There are chances on my running days when either I don't feel at my best or I don't feel like running at all. When I hit those days, it's also either I don't attend the race at all adding another bib on my DNR (did not race) collections, or I don't finish with a good record to beat.
Though last March 13, 2011, the case has been reversed from what usually happens when I'm on my "not-so-good-running-day".
I was supposed to join only a 1K fun walk together with the Nuns, Women, Children, and other non-runner participants.
So the story began as the gun-start was fired. Due to lack of trainings and lack of sleep, I was just leisurely jogging and planned to do it for the rest of the route. When after just a few meters away from the starting line, another runner ahead of me stopped and glanced at me with some kind of question or disbelief from his face while looking at me. I thought he was looking at somebody else but I got confused when he suddenly said: "Tara banatan natin 'to, walang malalakas eh!". I looked at my back to see if he was talking to someone else but I was dumb-founded while my mind was having a speedy recall of his face if we have ever crossed at any point from Takbo.ph, aNR, or at other races. But I was sure I didn't know who the guy was. Then he insisted again for me to speed up but I resisted since I have barely slept the night before and even all the previous nights of the previous weeks. I really wasn't in good condition to give an all-out performance.
While he can't convince me yet, he then asked if he can just run my bib number (he doesn't have his own race bib) so we could still get to grab a top finish, but I still refused. I thought he'd get irritated that I didn't give-in to any of his summoning and he'll leave me alone, but he wasn't. His last resort of convincing was when he told me: "Tara, pace ka na lang sa akin, kaya pa natin silang habulin."
His statement sounded like a challenge to me that I immediately agreed and forgot for a moment that I was running zombie-mode. So right when we were about to climb the hills of McKinley, he ran his pace, a real fast pace for me but it looks like he was only relaxingly striding on that uphill road. I forced myself to follow suit his running form and inhaled great amount of oxygen and gushed out the same.
This was the first time that I sprinted the McKinley hills, and upon reaching the U-turn at the top, I was still running fast downwards, trying to chase this unexpected pacer. But oh how great was the feel of passing a lot of other runners! The wind slicing through me as I overtake each of them and feeling the experience of running like an elite (lol)!
A few meters away from the hydration station, I felt that my mouth and esophagus were already dry due to the consistent blowing of oxygen. It felt like my jaw would stuck-up! When I was already about to grab the cup of water, this guy, this pacer, this rat runner who just showed up and forced me to pump my leg muscles, heart, and lungs out, upon seeing that the other speeding runners are already behind me, yelled at me: "huwag ka nang uminom, nanjan na sila, tara na!". How cruel I thought, but like a mob who's about to get caught by the mass number of angry people and Police officers, I was automatically pushed to run like crazy! The thought of it while running made me smile inside but at the same time wanting to get mad at this guy.
Calves wasn't hardening, but my quads and legs already felt like burning and started to become heavy. He was at my back this time and he noticed it so again, I heard another yell "i-angat mo paa mo". Yeah I needed all those motivations! Then a few more hundred meters from the finish line, he told me (this time it was no yelling): "ibuga mo na, ilabas mo na lahat, konti na lang". On my approximation though, I know the remainig route's still long enough for me to push my remaining strength. I inhaled deep and exhaled it out but I think that I'm done as I was already feeling dizzy, my sight started to become blurred, and my chest is aching as if I'm about to pass out. Again I heard, "ibuga mo pa, kaya mo pa yan!"
Then I saw two other runners in front of me. "Buga, buga lang, tapos itakbo mo na!" Hearing that phrase: "...itakbo mo na", I thought to myself, do I look to him like I'm just walking?
When I could almost ascertain that the finish line's just around a hundred meters away, I did three more batch of deep inhales and exhale, re-composed my body, lifted my collapsing shoulder, core, hips and legs, and gave out my remaining strength. My legs still feels heavy, I was able to add a few amount of speed but I can no longer chase the other two runners ahead of me. At the final turn towards the finish, the other two have just crossed the glory line. My pacer already stopped a few meters away from me while I stayed on just to keep my position and not let whoever was on my back also trying to chase what I am chasing for. Finish line, finally over! I finished third if the two runners ahead were the 1st and 2nd placers, but the time-keepers didn't asked for my name. Later we learned that I just placed sixth, and the other two were the 4th and 5th finishers.
All of those cruelty, suffering, pushing and giving my all - for a sixth place. But hey I realized, it's not actually the position that made my race day a good one. It was the experience of pushing myself to its utmost limit - that I haven't done before! I want to get mad to the guy, but it was really worth it that he pushed me. It was all worth more than any prize.
After the race, I get to know my pacer's real name - Rey Lumauag, older brother of Regie Lumauag - one of the top grabber of 5k and 10k race podium places. But still, I don't know the reason why Regie targeted to pace me. He could've chosen other stronger and faster runners, but why it seemed like he knew me even before the gun-start?
A few weeks after this race, I was reminiscing some photos from the 1st aNR 5th Sunday Run that was held last January 30 when I came to this captured photo taken by Brando Losaria:
|Dashing through the finish line at the 1st aNR 5th Sunday Run|
|with Sir Rene and Ms. ___ saying: "So this guy is a rat after all..."|
|with Ms. Patricia Bermudez, the event's host/emcee|
Distance: 3 km.
Official Time: 0:11:43
Official Ranking: 6th out of 304 overall category Finishers
When: March 13, 2011.
Where: McKinley Hills, Taguig
Event: Zonta R.A.T. Race
Race results can be downloaded here.