Dream Marathon Story: John Paul Buhain, Bib No. 116

Friday, 13 March 2015  |  Interviews + Features


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 is part of 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. (more…)


Thursday, 30 May 2013  |  Race Reports

As is the tradition of TBR Dream Marathon, after the race, I post anecdotes about the marathon that I receive in my Inbox from our new marathoners. My inbox gets inundated with stories of triumph, love, gratitude, passion, and empowerment that it’s too much of a waste if only I read it. Through this series of stories (one every week for the next couple of months), may you all be inspired to run a marathon or dream big in your own lives.

Mark’s story struck me.  I had never read a race report with such raw emotions.  He spoke from the heart and held nothing back.  If you think of it, he probably wrote it the same way he ran the marathon.

His story is one of sadness, pain, strength, and triumph all rolled into one.  It shows the mix of emotions one undergoes not only during training, while running the marathon, but also after the race.  As for Mark, it was even more emotional as he ran the race for his dearly departed wife.


[CHAPTER 1: Marathon High]

I dedicate this run for Aubrey, my beloved wife who passed away last December 2012. She whispered words of encouragement and motivation. And, threw flying kisses from heaven. She teased me about all the crazy stuff I did while she was gone. She told me she supports me in everything I’ll do …and that she’d be there whenever I need her.

Last picture together at Themed Christmas Party
– Audrey and Mark’s last picture together at a themed Christmas Party –

Only the crazy run a marathon. Jim Lafferty, co-founder of The Bull Runner Dream Marathon said, “at 10:00 this moring, you will say something that 99.99% of the world population cannot say. You are going to be able to say, I am a marathoner!”

Now, I am even crazier than the 0.01%. I ran the marathon with fever, colds, and cough on a tough course – at Nuvali. There were 60 degrees long inclines and declines, as described by a friend and fellow marathoner. Pushing it beyond your limits is an understatement. Running this marathon was going to hell with all its demons pulling you deeper into its depths.

Bull Runner Dream Marathon 1
– Mark at the early portions of the race –

Sanity almost got the best of me. Even before reaching the 21K mark, I wanted to quit. I was sick. I felt really terrible. It’s a good thing I posted earlier that I would come home triumphant. I didn’t want to eat my own words. I made sure I was overflowing with nutrition. Also, Jim Lafferty said that you could never DNF.

I cried as I neared the finish line. But, wiped my tears before crossing it. I didn’t want tears in my pics.

Bull Runner Dream Marathon - Finish Line2
– Mark emotional as he nears the finish line –

I thank my personal pacer, Paolo Agbulos. Without him, I would have DNF’ed. And I would also like to thank Aubrey, who sent kisses and ran the marathon with me.

Now, I’m wasted. My whole body is sore, with elevated fever. Fortunately, the organizers and volunteers made the race fun. Seeing odd and funny stations like a Kikay Station (to make you look good for photo ops), a Breast Feeding Station (for marathoner/mothers), and a Beer Station (with a tiny “root” before the word beer), among many others, lifts you up.

Completing a marathon sick is still quite an accomplishment, even with a slow time. No, it is a big accomplishment. I AM A MARATHONER!!!

[CHAPTER II: Post Marathon Blues, What is the meaning of Life.]

I’m feeling a little low. I’ve learned I’m really tough.

My heart, mind, spirit and body has been through extreme challenges and survived. My whole being has reached its peak.

I know I can face anything. I have the capability to give it everything I’ve got. I did it. I’m a winner. I fell into a deep hole, climbed out, and ended up reaching the peak of the highest mountain. I was happy to see… the sunrise for awhile… But lost meaning.

So, what now?

Sure, I could set higher goals and achieve them. I could become stronger. But, why?

Right now, I rather be weak if that would mean being with the person who makes me happy.

[CHAPTER III: Pure Joy.]

