RUN A MARATHON. CHECK
More often than not, running a marathon is part of someone’s bucket list. To be honest, it wasn’t really mine up until I finally did it last month. I think I’ve said it one too many times but I have a love/hate relationship with running. Growing up with asthma, running was never something easy for me. It was a struggle. Eveything hurts and there was no absolute joy doing it. But all this changed a few weeks ago, when I conquered one of the things I never thought I could– run forty freaking kilometers.
Thinking about it now, the journey to get here was years in the making. It wasn’t easy nor was the process linear. In fact it all started back in 2016 when The Bull Runner herself, Jaymie Pizarro and Pinoy Fitness, Jeff Lo casually told me about the joys of running during the Go Well retreat in Boracay. They were hinting me to run more (by this time I can only do 2-3 km max at a very slow pace pa!) and Jaymie even asked me to run her annual marathon for beginners. I remember just smiling shyly while I listen to them banter as they reminisce their running moments. The year after, I found myself easing my way to running. I started on the treadmill and eventually joined my first race .
BE AFRAID AND DO IT ANYWAY
Though I already did my 10k run, running still wasn’t something I am fond of. In fact the year 2017 up until 2018, I was stuck with my 5k mentality. I was comfortably running 5km pace though I did run another 10k then, still I find challenging and crazy. I remember telling Jeff that I still don’t get how he finds joy waking up in the wee hours of Sunday and drive all the way to MOA and run. Then I learned running a marathon is usually 5-6 hours long, I was like WHYYYY?? In those hours I could do a lot of things already! To which I followed up with I really have high respect for runners like you because I don’t think I can ever do that. But I spoke too soon. Because when Jaymie asked me to join her The Bull Runner Marathon for the third time, I finally said yes.
I ALWAYS UNDERESTIMATE MYSELF
This was just a few days away from the race and it was then that it started to sink in that I’m really going to run 42! So excited yet equally scared. You see I’m the type of person who always underestimate herself whenever she tries something new. I’m that awkward newbie that goes blindly into something I’ve never done yet gives her hundred percent no matter what.
Like any marathon, TBR2020 has a program in which all registered runners can follow. They also have weekly meet ups where you can train along with other runners. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to join any of the trainings as my weekends were filled with activities of our kids and family. Nonetheless I made up for it by running regularly at the gym. But still I wasn’t that confident that I can do well on my first full mary.
TRAIN OR REMAIN THE SAME
Thankfully, my brother from another mother Jeff has been supportive of me. He’d invite me to run races with him. I remember when I ran my first 16k with him, I didn’t have any training and my longest distance was at 10. He told me to turn 13k a week prior and because I had no where to run, I did it on the treadmill. It was the longest distance (literally) I’ve ever ran and it felt like I was running for three hours. Hahahuhu. After a few months, I did my first half mary. This I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t train for this. Come 21 km and my worst fear happene–my right foot cramped and I literally cannot move it. It was so scary that Jeff saw the panic in my eyes. From that moment on my fear intensified as I still couldn’t see myself finishing 42 km. I was so scared. After that scary experience, I continued training on the treadmill. Instead of my usual 5km run, I did 10km at least twice a week. This made me feel comfortable running longer than faster.
With just about a month left before the race, Jeff informed me that I should run at least 30km before I taper. WHAT?? WHY?? ?. As with any marathon program, this was part of it. Ayan I didn’t read carefully kasi the program that was given to me eh. So I was pretty clueless and relied heavily on what my coach aka pacer aka brother from another mother aka idol when it comes to running, Jeff on what to do. He was out of town that weekend so I asked my fellow TBR2020 runner, Hannah if she wanted to run that Sunday with me. Thankfully, Jaymie posted an event on her stories about Team BGC Sunday LSD Runs conducting a 32km run to help TBR2020 runners.. So Hannah & I went to BGC at 3 in the morning on a Sunday to meet up with total strangers who have one thing in common with us–run. They were so nice to organize a Sunday run for those of us training for our first marathon. They paced us well that the first loop (16km) felt fun and easy for me (despite the numerous uphill). But come the second loop, on the 20th kilometer I felt the upper part of my knees cramp. The muscles there were stone hard that I couldn’t move both my legs. Huhuhu. This was right after running on an uphill. It soon went away after walking it out. Then on the 23rd kilometer I suddenly felt my right leg getting heavy and my foot about to cramp. You know how it is when you try hard not to think about something you’re so afraid to happen to you that you end up thinking about it too much that it happens?? Yep. Exactly what happened to me. Hahaha! Cramps didn’t subside up until the 26th kilometer and I eased my way back into running. Despite the scary feeling of my right foot cramping (it doesn’t hurt but I couldn’t move it which is way more scary for me), I’m happy to report I finished 32 kilometers that morning. It wasn’t fast nor was it easy but it was one hell of an experience. It was a good way to gauge what my body is capable of doing. Took notes on how I hydrate and use my gels and salt sticks so I know better when race time comes. Since then I’ve also been hydrating more. I force myself to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day since I drink an average of 2-3 glasses lang. ?
