On Sunday, I will be running my first full marathon under the TBR Dream Marathon. To say that I am a bundle of nerves right now is to put it mildly. My stomach is full of butterflies and my body is riddled with tension everytime I think about how I might not finish the race, become injured, or get sick days before the race day. I’m driving myself nuts, I know. It suddenly hit me this evening that the biggest obstacle to our dream is really our own self.
When self-doubts and negativity start invading my thoughts, I try my best to stop them by reminding myself how badly I wanted to bag this 42 in the first place and how I have worked hard for this. I think about how the Lord has birthed and planted this desire inside me and how He has been greatly helping me inch my way closer to this dream these past months.
I really shouldn’t worry too much because I have His favor. God’s grace will help me make it to the finish line. He has seen me through the worst these past two years, from the death of my husband to my daughter and I’s battle with cancer. He has never once failed me before, and I know that He is not about to start now. I will make it to the finish line, we will cross it together, me and My God.
My love affair with running started right after my husband, Nan, died. Weeks after he passed away, I remember fervently asking the Lord to give me something (not someone) to occupy my mind, fill my days with wonder, and make me feel alive again. I prayed for Him to bring back the bounce in my step, the smile on my face, and that same silly happiness I felt with Nan. He gave me running.
I remember that exact time I felt it, that gentle yet insistent prodding, that persistent desire to run. It was while I was standing by my husband’s grave one day, looking over at the horizon when I caught sight of this woman who was running strong and graceful, it’s as if her feet don’t so much as touch the ground. Her whole body was radiating strength and joy. I quite remember telling myself then that someday that’s going to be me.
Fast forward to my first attempt to run, my feet felt like bricks, I was gasping for air and I was just about ready to collapse on the pavement halfway through my lap. But I made it, oh yes I made it to the first kilometer, and to the second, and to the third…I have never stopped running since then.
But, my relationship with this sport, it isn’t always easy. In fact, everytime I am out running early in the morning while the rest of the world sleeps, I often ask myself, why do I have to do this? Surprisingly though, it is when self-doubt clouds my mind like this that the amazing thing usually happens. Always as if on cue, my mind will start to clear, my lungs will start to open, my whole body will sing in tune with each step, and I will be left there totally enjoying the exhilirating experience. Finding myself thinking yet again that, this, this is why you do this. So you’ll see that no matter how hard it may seem to get up in the morning, there’s always something great for you out there there. That no matter how difficult it may seem at the start, if just make a run for it with faith and determination, you will see yourself through.
Running has made me understand the beauty of a struggle. It made me see pain in a different light. It made losing my husband easy to bear. It made me realize a lot of things like difficulty will always be a given. The elements that can beat me down will always be there, it is your determination and attitude really that will get you to the next kilometer. It made me understand myself well enough to know when I am ready and strong enough for another push.
At present, I continue to run as passionately as when I first started. For me, love and running, they’re almost like the same thing. You love and run till it hurts because in the end, you’ll find that, it’s all truly worth it.
Blanca will be part of the hundred dreamers who will run their first marathon on February 22 at Nuvali under the TBR dream program of The Bull Runner. Want to run for your dream also visit www.tbrdream.com
Last Sunday, I joined the All Woman Race organized by The Bull Runner in Filinvest City, Alabang. Normally, I do not join races and fun runs simply because I do not find joy in waking up so early to drive myself to a race track just so I can clock in a 5 or 10 kilometer run. I figured I can do that somewhere near just the same. But, this race is different. First because it was especially organized for women and for few daring men who do not have any qualms running around in tutus. And second because it was a run for womanity as how the organizer aptly put it. I have always been a sucker for good taglines.
And so there I was at 4:30 in the morning driving along Daang Hari with my sister who’s just been home for the weekend from Singapore, all geared up and ready for this run. I have to admit it was pretty exciting. Off track, I am a 10K runner so naturally I joined the 10K race category. The track with its curves, uphills, and downhills to me was surprisingly challenging yet fun. My friend, Shiela, who is a seasoned 10K and 21K runner, joined me in this race and paced me as well. We were able to finish in 1:04 hr. based on our own time and 1:10 hr. based on the official time. It was my first time to do a full 10K run. Normally I walk .30 of every kilometer to allow myself to recover. I am happy to note that I exceeded my own expectation of myself. I didn’t know I have it in me to run that long and that fast. Must be the adrenalin and my friend’s coaching.
