7 Reasons Why I am Doing the BDM151

In less than four months, I will be embarking on the longest run of my life! The BDM151! It is a joy just to get selected to participate in this historic event and a lot of my family and friends have already cheered for me about it. So why am I doing this? This is probably the craziest thing that I am doing and many people out there are probably thinking the same thing considering that the Philippines has yet to organize 100 Miler ultramarathons.

Well, here are my seven reasons why I am doing this ultramarathon.

1. Tradition

Each runner develops certain races that he would want to run for the rest of his life. Be it a short distance or a long distance, or a marathon done out of his home country — there are just races that you cannot live without much like certain running apparel that you cannot live without. Yes, that is how addictive running can be to a person and for me, there are three runs that I want to do for the next 40 years of my life should it still be around — the Bataan Death March [BDM] Ultramarathon, the Quezon City International Marathon and the Cebu City Marathon.

2. A New Challenge

I love taking on new challenges. The longer the distance the better. Besides, this run will help prepare for ultramarathons outside the country and before I venture outside Philippine shores, I would at least want to perform decently [meaning faster at the very least] here in my own country. Besides, why waste such an invitation when not everybody would be able to join this event? I may not know all the criteria used by the organizers to select contenders for this, but I do know that I love the idea that it is a special run meant for people who are hardcore into ultrarunning.

Recently, I was in a job interview and I was asked — why I was interested to take on a new job and I told them that I was happy with my present career — however, I notice that I have already succumbed to a comfort zone. Even runners have comfort zones — areas that they love running around or certain distances that they keep running. I realize then that when I become comfortable with myself, I stop growing as a person. It’s different for the married person with kids to think. For the single person like me, the biggest challenge is to keep improving oneself and becoming the person that God wants us to be — more loving, more caring, more compassionate. And yet the opposite seems to be the effect for most single people like me. We become more selfish over time — and to fight this inclination that seems so natural is something that every person and not just every single runner should work on.

3. It forces me to discipline

There are still many areas of my life that lack discipline and I wish that I could turn back the time with some. For instance, I never imagined myself to get excited to wake up each day just to carve up some running before I went to work. And if I don’t get the chance to run before work, I do it during my lunchtimes, which in my case happens to be around midnight. It’s crazy running alone in the streets outside the office but at least I have the road to myself and a great training ground for BDM151 running.

Disciplining my time also means managing my social network and social life. It’s tough and I’ve come to the point that when people ask me why I spend much time into running, I just tell them I love it too much and anybody who is passionate about something just can’t explain the profound joy that it brings to a person. In other words, I may miss out on many movies and social gatherings in the months ahead — but I am preparing for something that I know I wanted. And I am prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to make this thing happen.

Aside from time management, I also need to discipline my energy levels. I need to improve my running form, increase my strength training program and also watch out my nutritional intake — but not to the point that I do not enjoy the foods that I eat anymore. Heaven forbid, I am already a vegetarian and my food choices are already quite limited!

Finally, I also need to discipline my resources — my finances. It’s been tough for me lately because I am currently in a transition in my work. As such, finances are a bit tight for me till the first quarter of 2011. So will this stop me from doing the BDM151? No, it won’t. It just means that I need to tighten my belt, as the saying goes and make things happen. People tend to be more effective in managing finances when they have a goal in mind or when confronted with adversity. And this is a challenge that I am willing to take up.

4. Relive History

I think there are very few races out there that has a sense of history. And the BDM is one that is well remembered not just in Philippine history, but in world history. With that in mind, this ultramarathon is worth taking up and doing just to relive history and what transpired. I would appreciate this race more if in the future, there would be stories written for runners to read up on certain kilometer markers. For instance, I remember that there are certain towns of the Bataan Death March that soldiers were able to sneak out and go towards the forested areas nearby to survive. The locals took care of them and hid them. Where are these locals now? Any descendants? Another reason to run this race is that our local WWII veterans who did not move to the US do not get the same benefits at all as their counterparts who are in the US. I believe that they deserve much more, being the heroes who fought for our country.It makes me think — why do we call our OFWs modern heroes when in fact that it takes more guts to stay in one’s country and make a difference amidst economic and political turmoil?

