My First Marathon at TBRDM

How does one capture a perfect moment in words?

I’m no trained writer.  I feel utterly inadequate chronicling what I’ve experienced.  Words don’t seem enough.  I can’t seem to find the right adjectives to describe the mixture of emotions I felt in that race called The Bull Runner Dream Marathon — excited, happy, overwhelmed, grateful, surprised, amazed, tearfully happy?

My marathon experience was one I would like to relive over and over again. Yes, including the exhaustion and pain. For at the finishline  was total bliss!


Jun & I headed to Sta. Rosa  May 21, Fri, right after lunch.  It will just be Jun & myself as nobody could take the kids to Nuvali on race day.  My sister who I asked to bring the kids had prior commitments on the day of the race that she couldn’t get out of.  Anyway, I didn’t want to insist as I was also thinking how awkward it would be if I forced them to be there and I didn’t finish.  Just as well…

We checked-in in El Cielito at 3pm where we bumped into Jaymie & Neville on their way out to the race site.  An hour’s rest, early dinner 5pm  at the Paseo, a quick peek at the race site and brief chat with Jaymie & Edward and we’re off heading back to the hotel for a planned early knock-off at 7pm and a wake-up call at 12mn that would give me 5 hours sleep.

That was not to be had though.  The mariposas in my stomach wouldn’t let me rest.  I guess Jun had butterflies albeit smaller in his for we both slept at around 8pm and found him awake already at 10pm. I knew he was a little nervous for me.  The blue sole had been edgy the whole day and I even kidded him to chill while driving to Sta. Rosa “Hon, you’re nervous din ano?”  He momentarily stopped and only gave a smile.  Hah, confirmed! He’s nervous for me.  I thought that was sweet.

So with 2 hours light sleep, we geared-up and proceeded to Nuvali.  We thought we were early but the place was already busy and charged.  The excitement was evident everywhere.

We stayed a while at the Dream Marathon Support area where dream chasers Banggi and Bobby were lacing up.  Mommy Kim arrived and we proceeded to the starting line.  I was one of the first few runners in the corral where I was joined later on by Dra. Lora, a 2nd-time marathoner and her hubby who will be pacing her. We were early so there were a lot of opportunity for stretching, chatting and of course, some photo ops.

Jun sending me off at the Starting Line

Coach John, Nana Mayen, Mommy Kim, Jun, me, Dra. Lora & hubby

Ready... get set...


A brief, inspiring talk from race director, Jim Lafferty with Jaymie and a  heart-felt prayer from Team Logan and we were ready.  At exactly 2am, we, approximately 250 dream marathoners were off.  It was a happy send-off.  The runners were charged and inspired and I’m pretty sure being first-time/second-time  marathoners only, are pretty much nervous too on how each one will fare in this new territory.

KM 1-10

I started slow as Jun painfully reminded me.  I just tried to warm-up my legs with a slow pace trying to get my rhythm.  This wasn’t the time to speed up so I let my legs and body get used to the beat.  Just as well for the first 2kms took us to a route across the highway where only fog lamps lighted our way.  Some parts were dark so I took out my teeny-weeny led-lighted flashlight.  I took a peek at my Garmin and found I was within range of my slow pace.

Going back to Solenad rounding the commercial area, happy Takbo peeps  cheered runners on.  They were a happy bunch and I loved their cheering!  Great job! Thanks to Yvette and company for the hearty cheer!

Going towards the Nuvali Road, was where I first felt I was in a marathon.  It was dark.  Only  streetlamps provided some light.  The pack was thinning.  I was on my own.

I felt good though and has found my rhythm.  I dutifully took my gel at 8k as planned.

Then the surprise… the turn towards the bird sanctuary turned out to be a long 2km trail.  Uugh, no runner immediately before nor behind me but runners on their way back would be passing me from time to time.  There were marshals along the way but still there would be long stretches when I would be alone.  I was so thankful for that tiny flashlight Jun bought me.  It lighted my path and allowed me to run still albeit slowly and carefully.  But, I must say there was no instance i felt unsafe.  I almost tripped twice though but that’s just the “lampa” in me. hahaha

Picture this…. only, it’s pitch black at 3am…

2km dirt road --- spicing up the route!

gravel trail to the gazebo turn-around --- 100% walk

KM 11-20

Guess what?  A short but uphill gravel path awaits at the turn-around.  This one I walked 100% while drinking  some gatorade. This race has many surprises, indeed.

