The Pursuit of All (Part 2)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Pursuit of One (Part 1)

To run with the best.

This has been my primary motivation for attempting to run in the Milo Marathon Metro Manila elimination race. The Mizuno race has reminded never to settle – for the happy runner and blogger I have set myself to be. Fear of the deleterious effects of competition has blinded my eye to gifts that true, unadulterated competition brings – the chance to be inspired by and inspire others. When I surveyed all the race accounts I’ve done I realized common threads exist - I run best and fastest when I see the elite runners and the accomplished non-professional runners, or when I run for and think of others. If there is one strong motivation for me to get fast – perhaps the only consistent motivation I have so far - it is to run along with these fast runners.

There is something magical about seeing Eduardo Buenavista run. When I see Ellen Tolentino of Team Baldrunner – I see grace and fluidity of movement. The Baldrunner is a display of discipline and maturity. Vener is a picture of ease and efficiency. Bugo-bugo is power personified. Javy is a testament to hard work and perseverance. Mesh’s face radiates determination while Jaymie’s glows with intensity. I care not too much about the times. I just hope to be like them, to be with them and run with them – in the hope that in doing so I become the best that I can be.

Milo Marathon’s 5hr cut-off time actually scares the wits out of this runner. How can I not be scared when my personal best for a 10K is 1:05 and 2:34 for 21K? My plan was to capitalize on my relatively better physical and mental endurance and work at speed much later – maybe when I have done my first marathon at LSD pace. But life has a way of throwing surprises your way. After missing out on a marathon or two and finally settling for the Milo Marathon Manila eliminations, you get the official notice that you should run 42.195K at pace of 7:10min/km or better to get a finisher’s certificate. What!? I remember hearing a friend said before he ran the Milo marathon for almost 6 hours. But what the heck. I suppose we need to be scared and jolted to get the push that we need.

I remember the very strict (but very fair in the old school way) Rudy Biscocho has always been my unknowing Pusher – he pushed me to do more foot races when he refused to give me a finisher shirt for not following race rule of entering the finish line chute. On a New Balance 25K Powerrace he firmly told me that there was such as thing as race cut-off and that I should train properly if I want to meet the cut-off. Years later in 2008 those words and that race memory would push me to finish the Powerrace within 3:07.

Reticence to push. I have been guilty of it for so long but hope to free myself from this guilt soon. I am joining the marathon with the desire to push myself as my catalyst and the running with the some of the country’s best as motivation. The Milo Marathon Finals is the country’s Boston Marathon. The Manila Milo eliminations is my Boston Marathon. Cliché as it may sound, the miracle will not be the fact that I will finish the marathon. I am not even sure if I will finish, or finish on time. The miracle lies in my summoning the courage to join and start. That I willed myself to push.

To finish the marathon within allotted time is a gift I hope to receive. But if the gift is withheld or postponed I would understand, for there is a time and place for everything. For races are won not by sheer will alone, but also by the grace of God.

In 42.195 kilometers of the race I hope I will meet the beginner, the jogger, the competitor, the athlete and the runner in me. This time I hope to run for the Competitor and Athlete that lies within me, and for the people who believe in me. Galloway says to be a runner is to transcend all stages. I say to be a runner is to know thyself.

To be a runner is to know when to take, when to receive, and when to give. I have taken the Milo marathon as opportunity to push myself and run with the country’s best. They say life is a marathon so I have also taken the liberty of using my first marathon as a race for personal improvement. You see, not only am I innately competitive, I am also fiercely independent. I remember one of those forwarded emails listing down the 3 hardest phrases to say: For others it is “I love you”. For certain individuals it is “I am sorry”. For me, it is “Help me”.

