Saturday, June 30, 2012
Running Beyond Age Limitations
Over a year ago, I reached Aparri, the northern tip of the Philippines, after running/walking 2,060 km across the Philippines -starting in Davao - southern end of the Philippines. I did it in 57 days - solo and unsupported. I would be celebrating my 57th birthday a few months later. It was the 3rd part of an ultra-run/walk trilogy in a span of one year which started in the Holy Week of 2010 with a 400 km trans-Mindanao run/walk (Davao to Iligan), followed 3 months later by an 800 km barefoot run/walk Pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago - from the foothills of the French Pyrenees to the North-Western Spanish City of Santiago de Compostela.
I still find it hard to believe that I could accomplish these in my late 50s - a few years before I become a senior citizen. Thirty years ago, when I was a young marathon runner with a PR of 3:33, this would have been an impossible dream. I did it after making a marathon comeback in 2009 (which I did in 6:30, long after the cut-off time). Fourteen years earlier, after a knee-injury during the Rome marathon, I had decided that my running days were over and it was time to shift to mountain-biking. The biking kept me fit and enabled me to bike around Mindanao and around the Philippines. As I grew older and I was diagnosed with myocardial ischemia and atherosclerosis in 2007, I thought that I would never experience the joy of long distance running again. But I kept on trying - a kilometer at a time - mixing walking with running no matter how slow, until the impossible dream became possible. At an older age, I was able to accomplish what I failed to do as a young, faster marathoner. And I was able to do these even without finishing any ultramarathon race.
For the last 12 months, after finishing my Trans-Philippines run/walk, I have been doing less running and more biking due to my tight schedule and also some recurring pain in my knees. After these months spent in recovery the time has come to pick up my running once again.
So what's on the remaining "bucket list"? I have ran out of challenges as far as ultra-distance running is concerned. I don't like to join ultra-marathon races. (I don't like to compete against others, or prove to myself or to others that I can finish 100 km or 160 km). My present work with the CBCP with all the busy schedules which bring me to various parts of the country does not give me enough time to train for ultra-distance races.
My remaining running dream is to fulfill a promise I made to my younger self (over 30 years ago) that I will still be running marathons annually in my 80s and 90s. It is not really running marathons (which I do not enjoy), but the solo long-distance runs while preparing for the marathons, which I enjoy so much and puts me in an altered state of consciousness (that's why it is addictive).
I also dream of running faster marathons, while avoiding injury. Someday, I will be able to break my marathon PR which I set 28 years ago. Beating my younger self seems to be an impossible dream (conventional wisdom says that we slow down as we grow older). That is something no one has done before - and that is a challenge that excites me - like Solo Running/walking across the Philippines I did last year.
So, I start my training for the Quezon City International Marathon. If I can lose 30 pounds, that would make me faster. A sub-5 hr marathon would be possible this year.