i told him 330am. it was a slight overestimate on my part actually. i neglected to remember what was printed in the race kit and simply made a hunch. no biggie really. kuya would always be late anyways, even if he tried to be on time. having told him a slightly earlier time, plus his chronic tardiness would only mean we would get to MOA just in time :)
MOA was humid at 430am. the air was thick and warm and smelt like the sea. i was already starting to get a tad bit worried since i knew dehydration would be a major problem in this weather. cramping should have been the least of my concerns since i also havent had trained at all for this 15K run.
my running regimen leading to this date had been simply running barefoot on the treadmill for about 10 to 15mins or so, definitely no where near 15k. i had been testing out a new way of running this past month since i have read that doing so improves running form and reduces injury. i had been nursing a bad ankle for these past few months, though i really can't say barefoot running had helped it much, i'm still staying hopeful. since my cardio has been reduced to these brief forays into naked running, i upped the ante on my resistance training by doing circuits instead, with minimal weights of course. bulking up was the last thing i wanted. unfortunately, the fine print on circuit training was that it WILL bulk you up, and BULK you up fast. since my endurance had been greatly improved by running, i don't tire as fast doing the circuits. in so doing, i keep adding exercises to an already loaded workout. the result... i gained more muscle and got a tad bit heavier.
bulky, bad ankle and having had no training in a while, i should have expected the worse for this run. i really should have since i could have just ran 10k, but pride made me do 15k instead.
i knew the route well since i used to run Roxas before. i knew the terrain was hard and flat. i knew temperatures were going to be harsh, the heat magnified by the adjacent sea. i knew the air was going to be bad with pollution from the motorists from the highway. it was certainly going to be a challenge, and a incredible challenge it was.
not after the gun start did i already begin to feel the effects of fatigue. my joints were not adjusting to the extra weight i had put and the pain in my ankle did not make this anymore comfortable either. despite the flat ground, running in this humid weather almost felt like trudging through thick soup. breathing was laborious, as if breathing while running a marathon isn't hard enough. i kept telling myself, keep ur form, relax your legs, maintain your pace, this will be over soon. i had only myself to keep me company, to keep me distracted since a clamor to give up had already began in me.
a few minutes more and fatigue had gotten the better of me. my knees buckled and i had to stop to walk. i quickly made my way to a water station to rehydrate. the water was warm. it tasted like iron since by now, my tongue was parched. i could feel my legs beginning to swell as now all blood was rushing to them. i began running again. i could not afford to loose momentum. the first shot of adrenaline now kicked in, the first runner's zone. for a couple of minutes, i felt ok. the pain dissipated and i felt i could really do this. i grabbed hold of this "delusion" as long as i could. my mind had to. the turn towards Roxas and seeing how much farther this race was going to be, however, snatched me away and threw me back to reality.
i was on asphalt now. the heat of the sun made them feel like running on coals. the swarm of eager runners had now dwindled down to a persistent few. the inhospitable conditions had even taken a toll on the lead runners as even they seemed to have slowed down. the kenyan kept his pace but his face showed that he was struggling. Rio, who was following strong a while ago had now fallen back far behind. my muay thai trainer who i spotted earlier at the front of the pack was now walking, too exhausted from the heat as well.
run, walk, run, walk. for a 15k. it was utterly pathetic, i thought to myself. what crushed my ego more was that if this race had a 21K, i wud have joined that instead! THANK GOODNESS there wasn't. i had passed the 10K point. the 15K runners have now merged with the 10K, 5K and 3K mob. the thickness of the swarm needed me to weave in and out amongst ppl who were now walking. i really shouldn't have done that since i wasted energy again doing so, energy i sorely needed. also, the sharp turns i took to avoid smashing into other runners irritated my already compromised ankle. for the duration of the last few kilometers, i was running with the fear that my tendon would give and finally snap from the abuse i have subjected it to.
on the final turn towards the finish, all i could think about was just to finish. i could care less of my time. i could care less about finishing strong. i just wanted to finish. i finally crossed the finishing marker and almost collapsed on the ground. i tried desperately to fill my lungs with large gulps of air and kept pacing. i knew if i stopped moving, i will faint.
my brother finished a few minutes later. his experience was not far from mine.
this race was a test of endurance of another kind. i am glad i still have some to have been able to overcome. HOWEVER, remind me NEVER to run 15K without training, when i'm overweight, and when the weather is cranked up to Saharan levels next time, ok?