My Spirit of Marathon: My Spiel on the Spirit of Marathon



After seeing the documentary film “Spirit of Marathon” I came to realize how big a deal really it is to be able to run a marathon or in a 42-kilometer run event. The film basically seem to impress upon me the idea that marathon events or other race categories like the half marathon events doesn’t happened much in the United States or at least in Chicago area where the documentary centered in as much frequency as it does in the Philippines. The event such as the “La Salle Bank Marathon” is a most anticipated event among those who are interested in running that these participants or would be participants put quite a lot of effort and preparation to run in this event.


In contrast, here in the Philippines where run events are scheduled whole year round and in so many places all over the country especially in Manila where events occurs almost every week, runners do not put much thought into it except to sign up and show up and perhaps rouse up their friends into joining them. Preparation here in the Philippines is not as serious as what in the Spirit of Marathon documentary had shown being done in the States. Here, those who does serious preparation such as undergoing routine runs and gym works prior the actual events are those who had come to realize later how training can further improve their pace and help them avoid injuries. But for the rest of the participants who never thought of getting injured by “mere running” or are not aware of what’s a Personal Record is; running could be a great opportunity for bonding with family, friends or co-workers including to get somewhere else.


Run events here in the Philippines may feature some of the following distance categories like 3K, 5K, 10K, 15K or 16K, 21K, 32K, 42K (full marathon), 50k (ultramarathon). Without the participants realizing it, if they constantly run in various run events; beginning with the least distance event until they have this distance well under their pocket and soon ready to upgrade to the next distance category, they are actually gradually being weaned to run into still further more distance until they could not resist the lured by the allure of running a full marathon and ultra-marathon.


In the documentary aforementioned, about 40 thousand runners had participated in the La Salle Bank Marathon. Many of these participants probably hadn’t run in other run events in the same year the Chicago Marathon was held except for training runs. Many of the participants hailed from across the United States of America and from other countries as well. The number swelled because beyond this event there would just be a trickle of other events participants can take their training to the test. In the Philippines we do not have the same overwhelming number of participants in a single event. For one thing there are no venue that could accommodate such number.  Active Health of Unilab and Run Rio the organizers of the Run United Philippine Marathon 2013 boasted of having at least 4,000 participants. The Condura Skyway Marathon had also similar attendees for the 42k category. This number is expected to grow as newbies who had run in at least 4 consecutive 21k category races are finally convince they are ready to take the challenge of the full marathon. Of course there are also those who felt the Run United franchise run had gone too commercialized and expensive that they may opt to run in other marathon events or upgrade to ultramarathon beginning with the 50K distance. Lately there has been surge in the number of these 50K run events which feature crossing one province to the next like the Nasugbu 2 Tagaytay Run, Laguna 2 Rizal Run. The chance to see new route or simply crossing provincial boundaries on foot has a nice ring into it that definitely pique the interest of runners into joining these events. Thus, spreading the number of runners in various run events further and why a similar number of participants in the Chicago Marathon could not be replicated here in the Philippines.


Running clinics and training camps are not that popular and are usually if ever there are available like the Bull Runner Academy among others are basically participated by those who are interested in taking their running to the next level like increasing their PR or for competitive purposes. But for most of the participants it is either through their running clubs to whom they reach out for training. Another reason for the least popularity of running clinics is that many of the participants of run events as mentioned earlier do not think formal training is necessary since they jog every morning a couple of kilometers and are quite contented in being recreational runners.  Running is already a pressure enough to contend with, the pressure that may be added by pursuit of PR or peers who are doing much better might be a bit too much pressure for a runner whose only aim in participating is to spend quality time with the love ones and feign having healthy lifestyle.


For my part, I ran at least 3 kilometers 3 days on weekdays and 21k on weekend. The weekend run is a result of my having signed up for a run event. If there’s a 42k run category my training for it constitute the sum of all the 21k run I participated prior to that 42k run event.  The term tempo run, long slow distance run and recovery run are nonexistence in my training vocabulary. That is why I was rooting for the main protagonists of the Spirit of Marathon and was even more emotional when they were able to finish their respective runs more than I can remember feeling when I finished my first 42k run. But I know this does not diminish my accomplishment. 42k is 42k. It is a distance more people can’t yet comprehend of running. I know because that was also how I saw it. That is how I even see it sometimes.


