livin’ the dream!!!

Today, you can say what 99.99% of the world can’t, “I am a marathoner”.

It’s easy to be insecure standing there on the start line as all 300+ runners do the countdown at 2AM. Runners look so fit, dressed so sporty and are talking about how many 28-32K runs they did months before the race.

Whilst I, a mere leisure runner, just gained 2.5kg a week before the race, clad only with razor back shirt and mini shorts (both dri-fit) and tried to eliminate all these stuff I bought to aid in my running – HRM watch, footpod, hydration belt etc. and only had 2 LSD run (i consider LSD if it’s a run longer than 3hours)  badges on my shoulder, stared on the timer as it ticks down to 00:00:00 with a child-like giddiness to discover what’s out there for me in the 42.195 km stretch.

First 19km was a breeze. I was havin a great time running with all the other aspirants to finish their first or second marathon. The vibe was impressive, everyone was so high-spirited. From time to time I’d see familiar faces or long time running mates and would cheerfully call me ‘Banggigay!’. Provisions for runners are crazy, it’s like what I saw in LDN & NYC Marathons (watched Flora LDN marathon in 2008 and volunteered for ING NYC marathon in 2009) – bananas, chocolate bars, chips, energy drink, and water. Wherever I look, I see nothing but positivism. Even the super moon seems to be smiling at me, as it shines on its brightest at 2ish! I actually had 2 battles only. One is to keep to my plan – 5:1 run/walk. With all the enthusiasm you see around you, not to mention your overflowing excitement too, it’s difficult not to push it and run quicker than you’re supposed to. But I thought better. I reminded myself of Jeff Galloway’s formula of run/walk combination especially for first time marathoners. Coach Lafferty also said that in every minute we pushed on the 1st half, we’d pay it off 3minutes on our way back. So I cut my horns and surrendered to the teachings.  Second is to keep hydrated. Even to the last minute Coach Lafferty reminded us that we have to stop in every hydration station. Take sips of water and don’t miss the energy drink next to it. We don’t wait till we feel thirsty because it can only mean one thing – we’re already dehydrated. So even if I didn’t feel like it, I religiously stop to each station and grab a cup of water & a cup of Gatorade. I limit it to two sips on each though, cuz I didn’t want to repeat what I had experienced last Nature’s Valley run where I ran feeling bloated because of over hydration.

Come 20th km mark, minutes after I stopped for having a tiger tail massage (thanks to Joy btw, an old badminton buddy of mine, of  Team Boring running group), I started feeling the discomfort (operative word: discomfort only) on my right knee. So I changed to 2:1 run/walk combination with a much slower pace. But even before I reached the 21st km mark, pain exponentially increased and there was no way for me to bend it and be able to run. Pain was so nasty, that I was almost sure it was that perennially patella injury since I had the knee surgery in ‘Nam (hop here for related post).

It was so painful that I worried my left knee would got strained because it’s doin all the works. Worse, my original left knee injury (patella injury), which was rehabilitated already, would relapse. So painful as it was, I psyched myself it wasn’t really hurting. I tried to bend it, albeit gently, and made it work to keep my left knee to sustain me to the other half of the race. My personal pacer, N, P’s visiting close buddy from Paris, saw how my performance declined, that he got worried I’d injure myself permanently. He talked me through it and asked me if I still think of finishing the marathon. He added that we are only halfway and he thinks it’s gonna hurt further until I can’t bear it anymore. He even told me, “Vangie, it wasn’t about the endurance that you would stop, you’re injured and this is just a marathon, you can always try to finish one next time.”

When I heard this, I became more determined to finish it. So I told him, “I can’t stop now, I have to finish it if I have to walk my way to the finish line”. In my head, for as long as my heart rate is normal, I’m not panting and my left knee won’t let me down, I will continue to press it and cross the finish line. I understand that he was just concerned, but the least I needed back then was someone to make me even entertain the idea of quitting. Quitting wasn’t even in my game plan. Not that I care about too much of having a DNF record, but what’s the worst that could happen to me in the race? Finish last? Crawl to the finish line while the crowd and my closest friends watch me? Besides I know how to listen to my body. If I feel that both my legs can’t do it anymore, I’m matured enough to acknowledge it and accept that this 1st attempt of mine to marathon isn’t for me just yet. But at this point my body was telling me otherwise.

I was steadily brisk walking the next few kilometers, stopping in every hydration station, havin a break in every massage station and occasionally havin small talks with other runners that pass by. I didn’t even notice I was approaching 37th kilometer already. There was no wall at the 32nd mark. I waited for that dreadful runner’s wall to come, but it didn’t introduce itself to me in the entire stretch. I was so positive despite the nasty pain on the right leg (pain sprouted from knee to ankle, to thigh, to shin, to heel, to everywhere!!!). But despite all these, I can’t even remember askin myself, “why am I even subjecting myself to such pain?”

The fear of boredom was absent too. If you know me, my head works in a blitzkrieg manner. My attention span is short and I have little skill to stay focus on doing something. So to just focus on running for more than 6 hours and not be bored about it was already a major achievement to me! I wasn’t even bothered that I was most of the time on my own (no other runners, no Nuvali security officers, no TBR volunteers, no passing by vehicles) as I let my pacer to go ahead at about 22nd mark. I was so into having that great time being alone, feeling the soft wind on my face, listening to that melodious sound of your feet as it hit the concrete pavement, attempting to reach for a goal without cares in my head who to please but myself. Much as I want being with a company, I treasure being alone too. It’s like one of those fleeting special moments you wish to experience over and over and over.

