When Shall We Learn?(SIM 42k Last Part)

30 10 2009

One of the most dangerous forms of human error is forgetting what one is trying to achieve

Paul Nitze

 

The Subic International Marathon was probably one of the most anticipated races for this year. Runners from all walks of life gathered together to be a part of history. In my estimate, some 700+ runners joined this marathon, outnumbered the QCIM and Milo Elims.  They trained so hard for this event and I believe, all of the participants  were all physically fit and qualified to reach the finish line, as I assumed.

At the starting line, you can see mean and lean bodies of runners, proof that all were prepared and capable of finishing this race, at least, my first impression. From their faces, you can see the enthusiasm and eagerness, the excitement and sheer expectation that was to follow. First time to run in Subic, and mind you -the SCTEX way, the road less traveled by, can be conquered by means of running, finally!

Six days later, after posting four parts  and recollecting my personal experience regarding this race, I have only one question to ask, “When shall we learn?”

-water drought for more than 12 kms (straight).

-25 kms of complete darkness.

-absence of marshals specially when badly needed.

-ambulance not stationed at the back to escort the last runner.

-No food (at least banana) at dinner time from 7pm onward.

-undersized table containing water cups.

-No kilometer marker.

 

Result?

-many did not finish this race.

-some collapsed.

-majority lost their tempers.

-few cursed.

-a number vowed not to join a 42k race again.

-a handful made negative remarks for this race.

When shall we learn?

-if there’s a casualty?

-or a fatality?

God forbid.

I appeal to all Organizers to be more cautious, responsible, accountable, liable and most specially, competent before directing any race, for our lives are at stake here. Don’t wait for us to ban your races in the future!

Runners risked their lives in every races. Although we’re physically fit, but no water longer than expected could mean disaster, even death. Yes, we have signed a waiver, but it doesn’t mean you have the right to  abandon us where help and assistance seemed implausible. I shivered during this race, signalling peril maybe due to dehydration and hunger.

With due respect to S’ Adi de los Reyes, probably one of the most endearing friends I have ever met, he did his best to make this race truly a ‘world class’ event.  He sent me an sms a day after the race saying,”there were changes made beyond his control…” I believed and accepted his explanation and vowed to remain his friend even after this SIM race.

I  will  call this race  ‘Challenger of Limits’!

When shall we learn? I hope this will be the last time.

But for the meantime, allow me to call this race  ‘ Subic Marathon’ and not Subic International Marathon.

Asked those Kenyans, maybe they’ll disagree.

God be Praised!

Did you know…

… that today is the birthday of the Le Creuset Enamel Pan?
In 1925, Arnaud Desaegher and Octave Aubecq created Le Creuset
gourmet enamel cooking pans. Each pan consists of a 12-step
finishing process implemented by 15 different pairs of hands
to ensure that there are no flaws or imperfections in the
final product. Talk about pride in one’s work!

 

 

 

 

 

 





Running With A ‘Battery Operated’ Heart? Wow!

30 10 2009

Allow yourself to be inspired. Allow yourself to succeed. Dare to excel.” -selected

I smiled with delight when I read Art Linkletter’s story of Wendy Stoker, age 19, freshman of University of Florida. Young athlete. She placed third, just 2.5 points from first place, in the Iowa girls’ state diving championship. She worked 2 hours a day for four years to get there. “Now she’s at the University of Florida,” he says. “She’s working twice as hard and has earned the number two position on the varsity diving squad. She’s aiming for the national finals. Wendy carries a full academic load, finds time for bowling and is an accomplished  water skier. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about Wendy Stoker is her typing. She bangs out 45 words a minute on her typewriter with her toes!” And then he says, “Oh, did I fail to mention? Wendy was born without arms.”

source: A Time For Commitment, Ted Engstrom (Favorite  Stories And Illustrations by Charles Swindoll, page 258)

Similarly, I met a man during the QCIM and before that race started, I have the opportunity to converse with him. Let me call him Junty, a 50+ runner. At first, it was an ordinary conversation but as time progressed, that guy caught me by surprised. No, he was born without arms or any  disabilities  but he said his heart was only being operated by batteries, and he will try to finish a 42k race that day. His story was verified to be true by his male companion and Junty allowed me to see the mark on his chest, a deep scar where the operation was performed. I took him a picture but unfortunately, it was corrupted and can’t be uploaded here.

