Like we always say: At TBR Dream Marathon, everyone who crosses the finish line is a winner. Here’s the story of one of our winners, our last finisher, Ginell Montemayor:
I started running February 13 last year. My friend, Wil Chua (who is also a TBRDM 2011 Marathoner), was the one who convinced me to start. Her enthusiasm for running was contagious. And after just a few months of running (and not even regularly!) she was already trying to convince me to join a marathon!
She texted me to check my email before going to the office. I opened it to see that it was an email with the details of the TBR Dream Marathon. Of course I thought she was insane! In the email she attached the 15 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD JOIN TBR MARATHON. As I read it, I actually dared to dream that I may be able to finish a marathon. I finally gave in and joined (along with Wil and our teammates, Matt Estrada and Cesar Santos).
While training for the marathon, we joined The Condura Skyway Marathon (my first 21k race!). The feel of such an accomplishment was amazing. I never knew I could go so far. I’d definitely become stronger than I was a year before that. As the day of the TBR Dream Marathon approached, I got to know more and more Dreamers. And that really helped build confidence knowing that there are many people supporting you in your dream.
On the day of the marathon, I was really nervous. I actually felt like throwing up. (It’s a normal feeling for me when I get really nervous. I normally felt like that before oral exams when I was in college hehe). But there I was, at the starting line. There was no turning back. I prayed to God to get me through. I already had a feeling I’d be the last person to finish. Actually, I had a feeling I’d go more than 8 hours. But I was determined to finish. It didn’t matter to me if they’d pack up and dismantle the finish line (it’s happened to me before). I just wanted to finish.
During the first 10k of the run I was feeling pretty good because I could still see many runners (I even saw Wil, and she gave me a hug to encourage me!). But my way back for the 21k mark was disheartening. I couldn’t see any runners in front of me, and I didn’t dare hope to see any behind me. At one point, I wasn’t sure if I was going in the right direction. I was so down I wanted to cry. All the runners I saw were making their way past me for their 2nd round. But I kept going because my legs and feet were still OK. I kept telling myself, “Just finish. Just finish”. When I saw Wil for the second round, she gave me another hug and told me to keep going. That meant so much to me.
After finishing 21k, I started to feel really tired and some pain in my knees. It didn’t help that my heart was getting sadder and sadder. But then a Dream Chaser named Mamita ran along beside until her station. She told me stories of when she joined the Dream Marathon last year, and the Milo Marathon months after. She was really cheerful too! She had to let me go after we past her station, but I was really thankful for the company. So I kept on running, music my only companion. As I saw more and more runners “heading for home”, my mind just started screaming at me to end it all and just give up. But having fellow Dreamers clap and cheer me on kept me going. The most used phrase of that day was definitely “thank you”.
But as the sun blazed hotter and hotter, and the kilometers just seemed longer and longer, giving up just seemed so inviting. On my way to the major turnaround, a Dream Chaser (who I think was named Rico?) accompanied me to their station. I got my knees iced and massaged. As I set off for my way back Dream Chasers Mai Mai and Bic stayed with me. They were so upbeat that I stopped thinking about giving up. The sun blazed on us with such intensity that I was a bit embarrassed that they were out there getting roasted with me. Heaven knows they didn’t have to. But they did. They even left all their stuff behind without a means of getting them if the van left them! They were so selfless! And I’m really thankful to the volunteers on motorcycles (and even an ambulance! haha) that followed behind me. They had ice and were cheering. After what seemed like several kilometers, Bic told Mai Mai to go and get their stuff from the van.
At a tent near a security block, I was so surprised to see so many people still there. And when they saw me, they started cheering and waving their balloons and banners. That was when I first started crying. For the first time throughout the whole marathon, that was the first time. I was so touched. I told Bic that, and she said they waited just for me. And as I approached them I just kept on crying. And then one gave me a hug, and then the rest joined in. They kept cheering as I walk on. As I passed more and more tents, more and more Dream Chasers joined in. Soon I had my own entourage. It’s a shame I didn’t get all their names since they didn’t have names on their bibs. I was barely talking at some point because I was just so tired. But their high energy kept me going.
Bic told me to focus on certain landmarks just so that the course would be easier. She’d tell me things like to focus on every 3rd tree ahead. I got teary-eyed a lot while walking. I wasn’t sure if it was more because of the heat, the pain, or because my heart was just swelling with gratitude for these people. If anything, it was because of the latter. Then when the finish was finally in sight, they all started dispersing. Bic left me saying that it was my moment. I really wanted them to cross with me, because I was just so grateful to them. But they let me cross on my own.
Wil, Matt and Cesar were waiting for me at the finish line. Wil welcomed me with open arms, and I cried. I let everything out right then and there on her shoulder. I cried like my heart was broken. But it was the total opposite. My heart was full of love and gratefulness, and had never been stronger. Then I felt Matt and Cesar join the hug as well. After I gained some composure I finally let go of my friends. And then the Dream Chasers who walked under the sun with me gave me hugs as well and congratulated me for finishing. I thanked them profusely and they made it seem like it was really not a big deal. But to me, it meant everything. Their support was the difference between finishing and giving up. It still brings tears to my eyes when I remember that day. Not just that moment when I crossed the finish line, or when that sash of that medal first touched my neck. That whole day. The whole event.
So thank you, Jaymie. Thank you for your desire to share your marathon experience with us. Thank for bringing that dream closer to many runners. Thank you for giving someone like me an amazing dream. God bless you and all who were a part of the Dream Marathon.
The last finisher,
– hug from JunC (The Solemates) –