FIVE years ago, runner Humility Melgar-Igaña waited for her husband, Ramie, at the transition area. He never arrived. Ramie died due to pulmonary embolism during the bike segment of the Cobra Ironman 70.3 relay.
The couple joined the relay event that time and Igaña, wearing bib number R399, was the runner for the team. The agony of waiting for her husband and eventually learning that he was gone, left a scar she thought would never heal.
Igaña said that she had accepting her husband's death was the easy part. But the fear she developed because of the whole experience, was something she couldn't seem to shake off for the last five years.
After the incident, when the Ironman 70.3 season rolls in, Igaña, a physician, goes on social media hibernation. For years, she will not check anything Ironman 70.3 Philippines-related.
But this year, Igaña decides to face her fears.
“I did not want to know anything related to Ironman. There’s this stigma and I will have negative thoughts about it. During Ironman races, I don’t check my Facebook account, and I don’t go inside the Shangri-La (the start and finish of the race),” Igaña told SunStar Cebu.
This year, Igaña was ready to put things behind and overcome the fear that has been hounding her. She finally agreed to join the relay team of her husband’s close friend, Arcadio “Cadjing” Pelicano. But it wasn't an easy decision. It took weeks before she was finally convinced to say yes.
They named the team TTB R399, in honor of their bib number when they joined the race, which they never got to finish. She joined swimmer Marben Golez and cyclist Pelicano.
During the race last Sunday, Igaña was anxiously waiting for her biker at the transition area, her head swarming with memories of her experience. When Pelicano finally arrives, it was only then when she heaved a sigh of relief. It was the first time when she felt all the negative thoughts of the last five years melting away.
“My fear melted away when I saw my biker. I felt the adrenalin rush. The agony of waiting and negative thoughts were gone and it was only then when I felt the excitement to run again,” said Igaña. “I’m just very happy that I was able to finish it. I had overcome all the bitterness and crossing the finish line symbolized a closure for me.”
She said that while running she felt that her husband was with her the whole time and was pushing her the entire 21-kilometer run course.
“I think my husband wanted me to really finish the unfinished relay in 2012,” said Igaña, who added that she felt strong and had a lot of energy despite the scorching heat, which reached around 40 to 44 degrees on race day.
“Before the race, I thought I was just going to walk parts of the route. But during race day, I was able to run it and finished with a good time despite the heat,” she said.
Igaña finished the run in 2 hours, 37 minutes and 15 seconds. The TTB Team R399 had a total time of 6:41:41 good for 69th place among 194 relay teams. Golez finished the 1.9K swim in 55:50 while Pelicano completed the 90K bike in 3:01:42.
“During the run, I just made sure that I will finish. After five years, I finally got the chance to step on the finish line,” said Igaña.
Igaña said that because of her faith in God, she never questioned why her husband was the one who was chosen among around 3,000 participants. She accepted it but one of the things that bothered her was the process of waiting.
“I never questioned the Lord why he chose Ramie. But I questioned the organizers for not informing me of his situation. It took the help of a dear friend, Dr. Peter Mancao and co-Ungo runners to find my husband in a local hospital, who was already two-hours DOA. The organizers sent their condolences, but never apologized for their negligence of not finding ways to update me of Ram’s whereabouts,” Igaña posted on Facebook last Tuesday.
It was five years ago but the prayer she said for her husband at the emergency room was still fresh on Igaña’s mind: “Lord Thank you, thank you for sharing him with us. Those we’re wonderful years. This is a borrowed life.”
Igaña said that her husband died doing the thing he loved best. Ramie has been cycling since 1996.
“Since then, I believe I have inspired a lot of friends on my outlook in life. I’m usually weak. But at that moment, I was really strong,” said Igaña, who’s been into running since 2009. (RSC)