runner’s life. It was priceless. I wouldn’t trade for anything else what I have accomplished in my international marathon debut.
I am no fatalist. From the moment I set my eyes on running SCMS 2014, I was ready to duel with the devil just to rightfully claim the finisher medal and the finisher shirt.
However, God is unquestionably magnanimous. I waited for His archenemy, yet He sent me angels to accompany me in this wandering.
Nano and Yula were more than my powerful support tandem. They were my anchors and my beacons to make it to the finish line. So as an expression of so much gratitude to my kins, I offered to treat them to our late lunch before unanimously concurring that we spend the rest of the day in our room and rejuvenate ourselves for our December 8 legwork.