The Full Story

“I don’t want to do this ever again.”

This was the unbidden thought that sneaked up on me somewhere along Roxas Blvd. Not exactly a key ingredient to a triumphant and fierce finish.

* * *

I have been in denial for a few months now. But last Sunday, I had to quit playing games. The Milo Manila Elims is my goal race. I might call this full marathon 101 different names to keep calm and fool myself but there is no denying the fact that this race will be the culmination of 6 months of training.

I needed redemption.

PRs in the other distances cannot erase the SingaporeSting. It’s a Full or nothing.

PrepUp and StepUp.The last six months have been very challenging. I didn’t put down a specific target time or pace for this race but it was very clear to me that I was no longer training to finish another marathon. I needed a good finish time.

My earlier training program carried me to the finish but I felt that it was not enough. I shifted to a more aggressive plan. It meant running 5 times a week and logging an average of 50-60kms.  It was a painful exercise. One of the  comforting thoughts that got me through the whole journey was a friend’s advice that my body will eventually get used to the demand I was putting to it. In short, nagtiyaga na lang ako.

Over the last 6 months, I managed to shave off time in the different race distances. This gave me a terrific boost in confidence. I am on the right track.

Psychosomatic Overdrive. Fast forward to last Monday. It was less than a week before TheRace and my body went on a psychosomatic overdrive.

Name a friend and their injury/ailment and I was experiencing their symptoms. Picture this, my eyes were itchy. EyeMo gets the red out. My hands were ice cold, throat scratchy and I had body pains. Bioflu for my fake flu. My left knee would lock every now and then. Giga no pain to banish the pain. And the worst of all, LBM! Gatorade is my friend.

Through all these, I was outwardly calm. I think. It’s just that my body was really going haywire. I tried not to whine too much about it for fear that I would have a total meltdown. Denial is good coping mechanism.

I was in such a state of denial that I never announced my Milo plans in this blog. Bits and pieces, microblogged about it. But, again, I didn’t want to jinx it.

So I got through the week, finished my last few runs and downed all the meds to kick the symptoms.

RaceDay. Come race day, I have set a goal for myself. I wanted to banish the last traces of my SG Marathon trauma (5:51), finish better than my Botak Paa-Bilisan (5:22), and come in before the curfew time (5:00).

Mindful that Mr Biscocho operates on a different timezone, we quickly sorted our goodies in the support vans, dashed to the nearest restroom and snapped mandatory photos. We arrived at the starting pen before the 4:30 gun time and was able to join in the pre-race program.

Dindo, Kathy, Bards, Mesh, Tin, Beni and Kristine all smiles at the starting line

  And we’re off …

 Dindo and I have decided to run in the 6:30-7:00min/km pace. I’ve done the math, if we sustained this pace we can finish before cut off.

 Km1 – 10 1hr 8mins

Km1 – 6:38 | Km2- 6:34 | Km3 – 6:57 | Km4 – 7:04 | Km5 – 6:58 |
Km6 – 6:44 | Km7- 6:45 | Km8 – 6:41 | Km9 – 6:49 | Km10 – 6:48

32 to go ...

This was the easy breezy part of the race. It was still dark and Dindo and I were just following the flow runners. I was happy that we found a comfortable running pace earlier on and we didn’t have a problem maintaining it. We saw a lot of familiar faces along the way.

A couple of first time marathoners who came all the way from Vigan  — Jun and Jess — ran with us for a bit and then sped away after a bit of chitchat.

We were soon joined by Joe. He intends to pace Jonel at the end of the race and was happy to tag along at our pace.

We went up and down the flyovers with ease.

Pretty soon we were approaching our first meet up point with the support van. I asked for a bottle of water and just kept on running. This is part of my strategy for the race. Minimise full stops and just keep on running however slow.

Km11 – 20 1hr 10mins
Km11 – 6:52 | Km12- 6:36 Km13 – 6:42 | Km14 – 6:48 | Km15 – 6:39
Km – 6:46 | Km17- 7:10 | Km18 – 6:53 | Km19 – 6:51 | Km20 – 9:26

This part of the route took us from Roxas Corner Buendia all the way to Lawton Ave in TheFort.

