Friday, January 17, 2014

Cebu Marathon: My First Race For 2014

2014 has just started and guess what my first race for the year is - a 42.195km event! Cebu Marathon was not originally part of my race plans but due to the unfortunate cancellation of this year's edition of the Condura Skyway Marathon, I had to find a worthy alternative.

A few days to my scheduled Cebu trip, I was nursing a bad case of cough and colds (and even mild fever). I was fighting them off with Tuseran Forte, Bioflu, Berocca and warm calamansi juice. I told myself I would push through with the travel but will reserve the decision on doing the marathon once I'm in Cebu already.

Instead of doing maintenance runs a week before Cebu (and since I'm not well enough to run too), I just conditioned my body through other means - a massage at Sesitra Day Spa, stretching at Intercare and bone alignment at Karada. Haha! These treatments were quite expensive but they really felt great and relaxing.

And so unfolds the story of marathon #9 - a story of traveling to a new location and forging new friendships. Once again, I will tell the story through 42 select photos:

A quick 3-day getaway to Cebu from January 10 to 12. Thanks Cebu Pacific for the discounted airfare!
Quite a hefty amount for a 42k race registration - I paid Php2200 for the late reg fee.
January 10 - Arrival at Cebu. First order of business: claim the race kit. After dropping my bags at Quest Hotel, JP and I went to Ayala Center Cebu to get our kits. We were to meet Team SCR runners here as well. I have some of them as Facebook friends (Becky, Wyatt, Syril) but haven't met or talked to them in person yet. Surprisingly, everyone was warm and friendly and I didn't have any difficulty adjusting to them. Maybe that's the thing with runners - you easily cope with people you have the same passion with. [From L-R: Mervin, Ate She, Wyatt, Syril, Becky, JP, me and Raphie]
Time for lunch! While claiming our kits, I had a quick chat with Ally of Runrio and she told me one recommended restaurant to dine in is Casa Verde. So that's where we headed.
Casa Verde's known for its large serving of ribs. Our jaw dropped once the plates were sent to our table. For such an affordable price of Php208 we got this heavy plate of ribs goodness! I'm now a Casa Verde fan!
Just captured the Ayala Center fountain from the vantage point of Casa Verde. Great, relaxing view.
After our late lunch, we were off for some sight seeing. We went to the nearby PUV terminal and rode a jeepney going to Sto. Nino church. However, with an ongoing parade, traffic was terribly heavy, so we were forced to walk a few kilometers to the church. By the time we arrived, it was already getting dark.
Viva! Pit Senyor! A small Sto. Nino statue as displayed at the side of the church grounds.
Our next stop: Magellan's Cross. It was a short walk from the Sto. Nino Church. From photos I've seen of this place I thought the cross was huge but apparently it's not. It was a small chamber with the cross in the middle. With the recent earthquakes, the cross stands with some wood support. We offered 5 multi-colored candles to bring us luck. I prayed for a safe, injury-free and enjoyable marathon for all of us.
After our tour of the two tourist destinations came the realization that going back to Ayala Center will be a struggle. A lot of people were in that location and jeepneys passing by were all full of passengers. JP checked the city map in his mobile phone and told us we could walk all the way back - it would be a 5-kilometer walk! We were a crazy bunch so everyone agreed to do so. This long walk became an instant acclimatization and leg warm-up! Haha! The sight of our hotel gave me a sigh of relief.
Sinulog 2014 decorations were everywhere at the Quest Hotel ground floor and lobby.
We were supposed to have dinner at CNT Ayala Center Food Court but unfortunately the restaurant is closed due to renovations. We opted to buy Cebu's Best Lechon instead and took it to our hotel room.
Dinner time! Lechon overload!
January 11 - Day 2. Syril and Becky arranged for a van rental so that we could tour the city and go to the must-see sights. We are to be joined by more runners so more new people to meet! New folks I met this day - Aries, Gen, Patrick, Nil, Cyrus, Noel, Clark and Michael. It was a fully loaded van! [Photo courtesy of Becky]
Time to have lunch at STK or SuTuKil (short for Sugba, Tula and Kilaw - Visayan style of cooking dishes). Looks could really be deceiving! Our impression looking outside of the restaurant is that it's just a plain cafeteria. But when we got inside, we were surprised at how beautiful the inside is! It's old yet rustic and homey.
SuTuKil's tuna belly is delish! One of my faves!
After the sumptuous lunch, we were off to our first stop which was the Taoist Temple at Beverly Hills. Funny that they have a village names Beverly Hills but looks like it's really a place for the wealthier folks in Cebu. I've been to a number of Chinese temples so I find nothing particularly special about this place.
Mandatory group pic at the tower. Haha! [Photo courtesy of Nil] 
Who's not following the correct cross leg pose?
Fort San Pedro is next.
In my opinion, the Php30 entrance fee they charged really's not worth it. There's nothing much to see inside the small complex. 
We were then off to South Road Properties (SRP) and we checked out a newly constructed church - the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod. Looks like an architectural masterpiece. I love the church design both inside and out.
Anyone familiar with this font? I like it! The 14 Stations of the Cross spread outside the church grounds bear captions with this font as well. 
Our last stop is Mactan Shrine - a place to commemorate the heroic efforts of Lapu-lapu in fighting the Spaniards led by Magellan. 
By this time, weather was already becoming foul so it was a very quick stop, and we headed back to Ayala Center.
We had our dinner at Mooon Cafe (yes there are three 'O's). We were all planning to have light dinner but it seems in Cebu, they really don't have a concept of a small serving so were all full again.
After dinner, we chanced upon Mish, Wes and Rale while they too are having dinner at a nearby restaurant. We said our "good lucks" and "good nights" as race day happens in a few hours. 
January 12 - Race day! JP and I walked from Quest Hotel to IT Park, probably a kilometer warm-up walk and met with the others. This time I met Mark - he did 42k at Corregidor Marathon the day before, and then flew to Cebu to do another 42k. Now that's what I call insanely brave. Haha! [Photo courtesy of Wyatt]
3AM sharp, the 42k runners were off! Initially, Syril, Becky and I agreed to pace together but upon gun start, Syril had a fast start so Becky and I were left behind. The first 8 kilometers were tough, with the rolling terrain but Becky and I still manage to talk from time to time so I guess we were doing "chika pace". I don't remember at what kilometer we were joined by Patrick but at some point we three started running together. At about KM24 we caught up with Syril. We were getting tired at that point so Syril suggested we do a 4:1 run walk interval. Becky told us to go ahead at KM25 so it was me, Syril and Patrick all the way to the finish line.

