It was my second time to join an official run. First was the annual event of the CSC where I felt obliged to attend because we were allowed 4 hours of rest before reporting to work. Next was the Tawid Mountain Marathon 2018 recently concluded last week. Although, I love running, swimming, hiking, mountain climbing, spelunking and other “mountain-river” related activities, I never thought much of actually participating in events such as marathons.
But I guess one can never suppress that innate desire to do something especially when it comes natural to that person. We joined the marathon. And like Paul on his way to Damascus, I had first-hand realizations while on the run. Here are my realizations:
1. You can’t control your environment, you just have to adjust.
Tawid Mountain Marathon was held on June 9-10, the start of rainy season in the Cordilleras, scratch that, it’s almost rainy season all year round here in the mountainous region of the Philippines. So according to the official page of the Marathon, it’s a rain or shine event except during typhoon. Fortunately, a Low Pressure Area was spotted but did not make a landfall, still, it was drizzling occasionally in Bontoc on the day of the event.
We were not able control the rain but we had to adjust. We brought emergency gears to shield us from the rain, and when the trail was slippery we had to slow down. No amount of reward will ever compensate a broken bone or serious injury, caution is the key. Same with life, we imagine, dream, plan, and make sure to attain those goals but we also have to be prepared to adjust our sails anytime. We have to work with the weathers of life. Embrace it, foresee it, love it.
2. The trail was never a straight path.
The jumpstart of the marathon was held at the Eyeb, Open Gymnasium, from there, we run at least 500 meters of concrete path then we ascended into the mountains. It was an uphill climb. There were grassy meadows along the way then another uphill climb. Upon reaching the turning point, we had to descend again, concrete path, another trail, concrete path, slope stairs, concrete path , run the circle of the gymnasium then finish line.
The moment we opened our eyes, the race was on. Our journey is and will never be straight. It will be crooked, long, winding, uphill climb. And we can only reach the finish line when we close our eyes eternally. Some people will never witness adulthood or even teenage life and some will close their eyes when their skin is saggy and their bones brittle. Nevertheless, everyday is a race and the trail is not always a paved road hence we need to be adaptive and flexible, grit and courage to face the unknown lurking just around the river bend.
3. There will always be sacrifices along the way.
I came with two of my closest friends and we joked about not letting anyone be left behind. But when sound of the bang signaled us to run we were separated. I was one of the leading runners so I was contemplating whether to wait for my friends or to pursue the race. I chose the latter. I joined the marathon with a goal in my mind, to try to win the category I’m in. Having a goal motivates you to focus and not letting anything or in my case anyone deter you from attaining that goal. And if like mine, you have friends that support and motivate you, they’ll understand and cheer for you when you reach that goal and even console you when you fail to do so.
However, my inner competitiveness resurfaced and I lost focused along the way. I kept on looking out whether the person in front of me was far behind and the person behind me was fast approaching. I kept on mentally calculating and re-calculating the time it takes to overtake and in doing so, just slowed me down. We have to focus on ourselves and not always on the lookout towards other people.
As the race moved on and I was traversing the trail, I couldn’t help but ponder on the magnificent view before me and behind me. At the back of the mountain are rice paddies forming rice terraces blanketed with lush green color. In front of me are grassy meadows so inviting and captivating, I could just lie there all day. But I have to move on. Like like the rest of us, I was attracted to anything that is beautiful but had to forego the view in order to win.
Even with a goal in mind, I stopped for a brief respite every now and then. We have to. Our mental ability may not be able to fully comprehend the word rest but we have to acknowledge our physical limitations.
My friends left behind took pictures of different angles, they even had the chance to meet new people and share stories. They were able to wholly absorb the sublime spectacle that Bontoc Mt. Province has in store.
I placed third in the 6km category just enough to receive a sash and gift product from sponsors. I won the race. But I sacrificed the view, the chance of meeting new people, the companion of my friends. As a millennial fond of selfies and instagrammable pictures, I only had few pictures taken of the view and only two selfies. It was cold and lonely at the top of the mountain with no one to talk to. But the overwhelming feeling of winning the race compensated everything.
We have different goals, dreams, and aspirations. We have varied trails uniquely different yet equally hard. We have our own versions of wins and loss. My friends felt like they’ve won because of the new friendships forged, the new memories created, and of course, the plethora of pictures taken.
Life entails a lot of sacrifice and the hardest one to do is to sacrifice those that you love in exchange for something that you want.
Tawid Mountain Marathon 2018 left me with body pains that lasted for days. I never had any warm-up prior to the event. More than that, it gave me a lasting realizations. It made me revisit my perspectives in life, re-align my focus and polished my goals. Indeed, it is more fun up here in the mountains.
Photo Credits to Charmaine Mercado, Sir Hubert Cuteng
Special Thanks to Team TMM for the event specially Sir Ronald Wang and Ma’am Prudence Chakas
To Mariel and Charmaine for the accompaniment.