Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Epic Relay 250 : Leg 24 - Push From A Ghost

Rjay gave his all on leg 21. He cut the lead of the 12th team from 20 minutes down to 5. He did it by clocking his 6.7 kilometers in 31 minutes. Then Carlo capitalized on it by reeling his counterpart in leg 22 and finishing 200 meters ahead. Yey! Van 1 got possessed with the spirit of competitiveness. With all the excitements of team members after taking the 12th rank, I was silently praying that Jason could expand the lead longer. 

Sharp Transition

In total darkness, two bouncing headlamps from afar put pressure on my shoulder. Jason and his counterpart are in a close fight and both are sprinting towards the transition point. Jason finished his last leg barely holding on 12th rank with a lead of exactly 3 seconds. The condition suddenly became too intense. I quickly grabbed Jayson’s blinker with my left hand while he snaps the transition arm-band on my right wrist. I shoot away and run as fast as I could. No chance to secure the blinker in my waist, I hold it in my arm exposing it to be visible on that dark road. I sprinted like there’s no tomorrow. I know my pace is dipping 4 mpk without looking at my sports watch. I focus on the road illuminated only with my headlamp. I don’t want the efforts of my teammates to be put into waste by giving 12th place up without giving a good fight. Being part of the team pushes me to go beyond my limit. I’m running not just for myself but more importantly - for my teammates. I’m well motivated and I prayed that my body could respond well enough. My breathing soon became labored. But I still continued with 95% effort. After 300 meters, I robbed a second for a quick glance at my watch just to check my pace. I discovered that my watch isn’t running. Gosh! I’m too occupied to press it on the transition point. 

Never Looked Back

Since I started running, I haven’t looked back to check how far the runner who’s trailing me. I’m too afraid to see how close he could be. Every time I’m passing a street light, shadows appears in front of me. And I’m worried to see bouncing shadow aside from mine. So far, all I see is my own and those with helmets – from the bike marshals who are equally exhausted. My team’s van passes and cheers me on and shouted that my competition is approximately 200 meters behind. I’m quite surprised with that info. I’m thinking about what this runner strategy could be. He will probably push on the last stretch of our race when I’m burnt out. 

Dedicated Bike Marshals

The bike marshals assigned to my team are so dedicated. I’m trying to forget how my bursting lungs feel so I listen to these chatters. One bike marshal bought Sting Energy Drink while the other stays on my trail while I’m sprinting early on this leg. After a dose of those energy drinks, they shared the same sentiments of still being sleepy and tired. As we saw a runner on their way back, there’s this one runner complaining that their respective bike marshals left them. One of my escorts candidly say that they could also leave since most of the bike marshals already left their runners. All I can say is “Wag naman po.” (Please don’t) in heavy breaths. He smiled back at me and from there I knew he’s just kidding (I hope). They keep me company, protected me from surging dogs, and keep me safe from fast motorists. These guys are my guardian angels. 

Run-Walk in 6:30

I can run no further. My legs are still well but my breathing became too heavy to bear. I stopped and counted 1 to 10 while securing my blinker in my waist. I run again with full effort counting again from 1 to 15. It’s the start of my 15:10 run-walk strategy. I’m running with all my might for 15 counts and walking for 10 counts. Religiously doing this still yields an average of 6:30 minutes per kilometer (mpk). But I occasionally adjust the ratio to 12:10 when long slightly inclined roads comes my way. 10 seconds of walking are not enough but I have to push myself to run again. Walk breaks are focused on breathing all the air out of my lungs and breathing-in all the air my lungs could take. I hate the numbers 8, 9, and 10; and love 13, 14, and 15 while doing this strategy. 

False REP’s

Red blinkers motivate me and made me sprint harder since all transition points are equipped with sets of blinkers. However, I experienced in 3 separate occasions where these sets of blinkers suddenly appeared to be coming from bike marshals. Partly disappointed for it’s not the runners exchange point (REP), I’m still grateful that those blinkers gave me an extra push. 

Laughing at Carlo

A familiar voice calls my name while I’m focused on my counting. It’s Carlo standing in front of a convenient store. He instructed me to go straight ahead. I lost my count in my run cycle so I started back at 1. Hehehe! Then I started wondering why Carlo was there when there’s still no sign of the REP. Then I suddenly smiled, thinking that Carlo once again downloaded something and performed maneuver number 2. It’s his third (or maybe more) if my recollection is right. At the end of my leg, I saw RJay, Jason, Carlo who were actually together waiting for me in that store because of the fork where I could possibly get lost. Hehehe! Sorry for the wrong assumption Carlo! My bad… 

The Ghost Who Gave Me THE PUSH

I can now see the transition point. I’m giving it my all on this last 200 meters. Though I don’t have an idea how far my competition behind, I’m expecting he’ll try to reel me in on this stage. 50 meters remaining and I still am on the 12th rank. I took the arm-band off my wrist and straighten it in preparation for the transition to leg 25. With overwhelming joy in my heart, I strapped the arm-band to Glo’s wrist and off she goes in the dark road again. I’m so elated that I owned 12th rank from start up to the end of leg 24. I felt dizzy from the sudden stop so I jogged and walked back and forth near the transition area. After a couple of rounds of jog and walk, there’s still no sign of the next runner. Then RJay, Jason, and Carlo arrived walking with some things they bought from the convenient store. They said that the next runner was still far behind. My teammates are all surprised but not more than I am. I never looked back from start to finish. I’m sure I will see a runner close behind but I was wrong. The ghost that I’m afraid to look at wasn’t actually there as I expected. The funny thing is my wife Nette wasn’t sure if she needs to call our teammate Glo to get ready in the REP. She’s doubtful whether that incoming runner was her husband. I understand. I was the least to be expected sprinting towards runners exchange point 24. 

I’m one of the Barneys!! RRAAAAARRRR!!!! 

I’m so happy with the outcome of leg 24. In the eyes of the bike marshals who witness how strong the team is, I finally earned the label of being one of the Barneys. A 6:30 minute per kilometer (mpk) pace is the target. I dragged myself with seven mpk on leg 4 because of scorching heat and cramping calves. I crawl in the long winding uphill of leg 14 and suffered in eight mpk pace. Finally, I hit the target on leg 24 and averaged a pace faster than 6:30 mpk. This might seem very slow for most runners but for me, in that place, in that moment, and with my Six:30 family; It means a lot more than a 6:30 pace. Its a defining moment of my Six:30 spirit. 

See our Epic Pictures Here.

6 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

  1. i can feel the excitement! i can feel the adrenaline rush! thanks for sharing your story :)

    1. thanks for the continual support bro!! I'm not really sure if I am able to connect to the readers. Trying hard pa. :)

  2. Ang galing. All out effort the whole leg.

    1. All out effort kc akala ko nasa likod ko lang ung isang team. hehehe! I'm being chased by my own ghost..

  3. Congratulations Noel! Such a detailed post-race account. You made your epic experience immortal with this post. I just wonder why you are doing this in reverse order, what's in store for the 1st-leg, made as the last post? Hhmmnnn...

    By the way, I like your 6:30 pace run-walk technique. Such a good strategy while keeping the name of the group on the game. :)

    1. I am now pressured to make some adjustment to my first leg story to justify the order of publishing. Any suggestion on the story plot? hehee! I hope I can pull this off. But the truth is, I really wrote my stories starting with the most recent. There was no pre-planning involved. hahaha!


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