Mary Grace Delos Santos reclaims her throne
Mary Grace Delos Santos, the petite runner from Zamboanga-Sibugay dominated Cebu’s running scene for over two years winning all but one of the weekend races in Cebu. Then in late 2010, her injuries came, her time slowed and was eventually overtaken by Mary Joy Tabal – touted as the newest local road running queen.
Humbled and slowed by numerous injuries, Mary Grace left the lucrative weekend races in Cebu and found a spot in Philippine National Team training pool. She was supposed to run the SEA Games last November with former gold medalist and teammate Jho Ann Banayag, but was cut from the official Phl delegation.
But rejection proved to be a blessing in disguise. At the 35th Milo Marathon Finals earlier this month, Mary Grace outran both local female elites (including Banayag and Tabal) and Kenyan runners and bagged her first Milo crown. Mary Grace ran her personal best of 2:53:07, which shut-up her critics and doubters proving that it’s hard to put a good woman down.
You qualified for the Milo Marathon finals seven times so far, how did you train for this year’s finals?
MG: I’ve joined the Milo finals 7 times but the last three were a bit serious. Training for a race is not easy. I had to wake up at 3 a.m. and run with the boys. I also have a new coach (Filipino running legend Roy Vence) aside from coach Sherwin Manangil so I had to make a lot of adjustments in my training routine.
What new things did you add to your usual long runs, tempo runs and speed intervals? How often in a day or week do you train? Rest?
MG: I’m following a new training program. In as much as I want to share it with the other runners, I am not allowed to discuss the training program because I’m with the national team. But in totality I train twice everyday (morning and afternoon), except Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday afternoons.
I notice that your physique has changed and that you’ve grown more muscles than when you were still training in Cebu, have you incorporated weight/ strength training in your regimen?
MG: No, I don’t have any cross training just running both road run & trail runs in mountain regions.
What about your nutrition, did you adjust it as well?
MG: I eat anything I want except pork, but I also watch my weight.
While you were in Cebu, you were racing almost every weekend. Did this change after you joined the national team training pool?
MG: My usual weekend races in Cebu were so important for my daily needs. Things changed when I joined the National Team because Coach Roy Vence will decide which races to join. I sacrificed so much upon joining the National Team.
You’ve been injured for the most part of 2011, what kind of injuries did you have?
MG: Yes, and as a runner I am not exempted from injuries. I have various injuries from shin splints, runner’s knee and an injury which I forgot (the name). It slowed me down since the recovery period took a really long time.
Looking back, do you think that racing every weekend contributed to the decline in your level of fitness and performance?
MG: Yes, because I lost focus in my training. But I never regretted racing every weekend as this helped me survive.
Who do you think are your closest rivals (except the Kenyans)?
MG: Jho Anne Banayag and Flor Donos. We all belong to the National Team and have the same training.
I can sense that there is intense rivalry between you and Mary Joy Tabal, how do you feel about her?
MG: I don’t really consider her as a rival. She follows a different training program.
You’ve been dominating the Cebu running scene for over two years, then your injuries happened and you were no longer always number one, did you feel that you have something to prove, that you’re still queen of the road?
MG: I don’t have to prove anything because its already there. I’ve been a (dominant) part of Cebu’s running scene and every athlete has ups and downs. Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose. No hurt feelings. Ganyan talaga ang laro.
Are you running in the Cebu Marathon? What category?
MG: Yes, I will be running CCM, in the 21k category.
What is your next big race? Your ultimate goal?
MG: If given a chance, I would really love to join the Boston Marathon. I have already qualified in the Camsur International Marathon and Milo Marathon. Running Boston will be a dream come true.
What is your message to your supporters and fans?
MG: Thank you for all the support, love and care. There are special people that contributed to where I am now. Sir Toby Claudio (of Runnr), Coach Roy Vence, Ma’am Millette Chiongbian, my honey coach Sherwin and my family, the Lasang Runners & TG family. Thank you. It’s never easy to achieve what you want if you are not prepared. Just train well, have focus and determination and success will follow.
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