Thursday, March 19, 2009

Darn shoelace!

After the euphoria of finishing the 1st Vic Sai Araw ng Dabaw Run 5k race had passed, reality began sinking in.

I had run the race well, I presume. I started off a bit to the back of the pack and still quite confused if I was lined up for the right race as I hardly noticed the 10k runners start off. The announcer was calling on the 5k racers to prepare so I was thinking maybe this wasn't my race yet. But up front I saw runners in my age group lined up, and I thought maybe this was really it. I was trying to make my way to the front when the starting gun went off.

Darn! I had to play catch up early in the race, and that wasn't my style. I am one of those diesel engine-type runners who need to be warmed up in the early part of the run before revving up at mid-race. I tried doing as much catching up as I can while settling into a comfortable pace. I felt good, and I felt I was running well. I was passing people left and right. Then I felt something happening down on my left foot.

You never miss the feeling of a shoelace loosening. You feel your foot slowly beginning to slip and slide in the shoe. You feel your foothold going and your stride breaking. I looked down and saw the loosening knot. I kept on with the pace, but deep inside I knew I would have to stop shortly as the shoe began to feel a lot looser.

A few hundred meters before the uphill leading to the halfway mark and the turnaround point, I did what I hated to do but had to. I stopped to tie back the darn shoelace.

Now, I had to do a lot more catching up. I pushed myself up the hill leading towards the turnaround point passing a couple more runners. I went for a drink, missed the first water-filled plastic bag, successfully grabbed the second one, and remembered to get a plastic straw necklace which indicated I passed the turnaround checkpoint

Putting the plastic straw necklace around my neck with one hand and holding the water-filled plastic bag to my mouth for a short sip after, I braced myself for 2.5 kilometers more of running.

Up ahead I saw the familiar colors of the faster guys in my age group. I guess you just can't avoid marking fellow runners when you see them within chasing distance. I first passed a fellow age-grouper from the Army who was pacing a lady soldier who joined the race. I knew he was running slower than he usually did, but it sort of gave me a sense of achievement, be it kind of pathetic, to be running faster than him.

Farther up ahead I saw my buddy Cris pacing a young female runner from our place. I kept up my pace hoping to catch up to them before we reached the finish line. As we passed Victoria Plaza, I caught up with and passed a young police officer who, with his buddy, went past me in the first half of the race. Sweet vengeance, I thought to myself. Persistence and experience really pays. His buddy was still way up ahead though, and was really quite fast, it would be futile for me to give chase. But Cris was there with Mary Joy, just a few more meters ahead.

As the familiar view of Gaisano Mall loomed ahead, and the corner leading to the short straightway to the finish line came closer, I realized there wouldn't be enough ground left for me to be able to catch up to Cris and Mary Joy. They made the turn and was lost from my sight, but not for long.

I entered the chute shortly after Cris did, not forgetting to press the stop button on my Timex Ironman Triathlon. I glanced at the time on my watch as I walked out of the chute towards the guys handing out water. 23:39.32. Not bad, I thought. Not bad at all.


When I got back to the hotel, I checked on my laptop to compare my time to my previous 5k performances. It was 8+ seconds slower than my 2007 Run For Peace-Davao 5k time of 23:30.55. It was even much slower, by a little more than a minute, than my Araw ng Dabaw 5k time of 22:25.98 last year. And I thought I was running well.

But then, I thought, there was no uphill in that course last year. And I had to retie the darn lace on my left shoe. I wonder what my time would have been if that darn shoelace just stayed knotted.

(Darn! I should have reviewed this.)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Vic Sai Araw ng Dabaw Run - a run to remember, honor, and thank a friend

On March 15, the usual Araw ng Dabaw Run will take to the roads of Davao City with a new name - the Vic Sai Araw ng Dabaw Run.

Vic Sai is a veteran sportswriter and Davao City Sports Council, Inc. president. He had cardiac arrest while asleep and passed away on March 16 last year. A week before his death, I saw Vic at the finish of the 71st Araw ng Dabaw Run where I ran the 40 and above age category. I approached and thanked him for a nice race. I finished 37th overall and 10th in my category.

I didn't get to know Vic through running though, but through a national chess tournament organized by then Governor now Vice Governor Manny PiƱol in Kidapawan City. Vic was not only covering the event but was helping in the tournament management as a representative of the Philippine Sports Commission.

I learned about his death through text messages from runner friends. It was a pity I wasn't able to go with them to pay Vic my last respects in Davao City on the eve of his burial.

If anything, the gesture of local runners from my side of Mindanao to remember Vic and see his remains before he is finally laid to rest shows the man's influence in local running. The name of Vic Sai has been associated with a lot of races in Davao City, foremost of which is the Milo Marathon Regional Elimination Race. Vic has been associated with Milo since I don't know when, and brought the race even outside the confines of Davao City.

Kidapawan City played host to the regional eliminations of the country's most prestigious and longest running footrace a couple of times or so, thanks to Vic Sai. It gave local runners in this city nestled in the foothills of Mt. Apo the opportunity to race with Mindanao's best on their own home turf. Until now, I hear non-runners talking about that day sometime ago when they ran the "Milo Marathon." They owe the experience to Vic Sai.

Vic's son, Kenneth, sent me and my group an invitation to the race through SMS a month ago. I gave a positive response and has told other Kidapawan City runners including 33rd National Milo Marathon qualifier Gilbert Maluyo about the invitation. We may be few in number, but we sure hope to have our names listed among the event's participants.

For me, it will be a run to remember, to honor, and to thank a friend.