The Deep Breath Before The Plunge

DYAB Kapamilya Run Year 11  10k  06/19/11

It started with a girl. Wow, that first line read like a romance novel or a love song but it isn’t anything like those. The girl invited me after one of my workouts. The whole encounter took me completely by surprise. Her being a former classmate and a local celebrity did me in. I agreed  rather quickly and, three days later, I was at the starting line and right at the center of the pack for my first 10k.

The plan was to run a comfortable 10k and finish just slightly faster than 75 minutes. I felt good that morning and a DNF did not present itself as a possibility in my mind. This was my first 10k and it was going to end with a PR no matter how slow I got to the finish line. However, something peculiar happened. The organizers had all participants from every distance category start at the same time. This was going to be unlike any race I had run before. I knew that I needed to run this differently from my prior races.

While I was waiting for gun start, a large chubby guy was doing dynamic stretches. He kept unconsciously hitting me with his elbow. I paid him no heed. This was a new experience, a different ball game if you well. I needed to be cool. The starting gun roared! The general pace was slow but I was in no hurry. A sharp ache plagued my foot. I knew it would disappear after a few hundred meters. Perhaps this was blessing. The plan was to run slow and finish strong. Piece of cake. Then I saw the big guy. Running all smug or maybe it was just me. I don’t know. Dark thoughts churned in my head. They congregated and came up with one explosive plan. Beat him. This was the birth my new reckless strategy, to challenge complete strangers during a race. Stupid, right? I’ll make it less stupid by making intelligent looking bullet points of my challenges during the races. Here goes:

  • VS the Ultramarathoner/Anchorlady – I honestly thought I could beat this one. She slowed down on the 2nd kilometer and I thought I could catch up. She disappeared from my sight on the halfway point only to reappear at the finish line taking a quick nap on the grass.
  • VS the Big Guy – I beat this guy way back on the 1st kilometer. Now that I can think about it calmly, maybe he didn’t mean to hit me after all. Race jitters can make anyone oblivious to their surroundings.
  • VS the Middle Aged Runner Lady – She caught my eye own the 4th kilometer. After successfully attempting to match her pace, we ran almost synchronously for a few hundred meters. However, she had problems with turns and she had to speed up a bit to keep up with me. I think she wanted to keep up with me but it was counterproductive on her part. She would have fell apart somewhere on the 8th if she did. I left here on the 5th kilometer.
  • VS the 16k Elite Runner – This challenge did not last long. I lost sight of him in 30 seconds.
  • VS the Running BFFs – These two middle aged ladies are deceptively fast. I could not beat them even when they slowed to cheer on members of their running club. After the race, I headed home and saw them run with a few late arrivals. Always with a smile, they kept pace with the slower members and gave encouragement every step of the way. It was an inspiring sight to behold.
  • VS the Broad Shouldered Dude – This one did not go down easy. I could not overtake him from kilometers 5 to 9. I could not catch up to him even when he had to walk to drink two cups of water. It was until that last kilometer that he really slowed. There was some headwind. I think that demoralized him a bit. I ran behind him. At least I know his broad shoulders were good for something. On the last 200 meters, I sprinted and never saw of him again.
  • VS the Heckler – It was the last 100 meters. I had to go all out. My limbs were pumping hard. I mistakenly took the 5k lane but I quickly readjusted towards the 10k lane. My breath was heavy and I focused my rapidly draining strength towards crossing the finish line. Then, I remembered my watch. I have to stop the timer once I crossed that finish line as well. I fumbled. The heckler struck. 5 steps into the finish line, I managed to stop the time. I paid no attention to the heckler and I won’t acknowledge what he said in this writing because seriously: who heckles runners during races?

It was quite an eventful race. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was the first time I actually raced against people. All of my previous races were against me only. I only truly raced people during my kick but this time I made it competitive by racing throughout the race. The end result was a fairly speedy, for my standards, time. I could only hope that I could adapt the same mindset during my next races. 1:02:24.4

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