Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Epic Relay 250 : Leg 14 - Deceitful Heads-up

I’m eager to run leg 14. I need to get back in the game after being badly beaten under the heat of the sun in my last run. The elevation-profile of leg 14 shows that it is downhill. And I’m determined to use this to my advantage. But the supposed heads-up from the race bible will turn out to be my worst nightmare. 

Worried Teammates

My calves are still feeling sore. I need to walk to do away with the stiffness which I did while waiting in the transition point. After my leg-4 mishaps, everybody in the van seems to be so worried about me. Chal and Shai keeps on boosting my moral; Glo gave me bodivance for my calves; And my wife Nette keeps on reminding me to take it easy on my next run. “Running downhill is prone to cause injury”, she lovingly reiterates. It’s not the usual “good luck”. It’s not the typical “tap on the back”. My teammates send me off with love and concern. I’ll run alone on leg 14. But by heart and soul, they’ll all be with me in this challenge. 

Thanks for the heads-up BUT NO THANKS!

Jason is now in sight and looks very strong. Despite the high level of difficulty of leg 13, he will be finishing with decent time. Now it’s my turn to do my part for the team. 

With the arm band securely strapped, I comfortably cruised on the slight descent of the first 800 meters. I’m a bit confused as my descent doesn’t conform to the elevation graph which promised a steep downhill. The next 2 kilometers confirms that the elevation-profile from the race bible is erroneous. But the last 4 kilometers was the part that seriously kicked my ass. 

It’s a long and winding uphill. I ran and tried to cut those curves traversing the shortest path possible. Shedding off few meters by taking the inner lane of those sharp curves might seem negligible. But trust me, when you’re exhausted, every step counts. 

Dreadful Dogs!!!

Then a small dog came out from nowhere. The dog surges toward me until I confronted it and stand my ground. I can take this small dog down with just a kick on its head. It stops surging forward and that is my queue to walk away. Its loud barking called the attention of other dogs around the vicinity. Now there are dogs in my left and at my back. My heart suddenly elevates because I’m surrounded by dreadful dogs. I picked up a stick and keeps my distance from them alternatingly facing whichever comes closest. I didn’t go this far to be bitten by stray dogs. Slowly I gained distance away and soon I’m running again uphill. After a winding uphill of approximately 300 meters, I heard from a distance the same dogs barking on someone. That gave me an idea how far the next runner was. 

Creeps Creeping In

It’s like being lost in the wilderness, only, it has concrete road that assures me that I’m not lost. I felt so isolated. It starts to get dark but the fast moving clouds above are still well illuminated in orange hue. The symphony of chirping crickets sprinkles a weird flavor in my run. There’s a blowing cold wind in the back of my head and started hearing unusual sounds. I’m not the type who gets scared easily but I’m running in an environment that competes with a horror movie setting. For a while there, I forgot that I’m on a race. 

My mind starts playing tricks on me. My eyes see slight downhill but my feet felt it like an uphill. It seems that my tiredness starts to affect my sense of orientation. I had the heaviest feet on earth and have to drag them literally. I don’t want to prolong this misery. “The more I’ll run the sooner my suffering will end”, I said to myself in audible words. Self-convinced I was but my legs still aren’t. 

They Keep Me Going
I started thinking about my teammates. I’m dedicating 20 steps of running uphill to each of them. Running Atom – A small guy with a big heart. He’s one of the few bloggers that I follow long before I get to know lots of runners. He’s a funny and sensible guy to talk with. He’s generous and always shares his blessings. Then I reached the tree that I targeted. I neither huff nor puff, but my legs felt like hell because of this never ending uphill. 

I targeted another tree up ahead and think of Kit. Her name Marikit literally means pretty. She brings justice to her name with her beauty and attitude. A very humble person, which keeps people from noticing that she carries reputable name. She thinks that she’s the weakest but I think she’s the most improved runner. I know she’s not the strongest but she could push beyond her ability. Three more steps and I’ll pass that creepy tree... Yey! 

