Marathon Debut to Help Save Pasig River

After finishing the simulation run for the QCIM route, that was the day when I registered for the Pasig International Marathon, a whimsical decision to run a first full marathon.

If you try to remember your Rizal subject back in college or Filipino subject during your high school years, Pasig River was mentioned by one of our heroes, Jose Rizal, in his two great novels, the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. It was so vividly described by the author that even if I haven’t seen it yet, the image of the river I could imagine so well. But when I finally saw it the first time I visited Manila, to my utter disgust, it was not the river that was described in his novels. The river was so dirty! Its stench, especially, at summer time was unbelievable.

Pasig River connects Laguna de Bay to Manila Bay, stretches 25 km, and divides Manila into two. Its major tributaries are Marikina River and San Juan River. The names sound familiar, eh? Of course! You’ve seen water levels of these rivers rose and dramatically flooded almost all parts of Metro Manila. In my readings, I discovered that the river is considered dead (it can no longer sustain life) due to negligence and pollution. We have no one to blame but ourselves. The garbage we throw, Mother Nature gives it back to us. In one of Joey Ayala’s songs, Magkaugnay, he aptly described that everything is interrelated …

The earth, the oceans, the heavens–all
things are interrelated with everything else
We ride upon this earth, travelling through space
circling a star
that gives life to animals, to plants
to us
All things are interrelated
Interrelated with everything else
We all have one beginning
one end
Thus we\’re all a family, a tribe
on this earth, in the seas
in the heavens
All things are interrelated
interrelated with everything else
ABS-CBN Foundation, thru its Kapit Bisig Para Sa Ilog Pasig program, seeks to restore the river to its former glory. The registration fees will help finance the foundation\’s program to clean the river. And I wanted the river cleaned by supporting the marathon event.

There are 13 bridges that cross the river–Bambang Bridge or Napindan Bridge, C-5 Road Bridge which connects Makati and Pasig cities, Guadalupe Bridge which connects Mandaluyong and Makati Cities, Makati-Mandaluyong Bridge which ends at Makati Avenue, Sevilla Bridge, Lambingan Bridge, Padre Zamora (Pandacan) Bridge, Mabini Bridge (popularly known as Nagtahan Bridge), Ayala Bridge, Quezon Bridge, McArthur Bridge, Jones Bridge, and the Roxas Bridge–where nine of these, if I’m not mistaken, were included in the PIM race route.

I couldn’t sleep well the night before the race and was up at 2:30AM after receiving a text message from fellow marathoner, Totoy, to inform me that he was already on his way to the race venue. Whooa! 2:30AM! It was just barely a four-hour sleep for me. I prayed hard for this race–for the safety of all runners and for me to finish my first 42-kilometer run.

As planned, I informed Coach John, my pacer for this race, that I would be at the venue at around 3:30AM. Coach John, a member of the Philippine Team, won the the gold medal in the 800m-track event, silver medal in the 1500m-track event in the 2001 Malaysia SEA Games. He also broke the national record in the 800m-track event (and still undefeated) in the 2002 Asian Grand Prix held in Manila. He won another gold medal in the 1500m-track event in the 2003 Vietnam SEA Games. He recently joined the 2009 CamSur Ironman 70.3 three-man relay team. Their team won second overall. I was really grateful that he said yes to pace with me.

It was a festive mood at the starting line. A military band performed near the stage while TV cameras were rolling. The host for the event then announced that the 42k marathon would start in five minutes. I was nervous but when I saw Coach John, I knew I would be all right. I was so glad, too, to find familiar faces that of Sir Amado who wished me well, fellow Happy Feet runners, Totoy and Joms, and Takbo.ph running friend, Joseph also known as Prince, and Quennie who was looking for the 42k relay members.

The race started right on time. It was a good and steady pace for Coach John and me. He told me to maintain that pace. But within the 10km run, I started to get uncomfortable, as I needed a kidney break.

As we reached Nagtahan Bridge, this was where I felt cold and got chill bumps. It was a difficult uphill run for me. I was still running OK but upon reaching km19 that was where I felt muscle cramps building in my right calf. So stopping in every water station was my only walk break then off I ran again. I felt another nagging pain at the right side portion of my leg at km22, along EDSA in front of Robinson\’s Pioneer after. It was also in that area where I saw Sam, the Running Ninja, struggling a leg pain. Then a runner stopped by to offer both of us a liquid Salonpas. I was so relieved by it. Then off we ran again.

