Hitting The Wall Twice


Last September 6, 2015 after a year, I hit the Wall again and did it twice that day – one in the morning and the next one in the afternoon. The expression “Hitting the wall” an expression use by runners and as Wikipedia describes as, “a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifest itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. However, this is not what I was referring with at my opening sentence. Rather I was referring to the two events I participated namely, The Great Walled City Run organized by the Knight of Columbus held at 5:00 am and the Salomon City Trail Run, which was held at 4:00 pm both within the perimeter of Intramuros in Manila.


In the Great Walled City Run, the route started along Sta. Lucia Street near Anda Street and Baluarte Plano de Santa Isabel and wound its way along Muralla Street until Soriano Avenue before entering once again Sta. Lucia Street via Arzobispo Street. The route was basically a four loops run for 10k category participants, which I was registered at. I was pretty much all by myself with only Peewee Villar as the only runner I recognized among the other participants beside Running Photographer, RJ Knight who was one of the event’s photographer. Many of those whom I run previously were at the event, Entrep Run happening the same time at CCP complex. Although I did not have an earlier run the previous day, I found myself huffing and puffing the first few kilometers before I got myself acclimated and began running more comfortably. I finished the event with a time of one hour and ten minutes. Just a 3 minute more of my finish time at Pinoyfitness’ Sub 1 Challenge held in Baguio a few months earlier.


While at the Salomon City Trail Run, it was a sort of reunion of runners I had ran with in various occasions. Heidi, Albert, KC, Dwight, Baldwin and Louie whom I first met at Team Malaya’s Cordillera Series. While Luis, Grace who call herself in her FB page as Bling Runner and the guy with eye glasses whom I did not managed to get his name were from this year’s TNF 100. Ricky and Grace from Bandana Runners were frequent running mates of mine from various run events. Many of them also had a chance to run with each other in other events that I did not participated thereby making them acquainted with each other. This only goes to show that our running world was much smaller although the running community was bigger.


The Salomon City Trail Run followed pretty much last year’s route, which started at Fort Santiago. Runners upon exiting Fort Santiago turned right toward the sidewalk of Bonifacio Drive then turned left along Padre Burgos Avenue for a more “trail feel” by running along the grassy portion of the sidewalk. Then runners entered Muralla Street via the road often referred to as “Round Table” named after the Pizzateria once stood this location. Runners turned right following Muralla Street passing by the Department of Labor and Employment building. Runners climbed the Wall via Baluarte de San Francisco de Dilao and get off the Wall via the stiff stone stair near Anda Street and San Juan de Letran. Runners run along the street fronting the formerly commercial establishment filled portion of the Street near Letran Dormitory while at the other side of the wall fronting the Magallanes Drive stood the statue of Isabella II of Spain. Runners then turn left going towards Banco Filipino Building then exit along Soriano Avenue until Palacio Del Gobernador and enters General Luna Street to get a ribbon marking the completion of the first loop. Runners proceed to turn right along Postigo Street and into Arzobispo Street and left to Sta. Lucia Street to begin the second loop of the 3 loops perimeter run before runners climb the Wall of Intramuros via the stairs near Postigo Street. After runners got off the Wall runners turned right towards Intendencia and into Maestranza Street to enter Maestranza Park. Upon exiting this portion of the route a short run along Soriano Avenue will lead runners back to Fort Santiago for the finish. Salomon City Trail Run was for me one of the best ways to get back at failing to succeed in previous Salomon Xtrail Runs. That is why for the second year I was not able to pass the opportunity to run in this event. Hopefully the next time though a new venue could be considered so that the idea of running the pavement of a busy district like Chinatown, Vigan, or Clark’s Nayong Filipino would provide a different experience from the usual running venues like BGC and MOA while at the same time introducing the value of taking care of heritage reach places in the country.




Another Run for An Old Blog I Wrote Eons Ago

The Day I Summitted Everest

I have a knack for traipsing. This vacation alone, my daily hiking to shopping malls whether within the vicinity of my residence in Sampaloc or along the long stretch of EDSA when averaged in a week would have summed up to something like hiking the Philippines from Batanes group of islands to Jolo ten times over.  O.k., I mean hiking around the Philippine Relief Map in Rizal Park.

This irresistible urge for my feet to hug the street, my lungs to drag in toxic air and doused myself in perspiration and warm heat of the ultraviolet-rich sun burning on your skin, had finally led me to the summit of Mt. Everest.

Last May 21, bitten by the Mt. Everest bug brought about by the previous week’s successful climb of our fellow kababayan, kapamilya, kapuso and what have you, I heeded my kumpareng Ronnie’s suggestion to watch the 1998 IMAX movie, “Everest”, premiering at SM Mall of Asia.

