24K for 2024

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By Rosalind Gravador-Quiamco

CEBU CITY — Doing! That has always been my mantra. I do me!

Seven years post-Guillain-Barre Syndrome, the “doing” has become more challenging as the exercises meant for my “remaining unactivated nerves” become more essential to my recovery: tiptoeing, using rubber bands to strengthen my finger muscles, and picking up some things from the floor using my toes. Even after seven years, my toes still have a tingling sensation.

But I have come to realize that we do have a choice if we should allow something to bother us or not.

Every morning when I get up from bed and step on the floor, yes, I feel a bit of a pain, but it also reminds me of the magnificent blessing, call it a miracle, of surviving GBS that I was afflicted with seven years ago.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome  is a “rare neurological disorder where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and damages part of the peripheral nervous system — the network of nerves that carries signals from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body — causing muscle weakness and sometimes, near-total paralysis”. Until now, the cause of GBS has not been fully understood; medical doctors are not sure either what one can do to prevent it from happening.

Flatlined twice (my heart just stopped beating), intubated (to help me breathe), trache’d (went through tracheotomy or cutting a hole on my neck for an airway), and after three months in ICU, came out victorious by God’s grace. Who am I to complain of that slight pain on my toes?

For about six years prior to GBS in 2017, I was caught up with the local running bug. The DARS (Dumaguete Adventure Runners & Striders)  did weekly night runs, LSDs (long “slow” distance) on weekends, 21-kilometer half marathons, 42-kilometer full marathons, even 50-kilometer ultramarathons. Yes, that crazy!

And so you can imagine, the joy of running developed through those years of running never left me. Started running in 2011, and fast forward to 2024, I’m just glad I’m still at it. There may have been pauses and hiccups in between, but the whiff of fresh air caressing my checks everytime I run is a ‘high’ that I could not just throw in the closet.

One year after my bout with GBS, I had to opportunity to represent Maybank Philippines Inc. in a half marathon held in Bali, Indonesia. For someone who could not even walk for several months, my doctors thought that running 21 kilometers was quite a feat.

Then in 2019, I got to run the Cebu Marathon; then again in 2020.

In January 2022, Maybank, Southeast Asia’s fourth largest bank, assigned me at its Cebu Business Central located in the heart of the Cebu Business Park across Ayala Mall. I was initially thinking how I could keep myself sane being away from the comfort of home in Dumaguete, until I suddenly realized that my playground was going to be the business district, behind which is a runner’s haven — paved wide sidewalks, lots of greens and trees, fresh air, safe and secure.

The moment I saw it, my heart literally leaped. I imagined myself running again, and of course, joining the popular Cebu marathon.

By then, it was late to register for the 2022 Cebu Marathon. Later that year, I “surprised” my two kids, and registered them for the 2023 Cebu Marathon. I excitedly convinced my daughter, a Sports Science major, to run her first 21K. That time, they didn’t want me to run because I had not really seriously trained. So I had to content myself sending them off at SM Seaside.

Late last year when the registration for the 2024 Cebu Marathon opened, I immediately logged in to register. Are you kidding me? they might close early again, and would miss it!

And so the journey of my training began. I searched on the Internet for a training plan that I felt was easiest, and found one with a two-day rest. I told myself, “This is for me!” (Was looking for a five-day rest training plan, and found none!)

As I was so busy in the office, everything felt novel. And although I’m not a stranger in Cebu, everything just felt different to me. But boy, how I loved the blend of the familiar and the unknown, boosting my desire to learn new ways, and to improve.

And so I go back to my Doing mantra. I do me!

Surely, there were days I didn’t want to get up early and run; I did it anyway. On other days, my mind would entertain several reasons why I don’t have to train and run; but I did it anyway.

I remember those months when I had GBS, and I would go through daily physical therapy and occupational therapy sessions that were difficult to execute, if not painful; I did it anyway. My kids would sometimes prod me, and cheer me up when completing physical tasks was painful, seemed insurmountable and frustrating; I ended up doing it anyway.

And so even the difficulties and the pain are a constant reminder that things can actually be done. One may have ambitious plans but if they are not implemented, there’s not much to it however ideal it may be. As they say, execution is key, baby.

A few times during training, I would feel that running had seemed to become a chore. I would wonder if I would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t feel the pressure just because I officially registered (and so was bound to some expectations like the finish time of three hours). I would question myself if I had been robbed of the sheer fun of running, and exchanged it with social pressure. And so I reminded myself to just do it anyway. Stretch, run-walk, and enjoy.

Afterall, I did not have a training buddy here in Cebu, unlike my running days in Dumaguete when over 20 of us would together run the local roads, or hit the trails in Sibulan and Valencia.

I had myself to rely on, and give excuses to. So training for the Cebu marathon was somehow challenging as my lazy self could easily insist, “I’ll just sleep in this morning. Will run tomorrow.”

They say that you’ll have yourself as an excuse for not running in the morning, as compared to running in the afternoon or evening. Although reasons such as meetings or client calls can be valid, choosing not to run in the morning will always have your lazy self as an excuse. You can’t say you have a meeting? It’s really on you! It’s your own volition that is deciding not to.

And so in the early mornings, I decide to lace up, go out, and run. I have met “runner-friends” along the road, nameless faces, who share the same passion. I would even take “mental attendance” of the familiar faces who have trained and did not train. That’s how I go about my mornings, and have my taho — a new favorite. I now look forward to my taho mornings.

Last Jan. 14, I completed 24 kilometers of the Cebu Marathon, running also through the famed Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway. It was my longest race since 2020 in Malaysia.

There may be a thousand reasons why we do not want to do certain things. In my case, I have a thousand reasons not to run. But then I go back to my whys — like why I do this. I go back to my purpose:
To have my feet back to 100 percent usable, without tingling sensations, and no more pains. To be healthy. To be physically and functionally fit. And in the process, to be mentally strong. To enjoy what life has yet to offer. And to make more memories with my family. I do me!

 _______________________

 

Joy Gravador-Quiamco is the branch manager for Maybank Cebu Business Center in Ayala. Her constant support crew  are her husband Ernan Quiamco, their son Mico who is a student pilot, and their daughter Eanne who is a Sports Science major in UP Dilliman.

 

 

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