Condura Run 2010: My First Marathon Experience

That's how I completed my first marathon - with a radiant smile.

“Run fast Vicky, you can still do a sub-5!” says Gab, my friend from, who was already walking off his legs after crossing the finish line minutes before I would do the same.

“How far am I from the finish line?” I asked while doing a slow run and silently bearing the pain shooting through what felt like heavily-blistered feet.

“Just 200 meters. Run!”

That was all I needed to hear to push myself one last time and make a mad dash for the finish line just before the race clock chimed 5 hours.  I concluded my maiden foray into the world of competitive long-distance running at the recently-concluded Condura Run for the Dolphins marathon in 4 hours, 56 minutes, and 32 seconds.

Wow, I am officially a marathoner. I am still in awe of the fact that I made it: I have conquered the Skyway and traversed all 42 kilometers on foot in less than 5 hours with absolutely NO proper training and preparation. All I had going for me was my heart and unwavering determination to prove them naysayers wrong.

Now let me tell you my Condura story.

On the days leading up to (the) zero hour, I was shuttling to and fro various states of excitement, trepidation, anticipation and, to a certain extent, pessimism. What if I don’t make it? What if I succumb to pain mid-way and find myself unable to run the remaining half of the race? Or what if I finish it but at a totally unacceptable time even for a first time marathoner like myself? These thoughts kept me up most nights before the race. I’m a very proud woman, you see, and the last thing I would want to be perceived as, is a failure.

The night before the big race, I didn’t get to sleep at all. I was too excited I couldn’t even keep my eyes closed for 10 seconds! I was all geared up and munching on a chocolate bar, by the time my friend picked me up at 2:30 in the morning. Upon reaching The Fort, we were met by some of our friends who were just as excited for the race to begin. A few of them were first time marathoners just like me. While the rest were simply doing it as preparation for the upcoming Bataan Death March.

At gunstart, close to 600 42km runners took to the road and coming from the middle of the pack, I kept to my pace and tried not to let the runners sprinting ahead bother me. Normally, I get royally pissed when people overtake me in races but now that I have come to accept my speed limitations, I am more tolerant.

Though weakened by lack of food and sleep, I was feeling pretty good about myself and my running condition at the beginning of the race. I was wearing my new pair of Zoots Ultra and running at a very comfortable pace and my ears were being made love to with sharp and sensual precision by the songs on my trusty iPod.

It was still very dark when we left The Fort and the others who I was going to run with were soon lost in the sea of runners. I found myself running alone, except for that brief moment going to McKinley when Condura’s Patrick Concepcion would run by my side and advise me to run steady before he would run off and leave me to my relaxed pace. It was awe-inspiring as it got lighter to see the hundreds of runners along the road like a big long snake in front of me and behind me for as far as we could see.

Great team support from friends at!

After a few kilometers, we were confronted by the signs and arrows pointing to the Skyway. It was exhilarating! Though not exactly trained to run on steep inclines, I was, at that point, still feeling very confident that I can make it all the way to Bicutan where it ends, and back again to Buendia.

And then my feet started to feel blistered. I knew I should have worn a thicker pair of socks but I thought the ample amount of petroleum jelly I applied on my feet would be enough to ease the discomfort of friction. But still, I soldiered on. All the way to the 30km mark, after which I was almost ready to take off my Zoots, slump on the pavement, bawl my eyes out and just declare myself a loser. Clearly, I overestimated my strength and underestimated the distance before me. At this point, I was already questioning my purpose for doing full marathon when I have only been running (and not actively at that) for 10 months and did not at all prepare for the race. Kinda like being stuck in a relationship you know from the get-go is very wrong for you yet you continue to keep to your side of the bargain because you’re in love with the person? That is exactly how I would describe my relationship with (long-distance) running,  except that running represents everything good for me, and it makes me look better each time it hurts me. After all, it helped a lot in getting me this body, among other things.

