Sunday, February 22, 2015

Paying It Forward...

Yesterday, February 22,2015 Sunday, was one of the most-fulfilling days of my life.

Several hundreds of runners ran the TBR-ULAH Dream Marathon , Batch 6. I was part of last year's batch (Batch 5), and because of our unforgettable Dream Marathon experience, my husband and I signed up to become Dream Chasers (support group of the runners who are mainly tasked to cheer and help the runners as they run their first / second marathon). We were blessed to be chosen to be part of the Dream Chaser Tent 3. We knew the responsibilities that come from being dream chasers, so days before the marathon day, I bought the food we plan to share for the dreamers. Our group planned a "Superheroes" theme for our tent so I borrowed two capes, one Superman cape from my godson and one Robin cape from my best friend. 

Trying on our Dream Chaser Superhero costume two days before the TBR Dream Marathon 2015
Thanks Martha (my friend and Raphy's mom) and my best friend, Diana for lending us the capes! 
The night before the marathon day, just before 12mn in time for the 2am gunstart, I packed the food that we bought for the runners - packs of gummi bears, chippy, frozen jellyace. We knew it was gonna be a long day because we were to stay at our dream chaser tent from 230am - 10am  so we also brought some food and two coolers for us, the chasers. 

When we arrived at the Dream Village a little past 1am, it was very festive. The dreamers had smiles on their faces and I saw my friends (fellow TBR alumni and dreamers).

L-R: Paula (Dreamer now Marathoner), Pie (Dreamer now Marathoner), Mike, Chix, Jema (Fellow TBR Batch 5 Alumna), Dane (Future Dreamer), Paolo (Dreamer now Marathoner)
Photo courtesy of Jema Ng
L-R: Paula (Dreamer now Marathoner), Paolo (Dreamer now Marathoner), Dane (Future Dreamer), Relly (TBR Batch 5 Alumnus) Chix, Jema (Fellow TBR Batch 5 Alumna), Carissa (Dreamer now Marathoner), Pie (Dreamer now Marathoner)Photo courtesy of Jema Ng

L-R: Paula, Coach Mike (TBR Dream Team), Mike, Pie, Chix, Macel (TBR Dream Team), Jema, Dane, Paolo
Photo courtesy of Jema Ng
Mr. and Mrs. Mike-Macel Janeo and Mr. and Mrs. Mike-Chix Dijamco
(near our Dream Chaser Tent 3)
Thanks to Coach Lit for taking the photo
It was an enjoyable experience, from the time we met up with our Tent 3 Dream Chasers. Some members of our group have been dream chasers for several years now, while majority of us were first-timers.  The "veteran dream chasers" in our group shared their experiences the previous years and briefly oriented us on what we should do and what to expect.  
with our fellow "Superheroes" a.k.a Dream Chasers from Tent 3
Photo courtesy of JN TBR

Fellow Dream Chasers at Tent 3
Photo Courtesy of Maricar Leyva
Our tent was beside the live band that played during the first half of the race.  When it was still  dark in Nuvali, we kept on dancing with the band as we offered food to the runners. Our tent had sooooo much food.  
Some of the food in our tent (packed sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, chippy, dingdong, coffee, Bing Bang chocolates
We had arroz caldo, tasty bread, peanut butter, pandesal, cheese pimiento, hard boiled eggs, pretzels, Snickers, Twix, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, KitKat M&Ms, Kisses, Cream-O sandwich, assorted cookies, flat tops, Big Bang, Cloud 9, Chippy, gummi bears, jellyace, watermelon, apples, bananas, trail mix, Dingdong mixed nuts, mountain dew, coffee and iodized salt, etc. 

I felt the whole Tent 3 worked as a team.  Each chaser knew his/her primary responsibility - To treat each dreamer as VVIP, and everyone did their part.  

