I go for the journey, not for the race

My second full marathon is just around the corner – mauuna sya kaysa sa Christmas!   

December 4, 2011:  another dream that I must fulfill = my first offshore full marathon = touring the prime districts of one of my favorite cities by foot = The Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS).

I completed a long distance run of 32KM last week, which coincided with the Run United 3 Afroman Distance event.  While I was at it, I was practically re-tracing the route of my first full marathon (Manila International Marathon, 25 Sept 2011).  Running, once again, gave me an opportunity to reflect, count my blessings, be grateful, and come up with creative ways on how to become a blessing to others.  Buhay na buhay ang spirit, hindi lang katawang lupa.   

Looking back to that first full marathon experience – It’s one of those firsts which cannot be replicated – yun na yon, kung ano pa man yon.  I enjoyed every minute of it kahit alam kung may susunod pang ibang running events.  Hindi ako nagmadali, eto yung pakiramdam na kung pwede lang huminto saglit ang oras – ako lang, yung ibang level ng fulfillment na naramdaman ko noon, at syempre, ang aspalto.  Hindi halata na in love ako sa running.  =) 

Several times did friends ask how it must have felt reaching the finish line of a full marathon (42.195km).  To me, it was a mixed of raw emotions – (sobra) happy for a dream fulfilled, and (medyo) sad because I knew I would miss the journey – the weeks of preparation, the special petitions, the excitement, pep-talk by friends, consultation with the doctors (wala na talaga ako sakit!)…even my in denial hopeless romantic side was not spared, at madami pang iba. 

 The journey is something I can’t get enough of.  It’s a metaphor of life.  Nakaka-addict!  =)

Run United 3 - 13 Nov 2011 - Afroman Distance - 32KM

 

So happy to see the Finish Line

 

SCMS - 04 December 2011

 
 
 
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Zone out?

I don’t know who stole my magic.  I don’t write to complain, but rather confess – I am so uninspired.  I’m not keeping up with the marathon training.  Period. 

I don’t want to blame it on my new assignment at work.  I’m not blaming that feeling of longer-than-expected recovery from my first full marathon back in September.  Who am I to blame the weather? Not the weather. 

I don’t know.  I don’t have any valid excuses. 

When I was training for my first full marathon, I would run 3x a week and play badminton 3x a week.  I was to run not only for myself, but for a sponsored charity.  Now, badminton’s is so-not in the calendar, and I’m not running 4x a week, as planned.  Haysss…

I went for my tried-and-tested forms of therapy – music, spa, meditation, visual art, shopping, hanging out with friends…

All I could think of is…vacation in a far away place…away from it all! I know that I won’t be able to do so until February 2012.  Just my luck.    

With only 33 days left before the Singapore Marathon, I should be in the zone again by now. 

Ann + Running = Forever

Manila International Marathon (MIM) – 25 September 2011

I was in the middle of Macapagal Avenue, just 8KM to the finish line when my calves were attacked by the big bad wolf = cramps.  I was shamelessly talking to my feet – yes, it was my bratty self talking, “kasi naman, ano klase mga paa kayo…dinala nyo ko ng ganito kalayo tapos dito nyo ko ititirik?!  “C’mon feet, make me the happiest person today, please…”

Call it Divine Intervention, the sharp pain disappeared from both calves, and I was able to jog to KM39. 

KM39 mark, I began walking.  A weird thing hit me, mentally.  It was even worse than the cramps…I never thought the idea of stopping would ever cross my mind.  It did.  I was asking myself whether to walk all the way to the finish, or why am I doing this in the first place?  I could hear my pacer Jigger telling me to run, “takbo na Ann, kayang-kaya mo pa, sprint”, but I was not listening.  It was a part of me which I never thought existed, until KM39 of my first full marathon.  My legs were literally numb.  It was scary and disorienting.

After almost a KM of hitting that mental wall, a surge of energy jolted me back to reality. People on a truck in the other lane were handling me bottled water…I got one and poured the water on my face, and I cooled down a bit. I saw a number of under nourished kids crossing the street.  Something I knew all along surfaced – that I was to draw strength from a charity program (HAPAG-ASA) which my friends would be supporting, provided that I finish my first full marathon (they pledged to help, just finish the marathon alive…hehehe).  I was back in the marathon.  I was pacing to the finish line once again.  “C’mon, Ann! Run!  Run! Run!” 

