One of the sidelights of last Sunday’s Runnex Executive Race was the 10k graduation run of the participants of the Runnex Discover Running Clinic. After more than 10 weeks of training under the leadership of Coach Jojo Mac, the trainees’ endurance and skills were put into test. Majority of the participants were now going to run their first 10k, while a few who may have missed part of the clinic sessions would run 5k.
Standing at the starting line after the Corporate Executives runners were fired off 10 minutes earlier, i felt a little concerned about my role for this graduation run but excited for these first time 10k runners i was going to pace. The day earlier, Danny Villavicencio, convener of the running clinic, assigned me to pace these newbies to finish their 10k at the same route where the Executive Run was being held. Aside from myself, the pacing chores will also be shared with Betty and Tonette.
Although i was regularly promoting this running clinic through this blog, i rarely attended the Sunday clinics as i was either on out-of-town work related activities or was running some races elsewhere. I hardly knew any of the 72 participants although many recognized me through this blog.
We started at a cautious pace of 8:00/km although Betty and Tonette’s group, who were leading the faster runners forged ahead in a 7:00-7:30/km clip. During my pacing with my group, i was bombarded with questions on running form, nutrition, speed drills and everything that pertained to running. It was a great feel interacting with them on a gut level and listening to their experiences gave a me a greater understanding of their concerns and aspirations.
We reached the first loop (5k) in 44 minutes which wasn’t bad at all. Those few who had minimal training opted to finish the run, their first 5k race. The majority of us continued as i continuously gave some pep talks and motivation specially when some were taking walking breaks, which was just fine.
A kilometer at the academic oval, another 2 kilometers at the newly paved rotunda and the slight incline going back, we finally reached back the academic oval. One kilometer to go! The group was now very ecstatic, their pace grew faster as we were near the finish.
We were cheered wildly as we crossed the finish line as the runners punched the sky with their fists and all of them had smiles big enough to light up Abelardo Hall. Our time was 1:31:00. These newbie runners represented the essence of what drew them all to the starting line last Sunday. The quest for better health and self-esteem. A sense of a fulfillment and direction to achieve their dreams.
Crossing the finish line with them transported me back when i also was discovering running. I too had this sense of fulfillment and pride when i finished my first 10k. There is pride in achievement but most thoughts and emotions are internal. They have all finished what they came to aspire for and deep inside, they were all proud of their achievement.
They now plan to continue with their training and pursue a larger purpose, to finish the 42k marathon this December 5.
Way to go, guys!