The sun was up already as we were turning right at Pioneer Street on our way to Pasig Avenue . Coach John told me that it would be a good downhill run near Ultra area. It was where I regained a bit the minutes, which i missed when I stopped and walked a bit to relieve my leg cramps. While running in that area, a runner offered both of us a piece of the bananas he brought with him. I tried to eat a little but just gave the rest to Coach. As we got nearer to C-5 Bridge, I saw another uphill run for us. But before I got there, I took another walk. The sun was hot. Coach urged me to run again. It was where I saw Prince slowly running and the Team Logan attempted to talk to me.

As we reached Market! Market! area, I felt the unbearable heat slowly burning my skin. Coach even commented that I was turning red but I said I still felt OK. It was a pure relief to finally see another water station that I doused myself with water and pulled my socks down as my legs were beginning to feel the heat too.

From a distance, I saw the looming Buendia-Kalayaan flyover. It was a menacing sight because it was too hot. I had no recourse but to run it slowly. Carol a.k.a. Twinkletoe ran with me and asked if I still felt OK. All I could do was nod and just continued running. I was oblivious to the people running with me. What I felt then was the heaviness of each step I made.

Running the flyover was pure agony. It was too hot, and you knew what I was talking about. That area was an open space. There was a helicopter hovering above us, may be, awaiting for any of the runners to collapse. I was praying all along that I wouldn\’t suffer any heat stroke while running the flyover. I walked again. I remembered Mon calling my name. I tried to run with him but my strength was slowly ebbing away. But no, I was still far. Every time I stopped and walked, Coach didn\’t leave me.

It was pure delight to see another water station as we were running down the flyover. “Almost there at km 32,” my silent thought. Thank God! But I was still way too far from the finish line. We ran slowly again until we\’re almost Makati Avenue. Ahead, I saw more people waiting. As we got nearer, it was then I realized that most of them are my running buddies, the Takbo.ph group. I smiled when I saw one of them opened a poster with my name on it and I also saw cheer pom poms held not by any of the ladies but by Luis popularly known as Gingerbread Report. There was a loud cheer! Again, I couldn’t muster to greet nor approach any of them as I smelled so badly and I knew I looked pretty bad.

I did get another cup of water then off I ran slowly again. Somewhere along Buendia, between km34 and km36, this was when another muscle cramps happened again. I could no longer make another step nor could run slowly. It was agonizingly painful.

Surprisingly, Gail, a fellow runner who happened to be a therapist, offered to help and had my leg stretched. It was gone! Off I ran again. But just a few meters away from where I stopped, another muscle cramps happened in my right calf and it was slowly creeping up to my butt. Rodel a.k.a. Argonautquest, who was strongly running, made a short stop to ask if I was OK, and I couldn’t remember what my response was to him.

I was advised by Gail to lie down on the sidewalk so she could stretch both of my legs. With me were Coach, Gail, Pepsi and Mark who took turns to give me water and Gatorade. It was while I was being tended that I almost cried because DNF (did not finish) was playing in my mind already. But I got hold of myself and stopped entertaining that thought. If these people with me believed in me, I had to believe in myself, too.

As the pain was slowly ebbing away, I stood up and felt I could run again. I kept on saying sorry to Coach for not making it with our target time. But Coach told me not to worry. He assured me that this was my first full marathon. I asked if we had still time to beat the cut off time, all he said was if I didn’t walk, we could still nail it. But with my condition, I accepted not defeat but the will to reach the finish line no matter what.

Off we ran slowly until we reached south Super Highway, crossed it, running slowly still and then I stopped running and started to walk again. The heat was really burning my head and back, all over my body. It was then that I thought of these runners with me, who unselfishly paced with me, exposed under the heat of the sun, who sacrificed their time and effort, I just couldn’t let them down. So, I ran again aiming to reach the Buendia U-turn slot going right to Roxas Boulevard.

From then on, was my longest walk in a race. I walked and talked with Coach. The three runners were also walking behind me. Ahead of me were two or three marathoners who were slowly running or walking. Then as we were approaching Pedro Gil, a group of Polo triathletes were also slowly walking. Wooah! Even them surrendered to the heat!

It was when reaching T.M. Kalaw that we started to run slowly again. They were urging me for a strong finish. It was along Luneta where I heard Lorie a.k.a. Silverprex and her sister cheering on me. Few more meters, almost there … the finish line … with clock ticking … accompanied by Coach John, Gail, Mark, and Pepsi … saw Vener a.k.a. Run Unlimited on the left side … to the shouts and cheers of Takbo.ph friends … I’ve finished the race with a time of 5:25.30, with seconds ticking slowly … thank you, God! It was Mr. Rudy Biscocho, PIM Race Director, who handed me a cup of water and greeted me with a loud congratulations.

