I was running, gasping for air, sweating under the 8 morning sun, when I heard this: wang...wang...wang. It was a patrol siren following me. I wondered. For sure, I am not the first runner!
Fellow toastmasters and guests, I don't ride, I run.
When two of my colleagues invited me to join them in Dumaguete for a 21-kilometer race, I, without moments of doubt, said YES! Now I know why, two of them simultaneously grinned when I said that one word - Yes. It was I who gave them, perhaps, the biggest shock in their life.
We all run. I run. I belong to the generation where our playground is the street, corn fields, and open lots. So I thought, it will be easy. Oh running, you are my game, is what came running around my mind.
It all happened in 2007 during the 31st Milo Marathon. The venue: my hometown Dumaguete. Gun start: 4am. When we arrived in the public plaza, I was astonished with the volume of runners. I said, "Oh, those ambitious little children. Watch me do it", with an arrogant smile. "Excuse me! Excuse me!" as I penetrated the noisy crowd. They were all anxious. I was not. I looked for an open space enough for my arms to circle and stretch. Looking around, I felt so confident, that I can breeze through each one of them, like a speed of an MRT.
Suddenly, one man stood up on stage, holding a megaphone, and raising a gun. "21-kilometer-runners, are you ready?" Five. Four. Three. Two. One. And then the gun shot. The crowd of runners rushed. So I rushed. I speeded. But they speeded too. Until I noticed those little children, ran past me. Feeling the insult, I doubled my steps. But they were just...fast! So I tried to forget about those children disrespecting me. I was just running my pace. Well, my turtle pace. No pressure. Im not in a hurry! In my mind, I said, "We will still see each other at the finish line."
Feeling a little bit tired already, I realized, oh, this is quiet a long distance. I should have known. But the huge pride in me, shouted, "You should finish!" So I continued to run. When the flesh is weak, even though the spirit is willing, the flesh wins, so I walked. Never mind the judgmental looks of people. I ignored each one of them. And then I heard someone shouted, "Jay Cris, why are you there?" Of course, I was too weak to even shout back. In silence, I just said, "Because I am not lazy like you." I continued telling myself, "Common, these little steps will take you to the finish line." Until, I saw the turning point. What a beautiful sight! I heaved a huge sigh of relief. Ten Kilometer is finally conquered!
I was running, gasping for air, sweating under the 8 morning sun, when I heard this: wang...wang...wang. It was a patrol siren following me. I wondered. For sure, I am not the first runner! What is this? And then I heard people, in a loud conversation, saying, "There, there is the first runner! The champion!" And they were clapping their hands. The patrol man, who was already beside me, with his radio in one hand said, "I am with the last runner of the race, Roger. I am with the last runner of the race, Roger." I wanted to disappear at that moment. I wish I can just press one button to open up the ground, eat me up, and disappear forever. Still not giving up, I said to the man, "Sir, can you just stay a little farther?" And he replied, "No Sir, my task is to accompany the last runner!" And then he radio'ed again, "We are still very far, Roger. We are still very far, Roger." And that drained all the hopes in me. My pride is gone. So I humbly made a request to the patrol man, "Sir, can you offer a ride for me going back to the hotel?" He answered, "I can bring you to the finish line Sir! We've got free ice-cold milo there." I answered, "I'm already tired, Sir. I wanted to rest." Polite way of saying, "No thank you. My pride is more precious than your ice-cold Milo!" So there, I stopped running and yes, I am still proud, I saved seven pesos for my fare going back to the hotel.