Joining this definitely changed my perspective a little bit about signing up for races. I have to admit, I have become some sort of a race snob these past two years. When friends invite and encourage me to join them in fun runs, I always scoff at the idea of going to all the trouble and spending a few hundreds just so I can run. I always tell myself and others that I don’t need to measure myself up against other people’s standards just so I can be a good runner and I don’t need to join major races in order to motivate myself to make and achieve new running goals. But then, running along side ladies who are just as passionate as I am with running last Sunday, seeing the same determination and focus on their faces, and witnessing their strength, I mean it just made me feel so inspired and thankful that I joined. If anything the whole experience left me humbled. I went home more determined than ever to continue setting a new pace and running goal for myself.
Whereas this experience made me more open to join future races, it didn’t, on one hand, turned me into a race fanatic overnight…yet. If anything, it just made me reassess my running goal and plan for myself. Now I have included in it joining key races that will allow me to learn from the best so I can take my running to the next level, which is half/full marathon. I know it’s an incredible dream but seeing myself run alongside these women who clearly were making a run for their dreams and goals last Sunday, and seeing myself fall strongly into step with them, I know it is possible. I can make it happen.
I suddenly remember the gorgeous afternoon sunset that accompanied my run a while ago. I wish I could run to this forever.
I felt so happy and so at ease the whole time I was running. The sunset did that to me. For the first time in months, I felt like everything is right in my world again.
When my husband was still alive, he would often flatter me with compliments about how good I looked despite my heavy weight. Since it didn’t seem to bother him, I didn’t feel the urgent need to loose the extra pounds. When he passed away last year, I was faced with the starking reality that I am 30 lbs. overweight and wasn’t in the pink of health either. I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. Without my no.1 fan and supporter around, I felt ugly and heavy.
To bring my groove back, I tried going back to walking which has been pretty much the only fitness routine that I stuck to over the years. I did it every afternoon during my daily visit to the memorial park. But then after a while, I had to admit that it wasn’t really doing it to me. So for lack of better ideas on how to loose the extra pounds without having to resort to crash diets, I decided to condition my body for running. I felt I was ready for it.
It wasn’t easy. There were days when I doubted if I can really bring myself up to run. Days when I would feel a strong urge to just abandon the idea and stick to the safe and easy fitness routine that I was accustomed to. I guess the only thing that kept me going was my desire to scale my weight back to the healthy standard. As the days wore on, my strength and endurance improved, and is so was my resolve to get myself to run. One day it did happen. I was able to run one lap and then eventually two. In no time at all I was running 3k, then 5k, and then 8k. I did it and the rest as they say is history.
Though I don’t run as often as I would like to now due to work, I make it a point to run on weekends or whenever I can. To say that I fell in love with running is putting it mildly. I am obsessed with it. I love how it makes me feel good, how it tones and strengthens my body, and how it frees my mind from worries.
But perhaps the best thing that running did to me was that it helped me cope with the loss of my husband. Since I became preoccupied with running during the time that I was deep in my mourning period, I forgot to wallow in self pity and depression. It relaxed me in a way that it helped quiet down my raging emotions. Even now, I enjoy running because it allows me to sort my thoughts and feelings out. It gives me an opportunity to weigh things in my mind. It somehow puts everything in perspective for me. And because of that, I am able to make wise and practical decisions. Running, as expected, helped me loose the extra pounds. I was 140 lbs. when I started seven months ago, I am now a 116 lbs.
I am glad that I pushed myself to run. More than anything, it brought back my sense of self. It affirmed my long standing belief that yes I can achieve whatever goal I set my eyes and heart on. I can bring myself to any place so long as I keep moving. And that if I allow myself to get pass the limits and boundaries that I set for myself, I can come through.
When people see me now, they are half expecting me to share a breakthrough diet or a secret pill that made me look well despite my loss. No I did not put myself in a diet progam nor swallow wonder pills, the reason why there’s a healthy glow in my cheeks is simple, I discovered the joy of running.