People like them continue to inspire me. They’re my idols…

Thank You Lord for I’m physically fit and have no  disabilities, and whenever I’m confused and discouraged, allow me to remember ‘Wendy and Junty…’

They will continue to motivate me run harder and longer.

And I did a 22k today.

God be Praised!

 

 





If You Don’t Call That A Miracle!(SIM 42k Recap 4)

28 10 2009

Pray, and let God worry

Martin Luther (German Priest and Scholar whose questioning of certain church practices led to the Protestant Reformation. 14831546)

 

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me, wearing bib no. 777 with team HARDCORE.

“Pastor Ed, please pray for me! I’m in the middle of a 42k race here in Subic, with no light, water and food. Worst was, I’m injured and I can’t run…” This was my phone call at around 8:30pm to my ‘father in faith’, Pastor Eddie Hernandez as I approached km 28 of that race. He lived in Maddela, Cagayan Valley but we have a regular communications.

“Okay, I’ll pray for you now. Don’t worry, leave all your worries to God. He will help you finish that race”, was his reply.

After that brief conversations, I became calm, relaxed and confident that I could finish that race.

I have no plan of calling him, because I can pray too. But when I sensed something wrong about this race, I needed more people and back-up to pray for me and to the rest of all runners.

Let me share with you a true story…

During World War II, a bomber pilot was flying on a mission when his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire, causing it to spin out of control toward the ocean below. He later said,”I began to pray, but that was the last I knew until I came to in the water. I was in bad shape. My leg was gone below the knee and I knew that I would bleed to death in few minutes. Then something nudged me. It was apiece of plywood with the plane’s first aid kit on it. I got the torniquet out of it, and my co-pilot helped  me  to get the thing on and stop the bleeding. Another plane came along  and dropped a life raft, and 4 hours later we we’re picked up by a rescue boat. I f  you don’t call that a miracle, I would like to know what it is. God answered my prayer.

 

Unknown to that pilot, his parents were praying for him at exactly the same time that accident happened.

After few minutes of that brief conversation with Pastor Ed,  a van  from Subic went our way, loaded with water. And at km 36,  a light snack (power bar) was served. And my legs, though in  pain were able to gain some speed and momentum -and the rest was history!

Let me repeat those words of that brave pilot…

If you don’t call that a miracle, I would like to know what it is. God answered my prayer!

Don’t pray for lighter burdens, but for stronger backs.

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for power equal to your tasks.” -Phillip Brooks

Ah, prayer -what a wonder you are! I’m a living proof that God is Alive, and He answers prayers.

“Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” -Jeremiah 33:3

God be Praised!

Did you know…

… that today is Good Bear Day? This day honors Theodore
Roosevelt (born on this day in 1858), 26th president of the
United States. Teddy bears were named after him. Quick bit of
trivia: Teddy Bear collecting is called arctophily. The word
arctophily is a combination of two Greek words that mean
“bear” and “love.”





A Walk To Remember!(SIM 42k Recap 3)

26 10 2009

As you walk through the valley of the unknown, you will find the footprints of Jesus both in front of you and beside you. Charles Stanley

The toughest marathon that I’ve ever experienced was the Subic International Marathon held last Saturday. My best weapon, my feet, failed me. I can’t run due to a hamstrings injury I suffered as early as km 3, and with 39 kms left, I thought I could not survive and reach the finish line.

When that incident happened, a negative thoughts dictated  my already troubled mind, “You are a runner, and if you can’t run this  race, what’s the use? Quit and go home for you have nothing to prove!”

If I listened to that still, inner voice then I can never be a part of history, a runner who reached the finish line inspite of… Aside from that, I’m dedicated to TKO 250!

But you know, due to this ‘walkathon’ experience, I’m now more confident of finishing more marathons in the future by just simply ‘walking.’ I didn’t say that I’ll not run anymore, but if there’s a sign of injury or pain, then walking would be a  great alternative. It’s more comfortable than running, convenient and less injurious I supposed.

Walking is a science and an art. That’s why doctors often recommend ‘walking’ to their patients instead of running. However, if you’re after speed, then walking is not for you. Walking is applicable only to those who want to enjoy  a race without the pressure of beating any PR or in some cases, if you have injury like mine.

