H is for Hills…and Higad

Friday, 20 August 2010  |  Bullish Insights

Yesterday, my NYC Training Program required hill training of 11km. I wanted to run outdoors, but for the first time, I was apprehensive and anxious about it. The mere thought caused sweat to drip down my forehead even before I started to run.

You see, during my last run, I spotted three higads in different locations leisurely hanging from the Acacia trees lining the road. Twice I leapt to the side avoiding a nasty and not to mention itchy rash that would’ve been caused by those hairy creatures.

I also got a text from a friend, Michelline, who runs regularly on the same course. She has rashes all over her body, even inside her shirt, from those awful higads. Rumor is their coach, Patrick, now carries Caladryl in his bag as most of his students have higad rashes.

I may be The Bull Runner but urban higad legends like that scare the hell out of me. So, as I neared the intersection where I was to choose: road or treadmill at the gym, I questioned my driver hoping for some kind of reassurance:

Me: “Manong, madami kayang higad ngayon?”
Manong: “Meron maam. Pero, mahuhulog lang sila kapag nahanginan. Kung walang hangin, walang problema.”

I took a quick glance out the window and observed the stillness of the trees. I took a deep breath and pointed ahead.

Me: “Deretso tayo, Manong. Tatakbo ako sa kalsada.”

So help me God.

I ran on the road like a poor animal being hunted by a predator (only the predator in my case was much smaller than I was). All my senses were in full alert. My eyes were focused straight ahead, as it should be, mainly to watch out for higad. I ran as fast as I could hoping to finish 11km at the shortest possible time to minimize the risk of catching the rash.

Half the time the battle was all in the mind. I cannot count how many times I flicked off something away from my neck thinking it was a caterpillar only to realize it was the tail-end of my braid. I scratched my left arm, my right leg, my left leg, and my ears so many times that I wonder how I was even able to run. It didn’t help that it suddenly got windy. Manongs words kept on playing over and over in my head.

I covered 11k of challenging hills with a pace of 5:43 min/km. That’s close to race pace for me. Who would’ve known the higads could’ve helped me run that fast on a training run?! I was happy. But, what made me even more ecstatic after the run was the absence of any itching whatsoever. I survived! Take that, higads!