Race Day Magic

Monday, March 23, 2009

22 March 2009
Condura Run for the Whale Sharks

I woke up at 3am. That was the earliest I have ever set my alarm for a race. At 4am I was already on my way to Doc Lyndon’s house to lend my vehicle for the takbo.ph support group. I should not complain for I actually had it better. Doc Lyndon was up much earlier and did the back-breaking task of loading sports drinks and bananas into his vehicle, and coordinating with the support crew. All I did was prepare the liniments, petroleum jelly, band-aids and water spray bottles. With our respective vehicles sequestered for support, Lyndon and I rode with his in-law Ton, also a new runner and a half-marathon virgin like us.

While exchanging stories of first races and tips on eating on the run, the idea of race day magic was brought up. An injured runner, I wrote about how I was anticipating race day magic to pull me through. For Lyndon who had an asthma attack a few days before the race, and who was very busy up to hours before the race, he was also relying on race day magic. I was actually more anxious for him than for myself, but I did my best to hide it. Maybe it was because I do not personally know how bad an asthma attack can get and I do not know how to help if it happens. The best I could do was to lend him my heart rate monitor strap. More likely it was because I wanted somebody who tried so hard to train and support others to do well on his first half-marathon.

The place was already pulsating with excitement and anticipation when we arrived at the race site. As I searched for the takbo.ph booth, I chanced upon Foreign Runner Philip, whose physical and online presence the running community has missed. Mr. Le Roux, who has not run much lately, is happily based now in the province.

I was happy to see a lot of new runners of takbo.ph all excited for their first 10k or half-marathon. The first hint of the Condura Magic was actually the March 8 impromptu LSD of takbo.ph where more than 60 runners (mostly newbies) showed up to test their ability to run at slow pace the Condura 10K or 21K. The sight of that many runners on Boni High Street that early morning is still surreal for many of us. The LSD did wonders for us however. Emboldened with the idea that friends are just a few meters away, we shall conquer the Skyway. Never mind if many started running just last quarter or even just this year. If one really wanted to be part of history, he could – so long as he runs smartly and comfortably in the company of fellow believers. The miracle is not that they finished; it is that they had the courage to start.

The Condura Miracle had many faces:

Lyndon who finished sub 2:22 (hmmn, akala ko ba may asthma 'yan? haha)
Cathy who had her first 10K in December, her first 15K in February
and now 21K
Lauren and OC whose mother rejoiced at the sight of a medal on their necks.

Migz and David who took up running just this year and are now half-marathon finishers

MJ, Mar, Steven, Topher , Bong, Ric & many others who were very happy to lose the
ir 21k virginity.
Craig who toured the Skyway with son Justin on stroller

Natz who sped through the 21K course but still managed to take photos on the Skyway.

Quennie, who happily run through her first 21K
And dozens of other happy faces.

From work there were four of us who did the 21K. Among them, I had the most running experience. Among us I finished last. I have been humbled once again, and will probably be humbled once in a while. But I wear with quiet pride the thought that if this fat bloke could lose weight and run long distances, they too can achieve the same if not surpass what I had. From doing 10Ks Me-Ann and Oliver took a leap of faith to 21K. I am specially proud of Jerome, whose second and last race prior to Condura 21K was the New Balance 10K Powerrace.

Me-Ann, Jerome, Rico and Oliver

The race was not perfect, but what it had was a soul. A race is greater than the sum of its route, singlet or shirt, certificate or medal, runner attendance, race marshalls, water stations, portalets and freebies. Great infrastructure prepares one for greatness, but it is the race’s soul that defines its true greatness. The race soul is an amalgam of a timely cause, imagination, empathy and genuine desire to please. There was not enough water in one part of the Skyway and there could have been more photographers covering ordinary runners, but these minor shortcomings were more than made up by big gestures like the Skyway privilege and small touches like seeing your name in the Philippine Star. At its core, running is an emotional and mental sport. Great races engage the heart and soul. The Condura Run engaged both. That was the magic of Condura.

For me the magic is not that I finished. I knew in my heart I would – I just did not know in what fashion and how fast. I finished in 2:46:10 and improved my average pace by about 20 seconds per km from last week's 10K pace. The magic is that I am clawing my way back to full recovery, and that my full marathon and half-ironman dreams this year are still alive. Looking back, the magic really began with the announcement of a vision fulfilled – a run along the Skyway. The magic was strong enough to sustain me through a trying period of literally being unable to run, and then running so agonizingly slow when I finally could. Magic is said to be the suspension of belief – a make-believe. True magic for me is faith that things can happen. Magic made running the Skyway a reality. Magic allowed a runner’s carbo-loading party to happen. It was short of magic that more than 200 runners of different persuasions congregated in 200 square meters of space to get to know each other better, have fun and partake of good food. The magic was that people volunteered and subsumed their personal interests for the greater good. Personally, I was confident I could survive the 21K without a support group. I have survived cramps and lack of water in two 25K races before. Why must I lift a finger now for something I considered nice to have but not absolutely necessary for me – especially if I had to work my ass for it? I suppose I could still recall how dejected I felt then dragging my cramping legs and dry mouth to the finish.