Aubrey fought all the battles with me, even in the events before the marathon. She was there every step of the way, to help me during my darkest hours, and even consenting to all the craziness I did. All the trials ended with completing a marathon at my worst physical condition. She ran with me, too. But when I crossed the finishline, everyone else was there, and she was gone. The person whom I share challenges and victories with is gone.

Last night, I called out to her. She said with a smile, “Victory is all yours. Look at you. You don’t need me anymore…”

Bull Runner Dream Marathon - Finish Line
– Mark holds back tears as he crosses the finish of TBR Dream Marathon –

* Editor’s Note: We highly discourage runners from participating in races especially marathons when they are ill.  Please prioritize your health.


Friday, 22 March 2013  |  Bullish Insights

As is the tradition of TBR Dream Marathon, after the race, I post anecdotes about the marathon that I receive in my Inbox from our new marathoners. My inbox gets inundated with stories of triumph, love, gratitude, passion, and empowerment that it’s too much of a waste if only I read it. Through this series of stories (one every week for the next couple of months), may you all be inspired to run a marathon or dream big in your own lives.

TBR DREAMERS 2013: Efren & Vangie Gregorio
Bib Nos. 322 & 323

By Efren Gregorio

I’m a MILO 42K finisher with traumatic experience and once said to myself “I will not repeat this insanity, ever.” And in my wife’s case, she cannot hide her fear to go the full distance. But when I heard from a colleague (a TBR alumni) about TBR and started visiting its blog, I said to myself “we will join this running family.” Unfortunately, we missed the 2012 batch and I started to lose hope. Luckily, during RU1 last July 2012, I chanced upon Jaymie (I don’t know if she can recall it) at a water station in front of PICC and I said: “Hi Jaymie, good morning! I and my wife wanted to join your Dream Marathon but we don’t know how.” She replied: “Yes sir we will be glad to welcome both of you” and she whispered “Just visit my blog and I will have an announcement, MAYBE in September. Okay sir, let’s run to the finish line.” True to her words, in September we were able to register but not without a hitch and I know everybody in batch 2013 knows what that hitch is all about. Ha ha ha!

Our preparation started like this, from all Bull Circles and Bull Sessions we attended, we eagerly and enthusiastically absorbed every pieces of advice from coaches Lit, Jun and the two Jims (Lafferty and Saret). From doctors who explained the relation of medicine during training and, to avoid injuries and life threatening illnesses that a marathoner can get. And from other TBR alums who shares their experiences and spares some tips to all next dreamers wannabe. So, when the penultimate D-Day came (February 24, 2013) we’re ready!

We could say that our TBR Dream Marathon is a once-in-a-life-time and unforgettable experience in our running career. Only in this foot race that we didn’t feel the atmosphere of competition and time pressure but rather feels like participating in a big family gathering wherein all participants are all familiar faces. During the race we are overwhelmed by the support of TBR organization, like the never-ending supplies of everything a runner could want and more. You name it, over-flowing water and Gatorade in 3 flavors, the expensive GU Power Gel, salt supplement in capsule that when you missed it a piece or two of Chippy will be offered for the pickings, chocolates, gummy bears, oranges, apples, bananas, massage, singing bands and many more. But the most “supply” we can say that you can’t buy is the unselfish and dedicated expression of TBR’s motto: “pay it forward” by the TBR Alumnae. A heart-felt thanks to Joseph Nebrida and Philip of Batch 2012 who paced my wife and her co-running pace during the last part of the second loop. Also thanks to Craig Logan (Batch 2010) for his gummy bears. Ha ha ha!