We always wanted to finish first and to outrun others, even our closest allies. And sometimes, in doing that, we forgot to enjoy the race, appreciate the nature and assess ourselves. When I walked the last 39 kms of that race, first time in my entire career as a runner, I enjoyed it and I became closer to my Lord and Saviour. Maybe because I’m injured, hungry and thirsty. It’s so ironic that men tend to become more religious in times of need but a sinner in times of prosperity! That 39 kms walk was hard and difficult, but it made me a better person, in terms of endurance and faith. I re-dedicated my life to HIM once again in that long and winding road, SCTEX to Subic.

As I recalled all of my previous races, this one was  unforgettable, for though my running ability eluded me like a thief in the night, my walking abilty emerged giving me wings to soar.

I can’t forget this race -39 kms walk- a walk worth remembering!

As Henry David Thoreau once wrote,…

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.

God be Praised!

Did you know…

… that today is Mule Day? The first mules in America arrived
in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1785. They were a gift from King
Charles III of Spain. Um… thank you, King Charles!  😉

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Of Aswang And Mananangal!(SIM 42k Recap 2)

25 10 2009

“Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” Psalms 23:4

If runners  have to choose between a headlamp and a blinker light, the former will be a wise choice, that was for this race, the Subic International Marathon. I was able to bring with me a headlamp. At 8pm, the area was covered with complete darkness and if you have no such gadgets, it’s either you’ll run not knowing what lies ahead or just wait for some terrible things to happen. There were no stars that night, a thick black clouds covered the sky. A half-moon appeared so late but  was so shy to give its full radiance.

At km 14 to km 26, there was also an unexpected  water drought! Proof that we’re not yet ready to host an International event. Even  the ambulance, our last resort just in case,  revved up and went forward, and that was the last time I saw it. Later I realized that many runners collapsed under extreme conditions.

Those runners with back-up vehicles were not affected but not all were  born with such priviledge. In fact maybe  30 to 40 runners lagging behind have no convoy to assist  them in time of miseries. One runner from the north who said he was a regular reader of this blog, a newbie Marathoner, was so dehydrated but even I can’t help him for my hydration belt  was already empty. It was so fearful for there’s no store at that place, the SCTEX though almost perfect and ideal for running can be fatal if resources like water and light foods were not available.

Like the common mistake of some Organizers, those marshals in Aid Stations were so eager to go home once those elite runners passed them by and they forgot that not unless the last runner reached their respective stations, those marshals have no right to leave their posts specially if the race was done in a place like this, the SCTEX.

Aside for  my hamstrings injury, I’m also concerned with water and food. Yes, I have 4 power gels but I need some solid foods like banana or anything that I can consume easily and lightly. I gave 2 power gels to my buddy, Romy. At km 25, I shivered slightly, maybe due to hunger or thirst, I don’t know. At km 27, a truck with water finally arrived, I drank 4 glasses of water, refilled my hydration belt and splashed liquids on my head and body.

During that long route of complete darkness, Romy and I talked about so many things, including those  old films of Lito Lapid where he can dominate many enemies with his karate chops, sliced a bullet, and punched an enemy with his trademark assault. No, I’m not his fan but we need to laugh to ease away some tiredness. We laughed outloud just to escape the harsh reality that we’re in a race surrounded by darkness. We also conversed about horror topics  like aswang, manananggal, tikbalang, balete tree and mambabarang in which Romy was so familiar as he lived in the province before. He confirmed that those myths are true. I just told him that it’s not appropriate time to talk about it since we were in darkness. Negative thoughts in a negative situation can breed negative result, and so I shifted the topic from something positive like the goodness of God etc, therefore I was able to share the Good News to him at that time.

At km 28, our conversations and mild laughter suddenly stopped, when we approached an interchange where there were some crowds watching this race  on top of us. As we entered that place, they were shouting not with cheers but with mockery and insults. As I walked with a limping left foot, they made fun of me  but that’s not my worry. I feared that they might threw stones on us or some bottles.

However, along the route, I encountered an ‘angel’, when Sir Adie delos Reyes saw my bad condition and he gave me liniment. That was of course  a big help. Thank you.

This race in darkness can be prevented if the Organizer obliged all the runners to bring headlamp and blinker.

At this time, I will savor those moments but even at this point, I can’t believe I can a finish a 42k just by walking with bad conditions like that.

I was not able to join the Adidas KOTR today due to my injury but I’ll return someday with a vengeance. Yesterday was not my day, but God’s day. All praises belong to HIM.

God be Praised!

