My friend and colleague came up to us one day showing a race bib. It was number 4403. He asked us to remember this number in case he would collapse during the race. He signed up along with some of our colleagues for the National Geographic Earth Day Run slated April 18, 2010. Running was never really my sport. In fact, I never entered in a race, even a sack race, in my entire life. I thought running was just not for me. I had so many excuses not to run or even try it. However, without even doubting my intentions, I signed up for the NatGeo Run on April 4, less than 2 weeks from the actual event. I could not wait for my other friend who’s also going to run with me in that event to sign up. I went ahead and registered for the event.
The day that I would sign up, I started prepping for my first 3K run by walking 30 minutes straight that morning. My mind was really set for the race and I knew I had to run the race prepared. Being a late riser, I needed an alarm clock to wake me up for my morning walk/run routine. However, in the succeeding days, I was already awake minutes before my alarm goes off. In just a few days, I developed the habit of rising early and doing my walk/run routine. Of course, laziness kicked in during the time I was training for the race. There were mornings that I didn’t want to get up, but just thinking about my goal of finishing the race without injuries was just enough motivation for me to get up and gear up for a run. There were days that I ran and felt like giving up because it seemed impossible for me to finish even half a mile. Yet, I persisted. I just didn’t want to quit training. I walked a few meters then ran a bit, then walked, ran…I never intended to quit until 30 minutes of my walk/routine was over.
The first few days of prepping for the NatGeo Run were not at all enjoyable. I had bilateral shin splints and aches all over my body. With proper warm-up, cool down, stretches and walk/run pace, I felt I was getting better and better every day and the pain lessened and then eventually disappeared. It was only then that I enjoyed my walk/run routine. My walk/run routine became my personal time to dream, make plans, and pray. It became not only a fitness routine for me, but more of a personal time to get reconnected to myself and my God. Running at the start of the day just gives me enough energy to go through my day. Running in the afternoons is as equally beneficial for me as I could sleep soundly and awake the next morning refreshed and energized.
There were things that concerned me while training. I entertained the thought that I may not be fit or ready enough to finish the race. I worried about what to wear for the big event. Somehow, dwelling on these thoughts distracted me from my training. Instead of dwelling on these thoughts and worrying about these trivial matters, I focused myself on my goal, and that is to run the race and finish with grace and poise.
April 18, 2010, Earth Day, was The Day. It was time for my first 3K race. It was the moment of truth. It was the ultimate test for what I had been preparing for the past few days. I was very excited. Amazingly, there was not a bit of nervousness, fear or worry on my mind that morning. I was surprisingly very calm and happy. I was happy to see my fellow runners at the event all geared up for the run. We even managed to take pictures minutes just before gun time.
My friends and I lined up far at the back of the pack. A gun was supposed to be fired to signal the start of the race; however, a horn was blown instead. We started as a group together, but slowly some of my friends ran ahead of us. I started running slow, then after 500m I walked a bit, then ran, walked, but managed to run my last 1K through the finish line. My friend, who’s #4403, was already waiting for us at the finish line when I reached it. He was a few minutes ahead of me and my friends to finish the race. We all made it to the finish line. All our hard work paid off. Nobody in our group quit. Everyone reached the finish line, and it was a joyous moment for us.
With this experience, I come to realize some things:
1. Anyone can run a race. The size, weight, gender, age does not matter. I was running along young, old, fat, skinny, athletic. It was really amazing.
2. Running first does not matter. Finishing does. It feels good to cross the finish line.
3. Don’t quit. Don’t stop… Sometimes during the run, you feel the urge to quit or to stop. The pain, the tiredness urges you to stop. However, walk if you must, just don’t stop.
4. Markers help. Running the 3K seemed impossible for a beginner, but seeing the sign and running 1K at a time is easier than to finish the whole 3K.
5. Training is important. It is better to be prepared than be sorry for the cramps or injuries later.
6. Running is a mind thing. It is more than a physical thing. For a beginner, after running a few minutes, you get tired and feel all sorts of pain, then you entertain thoughts of quitting.
7. We need friends. The journey becomes pleasant when running along with friends or when you knew that someone is waiting for you at the finish line.
I did not win anything on my first race. It may not even be a very remarkable achievement, but for me, it was something. It was just the beginning…More goals, races and lessons to come. I did a great job and I am proud of it. I will continue to run and enter races because running keeps me fit, happy and well-balanced. I will run to live, but never be running become my life.
To all my friends who run along with me on the race and made it to the finish line, congratulations! Good job guys!