Running Poetry XII

I am currently battling a host of ailments. The marathon last week really did a number on my immune system. Moreover, the Sinulog merriment did not help. I would never trade both experiences for a few weeks of health though. Maybe I am masochistic after all. My obsession with running is a very strong indicator of that. Here are a few more poems to prove my point.

I am without words
For these runs get me on the verge
Of the utmost high
Yet still hankering for the sky

I jog, he ran
I jog, she walked
Strayed from the plan
Numbed from the talk

Early rising moon
Staring at the unfolding
Failure of a run

I am on the mend
From my weakened legs and side
To my aching heart

The man called in awe
To which, he replied simply
“Just sweating it out.”

My life absent drive
Grudgingly paid a steep fine
Fiction was cheaper

A star’s fearless gleam
Fought biting wind and cruel clouds
Alone in the end

Concealed in layers
The agony found a way
Through hushed surrender

You expect its arrival
But bracing yourself will not matter
Neither fiery denial
Nor boldness will stand once the scenes blur

Slow and steadily
Building up speed until I
Slingshot through the crowd

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Running Poetry XI

Tomorrow, I’ll be running my 3rd marathon. These past four months were the worst in terms of marathon training but it will all turn out well somehow. Reading these running poems from over two years ago has given me some measure of hope and strength. I was slower and weaker back then. I did most of my runs at the track because running on the road hurts too much. I avoided hills for that same reason. Despite all my many weaknesses, I kept running for another 2 years. I kept going. I am not afraid of the road anymore. I won’t avoid the hills anymore. At 3 am tomorrow, I will find that strength and just keep going.

Crowned with a halo
Dancers sashayed under her
She illumes the way

She donned a larger halo
That shone its insincere light
Drawing tears on my credo
And forced my exit from the white

This same weary dance
The same song humming
This same crooked stance
The same tired ending?

’twas uneventful
Til rain and pain greeted me
Epic last five laps

That last tingle
Felt like a tangle
Of pristine love
And death from above

Bear witness to emotion
Take in the darkness and breathe out light
Live in steadfast devotion
Exit with pride the circle of life

High
Like first love
Like an unclenched fist
Like peace in churning chaos
Like feeling but never succumbing
Like inner light breaking free from the darkness
High

’tis mere perspective
Time and distance matter not
Revel in each step

Almost deferred to dark murky thoughts
Parading ’round their vulgarity
How could I ever stop their onslaught
Sans my proneness for temerity?

Whoosh!
Seven point two
Oh, how time flew
Whoosh!
Off by inches
Watch for switches
Whoosh!
Aim for the right
His shins are tight
Whoosh!
Eyes on feathers
Can’t focus on her
Whoosh!

Running Poetry VIII

By the time I wrote these poems, I had grown my circle of friends at the track. Week after week, I had invited people to join me. I was rarely successful but I took heart at the fact that I at least had a good impact on the people who did answer my invitation. In some ways, my friends have influenced me as well. A marathon finish found its way into my dreams.

I did not go unscathed
As I tested my limits
My hand clenching my side
As I limped to the exit

I took to the road
After the tedious grind
With pain as reward
Another lesson to mind

Worry weighed me down
My lips formed a sweaty frown
Stop!
A trespassing rock!
Must remember to wear socks
Stop!
It took them a while
They tagged along for a mile
Stop!
One great meal with friends
Begins and hastens the mend
Stop

How much farther could I have gone?
How much longer could I have gone?
Without the pleasure of their company
Thank you my wonderful jogging buddies

No watch, no warm-up
The gold moon was distracting
Forgot my socks too

Unmotivated
Lethargic and sleepy-eyed
Challenged and wakened
Endangered, hungry, and filled

Nowhere near my best
I plod at my leisure – OW!
Stop poking me Jane!

Two learned men and
A 42k problem
Seven weeks to go

Sweat obscured vision
And disembodied voices
Annoyed my shadow

Near my breaking point
Lightning flashed forebodingly
Cringed with each step til
The end came mercifully

Running Poetry VII

These poems were written 3 years ago. I trained at the track almost exclusively back then. People say it’s boring at the track. “Makalipong!”, they would complained, which was Bisaya for dizzying. It was not the same for me. The track was filled with people. People who lived strange wildly different lives. I enjoyed running with these strangers. I would randomly race kids and pace retirees. However, I still keep to myself. People may be interesting but I rarely go out of my way to get to know them. In two of these poems, that rare occasion happened.