During my two-year stint racing, I never walked in a race. It was my first time to walk in a race and I was proud of that. The walk, each step, brought me to the finish line. I didn’t receive any medal for this full marathon. It was all right. For me, the medals I got last Sunday were the people who said and believed I can do it, the people who helped me along the way. To the Takbo.ph, how can I ever thank you guys? To Coach John, thank you so much. I will try to do better if given another chance to do a full marathon again.

These slogans …

Your passion is our obsession” ~ Mizuno

Just do it!” ~ Nike

Kaya mo ‘yan!” (You can do it!) ~ Milo

Impossible is nothing” ~ Adidas

I am a RUNNR” ~ RUNNR Store

Love/hate. This is the New Balance.” ~ New Balance

… made me realize that running a full marathon is possible for anyone as long as you put your passion, dedication, heart, and commitment to train really, really, hard. Bottom line is, respect the distance, don’t do “too much, too soon”, more mileage, mileage! If you know how to break in your body, learn also how to rest.

I congratulate all who made it in this run. It was no easy feat! As of writing, yours truly, is still sore, walking, going up and down the stairs, a pure agony. Just like Sir Jovie a.k.a. Bald Runner, I am still under RICE treatment.


I did ask permission from Sir Jovie that I would grab this photo. Finally! I got my 1000km Club shirt from BaldRunner. The 1000km mileage I accumulated is for this year only as I wasn’t able to log my mileage for my first two years in running. The giving or awarding of this shirt was postponed by Storm Ondoy. And at the QCIM, we failed to see each other. Nothing beats this! After all, the best things in life are free!

(Photos Courtesy of DocMarvs a.k.a. Nuttybunny, Gerard a.k.a. Supacow/DimsumandSiomai, and BaldRunner)

28 thoughts on “Marathon Debut to Help Save Pasig River

  1. Congratulations Roselle! I mentioned it to Rio while we were waiting for his flight to Manila and he was thrilled! You prevailed on what was a difficult course.Nothing wrong with walking. All of us have done it in a marathon at one time or another and it's usually due to cramps or an injury. Having Coach John and a number of runners cheering you on is a lifting experience. R-I-C-E is now important along with liquids to recover more quickly and getting the lactic acid out of the system.Also, congratulations on now being a member of the 1000km club. It's an honor and yours is well deserved. Take care.

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  2. Cogratulatons. i am so proud of you. i know it has been your dream to complete a marathon and it has finally become a reality. Great job. mabe another 1 in the year 2010? but for now savour the moment.you deserve i _ patrick concepcion / runningshield

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  3. Congratulations Roselle, you did it. Your legs may have failed you, but your big heart brought you through. Cheers for the triumph and enjoy the rest of the season. We'll see you again.Regards – Vnr & Xty

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  4. Congrats Roselle ! you did it ! im very happy to be a part of your frst Full Marathon along the way & to the fishline :)& to give you a hug you really deserve it ! 🙂 no DNF just a big heart & a race to finsh 🙂 Congrats Roselle !Marathoner Diva or Diva Marathoner ? hmmmm … hehehe rest well Do RICE 🙂 marky_mark

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  5. during tough marathons, i kinda have the same thoughts – \”people believe in you, how dare you give up!\”. it is indeed amazing what encouragement can do in those last 6 miles. 5:25 is not a bad time at all for a first marathon, especially considering that you had a lot of walkbreaks. congrats on your first finish!

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  6. Dear Roselle – Congratulations! I have no doubt you will finish your 1st marathon. I got a full account from Coach John when we had our run at Ultra on 10Nov09. Am so sad that you had the cramps. The way you performed at the QCIM 21k you could have easily made sub-5 without the cramps. Best wishes to you!!!

