Why Do People Run the Marathon?

Why do people run the marathon?  I mean really?  If the legends are true, didn’t the first marathon runner died after completing a run to ancient Athens?  And yet, more and more people aspire to and actually run this race every year.  It couldn’t be madness, otherwise there are too much running madmen (or women) in the country already, right?

One can’t help but be curious.  Pretty soon you become too curious enough to give it a try yourself.  I guess that’s what happened to me this year.

The Milo marathon is on its 26th year already.  Though it has been around for that long, for me it has been like going to the moon.  I know it’s possible and can be done, but it’s only for the elites and for sure will not happen to me this lifetime.  Recently though, long distance running as a sport has experienced a boom and in our office a very active runners’ wellness group has been organized.

Last year, quite a number of my officemates were able to finish the 42 after 6 months of scheduled training.  This year, they plan another batch of runners to run and train.  As early as February, I declared for my self that I will finish the marathon this year.  That’s how it started for me… over lunch while my office friends were discussing about another organized marathon training.  No dates were discussed, no specific marathon yet to join.

March came and we knew the Milo marathon will be in July.  The more experienced runners in the office were advising me not to run for July, but instead wait for another marathon (QCIM) in December.  That would give me more time to train since the training plan is 6-month long.  Impatient, stubborn and lazy (three of my best qualities), I decided to go ahead with the July schedule.  To wait for December means I need to train for 8 months, besides, I’m fit enough to the marathon anyway… or so I thought.

April came and I’ve only been running short distances on erratic schedule.  Far from the prescribed training plan where I should run regularly and with increasing distance; confident that, anyway, there’s still May and June to get serious.  Fortunately, I did catch up on my training plan thanks to insistent reminders and run invitations from my training buddy. I did my first long run (15km+) in April and completed my first 32km in June 5.

At 25km, your body will experienced fatigue and it will require much mental discipline to finish upto 32km.  That is why they say that once you’ve done a 32km run, you’re ready for the marathon because from 32km to 42km run will just be pure will power.

Then July 4 came and it is the Milo Marathon NCR elimination race for the National Finals in December.  While the elites and veterans race to qualify for the finals, beginners like me only wish to complete the marathon alive and perhaps finish in 6 hours to get a medal at the finish line.

Good thing is that there were a number of my friends racing on that day for 21km and 42km races.  My anxiety and fear of not finishing mellowed down a bit as I met up and chatted with my friends at the starting line.  We talked about running together and following this person who paces well (which was only true for the first 15km, after that, it was each person running his own pace).

bel carlos milo marathon

The race route is 5 loops around CCP-Aseana-Macapagal Ave-Sofitel.  Some say the route is boring as it goes around the same area 5 times.  For me it was a boon.  It was easier to psych myself to run some more everytime I complete a loop.

The first two loops (about 18-20km) was easy enough and quite uneventful.  It was just about keeping the pace which is at 8.5kph, enough to beat the 6-hour deadline.  My pace group started to break up at the third loop, when each of us started to rest at different rates.

Pretty soon, I was running by myself alone.  By this time, you’d start to look for ways to motivate yourself to run some more.

You’d start to look for attractive females to tail-run with.  It can keep you motivated to run another 5km straight.  Unfortunately, there’s not much of them in the race and they would either be the fit and sexy ones (already ahead of me in the race and hard to keep pace with), the average-paced ones but running with their boyfriends or the not-so-fit ones tailing behind.

And then you’ll meet some friendly guy whom you can chat a bit with how difficult it is to train for the marathon.  Then you’ll also meet a friendlier-guy-in-a-weird-way whom you’ll chat a bit but amazingly you’ll find enough energy left in you to burst into a sprint.  There’s also your sporty lola runners that, though they don’t intend to, shouts silent insults to your youth and manhood just by being ahead of you in the pack.  You’ll again find the motivation to run a bit faster to overtake them.

By the Aliw theater are a group of running-enthusiasts who voluntarily stationed themselves there to cheer everyone who passes by and completes another loop.  And just at the turn to Buendia, you’ll meet the P&G volunteers, office friends who are always ready with their Gatorades, menthol sprays and compliments on how great you’ve done running thus far.  I was equally thankful for the cheers as well as the menthol sprays because by the 4th loop, my leg muscles became tight and slightly painful due to fatigue.  The spray works miraculously to ease the pain for another half-a-loop.

p&g support group

By the 4th loop, it was 40% run and 60% walk for me.  But at the 5th loop, it was all walk with a few sprints.  It was not much because of my tired feet but because of my acidic stomach.  I cannot run 50meters without having a hiccup-attack.  Throughout the race I’ve been conscious not to drink too much water and Gatorade to avoid it, but still it happened.  Even drinking antacid did not help.  I was confident enough to walk as I was in my last loop and with a little over an hour left until the 6th hour deadline.

In the last leg to the finish line, I was just practically walking the race.  The sun was scorching that later after the race I would hear the news that someone died because of dehydration.  For the last 5km, I tried my best to run for the finish mainly because I soon realized that I miscalculated my time.  I thought the finish line is at CCP, but it was in Luneta (about 3km away).  I was 3km away from the finish line 40min before the cutoff time, which would have been doable if not for that fact that I have been running for more than 5 hours already for 39km.

I finished with the run time of 6:05. I technically did not achieve the sub-6 (below 6 hours) requirement but fortunately, Milo had some surplus of medals and they were still giving the medals even beyond the 6th hour.

bel at finish line

Will I do it again?  Probably not.  Will I recommend it to friends?  Yes, I would.  I believe it does build character, the training and the race itself.  As for me, I really appreciated the support given by friends for my race preparation and during the race itself, so much so that I vowed to support the runners for the QCIM marathon.  My turn to cheer and somebody else’s turn to run 🙂

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4 observations on “Why Do People Run the Marathon?
  1. Pabs

    Good, interesting piece Bel. One thing though- the fatality was due to heat stroke, not dehydration. The latter can contribute to heat stroke but is a different cause of death. In fact, a lot more runners die of hyponatremia (sodium concentration too low due mainly to over-hydration) than dehydration.

  2. mysticwaters

    congratulations on your first marathon! more often than not, once you’ve finished one, you’re hooked for life. if you start training now, you can aim for another marathon (condura in early feb next year). perhaps you can make qcim in dec. as a tune-up race (10K or 21K). 🙂

    happy feet,


  3. Belemmans

    Thanks Ricky and Scientist Runner.
    Yeah, maybe a 10k or 21k(max) in QCIM or Condura.
    for the moment, the thought of another marathon is not as enticing hehehe 🙂

    My first love really is the water…so i plan to go back with my regular swimming


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