Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The UP ICTUS 5K Run: A Deserving Victory For My Youngest Recruit

Unlike in my previous posts, I will start my story with the much-anticipated conclusion. I am just too excited and elated I can't wait to announce that (drums roll please . . . )

Junji Lidasan, the youngest son of my very dear friends Tho and Elsa, won 3rd place in the overall 5k category!

This 15-year old boy may be a newbie in running races but in football and taekwondo where he is a veteran, he runs for 90 minutes as part of his rigorous training. He runs fast that he plays as winger in Claret's football team. In taekwondo, he was a member of the NCR Team to the Palarong Pambansa. All these because Junji is under the strict but caring supervision of two of the best coaches in the Philippines:

1.) Mr. Igor Mella--Claret School Taekwondo instructor and Natl. Tournaments Director of the Phil. Taekwondo Assn.

2.) Mr. Bob Salvacion--Claret football coach, former Commissioner of the Phil. Football Assn., former National Team coach and former UP Varsity coach when UP grabbed the UAAP championship crown.

It is no wonder that Junji gives his mother a headache on how to take care of his 50 medals that he has won so far!

Ever since I started running, I have been convincing Elsa to join me and she promised that if I ever run in UP, she will be there to support me.

And that time has come.

When my cousin Jun registered me for the UP ICTUS Run, I immediately invited Elsa and her family to run with me and she responded that she and Tho will only walk but Junji will join the 5k race. Their eldest son Seiji won't be able to make it because of the pressing demands of the Engineering Week in UP.

My friend called me the day before the race, describing to me in detail the race map for she and Junji already studied the actual route. It's easy for them to do this because they live inside UP where Tho is a University Professor.

Unlike me who's literally stupid in reading maps, Junji knew the route by heart. I'm just thankful and glad that there were enough marshals stationed at all strategic corners giving directions to 5k and 10k runners that it was totally impossible for one runner to get lost. Good job, Coach Rio!

We arrived at the venue before 5 AM last Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008 to have a chance to talk with Elsa before the tace. Because of our hectic schedules, Elsa and I haven't seen each other for more than a year now. If not for the UP ICTUS Run, 2009 will probably knock at our doors without us meeting even for once in 2008!

There were still a few runners and looking for familiar faces was easy. Vener and Christy were the first I saw and surprise of all surprises, the formidable Helen Castillo was also there!

In my brief conversation with Helen, I learned that she's 53 and has been running for 5 years now. She told me that at the start, she was also slow but later on picked up the pace. She's at present a P.E. teacher in Taguig. Congratulations Helen for winning in our age category!

Then I saw Philip and we excitedly called each other's names!

With Christy, Philip, Vener and Helen. Congratulations Philip for placing 3rd in the 10k Overall Category!

Soon after that Elsa and Junji arrived at the scene. Tho was still sleeping because of the late christmas party that he attended the night before.

With Jenny (who's back as my official photographer for she's still not ready to run 5k), the mother & son Elsa and Junji. Notice that I wasn't wearing my race bib. It's with my cousin Jun who hasn't arrived yet.

Then Wilbert came wearing his Happy Feet shirt (inggit ako!)

Then Coach Rio announced that the 10k run would be starting in 3 minutes! I called up Jun and he told me they are already inside UP.

Right after the departure of the 10k runners, Coach Rio announced that 5k runners should now proceed to the starting area. Everybody proceeded as directed except me 'coz I was still waiting for Jun.

When the 5k participants started to run, Jenny and Elsa advised me to just go ahead without my race bib. I explained to the marshal that my race bib will just follow and he said it's okay.

Great! I was among the first to arrive and yet I was the last to run. There goes my sub 30 goal . . . where art thou Jun???

My legs were stiff as stone, dunno if it's because of the cold breeze or because I didn't warm up or because I was stressed (maybe all of the above?). Worse, I forgot to start my stopwatch.

I don't remember anymore where Jun catched up with me and handed me my race bib. We have been taught in running books how to drink water in a cup without stopping but I haven't read anywhere how to pin your race bib while running without hurting yourself.

Anyway, after a few trials I finally pinned my race bib. At least now, I'm no longer running as bandit.

Most of the time I found myself running alone. Then I encountered Jinoe and Quennie running in the opposite direction. When Wilbert passed me by, just the sound of my name was music to my ears, enough to refuel my lost energy.

Then I saw the Finish Line from afar. I pushed myself to sprint but just couldn't. And why is it that the more I try to push, the finish line seemed to move farther? Strange, I thought.

I wonder how Jay does it? Jay always appear as a celebrity in his finish look.

It was 33:23 in the clock when I arrived at the finish line. I didn't grieve anymore but I wasn't happy either.

But these running friends really made my day!

With Sir Jovie who won in the 50-above age bracket but I was surprised that Coach Rio didn't call anymore the names of the age category winners.

Nice of you, Bro. J and Baby to drop by and say Hi. We are joined by Jun and Junji in this shot.

With my youngest recruit. Congratulations Junji! You make us truly proud. Hope you continue joining races whenever you can.

My Team: Junji, Jun and Paolo (where's She' and Noel?

Enjoying my first bite of free Krispy Kreme.

A happy moment with Coach Rio and my cousin Jun.

