It has always been my dream, to run a marathon. I started taking running seriously four years ago when I signed up for my first 10k race (Condura Skyway Marathon.) My love story with running started when I decided I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle and running has played a great part in my fitness journey. After two years of running and joining races (occasionally), I realized that I needed to create a goal that will challenge me more, that will change me, and that will inspire the people around me, especially my loved ones — for the better. But more than to challenge and to prove to myself that I can do a 42k, the main reason why I joined TBR Smart Dream Marathon is the same reason why I keep on putting my running shoes on and heading out for a run even after a tiring day/week at work. Because running makes me happy. Because running is my constant and I find solace and joy in it. And I thought I needed to finally do the full mary as a way of celebrating my love for this sport. I chose TBR Smart Dream Marathon to be the event where I’ll do my first because I have heard/read so many good things from friends about this one of a kind race and the amazing support and care it gives to first-time marathoners like me and also because I am a chaser of dreams and I don’t think there’s any other race for my first.
I almost didn’t make it to the registration cut-off. I was part of the shortlisted candidates for this year’s batch of dreamers but due to some unfortunate circumstances, I missed the registration cut-off. Looking back at 2015, when I signed up for this (after asking Jaymie if there’s still a slot I could take), it was also the same time I was having dilemma choosing on which career path to take on so it wasn’t that easy. I took a leap, (actually more like a jump of faith) and decided to pursue after my dream career. I am now working with a financial firm which means January-April is busy season. I have to work 12-13 hours a day on weekdays & 6-8 hours on Saturdays which is why it’s difficult for me to commit to a running group but I did follow the program religiously. Running and training for the 42k have really taught me a lot about the values of commitment, perseverance and patience and I think that has played a great part in who and where I am right now. I may not be always present in bull circles and sessions nor the most active in online group chats. I may have missed the chance to meet a lot of wonderful batch mates sooner, but my first marathon is so special to me because as cliché as it sounds, it really made me know myself better, made me realize even more that my heart (and my legs) are indeed designed to travel, to run and to conquer any heights and any races. Waking up before sunrise to run alone, never skipping gym workouts even after spending long hours at work and an hour or two going home, saying no to friends’ and beer Fridays, even skipping on going home to my family so I could train on weekends. Because when your work schedule is so tight or when you have no running group or a coach to train with & there’s no one else to push you, you have to push yourself even harder. When things get tough and you’re thinking of quitting, there’s only your voice to cheer you to move forward. I honestly feel like I’ve made an even closer bond with myself, as crazy as that sounds.
Last February 21, 2014, I was on a climb aiming for the summit of Mt. Marami. It was a 6-hour or so ascent to campsite then another hour to reach the summit. Last February 21, 2015, I witnessed the infamous sea of clouds in Mt. Pulag. Wasn’t able to see it during my first attempt last 2012 so I decided to give it another try and boy was it memorable. Last year, February 21, I arrived at the race village at 12am. My first ever marathon started at 2am. It’s so surreal to think how linear these moments are. My climb last 2014 and 2015 and last year’s race are all part of my goals/dreams. They’re so much alike except that last year, I didn’t have to look up the sky to see the stars. Because seeing all 800+ runners, dreamers, future marathoners is way more than seeing a sky full of stars. Stars with different dreams, challenges, beliefs and stories within them. I may have not gotten the chance to meet a lot of dreamers personally but I feel grateful to have shared this same journey, this same dream with this community.
What I like most about my 22 weeks of training for the marathon is the reality that somewhere along the journey, I have learned more about the values of commitment, determination, perseverance and trust in myself. Also, I am grateful that I have become a part of what started as one dream but is now a community, a tribe – united by love & passion for running.
Jaymie Pizarro (The Mother Bull) always says that our lives will change once we cross the finish line of our first marathon. But that isn’t the case for me. Because my life changed when I saw my name in that master list of dreamers. My life changed that same moment I decided to commit to training for 22-weeks. My life changed that one January night when I was already thinking of postponing my first marathon to next year but did the 2-hour LSD the next morning anyway. My life changed when I declined my friends’ invites during the holiday season and trained in Camp Aguinaldo instead. My life changed when I quit eating rice and limited my carbs and sugar intake. My life changed when I decided to be more mindful of what I put inside my body. My life changed along the way to the finish line. And I will forever be grateful for TBR, for Jaymie for helping me arrive here – to where and who I am right now. Crossing the finish line is the cherry on top of such a beautiful and humbling journey though! I remember smiling and then crying when I saw the 41st km mark and thinking to myself, “girl you really did that? You ran those 41 kilometres?! Just 1 more km and you’re done.” I started walking every hundred meters because I didn’t want it to finish yet. It felt nostalgic seeing the finish line so so close and knowing that this part of my dream is about to end. I wanted to savour it, savour every last few meters before I cross that line. It felt as if a trip is about to end & I have to go back home & all I have are beautiful memories of such an amazing journey. But this time, I know I’m not really leaving anything behind. Running has always been a constant for me. All the lessons that I have learned from my TBR marathon experience, I will bring them to wherever the soles of my feet lead me.
I once heard life coach Martha Beck say that she transformed her life by using the philosophy of “you are getting warmer versus you are getting colder” to find happiness. By continuing to drift and lean towards the things that made her happy – aka the “warm” – she found a powerful spring to be deeply happy.
Yes, I happen to find my “getting warmer” moments while running. But this isn’t just about running. You don’t have to be a runner to make this choice. You don’t have to train for a marathon to find your “getting warmer”. Choosing gratitude, to smile and to stay positive is transformational. Instead of feeding off of the negative emotions that come from anxiety or judgement, my body and my muscles thrive when I allow myself to see beauty. And then? I choose to savour it. Running helps me be mindful of this. Some situations are impossible to accept easily. Some feel painful. Others seem void of any beauty. Normally, I’d let myself be dominated by those moments at least temporarily. But what I realize as I ran miles and miles is that I could mute those feelings by overpowering them with awareness and gratitude.
Running taught me more about myself than anything else I’ve done. Hours spent alone. Nights spent mentally preparing for mornings on my feet. The majority of the runs being ones I never wanted to go on, but I did. 26.2 miles I never thought I’d conquer, but I did.
In the end, I am a person that has always thrived on setting goals and achieving them. But running reminds me to just be grateful. To accept and appreciate the experience for what it was. If gratitude and loving-kindness can work to get me through a slow 5 hours and 55 minute marathon – I figure it is worth a shot in the day-to-day stuff too. Right? Find that passion that keeps you hungry. Keep evolving. It will surprise you. ❤