Going back that same dark trail road, nature began calling.  I knew there would be portalets at the turn-around point.  I guess that thought made me ran faster to it.  hahaha  Besides, that long stretch after the trail road was my favorite part of the race route.  One  where I always felt a need to run faster even during our simulation run.  But wait… another surprise awaits — another trail road!!!

Yes, yet another dirt road with a short incline at the turn-around point.  The portalets near the turn-around provided much-needed relief.  Lost 4 1/2 minutes there as the OC in me made sure everything was okay before and after I did my thing.  Brought my tissue paper but the sight of rolls of toilet paper and alcohol was very much welcomed.

With a lighter, more comfortable feeling, I surged on and stepped on the first timing mat at Km 13. Timed in at 1:54.03. The next kilometer was mostly uphill going back the paved road before the next water station at the corner turn.  Caught up with Dra. Lora and hubby and ran with them a while.  She mentioned how this is is not really a newbie route and felt like a more difficult race than Standard Chartered Hongkong because it was  dark, had a rolling terrain and there were trails. ” Woh, really???”  The surprise trails especially the one towards the bird sanctuary was really an awesome experience.  It really added spice to the route.

As I ran on ahead, I passed the Second Wind booth again and again received a hearty cheer from Hector and Mikey.  Thanks guys! You were great!

The race route was actually full of hearty cheerers — the pacers, the race marshals and the Nuvali security men dished out pleasant greetings and encouragements.  Fellow marathoners would often exchange smiles, nods of acknowledgement, waves and cheers.  People were just eager to encourage one another.  What a positive environment.  I loooove it!

Passed the 16km marker and I remembered to take my 2nd gel at this point.  Urgh, intake delayed by 4kms.  Garmin km reading stopped, you see, so I wasn’t able to monitor distance ran and relied on the kilometer markers. It was here that i felt pain in my left hip. Ooh oh… It’s way too early to feel any pain please.  I tried massaging and applying pressure on the area while I ran.  I tried changing my stride, too. Pain still there but was still very manageable. As I saw the Evoliving structure, my pace quickened.  I am always excited seeing that place as I associate it with finishing a run.

KM 21-30

Hah, almost there.  I can see cheerers again!  Most of all, I relish the thought that Jun will be running with me now after fulfilling his marshaling duties.

As planned, he met me after the 2nd round at the commercial area and paced me starting the 2nd loop.  I’ve covered 23kms now, he advised.  He checked how I was, gave me a cup of gatorade to drink, poured some water over my head and took my hydration belt from me. That was a relief!!!  I think he was relieved, too, that my legs still felt good.  I was pacing myself well and hydrating at every water station.  Darkness was receding now and the sky was getting bright.  The 2nd trip to the bird sanctuary trail road felt better in broad daylight and I began chronicling to Jun my experience running this road in the dark.  A cold drink at the gravel road towards the gazebo turn-around awaits.  Mayen was stretching her legs there as she was having cramps.  After asking how she was, we ran on.   I advised him that I felt like going for a restroom break again.  Wehehe I know this will be another laughing matter with the kids when this race is over.  hahaha  Thankfully, the uncomfortable feeling passed.   I felt so full though taking in all the gels, water and gatorade but I knew I had to.  Turning right from the trail, Jun fetched me an icy sponge as I continued to run on.

KM 31-35

A spiritual experience…

31km … 32k …  I was still good to go and I was just overwhelmingly grateful.  I felt so light and alive I just felt like giving thanks to my King.  I was praying.  I was singing praises.  During a long stretch of road, I pictured Him with outstretched arms waiting for me to run to Him.  I did!  My legs quickened without effort.  I barely felt my feet touching the road.  It was an overwhelming experience.  I felt my eyes watering. I couldn’t help raising my hands in praise as I ran.

Whom have I in heaven but You.

There is nothing on earth I desire besides You.

My heart and my strength, many times they fail.

But there is one truth that always will prevail…

God is the strength of my heart

God is the strength of my heart

God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.