While cheering the dreamers and holding our "motivational signs"
Photo courtesy of JN TBR

Our tent served as a "buffet" for the dreamers as some of them made their way to our "buffet of snacks"' and it eventually became a "clinic" where they were free to sit down and have the medic team spray Perskindol on their legs, as needed.  We even had a name to our clinic, and referred to it as "Dra. Mers' Clinic" because of the huge sign on top of our tent that said "GO DREAMERS" which eventually became " GO DRA MERS" 

"Dra. Mers' Clinic" (a.k.a Dream Chaser Tent 3)
The hours of stay within and around the tent passed by so fast since we were busy dancing / cheering / pacing /  offering snacks and support to the dreamers and chit-chatting with fellow chasers.  
with fellow Tent 3 Dream Chasers
Photo Courtesy of JN TBR
I saw my friends who were dreamers from this batch when they passed by our tent, and of course, our niece, Pie Dijamco, who was also one of the dreamers who fulfilled her marathon dream yesterday.
Our niece Pie, beside Tent 3 on her last loop while Mike (my husband) was putting ice on her legs to relieve the pain.

When the last few runners were near our tent, some of my fellow tent chasers approached one dreamer, as she was by herself walking. They offered her some food and hydration. We gave her watermelon, chocolates, cookies, water and gatorade... When she reached our tent before making her last right turn near the Km34 mark, I asked her if she wanted someone to be with her for a few kilometers since she was by herself. She gladly accepted and we walked together. She asked me, "What's your name again?" I introduced myself and she said her name was, "Angel". 

I took a picture of Angel beside the KM34 mark just a few meters away from Dream Chaser Tent 3

She apologized to me for being slow.  I told her, it was not a problem at all. My husband (Mike) followed us after a hundred meters and joined us as we moved forward. Mike and I planned to just pace her until the next tent (Dream Chaser Tent 2), but even before we reached the next hydration station on the other side of the road, she asked me if I think she could make it, and without any hesitation I said, of course she would. She asked if the organizers of the TBR Dream Marathon were strict or if they were lenient with the cut-off.  I told her they follow the cut-off, they would still allow you to cross but you will not be given a medal if you don't make it on time.  She seemed worried since she was thinking she might be able to cross but not in time for the cut-off and then she said, "Basta wag niyo lang ako iwan." When my husband and I heard her say that, we knew we had to be with her. Either we finish in time or not, we will finish the marathon with her. As we walked, I was confident we could make it, thinking that at 8kms  to the finish, we still have a little less than 2hrs to go. Although admittedly, I was abit unsure since we didn't run-walk fast. She didn't feel any pain, but she was just tired from all the running & walking. 

As we paced her, Mike stayed beside her and motivated her as she moved on, while I was a few steps ahead, to make sure she didn't have to stop at the stations for hydration. Mike then offered to carry her belt and her phone to make it easier for her, while I carried her plastic cups with water and bananas ("pabaon" from my fellow dream chasers from tent 3). We shared with her some of our experiences running the Dream Marathon and shared some stories to help her pass the time. But what we kept saying to her was just to keep our pace and not to stop so we could be in time to cross the finishline. The whole stretch seemed soo looong since it was late in the morning and the sun was up. For some time, the medic vehicle stayed behind us.  

As we reached Dream Chaser tent 2, I saw fellow TBR batchmate Jah Villa Santander, and other TBR batchmates. They cheered us, we got some water, Gatorade and ice to fuel us.  We reminded her that majority of the course will be downhill from where we were, so it was easier, our toughest will just be the uphill roundabout. We told her to just take small steps, lean forward and swing her arms (just like how our Coach Mike Janeo  taught us). At this point, my husband and I were still unsure if we'll be able to finish on time.  Our pace wasn't any faster, we were even slowing down.  

When we reached Tent 1, we were sprayed with water by the Dream Chasers, which was soo refreshing.  The long stretch became tougher, we were advised that there were two other runners behind us, so we told her, "See, we are not being stopped by the marshals, that means they know we can finish before the cut-off." We were also met from several points by two of Angel's biker friends, who also offered water as we walked with her. Allan Lim (my TBR batchmate who was also part of Dream Chaser Tent 1) eventually ran with a fellow chaser and two other runners, slightly ahead of us.  I told Angel, that we had to maintain our distance behind them to make sure we'll make it on time, but since we were slowing down, they eventually became too far ahead. I moved a few steps ahead of Angel and Mike before the last right turn ( before catching a glimpse of  the finish line), when I saw Coach Allan Enriquez (team leader of  Dream Chaser Tent 1), I knew he could help us motivate her. 