For this maiden marathon of mine I swallowed my pride and asked two of my non-runner good friends to support me. One gladly said yes, the other would have been honored to but would be overseas at that time. But the latter is a friend who would if he could. I guess that’s why they are real friends.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear from a recent friend – someone whom I met through running that historic March 8 LSD prior to the Condura race – that he will volunteer to run with me for the second half of the race. My friend, you humble and honor me with that offer, but it is an offer I graciously accept. I suppose goodwill does come around. I hope to pay it forward.

Paying it forward is also the spirit behind the Milo support group for the 21k and 24k runners. I am awed by the outpouring of support from ordinary runners hoping to give back to the sport that has helped them. I am humbled by the sense of community that has nurtured. The endeavor makes me proud to be a Filipino. In the effort you see the bayanihan spirit – everyone pitching in for the good of all.

I thought running is a solitary sport. In many ways it still is. But in the face of many group runs and support groups I have joined, I have come to realize that the pursuit of one can be the pursuit of all.

(I dedicate this post to runners of the Milo Marathon and the heroes who give these runners the power that fuels those running legs).


Ria June 10, 2009 at 10:18 PM  

Wow, this post has so many valuable insights for me, Rico.. thanks for writing it. Will be cheering for you for the Milo elims! God bless!


sfrunner June 11, 2009 at 11:30 AM  

Hi Rico. Will be thinking and cheering for you as well though thousands of miles away. If I were there, I'd be more than willing to pace you through the entire marathon. Your 21K and 25K finishes prove that you deserve to be there. However, with 25 days to go, you might want to get one long run in and please don't do it too close to July 5.

Whenever I run a marathon, I'll do a 21K 14-15 days beforehand.

For now, take care and have a good, safe weekend. Isn't Independence Day there on Friday?

Anonymous June 11, 2009 at 12:55 PM  

this blew me away...

"For races are not won on sheer will alone, but also by the grace of God."

thats one great line right there rico. that said it all. i always enjoy reading ur blogs. thanks! this inspired me a lot. see you sa animo.


argonautquest June 11, 2009 at 2:45 PM  

SO philosophical boss rico! Pero I think you are right that we should never settle for anything less... I'll train harder!

argonautquest June 11, 2009 at 2:47 PM  

Very Philosopical. I think you are rght rico that we should not settle for anything less. Dapat nga 100% pa in everything we do!

Gingerbreadman June 11, 2009 at 6:14 PM  

Very nice post Boss Rix, IMHO one of your best ever. Indeed, there is a certain mystique when we see our elite runners ply their trade, and we can only strive to one day emulate them. We just need to keep pushing... there is simply no way around it.Our 22k tempo run was a start, fantastic effort from the group :)


run unlimited June 12, 2009 at 7:45 PM  

You got to reveal it. I assure you, after crossing that finish line, it will change your life forever.

Rico Villanueva June 12, 2009 at 8:09 PM  

Ria, thanks for the comment and for dropping. Yes, I need all the cheer I can get, but I hope it's enough that I will run my best.

Wayne, thanks for the thought, the cheers and the tips. I promise to put in the long run and tempo run.

Ziggy, that line also blows me away. It's inspired by my blog title and the slogan of Bro J (The race of life is ran by faith and won by grace)

Argo, I love philosophy :-) Agree, it should be 100% for everything I do. I admit I slacken at times though.

Luis, hey thanks for that opinion. This post is also one of my favorites.....Salamat rin pala sa push; I need all the push I can get. For this Milo thing, I will be happy to be a pushover. Haha.

Shiela June 13, 2009 at 9:10 AM  

what an inspiring thoughts Rico! how i wish i could have your strong will to aim for a full marathon, but right now the most that i can do is 21km. am targetting subic marathon in October (hope i can do that hahaha).
looking forward to reading your 42km experience. hope to see you in Men's Health trail run.


JavyO June 15, 2009 at 8:12 AM  


Thanks! But I am not worthy of being in this group!

Anyhow, we are all testament to hard work and perseverance...right?

