Super Veteran Runners

I have called myself a runner since I first ran my first 3k in April 2010.  Since then, I have run distances longer than 3k.  In fact, I ran my first half marathon (21k) barely 4 months since I started running.  Since my half marathon debut, whenever I join a race, I would always sign up for a half marathon or longer distances.

 

More than 5 years since I took up running (with some hiatus in between), I have encountered and befriended runners, males and females, in all skills and levels.  However, what I am most impressed with are those seasoned runners, the super veteran runners, those runners aged more than 50 years old or those who are old enough to be my dad or grandpa, who run faster and stronger than me.  Every time I get sped by a super veteran runner in a race, I would always feel challenged and secretly wish that I would grow old to be a strong runner as they are when I get to be in their age.

In many races, those who took a podium finish are usually younger runners, either in their 20s or 30s.  I have yet to see a super veteran runner take the podium and acknowledged in a race when in fact some of these super veteran runners run stronger and faster than the younger ones, even the well trained ones.

One particular runner that I really look up to and admire for his discipline and dedication to running is Mr. Sandy Oxales.  He is my “Dad” in the running community, and he runs 10k every day.  Impressively, he could finish a 10k race in sub-50 minutes, something that I’m still dreaming of achieving.  Younger runners eat his dust when he runs a half marathon in an amazing sub-2:30!  How cool is that for a 66-year-old!

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Sandy Oxales in action!

In the Milo Marathon Finals, the most prestigious and most awaited marathon in the country, where probably only the elite runners, the ones who met the time requirement to qualify to run in this race, I see a number of these super veteran runners joining the race.  These super veteran runners are fast and strong enough to qualify for the Milo Marathon Finals where some younger runners even fail to beat the qualifying time of 2:30 cut off for the 21k category.  During the Milo Marathon Finals or any other major running events, these super veteran runners, unfortunately, do not make a podium finish as naturally the younger and the stronger ones those who are usually more than half their age steal the podium from them with youth being an advantage in this kind of race.

 

DAd and sir gil

Dad Sandy and Sir Gil Brazil showing off their medals.

 

Hopefully, in the coming races we would see that these super veteran runners be given their spot in the podium.  I believe the organizers should also acknowledge winners, podium finishers, from the 50s and up category.  I believe that acknowledging these super veteran runners would not only challenge the young to become better and stronger runners, but also inspire the running community and prove that running is not only for the young but for everyone.

 

Dad and Gil

Never too old to run.

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Running the Half

6 months after our first 3k, we did our first half marathon...so proud to wear those medals!

6 months after our first 3k, we did our first half marathon…so proud to wear those medals!

I ran my first 3k with my friends at work who were then newbie runners just like me.  We ran at the NatGeo Earth Run just for fun.  I wasn’t really a runner.  In fact, I only trained for the 3k race my friends and I participated in about two weeks before the event.  I thought 3k was just a short distance. But I was so wrong! It was the longest 3k I’ve ever run! In between running and walking, I kept praying to God to give me the strength to cross the finish line intact.  Hardly able to catch my breath, I finished the race in more than 35 minutes.  The one who won 3rd place in that race was a lanky 12-year-old girl who clocked in 13 minutes! Wow! I could probably run that fast when I was her age! Just wishful thinking though!

I may have struggled to finish my first 3k race, but that didn’t stop me from running again. In fact, my friends and I signed up for the next race with the firm resolve to train properly this time.  True enough, we trained harder and ran more regularly than before.  A few more 3k, 5k, and 10k races, we signed up for a 21k (half marathon), about six months from our first 3k.

It was October 28, 4:15 a.m.  My friends and I were standing anxiously at the starting line waiting for the gun start at 4:30 a.m.  It was a rather cold morning, but I guess everyone was burning with excitement and that was enough to keep us all warm.  We were in the middle of the pack along a group of runners who intend to finish the race in 2 hours 30 minutes.  We were provided with a pacer to make sure we run within the pace for a 2:30 finish time.