In the documentary running was shown that it could be cheaply done by just donning a regular running shoes or it could be done like for the professional athletes in a mind bogglingly complicated fashion to include long time training programs, coaching and monitoring by specialists and being outfitted with the advance aerodynamically designed apparels. One of the protagonists of the documentary a Kenyan runner mentioned about why they have to excel in the sport. According to him this is their way of marketing their country in the similar fashion why Filipino had to excel sometimes in singing or in boxing. So, running purpose could be about elevating your country’s pride in the world arena or about as mundane as collecting race bibs and finisher’s medals. For me running is my way now of achieving something since I don’t do much outside teaching photography in class.  The one thing the documentary and my experience kind of agree though is that running is for everyone who is willing to spend some time in seeing the other end of the road.



The Days I Tried To Run Like The Tigers


I have to skip three runs in a row. The first one was the, Run For The Lighthouse held September 15, 2013 at the Coast Guard Headquarters along Bonifacio Drive. It was a run that had the potential to put to shame a lot of recent run events with big organization and sponsorship. For a registration fee of P600.00 for the 10k run a participant get to take home a nice singlet, a finisher medal and finisher shirt (while the latter supplies last) which in other run events in order to get the same freebies you would have to join the higher category run at a cost of P900.00 to P1,100.00.


However, I was not able to run in this event for I was struck down with a severe flu accompanied with painful joints that had gotten me bedridden the whole weekend. I could only sit in front of the television feeling nauseous, in pain, weak, and helplessly witnessing how the UST Tigers got devoured in the game last September 14 by the La Salle Green Archers in a game that would have avoided UST meeting up with the awakening menace Ateneo Blue Eagle for the battle for the fourth place in the UAAP Season 76 Final Four. I could not even bring myself to holler curses every time that the Tigers fumbled scrambling for the ball; and Karim Abdul gets clamped by La Salle’s twin towers, Arnold Van Opstal and Norbert Torres under the board.


Wounded and broken hearted like the UST Tiger for getting spanked by La Salle again, I could only read the following day the statuses of those who had fun and enjoyed running earlier in the day in the Run For The Lighthouse.


The next run that I was forced to sit out was the Quezon Marathon 2013 held September 22 at Graceland, Tayabas, Quezon. It was almost a go for me. But even with a whole week had gone by after I was afflicted with influenza; I was still recovering from its ravages. By Wednesday September 18, the fateful day UST will play Ateneo for the fourth place in the final four, skin rashes burst out and covered my body. My eyes reddened and a white matter appeared in my left eye. The initial suspect of the dermatologist who examined me was that I’m still probably suffering from Dengue, which began weekend the day I got flu. I got home later with the laboratory result revealing my blood count and platelets were all normal. 


Homebound, I was able to witness how the UST Tigers soared like Tiger Air plane higher than the Eagles of Katipunan in the epic match for the final four place that dislodged Ateneo from its bid to the sixth peat. My relief of the news of my not having dengue set the tone for my jubilation over the Tiger’s win in spite of my fear of jinxing the Tigers for having watched the game. With the win fourth seeded UST arranged for itself a matched with the win streaking first seeded NU Bulldogs which had a twice to beat advantage.


By Friday, I was contemplating on proceeding to Quezon the following day in order to be available for the 3:30 a.m. gun start on Sunday for the Quezon Marathon 21 K category. But as soon as I woke up early in the morning of Saturday my head was swirling, my knees wobbly and seems to buckle under my weight. The news of strong south west monsoon expected to hit Luzon the following days ahead only made me decide very carefully whether I wanted the Quezon Marathon to be my last ever run or I get to let this one pass in favor of other future opportunities to run.  After all, there will always be other times I can experience running in Malagonlong Bridge like it were Kalayaan Bridge connecting Bonifacio Global City with Makati City.  So, I decided to skip this run too, I would instead prepare my constitution for the coming UST Tigers match with the championship hungry NU Bulldogs on Wednesday September 25. But the first day of the week opened with suspension of classes because the earlier reported strong southwest monsoon struck a number of provinces in Luzon. Manila was likewise not spared from flooding. On the other hand, the Quezon Marathon 2013 went on as scheduled in spite of the southwest monsoon made its presence slightly felt south of Luzon Sunday morning before leaving a lot of areas flooded by Monday.


