Run to Read

Friday, June 11, 2010

I will always remember 2010 as a year of "1sts" for fitness, and for winning.

First 3k at a full run.

First 5k at a full run.

First 10k. A full run, at that.

This is also our first time to mount a race. :)

Run to Read is my friend Anne's "baby". Funding the building of libraries for school kids is her way of making the country and the world a better place. What started out as getting pledges for every kilometer run, will now end up as an effort engaging thousands of Filipinos to run side by side to promote literacy.

In the last few weeks, the time I've spent working on the project, and even just thinking about it, has led to some of the brightest spots of my day. Gradually growing on me, the race has become my "baby" too.

I've actually been trying to figure out why I have so much heart for the project, considering that I've only been running for a few months. I've always been a reader, so yes, I do understand why reading and literacy are important. But there are probably many other ways to help the cause. What I wanted to understand is why running had to fit in the equation. Why does it matter to me?

In his acceptance speech in the 2005 Kid's Choice Awards, Will Smith repeatedly said, "The key to life is running and reading."

I agree with what he says. After mulling about this for days now, I also have my thoughts about it too.


I've always loved this BPI ad. About how they promise to take us farther. Running and reading take us farther.

In reading, every page flipped could be a journey to a brand new idea, a beautiful what-could-be. And when we act on these ideas, when we take the next step of turning what-could-be into a reality, whether or not they work out, we take ourselves to plane higher than where we started.

More than just literally going from point A to point B, running allows us to go beyond ourselves. When you get up and run in spite of it being a rainy morning or a weary evening. When you slam against the wall in the race but you push on to finish it. When your heart and mind carry your legs all the way to the finish line, you finish in a different place, as a different person. More of a winner each time.


I've also realized that I've found so much calm and stillness in running and reading. Even with the ambient noise of people around you, or the music in your iPod, when you run or read, you are alone with your thoughts most of the time. And in this day and age where people have difficulty turning themselves off, much solace can be found in that brief respite from the confusion.

I heard this question before, "Are you happy with the company that you keep when you are alone?" Happy or not, I think people love running and reading because these moments of stillness are the times when you can dig deep in your soul to discover who you really are. You may not always like what you find out, but at least there is peace in being true.

Some random thoughts. I just needed to write so that I could understand my heart better. They say people should do what they are passionate about. If I could figure out why the project mattered so much, I might figure out what to do with my life. Because I'm just a few months' shy of my quarter- or mid-life eval. ;)

To learn more about Run to Read, do visit our Facebook page.


Force the Issue

Thursday, June 10, 2010

June 8, 2010

I had 3 options for this morning. My body wanted to go back to sleep since I just tossed and turned for most part of the night before. My head's logic wanted to just go straight to the office and get a headstart on the day's work. My heart though wanted to run. I've wanted to run since the day before. And I had meant to do go on the promise I made myself.

My abdomen and bowel had their own ideas -- they instigated a rebellion early in the morning. I groaned as I got up, feeling weak.

"No, this will get done," I said in my head.

I decided to force the issue. I needed to overcome the stubborn desires of laziness and procrastination. I figured that if I overcame my head and my body, I could do the same with the bullies I had to face during the day.

I showered. Dressed up. Pulled my hair back into a ponytail. And then without really being so conscious of it, I reached that tipping point, when the silence of one's resolve deafens the static of all the "no's" and "cannot's".

My mind and my body eventually realized that we were going for a run. And the pain subsided on its own.

An hour or so later, I had the happy reward of a hot shower. I had just finished a short run, a little less than 3k on the treadmill, at Pumba-pace (read: slow. Well, that's at least how it's defined now). Coming from a household where water heaters have become unheard of, a warm bath is such pure joy.

I bent my head and pressed the top of it against the shower wall. I let the water beat down on my nape and shoulders. It felt good. As the warm water trickled on my back, I reveled in the joy that I had won over myself. That felt even better.


Run towards Time

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I agree when people say it's more interesting to run outdoors than on a treadmill. I find indoor running useful though since I'm able to keep track of how much I've ran and how long. (Haha, my Nike's still terribly off with the calibration so it's not really reliable.)

Aaron, my trainer, taught me fartlek and used to crank up the speed during workouts. I found that difficult and tough on my lungs. So I just focus on the timer, and run until I hit the 1 or 2 minute mark he sets, eager to slow down.

I've started to think of it as "running towards time".

So much has been written and sung about time healing all wounds. About how things get better in time.

Well, sometimes, time is a goddamn slow burn. I know it's good to be present and all. But damn it, not when you're in pain.

There are days which I'd want to be like my treadmill runs. When I can just run, run towards time. Run past that invisible line and then suddenly forget what used to ache. Run to a happy finish line.