Truly, the Lord of Lords lifted me up and carried me through this journey.  I knew whatever happens, He is with me.

KM 36-40

Did I get carried away running that fast?  ha ha ha! I started to feel some pain in my right calf and my left hamstrings.  A bearable discomfort. Good thing another set of my fave dream chasers Bobby and Banggi armed with spray-on pain reliever were stationed not too far ahead. I got a special spraying from Bobby with a GO GO GO cheer from Banggi.

Slowed down considerably at this 5 kilometers stretch conserving my energy. The heat was starting to bother me  and  Jun made sure I get a regular dousing of water.

Then a car of cheerers passed us cheering and enthusiastically shouting my name “Go, go, go Mariel! Galing!” That provided a great boost!  Thanks so much Edward, Raymund, Ella and company!

Jim Lafferty patrolled the route, too, shouting encouragements “Remember, you’re now a marathoner! You’re doing great! ”

I’m sure a lot of runners got some lift and ran faster with those encouragements.

But, this stretch felt looooong.   I see the Evoliving building and I know it’ll be over soon.  Yes, I’m going to finish this!  I’ll be a marathoner before lunch just as Jim Lafferty reminded us at the starting line. Checking on me,  I think the blue sole  felt relieved I was still strong going into the final stretch.  He egged me on…


The Solenad commercial are was within reach.  I knew that just behind that is the finish line.  I increased my pace with Jun leading me … rounding the commercial area with around 400 meters to go … we were speeding up …

Come on, come on!”  Jun was pushing me. ” Do it for the kids … think about the kids …”

I was pounding the pavement with all I’ve got with the blue sole right beside me.

Then, a pleasant bomb…

Just as we saw the finish line Jun  dropped a bomb …” go for the kids …. go, go, go! … andyan sila Bea … andyan silang lahat!” and dropped behind so I couldn’t ask him.

Huh?…   WHAAAAT?!?  Sinong lahat???  Successive questions, confusing thoughts raised through my mind as I raced to the finish line.  Scouring the faces ahead as I ran, I saw my eldest daughter Bea, then  Mikka, then Sofia.  Wow, what a very pleasant  surprise!

marathoner after 5 hours 23 minutes!!!

But that’s not all, as I crossed the line and I saw my sister Jen… then my Mom…  and  my Dad!

You’re all here!!!  HAHAHA  What a surprise!  You’re all here!!! BUHUHUHUHU  You’re all here….

so surprised to see my whole family there I couldn't contain the tears as my sister Jen welcomed me at the finish line.

Dad and Mom (partially covered) engulfing me in a tight hug. (thanks raymund for this pic!)

I chased my dream and made it reality...

... with the help of my dream chaser, my solemate ...

... in a dreamy race envisioned by Jaymie, The Bull Runner...

... with my family as witness. What more can I ask for?

I couldn’t have asked for a better marathon finish story… That was really beyond words!!!

I didn’t expect anyone to be there.  I was content to share whatever triumph I would have with just the blue sole.  Little did I know that a conspiracy was hatched behind my back weeks ago  intending to pleasantly shock me with my family’s presence and more!

To my daughters Bea, Sofia and Mikka, you’re my inspiration, our precious treasures.  I love it that you love our running! love you 3 soooo very much!

To my coach, pacer, solemate, hubby and friend, thanks Hon for training and coaching me. Your continuous encouragements, support and guidance truly made a difference.  I couldn’t have endured the long hours of weekend trainings without you running with me.  You were witness to all the preparations.  You endured too as you also woke up in the wee hours to run LSD’s with me.  That special support encouraged me to train and prepare well for this race.  You helped me run strong and helped give me an enjoyable first marathon experience.  You took good care of me out there. A big big thanks! Thanks a bunch  for cooking up the best surprise ever!  Love you much!!!

To my sister Jen, co-conspirator to this grand surprise, thanks so much for the support, for taking the time  and trouble to give me a memorable marathon and post race celebration!  luvyah sis!

To my mom and dad, my greatest fans, love you guys! mmmwah!

To my Lord, my God, my source of strength, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible. Love you, Lord.

