This is the open letter of Reylynne Dela Paz to me as posted on her blog: The Runvocate. Reading it gave me goosebumps and almost brought me to tears.
In her thank you letter, Reylynne basically encapsulated everything we hoped TBR Dream Marathon would be to our runners.
If other race organizers had wish lists for ample hydration, marshals, marketing campaigns, etc. Our wishlist included all those and more. We prayed that our runners, through our regular Bull Sessions and Bull Circles from February to May, would bond so that come marathon time, they would help each other along the way. We hoped that the idea of community—Dream Chasers, cheerers, volunteers, and family—would work and empower the runners to cross the finish. Last but not the least, we wanted the marathon to mean more to the runner than just running 42km. In Reylynne’s case, it symbolized her triumph over the ghosts of last year and a celebration of her newfound strength.
FROM REYLYNNE DELA PAZ, BIB NO. 90
They say that what’s more important is not the destination but the journey. My TBR Dream Marathon proved this true.
Until now, I am still overwhelmed with extreme joy everytime I think of the TBR Dream Marathon. When I talk about it with friends and other runners, I don’t talk about my finish but the experience. Although I was happy with my finish, what was more significant was the atmosphere during the run. I liked it that there was no competition or anything of the sort. All of us, while journeying towards the fulfillment of each of our dreams, were also journeying alongside each other. Everyone wanted nothing but to see everyone cross the finish line without any injury. We’d all encourage each other along the way and that was so amazing. I felt humbled to be with the rest of the runners who were so driven to fulfill their dreams. When I had cramps at Km 30 and could hardly run, what encouraged me aside from the cheerers and my two buddies was the motivation that I saw in the eyes of my classmates. I felt not only that we were a community of dreamers but a family. We celebrated each other’s victory and sympathized and helped each other, including the volunteers and chasers, in times of pain.
I could not stop talking about the marathon. I told my running friends that it was the best race ever, with all the support and very organized logistics, I could not think of anything better.
Although my family was not able to join me in Nuvali, they celebrated with me in finishing my second marathon. It was big deal for them because it proved once again how strong and healthy I am unlike last year when I was suspected of having thyroid cancer. The first quarter of 2009 was one of my darkest moments. As a breadwinner, I dreaded hearing that news that I might have cancer. The fear of who’d take care of my family and all set in. It was also the time when I went through another personal experience that made me so depressed. That time, I was drowned with the desire to live and to die at the same time. I went through several tests that weakened my body to rule out the big C. After a few months, thank God it was negative. Thank God I discovered running and got the chance to be part of the first TBR Dream Marathon.
When close friends asked me about my secret on how I was able to finish the marathon faster than the first one, I told them it was because of the two running buddies who pushed me beyond my limits and kept me company from Km 21 to the finish line. I first came across Kuya Lito who requested me to pace him. I said yes but warned him that I might ruin his target time. He said his target was 4:00, I told him mine was only sub-5. But he said ok. So we ran a kilometer together and met Kuya Brian. I did not know what his target time was but he decided to join us or Kuya Lito and I decided to join him.
I learned that Kuya Lito was a competing runner during his high school days but stopped due to a doctor’s advise who said he could not run anymore because his knees could no longer handle it. So he set aside running for quite a while but decided to reunite with it recently and proved his doctor wrong. Kuya Brian, on the other hand, is a runner and a cyclist. The TBR Dream Marathon was their first.
After running a few kilometers together, I told them to just go ahead because cramps wanted to join the TBR Dream Marathon too! It was so painful I wanted to stop and just walk the rest of the race. But they stayed with me and helped me deal with it until it’s gone. They encouraged me to keep on running. They jogged with me not minding how it would affect their target time. They’d also remind me to slow down on downhills after I told them I have scoliosis which was why I had a bad run during Condura. In short, I had new-found Kuyas who took good care me and were more conscious than I was that I be the first woman finisher. I loved the way we fulfilled our promise that whatever happens we’d cross the finish line together. When Kuya Lito was feeling the pain in his knees and asked us to run ahead, we also did not leave him. We walked with him so his knees could get some rest. Kuya Brian was the strongest among us. After crossing the 32 km post, he started to coach us until the finish line. He’d tell us when to stop to rest and when to run at what pace so we could finish well. He even reminded us to fix up as we were approaching the finish line so we’d look good on camera.
I heard him say countless times that pain was just in the mind and I realized he was right.
I owe that strong and fast finish to them, to my classmates, to the volunteers and organizers, to Coach Jim and to you.
In this run, I gained not just a wonderful medal and finisher’s shirt, loot bag and souvenirs but also fresh perspective and friends.
I don’t know how to thank you enough.