If golf has The Masters and tennis has Wimbledon, running has The Boston Marathon. It is the oldest (next week is the 114th edition) and most prestigious of all 42K races.
From Cebu, no female runner has ever joined Boston. The reason? The qualifying time (based on one’s age) is ultra-tough.
Millette Chiongbian is the first! A lifelong fitness buff, she started running less than three years ago. Qualifying for Boston? This was Millette’s dream two Decembers ago when she joined the Singapore Marathon. Sadly, she missed the 3:45 cutoff time by three minutes!
Then, last March 21 at the Los Angeles Marathon in California, Millette, never one to give up, made a second attempt. Her time? 3:43:06!
Here’s Millette’s story…. “Yes, I did it! And I am truly happy indeed. 2008 Singapore Marathon was a trying one for me. Equipment failure and premature cramping on the 12th K were directions toward a disastrous event. Still I crossed the finish line at 3:48 which was three minutes shy from my goal. But the kicker was when I was posted DQ. I remember to have called you immediately while Frederic and Chris analyzed the DQ stats. I shrank in my unexpected omissions of a runner.
“March 18 2009. Orthopedist’s prognosis of a total hip replacement extricated me from the Singapore Marathon’s DQ queasiness. Despite my doctor’s “It will take a miracle to reverse the necrosis on the femur head,” the possibility of running on metals didn’t thwart my devotion to carry on the Boston pipe dream.
“Sidelined from running between March-July 2009 was the most human part I and Fredric ever came close to a “shortcoming.” In truth, miracles happen. Being pain-free by November 2009 caused me to browse AIMS.
“LA is home to my mother’s family. Chris (Aldeguer) expressed a good opinion on the variables of the race venue as well. I formally got into the standards of training on November 2009. Training with Coach Bert Banzon is never casual. Every key workout had to be an abstract component to the Goal. I train with Coach Pio Solon for strength and conditioning whose goal was to get me pain-free and strong in meeting the rigors of training and racing. To reason, I find this science a binding force. At times, my necrotic hip would be on drama enough to stagnate the progression of training.
“I ran 6-7 times weekly and apexed at 120+ kms./week just weeks prior to March 21’s race. I made it a point to join half-marathon races to get coordinated with the training paces of my marathon program. And these races were: QCIM 10/20/09 PR 1:45 12th women overall, 1st age group divsion; Cebu City Marathon 1-10-10 PR 1:43:54 4th women overall; Condura 2/07/10 PR1:45 (21.800km); Century Tuna leg1 PR 1:43 8th women overall. These progressive best times validate the specificity of my run and strength programs.
“The 2010 LA Marathon was timed using both bib number and the B-Tag Timing System. The B-Tag is attached to the backside of the race bib and this timing uses the ChronoTrack Timing System which allows anyone to track runners’ splits on the route.
“Justin, my 11-yr. old son and I arrived LA in the late afternoon of March 17 and so we hit a couple of morning runs to test the bloody cold air of 5’C. (Justin clocked 25:23 on the 5K event of the LA Marathon and placed 9th in the 14 and below division.)
“Advised by the organizers to be at Dodger Stadium at 5:20 a.m., it was then between 10-12’C at that time. Bright lights, Jumbotrons and thousands of runners filled up the stadium seats. I felt like I was going to a baseball game. After warming up concisely I then headed towards the sub 4 hr. corral. Pace per mile signs were hung along the sides of corrals. It wasn’t as chilly as I expected it to be despite being overcast but I still had my mitts on and another top layer. Several runners were layered up in what looked like trash bags?
“At 7:24, the gun went off for the wheelers followed by the hand cycles, elite women and the last, elite men and the full field where I was at. Keeping a visual on the Clif Bar 3:40 pacer most of the time, I still ran my own race. The balloons would re-appear often. I found the 3:40 pacer aggressive on the descents. The start was off to a climb for 800m. It was akin to the Century Tuna leg 1 course with spiky undulations all the way to km 37 then a downward slope to the finish line at Santa Monica Pier which records this route to be a fast course.
“I was in control. I had full clarity and was focused but i didn’t spare myself to notice and appreciate the entertainment along the course which was spiced up with live band entertainment centers, city block parties, cheer alleys and thousands of volunteers. Mile markers with race clocks, hydration and medical stations by California Hospital Medical abound along the course. Two pain relief zones past mile 18 and at the finish line were apparent, too.
“I was hopeful that events will be favorable until my knee caps howled at km 28. Tipping the doubt scale on the recognition of perceptual cramping cues, I wasn’t free from doubt at all for we all know the real marathon is on the last 10K. To accept a greater effort by pacing up, by hydrating more and dissociating myself were the tricks that freed me from the cramp.
“The 38th-K downward slope marked an easement and I recognized that I could “have it” at this decent time. Giving a thumbs up to strangers calling out my name was just a rush. I rushed and flung towards the blue arch and the race clocks were all at a blur as I passed. I’m in! 3:43:06 Then I was cloaked with a mylar blanket, I was medalled which had the icons of LA (you should see it, John) and fed. It was a rocking party at the finish line! It was one great moment. What was sweet was narrating this to my dear ones who prayed as i came into the finish line.”
To MILLETTE, who’ll be running the 2011 Boston Marathon…. CONGRATULATIONS!