Like Dale Abenojar, (the other claimant to the first Filipino ever to climb Everest) without media nor corporate sponsorship and much hullaballoo, I likewise armed only with meager resources decided to see what lies above the summit of the world’s tallest mountain. My resources that sustained me all through out the adventure comprised of a cheap leather imitation wallet with about P300 bucks in it and a paper back edition of Jon Krakauer’s, “Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster” bought at Book Sale for P30.  Brought about by necessity, with regret, I left my trusted cellular phone at home. It could have helped me log the time of the trek instead of asking everyone for time giving an impression based from the stare I got, like I was actually planning some heist or waiting for bomb to explode or something. The cell phone could have functioned also like those of a GPS which could have tracked my progress of the trek with my every text update to Alcindor Berdan, while he is straining his eyes (and probably being disturbed by my constant updates) in front of a PC making honest living.  However, my board shorts could not hold in its single pocket any more weight than the almost weightless wallet with worthless sum and loose change and a pocketful of determination I held in my heart. Nope, no sleeves. Besides, my shorts, I realized too late, was a bit too large for me and stand the risk of insisting to be left behind when the trek prove itself to be more than a leisurely walk in the park.

Immediately after lunch at 12:30 in the afternoon, I took the only transportation available (namely Public Utility Jeepney since I can’t drive myself yet. Can you imagine that?) that was bound to the base camp Robinson Place Ermita, where I commenced my assault to Everest. The month of May usually provide climbers of Everest a brief window of fine weather to climb the summit. Today, the sky was a bit of overcast favoring me for my own trek. From Pedro Gil side of Robinson Place, there are four camps before reaching Everest, namely: Camp 1 Bay Walk area at Roxas Boulevard, Camp 2 World Trade Center, Camp 3 Macapagal Boulevard then turning right to Camp 4 the Seaside Boulevard where you can already smell Everest amidst the lapping of the sea along the break water.  A year prior to the opening of SM Mall of Asia, I already reconnoitered the area by biking almost everyday. I have already acclimated myself with the terrain condition and clime.  If worst comes to worst, there are strings of Starbucks that I can spent the time recovering from frustration of failing to summit with frosty and bites before heading back home.

I will skip the detail of the trek. That is intended for a much lengthier book, which will contain remarkable quotations including one from Fr.Reyes, the running priest.

The movie, Everest, was actually a 45-minute documentary on the 1996 climb of MacGillivray Freeman IMAX/IWERKS Expedition headed by film director David Breashears. Breashear was using the story arc of Jamling Norgay Sherpa desire to climb Everest for himself like what his father did before him.  Jamling is the son of Edmund Hillary’s co-first-ever-to-summit Everest companion Tenzing Norgay on May 29, 1953.  The expedition also featured a pretty Spanish climber Araceli Segarra who was the first Spanish woman to climb Everest (and whom I am forever smitten), Ed Viesturs, climber and film talent who was spending honeymoon separately with his wife Paula Barton Viesturs who served as the base camp manager.

What I found providential about watching the movie was its connection with the book I mentioned I was lugging along like Bible cum weights. Ed Viesturs, as it turned out was a close friend of the well-known New Zealander climber Rob Hall who died on top of the Mt. Everest in 1996. Jon Krakauer who climbed with Rob Hall’s team wrote about that tragedy, which now accompanied me like my compass. The movie, “Everest” was being filmed on that fateful period with Ed Viesturs as among those who last communicated with Hall before the latter’s perishing. That Hall (and actually another team) expedition lost 8 lives and survived for the later price of an amputated right hand by Dr. Seaborn Beck Weathers, who was left for dead before by sheer determination, half blindly stumble his way down the mountain until finally rescued. Reeling from that tragedy, IMAX expedition decided to proceed anyway with the climb.

The scenes were very remarkable and breathtaking.  There was this one scene when you could actually feel you are dizzily rappelling upside down towards the sea and rocky bottom. The vista was so damn picturesque like the scene with Ed and Paula Viestur biking over the precipice of some mountain in Utah.  I sure would like to believe I have already set foot at Utah, Nepal and on the summit of Everest itself.   But just as Ed Viesturs.  After all the months of preparations; weeks of acclimation; and days of climbing without supplemental oxygen; 5 minutes upon reaching the summit, he came down immediately, the movie too quickly reeled to its conclusion leaving you on top of the summit wanting to experience more of the climb. 45 minutes is too short to suck in Everest. Nevertheless, I greatly recommend the movie to be watched and savored. I would also suggest for you to make a v-line to your favorite Book Sale and seek Krakauer’s book.

