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Accounts from the Men’s Health Urbanathlon 2013: Putting my faith in the unknown (that’s the Active Heath sports gel)


 

The days leading into the Men’s Health Urbanathlon were dogged with doubt, apprehension and uncertainty.  It’s been marked in my running calendar for the longest time but I was wrestling with a bad case of flu and coughing.  The condition had me into a forced ‘rest and recovery mode’ so I hardly registered any mileage to speak of.  Factor in an erratic inclement weather and my eagerness level just petered out.

dark start, bright finish...

dark start…bright finish?

But I showed up anyway at 4 AM at the starting line, aware of the fact that I would regret it if I let a perfectly challenging race go to waste.  Their FB page stated that it was not a race to do a PR (personal record) so I told myself to just have a great time and enjoy every bit of 21 kilometers.  So I’m just going to wing it, go through the obstacles and cross the finish.  However, in the inner recesses of my subconscious, some kind of conspiracy seemed to be brewing.

At 4:30 AM, the first wave for the 21KM runners was released and I was successful in controlling my eagerness in starting too fast and burn early.  I really was taking pleasure of this race.  So I let those brawny big-armed runners go past me, envious of the fact that they won’t have any difficulty hurdling through the obstacles.  Now why didn’t I log in some gym hours last week?  Oh I was sick.

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floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee

The dark roads hardly tell of the great distance ahead so I made it around the old reclamation area in a jiffy and with minimal struggle.  Our first two obstacles came at the MOA area as we passed through the tire hurdles and rope climb surprisingly quite fast.  Soon we were heading towards the Paranaque area and as I remembered it clearly, this was where I almost burned out during the last Safeguard 2XU 21KM run.  Will this have a sequel today?, I could almost hear my mind.

Soon enough, it did happen.  Ah, the power of the mind, indeed.  I was huffing heavily and the coughing even made a brief appearance, I was ready to just walk the final 6KMs.  Now why would I torment myself on a 21KM race which isn’t even PR material?  But the competitive in me wasn’t ready to call it quits so I dug deep.  Guess what I saw in the inner recesses of my belt bag?  My Active Health sports gel.  It was given to us during last week’s RUPM bloggers’ night and I had almost forgotten about it.P1050577

So for the first time in a race, I tried out something new for me and the running world.  It was still to make its debut for next week’s RUPM but I’ll take anything to get me through this deadlock.  It’s been tested on seasoned runners and triathletes so perhaps it might just work me.  At the turning point, I downed 1 syrupy pack (tastes like yoghurt!) and just kept going like there’s no tomorrow, anticipating of the torture that lay ahead.

you have the power in your mouth...

you have the power in your mouth…

We reached the second set of obstacles and it was a breeze passing through the monkey bars and the metal barriers.   Some things are just more difficult when imagined than in my adrenalized reality.  Lessons learned.  Perhaps, surviving those hurdles with little difficulty had me rolling on the road.  I was on a roll as we reached the Arena area.  A right turn led me towards the finish line waiting for my splendid finish.

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the barrier to glory…

But wait, where’s the dreaded final obstacle?  A slight turn to the right and there it was – 2 layers of vertical barrier.  The first one was conquered in a single bound while the higher one required a rope to reach.  It was going down from a 8-foot top that presented a problem, not to mention a bit scary.  But as in life, I let my guts take over and just take the plunge.  Soon, I was going down nimbly and trusting the guy down there would be able to take my sudden drop. 

He did and soon I was back on track, floating like a bee and buzzing for the finish line.  I’ve always envisioned myself finishing a race in all its glorious trimmings and noise but it hardly happened.  I’m usually too wasted that a slow pained jog was all I could muster but life can really take you by surprise.  So in a run I had set out to just play along and have fun with, I was smiling and flying as cameras flashed to give me a 1:53 finish.  Now who would have thought it’s going to be one glorius climax?