Some quick race notes: Overflowing hydration, nice sponges from Safeguard, lots of chocolates and banana along the route too! I particularly love the route at Cebu South Coastal Road, especially the tunnel part! There were music stations as well. It really felt like a combination of Runrio's best race features in one event!
Action shot (heavy rain captured) with Syril and Patrick. [Photo courtesy of Darwin Saromines]
Almost at the finish line!
We crossed the finish line in about 4 hours and 53 minutes. JP captured this moment as soon as we arrived. Tired but still smiling.
My solo shot captured by Wyatt. The medal rocks!
With Team Ninoy/Team Banana. Lol!
This medal definitely is in my top 3 favorite medals! That guitar design!
We had our post-race breakfast at McDonald's IT Park. After devouring my big breakfast, JP and I headed back to our hotel since we need to check-out by 11am. Since JP's flight back to Manila is 2pm, he went straight to the airport. I had some time to spare (since my flight's delayed to 6:30pm) so I decided to stay and headed to the hotel where the others were staying. 
Patrick graciously invited everyone to their home for lunch. This table greeted us upon arrival. Note: there are two types of lechon at the table - one regular and one spicy. The spicy variant is goooood!!
Everyone's wearing their finisher shirts, except me! Haha not following directions. 
Wyatt, Raphie, Syril and I during the long wait at the airport. All flights were delayed.
Best buy ever and my pasalubong to the folks at home - 2 kilos of Zubuchon Lechon!
A day after the race, the official results were out. I ranked 298th out of 1233 marathon runners (~24%). I still consider this a strong marathon finish!
Thanks to my officemate Paul who lent me his Soleus GPS watch (as mine is defective), I got to track my race performance. Shocked to see we did a sub-5 minute kilometer at the early part of the race!
Wow that was another long blog post! Really fun recalling the events, and I had a grand time at Cebu, with what short time we had on our stay. Super thankful for the company of new friends, and hope I could join you again on another out-of-town trip. An ultramarathon event perhaps? If I become crazy like you guys. Hehe!


  1. very nice blog entry. Congrats! Looks like a good start for you for 2014!

    1. thanks dennis! yes it is! hopefully this year, i could break some PRs, lalo na sa 42k :)