For my part, a bad news hit me. I woke up in the morning with my left calf stiff and hurting while both my ankle were in pain whenever they hit the ground. As a result I was limping the whole week and placed my running in the Men’s Health Urbanathlon 2013 come weekend in peril.  While I tried to ease the pain in my left calf with various liniment lotions, I could not ease the tension churning inside me in anxious anticipation of the UST-NU match. I was determined to avoid watching the game for the proverbial fear of my jinxing UST Tigers, which happened before every time I watch a game figuring the UST Tigers prior to this year. Already nursing painful calf and ankle, I don’t want to aggravate it with the painful pangs of losing to a formidable foe who history seems to favor to win the crown after having eluded them since the 1950’s and got a crack at in the 1970’s but fell short. But I can’t limp my way out of the house and compromise my chance of making it to the Sunday obstacle course laden 21 k runoff Urbanathlon 2014. Like the UST Tigers, I don’t want that Wednesday to be a regretful exit from this year’s athletic event.


The day, however, ended on a high note with the Tiger outplaying the NU Bulldogs that forced a rubber match for the right to play in the championship with the awaiting revitalized La Salle. I hit the sack like NU’s Ray Parks complaining of pains from the physical play of Kevin Ferrer, which he will have to bear until next match on Saturday the eve of the Men’s Health Urbanathlon 2013.


Saturday September 28 UST and NU clashed in a do or die match. Similar to the first game between the two, UST led with a double digits cushion for two quarters only to witness this advantage dissipated by the third quarter as NU resurged with a 12-2 run. The third quarter ends with UST hanging on a thread line of a single point lead. By the fourth quarter the lead swings both ways. Three-points basket elevated NU from being totally dominated by the Tigers. But NU was throwing so many attempts from the rainbow territory without success. It was only the Ray Parks drive that paid dirt that seem to lift NU from the quagmire. In the end the Tigers’ heart proved to be much bigger and their fangs fiercer.  After an 11-0 run that gave UST a 9 point cushion and after Ray Parks got pulled out of the game due to cramps, NU succumbed but not without the last volley of three point from Joshua Alolino to settle the match with the score 76-69. Thus arranging Jeric Teng of UST with a best of 3 bouts with his younger sibling Jeron Teng of La Salle in a match that rekindled 1990’s UAAP rivalry between two schools.


While the drama on the MOA Arena court unfurled and get televised in almost all monitor consoles in every building in UST, I did not watch the game. I was at FEU engaging in the thesis defense with the Fine Arts students of IARFA. I only saw how the Tigers made history as the first 4th seeded to barged in the championship by defeating the 1st seeded team on a Sunday replay. As for my bid to run for the fourth time at this year’s much criticized Men’s Health Urbanathlon 2014, like the NU Bulldogs, I will have to settle for the next season to give the race another crack.


Wednesday October 2, 2013 UST Tigers draws the first blood in the best of three series inching closer to ending being bridesmaid and repeating the Cinderella finish of 2006 when UST captured the championship after beating Ateneo in game 2 and 3. However, the quest for history was cut short as La Salle minced UST in game 2 October 5 with its tall stalwarts, potent shooting of Revilla and Vosotros and abled steering of Jeron Teng. In the same manner of the UST faltering its goal. I too failed in my quest to finish my fourth full marathon at Run United Philippine Marathon held the following day of the game 2. Excruciating pain from both of my ankles and depleted leg powers forced me to quit the race at the 21st kilometer of the race after 3 hours of running and walking. The following Sunday, UST loss to La Salle ending the dramatic run of UST to capture the UAAP season 76 Men’s Basketball Championship. On the other hand, I ended my four weeks draught of finisher medal when I finished the Natures Discovery Trail Run II Leg 2 after 6 hours of struggling to overcome muddied trail and fatigue the day after UST bowed down to La Salle.