After descending from Everest, (You enter IMAX theater at the ground level but you exit at the second level), I capped the adventure with the ceremonial tall hot Coffee of the Day at Starbucks Coffee and immersed myself with my paperback with enough loose change to bring me back home by PUJ a couple of hike away from SM.

A Very Long Hike Ko

(written a summers ago) 

It’s really sizzling hot here in Pinas, the other day while walking from CCP to Pedro Gil there were bikini-clad ladies playing beach volleyball in front of Rajah Sulayman’s statue in Malate, complete with sands and tan. Too bad it was getting dark to shoot it with my cellphone camera. The funny thing is in España – yeah in front of UST – at about the same time, it’s flooded because of high tide. Have the icecap melted already and the sea level rose or has Manila sunk because of too much garbage, people and debt. All hell is breaking loose. We’re nearing apocalyptic period, I think. Goddamn, greenhouse effect and global warming. I used to hike Manila in summer time. Now I’m going to fry my brain and use my perspiration as broth if I try as much as walk from our house to UST. You know what? I am becoming sedentary, yeah like a barnacle. Home bound. I am nurturing my abs to be the next big thing after the Chocolate hills or the next surfing getaway with the waves that has started to sprout.


On the other hand, if it’s going to get hot still, it is better to get hot soon. So that everyone will be compelled to strip to the naked glory. Imagine the new fashion statement.  I sure wish I took photos of those bitches, I mean beach volleyball players. But I was too wet – that is from perspiration, I mean – to think about my natural appetite.


Here’s the proof of the sun’s trying to get back on us. I don’t know if you have seen this movie way back in the early 80’s, where people were disappearing because of the sun. In the movie the sun was linked to the disappearance of the Mayan civilization. I forgot how the sun managed to snatch a whole civilization. I can’t even remember now how the movie ended.  Maybe, the television viewers had disappeared on the spot one after the other. It seems the sun’s power also worked on the viewers also. My entire memory almost disappeared. Maybe, I would have followed suit if the movie did not ended soon.  Anyway, I think that is just what happened with my classmates who borrowed money from me.  She disappeared just when we are starting to experience very high temperatures this pass few days. I don’t know, it is just my hunch. What do you think?


By the way, I am writing this while sipping a café latte at Figaro UN Avenue. Yes, I said Figaro. Guess what? Starbucks at UN and in Robinson’s Place in Ermita likewise disappeared. There you go – ala Catherine Zeta Jones. Something is telling me nothing is acting normally lately.


At least my charm is still as it is. When Isay Alvarez smiled and acted as if she knew me while she was queuing at CCP canteen and I was at a table across her and was about to eat my kalderetang broccoli, which I mistakenly thought was chicken, I knew there was something not normal. Against my better judgement, I couldn’t restrain myself I waved and smiled back at her. Sure enough the person Isay was actually smiling at emerged from my behind, no let me rephrase that, came behind me and approached Isay. I could have buried my face in the sauce and cupped rice in shame.


I remember also another incident that the sun may have a hand in the disappearance of a large number of people. My entire E-group buddies disappeared. How’s that? Well, it occurred when one of my E-groups that had been inactive for a while suddenly buzz to life when we learned that one of our former classmates died of drug overdose. So everyone wrote his or her piece on him. I wrote mine as well. It took about no fewer than four pages long when written in longhand in yellow pad paper. I wrote how our classmates who moved on to the next life seem to literally resemble Night Crawler of the X-men. How, while alive he touches everyone’s lives and in some other places as his form of greeting.  Now he’s touching us still and added to make it funnier the idea, that maybe, our dead classmate is sitting right now beside the one reading the email and finally how he will surely send everyone in heaven high with his constant supply of grass and chemicals. Well, after I sent that email the next day the temperature in Manila was at its hottest that month. Ho and behold no response from anyone. When I tried to email again including my journal on my trip to one of the islands of Babuyan, my email bounced back. If it’s not the sun, maybe alien took them, don’t you think?


I also receive a mysterious anonymous email filled with a cryptic word, “blog”. It filled the page as if someone is knocking from the other side. Blog, blog, blog. Pretty freaky.


