Posted: January 19, 2009 in running, runs 2009
Tags: , ,

45 minutes. That’s the finish time I set for my friends at the 10K PSE Bull run. I didn’t tell them, of course. I didn’t want the pressure to get to them.

By 6:20, I was walking to the finish line. The supposed finish line as I had it all figured out in my head. As I grabbed my camera from my car I caught myself humming a light, playful melody. I felt lighthearted. I was resigned to my no-run fate that morning.

10 minutes later I was staring at an empty lot. Oh dear Smiley! Where in Wanda’s universe is the finish line?

Now, I had taken great pains to sabotage my running aspirations in this race. Whenever my wants and my needs differ, I find that the best way to resolve it is to employ sabotage in the service of the greater good. In this case, the greater good was my needs over my wants!  I had to do my darndest to stop myself from running in this race. I knew I shouldn’t run it. I also knew that should I find the smallest of openings, I would sneak right in and do it anyway! My right leg could really use another week off from the pounding strain of the road. I’m back running but I’ m sticking to kinder surfaces like treadmills, tracks and grass for now.

Sabotage! That was the only way. I wasn’t going to sabotage the race. But I was set on sabotaging me. No subtlety required. I simply set about employing very intentional and deliberate acts of obstructions so I could not and would not run in this race.  I ignored Mukhang Guilty’s kind offer to register for us. I agreed to a Saturday night out with a friend. I slept late the night before and even set the alarm to ring after the race had started. And on the morning of the race, on my way to the finish line so I could cheer for my friends, I put on the flattest sandals I could find! And I wore very heavy jeans.

Finding myself in an empty lot messed up my cheerleader/paparazzi timetable big-time!  Didn’t they say NBC tent?!!

“Listen and let your ears guide you!” I hear my Sensei whisper in my ears. I start scanning the horizon. I still don’t see it but I hear it. The strange melody in my head has now been replaced by a more discordant, sibilant sound.  I let it guide me.

I’m late. It’s more than 40 minutes since the race started.  I want to run but I can’t. I know how to run in heels; sometimes I even dare run in stilettos!  But I simply can’t run wearing very flat leather thong sandals.  As sabotage ambitions go, this one is clearly exceeding my expectations.

I spy a field dotted with white tents. I see a girl being thrown high up into the air and doing a flip.  A buffoon on the stage was delivering a nasty spiel about ambulances and death-defying acts and anesthesia! He was nowhere near amusing but he was loud.  As I get closer, I see a box of freshly baked-bread on one side and colored confetti atop some tables.  Before I can seriously start worrying that I had found myself in a carnival instead of a race, I see Baldrunner. He’s finished the run, of course! This, more than anything else, confirms my suspicions that the man drinks jet-fuel for his pre-run breakfast! He is simply getting faster and faster. Uh-oh! Mukhang Guilty and RunMD will very likely be at the finish line already. Chuchay too!!! And where the nelson is that finish line, anyway?

Finally, the finish line! Or what passes for it.  RunMd, who set a PR in this race, is standing like a race marshal at one end. “What is that?” I ask as I point to a queue now snaking all the way down the street. “That,” says RunMD very sagely,” is THE FINISH LINE!”

Well, I shelve all my paparazzi plans as soon as I see that chimera of a finish line. Silly, I don’t mind being. But cheering for people as they join a line to the finish line feels kind of weird. It’s also anti-climactic!  I know my friends. They only willingly join lines when tasty food is promised at the other end. They would more likely be pissed than cheerful in this line. Who would want moments like that frozen in digital memory?

I did take a picture of Nora, the Golden Girl, because she had an amazing smile on and I liked that. It made my morning. She is waving in the picture. Not at me, of course. We’ve never met. I was just lucky to be standing close to a person she knew. There! I did get to be paparazzi, after all.

I move away from the mass at the finish line and start to look for the rest of T2 and my running friends. Chaos at the finish line notwithstanding, I know that they all had good fun running in that race. Having given my ears a good warm-up on my way to the finish line, it was now very happily eavesdropping on everyone else’s conversations and running stories.

Daydreaming mode on, I sit on the curb and pictured myself on that road running that 15K next Sunday. I tap lightly on the cemented road with my right foot and make my peace with it. It won’t be an easy run but it will be a good run.

I love running. I am a runner. It’s not something that’s bound to change anytime soon.

If there is one thing I took away from the experience of watching from the sidelines of what seemed like a mess of an event, if there is one thing I learned after watching all those people still leave with big smiles on their faces in spite of a queue at the finish line, it is this:

A good run is never simply defined by finish times. When we find ourselves on that road, we find ourselves in our playground. The minute we push off from that start line and head out towards the beckoning horizon we know that we are headed for an epic journey compressed in one-hour increments. Bit by bit, we push ourselves towards given limits and, whenever we can, we try to go beyond them.

