The rain and howling winds pressured runners to change their strategy as they ran against powerful headwinds. The Boston Marathon, touted as the Holy Grail of marathons, was held on a dreary Monday.
Among the 30 Filipino participants, TV host and motivational speaker Anthony Pangilinan made it in the nick of time to reach the six-hour cutoff, despite his flagging condition and a weak ankle.
He was batting for a record of under four hours, but made it in five hours and 55 minutes.
Pangilinan received two medals—one for the Boston Marathon and another for completing the six World Marathons Majors (the rest are London, Berlin, Tokyo, Chicago and New York).
“It was a system breakdown,” he recalls. His wife, actress Maricel Laxa, was among the spectators who gave
A month before the marathon, Pangilinan missed a step in his home one evening and dislocated his ankle. He underwent physical therapy at Intercare and Pace Rehab, but was not completely recovered for the marathon.
The Boston Marathon consists of 42.2 kilometers of curving roads, uphill and downhill in several cities and towns in Massachusetts. Pangilinan ran confidently for the first 15 km, since the surface was even.
However, most runners who had never joined the Boston Marathon were caught off-guard by the challenging elevations and descents.
“People train for uphill. The major lesson is to train for downhill. It requires a different set of muscles. In the last part, many runners had cramps. I was dehydrated and I vomited three times. I ended up with the medics,” he recalls.
To complete the course, he alternated between running and walking.
“It was painful, but I was happy to get my medal,” he says. “I would’ve quit if it wasn’t the Boston Marathon.”
Pangilinan explains that, unlike in other races, one has to qualify to join the world’s oldest annual marathon, according to the record time prescribed for each age group.
“You are in the company of elite runners of the world. Some of them live for running,” he explains.
The minority of participants are either sponsored or run for charity. Pangilinan was sponsored by Gatorade and Adidas. He was also supported by other brands such as Havaianas, Cetaphil, Delta Airlines and Timex. “We are like running ambassadors,” he says.
A runner at heart, Pangilinan started joining marathons eight years ago. One of his most unforgettable was in France’s wine region, the Bordeaux Marathon in 2015, which was punctuated by 23 wine stops.
“You run through vineyards, and drink while you run and finish 42 km,” he says.
Then again, triathletes Fred Uytengsu and Fernando Zobel de Ayala urged him to join the Ironman series in the Philippines. His wife and four of their five children became triathletes. The children started with Ironkids before they joined the Ironman 70.3. The family would travel together, each with their own bikes.
In the past three years, the Pangilinans became gold medal finishers in the family division of triathlons. It helps that they work out at Kerry Sports in Bonifacio Global City.
On the advantage of the family training together, Pangilinan explains: “It develops discipline and team work. You cheer for each other. This spirit translates to school and other activities outside of sports. We coordinate on who does what, when and what time. In triathlons, you learn to anticipate and pace yourself. These can be applied in life.”
His children are highly motivated and fit. Moreover, they enjoy the perks of being brand ambassadors for running shoes, equipment and merchandise.
Doesn’t the training get boring?
Pangilinan enjoys the community spirit: “Once you are part of a community, it takes on a life of its own.”
Pangilinan and his wife have always competed in the Bull Runner Marathon. In their recent outing, they cheered for the first-timers. The newbies were thrilled to see celebrities running with them in the last stretch.
In the Boston Marathon, runners set up social media groups where they shared tips.
Pangilinan adds that running helps clear his mind. “It has an impact on your productivity You pace yourself properly. It crosses over every area of life,” he says.
As a motivational speaker, he uses marathon as an imagery of life. He relates physical training to business principles. “People love it when I talk about the fact that 75 percent of the people don’t finish strong because they don’t pace themselves. They set goals that weren’t meant for them, parang ginaya, or they did not equip themselves. It’s like running without the proper nutrition and training.”
Aside from inspiring people with his experiences, Pangilinan is motivated by the health benefits. While most men his age are paunchy, the 52-year-old athlete is trim.
We joke that he could walk around shirtless. “Maricel won’t let me,” he demurs.