When I read Roxy’s story on Facebook, I knew I had to repost it here.
It is a story of a young woman’s strength and empowerment, faith and fortitude through four long months of training and the longest 4 hours and 56 minutes of her life…
FROM ROXANNE GIRLIE CIPRIANO, BIB NO. 065
They say the marathon changes your life in a profound way only another marathoner can comprehend. I thought I had it all before the big day; mine was changed while I was training for the marathon, and the journey to the Big Day itself has been life-changing. But nothing prepared me for the real thing.
I toed in the line, ran my glutes and hearts out, and 4 hours 56 minutes and barrels of sweat later, I dashed to the finish mark a different person. The marathon has just battered me, refined and polished me, tested my limits, humbled and brought me to my knees, strengthened my faith in a big God, inundated me with joy and reminded me just how blessed I am.
Of Running and Love and Friendship
Sharing, savoring sweet victory.
No one trains for and runs a marathon by himself – and my marathon journey was weaved into stories of friendship and love and persistence. I have gained not only friends through running, but also that one person who was so loving and patient and persistent he convinced me to give love a shot a little sooner than I wanted to (hehe, peace Carlo!).
For months, Carlo so eagerly guided and encouraged me all throughout my training – so eagerly you would have thought he was the one actually running this marathon. All those sleep he willingly gave up, all those countless hours he devoted to my training, all those buckets of sweat he invested for my arduous, crazy looong runs, all those dedication validate: this was “our” marathon. And of course, a huge part of how we started and a huge part of the friendship we have initially built, we owe it much to running, to this marathon training.
– “A friend (Carlo, from team SecondWind) volunteered to train me for this marathon, and soon enough, our friendship blossomed into something a lot deeper, a lot more meaningful. We fell in love, and the rest, as they say is history.”
No one runs a marathon by himself, and not only Carlo was there, but my dear girlfriends (and the boyfies of the girlfriends!) as well. Dear girl friends who may have found the idea of running 42 kilometers totally insane, dear girlfriends who probably thought me nuts for attempting to do this, but dear girlfriends who eagerly supported me just the same. Friends don’t let friends do crazy things alone, and there they were, sans sleep yet still managing to be the most kikay, noisiest and cheeriest cheerers that day. Their energy was just contagious.
And then there was my family who may have questioned my masochistic tendencies, too, but stood by me just the same. Hundreds of miles away, my Mom and Dad and my Aunt and my sister were up by gun start to pray for me. My phone was teeming with well wishers’ words of encouragement as well. I was one spoiled and loved marathoner.
One nervous runner with cheerful, giddy cheerers.
– Roxy with Carlo and friends -
Joy in Little Things; Joy in Running
I love running. I love the joy it brings me, the sense of order and the pride of accomplishing my goals, no matter how small, it gives me. I love how running keeps me aligned with my inner self, how running makes me feel strong, both physically and otherwise. I love discovering new routes and rediscovering something new in those same, old routes. I love being one with the breeze, with the trees and sunset or sunrise when I run. I love the jovial spirit and camaraderie of the running community. Oh, I just love running and the running community and everything in between! This was my happy preoccupation as I stepped on the start line, as I worked on a gentle cadence on the first few kilometers.
Before I knew it, I was past the 21st kilometer mark. Half of the marathon was already ticked off as bright, vivid hues of red, orange and blues broke in the horizon. Oh, sunrise. I could have slowed down to a pensive stroll and just adore it and bask in the peacefulness of Nuvali were it not for the Dream Marathon that I, apparently, was a part of. Dream Marathon. How apt; it was so real and surreal and I really dreamt this. I still could not believe I was finally doing it.
Dream Marathon. Indeed.
I knew I was not the only one running in such hypnotic trance. This was our first (or second, for a few) marathon, after all. And firsts are supposed to etch an unforgettable stamp like no other. Among me were at least a couple hundred of nameless faces (much to my regret that I let most of them remain nameless.. I do hope there’s a post-race getogether or something:), also running their own battle. We may be nameless to most of us, yet we wore our hearts on our sleeves as one. I saw hope in the faces of my co-dreamers. I saw persistence, dedication, hard work. I saw dreams slowly shaping into reality one step after another. I saw a purpose for being there, and the resoluteness to carry on that purpose in three hundred faces.
In hot pink top, red hot nails and jade earings “Ang saya mo pa, Rox?!” Haha.
I saw that purpose mirrored in the face of the volunteers, too. With us were selfless volunteers, looking after the runners, making sure we have everything we need, cheering us on, giving all the encouragement that we needed. The Dream Chasers would run with and give an extra push to the marathoners – strangers and friends alike, it did not matter at all. As if they were running their very own marathon, too. The SecondWind zone was also a huge relief for us runners. Like a personalized cheer zone, like that second wind phenomenon miraculously renewing weary and battered runners.
– Full support from Team Secondwind -
I basked in all the goodness around me. The beauty of Nuvali, the serenity of near-sunrise, the sincerity and eagerness of the volunteers, the overwhelming support of the running community, runners running their hearts out no matter the pace. Ah, this is how every marathon should be.
Of Fighting and Pushing and Honoring the Spirit of the Marathon.
