Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Journey to My First 42.195km (My Marathon Story)

I ran my first 42.195km (full marathon) last February 16, 2014 –in Nuvali, Laguna during The Bull Runner-Unilab Active Health (TBR-ULAH) Dream Marathon Batch 5. The TBR-ULAH Dream Marathon is the only marathon in the world that caters to first / second-time marathoners.
(To know more about it, visit

Jaymie Pizarro (The Bull Runner) gave me the chance to share my marathon story during the TBR-ULAH Dream Marathon 2015 (Batch 6)’s First Bull Circle.
TBR-ULAH Batch 2015's First Bull Circle - Henry Sy Auditorium, St. Luke's Medical Cetner, BGC

Here’s what I shared during the Bull Circle:

Good evening everyone, dreamers, fellow TBR batchmates and friends. I just want to share with you my journey to my first 42km and how running has changed my life. To start off, I’d like to share some things about me before I started running.
Before I started running, I literally had zero exercise.  The mere thought of putting on closed shoes, sweating and exposing myself under the sun just annoyed me. I mean, why expose yourself under the sun? It’s just not right!  My husband, would convince me almost everytime he’d exercise to at least do some kind of stretching, because he knew I had to do something since we’re getting old. My answer to him everytime he’d motivate me to do any form of exercise would always be, “Prolly, next time.”  Until one day, while I was driving home, I saw my friend, Macel Janeo, also a TBR alumna, who was running around the village, literally under the sun, like 12nn.  I stopped the car beside her and asked, “What are you doing? Are you insane? Ang init, bakit ka tumatakbo?” Then Macel said, “I’m training for a marathon, I need to get used to running under the heat, I’ll run kasi in Singapore, for my 2nd marathon.”  After that incident, I was like, hmmm, why not try running? I mean there should be something to it.  So after some time, I gave it a try. When I woke up, I just put on my running shoes and just went to the covered basketball court across our house and tried running. In my head I thought, well, running, that’s easy so I just ran as fast I as I could and, believe me, after just one lap of running around the basketball court, I almost passed out, everything was just blurry. I called my husband (who was just shooting some hoops at that time) and said, “Take me home, nahihilo nako.” When I got home, I demanded him to give me water, to turn on the airconditioner and to check my blood pressure because I thought I was gonna die!  I guess that was my wake up call. I had to do something, since it dawned on me that I was not fit.  I then decided to become fit and do it not for me, but for our future kids.  So a few days after that incident, I tried again, my two laps around the court eventually became five, then ten laps, until I told my husband that I want to run around the village.  I became very consistent with running, until we signed up for our first 5k race,
InsuRUNce 2012, BGC - Our First 5K Race (pic on the lower right taken at the Phil. Army Oval, Fort Bonifacio)

 and after several months he just signed me up to run 16.8K because he said if I felt okay after that, then we’ll sign up for TBR.
Adidas King of the Road 2013 in BGC - Our first 16.8km race
  Back then, I couldn’t imagine running without music, because that was what motivated me. I just kept on running because I had my earphones on, and that was what mattered,  but running 16.8km was a good experience, so we asked my fellow TBR alumni friends (Mike and Macel) about the TBR Dream Marathon and before we knew it, there we were signing up for our first marathon. I remember the first time I watched the video of the Dream Marathon during our first bull circle– I felt sooo scared, it gave me butterflies in my stomach. But I thought, well I already signed up for it, might as well go for it.  It was a memorable experience, I remembered myself sitting there and thinking, 42km? That’s far! How could I do that?
TBR-ULAH Batch 2014's First Bull Circle - Henry Sy Auditorium, St. Luke's Medical Center, BGC

Since I was never an athlete and never considered myself to be one before, I knew I had to follow the program, up to its smallest detail, no ifs or buts.  My husband and I were determined to change our lifestyle. We promised ourselves that we had to lessen our night outs and drinking sessions with friends while we were training for the marathon. In the past, Friday and Saturday nights were always spent drinking with friends and we’d come home 3/4am.
And since as part of the program, we had to do our long runs during the weekend and needed to wake up early, it meant we had to sleep early too.  Until eventually, Friday and Saturday nights were spent at home, lights out at 9/10pm and  our alarm clocks were set to 3/4am.

Good thing, our friend, Mike Janeo, who became our coach,promised that he will pace us during the marathon, and he will train with us.  He attended all the bull circles, bull sessions and was ALWAYS with us during our long runs in the weekend.

I must say he was a strict coach, and he ensured we followed the training program.  I remembered we want to run a half-marathon (21k) for a certain race, but based on the program, we should only run a shorter distance, and so we followed the marathon training program and trusted our coach.

All the running talks or better known as “bull cirlces” were very beneficial to us - from the run-walk technique, running form, proper hydration, choosing the right running gear, just to name a few topics that helped me.

