Why do you run? Why do you have to wake up that early every day? You can burn all those calories with your training, why do you still need to watch what you eat? Why?

It is an easy question actually but people who ask don’t seem to still understand the answer. I always get a raised eyebrow or an expression of exhaustion or both when I give my answer. Well I guess if I was the one asking the question, I would definitely find to hard to understand the answers myself. I mean who would choose to wake up earlier than everybody else every day to run or bike over sleeping longer right?

Let’s see how I got started with this. Around 11 years or so ago, you would have never thought I’d be doing sports. Almost 200lbs, waistline approaching 40 inches, wearing large to extra large shirts, drinking, eating, sitting on my desk in the office all day. As a result, I was asked to monitor my blood pressure as there are already signs of hypertension.

My father who had hypertension, diabetes, and asthma and an uncle who had heart disease died almost in the same year due to their condition. That was when I realized that hey, I am at risk of getting all those diseases! So I enrolled myself in a gym, got myself a nutritionist, and worked-out every day to lose weight. I lost 60lbs by changing my eating habits and working out.

Part of my workout was running 5 kilometers every day so when I learned about 5K runs, I started doing them and enjoyed the experience. 5Ks became 10K, then 15K, then I started doing 21Ks and finally, I finished my 1st marathon. Every time I cross a finish line, something inside me says – “you did it, you can do better.” Then I would plan for the next big race and train for it.

One of my goals then was to qualify for the Milo Marathon finals. My marathon personal best is just 4 minutes slower than the qualifying time for my age group so I trained hard for it every year.

I was on my best form when disaster happened. I was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo an operation and radiation therapy sessions. I had to slow down and at the back of my mind, was the thought that I would not be able to do what I enjoy doing again.

Cancer never stopped me. I had to slow down a bit but as soon as I got clearance to run again, I started doing it again right away. People who saw me asked – “didn’t you just have surgery?” I even finished a marathon in the middle of radiation therapy. After the fight with cancer and the treatments, I trained harder and was able to qualify for the Milo Marathon finals in 2013.

After achieving that goal, I wanted to do more. So I started training for triathlons. Finishing the Iron Man 70.3 was the next goal I had in mind. I finished Iron Man 70.3 in Cebu last August. I have the Iron Man still as a goal and I am training for it.

“There is something about facing death that makes you want to feel more alive.” This was how Professor Patrick Griffin explained it in one of our conversations. Patrick himself finished a marathon after undergoing heart surgery. I know several others who have the same experience. There is that high that you get when you finish a race that makes you more alive. That makes your existence more real. The feeling is magnified when you were able to do better.

That is why I tri. 🙂


About Kit Atienza

A researcher/runner/triathlete/cancer survivor who found himself in the world of development work. He enjoys, reflects, and rants about things while doing his job, improving his personal record in running distances, and training for the IronMan in 2016.
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