“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”- Eleanor Roosevelt.
After her first marathon (TBRDM 2012), my sister Joy encouraged (or pushed?) me to sign up for TBRDM 2013. At first I couldn’t even think it was possible. There was no way I could run 42 kilometers without passing out. You see, I became sickly after the birth of my second son. I was very weak. I didn’t really think it was something serious until I was rushed to the ER.
“But you’re healed! You can do it now.” Yes, I guess I had no more excuse. Soon I began to have that dream of becoming a marathoner. I wanted to be one. So on September 1, together with Jehan and Sam, I signed up to our first marathon: The Dream Marathon.
Here’s how it unfolded:
I was up at 11:45 P.M., and silently prepared for the race. Shirt, compression pants, socks, shoes, bib, cap, ipod, Gatorade, and GU gel. After that I forced myself to eat something, but I can’t remember what it was and can’t remember tasting it! I was numb!
My family had been incredible in giving me support throughout my training. I’d give my best in this run to honor all the love they gave me. I’d finish this race to testify that the Lord indeed is my healer, my strength, and my comfort. We said a prayer and we were off.
My goal for that morning was to finish…to finish alive. haha! Anyway, I expected to finish in about six hours and thirty minutes. No worries, the cut-off time for TBRDM is nine hours. It’s going to be one long conversation with myself.
We arrived in Nuvali. The runners were asked to get their timing chips. With only twenty minutes to go, I walked around and saw some friends I’ve made since the start of the training. Everybody encouraged everybody. We were all beginners, mostly first time marathoners, while some were running their second.
The gun went off at 2 A.M. and I started my journey of running 42.195 kilometers. The course: two loops of 21k around the hills of Nuvali. I felt great. I felt happy. The moon was so bright and the clean air was refreshing. When I approached the hill towards Miriam College, I remembered how Coach Lit attacked it during training. I ran it the same way. Then came my favorite part: the downhill. Woooo! I loved it.
The course had three U-turns, making us meet the other runners. I think I was only at the 14th kilometer marker when I saw somebody already on his second loop. Wow! He was really fast. The people cheered for him.
Then I did a quick potty break at the third tent. The volunteers there were very helpful and kind. I continued running but I wasn’t aware that I left my Nathan pocket open. All my GU packets were gone! I looked back and I saw one and picked it up. Oh my, I wasn’t even done with half of the course and I got one packet left. 😦 After the third U-turn, I saw Jehan and told her about my missing GU. Surprisingly she answered, “Here, I found them!” Haha! Thanks, thanks!
I was now on my second loop. Twenty-one kilometers done and my legs were still fine. “Good,” I thought. After the second downhill, I saw Joseph (TBRDM 2012) and he cheered, “Twelve kilometers to go!” The longest I’ve ran in training was 30 kilometers. Suddenly I realized that I was now on uncharted territories.
At the 34km mark I shifted to survival mode. They said that you run the last 10k with your heart but I forgot everything. I went totally blank. I lost focus. I walked more and I fell behind my pace. I couldn’t take any more gel because I felt like throwing up. I couldn’t drink Gatorade because I felt that my stomach was already full of Gatorade. The nutrition and hydration part of the race was something I have not rehearsed.
It was very quiet. I didn’t even realize that my ipod had stopped playing. Then it started to rain and with the raindrops my tears fell, I cried. I mean, I sobbed. Last eight kilometers. It was so near yet so far! After a few minutes the rain stopped and then a beautiful rainbow appeared. A double-rainbow! A promise of God. I cried again. It was a cry of hope. For the first time I felt that I could actually make it. I thanked God for that special blessing. It was very meaningful.
|A cheer from heaven
Photo by David Uichanco, fellow TBRDM runner
I turned my ipod on and the Theme from Rocky played. I raised my hands (like Rocky) and got my secondwind. I ran until I reached the last tent where they offered me a glass of soda. Oh great! I’m not a soda drinker but that ice-cold Pepsi surely tasted so good! I could only take in 1/8th of the glass but it was enough to power me.
I entered the last few meters of the course. I could see the finish line. I saw my family cheering for me. I crossed the finish line in 6:34:50, just less than five minutes off my target time. What a happy feeling it was when I cut the tape. I finished my first marathon. I conquered the distance. The impossible became possible and my dream became a reality. I went through different emotions during the run but in the end, it was all worth it.
|Photos by Tong Pascua Photography|
I have learned many lessons in training and during the actual race, but they deserve another blog post. What I can say now is that I have a deeper sense of appreciation for this sport. I now have more respect for marathoners and I am honored to be part of this community.
I just bought a book entitled “4 Months to a 4-Hour Marathon”. Too ambitious? Maybe. But I can still dream, can’t I?