My tolerance to pain moved incredibly few notches higher too. I surprised myself by enduring the pain in the next 4 hours especially when the soreness didn’t stop growing. Each kilometer I completed, the throbbing in my left leg worsened. There was even a point (I think between 32nd & 33rd mark) that I told a Nuvali Security to watch me out, as I approached a steep downhill. I quipped “Manong, if I accidentally fell off my feet and rolled downhill, paki-tayo mo naman ako kahit sugat sugat ako.” He laughed and thought I was kidding. But seriously, I hate downhills. It makes my knees hurt even more and worse is, I have to exert effort not to fall off. I actually walked backwards and sidewards because it was easier on the knees. But thanks to hydration and dream chasers’ station, packs of ice were available that helped me bear the agony on my injured leg.

On the 38th mark, I sent SMS to wanderlass & to P, to update them where I was and how I was faring. It was around this time when I saw sapphiremuse & her pacer/ beau D again since we got separated by about 2km distance after the 20th mark. I was sooo happy to see them. We cheered for each other and said, “konti na lang! ang lapit na!”. It was also around this time I was having my second wind. I felt stronger again. I can already jog and do my 2:1 run/walk  again. It’s insane cuz I never had that feeling before.

At 40th mark minutes away from the 7th hour, I SMS again wanderlass and P to tell them how close I was to reaching my dream. Afterall it’s only 2 kms more and I’d see them again taking pride of what I was about to achieve.

But that last 2kms was the longest distance I covered. It seems waaaay longer than the whole 40KM I just covered. It wasn’t even the scorching heat that made it longer. I don’t know but it took me like about 30minutes to see the finish tape.

A kilometer to go, I suddenly saw P running on his barefeet and said, he’d run with me. I saw how proud he was of me even if he can’t understand why I luv to torture (in his opinion) myself this way. He said all my friends are waiting for me there at the finish line so I have to hurry! God knows how relieved I was to see him very supportive of what I was about to achieve! With my family not around, he’s the next person I want to celebrate this day with along with my closest friends.

he’s sooo proud of his babe!

500m…400m..300m…and there it was!!! It was like a holy grail at the end of a looong and undulated course, when I saw the Finish Line. After 7h & 20+ minutes, finally, something I have dreamed of doing has been accomplished!!!

“babe c’mon. 200 more meters!!!”

The cheering of the crowd, the Dream Chasers and the Dream Pacers can rival to that cheer for seasoned marathoners who’re posting another world record. It was like that and more!!! The faces around me were so proud of that momentous moment to all 300+ runners who joined the race. It was so surreal, it took me 20 seconds after crossing the tape before I realized that special moment of my life.

my ever supportive friends!!! i luv you all!

Manang, The Bull Runner herself, who’s behind this very successful event, was hugging me when I realized, SH#T!!! It was one tough race! I’ve never endured such pain in my life! I’m sooo happy to have made it to the finish line. She congratulated me and told me how proud she was to me. i wasn’t able to tell Manang this, but big part of my motivation was to show her how proud i am supporting her TBRDM, and how proud I am to be friends with her. Manang who  is generous enough to help newbie marathoners dream come true.

my dream marathon buddy denise & Manang a.k.a. The Bull Runner

Then a fellow dream marathoner and a good friend of mine, sapphiremuse, came to hug  & congratulate me and then there, tears started to roll like crazy, I was crying like a little kid!!! I wasn’t even emotional, but I did cry infront of everyone. My close friends laughed when they saw me crying without shame! The feeling was inexplicable. There was an emotional rush of happiness, pain, disbelief, pride…everything!

tears of joy and pain :-)

I stared at my medal and touched it, to assure myself that it was real… everything that just happened is real. I wasn’t just dreaming. I am now a marathoner!!! I now belong to the .01 % of the world’s population!!!

You are not changed the moment you crossed the finish line. Transformation in you actually happens during months of training. The discipline, the change in mind set, the humility you develop as you prepare for the D day happened in each training day you had faithfully finished. And that final beep as you cross the finish line is just a public statement how immensely you are changed as a person, as a runner!

And with tears and much gusto, I’d say, “I am willing to do it again and again and again”

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!!!

my pacer, Nicolas, moi, Dino, Fellow runners, Denise, JB

“aint no mountain high enough”


photos from wanderlass & indayguapa


3 Responses to “livin’ the dream!!!”

  1. 1 wanderlass 22 March, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Congratulations, babe! Only you and your dope can finish a marathon with knee injury! Now, rest them knees. Proud of you!

  2. 2 joms 23 March, 2011 at 11:02 am

    congrats banggi! you can finally tick off “To Finish a Marathon” on your to-do list. lufet mo!

  3. 3 Limor Alterman (Israel) 26 March, 2011 at 5:51 am

    Hi vangie
    we would like to talk to you regarding a way to work with you.
    we met about 4 years ago on planning service customers offices.


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