Date with a Full Mary

“I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.”

-John Hanc, running writer

Last July 28, I’ve run my first full marathon–a feat that I thought would only happen in my dreams.

When I was in college, I never enrolled for any physically-taxing P.E. subjects, save for the class Philippine Games which was pre-enlisted by my adviser. After getting a bruised knee in that class during a round of agawan-base, I  stayed away from the more active PE classes. I had fun doing stretching routines, playing competitive scrabble and dancing Philippine folk dances for my remaining PE subjects. I actually excelled in all those subjects.  That’s how  I avoided injury-prone activities. That kept me from seeing the possibility that, someday, I would run a marathon .


During my grade school years, I was a full-pledged batang-kalye . I played all sorts of street games–mataya-taya, langit-lupa, patintero, sipa, siato, (street) football, Tom Sawyer, piko, luksong-baka, luksong-tinik, bang-sak and all those other games I can’t name anymore. Knowing this gave me that confidence that I could run for several hours–just like those childhood afternoons  when my Mama would scold us for spending so much time on the street.

My quest for that marathon finish started in January 2011. After several years of being dormant (all work and no play), I decided to run. Someone told me that this could be the way for me to gain some weight. Having an ectomorphic body, eating voraciously won’t work for me. I need to flex those muscles to hit that BMI. So I did run. Lazily. Twice or thrice a month along UP’s academic oval after my M.A. classes. Completing a 2.2 km-run (one round in acad oval)  was more difficult than completing graduate school requirements.


Then came in the hiking bug. The next half of 2012 saw me scaling mountain after mountains.  I had two to three climbs every month. I even attempted to join the UP Mountaineers after quitting graduate school. (the app process was akin to enrolling 18 units in college.) It was with this organization where I met people who would later on inspire me to run, care for the environment and dream for the impossible. I was eliminated from the application process after arriving late in one event. But the whole UPM experience made me see the athletic, for lack of a better term, side of me.

Buying a good pair of running shoes reinforced a goal that has been forming in my mind for months–to finish a marathon. I asked for suggestions from runner-friends and the prestigious Milo Marathon got my attention.

When I was about to register for the race,  I didn’t know that you have to bring an empty Milo pack. I had to rush to the supermarket to buy one and empty the pack inside a restroom cubicle in SM North. No I didn’t pour it in the toilet bowl.

After the epic registration, I started training seriously for my first full mary. I increased my mileage every week. I made routes in SJDM, Norzagaray, Angat,Sta. Maria and Baliuag. Since I don’t have any running coach, reading books about running was an essential in my training.


Waking up early on Saturdays and Sundays–which were supposed to be rest days–was a constant struggle, but I ran anyway. Getting soaked in the rain and baked in the sun was alarming, but I ran anyway. The chance of being bitten by dogs or hit by vehicles was high, but I ran anyway. Boredom, hunger, thirst and  fatigue set in, but I ran anyway.

In December 2012, I had my first fun run. I thought that running 21 kilometers along Commonwealth Avenue was fun. Without any proper training, I finished the race in 2 hours and 1 minute.  Not bad for a neophyte, I thought. The QC International Marathon was a good opening salvo.My year ended with a two-day hike of Mt. Tapulao in Zambales–the peak of my mountaineering stint.

Mountaineering became less appealing as I’ve spent more time on the road–running. I would religiously hit the road twice or thrice a week gaining mileage and training for endurance. I scoured the shelves in Booksale for books about running and stretching.



I joined fun runs championing the causes which I believe in also. I’ve slowly become a runner.

There were a lot of times that doubts slowly ate up my motivation, but every time I would read the bible during my quiet time with the Lord, God would encourage me. These verses fueled my runs:

2 Chronicles 20:15 

He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

Philippians 1:6

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

And yes, I was relying on God’s grace as I completed my first full marathon last Sunday. The goal was really just to finish it within the 6-hour cut-off time. But God was gracious enough to let me finish it in 5:01 (gun time)/4:59 (chip time) without any major injury.

God’s grace was reflected in the ample food and water stations, the amicable runners, the good weather, the supportive running organizations and the patient marshals and  motorists. I was able to do a side trip in Manila Bay Pier 15 to visit Greenpeace’s Ocean Defender Esperanza with UPM friends.


And what better way to end the day than going to Victory Nova in Robinson to thank the Lord for His overflowing grace.

Finishing that marathon is a great reminder that with God, nothing is impossible.

So, get up, lace up and run!



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