running with Athena (nike human race recap)

Posted: September 1, 2008 in running
Tags: , , , ,

Nike, in Greek mythology, is one of Zeus lieutenants in the Olympian’s war against the Titans. Hers is the role of the divine charioteer. She’s the goddess of strength, speed and victory. Why a winged goddess would bother driving a chariot is beyond me! She hangs out with Athena, the goddess of war.  Of course! Now it all makes perfect sense to me! I signed up for Nike’s race. I should have known she would bring the goddess of war with her. Had I been smarter about this, I should have just negotiated to go for a romp in Zeus’ chariot. Instead I run and find myself stuck with her buddy Athena and in a battle with my legs and with myself…

I just knew it was going to be a tough run when I caught myself taking a couple of steps back from the starting line the second they announced the start of the race! The lead pack was off and the Nike Human Race had officially started. And here I was caught in some sort of rift in time and space. My polar foot pod was still off, the cable of my earphones was managing to strangle me with considerable success and my bandana had slid down to cover my eyes perhaps in a vain attempt to hide the sight of the coming hilly route.

WORK and PRAY that’s the code my family was raised in. We are all products of years of German Benedictine Education. And so for 13 years, day in and day out, that was the missionary nun’s guiding call and my mother’s dictum. They were simple, concise instructions on how to live my life. That was before I moved up The Hill and hang out with the Jesuits. They completed the lesson. Agonize! I hear them say with a smirk. And so I do (over my grades, my existence, the human condition, the meaning of my life…). And, because I am always going to be my mother’s daughter, I almost always multi-task these things.

I had my WORK cut out for me. 1. Run the 10K route at a tempo pace. 2. Run the middle portion of this race at consistent 5:40/km pace. (I made that up. It’s actually supposed to be a little bit faster but I figured the hills of this route deserved some sort of magical math work).

After spending some confused seconds in the starting area, I started my run. Our running gang had all lined up at the back of the running pack to avoid the stampede to the starting line. So, after we all make the turn into the main road, there was nowhere to go but up! I mean this literally. Barely a few meters out of the starting line, we were already headed up a slope. This early on and my legs were already feeling quite heavy and I was really hoping that it would ease up after a few minutes. It was at about this time when I uttered a truncated prayer. I knew this route would run through a cemetery. Once again, as I’ve done so many times, I asked my overworked guardian angel to make sure that I made it out of there, alive.  Then slowly but resolutely I focused on making my way up the pack.

And then the AGONIZING starts… I wish I could say that it was merely a case of putting one foot in front of the other after that. But it wasn’t so. Way too many things were going on inside my head. I was running at a very erratic pace. At one point I even had to run back a few meters because my bandana had fallen off and I needed to go get it back.  And no matter what I did I simply couldn’t stay with my target pace. I was either running too fast or slacking off. It was a struggle all the way to Heritage Park and back. Usually I make the slopes work for me. But even that was off. I was simply running the route but my head was somewhere else altogether.

The night before this I was at that huge open-air concert with the Eraserheads, probably the most iconic of all the rock bands this country has ever produced. For close to five hours I was on my feet. 45 minutes of this was spent jumping, swaying and singing loudly with thousands of eager fans.  We were crammed together like 150 crayolas stuffed into a 96ct box! (The concert was cut short. The lead singer was rushed to the hospital. But that’s a story for another time.)

Normally, I make it a point to take it easy, rest my legs and turn in early before a difficult run or a race. I am familiar with the hills in the McKinley route. The responsible runner in me, the one who is terrified of injuries because she has suffered through quite a bit of them, insisted staying out late and on my feet for very long the night before wasn’t a good idea.  But there was no way I was going to miss this concert. And hence it came as no surprise when I woke up this morning to find the ghost of concert past haunting my legs.