I’m expecting things to get interesting in this part of the route for me. We have the monstrous Kalayaan flyover to tackle plus I expect to be running blind at the Makati CBD stretch. The 405 doesn’t work well with the tall buildings and gives incorrect readings. I knew I that I have to pace myself carefully so that I won’t fade away at my dreaded Km15.

What’s with Km15? I don’t know. For me it’s a hump. I always end up struggling at Km15 and feeling the need to walk. It’s my choke point. I need to manage is well so that it doesn’t end up screwing up the whole race.

I think having great company helped a lot. I breezed through Km15 without a hitch. Looking back, I think I was distracted about our discussion of how Joe was able to keep his water bottle dropping from out of his shorts. Something to do about shapes hehe

Pretty soon we were going up Kalayaan. It wasn’t as dreadful as I thought it would be. We did end up slowing down a bit. Then I started humming to myself  “…on our way home …”  and it cheered me up. I’m about to enter my playground. Nothing will go wrong!

We met the lead runners at the Kalayaan flyover. The leading male was running unchallenged. The 3 of us were amazed that they were not sweating too much.

At the foot of Kalayaan, Joe bid us farewell. He will be waiting for Jonel at this point. Dindo and I thanked him and went on our merry way.

Yes, we were still merry.

We crossed Mckinley and reached Essensa. Our support team was there, ready to replenish our stash. I got my visor, pulled out a couple of Gu and refilled my water bottle.

We walked for about 50m and started running again. I was amazed to see Mari on his way back already.

Km21 – 30 1hr 15mins
Km21 – 6:52 | Km22- 6:44 | Km23 – 8:23 | Km24 – 7:36 | Km25 – 6:40
Km26 – 7:12 | Km27- 9:56 | Km28 – 7:34 | Km29 – 7:29 | Km30 – 6:42

I knew we were doing good time at the Half. But this gives us very little room to manoeuvre. If we are to arrive within cut off, we have to maintain our pace. Difficult but doable.

Before reaching Bayani Road, the air suddenly changed and small droplets began to fall. I cheered and welcomed the rain.

It was such a relief to be heading towards the 2nd turnaround point. I did a mental check of how I was feeling. Legs, pumping. Breathing, not labored. Back, not tight. Hydration, rain is helping a lot.

Dindo and I decided to take another walk break on the slight uphill back to Bayani. This would save our legs for the rolling terrain of Heritage.

I saw a couple of female runners and pushed the pace a bit to overtake them. A futile exercise because I ended up playing catch up with them all the way back to Roxas.

Going up Bayani, Dindo told me to go ahead. I didn’t want to run alone but at the same time I still felt strong enough to run another hill or two. I told him that I will meet him at the next T2 pitstop.

I reached the last turnaround and walked a bit. Then I remembered that the T2 pitstop was just 500m away so I started running again. I just dipped my sponge in the ice chest and poured water on my head and continued running.

I was starting to get weary. The thought of going up Bayani to Lawton was not very exciting. I was such a treat to see the T2 girls running strongly to the turn around. Made me run a bit faster too … andyan na sila. 

Along Bayani, I saw Randy, a TmBR classmate, I knew this was his first marathon. He was walking. I decided to catch up with him. I kept thinking, yey! I won’t end up running Kalayaan alone. When I finally caught up with him, he told me that he had a bad case of cramps. He tried to run with me for a few meters but had to stop. Fortunately, he had bike support. I said goodbye and continued running towards Lawton.

15Km to the finish. That’s the marker where Coach Espejo and Ghie were posted. It is always good to see familiar faces. Relieves some of the pain.

I walked a bit and decided to run again.

And then somewhere along Lawton, Ria and Emer appeared. Ria was supposed to run Milo with me but she had a nagging pain in her leg and decided to cut back on mileage. Emer was out on his “recovery run” after completing the Botak 50K Ultra.

Ria has only done 10K for the day and decided to push for 25. She said she will run with me all the way to the finish line. 

