NEW YORK – As a young boy my husband Marvin’s favorite superhero was Flash. As a kid, he loved to run. One of our sons’ favorite “Young Papa” stories is about a running mishap. While in grade school, Marvin would always run around during recess time. One time, while he was doing his Flash moves, he accidentally bumped into a classmate who was holding a bottle of Coca Cola. His classmate, who was a lot bigger than him, said “Palitan mo yan!” Fortunately, everything was settled amicably, the Coke was replaced, Marvin continued to run and they’re still friends up to now.
Marvin is the type who cannot be without physical activity for a prolonged period of time. He dabbled in a lot of sports – basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, bowling, biking, etc. When on vacation and lying around talking and reading would be my idea of bliss, he would need to go out and do something physical, even just for an hour. There was a time during the early part of our marriage when he would bike to the office. He would take a shower in the office and change into his office clothes, which he carried in his backpack. He also did a 42 kilometer bike race in Antipolo.
So it was not a surprise to me when he decided to do his first full marathon. He had been running prior to the running craze in Manila but it was only this year that he decided to run a full marathon. He said, “When you reach midlife, you want to try something new. You want to test your limits again.” I am all out support on this adventure knowing full well that some men who reach this age do try something new to prove that they still have what it takes and some of these “something new” may involve far riskier endeavors.
Six months ago he picked his first marathon. He wanted it to be memorable and chose the New York Marathon as his baptismal marathon. The New York Marathon has been running since 1970 held every first Sunday of November and the biggest race participated in by around 50,000 professional and amateur runners from around the world. It courses through the five boroughs of New York City and is probably the biggest street festivity in the world.
Six months ago he started training for his first marathon. He and his running buddies Jojo and PJ ran regularly early in the morning before going to work in Makati. That meant getting up as early at 4:30 am on their running days. As his training came closer to The Day, he had to do long runs every weekend. It was quite convenient that because of the running craze back home, it was easy for him to join and complete his 10K, 21K all the way to 32K. According to the trainer, you don’t need to run a full 42K to prepare for your first full marathon. Maybe the last 10K will be your leap of faith and your adrenalin will get you through the last kilometers.
It was not a walk in the park to prepare for the marathon. It meant no late nights on weekends and weekdays before their long runs. There were a couple of Saturday nights when he had to stay up a bit late because we hosted social gatherings for our son’s class being among the Parent Representatives. These two nights meant just a few hours of sleep prior to long runs, which are really bad for your body. But somehow, he managed to get by just fine. We were able to join him in some races – as cheerers and, for the boys, sometimes as participants running 5-10K with him. On most Sunday runs, he would be back mid morning with pasalubong breakfast for me and the boys.
Finally, our scheduled flight to the Big Apple came. All our bags were packed, his ipod was already loaded with his requested music care of our youngest son. It had songs like New York New York by Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli, Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys, among others. We had to pass by Macau for some official business and fortunately, that spared us from the cancellation of flights to New York due to Super Storm Sandy. Our flight went on smoothly as scheduled. We arrived here on November 1, with news of Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement that the marathon would definitely push through. My Runner was in high spirits!
On November 2 we had our breakfast in our hotel overlooking the Central Park where we saw lot of marathon runners doing their morning run. I looked at him and saw a happy smile on his face and maybe a longing to join to test the grounds and the temperature, but he decided that he will do his in the afternoon. That happy smile thrilled me as I saw a glimpse of My Runner, My Flash finally fulfill a dream he worked hard for.
We met up with his running buddies to go to the Expo to get their bibs (their runners’ numbers which they pin on their chest) and other paraphernalia. Rina, PJ’s wife, and I were the cheerleaders who fell in line with them to get in. I never expected that the line would be almost a kilometer long! But no one was complaining, it was a joyful event. There were people of all sizes and shapes, as family members, even kids in strollers, went to show support. And this was just getting the bibs. Can you imagine how it would be during the actual run? We had a kick having their photos and videos taken for their souvenir photo/video package. Filipinos are really tops when it comes to picture-taking. We found ourselves doing it for the longest time – with solo, group and with wives versions!
After the expo, we were treated to a sumptuous lunch by New York friends and colleagues. Back at the hotel. we were taking a rest when the phone rang, “Pare, check the news, the marathon has been cancelled!” was PJ’s delivery of the sad news. It took a while before the news sank in. Marvin went down the lobby to talk to his running buddies. For sure, they were frustrated and downtrodden, especially My Runner who was going to have his first. But no one can really blame the mayor for the announcement. The NY Marathon is also the biggest street party in the world and it may be very insensitive to have one in the midst of all the tragedy that happened in the city. Maybe the announcement could have been done a little bit earlier but I’m sure Bloomberg had his reasons.
Marvin came back to the hotel room not very expressive of his feelings about the whole thing. I asked if he wanted to express his frustration and all he gave was, “Argh!” In a short while he went to bed to sleep.
Hitting the wall:
Any marathon runner is warned about “hitting the wall.” This term means the point where you reach a total exhaustion or fatigue, a loss of energy that you feel you cannot make any more progress.
I never expected that My Runner would hit the wall even before the start of his marathon. But probably this is what he experienced after the news sank in, after talking things out with his friends. He lost energy and can’t seem to do anything. He hit the wall!
When one hits the wall, the best thing to do is to take a deep breath, plot and regroup. And I think that’s what he’s doing now as he sleeps. I see him heave some sighs and toss and turn as I write this piece. But I know he will be okay tomorrow. I know something good will still come out of this.