The Virtual Run - Runners separated by geography do a training run "together" wherever they may be in the world. We set a distance (more or less) and meet at a specific time, so 6:00pm US East Coast time makes it 6:00am the following day in Manila.
It was 15 minutes to 6 when I got out of the house this morning and started walking to the starting point of my run. The sun was hiding behind rain clouds. The air was a bit chilly. It has been raining in my part of the world these past few afternoons and evenings. I consider it a blessing that it doesn't rain early in the morning when I usually do my runs.
"It's a good day to run," I thought to myself with pretty good reason. This is runner's weather, and today is Isra Wal Miraj, a Muslim holiday, which in these parts means you don't report for work. There's no pressure to cut a run short or to put in so much kilometers into so little time. This day is just suited for that nice and easy 10k, my version of Virtual Run 6.
I arrived at the starting point of my run after a brisk 5-minute walk. Across the street, a familiar looking lady was walking towards the direction of the town center. We smiled at each other. Maybe she was feeling good about her walk as I was about this run ahead of me.
I started my run at a very easy pace. Halfway to my first kilometer, I glanced again across the street and noticed a couple of familiar figures, fellow runner Carling and his nephew, apparently in the closing laps of their training run for this Sunday's Milo Marathon Regional Elimination Race. We smiled and waved as we passed each other running in opposite directions. No words were necessary. The gestures were enough to say that we wished each other a good day and a good run.
I got on into my second kilometer, turned around and headed back towards the plaza. There was still a group of women doing their regular aerobics workout at the paved walk fronting the plaza. They usually dispersed before 6, but this was not one of those regular mornings.
I started doing my 1-kilometer loops around the plaza, passing several walkers and a few joggers along the way. On my second loop, I caught up with and passed a pair of teenagers running in baggy shorts. I reminded myself that this was supposed to be an easy run, and I slowed down a bit. Feeling good on a run just has a way of pushing you to go a bit faster than usual, even try to race somebody sometimes.
I finished my 1-kilometer loops to log 6 kilometers ran so far, and started heading back to the starting point of my run. My ninth kilometer was a long uphill, and heading towards the kilometer marker, I would have seen Mt. Apo rising above the lower mountains in the horizon. Thick clouds hid its majestic peak today, but the knowledge that it was there looking down at me as it would on a clear day sort of energized me.
Finishing off my final kilometer, I saw Cris, one of the fastest runners in my age group, crossing the street and heading towards me. He asked me if I had already registered for this Sunday's race, I smiled and answered yes. He smiled back and said okay. We didn't stop, we just passed each other going in opposite directions to finish our runs.
No long conversations are necessary between us runners, I suppose. We pass each other and smile and understand that we mean well for each other. There is that bond that unites us, our common love for the sport. It is the same bond that brings us together despite the distances between us, that unites us wherever we are or wherever we run, however fast or slow we are, in a virtual run such as this.