Volunteerism at work

I looked at Jinoe and Quennie. The couple are getting married in a month’s time and yet they are burning their phone lines for this. I listened to how Doc Lyndon passionately talk about this idea and how he contacted people to make things happen. I watched how MJ worked to secure a venue and talk to suppliers and the speaker, how Cathy had to take care of chairs and tables, and how Natz had to plot out and strategize LSD routes and aid station locations. Lastly, I remembered the look of excited faces of new runners that fateful LSD in BHS. The look of excitement and accomplishment on their faces: priceless. I had a selfish agenda too. I wanted a party that will bring people together, so people can work better at elevating the status of running in the Philippines. If finding joy in altruism is a sin, I am guilty of it. I suppose we all find satisfaction in doing something for a cause bigger than ourselves.

We are bloggers all

takbo.ph forum members

Altruism was the magic of the Condura Run. It was about the Concepcions thinking of a route that would excite runners. It was about having one of them forego running so thousands could be assured of a great race. It was about raising funds and awareness for the gentle whale sharks. It was about Runners for Others and their Operation Smile for children with cleft lips. It was about dozens of Ninoys believing they could make a difference. It was Craig Logan pushing the stroller of his son Justin, and Jinoe and Quennie sharing the burden of pushing. It was takbo.ph providing not only a portal for events, race maps and results, but more importantly a sense of community among runners, groups and clubs. It was The Bull Runner providing another medium to reach out to runners. It was friends pacing, waiting or cheering for others. It was each of us conquering our fears. People make the difference. We create our miracles. Magic was simply unleashing the hero that lies within us.

We are runners. We run for ourselves and others. We are heroes all.


David March 24, 2009 at 8:51 AM  

Congratulations Sir Rico, not just for finishing the race but for being a part of the organizers who really made this thing ROCK!
Many Thanks!

lyndon aka malmonmd March 24, 2009 at 9:08 AM  

Hi Rico,

Honestly, i was about to downgrade to 10k a week before the race because of my asthma attack.. I bandited the Run for their Lives just to check if i can survive the Condura run. I almost fainted that day. I have been searching for signs whether to still run the 21k while i am aggressively treating my asthma. I fear i might collapse or worst have a cardiac arrest. Good thing you mentioned in one of your articles about the race day magic. I relied on that and the very powerful closing prayer of Craig Logan in our CLP. we had a small conversation while we were setting up the place. He told me to join him later on his closing prayer. Thank you very much. I trained hard for a sub 2:20 but had to slow down at the kalayaan for my heart rate reached to 171. I know it is not good for me. Might be the inhaler for my asthma that i was using all throughout the race that also triggered my fast heart rate. But i am still happy with my 2:23:08 time. It is indeed a race day magic. Without your strap i might not have monitored my heart rate at the Kalayaan. Thanks again for this story rico......See you on the road.....:)

Ian March 24, 2009 at 11:08 AM  

Congrats Rico on your 21k finish...
While most of us were already in the corral just waiting for the gun to fire, i'm sure you guys were still working on the takbo.ph Support logistics on top of being anxious for your 21k run.
Wow!!! no words to express our gratitude! thanks to you and Doc Lyndon for your selflessness to 'make others shine... ' :-)

Chuck M March 24, 2009 at 4:55 PM  


Nice story!!! I admire your passion for the sport.

Kudos to you!!!


JavyO March 24, 2009 at 9:42 PM  

Congrats Rico!!!

Anonymous March 24, 2009 at 10:53 PM  

thank you very much for your very supportive blog.
i like your angle regarding the soul
yes you captured what we were trying to do....as it is all about the soul...that is what keeps us going

the vision of being the premier running event in the country in the end is measured by the passion that people feel in their soul after accomplishing a great feat like running their first race or doing their first half mary

congratulations to all of your accomplishments and see you at the next condura!

Ton Concepcion

Anonymous March 25, 2009 at 5:01 PM  

Hey Eric! Always love reading your blogs. It's got heart, soul and passion just like you have for running. Congrats on this run! But do take care of yourself!

With love from your dear sis from the land of the long white cloud

eventzone March 26, 2009 at 5:44 AM  

"If finding joy in altruism is a sin, I am guilty of it. I suppose we all find satisfaction in doing something for a cause bigger than ourselves." my hats off to you for turning this race into a personal best:o)look forward to meeting you one running day

janine+ March 27, 2009 at 7:22 PM  

A race with a soul. Aptly said, nicely done. =)

MJ March 28, 2009 at 9:59 PM  

Very well written, by a writer who without question is an old soul: thoughtful, caring, concerned, compassionate and passionate!

Happy running!

TIMMY March 29, 2009 at 4:37 PM  

sir rics, feeling ko super late ko na nag reply about this, pero the blog entry was well-said. it captured the essence of having a community of runners, taking care of each other and making sure that every one would enjoy their run. thanks for being one of the warm peeps in takbo.ph who welcomed us newbies last march 8 lsd. that LSD did really change a lot of us aspiring runners, and it inspired us to improve on our individual and collective goals :)

kahit na ako ung ginawa nyong guinea pig sa second wind store kanina, okay lang. hahaha

see you around sir!

Rod.Runner March 30, 2009 at 7:52 AM  

mr rico! that was deep! =)ang galing mo magsulat.
i'd add you to my bloglist if you don't mind. para may madagdag ako na mabasang matino. hehehehe

gleeman April 27, 2009 at 5:12 PM  

Great message. Really a meaningful essay.

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