silence is a language i'm learning to speak again. loving its hushed whispers; its quiet utterances, listening to loud thoughts, voicing out wordless greetings, and deafened by soundless, mind blowing screams.
i was lying in bed at 4am, in full gear, waiting for my kuya to finish showering. to say i was getting anxious was to put it lightly. i hated getting to my races just in time or, god forbid, late. since i started running more than a year ago, every running event i join receives the same preparation i would do for a potential job interview of a lifetime. i never liked the feeling that i did not do enough to get ready. every time it fells like so, it dulls my senses and i end up wasting a lot of energy feeling troubled. i looked at time... our assembly time is 4:30. i won't make it.
4:10am and we just left home. i was quiet the entire time since i knew, in my bones, this race was going to be different. whether it would be for the good or the bad, that remains to be said, but the fact that i was having my "premonitions" already worried me. of all the runs i have had, Rio's runs by far, i find the hardest. despite me already being very familiar of the terrain at the Fort, the combination of the route used for Rio's races always take the most out of me. long flat stretches with lots of turns, followed by long inclines then more flat terrain often lead me exhausted to the point even my neck muscles feel like they're running. stopping more than what i allow myself (at every water station, ideally) is not uncommon.
we found parking pretty easily, and just in time as the lot filled up fast. i quickly got myself ready, donned my arm pouch containing my energy gel and checked if i had all my gear. i could hear the noise coming from the stage and started walking, briskly, towards the sounds. my efforts in preventing early dehydration has left me with a full bladder and i needed to evacuate it quick. kuya has the same feeling too as we beelined towards the row of portalets on the other side of the stage. as i neared it though, the emcee suddenly blared "21K runners, ready!!!" i quickly turned back, swore under my breath, and ran towards the gathering sea of runners, passing my kuya and flashing him my most disgruntled look.
a few seconds later, after i found a small clearing in the middle of tightly pack runners, the gun shot was fired, sending hundreds, if not, even a few thousand 21K racers forward. God help me, i silently prayed as i began accelerating and dreading what hurdle i will be meeting in the next 2 hours. i had my first hurdle no even 30mins down the race. just barely 5 kms in, fatigue began to set in. i had sped up too quickly while i tried to free myself of the dense middle pack and had wasted a lot of energy because of it. coupled with the tension of having a full bladder, all the focus i usually exercise at this part to regulate my pace got lost. the first water station solved my first problem as i spotted a portalet. the fatigue i was having however, that i had to manage, effectively i hoped.
the route was difficult as expected. long stretches of after long inclines. whatever energy i was trying to reserved for the flats all got used up during uphill climbs. i often found myself walking, hoping to gain back the time during my downhill runs. a quick survey of my tights showed i was salting already. i was loosing electrolytes fast, too fast for me to replenish them in time. my feet were burning as well from the friction. i would often pour water into my shoes, trying to cool them off, however, this only made my socks coarse and they soon began chaffing inside my shoe. the distance markers came in trickles and the distance felt unattainably long. i was slowly feeling defeated, my mind already too weak to fight.
the last few kilometers felt the longest, and i desperately wanted the race to be over. i kept bargaining with myself, just a few more, just the next corner. i kept thinking to myself, this will be over soon, a few minutes more. a runner who zoomed past me broke me off from my day dream. he was bolting towards the finish line and i decided to give everything i had left to the run. i could only muster a jog. running past the finish line, i found myself almost wanting to scream. my heart was pounding, my head was hurting and my feet stung in protest. i was exhausted and disoriented. seeing narnian at the finish helped keep me sane as i really felt i was turning delusional.
over all, this race was by far the most painful. my time was however not as bad as i had hoped, though considering all the unfortunate events that led up to it, i now know i could have done better.
i had to close my eyes. i had to go to my quiet place, if even just for a millisecond, just to allow me a bit of peace, a slice of sanity. just a small portion is what i need, before i loose my mind, before i dive straight into the abyss of chaos that was going to be my day.
the pressure is beginning to mount, i can feel it on my skin. it tightens, just like when you are about to crash, just like when you realize collision is inevitable.
to keep your composure and to remain calm and steady is as fatiguing and emotionally draining as fighting for you life. it sucks you dry of all your happiness, it seems, and leaves you a lost and empty shell, just waiting for the arid winds to blow you away.
i sat in my tight corner, amidst the noise of people chattering, phones ringing, doors banging, cars honking, drowning in this sea that was going to be the source of my livelihood, and i closed my eyes, and took a deep, long breath, and tried to tell myself not to cry. numbness will come eventually...
while sitting on the can one morning, i found myself staring at a tub of pantene conditioner in my shower. a friend on mine said once that number 2's were always easier when you're reading something, some connection i guess with words and sphincter relaxation. i thought i was doing just that as i struggled to unleash my load. it was still quite a chore though as i felt like noah' ark was coming out of my behind. "what a pile of crap (pun intended), this doesn't work at all." i mumbled. but then again, i don't think i was really reading since all i could see from where i was seated was P-A-N-T-E-N-E. i shouldn't really complain.