– Efren running steady-

– Vangie all smiles! –

We knew from the beginning that our family will be there to support us. We also knew about the Dream Bus wherein our family will be carried to the running course. But we didn’t know the real effect of that encounter with our family during those times when you feel down and out of strength and suddenly seeing our son 10 feet away giving me a power bar, OMG! I want to cry! For both of us, it is like a second wind and that we wanted to finish strong. But the most memorable and incomparable one is when we crossed the finish line. Yes our two sons were there, but my brother? My two eldest sisters and my nephew with his wife in tow were there too? Inside of me it’s just a BIG BIG WOW! On my wife’s part she didn’t expected them too to be there, and to add more tearful feeling, she and my sisters had this indescribable friction that is very normal and standard to every Filipino family, that when she crossed the finish line she was hugged, kissed and congratulated by her long lost in-laws. Whew that is the most nerve wreaking feeling we savored on that D-Day! After all was said and done (the greetings, the picture takings and congratulatory words), it was known that our eldest son was the culprit to all these beautiful happenings. He said he used the FB and the text medium. Ang galing!

– Efren flashes his TBRDM medal –

Now as both alumnae (naks!), we learned also to respect not just other runners but also the course’s conditions and its landscape offerings. TBR, you really made us wiser as a runner and instill in our minds that nothing is impossible if you really do it the right way.

Again, to Jaymie and the TBR Dream Team THANK YOU for the journey!

TBR DM Story: Candice Belza, Bib No. 065

Wednesday, 11 April 2012  |  Bullish Insights

I’m a sucker for love stories. Toss in a bit of marathoning to the mix and I’m hooked.

Here’s a great running love story from TBR Dream Marathoner Candice Belza, Bib No. 065…


Teamwork. Commitment.That’s what my first marathon is all about.

My pacer who became a marathoner in the recent Condura Skyway race got sick (sorethroat, diarrhea and fever) 2 days before the TBR Dream marathon day. Since I had cramps in the St. Luke’s EYE Run a week before, I was scared of 42k. Even dreaded it more because my pacer was sick and I might not make it without him. But he promised to run for me and with me. After all, we had been training for March 18, 2012 for 5 months.

Race day came and we had a strong start. We were pacing it right. No sign of fatigue during the first half. However, at 24km, my pacer felt bloated and started to feel the urge to make a potty break. We had to make long walks and short runs. Finally, the potty break at the top of the hill. He asked me if I was going to wait. Of course I was going to wait for him. I waited and while the runners were passing by… I felt that everyone else was ahead and that my pacer was taking too long. I was disappointed and I was in a hurry. There was a little voice that told me to go ahead. I felt strong and could make a sub 5. My pacer even suggested that I go ahead. But I could not leave him behind. He was there for me all throughout my long runs in the 5 months of training and never left me even if he thought I was a pain in the ass. I chose to run with him notwithstanding the little competitive voice that told me to go for a strong finish and hug the spotlight.

We ran together. Walked together. I didn’t complain.  At 32 km, he paced himself and admitted to me that he was getting tired. While I reminded him of why we were running, I felt very strong during the race. I didn’t hit a wall. I made sure that my pacer and I would cross the finish line together. And we did finish strong at 5:52 for all our 3 children to see! I believe I became tough on race day because I had to support my husband. And that is what it is all about.

Marathoning brings out the best in you just like in a Marriage. It’s teamwork for those who are committed to succeed.  Happy anniversary, honey!

TBR DM Story: Team Rock and Road

Tuesday, 27 March 2012  |  Bullish Insights

TBR Dream Marathon launches with registration in September, officially begins training in October, and culminates in March for race day. We’re together for 22-weeks of talks and clinics. It is inevitable that deep friendships and strong bonds are formed from our runners. They sign up as strangers and are bonded for life after they cross the finish. It’s a gift from joining TBR Dream, probably just as significant as the 42km finishers’ medal.

Here’s a story written by Allan Gregor Bulos, Bib #079 about his team: Team Rock and Road.


I have never written anything in my life. But something about my experience at the TBR Dream Marathon 2012 made me feel that I had to write. This is a story, no a journey of love, life, laughter and most of all friendship.

