Photo Credit: RUEL ROSELLO
Photo Credit: RUEL ROSELLO

 
 

A petite and unassuming lass from the Queen City of the South is beaming before me with genuine enthusiasm like I was an old friend. She belies her stature as the top local marathon runner as well as the speed and endurance her little body possesses that can finish the distance in 2 hours 48 mins. (I can only muster this finishing time for half that distance!) Any runner can attest that running in sub-4 mins.30 secs. per km. for the entire marathon race is a monster of a feat only true blue elite runners like Mary Joy Tabal can sustain.
 
I am excited to be able to talk up close and personal with the Milo Marathon Queen for 2014 outclassing even four-time titleholder, Christabel Martes, and two-time winner Jho-an Banayag to claim the throne. This gave Mary Joy the excellent opportunity to compete for the country in the 28th Southeast Asian Games held last June in Singapore. But before that, as her prize for winning the Milo Marathon last December, she was given this chance to run the LA Marathon that became her benchmark performance leading to the SEA Games. This was in March of this year.
 
Cebu, her hometown, became Mary Joy’s training ground in the 6 months of preparation she got after being hinted of her slot after winning the Milo Marathon. Philippine Track and Field Association (PATAFA) gave her the go signal, and she was thankful for this, to train right at home. She revealed that Cebu is an ideal place to train for the Singapore Games because everything, in terms of diversity of training ground, is accessible. Not to mention that nothing beats training right at home. Like when she wanted hills, she just goes to the hilly part of the city a few kilometers away. If she wanted to run amidst urban environment that mimics that of Singapore, she just needs to run right in the heart of the city. The searing hot weather of summertime Cebu is like that of Singapore too.
 
Glowing in her daintily made-up face of powder, defined brows, blush and gloss, Mary Joy revealed that from among the roster of local marathon elites, it is Jho-an Banayag, Mary Grace delos Santos and Christabel Martes that she considers her closest rivals. And to think that she only delved into marathon running 5 years ago, it is already a feat to be pitted against these stalwarts.
Mary Joy started doing sprints during her elementary years. But she totally focused on her studies in high school shutting off anything and everything about running behind closed doors. She only reacquainted with her first love in college, again, as a sprinter. So it was basically in the shorter distances that she excelled in and not marathon. It was only after college that she upped her distance and in 5 years’ time, she managed to reach the pinnacle of the local marathon echelon. By simply looking at her coy yet composed persona, you will never know she is even capable of such feat!
 
At the launch of ASICS GPS Sports Watch AG01 recently at 100 Miles Café, I was very privileged to get my few minutes of “Fab Running” up close and personal interview with the brand ambassador. Mary Joy openly relayed to me how her training for the SEA Games went as well as what went on during the race itself. She likewise related how she feels being an ASICS Brand Ambassador and how she sees herself perform as such. All these I captured in my very first video presentation here. I am sorry for the background noise as this was taken at the entrance of the café near the kitchen. I promise to be more conscious of all these in choosing the location for my next interview. Happy viewing!