To Rise Above Our Frailties (Second of Two Parts)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When Michelle Logan requested me to look out for Craig in the ambulance, I must admit it took a while for it to sink in. Boarding the ambulance meant a DNF - something incongruent with sheer will. I may be selectively competitive, but I am finisher. Always. Just when I was getting my groove and slowly reaping the rewards of holding myself back in the first half of the race, I was about to be stopped for good. Just when I finally caught up with running buddy Bong Yu, and looking forward to possibly finishing a marathon together, I was made to give up the race. When Michelle spoke I thought she would ask me to push Justin to the finish. That was how focused I was in finishing. In my strong desire to finish I would have pushed Justin till my back ached. But the request was emotionally harder - it was to accompany Craig and give up the race in the process. I could have probably wiggled my way out of it, but within a minute I had my difficult decision. I signed in to run with Team Logan, not necessarily to finish a second personal marathon with them. For at least 15km I ran with them - enough to complete a marathon of memories.


15kms of enjoyable run with Team Logan
(photo taken by Aileen Eway, posted in Facebook)

DNF. The spectre hounded me even as I sat in the ambulance, waited for Craig's lab results, and came back to the race site to watch my friends finish their race. When I first told Craig many months ago that I would consider doing the Subic Marathon with them, I only signed in with the intent of trying to be good by immersing myself even for just a while in the inspiring case of a father pushing his son with disability on a stroller. DNF never entered the picture. Even in the hospital, part of me still hoped that Craig would recover soon enough and maybe we could be go back to complete what we started. But perhaps Maki was right - he who was picked up by Michelle in her van due to his ankle sprain. The divine plan was he would develop a sprain so he would be on hand to assist Michelle and temporarily care for Justin.  As for me, I suppose I was there to guide Craig through the harrowing experience - me being a dehydration victim myself.

DNF. It reared its ugly head again as I talked to the marathon finishers and see the gleaming metal hanging from their necks. At one point I saw my buddy Bong Yu and Jet, paced by a couple of takbo.ph friends, entering the oval to the cheers of the crowd. I rushed to them along with other friends and accompanied them as they finish the last few meters to the finish line. At the finish I saw them given their finisher medals. For a moment I wanted to claim one for myself. For the many hours I put in to complete the 25K, 35K and 40K long runs, as well as the hours spent doing McKinley Hill repeats. For soldiering on till km28 despite water lack, darkness and broken promises. The marshalls would have given me a medal, but I held back the thought. I shall wear that DNF with pride. In my running book, while I may have hesitated in riding that ambulance for a while, in the end where it really mattered, I Did Not Falter.

I remembered Mary Genie (MG) and the Milo Marathon. I remembered how betrayed I felt when she claimed a medal for herself when she actually rode a bus part of the way. I was a fan of her before the Milo incident, always cheering her up whenever I eventually pass her on many half-marathons. I told her that act was very wrong, and that for us to remain friends the mistake must be admitted, corrected and not repeated. She eventually apologized, but trust was already broken, and her image in the running community tainted. For a long time runners including myself did not quite know how to deal with her. Sayang. A similar sense of dismay or regret I now feel for the SIM organizers. The same uneasiness. Sayang.

But in that oval I saw how MG redeemed herself. As she passed my way I gave her the loudest applause and cheers I could muster. In finally completing her first marathon through all those challenges she  permanently healed a wound in the running community's heart. I hope Eventologist will have their redemption race like MG. In the meantime, I shall be civil and guarded like in the case of MG.

Mary Genie was helped in a big way by runner Bong Yu. Amidst the Milo backlash that MG got in her Milo debacle, Bong stood up, insisting the MG was part of takbo.ph family, and like family she would be helped the next time she chose to run a marathon. Bong kept his promise. Mid-way into the race, Bong, a 5:06 Milo finisher, who believes that hydration is organizer responsibility and therefore chooses not to wear hydration belt, decided to quit racing, conserve energy, and walk safely to the finish line. For about 15kms he walked and chatted with MG. In his characteristic humor, Bong would kid MG, "O, ayan margygenie, tinupad ko na yung pangako kong i-pace kita sa susunod mong marathon." Bong would also provide company to idealistic, first-timer Jet who was devastated by the organizers' broken promises. It was a class act, my friend Bong. While we may kid you at times for being an Idol with the ladies, there in Subic you proved that you were worthy indeed of the monicker iBY (Idol Bong Yu).