Whoopee! She had perfect timing. I was fading away. We pushed to the T2 pitstop. I had a bit of banana. Poured water on my head and continued running.


smile ... though your whole body is aching

  Km31 – 40 1hr 17mins
  Km31 – 8:49 | Km32- 7:23 | Km33 – 7:08 | Km34 – 6:42 | Km35 – 9:35
  Km36 – 7:47 | Km37- 7:06 | Km38 – 8:53 | Km39 – 6:49 | Km40 – 7:33

Ria thankfully kept a steady chatter. I hope I was still muttering the correct answers. When I start getting quiet, you know I’m either up to something or I’m not feeling well. This time, it was the kms piling that was weighing me down and keeping my mouth shut.

Kalayaan flyover was empty. It was just me, Ria and a metro aide. Emer kept pace with us in their vehicle.

I started to negotiate walking breaks  in Kalayaan. Our pace was still acceptable. 5 hours was still doable but will be extremely difficult.

Then we reached Km35. Singapore reared its ugly head. I was going deaf, side stitch and I needed to throw up. I was trying to focus on what Ria was saying but I couldn’t anymore. I think it was the banana or probably I had too much water.

Brief background … I can’t run with full stomach. My stomach gets funny during runs. I can also only take very little water when running. I end up throwing up or with bad case of stomach cramps when I get loaded with water or sports drink.

So we were almost at Malugay when I turned to Ria and said, “I need to throw up.” 

I felt relieved after that but my pace has dropped even further. I struggled to the next pitstop. Vicky who I saw in Petron station along Buendia has met up with our support vehicle. At lunch, she told me that I didn’t even talk to them when I got to the van. She said I just got water and dipped my sponge. I was too spaced out … wasak.

We continued on. Ria and Emer kept a steady supply of water and a hard candy to pacify my upset stomach. I will never forget how they anticipated my every need and propped me up during this leg of the race. 

Before crossing Roxas, I saw a group wearing red shirts and cheering for runners. Hearing their cheers and getting water misting made me feel a little lighter. One said, “Go Girl. Girl Power.” and it helped me pick up the pace a little. Thank you Takbo peeps! Your support for us runners last Sunday was very touching. 

The last T2 pitstop I saw was after crossing Roxas. Same routine. Get water. Dip sponge. Run.

Km41 – 42 15mins

Km41 – 7:31 | Km41 – 7:34

I was at Roxas Blvd. The sun was beating down on me. The picture taken near the finish captured the raw emotion I was feeling during the last 2 kms. 

I was tired. I was struggling. I was a wreck. My body was about to shutdown.

“I don’t want to do this ever again.”

This was the unbidden thought that sneaked up on me somewhere along Roxas Blvd. Not exactly a key ingredient to a triumphant and fierce finish.

Then Ria and Emer said that after I turn left towards the Grandstand, I only have less than 500m to go. Adrenalin kicked in. I kept my eyes focused on the tallest building at the end of the road. I keep imagining that it was pulling me.  I thought, well if I’m never ever going to do this ever ever again then I’d better haul ass and finish strong. I pulled myself together and ran the last 2kms at a 7:30ish pace. Crawling. Painful. Counting 1-8 as Ria suggested helped to keep me focused.

Each step was painful. Timmy said I looked afraid in the picture above. Oh, I was afraid. I was afraid that my body would give up before I cross the finish line. I was deathly afraid that my mind would just say, “This is it. I don’t want to run anymore. Quit.” It took every ounce of will to put one foot in front of the other.

It was at this moment where I fully understood what it means to run with your heart. Your whole body might be shutting down but if your heart and will is strong you can still squeeze enough to get yourself across the finish line.

I was so focused on getting myself across the finish line I forgot to smile.

When I crossed the finish line, I felt like crying. I turned to Ria, hugged her and said thank you.

Fierce to the finish. Well … this was a different kind of fierce. An unguarded moment at the finish line. (Pix from DocMarvin’s stock) I overtook this lady somewhere in Roxas or maybe Buendia but she still had a final kick and caught up with me at the finish line. Raar! I was finished.  Thought bubble here is … [grawlix] Didn’t I overtake you already. How can you still sprint when I’m about to have a meltdown. And how can you have such great abs.  🙂



My unofficial time is 5:06:06 for the distance of 41.94km. A new PR. I unfortunately did not meet the curfew.

