Sunday, November 20, 2016

Road Runner

Starting something new seem very intimidating because of the unknowns that goes with that endeavor, but it would've had been regretful had I not tried out running back in the summer of 2012 when I prepared for a running event that I eventually joined last May of the same year. It was sponsored by Medicare, one of the leading medical insurance providers in the country and since it was my first running event - I literally prepared for it for 2 months, as I ran around the village as much as I could and have gotten the feel of how demanding the sport could be on my lungs, heart, feet and legs.

Two months of preparation is not enough of course, but it's a lot better than no preparation at all. I was at least able to know when to pace myself and when to speed up as well as gauge my stride and determine what gait I had or adjustments needed to make my run and form more efficient and proper. I researched heavily on the sport and read several articles related to it as well as the blogs of some experienced runners that I could scour from the net.

Long story short, I joined my first 3K race and placed 13th at 17:19.98. It was very fulfilling of course and at first - I was determined to improve my PR, but eventually - I ran not because I needed to reach the finish line faster - but because I enjoyed the sport and I reached the finish line regardless of how fast or slow I was. I also realized that running is not about competing with other runners, but it's overcoming your own weaknesses and becoming better in the process. Just like with weight-training, discipline, relentless focus, determination and iron will are necessary ingredients to success.

I was instantly hooked afterwards and in a nutshell, I joined one running event after another for a year or so and progressed to joining 5k events. Every run was literally different, not only in terms of the route, weather conditions and purpose of the event (some were charitable events, e.g. "World Vision Run" & "Scholarun")- but there were times that I felt very strong and times when I felt weak, nevertheless - I made it a point to finish strong regardless of how I felt before and during the race.

There was even one run (Recycle. Feed. Run, 2012) when I woke up quite late and arrived at the site right after gun start, so I didn't have time to warm-up and just jumped into the race, but I managed to still finish strong (photo below- courtesy of Pinoy - thanks, Jeff).

One unique and memorable race was the most challenging because of the obstacle course that was part of the run. The last part of the race required for the runners to crawl on all fours through a muddy and rough field leading to the finish line. Needless to say, it was quite difficult as the muddy field was full of sharp stones and grazed my knees and hands. Then again, it was all part of the race and I still wanted to finish the race regardless.

I actually crawled very slow as it was very awkward and I had to avoid the sharp stones and rocks along the way, which was quite impossible. Some of the runners didn't actually crawl, which I thought was unfair (like the guy behind me on the picture above with his knees not in contact with the ground) - but I guess the race marshals didn't notice. Still, I didn't mind that as I just wanted to finish the race.

Since it took me quite a while to crawl all the way to the finish line, two Kenyans caught up with me but didn't manage to pass by me and just tailed me until the end line. While a lot of Filipino runners hated their guts because they almost always dominate every running event around the metro and win tons of prizes and receive not only medals but also freebies, I actually have deep respect for them and instead of hating them - why not learn from them?

They're actually very friendly and warm, it's just a matter of talking to them and getting to know them more.They're also very enthusiastic talking about their favorite sport and wouldn't mind sharing tips and experiences that they have had.

When I finally reached the finish line, there was a water truck next to the finish line where every finisher can have a well-deserved cold shower after receiving a cool stainless finisher's medal. Needless to say, it was difficult, it was painful and it was literally hot and humid at that time, but it was one of the most fulfilling races and therefore, memorable.

I was literally joining races every other month and sometimes 2-3 races in one month. That was on top of the fact that I was still a freelance personal trainer in a local gym in Quezon City and also working from home as an Online English Tutor, but I was able to manage and finish one race after the other - some with finisher's medals and some without. Nevertheless, it was the same elated, endorphin-releasing experience every after each race.

Another memorable run was held at night and was known as, "Color Manila Nite Run" where we were given night sticks that could be worn on any part of the body and runners literally blinked neon red, green and yellow lights as they ran. This run was particularly fun, because it was very festive and well, it wasn't that hot. It's one of those runs where you could just relax and even walk the whole way if you chose to. But of course, it wouldn't be a run if I didn't run at all. 

The last race I joined was "SunPiology 2013" sponsored by another insurance company, Sunlife, Philippines and was graced by their endorser, popular actor - Mr. Piolo Pascual. I decided to make this my last race because the registrations to such races are becoming too pricey and I thought that I've already ran as much as I could and enjoyed every event to the fullest. It was then that I decided to go back to weight-training which was my first passion. 

Overall, I've collected several finisher's medals, shirts and freebies - but it's the whole experience of it that can never be bought by any amount and the memories that will stay with me for the rest of my fitness-driven life. 

Who knows? I would probably try out another sport or fitness regimen like Crossfit or get into boxing that I have been wanting to experience for the longest time. Whatever I get into - it will always be the experience and the memories that will always count. 

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