Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kiss #8: At the Finish Line

Adrenalin and pride--possibly the only things that kept us going!

It was dark as the crowd gathered at the starting line on Ayala Avenue for the Condura half marathon. We were a group of five: me, my husband, our 50-year-old ninong, and two of Hamil's friends. I was the only girl. About an hour before, Hamil and I had already slathered petroleum jelly onto our feet and arms (to know why, read this) and eaten bananas. We did a slow warm-up jog before taking our places amid the crowd that turned up for the 21-kilometer run. When the clock hit 4:30 am, wave after wave started running every 30 seconds. Our turn came up, and bodies--mostly tight, impossibly fit bodies that trained much more than I did (a measly six runs in the three weeks before the 21K)--surged ahead of us. (Legolas: "They run as if the very whips of their masters were behind them!")

Two of our friends went ahead of us, while Hamil and I kept pace with our ninong. We turned left onto Rufino and soon, we hit the Skyway. I picked up speed, as I am wont to do while running uphill, for the simple reason that I like getting it over with as soon as possible! I silently thanked our neighborhood with its steep inclines, as well as White Plains with its hilly streets, for somewhat preparing me for this.

Our tactic was to run five kilometers, then walk to recover and munch on some chocolate to keep us going, before running five kilometers again. I kept running ahead and stopping to wait for Hamil, who was making sure that our ninong kept a good pace, enough to meet the three-and-a-half-hour cutoff. My husband kept telling me to go ahead, but I stubbornly insisted on waiting for them.

We ran all the way to Bicutan then made a U-turn back onto the Skyway. By the tenth kilometer, Hamil checked the time, and I started to get worried. I realized that adjusting to someone else's pace was killing my momentum, and I feared that I wouldn't be able to finish. With a somewhat heavy heart, I ran ahead. I didn't want to leave Hamil, but I also didn't want to sputter at some point and give up. Big realization: I run better alone.

The sun had risen by the time I was running to Buendia. I tried listening to some music, but my earphones kept slipping off, so I just kept going in silence. I was excitedly looking for markers saying how far I had run: 14km, 15km, 16km... By the 18th, I told myself I wasn't going to stop running until I reached the finish line. But my body was kind of giving out, and I had to walk for a few seconds every now and then. Once I got on the flyover leading to the Fort, I ran past the people who were walking up the incline. When the flyover flattened, I walked for a bit before picking up speed on the way down.

When I started the race, I had it in my head to finish strong. I wasn't going to run 20 kilometers then just walk it the last kilometer. I was going to run, dammit. I was going to run faster than I had the previous miles. When I rounded a corner, I spotted the finish line and I almost cried. I teared up, knowing that this was the farthest, the longest I had ever run. I sprinted the last 100 meters--at least, as much as I could sprint given legs that already felt like lead.

I crossed the finish line and felt an overwhelming sense of relief. My time was utterly unimpressive, but I was just glad that I did it. Despite the lack of training, despite my hate-hate relationship with running, I did it. Minutes later, my husband came with our ninong.

I was quite proud of myself for running 21 kilometers, something I never would have imagined myself doing, er, a month ago! I was most surprised that I stayed focused throughout the run. I half-expected that my mind would give up at some point, the way it kind of did during our 15K. But on that morning, I felt absolutely no desire to stop. But I'm even more proud of my husband for his unbelievable patience and restraint. He could have run that thing in less than two and a half hours, but he wanted to make sure that our running buddy was OK. That takes even greater strength.

I'm probably never going to run a half marathon again. I honestly thought that this would be my longest run ever, but now I'm considering trying a full marathon. Some day. Not just yet. I'll need much more than three weeks' training for that!


  1. I also have a hate-hate relationship with running but I still do it whenever time permits. Why? Because RUNNING is one way to self-discovery. I feel myself more when I run. I hear myself more. I complain non-stop. I push non-stop. I succumb. I overcome. *sigh* I have never joined a marathon. my sister's been encouraging me to join for years :) congrats tishie :) very happy for you, hamil, ninong and friends!

  2. you make running seem like an awesome adventure of sorts. haha. congrats!

  3. Congratulations on finishing your 21K! Longest race I've run is just 5K so give yourself a pat on the back.

    I'll take that tip of yours on Vaseline. My left foot grows blisters all the time.

  4. I started with 5K runs at the gym. Haha. If you get blisters all the time, maybe it's the shoes or socks? I get blisters with one pair of cleats when I play disc, but not so much with another.


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