the day i turned 7 (manila’s milo elimination race)

Posted: August 4, 2008 in Uncategorized

Isn’t this what you’ve always been wanting to do? Batgirl cries out, mischief a glint in her eye, as we join the surging runners at the starting line of manila’s Milo eliminations race 2008.

Mukhang Guilty(MG), a saber-tooth sharp point of resolve was quickly slicing a path through in the emerald throng. We follow as best we can, slipping and sliding through the openings he has created. Not even 200 meters out and the sky lets loose its heavy downpour. I look up to welcome it, even stick my tongue out for a taste of it! “This is going to be fun!” I exclaim with unabashed glee. Batgirl nods, her grin just as wide!

This race is 16000 runners strong. The biggest run (at least in terms of sheer number of participants) we have joined so far this year. This is practice for THE MARATHON. A year’s worth of dreaming now packed into a not so distant day in December. A pointillist blur beckoning and building up in the horizon. This was as real as it could get.

I have to learn to get used to running with a large group. Forty thousand runners are expected to join us as we run our first marathon. I need to learn to weave through the crowd.

We were a gang of five in this race. Vix and Sexy Bac were the other runners that made up our group. What, by necessity, started out as an awkward walk-run shuffle out of the 10K corral had now turned into an acceptable sprint. I spy a group of three running huddled under one huge umbrella. The darnedest thing! I find this hysterical and I turn around to point this out to Batgirl. She is nowhere is sight! Lost in the seemingly unending wave of green singlets. I start scanning the pack ahead of me. My eye zeroes in on a female runner in a lavender shirt. She is running with a very confident form and I sense that our pace is just about the same. I race right after her. Soon enough we are playing tag in Roxas Boulevardโ€™s mostly flat terrain. She would surge ahead, I’d catch up, overtake, and not long after she would take over the lead once again. I am definitely having fun now.

I am not a child of the city. I was born and raised in a hometown that sits at the foot of a volcano, the world’s most perfect coned, active volcano – Mayon! The streets have always been my playground. Rains, especially heavy downpours, were often welcomed with loud shouts of joy from the kids in the neighborhood who would inevitably end up playing tag in the streets. This, of course, to the consternation of some yayas, moms or grandmothers! While running this race, I found myself grinning from ear to ear as memory upon memory of days spent running wild in the rain, in the playgrounds of my youth, came unbidden and in torrents. Just like the rain.

The best runs are not always measured by finishing times. At least not in my world. There are runs I remember fondly simply because of the amount of fun I had while running them. Not even halfway through the race and I knew this would be one of those ultimately satisfying ones.

I come upon a huge puddle and, without thinking, I quickly run through it. I realize as I am doing this that I am the only runner splashing about in it. Others with far better sense (and hence drier shoes) have chosen to jump onto the pavement and run there. “Oh well,” I mutter to myself. “We can’t all be grown-ups all the time!” Squish, squish, squish go my shoes in agreement. It’s wet through to the socks! But I don’t find this unpleasant. How much wetter can I get? I ask myself. And besides, any kid who has ever played in the rain knows puddles are the best find. That’s where you have the most fun.

Soon enough the rain slows into a drizzle and I find myself ascending the flyover. The sky is now a pale grey color of light. Upon reaching the top, I slow down to fill my lungs with sea-salt air combined with a dash of metropolis smog and push forward.

All this time I had not taken the time to check my pace. Once again I was running with no real strategy. Running this race was like playing a Frankenstein game of tag, hopscotch and our local patintero. I felt no guilt doing this. No real urge to change strides. We had no agenda for this race. Serious marathon training only officially starts next week. This time, on this race, we were all simply psyched up for serious play!

As soon as I get down the Buendia Flyover, I encounter the lead runner for the 10K pack. I clap and shout words of encouragement. The man running right in front of me looks back. I have startled him with my jubilant shouts! I chuckle and give him a thumbs-up sign as I point to the elite pack of runners now heading past us. He quickly catches on and starts clapping too. We form a cheering squad of two.

Soon enough I reach the turnaround point. On my way back I scan the other racers coming towards me. Zeroing in on those sharing the same silly grin on my face. I was not the only one feeling the tug of the simple and carefree joys of childhood. Apparently, running in the rain brings that out in some of us.