I did a Galloway as my Takbo friends advised me. After crossing the 30km mark, I no longer felt shame in taking walk breaks. It was time. I was in no condition to continue running with my feet feeling blistered and all. My legs, thighs and even my core, were likewise starting to feel the brunt of the race. My fresh tattoo was likewise throbbing because of the copious amount of sweat watering it down

The last 12 kilometers were tough. And the final 5 kilometers even tougher. But again, thanks to friends whose constant cheering inspired me to conquer the last few kilometers. In Buendia, on our way back to The Fort for the finish, another friend paced me. He told me to keep running as we still have a chance to do a sub-5. In my head, I was willing and ready to abandon my quest for a sub-5 record. At that point, I no longer have the confidence I had an excessive amount of at the beginning of the race. I thought I was done for.

It was already a few minutes past 8:00am and I was starting to feel the heat of the morning sun. But thanks to Condura’s impeccably-organized race, I was in no danger of getting dehydrated because of the numerous (and strategically-located) water stations which I totally made use of. 100 Plus has never tasted so good!

And so it came to be that I was able to conquer my Mt. Everest. And did I mention that I ranked 336 out of 595 marathoners?

At the Finish Line.

10 Life Lessons from My First Marathon:

1. You need NOT be a waif-like, gazelle-type Kenyan to run a marathon. Before Condura, I was very much in doubt of my capabilities to finish all 42 kilometers thinking I was heavy and ill-prepared. But look, I did it! Age, likewise, does not matter. Young, old, large, small, thin, wide, you name it, they were all running a marathon and a lot of them passed me even at my fastest pace.

2. Train. Seriously. I didn’t train at all for my first marathon and even though I finished respectably, I know I would have done so much better if I trained well for it.

3. A podium finish doesn’t matter. Finishing greatly does. Everyone that crosses the finish line in a marathon is already a winner.

4. Don’t stop. Sometimes we have a tremendous urge to quit, to give up, to throw in the towel so to speak. Having the ability to overcome those urges and keep going makes all the difference in life. I lost count of the times I wanted to succumb to exhaustion and physical pain during the race but still I soldiered on – and finished with grace.

5. Cheering helps, A LOT. I have been to some sporting events and yelled and cheered for my team. I never thought it helped much until I was on the receiving end during my first marathon. It was amazing how much it increased my energy and drive when people were cheering me on.

6. Have a coach. I consider myself a fairly smart person and can figure out a lot of things on my own. But looking back at my first marathon, I can imagine the results would’ve been a lot more favorable if I had someone coaching me on my run.

7. Mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation. As much as we like to think that success in sports simply requires having a perfectly tuned and trained body, it is much more than that because after all the physical preparation, much of your success has to do with what goes on in your head. I tell you, after the first 30 kilometers, it can get real ugly.

8. Marathon is not a sprint. People who have gotten so used to running short distances tend to start off running at a quick pace. Big mistake. Giving it all you’ve got at the beginiing of the race will leave you running  completely out of gas even before the first three kilometers is up. Pace yourself.

9.  Mile markers are essential. In life, as well as during a marathon, we need mile markers. Condura, unfortunately, didn’t have enough mile markers but those that I saw coming up from quite a distance away have helped my mental conditioning. If you thought about the finish line, it was so far away and seemed impossible to reach. But if you thought about just making it to the next mile marker, that seemed doable. So the immediate goal was always to just make it to the next mile marker.

10. Let others inspire you. I had set a goal last year to run a marathon. In fact, I signed up for the Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon last December but bailed out at the last minute on account of injuries sustained months before (shin splints, stress fracture, and sprained ankle). When I some photos of my friends who went ahead and finished the Singapore race, I was completely amazed and inspired and decided right then that I would do it. And I did – at Condura. And I will do it again in July at the Milo National Eliminations…and again in December in Singapore.



  1. Cristina Lavapie · November 12, 2010

    Hey Vicky.

    We have never met before but I have heard so much about you from common friends. I read most of your blogs and your dailymile entries.

    I am an aspiring runner and I am running my first marathon on Sunday, November, 14th.

    I have always struggled with my weight since high school and I easily quit most of the exercise and/or training routines I have tried in the past. But,
    I just want to let you know that you inspire me to continue thriving to stay fit and healthy. Thank you for doing what you do because it gives me the motivation to get off the couch and hit the gym or run outside.
    Good luck with everything… and you have a fan.