Fast forward to a week left before the marathon and Jeff, Hannah & I went to Clark to join another race. this time we did 16km. I cannot believe I’ve become the person who wakes up in the middle of the night and drive to Pampanga just to run when just last year I was in awe of runners who do this. Truly you won’t get it unless you’ve been on that person’s shoe no?
So you’d think by now I’m not underestimating myself no? Wrong. Still feel the same! That 16km run was a sneak preview of the marathon. The course was somehow similar and there were a lot of uphill and downhill making it challenging and fun. I struggled not because my foot cramped (thank God it didn’t!) but because it was windy and I felt cold. This is one of the reasons why I prefer running on the treadmill than outdoors. I finished the race with a bunch of thoughts in my head. As the marathon is nearing, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed. I still feel undertrained and scared.
My kids and husband has been supportive of me. They’re partly the reason why I wanted to run a marathon. To show them that anything is possible if they have the right mindset and put in the hard work.
Come race day, I slept at around 7pm so I can wake up at 11pm. I met up with Jeff, Hannah & Tring at 12 midnight and we went to the race area at around 1 in the morning. The gunstart is at 2 but assembly time was as early at midnight. A lot of the runners were there early and the atmosphere was filled with excitement. The vibe was just inviting!
IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU NOW
Unlike some sport that require being in a tandem or team, running a marathon all you. During my first loop (first 10km) I was taking it easy. I rarely checked my heart rate, pace nor time. Despite being dark with barely hearing any sound around me, I was mindfully running. In my head I was praying the rosary. Praying for a safe race for everyone. It was a peaceful first 10km. The second loop wasn’t any different. I was calm and my mind was at ease. No overthinking, no stressing out. And for the first time in the short span I was running I can truly say, I was enjoying it.
SUPPORT GETS YOU GOING
While running a marathon is all about YOU, having support is as equally empowering as pushing yourself. So thankful to Jeff aka Pinoy Fitness for being my pacer during my first marathon. He literally saw me through my running journey. From the time I kept rolling my eyes every time he invites me to run to when I crossed the finish line. Come 4th and final loop I was back on my own again. That last 10km was something. My legs started to feel heavy and tired. The comforting silence of early morning dispersed immediately as soon as the sun came out. I put on my music and pep talked myself on finishing strong. I was slowly feeling my right foot cramping but managed it by walking it off. The last 2kilometers felt like forever. But thankful to Dream Chaser Josh for running by my side during the last stretch.
THE FINISH LINE & THE LESSONS
I get it now. The self-fulfillment marathoners every time they cross the finish line. Because that’s the goal all along. To cross the finish line no matter what. Gets ko na yun “puso” when one runs a marathon. Even though the legs are dying and you’re exhausted AF, you push through one step at a time. Even though you know you’ve given your 101%, there will always be something left in you that will drive you to go on—the fire burning inside you, your heart that you wear on your sleeve. Because all the things you’ve done during training—what seems like two steps back, one step forward— was all in preparation for the race. That exhilarating feeling of crossing the finish line, again no matter what.
GO JACKIE GO
The millisecond moment of crossing that finish line, the one step I took that earned me a new title as a marathon gave me a lot of realizations. How the journey going there is well worth it despite the sacrifice, pain, and sometimes suffering endure. All those quotable quotes about running is all too familiar for me now because it’s all true. At the end of the race it really doesn’t matter what the strategy you used—how you hydrate, your cadence and pace, intervals and all (unless you’re gunning for a certain time/ personal record) because each person’s journey is different even though there’s only one goal—finish the race no matter what. And that’s exactly what I did.
TOO LEGIT TO QUIT
Never thought I’d run a marathon. Never thought I’d enjoy running. Yet here I am looking forward to running more this 2020. Will I run another marathon? We’ll see.