Here be the dragon (MY KOTR RUN)

Posted: October 13, 2008 in my favorite runs, running
Tags: , , ,

The dragon in my sight had a serpentine body with a long, slender tail and neck. Black were its scales, covered in soot, smelling of a potent mix of smoke and oil and gasoline. The most bewitching part of its body were its enormous, almost translucent, gossamer wings running from its shoulders to the middle of its tail. But these wings were only visible under the most powerful combination of lighting and magical incantations “impossible is nothing!” This dragon has deep-set eyes, eyes the same color as the sun now burning its way up the sky lit with bright amber flames. The dragon in my sight was laying in quiet slumber though that was about to change as the sound of a thousand thundering feet echoed ever nearer. Mine, clad in yellow running shoes, was in the middle of that pack. A thousand road warriors all fired up and ready for that morning’s battle. A fight to conquer the dragon that snaked it’s way across our city’s main highway. A dragon that on an ordinary day would simply be known by its non-magical name: The Buendia Flyover.

My plan for running the 21K Adidas King of The Road was simple and straightforward. It concerned a split. No I’m not talking about those negative splits serious runners would throw in during casual conversations. I was actually set on a positive split. A positive split of the brain, that is.

The Buendia Flyover was my own personal dragon. It got the best of me the last time I went in battle with it at the CONDURA RACE. On the day of the KOTR race I was out seeking redemption. I wasn’t off to slay a dragon though. I simply wanted to tame it, hopefully, befriend it.

The race started six minutes earlier than I had negotiated with the universe. Mr. Soulcrusher, my Garmin 405, says we were off at 5:24am. It caught me unawares. So much so that I was actually in a kneeling position when I heard the crack of the gun and people behind me started pushing forward. I wasn’t kneeling down in prayer though, although I probably should have been. I was actually quite busy trying to bring two sleepy Polar foot pods to life. One was attached to SexyBac’s shoes. The other one to Vix. My T2 running mates were both running their first 21Ks. Well, I started feeling the surge so I jumped back up. Vix then wordlessly points out  a gorgeous man in orange. I see her grin and follow her hand. And I hear violins. Well, I don’t but I do see My Fernando. And he was definitely mine for a split second before he disappeared with the throng!

Oh well, time to run the race. I focus on making my way up the 21K pack. I wanted to be good and settled and calm before making that initial run up the Buendia flyover incline. I was still right in the middle of the pack. And I was having a difficult time finding my rhythm. My mouth also felt unusually dry. That was quiet strange because I must have downed almost half liter of water before going into the starting corral. I realized then that my dry palate was not because of thirst. I was simply nervous.

The last time I did this route I was with Runtintin, Batgirl, and Vix. We were in a 10K race.This time it was just plain old me. At least you are going to get your picture taken at the finish line by Batgirl, I tell myself. This thought cheers me up a bit.

So I wet my dry lips with my tongue and then bite hard into it to bring some color out. One does not want to look pale and weak when one is about to confront the enemy! Thereafter, I also take a few deep breaths and just before that first incline of the flyover, I catch a sight of a patch of orange sky sandwiched in between two buildings. And that’s when I stopped worrying and started having fun. And just like that I was finally committed to the race.

Well not quite.

The run up wasn’t all that bad. As soon as I hit the top of the flyover, I see three men standing in a row with their backs towards me. They were all facing out towards the EDSA highway and the great beyond.  In my head I start hearing the theme song from the movie “The Titanic” playing. And for a split second there I wait for them to throw their hands out (Well, of course, they need to zip it up or tie it up, or knot it up first. And hello I am talking about the shorts!) and then shout “I’m the King of the World!” or should that be “the road?” Whatever!  But they take their time in marking their territory and pretty soon the men and that odor are way behind me. Hmmm…men definitely have it so much easier in that department!

I cruise through the Flyover and start running down Buendia. Soon enough I find myself in a conversation with pleasant older gentleman. Yes, of course, I am running a 21K race! I was making good time too. At that point I only had 16Kms of road left for chitchat. He tells me that his best 10K time was 46 minutes. Then he asks me what my best 10K time was. I mull over this for a while and then tell him that it was set at 32 minutes two weeks ago.  That’s when I hit my 6KM sweet soy taho pit stop! That’s definitely one of my best times in a 10K run!  I don’t know why he gave me such a strange look.

So we keep running and bantering all the way up and down Buendia.  I spy a number of my running buds and cheer them on. Mighty M flew past and then there was Chuchay swiftly following in her wake. MukhangGuilty (MG) was late but he soon caught up with our pack at the Ayala/Buendia Intersection. MG, the invincible man, actually sliced through traffic while around 15 of us watched from the sidelines. A female cop had stopped us and had let the cars go down Ayala. So there we were waiting to cross and from the corner of my eye, I see MG crisscrossing his way through the line of impatient cars. “Woohoo! Way to go MG!” I shout. This gets the other mostly male runners excited. And they start their own traffic rebellion. I slide in through with them.

