I couldn't describe easier how much my running life has changed me since my College days. But it was running that first brought me out of my asthmatic state. I definitely don't know where I will be right now if I am still as feeble as I was back in my non-running age. Running has rebuilt my lungs, renewed my strength, and has always given me a new height of achievement each time that I cross a finish line.
May 22, Saturday, marked another history in my running career, it has once again left another great experience and treasurable memories for me and for the almost 300 first and second time Marathoners.
Read on below as I fit in to words the experience that has transpired before, during, and after The Bull Runner Dream Marathon 2010.
6.25 Mile Comforted Runner
I've been into a number of occasional runs ever since I started the sport back in my College days. Although, my race mileage since August 1997 until December 2009 only totaled around 178 kilometers (111.25 miles).
All the training runs that I had ranges only from 5 kilometers to not more than 13 kilometers, and the races that I have joined into are mostly 10 kilometers, or 6.25 miles. I once tried to conquer a 21k race, but I failed between the 17k and 18k mark. Since that day, I never dreamed of joining another race that's beyond my comfort zone of 6.25 miles.
I was happy and contented running 6.25 miles
January 2010, when I brought my very first expensive pair of running shoes. I remember the sales assistant advising me that I should not use that shoe in longer distance races more than 21 kilometers. But instead of worrying, I just gladly answered the sales man with "oh that's ok, never in my life will I run races beyond 10 kilometers (paused and thought for a while...) or not yet this year."
Becoming a Dreamer
It was around February 2010 when I first knew about the Dream Marathon from Ms. Jaymie's blog. I was hesitant to entertain the "Marathon" idea in my mind. But knowing the fact that Ms. Jaymie designed the event for the first-time Marathoners, and free trainings (bull session), seminars or talks (bull circle) will also be provided for the participants and non-participants alike, in just a few days, I finally became excited to join and register.
So obviously, I registered, even though noone from my running buddies wanted to join with me. Then, another history was made.
Bull Sessions, great time to train and meet friends
Our (TBR Dream Marathoners) summer long run in Nuvali was my very first long run lasting around three hours, and the very first time that I ran up to exhaustion due to the extreme heat of the sun; for the first time also in my hometown vacation in Baguio, I was able to conquer the highways of Naguillian Road from La Chesa, Irisan ALL going up to Quezon Hill; did my very first long run from our house towards Burnham park, Camp John Hay, Loakan, U-turn from Epza, returning to Loakan road and heading straight to North Drive, Outlook Drive, Mansion, Mines View, Wright Park, Botanical Garden, Teacher's Camp, then going back to Burnham park. I finished injury-free when I got home after three hours and thirty minutes. (Soon to blog more about this!)
My trainings did not end up there. In just less than three months time, I was able to outpace my comfort zone: I conquered my very first 15k race last March; and that was immediately followed by another 15k race in just a few weeks; had my first short trail run in April finishing 7th place; then came my time to conquer my fear with the 21k distance at the Greenfield City.
Inside Camp John Hay
This period have not only made me a Marathon dreamer, but my dedication with running have also reached a new level which I have not thought of experiencing and doing before.
Friday morning, a day before the race, I was already on vacation leave from work. I spent enough sleep for my mind and body to recover from the two weeks of work stress. Upon waking up, I did my final set of crunches, lunges, squats, and balancing; ate my breakfast; packed-up my things and my race essentials. When I carried my bag, it was so heavy, I realized that I was over-packing and I ended up re-planning and re-arranging the things that I have to bring. I wasn't just over-packing, but I thought I was also panicking.
My body, though it felt relaxed, I was panicking mentally and emotionally! My mind was out of focus, random thoughts are coming all over. I was feeling nervous and excited at the same time. So I just decided to take a few minutes of meditation, seated at my room's floor, eyes closed, trying to empty my mind and relax my nerves and senses. When I almost fell down as I felt sleepy, I was able to re-compose myself and took a cold bath. At around 3:00 PM, I was already off going to Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
A night before the race, I was with Kassy, having our snooze at El Cielito Hotel where we opt to stay until after the event. At around 10:00 PM, MinnieRunner, and her cousin Irish arrived to support us. From work, they went straight to Sta. Rosa to be our support friends and cheerer (let's call them "Dream Enforcers", *sweet*). It was great that they came, and I feel blessed having two friends who were there and very much willing to sacrifice some of their precious time just to support us in one of the greatest day in our running career :)
The Dream Enforcers ;)
The Dream Race
One hour before the judgment, we were off to the race venue courtesy of the hotel's free shuttle service. The venue was homey and relaxing, I have not felt indifferent at all. There I saw the people whom I get to know during the bull sessions and bull circles. I wanted to take some photo with them but I was so shy to approach them without my own camera (yeah, where's our camera men?).
Ready for the Judgment
Exactly 2:00 AM, still dark, the bull runners were released. My head felt like exploding for the sudden burst of my adrenaline, 'twas good that I have learned how to be in control of the adrenaline push at the beginning of the race. I was planning to pace with the 9:1 galloway group (which I think is being led by Mr. Lit Onrubia) but it seems to me that they were running fast enough to make me lose my fuel even before I reach the half-point. So I just decided to run on my own pace. The route at the starting line was just a short-distanced loop from the starting to a few meters towards the finish line, thus, giving us a sweet glimpse of our goal.