* * * * *
my occupational therapist cousin once casually diagnosed me as being anal-retentive, basing it from observations about my control-freakishness, attention to detail and my resistance to change. they say you develop these traits during that time in your childhood when you were being potty-trained. the child apparently gets so attached to being able to keep his poop in, that he basically, well, keeps it all in, hoping to get much attention from his success (see how simple life was back then?) i guess i got really good at it since i have very vivid memories of my mom and my lola shoving BOTTLES worth of suppositories up my ass just so that i would be enticed to go. gosh.... if only they knew what that would do to me years later.
* * * * *
irritable bowel syndrome, that was what our family doctor said i had after giving me my meds to calm my stomach. "take a few of these for a few days, it should do the trick", she said. i was in third year university then already, competing for the best grades and, subsequently, had to move addresses into the resident toilet. stress apparently was to blame. i was told not to get anxious, excited, apprehensive or anything that would send my intestines into hyper drive. in case i was stubborn, my meds were a kind of sedative, guaranteed to keep me from any unfortunate accidents, most especially during exam week. needless to say, i skidded my way through college. all bad memories, neatly tucked away now in the nether regions of my expansive brain.
* * * * *
SEIROGAN. this was my miracle drug. it was by far, to me, the most significant contribution of my people to the world second to gunpowder! affectionately called "taengkambing" by my pinoy friends, this small, black pellet, smaller than a pea and smelling like a mix of menthol and, well, goat shit, has saved my life so many times. often indicated for minor discomforts like toothaches to as serious as food poisoning, i rarely leave home without a stash of this stuff. anytime i feel my insides starting to disagree with me, i just pop in a few of these babies and wait for them to work their magic! not a few seconds later and you feel as if you took in a spoonful of vicks vapor rub as your tummy heats up, quelling whatever it is that's irritating your bowels, killing whatever germs it was that may have caused it also in the process. though i personally haven't observed it, my pinoy friends who were bold enough to ingest this stuff said that a day later, they still smell it on their burp and in their "business". they also swear on its effectiveness though, personally, would only turn to it as a last recourse, just if the less offensive western meds were not readily available. to each their own i guess.
* * * * *
sports, girls and poop. these three were the most popular topics talked about in the men's dorm, according to my cousin who is currently based in the US. though i can't really say this is a global trend in all male communal dwellings, based on my experience while living out in my apartment with my guy room mate back in college, i do recall we did talk about poop a lot of times as well. nothing surprising really since neither of us were athletic and i obviously didn't care about girls. poop was the only thing we could bond on.... well, that and porn, but that's for another post. ahahahahaha!
this is not a post valentine's day post but... hehehehe, humahaba ang hair koh!
barely a week left before the century run and i have not yet trained. my ankle is still giving me problems and to make matters, well, a bit more complicated, even the good ankle is starting to show signs of wear. the heel on both feet feel like they're completely deflated. i have resorted to wearing heel cushions even on normal days to relax them. my calves feel now like stone. sigh...
been reading this inspirational book by BART YASSO on running and how it changed his life. i brought the book with me to read on my commute to dagupan the other day and almost found myself tearing up with some of the things he wrote and discovered during his many runs. he said in marathoning, it's really not about the race, but it's the journey. he said so many people get obsessed with time and pace and pushing their limits, almost to the point of madness, that they often forget to acknowledge that in the end, what's really of value is how far you have reached, how far you have gone to get to this point. i related so much to that.
i think other than the physical benefits running has given me, more over, it offered me a lot of insight about life in general. often i would find myself talking with narnian and relate something about life to running. it's not really being over-dramatic, but i guess, when your mind is so focused on something, which is the case when you run, your mind becomes clear and things start to make sense. now, don't get me wrong. i'm no where NEAR of being an Olympic runner, heck, i had fernando zobel overtake me and had me eat his billion dollar dust during the last condura run, but the focus i think, is the same. i offer the same dedication, according to my measure, to the game.
