5 Things I Learned at the BDM102

Bataan Death March 102k.  March 5-6, 2011.

Watching my husband recover from the run, and flashing back to all those moments spent waiting on the other side of the road, I was inspired to do a different kind of recount rather than my usual anecdotal storytelling (I'll probably do that later).  I'm setting the whiny, yammering part of me aside for a bit.  And I guess, letting the contemplating, reflective writer have a go.

I don't know if anyone would feel that I don't have a right to preach such life-lesson-ish things, being a non-runner.  But at that risk, I would like to write something inspirational (I do hope it turns out to be such).  Here goes:

- One: Do it for the right reason -

Do it for honor.  Do it for passion.  And selflessly so.  When BR gave the briefing that night of the start, he said something about being honest and true to one's self.  I knew that he was implying about cheating.  But that moment said so much more to me.

I would say that if you're doing this to prove that you are better than any of the runners around you, then that doesn't just feel right, doesn't it?  It just rolls off the tongue so wrong, you don't even want to read it.  Do it to challenge what you can do, and to discover how much more you are capable of.  Do it not because you have to do it, do it because you know you are destined to do it.  


Even for the support teams, do it not because you know your runner could do better than everyone else.  Do it because you know that it is your role to be the source of strength and inspiration, when your runner and other runners are just about to give up.  Do it because you share the passion.  And do it with as much honor and humility that your runner is filled with, with every painful step he or she takes.

I would think that if you do it for the right reason, you will finish with triumph.  Even if you finish first or last, or did not finish at all, you will feel rewarded.  And grateful.  You will not feel bad that you had to walk, or stop or take longer than you planned.  You will feel what you started with - honored to have run such a historical event, and still filled with passion that you're even thinking of doing it again.

- Two: You are very, very small -

The darkness.  The uphill climbs.  The beating heat.  The beauty that is the world.  It is so much more bigger than you.  Than all of us.  And it will find ways to humble you.  And make you realize that you are in fact, despite all your belief in yourself, something that's very, very small.

If you didn't start out with humility, going through 102 kilometers will I think teach you a thing or two about it.  And make you reflect on how broken you are, and how much you need things.  How much you need really simple things, that you may take for granted or have selfishly called "mine" on regular days.  Like a little shade from a tree.  Or a bottle of water.  Or a few grains of salt.  Or just a bit of sleep so you could see the next marker more clearly.

If you think you are so big, then you could've gone by not needing these little things.  Yep, the world will punish you.  And 102 kilometers of that will bring you to your knees.  No one is that big, not even us who were in cars supporting the runners.

That journey just downright taught us how to be humble and grateful.  For when a cloud decides to stroll away lower towards the earth to block the sun even just for a little bit.  For when other teams offer you an encouraging smile, words and even aid.  For other cars that forgive you for doing multiple U-turns because you missed your agreed kilometer marker.

The world and the life it gives us is amazing.  And it has a funny way of letting us not forget the bigness of it.

- Three: You just have to believe -

Especially if you are doing this ultramarathon for the first time, the fear of not knowing is just overpowering.  It also can feel rather intoxicating, channeling to a sense of excitement and a certain adrenaline rush.

I don't know, but after the 50th kilometer or so, when the body starts getting tired, and senses and reflexes wane, at some point you are just fueled by faith.  A belief that digs so deep that the unknown is forced to melt away.

When the heat of the sun started to just about break everyone down, and my husband said he's just going to walk all the way through, I just had to believe that we will get there no matter what.  Cramps, knots and all.  When he says he'll meet us after 2 kilometers, and I see such pain in him, I just had to believe that I'll see him come around the bend.  And that he may be walking, but at least he's still on his two feet.

I would have to share this belief with him, just in case he doesn't feel the same way.  The last 20 kilometers were the hardest.  And even if I really wanted to push him harder, I also had to believe that what we've done is already enough.

- Four: Know that you have done well -

BR also said during the race briefing to listen to your body.  I think it's very hard for an athlete to not push harder.  Because it's almost instinct to do so until you are completely broken.  It's like you are trained to work beyond everything and to treat pain like it was nothing.

It's excruciating for me to see the hubby walking, squinting because of pain and/or the harsh sun.  I would suppose it's the same for any support crew.  It's like, you really can't do anything more but be there.  And I would think that a runner would like to really run (or jog) rather than slowly walk.  But given how much that anyone's been through - given everything that you've put your body, cramping legs and all, through:

Do not punish yourself or hate yourself or walk in dismay.  Know that you have done well just by getting where you are.  Listen to what the world is telling you.  Through the air flowing through your dry lips.  Through the spasms and aches.  It is telling you that what you are doing is enough.

Not that it's telling you to give up.  Not at all.  Give up is far from it.  What you are doing is enough.  You are doing well.  And from doing well can you only feel that unearthly mix of pride and gratefulness.

- Five:  Be thankful for all the LOVE -

That weekend was filled with it, I would say.  Not the sappy, Valentine's decorated love.  All 102 kilometers were coated with that genuine unconditionality.  You have friends, parents, wives, husbands, brothers or sisters, even cousins.  All together, opening their hearts for this historical event in all of their lives.

I don't know if I could expound so much about it, because that's really what it is.  An overflowing of hearts.  Imagine having to go through this extreme journey for 18 hours.  I can't find any better fuel.  Or any better explanation, of why despite all the suffering and competitiveness, there was so much joy and camaraderie at the starting and finish lines (or whatever kilometer marker you're on, for that matter).

There was just so much love going around, and we were all reveling in it.


So to all BDM102 teams, to BR and his crew, congratulations and THANK YOU.  We are all truly blessed.  For Official Results, click on over to BR's blog.



Josephine Sicad-Minerva said...

Foz, i.am.moved.with.this. =)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. for someone like me just starting to run,too..i couldn't agree more to every word here. You just got one rookie runner inspired,too! heheh

Josephine Sicad-Minerva said...

And wait, yes sending my congratulations to your hubby and the participants there,too!
It's beyond an achievement itself. I really salute 'em and you being there all throughout! =)

dezphaire said...

hi Josephine! thank you thank you! i wish you all the best on your training :) who knows, just in a short time maka-marathon ka na!

tin said...

Nicely written - must read for all BDMers and all those planning to conquer BDM. Congrats again, Chips and Foz!

dezphaire said...

thank you tin!

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