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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

December 6, 2015

BROWN RACE MARATHON: DNF in My Remedials


Dec 6, 2015 was an eventful day in the local running community.

Up there in  Clark, Angeles City, Pampanga, was the 39th running of the Milo National Finals. Hands down, the Milo Nationals is the most prestigious full marathon in the country.  It is the Boston Marathon of the Philippines. Not just anybody (regardless of wealth or power) can join this 42-km event.  A runner has to qualify with a certain finish time (based on your gender and age) in several qualifying events in several cities in the archipelago.  The Milo Nationals are for the elite runners, the near elite runners, and very healthy senior citizen long distance runners.  I could count my fellow 83neans Bob and Ernie as near elite. 

For mere mortal runners  like me here in Metro Manila, we have to contend ourselves with other marathons.  On Dec 6, 2015, that marathon for me was the Affinitea Brown Race Marathon (BRM).  

The BRM looked very promising.  For one thing, this marathon had a clear beneficiary - Aral Pinoy.   Another thing, it is the only running event, thus far, to espouse Filipino values as shown by their use of value icons to represent the various distance events. 


To me personally, the BRM was a chance for some redemption.  Earlier,Oct 4 to be exact, I barely survived the RUPM marathon,  Finishing with a time almost exceeding 7 hours.  If not for the help of my fellow First Balfour runners Rose and Alice, I probably would not have been able to finish the RUPM.  After the RUPM, I was looking for another full marathon to join before the year 2015 ends. I felt I could do better.  The 42-km routes of the BRM and RUPM are almost identical.  Thus, the BRM was to be my remedial exams. 

As remedials go, the BRM provided many of its marathon participants several pacers to choose from, depending on your target finish time. I would have chosen a 6-hour target finish time but there was no pacer available for that.  The next one was 5 hours & 40 mins.  I choose that and good thing one of the pacers for that was Gia - a good acquaintance from the ultra marathon community.

But redemption was not to be had on this Day of Infamy for me. 

I was feeling  good the first 21 kms of the BRM.  Pacers Gia and Peachy expertly sheperded our pacer group and I even was joking with Gia at the Km 18 mark that I am still alive able to match strides with her, a podium finisher in many a 50-km and 120-km ultra races. But as we were exiting Bayani Road, I felt the cramps starting to build up in both my calves.  This slowed me down and I got separated from the 5:40 pacer group. I had to walk off the cramps.

Walking for about a kilometer already, a familiar face - Gelay, walked with me and asked if I needed some assistance. I said the cramps are acting up.  She generously shared a salt tablet with me which I ingested.  We started to run together but after a few hundred meters, I asked her to go ahead as I was again slowing down to a walk; my movement hampered by the stiffening.   The Bicolano Penguin running alone in a marathon is like a sitting duck.  Times like this I could surely use the running company of my fellow 83neans or my row5runners in Bicol or my First Balfour team mates or my favorite Bicolano blogger.  But none was to be had on this day of infamy.   

The laborious trudge continued for me and while at the flyover connecting Bonifacio Global City to Buendia Avenue, I looked at my watch and it read 7am. There were at least 15 kilometers to go and given my snail pace,  figured I needed at least 2 hours and a half to finish the marathon (by 9:30 am).  I got alarmed knowing that it simply would not do.  

I had to be with my wife and son at our parish church by 9:30 am as there was a parish feeding program we had to attend to. Earlier in the week, my wife told me that to celebrate our wedding anniversary she was thinking of sponsoring this Dec 6 the feeding program for 120 underweight kids in our parish in Paranaque City. 

Grudgingly, I accepted the looming notion that I will have to DNF in this marathon. Turns out I am the most mortal of mere mortal runners.  

So when I chanced upon a trio of deputized race marshalls with motorcycles at the corner of Buendia Ave.  and Paseo de Roxas, I requested if one of them can bring me near the BRM assembly area in front of Quirino Grandstand in Luneta where my vehicle was parked.  I told them that I was already declaring myself DNF and that I needed to go home fast. Luckily for me, one of them - Kenneth  from the Public Safety Department of Makati City, responded positively to my request.  He handed me a spare helmet and off we went in his trusty motorbike. In no time (15 mins to be exact),  I was already at the assembly area. 

I did not get the finisher medal. I did not even go near the finish line. For me, those are sacred ground(s)  reserved only for finishing runners which I was not on this day of Dec 6.

Back at home by 9am, my wife met me at the door and asked me - "Did you finish?"  Crestfallen, I said - "Nope.  I Did Not Finish."  She was surprised knowing this is my first time to DNF in a full marathon. But she immediately said - "Don't worry.  Don't be sad.  You will be happy at the feeding program." 

More than an half hour later, I was all smile watching my wife and son joined the parish workers in distributing food to the kids in our parish.  The food looked appetizing so I sat down with 2 kids and joined in the eating of the spaghetti and fried chicken. The little boy told me - Thank you Kuya. Ang sarap.



With those five words (TYKAS) , the pain from the three words (DNF) got less heavy. 

Truly, there are more things in life than running.  Without knowing it, in all his innocence, the little boy got to remind me that running is important in my life but it is not everything.


P.S. Some of the photos taken from Gia Estrella's facebook.  

   

                                



                 

       

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing, BP. It's quite an experience. You were made to confront your mortality (first time DNF) and accepted it humbly. Then, as your wife Marianne predicted, you discovered anew whence your inner joy laid (hearing a kid say TYKAS). Now, I know where your smile and generosity come from. Is that the kind of marathon you are running and wishing us to run?

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  2. Thank you Fr. Alex for this insight. Lessons learned indeed. Failures do remind us of our mortality which help to keep us grounded on a solid foundation. The question as to what kind of marathon I wish for our friends is the kind that brings about a kind of high from helping (helper's high) and running (runner's high).

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