Wishful thinking, I know.



Definitely what I'm not.

Consistent, that is.

I've ran several races. Walk-run for some. Slow, slow run for others. I've joined last year's Timex, Big Blue Run and Philstar. I've joined this year's Bull Run, Run for Home, Mizuno, Run Rio 1 and 2. I've even tried a trail run. But I haven't really been able to stick to a weekly sched.

I even signed up for the gym and had a great 2 - 3 week workout stint. Heck, I even lost weight. But I've been in a hiatus again.

Tomorrow will be a week since I laced up. I've found different reasons to stop me.

This is bad, bad, bad.

Consistency. Yes I know I haven't learned it yet. That and discipline. I've also been told that I'm bad at things related to being time-bound. Plus the fact that I carry with me a big baggage of drama.

I need an overhaul.

And yes, I know I need to learn to be consistent.

But for now, I want to run...

.... away.


This isn't really my first time...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ok, so this isn't really my first attempt at running.

I tried it in November 2007. Joined a race. Decided the night before. No prep, no nothing. I was just in dire need to clear my head and run away. Pure pain after. But I lived to write about it. Haha.

Joined a few more races, but never really ran in between.

And then I stopped.

I have no plans now of stopping again though.

Animo Run 2007. November 25, 2007. 5.40am. Mall of Asia (I am making so many memories in this place, I must say.)

It was one of my obsessive-compulsive moments, something which would not give me my peace until I get it done. (I occasionally have these moments, and whenever I do, I rarely share about them before getting it done. I just run off and disappear, well as long as I have no prior commitments. Stuff I just need to do for myself. Yes, this can also be considered as low EQ I know. My way of being spontaneous, I suppose.)

So there, because the storm didn't hit Manila, and because the organizers allowed registration on race day itself, I found myself at the MOA parking lot this morning. Never mind that I am not a real runner, or at least, not yet one. Never mind that I only fell asleep around 3am or that I have been dog-tired the last few days. Never mind that it's been a while since I last jogged or exercised, and that this seems to be a "first" race. Never mind that I was alone. I didn't even bother bringing an extra shirt because I didn't have anybody to leave it with. I just left everything at the office, I was going back here anyway to work. Never mind that I just "snuck out" of my OT schedule for a couple of hours, which I will probably pay for dearly tonight, considering everything that should have been finished last Friday. Never mind that it was a long debate with myself on how else I could use the time productively for the other things I needed to get done, aside from work.

I just had to run. Haha, probably in the same way that Forrest Gump had to run to deal with the stuff he had to deal with. Maybe I've been reading too much of Kristin Armstrong's blogs, I don't know. I just had to run.

It was just one blob of green at the starting line, with almost everyone wearing the dark green DLSU Manila running club singlets. Looking at the people more intently though, you'd see a pretty interesting variety - from the hard-core racers to the trying-to-get-fit-crowd (like me). There were couples, parents and kids, grandparents and grandkids. Infants being carried, toddlers being led. People from running clubs and college students who seemed to be just trying to fulfill their version of PE 101 requirements. As Rivka beautifully describes it in her article, people have their own reasons for running.

I had mine too.
I wanted so badly to run this morning to clear my head. To take away the weariness in my soul. I was hoping that I could breathe in deep and exhale everything out in the process. I was hoping to break into a sweat instead so that whatever it was inside of me would just stop coming out as tears. I wanted to run to forget what I was running away from and to run towards finding myself. I wanted to run to regain the footing I had lost, and I knew I couldn't do that by standing still. I wanted to run to be by and with myself. And I wanted to run because I missed my kutsch and my runningmate. I wanted to run to let my coach know that I was going to be fine. I wanted to run so that I could actually believe that. I wanted to run to find a reason to be proud of myself again. I just wanted to be whole again.

When you're not a real runner, 5K actually hurts, esp when you didn't really prepare for it, except for the morning stretching. (Haha, seasoned runners would frown on everything I did wrong earlier. I am not even going to go there.) 5K hurts your legs, and it hurts your ego too, when you see that you're at the end of the pack.

Right before reaching the 2K mark, I decided to stop looking back, no use being unforgiving of myself I figured. Up until this time, whenever I had my moments of cynicism, I used to think that whatever adidas and nike had to say sounded good, but more often than not bordered on hokum. But then, that angry side of me discovered it to be true this morning. That I really am running my own race, at the pace I decide on. That there was something healing with having the wind against your face, and with your feet pounding the pavement. That side by side with the faces becoming familiar, as they lagged behind with me, I was not alone, even if I was running my own race. That it was uplifting to say a silent prayer for these fellows beside me, so they wouldn't give up on running and whatever it was they were running for.