This is Team Rock and Road…

Allan Gregor Bulos (Bib# 079), Elvin Pastorfide (Bib# 17,Pacer), Goldy Dela Cruz (Bib# 159), Jonard Aries Gamboa (Bib# 210), Kristine Joy Cerame (Bib# 107), Riz Damaso (Bib# 141), Rosemarie Beltran (Bib# 063), Marie Joyce Negepatan (Bib# 365), Christopher Sta. Cruz (Bib# 517)

We are a small group of Runners/Mountain Climbers. Out of that small group, 7 first time marathoners (Me, Jonard and Joy – The Lovers, Joyce – Ms. Shy Ako, Riz – Ms. Estuar Legs, Goldy – The Female Mamaw & Chris – The Joker), 1 who’s looking for running her second marathon (Rose – The Experienced one), and a willing pacer (Master Elvin) ran The Bull Runner Dream Marathon last March 18. (I would often think of these monikers in my head when we were out running or just hanging around together,hehehe).

– The ever growing Pinoy Fitness Family –

Six months ago, we barely knew each other. We were just casual acquaintances over Facebook and members of the Pinoy Fitness Forum. We would occasionally talk with each other within a thread even though we haven’t really me each other. We technically registered separately for the TBR Dream Marathon. When the registration started, I signed up for myself. At the time of registration, some of us were already running since 2010 and some of us started just on 2011 including me (I started joining Fun Runs last May 2011). Luckily, all of us made the list, not knowing what will happen in the next few months.

Some of us, knew each other longer that the others. I only knew Joy, Jonard, Joyce, Elvin & Chris. Joyce only knew Rose, Goldy, Chris and Me. Rose only knew Joyce. And so on and so forth(I even remember clearly when I was trying to introduce Joyce to Joy and Jonard but being the shy person she was, was reluctant to do so, hehe).


– Joyce, Mr. Yakult (Gabe Mercado), Me and Rose –

The seed of the group was planted last November 30, after a run event at Ultra. The most of us, bound together by the love of running and the dwelling curiosity on Mountain Climbing, got together.

– Joyce and Joy (Magkakilala na sila dito, hehe) –

– With Jc,one of the members of the Team –

Then, the serious training for the Marathon came. We planned long runs together through UP & Nuvali. We sacrificed time and “alone” times for the event. We would change our schedules so that all of us could run on the same route. We would pace each other during races. We would look out for each other for posts in the TBR page. Luckily, we all managed to get slots on all of the Shuttle Services to and from Nuvali (I even remembered when we just got from mountain climbing that the sign-up sheet was posted, that we registered through the cellphone of Jonard), we even managed to get slots for the Gatorade test. It was one for all, and all for one!

– At UP just after the Holidays –

– Valentine’s Day LSD with other TBRDM Batchmates –

– LSD at Shotgun (Rodriguez, Rizal), that’s me crawling, hehe –

– We managed to get slots for the Nuvali Shuttle –

– At the Gatorade Sweat Test –

– With The Bull Runner herself (photo credits to Mark Tibo-oc & Luzel Franco) –

The Day before the race, we carbo loaded in an eat all you can restaurant. We talked about our planned race paces. We agreed that we would run with our own pace then would meet up at the finish buffet. Then we headed to the hotel where we have reserved for the event. We even had a film viewing of “One More Chance” starring John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo (current favorite film of the group, hehe), just to get our mind off what we will do the next day.

Then it was the race day itself. It was a very festive atmosphere. Picture taking here and there, everyone giving pleasantries to each other, laughter in the air, everybody was loosening up. We even had a picture of the Pinoy Fitness Family near the starting line. After which Coach Jim, Neville, Jaymie made their remarks, encouragements then set us off.

– Just before the start (photo credits to Active Moments) –

( I can only tell the story of my race because I, along with Elvin, ran at our pace)

We were off…

We were running at the planned pace, attacking the up hills properly, rolling along the down hills to conserve energy. We were giving high five’s, greeting and growling as we passed each other.