300m to finish line, I was so happy to see Dhes, our cheer leader.  Ed was still somewhere in the area, while Jigs running by my side fulfilling his pacer duty. Darwin was ready with a camera.  God sent me angels! I was smiling for all the right reasons.  I was ecstatic – yeah, 42.195km and now the finish line! We made it!  =)

My angels did spoil me up to a certain extent, before-during-after the marathon – Jigs and Ed paced me during longer runs while I was training.  In the actual marathon, Jigs even allowed me to take a snack break, Bacchus break, a bladder break in a posh hotel. Darwin made sure that I stayed injury-free, and volunteered to become my official photographer.  Friends like Dhes were all out with cheers and prayers.

The race organizer screw up big time, but the good things were so much greater than the negatives.  I received more than I prayed for. 

I would never ever regret the day when my bitchy, rebellious self decided to alter the medication program –I flushed all my maintenance medicine in the toilet, threw away the oxygen-in-cans. Time to start a journey to wellness, minus those medication drugs – I couldn’t take it anymore.  I am forever thankful for that morning when I first laced up my shoes to run.   I never thought I would love to run for as long as I can.

I met myself again along the road leading to the finish line – that part of me with a classic sense of determination. It was so re-assuring that life is going to be fine.  From training to completing the marathon, I passed a decade’s worth of cardiac tests, blood chemistry analyses, and ultra sound screenings.  Finally, I am healed.  =)

 

jigs on pacer duty

 
ultramarathoners turned pacers: jigs and ed

Finish line!SM Runners

My full marathon checklist: hindi talaga ako excited!!! =)

Game na sa Sept 25.  Pre-marathon checklist:

 1.  Months of training – done

  2. Running shoes – check

  3. Race day outfit – check

  4. Race kit – check

  5. Garmin – check

  6. Energy gel and Jelly Beans – check

  7. Storm-free weather – check

  8. Carbo-loading – check

  9. SPA – check

 10. Bayview – check

  11. Pacers (Ed and Jigs) – check

  12. ‘Ruckus’ – check 

  13.  My heart, brain, soul – all for it! – check  (42.195km is no joke)

  14.  Prayers – check

Wala naman makakapagsabi na excited ako.  =)

 

Running and Nostalgia

I was in my element as my feet were pounding the pavement going for KM 25.  Music and blessings occupied my mind, and my system was oblivious of sinusitis.  The next track was Beyonce’s – Best Thing I Never Had. 

The thought suddenly hit me – how it was a year ago, or may be over a year ago, back in the day when I was desperately trying to call the right shots from outcome of bad choices.

Nostalgia began to play some stark words, but the emotions became blurry. I was again thankful for the enlightenment that I can look back to see how awful the experience was, and still appreciate where it brought me.  I made some bad decisions, but I never lose sight of what rightfully belongs to me – respect.

Letting go and being at peace with it is more liberating. Somehow, I made wise decisions, too <– and I stand firm.  It’s never easy, but as a good friend puts it, “isa lang ang buhay bakit hindi pa ayusin.”  (Yes, Ruckus – that made me buy another precious arm candy as a ‘congratulatory’ gift for myself.)

Liberation brings me closer to that borderline-miraculous element – if I write now that the element is self-actualization, people who really know me will say it’s BS.  So, I’m sparing my friends P1.00 by preventing them from sending me text messages saying – “Ann writes crap”. No lame (love) story hereafter.  =)

Here’s the music video of that ‘atta-girl’ song by Beyonce.  Happy listening!

AN OPEN LETTER: Give back and thanksgiving – my first full marathon

Dear Family and Friends,

 I hope this letter finds you well.

 I will run my first full marathon on June 26, 2011 at the Manila International Marathon.  A full marathon covers a standard distance of 42.195KM.  I have spent 16 weeks training for it, in the company of my fellow SM Runners.  I did my first half marathon, uphill runs, and trail runs with them; driving up to Baguio and Tagaytay. My pacers – those who will run alongside with me in the marathon:  Ed Escalante, Jigger Meneses, and Jayson Tan.   I must say that I owe them a lot for I would not have reached week 16 if it wasn’t for their support. 

 Why I want to run my first full marathon this year?

1.  Crossing the finish line is a huge gesture of thanksgiving and triumph for living through 33 years of a blessed life – something I owe my Creator and the people who touched my life.
2.  I have truly embraced my passions – one of which is RUNNING.
3.  Unite family and friends for a cause – this marathon is not about me stretching expectations of myself, but I want to do something good which is beyond me.   
 

You can help me make this event more special.  It’s not everyday I’m being given an opportunity to unite family and friends for a social cause – and I guess, this is one of the best times to do just that.  I want to make my full marathon an instrument to help people – to reach out to the community.  I have chosen a charity program called HAPAG-ASA – an integrated feeding program managed by The Pondo ng Pinoy Community Foundation.  Enclosed in this letter is a rationale of the said program.

