Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tabal, Poliquit Conquer Boston Marathon

Mary Joy Tabal and Rafael Poliquit Jr. added another feather to their caps as they crossed the finish line of the 120th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 18 (April 19, Philippine time). The all-expense paid trips to the Boston Marathon are part of their prizes for winning the 39th National MILO Marathon in 2015. With pride in their hearts as they represented the Philippines, the reigning MILO Marathon champs took to the Boston roads along with over 32,000 runners from all over the globe in the world’s oldest annual marathon.

The Boston Marathon is known for its notoriously difficult race route and very high qualification standards. Adding to the hurdles that the champs needed to overcome were the very strong winds and hot weather conditions on race day. Despite not being able to hit their target times, both Tabal and Poliquit, just by finishing the historic Boston Marathon alone, have achieved a massive feat in the sport of road racing.

Tabal posted a time of 2:49:01, and finished 20th in her female age group. She placed 21st in the overall elite female category and 34th in the overall elite male and female category. The 26-year-old Southeast Asian Games silver medalist from Cebu had a good start and kept her pace, but suffered from agonizing cramps at the 25km mark. However, she still pushed on and faced uphill after uphill in the route.

“To be honest, I am really disappointed with my performance because I could have done so much better. I felt that I prepared myself well, and I was very positive, but I started feeling cramps in my quads after the first half. The pain was getting worse that I was about to stop, even the marshalls wanted me to stop,” Tabal recalls. “But I never stopped a race in my entire life and I didn’t want to stop, so I persevered and prayed for the pain to go away. I kept on telling myself that I can still do it and I have to finish the race despite what I’m feeling. I am very happy to finish it even if I did not hit my goal.”

Despite not being able to qualify for the Olympics, Tabal’s quest to achieve her dream is not over. She and her team will find another race so she can try again. “Everything happens for a reason. I am at the stage of overcoming this pain I’m feeling, but I will be back soon, I will get up and try again,” she shares. “Being here in Boston representing the Philippines made me feel really privileged and happy, and I thank God for this opportunity. I am also grateful for all the support that MILO has given me.”

Meanwhile, Poliquit finished with a time of 2:47:16. He placed 277th in his male age group, 323rd in the overall elite male group and 340th in the overall elite male and female category. Similarly to Tabal, Poliquit started well, but after the first half, he started feeling numbness in his hands and feet. He also found the Heartbreak Hills part of the route, which is composed of several uphill challenges, the most difficult. Like a true champion, he did not give up and faced them head on.

“It was really difficult to climb the Heartbreak Hills, and unfortunately I was unable to maintain my pace in the second half. I decided to slow down to avoid completely dropping out of the race,” shares Poliquit. “I did not want to waste my opportunity of representing the Philippines here so I willed myself to do my best and finish the race, no matter what my result is. When I crossed the finish line, I thanked God for helping me overcome the pain to achieve this.”

Poliquit also adds that one of the most important lessons he learned from this race is the importance of patience. He admits that he was overcome with excitement in the first half that he went on in full confidence with his pace. “I should’ve been more patient with my pace,” he shares. “I am still proud of finishing the Boston Marathon. This experience has definitely improved my self-confidence and it will help me as I prepare for other future races. My outlook is still positive because I did my best, and I am very happy.”

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