I started counting lampposts, running from point to point, just as coach taught me. From one lamppost to the next. It was the only way I could get through. Then I started counting in 2's, stretching myself further, asking myself to be patient enough to wait until I reached the 2nd marker to walk in between. I found myself thinking that if I could reach the next one, then I would be ok. That if kept my promise of not stopping until the next one, I could actually keep the bigger promises I've made in my life, and the even bigger ones I should and will be making.

I found myself asking midway, "what the hell am i doing here?" and there was a part of me that just wanted to cop out. But there was this one phone call, and I passed by the church, and I just had to keep on going. I guess His love, and the love of the people around you are more than enough to get you through.

The DLSU babble band started hitting the drums. Sounded like UAAP, only that it was off-season. The beat in my head made me think that just as coach was cheering for me, rooting for me, that I should actually love myself enough to be my biggest fan. Because when you lose what you love and what you dream of, you got to love yourself enough to have good reason not to throw your life away.

Finally hit the 4K mark. All heart from there. Almost home. Tried running past more lampposts at a time. Running as far as my aching legs would carry me. Ran until the drums grew louder. I wanted to finish strong, to reach the finish line running. Because that was the Pat I wanted to become, the only version of myself that I could live with. One who would never give up. One who would give of herself completely, over and over again, in spite of the pain. Screw the pain. It will hopefully go away before I know it.
And so I ran.

After everything, I lingered for a while. Made a few more memories in my head. Silently cheered for the 10K finishers. Stretched. And hoped that I could actually stretch the same way for my life. Mustered enough courage to talk with Mang Pablo and his little boy Uriel "Bookcoycoy", because they were my favorites in the race. Mang Pablo said something that made me smile, that you could make friends in marathons. Making new friends. I guess that's what people do when they decide and try to live again. Make friends.

One race isn't enough to heal you. I need a couple more for that, to be whole again. I've decided to be forgiving of my pace. It will take time. But I will get there.
It was a good morning for a run. It was a good morning to live again.


Reason to Run # 116 -- I Run because.... it keeps me present

After a few days of walking, I started my running program by doing my 1-2 exercise. I did 1 minute of running and 2 minutes of walking, for 30 minutes. Going level-up after meant doing 2-1, 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. (I still maintain that "doubling" the effort that time still feels like the most difficult thing I've done in my running career. Haha.)

Even now, running is still a "painful" activity for me. It still takes so much of me to do it. While some people get their best ideas when they run, I can only afford to think about reaching the next lamp post, or finishing the next minute at the treadmill.

More often than not, I hate this pathetic state of health and stamina of mine.

But then, I realized that I am blessed that way. Running is one of the very few instances that I am fully present. When I don't worry about schedules or things to do. The inability to do high-level processing (and worrying) allows me to focus on the simple things. The sunlight on my face. The wind on my back. The sweat on my forehead. The tufts of white in the blue sky. The cadence of feet pounding on the asphalt. The joy of the finish line.

I'd try to be more forgiving of myself. Huffin' and puffin' at turtle pace is still a blessing in disguise.


What's in a Name?

I know the blog name sounds ambitious. (Haha, "mayabang" would be probably be more apt.)
So i feel the need to explain. :)

It all started with two friends messing with each other. I was telling my friend I'd get good at this (running) someday. I jokingly said, "Watch me run!" And laugh she did. Well, we both knew that I had a long way to go before I ever got there. So long that it ever happening may sound like a joke.

But who cares, right? I've still decided to run, and keep on running. Even at turtle pace.

I run because I believe I can reinvent myself into someone I was really meant to become.

And there is so much hope in that. So yeah, go watch me run...



The thought of a non-runner writing about running sounds like a pretentious idea, I would suppose.

In my case, the idea of running to begin with, already sounds pretentious, given that I've never been athletic my whole life. I used to fancy myself as active or sporty growing up, but whether it was due to my parents being too protective or because I was just plain "lampa", that idea remained as a figment of my imagination. And as I began to pack on the pounds as a young adult, that whole daydream got farther and farther from my reality.

Thing is, it was probably this whole weight issue too that got me started on running. I just got pissed at how I looked like in front of the mirror. And I got scared that my flab would take a toll on my health already. With a little coaching and encouragement from a buddy (no, a whole lot, actually), I took the first step (literally).

That was end 2009. Fast forward to today, the 2nd of June, 2010. I still don't run as frequently or consistently as I want. I'm still a turtle. And I still think of myself as a "non-runner". But so far, I've found that there is something to running. Enough to let the writing catch up with it.

So this is my story.


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