The Gift of Hope

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

January 31, 2009
Saturday morning

The morning's long anticipated activity was supposed to be a special run - a leg-and-lung busting power 10K or an extra-special LSD. Weeks before I already envisioned the dream outcome - me finally breaking my mythical sub-60 10K goal, or me doing at least a half-marathon of dream-filled, rejuvenating long, slow run. Alas, my left leg had other plans! Afters 3 days of rest following a speed work-out, soreness finally vacated my leg on Saturday morning. But the confidence to do what I originally planned simply wasn't there. If I race a 10K, how many more days do I suffer after? After doing mainly easy 5Ks or 10ks, was I really ready to push again for great distance? Overextending my mileage was what got me into this rut in the first place.

That Saturday was my special day and this birthday boy intended to get a gift for himself! Happiness is not only a state of mind; it is also making the most out of given circumstances. So I got my reliable road bike and set to ride for a LONG distance. Just the other weekend I successfully increased my bike distance from standard duathlon requirement of 40K to a personal record of 60K. That was 2 months after I fumbled my way into riding my first road bike. This Saturday morning, as a birthday gift to myself, I would do half-ironman bike distance of 90K. Yes, another 50% increase from previous mileage. But I know my body, and this body deserved the gift of hope that someday it could actually bike the half-ironman distance.

It was already 11am when I began my half-ironman attempt. Yes, birthday boy deserved a longer stay in bed, and I dilly-dallied that long before deciding on how I would spend my day. Even my second shift morning cycling "classmate" was already half-way through his ride when I began mine. Still, it was comforting to know that I was not the only regular cyclist who woke up late and was crazy enough to start when the sun was already way up there.

To accomplish the half-ironman bike leg, I had to do 8 rounds of rolling 11K and do a 2K cool-down to complete the 90. The first 2 rounds were easy. I would trade hellos and quick banter with classmate and his driver/support crew. By noon and onto my 3rd round, I was already alone on the road. No cyclists, no runners, just cars and me. It was times like these when I would ask myself why the hell was I doing all these. Biking at noon time when I should be holed up in some hotel indulging myself, reserving strength for late-night dinner, drinks and videoke marathon with friends.

I suppose I just wanted to test myself. That even if I could not swim, bike or run fast, I certainly could go the distance. That what I might lack in speed and power, I made up with diligence, patience and tenacity to finish the seemingly impossible, when others would have long given up or would not even try. I suppose I long for accomplishment, beyond education or career. I suppose I long for something I can be passionate about. I suppose swimming, biking and running remind me that I am very much alive and must live life to its fullest. What is death anyway but a cessation of all movement. And so on the day of my birth I moved a lot and celebrated my capacity to enjoy life.

I continued my celebration and began my third round by singing. Yes I was singing out loud; no one would hear anyway. I was also not sure if I would still have strength for videoke later. I began with the last song I heard over the radio on my way to the village: Spongecola's take on videoke MRS Closer You and I. Hey there's a look in your eyes, it must be love at first sight....I was pleasantly surprised to hear myself singing well despite being crouched forward on bike. It seems biking, running and swimming have other benefits. I was hitting the high notes full-bodied and with gusto! Well at least till that part when road turned uphill - needed to focus back on the climb. As I passed through my favorite adrenaline rush downhill, I was rocking my way to You Give Love A Bad Name (is that the title?). You giiiivve loo-ovvve....a BAD name!!!

I was so pumped up despite my very limited repertoire of songs whose lyrics I could remember that the next 4-6 rounds came easy (note to self: update your songlist, memorize lyrics and practice!) Rounds 7-8 were the hardest. I was already beyond my historical longest distance, and Jesus Christ, I only had a pack of hopia and cashew tarts on quick breaks for lunch. This was the time I was trying to summon all the singers and saints I could think of. Running out of songs I actually did Climb Every Mountain just in time for that uphill again. I must be delirious from hunger and fatigue when I did Sharon Cuneta's Unti-unting Mararating Kalangitan at Bituin (yes, in another long uphill again). I found myself repeatedly singing Matchbox Twenty's Unwell. I was in denial when I sang, I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell... I must have sang that line a zillion times.

On my last round at close to 3pm, a senior cyclist came close, probably to ride along. My God, the afternoon cycling shift had aleady arrived and I was not yet done. I was too weak to mumble anything, but in my mind I said, Manong, kanina pa ho akong umaga. Last ko na ho 'to at ayoko na. Next time na lang ho. He must have read everything from my face and body posture, so he biked past me.

Ninety kilometers finally passed. It took 4.5 hours, but I did it. Ha! I now have that 90km badge of hope pinned on my jersey. Just have to work on speed, hill climbing, fear of buses. Oh I forgot again, get those cleats please, and practice on the aerobar. The dream event was still months away anyway. For the moment I celebrated. I treated myself to The Spa massage after the ordeal. The dinner, drinks and videoke could wait. As the skilled masseuse kneaded away the knots in my legs, I silently prayed I would have the strength to do the next day's aquathlon. God, thank you for another great birthday.


MJ February 3, 2009 at 9:57 PM  

Way to go! What an amazing way to celebrate. Really incredible! (...your song choices fit under the "incredible" category too, he-he)

Belated happy birthday! :-)

i2runner February 3, 2009 at 10:04 PM  

Sheerwill, you're a long distance runner, cyclist, swimmer... and now you're also a long distance blogger! Haba ng blog mo! hahaha!

Happy Birthday and take care...

cathletic February 3, 2009 at 11:39 PM  

Happy birthday, Rico! You're the biking birthday boy eh! ;)

JavyO February 4, 2009 at 8:07 AM  

Good Job Rico!

10 more km and you have your first century :)

Rico Villanueva February 4, 2009 at 11:11 PM  

MJ, I would really need more songs. Any suggestions?

i2runner, pasensya na sa haba...4.5hrs ko yang binuo.

cathy, if you can't run, bike!

Javy0, a century is a good idea. Maybe this weekend hehe

myironshoes February 5, 2009 at 12:37 PM  

Run and tell all of the angels/This could take all night/Think I need a.. (let's skip the devil part and just jump right up to the chorus)
I'm looking to the sky to save me/Looking for a sign of life/Looking for something to help me burn out bright... :-) Belated Happy Birthday! Ayan! May kanta ka na (LEARN TO FLY by the FOO FIGHTERS)to update your playlist with... haha!

Rico Villanueva February 5, 2009 at 11:03 PM  

Thanks Mesh. For someone who likes karaoke and sings occasionally inside his head, I have a very limited song knowledge. There goes my ambition to be a VJ. Sige, I will download this Foo Fighter song and sing it next time.

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