a habit of kissing frogs…

Posted: March 12, 2010 in running

And sticking to promises made…

I wasn’t tempting fate this time. I was merely going along with the plans. I was, in a manner or speaking, kissing my frog.

The thing about the HK marathon was that I never meant for it to be my marathon. It wasn’t even on my list of must-do marathons. Mighty M had run it a couple of times and her stories were always so-so and ho-hum about it.  A few guys I knew were running this as their first marathon though so I decided to tag along. I signed up for it months and months ago because the schedule of the marathon worked with my plan. It was exactly three weeks before the Los Angeles Marathon. I thought I had it all figured out.

But life always has a sneaky way of getting your attention…

Every time I head out towards a special marathon run in my calendar, I try to schedule another marathon race about 2-3 weeks ahead of it.  I treat the first marathon as a training run. The next one I treat as serious fun.  The LA marathon on the 21st of March was marked as the 1st serious fun marathon in my calendar. Hong Kong marathon was supposed to be the peak of my training runs for LA. I am off schedule now. The injury I got in Corregidor… where I managed a fantastic trip and roll stunt to the bottom of the hill and sprained my ankle and fractured my little toe kept me off training much longer than planned. Compound that with the work trips to Europe in the middle of winter and you end up with a lot of lost training days…  It made running the Hong Kong marathon a far bigger challenge than I initially thought it would be.

Fate had handed me a frog. Now what was I supposed to do with it?

Why, kiss it, of course!  And hope it turns into a prince… It’s either that or into a royal pain in the a**! And since we are talking marathons here then I guess it’s only fair to expect a combination of both…

I can’t help it. I’m the girl who grew up on an extra serving of Disney and fairy tales.  A happy childhood like that certainly ruins you! You begin to see interesting possibilities… even with frogs! But in this case, the Hong Kong Marathon, my frog of a marathon, sure did not disappoint.

I knew going into Hong Kong that I had, at best, half-baked marathon legs. But no complaints here! It was a fantastic route and I relished every kilometer of that marathon road even the annoyingly painful ones.

Three bridges, two long tunnels (one cuts through a mountain, the other goes under the bay) and all this linked by a highway that at certain portions is slightly tipped sideways…

It’s a new route, a friend tells me. Not that it matters much as I don’t even know what the old route is like. I pore through the map. I try to make sense of the elevation chart in the runner’s guide. Whatever it’s supposed to tell me, I get absolutely nothing.

Time to shift to plan B.

My cousin arrives with her husband. After a delicious and satisfying lunch in one of the restaurants in Harbour City, I show them the map.  By this time we are standing at the promenade near the Ocean Ferry Terminal in Kowloon. Directly in front of us is Hong Kong Island. He points to a black structure in the far distance.  There, he says, is where the tunnel ends.  Then he points all the way to the left. And there, over there, do you see the cluster of trees? That would be where Victoria Park is.

Well… We’ve got the last six kilometers covered. It looks pretty flat…(surprise! surprise! this was actually the hard part with the tough inclines!) Where’s the rest?

I show him the three bridges and the highway on the map.

That heads out towards the Airport, he replies.  And that one, and he says this as his hand traces out the outline of the Stonecutter’s Bridge, I’ve lived here for 20 years. I’ve never driven past that bridge, ever. I didn’t even realize it was there…

So much for my recon mission…

I am the worst person to ask to review a race. Half the time I am not even in it. Or rather, my head isn’t fully in it. I am somewhere else altogether believing in a magic that makes young girls kiss ugly frogs. It’s a belief borne out of an obstinate will (to my mother’s consternation) and a desire to simply keep moving forward. It’s what keeps me on that road laughing and running even through the inevitable pain.

There are only two real truths I can tell you about a run. Whether I liked it or I didn’t.  If I liked it then that means I ran it well whatever difficulty, confusion or chaos ensued in the process. And if I didn’t like it? Well, all you have to do is find the paramedic with the black eye and then ask him why…

I know this much about running marathons. The races I run with heart are the only ones I remember. And hence, Subic International Marathon is still on top of my list of most memorable runs. It was a debacle of a marathon by all accounts. It was also my slowest and most painful marathon to date. But more than any other race that marathon taught me enough about myself so that I came out of it a feeling a lot tougher inside and out.  No other race comes close. Not San Francisco where I posted my fastest sub 4-hour marathon time or the 70.3 ironman in Cam Sur where I bested my demon on the bike.

Like I said, it’s a habit of kissing frogs…

This is how I always run my marathons. I run them first and foremost in my head. That’s why I run two within weeks of each other. The first one is really all about wrapping my head around the distance. It’s a method that will not work for everyone. But it works best for me. That’s why at times I barely even register what is really happening outside… Except that with every step I know that I am getting closer and closer to the finish line.

Mist and fog (and smog) swirl in the air. It’s an interesting view as we approach the first of three bridges in the route. Container vessels are stacked up in neat rows at the port below. Cranes and huge industrial machines are reaching up to the sky with their giant robotic arms.  I do not have the luxury of marveling at the view but I try to take in as much as I can.  I look out towards the sea, I look up towards the cloud-covered sky, I look at the faces of the other runners around me and I fix my eye on the road ahead trying to figure out how best to ride the inclines and dips up ahead.

I check on my ankle from time to time. Every time there is a dip I try it out. It’s behaving beautifully. Well, it’s a bit painful but I was expecting that.

And all this time I’m pushing up, up and up that incline.

It’s a long way to go to the finish line. I have all this road ahead of me. Two more bridges are waiting, two more tunnels and a few steep flyovers thrown into the mix… It’s going to be an interesting ride.

And what’s the plan? Grin, run it, bear it and embrace the horizon… in other words, play the game and simply keep going!

For good or bad or eternal ruin, I am programmed to believe in happy endings and happy ever after… And I have yet to be proven wrong.

Hong Kong Marathon: February 28, 2010 4:20:00 Done! Next, please!

  1. you are much talented ha. injured kapa nyan no. bq.

    Hay naku coach, eh kaya nga na-injure dahil matigas ang ulo. Haha! Basta BQ not DQ.

  2. sheerwill says:

    I like this line:

    “I know this much about running marathons. The races I run with heart are the only ones I remember.”

    🙂 Haha! i guess i like it rin… strawberry ice cream trumps it any day tho!

  3. SCR says:

    You win! I really did not think you could get that in there! On me, next time. 🙂

    LOL! O ye of little faith!

  4. lonerunner says:

    someone said, if life gives you frogs make crispy frog legs. heheheh

    nice post. keep writing. 🙂

    Haha! Yummy good point! I’ll keep that in mind! 🙂

  5. Ray Abenojar says:

    Hi Mesh!
    Do the frogs kiss back? 😉
    You know where to go if you want FROGs legs, right?
    See you on the road!

    Haha! Hey Ray! I guess the fun ones do eventually…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s