A wet pavement greeted me when I went out of the hotel's main entrance on my way to the newly opened Abreeza Mall for the DVO CTY Run last Sunday. It probably rained until the wee hours, I thought as I started out on a slow jog. The downpour started as I was leaving Dimsum Diner at Abreeza where I had dinner the night before.
I checked out my right calf muscles as I did a slow run. The dull pain of soreness wasn't there. I prayed it would stay that way for the entire duration of the race.
A little more than 5 weeks ago I shifted to a forefoot strike and it took its toll on my calf muscles. The soreness hit me for a number of weeks, even forcing me to give up a run a few days after I started the practice. The pain caused by the soreness was such that I felt it even when walking. I feared an injury until I started feeling better during and after runs two weeks after. By the final week going into the race, I had recovered. There was still that tiny pinch of soreness especially during and after speed sessions and hill workouts, but it was a lot more tolerable and didn't linger as much. It was totally gone by the time I did my last race distance trial run. My times have also gone back to usual.
At the starting line, I had mixed feelings of confidence and fear. I knew I had put in enough in training to do well in this race. Still, the thought of my calf muscles suddenly acting up stayed with me. I brushed it aside as I took my position up front and braced for the start.
We were off in no time and I found myself passing the top female trio going out of the Abreeza Mall area. This hasn't happened before. It's either I am having a good fast start or these young ladies were taking it easy coming from their recent stint at the Philippine National Games.
Going towards the slight climb approaching the Buhangin flyover, I saw barefoot runner Boni Vismanos a few meters ahead of me. In my past two races where he also ran, I caught up with Boni in the last few kilometers and briefly ran with him before I went ahead. This time, I had him in my sight in this early part of the race. Perhaps I was really having a good start.
Then it happened.
I saw fellow age group runner Steve Hermosa of the Team Davao Runners speed past me and then past Boni. He caught up with a couple of other runners ahead of us and kept pace with them. Steve looked strong. His pace was steady, as steady as the lead he and the two other runners were building over us.
I picked up my pace and caught up with Boni. It was temporary. He was soon in front of me again. It was too soon for me to be doing this, I thought, telling myself we are still at the early stage of this race. Looking ahead at Steve's group, I noticed that they seemed quite a good distance from us now.
I pulled myself next to Boni again and kept a steady pace. It wasn't long before a repeat of our previous runs together takes place. I was soon running ahead of him but still way behind Steve's group.
Moving into Sasa and up the old airport road, I told myself I have a chance of catching up to Steve and the two other runners with him on the climb. I kept my pace as steady as I can, trying not to let the uphill slow me down a bit. Then I saw Steve smiling at me on the other side of the road. He was on his way back already? He's strong... and fast, I thought. I was so focused on catching up that I almost missed the turnaround point. It was way before the old airport where I thought it would be.
The return route from the turnaround point was a downhill and it helped me pick up the pace a bit more. Turning left back into the highway, I saw Steve and the two other runners still way ahead of me.
I was beginning to feel frustrated. It looks like I wasn't making any headway in my efforts to catch up with the Steve's group. In fact, they seem to be extending the distance between us.
But going through some minor climbs before we hit the flyover again, I noticed I was gaining ground. There were a lot more runners on the road back by this point, participants in the 8K run who were mostly walking. I now had two concerns - catching up with Steve and his companions and not missing them in this mass of people around us.
Still keeping my pace, I soon pass the two other runners. Steve has apparently gone ahead. I was checking where he was when someone called me. I glanced sideways and saw a face that was quite familiar but whose name I can’t remember just then. It all seemed like a blur. He knew me by name so I must know him from somewhere. There was small talk between us and then I surged ahead.
Going up the flyover for the turn into Dacudao Avenue, I saw Steve's back. I passed him as we were cresting the flyover and then went with the momentum on the downhill to Dacudao. Going towards the turn to Loyola Street I tried glancing back a couple of times, checking if someone was behind me. All I noticed was a long line of people - a few running, some jogging, mostly walking - in the DVO CTY Run singlet. No one was chasing me.
The burning sensation on my right forefoot just below the big toe had become more pronounced. The wet roads have given me blisters again. But my bigger concern, the pain I know so well in my right calf muscle, wasn't there. Up ahead, I saw the finish line banner. It was only after I crossed it and was making my way to the refreshments booth that I noticed the rain.
I checked my Timex Ironman Triathlon. It said 1:16:52. A good time, I thought, and I had two things to be thankful to for having that - going on with my training despite the soreness in my calf muscles and the motivation from fellow age group runner Steve Hermosa of Team Davao Runners. Chasing him wasn't easy, but it was worth it.
Persistence truly pays.
|My DVO CTY Run bib, shoe tag and finisher's medal|
|With Steve Hermosa (right) and Roy Salingay (left) of Team Davao Runners|