September 22, 2023 | 3:33pm
MANILA, Philippines — During the COVID-19 pandemic, the lockdown restrictions made many people shift their lives 360 degrees.
Many became chefs or home bakers. Some even became TikTok stars. For Frontrow co-founder and Maserati Philippines president Sam Verzosa, from being “weak” at running, he has unlocked his potential to become a marathon finisher — at 40 years old!
“Noon, hindi talaga ako marunong mag-running. Walking lang,” professed the Tutok To Win Party-List Representative and host of his own public service program, “Dear SV.”
But during the pandemic, finding it unfruitful to just sit down while taking in business calls, Sam began walking more, which eventually turned into running, and then running even more.
“Nag-start ako walking. Sa treadmill lang. Kasi noon, ang tagal ko sa cellphone, nagtratrabaho, tatlong oras. Sumasagot ng calls. Sabi ko, ‘E kung maglakad na lang ako habang sumasagot?’,” he recalled.
After 45 minutes of taking calls while walking, he experienced sweating as a result of a good cardio exercise.
“Lalo na ‘yung after one hour! ‘Yun lang, by just walking.”
At the recent thanksgiving media lunch in Makati City, apart from being grateful for his show’s successful season two run in CNN Philippines, SV was thankful that from taking that first step during the pandemic, he was able to cross the finish line with the Philippine flag on his back at the London Marathon last April.
“Running (was) one of my weaknesses,” he confided. “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would finish running 42.195 kilometers,” he said in a video posted on his Instagram account.
He was elated as he showed off his finisher medal. He triumphed despite feeling sick and despite the cold and rainy weather on race day.
“First ever ko makatakbo ng 42! Before that, ang pinakamalayo ko, two, three, ganu’n lang. Tapos nag-training ako. Habang nagtretraining ako, longest na natatakbo ko, 21. Ansakit na ng tuhod ko du’n.”
Instead of dumping his spirits, the rain during the marathon even boosted his performance: “S’yempre may lakad. Buti na lang medyo umulan. Nakakatulong ‘yung lamig. Kung mainit siguro mahihirapan ako. Napadali siguro kasi umuulan s’ya. May konting drizzle. Malamig.”
He admitted that there were times during the training and even during the marathon that he doubted if he could finish the race.
“Grabe, self-fulfilling kasi that’s one of (the entries) in my bucket list. Kasi akala ko ‘di ko kaya. Kasi one kilometer lang dati ‘di ko kayang takbuhin. Hindi ko alam kung kaya kong tapusin ‘yung 42 kilometers,” he shared.
He confessed that he still couldn’t believe that he would achieve such feat given his age: “Nagulat na lang ako. ‘Di ko rin akalain na kakayanin.”
His late dad always gave him words of encouragement but also oftentimes, words aimed to challenge him and his siblings.
“Ay mahina! ‘Yan lagi sinasabi ng Papa ko sakin pag china-challenge n’ya kaming magkakapatid to achieve our goals. Eto ang nagpapaalala sakin na lalo pang galingan at kunin mga goals ko kasi baka sabihin ng Papa ko mahina ako.”
It always seemed to work. These words echoed in his mind every kilometer he ran during the marathon until he reached the end.
What makes his victory sweeter is that he ran the marathon for a cause – to help raise funds for the operation of more than 100 children with cleft lip and palate in partnership with Smile Train Foundation. He accomplished this mission and raised over P1 million pesos.
“This journey is more than fitness. It’s about personal growth, transformation and mental toughness.”
Apart making walking and running part of his morning routine, giving back by joining marathons will also continue for Verzosa. In November, he plans to launch Dear SV Run, a fun run event for a cause targeting 5,000 runners and would offer race kits for 3K, 5K and 10K distances.
“Every day is a chance to make changes to create the life we want. Everything begins when you shift your mind to a new direction,” he said.
“Part of the reason why I ran the London Marathon was I wanted to inspire people that change is possible in every aspect of life. Now there are more marathons and races to conquer.”