I've always loved sports ever since I was still in grade school. Before cable TV, computers, video games and the Internet, outdoor games or sports was in every kids' daily schedule. You just had to go out and play.
Like most Filipinos, basketball was, and still is, my first love. The game just never fails to amaze me. The players nowadays are getting bigger, faster and more agile; but I still prefer a little old school, fundamental approach to the game. But still, it's the adrenalin rush, the thrill of the competition and the sweat and bruises you get that keep you coming back for more. Unfortunately, I tore the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) of both my knees while playing basketball so I had to "retire".
It was during my "retirement" period where I tried to venture into other sports. My dad and brother were playing golf, so I gave that a try. I got hooked for awhile but I was just not physically gifted for this sport. Then a good friend of mine and fellow basketball-injured teammate, Michael Aldeguer, was hooked into running (back then, it was mostly referred to as "jogging"). He was running in the Cebu Memorial Park (Cempark) 4 times a week. A few of our "barkada" also joined in, and so we had this group of 5 or 6 regular "joggers" every afternoon in Cempark doing loops. People used to think we were crazy to be jogging inside a cemetery. "Aren't you guys scared?" Initially you do get chills, especially when it starts to get dark and you pass by the bone chamber and some quiet areas of the park, where all you see are a few dim lights and portraits. But the sweat and adrenalin rush of running just feels so good after every run. It's similar to what you feel after a good basketball game.
So after a few months of running, I decided to join my first "fun run": a 10 km Sinulog run back in 2000. I can't remember the exact date or name of that run, except that it took us from Capitol area to Banawa and back. I finished this run at 1 hr and 8 min. Then after a month, I signed up for the 1st Tri-City 21 km Run. This run started from the Lapu-Lapu Shrine and ended up at the Cebu City Hall, in front of the Magellan's Cross. I finished this at 2 hrs 30 min. But after that, I was so drained that I stopped jogging.
I was still a regular 1-pack-a -day smoker during all that, so I'm not sure if that was a case of TMTS (Too Much Too Soon) Syndrome or my lungs just couldn't keep up, but I stopped my regular 6-month old jogging routine. This was way back in 2000. I would attempt yearly running comebacks but they never lasted. Smoking and drinking became my regular daily habits so it was really hard to integrate running into my routine.
Then in February 2009, I just decided to exercise and give running another shot since I was gaining weight, drinking more and smoking more. I will never forget that 1st 2-kilometer loop where it took me almost 20 minutes to finish and had a hard time catching my breath. After that, I decided to change my lifestyle. I quit smoking and stayed away from regular drinking sessions while I concentrated on getting back into shape. I ran almost everyday, just to compensate for my growing appetite (eating sweets and chocolates). I was running regular 4 km loops, then 6 km, 8 km and then a few 10 km loops. But for a year, I stuck to running loops around Cempark. The fresh air and serenity of the park gave me time to meditate, reflect and relax. I was contented with my routine.
But this running boom of 2010, especially the Cebu City Marathon, just gets to you. I got curious and tried running in different routes, like Ayala Business Park and Asiatown IT Park. I decided to join the Citirun, as my first "comeback" fun run after 10 long years. I finished the 12 km run in 1 hr 10 min. I just loved the feeling again! Seeing so many runners was quite a change for me. Sure beats running alone! Pushing your body limits and the runner's high when you see that finish line was just incredible! Some sports give you the excitement of competing against others, the pressures of making a shot or sinking a putt, but running lets you force yourself to do more than what you think you can do. Since then, I tried to join almost every weekly run that I could. But with the lessons I learned 10 years ago, I resisted the temptation of joining half-marathons or full-marathons right away without proper preparations. It's one thing to finish a run/race, but another thing to still be in good condition doing so. You don't want to totally drain or injure yourself.
And so my journey has taken me to the next step. Last Friday, I signed up for the 2011 Cebu City Marathon. It will be my first full mary and hopefully I'll be well prepared for that. I'm also proud to say that I am smoke-free for 20 months now. And thanks to my family, especially my wife, and to my running buddies in Dailymile, Ungo Runners and most of all, Team Tytsbogdo, I hope to keep on running...because "SAYANG ANG MILES!"