We are runners. We run but we are not defined by our speed. We race but we are not defined by our finish times. We are runners and we are defined by our passion.

I am done playing saboteur.

  1. ricov says:

    Hey Mesh, I like this one. I’m bookmarking it now as one of my favorites………I thought I would see ironshoes, naka-leather sandals ka pala 🙂

    Hey Rico! Actually no iron shoes was a really good thing because that really rude and annoying heckler of a host on the stage wasn’t wearing a helmet either… And I was wishing a rain of iron stuff on his head! 😉

  2. Dean Hebert says:

    MyIronShoes…. the Saboteur.
    You’re right on with your description of a “good run.”

    Haha! Saboteur no more! Well, maybe once in a while. It’s really hard to unlearn old tricks. Especially if they work really well! 🙂

  3. moljcy says:

    great writing! =)

    Hi Lester! Thanks! 😉 Now if I can only write this vacationing ass out of this chair and out on the road…

  4. Ray Abenojar says:

    Hi Mesh!

    I could hear “Titles” by Vangelis playing inside my head while reading the last paragraphs

    Ray- Chariots of Fire?! 🙂 Hmmm someone’s showing his age! Hehe! See you at the happy run with your glowing pink bib! I’m sure you are just loving the thought of the hills.

  5. DATC says:

    You should write a run-spirational book soon!

    Hey Dindo! 🙂 In my book your sub 55 10K defines inspirational. Hehe! Must be something in Clark’s air. So when are we visiting your playground?

  6. Mesh, I’m the lucky one. You’re heaven sent. How could I ever thank you? I was waving to Jenny, my official photographer friend. Unfortunately, none of the pictures she took showed me in my running action. She’s no expert like you.

    When you have time, kindly send your paparazzi shot in my e-mail:

    Thank you, Mesh–from the bottom of my heart. Good luck in your 15k run this Sunday. Have fun!

    Your writing style is so unique, very modern and mind-boggling to oldies like me. But one can really feel the truthfulness beyond the words. Hope to see you this Sunday. Do call out my name when you see me OK?

    Take care.

    Hello Nora!
    Unfortunately, I am no expert either. By the time I caught sight of you, you were already in the queue to the finish line! Everyone else in-front and behind you looked glum. Ang init na eh! I took your picture because you still looked so cool and collected and happy in that line You were waving and saying hello to friends. For me, you were that morning’s rockstar! Hehe! (And I also liked your knitted cap!) 🙂

    Anyway, next time I am on paparazzi duties, I promise to take a picture of you in action. And yes, I’ll say hello. Although I do tend to get lost in my own world most of the time… 🙂

  7. I was happy Mesh because I just finished my first 10K race at 1:10. And I finished it with runner friends around me. For me, meeting runner friends is the highlight of any race, not my finish time. If I finish the race without any injury, I feel I’m a winner already!

    Thanks for taking my picture. Also for the kind words. I’d love to see you soon, Mesh!

    Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads– Henry David Thoreau
    Congratulations on your first 10K! Wow! I’m sure it’s just the beginning of this year’s great running adventure for you! 🙂

  8. kingofpots says:

    mesh, it was the “shoes” that made me faster this time! hehehe! see you this sunday’s 15k run.

    BR, Yahoo! I have the same shoes! Hahaha! But then again, if it was that easy it wouldn’t be fun, would it? I’ll see you at the run. 🙂

  9. runmd says:

    Judging by the way you punished me last Monday with a 5:17 “chika” pace for my supposed post race recovery run, I know you are ready to hit the road for some kick-ass running — and with new NB shoes to boot (pun intended)!

    Umm, why would you want to recover so fast from such a great run anyway? You’ve been chasing that sub 50 PR for a year! Dean Karnazes says there is joy in misery.. I say stretch out that misery a bit longer so every time your muscles start twitching you remember your joy! Hehe! And besides, we needed to show those new NB rides who was boss! 😉

  10. lonerunner says:

    WOW! Great writing, as always… full of emotions.

    Thanks! 🙂 Were you at the very well organized and happy run?

  11. lonerunner says:

    Sa PSE bull run nakita ko si Bards for about 200-300 meters we wer steps away… heheheh

    Happy run: i went to ROX last friday sabe wla raw number.. I even approached Coach Rio but wla talaga number e.. Di ako nakasali e. 😦

    Sayang! The happy run was a well organized event… and fun! Akala ko nga kukunin na ako sa sementeryo. i started hearing violins. Meron naman pala talaga…;-)

  12. lonerunner says:

    HAHAHA… Sosyal pla ang happy run… buti wla black tie na required. 🙂

    haha! Yeah. But Tiffin came with her tiara (and her prince) so that made for a more interesting affair all around. 🙂

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