Did you know…

… that today is Live to Tell About It All Day? This day
celebrates the anniversary of the 1901 date when Anna Edson
Taylor became the first person and woman to go over Niagara
Falls in a barrel and live to tell about it. After her journey
Anna said: “If it was with my dying breath, I would caution
anyone against attempting the feat… I would sooner walk up
to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to
pieces than make another trip over the Fall.” 😉

joyfultoon.gif





The Race Where I Walked a 39 Kms!…(SIM 42k Recap 1)

25 10 2009

If you are out of trouble, watch for danger

Sophocles (One of classical Athens’ three great tragic playwrights)

In any 42k event, it’s a  common thing to see the ‘wall’ starting from 30 kms onward specially if you’re a newbie in this field,  but how about seeing it so early  at the first 4 kms of the race?

The Subic International Marathon 42k started just in time in Floridablanca toll exit in Pampanga at 4:30pm yesterday. After a brief program, this race which was my third 42k in just 3 weeks and it started with a bang!

I am with the Team HARDCORE from km1 to km3 headed by strong runners Arman, Isko, George and my buddies from Laguna Bert and Romy. At first, my pace was so relaxed and comfortable but as we reached km3, the downhill section of SCTEX, we gained some speed, and there I started to feel some acute pain in my left leg. Later today, I’ve found out that it’s a hamstrings injury.

hamstrings

Pain was unbearable so I decided to stop and evaluate the injury. At this point, I said to myself that If ever I DNF, PLEASE not at km 3! I traveled more than a hundred miles, spent a couple of bucks, carried my family with me and they’re waiting at the finish line and to surrender at a very short distance of km 3 was the worst  I that could imagine, but the most logical answer was to quit, for every time I tried to run, I’m in deep pain. Three strides and I stopped, two more and I yelled vehemently.

“Lord, please give me the strength to run!” was my prayer.

At this point, galore of runners overtook me already and team Hardcore were already  ahead of me by more than a kilometer. Likewise Bert, overtook me too. Fortunately, Romy, my long time ally and buddy, stayed with me during this entire race. He massaged my leg and encouraged me to continue.

I walked for 5 minutes and tried again to run, 3-5 steps but it’s really painful. At km 5, as I drank a cup of water and saw the tough route ahead of me, I bowed and asked God again to help me regain the  strength of my feet to continue running. But out of the wind, I heard HIM said words like these, “You walk and I’ll give you the grace to finish this race.”

“Lord, please… not by walking for I’m a runner” as I objected. And I haven’t heard HIS voice again.

Prior to TKO 250, I do have a plan to walk a 50 kms, from Laguna to Naic Cavite. I already ran and biked twice this route and to accomplish my endurance dream for this place, walking is my long time goal. Unknown to me, that dream will be accomplished today only in different location.

I’m already walking 2 kms but the idea of walking  another 37 kms was not acceptable. This was a race, not a walk in the park.

And so, I told Romy we will walk and our target was to do a 10 minute/km pace.

Reaching km 16, I could hear the siren of the ambulance and I knew that the last runner was already behind me to overtake me anytime. The idea of seeing myself at the bottom of this race was really humiliating. Me, an ultra-runner, member of team Hardcore, a devoted Christian….”Lord, why has Thou forsaken me? Why You have  turned Your face against me?”

“Ronnie, you will see  My strength in your frailties, My grace is sufficient for you” was HIS reply.

“But Lord, I have only one wish…PLEASE do not put me at the bottom or the last man to reach the finish line, because if that will happen, I’ll never blog or run again.”

That was a daring request, and I knew God honored it, for although I walked for 39 kms, I was never been at the bottom and I overtook majority of runners in the last 10 kms of that race. Many don’t believed my story that I walked, but that’s true and Romy was my witness. He stayed with me all throughout. What a fast ‘walked’ it was, because  the grace of God was with me. I reached the finish line in 6 hours and 25 minutes, my worst ever in 42k but the sweetest…

“Lord, I’m so sorry for questioning You yesterday. I should never asked You WHY, but WHY NOT? In my frailties, I have seen Your power, and that’s enough for me to believe further….”

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With Romy, Me, Bert and my daughter Darla…3 hours before the race in Remyfield Subic.

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with Bert, SIM official, sir Adie and me.

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Ready for lunch.

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with Let Guieb and family…

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oh my, im so surprised to see my ‘angel in white uniform’ Dr. Paiso. He will do a 42k too!

