i ran under the moonlight that one tuesday morning, the sun not yet peering over the horizon. under its eerie borrowed light, i paced myself, taking care not to exhaust all my energy as i trained, for i still had planed a long way ahead. the grandstand always looked majestic in the shadows, its monolithic facade only highlighted by the feeble glow of dim lamps situated across the street. it stood there, an art deco edifice to past grandeur, like a proud royal surveying its kingdom, Nebuchadnezzar praising over his Babylon before God struck him down.
i listened to myself, my feet, the regularity of them hitting the cold, hard pavement. the beat was almost hypnotic, coupled with the sound of my breathing, ushering me slowly into my zone. the runners beside me had already entered theirs and i had no desires to be left unmatched. they slowly started to fade as my concentration began to sharpen. in a matter of seconds, i was the only one left relevant. i was now alone with only the road in front of me as my sole companion. the path was smooth despite the irregularities of the asphalt. the course was familiar as i had ran it many times before. the feeling, however, was new, fresh, and strangely foreign. it had been months since i ran out in the open again and my body has already forgotten how it felt to be on the naked road.
this would be my first run for the year. it was imperative that i get myself used to running again as i have a race come month's end. though i have been training on the treadmill for a few weeks now, it was still best to get accustomed to actual race scenarios as this would prepare me more, both physically and mentally, for what i will actually face. there is also a certain rush i get when i find myself in the midst of fellow runners on the road. their energy, some, their determination for whatever ends it may be, somehow also becomes my own. it energizes me and i find myself running faster, running stronger. i can only hope they feed on mine as well, my payment for their service as my inspiration.
i strode with a heightened sense of awareness, making myself conscious of each muscle, ligament, joint and bone, taking care that they all work properly and synchronously to my every command. it was rather arduous as expected since i had foreseen i will be getting used to the new environment again. with each landing of my foot, it sent a shock wave up my leg to my ever complaining hip, which till today reminds me constantly how i had abused it on my previous race. thankfully so, its unrelenting nagging is always met by my unyielding stubbornness and it eventually gives in.
by that time, i would believe my body was now fully engaged as a machine. i was conserving energy and yet releasing them in bursts with each stride. my torso was rigid, my pelvis relaxed, my legs strong. past my landmarks i went, they served as my opponents, obstacles i had to conquer. tamaraws and carabaos, hero's obelisks and clock towers, they all stood in front of me, blocking me from my goal. round and round i ran, along the path, until fatigue started to set in. my muscles began to tense as the shocks were already pushing them to their limits. my brain was telling me to stop running, to rest, but i knew not to listen. not yet, this was a trick my mind would play. i was not truly exhausted yet for i knew my body well, my limits have not yet been reached. the pain was becoming more marked now, toxins slowly irritating my nerves. i felt my heart thump with a strong beat, my breathing heavy and deep, i was waiting for "it" to kick in and i knew succumbing to my body's pangs now would just rob me of that moment. my brain sensing i had no plans of relenting, it shot me with a dose of endorphins, immediately silencing my complaining members. i smiled as i felt my efforts were validated, my reward for my determination. i was now on my 4th kilometer and i bolted forward to "finish strong", as they say.
as i crossed my finish line and gradually decelerated to a halt, i could not help it but feel proud of my achievement. it was not much, i knew, for what is really 5 kilometers? but as a runner once told me, it's not really the distance that matters the most but how you condition your mind for indeed, marathons are not all about just harnessing the body. i have always thought my will was weak and have found that it was only in my morning runs do i exercise it. 5 kilometers down and my will is already singing praises. i wonder what more joy it would bring if i decide on the 10k next time.