Two hours and thirty one minutes had elapsed for my first 21 kilometers. Another 21 to go, and I was grateful it felt as if my gas tank contained more than half of its reserve. Carlo validated: it was a good time and I was still within the sub-five hour target he had long ago firmly believed I could clock in. That would mean living up to my usual negative splits (or running faster towards the end of the run, in simpler terms), running a faster (way faster) second 21km in spite of run down and battered legs, and counting on my usual finishing kick. I knew I had a looong shot.
I knew I had a long shot for a sub-five hour first marathon, but that moment onwards, I knew I was doing my very best. Sub-five or not, I knew I was pouring my all for this marathon. I knew I respected the distance, I knew I honored the Spirit of the Marathon. It took all of me not to break down in tears as this sank in.
I was running, running, and running. Stubbornly fighting back tears, greeting back the friendly volunteers, smiling to co-marathoners, acknowledging the Dream Chasers’ encouragement. I was running with all my heart and it never felt this good. Never felt this overwhelming.
Thanks for holding on.
Twenty nine kilometers done. Thirty. Thirty one. Thirty two. Ten kilometers to go and in my calculation, I only had an hour and 4 or 5 minutes to go. Can I do a sub-five hour? Can my legs carry me for another 10 kms within sixty minutes after the 32-kilometer worth of punishment I just put them through? Most probably not.
God, I was so exhausted. I was dead tired and it was so tempting to take it easy, to take a looong walk break, to sit back on a corner, wash off all those dirt and grime and sweat off my face and walk all the way to the finish. At least, I would still look good when I cross the finish line.
But that was not me, I did not train for a marathon just to settle for the rock bottom of my expectations. It was not me to find the easier way out, to settle for what was less. I have come this far, and far too many people believed in me. The ball was now in my court, and it was all a matter of believing a little more. I was already giving my all, yet I knew that if I challenged myself, there was still room for something a little better than that best. I was whispering a tad too many times, “Lord, I really don’t think I can do this, but if You will let me, please carry me safely to the finish line within five hours.”
Pain, Pain, Pain. And Longest Two Kilometers
I ran the last ten kilometers non-stop, walking only a few yards whenever I reach a hydration station. I ran it hard, I ran it with my heart, I ran it with faith and prayers. I could have been tearing to pieces at that point, but nothing was more encouraging than strangers cheering for you along the way. And the thought that not too far off, SecondWind zone was looming in the horizon, and that Carlo would be running the last three kilometers with me. And the thought of my friends waiting for me at that Finish arc down there.
I could not care less for a sub-whatever, I just wanted to finish in one piece. But all those training we have invested for this, it suddenly dawned on me: what the heck, I should just go for it. I knew I had a slim chance to a sub-five hour, but I knew I was putting a good fight.
Carlo running the last 2 or so kilometers with me. I was in so much pain here.
I knew I was putting a good fight. UNTIL PAIN CAME ALONG, two kilometers and a half away from the finish mark. For the first time in all my running life, sidestitch attacked me. It was so sharp and torturous a kind of pain, I had to take walk breaks. I was having a hard time breathing, every step I took was laced with pain. I was losing so much time. Lord, why now, why on the last two kilometers, I was so close to the finish already.
I would not talk, I did not want to stop at the hydration station, I was panting and gasping and wincing in pain. I was panicking, I was nearly wailing: “I can’t do this!!” And yet Carlo remained calm and hopeful and supportive. He would press on my numbing hands, apply pressure on my sidestitch-stricken side. He would remain patient whenever I can’t take it anymore, run with me whenever the urge to break into a crazy pace would hit me, only to be patient to walk with me because I was in pain again. Now and then he would look at me tenderly, smile and tell me, “I’m so proud of you,” “You’re the best,” “You’re still the most beautiful” that earned him either a dismal blank stare, eyes rolling, or something like, “Arrgh, I look like crap.” That was the most masungit I got and I’ve never been too grateful he was utterly patient with me.
100 meters. 200 meters. 300 meters. Where was the 40th kilometer mark again? Geez, it was taking me forever! All I wanted to do was cross the finish line, hug my friends, take a long hot bath and indulge in a hearty breakfast over stories and camwhore moments.
Km 40. “Two kilometer and 200 meters to go,” Carlo encouraged me. WHAAT??! No way! Barely fourteen minutes left. Can I sustain a sub-7 min/km pace? Sure; that’s chicken. But not when I was in so much pain. I was praying and praying again, Lord please take me to km 41, please make me cross the finish line, please make this stubborn pain go away.
I plodded on again, and somewhere down to the last kilometer, I found again that side of Roxy who does not give up. That side of Roxy who puts up a good fight, that side of Roxy who stands her ground no matter how hard the earth shook. In a daze that was Solenad and pain and Carlo and the dear friends waiting for me and the family believing in me and blurry, cheering faces and vaguely familiar voices, my legs managed to carry me to the finish line. Miraculously.
4 hours 56 minutes. Four hours 56 minutes of joy, peace, endurance, struggle, pain and faith. I crossed the finish line humbled, battered, refined, yet overjoyed. And I was certain, the marathon has changed me in a profound way. And I knew, reliving that 42-km journey will bring me to tears for as long as I still can remember.
- Big hug from Carlo, coach and boyfriend -