* * * * *
the handover at work is almost complete. my uncle decided, now nearing his 50's, to transplant his entire household to canada, despite living a very comfortable life here. i can't really make a lot of sense to his rather risky move, but, his life, his decision. i have been working in the family business now for almost a year (i started march last year) and am slowly finding my groove. it has taken a while to slowly let go of a dream and embrace a new, more practical one, but it's happening. the other day, my aunt, who runs the business, told me while she was remarking on my uncle packing up and leaving, that now, since we were down 1 man, i can no longer resign. that was when things finally sunk in. i am now trying to make peace with my path.
upon my visit to my client in dagupan, he was showing me his house and talking to me about building a boutique hotel off the coast of pangasinan. he liked my work and was dreaming up of other things for the future. they all sounded very nice, but then, i always get things like this, nice, tempting projects, every time i reach a crossroad in my life. kuya once told me, life throws you distractions whenever you make a decision. they come to test your ground.
* * * * *
there is always that urge to stop running, most especially when you are already hurting all over and stopping is the most logical thing to do. as you get overtaken by more able-bodied men and women, clearly more fit and more suited in running than you, then the urge becomes even more powerful. why do you run? are you built to last this long? maybe you have ran enough? maybe this isn't for you? there is always an easier way. as you slow down to a jog, then to a trot, then to walking, you count to yourself 10 seconds. ten seconds for your brain to process, for your adrenaline to kick in, for your endorphins to start pumping, for you to realize, you have what it takes to finish. 10 seconds to remember you chose to run, and run to finish. not by a long shot to be the first or the best, but to finish, because you can and you worked hard so that you can. in the end, as you count your last second, you skip a step, slap your fatigued muscles and whisper to yourself, just a few kilometers more.... and you begin running again, the pain now a companion.
ah, finally, the long overdue workout post. not that i'm saying i'm an authority on it, but modesty aside, i would like to think that i know more than the average gym bloke. what's the use of a degree in physiotherapy if you don't get to use it right?
i have been working out now for a little over 8 years. i started working out primarily for health reasons since i was grossly overweight (220lbs at 5'9") and my body was no longer coping with the strain of my love-hate relationship with gravity. my legs hurt, my feet ached, i was steadily getting more and more kyphotic. my liver was bad, my blood sugar was high and i'm pretty sure, my arteries and heart weren't in good shape either. i was in many ways a very unhealthy boy... though cute i may be in a chubby kind of way. needless to say, my ike lozada-ish exterior no longer afforded me the notion that i was jolly as a bee. my folks, being as how they are (worry warts), eventually dragged my fat ass and enrolled me in the neighborhood gym. ah, i recall that day very well. my dad was standing behind me, looking over my shoulder as i filled up the membership form while a particularly vivacious attendant discussed to me the benefits of exercise. a particular point she stressed on is the wonders loosing weight would do to my sex life. the bitch. was she implying i don't get any?!!! the WHORE.
anyway, that was 8 years ago. a lot has happened since. for one, i'm much lighter. over the course of the years, i have lost about 50lbs. my waistline is now at 33 from a 40, and the symptoms i used to have caused by my weight and my ill lifestyle are now all gone. owing also to the boost of self confidence weight loss has given me, i would like to think i take more initiative now to try new things such as sports. i have been also now more experimental with clothing since, well, now clothes ACTUALLY fit me! :) i have to say, a by-product of all this weight loss is definitely developing one's vanity. i never really imagined i could ever look good. now that i realized it's possible, you can't help but try to get better! (done in a healthy manner, of course)
so... what is a typical workout week for me? owing that i currently suffer from hypothyroidism, i have to take extra effort to crank up my metabolism to keep my weight under control. working an office job and a mad love affair with chocolate doesn't help me do that either.
for starters, i try to hit the gym at least twice a day. yes... twice a day. i workout in the mornings before work, and after, after work. i would do cardio in the mornings and weight training one body part, then finish up with weight training another body part at night. on alternating nights in exchange for weights, i go running, at least run 10K. i used to do muay thai on tuesdays and saturdays but that eventually came out too expensive. running at least is free :) this rather insane schedule assures me that my metabolism stays pretty high, or in most cases, normal (compared to an average person).
