For someone who prides herself with standing at the podium in 85% of the races she has joined ever since she discovered the joy of running three years ago, it is hard to believe that Seannah started as an insecure and overweight mother of three and a housewife of a seaman.
After the birth of her third child, Silamie Apolistar a.k.a “Seannah Swift,” simply wanted to lose some lingering pregnancy weight after years of prioritizing her children’s needs before her own. She lost her self-esteem after family and friends told her she looks older than her husband.
“… nag-start ako mag-gym kasi bata pa ako noon – 26 – tapos ‘oldie-oldie’ na ako kasi nga nasa bahay lang ako tapos tatlo na yung anak ko. Tapos yung husband ko seaman. Pag umuuwi sya kahit ahead siya, parang ako pa yung mas matandang tingnan.” She woefully reminisced.
From the Gym to the Road
Seannah found solace in working out at the gym when her youngest was already 8 months old. She achieved the weight loss she aspired for after six months but the guilty feeling of using her husband’s money to pay for her gym membership made her turn to running instead. She asked her husband for running shoes so she can continue with her fitness regimen free-of-charge.
The 300-meter stretch of pavement at a park near her home at Navotas became Seannah’s training grounds. In between her casual “jogging”, she joined a Zumba dance class nearby to break the monotony. For five months, she built her base this way and by challenging herself each time to add another 300-meter round. She would rush back home to tend to her children right after.
Her First Singlet
The Navotas Running Club spotted Seannah doing her usual park rounds and, seeing potential in her, encouraged her to join fun runs. Out of curiosity and the promise of being fun, she registered in her first 10K fun run at the DZMM Run 2013 without telling her teammates. This experience became memorable to her for all the funny reasons.
“Out of curiosity, nag-join ako ng DZMM Run ata tapos nakita ko may race singlet. Hindi ko nga alam na singlet ang tawag dun. Sabi ng babae nung nag-register ako sa mall, sabi nya, ‘Ma’am, wala na pong (small) size yung singlet. Tapos tanong ko, ‘ano ang singlet?’ Sabi niya, ‘yung sinusuot.’ Sabi ko, ‘ano nga yun kasi di ko alam.’ Ay, malaki pala pero pilit ko pa rin bilhin. Tapos pina-repair ko pa yun para lang maisuot ko ksi tuwang-tuwa ako sa singlet na yun.” Seannah candidly revealed her naiveté.
Ignorance is Bliss
During Seannah’s first 21K at Run United 2 of 2013, after just 3 shorter distance races (a 10K and two 16K races), she was asked by her running mates what her finish time was. She was not even aware of such things as finish times and the fact that they were being recorded. Her teammates looked it up for her and to their surprise; she placed 9th in the female category with a time of 2 hours and 13 seconds.
Her breakthrough performance happened in Runfest of July 2013, a month after her first half marathon race. This time she bettered her previous result by more than 15 minutes and finished in second place!
“Yung second 21K ko Runfest. Doon nanalo na talaga ako dun. Sabi ko ‘wow, first time ko!’ (Doon) nag-1 hour 56 (minutes) na (ako). Pero wala akong kamuwang-muwang. Nag-push lang ako nung me motor nang sumusunod sa akin. Sabi nya, ‘Ma’am second po kayo.’ Sabi nya pwede mo pang mahabol yung first.” She proudly recounted her first winning experience.
Going the Extra Mila
The popularity of Seannah in the local running community started to grow as her winning streak continued. In addition, her pursuit of greater challenges brought her to the realm of ultra-marathon running and multisport (duathlon). 2016 was the golden year for her ultra-running conquest where she finished at the top of all of her 16 races. In fact, as a testament to her being a progressive athlete, she owned the course records in two of these races – the Cardimax 100K in 11:37 and the BDM 160 in 23:63! None of these is without repercussion to her personal life though. Sensing that this “addiction” was taking time away from their children, her husband asked her to set her priorities straight.
Choosing Her Battles Wisely
Family is at the top of Seannah’s priority. The employment opportunity she got after developing self-confidence, and the popularity she gained after discovering innate speed and endurance are all for naught without her family’s moral support. As a result, she tried to balance family life, work, and sports activities by choosing her races wisely. Call it maturity in the sport but she can now afford to sacrifice some of her training time to bond with her family. Despite involving mostly gym workouts rather than running mileage, she is still able to maintain her speed and endurance and be on the podium each time.
“Nasa puso ko na kasi ang pagko-compete. So once na nagcommit ako na magjo-join ako sa race, kasama na yun dun. Competitive talaga ako… Inaamin ko talaga na competitive ako kasi yun ang motivation ko. Kasi kung hindi ako competitive, hindi ako magte-train hard o magpu-push. So pag nagte-train ako, iniisip ko na para ito sa competition.” Seannah revealed her winning formula as she beamed with pride and courage.
Running can mean a number of things to each runner. For Seannah Swift, who adopted this screen name even before she realized her “swiftness,” by combining the first name of her daughter and the last name of her idol Taylor Swift, running brought her confidence and happiness outside the confines of her home. Before she found her running legs, she wallowed in insecurity and self-doubt. But now, she rises above her fears and courageously faces the many challenges and achievements that lie ahead.
Dunking the last piece of cinnamon bread into her cappuccino, Seannah revealed that despite all her accolades and accomplishments, she’s still the same simple homemaker who just thought of doing something for herself.