A few minutes after we did our warm-up exercises, the countdown begins.  “Five, four, three, two, one! Good luck runners! And off we ran…excitedly but with a steady pace.  Me? I just waddled my way through the flat course in the 1st through 7th kilometers, and then comes the flyover! Argh! Am I ready for this? It was just about 2k of uphill and downhill course, but it felt I just ran a 10k! What a relief when we reached the end of the flyover! Time to catch my breath!

A few more kilometers of running on a flat course and then we’re back again on the flyover…Oh no! Here we go again! By this time, we were about 9k away from the finish line, and we were behind by 10 minutes on our target finish time.  The confidence I had at the starting line was now replaced by fears.  What if I pass out in the middle of the race? What if my legs can’t carry me anymore through the finish line? By this time, I was already alternately walking and running.  I may have ran so slow since I couldn’t find our pacer.  I was separated from the group.  I was running on my own now and I was fighting my mind not to quit.  It was this time that I stopped running with my legs and I started running with my heart.

2k away from finish line.  Almost there! But it seemed so far away! Runners who finished ahead of me were cheering me and the other runners.  Some offered water.  Some even ran along with us while encouraging us to keep on running.

500 meters away from the finish line.  I could already hear from the loud speaker bib numbers being called out announcing  those who crossed the finish line.  I could see the finish line now.  It looked so near and yet so far!  More runners were now cheering us while we approach the finish line.  I felt my knees started to wobble.  I wanted to stop, but I was so close.  Almost there.  I wanted to crawl my way through the finish line, but I need to finish strong no matter what so I continued to run though rather slowly now than my initial pace.  It was the longest 500 meters I ever ran! Finally, I reached the finish line.  Exhausted but happy, I claimed my finisher’s medal.  Now, I am a certified runner!

I clocked in 2 hours 34 minutes.  Not so bad for a newbie runner on its first half marathon!

Fast forward five years after that race…I have run a couple of 21k’s and longer distances.  I ran, stopped running, then back to running again.  I could not forget my first half marathon, the joy and pride I felt crossing that finish line.  It was all worth the effort of waking up early for a run or going for a run after work and long runs during weekends or on my rest days.

Now, after a hysterectomy and a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) six months ago, I’m ready to conquer the road again.  Will I be ready for another 21k? We’ll see.

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Running Alone

I run mostly alone lately.  This morning I decided to do an early morning run. I was hoping I would be joined by someone I expected to run along with me, but he was a no-show, so I went to run by myself.

One of my favorite routes now is Coastal to CCP or even up to Km Zero if I intend to run a longer distance.  Today, I chose a shorter route, about 8k.  It was a quite gloomy morning, quite a bit downcast, the sun hidden by thick rain clouds.  It looked like it was going to rain, but it didn’t, to my relief. The air was cool and it was really quite relaxing to run in a weather like this.  The trees seemed to dance in the wind to my entertainment as I ran past them on the way to CCP.

As I slowly built up my pace, the heaviness that I felt in my heart (charing!) started to disappear.  Each step seemed to have lighten the “burden” that I was carrying.  It felt liberating.

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Once I reached CCP, I decided to deal with the ramp.  I ran up and down the ramp at least 8 times.  On the 8th time, I stopped counting and I just ran up and down until my calves and butt started to burn.  It was tiring, but worth the workout.  The heaviness in my chest completely disappeared by the nth time I ran up and down the ramp, that is why I run because running clears my mind and empties myself out of bottled up emotions.

When I felt that I had loaded up enough endorphins, I decided to run back to MOA where I would take a ride going home.  However, along the way, when I passed by another ramp, I decided to do some more hill repeats as if I hadn’t had enough of hills already though I was careful not to overdo it to prevent delayed muscle soreness or even injury.

