Dream Marathon Story: John Medalla, Bib No. 478

Friday, 27 February 2015  |  Interviews + Features

1JohnMedalla – John crossing the finish as his wife, Coach Betsy (swimjunkie), captures the moment –

The 6th TBR ULAH Dream Marathon held last February 22, 2015 has ended, but the experiences of each of our 615 first- and second-time marathoners will live on in their hearts and memories. This begins a series of marathon stories from Batch 2015 in an effort to preserve their stories in words and share them with you to, hopefully, inspire you to dream big as they did.


This is my short story – my journey to my first marathon.

In July of 2014, my doctor (Doctor X) ”cleared” me, which meant that I was fit to engage in physical activities, again.

Flashback to July of 2012, I had a freak bike accident, fractured my right hip-femur bone, underwent a major surgery and a long physical rehab. Just imagine, right after surgery, I couldn’t even move nor lift my right leg, the muscles felt “dead”. Throughout my 9 months physical therapy, I slowly and patiently progressed from wheelchair to walker to crutches to cane to zero aid. It was a difficult period.

1John_femur– Xray of John’s femur with six screws in it. According to his wife, Betsy, the top screws are no longer flush against the plate and when he moves, his thigh muscle rubs against the screw heads. –

Fast forward to July of 2014, on the 2nd year anniversary of my accident, Doctor X examined my x-rays and gave me the thumbs-up. Yes! ☺

And so it happened, I registered for the TBRDM (The Bull Runner Dream Marathon) the day it opened up. I didn’t know if I could finish a 42k but I knew I can commit to the training program it will demand from me.

Just to give you a rough idea of where I was – I was almost 200 pounds with zero run for more than 2 years, and the longest I’ve ran was 10K. Good luck to me!

The 5 Months Training.

About two weeks before the training program started, I had started to run – short runs, like 20-30 minutes inside our village. Actually, I would walk more than half of the time because I would run out of breath. It was hard, painful, sometimes discouraging. 1k took me 12 minutes!

I remember the first bull session clearly. I joined the 3:1 group not really knowing how it’s like, was really slow, and I ended up doing 2:1. Thank you to the TBR pacer who ran/walked with me all the way. I was still slow but way better than 12 minutes per km. This session gave me hope.

I missed the next bull sessions and circles because of work. I was out of the country most of the time. This said, I was able to stay the course with the training program wherever I was, at least 90% of the time. And I got to attend the last Bull Session in Nuvali and the last Bull Circle about Taper and Nutrition, which were very helpful. I also got to test the Nuvali roads/hills twice for my 24k and 28k LSDs, and they were grueling! I could not imagine how I could finish 42k come marathon day!

February 22, 2015 – TBRDM Day.

I followed the program for the week and the day, specifically the suggested intake for carbs/electrolytes. But the sleep time reco was hard to do, I could barely sleep, out of nervousness and excitement I guess. I had my 5 months training behind me, I just had to trust that it carries me through the finish line. I was a bit nervous. The Nuvali terrain is not a joke.

It was 2am and off we go. My strategy was to start slow, conserve energy, conserve the legs, hydrate and eat often. The race course was a good two loops of Nuvali hilly roads. The goal – run my own race and finish.

I thought I had executed my strategy well in the first loop. The thing is, the race course was hard enough that it did not allow me to conserve anything for the second loop, particularly the long inclines. By the time I reached the 30k mark, the pain had crept in, i.e. cramps all over – toes, calves, quads, hamstrings, you name it. This forced me to walk. When it sort of disappeared, I’d tried to run, and then it started all over. Quitting came to mind but was never an option. As they say – pain is temporary but the glory is forever. From then on, it was all mental and heart.


At 9:54am, I crossed the finish line and I am now a marathoner! With only 5 months of training (from scratch), it was a fulfilling journey and finish. It was all worth it. I had conquered the fortyfreakin’two!

I dedicate this marathon finish to my niece, Cecille. She is a true symbol of hope, faith and love, having fought and survived the dreaded “C”. Her courage and patience inspired me to run and finish this marathon.

I want to thank my wife Betsy, a.k.a. the swimjunkie, for inspiring me to undertake this task, and for pacing and pushing me on marathon day.

I also want to thank my boys, my family, Doc X and friends who provided moral support, constantly reminding me directly or indirectly, that I can do it.

I want to recognize the people behind this wonderful event, that is, The Bull Runner Dream Marathon – Jaymie Pizarro, the coaches, the organizers, sponsors, Dream Chasers, volunteers, batch mates and everyone behind the scene. It was indeed a great marathon and a well-organized event for beginners. I wouldn’t have made it without you.

When I signed up for the marathon, I didn’t think I could finish a 42k. But I did, alongside many brave beginner marathoners. I hope to inspire others – you can do it. I read somewhere that 1) once you make a decision that you will not fail, your heart and body will follow; and 2) Finishing a marathon is a state of mind that says anything is possible. True.

To God be the Glory!

Dare to dream. And keep on running… Thank You TBRDM!