I heard them whisper
Of sickness and injury
But legs have no ears

Dancing gyres of air
Tossing leaves, paper, and dust
Ev’ry – Ow! My eye!

Running from myself
Thoughts howling in the drizzle
Need to stop thinking

Started with a drop
Then drizzle became rainfall
So, I fell faster

I want to give in
To the pain and pressure but
It’s a long walk back

Ripped muscles betrayed
His undaunted focus while
I swallowed a bug

The mind said don’t stop
Stopping is remembering
The memory hurts

For a short moment
The weariness stilled the sighs
I could smile again

A great evening run
Filled with joyous banter and
A new friend named Joy

The darkness is magnetic
So comforting in her seclusion
Though the fall seemed prophetic
They dragged me out of my delusion

Near Victory, Near Defeat

Color Manila Nite Run Cebu 10k  05/17/14

This race was different from last month’s race. It took place at night, which made this my first night race. The race t-shirt was black. The organizers exchanged the colorful powder with glow sticks and light thingies. I had only one friend with me this time. He registered for 5k while I moved up to 10k. Perhaps the greatest difference of all was my condition. I felt good. I felt really good. This was still a fun run but I felt really competitive that night.

At the gun start, I was positioned at the back. It was a very slow start. Runners were parading with their glow sticks in hand and almost everyone took selfies with their cellphones and GoPro cameras. I positioned my own glow stick inside my shirt at my back. When I finally got out of the middle pack, I increased my pace gradually. The glow stick kept bumping softly against my head creating some sort of rhythm that kept me going for eight kilometers. I only ever walked during my side trips to the water stations. I felt strong. I felt powerful. I felt invincible.

A dark thought suddenly crept into my heart. I could not possibly keep this going. I walked on the penultimate turn. Runners passed me one by one. I felt the sting of defeat as they did. Defeat was commonplace in me. I accepted them readily. A little too readily. Something snapped inside of me. It was the part of me that was born in the track. Its snarls keep me going during my speedwork. With it, I would issue challenges to elites fearlessly. I may lose a lot during long distance racing but I was at least competitive with the local elites when it came to the track. It was the beast and it ignited fire in my heart down to my legs. I passed each runner that had passed me during my momentary walk of defeat. The last stretch, which was the kick zone, was riddled with selfie and groufie addicts. I did not lose speed but instead sped up even more. It was like threading a needle at high-speed. The beast enjoyed the extra challenge. I was sprinting with my all in the end and passed the finish line victoriously.

I expected a PR and I got it. Victory. A snarl echoed in my mind. I did not break one hour. The beast was disappointed. Defeat. A litany of excuses flooded my brain. I forced them away and headed to the waiting area. My friend was racing. I hoped he was doing okay. He arrived minutes later and regaled me with his own story of victory and defeat. I listened to patiently to his litany of excuses and offered words of encouragement. We had our post-race snacks and enjoyed the concert. The beast staggered off somewhere to slumber. Finally, I could focus on the victory. I could focus on the fun. I could finally focused on the moment. 1:00:25

Downtime

28 days. 28 days of nothing but training and relaxation. No races to lose sleep over. No forking overpriced fees for less than stellar singlets. I have been planning to get some downtime for a while now. I never really had the opportunity or the self control, with all the enticing races happening around town, to just settle down and train. Don’t get me wrong. Racing has its perks.  It builds mental fortitude and sharpens one’s competitive instinct. Most of all, you can only really go all out during races. However, frequent racing leaves a huge hole in the long run department. You can’t really combine long runs with tapering.

Combine. Hah. That word hit me like only a freight train could. I read somewhere in a Runner’s World issue that you can do combination workouts to boost training gains. Well, I look at combination workouts differently. Long runs are time consuming and, let’s face it, boring. Tempo and speed workouts are very goal oriented workouts, which take as low as 20 minutes and 30 minutes respectively. They are never boring or time consuming. The math is easy. Tempo + Speedwork = Long Run. Well, it’s not exactly a long run but a faster version of a long run. Furthermore, it doesn’t end there. Easy runs can also be added into the equation. I even have a list of combo workouts.

  • Tempo + Speedwork
  • Tempo + Easy
  • Speedwork + Easy
  • Tempo + Easy + Speedwork
  • Tempo + Easy + Tempo
  • Speedwork + Easy + Speedwork

I confess that I have yet to try that last one but what’s to stop me from trying all possible combinations. Also, I have yet to see how good the results are going to be. It won’t be long now. I smell a race coming.