    Cristina 🙂

    • vickyras · November 13, 2010

      Hi Cristina! That was a lovely message, I nearly teared up a little. Seriously! I’m happy to know that I inspire people doing what I do. The road to health and fitness for me was altogether not that easy-breezy. I was ‘chubby’ too and not only that, I was drinking and smoking for the most part of my college and working years. Before quitting altogether, I remember making a few feeble attempts din. But one morning, the day after my 28th birthday, I made a commitment to kick smoking and drinking to the curb and have been clean since. I don’t feel even the slightest urge to try, if only to relieve the superficial satisfaction or high. Now running, this came to me at the most opportune time. Rather, the person who encouraged me to try it could not have come at a more impeccable time. When I did my first 5k in April 2009 (SlimmeRun at the Fort) in 30 minutes I believe it was, I knew then that running was what I was born to do. Perhaps not competitively and not even for making money at that, but it’s just what my body was most comfortable doing. I had tons of injuries (shin splints, stress fracture, etc) and even more dead toenails but not once have I thought of hanging my running shoes for good. It’s not just the fact that i lost the excess weight I’ve been struggling with. It’s the high that I get from the whole exercise and the friends I’ve made a long the way. And yes, the pride that comes with accomplishing things I never would’ve imagined I’d be able to do three years ago. Things like podium finishes and completing not just a marathon, but the ultra kind. So keep doing what you’re doing and be an inspiration to other women as well. I hope to meet you one day at the races. Cheers to a healthy, happy, and fit lifestyle! Hugs.

  2. angelica espaldon · November 17, 2010

    hi vicky! i do hope you remember me. we were classmates in college. 2nd yr ata sa ust.
    i’ve been fat and insecure all my life. i’ve just started running short distance lang. it feels great. reading this, looking at your pictures inspires me. 😉

  3. vickyras · November 17, 2010

    Hi Angelica! Oo naman! We were in the same class nina Ena, Bong Gozum, Ellery, etc. I haven’t gone back to the Uni since we left in 1999 (faaack, we’re ancient! hahaha!) but those were fun times. College, I mean. Good that you’ve started running na rin and I hope you’re enjoying it. I hope to see you in future races. I’m doing the Unilab Run this Saturday at The Fort. Are you gonna be there?

    • angelica espaldon · November 18, 2010

      Naku di ako registered for the Unilab Run. I’ll be joining the Fiesta Run next week. pag tumakbo ba ko ng 50k, papayat ako aksing sexy mo?hahaha.sabi mo nga “faaaaack, I’m delusional!”
      hope to see you in one of those runs. I work with Jeof Ravago by the way. Oh, oh and you look fabulous! 🙂

      • vickyras · November 18, 2010

        Grand Fiesta Run, you mean the one at Resorts World? I’m doing that as well! 10k. I’m thinking pa kung magko-costume ako. hahaha. Di mo kailangan ng 50k para maging sexy noh! Try running 5k at least twice a week. Steady pace lang, no need for sprinting or anything like that. It’s hard for me to join races on a weekly basis ‘cos I’m always away for work but whenever I’m in town, I make it a point to run for 45 minutes to one hour (sometimes more, depending on how inspired I am!) outdoors before I head down to the gym for free weights. Jeof?!? Say hi to him for me!!! Last time I saw him we were in 2nd year college, just before we took our respective majors. Let’s hang out SOON! Send me your number on FB. Yours and Jeof please…:)

  4. angelica espaldon · November 19, 2010

    since i’m ambitious, i will run 10k for the fiesta run,if i do decide that my ass is bigger than my eq.haha.pero siguro pag nakita kita looking fit and fab sa run, i will swear off food for eternity. right.convince myself of that.
    anyhooo, i will continue reading your blogs and looking at your lifestyle so i’d get inspired. it’s never too late, even if i’m old na. thanks vicky. i know it’s a cliche but more power to you. you don’t know how many lives you’ve touched and influenced with your blog.
    will send you my and jeof’s number through fb. i’ll tell him. 🙂

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