The Long Road To Boston : A Story of Determination and Triumph

Starting her marathon journey with no athletic background, Angie was inspired to run to avoid hereditary health issues and maintain good health for her family.

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The Boston Marathon is perhaps the Mt. Everest for recreational runners. Apart from being considered the oldest marathon in the world, it is the only marathon that one cannot enter via general lottery or sports tour. One has to either qualify by running a marathon within the speed range prescribed for one’s age group or raise a very hefty sum for an accredited charity.

And it can get even tougher. When the number of qualified applicants exceeds the number of slots available, the faster ones have first dibs, resulting in some years where even a buffer of five minutes less than the qualifying time is not enough to secure entry.

Enter WeKenRun’s Angie Limbaco. She joined the recently concluded Mt. Charleston Marathon in Nevada, USA, and did the running equivalent of a “slam dunk,” i.e., she ran a whopping 19 minutes faster than what was required for her age. The feat also made her the fastest female WeKenRunner to date.

What makes Angie’s story more inspiring is that she was not an overnight sensation. Her journey started seven years ago when she ran the New York Marathon in 6.17 hrs. She decided to get into the sport despite having no athletic background because she wanted to avoid some hereditary health conditions that ran in her family. Being then a young mother of a precocious daughter, she knew that she had to maintain good health for her own happiness and her family.

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“At the beginning, I was really very slow. In fact, when I finished the New York Marathon, it was already beginning to get dark. And while I enjoyed the boisterous atmosphere, running at such a slow pace detracted from my sense of fulfillment after I finished,” Angie explained. From then on, she knew she had to improve.

It was around 2017 when she signed up with running Coach Ken Mendola to give her training some direction. Even then, she sometimes wouldn’t take her run assignments seriously and constantly “negotiated” with Coach Ken for easier workouts. At that time, she was running mostly by herself.

The turning point came when, during the pandemic, Coach Ken decided to create the WeKenRun team with the belief that team spirit could further enhance the development of the runners training under him. “At first, I simply thought it would be easier to group my trainees into pace groups based on their current fitness level. That way, those within the same pace range could do workouts together. As the number of trainees increased, it became physically impossible for me to run with each of them,” explained Coach Ken.

This made so much sense because no training program is a one-size-fits-all. The pace groups allowed runners not just to support but also to provide healthy competition for each other. “I really noticed that they were pulling each other up,” added the coach.

This gave Angie the impetus to strive to be more disciplined so she could keep up with her pacemates or, better still, be “promoted” to the next pace group. “The competitive side of me was triggered, in a good way I think,” chuckled Angie.

Along the way, she ran the Abbott World Majors. On her fifth Major, the Tokyo Marathon in 2023, she knew she was “ripe” to get her Boston Qualifying time. “I felt so ready and determined. I’ve complied with all the workouts months leading to the race.” But, despite expectations, Angie missed her mark. At kilometer 40, she began cramping heavily. While she still finished with an impressive time of 3:58, this was not within her Boston Qualifying time.

Said Angie: “I really cried because I felt I did everything I could, but, as they say, there are many uncontrollable factors while running those 42 kilometers. Eventually, I came to the painful acceptance that it just wasn’t my time.”

Instead of being stymied by this setback, Angie became even more determined to train. Her work as a PR executive presented challenges as far as training schedule was concerned. So instead of running with pacemates, she enlisted the help of two fellow WeKenRunners, Pords Lerio (one of WeKenRun’s Assistant Coaches) and Harvy Golez to accompany and pace her during training runs. “I still followed Coach Ken’s training program and I still joined the other WeKenRunners for the Sunday long runs. They kept me motivated and eager to achieve my Boston goal.”

I also worked on other aspects of my health and nutrition. I relied on Dr. Rachel Maderazo of the Center For Advanced Aesthetics to ensure all my labs were optimal and I was race-ready. “Their APEX program really worked for me,” said Angie.

Thus, the red-letter day came. Angie flew to Las Vegas along with fellow WeKenRunners Star Elamparo and Ampee Villamor, who were also running the Mt. Charleston Marathon. The race started at 6am. By 9:36, Angie was at the finish line, unable to believe her finish time.

“Because of the level of preparation, I was honestly confident about qualifying. But I could never have guessed that I would finish so fast. All I can recall was I worked as hard as I could even towards the punishing last miles.”

What’s even more impressive is Angie also ended up doing her fastest 5k, 10k, and 21k during the race and still ended it with a negative split.

“It’s still so surreal. But what I hope my teammates can get from my experience is nothing worth aiming for comes easy. One can either give excuses or put in the work. I chose the latter.”

The end of that journey marks the beginning of a new one. Angie disclosed that after taking some time off from running to rest, she will be back training for the iconic Hopkinton to Boston race.

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