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  7. Timmy, thank you for the moral support, the hug, and the text message.Wayne, thank you so much for mentioning it to Coach Rio. Am sure he had a blast staying there, especially, that he qualified for the Boston Marathon. I will be joining the Timex Run where Coach is the Race Director. PatCon, I thank you for the marathon tips you gave me. But I was not just in the right condition to nail my target as I was already exhausted the day before plus didn't get enough sleep or rest. Thank you really for your support and encouragement.Vener and Cristy, it was nice really to talk with both of you before the race. I knew it would be \”chicken fed\” or easy run for both of you, and I was right. Thank you for the cheers at the finish line.Rene, thank you for reserving my Nike human shirt. Ang ilap ng shirt na 'yan, haha! Hope to see you in one of the races soon!Rico, by SHEER WILL, I finished it. I didn't \”hit the wall\” but the last 10k was a battle between the body and mind. And when the will says it has to end, you have to reach your goal, the body follows. Good luck also on your endeavors and it's good you're really focused on Camsur. See you for SWAC3 (Sheer Will Aquathlon Cup 3/ed.)!Marky Mark! Thank you really for the cold water you offered me. It really helped quench my thirst. And for running with me from where I had my muscle cramps to the finish line. I will run with you when you do your full marathon. Wilson, yes. You are right. The people around us, their encouragement, give extra push even if the body and mind are telling you to stop. Congratulations for a good finish. That was my target time. If I didn't have the cramps, I could have done it also. But again, until next time, there'll always be a next time. :DAllyn, haha. It was really a tough race for me gurl. Thanks for dropping by. Regards to your hubby and your sis. Will you run Timex?Daytripper, I wouldn't be surprised if you still continue to improve on your time. You are so focused to nail a pretty good personal record. Carry on!Sir Amado, huhuhu. Yeah, I was sad at first. But life's like that. You need to accept that some things are not meant to be. But I was so happy still to reach the finish line, especially, with the cheers and shouts from friends who were there waiting inspite of the heat. How was your abridged run? I wonder what edition is next? haha Carry on!Rod, congrats to you also for finishing another tough marathon. You, DocT, and Gab really rock for your toughness to finish the three international marathons. Recover well…

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  8. roselle, you can brag that you are now a full-pledged \”marathoner\”! congratulations! you did it in a very hard course! from here, you can now improve your next marathon races. welcome to the club of marathon addicts! good luck and rest well!

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  9. Sir Jovie, thank you so much. I forgot to include in my post that one of the reasons why I decided to run the full was when you I had your go signal (remember when we talked about it one time at PhilSports/Ultra?) and the go signal of Coach Rio last year after I finished the 25k NB Power Race. I did remember I saw your uniform but had no recollection it was you walking near Rizal Drive. Congrats, too, Sir Jovie. Your recap has a heart of a true blue runner.

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  10. Congratulations Rozelle 🙂 Well done! I am proud of you! Remember when you said @Max Kelan kaya tayo Chai? 🙂 Hindi hangang tanong ka na lang dahil nagawa mo na! At hindi imposible. Looking forward to the next one!

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  11. Congrats Roselle on finishing your first marathon. Enjoyed reading your race recap, where you showed that perseverance and courage could win over adversity. I suffer from muscle cramps too usually after the 25th k and other veteran runners tell me that salt supplements would help. Looking forward to reading your next running adventure. Take care and have a well deserved rest.

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  12. Ms. Roselle, you're such an inspiration. I love reading blog entries of first time marathoners and yours was the one I really loved. Running the full marathon is not only about the person but those who have supported you – all the way. Congratulations to you and most especially to those who ensured you made it through. PS. panalo yung picture ni luis!

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  13. Congratulations, Running Diva! truly a warrior… I am a newbie runner and a newbie on the blogsphere. May i ask permission to link you to my blog please? I regularly visit your site. Thanks much!

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  14. Rosel, congratulations! Naplug pala ako sa blog mo… hehe! mejo natakot ako when I saw you on that state… Good thing you came back from and finished the race….

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  15. Hi 'Witchkitty' Chaia, yes, I did remember that when we it was just a mere wish to run a full. You did (with a very fast time finish) and I did just a few months later. Congrats to both of us Chaia! 😀 Hope to see you here when you get home!Kerry, thank you so much for the support!Bong, I also read your first mara experience before I ran PIM. I was also proud of you when you did it! Congrats to you, Bong. I knew it meant so much to you finishing your full mara! Hope to meet you when you get to visit Manila once again!Mark, am deeply touched by your comment. I wouldn't be surprised if you get to finish one in the future soon. I am seeing a very focused runner in you. Good luck on the BLC bet! :DHi El Capitana, thank you for visiting my site and for reading my entries here. I hope, in one or another, it helped you. You've got a good personal record. Tell us more in your blog who El Capitana is. Just like you I started with zero knowledge on blogging. Just explore it. 😉 Were you the one you greeted me in yesterday's Timex run? I wish you well in your running races. Carry on!Argonaut, thanks for your comment. 😀 Thanks, too, for the concern shown that you had to stop and asked how I was. Greatly appreciated. I wish you also in your upcoming BDM. Carry on!

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  16. Congratulations, Marathoner!!!From the look on your face when I saw you at Timex yesterday, seems like you have recovered.Thank you for a very interesting post on your first full marathon. No one said it would be easy and you did it! Can't wait to read your post on your NEXT 42.195 🙂

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  17. Elkyoshi, super thanks for dropping by! Yes, it wasn't easy! Nice to see you in yesterday's run. So many freebies! 😉 We stayed a bit for the Pacquiao vs. Cotto fight which was shown for free.

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