In early 2008, kaGlobe** Jun, who was a runner and triathlete himself, "forced" me to join a fun run. I joined the 3K leg and realized I wanted to run more. Soon after, I joined a 5K run, and realized I wanted to run more. Again soon after, I joined a 10K run and sort of settled on this distance. It's a long enough run to get a real sweat but not too long to tire myself out for the other activities of the day.
At some point though, running became so popular in Metro Manila and the 10K distance became a crowded one during races. Those who know me know that I don't like huge / sweaty crowds (I sometimes collapse). And so I didn't have a choice except to level up and ran my first 21K in 2011.
In between those runs, I made a pact to myself to run a full marathon at 42 years old.
The chosen race. For my first marathon, I chose to join the TBR Dream Marathon. It's a run for first and second time marathoners and offers a full training program once you are able to register. I say once you are able to register because trying to get in was challenging. The site crashed a few times on registration day. My TBR alumni friends, Rina and Jil, helped me out to make sure I get into the online registration. A few weeks after, I got my kit at a sports shop. The kit contained the full training program and some freebies.
Run for Joy. The training plan called for 3-4 runs in a week, including a weekend long run. I rounded up my kaGlobe** runner friends, who all agreed to help me in my training. The plan was for me to run 1-2 short runs during the weekdays on my own or during TBR training runs. Then, every Wednesday night, we ran together in the Dasma/Forbes*** route. And on Sundays, we did longer runs together in Nuvali*** or Dasma/Forbes. The training became fun and memorable because of the Run for Joy crew. Overtime, I also met other runners (my friends' friends) and other TBR Dreamers.
The TBR Bull Sessions. As part the training program, there were regular (almost weekly) Bull Sessions. These were training runs which usually started at Track 30 at BGC**** led by Coach Lit and TBR herself, Jaymie Pizarro. Aside from the training runs, the Bull Sessions also had running clinics with talks on nutrition, proper running form, etc. However, since these were held during weekday nights, I didn't make it for any of these. My work week nights ended much later than what's usual for most. But, I was able to get some info from friends who were able to attend the sessions.
Races before the marathon. There were two prescribed races before the marathon. The TBR Dreamers were encouraged to join the New Balance 10K run and the TBR 21K Team Run. I'm glad I did both. I ran the New Balance 10K run alone using a 10:1 pace and aiming to finish between 70 to 80 minutes. I finished it around 75mins. The TBR 21K Team Run was an interesting run. The route was in Nuvali where the actual marathon was, and it was a run with 2 pacers (hence a team of 3), and everyone in the team needed to finish at the same time. I ran 2 of my Run for Joy friends - my master pacer Gene and Eric - and finished at a reasonable 2:44 together.
Run for Joy - Kanding***** / Davao Edition. I had to be in Davao for the Christmas holidays but training needed to continue. It was so good that there was a TBR group page on FB and I asked if there were any TBR runners in Davao. I met some amazing new friends - Jong and Marloue, who already did TBR; and G Mae and Rhyan, who were fellow dreamers like me, training for their first marathon. It was a great experience for me, finally running the streets of Davao. I got a better appreciation of how beautiful my childhood city had become.
Heat Training. Because I kept on complaining about the heat, whenever we did a weekend run and the sun would start to rise, my Run for Joy crew forced me to do some heat training runs. This meant we started later and aimed to run while the sun was up. I knew they meant well but I hated it. But also glad I followed them and did these runs for it made me more ready just in case the sun went up too early during marathon day.
Condura Skyway Marathon (Run for Mangroves) 21K. This wasn't a prescribed run and the plan called for a 30K run that weekend. We did it anyway, which meant we ran the half marathon, but also ran 2K before for warm up and another 7K after. Talk about being crazy runners, yup that's what I became. Specially grateful for Gene who paced me the whole race, and lost his chance to do a personal record (PR) so I can have mine at 2:34. This was the longest run I did, and after which began the taper weeks.
The checklist. I got the race kit and went to the TBR send-off party, check. I got my race day plan finalized and discussed, check. Carbo-load and pre-race hydration, check. Prepared my race day essentials (attire, shoes, race bib, nutrition, etc), check. Now all I had to do was sleep early, and that was the hardest thing to do with all the pre-race excitement and jitters.
The TBR Dream Marathon. I had a blast. After months of preparation and blood (yes, since I stumbled a few times), a lot of sweat, and tears as I crossed the finish line, I finally made my 42@42 dream come true. This wouldn't have been possible without the help of so many Run for Joy friends. Specially indebted to Master Pacer Gene, Pacer-razzi Ivan, Eric, Jil, and Jun who made up the core of my Run for Joy crew.
The race itself was spectacularly organized, with a lot of booths in between to make the otherwise long, boring run feel very festive and happy. The fact that I had two pacers with me (Gene and Ivan) felt like such a blessing*. I stopped or slowed down a few times so Ivan can take my pics. The Dream Chasers were awesome, helping out dreamers by dunning alongside them, specially those who showed some difficulty or didn't have any pacers.
My Results. My target at the start of the TBR training was to finish it sub-6 (and 5:59:59 would have been great). My target based on the final race plan was 5:33. Out of the 750 who registered, 584 finished. I was no 135 of total finishers, no 27 of 145 in my male/female age group. Not bad at all, for a first time marathoner!
My lesson. I had a dream and I went after it. It took a lot of me to put in the discipline and time to train but I did it. I had a dream and I accomplished it. Nothing beats the feeling of finishing the first marathon. I have done a total of four now, but this one is by far the most memorable one. Nothing beats the feeling of great accomplishment of setting my eyes on something and actually getting it.
In the midst of it all, I had moments of discernment while I ran. Moments of total clarity of what I wanted out of my life and how blessed I have been. Moments of inspiration that my life should be lived not just for myself and my children, but for others as well. It was indeed a life changing moment for me.
* TBR: The Bull Runner Dream Marathon, a marathon organized specifically for first and second time marathoners. Check this website for details https://www.tbrdream.com/
** Ka-Globe: I worked for Globe Telecom then, and that is how we called ourselves / fellow Globe mates
*** Dasma/Forbes/Nuvali: Dasmarinas, Forbes, and Nuvali are exclusive villages in Metro Manila.
**** Track 30 at BGC: Track 30 is a park with a running track within Bonifacio Global City, a metropolitan development within Metro Manila.
***** Kanding: A Cebuano / Davaoeño term for goat, an inside joke calling the Davao runs as Kanding Runs since we were training for the Bull Run marathon and hence we're not yet bulls but just goats at that point.
About this post: Written on Feb 14, 2018 as I realized it's almost 5 years since my first marathon. The send off party for TBR Dream Marathon in 2013 was on Feb 14, and Facebook reminded me of it and had to recapture my thoughts about it as I reminisced a life changing event.