“The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama. It has competition. It has camaraderie. It has heroism. Every jogger can’t dream of being an Olympic champion, but he can dream of finishing a marathon.” – Fred Lebow
I finished the Cebu City Marathon in 5:11:13 (official time) or 36 minutes faster than my first marathon time of 5:47set last October at the QCIM.
With Coach Precing Capangpangan
But my biggest story of marathon triumph is about one of the last four guys who crossed the finish line that day – my husband Eugene.
Eugene and I are hardly ever together in the same place. We’ve been married for a little over three years now, but if we count the number of days we’ve been together it won’t reach 365.
It is not true what the cliché says about distance making the heart grow fonder. Instead, time and distance can erode affection and the lack of shared experience can make strangers of two people, more so when you have little in common to begin with. We were in trouble and just about ready to give up.
So it was a big surprise when after dragging him to Coach Jim Saret’s lecture at the CCM running clinic, he registered for the 42K instead of the original plan of running only 5K while I do my second marathon.
On the day we registered, my training was peaking while
MF: It’s just a month and a half away. There’s not enough time for training.
MF: 42K isn’t 2 miles.
MF: You could die you know.
MF: Why do you want to do the full marathon? You never liked running.
I continued to train in Cebu while
We agreed to run the race, but at different paces. The plan was for me to come back for him at the Fuente Osmena circle and escort him in the final six kilometers -- almost like running an ultra. Eugene's general race day plan was to run right behind Twinkle Ignacio. It is Sinulog after all and surely, the race officials will wait for the only runner carrying the image of the Sto. Nino.
I met my best friend Mary and her husband John at the finishline. They both ran the 5K race and decided to wait with me. The clock kept ticking - 6:00, 6:15, 6:25. Twinkle already crossed the finishline still there was no sign of Eugene and Raffy.
At 7:05, Joel Juarez, the lead motorcycle marshall appeared and told us the last four runners were at JY Square. "Did you find my husband? Puti iyang singlet, kuyog sila Raffy?" Joel said Yes.
I cried again, only this time, from sheer and utter relief. The clearest thought that was running through my head was that if Eugene died that day running a marathon for me, I would be totally heartbroken and would never recover. You know what they say, 'you don't know what you got till it's gone'.
Soon, Raffy and Eugene appeared running hand in hand at the last 300 meters. Everyone was clapping. As I stood there waiting for Eugene to cross the finishline it was as if a cloud had lifted and I was seeing him clearly for the first time.
Raffy and Eugene crossed the finishline together at 7:10:15 (official time). Eugene had cramps as early as KM 14 and again at KM 18. They ran and walked the rest of the way where they met rookie runners Cliff Abraham and Rex Wagas who were hobbling because they were wearing new shoes on race day! Eugene and Raffy found their second wind at KM 35, but refused to leave behind Cliff and Rex, who were the last two to cross at 7:20:59.
All those 26.2 miles became the shortest distance between
Eugene and I are a work in progress, and we realize that we need to work harder than most. The words commitment, perseverance and sacrifice best describe not just what it takes to train for the marathon, but also what it takes to keep any relationship going.
My practice continues to keep me bound here in Cebu and Eugene's obligation to God and country will continue to keep him away from home. As for time and distance, it will hopefully be nothing more than a reading on a GPS watch.
With Raffy Osumo, Mary and John Lood
Photo credits: Crestina Boholst, Marlen Del Mar-Limpag, Michael Enriquez, Mary Valero-Lood