You might be wondering why I was walking from CCP to Pedro Gil. When I could be riding, right? Well, lately I develop this fear of riding PUV. You may have experience it once or twice you’re trying to pay the jeepney fare while you’re seated at the exit aisle and no one wants to pass your fare to the driver. Well, I thought maybe the reason behind this is that those who do obliged to take your money and pass it along does not get the proper thanks. So, I decided to thank all those who passed along my fare. I thought of individually approaching them. So I began squat walking toward the furthest one. There after greeting her with, “isang magandang araw po, ako po ay…”. I didn’t had the chance to finish the sentence, when the sole of the shoes of the one I approached first kissed my snout and before I could recovered, another kick and another until I was suddenly flying out of the jeepney. I heard someone cursed and said, “ kay aga-aga nanlilimos. Ang laking tao hindi maghanap buhay”.  See? how good intentions are taken for something else. It’s not difficult to imagine. Further back, when I was the one sitting behind the driver and was busy passing along fares, the one sitting beside me was busy trying to slice a hole in my bag. I only found out of the several attempts and one successful cut the next morning when I lifted my bag and saw the gaping hole. Nothing was taken. In fact have my students found out about it, they would have prayed that the snatcher succeeded in spiriting the test papers I was bring along inside my bag. Got to re-hydrate, they say one sign of loosing too much water in the body is delusion.  


Running Back Some Thoughts

Why do I run? For one thing I must admit this now to myself, I play badminton rather terribly. However, I don’t want to harp on the cliché that there is a sense of complete freedom one experiences when one run. That is not what is listed in my mind while negotiating 21 kilometers of pavement. Besides, when I begin to tire out and my speed rate plummets down to almost walking, multitude of other runners including elderly ones passes me by, I felt pressured. I then tried to push myself a bit harder until the feeling is nothing akin to what others’ described as freedom and all that jazz.

I run not for that brief moment one can escape from the real world where nothing else matter than crossing the finish arch after romancing with the wind in your face, the sun’s kisses and perspiration hugs the body. It’s not more rather it is something bit mundane than that. I just want to have the job done. Yes, running was at first in my latter life was just to be fit. But for my age of forty, finishing and accomplishing something is more important than anything else.

Back when I was a freshman in my first undergraduate course, I read somewhere that by forty, one must have already in the peak of his career. Probably holding a doctorate degree in business or something, a CEO of a company, millions of bucks must have already earned, settled with kids in a nice suburban village.  Nothing of that sort has ever happened to me. Not even close. For one thing I quit my first real job just a couple of months after I got it right after graduating from college only to enroll into another four-years course. After bidding goodbye once again to my alma mater after earning my second degree I landed a job at a government agency. But my feet couldn’t be planted there for too long for I left again and ran back to my alma mater and took up a teaching position. All the while my dream of earning my first million bucks and settling down dissipated.

Looking back further, what I remember more fondly that I can relate to my running is that moment when I was even younger than the previous mentioned above. I was perhaps 10-11 years old and was still residing in Novaliches. I was chasing after a couple of helicopters positioning to disembark paratroopers high above the sky from our house at Foresthills subdivision. A few moments more the paratroopers one by one jumped out of the choppers going towards the direction behind the hills bordering our subdivision from the rest of Fairview. I ran passing by initially the posh looking houses from our subdivision into the thatched and corrugated iron roof houses ensconcing the hill which now a days had been developed into another subdivision. I crossed the hill and was running at the sea of grasses, and sparsely housed Regalado Avenue. Only the chirping of birds and the distant faintly audible sound of traffic from vehicles vying Quirino Highway could be heard beside my rubbershoes hitting the asphalted immaculately white road.

My apparent direction was simply to reach the end of the road closer to the structure with Jacinto Steel logo that was just a blimp when I first started running towards it, now had slowly turning into a humongous vista. I could not explain that feeling I was having. It was like a small spaceship preparing to dock into the mothership in the movie. I turned my head to retrace my journey and all I can see of the hills behind me was a lump of green and brown. I could no longer go back late in this chase. I can only move forward. I thought if I push myself a bit further I might finally see that I am actually nearing SM North EDSA. But I have no inkling that that was farther and the SM I thought I would find lying in the area (as I prophetically dreamt it) is the SM Fairview which will rise there further in the future. After touching down at the Jacinto structure, which lies along Quirino Highway, I walked towards the direction of Sacred Heart Village but I couldn’t find traces where the paratroopers have actually landed. Maybe they were just phantoms and all the while I was really after going to SM North. I think it was already way past 9 o’clock about a quarter to ten. The sun’s heat had turned intense. I decided I should already be heading back home for lunch. I only have a couple of pesos on me barely enough for a cold softdrink at the foot of the hill form the side of our subdivision. I could not spend it on a two-jeepney ride home. I have to endure the long walk. Maybe on my way, I could climb a couple of caimito trees for some treat or collect some ripe kamachile fruit fallen from the thorny trees. Maybe tomorrow or the day after tomorrow I will finally caught up with the paratroopers. Maybe even reach SM North in the process.