Watch Me Burn Out

1st Sonshine Run  12.1k  07/03/11

10k races and below and those races beyond 10k are vastly different. Even a slight increase of 2 kilometers of a 10k race seemed like a quantum leap. It is not unlike what sprinters experienced when they go from 100 m to 3000 m. I was not sure what to expect. The last and first 10k I ever did happened only 14 days ago and it was full of surprises. I really upped the ante on this one.

The differences came at me like a rushing tide. It was hard not to make mistakes and I made most of them. For starters, everyone who joined the 12k race really prepared for it. Not many runners wore the race singlets. Most of them wore technical running outfits and accessories. They looked like they came out of an assembly line from a running factory. No one remotely looked like newbie too. This is evidenced by the fact that it took me three kilometers to spot the first walkers and 5 kilometers to gawk at the elite runners who were heading back to the finish line. A good number didn’t even stop at water stations. They brought their own fluids. Speaking of water stations, there was one that gave out isotonic drinks instead of plain old water. Am I in the big leagues now or what? The distance seemed overwhelming as well. Luckily, this was a road race and there were plenty of sights to distract. Dog poop! The route had me enter a part of the city that I’ve never been to before. My arrival at the last 100m or the final half kick zone, as I like to call it, was different. There was no kick. It did not feel right to do it. The finish line felt oddly vacant. Also, a man was being photographed in front of me by his fellow running clubmates. I did not want to spoil his shot. However, the most interesting difference was the finish. It felt like I could go on forever. The feeling was unusual in a race. It was the same feeling I got after a good workout. It felt good. 1:21:06.94

Y101 Armscor Run  10.1k  07/24/11

Dread. An unusual dread wormed its way in my mind. It was not the same recycled garbage that keeps circulating in my head just before race day. The day before the race, I received bad news. My ECG from several days ago revealed an abnormality in my heart. I tried to take the news positively with denial. My parents were happy to help. Maybe the machine was broken. I must have moved during the test because, honestly, I was a little nervous. The excuses piled up but it did not help. If this was bad, I might have to stop running. No more running or this heart thing could worsen. Hell, I could die.

I was almost late. Dark thoughts churned but racing seemed the furthest from my sleep deprived mind. I did calm down a bit once I got there. What are the chances of a heart abnormality killing me during the race, right? I have no idea. It could be high of course and I rationalized that it could be but thankfully I am no expert. I breezed through my warm-up. A group of friends were waiting for me at the back of the starting pack. I made some small talk and it felt good to have company for once. A disapproving snarl echoed in my head though. This was a race not a club meeting. When the race marshal signaled the start, I tried my best to quicken their pace but they were caught up with the fun run mentality. The crowd of runners in front slowed us even more. It was a strange feeling. I felt like a horse trapped in a stable too long. I wanted to run really fast. At one and a half kilometers into the race, I was still using a controlled forefoot strike. It seemed like a waste of energy. Suddenly, vomit rose in my throat. I gulped my dinner back down quickly. Warning bells rang inside my head. I have to go faster or my friends will see me hurling on the sidewalk. I ran hastily until my pace normalized. Kilometers went by and I felt great. Heart abnormality my ass. I slowed down somewhere at the eighth kilometer since this race had an obstacle course, which reminded me when I signed up for this extra challenge that it was icing in a 10k cakewalk. Ah, the risks we take when we think we’re healthy. I slowed down even more at ninth kilometer. Obstacle courses were new to me. I wanted to have enough gas in my tank to power through the course. It was a little disappointing when I got there. Only three challenges were set before me, two sets of tire obstacles with a crawling challenge in between. It was harder than it looked. Normally, I would employ a forefoot strike to land precisely in holes of the tires but this was a race and I was worn out. I just bounded over the tire obstacles in three steps and used the tires as if they were trampolines. The crawling stage was the hard part. Runners before me were using a hands and feet only crawling move to avoid the mud. I followed their lead too enthusiastically and came out of it all muddy with a wound in my right hand. A familiar face gave me a thumbs-up sign and I acknowledged him with one of my own as if it was nothing. It wasn’t. I knew I was going to feel all of this action the next day. I gave a half hearted kick to the finish. My eagle eyes caught sight of a friend with a camera. It was rare for me to get my photo taken during a race so I let the moment last longer. I bonded with them for an hour more. Company is nice once in a while. Afterwards, I went through all the stuff that happened to me in my head and, like countless times before, I arrived at the same conclusion: running is when I most feel alive. 1:09:31.18

1st Alay Takbo Para sa Kabataan  15k  07/31/11

0 km – I did not sleep a wink. A hard and uneven surface woke my legs as I warmed up. Dread and excitement combined to form the strangest sensation I ever had. I started well but the momentum stopped when I encountered a late arrival of the obstacle race from my last race: a puddle.

1 km – I think I did my fastest 1k ever as evidenced by the hard breathing and side stitches.

2 km – A few familiar faces caught my eye. I maintain the hard pace just to look cool. It was interesting to note that I had forgotten about thoughts on heart abnormalities and death at this early point of the race.

3 km – I regretted going hard early in the race. The middle aged lady, who was in front me for the first three kilometers, still looked fresh.

4 km – I slowed to take control of my breathing. The side stitch disappeared soon after.

5 km – A female runner, who I thought I left behind at the starting line, surged on me. I shadowed her for a bit. She took water. I took water. She spat water twice. I spat water twice. She splashed water on her head. I splashed water on my head. She crumpled and threw her cup. I crumpled and threw my cup. She surged. I didn’t. The sight and challenge of the hills threw me off.

6 km – I rode the momentum of the downhill force to catch up to some veterans. For some reason, a guy took it as challenge. He raced me to the bottom but he lost energy to climb the next set of hills. I felt for him. I could feel my hopes die little by little with every new hill I had to climb.

7 km – A lot of dogs were camped out on the streets that morning. My neighborhood was not exempted. I maintained a hard pace in case a neighbor spotted me running.

8 km – I tightly ran the corners to conserve energy for the hills. I wasn’t particularly excited about running them again.

9 km – I walked uphill to conserve energy and run downhill to make up for lost time.

10 km – I saw a road kill of the snake variety. I was still walking then because my left foot was hurting.

11 km – I was alternating between walking and running when I asked a race marshal how many kilometers left. He answered three. I got excited and tried regaining my usual pace.

12 km – When I found out the race marshal was mistaken, I reverted back to my run/walk strategy. A small kid outran me.

13 km – I remembered the plan when I signed up for this race. I planned to treat this like a long slow distance run. I would have face palmed if I had the energy to waste. The downhill-challenger-guy caught up and was leading by 30 meters. I did not try to catch up.

14 km – I saw one of God’s messengers; a dove. Was I in heaven? I couldn’t be. I wasn’t even feeling the high. Moments later, I started praying the Lord’s Prayer, a Hail Mary, and finished with a Glory Be. Afterwards, I ran all the way to the finish line.

15 km – My kick was speedy and gutsy. Euphoria flooded my brain only to evaporate when I saw my watch. 0:00:00. I pushed the stop button too hard. Fortunately, I remembered the exact minute I finished from the official race clock. My body ached all over. I hurriedly cooled down and changed my clothes. The 6k awarding ceremony had just started when I left. A small part of me wondered how high I placed in this race but I didn’t really care at that time. I just wanted to shower and sink into my bed. 1:42

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