Allan aka RFM – I admire his persistence but I hate his occasional rudeness. (Yeah, you’d read it right, he’s mean. Hehehe!) This is the guy who dragged me here in this misery glory. I know it’s kind of disturbing but I have to recite my thoughts out loud while running. If someone heard me talking alone in the middle of the road, I would certainly look crazy. Allan gives direction to the group. Despite all the difficulties, he would continue to do what he thinks is right. He’s not the most kind but he’s gifted with generosity. Honestly, I was blaming this guy for the unrelenting pain in my legs while I’m running. And as always, you’ll love and thank the person who pushed you to do the things that you think was impossible. I believe I ran more than 20 steps thinking of this guy because I stopped running trying to catch my breath. 

Tina – I profiled her as a person who always does profiling other’s personalities. Hehe! She would say the littlest thing that she sees in you. She would complement your good deeds and say the nicest things. Likewise, would say if she was annoyed or offended. She’s a fast runner (faster than average male) and in effect could easily get injured. Determined and focus – that’s her crest. X marks the spot! ! (Seriously, there’s a white painted X mark on the trunk of that tree.) Rest and recover, this time it’s taking me longer.

Glo is a very loving and caring friend. She would feel your sorrow. I was once amazed when I asked her how did she knew my upcoming secret marathon and she simply replied, “wala lang naramdaman ko lang”. I don’t know if she’s telling the truth but I love her answer. She’s sweet in her own way and motherly looking after her friends. As a friend? She’s a keeper. 

Proved Its Worth

I don’t know if my run could still be considered as a run. But I have to continue. The crew especially my wife is surely worried. My watch shows that my average pace was 7:50 min/kilometre. So slow but surprisingly no one passed me. All teams are in their proper ranking. My consolation is that even the bike marshals couldn’t keep up with me on that very long ascent. I’m about to start to think about another teammate when I saw a blinker from 2 standing man after I passed a blind curve. Overhearing them that there’s an incoming runner confirms that it’s the end of my run. Then I saw Chal and he fervently shouted confirming my arrival to the rest of the crew. What a sense of relief and my legs suddenly gave me the strength to run another steep uphill to finish leg 14. Six:30 Running Group got promoted from 19th place to rank 13th after passing through this checkpoint for the second time. The whole team gave me strength when I’m almost out and about to give-up. They gave me courage when my fear was creeping in. Leg 4 and 14 had been hot, hilly, and hard. But until only then does my team’s moral support proved its true worth.

See my Leg 24 here.

See our Epic Pictures Here.

12 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

  1. Great experience!!! To bad we were not able to complete a team. So this is now an "Epic" saga.

    1. We were all expecting Team Total Fitness there.. Sayang. Its fun! I will also be posting my teammates write-ups so u are certainly right about the saga thing.. :))

    2. Aside from the fact that I'm posting my story in reverse order 24, 14, and lastly leg 4. :)

    3. Ok. Will see the other parts of the Epic Saga. =>

  2. Woww Noel! You really write well and still remember every detail of your epic experiences. How do you do that? :)
    Thank you for the mention here on your post, it's heart-warming.

    (my comment on your leg 24 post did not appear)

    1. I'm not really sure if I wrote them effectively as u described it. hehehe! Sayang naman kung di napost ung comment mo sa leg 24. Alam mo naman, every comment means so much to the writer. But your comment in particular inspires me to learn and write more. thanks! ulitin mo na lang comment mo. hehehe!

  3. Replies
    1. hehehe! Its harder when u already have a mindset. Then suddenly giving the opposite of what u expect? It will test how dynamic a person could be. And apparently, I am not that flexible. :))))

  4. Nice narrative. Malapit nang mag-umpisa!

    1. Hi Sha! :D Alin ang malapit nang mag-umpisa?

  5. Hmm, I'm not quite sure anymore but I think you were narrating this in reverse order and this is like your nth post? So your earliest leg kwento is coming up. Something like that. :-)


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