But I am happy. I achieved 2 out 3 of my goals. It has made me hungry for more. I will be back next year. With a stronger finishing kick and a big smile.

I’d be a fool not to do another Full!

Gene, Beni, Kathy, Bards, Vicky, Tin and Mesh 

It was great day for T2. We all finished strong and fierce. I will do a separate post on them. Later …

Thank you.

To Ria and Emer. For providing support and anticipating my needs during the last 15km. I hope to return the favour soon. Only that would mean I need to run faster … eek! I wanted to sing and dedicate the song “You were the wind beneath my wings …” at the finish line but I thought that would make you summon the men in white to put me in a straight jacket.

To Harry and Vince. For constantly providing us with logistical support. To Race Logistics Manager, Harry. I swear you have so many alternative careers.

With Harry, our Race Logistics Director and the awesome T2 ladies

To Dindo and Doc Joe. KaPace for the first half. I probably wouldn’t have dared to start as strongly as I did if you guys were not beside me. You made our pace seem effortless.

To Vicky. It was great seeing a friend on route. I will be there for you on your first marathon. Promise!

To Lito, Torio, Robert, Ging and Angel. Thank you, you guys take care of us so well.

To all the runners I met on the road,  salamat for being part of this wonderful experience and see you at the 34th Milo Manila Elimination!


27 thoughts on “The Full Story

  1. This is the best recap I have read so far!! My heart goes out to you! Congratulations for running a stronger race last Sunday. It was a superhuman effort that you mustered out there and you really willed yourself to the finish. I am proud of you and I know you will do amazing things in your future races!

    thanks jay! as i told you, im happy about the results. truth be told, i was being ambitious. kasi the parrot predictor in my logsheet, said i would be doing it in 5:09. haha i thought I could summon the powers that be to chop the 9minutes. The Full talaga is a distance that we need to respect. Brute force is not enough. Tara magrest and picture na tayo sa races muna.

  2. I really felt the emotion in your recap, congratulations again! I’ve been thinking about our marathon strategy, I’ll email you separetely… 🙂

    thanks for running with me ha. Marathon strategy … sige bilis email. As i said, basta Full … kung saan, kailan at paanong paraan magpasabi ka lang… sabay tayo ulit!

  3. excellent effort! and don’t stop marathoning, esp now that you’re making such great progress. also, well executed plan. you aimed for 5 and missed it by just 6 minutes. congrats!

    thanks. congratulations also to you wonderful comeback! hay naku. patience talaga. im not known for my patience but training for a Full and racing them has taught me to be more patient. the only way i’ll improve is if I keep on running. tara run na tayo ulit!

  4. Great recap! Congrats Bards, you deserved it! with all you hard work. Congrats on a new PR!

    thansk broJ. congrats on your Half also! Full naman!

  5. Bards!!! =) You really got out of Milo what you put in it!! Rawr! Next marathon with extra rice please!!! Coach….I’m serious na about training harder for the next one…program thoughts? But before that, let’s celebrate first!!!!

    Tin!!! You guys keep me going. Para tayong may RunningCollective din. Another full … training program … hehe come my dear and let me tell you my next evil plan. :))

  6. congrats on your milo marathon bards… and with a pretty good time at that. 🙂 so when’s the next full?

    ey Mr Ultramarathoner congratulations to you also! the next one … is just … around the river bend … 😀

  7. reading your blog inspired me to pursue my marathon dream. thank you for sharing your experiences, i learned a lot from your entries since Mari introduced me to your site.

    keep running and hope to reach your level. congratulations, and enjoy your much deserved rest and recovery.

    God bless!

    hi jet, thanks! take it one run at a time and before you know it, you are at the starting line na of your first Full. good luck and see you on the road!

  8. you and Sam have AMAZING stories! Truly inspiring!

    >thanks bea! sometimes its funny how the difficulties i encounter in running are the things that keep me going. haha on to the next one!

  9. Congrats Bards! Marathons do have ways of messing us up… what matters is that we didn’t falter and came out triumphant (more like survivors, hehe) regardless of the time we took. Imagine you were struggling like that and you got a new PR?! 😀

    thanks dennis. haha at times i forget but you are right. It is a PR! Woohoo! Masusungkit din natin itong Milo na ito! And congratulations to you also. Time to start racking up mileage again! See you on the road!

