With the 37th Milo Marathon Manila Eliminations leg coming up this Sunday, I got all nostalgic and went back to read my blog posts about my maiden marathon on my birthday and my Milo Marathon finals experience six months later. This was back in 2010 so the start/finish at Quirino Grandstand is now at Mall of Asia, but the route remains essentially the same, as are the challenges of this race I hold so near and dear to my heart.
You’ll get a prettier version of this, promise.
Training for any marathon, Milo or not, takes serious time, effort, and commitment. Milo Marathon’s long history in this country also means you’re treading in the steps of great runners before you. Also, your participation means new shoes for deserving kids. And every time a Milo Marathon is held, it inspires a new generation to get up and start running.
Whether you’re running Milo Marathon (the full 42K) for the first time or the nth time, whether you’re running to finish within cut-off time or to qualify for the finals, I’d like to congratulate you in advance for stepping onto the starting line.
You’ve prepared for this. Turning up healthy means the work you put in during those months of training was the right amount at the right intensity. You’ve worked out the kind of nutrition and hydration you need and you know what works for you. (Never try anything new on race day!) You already have a plan for how you’re going to run each segment of the race. You probably already have your outfit laid out. ;)
Now, relax. For the next two days, rest and try to stay off your legs as much as possible. I know you’ve made a habit of running and this taper period is making you restless, but trust me: on race day, you’ll be thankful you did it. Your body will crave running so much by race day that you’ll roll out of bed even before the alarm rings. You’ll have a spring in your step. And when you’re tired in the latter stages of the marathon, you can dig deeper and find extra reserves of energy.
Before the race starts, take some time for yourself. Pray and commit it all into God’s hands. Then reaffirm to yourself that you have every right to be on that starting line, that you’re ready, that you can finish the marathon. Be positive. Everything comes into crystal-clear focus as you enter that zone in your head, and try your best to stay in that headspace for the duration of the race.
When the gun fires, don’t get carried away by the pace of the people around you. A marathon is a race against yourself, against your own limits, against the looming Wall. You have a plan for your race; now focus on executing it.
But don’t forget to have fun. You’ll be spending hours on the road, so you may as well enjoy it! You can run in friendly silence with your fellow participants, or find someone to chat with. Say hello and thank you to the marshals and volunteers who are going to be out there far longer than you will. Enjoy any festivities the organizers have laid out for you, whether it’s a truck blaring upbeat music, or a marching band. Running communities may have set up their own cheering and aid stations; revel in the knowledge that on race day, we are all united by our love for running.
Should cramps, injury, or worse plague you on your marathon, be smart and know your own body. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s a lot more to life than the marathon you’re running, so know when to pull the plug! There’s always next year.
As you cross that finish line, approach it with gratitude. Be thankful that you have the legs, the lungs, the heart that enables you to run. Be thankful that you are about to finish one of the most challenging activities for the human body. Be thankful for all the people who supported you on your journey. And yes, it really is a journey — on the road and within yourself. You will have learned so much more about yourself and what you’re capable of.
I’m so excited for your Milo Marathon. Kaya mo ‘yan!