Confusion and Desperation…..
Looking at my right knee, I couldn’t see anything wrong. Yeah the muscles felt hard but definitely not sore, or at least that was what I would like to think. After doing some stretches again, proceeding with walk-run strategy, I figured out there was no way I could continue it as the pain every time I bend my knee was unbearable. I sent a frantic text message to Dhenz and asked him if I could still finish the race within cut-off time even if I walk the remaining distance, the reply several minutes later was “yeah I think so.”
Ronnie finally caught up with me and I told him of my predicament. He shared that he suffered the same fate last Subic International Marathon, he finished the entire 42km of it, albeit walking almost 38km. He left me several minutes later and I kept on thinking what he had just said. I was left on my own, with no one to talk to while pondering the idea of doing an “ultrawalkathon”. Soon enough, runners were starting to overtake me which just added another demoralizing effect on my being. Hoping that my right knee might finally cooperate after almost an hour of walk, I tried running again. The result was unsatisfactory, the right knee won’t bend and I thought quitting.
Alone Again Naturally…
As if fate decided to play against me that day, I couldn’t see any runners on my behind, all the runners in front of me were gone as well. The support vehicle is nowhere to be found and I could not bother to text my team because I know my other team mates might probably need them more than me. They say ultramarathon is more of a mental game, I begin to think of the hours I spent for this race, the amount of money I’ve already spent, that dog that Rico promised, my own promise to that guy I met at Jolibee earlier, my promise to my own self that I will finish the race, the “issue” within the team, all of that added pressure to me and….I broke down. For the first time, I cried in a race. I’m not the tear-jerker type of guy, but me crying in a race was something that surprised me even up to this day.
I finally met my support guys and they caught me in “emo” mode. They probably thought I was about to give up, but really I was just frustrated and the added pressure just sunk in to me too deep. After some nourishment,refilling of my handheld bottle and encouragement, I proceed with my walk. The pain on my right knee is beginning to bother me even if I walked, and so I decided to try running. Alas running was not really an option and so I went back to my slow walk.
I must have been too paranoid as I kept on asking people I personally know asking them if I could still finish the race by walking the remaining route. The walk became too very painful and at kilometer 62, I was hoping for the official marshal van to appear on my side, ready to submit to my fate…..
Text Messages and Encouragement
Along the route, I stumbled upon Junar. And as usual, I asked his thoughts if I could finish the race if I walk the remaining route, the answer was “I don’t know”. I stopped somewhere along the route, crying desperately for my failure. Just when I saw a pick-up that looked like one coming from marshal’s support team, with my teary eyes, I raised my arm to hop into their vehicle so I could “officially” quit and bring me to the finish line, I received a barrage of text messages from fellow runners and other members of takbo.ph family. I lowered my arms, continue my walk and every 2 or 3 minutes, somebody would text me for some words of encouragement. Fueled by encouragement, I find myself running slowly albeit in a very strange way. If you have no idea how my running form look like ,try running with your right leg straight (e.g right knee not bending) and use your left leg to propel yourself forward. While running with in this ackward form, text messages would continue to help me endure more pain until I experienced by second wind.
Soon enough, I would continue running, non-stop for more than 4 kilometers. I would bypassed several runners, ironically, even meeting Second Wind store owner Hector who was supporting one of his friend. He would yell “Yeah muscle power”, I would reply back “This is my second wind!”, he would smile back as he knew I got my prowess back. RJ would stop the van to offer water, electrolyte and some foods but I don’t want to stop my momentum. This would happen several times and I could see my support guy happy as he knew I’m back in race mode, albeit running slowly but still competitively in my strange and awkward running form.
The fun finally died down as I need to stop to get some cold sponge from my van. As expected, the moment I continued my run, the pain still made its presence known. For the remaining route, I would be running in pain. It was at this point my body already gave up, the exhaustion and heat was too much to bear, but my heart was still there to complete the race.
As the pain continues to find its way to my inner soul, I was reduced to observing people around me. I noticed that support people were also not just helping their own runners but also other runners as well. I could not count how many times I was offered cold sponge by other support guys like Hector team, that van with a guy with video cam, doc T’s own support people, other Takbo.ph support team (e.g Ley’s team, Mark’s team, Cindy’s team, Bea’s team,Z’s team…it was beautiful. This is something I didn’t notice in other long distance races I’ve joined like marathons. Indeed, this is one of the few races where the conduct of people (runners and support team) was mostly very pleasant.
Last 10 kilometers
The last 10 kilometer was marked with painful walk-run strategy. Infact, I’ve been doing this in the last 40 kilometers. I have to teach my body to get used to pain, even have to bear with people’s facial reaction when they see me run. I swear I saw a female from other team (not takbo.ph) broke down when she saw me running. I saw the reaction of other takbo.ph members, the grimace in their face was enough for me to believe they share my pain. And somebody offered me (bystander) a quick ride on his tricycle too which I have to decline politely.
Checking my time, I knew I could still make it within the cut-off time if I just walk. However, as I don’t want to trade my chances, I still continued my walk-run albeit in so much pain. I caught up with Heidi, and I encouraged her to just walk since we could still finish the race even if we walk the remaining distance. However I noticed she’s got this fire in her and I could feel that she wanted to run so I encouraged her to run if she wanted to. She did run and left me alone*laughs*.
The last 3 kilometer was a very painful experience for me. My legs were becoming too heavy with my right-knee looked very sore. Those constant pouring of cold water every 3 minutes by RJ did help as it gave me temporary relief from pain. As I entered the last km of the race, one bystander was cheering for me, “go kaya mo yan, malapit na 500 meters na lang!”, and for some reason, I also asked him if I could still make it within cut-off time hahahaha! As if the guy had an idea of the race cut-off time.
Last 20 meters and the finish line was near, I saw takbo.ph friends and other runners cheering, it gave me an energy to finish the race running. After a photo-op with baldrunner at the finish line, I immediately sit in one corner, covered my face with my cap, and cried….thankful to God that I did finish the raise and I offered the race to Him, family and friends who supported me. I began to realize if not for the encouragement I received from fellow friends, which gave me the mythical second wind, if not for the brisk-walk suggestion by Ellen, if not for the support I received from my team, from other runner’s team, even from bystanders, I’m sure as hell I won’t be able to finish it within the cut-off time. I finished the race in 17 hours and 44 minutes, with just 16 minutes before cut-off time. And so I finished the race just as I planned.
I came, I saw and I conquered Bataan Death March!
I would like to thank everyone who joined me in this journey. I may miss some names so please forgive me. RJ my personal support and photographer, I hope I didn’t blew your mind with my grouchiness, Ellen-somebody told me you were the suspect in that text blast I received during my most painful moments hahahaha, I couldnt thank you more than enough for this. Ross for the massage and support and Cess for looking at me with compassion and our driver Gener who did a great job making sure we reached the place safe. Thanks goes to takbo.ph support teams, I could have not done it without your constant encouragement and support. To those who believe in me, I love you all.
To God Be all The Glory!