Max T. Limpag

On the run

THINK again.

On Feb. 9, 2009, I couldn’t run one kilometer. On Feb. 9, 2010, I ran 34.34 kilometers to celebrate my 34th birthday. I did it barely two days after running a grueling 21.7-kilometer Condura Run that passed a steep mountain called Skyway in Metro Manila.

The idea to run one kilometer for each year of my life occurred to me in the typically nostalgic days leading to my birthday.

When I told John Pages, the person mainly responsible for my—and that of a thousand other Cebuanos’—addiction to running, he was very cautious. It was too soon after a 21K race and I wouldn’t have time to recover.

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My wife, who is also my running partner, was just as cautious.

But there’s something about milestones that can unstopper an internal reservoir of valor and craziness. The birthday run became, for me, a blister that wouldn’t go away.

Having never run longer than 23 kilometers, I decided to split my birthday run in two legs—a 19-kilometer route to work in the morning and a 15-kilometer stretch to run home from work in the evening.

Still tired and sore from the Condura run, I was prepared for hell.

Instead, it was heaven. The run was easy and very enjoyable that I felt I could do it all over again—after a birthday meal and an hour or so of rest.

There’s something about milestones that drive people.

Lawyer Ramsey Quijano found the tough Condura Marathon easy because he was running for his late father on the latter’s birthday.

Meyrick Jacalan ran his first foot race, the Hong Kong Marathon, on Feb. 17, 2008—his birthday. Meyrick said the fact that it was his birthday was motivation that spurred him to finish the run, no matter what happened. “I wanted to celebrate my birthday by conquering my first foot race.”

Dr. Potenciano “Yong” Larrazabal III, meanwhile, is on a quest to run 33 marathons. The number holds special significance for the third child and third-generation Potenciano. When he set 33 as a lifetime goal for marathons, Yong thought he could complete it in 10 years. But having finished 10 marathons already, Yong is confident he could complete the 33 in five years.

“A lot of people call me crazy and even say that what I am doing is too risky. But for those who really know me, they just brush it aside and say, ‘here he goes again with his dreams’ but they are always there to support me achieve them,” Yong said.

Yong said, “typical runners are very motivated and have type A personalities. So, having personal goals would even make them train harder to reach them.”

Goals, especially those pegged on personal milestones, are powerful motivators. Use them to start running. Run your age, whether in minutes or kilometers, on your birthday. Run with your wife or girlfriend on your anniversary or those oxymoronic “monthsaries.” You will be surprised at what you can do.

You think you’re in bad shape? Chances are I was in worse shape on Feb. 9, 2009 than you are today.

One thing I learned during my birthday run is that running is more than just a physical activity—it is a mental challenge. Of course runners keep saying that, but it’s different when you experience it after pushing yourself.

Physically, I couldn’t count on myself finishing the 34.34 kilometers but mentally, I was ready to fly (cue in Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire).

Believe me, we are born to run.

See you on the road.