Now, here’s the deal.  I will openly accept any amount you can whole-heartedly pledge for every kilometer that I can cover during the marathon.  Example: P2.00 for every kilometer.  If I finish the full 42KM, then your donation to HAPAG-ASA is, P84.00.  =)

Donations will be collected on week of June 27, or you may send me an email or text message so that I can give you my current account number.  All donations will be turned over to HAPAG-ASA under the name – SM RUNNERS AND FRIENDS.  I will be providing a report thereafter. 

Thank you so much for always sending me thoughts of strength through prayers. 

Sincerely,

ANN

http://www.manilainternationalmarathon.com/racecourse.htm#42k

 

 

 

Another first in my list: the trail at Saratoga

Mizuno Highlands Fun Run Challenge
May 15, 2011
Bistro Saratoga, Tagaytay Midlands/Highlands

6AM - Chillax at the Start Line

Personal rating: worth all the risks = milestone run
First, I was loving the trail. It was 17min for me after KM3. Gruelling uphill road leading to the Pueblo and it was liberating downhill from KM7. It took 54min for me to reach the trail leading to KM10. I thought I would fall unconscious because of the grade of the trail + scorching heat of the sun. I saw a number of runners resting along the tree lane, and everyone else was walking.

It was a roller coaster run: fun – gruelling – liberating – gruelling – fun – fun – fun…tapos swimming at Cottage Grove, also in Tagaytay Highlands

The challenge: Punishing slopes, very intimidating ascends and descends between KM10 and 13, konti lang ang semento lahat halos lupa! How and why did I ever signup for a 15KM trail run, considering that it was my first trail run? Crazy! =)

Runners vs. Soil + Sun + Elevation

it's like a never-ending trail

Slow down...because it's too steep

soil, sun, and more soil, more sun

Plus factor: Out-of-town bonding with the SM Runners – convoy, roadtrip, overnight stay at the Cottage Grove in
Tagaytay Highlands, picture galore, swimming after the run, rewarding bulalo and tinapang bangus!

Extra thankful for: An injury-free run for everyone in the team.

Meowth space: Liberating solo drive with my (manual transmission car) Sofia, marveling at the breathtaking mountainous terrain while negotiating the steep, slippery slopes leading to Tagaytay Highlands. Love it! =)

Race result:  please checkout http://www.takbo.ph  or follow this link –  http://takbo.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1948:highlands-mizuno-fun-run-2011-results&catid=23&Itemid=100029

almost done! =)

fun at the finish line

Wacky SM Runners

Natapos namin =)

The road to my first full marathon: Starting over again =)

I used to have an on-and-off love affair with running.  I started running as a form of recreation back in 2009.  I was  full of energy that I was the one who would convene the running enthusiasts in the head office, soliciting support from top management, and would later refer to the group as the – SM Runners.

In 2010, my passion for running and badminton had to take the back seat in favor of a venture, which spelled of failure from its very inception.  While I was at it, I was becoming a different person that  no one else would have recognized if nothing was done to break the bad spell.  I have remained tough on the surface – this is my trademark…but I was hurting deeply to the core.  I think it was not pain, but anguish would be a more appropriate term for it.

Maturity has its way of strengthening one’s resolve…and sometimes it is best to just break away for sanity’s sake – no use in winning a battle if it would entail emerging as a loser in the war…In January 2011, I was back on my feet again – literally and figuratively. Since day 1, I was pacing myself quite well than I ever did in the past.  I was alone, running, but I never felt I was running all by myself. I could not help but to count my blessings. I reached the ‘meowth’ zone after what felt like forever.  I knew I was at peace with myself again. It was all good and empowering.

I am always surrounded by well-meaning people – family, friends, and colleagues…but the road to recovery is about finding and rebuilding one’s self again – you have to administer your own rescue (think Eat, Pray, Love).  I thought Prada and LV can help me administer a fabulous rescue…but it was running that did it for me…

One important lesson that running ingrained on me happens to be one of life’s greater metaphors – when you run, you keep moving forward, onward…conventionally, no one would dare to run backwards in a race…same thing when pacing along life’s crazy race route, the best choice is to always move forward no matter what…even when you’re hurting, you just walk until you can run again.

I wake up early on Sundays.  So excited to run.  It’s one of His venue for making me slow down (while I pace, physically) in order to realize some important things about life, even those borne out of simple encounters.

I want to share the positivity, which can be drawn from running. I’m now assisting fellow runners as the coordinator of the SM Runners.  I’m honored to be given that warm welcome by the core group – as one member said, ‘the original PAAdikANN is back!’

Zhe shi haoshi huilai!  This is for the long run!  =)

 

starting over again with my fave brand of running shoes