Running Fatboy June 15, 2009 at 5:08 PM  

Good luck Rico! Will be looking forward to reading your post race recap! :)

Rico Villanueva June 15, 2009 at 11:41 PM  

Vener, asahan ko yang linya mong yan na " will change your life forever." Hehe

Shiela, thanks for the comments. I guess it is just a cycle of being inspired and inspiring others. Yeah, hope to formally meet you in the trail run :-)

Javy, anong di worthy!? Basta nandyan ka sa list ko. Galingan mo lalo para you can pull us higher. Agree, we are all living testaments. Some are just faster and more advanced than others. :-)

Dennis, thanks. Sana nga maganda post race recap ko, at sana matapos ko within cut-off time! Baka kasi recap lang ang maganda, tapos yung finish time hindi. Haha.

Sam The Running Ninja June 16, 2009 at 5:00 PM  

"..for races are won not by sheer will alone, but also by the grace of God."

One of the best line I've read over so many runner-bloggers posts this week.

This reminds me of a bible verse on 1st Cor 9:24-25 which states that we should run a race and do it in a way that we aim to win the prize...we cannot do it on our own will, but only through God's will...

Goodluck sten. Started my first road race (5k) just last Condura and 5 months later 42k marathon! What I aim is to finish the race and if I get within the 5 hour cut-time, I will consider it as bonus.

Rico Villanueva June 17, 2009 at 4:56 PM  

Sam, good luck to us in the Milo marathon. May we both have the will and the grace to finish it.

mykol antigua June 17, 2009 at 11:05 PM  

Nice piece of writing, Rico! Every little bit comes from inside and that is what will serve as your fuel to complete the 42k and finish it within the required time. You and the rest of the monsters are truly admirable! May you slay the dragon that is the Milo Marathon. We'll be right behind you all the way to the finish (and the chute)!

Jet Paiso June 19, 2009 at 4:23 PM  

rico, i look up to you and dream of running long distance like you someday. i'm equally excited for Milo eliminations, for it will be my first 21k and first Milo run.

i agree, running may be a solitary sport in many ways, yet the buddies we meet and run with, capped with God's love and providence, made everything so special.

God bless us all in our pursuit.

Rico Villanueva June 20, 2009 at 9:37 AM  

Hey Mike, thanks for the compliment. I do hope to run on enough fuel. But I am no running monster, eating monster perhaps. Haha. Will try to slay the dragon, if not, at least mortally wound it. This time, if the chute is still there, I will pass through it. Haha.

Hi Jet. We all draw inspiration from people around us, and of course from The Almighty Source. I am equally excited for Milo. May we give our best and may it be enough to make us happy about the race. Good luck to us all :-)

wilson June 21, 2009 at 3:39 PM  

this, hands down, encapsulates how a first time Milo marathoner feels like... at least, it captures how I'm feeling: the anxiety about the cutoff time, and at the same time the excitement of taking part in something so steep in tradition. it will not be my first marathon, but i finished way beyond 5 hours the last time so i do have reason to worry about the cutoff.

i do believe that with the help of our friends and those who believe in us, we would all find in ourselves the courage and the will to succeed. so good luck to us all. see you on july 5!

Gene Ordanza June 21, 2009 at 5:33 PM  

Great writing man! And good luck on your marathon run!
I'm also volunteering for the support group, giving back as you aptly put it :-) see you at

Rico Villanueva June 24, 2009 at 12:10 AM  

Hi Wilson, you are so right about the anxiety. I just wish that excitement and exhilaration will overrule anxiety on race day. Yes, best of luck to all of us. :-)

Hi Gene. Thanks for the comment, and for volunteering. I will be volunteering myself for the Botak Ultra. May volunteerism among runners become a pandemic :-)

Bro J June 26, 2009 at 11:29 AM  

Hi Rico, wish you well on your milo marathon. God bless! See you on the road.

Rico Villanueva June 26, 2009 at 2:59 PM  

Hello Bro J. Thanks for the well wishes. See you on the road too :-)

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