On The Heels of a Dream is a weekly column by guest writer Obbie Suguitan who is currently training for his first marathon, The Bull Runner Dream Marathon, on February 16, 2014.
All through the long weekend training runs of the past 9 weeks, I’ve always finished in the last three – if not the absolute last. I attribute it to the sedentary lifestyle I had for over a decade prior to training, an extraordinarily bad diet, age, effects of smoking for more than a decade from 11 years ago, and the obesity that resulted from all these. My bad knees and poor endurance had me starting from a disadvantage instead of just from scratch. Fortunately, my friends could be relied upon to push me to do something I needed but not necessarily liked – train for a marathon.
Now, after a little bit over two months of faithful training and diet modification, I’ve worked my endurance up a tad and have logged on quite a bit of mileage. By my rough mathematical estimate, I’ve run approximately 150 kilometers in total. Knowing myself as I do, this is an astounding number. Even as I am constantly impressed by my batchmates, this figure is amazing for me. It begs, however, for me to take the next logical step. To participate in an official run.
So two Sundays ago, November 24, I ran in my first ever official organized run – the Sante Barley Domination Run 2013. On my running buddy Joanne’s urging – against my own instinct of self-preservation – I joined the 10K group instead. I didn’t go through the prescribed 3K or 5K so this was completely alien to me.
So I got to the location of the run at just the right time and was busy observing the proceedings and generally being tense. My wife and youngest son were with me but I was in a bit of a haze because it was a bit intimidating. I just kept repeating in my mind: run your own race – run your own race – relax the toes – relax the toes-relax the toes…
After the countdown spiel of someone who referred to himself as the ‘running host’ and the 10K group bunching together near the starting line, I just heard 5-4-3-2-1-Go! Then everyone was off. As the group stretched forward, I eventually had enough space to start my interval timer and begin a jog. Thank you very much to training, my body went into somewhat of an autopilot mode. The arms started swinging, the legs and feet went into the familiar motion that was trained in for the past two months – thankfully. The best counteraction to jitters is autopilot mode – stress cannot override training!
Around 3 minutes into the run, I warmed up, got into a rhythm (slow but a rhythm nonetheless), and was starting to enjoy and get my bearing. As the distance was eaten up, with a guilty smile on my face, I started to see that some runners were slowing down and that I was passing some of them. Hmmm…was it possible? It was. It is. So through the darkness I trudged on – being passed by some runners and passing some.
It was more of the same for the next 40 minutes of me doing my prescribed run-walk-run, with a few bouts of calf tightening (or so I thought). So far I didn’t feel the need to stop nor take unscheduled walk breaks. Good. But I was tiring. Even with the training, this was mighty hard. However, nearing what looked like the toll plaza of the highway, I saw the U-turn marker! People were having their photos taken at the marker while I was just running my race without even a smile. Don’t get me wrong. I was having fun but not the ‘Ha-ha’ kind but the ‘I ‘m- doing-this-so-I-can-join-the-1%-marathon-finishers-by-Feb’ kind. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have fun doing something only a few are capable of.
So, after running back the way I came, I passed a lot of runners in my distance group who were still working their way to the U-turn. Behind me! The sun had come up and the finish line archway was growing in size as I approached. Several meters before the actual finish line my wife and son were with me taking photos. Then, almost anti-climactically, I crossed the line and had a medal put upon my neck.
Finished. I didn’t dramatically run slo-mo across the tape, didn’t hear Chariots of Fire theme music, no close-up shots of sweat beads flying from my brow. Nothing. My wife was there. My son was there. I finished and had a medal. That was really enough – and the fact that this time I wasn’t even close to being last. Not that I’d mind anyway.
Unceremoniously, I cast a glance around for any familiar faces, but not having seen any, just walked on back to the car. To be completely honest about it, finishing that 10K was both a confidence builder AND somewhat of a rude awakening-cum-reality bite. At this point, thinking about myself doing four times the distance of what I ran this time is quite a long way off. Between now and then however, there remains two months more of training. I will continue the training, stand with my batchmates, pray, keep on doing what I have been, and have fun doing it. Hard work – yes. Needs commitment – yes. Impossible – no. 10K in the bag.
Photos courtesy of Photo-Ops