NEXT:  Happy post-race pics and an even happier surprise…


44 Responses to “My First Marathon at TBRDM”

  1. 1 bards May 26, 2010 at 12:17 am

    congratulations mariel! i luv luv happy endings. congratulations also to your family for pulling off the grand surprise. 😀

  2. 3 aileen zaballa May 26, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Congratulations Tita Mariel… This is such an amazing journey and accomplishment!!!
    And kudos to Tito Jun, the kids, Tita Jen and your parents for an awesome after marathon surprise 🙂

  3. 5 dette de venecia May 26, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Hi Mariel!

    I have been waiting for your account….and was really touched reading it…so happy for you…Congratulations! Hmmmm…it makes me also want to join a future TBRM if i have to do a marathon for the first time….thinking….wondering

    Cheers!…and a lot of cheers too to the Blue sole for being such a great training buddy and support to you…always being there for you…


    • 6 thesolemates May 26, 2010 at 10:45 pm

      Hi Dette!!!

      We were so excited receiving your text message that you chanced upon our running blog and even more excited to know that you have taken up running as well.

      Yes, i would very much encourage you to join the next TBRDM. It was such a nice experience. Highly recommended!

      Happy running!


  4. 7 bobby May 26, 2010 at 9:40 am

    congrats tita mariel! wahahaha…almost got teary eyed reading your story, this event was truly amazing that’s why i didn’t pass up on the chance to be there kahit dream chaser lang. anyways, should i say goodluck na for your trip/next marathon in the concrete jungles of NY? 😉

    • 8 thesolemates May 26, 2010 at 10:52 pm

      hey bobby (pangpangkin)! tinanggap ka na ba ng tita jun mo? wahahaha! wasn’t it great we were part of something very special? super thanks for the support! NY? dami pa prayers kailangan diyan. God willing, why not? 😉

  5. 9 Bro J May 26, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Congratulations Mariel! You deserved it! What a great surprise from your family. Is your coach going to have a running clinic soon? please sign me up, hehehe

    Congratulations Jun! You did a good job as coach, friend, pacer, lover, husband, driver, whatever…. You guys are the best! Baby and I are blessed to have you as friends. Thank you for the encouragements and inspiration. God bless you and your family!

    • 10 thesolemates May 26, 2010 at 11:44 pm

      Hi Bro J! So happy the Lord allowed us to be a part of this race. The experience is something else. Sharing that with friends like you makes it all the more special. Congratulations to you and Baby for completing the marathon, too! Great job! Yes, my coach did a fantastic job metamorphosing me into a marathoner. Still can’t believe it! 🙂

  6. 11 kulitrunner May 26, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    hayyy… ano pa nga ba masasabi ko kung hindi, NAIYAK ako sa sobrang touched. 😉 congratulations mariel! super nakaka-proud talaga kayo. 🙂

  7. 13 patrick concepcion / runningshield May 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    great run Mariel. Congratulations on more marathon runs to come. regards

  8. 15 jazzrunner May 26, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Great account of your run, Mariel! Very touching family support too! See you at the races!:-)

  9. 17 dennis May 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Congrats Mariel… now rest up and savor it because pretty soon, I know you two will start training again for Marathon #2! See you guys soon 🙂

  10. 19 sunday warrior May 26, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Congrats on your strong finish and to Jun too for being a good coach..

  11. 21 Dr. Lora May 26, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    A heartwarming finish– you have a beautiful family, Mariel. I am so glad you capped your first marathon experience with tears of joy (pati ako naiyak sa story mo). Great job, coach Jun. Till the next run…

    • 22 thesolemates May 26, 2010 at 11:26 pm

      Hi Dr. Lora! It was really nice running with you and your hubby for a part of the race. Thanks for the kind words. Nakakahawa ba talaga ang pag-emote ko? hehe See you at the next race! 🙂

  12. 23 Scientist Runner May 26, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Truly straight from the heart! Congratulations fellow Dreamer! May the Dream Live On!

  13. 25 run unltd. May 27, 2010 at 7:07 am

    Congratulations Mariel, what else can we say? You rock!
    Vnr & Xty

  14. 27 edwin May 27, 2010 at 8:12 am

    congrats…mariel… you did a great run….

