NEVER TOO LATE TO RUN | Two running vets share what enticed them to join races past their primes

Jaymie Pizarro thought about giving running a chance after giving birth to her second child.
By Ivan Saldajeno

TAGUIG--If there is one thing you can learn from marathons, especially if you are a veteran in long-distance runs, that is the fact that anyone of any age can join.

Take Jaymie Pizarro and Riza Mantaring for example.

In separate chats with Dugout Philippines on Wednesday, both Pizarro and Mantaring shared why they only started running late.

For the 41-year-old Pizarro, it all started when she was looking for a unique way to keep a healthy lifestyle.

"I only started working out at 30, and the only reason was because I was trying to lose 5-10 pounds after I gave birth to my two kids, and nothing was working. I wasn't eating, but hindi pa rin ako pumapayat. One time, I was talking to a friend, and she said she could run already at a treadmill for 30 minutes. That's the only time I realized, 'What if I try working out?'" said Pizarro.

However, it took five months from the time she started using the treadmill before she gave a real race a try.

"In May 2007, I found a race. It was a 5K Pinay in Action race. I signed up for that. I had to train outdoors, and I realized I enjoyed it. After that, it never stopped. I would just look for the next race and train for that," continued Pizarro, the woman behind the running blog "Bull Runner".

Two years later, at 33, she found herself in a full 42-kilometer marathon, and she was not even supposed to finish that race as she already set her sights on another 42K run.

"The QC International Marathon was my training run for a marathon in Singapore. What happened was dapat by 32K, titigil na ako, but sobrang traffic [noon]. I couldn't go home. Then I felt strong, so tinuluy-tuloy ko. So tinapos ko yung 42K before my supposed 42K [run]," Pizarro, the first Filipino to finish the World Marathon Majors, further said.

While Pizarro was somehow at the latter stage of her supposed prime when she began running, Mantaring was a different case.
Riza Mantaring ran her first 42K marathon at age 51.
"My husband was a track athlete, and he has run all his life. While I work out all my life, when I was turning 50, I decided to start joining him," said Mantaring.

She would join her first full marathon a year later, but she insisted that you are still healthy enough to run 42K at 51.

"I said [to myself], 'If I'm gonna do a full marathon, might as well do it while I'm still young enough,'" Mantaring further said.

For someone who is already way past her prime when she ran her first 42K race, Mantaring said about her first experience, "Surprisingly, it was easier than I thought." She later said she finished the race in four hours and 46 minutes.

"I've been doing one a year since then," the 58-year-old Mantaring added.

Now, Mantaring and Pizarro, who are top officials at Sun Life, hopes that more Filipinos will follow suit, and their company made an initiative by partnering with Fitness First for GoWell, its health and wellness community.

The said collaboration was formally launched at the Ascott Hotel at BGC.

"We had to address the health and wellness concerns [of our clients and the public], and that's how GoWell came about," explained Mantaring, Sun Life's president and CEO.

Pizarro, on the other hand, is the financial company's marketing manager.

In the said partnership, Fitness First will conduct free workout sessions for GoWell Gold members at selected gyms.

Both Fitness First and Sun Life will also conduct community workouts, in which running will be part of the regimen to be used.

Mantaring would reveal that they are open to holding sports camps soon to bolster the program.

"We're starting slowly, but eventually we will extend to other sports. We're looking at sponsoring volleyball in the future," she said in particular.

National rugby team member Chris Everingham was named the male ambassador for GoWell.

In conclusion, both Mantaring and Pizarro gave advices to those who want to try running despite their age.

"You can do far more than you can. You're never too old, but for those who want to start now, make sure you have medical clearance," said Mantaring.

"Go do it. Running is one of the best sports to get into," Pizarro added.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno