It Has To Mean Something

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I believe in the transformative power of running - of transforming ourselves and others. This belief is reflected in my choice of races. I join races because they are celebrations of my personal growth, occasions to cheer a friend's achievement, or avenues to push advocacies. Every race has to have some meaning; otherwise they will be forgotten and not missed.
This belief gets stronger when I choose races for my favorite distances: the 10K and the marathon. I have repeatedly scanned the calendar but I still cannot decide on a 10K where I will push again for a sub-60 minute time. Maybe I will just do that next year. I am even more discriminating on choosing my marathon. I imagine myself doing a lifetime of marathons, where every single one is remembered with unique fondness. Every single one has to mean something.
Early in the year the Filipino running community lamented the postponement of a marathon. On the last quarter of this year, the Filipino runner faces the difficult task of choosing between three international marathon races: The Quezon City International Marathon, the Smart Subic International Marathon (SIM), and the Philippine International Marathon (PIM). If I am a strong, fast runner who recovers equally fast, I will run all three. But I am not, so I choose on the personal dictum that it has to mean the most to me.
The first QCIM has the trappings of a great race (financial backing of QC local government, timing chip, partnership with the venerable Runnex) and has the potential to be The Marathon to contend with on account of the Kenyan runners and the huge prizes. However, the appeal to me of the QCIM is that some friends will have their debut or comeback marathon there. I know for instance that prime race mover, Runnex officer and friend Rene will be doing his comeback marathon there. I believe there are a couple of friends who will have their first taste of the marathon there. I want to be there when that happens. But ordinary runner that I am, I can and will only do a half-marathon there.
The PIM pulls me because I want to suffer/celebrate for the Pasig River. I WANT that river to regain its old use and glory. I want it to be like Bangkok's Chao Phraya River, where tourist boats cruise along its length offering sights and buffets, and where people avoid the chaotic land traffic to reach destination sites like the Grand Palace. When ABS-CBN Gina Lopez-Roy speaks on TV that she wants to rehabilitate the river, I believe her. I therefore welcome with excitement the resurrection of the Pasig River Marathon and look forward to crossing bridges that traverse the river. I want to see for myself the river's condition by running through 42.195kms of streets and bridges.
Alas, the PIM is not a marathon for slow runners like me. The rules are telling me that one's passion to run for the river is not enough, that passion has to be backed by ability to finish within 5 hours! Sad. Nothing could be more moving than to entice more runners - fast and slow - to run through the river's bridges itself. Maybe if I run fast enough by November I will join this race. Maybe. Hopefully.
For my second marathon I will run the Subic International Marathon. Looking back, the seed of this decision was planted as early as April when I met with Team Logan a day before the Greenfield race. Craig Logan said he would do SIM and casually mentioned I should it too. That was the day I would interview the Logans and examine for myself the cart that son Justin rides and loving father Craig pushes during races. I was and continue to be moved by the Logan example that I always dream of running alongside them. But Craig is actually a stronger and faster runner than me that even on a 10K race I would get left behind. Perhaps in a marathon where pace is slower I can ran alongside them. On the roads of SCTEX and Subic, I hope to do that. And I personally hope that when Team Logan does its first marathon, hordes of runners will be there to support and witness the triumph of the human spirit. That parent's love for adopted son Justin is stronger than the unfortunate case of meningitis Justin had as a baby.
It is the same triumph I hope to witness on the face of RJ and Marga, key movers in our July Milo support group, as they finish their first half-marathon the morning after the marathon. This time, I will be the one waiting and cheering.
The daytime to evening transition of the Subic marathon is a perfect backdrop for the kind of transformation that occurs in Subic. It is not only the venue for the transition of legions of runners into the ranks of marathoners, it is also the showcase of the transformative power of running. The Smart SIM has ceased to be just the graduation run of its race founder, Philippine National Police General Sam Tucay, as he retired from the service. It has become a showcase of how running transformed TABA policemen (Tamad, Abusado, Bastos at Ayaw pa-disciplina). Retired General Sam Tucay share his story.
A contingent of police officers and trainees will join the race in various categories. For many of them it will be their graduation run. I remember with fondness how almost every single PNP trainee I ran across during the Botak Run in Baguio sometime in May greeted the stranger-but-fellow runner me as I worked my way through Baguio's killer hills. Smiling, respectful, friendly. That is the image of the police I will keep and hope to see again in Subic.
It is heartening to see a corporate foundation like SmartSports partnering with PNP to support advocacies like this. At at time when almost every corporation attempts to get marketing mileage by staging runs, it is refreshing to see a private corporate body not merely sponsoring an event , but taking part as part of a clear, long-range advocacy. When I listened to SmartSports executive Pato Gregorio during the Smart SIM press conference, I better understood how Smart supports Philippine sports. Jaded that I am, I believe him. I believe him when he says that it supports PNP grassroots campaign to look for promising runners within their provincial jurisdictions and that SIM winners/placers of international potential or caliber will be supported by Smart through international race participation. I believe in the corporate will of Manny Pangilinan, and observe what he did for Philippine badminton and basketball.
With these thoughts I wish the 2009 Smart SIM success. Its success is my success, my friends' and our country's. As I race towards the sunset I would like to believe I am part of several transformations. And when I look back, I would smile knowing I am part of something Simply Amazing!


