Life Lessons from a 42,195 meter journey
Admit it or not, every runner dreams of accomplishing this distance. The Full Mary, as it is popularly known, is considered to be the pinnacle of all race distances. It’s like the once-in-a-lifetime journey to Mecca of all road warriors around the world. If you are going ask a number of runners to show you their Bucket Lists in life, you can be 100% sure that you would find the word “Marathon” written there.
However, the mere thought of accomplishing (or surviving) a 42,195 meter course usually sends a wave of fear and hesitation to those would dream to dare. According to the historical texts, Pheidippides, a Greek soldier who fought at the Battle of Marathon, collapsed after announcing their victory and died because of extreme exhaustion. It’s not your typical motivational story, isn’t it?
Back to the modern age in which human beings strive to make things in life easier, you can’t help but wonder: “Who on their right mind would run a distance that could actually kill them?” Climbing the stairs is already difficult. Why make life harder?
Olympic Gold Medalist Emil Zatopek once said, “If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a Marathon.” Despite the harrowing stories of struggle we heard from other runners regarding the Full Mary, we generally know that this event has forever changed the lives of many, if not millions. It is one of those few moments in life that tested the strength of their humanity. They became “transformed” individuals after crossing that tape. These realizations bring us to the ultimate question:
What life lessons do you learn from accomplishing a Marathon?
1.) If you want something in life, you must be ready to pay the price.
“It was a struggle to juggle everything with just 24 hours in a day.” shared Kennard Musngi, a Technical Marketing Specialist in Quezon City. “Being an ordinary full-time professional, there were days when I failed to do the maintenance runs required in our training program primarily because of the hectic and busy work schedule that I have.”
Kennard Musngi proudly displays his medal after finishing his 1st Marathon
“To address the situation,” he continued, “I started lowering the number of my usual social activities, slept early at night, ate the right food and nutrition needed, and started training with other running groups late at night. Every weekend, I force myself to wake up 3:00 in the morning to accomplish my long-slow distance assignments. I had to do all this religiously or I won’t reach my goals.”
“I honestly believe that effective time management, discipline in training, and dedication to your fitness goals are the required traits to fully commit to a marathon.” he added.
2.) Life is not supposed to be easy.
Nadine Agustin, a recently certified Dream Marathoner from Caloocan City, recalled her training days for the Full Marathon. “The training was very exhausting.” she answered when asked to summarize her training experience. “There came a point when I hated each kilometer.”
Nadine Agustine (far left/ 2nd row) with her TBR Dream Marathon 2017 batchmates
“To fully prepare and build my endurance, I had to run hundreds of accumulated kilometers before race day. I ran every day. Regardless if it was far or not, I just kept running. I also made some adjustments in my diet to make myself lighter and lessen the strain on my body. Unfortunately, running everyday still took its toll on me. My knees gave out so I decided to walk some days in the program. Despite the situation, I was determined to train outside. I changed my intervals so I can recover better and finish my training.”
She later admitted, “Honestly, there were times that I complained about it all. There were other ways to prove something to myself, so why do I have to do this? I gave up a lot of time in work, family, and friends… for what? Every day of my training, I had to grapple with these questions.”
Nadine embracing her loved ones after reaching the finish line
“But the same answer always comes up: Running means a lot to me. I love this sport so much. Running helped me when I was at my lowest points in life. I always tell myself that there are many people who can’t even run at all and here I am complaining about small hardships like this. I had no excuses.”
“I always tell myself that it’s okay to walk when it’s too hard to bear, but I must finish what I started.” Nadine added.
3.) Strong people embrace the pain and keep moving forward.
“At the 36th kilometer, my brain was already telling me to quit and walk all the way to the finish line. Anyone who crosses the finish line is a winner, right?” says Leny Hernandez, a 27-year old Dream Marathoner who works at the National Economic and Development Authority office. “I just wanted to finish the race. The thoughts of getting injured or being in pain were too dreadful. There so much negative thoughts in my head at that time.” she revealed during the interview
Leny Hernandez celebrating with Niko of Team UCY
“However, in spite of the physical fatigue and mental stress I was in, I forced myself to find my way back. I always believed in the mantra: Di bale ang sumuka, wag lang susuko (It’s okay to vomit but not to quit). Instead of surrendering to my negativity and personal excuses, I began to look for solutions: Walk to recover then run. Be competitive. Stick to the plan as much as you can. Don’t quit. Laban Leny!” she added.
“By the time I crossed the finish line, a realization dawned to me. If I really wanted to achieve something in life, I have to put 100% of my heart into it. Our brains might let us down but our hearts never will.”
4.) The choice is always ours to make.
“I thought I was going to die the first time I ran.”
Michael Flores, a registered nurse and licensed lecturer, recounts his first experience in running “In 2013, I was diagnosed with cervical spondylosis, scoliosis, and a degenerative disease in the knee. My weight tipped at 229 lbs and was a perfect diabetic candidate. I suffered depression after realizing that I might have a stroke at any time. I wasn’t particularly happy with my life back then”
Michael with his son Sam before being involved in the running sport.
Then he continued, “It was in 2015, after my 40th birthday, when I tried running. I was a legitimate member of Team Zero since I had nothing but 0 kilometers under my belt at that time. I wanted to start getting in shape. It was so hard at first.”
“The first time I completed a 5-KM category, I became optimistic and happy about myself. I kept going joining races and climbed the higher distances progressively. But my gold standard will always be the Marathon. Despite my condition, that has always been my dream.”
Michael Flores running a 25 KM Category during the New Balance Power Run 2016
“When the online application for the Dream Marathon opened, I immediately signed-up. There I trained as hard like everybody else. Now, I’m 31lbs lighter. I may not still be at my ideal body weight but I’m longer obese. I’m also down to a 33-34 inches from a 40-waistline. The best part about it is that all of my laboratory results are normal. My blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels are controlled and stable. I’m no longer depressed since my “happy hormones” are all time high because of running.”
He finally added, “The saying “You cannot teach old dogs new tricks” is implausible. The Marathon opened new doors for me to explore life. There are no hard tasks only hard heads and you cannot cut through corners if you want to reach your goals.”
5.) “Fear invites courage.”
“Truth be told, I always feel nervous and spaced-out before every race.” shares local fashion designer and Poveda Tri-team member Kacci Santos. Kacci, as she is normally called by her friends, became the First Female Finisher of this year’s The Bull Runner’s Sun Life Dream Marathon 2017. “Having these crazy levels of anxiety and race jitters is normal for me. In fact, the feeling never goes away even if I’m in the race already!”
Kacci Santos after reaching the finish line
“My coach would always tell me to enjoy, which I do, but I just really like being able to push myself and aim higher. I guess the reason why I become afraid is because the last person I wouldn’t want to disappoint the most is myself. I want to be better.”
“I joined a marathon because I believe that with anything in life, there is nothing more fulfilling than knowing that you have put in the time and effort and given it your all in spite of your fears. I guess that makes everything worth it.”
A lot people will tell you that once you cross the finish line of a Marathon, you will never be the same again. The end of the Full Mary will serve as the beginning of new things in your life. You will discover more things about yourself that you never thought you had. You will feel one-of-a-kind. Like what Mr. Jim Lafferty always says, “You will be able to say what 99% of mankind cannot. You will be able to say “I AM A MARATHONER.”