my diet is rather plain. i basically follow the rule: eat to satiate, not to get full. meaning, eat so you won't get hungry, but when you do eat, don't eat till you're bursting in the seams. my food consists primarily of vegetables, the green and leafy kind. this is my main source of sugar, as well as fruits and my lemon juice (with cayenne pepper). i take in high amounts of fiber as well, like flax seed meal, psyllium and oats. i try to eat leaner meats like fish and chicken, but won't say no to a nice slab of steak as well. fats come from chocolate :) hehehehe, i need my happy drug. despite this, i do have cheat meals and do also pig out sometimes. i just bear in mind to up the ante with my workout the following day to compensate the surplus fuel i ingested. my portions are also small. i have been eating like this for more than 2 years now and surprisingly, don't really get hungry often (this despite my parents thinking i starve myself.... do i look anorexic BA??)
that all said, i am still no where near the looks of a chiseled greek god, nor the stamina of a stallion in the wild. i can however say i am now at my healthiest and fittest and i think i should learn to just maintain my current state. i could maybe challenge myself again by learning a new sport or setting higher goals for my fitness (like join a triathlon perhaps) but other than that, i think i'm doing ok.
farmer hoggette said it best.... that will do pig. that will do.
it all began with a tinge of hesitation. P750 was a lot of money to shell out only to tire yourself for a run. however, considering you rarely get a chance to run the length of the skyway, it was a price i thought at that time, was worth to pay. i noticed there was no timing chip mentioned in the race description, and considering last year's race pack, i wasn't expecting anything spectacular either, i.e., a great singlet and lots of freebies. the kit pick up was scheduled about 2 months later, 3 days before the actual race itself.
race pick up wasn't too much of a hassle. i got mine on a thursday, the first day of kit distribution. i was expecting a mob of people but was pleasantly surprised to find none. early bird perks i guess. the venue for the pick up was changed a few days prior and the racers were informed via email. i reckon either people were taking their time or not a lot were informed of the change. anyway, im sure word of mouth will handle that. as expected, the race kit wasn't spectacular. quite disappointing actually since i could not help the feeling that organizers were starting to see the lucrativeness of these runs as they get more popular. friday comes along and i get a holler from narnian saying there's a problem with our bibs as some didn't have a bar code. now this was really sad. what was more sad was that this problem was only exclusive to the 21K and 42K runners. i checked my kit and surprise, surprise, mine too had none. a few email exchanges later with ton concepcion and i finally surrendered myself to the fates that be. the condura run this year was going to be interesting... hopefully not in a too bad of a way.
this was my first run for the year and my fourth 21K. i have been rather apprehensive about this race since i have been taking it easy on myself due to my injured ankle. there was also all of that excess weight packed in from all those holiday dinners. heavy and injured, i sincerely was not expecting to make good time. my focus was more to train again, as well as re-learn my pace as i haven't had the chance to do any trial runs. i want to run my first 42K this year and hope that condura would give me the gauge as to how much more i have to go and do.
so, race day. lots of people. couple of celebs. fireworks, blah, blah, blah. gun starts and BANG, people bolted towards the skyway. the race course was familiar as there's really not a lot of options for people to run in makati. i was taking my time, paying extra attention to how my ankle was cooperating. the first signs of pain and i will stop, i told myself. thankfully, i finished without any incident. the run was quite pleasant actually. the weather was cool and the air, not too polluted. we ran mostly in the dark. it caused a bit of concern for some since i read that there were runners who fell and got injured because of the low visibility. me, i think the dark helped a lot in keeping me running at a comfortable pace. i did notice though that the entire stretch of the kalayaan flyover, as well as the skyway was in total darkness. i don't know if the organizers were trying to save money by turning the lights off. i hope not though... but i think my guess is right. there were adequate water stations along the route, though i would have hoped there were also more energy drink stations. the banana station was funny since you get handed a WHOLE banana to chug down. good luck if you don't end up chocking! i got mine and broke it in two. i ate the half and threw the other half away. i learned later that the banana station wasn't even that of the condura run, but by a different organizer who donated the service.
i finished the race slightly slower than my usual time, but definitely faster than what i was expecting, at 1 hour and 56 mins. i got my finisher's medal and my free energy drink and water, the very anti-climactic freebies. i didn't bother wearing my medal as it was already flaking when i got it. i didn't want it corroding all over me. i guess i shouldn't complain too much since, at least, i got a medal. other finishers didn't. yes people.... THEY RAN OUT OF MEDALS.
