Mench’s #Runspiration

I started running in 2007. This sport came to me at a time when I was searching for something that would consume me with passion and energize me everyday. I felt spent at work and envious of people who seemed to have found what it is they wanted to do with their lives. I went through retreats, talks, workshops, listening and being keen on how varied things piqued my interest. My curiosity led me to running. I liked it and so I kept running.

I ran my first marathon in Singapore in 2008, eight weeks pregnant. I was also pregnant when I ran my second marathon at sixteen weeks. Thankfully I’ve broken that streak. I crossed the finish line in tears, as I always do after all these years, and genuinely felt that I could do this for the rest of my life. Every year I said I would run a marathon. And I did, except only during the years when I had to give birth. It’s a good thing that my husband has been very supportive and has been with me on this journey.

The dream to run all of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AbbottWMM) started in 2012, after I ran my first major marathon in Berlin. I chose to ran there because the race happened around the same time as Oktoberfest and I thought it was a great idea to mix two things I love — interesting travel experiences with running. I did not know that an elite circle of the world’s biggest races existed until I saw signs about it at the marathon expo. I had such a great time running Berlin and enjoyed the vibe of a great city race that I started reading more about the other major runs. I also was curious how a Filipina full time working mom and wife can find the time and the means to run all over the world. I also started to feel the first stirrings of a passion project in the making — the “Road to Majors”.

So towards the end of 2012, I started to plot out the races that I would do in the next four years. I had already been rejected twice for the TCS New York City Marathon since I started entering the lottery in 2011 so I said I would just go for the guaranteed entry in 2014. I checked other marathons that I could get into just by signing up. In 2013 I got into the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and I absolutely loved that experience and did my PR at 3 hours 50 minutes. This further firmed up my resolve to finish all of the majors.

I got into the 2014 Tokyo Marathon via lottery on my first try. They opened the registration August 2013 and although I knew that it was hard to get a slot, I decide to push my luck. The lottery was ten times oversubscribed but I was happy to get in. This marathon was the latest addition to the AbbottWMM and it is good that we now have one in Asia, giving more opportunities to Filipinos to run a major without traveling so far. On the same year, i finally got my much coveted entry into the TCS New York City Marathon. There is nothing like running the world’s biggest race and absorbing the immense energy and support of the crowd. Finishing on a high ,I said nothing will stop me from going for the remaining races.

In 2015 I ran the Virgin Money London Marathon via charity, raising funds for Scope. It was a charity that was very close to my heart since its advocacy was disability. I grew up with a mom who never walked, let alone run, a day in her life because she was born with a disability. So this race was extra special as a tribute to such a strong woman who raised me. I also tried to use this as my first shot at getting a Boston Qualifier (BQ) but was not able to do so. This failure was another motivator that I used to strengthen my drive for this passion project.

So, I decided to find the physical and mental training that will get me a Boston Qualifier. I signed up for the 2016 Tokyo Marathon with the intent of making it my qualifying race. I tweaked my running program so it was more smart, specific and targeted given that I also had very little time to train. Then I followed this program to the letter. What was also different this time was that I put in the effort to integrate my running with a mindfulness practice. I believe it is this mental training that allowed me to finally get a BQ when I finished the race at a pace of 3 hours and 36 minutes, 4 minutes faster than my qualifying time. I remember seeing the Six Star medal on exhibit at the Tokyo Marathon expo and gazing tearfully at it as I vowed to qualify so I get to finish all six. And I did that.

In a couple of days, I will be running the 2017 Boston Marathon. This five-year “Road to Majors” projects will culminate at the world’s oldest and most prestigious marathon. I get to run with the fastest and most talented runners from around the world. I get to share the finish line with the many ordinary individuals like myself who dared to dream, racing with all these people who chose to just get one foot in front of each other. As I prepare to run Boston, I am reminded of how much running and racing has shaped me over the years. It has allowed me to transpose the same dedication and rigor into the other aspects of my life. It has taught me the value of practicing no matter what, believing that this consistency will lead to self-transformation. It has given me a perspective against which I view habits and consequently, happiness. It now is compelling me to put myself out there more so I can help others too as they go through a similar journey.

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