As I’ve written on this sports box on many occasions, last February 17, I attempted my first 42K run at the Hong Kong Marathon and failed. At the KM. 28 mark, I succumbed to massive cramps then, when the muscle pain subsided, the sides of my knees hurt like they were hammered by a baseball bat. I limped to the 36th km. until the 5-hour mark arrived but couldn’t finish within the allotted 5-hour, 30-minute marathon cutoff time.
Why did I fail? Having trained for six months, I felt confident. Maybe, too confident. Despite experts suggesting that first-timer marathoners “not bring a watch… forget about the time… and just finish,” I neglected to heed that advice. Instead, self-assured and undoubting at the training I had logged, I targeted to finish between 4 hours, 15 minutes to 4:30.
I aimed to have a good time.
True enough, up until that 28th km. stoppage and galloping alongside two of my closest running buddies, Jesse Taborada and Dr. Vic Verallo, for nearly three hours, our pace was brisk and I felt good.
Then… BANG! Like an unexpected bite, the cramps wrenched my lower leg muscles…..
After reaching Cebu and consulting top sports physician Tony San Juan, the conclusion was simple: I pushed too hard. Given the up-the-bridges, down-the-tunnels terrain of Hong Kong, I dashed too fast; too swift and too snappy I scurried for my body to handle.
All because of my aim to record a good time.
On December 7—just 72 or so hours from your reading this—I’ll be running again. This time, in Singapore, and, this time, I’ve made a serious handshake with myself: Have a good time.
By “good,” I mean this: relaxed, leisurely, slow—with the only objective to cross that finish line 42,195 meters after the start.
Remember one of the most popular of children’s stories, the Aesop fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare?” In that story, the Hare laughed at the slow-pace of the turtle then sprinted to the finish—only to take a nap midway through the course. The tortoise, crawling slowly but steadily, lumbered on until, as we all know, he beat the gloating rabbit and won the race.
This Sunday, amidst the sea of 50,000 runners from Africa to America to Australia who will sprint like rabbits to reach the Singapore finish line first, one person will jog unhurried, slow-footed.
That tortoise is from Cebu.