Running The Marathon Is The Easy Part: An Open Letter From A First-Time Marathoner


What does it take to be a marathoner? Do you have to have legs of steel? Or perhaps a stamina of an athlete? Or is it maybe a few 21K finisher medals in your collection?

When the Pinoy Fitness team convinced me to join The Bull Runner Dream Marathon, my only concern was “can I commit to the training schedule? Baka busy ako”. I was just this overconfident girl who knew very little about running and thought that because she’s in her 20s and lives a semi-active lifestyle, the marathon is…doable. I was wrong.

Truth be told, I wasn’t scared of the marathon

You see, my marathon story isn’t much like the “I’m scared to run 42.195K”. Neither is it the “kaya ko ba to eh 5K palang pinakamalayo kong natatakbo?” (which was true, my first ever run was a 5K last August 2017). My marathon story is about a girl who used to hate running and who soon learned to respect the 42.195K distance and the journey that came with it.

Training For The Dream Marathon

My first 5K fun run ever! And throwback also to the time when I didn’t know how to pose for a race shot! Haha

22 weeks of training three times a week wasn’t so bad, I thought. Especially in the earlier parts when you are just required to run several 5KMs. But when the time came that the long runs started becoming more than 2 hours, when it was already the holiday day season and you have all the excuses to not run, when you develop a runner’s knee or any other injury but you still have to reach your training quota, things started to change.

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I needed an anchor to continue to train

This is when I had to face the question I’ve been avoiding for so long – “Why are you doing this?”. I needed an anchor to continue to train. The simple “I just want to finish something off my bucket list” soon became inadequate when you’re faced with all the excuses to not continue.

There came weeks where I skipped two runs, a month wherein I missed two LSDS, and times that I cried on my way home because my runner’s knee won’t make me finish even a 45-minute maintenance run. At this point, I was beginning to fear the distance.

I began fearing if I could actually run a 42.195K kasi training pa nga lang na less than 30 km, nahihirapan na ‘ko.

I was so afraid because I thought that the marathon is so much harder than the past 22 weeks of training. And again, I was wrong.

The Marathon was the Easy Part

Race Shot during The Bull Runner Dream Marathon | Rickpets Lens

It is easier to run when you have set aside the weekend to do this run and this run alone. It is easier to push yourself when you see hundreds of runners going through the exact same thing. It is easier to build mental strength when you feel the energy and support of the people you’re surrounded with and knowing that after these few more kilometers – you will already reap the reward.

The hard part was when no one was looking to check if you’re training; when there’s no photographer to capture in a photo whether you’re walking or running; when there were no marshals to check if you’ll make the right turn to reach enough mileage.

When you’re more than halfway through your first marathon – you’re drenched in sweat, everything hurts, and self-doubts are starting to come in, you only have to tell one thing for you to continue running:

“I didn’t come this far to only come this far”

You have to look back at the times when the sun is not up yet, you barely slept, there’s so much that needs to be done – and you still have to do your maintenance run. Perhaps you whined when you heard your alarm but you still laced up your running shoes and you still did it – that’s what you’ll hold on to when you hit the wall at 30 km to remind yourself to keep going.

The happiness of finishing a very difficult 28KM LSD even when no one was looking was surreal.

When I’ve hit the wall and a medic was massaging my knee because I can barely take a step I looked backed at my most difficult LSD. I remembered how it was already 11’o clock in the evening and all the joggers in UP Diliman have gone home but I still had 6 km more to go.

The Raine I knew 3 months ago would’ve gone home straight and probably say “Dagdagan ko na lang takbo bukas” but the Raine at that moment continued until she hit the required mileage. The happiness of finishing a very difficult LSD even when no one was looking was surreal.

And even if sometimes I dread setting aside an hour or two of my day just to run, I hated it more if I didn’t.

When the hills (or what we call upHells) of Nuvali became too intimidating to cross, I looked back to the days that I skipped my long runs and dealt with having pangs of guilt throughout the day because those were the times that I knew I really wanted it bad. From a person who used to hate running, I’m now the girl who’s in a bad mood when she didn’t run on schedule. And even if sometimes I dread setting aside an hour or two of my day just to run, I hated it more if I didn’t.

So sooner or later and to my surprise, I’d come around. Deep down I knew there wasn’t anything I’d rather do in those moments than to train. And that was what I exactly looked backed to as I look at the overwhelming hills in Nuvali– in all honesty, there isn’t anything I’d rather do than to conquer those hills.

So what does it take To Be a Marathoner?

They say that you have to know your “why” when you’re training for a marathon. I didn’t know mine until I finished the actual race.

I trained for a marathon because it made me push myself a little more every day since I signed up

More than anything else, the marathon is a test of character and the rewards of it are so much more than a medal or an iconic finish line pose (that are both granted to give you immense joy and sense of pride). The marathon gave me confidence that if I put my mind to something, it can be done. It gave me a sense of fulfillment because I committed to something big and actually finished it. But most importantly, the marathon has made me understand what working on a goal actually meant.

It’s not just the 42.195 kilometers that we ran that made us so emotional upon approaching the finish line.

For me, these things are what makes a first-time marathoner – the courage to sign up, the dedication to train for months, the disappointments from bad runs, the happiness of reaching a new mileage, the surge of emotions upon crossing the finish line, and the lessons you learn along the way.

It’s not just the 42.195 kilometers that we ran that made us so emotional upon approaching the finish line. It was the friends who convinced to join and supported us along the way, it was the months of dealing with and learning from the ups and downs of training, it was looking back at who we were 6 months ago and seeing how we’ve changed for the better.

So believe it when runners say that their first marathon was life-changing. It was for me and I hope it will be for future marathoners as well!.

Cheers to the love of running,

Raine Aggari
TBR 2018 – Marathoner


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