Gameplan Profiles: Progressive Athletes
Nothing could stop marathon runner Ernest Carual and triathlete Tin Fontillas from achieving their goals – not even having one short leg or being overweight.
Ernest was diagnosed with Osteomyelitis when he was three years old. This led to an infection in his right leg, causing it to be twelve to fifteen inches shorter than the other leg. He shared the struggle of having to wear crutches due to his condition.
“I reached two-hundred pounds. With my condition, it’s only my left leg that’s carrying my whole weight. Iyong left knee ko, sobrang painful siya,” he expressed.
Being a plus-sized woman, Tin limited herself to swimming in triathlon for two years because she was apprehensive of running. She said, “Dati kasi aakyat lang ako ng hagdan sa bahay, hingal na hingal na eh.”
Learning to run with a stilt was Ernest’s first hurdle towards becoming a marathon runner. He wistfully shared the first time he wore his running stilt. “Noong una kong sinubukang tumayo, muntik akong tumumba. Sabi ng wife ko, ‘hindi, huwag mong pansinin kung tutumba ka o hindi. Basta subukan mo siyang itakbo. Napansin ko when I’m gaining speed, doon ako mas nagiging steady,” he said. Running gave Ernest an extraordinary feeling, given that he was wearing crutches almost all his life. He expressed, “Parang feeling na ang laya-laya mo, iyong feeling na maluwag ka. Para kang lumilipad. Ganoon pala iyong feeling na tumatakbo.”
For Tin, the dream of competing in Ironman was the motivation that led her to step out of her comfort zone. “Iyon iyong ultimate dream ko. ‘Di mo matatapos iyong Ironman distance na walang running so parang puwersado na mag-run na rin.” Her family served as her support group as they motivated each other to train for the sport.
When asked about their most memorable race, Ernest and Tin talk about The Bull Runner Dream Marathon and the Condura Skyway Marathon, respectively.
“You’re talking about direct sunlight and then iyong uphills…iyong dinaanan mong pababa na sobrang haba, aakyatin mo siya uli,” Ernest said.
The Condura Skyway Marathon turned out to be a great challenge for Tin. She shared, “talagang nagulat ako dahil mahirap pala talaga dahil nga uphill-downhill iyong course tapos sa simula parang nagbago pa 'ko ng sapatos - hindi iyong pinang-te-training ko kaya simula pa lang parang masakit na iyong paa ko, tapos ayon, hinto ka nang hinto.”
For both athletes, the last few kilometers were the hardest.
Ernest recalled, “There’s a certain point there na they call it a loop…So iyon iyong 40th kilometer mo, then makikita mo na iyong finish line. However, hindi ka pa didiretso. So kakaliwa ka pa and then you’re going through that two-kilometer route pa. Doon ka talaga ite-test if you really want to finish it.”
Tin shared the same feeling of being so close yet so far from the finish line. “Natatanaw mo na siya pero ang layo-layo pa… Literally noon, hila-hila na lang ako ng husband ko,” she said.
The cheers and encouragement of spectators served as a big motivation for Ernest and Tin to finish their race. Ernest shared, “Iyon din exactly iyong point na ang daming taong nagchi-cheer for you. Doon ka pa ba titigil?” Similarly, Tin said, “ Kapag sa triathlon kasi lalo na kapag ang daming nagchi-cheer, maraming tumatawag na ‘Idol! Idol!’ nabu-boost iyong confidence mo na tapusin.”
Getting to the finish line proved to bring much fulfillment to both athletes.
According to Tin, “Pag-cross ko ng finish line, talagang hagulgol iyong iyak. Iyong mga kasama ko, nag-iiyakan din.” Meanwhile, Ernest shared, “Iyon na ‘yong, I may say, happiest moment in your life. Kasi right after running that route, iyong ganoon kahaba, ganoon kainit at ganoon katagal, ito na. Nakikita mo na iyong finish line and magfi-finish ka na. So priceless iyong feeling.”
To fulfill any ambition such as finishing a marathon or triathlon, one needs perseverance. “Basta may isi-net kang goal, tapusin mo iyon. Everybody can do it,” Tin said.
Living an active lifestyle has indeed brought about positive change in the life of Ernest and Tin. According to Ernest, “Running for me is already a lifestyle. Maraming nagbago sa akin.” – Rappler.com