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with Rhoderick Guieb, romy and ultra-runner Caloy Nobleza

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with doc Paiso

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with those powerful Kenyans

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At km 30, my way of brisk walking!

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with singer and one of my idols…Sir Leo Valdez!

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wasted but triumphant!

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this guy was with me til the end. Kudos to you, Romy!

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Not only a marathoner, but a walkathoner!

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with elite Ultra-runner, Atty. Jon Lacanlale!

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Lord, again this race was for You, including those pains I suffered. You did not granted  my request, but You have given me strength to persevere and the saving grace to finish it.

God be Praised forever!





Weekend’s Special: The Pursuit Of Happiness!

23 10 2009

Psalm 34:10, “Those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing”
__________

Where can we find happiness?

Not IN MONEY -Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said, “I suppose I am the most miserable man in the world.”

Not IN PLEASURE- Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote, “The worm, the canker and grief are mine alone.”

NOT IN POSITION AND FAME -Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote,” Youth is a mistake, manhood a struggle, old age a regret.”

NOT IN MILITARY GLORY -Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, because he said,  “There are no more worlds to conquer.”

NOT IN UNBELIEF -Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote,  “I wish I had never been born.”
The pursuit of happiness seems to be a very big deal in today’s society. Many libraries have bookshelves and magazines filled with volumes on this very subject. The “pursuit of happiness” is one of the “unalienable rights” of people enumerated by our founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence, along with “life” and “liberty.” Are you in pursuit of happiness today? If so, are you looking in the right places for your happiness? Let’s face it everyone wants to be happy, and people follow many pathways that seem to be marked “This Way to Happiness”. Some work hard to accumulate all the wealth they can, while others buy fancy cars, luxury filled homes, and some will even get involved in a worthy cause. Many will choose the pathway of entertainment while still others head down the route of power or self-gratification. The list is endless and I’m quite sure you could add many more to those I have mentioned above. My friend and brethren, the problem with these roads is they will eventually become dead ends and lead only to frustration. The only road to a person’s happiness has been outlined in God’s precious Word. His route to happiness is found in Psalm 34 and when followed leads to all the advantages we need in this world … advantages that can be ours no matter if we are rich or poor, healthy or sick, famous or unknown. Genuine happiness, a mood of contentment, joy, and hope, doesn’t even depend on where one lives; it depends on a right relationship with God. As David observed so succinctly in Psalm 144:15, “Happy are the people whose God is the LORD.” Genuine happiness, a mood of contentment, joy, and hope, doesn’t depend on the country one lives in, nor your nationality or the circumstances of one’s life, but depends on a right relationship with God’s Son, Jesus Christ. As David observed so succinctly in Psalm 144:15, “Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!”
__________

Further thoughts:

There are many people who are pursuing happiness in money, power, and entertainment or in self-gratification are looking in the wrong places. The right place is found in Matthew 5 wherein Jesus describes the way to deep and lasting happiness is being right with God. Happiness comes from going God’s way and is marked by these simple signs:

(1) Praising God, “My soul shall make its boast in the LORD”
(2) Seeking God, “I sought the LORD, and He heard me”
(3) Fearing God, “Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints!”
(4) Living for God, “Depart from evil and do good”

By traveling other pathways in pursuit of happiness will only take you on a long journey to nowhere. The beginning point is accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. If you’re reading this and don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, I would challenge you to look at life first as it is lived according to the mindset of the world. See it in all its selfishness, pride, and destruction. Now, imagine living with the attitude of Christ. There is an undeniable difference in these two mindsets. Now, carefully consider all that Jesus did. His selflessness, sacrifice, servant hood, humility, and patience, was out of love for you and concern for your eternal destination. He was obedient to the point of dying on the cross so that you could experience eternal life. Someone expressed the heart of Christ this way, “When He was on the cross, you were on His mind.” My friend, take the step of faith, a step based on good reason, and tell God that you believe in His son. Tell Him that you want the salvation He offers, and that you now acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord. If you’re not satisfied and want to know more about the person named Jesus, find a Bible and read one of the New Testament gospel accounts of His life (such as the book of John). See for yourself what it says about Him, what people thought of Him, who He claimed to be, what He did on earth, and what He can do for you. 1 John 3:16 tells us, “By this we know love, because He (Jesus) laid down His life for us.”

Lasting happiness doesn’t come from earthly things but only from the Son of God.