  15. 29 i am a frontRUNNER May 27, 2010 at 8:50 am


    it’s time to take steps beyond 42k!

  16. 31 Joy May 27, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Congratulations! I love your story….it was such a great surprise to see your family and celebrate that one great feat.
    I thank God that I met a lot of wonderful people like you in the process of joining TBR DM!


    • 32 thesolemates May 28, 2010 at 1:33 am

      thanks joy! i count it as blessing to have accomplished this feat with a smile in my heart because i shared it with friends old and new and most of all with my family. congrats to you, too! 🙂

  17. 33 Tin May 28, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Congratulations Mariel!!! A beautiful ending…chanced upon the two you while pacing Kaye…You look like you were just running a 5K with hubby around =) See you in future races!

    • 34 thesolemates May 29, 2010 at 6:53 pm

      Oh hi tin! thanks, i had very able support which made it look and feel like a 5k. haha

      i wish i saw you or realized it was you had i seen you (baka kasi hilo nako nun! hahaha). i love meeting blogger-runners in person especially the ones whose blogs i enjoy reading. hope to see meet you in the future.

      Congrats on your PAU run and fulfilling your pacing duties. I’m sure Kaye is one grateful and happy runner. 🙂

  18. 35 Lit May 29, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Congratulations, Mariel (and Jun)! It was a pleasure to have gotten to know both of you a bit in these past few months. I loved learning about your journey towards your marathon and admire how hard both of you worked towards your goal. Inspiring! I look forward to seeing you guys around. Run happy!

    • 36 thesolemates May 29, 2010 at 6:57 pm

      hi lit, thanks! it was really our pleasure knowing you. the dream marathoners collectively was just inspiring. we hope we get to inspire just as we were inspired by all of you. Congratulations to you, too! You did a great job! – Jun & Mariel

  19. 37 Jen Cristobal May 29, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Hi ate,

    I’ve been reading and re-reading your account and always it bring me to tears specially your experience at km 31-35. Somehow, I am reminded of when I first met Him and it felt like I was floating as I walked home that night. I admire you for chasing your dream and it inspires me. I also saw how kuya jun supported you all the way from start to finish as well as pre and post race. I’ve shared your chronicle with friends and officemates and we are planning to finally join the Nike Clinic very, very soon. Hope we find a coach and trainer as dedicated as the blue sole.

    You look great! Keep running! I’ll always be behind you…trailing behind… hehe! bilis mo na kasi! Love you dearly always.

  20. 38 thesolemates May 29, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Hi Jen,

    I’m glad to have inspired you to run and I can only wish you and your friends the same happy experience.

    I really feel so blessed to have been given this opportunity to realize my marathon dream this early in my running life and finished it strong, happy and satisfied … and totally loved. So happy you were all part of this milestone in my running life.

    You’ll always be my fave sis!;) love you more. 🙂

  21. 39 Nora, the golden girl May 31, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    (let me wipe my tears first . . . )

    (Okay. Let me blow my nose first . . . )

    Na-feel ko talaga lahat ng overwhelming emotions mo, Mariel, and I can’t help but cry. I’m very very happy for you and Jun and for your entire family. For a while there, I wished my family is still intact, that I, too, have a husband as loving and supportive as Jun. You’re soooh blessed, Mariel.

    Congratulations to the new marathoner and to the coach responsible for the very strong finish!

  22. 41 E October 16, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    hey guys,

    this was very inspiring. for the past few weeks i was reading the chronicles of some of the TBR-DM graduates. i am very fortunate to be 1 out of 400 runners of the next batch. your stories were all great. i am looking forward going through the same experience that you guys had.

    thanks for the inspiration.


    • 42 thesolemates October 29, 2010 at 6:51 pm

      Hi E,

      Great to know our story inspired you somehow. Thanks for reading and Godspeed on your TBR Mara training. We’re sure you’ll be storing great memories of your first marathon.

      Jun & Mariel

  1. 1 Celebrating My First Marathon (Sweet Dreams are Made of These) « The Sole Mates Trackback on May 28, 2010 at 2:39 pm
  2. 2 NYC Marathon: A Great Gift « The Sole Mates Trackback on October 9, 2010 at 10:28 pm

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