Soon enough it’s time to go back up the flyover. It went by in a blur. I’d found some other company up that stretch. One guy even asked me for a number. A number concerning time. Of course I couldn’t give it to him. But I did manage to tell him what time sunset that day would be.  I have a watch which tells me my average pace, my current pace, my lap pace, when sunset is, when sunrise will be etc. Hell, it even tells me I have a heart. Or at least something that beats inside my chest.  Just don’t ask for the time, please. My watch doesn’t do time! Sorry.

It was a good run up and then down and then up and then down again.  By the time I make it to the bottom the pleasant older gentleman was nowhere in sight.  And I still had 11K more to go!  So I run through Rizal, Lawton, and Bayani road with eyes half open and nostrils flaring. I hope it wasn’t too scary a sight. The half closed eyes part happened whenever I would see a jeepney belching out black smoke on the road.  It’s a familiar route and hence a relatively easier run for me. Also a lot quieter.

Mr. SoulCrusher (my Garmin) says I completed the distance of 20.7KM in 2:04:22. That’s around 3 minutes faster than my last 21K that was actually just a 19.6K! So all in all, it was a good run. I’ve tamed my dragon and even made some new acquaintances along the way. Not bad for two hours of fun.

And then there is that issue about the nice picture waiting for me at the finish line!! Just before that final turn, I refocus on looking fierce and proud. And then I force the tired legs to run strong to the finish line. On my way in, I keep scanning the crowd. Where the hell is Batgirl positioned?  Has she got a cloak of invisibility on? Do I look left or right??? I almost trip over my own feet in my excitement.  I’m grinning like a cheshire cat now, ready for my picture…

Goshdarnit Batgirl! You are officially fired as a photographer! Next race, you are simply going to have to run with us again. It’s more fun that way and we missed you. Everyone inside my head concurs!   There was no one to count as I made my way up that incline. 🙂 Nice pictures of Kuya though!

Well, the other pictures and the much better race recaps are all there——>at that blogroll. I saw most of manila’s running bloggers in that race.   I’m sure they’ve managed to piece together a more coherent story. As far as I’m concerned that run, dragon and all, was simply pure, consistent, expected bliss!

  1. Batgirl says:

    opps … i was watching the clock and wondering what was taking you so long!!! okay so here’s plan B, we need a photog friend who can wake up early or maybe we just dont let J sleep. we will get that photo!

    Haha! good plan! 🙂 I guess we can work that in next year since KOTR is officially my last road race for 2008 in Manila.

  2. DATC says:

    I kept telling B that you were ahead of me and you surely had finished already but she kept her stakeout by the finish line.

    Great finish time, congratulations! You are surely reaping the benefits of all your training now.

    Coach B knows all our running paces easy/LR/tempo/INT by heart. I think I may be partly to blame for running off pace. 🙂 Running long distances definitely makes for a more interesting morning.

  3. prometheuscometh says:

    Congratulations on a great run! You certainly slayed the dragon, ground it up, ate, spit it out, and stepped all over it!

    Yeah, it was fun running that route. 🙂 I’m done with dragon slaying for the year. Time to put my feet up in a beach somewhere… and do some marathon dreaming. Thanks Prom!

  4. Gene says:

    Wuhoo! sing lupet ng pinakamalupit. 2 hours and 4 mins, man you’re cruel! Saw you and DATC at Buendia, was gonna jump, shout and wave kaya lang mukhang malalim ata iniisip mo at the time 🙂

    Haha! So where were you after? I was scanning the crowd looking for a man walking around without shoes at the finish line and didn’t see any… 🙂 My friend H said I was like a horse with blinders (I hope that’s what he meant coz he actually just said, mukha kang kabayo!) So anyway, next time you see me, batukan mo ako or just wave. I’m very bad with recognizing faces. I’m very bad with recognizing anything actually. Mostly because I tend to be distracted by my “deep” thoughts. Hehe.

  5. Congratulations for finally conquering the formidable buendia flyover. Great time too!

    You’re not joining the MILO Finals?

    Hope to see you next time . . . if you’re not running any more race this year, then see you in 2009!

    Nora, the golden girl

    Thanks a lot, Nora! Nice of you to come visit! 🙂 I hope see you in one of manila’s road races soon too. My next official race will be the rock n’ roll half in San Antonio, TX and then after that we are off to Singapore for our first marathon…It’s that crazy busy travel season for me again but i’m hoping I get to to work in a few more fun runs into my weekends.

  6. sfrunner says:

    Congratulations on a great run! My apologies for the late reply. That was an awesome photo. Was that the flyover I’ve been hearing about? Please take care and have a good weekend! I’ll see you soon!

    Hello Wayne! And thank you! I believe the week you come into Manila will be the week I fly out to the US…which is a shame because it would have been great to get the chance to meet you and share the road with you. Anyway, here’s wishing you a wonderful vacation! 🙂

    And yes, that picture is the Buendia flyover!

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