All our training runs especially the bull sessions also became very memorable.  Everything was well organized. There was sufficient hydration, there were enough pacers to guide us, the dreamers, to help us run at a pace comfortable for us.  I had the best months of my life while training for our first marathon.  My husband, other relatives, and my friends could attest to that.  They saw that I was different. In the past, the smallest amount of rain would give me a cold, and the slightest form of movement would make me sick. In short, I was not as fragile as how I considered myself to be. My husband said I was not as masungit and I had a positive outlook in life. I became more energetic, more productive in my daily tasks and found myself doing more household chores after a long run in the weekend, and the biggest change was, my appetite, it was just out of control.  I felt like eating everything I want after a long run. I was always happy gorging on food after running and elated at the sight of food. I just felt I was at my best! Because of the bull sessions with fellow batchmates, I learned that it’s fun to run with other people. Before our marathon training, I couldn’t imagine running with others.   I didn’t realize the big difference it could make if you run with friends.  Through the months of marathon training, I gained a lot of new friends.

Now, fast forward to the days leading to the big day, I made sure I followed the “time table” that was discussed during the last bull circle.

Packed all our stuff and checked in our hotel the day before the marathon.  We had dinner as scheduled, and turned the lights off the hotel room, also as scheduled.  I guess I was just too excited and nervous that I didn’t get to sleep at all, not even a cat nap for five minutes.  Until it was time for early breakfast, our Coach Mike picked us up from our hotel and gave us last minute instructions during our light breakfast. Before I knew it, it was 2am! It was time to run.

Everything happened so fast. I remembered there was a live band, there were a lot of people cheering us, singing and dancing, holding banners, giving free hugs, offering different kinds of snacks to help make it an enjoyable experience. I couldn’t say no to what was being offered to me during the race. I remembered eating gummy bears, Chips Ahoy, hotdogs, jellyace, Choc nut, cloud 9, apples, oranges, pears, and yes Chippy (I’ve tasted the best tasting chippy during the marathon – and upto this day, I still buy my own stash of Chippy and everytime I snack on it, it reminds me of my marathon experience). There was also enough supply of bananas and Gu… and yes I ate them all  during the race.  There was also a "kikay tent" before the end of the race to make sure that you’ll look good and not haggard when you pose for pictures as you run to the finish line.  For me at that time, if all the marathons are like this, everyone should experience running one. I knew beforehand that there would be "dream chaser tents" or people that would cheer us, but being there, it was different.  I felt so pampered, it felt like, I was a VIP. The TBR Dream Marathon definitely lived up to its objective in providing the best marathon experience for first and second time marathoners. But of course there were still moments when I felt it was just neverending. I had a mental picture of the race map and was thinking, where’s the next u-turn? Malayo pa kaya?   I also asked myself, will it be really worth it when I cross the finish line?  But I cannot say that I hit the wall during my first marathon. I guess it was because of everyone who cheered us along the way, and from the start, we knew that our goal was to finish the marathon, enjoy it and be injury free, and not be bounded by a time target.  So my husband and I, along with our coach, trained us for it and he set a pace that was very comfortable for us. A few meters before the finish line, everything was just surreal, I felt teary eyed and had goose bumps. I grabbed my husband’s hand as we crossed the finish line.  Of course, the feeling I got when I crossed can never be expressed in words.
But I knew that I am a different person.  I am now more confident and more motivated to do things. It gave me a whole new reason to enjoy life.

The friends I gained from marathon training, are now close friends of mine, and up to this day, we still run every Sunday.  Before, I used to get that “Sunday Blues” negative feeling, but because of my running friends, they gave a whole new meaning to my Sunday Mornings. I now look forward to sleeping early on a Saturday night because my Sunday morning will be well spent running with friends and having the best breakfast after a good run.

I have joined a lot of races after my first marathon, I finished my SUB1 10k a month after my first full marathon, a few fun runs and quite a number of half marathons too. 
TOP (L-R): Pinoy Fitness Sub-1 10K March 2014; Sofitel Manila Half-Marathon August 2014; Carb Trim All Woman Race July 2014 (21k)
BOTTOM (L-R); PF Sub-1 10k Challenge March 2014; Gold Rush September 2014 (24k); Boracay SKYathon April 2014 (10k); Runfest July 2014 (21k); Run United 2 June 2014 (21k) 

I also became more into fitness that aside from running, I also do other forms of exercise. I joined this contest a few months ago and won and became the Fitness Diva of Planet Sports Women, which I have never imagined myself to win, not before I ran my first marathon.

I could just not imagine life without running, the mere thought of it excites me. Running gave me a new sense of purpose in life, that I am capable of doing things I never imagined I could do. I may not be a mom yet, as how I planned myself to be, but running gave a whole new meaning and direction to my life. 
TOP (L-R): 711 Run January 2014 (16k); Run United2 June 2014 (21k); New Balance Power Run November 2013(25k); Sofitel Manila Half-Marathon August 2014(21k)
BOTTOM (L-R); Runfest July 2014 (21k); 24K Gold Rush September 2014; CarbTrimAll Woman Race July 2014

Now, I am about to start training for my next marathon in February.  I will still run with my husband and our coach, and will follow the training program we used in TBR.

It was indeed a new beginning for me when I crossed the finish line of my first marathon.  I’m sure that you will feel that way too when you all finish the Dream Marathon on February 22, 2015.   
Photo taken Feb. 17, 2014 near the marathon starting line
(day after the TBR-ULAH Dream Marathon 2014)

Goodluck to all of you, Dreamers. 

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