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Yes, I wish I had run along with someone whom I can talk to while running; however, I was never really actually alone. I was with myself…and probably it was the only thing that I needed that morning to sort things out and clear my mind from nagging thoughts and empty  my heart from pent up emotions.

I will be back to run again tomorrow to do a longer run…with or without a running buddy.  And this thought came to my mind:

Running is not a lonely sport.  Sometimes some people are just lonely that is why they run to deal with the loneliness.

Well, that’s me included… I run when I feel lonely sometimes.

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Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou : The Poetry Foundation

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou : The Poetry Foundation.

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 RU2…

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RU2…here I come.

After a long hiatus in running will I be ready for a 32k this time? Let’s see.

I’m excited to run again.

Run fast (?).  Run strong. 🙂

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What Are You Running For? I Run for Nikki

I run for a healthy and stress-free life, although I also run to support a cause. Come December 9, 2012, I run for both, but I will be supporting two causes, social and personal.

I will be running a half marathon (21k or 13 miles) at the 36th Milo Marathon Finals to help give a pair of shoes for children.  The other reason why I am running this time is for my 15-year-old niece Nikki who has leukemia.  It’s my personal initiative to raise funds for her treatment after I learned that my cousin, Nikki’s dad, was having difficulty finding funds for Nikki’s chemotherapy.

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Nikki already received 4 cylces of chemotherapy and will be needing 2 more to complete the treatment.  As we all know, cancer treatment does not come cheap. Chemotherapy is quite expensive and to the average income earner, one treatment could be financially draining. So how much more for 6 cycles plus other medical expenses?

I am running to help treat my niece’s leukemia. What are you running for? I will run a mile for you in exchange for whatever amount you will give for Nikki. I am knocking on your door to help me raise funds for Nikki.  Help us fight cancer for Nikki.  Any amount will be appreciated greatly.  Thank you so much for your help and may God bless you more abundantly for your generosity and kindness.

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We Ran…Nike Run Manila 2012

nikeIt was my first time to run at a Nike Running event and I was excited.

I came to register early and claim my race packet on the first day of distribution so I didn’t have any problem with the registration nor the claiming of race packets.  It pays to be an early bird.  However, come race day, I was not that early for the race.

I did not have any problem with the baggage deposit.  RunRio alloted more than enough baggage counters as well as people manning each counter.

The race started about 10 minutes late.  However, since there were so many runners, almost 14,000 all in all, and since my friend and I joined the pack just in time for the supposed to be gun time, we were forced to stay at the back of the pack to join the second wave of runners.   We were able to run 15 minutes after the first wave kicked off.

I was aiming for a sub-60; however, with the huge crowd ahead of me, runners and walkers everywhere, it was hard for me to run at my planned pace.  Some runners still do not know the proper etiquette of running.  They just run wherever they want, stop whenever they like either to pose for a picture or to recover without regard to runners behind them.  I tried to stay on the fast lane, that is, the right lane; however, fast and slow runners occupied the whole lane.  I was actually frustrated; however, with running along people of all fitness, abilities and training, I said to myself, I might just run and have fun, never mind the PR…and so I ran…and walked some.  (I wonder if in the future they could place a fast lane and a slow lane along the route?)

Water and Powerade were aplenty, so I was well hydrated throughout the race.

The route was familiar as I ran in this route once, a relatively flat course though not my favorite, but it was okay.  I just noticed that there were few kilometer markers along the route.

The weather was fine.  It looked like it was going to rain, but it didn’t.

Good to know that there were few if not zero bandits who ran during the race.  The Macapagal road became an ocean of black.

I finished strong…clocked 1:14 (unofficially) despite my trip to the loo to pee and frequent unplanned walk breaks.

I took me about 10 seconds to get my finisher’s shirt, which I love.  They gave me my correct size so I’m happy.

Baggage claim? Hassle-free.

Overall, I had a great time even if it looked like I was doing a 10-k long fartlek.

Congratulations, Coach Rio, for another well-organized event.

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