The agonizing continues:  Since when, I asked myself, did my life simply revolve around running? The reason I run is because I want to stay healthy and fit enough so I can enjoy my life. And so I went firm in my belief that I was doing the right thing. It wasn’t very smart. But I thought it was brave.  Ho! Ho!  The line between valor and stupidity? Oh I definitely crossed that line many times over. I should have stopped right there and chuck it all out. I should have left all my misgiving inside my car before I walked to the starting line. Or I simply should not have ran at all. Instead, I had dragged myself out of bed late, met up with the gang late, arrived at the starting corral late. And it was all uphill from there. I simply couldn’t focus. I was a mess of a runner and it showed. Those smirking Jesuits are hard to shake loose. And they were all riding my back. Athena following very closely behind . And for some reason they all looked like Ely Buendia, the band’s lead singer.

“Eraserheads is biting me in the butt in this run!” I tell DATC this when I find myself sharing a brief respite with him before the final assault of the slopes. We had both slowed down to catch our second win. Up to this point, I was still running half-heartedly. I knew the only way to find my redemption was to dig deep and to just push one last time.  I tell Dindo I am just going to have to make another go or I will never feel right about this. We were not really all that far from the finish line at this point. Perhaps 1.5kms at best. He nods and for the first time that day I really toe off from a start line. One I had determined on my own. One that was mine and mine alone. It was time to girl-up and simply embrace the burden I was running with and deal with it the best I can. And finally, finally, I am actually running strong enough, fast enough, true enough to silence the quarrelsome Jesuits in my head. Apparently they are also best buds with Athena. I leave them all at the side of the road and I just run. And in no time, I find myself winded and catching my breath at the finish. But I had finally caught up with my peace. The war was over. It was time to hang out with the other gods and goddesses in the lot.  Perhaps I did get a ride in Zeus’ chariot after all.

  1. DATC says:

    Hey I wasn’t taking a “respite”! I was going all out, and my HR was 177! Congratulations, your legs have grown sturdy and strong from all your training 🙂

    Haha. I wasn’t wearing my HR monitor this run. Which was probably a good thing. One less thing to obsess about! And thanks! actually, those brief chats with you during the race really did help me a lot to re-focus on the run.

  2. kathy says:

    Well ghost of concert past, athena, or whatever, you still ran a great race! :o)

    One request though…next time no need to call out my real name when you see me running from the starting line…all alone…because i overslept…because i was at the same concert you were in the night before ;o)

    Sure Sabrina! Next time I will just yell out GOLDEN TINAPA, ok? 😉

  3. bards says:

    it just hit me. you actually stick to your paces more when you are sleep deprived. hmm… maybe we shouldnt try and find a cure for your insomnia. hehehe congrats on your top 10 finish!

    guess i get to eat more ice cream now! but yeah. strange but true. i told you sleep just fills my head with cotton.

  4. prometheuscometh says:

    And if you could do it all over again would you change a thing? … One Big Fight! to you and congratulations on a great finish.

    i’d stop and eat the mamon at the park, este sementeryo pala. 😉

  5. Gene says:

    Hey congrat on your run! Hanep naman, iron will na, iron shoes pa 🙂 Hey, I was at the concert as well, too bad the lead singer. Naki-group pray ka rin ba para kay Ely? 🙂

    salamat po! iron tigas ng ulo lang talaga minsan. 🙂 at oo naman naki-1minute of silence rin ako. it was a good thing everyone took the news very calmly.

  6. cha says:

    so so so proud of youuuuuuu!!! top 10!!!! WoooHooooo! *sabit sampaguita*

    haha! bow! 😉

  7. runmd says:

    Congrats. Getting better and better! Thank you for the chariot ride.

    Thanks and you’re welcome. Haha! At hindi na po mainit ulo ko. Breakfast lang talaga katapat!

  8. marga says:

    German Benedictines?

    St Scho?

    Come loyal benedictine children oh come and let us sing… you wanna sing along? 😉

  9. thefitmommy says:

    Hello! Magka-sunod pala tayo sa Nike finish! Ang galing mo despite attending the concert the night before! 😀

    From you avid reader


    Hahaha! That was you?! So now I can confess to one lingering thought at the finish line.
    Wow! Girl in running skirt. I really need to get tips on that…
    Let’s just say I aspire to run in a skirt. My thighs (and the rest of my body) aspire for ice cream…

  10. marga says:

    “Our voices raise with youthful hearts, with youthful hearts aflame!”

    Hehehehe. :p

    Hahaha! Somehow it always turns into a sing-along blog when you pop up! 🙂

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