Thursday, July 5, 2012

Epic Relay 250 : Leg 7, 17, & 27 - Allan Ray Enriquez

Leaders are often not used to praises. They would give the credits of the group's accomplishments to the people he leads rather than plucking feathers for his own hat. This article now depicts one great leader who single-handedly dealt with all the epic trials before this epic dream became a reality. The father of Six:30 Epic Adventure - Allan Ray Enriquez (aka Running Free Manila). Thank you so much RFM for permitting me to repost your inspiring story. Iba ka!!

Running is an individual sport: unlike dancing where your steps should be in sync with the group, unlike rowing where every paddle should be in one fluid motion. With running, you are in control of your pace, in your stride or even the distance that you wanted to cover. I wanted to change that. Ever since I belonged to a group, I have looked forward to seeing each and every runner of six:30 grow to seasoned runners. 
The lessons and trainings that I share with the group is based on intensive reading and listening to my peers, idols and coaches. Whenever there’s a newbie eager to learn, I am as eager to teach them the basics I learned. It is an endless cycle of paying it forward. I was looking for an opportunity to give the group a big break and Epic Relay 250 of Chris Sports finally happened this year! 
six:30 is a group of working individuals who sees running as another sport, an alternative to their weekend, an outlet to their stress. When I saw the Epic Relay this year, I thought this will be the best way to give these individuals a feeling of importance, a sense of sportsmanship and the camaraderie that a team should have. 
But first a confession, it is not all smooth-sailing. I find myself lost, to the point of hopeless. I know it was my dream for the group but then it occurred to me, the group may not share my dream and I felt humiliated because it’s as if forcing a child to eat food that he doesn’t like. It was frustrating after my first ultra experience; seeing all the good vibes dwindling. But I held on. I lingered on this idea: as long as there is someone who believes in your vision then go for it whatever it takes. I have had encountered a lot of this, why should I give up now? This temporary setback has proven me why running is an individual sport but this is no ordinary race of the individuals but of a group so I held on, I kept on holding on. 
I am fortunate to be around positive people and I could not make everything possible if not for them. Every time I take a step backward they will push me to take two steps forward. I took all the lessons of determination in my recent ultra running and tried for the last time. We are just days away from the actual event and like all my prayers were answered, everything fell into place. 
I have a co-captain who had an unwavering support. I could not count how many times I have asked Atom, “Will we go for it?” “Kaya pa ba natin to?” The pressure is endless but his humor, wit and level-mindedness told me to make this happen. His constant reminders of the requirements of the Epic Relay and hardwork to get the sponsors appeased me and lessened the pressure brought by time constraint and frustration to form a 10-man group. 
When I attended the Team Captain’s meeting, I wanted to absorb everything so as not to disappoint the team. I listened attentively and took down notes that I wanted to share (then I knew the Epic Barneys were more OC than me, haha!). I felt proud just representing six:30 and being among these great leaders of their teams.  
And when the Epic Team of Barneys finally met, I have never felt prouder to belong to six:30. I cannot take my smile off every time each of the runners and the support attend the meeting. You look at them and their attention gave me an assurance that they will not falter. This is a dream coming true! I sneak a prayer of thanksgiving as I hear them discuss their plans for the Epic Relay. 
The actual event has not yet started but this epic adventure has already written moments and it keeps getting better every page! 

They met at Jollibee Philcoa at 12 midnight and the team was in high spirits! I was already nervous that I might miss something or not bring the necessary things for the check-in. I urged myself to sleep as Atom and I will be among those who will lack sleep later and the team needs encouragement for this moment. 
The start of the Epic Relay happened so fast and I felt like a proud father hearing my son being called up the stage. As I escorted RJay to the starting line, I greeted Ms. Michelle (the race director) and gave RJay the last tap and he ran. Click here for the video. 
I am proud to be part of six:30 and was even prouder that I participated in the Epic Relay. 

1st, Leg 7

It was 11:30am and even before the start, I witnessed how a runner from another team collapsed. I screamed at Tina (the runner before me) not to run even if it was meters away from passing the baton to me. I saw my leg as mostly downhill so I knew there’s something to look forward to despite the heat of a direct sunlight.It will be a promised 8km run. I ran as fast as I could and 10 minutes after saw the first runner that I overtook. The bike marshal shared to me how my team mates were so strong and determined and it gave me that boost of confidence and pride that the Barneys did great in their first leg. I remembered telling them that we can slow down to prevent ourselves from getting injured in our first legs.
The bike marshal told me how he admired Noel of his determination to finish the leg even if he was already cramping. He also shared how Carlo was so fast he overtook four runners. Then I overtook another runner and he told me to maintain my pace because he thinks we were a strong team. These good vibes pushed me to maintain a fast pace of about 5:45 and the sight of the horizon and the ocean gave me that peace that I enjoy while running. 

2nd, Leg 17

It was around 8:30pm and this will be the first time that I run at night. I thought if I will do another ultra soon I might as well experience this ordeal. We were already 15 minutes behind our target time and we even lost 8 more minutes as we missed the exchange point. This promised an 11 km flat with gradual uphill so I tried maintaining a 6:05 pace during flats, but being tired and worried for the team made me stop and walk for 100-500 meters sans the dogs in different shapes and sizes. Thanks to the bike marshals who were supportive, consoling me that my pace made them rest for awhile (yes, these bike marshals were up most of the Epic Relay!). This was also the time the organizers have decided to give way for the vans to illuminate the roads for the runner and I was so thankful that our van and my team were patiently leading me.
We got into a village where all my fears played a huge part for me to hold on. I was trailing behind a Snail runner and I just told myself to do power walks and maintain a 7:30 pace so I can keep my 100m distance from them. There was a huge dip before a killer uphill and I felt I disappointed the team. I was not strong enough. 

3rd, Leg 27

It was the last leg and it was around 5:30am. I realized when I heard that the team was at their strongest in their last leg, I thought we were all programmed to be in our optimal level at this time because of the usual schedule of races in the country. This will be my last 8km run and I wanted my team to finish with a decent time and place.
Our bike marshal was already cheering for me, telling me that I am strong and I can make it a 5:30 pace and so I did in my first 3 km. I relaxed a bit and took a 6:45 trying to avoid the buses and trucks that became one of my greatest fears in my first ultra. Our other bike marshal has already felt the toll of their lack of sleep and let the other to trail me. We were cheering the other teams that are yet to cover their leg.
I maintained my relaxed pace of 7 and by the time I saw the tent and Teejae making our usual exchange pose, I sprint and the other groups cheered as I snapped the baton to Teejae’s arm. 
We finished a record of 27:03. All of my Barneys are injury-free. The support team were consistent: energy when everyone has lost it, presence of mind and attention to all runners.
We took our time out and did a quick fix at Dungaree Beach (and dear Epic team, let’s go back soon…my treat!), refreshed and went back. Awards were given and handed to the winners but all of the teams knew we are all winners in this Epic Adventure. 
They say to uplift the spirit of a person, you should do anything to nurture and protect it. Whenever you see the people who believes in you, smiling at you as you cross your finish line, telling you, “You did well,” you know you have to keep going, you have to withstand the pain and endure the race. My gut was right, I can still believe and hold on to my dream for the group. I always believe that all it takes is one person to believe and everything will fall into place. It did and made 16 more believers. 
My gratitude to the team for backing me up and for giving six:30 its pride and honor. My gratitude to the people and the companies who believed in us, that we can do it and we can make this happen. My gratitude to the organizers for giving us the opportunity to showcase our efforts and talents.

1 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

  1. Congrats!
    And the question I've been wanting to ask, why Six:30?


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