Something Sinister

Run United Cebu 2011 10k 12/18/11

It has been a while. Sigh. I could be more excited since this is my first race in exactly 3 months but I knew better. I had not done any runs longer than five kilometers in months. To make matters worse, I had not done any runs reaching five kilometers in weeks.

I knew the transition of training from track to road was going to be difficult so I enrolled at Runnr Academy. The seminars were often interesting and the group 5k runs were quite challenging. I didn’t really bond with the runners but I was almost sad it ended; a special emphasis on the ‘almost’ there. The venue took almost an hour of travel and I had quite a number of near death experiences trying to catch up to the fastest runner. Those were fun times though.

After I graduated from Runnr Academy and accepted a cool singlet, I overcame my ‘shyness’ went it came to road running. Running was a breeze if you didn’t mind the very real possibility of getting hit by a car or being chased by dogs or getting mugged. I suppose that runners from all over the world had to face these dangers at some point in their lives. Route planning was a bit of a chore though. There were so many factors to think about: safety, accessibility, distance, dog population, etc. I never really thought about these things before. This led me to be conservative about my routes, which in turn led to some of my running friends urging me to increase the distance. I eventually gave in but only in small increments and, if needed, I always went back to my shortest route.

With this mediocre training program in mind, I came into the race in full training mode. The festive mood chafed at me even as I envied the readiness projected by the racers. After the warm-up, I started to think that this race was either going to be a disaster or a chore when I saw a pretty sight near the starting line, a girl. Not just any girl. She was famous in the local running scene because of those ads and news articles about her winning in a triathlon. However, the first time I ever saw her was when she outkicked me on the last kilometer of the Y101 Armscor Run. I only saw glimpses of her but those were enough. I was smitten but I can’t exactly pinpoint which part of her like. Was it her girl next door looks or her blistering kick? I didn’t know. I still don’t know. One thing was for certain at that point though. The goal had shifted. I had fully intended to chase her all throughout the 10 kilometer course.

Then, it started. No, not the race. It was something else, something more sinister. I can’t fully disclose what it was but let me just leave it to me wanting to go to the John very badly, which was unfortunately situated 400 meters away. Was it number 1 or number 2? Quit asking! Whatever I needed doing, I needed to do it in 3 minutes. I didn’t make it to the gun start. By the time I started the race, I had stepped on a mud puddle and elbowed my way pass the 5k racers. This race was not going my way at all.

It was going my way, at least, for the first six kilometers. I remember little of those six kilometers. The training had taken over. I just ran like I usually did. The sixth kilometer was when I snapped out of my meditative running though. My left foot, specifically the forefoot, was radiating in pain. The pain reminded me of the true purpose of this race. It was not to chase some pretty/fast girl. This race was my long run and there wasn’t supposed to be any pressure getting a PR.

I ran/walked the rest of the way. Powerade was served on every water station. I sipped it leisurely during my walking breaks. No pressure. I even had time to ponder whether the drizzle would turn to rain.

At the last kilometer, I resolved that I shouldn’t walk anymore. I ran the rest of the way. My left foot protested of course but the pain was forgotten when I saw a familiar face during the distance were I normally initiated my kick. I invited him to sprint with me but he was a bandit so I had to proceed on my own. It wasn’t as powerful as I wanted it to be. A lot of people were crowding the finishing line. The kick kind of shied away.

After the race, I collected my loot bag and went home right away since I needed to go to Church with my family. I did not bother with the chip time. It most likely had the same time as my watch, which it did. A few days later, I saw my time at RunRio.com and it was surprising. It wasn’t my finish time that surprised me. What was surprising was my 5k time. It was an unofficial PR, which was the type of PR that involved side stitches and dizziness. I didn’t suffer any symptoms after the race at all. 27:10. Yikes. In my 19th race of 2011, I got my first honest to God running epiphany. 1:09:34.07

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