– Me and Elvin at one of the Dream Chasers Zone (Photo credits to Yongsky) –

We ran first half of the Marathon in only 2:03:00. But I soon found out, the real race really was at the second half. We were maintaining a good pace right until the 28th km when I started to tire and slow down.

By the 35th km, I finally got my second wind that lasted for only 1km before side stitches attacked. So I just decided the last few km’s of the run and not worry about any target finish time.

– One of the numerous walk breaks –

– Wrong timing on an attempt for a jumpshot (photo credits to Aquiz) –

But by the 40th km or so, while passing the Second Wind Zone, a friend sprayed me with a mist of very cold water. It suddenly recharged my drained batteries that I ran the remaining distance at a pace of 5min/km. (Spoke with Elvin that I will try to run at a 5min/km pace, he said, “siga una ka na, hehe”)

– After 5:00:57 (5:00:50 based on chip time), I finished my first marathon (photo credits to Active Moments) –

After finally crossing the finish line at a time of 5:00:57, I let out a grunt then waited for Elvin.

– Elvin sprinting to the finish line –

Shortly after I vaguely heard the announcer say “Here’s a runner from Pinoy Fitness, ay pacer pala sya, nasaan na yung pinapace nya, nauna na? Pero ganun naman talaga ang trabaho ng pacer, to ensure the one being paced will finish” (Job well done indeed)

After which, we posted for some pictures, got the loot bags, deposited them at the baggage and, being the first of our group, headed back for the others.

– Rose finishing her second marathon –

We first came across Rose, she was looking strong, and based on the blog she wrote last time after she ran her first marathon, and she was enjoying The Bull Runner Dream Marathon more. (Well, who wouldn’t??)
Upon passing Rose, we assumed that, Goldy, Jonard, Joy, and Riz had already made the turn at the 38th km that we didn’t see them.

– Goldy, all smiles near the finish line –

– Joy and Jonard sprinting to the finish line, together, as always (photo credits to Active Moments) –

– Riz, with the matching “closed eyes para feel na feel” finish, hehe –

Next we came across Joyce. I personally was happy for her; she was still running strong without any sign of pain. She had a case of runner’s knee just weeks before the Marathon and she was beginning to doubt herself. Good job Joyce!

– Joyce, finishing her first marathon with smiles all by herself (photo credits to Active Moments) –

After she left us, we decided to wait for Chris, the last of us. We walked right up until the first Dream Chaser’s Tent and waited for him there. Upon seeing him, we could already tell that his legs were already wasted (He had cramps on the 26th km). But he was undoubtedly enjoying the run (He was even smiling and laughing). We decided to pace Chris up to the finish. Unfortunately, chaffing suddenly developed between my inner thighs because my shorts and sweat had already dried up. I told them to go ahead and we’ll just meet at the club house. While Chris and Elvin took the right turn at the 38th km, I walked to the clubhouse where the others were waiting.

– Elvin pacing Chris this time near the finish line –

After the event, we headed back to the Hotel for a quick shower then headed off to Goldy’s house for some well-deserved post run celebration.

Truthfully, this run made so many dreams possible, it may not be my fastest but it may be the best marathon I will ever run. And I would be lying if I will say that I will never run this far again. In fact, we are already picking out from the rest of our teammates who haven’t run a marathon yet for us to be their pacer/chaser. We will definitely look out for this event every year from now on.
Yes, the Marathon will definitely humble you, but it will also teach you a lesson or two. And all that pain, suffering, hard work, training, sleepless nights, hundreds of kilometers, carbo loading, scheduled sick leaves (hehe), anticipation for the new posts at the TBR Site, the planned practice routes and the time spent on wondering what to wear is so much worth it, especially when you have a group of friends surrounding you.

I speak for the team that we would like to thank The Bull Runner, Ms. Jaymie Pizarro and Coach Jim Lafferty for creating an event like no other. Coach Lit and Neville for the lessons and tips we have learned. And for the rest of the TBR Dream Team for making us Dream Big and for trusting in us that we can Run Strong.