Jet (104) and Bong (115) from the lens of Edu Fabian

In the half-marathon race the tandem of Marga and pacer McCoy stood out. Unlike a few policemen who wilfully or unwittingly cut short the route, plus-size Marga bravely run through the hills of Subic to finish her first half-marathon. A couple of us marathoners supported the 21K runners and we saw for ourselves how Marga was wincing in fatigue as early as km14. Yet, she soldiered on. Pacer McCoy who is a sub-2hr half-marathoner patiently ran along and distracted Marga from her weariness. Marga's primarily goal was to conquer the distance, and hopefully not land in the bottom of the heap. She was on her way to meeting her goal actually, until the other remaining runners eventually succumbed and she was left as the last runner trying. It was mentally and physically exhausting, but Marga proved that our bodies are capable of great feats if only we believe.

Marga & McCoy

 Photo courtesy of Edu Fabian
 
I thought we runners were there in Subic to help celebrate the transformation of our police scalawags into disciplined runners and people in uniform. But in the human drama that was 2009 Smart SIM, the protaganists were the civilian runners themselves. SIM 2009 would be remembered as the year when 300 first-timers and hundred more runners braved the dark and lack of water to claim the greatness they deserve. It would also be remembered for the impromptu Angel Brigade on the marathon road coming to the aid of the weary runners. Special mention goes to 21k runners electing to pace marathoners on the verge of giving up to the glorious finish that they signed up for. Marathon punishes the unworthy while glorifying those who work for it.

Kudos to all those who chose to rise above their frailties. May the adversities that give rise to our heroism arise not from actions of men who fail to deliver on their promises. The heroism that shall propel us forward is not one that reacts to man-made disasters, but rather those that unflinchingly do and fight for what is right and just.

I would like to thank Craig, Michelle and Justin of Team Logan for the opportunity to rise up to a nobler version of me. Like Craig and Michelle, I believe Justin deserves a marathon ride and finish, so I enjoin everyone to experience how it is to push Justin in a marathon relay during the Philippine International Marathon on Nov 8. You may sign up in takbo.ph forum.


23 comments:

Amado L. Castro, Jr. October 27, 2009 at 7:28 AM  

Dear Rico - You were part of "TEAM LOGAN" and as a member of the "TEAM" you did your part/task given to you. Congratulations for putting the needs of the team above your personal needs. Yours/friends support for the 21k runners the following day at about 14k marker was great the cheers and paricularly the COLD DRINK was heaven sent. Congratulations to you and TEAM LOGAN.

Cecil October 27, 2009 at 7:39 AM  

That was a class act. Wear your "scar" with pride. A scar is a tattoo with character.

Jinoe October 27, 2009 at 10:05 AM  

I know how the 42K medal means to you. Unfortunately, no medal on this earth deserves your heroic action. Thanks for taking care of Team Logan and the Takbo.ph family. Helmet mo 'tay.

Sam The Running Ninja October 27, 2009 at 11:17 AM  

You earned again my respect with your classic act. We're proud of you. Tara takbo tayo sa PIM(nov 8). hehehehe

Sam

gerard October 27, 2009 at 12:31 PM  

Hi Rico!

I salute you for giving up your finish to help others! ganun ka talaga eh, other first before yourself!

keep it up!

:)

Elkyoshi October 27, 2009 at 1:29 PM  

Congratulations for DNFing (Did Not Falter)!
I'm not sure how many runners would have done the same.
Hope to see you in your next run!

daytripper1021 October 27, 2009 at 3:47 PM  

I think your unselfish act is worth more than any race medal that you'll earn in future races. I truly admire your decision.

Saludo kami pards!

Rod.Runn3r October 27, 2009 at 6:02 PM  

Congratulations pa din, Idol! It was an unselfish act from you! Rest well, idol! Bawi tayo sa PIM! =D

carmen October 27, 2009 at 7:07 PM  

Wow, your detailed account of what happened made me feel I was there to actually witness your experience! I heard about it from the takbo peeps. After what the runners braved through just to reach the finish line leaves me in awe. But you were selfless, Rico. Hats off to you!

tigerboy October 27, 2009 at 8:56 PM  

hi rico - you certainly did the right thing, and you have my respect to the highest level for setting aside your personal thing in favor of Logan's.. there will be more marathon runs pre.. i'll see you then in PIM 42...

regards,
junrox

eulogio martin October 28, 2009 at 7:57 AM  

very poignant and nicely written article. thanks for all the support and training tips.

nagdilang anghel ka sa previous article mo, SIM turned into a battlefield! aroo, aroo, aroo.

eo

Anonymous October 28, 2009 at 12:04 PM  

Rico,

I don't know you personally but I see you often in races as you grind your way to the finishline. I am a regular reader of your blog as well.

The next time I see you, I will go up to you and shake your hand!

