It is hard to understand addiction unless you have experienced it.
I’m a 48-year old runner who got into this despicable habit 5 years ago when age had taken over and my life had become too humdrum and a total blah. I wanted to prove to the world that I can still be physically capable of doing things out of the ordinary even if my whole life revolved around movies, music and root canals. The last time I sweated buckets and panted like my lungs were about to burst was in 3rd year high school, eons ago. I travelled across the basketball court twice to follow that darn orange orb and I knew I was never going to be an athlete from that moment on.
So who was I kidding? At my age, it seems so absurd but then dreams (and delusions) are what we make them to be. The temptation of the asphalt eventually took over and I found myself (gasp!) running. I thought it would be just a momentary diversion from clinic routine but the more kilometers I burned, the more I wanted to conquer. I knew it was no longer going to be healthy for me – I was losing my hard earned gym muscles and looking lanky, parched and dugyut & marupok plus I was getting stronger and faster. Friends, if I ever found time to meet them, hardly recognized the pretty boy behind the sweat, mud and limatik bites. Soon they started distancing themselves and treated me like a pariah to society and their tony gatherings.
It was a lonely existence on the road until I found myself in the circle of addicted brethrens called Runners Anonymous. We were faceless souls clad in our muddy trainers and trying to wrestle with our obsession on the road. During our weekly sessions, we shared our travails and tragedies in running (how to eliminate that limatik once it has entered our nether regions, etc.) but it would always climax on the road and us trotting reluctantly at first then suddenly bursting into something close to flying, like bats out of hell. I tried to resist it but soon found myself sliding deeper into the hole I had dug myself into. And there was no looking back.
The trails and mountains beckoned and I was hooked like a limatik on a runner’s juicy calf. I had advanced and taken my dependence into the next level. When before I was already satisfied with my 21Ks and full marys, this time around, I was craving for more miles until I dropped unknowingly into the rabbit hole of ultramarathons. I found cohesion and common footing with creatures who find no meaning in words like pain, cramps and uphells. They just keep running until they reach the finish, in the absence of fun fare, trophy, shirt nor pictures. Our supplier of this addiction was this pot-bellied guy who runs around shirtless and maps out our recon run where trails twist and hills thrive. And we devoured everything that BoyP offered.
Perhaps, my lowest point would have to be my plunge into the most evil of them all – ultra trail races. Imagine hiking around a mountain on a late night in shivering temperature and the constant wind at our backs. We were like zombies feeling our way in the dark after 22 hours of racing in ever changing terrains and weather conditions. And we were enjoying ourselves like hell. I know. It was that bad. I feel like I’ve been dropped into the lowest level of inferno. I’m even nauseated while encoding this most shameless episode in my life. Now pass me the smelling salt, please?
Before this deadly habit could spiral out of control, redemption and hope suddenly came like lightning out of the blue. Late last year, I was forced by circumstances to get off the road (still wondering why, watch out in the next issue). It was I believe the most beautiful miracle to have come to my 5-year running history. It was most life changing as I saw the demons of this addiction I can no longer escape from. Now nature has done its work and I’ve been sober from the road for 4 months now.
Life has been good and given me a new lease to a normal life. I have let go of my road cravings and have turned to eating all sorts Ramen noodles during dinner since I need not wake up too early in the morning to lace up my shoes and take to the road and take off like a…turtle…sorry that was wrong. I’m still in my withdrawal period. I shall overcome this. Soon.
It was most difficult in the early period but soon enough, I got the hang of it. I mean security guards have started acknowledging my presence and people were once again gravitating towards me like I really existed and not just a blob in their swanky universe. Life can indeed be a party and I’m really enjoying myself to death. But. Lately, it’s been suffocating. I still feel like I’m an outsider in this phoney urban jungle. Any chance I can get out of this hollowed cage?
Help me. I’m already having sleepless nights and if I ever doze off, I dream of trails, mountains and pissing along open spaces. I know I will be able to fight off these demons – I just have to think of broken toe nails, frost bites and endless rising trails but then…images of being on top of Mt. Pulag, running with buddies (now my blocked off FB friends) at Kayapa at 12 midnight in the midst of rain and wind keep popping up. I plead for understanding…should I get into Greco-Roman wrestling? Maybe Parkour or jujitsu. Crocheting, then? Can I just run now? Please…
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