Paul Edgar Gambong

Contributor

IT TOOK me almost a month to decide whether I should share my first marathon story. And I’d finally thought that each runner’s experience and story is worth telling.

What a gratifying and life-altering experience it was when I hit the finish line of the first Cebu City Marathon last Jan 10. Yes, my first marathon encounter will forever be engraved in my mind.

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Going back to where I began, I was encouraged to run when I saw a group of runners doing their early morning practice barely two years ago. Perhaps out of curiosity, I made my first hit and from then on running for me has become like Pringles—once you pop you can’t stop.”

I started joining fun runs after I met and joined Kabangis Runners. I can’t forget my first try in the 10K run as I was the last participant who reached the finish line and to my surprise the ambulance was already tailing me.

But that encounter urged me to continue and improve my running skills. And just last Feb. 7, 2009, I embarked on my first attempt at a full marathon in Hong Kong.

However, I got frustrated because I was not able to hit the time limit and I was one of the hundreds who were picked up in the middle of the race.

My running life after the Hong Kong experience was not as interesting as it used to be; in fact, I stopped my daily routine in running.

The frustration from the Hong Kong experience plus the round-the-clock pain of my leg injury were the factors that made me stop running. And, I shifted to another sport … biking. I really enjoyed riding my bike perhaps because I was able to experience being pain-free from injury for quite sometime but just like Pringles, there’s really something in running that you can’t resist.

Luckily, one of my close running buddies who finished the Hong Kong marathon, encouraged me to join the Cebu City Marathon. He kept on asking me every time we met if I would join the marathon and to his dismay I’d always answered him “perhaps, I’m not deciding yet.”

Then out from the dark I just found myself hitting the road again.

The painstaking training that I had undergone for barely two months, coupled with self-determination and inspiration of my loved ones—especially my wife Beth—motivated me to reach my ultimate goal of hitting my first full marathon in 4 hours and 56 minutes.

No words could ever describe also how happy I was when I was about a hundred steps from the finish line, when I saw my 10-year-old son Louis running towards me and wanting to embrace me.

I just heard him yelling “Congratulations Dad, you made it” from afar since I went further and continued to run to the finish line. And about 50 steps, I saw my wife.

I was about to burst into tears as I reached the line when I saw that she was so proud of me. My wife, who fully supported me just came home to personally attend my last week of preparation.

And as I went near her, my tears fell—tears of joy, tears of gratitude. At that moment, my feelings were unexplainable. I embraced and kissed my wife so tightly and whispered “thank you and I love you so much, I could not have finished the course if not because of you waiting for me.”

And suddenly, my son joined us and we shared the joy of my success.

May this story of mine inspire those runners to relentlessly keep on running no matter what circumstances may come their way.