Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Bull Runner Dream Marathon: Film editor Sheryll Lopez

Rick: Why did you decide to join the TBR Dream Marathon? Have you engaged in endurance sports before?

Sheryll: I have been running on and off since 2005. I started running because I needed to relieve stress and lose weight. The idea of joining a marathon first came to mind after reading Haruki Murakami’s book, “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”. I dreamed about running a marathon but never really knew how to go about it – I have not joined any races and mostly ran on the treadmill. I had absolutely no experience in endurance sports.

Then last year, I started getting sick. I often had the flu, developed gastroenteritis and migraine. I was rushed to the ER thrice. My immune system was virtually nonexistent. Never mind that I gained too much weight, I was more terrified at the idea of getting sicker – so I made the difficult but much-needed decision of taking some time off from work. After my boss so generously allowed me to take an indefinite leave, I started thinking about what I can to do to fill the days in. One of the things that became apparent to me was to start running again.

It was around this time that I saw Jaymie’s feature on ANC’s Green Living. I remember being inspired by her story and her passion for running. I checked her blog and found that the registration for TBR Dream Marathon was a week away. I felt the stars align; it was meant to be! Not only would running make me naturally healthy; if I get in TBRDM, I was to fulfill one of my dreams.

Rick: What do you do for a living? How did you balance work and training? What kind of training did you do? Did hydration play an important part? How so?

Sheryll: I am a freelance film editor, but I have film projects regularly so it never felt freelance. I am passionate about film, and that’s why I love my job. I would have 18-hour, 24-hour, at some point even 72-hour workdays, and I didn’t care, I poured my heart out. It made me a workaholic. But I guess the lifestyle that came with it made me unhealthy – the sleepless nights, fast food, sitting in front of the computer for hours on end – it was impossible to fit in any form of exercise, let alone a running schedule.

I was lucky to have lots of free time at the latter part of my TBR training because of my “sick leave”. However, when training for TBR started, I still had two film projects I was working on, so a change of the usual routine was in order. I had to be smart with my time if I was to train properly. Before, free time meant late-night TV, sleeping in and comfort food. Now I had to sleep immediately as soon as I got home. I tried my best to do my runs in the morning because it was impossible to get out of work as soon as it started. It was a good thing that Coach Jim Lafferty’s training program was straightforward. It told me how often I had to run in a week and how long. It was my bible. I plotted it out in my calendar and followed it religiously.

I also joined Mitch and Armand Felipe’s TBR Weight Management program because I had no idea what a runner was supposed to eat. I also followed their program religiously. My eating habits went for an overhaul: I learned to eat fresh food from home; I made sure I had breakfast everyday; I started eating rice again (It’s not the enemy!); and I was inseparable from my water bottle.

I felt that being well-hydrated helped me run longer and more efficiently. I only had Gatorade and water in all my long runs. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of sports gels and only had chocolate and gummy bears when I really needed to. I think it was the proper hydration and nutrition that kept me going. I didn’t run out of gas easily and didn’t get cramps in all my training runs.

Rick: What did you like about the TBR marathon? What was the toughest part?

Sheryll: The Bull Runner Dream Marathon changed my life. Jaymie, Coach Jim, Coach Lit, Macel – they all took care of us from day one. When I first saw the list of registered runners, I panicked; I felt so undeserving of it. I had no race experience and did not belong in any running groups. The most I’ve run was an hour on the treadmill, and never even thought about it in kilometers. It didn’t help that some people thought it a deathwish – “42 kilometers? Gusto mo bang mamatay?” Most alarmingly, I was as at my unhealthiest. These thoughts were enough to make me give up.

But TBR empowered me by giving the best possible experience a runner could ever have. They provided us with a wealth of resources at our disposal that I felt there was no way we could fail the marathon. I always felt their support, guidance and encouragement. I was babied, spoon-fed even. I felt like I was the luckiest runner in the world.

The toughest part was the day after (apart from the last 5km of the race – the longest 5km possible); and it wasn’t because of my aching legs and feet. For six months, TBR was part of my life and now I’m going to be on my own. I guess this is where the courage I found in training will be put to use beyond the finish line: the courage to continue what Jaymie started even without the cocoon of the Dream Marathon.

But see, that’s what I love about TBR. Because of it, I have a newfound passion for running. Of course life has to go on – surely, there will be film projects to do after this and not all my time will be devoted to joining marathons. But running has given me so many gifts that it would be impossible for me to stop now: I learned how to prioritize and use my time wisely; I rediscovered a love for the outdoors; I’ve embraced waking up early for a run; and I think, most importantly, I’m not terrified of getting sick anymore – I feel strong.

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