Feeling Young

Dagan Kabataan – Run With The Youth, For The Youth  3k  09/18/11

I had not raced in a while. My ‘afflictions’ held my competitive spirit at bay. Though it is difficult to say that my racing performances were even at the realm of competitive, I still missed racing.

I signed up for the 3k event of this event. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I considered myself injured and I was a bit out of shape. I had been running on the treadmill for 2 weeks, which was a change of pace. The treadmill had me running at 5:00 per kilometer but only for 5 minutes. I think the thing was trying to kill me. It overheats too fast and it slow downs without warning. To make matters worse. The darn thing was placed at the staircase so one slip could mean the end. Gulp. I would not be exaggerating call it the Dreadmill.

Anyway, I was uneasy with the 3k event. 3k races are notorious for being kid’s only races. In some races, 3k races did not even have prizes. 3k races were the true fun runs of fun runs. I wasn’t wrong. Once I arrived at the race area, I was wading into crowds of children and teens. I had thoughts of holding back when I saw their smiling hopeful faces. It felt weird being aggressive in a 3k race filled with youngsters. However, the gun start changed my mind in the end.

It was common for race organizers to start the 5k and 3k at the same time so the starting area was packed. When it started, I was overtaken by sprinting children and teens. I tried catching up but I kept getting stuck with a jogger in front of me. Nonetheless, the typical disadvantage of youthful vigor revealed itself at the first kilometer. The sprinters slowed and majority of them started walking. Teens teased each other about trying too hard, which brought back memories of high school. Those words would have had effect on me then but not now.

The walkers slowed me considerably but the sight of the frontrunners already on their way back to the start/finish line made me hustle. I overtook scores runners. The feel of the 5:00 per kilometer was fresh on my mind and legs. A sign for the 15k race that said 1 km left pushed me even further. It occurred to me that I might even get a time close to my goal time of 15:00. Then it started…

My legs started feeling rigid. I was able to ignore my heavy breathing but my legs were harder to control. My strides were shortening even as I kept at the pace. Several fast teens overtook me. I started envying their young legs. When the number increased to over 10 people, anger took over weariness. I had experienced this feeling in my legs during my speedworks at CCSC and group runs at Cebu Business Park. This pain was constant but not insurmountable. I knew that I could overcome it.

A familiar route greeted me. It was the same route that had me slowing down in races much like this one. I vowed to myself; not this time. My stride rate went to tempo mode. As I passed those who overtook me earlier, my confidence rose. I marked the last few runners that overtook me then did my kick. My head felt hot and my legs burned. I kept at it. My marks slowed as I passed them. The sight of the word FINISH was liberating because my brain felt like it was on fire now. I sprinted harder. The faster I got there, the earlier the pain would end. I repeated those words in my head like a mantra. Then finally, I was there. I clicked the stop function in my watch in reflex and looked. I smiled. 14:11.58

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