Monday, November 30, 2009
New Balance Power Run: Raising Hope
29 November 2009
Bonifacio Global City
NB Power Race 25K Nov 16, 2008
NB Power Run 21K Nov 29, 2009
(photo taken by Rodel Cuaton)
(photo taken by Rodel Cuaton)
Ah, the New Balance race. The 2008 version competes head-on with my Milo marathon for the honor of being my personal favorite. I was in my 3rd cycle of weight loss then and 5th cycle of elusive quest for love. By the end of the race, I was 30 lbs lighter and have found love. There in the hills of Clark I fell in love with Running. My New Balance Chronicles remain a personal favorite.
Sadly, the 2008 Powerrace marked the end of my progressive weight loss. I was heady in love with Running, but that love exposed my vulnerabilities and left me injured. I discovered I had a weak left foot, with almost no arch. But I surged on and my love of Running saw me through runner's knee, plantar fasciitis, mid-foot pains and calf tightness that literally rendered me unable to run. My leg structure, pains and injuries prevented me from my weight-reducing, daily short runs, and severely limited my attempt to run fast. Still, somehow my passion allowed me to do my first aquathlon, my first duathlon and my first marathon. The weight loss ebbed and flowed, but love intensified.
For the 2009 NB race edition, I was about 10 lbs heavier and at a start of another weight loss cycle. I hope it is for the long haul this time, and not just another short-sighted attempt to look good for the dating scene. Definitely I am wiser and more grounded. Along the way I stumbled on love, but the one that remained true and worth-pursuing was that I discovered in Clark in 2008. I may be a bit heftier this time, but I have a stronger left foot now - a foot that survived the pounding of a marathon. I come into this race with about 1.5 months of no racing since the Subic Marathon and very little running, in the hope that this time it will be my right foot which will get stronger. I had this quixotic notion that even with very little running, I would race the hills of Fort the way I did it in Clark. The Subic race also left me emotionally drained and I wanted to take a respite from running to understand why I fell in love with it in the first place. While the NB race will be in the Global City, the memory of Clark will bring back the joy of running.
For the 2009 race I had this primary mantra: Love running more. This was written in the 2008 singlet - a personal favorite I wear only in meaningful runs. At km 18 in Clark I discovered the pure joy of movement that running gives. This time I want to take that love into a higher level. I want to enjoy that exhilaration not just for a few kilometers but hopefully for longer distances. I want to race and finish exhilarated, not spent and wasted. I kept reminding myself to take my mind off the problematic foot and tight calves, and to focus instead on running from the core. I want to run not just from my physical core, but also from the core of my being. I want to run like the way I swim. Effortless and with complete and heightened control of my senses. Where I can relax if I want to, or speed up if I am up to the challenge. Where the mind, body and heart are one.
For most part of my 21K race, I got what I wanted. The course was tough and I had to restrain myself for a full marathon a week after, but many times along the way I was near that love of running I came for. Along the way I would meet up with Ian, someone I consider as my multi-sport batchmate. For most part, Ian and I chatted about our multi-sport plans and strategies. At km16 he asked, "What time do you want to finish?" Recalling what I said at the start that I will do a 'play it by ear pace', I said "I don't really know. But if we made it in 2h:30min, I would treat breakfast." We both ended that statement with a chuckle.
Ian, who is several notches stronger and faster than me, noticeably picked-up pace but remained near enough for me to catch-up. It was mostly like this for the last 5kms. I knew at that time I had more to give, but I restrained myself in my view of my long rest and eventual marathon, but one thing I did was to not to give up on the chase. I remembered the tempo runs I did with friends for my Milo marathon. During those runs, which our small group fondly called liempo runs, Luis our strongest runner would normally lead at a blistering pace, followed either by Bong Y or comeback runner Pio. I would huff and puff to the best of my ability. Several rounds of that brought me to a 5:16 marathon finish, at least 14 minutes faster than the best I could have mustered alone.
With Ian as company and pacer, I managed to finish the half-marathon in 2:37:16. About 5mins off my personal best, but fairly decent given the route and my circumstances. It was not a spectacular finish but it was what I needed. I needed hope that races will be great again and that my running will improve to a higher level. In the New Balance race I did find hope.
For next year, I think it would still be a chase. Chasing after better times, leaner figure, happier experiences. I don't know who among friends I would pace with, or which runners I would befriend along the way. I know I still have to shed a lot of weight, and put in hours of training and buckets of conviction, but for sure the bar must be reset. True love does not stagnate; it broadens, deepens or acquires new meanings. Love changes, hopefully for the better.