Falling at the start of a race and still finishing first in my age group, being hit by a hurtling motorbike that figured in a road spill, being caught in a thunderstorm in the middle of God-knows-where far from home, these are but just a few of things that stand out in my mind. I have "died" on the road while doing a race, found my second wind in more than a dozen runs and my runner's high in a few long ones. I saw this motivational poster that says "I ran out of love and hate and anger and joy" and I thought to myself, "Me too.
For most of these experiences, there are only my words saying they happened. In a few, there are the mementos to show they indeed were real.
There is the finisher's certificate of the first marathon I completed, the "Shell to Shell" 2nd Midnight Marathon organized by the Davao Sunday Runners' Club on March 3, 1996. Fired off at 12 midnight along with more the other runners, it took me more than 4 hours and a half to finish the race, throwing up twice along the way and walking much of the second half. I was 41.
There is that photograph of me - one of a very few pictures of me in a race - crossing the line at the 27th Davao Finishers' Marathon on December 5, 2010. It was my comeback marathon, my first in 13 years, and 14 years after my first 42k finish in 1996. I finished it in 4:23:16, still walking part of the final 10 kilometers. I was 55.
There is the age category top finisher's medal I won at the Araw ng Dabaw Phonenix Run 21K on March 13, 2011. It was the first age group top finish I had in a major road race, clocking at 1:41:31. I actually got my medal a week or two later due to some organizational hitches, but that doesn't really change anything. Not for me anyway. I still got to go up the stage to be recognized for the achievement.
Finally, there is this picture of me, race face and all, at the finish of the 28th Davao Finishers' Marathon on December 4, 2011. It was the first marathon where I ran all 42.195 kilometers. I crossed the line in an official time of 3:52:21, good for 10th place.
Looking back at all these, I would say that they were among the best moments of my life, among the ones that defined me, that showed me what I am and who I am.