Running with Others, For Others (Yakult Race 2008)

Monday, December 8, 2008

For my favorite 10-miler (Yakult) race, I was already all set the day before. I have packed my running gears and accessories. I even checked the tire pressure on my bike and then loaded it into my vehicle in the event I still have the energy for a 30K ride. Optimist that I am, I also brought swimwear and goggles in case I make a crazy attempt to swim in Rizal Memorial Coliseum thereafter. "Pasma" is folkloric belief without scientifc basis, according to anthropologist Michael Tan, so a reverse-tri should be no harm. Besides, relaxed swimming is physical and mental therapy for me.
At 5am race day I was already in my vehicle to go to CCP. I turned on the ignition key. No response. I did it again. No response. Did it 3 more times. Crap, I am going to be late again for a race! I remembered Colossian 1:17 and my post "There are No Bad Runs". Ok St. Paul, what is God to trying to say to me this time?....Hmmmn, so you want me to remain positive in the midst of adversity. Okay, I will walk to the village gate and look for a cab. Fifteen minutes later there was still no cab. Times I like this, I miss my condo in the heart of the city. Anxious but still upbeat, I flagged a tricycle to bring me to bring me to where taxis abound. After 2 taxi rejections, I was finally taxi-bound to CCP.
With Bikining Itim and Butchikik as background music inside the taxi, I tried to discern God's message for me. Don't sweat the small stuff? Ok, I will finally bring the vehicle to the casa for its regular check-up... Oh I get it, it's family. I was so busy reading running blogs and forums, I forgot to book a place for our family Christmas dinner. Yikes, I haven't booked dental appointment for my balikbayan sister! I haven't began shopping for gifts. The list goes on and on...Ok God, I promise to attend to all these, but can you please allow me to run my race first?
The Race Proper
I arrived in the race site with enough time to take a leak and do warm-ups. Thanks, God. The race signal was finally given, but I still had no race plan in mind. Very uncharacteristic of me. All I wanted was to run this distance and route. So ran I did while surveying the runner landscape and scenery. There went my first flyover and I was in heaven again. After the second flyover, I saw the elite runners coming back from the first turn. Look at those quads and calves at work! God's bio-engineering marvels. My favorite female runner Ellen Tolentino passed by like Artemis on the road. For a dog lover like me, this was like watching the Best In Show competition in a championship dog show. If there is one strong motivation for me to run fast, it is to regularly behold God's magnificent creatures running on asphalt, and to appreciate them from a closer distance.
I saw more people. Statuesque running beauty queen Gem Padilla whose long legs and wind-caressed hair weaken my knees. I saw bloggers Taki (Tech Spec), Jinoe (Manokan Express) and Dennis (Running Fatboy). Sorry boys I have no lofty phrases for you aside from "you are way faster than me." I saw a girl in fuschia Adidas shirt with this phrase on the back: I like Men Chasing Me. She outran me for most of the distance, but I obeyed her wish towards the finish line. Cool shirt, Miss. I hope you have more along those lines :-). I also saw a doe-eyed female runner from Pinoy Ultra Runners and all I can say is, "May your tribe increase."
For most part of the race, my mind was shuttling between Philippines and Singapore. On the asphalt lanes of Roxas Boulevard I was imagining I was running in a marathon. I was still in the process of strengthening my left foot, but I was trying to go as close as possible and tolerable to my ideal marathon pace of 6min/km or a perfect 10kph. For the past few weeks I have been trying to slowly build my long run relaxed pace to 10kph. I would slow down at the first sign of pain for I cannot afford to be injured. I tried to distinguish between kinds of pain. Muscle pains I can endure, but joint pains I avoid at all cost. I welcome with courage the pain that screams my body is alive and is doing its best to regenerate and strengthen itself, but I watch out for that pain that tells me that I am doing something idiotic, egoistic or destructive.
While I concentrated on running form and pain watch, my mind would often wander to Singapore. I thought of my friend Karen who was doing her first marathon and her cousin Tsi doing the half. I wondered how they were doing, moreso Karen. I would often look at my watch and wonder at what kilometer they were. How was she holding up? I knew she trained hard for this, but as a friend I wanted to help. I thought by running strong that day I would somehow help her. Then I thought of cramps and quickly, energy-sapping Dementors entered my mind. I conjured up a Patronos in the mold of my Sheltie Sofia, and send her off to accompany Karen on her marathon. I thought of this blogger posting that marathoning is an act of insanity (My Iron Shoes) and asked Sofia to be on the lookout for her as well (I hope she is not afraid of dogs). I thought of the other Filipinos there - Jaymie the Bullrunner and many others. I hoped my Sofia would also bring them cheer.
As I tried to run strong for my friends and compatriots in Singapore, I would get pumped up and sometimes run beyond my maximum tolerable level of effort. I would remind myself that that was against the target race plan. One section I ran faster than planned and I experienced initial signs of side stitch. For a moment I panicked. My Patronos Sofia was in Singapore so I summoned my beagle Athena instead. I hope there wouldn't be more problems or I would ran out of mid-sized dogs to summon. It would be cruel to pit my tiny pomeranians against Dementors! With the virtual Athena running alongside me, I realized my diaphragm was just becoming tense and I should slow down to my relaxed pace. I forced myself to run only as fast as my nasal breathing would allow.
I wanted badly to race the last 1.5 kilometers but my shorts wouldn't let me!!! A week ago I did my 25K LSD with cycling shorts on. I thought hencefort I would follow this practice for runs above 10K to avoid chafing and rolling up of my shorts, and to provide support to my quads and hamstrings. What I forgot was that I have been steadily slimming down, and that the old pair I wore would slide down my ass. The effect was worse when I mustered my quad muscles for the sprint. Thank God I wore a long upper garment and I have hydration pack to cover my oversight. Drooping shorts notwithstanding, I overtook about 18 people within 700 meters from finish line. Last 200 meters I was actually laughing at myself as I faced the embarassing prospect of exposed behind as I raced a guy to the finish line. Bahala na si Batman!
I finished at my personal time of 1:47:43 (probably 1:48 on official clock). This was better than my VSO 15K of 1:50:34 last month and my 2003 Yakult 10-mile of 2:15. That's good enough for me. For now :-)
Post race
I will post after-race pictures in separate blog entry.


Anonymous December 9, 2008 at 5:36 PM  

great post! congrats on the run :D

- joe

Rico Villanueva December 9, 2008 at 5:53 PM  

Hey Joe, thanks for dropping by. If you are Joe the Loony Runner, then what is great is not this post, but your Milo Marathon story. I also read about your fartleks. I wish I can learn to enjoy them the way you do. Keep running.

Nora, the golden girl December 9, 2008 at 7:43 PM  

Better take care of that shorts, Rico heh heh . . .

Congrats for finishing (with new PR to boot) amidst all odds!

I was also at Yakult but not to race. I accompanied my children run/walk their first 3k.

If you happen to recognize me at the UP ICTUS Run this Sunday, please introduce yourself. Medyo mahina akong makatanda ng face (sign of old age actually).

Rico Villanueva December 9, 2008 at 11:28 PM  

Nice one, Nora, nice one...Will look for you in UP

Anonymous December 10, 2008 at 4:00 PM  

Hi Rico. Wanted to stop by and commend you on your blog. You've done well this year from reading some of the entries. Please continue the improvement as well as the enjoyment you bring.

Also congratulations on the PR last Sinday. Please tale care.

Rico Villanueva December 10, 2008 at 4:34 PM  

Thanks for dropping by, Wayne. Belated Happy Birthday too! I hope to keep on running for the rest of my life, just like you. :-)

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