Aaah, I felt exhilarated as I passed through the 21km finishing chute. An overwhelming feeling of pride, a strong sense of achievement, and a warm fuzzy feeling of relief swept over me. I was limping, but I didn’t feel injured nor broken inside.
Around me, runners were walking about, lining up for mineral water, or busy untying their laces to remove the champion chip and claim their medals. Race marshalls were everywhere, clearing the area and directing runners towards the meeting area.
I was alone in a sea of unfamiliar faces. No hubby to welcome me with a bottle of water and a quick photo op nor friends to high-five or congratulate. Why, I even missed the usual small talk with fellow Pinoy runners after a long race, where one usually shakes the other’s hand, says a quick “Ang lakas mo” and parts ways. This only convinced me even more that my first marathon would not be abroad, but in Manila (or Clark?) where all out Pinoy support and camaraderie may be more important than a high-tech, well-officiated race.
I returned the chip, claimed my first half-marathon medal, and limped my way towards the exit in silence. There, I was instantly greeted by the Pinoy support I was searching for. Coach Rio stood right in front of me with the Philippine flag behind him. CatA, a fellow runner who moved to Singapore a couple of months ago, cheerily greeted me with a hug and lots of talk. More and more Pinoy runners started arriving from the race: some were familiar faces, such as pacemate Jun, Mark and Tiffin, and Dra. Doray, while others I had only met, like Dra. Laura. There was non-stop talking, laughing, and…uhm…picture-taking (how Pinoy, diba?!)
As the others chatted, Jun and I went around the booth area to claim free 100Plus, bananas, Nature Valley granola bars, inflatable balloons and whistles for the kids and a bunch of other treats. We even witnessed the awarding of the top 3 winners of the Women’s Marathon and joined the crowd in cheering for these three strong and speedy ladies.
Pretty soon, we headed back to the hotel where Annie would meet us after a few minutes. It was a long, slow walk back as I was tired and limping; however, it was even longer for Annie who walked alone (and got lost for 30 minutes) after her full marathon! Ayayay!
Annie and I spent the rest of the hours laughing and exchanging stories about the race as we lay in our beds, clad only in hotel robes, unable to move a single limb. We missed the breakfast with Mark and Tiffin and only headed down for a meal at a late 2pm. Soon after that, it was time to shop again!
We left Singapore early the following day with sore muscles, tired legs, and tons of stories to tell. Running and racing abroad was an amazing, unforgettable experience; one that I hope to do every year from now on…if only I won the lotto.
– Jun, Coach Rio, Aljo and Annie checking in for our flight back home –
* Photos courtesy of Coach Rio and Dra. Doray