With Christy and MJ (One Snap at a Time) who approached me and asked if I was Nora! She had a badminton tournament the day before and was really puffed out but still managed to run 10k. Great to finally meet you, MJ! Hope to run 10k with you at the PSE Bull Run come Jan. 18, 2009.

Then Vener came who introduced me to Rico (by Sheer Will). Nice meeting you with your new shorts Rico! Then Jay came and I introduced him to MJ and Rico.

When my cousin Bembet (Paolo's mother) came to say goodbye, I invited her to pose with us. Hope next time, you'll be posing as runner not only as supporter.

After the very brief awarding of winners, we headed to Chocolate Kiss. Thank you, Elsz for the very warm accommodation. Text me if you'll ever be in MOA--it's my turn!

Nope, I didn't win in my age category but it just feels good to be on stage.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Yakult 3K Race: A Struggle To The Finish

After spending 2 hours with Wayne (the SF Runner) and another 1 hour at the Nike Running Clinic Orientation, my son Gio expressed his desire to run 3k at the Yakult Race today. When Eia overheard our conversation, she too wanted to join.

Although I was ecstatic that my children finally decided to join a race, I had fears that it would be a nightmare waking them up very early in the morning.

It turned out that I worried for nothing.
Eia miraculously rose from her deep slumber at exactly 4 o'clock this morning and had no qualms getting ready for her first 3k Race

I woke up Gio 30 minutes later and by 5AM, were were already out of Philamlife Village.

So far, so good.

Finding the race venue was easy. One cannot miss the gigantic Yakult bottle situated near the startling line.

After meeting up with Quennie (she's not registered for this race but Jinoe will run the full 16k), we immediately began our picture taking while we still look fresh.

For the first time, my friend Jenny won't be the official photographer. She will also join the 3k race as explicitly requested by Eia. Romy, my mother's driver for 30 years and also my son's godfather, will be our official photographer.

I had the chance to meet Doc Gigi but she seemed to be in a hurry so we didn't have any photo with her.

Upon hearing that the race was about to begin, Gio wanted to go in already.
But everybody else wanted to have another photo shoot.

3 more shots while waiting for our turn inside the assembly area:

The 10 milers were the first to go, followed by the 5k runners. There was only a handful of 3k participants left. I told Gio he had a good chance to win but it's OK even if he didn't finish first. He could just walk when he gets tired. Quennie assured him that she will accompany him every step of the way.

At the sound of the gun, Quennie and Gio immediately disappeared from our sight.

For a while, Eia also ran very fast but complained of stomach ache soon after.

We didn't even reach Roxas Blvd. yet when she told me that she's tired already.

I didn't pressure her to run some more but Jenny and I just walked at her pace.
Then I thought of Gio who could be thirsty by now. The water and gatorade were at my backpack so I ran and left Eia with Jenny.

Queenie and Gio were already on their way back when I catched up with them.

Baby, Bro J's swthrt passed by and I was happy to see her in perfect running form.
The 3k turnaround was very near so I decided to run ahead and got my straw.

When I went back, Eia didn't want to walk anymore. I had to carry her 30-lb weight up to the 3k turnaround.

She agreed to walk again but upon seeing Max's Restaurant, she demanded that we go there at once!

When I explained to her that we had to go back first where we started, that was when the real trouble erupted.
Eia started to scream and cry.

My heart was torn to pieces with Eia's behavior, blaming myself for allowing such an ordeal to happen.
Fortunately, Romy showed up. He convinced Eia to ride on his back and thank God she did!

Eia was back in her jolly mood again.

My cousin's son Paolo passed by walking and I told him I could run with him but he told me he couldn't run anymore unless he drinks water. I gave him water and after drinking, I ran with him but only until the right turn to the finish line.

When I turned around, I saw Vener waiting for Christy who was running the whole 16k!

It was a totally different Eia when I went back for her. She was sitting on the ground like a statue. Jenny and I had a hard time convincing her to walk again but she eventually rose and moved on. When we turned right towards the finish line, I thought she would be happy but she insisted to go directly to our car.

By this time, a number of people were clapping their hands and prodding her to go on while the motorcycle escort was cruising just beside us.

I ran towards the finish line to get a good shot at Eia and there was Vimz, who took my "finish" look. Thanks a lot, Vimz!

When I turned around, I was surprised to see Eia running with all her power and might!

I almost cried as I watched Eia sprinting her way to the finish line. In spite of the difficulty she went through, she made it. I knew then, this daughter of mine though born with Down Syndrome will battle every trial that comes her way. She was the last to finish, but in my heart Eia is a true champion.

Quennie and Gio were there waiting for us. Thank you, thank you Que for staying with Gio every step of the way. She took this shot of Gio at the finish line:

Congratulations, Gio! I am so proud of you. I'm dreaming of more future races together.

After Que gave me my additional order of 10 visors, we said goodbye to each other. But I still need to see my cousin Jun to get my pasalubong of sweet sampaloc from Thailand. While waiting for him, Que told me that Patrick Concepcion was approaching the finish line. I took this picture of him and tried to catch him but he disappeared in a flash.

Finally, I met my cousin Jun with his new recruits. See you all at the UP ICTUS Run!