I start counting down the stoplights and intersections we need to cross to the finish. 5 more to go, 4 more, 3 more…. And just as I am about to turn the corner towards the finish line, a young boy coming towards me shouts to ask…”Ma’m” he says, “Are you ten or forty-two?” I hear myself replying without much hesitation “Twelve, or maybe seven!” A devilish grin on my face! I am running too fast to see the expression on his face but I can just imagine the confusion etched there. I had prepared for this race thinking I would be running under a hot sun. I was running with my full gear on. Everyone in our running group, except for sensible and sleek MG, had come into the race with their fuel belts on. Call it a force of habit. So it certainly did look like I had been running a longer race. He was asking me for the distance I was running. I had answered back with a whimsical number. Call it my mental age. It certainly felt true at that moment and I simply couldn’t resist!

MG, now done with his run, is cheering us on in the sideline. The finish line loomed ahead. I am weaving through the slow going crowd building up near the grandstand. I am willing the finish line to move further back. I have enjoyed this run immensely. As soon as I find myself under the finish line banner, I glance at my watch to check the time. To my amazement, not only had I gotten such rollicking joy from this race. I had also managed to set my personal best. 54:40 for a 10K! Not bad, kid, I say as I give myself a pat in the back.

Serious Cat was waiting right behind the finish line with her camera poised and ready. I make a face, she takes the shot and we quickly walk through the side barriers to clap and cheer for the other runners as they come in.

This morning, under a heavy downpour of rain, I ran 10 kilometers and 28 years back in time… what better way is there to start the day?

  1. DATC says:

    Congrats on the 54min PR! Woohoo!!! That was fast!

    Your reply to the kid is vintage you ๐Ÿ™‚

    I always love seeing the lead runners after their turnaround – they’re just so, uhmm, fast….running is such a democratic sport that it allows to run in the same event as the elite athletes. You can never do that in any other sport.

  2. lonerunner says:

    m unable join due 2 rains .. looks like every milo runner enjoyed the wet race. congratulations ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. thefitmommy says:

    Congratulations on a VERY GOOD Run… I saw your blog through lonerunner’s blogroll.

    I grew up in Manila – but, my folks always let me play outside when I was a kid and even under the rain. I kept myself from smiling too much when it was raining so hard that Sunday morning. I’m glad I read your post about it – and now I’m smiling again from the Milo memories and memories of my childhood too.

    Keep on running! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. ironshoes says:

    datc, thanks! and i agree with what you say about running being such a democratic sport…i just hope they figure this out in marikina soon enough!

    lonerunner, next time it rains, try giving it a go. it may actually surprise you.. or you may end up surprising us with more tidbits of laughter from the experience!haha! thanks for dropping by!

    halloo fitmommy, bards actually pointed you out to me after the race. so i found myself visiting your blog from her site. ended up chuckling over your recap too…especially when you explained that mad dash at the finish! haha! oh i loved the rain as a kid. still do. happy to find a kindred spirit online. i’m sure there are far more of us out there than we dare think. thanks for the visit. isn’t lonerunner’s blog just hilarious? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Gene says:

    Probably safe to say that race was a blast for everyone because (and not despite) of the rain. Easily the most fun race in ages and fair to say that the vibes in this race would be difficult to top in future races ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hey what’s with the pics or no pics in this case? Your camera broke or na-snatch or something? Uyy, baka naman shy-type ka hehe ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. lonerunner says:

    hahah.. I will try to do that. Am a little OC, I dont want my running shoes to get wet. heheheh

  7. ironshoes says:

    Gene, na-snatch!… ni Batgirl! Tambayan namin yung site niya. So all the pictures end up there. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. kingofpots says:

    mesh, congratulations for a new PR on the Milo 10K. it’s a matter of time that you will have the chance to run your first marathon. good luck happy running!

  9. ibanrunner says:

    Congrets on your 10K PR. 54Mins… emmm empressive… my last 10 k was a disaster one… I made it 55mins. the best record I ever got was 46min. I believe the next time you will be able to do below 50mins… aim for it…
    have a nice week…. see you in future races.

  10. ironshoes says:

    halloo ibanrunner! Your disaster time is my PR! hahaha!;-) I can only dream of the day I will even come close to 50mins! It already took me a year just to even bring it down to its current level!
    all i can say is that 46 mins is definitely kick ass running! Congrets x2 indeed! And yes, i’ll see you at the races. Although You’ll probably be just a blur passing us by… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. littlea says:

    When I couldn’t find my brother in my second marathon would yell “Marco!” and he would respond “Polo!”. It was a great way to stay together in the crowded race.

  12. ironshoes says:

    2nd marathon? Wow! I can’t even get my head around running the first one yet! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Good tip. I think with my friends though I just need to yell out ice cream or taho (a Philippine delicacy- sweet soya with tapioca) and they will definitely find me! haha!

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