February 10, 2012

Coffee And Marathons: The Condura Skyway (Midnight) Marathon 2012

It's exactly two weeks past from the Subic International Marathon when I entered the starting line of the Condura Skyway Marathon. I haven't had ample recovery period from the previous race (well, this was no match to the bdm warriors who did the 100miler a week ago) but the excitement to once again run toll-free at the skyway excites me most. I ran the full distance during the run for the whale sharks in 2010, but intentionally skipped the 2011 race due to lack of training. Read my earlier posts here, here and 2011 pics here.

Shortly before 8:00pm I entered the skyway in Makati bound to Alabang and paid PhP 166.00 at the toll gate before exiting. I arrived early at the venue and had the opportunity to chat with running friends at the carpark in Filinvest Alabang. The evening was calm and so was I. As the night went deeper, participants slowly arrived in droves, hundreds, maybe thousands. Shortly before 11:00pm, the carpark was filled with runners and the excitement got higher when I saw these people prepared themselves for the race. After changing-up, preparations and a short warm-up jog with friends, we made our way to the corral. The corral were divided into sections for the different waves. The atmosphere was festive. I thought newbie runners comprises the majority of the full marathon participants.

Pre-race photo with friends.

After a short program, runners (by wave) were led to the starting line, located at the depressed portion of the skyway entrance, some 150 meters away from the corral. Here, each wave were again divided by two, with a start time interval of 4 minutes. I was at wave A-2. At 12:04, we were flagged-off.
The South Metro Manila Skyway is a modern six-lane elevated toll expressway built above the existing at-grade highway from Buendia in Makati City to Alabang in Muntinlupa City that spans 16.41 kilometers. It is an integrated toll road network that is easily one of the country’s most significant infrastructure projects to date, aimed at helping decongest Metro Manila’s major road system and increase the area’s economic opportunities.
Known as the Skyway System, SMMSP effectively doubles the road capacity to accommodate 300,000 vehicles daily, easing the flow of traffic between the country’s major urban centers and the industrial heartland. Designed in accordance with various national and international construction standards, it can withstand strong earthquakes, seismic threats common in the Philippines, which lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Who wouldn't love to run at the skyway?

The sprawling 6-lane width of the skyway can accommodate thousand of runners at the same time. The creation of waves at the start was just to segregate runners since the uphill entry to the skyway was just a two-lane road. At the onset, I ran side-by-side with runners in wave A-2 until I closed-in with those from wave A-1. The Condura Skyway Marathon was the most celebrated, most attended local running event of the year. About 13,000 runners registered for the race with 1,700 participants going the full 42km distance and running among these many was electrifying. Mile after mile I closed my first 10km in 54m13s.

The rolling grade of the skyway was difficult to negotiate, the only consolation were the greetings from friends that I had chanced upon. The challenge from the faster runners was also instrumental to my desire to finish in a respectable time. I kept on going up and down until I crossed the 20km mark in 01h44m19s. My second 10km was slightly faster than the first, (siguro nag-init na). Bananas were available at the second turn around point and hydration stations were strategically located at every 1.5km or so. There were gels too somewhere near the 32nd kilometer.

As I reached the 3rd turn around point, the lead runners were on their way back to the finish line. Ahhh, the joy of running fast. I wish I had their skills. Motivated and challenged, I continued on my game and headed-on to the 4th and last turn around point somewhere in Makati. At this section I already finished one rosary and was on my second. I kept on going and was running for 02h34m25s when I reached the 30km mark. I was just on time.

After km30, came the long and vast stretch of the skyway, the killer stretch in running jargon. Dito 'yung lugar na hiwa-hiwalay na ang lahat. This stretch separates the men from the boys. There were just a few runners in sight, maybe 500m ahead. At one time they are visible, the next moment they'll disappear from the declines. Concentrating on a lone runner ahead of me, I continued to run. At this point in time I'm talking to God. In all of my full marathon races I always recited the rosary. The runner ahead was just an inch tall from my point of view, but I kept on going. Maliwanag naman sa skyway, napakaraming street light. Sa Subic nga na napakadilim, nagawa kong takbuhin, dito pa kaya.

To keep my sanity, I just directed my sight to the roller coaster-like, weaving pattern of the skyway lights. Sometimes I took a glance of what's happening below, the bars, the vehicles, and the dim lights of residential houses. Ang sarap siguro ng tulog ng mga tao rito? At this unholy hour, I felt sleepy and craved for coffee, I just kept on moving to stay awake. I even cast jokes to every hydration station personnel if they serve coffee too. With coffee in mind, I caught on a few runners more ahead of me and crossed the 4okm mark in 03h36m40s. This lap was the slowest for me.

With just a few miles separating me and the finish line, I relied on my reserves and ran faster in the last 3km, I was averaging somewhere in 6 meters per kilometer. There were a couple of runners who ran with me but eventually slowed down before the toll gate. The cheers and good wishes from the 21km runners that were just released added inspiration. Napakarami rin nung 21km participants na nasalubong ko, some friends who recognized me shouted my name and cheered on me. May narinig pa ako na "good luck, ang lakas mo, halimaw!"

I ran the exit lane of the skyway in an increased pace and reached the at-grade level to the performing drum and lire corps who were welcoming the would be finishers. But after the left turn towards the finish line, another gradual climb was still ahead, hindi pa tapos. I slowed down and took it easy until I reached the finish line, the icing on the cake, as my good friend Jon always say. I ran the last 2km in 13m06s and finished strong.

After a short recovery and chat with fellow finishers, I changed to my street wear and head back to the venue, texted Xty saying I'm done, it's past 4:00am. I hanged-up near the finish line, congratulated arriving friends and waited for some to finish. At 6:30am I was home eating breakfast with my family, which was very unlikely. Odd because I usually don't eat that early from my past marathons. But, it was a midnight marathon event, eh!

That was again another spectacular event from the Condura Marathon organizers. Congratulations Ton and Patrick Concepcion for making it happen. And to the thousand of runners.

Three marathons in three months time, done. I think I can have a cup of coffee now. Ciao!

Still hoping for a self photo running at the skyway.