#MotherRunner Mary Joy Tabal shares how it is to be a mom

Cebuana running queen says being a marathoner helped a lot

By: Brian J. Ochoa - CDN Digital | May 14,2023 - 08:00 AM

Mary Joy Tabal

Tabal is a picture of motherhood bliss as she shares the spotlight with her baby, Athena. CDN Digital photo | Brian j. Ochoa

CEBU CITY, Philippines—Olympian Mary Joy Tabal has overcome a lot of obstacles throughout her running career.

The multi-titled marathoner from Barangay Guba, here has endured pain from losing a loved one just before a national race, survived some tense moments with the country’s governing body for athletics, and withstood challenges from top female runners who are out to dethrone her as the country’s premier marathoner for several years.  

READ: Grieving Tabal etches Milo Marathon history

READ: Patafa cuts Tabal

READ: Joy is back

This year, Tabal is facing a different challenge, one she is determined to also pass with flying colors.

Tabal, the first Filipina marathoner to compete in the Olympics (Rio 2016), is now busy trying to be the best mother to her daughter Athena.

As a guest with CDN Sportstalk 2.0 recently, Tabal shared that being a first-time mother is “something very new to me and very challenging.” 

“From being a full-time athlete to being a first-time mom is a massive shift for me. It is very, very challenging,” says Tabal, who is married to Hector Dan Jimenez.

READ: Cebu marathoner Tabal on cloud nine after getting engaged to Navy boyfriend

READ MORE: Marathon Queen Tabal marries long-time bf, vows to continue running

“Tinuod gyud dili lalim ma inahan.” (It’s really true that it isn’t easy to be a mother.)

Tabal gave birth to Athena in September of 2022, and adjusting hasn’t been easy for the six-time National Milo Marathon champ and Southeast Asian Games gold medalist (2017, Malaysia).

But just as with her fighting spirit in races, Tabal is confident she can be the best mom she can be to Athena.

“When you have a child, you want to be the best mother. You want to give everything. You want to take the challenge.  Even if I am not a perfect mother, I am proud of how I am handling it,” Tabal said.

‘Like medicine’

So what have been the toughest parts so far?

“A lot of sleepless nights,” Tabal said. “[It’s like we’re in] survival mode always.

Tabal revealed that being a marathoner has helped a lot with her being a mother.

“It’s a good thing I am a marathoner. I have that endurance to cope with the hardships of being a mom,” she said.

Tabal gold

This is a file photo of Maryjoy Tabal after she won the country’s 1st gold medal when she ruled the women’s marathon at the 2017 SEA Games in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

While busy attending to her bubbly baby, who made an appearance at the show, Tabal says she isn’t giving up on the sport that made her popular around the country.

“For me, I can’t give it up. It’s like medicine for me,” she said.

She says, though, she feels a lot different compared to before she gave birth.

“Being an athlete I really want to do physical activities. But you’ll have to sacrifice that. You’ll have lesser time for yourself,” Tabal said. 

“I miss myself prior to pregnancy. But now, it’s definitely very rewarding for me to be a mom.”

Tabal is now trying to slowly get back to her old form. In fact, she competed in the Tokyo Marathon just this year. She described her performance there as “beyond my expectation.”

“I was very happy with my performance although it was not that fast, not my fastest gyud. But it was faster than what I expected,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘Mother runner’ Tabal slowly getting back into competitive form

She said she only had little time to prepare as she only knew she was joining three months after giving birth.

“So I wasn’t focused on that. But I grabbed the opportunity to motivate me to get back to running,” she said. “It was my first step [back to marathon]. It proved I can still run. It motivated me to just continue my sport but with lesser pressure this time.”

Tabal says although she wants to continue being an athlete while being a mom, she doesn’t want to put too much pressure on herself this time.

“I have accomplished what I wanted to accomplish as an athlete. I am an Olympian, I have given a medal to the country. I just want to enjoy the sport now, no pressure,” Tabal said. “I also don’t want also to leave this sport.”

Tabal daughter

NEXT MARATHON OLYMPIAN? At seven months, Mary Joy Tabal’s daughter Athena already shows sprinting can sprint like her mom. CDN Digital photo | Brian J. Ochoa

Tabal also had this to say about Athena.

“When she was born, there was so much pressure put on her. Will she be the next olympian ba daw. My message for her is just to be herself. Mommy and Daddy will always be there to support her.”


Tabal to run in OSIM Sundown Marathon Singapore this May

Tabal overcomes pain to fulfill promise to father

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TAGS: athletics, Barangay Guba, Cebu sports, Cebuano Athlete, marathon, Mary Joy Tabal, running, sports

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