There were a lot of people at the starting line, cheering their respective friends, relatives, and families as the runners pass through them. I can't deny but to get affected with the joy and happiness of everyone as I hear them cheering for their runner(s). As we passed beyond the cheering zone, the race started to become silent. All you can hear are footsteps, breathing, and a little bit of conversations around. Many of the runners are already ahead of me, and the fight against boredom, distance, time, and will-power becomes closer and closer at each step. And before I fall deeply on my emotions, a runner opened up a short conversation with me. And I was amazed that it was the RunningScientist whom I never thought would also join the event. After our short conversation, he went ahead of me. He really look strong so I decided not to pace with him yet.
It was on the 7th or 8th kilometer when I got surprised by the route - around 1 - 1.75 kilometers of trail running towards the Bird sanctuary. Luckily I have decided not to use my Adizero Boston running shoe, else I might have tripped or out-balanced on the long and dark stretch of the route. When I finally went out from the bird sanctuary entrance on my way again to the flat road, my lower back and legs started to feel some pain. So I texted our "dream enforcers" to get ready with the salonpas, a slice of bread, and gatorade refill.
When I finished the first loop (21k) at around 2:30 hours, there were still a lot of Cheerers on the cheering zone. My salonpas, bread, and gatorade request was also immediately handed to me by our two lovely dream enforcers. As I apply salonpas on almost half of my back, my legs, and achilles heel, I was also analyzing myself if how much longer can I still go on, and if I could still stand the remaining distance, with much more physical torture waiting ahead of me (trying to scare myself).
That's the salonpas, the sponge, the hammer gel
24th kilometer, it was already 5:00AM, I only have one and a half hour left to reach my target time, and I was already getting tired and bored. I guess it was at this point that I took my second walk break. So I seized the moment for me to be able to get in touch with my facebook account (lol), luckily, the signal's still good at the area. When I passed by at one of the dream chasers tent, I made some conversation with the Chasers just to freshen up my getting-sticky-saliva:
Me: Kuya, puwede na po bang mag-collapse?30th kilometer, catching a glimpse on my watch, I know it was already impossible for me to reach the finish line in just 45 minutes or less. I was starting to feel heavy, so I just set myself with a record goal to finish the remaining 12.195 distance for another 1:15 hours or less (for a sub-5). In contrast of the physical aches that I'm starting to endure, my lungs doesn't feel beaten as compared to when I was running shorter distances. It feels "wide" and full with oxygen supply. Thinking about oxygen, I remember Mr. Kenley's question to me on my blog if it is alright to "utot" while running, well, Sir Kenley, at this point where we really need fresh supply of oxygen, making "utot" is really not advisable. So let's control our "exhaust tubes" when running, lol!
Kuya: Mamaya na, sa 30 kilometer!
Around 34th or 35th kilometer, elapsed time of 4:20 hours. I thought there's the wall already, but... what wall? There isn't a runner's wall at all. It was ALL WALLS -- RUNNER WALLSSsss!!! (Dang!) My energy have depleted. From the time I reached the major turnaround, I kept myself much more hydrated, two cups of gatorade, a cup of cold water for my head, and a change of cold sponge on each hydration stations, but it seems that my body's being cooked in hell. My legs started to feel stiff. I realized that of all the things that I have packed in my bag, I should've also brought two extra spare of legs (lol!). From this moment on, I've been stopping and having walk breaks, leg stretchings, and a few seconds rest in every 200 meters of distance that I could manage. I was totally worned-out. My shirt, shorts, and shoe is already soaked in sweat and water.
The Matador, waiting for the Bull runners
At the last bridge going back, I saw Mark Dave while I was down on the side street holding my two knees in a semi-squat position. We were previously two or three kilometers apart, but now I was thankful that there was someone whom I could talk to and share each others pain that we're going through. I tried hard to pace with him but my knees are holding me back. So I told him to just go on as he can.
Towards the 41st kilometer, I spent almost 50 minutes traversing the 6,000 meter distance from the 35th mark. It seemed that it was toooooo long that I could no longer wait to give my whole back a rest, put my butt on a soft chair, and hang my legs upward.
A trick I learned to lighten my burden, go topless!
Gladly though at the remaining 1.195 kilometers, as my eyes could already visualize the pack of people, gatorade balloon, the lake, the buildings near our goal, and also, MinnieRunner who was under the sun waiting for me for I think more than 30 minutes already, I felt some burst of energy. I know it would be the lastest of the strength that I could get so I went on and forced myself to run the remaining distance. And there I was, taking the full capacity of my remaining strength and will-power that I have, dashing out towards the finish line, putting back some smile on my face for having seen clearly what every TBR participants are aiming at - the sweetest and the happiest spot - the Marathon finish line.
Wasted but happy
After the race, while I was taking a rest near the stage, I realized that the podium finish isn't really necessary at all to gain such priceless achievement. It was indeed the experience, the "career" high, and yeah, James is right, it was the journey indeed that gives you a lot of unmeasurable, treasurable, and priceless moments. I have learned many things from the bull circle; I have also learned from my experiences during those training runs/bull sessions; and, most important of all, I have gained some good friends along the way.
The Dreamers, now Marathoners
The Bull's proof!
Distance: 42.195 km.
Official Time: 5:16:28
Official Ranking: 72nd out of 240 overall Dreamers
When: May 22, 2010.
Where: Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna
Event: 1st TBR Dream Marathon 2010
Jul. 6, 2010 Update: PDI Article from a TBRDM Finisher himself.