Running his perfect first marathon

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

James l. go

THEY say the person who starts a marathon isn’t the same person who finishes it. After crossing that finish line last Sunday in Nuvali, I can only look back to what was going through my mind while I was at it for more than nine hours. Deciding to run it was the easy part. The training part was hard. But standing at the starting line waiting for the gun to go off was even worse. All the doubts started to set in. You start asking yourself why you actually went through with this plan.

But you’re already there, you trained, you woke up early, you’re at the start line, plus you ate all the carbs needed, so you might as well just go for it.


The first half was more than perfect, I was hitting my fail safe times written on my arm making sure I was making the 21K cut off. But beyond 25K, you start to ask yourself again, why are we doing this again?

But still, you give it everything you got. At KM29 you start to realize that it couldn’t get as bad as this anymore so you might as well just keep going. At KM36, your mind gets weak, your body and legs might still keep going but you just need to win this self argument: we are going to finish what we set out to do today. It’s just one foot infront of the other.

I have to admit , I lacked training but it didn’t stop me from attempting the full marathon distance. You have to sort of rely on muscle memory, experience, pain management, energy conservation, smart running and will power to keep going. The use of all the leg muscles you have—quads, hamstrings calves, adjusting floor landings, use of all parts of your foot, forefoot, midfoot, and yes even heel strike.

Most importantly, you have to listen to your body. The heart will fight until you say you’re done. For me I had to manage my expectations, I knew at KM39 that I wasn’t going to make the nine-hour cut off but I still kept at it, not pushing too hard but giving it everything I got. It was kind of ironic but I didn’t want to ride that ambulance because you went through too much already. The body has been through a lot of stress already and I realized, there’s no race-day magic that can compensate for any lack of training. At KM 41, the clock already stopped, I was approached by a marshall and he politely apologized, on what he was about to do: he took the timing chip off my shoe and used a sharpie to mark an X on my race bib. Still huffing and puffing, I surprised the marshal when I told him, ‘don’t worry, I will see you again next year.’

I ran a near perfect marathon for myself.

As I approach the finish line, I gave it everything I got. There was no more crowd, no medal or no finisher’s shirt.

But the idea of me running a fortyfreakintwo K in 9:19:57 made me the happiest runner in the world that day.

I was congratulated by the race organizer herself, Jaymie Pizarro, also known as the Bull runner. She told me that I made it, that I am a marathoner!

But she had to explain that she couldn’t give me a medal or a finisher’s shirt because I finished over the cutoff time. But I totally understand.

I have so much respect for the marathon. In fact I will re-run the whole course in a heartbeat. I became a marathoner, albeit unofficial, but I still get to experience one gets on marathon day.

Let’s face it, not everyone was born to run. I was one of those people who only believed in it the first time I put on my running shoes and just ran.

Only 0.1 percent of the population call themselves marathoners. I have always wondered what it takes to run a marathon, and now my question has been answered.

Training for TBR 2015 starts now.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 26, 2014.


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