As soon as I received an SMS from a friend that the race route was out, I was not surprised. I’ve run the same course more than a couple of times before. The only difference was that the race will be held at nighttime. Part of the route was inside the Heritage Park, a cemetery. I’ve imagined runners doing their best run ever in this part of the route.
However, later that night, I received another SMS from a fellow runner who will be running her 15k distance and I felt her fear. To appease her, I sent her a text telling her not to worry for I’ll pace with her during her last three-kilometer run. And to myself I said, “You really need to finish fast and do what you’ve told her.”
What was your goal in this race fellow urbanite runner? Me? I just wanted to conquer the hills, finish the race probably beat my previous 15k times, and pace with Marga of takbo.ph. That was it.
From the start, it was already an amazing night for me. Ruth and Master Mon offered to pick me up. When I reached the venue, I’ve noticed familiar faces—be they acquaintances, friends, fellow runners, new recruits in the running world, friends from NGOs and la la la.
I had a nice time with the seemingly endless photo shoots with takbo.ph runners not discounting the fact that a number of us wore the knee high socks.
After reaching the finish line, I passed by takbo.ph booth and told some of them that I would be running back to pace with Marga as promised. I was so glad that Gab a.k.a. Dirty Sanchez told me that he was coming with me. Together we ran back, scanned the faces of runners who we passed along until we reached McKinley. I told Gab this is the point Marga and me agreed to meet. But as the minutes ticked by no Marga yet. We both decided to run downhill. It was only nearing at the last water station past McDonald’s that we saw the familiar gaits of our running buddies. Marga was too tired.
I didn’t know what came over me, I just started to sing any song that came on my mind just to encourage her to run and reach the finish line. While slowly pacing with Marga, I recalled during the Globe Run for Home, Sir Roger, my pacer, hummed to relax me so that I wouldn’t be pressured with time.
Coming out from my reverie, I did the same thing. The first song that I’ve sung was “Kung kaya mong isipin, kaya mong gawin. Isa-isang hakbang lang ay makakarating…” Until one song was followed by another. To keep the beat going, I had to clap and chanted some rhyming cheers. I enjoyed seeing takbo.ph pacers running a bit faster as we hummed together the Hawaii Five-O movie theme song. It was the first time I’ve sung while racing.
Marga sprinted the last few meters and finished her first 15k.
Why I was so happy in this race? It was not only reaching the finish line but realizing nothing beats the gift of friendship, support, and encouragement one gets from fellow runners. To the guys who paced with Marga … you guys rule! You know who you are.
As for me, I thank God for the opportunity to pace with a fellow runner during her most difficult quest for self mastery.
That night, I ran a total of 21km and finished the race beating my previous same route 15k PR even under different running condition.
Back to Reality
You can’t ignore this guy. He’s quite popular. He’s the poster you always see wherever you are in Metro Manila. I even promoted the poster on my blog. You have seen him on TV and he did well during the Amazing Race Asia edition. Guess what? Just one of the lucky runners to have a rare photo op with him.
(Photos Courtesy of Pio, Edu, Rodel, and Photovendo)