Saturday, February 28, 2009

Excerpt from running journal

This is my 32nd entry in this running journal. About five months ago, I resolved to run my first ever marathon somewhere around my 40th birthday. That will be on October of this year. I started the running journal basically to document the year-long training program that I have committed myself to undergo in preparation for this big event. As it turned out, the journal went beyond the original idea of being just a simple training log to include other things related to running. In time, I was doing cursory reviews of running books. I wrote down my thoughts on articles and information about running. I made quick surveys of albums and songs that I felt would make great listening materials during training and in races. I logged in my observations of people, places and insects I encountered along the running tracks. I did the martian’s favorite pastime of writing down those thoughts that teetered at the edge of awareness, while the brain struggled with the body’s steadily accumulating oxygen debt. I made some forays into both the philosophical and crass aspects of this peculiar post-modern human activity of regularly driving one’s self to exhaustion for a host of reasons but which could all be reduced to the plain desire of being able to add surviving 44 kilometer to one’s list of lifetime accomplishments.

The writing essentially sustained the running, and vice versa. Before the recent trough in my training, the prospect of writing about my running experiences in this journal has been one of my motivations for actually hitting the road, even in the middle of the night. The writing continues to nourish the desire to run. It has in fact turned into something like a belayer’s line – something to hold on to or hang from when quitting has appeared again as an enticing option. I was initially thinking of publishing the whole journal online as a PDF book. Saw this e-book on the zen of blogging once, and I instantly conjured the idea of having this whole set of titles (on just about any topic I could think of) uploaded in my blog (have started a number of writing projects already). Then, there's also this thought about actually publishing all these stream-of-consciousness notes and blog posts into a volume of “The Martian’s Chronicles”. Wonder if I could find a spaced out publisher or donor to sponsor this collection.

Anyway, so here I am once more trying to write some thoughts about my recent runs. I resumed running (again) last 20 February. It was a two-lap run around the UP academic oval. I suffered throughout the entire effort. My muscles were aching. My lungs felt like they were about to burst any moment from breathing in all that super-heated carbon monoxide-filled afternoon air inside the campus. My run was frantic, like I was trying to save my dark hide from sword- and spear-wielding orcs inside Mordor. Halfway through my first lap, I already knew I won’t make it past lap two. I was right. By the time I reached my 2.5 or 2.6 kilometer mark, somewhere in front of Vinzon’s Hall, I was already considering diving on the curb and letting my imaginary pursuers devour me head to foot. I was definitely reaping the karmic products of taking all those long rest periods since the start of the new year. Three months worth of conditioning appeared to have just flown out of the window and disappeared completely. I was back to being a regular slob.

I hoped for a quick follow up in the succeeding days. But it came five days later, on 25 February, with a 2.5 laps run (around 5 kilometers). My lap times were a bit better than the previous one (lap 1 – from 14:20.9 to 14:10.6; lap 2 – from 15:08.3 to 14:14.4). Ran an extra half lap this time (around 8:30 minutes). The run was better than the previous one. The air wasn’t too humid. Had a slight breeze or whiff of cool air at some point. My total running time was not that good though (36:55.9). If I was running a 5-kilometer race, I wouldn’t have made it to the top 50. The earphone adapter to my mobile phone was also not that cooperative at the beginning. Had to twist and adjust it to hear Jack Johnson’s Sleep Through the Static. But overall, the run was not that bad. If I was not scheduled to pick up L. at UST, I would have done a full third lap.

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