It has been more than two years since I last joined a fun run. More than two years when I almost got into the top ten finisher of the last running event that I joined. To be exact, two years and six months have passed since my first running experience. I have been inactive with running for these times due to time constraints with my ROTC class during Sundays, where most of the running events are scheduled.
Come February 2000, the famous Flower Festival or Panagbenga Festival in Baguio is attracting numerous visitors from all over the country. The Flower Festival Foundation Inc. has announced a running event as part of the City's Panagbenga celebration. My blood and my hormone spiked upon hearing it, I can join once again since ROTC class is now over.
On the registration office, I asked for a registration for the 5 kilometer distance, but they told me that there will be no 5 kilometer race, so I opted for the 10 kilometer. But then again, 10 kilometer is not also on the running distance list, only 21 kilometer is available. I know how I perform, and I know that I would not be able to run the 21 kilometer so I just head out going home with regret that I still cannot join a half-marathon after more than two years.
On the day of the event, I still went to the venue to check the runners who participated. I still brought with me my should-be attire if I was able to register. There are still a lot of them. Most of them are, as we all know, slim bodied, some have bigger leg muscles, some have longer legs, and etc. There are even more and much older people who joined who are already in their 45-55 of age range. It amazed me so much!
I was then sitting at the edge of Melvin Jones grandstand when a tall man with the same age as me asked me if the registration for the race is still available. I accompanied him to the registration area, and told him that I am also interested to join, but so afraid that my body might give-up due to the very long distance course of the event. The guy have the same concern as me but he still registered, and at the same time, he insisted and forced me to register and join too since it is just a once in a lifetime event that I might try such running distance. Since I also have my running clothes, I opted to register too while the guy was already warming up himself.
There's still 15 minutes left before the race began, I immediately stretched my whole body, kicking in the air, swinging my legs back and front, side-to-side until I felt that my blood has already warmed up. I had my eye on look out to the tall guy who forced me to join. I made him as my target competitor for this race. As the race begins, learning from my past experiences, I just ran in a low pace, jogging as if I was just on a park. I saw the tall guy ran past beyond me and lo, his steps are lengthful compared to my steps. I told to myself that later on I would be able to overtake him.
The route was from Burnham park to Loakan Rd., and past for a few more kilometers from the last gate of Camp John Hay, we turned left to a road that I don't know. The road and the place was no longer familiar to me, luckily there are still a lot of trees and the air is still so fresh. I haven't kept track anymore of the time and the distance because of the unfamiliarity of the place. But still, I can cope up with a lot of runners, overtook a group of PMA'ers who also joined the event. A few more minutes, and distance is still unknown, we turned a sharp right with an almost +60 degrees road incline. That road lead us to Wright Park where we still went straight up going to the Mansion House, and up to Mine's View. Now I've had the idea of the last remaining road routes, and I know I can already finish the race because it is already much nearer. Upon reaching Gibraltar road, my stomach is already full with water, but my mouth is still dry. I grabbed two cups of water, drank half of the other cup, while I poured the water of the other cup on my head. It was a refreshing feeling having a cold water pouring down to my body.
But then, that cold water which I poured was not a refreshment after all. I was already a few meters away from the Good Shepherd Convent when I suddenly felt little cramps on my quads. I stretched it hoping that it will be okay. It relaxed my muscles for a few more steps, but then my whole, left leg cramped this time. I'm now running with the full force of stride only on the right leg. It hurt so much when I force my left leg to step. I kept on fighting and telling myself that I can do it. I'm already commanding both of my legs literally, to give me more steps until I reach the finish line. Now I'm already near the rotunda of the Wright Park when I saw an ambulance parking beside the public elementary school (I forgot the name). I walked easily so the people on the ambulance would not notice that I'm already having a hard time running. But it can't be helped, I'm still dragging my left leg because it would hurt whenever I force it to step normally as it should. Then one of the medic asked me if I need a help. I immediately tell them yes upon seeing the ambulance's chairs (whew!).
While I was sitting on the ambulance, the cramps have already subsided, but the medic no longer allowed me to rejoin the runners since I have already sat and rested. Until the last runner came over our location, the ambulance already moved slowly following the last runner -- an old man in his late 50's or early 60's.
On the finish line, I wasn't able to get my Finisher's T-shirt because of what happened. My only souvenir was the Certificate of Appreciation sponsored and printed by Informatics Computer Institute Baguio. Then I saw the tall guy, he was so happy that he finished the course, and have his Baguio Flower Festival 21K T-shirt for his souvenir.
Personal Race Profile:
Distance: 21 km.
Personal Time: 1:48:00
Rank: loser (last and was immobilized)
When: February 27, 2000.
Where: Burnham Park, Baguio City
Event: 1st Flower Festival Marathon