My Oblation Run

Sunday, December 14, 2008

If you are thinking of the naked run in UP, you have come to the wrong place.

My run this morning was also in the University of the Philippines (Diliman), but it is an oblation run of a different kind. An oblation is a solemn offering. This morning I offered myself - to running, to my school, and to God. While I entered the race in homage to my alma mater, deep inside I was hoping I would also set a new 10K personal best, hopefully within 60 minutes, in honor of UP and to cap a great year when I finally fell in love with running.

I wanted my homecoming and year-ender run to be perfect. Hopefully a new PR and breaking my pyschological 60-minute barrier. I shaved 33 seconds off my Milo unofficial time to set a new PR, but I failed to cross the 60-minute barrier. I timed in at 1:06:25 To be honest, I am slightly disappointed. A week ago I already hit about 1:03 on the treadmill, by alternately running below and above 10kph every kilometer. Last Wednesday, I set the machine to an even speed of 10.1kph for 10kms. It was smooth-sailing for the first 5 kilometers, but I had to dig deep for motivation in the last 5 kilometers. I was running against self-doubt, that I could actually run evenly at 10kph in time for the race, when my gradual training model says I would only hit that relaxed speed at exactly year-end. I was trying to cheer myself by saying that I was doing it for UP. That reasoning didn't prove enough so I resorted to reverse-psychology and used fear: If you don't do this now, you will forever be afraid of the 1-hour barrier. The fear shook me a bit, but it wasn't enough still. It took a memory of my mom's sacrifice for me to go past the 8-9km readings on the treadmill. Your hardships on the treadmill are NOTHING compared to what your parents went through, so finish the 10k, if not for yourself or for UP, do it for them! The thought sustained me till kilometer 9.95, at which point I pressed the emergency stop of the machine. I wanted to beat the barrier in a road race with all the fanfare, hopefully in UP.

Friday before the race I still have tinges of self-doubt. I wanted to redo my treadmill feat - run again an even pace of at least 10kph. My legs seemed capable of handling the speed, but either my physiology or self-doubt was preventing me from having relaxed breathing. Besides, I had to get used to that speed as I might not be able to summon the motivation I did the other day. True enough, at kilometer 3 I was losing motivation. Are you really running this for UP, or for yourself? Is it UP's glory you seek or your own? Beating the 1-hr barrier looks so good on your year-end blog report, doesn't it? And slowly my will and body weakened and I had to stop at kilometer 4. Yes, at km4! I took a few minutes break and tried again. I lasted just a kilometer at 10kph. What the hell is happening?

I grudgingly left the treadmill and found myself on the gym PC. In years of using that gym, that was the first time I used the PC. I went to the site and a few blogs, and read some entries. Ok, enough of this time chasing. I will simply run my best on Sunday. I went back to the treadmill to run at 10.1 kph again. I tried once more not so I can beat the time barrier, but because I owed UP my best efforts. With this thought, I was able to finish 2x2.5Kms at speeds of 10-10.5 kph. I finished a 10K at speeds not less than 10kph, even if I had to chop the distance and put in rests at intervals.

But the time barrier was not broken in UP on race day. Despite the preparations and actions I made. I slept, ate and rested well. I woke up early and had proper warm-up jog and stretch. I wore the proper attire. I did not daydream on the course even if I wanted to. I was on race mode from the start. I tried to stay within or within striking distance of the middle of the pack. I accelerated in the last 2 kilometers. I blame nothing and no one. I simply didn't break the 1-hr barrier. It was not the fated time and circumstance.

Despite the time, I was happy with the race. I offered the best that I have given the time and circumstances. For UP and my God, I did not hold back. That run was me in all my strength and weaknesses. I offered the best of me along with my doubts and imperfections. My race time may have fallen short of my practice time, but it was a time stripped of vanity and offered in all humility. I don't why I suddenly cried when I typed that, and why tears continue to stream down as I write. I suppose I wanted to give my best, but I was afraid it would be tainted with vain glory. I wanted to be fast but I do not want pride to rule me. The tears are probably admission that I succumb to pride and need a higher being to overcome it.

As I ran the last 2 kilometers going back to the oval, I was singing in my mind UP Naming Mahal, repeating over and over, "...humayo't itanghal, giting at tapang, mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan... "

To my alma mater, I hope you are proud of this homecoming son.

To my Creator, please accept my oblation run. To God be the glory.


Anonymous December 15, 2008 at 12:59 AM  

it's just a matter of time... and you'll break through the 60 minute barrier... congratulations!

- loonyrunner

Anonymous December 15, 2008 at 7:56 AM  

Rico, I agree with Joe. It is only a matter of time. You've come quite a way this year and the times are coming down. The treadmill workouts are an indicator.

Congratulations on the PR!

Anonymous December 15, 2008 at 10:08 AM  

Hi Rico! Glad to have met you in person yesterday.

Congrats on your run! This post is sooo honest it will surely inspire anyone who reads this, uhm, just like myself.

Guess what, you're way ahead of a lot us na nga e. As for me, getting a sub-70 seems like impossible already. And you're hitting na for the sub-60. Don't worry it shall happen soon.

Jinoe December 15, 2008 at 11:45 AM  

Hi Rico. Thanks for the taho, the UP tour and the ride yesterday. Naku. It would be a bigger celebration once you reached your sub-60 goal. It will happen. Practice lang.

The clothes add to some weight that can wear you down. You should have done a real oblation run to shed a little weight and add a little more speed. Hehehe...

Anonymous December 15, 2008 at 3:17 PM  

Hi Rico! Best not to over think these things. I'm sure you will be crashing through that barrier in no time. What works for me when I start getting tired is that I play a little game inside my head. I tell myself, for instance, that I will not slow down for as long as I see an orange color bobbing in front of me.(you'll be surprised at how many variations of orange will appear after that! haha!) Sometimes cutting a 10K into more manageable segments of 'play' actually makes it far less overwhelming. Good luck and happy running. By the way, I enjoy reading your blogs. Thank you for the stories.

Rico Villanueva December 15, 2008 at 6:29 PM  

Hey Joe, that photo you posted in your blog was really cool and timely. Thanks.

Wayne, I am planning to recalibrate the treadmill one-notch faster so I will think I am running a relaxed pace when I am actually running faster. :-)

Cathy, critics say great literature is characterized by honesty and mastery of language. Sadly, I only have honesty. :-) Nice meeting you in person.

Jinoe, mangyari lang yon dadagdagan ko ng turon ang taho. On ditching clothes, I may just do that one early morning by the lagoon. hehe

Mesh, the problem is as an artist, I can differentiate among various oranges - tangerine, ochre, gold, apricot, copper, pumpkin, etc. Thanks for dropping by. I am fan. :-)

run unltd. December 16, 2008 at 7:30 AM  

Malapit na yan, just keep on working. I will be there to celebrate with you, I know.

JavyO December 16, 2008 at 1:39 PM  


Hang in there, and it will come. We all get 'stuck'. I'm 'stuck' too, you are not alone :)

Also, remember that it's never the same on the treadmill. Make sure you always put .5-1% grade on the treadmill to make it closer to running on the road. Like you, my wife can do sub 60min 10k runs on the treadmill but struggles to do so on the open road. Running outdoors teaches us how to keep our pace.

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