2020 Virtual Melbourne Marathon: A Bittersweet Conquest

I set a “personal record” in running.

This is my slowest pace and my longest marathon in my eight years of being a marathoner. Still, I am proud to have achieved this while in quarantine. 
Registering in the 2020 Virtual Melbourne Marathon on September 17 led me to train intently when I resumed my running after a seven-month moratorium. I saw Melba as a new level of challenge to my discipline, focus, grit, and physical limits in this pandemic. 
To tell the truth,  Melbourne Marathon has been in my bucket list since 2018. But there was only one person who knew about this. Cristina Pineda-Mababaya, a former colleague and very close friend, who’s now Australia-based. 
Her invitation to visit Down Under was a light-bulb moment for me. Melba was beckoning. Then, coronavirus pandemic struck in March. Almost everything was on a standstill. My plan included. Nonetheless, I would still check the Melbourne Marathon website until I read about pushing through with the event virtually this year. With a reduced registration fee of AUD 40.00 (originally at AUD 145.00), a physical medal, no cut-off time, and an option to run it one time any day from December 5-13, I decided to join at once. 
Upon receipt of this registration confirmation, I plotted my 2.5-month preparation. Partly, I had qualms about being able to execute my training program design to the letter. Aside from safety reason due to the growing number of positive cases here in the Philippines, my running mojo was playing hide-and-seek with me. I think I had zero run for a month until the demise of one of our pet dogs. I realized that our dogs lacked exercise. So, like an atonement, I decided to walk our two remaining dogs daily. Cloud, the younger one, whose high energy would only be depleted through running became my nightly training buddy after a one-kilometer walk with Biggs, the older dog. Turning into a routine every day for almost four weeks, it helped  improve my muscle and cardiovascular endurance, and core strength. 
So, December 5, the first day of the Melbourne Marathon Festival, came. I let it pass. I told myself that I had to extend my training. I picked December 13, Sunday, the last day to run Melba.
Start and finish line was our living room since Arthur, my eldest son, assisted me in finally setting up the downloaded official Melba apps on my phone.
Run route was Moonwalk Village Phase 2-River Drive-Solidarity Route-Vermosa, Daang Hari and back.
Original flag-off time was at 11:30 am.
Backstory: My run began at past 12:00pm after I had sent an email to the enquery desk and was immediately assisted by Ebony Jenkins to have the apps working. Prior to my communicating with a representative, I was contemplating of not anymore running. However, the support of my son changed it. Arthur also sent me off by holding the main door for me with this cheer: “Go, Nanay! Good luck, Nanay!” His twin brother, Alexander, did the finishing touches on my bib number which I colored the night before.

Extreme struggle. Buckets of sweat. Intermittent cramps on both legs and lower chest. Dehydration. UTI attack. If only I could crawl and roll, I could have done it. Stopping and messaging my son to fetch me from Daang Hari crossed my mind. But, my ego continued pushing me. For this part of my mind, I have not yet reached my boundary.

Unmistakably, if not for the relaxed marathon guidelines, Melbourne Marathon might have given me my first DNF (Did Not Finish). If not for my sons’ support and belief that I could hurdle another marathon alone, I wouldn’t have finished Melba. And if not for my husband’s wish “Sana safe ka makauwi ng bahay” (Hopefully you’ll be home safe) I wouldn’t  be receiving my AR (augmented reality) medal, captured and posted on my first-ever Facebook story by Arthur. Hahaha. 
Finishing 2005th out of 2010 female participants was a big surprise for me! With my 13:35 km/hr pace, I was already expecting to be the last finisher.  
This information from the leaderboard of the very reliable Melbourne Marathon apps made me uber happy! Furthermore, the assurance that I would be receiving the physical medal despite my failure to log my record on time (December 13, 11:59 pm AEDT) turned my night into day!
I may have not run Melba in actual and have not seen the gorgeous-looking community,761739E0-668C-42D9-A890-6A1AE2205355
but this first virtual marathon will be a constant reminder that finishing a marathon will not be providential. Without proper training one would always deliver a mediocre performance or worst, earn the dreaded DNF. 

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