In other words, I would recommend this ultramarathon for any Filipino runner who wants to develop a sense of pride in one’s own history by running with history. For history is meant not for us to be frozen in time and nostalgic. History should be a vehicle to allow us to move forward towards greater heights of glory and respect of who we are as a nation.

5. Meet New Friends.

I do not know how it is with other ultramarathons abroad, but ultramarathons here in the Philippines is fun! Although one of the rules of the BDM ultramarathon is that a runner cannot pace another runner and that one has to run alone and in single file — a runner is never fully alone in this race at all! What exactly do I mean? Well, the different support vehicles are there to help each other out. When runners take a break, they get to know each other too. There’s an orientation party and an after party for this race that makes it far more interesting and exciting than other races. How many races do you know has an after party? And this is the only one that even has a party after party!

Kidding aside, I met new friends through the recent BDM102k via the Takbo.ph forum. Working the night shift, I hardly have a running group who I could call out for help for this ultramarathon. So I posted and sought help online and surprisingly, one person reached out to me! In addition, I also reached out to other runners and met another national who wanted to do the BDM. I am glad that the person had a positive experience of the said event since I really hope that Philippines would become a destination of choice for international race organizers.

So thanks to Bald Runner’s website and the Takbo.ph community — I was able to connect to runners who share a passion for running what Bards Bathan calls “the longer than long distances”.

6. Improve my Self-Esteem

Already in my 30s, I would have thought that people my age would have already dealt with most of their self-esteem issues and life issues. I was so WRONG! The more I get to meet other runners, the more I realize that many take on ultrarunning because they wanted to prove something to themselves — that they do not quit easily. It’s so easy to quit on oneself when there is too much negativity happening around us. The economy never seems to improve, or one’s career is stuck in limbo at the office due to cost cutting, or simply one has too many scars from previous relationships that one brings to a new relationship but never confronts.

In my case, I still want to become a more positive person. I desire to have an attitude so positive that it just rubs off other people that it fires people up and inspires them to do great things — not for themselves, but for the community and the people around them. So for this BDM151, I am already working on and considering doing this run for a cause. Working for the business process outsourcing industry, it is tough to carve a regular exercise routine. Having done the BDM102k, I hope that I was able to show to people that it can be done. It’s tough but it can be done. The BDM102k early this year made me think that the world, in spite of its many problems — is still a great place to live in and one can accomplish ANYTHING.

7. Get to know God better

Sounds corny, cheesy? But it is true. For me, running is an expression of my faith and who I am. And I’ve seen other runners and similar blogs who share the same thing. It’s so hard to find a peaceful place to pray in the city or even at home. For the single person, the biggest challenge is boredom. For the married person, the challenge is that there are too many distractions like children and the wife/husband asking for some love and attention. So for me, the roads have provided the means of a retreat, a brief respite from everything else and gave me a sense of serenity as I am able to have that dialogue with God on the road.

Some people find me too serious when I run. It’s just two things really. One, I am already in pain — physical pain. Two, I am struggling with issues in my mind and that I am wrestling with them in what to do with this or that. And so I would rather be left alone at that time because I would rather deal with it and process everything on my mind by myself. Yet because of the observation of one ultrarunner, I have learned that I should not be a snob as well as that is how others perceive of me — especially when I reach the last 5 kilometers of an ultra distance.

In the weeks to come, I will be releasing my Titanium Runner shirt to winners and to my fun run group, Titanium Runners. This too is a testament of God’s blessing and also my way of saying thank you. At the back of the shirt is my running motto in life which you can find in the Holy Bible in:

1 Corinthians 9: 26 NASB version — “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim”

Indeed, I run with a purpose of getting to know God more and making people see that life is meant to be lived fully and with a sense of purpose. And I thank God for Bald Runner for organizing such an event that would help runners like me realize their full potential.

Photo courtesy of Jonel Mendoza

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