I believe that the best stories are written on the stars and things happen through a grand scheme of plans. We may be divided to this idea but we do agree that we are destined for something greater, right? Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why we look up at night to see the stars. It has the power to make you think, to meditate and to plan for grander scheme of things our souls want. But Last Sunday morning, before the great John Pages fired the starting gun I saw the stars and thought “How on Earth am I going to finish this race?”
Preparation (or the lack of it)
The stars made a sick joke out of my decision to back out of the race. I registered in the 42k catergory because I was eager to break the Sub5 barrier and that chamba PR of mine in last year’s CCM. But no I wasn’t really supposed to run that one. However things got complicated when I joined the Singapore Marathon (or SCMS) last December 7th where I hurt my feet and broke my eternally-invincible-kaya-ko-yan persona. To be honest I was busted and toasted out there, by KM34 I found myself lying on the ground exhausted and depleted. Super init grabe. After SCMS, I knew I hurt my legs that after three weeks of rest I still can’t run beyond 15k without grimacing in pain. I have to give up CCM. It’s the most logical thing for me to do. No run, no training, no gym. Apparently my running career ended in Singapore, well, almost!
I sold my slot to one of Cebu’s most popular runners, DJ Fortz a.k.a. the Michael Jackson of Cebu! I figure CCM will always be CCM with or without me, but it’s quite weird not to see Michael Jackson running the SRP! But with only a few ‘days’ not even a week, the Joke came when I learned that DJ Fortz won a 42k slot from Aktib.Ph and RunRoo.com for the most viewed article in 2014. My 42k slot came back to me like a psychotic protégé raised from the dead, “Master I’m back!” And I have no way of selling it.
Good Lord, you’ve got to be kidding me. I have to run this marathon with practically next to nothing training! And by the way the feet was still injured. Tabang Lord.
Lechon Pa More
At the starting area I feel like a baboy aslonon surrounded by wolves in a pig pen. The Joke keeps getting better and nastier on my expense when I realized the Finisher’s Medal is, guess what, a lechon (roasted pig) ! I’ve only started running Marathon distances in 2014, completed three (CCM, RUPM, SCMS) and DNF-ed one (KFM). The way I disrespected the distance by putting up half-assed trainings in each of the listed races, I knew I set myself up for an epic suffering. Untrained, injured, and uninspired odds are likely going to be me declaring DNF at SRP.
Tha Game of Life
But somehow when the starting gun fired, I heard a faint whisper which says: “Welcome to the Game of Life..” Either it’s just a random runner’s spoken mantra or another divine joke-slash-intervention, somehow things got better after that and the universe was finally cooperating. I felt strong, the pain on my foot was gone, adrenaline started to pump up and I was back on my old reckless self.
But before I narrate how my race went, let us analyze what a ‘Game of Life’ could have possibly meant? Is it a spin-off of the smash-hit TV series Game of Thrones where good guys lives and King Jeoffrey roasted on the iron throne? Or maybe it was just random words that somehow calmed my nerves and directed my consciousness to the stars above telling me.. Life is not a fairytale. It’s as hard like running a marathon. So man up and prove your worth.
My running life is not easy either. My job takes a lot time and sanity to perform so it’s really hard to train as much as I love to. Then my CCM experience started in telling my parents I’d visit Cebu to look for a school for my Master’s degree (which is not a lie). Running is tolerated at home, but I don’t think it’s accepted. At least its not even a topic at the dinner table. To them it’s just a child’s play made so small by repeating the root word “dagan-dagan”. Their son must just has a weird way of wasting his youth through dagan-dagan on marathons, perhaps equivalent to vices on drugs, drinking to death and pregnancy spree. Again, it’s tolerated but never accepted. I pay for my trips, my registration fees and I usually go home like a dude from the beerhouse found guilty. All the medals, singlets and bibs I earned through the years, I keep them under my closet beside the socks on top of the shoe box, I guess for being the only runner in town that’s a worthy place for my spoils of war. Hidden away.
By the time I reached SRP I was running with the two Antonios who both gave me important lessons on life. Sir Antonio Valles is a good friend of mine who is old enough to be my father from Catbalogan City, we were pacing each other in the first half of the race. He told me he is running CCM for the first time and to say thanks to God and Sto. Nino for being alive. By the time I conquered Singapore Marathon his home in Catbalogan was flooded waist deep to Typhoon Ruby and head-deep during Typhoon Senyang. When I sold my CCM slot to DJ Fortz, Catbalogan was struck by a landslide that killed 20 lives. He’s just glad to run CCM alive.
The other Antonio I met at the SRP is sir Antonio from Australia. Like the marathon distance, he is 42 years older than me. He arrived from Sidney the very previous night for a three-week vacation. And boy look at that, a man nearing his 70’s nursing a nasty jet-lag but there he is still kicking the road. He is so amazing! I wonder if I’d still be running 42 years from now. We parted ways at the turning point as I have to outrun Sir Antonio Valles the same way Antonio from Australia have to outpace the rest of the pack. Life goes on.
I crossed the finish line on a calculated 5 hours and 53 minutes, by no means not a fast one but for something I had to suffer through 42 kilometers hey that’s incredible diba! I think I followed the classic formula for undertrained runners, strong first 21k, then a slowing steadily in the next 11kilometers and the last 10km a combination of power walks, short jogs and mighty runs if there’s a cameraman haha. It’s my 3rd marathon in 4 months. I’m thankful I did not aggravate my injury since I can still walk. I’m thankful for God’s loving strength He gave, to the never-give-up attitude throughout the course, to the opportunity to meet friends in the running community and most of all teaching all those valuable lessons in Life. My wish for a rainy race-day was not granted, instead it was one heavenly day to run a marathon. And of course I would like to congratulate sir John Pages, the Cebu Executive Runners Club and RunRio for bringing to us one successful marathon. We were entertained, we were fed and fully hydrated and we were challenged. It was fun! I’ve run so many races already and I’m happy to be a part of CCM, which I consider the best race in the country.
I’m very happy I came back to Cebu where I can run with so many happy runners. Only now I realize my life has indeed revolved in Running. It has become a Life. Since running a marathon is after all a game to enjoy, to be free, to explore and to meet new friends.. I guess that’s whay it’s called the Game of Life. We all have our reasons and intensions on why we run and joined the CCM. We, the runners, all played the Game of Life. All of them written in the stars. How was yours?
Photo credits to: sir Rey Opada, sir Antonio Valles, Fotosmile and Paksit Photos.