Mike and I have never done this. It was our first time to become Dream Chasers so we didn't know if we were too pushy or if we were doing the right thing. We wanted her to finish but we were unsure if the support we were giving her was enough.  

Allan cheered her as we moved ahead.  I briefed Angel that once we make a right turn, we will see the finish line, but we still had to make a left turn, just to manage her expectations and not to frustrate her.  That's when we saw dream chasers and members of the Dream Team waiting there, Coach Mike, Coach Lit and Jaymie - they also cheered us and assured us we'll finish on time. But that turn as we entered the H-loop was the toughest mental challenge, we then saw some of Angel's friends and family members. Two of them joined us in the last 2km. 

I took pictures of Angel with my husband (with his Robin superhero cape), fellow biker friends behind her, her friend who ran with her to the finish, and another companion who offered to run with her with her umbrella - at the last 2+ km of the marathon (at the H-loop)

One offered to walk with an umbrella to shade her, and her friend, held her hand.  She just wanted to give up. We passed by the last tent, I got her some more hydration and ice.  We tried to sustain our pace but we were slowing down. Eventually, the two runners who were behind us went ahead of us.  The dream chasers we saw, joined us as we tried to run a little, but Angel had a side stitch so we couldn't move any faster.  As the other chasers helped us move at a faster pace, we were still unsure if we could make it, although I can hear my husband telling Angel, "Aabot tayo. Kaya mo yan, diba, malapit na. Ayan na yung finishline."  We knew we had a very slim chance of being able to reach the cut off. I asked my fellow chaser from tent 3, Jonathan David, who was also there, if he thinks she could make it.  He said, "She could, IF we moved a little faster."  He said, we still have a few hundred meters to go and only three minutes remaining.  This time, there were several people running with Angel, one had an ice bag at her nape, few chasers spraying her with water, and some giving words of encouragement.  That's when I told Angel, "Ang lapit na natin Angel, nung 34th km, ang layo pa, but now we're here. Ang dami na natin ngayon, and they're all here to see you finish."  Mike told her, "Angel ayan na, lahat sila inaabangan ka sa finish line.

We did not know what happened, but with God's grace, Angel just swing her arms and ran in the fastest pace I've never seen her do in the last 8kms that we were with her. 

Everything happened so fast, and as I saw the time on the finishline it was 8:59:20 just a few seconds before the cut-off 9:00:00.  

Angel was the last Dreamer to cross the finishline at the TBR-ULAH Dream Marathon 2015 
Photo here shows Angel as she crossed the finishline with fellow Dream Chasers behind her, seconds before the cut-off 
Photo courtesy of Photo-Ops
As Angel crossed her first marathon, I cried! I cried as if it was me who crossed the finishline.  I saw my friend Macel Janeo, and hugged her while I was crying, also in a way of thanking her for she was one of the first people who motivated us to run, and now, there we were helping another runner fulfill her dream. 

We didn't plan to chase that far that day, but in our own little way, we were able to help Angel as she crossed the finishline of her first marathon.  A dream we knew she worked hard for, a dream that she achieved yesterday... 

Angel with my husband and I after she crossed the finishline
That's what I think is the meaning of "Paying it Forward." 
I experienced the unwavering support of the Dream Chasers when I ran my first marathon, I knew I had to support future dreamers somehow, as they too, strive to fulfill their marathon dream.

To Angel, again, congratulations on finishing your first marathon.

To my fellow runner friends who became marathoners yesterday... Carissa Zamora, Paolo Wong, Paula Cruz, Ernest and Che Carual (2nd time marathoners), Ado Adoremus, Wilaine Chua (2nd time TBR Marathoner), Ranvel Rufino, Rosuete Alvarez, our niece, Pie Dijamco, my fellow TBR Dream Batch 5 who joined the Dream Marathon again this year, and to the rest of TBR - ULAH Dream Marathon Batch 6... Congratulations and see you all on the road. 

Catch you later! 

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