kuya and i had breakfast after. he enjoyed his clubhouse sandwich while i enjoyed the visual feast of ogling at all the beautiful people these events attract. we left the fort at around 9am and saw that there were still runners running. these would tail end of the 42K pack. it was this time that we noticed, there were not that many race marshals on the road. pitiful.
overall, and as dejected as i write this critique, i am sad to say that i am quite disappointed with this race. it felt poorly organized considering the amount of time they had to prepare. the news said that they had a huge turnout of racer, around 8700 if i recall correctly. with that many people, the organizers should have been more vigilant in readying themselves. its seems though, they simply just banked on the skyway as the main feature and forgot all about the other things that make a race successful.
i feel like a dry well/ not even a drop// worst of all/ i really want to get something off my chest/ and yet/ cannot find the words/ nor the right emotions to carry them out// i have been trying to write it down/ but cannot seem to get past the first sentence// my brain is a total mush//disorganized/ disorientated/ and stuck with a weird image of me/ dancing the waltz with the wind// there/ that's the image/ right/ there// it was a weird thought i had/ while i was staring blankly into the mirror/ sleep deprived/ and somewhat hungry// i recall feeling a bit odd at first/ then a tinge of glee/ followed by an undeniable sense of sadness// i really cannot understand/ what could be so saddening about dancing with the wind/ except maybe/ that like certain things in my life/ even if it were possible/ that instances like this/ just cannot be// funny/ even my subconscious knew how to catch my attention// i danced with a fictitious/ imaginary figure/ in an imaginary hall/ to the tune of some non-existent music// it was momentarily blissful i have to say/ then/ as instantly as it started/ the vision ended// i knew what my mind was telling me// i knew what my heart wanted to say/ but i felt more curious to know why of all metaphors/ i chose the wind// then i realized/ just now as i struggled for my second sentence/ that it was the wind that had carried my pain when i first hurt// it was the wind who bore his scent whenever we would meet// it was the wind and the night that i sighed to/when i could not talk to anyone// it was the wind who stayed with me/ patientlyas i tried to forget// now that i know that the end is finally near/ now that i am also stronger/ i finally was bidding the wind adieu// he had served his purpose well/ he had been a great companion// he had been an excellent friend//
the weekend kinda turned out interesting, and when i mean interesting, i really mean, not my normal usual weekend being stuck at work doing accounting and encoding. this saturday, i scheduled myself to see a doctor... or two. TWO doctors really. i have been experiencing rather odd occurrences lately, so odd that they had caught my attention and had even made me to consider consulting a few professionals if, indeed, i was slowly dying a painful death and just had no idea about it or, i was just malingering and needed a valid excuse for my bosses to play hokey. either way, i took leave from work, got my excuse slips from my insurance and parked my (well toned) ass at the clinics.
seeing two doctors in a row shouldn't really be that difficult, one would think. however, this is the philippines and here in the islands, things are done rather differently. first things first, the gym. yes people, the gym. despite the possible fact that i could just be dying already, i just could not let go of the fact that if i do drop dead all of a sudden, that i should cross through the pearly gates all jiggly in the wrong places. at least i die pretty and can tell my Lord and creator that i took good care of the gift he gave me. i also needed to loose the dreaded holiday pounds i packed in prep for the coming marathon i have on sunday... that is, if i'm still alive by then.
so i hit the weights with full gusto. threw plates around and pumped iron like getting that discount card at rustans depended on it! sweaty and all pumped up, i quickly took a shower, changed into a fresh new set of clothes and headed my way to my doctors. the neuro was my first stop. considering i don't think a lot of people had problems with the head, i had expected my waiting time with him wouldn't take too long. the bench in the office had only one occupant and from the look of the crowd at the waiting area outside, none of them looked like they needed a neuro either. relieve, i left my name and waited to be called. a few hours pass and i was still waiting. strange i thought, i asked the attendant why it was talking so long and who else were in line ahead of me, she then looked at me like i asked the stupidest question of all time, then pointed to the people at the waiting area and said "sir, pagnatapos na sila, kayo na po." HOLY MOTHER, i calmy told myself as i screamed in my head (i hope the doc won't hear all of that though) but what to do right? so i waited, and waited, and waited some more until finally, it was my turn. doctor did the usual interview and ran some tests on me. so far, he didnt find anything alarming about me or my complaints, but to be sure, he's sending me to get a EEG. there's just one tiny catch, i would need to be sleep deprived...
more than 24 hours and around 6 more hours to go, my head is spinning. i am eating my ass back to cellulite-ville and i am trying to figure out how the hell i'm gonna get any work done later!