Chuck

bongyu October 28, 2009 at 2:00 PM  

Pareng Rico,

Pinakapaborito kong kasabihan –

"Success is not measured by what a man accomplishes, but by the opposition he has encountered and the courage with which he has maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."

Una, I would like to commend your post/site... Very honest (even mentioned your "pause") and with outmost integrity. Naiparating mo ng desente ang iyong saloobin, very objective. I'm still waiting for other "critical" bloggers/runners on their take sa SIM-42K.

Pangalawa, napakamapagbigay mo - selfless. Nagkakilala tayo sa isang bote ng tubig na binigay mo sa Montalban... at hindi pala tsamba yun. It is truly your character, and I’m very thankful on your generosity that made my finishes possible.

Panghuli, this is what we are in the Takbo.ph community. After witnessing your sweet sacrifice on helping Team Logan, accompanying Genie and Jet was the least that I could do being a ka-Takbo. We are here to help each other, even non-members... even non-runners.

The race was poor, but the experiences are great – helping us continue on discovering ourselves... our capabilities and true character.

Salamat Rix.ü

RUNNING DIVA October 28, 2009 at 3:19 PM  

Rico, you did very well recounting your experience and what a noble way to finish. Congratulations to you. Couldn't help but laugh with Jinoe's comment, "Helmet mo 'Tay." If you try to see the movie 300 dubbed in Ilonggo, you would understand why. Check it out on Youtube. Again, you Did Not Falter.

SEABISKWIT October 28, 2009 at 4:44 PM  

hey rico.. countless times you've shown your selfnessness... Really great to have a person like you in the running community... God bless you...

jazzrunner October 28, 2009 at 7:23 PM  

A class act, Rico! We're all very proud of you! May your tribe increase!

Jan October 28, 2009 at 8:45 PM  

Hey Rico, thanks to you and the takbo.ph support crew during the half marathon. You saved my race. That Vitwater came in very timely since the water stations also went dry on km 12-18. I held on to it until there was finally a water station on km 18. God bless you and your selfless act.

Anonymous October 29, 2009 at 2:18 PM  

what you did was very admirable rico! well done my friend!

i know its hard for anybody to DNF especially to people like us who are passionate about the races and events we participate in. i even remember you inviting me to this "prestigious" event to do another marathon with you guys, but somehow it came as a blessing to me that i had to work and was spared from your life-threatening experience.

im so glad to know that everybody survived the ordeal. im sorry to hear that with all the hype about this run, they came in short(in almost all aspects...tsk! tsk! too bad).

the sacrifice you gave to get the DNF ric was way more valuable. be proud of that SIM DNF because it was worth a life and nothing can ever match that. God bless and keep running and tri'ing(aquathling din)!!! :)

ziggy

rj October 29, 2009 at 2:48 PM  

Today, I quit running. Your recount of your ordeal made me want to always be in a support group. Hindi na ako tatakbo!!!! Support group nalang palagi!!! hahahaha.

jetpaiso October 29, 2009 at 6:22 PM  

bro, thank you very much for the inspiration and for your sharing of God's blessings. you are a blessing to takbo.ph and to the whole running community.

you have moved the hearts of many, to also give a portion of themselves, no matter how small it may be.

i always look up to you. maraming salamat bro! maraming maraming salamat!

sim is a hard lesson for me. i will carry on from here.

continue to become a blessing to all!

argonaut October 31, 2009 at 6:18 PM  

Rico, the tale is timeless I should say... Each time I read post regarding the Subic Marahon I can't help myself not to become emotional. Tinatayuan ako ng balahibo each time I recall what had happened. I was totally disoriented that time telling Ellen na hindi na ako nagiisip... tumatakbo na lang ako to finish the race.

I salute you for this Rico! We are just ordinary people, in this extra ordinary experience but survived with pride and honor!

Eugene November 1, 2009 at 9:23 AM  

Rico,

What you did was very noble. It is already a reward on its own-even better than a finisher's medal. I hope more runners will follow your example.

Cheers!

Marga November 1, 2009 at 12:34 PM  

Even before I read this entry, I already said, in my own account of SIM in my blog, "I heart you, Rico". :)

Now, as I read this with tears streaming down my face (ayaw tumigil, eh),I salute you again for doing what you did.

When Luis told us about your giving up your race for the Logans', my first thought was, "Crap! Not Rico! He trained really hard for this" followed by, "Yes! Thank God it's Rico."

These 'challenges' happen only to those who can take it, who can process it, who can turn it around and make a pedestal of a statement of it.

You've done it. With the aplomb of a class act becoming of your handle name: Sheer Will.

Cheers. Clink. Clap.

Marga

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