  10. Oy Bards ang payat mo na ha, and that time was better than mine already. (As a comparison, the strong finishing kick one has a man’s bod ha ha.)

    I liked the part about Rudy Biscocho being in a different time zone LOL

    Thanks Cecil. Kelangan ko pa daw pumayat pa para bumilis. *miss cancel na nga extra rice* 😀
    at wait, oh yeah this time is faster than your Pasig time. hmmm… kelan ko kaya abutin your 10K hehe

  11. Great Job! I’m so glad I have a lot of baliw friends like you to push me just to keep on moving… NEXT!

    di ba nga birds of the same feather … must be the same birds hahaha
    we all did so well. im so proud of the fact that we ran our race as we planned it. well may konti sablay but still … we all finished. i still envy na laging maganda finish line picx mo. NEXT …

  12. Congrats Bards, kakatawa naman, “Banana Splits”!!! Yummy!!!

    thanks mr milo qualifier. will be cheering for you guys sa Finals! banana splits … ya with me it all boils down to food sometimes. 🙂

  13. Very nice story, Bards! I particularly liked your expression when that caucasian overtook you near the finish line.


    thanks rene. haha magshades na ako sa next race. buking.

  14. Yeah,
    Tin was right. Program! Your personalized micro cycle planning. You really look to your periodization training? Five times a week works for you? anyway that was PR, a great improvement on your performance. One more pa. RACE pa rice pa. hehe, CONGRATS!!!!

    me tama ka dyan coach … isa pa, isa pa … cup of rice. thanks. see you sa ultra soon.

  15. sub-5 will be the next target..nice race report!

    thanks br. ang kulit na nga talaga ng ub5 na yan. but i have learned to be patient. gotta train more more more. 🙂

  16. Bards!! amazing! I’m happy for you 🙂 well run! getting better and better! I believe you’ll do a sub 5 on your next, can’t wait when 😉
    thanks chai. hay, ako rin, i cant wait. ohwell, rest and recover and then back to training again. feeling athlete hehe

  17. mabuhay ka ate! ANG sama ng tingin mo sa nang-overtake sa iyo.promise, i won’t even try to overtake you.don’t wait for the next milo full.yummy ang subic international.floridablanca exit to remy field,subic via sctex one-way, 4pm/october 18.

    koya kinapos. oki lang PR pa rin naman. subic… hmmm…

  18. Let’s go and have some of those banana splits. Congratulations. Nakaka-dalawang milo ka na this year huh, reward na.

    great idea, i think i will have some tomorrow! as for reward, i saw the coolest reward … pero ipon muna ako. hehe

  19. The finishing pic says it all – congratulations on a great result. Now you need to prepare for your next full – all your looking at is just 9mins to break 5 hrs. Another PR … no pressure.

    Chop-chop. 😀

    im still resting! 😉 will think about the Full … tomorrow!

  20. Congrats Bards. Too bad I wasn’t there or I would have run this marathon with you guys. I missed another running event. We are definitely running together on your next full marathon 4 months from now . . . 😛

    we missed you, too! sobra ka kasi jetsetter.

  21. Hi Bards, reading your Milo Marathon recap left me misty eyed. I can feel the emotion when you wrote this. Of course, I couldn’t say, “I understand,” when I myself haven’t experienced running a full mara yet. Congratulations! You left a mark on me when you said up front, “target kita!” I wondered what made you say that during the Lunar Glide distribution? Now, you’re done with full mara. I think it should be the other way around. “Target kita!” Nah! Just kidding! Congratulations again.

    ey thanks for dropping by. sometimes its amazing how time flies talaga. i still remember you guys breezing through sa 1st Mommy Milkshake and Takbo para kay Ariel and me gasping for air and barely making it to the finish line. i will never forget that I got outsprinted by a 3yo yata sa Mommy Milkshake haha.

    Those where my first few races and yeah … I have to admit I was gunning for the people in front of me then … kasama ka dun. Hehe marking targets. err … i think I still do. Watch out Mesh. 😀

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