May 14, 2009

Outwit Outplay Outlast: The Botak 42

Most people who want to run a marathon fail. Why? Because they lack the motivation to push themselves to the limit. The hardest thing about training for a marathon is preparing yourself mentally. My mindset on this event is to race the first 30km and work on what's left in me on the remainder of the distance. I wanted to test how my body would respond at such long distance of strong running. I have had a good start in the company of my running friends and slowly ran the first 3km gradually increasing my speed on succeeding kilometers. However on km 14 (McKinley Hills), I realized that the route was getting monotonous. I hate going in circles. I was still in race mode at this point but mentally I was beginning to loose concentration. To relax myself I looked around at the surroundings, the cars, the people along the way, and enjoyed the scenery. After km 20 (Essensa), I found myself heading towards kalayaan flyover and found a sigh of relief, the repeats are gone. I was running strong still at this point onwards to the next stretch. Before reaching km 26 (Buendia-P.Tamo), confusion started as many runners got lost. I saw some runners way ahead of the elites, something strange is happening I thought. I began to get lost too as my body weakened. It was then at km 30 (Kalayaan-Rockwell) when my thoughts eventually deteriorated.
My concentration shut down, I was outwitted.

What went wrong? Repetitive course, confusing route, guides, rehydration points, scorching heat and myself. My brain did not act and respond subconsciously to find ways to bring into reality that I am running a marathon.

My goal for this race was to finish within 4 hours. The race started 30mins behind the scheduled time, but I stuck on my plan. I would race the first 30km and work on what's left in me on the latter part. As I went along I played on stalking runners ahead of me. I focused on someone meters ahead of me, pass him, then move on to my next victim. It's an incredible boost to pass people in line. Sure you're hurting, but think how bad they feel. I managed to pass up runner after runner somewhere at heritage park until km 19 (Bayani Road). At km 22 (Kalayaan Flyover), I ran with and passed the remainder of the 21kers. It was at this point that I watched my stride, my body started to become stiff and more fatigued. Aches and twinges occurred. At km 30 (Kalayaan Ave.) came my first walk break, I tried to avoid it until I reached km 32 (Rockwell). A good 2:53 hours had passed and I realized that I have a good chance of getting a sub 4hour time. But the inevitable happened, my walks became frequent as I negotiated the route through the scorching heat and waterless stretch.
My system shut down, I was outplayed.

What went wrong? Smog, rehydration points, scorching heat and myself. I depleted my carbo intake 7 days before the race and carbo-loaded just three days before it. I tried out a different brand of energy gel and didn't taper much two weeks before the event as I continued to race, trained intense and lifted weights. My body may not be accustomed to these practices.

One of my concern before the event was to how to run the botak 42km route. I have had my fair share of strategizing the route a good one week time before, but the organizers deviated the route without notice. I just have known it on the race day itself. Although not much of a concern for me, I just stuck to my plan. As I negotiated the route on the last 10km, my reserves were gone. I was outwitted, I was outplayed. I ran and walked just to finish the race, a strategy most marathoners do to finish a race. I did my primary plan to run strong for the first 30km, I could now give my sub 4hour goal. My objective now is to outlast the distance. With my mind on autopilot I managed to inch closer and closer to the finish line. I'd like to finish strong, wanting to do another marathon and redeem what's taken out from me. Stride after stride, the last lengths were drawn. The tape was crossed and the beating was put to hold. I finished the race.
My determination paid off, I outlasted the distance.

What went wrong? Maybe none. It's all because of my vision. I survived the Paa-Tibayan: Takbo 42K Marathon.


  1. Hi Vener. From reading the many posts, Botak was a "survival test."

    Anyway, congratulations on the effort. Your determination helped in a big way.

    Take care and Go Lakers!

  2. great post idol! i was not able to start at 21k Botak. I had field work in tubataha . Hope to run again soon!_ Bro J

  3. With the crushing conditions and poor organization, even a tremendous runner such as yourself could be excused for relatively struggling. I was there, and it took every ounce of my will to finish amidst the cornucopia of Murphy's Law antics going on around me. Congratulations on the finish, you're still the man! :P

  4. Hi Wayne, I was caught by surprise during that run. I didn't know that exhaustion will come that early, maybe I was too eager. Thanks and best regards. Game 7, go.

    Hi Bro J, if I will be assigned at that kind of place, I would certainly skip my races, kahit pa siguro one month na wala. That was such one good experience, nag diving ka rin ba? See you soon.

    Hi Luis, thanks for the visit. That was one for the books, many lessons learned. Anyway congrats for finishing your race too and welcome to blogosphere.

  5. Hi Vener thanks for the cheer at the finish, just what we need to prevent collapsing due to the heat whew!

  6. Hi Chito, congrats for finishing the race and finishing strong. See you again at the next race and the next 42. Good luck.

  7. Congrats for finishing a very disorganized race. I had my shares of bad stories for my first 21k but Id rather not spill it out here hehehe..

    Congrats again. Hope to see you soon.

  8. Hi Sam, thanks for dropping by. I have read some of your adventures in running through your blog. Welcome to the running world, welcome to blogosphere. See you then.