Close to 200 participants showed up for the DND-AFP Gintong Pangarap Invitational Marathon at the Bonifacio Naval Grandstand yesterday morning. This was relatively a small race with majority of registrants coming from the military, but the level of excitement and trepidation among the teams of runners was palpable; it was akin to that of a major race. Perhaps one could say it was even a little bit more festive with a band belching out favorite tunes to ease the tension building up among runners.
– The Marching Band. They also had another band onstage. This was one festive and lively race. Or was I just charged up with excitement? –
Certainly, this was not your typical small running event. It was a team relay race with each of the 3 members in one team—2 male and 1 female—covering 7 kms from Navy Village to the turnaround point inside Libingan ng mga Bayani to complete the total 21km course. Each runner wore his bib number ending in A, B, or C to identify him/her as the first, second, or third in his team.
Our team, Team Injured Fast Runners—composed of Happy Feet members Ben, Joms, and myself—was among the 94 teams that signed up for this event. Each of us wore battle scars due to obsessive running: Ben is recovering from shin splints, Joms from knee problems, and me…aahh do I have to tell you again? But, the three of us believed we could still outrun the civilian (read: not military) competition and yes, oh yes, we had a pretty good chance of winning.
– Team Injured Fast Runners supports the fight against AIDS. Thanks to our sponsor Doc Oknoy! –
Assembly time started at 5 a.m. with the race starting at 6 a.m. Joms was our A runner, followed by me, while Ben would carry the heavy burden of being the last runner who would have to run as fast as light to bring our team to possible victory.
When I arrived, Joms was already in the starting line along with all the other A runners. Before I could even bid my team mate “Godspeed!”(literally), he was off. Together with the other B & C runners, Ben, Jo-Ar, his running coach, and I waited in anticipation for the A runners to come back, especially Joms of course!
We waited…and waited…and waited. I thought a relay could be pretty slow since there was a lot of waiting to be done before you could actually participate in the race. Then, things changed…
The first A runner was spotted from afar returning from his 7k journey. Wild cheering from the crowd filled the air! Everyone was charged up and raring to run! More and more A runners started coming back and the scene was an organized chaos where A runners would swiftly turnover the rope necklace to the B runners without a second to waste. Everything was going by so fast, one could hardly have time to breathe.
– Relay team mates making the quick switch –
As for me, I morphed into a bundle of nerves. As I waited behind the starting line along with the other B runners, I felt worry, pressure, and anxiety creeping into my psyche. But, this was certainly overpowered by the thrill and excitement I was getting from this fast-paced race.
Suddenly, I could see Joms running downhill towards the finish line. Ack, it was my turn! I looked towards my right and saw Ben and Jo-Ar cheering with excitement. Oh yeah, I couldn’t wait to run!
I grabbed the rope from Joms, put it around my neck, and headed out towards the start of my 7km run. At that point, all pacing and negative split ideas were erased from my memory. The adrenaline rush must’ve gotten the better of me. In a couple of minutes, I checked my Garmin to discover I was running at my fastest pace ever: 3:46 min/km. Crazy!
After climbing uphill out of Navy Village, I slowed my pace to a 4:45 to 5 and maintained it at that level until the 3km mark. By the time I reached the Libingan ng Bayani turnaround point, I was exhausted. Normally, I would have slacked off a bit and ease up on the pace since I only have myself to answer to. But, I couldn’t just slow down at this point. I owed it to my team mates to give it my best shot.
So, tired and weary, I pushed myself further. It certainly didn’t help that the way back was mostly uphill climbs, but once I passed that, the last 2km were a lot more manageable. It also helped that Joms and Jo-Ar ran alongside me for support. As I neared the finish line, I spotted Ben and quickly handed him the 2 ropes with barely any time to wish him luck.
I ended my 7k run at 35.28 mins. I was a little bit disappointed with my time, but Joms was quick to remind me that everyone’s time had slowed due to the rolling hills.
After some waiting, Ben came in to complete our relay race. He suffered stomach cramps as early as 5k into the course but forced himself to run despite the pain. Ouch!
– Ben in pain as he nears the finish line –
The final results? Team Injured Fast Runners won 3rd place in the civilian category!!! We were the 23rd team among 94 teams. Go, Team Injured Fast Runners! Hopefully next year we can scrap “injured” from our name already!
– Posing with Jujet de Asis (he and his team mates were the champions for Army category) and other runners –
– Happy Feet pose. If only Joms didn’t wear his Mommy Milkshake shirt! –