jazzrunner August 27, 2009 at 1:32 PM  

Hi Rico--all the best of luck to you on your 2nd marathon at Subic. Will of course expect to see you run the half at QCIM.:-)

RUNNING DIVA August 27, 2009 at 2:15 PM  

Wow, nice post Rico. :D Mula sa puso (from the heart)! I wish I were there to give my support to RJ and Marga. Good luck to you and the rest of the runners.

Rod.Runn3r August 27, 2009 at 3:07 PM  

idol! =D

i'll also be doing half at QCIM then full at SIM.

see you there! =D

Neil August 27, 2009 at 3:22 PM  

Good luck Rico. Wow, lifetime of marathons.

Bald Runner August 27, 2009 at 5:03 PM  

i hope SMART would do also provincial races just like what MILO is now doing to discover new talents in running.

TIMMY SEBASTIAN August 27, 2009 at 7:20 PM  

ako din mag SIM na! :) hehehe :) will have to come up with another blog about it soon :)

inspiring thoughts as always. thought provoking too.

wilson August 28, 2009 at 8:19 AM  

i myself have yet to decide what races to join, or what distances to run. hmmm, i think if i'd have to run just one full marathon between qcim and sim, it'd be sim.

Gingerbreadman August 29, 2009 at 12:15 AM  

You go for it at SIM Rico, should be a blast :) I may just join you there, see where my knee would take me :)

trumanian August 29, 2009 at 2:48 PM  

inspiring as always. good luck in the SIM, rico! :)

Bong August 30, 2009 at 6:26 AM  

Rico, I agree with what you think about PIM. However great the cause is for signing up for PIM, the 5 hour cut off time appears to be discriminatory to beginners, slower, older (speed diminishes as one gets older) and female runners (it is a fact that women generally run slower than men). Who would want to run a race when your name may not even be included in the official finisher's list.

Just for comparison, I checked on the internet the cut off times for the 5 largest and most prestigious marathon races in the world, and interestingly they are as follows, New York City - no cut off, the clock is stopped after 10 hours; Boston - 6 hours; London - 5.5 hours; Chicago - 6 hours 30 minutes; Berlin - 6 hours 15 minutes.

Rico Villanueva August 30, 2009 at 10:52 PM  

Rene, I will be there in QCIM. I'm skipping a triathlon for this! Haha...Good luck to you! If I am not wasted after my half there, will try to run with you for the last few kilometers :-)

Thanks Roselle...mula sa puso ba? haha...ganyan lang ako pag marathon ang topic...favorite ko yan eh...I really had a grand time doing my first marathon. I hope many people have their unique special experience as well - you included. Good luck on your PIM!

Uy Rod, sabay uli tayo!

Neil, a friend told me of her colleague who runs more than 20 marathons a year. Got my inspiration from that...ako sana at least once a year

Hi Sir Baldrunner. I also hope Smart will also go grassroots like Milo...They can make a lot of difference in sports.

Rico Villanueva August 30, 2009 at 11:08 PM  

Thanks Timmy. See you in the Subic outing, este, race pala.

Wilson, it will be nice if you can join us in SIM.

Hey Luis, I sure hope we shall be in our best condition for SIM...I remain optimistic!

Thanks Bryan! :-)

Hey Bong, thanks for sharing info. I have the same sentiment about cut-off times, but I do respect race rules...Good thing there are races with friendlier times :-)

Rico Villanueva August 30, 2009 at 11:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rico Villanueva August 30, 2009 at 11:23 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rico Villanueva September 4, 2009 at 5:14 PM  

I didn't realize early on that my last comment was posted thrice! I deleted the duplicates :-)

forefoot September 14, 2009 at 7:12 AM  

Nice thoughts, Rico...i'd share your joy at the finish line...waiting for RJ and Marga! Add Julie to that! :)

The Average Rec Runner September 14, 2009 at 10:11 PM  

Great post, Rico. Very well said, very well-written. I wanted do the HM at SIM, pero baka wala pa akong K, hahaha! I'll run my first HM at KOTR instead. Ginanahan ako sa post mo! Thanks!

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